march’s end

I’ve fallen significantly short on my blogging goals this month.  I have had no desire to write, and no inspiration either.  It’s been a long month.  I’ve done absolutely nothing exciting.  I’ve spent my weekends mostly on the couch watching movies or TV by myself or with Eric and it’s been great.  Movies I’ve watched:  American Hustle, Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Wolf on Wall Street, Captain Philips, and The Counselor.  TV Series I’ve gotten into:  Black Sails.  Book I’ve read:  The Fault in Our Stars.  I have been a bit of a recluse this month and I’m totally OK with it.  I haven’t really had too much energy for socializing lately so it’s felt great just to chill out when I can.

We’ve been running the CrossFit Open during my Saturday classes at the gym.  It’s required some extra planning, set up, and extremely on-point class management on my end so I, for one, am glad to see it wrap up.  I chose not to compete this year so I’ve been able to view the whole thing a bit more objectively this year than in the past.  I definitely have some mixed emotions about these CrossFit competitions, especially this year.  I’ve always said that competition is not for everyone.  I’m starting to think that it’s probably not for the majority.  I also think in many cases it brings out the worst in people.  Every so often we hear the story of the resiliency of the human spirit witnessed during competition.  But for every one of those stories, there is a whole host of catty shit talk, poor sportsmanship and ill will wished toward other competitors.  It’s kind of gross.  Are my opinions tainted by the fact that this year my training has not been what I wanted it to be?  Probably.  I still love training, still love training other people, still love to see the difference CrossFit and CrossFit Hingham make in people’s lives.  I’m just not 100% into the CrossFit Open.  That’s all.  I’ll end my negative rant there.

On a positive note…since we turned the clocks forward mid month I have been LOVING the later sunsets.  Ahhhh.  That’s seriously how I feel when I get in my car at 5:45 when I leave the gym and it’s still light out.  I know that I can take the dogs out into the yard for a little while and let them run around (or chew on fallen tree branches, which they seem to prefer doing lately).  Now if it would just warm up..

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My after school art club wrapped up this week.  The kids were awesome.  It kind of made me wish I was certified to teach elementary art full time. I think watching kids create art is one of the most inspiring things.  You give them an idea and they RUN with it and come up with things that are so outside the box.  It’s refreshing.

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And that’s been March in a nutshell!  Here’s hoping April brings more blogging!

grief

“Grief doesn’t change you, Hazel.  It reveals you.”

-Peter Van Houten in The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

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I have discovered a truth about myself.  It may be true for other people, and if it is true for you then I hope my words will resonate with you.  It may not be true for you, and so you may feel my words are a judgement of your behavior and emotions, but they are not.  My words are simply MY truth.

I have come to realize that we are truly the master of our own ship.  As I navigate through this ever changing abyss of grief I can only really rely on one person:  myself.

That is not to say that family, friends, and professionals do not help along the way.  But the only one who can feel, understand, and live this moment is me.  Therefore the only one who can truly heal me IS me.  I can look to others to offer me support and company in trying times.  But in the quiet moments, when it’s just me and my beating heart and my spinning wheels, I have to be able to provide myself with the comforting thoughts.  I have to be okay with the sadness, let it in, feel it, and then let it go, move on.  I have to be the one to decide that this life is one I want to spend LIVING.

My life is not defined by other’s lives nor is it defined by the loss of other’s lives.  My life is defined by MY life.  By how I choose to spend my days.  And I do not want to spend it in a fog of grief.  I do not want to spend it looking back.  And I’ve learned that looking too far ahead, for me, can become futile.  I want to spend this life just simply being content in every moment.  And I don’t need other people, or activities, or events, or even things to achieve that.  I just need belief.  Belief that this life, with its heartaches and all, is one that I want.

I just need to let my heart continue to sing its tune, melancholy though it may be at times.  We all experience things in our lives that we wish could be different.  But I love being alive.  So I want to do more than just exist in my grief.  I choose to keep living.  I choose to let my emotions exist and then I chose to seek out the sunshine.  I chose to keep singing my song.  It is the singing, not the tune, that allows for healing and ultimately brings contentment.

gluten-free favorites

So February totally escaped me and I never posted a recipe round-up for the month.  Truth be told….it’s because I didn’t cook up anything all that interesting.  February was all about the daily grind.  Work and gym during the week.  Food shopping, laundry, and food prep on the weekends.  And by food prep I mean just the staples:  chicken, burgers, potatoes, rice….stuff to keep the fridge stocked for grab and go meals.  Hopefully as spring arrives and the days grow longer I will be inspired to whip up some creative concoctions to share with you.  But until then…

What I want to focus on this month for my food feature is gluten-free treats!  Now let me preface this by saying that gluten-free is not synonymous with healthy.  Many of these gluten-free goodies are things that we have on Saturday afternoon or evening as part of our weekly cheat.  These items are by no means classified as paleo.  But I’ve learned the hard way.  If I’m going to stray from my mostly paleo diet, I regret it less if I go gluten-free.  Gluten kills me.  And there are so many delicious gluten-free goodies, I figured I’d save you the trouble and just tip you off to which one are the best (in my opinion, of course!)

Pizza:  I’ve tried several different brands and my hands down favorite is Against the Grain.  The crust is deliciously doughy for a gluten-free food.  It’s a good sized pizza, perfect for sharing.

Potato Chips:  Terra Chips Sweet Potato Chips.  I eat way too many of these.  It’s the salt.  And the crunch.  I’ve pretty much convinced myself these are healthy for me.  It’s kind of a problem.

Cookies:  Glutino Chocolate Vanilla Creme Sandwich Dream cookies.  Look like Oreos, slightly different taste, but close.  Delicious nonetheless.  Very sweet and light.  We’ve tried lots of gluten-free cookies and these are Eric’s favorites.  But the Enjoy Life Soft Baked Snickerdoodle cookies are a very close runner up!

Ice Cream:  Talenti.  Technically it’s gelato.  It doesn’t matter.  It’s delicious.  It’s crack.  If you don’t have self control, it might be better if you pretend like you never read this because once you try it, you’re done for.  They have the most amazing flavors and the ingredient lists are pretty clean.  (Note:  I didn’t say clean.  I said PRETTY clean.  Translation:  clean enough for me on a cheat day.)

Taco Shells:  Udi’s plain tortillas.  I haven’t found a hard taco shell that’s gluten-free.  But these work fine for soft taco shells.  I love taco salads, with or without the cheese.  But sometimes you just want to be a normal human and have a taco night.  These do the job.  Taste is decent, and the texture and consistency are  right, which can be hard to find when you’re dealing with gluten-free products.

Mac and Cheese:  Annies.  OMG.  If you haven’t tried this yet, you are missing out.  Tastes damn close to Kraft.  We just discovered this recently and now we’re screwed.  I’m glad I only bought one box.  It forced us to share.  I’m pretty sure I could’ve crushed a box myself and Eric probably could’ve eaten two.  It’s that good.  I cooked it with kielbasa (also not paleo) but threw in some baby spinach leaves for good measure :)

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So there you have it!  Some of my favorite go to gluten-free cheats!  Enjoy!

 

a response to hate mail

I am infuriated.  And the worst part is, I don’t know who to be mad at.  So I’m just mad at our shitty, judgmental society that thinks it’s OK to say really hurtful and offensive things.

Let me back up the bus.

I follow a blog written by another CrossFitter.  I really admire her for a number of reasons.   One of them being that she, too, has had some difficulty in the pregnancy department and emailing with her helped me through my own loss.

So I was just getting caught up on all my unread blogs in my blog feed and I read this.  (If you want to understand the full back story, you need to click on all the links in her blog too.)

This piece of anonymous hate mail is EVERYTHING that is wrong with the human race.

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To the Author of the Anonymous Letter Sent to Heather Bergeron:

First of all, if you are going to sling shit at other people, do it in broad daylight.  Anyone can send an anonymous letter.  That’s easy.  You are a coward.

Secondly, exercise doesn’t cause premature babies.  There are lots of risk factors associated with premature labor.  The Mayo Clinic lists the following factors with an increased risk of premature birth:

  • Having a previous premature birth
  • Pregnancy with twins, triplets or other multiples
  • An interval of less than six months between pregnancies
  • Conceiving through in vitro fertilization
  • Problems with the uterus, cervix or placenta
  • Smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol or using illicit drugs
  • Poor nutrition
  • Some infections, particularly of the amniotic fluid and lower genital tract
  • Some chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure and diabetes
  • Being underweight or overweight before pregnancy
  • Stressful life events, such as the death of a loved one or domestic violence
  • Multiple miscarriages or abortions
  • Physical injury or trauma
  • Unusual shape of the uterus

Interestingly enough, exercise didn’t make the list.  So, Mr. Know it All, get your facts straight.

Third.  No one deserves to have a premature kid.  No one.  As a parent of TWO premature DEAD kids, I find this to be the most offensive thing I have ever read.

Your letter infers that you think you know better than the many doctors and strength and conditioning coaches who are considered to be at the top of their field.  I would love to know what your credentials are and what qualifies you to make this judgement call.  But wait…you didn’t sign your letter.

Your letter infers that people like Heather and Bethany who CrossFit while pregnant are bad people.  So bad, in fact, that you wish premature babies upon them.  Well Mr. Tough Guy, what kind of person are you?  Only a disgusting individual would wish harm or death upon an unborn child.  You are gross, and heartless.

You are the worst kind of person.  You put yourself on a pedestal.  You think you know what is best for everyone else.  You wish harm upon other people as a desperate attempt to express your opinion.  You get pleasure from sending your note because “that’ll show them!”, but you can’t even attach your name to it.  You are uninformed and malicious.

I am the mother of deceased twin boys, Thomas and James, born prematurely.  I exercised during my pregnancy under the direct guidance of my doctors and my coach.  CrossFit did not cause my preterm labor.  My incompetent cervix did.

You are an asshole.  And you have reminded me that the world is full of people like you.  People judging me for exercising during my pregnancy.  People who think they know what caused my twins to die.  People who think they have ALL the answers and who don’t have a CLUE.  

like to think that for every jerk like you, there is someone good out there in the world.  I tell myself this because otherwise it is too depressing to think about the future of humankind.  I sure hope I am right.

Unlike you, I will proudly attach my name to my letter.

-Trish Magee

running in place

IMG_0696It’s school vacation week.  It’s been great to be back to work, but I’m definitely looking forward to a SLOW week.  The time has absolutely flown since I returned to school after the new year.  The routine has been great for me, but I’m in desperate need of some me time.  And by me time, I don’t exactly mean I’ll be watching movies, eating bonbons.  Relaxing isn’t really something I do all that often.  I just want some time to get things done around the house and at the gym.  Super exciting stuff like cleaning closets and the basement.  Nothing makes me happier than checking something off my to do list.  Correction….to do lists.  I have a slight problem!

For the last six weeks I haven’t done much other than work, work out, food shop, do laundry, prep food and sleep.  We have had a few social events on the weekends too.  It’s always great to get out and have a nice dinner somewhere with good company, but it’s crazy how then it puts you so behind in the housework that needs to get done during the weekend.  It’s all good though.  Most of the time I enjoy being the homemaker.

And I also really enjoy being a caregiver.  Since I’ve been back to work I’ve had to make more of an effort to make sure the dogs have gotten plenty of exercise.  I try to spend 10 minutes outside with them every morning before school and every evening when I get home from the gym.  I bundle up and give them some time to run around the yard like the crazy animals that they are.  Lately, though, they’ve been more interested in eating snow than in running around.

The only other things that have been thrown into the mix are some miscellaneous doctor’s and dentist’s appointments and the after school art club that I started.  That’s been a lot of fun for me.  It’s great to just create and not have to worry about somehow connecting it to the curriculum.  So far we’ve had three sessions and the kids seem to enjoy it as well.  It never ceases to amaze me how talented some of these kids are!  Here’s a sampling of our first three weeks of projects.

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Name art

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Color block self-portraits

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Monochromatic geometric shapes

I’ve also taken over some of the clerical duties at the gym.  I’m excited to be able to help Eric out with the business.  I’m glad I have this week off from school so that I can focus on getting some work done there.

Wish I had more exciting news to report, but sometimes life is just a hamster wheel.

february heartache

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The boys’ due date is coming up. February 16th. Of course, in all reality, because they were twins, it would have been unlikely that I would have made it to my actual due date. I probably would have had them around the first of February. In a perfect world. But our world is not perfect. It’s painful. And so my boys won’t have a February birthday. They had an October birthday. And an October death date. So February is just another painful reminder of what could have been.

Two little boys. Healthy and Strong. Blondies. Swaddled in blue. Cradled in their father’s massive arms. Crying. That deep throated baby wail. Stretching, yawning. Cuddling together. Tommy and Jimmy, my two little rascals. Entering the world together and being the best of friends. Driving me crazy, but the apples of my eye.

I wish.

But what could have been, will not be.

There will be no February birthday. There will be no babies in our house this winter. Their cribs, still in their boxes, will remain empty. Their baby registry will remain untouched, a collection of items unpurchased, baby gear unneeded.

Because life is a sick joke sometimes. Full of heartbreak, disappointment, and irony. Full of painful reminders.

There will be no “happy birthday” for this family this February. All there will be is the same “goodnight, my baby loves” that I utter every night to the photo that is burned in my memory for ever.

marianna mae designs

Today I’m really excited to share with you a project that has been a long time in the making.  Except it’s not my project.  It’s my little sister’s.  Ha!  I say little, but she’s taller than me, and she’s an adult.   She’ll always be little to me though.  And that’s why I am just so proud of her!

She has just launched her own brand of jewelry, Marianna Mae Designs.  You can check out her Esty shop here.   Her designs are fun, handmade, and one of a kind!  Her beaded bracelets look awesome when stacked and the colors are amazing!

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I also really love the inspiration behind her brand.

Marianne’s Story

“I have always loved color. Simply put, color makes me happy. As a kid I would rearrange the entire box of crayons in rainbow order. I would marvel at the different shades and hues, completely awestruck by the collection of colors. Now, as a jewelry designer, it’s that same love of color that drives my work. When creating designs for my jewelry, I pull inspiration from the bright, colorful patterns found in the textiles of our world’s cultures, and the vast, breathtaking beauty that occurs naturally throughout our globe.

With Marianna Mae my goal is to Color Your World Happy, to inspire people with color. Many times, in the hustle and bustle of our busy world, we lose sight of what truly makes us happy. My jewelry serves as a reminder to follow your heart, live out your passions, and keep your life fun and filled with colorful moments. 

Find your colors, discover your passions with Marianna Mae designs.”

Follow your heart.  Check.  Live out your passions.  Check.  Keep your life fun and filled with colorful moments…..I’m trying!  Love this message, love these bracelets!

Do me a favor.   If you know someone who you think would love these bracelets too, let them know about Marianna Mae Designs.  Spread the word!

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truth be told

Truth be told…I hate working out.  It drives me crazy that there is this perception that ALL the people who do CrossFit LOVE to work out.  I know there are some people that do love it.  (In fact, I’m married to one.)  But I know a lot of people who DON’T love it.  We love how accomplished we feel after.  We love how strong we feel.  We love how it has made our bodies leaner.  But we hate the discomfort and struggle that a challenging workout imposes on our bodies during the actual act of working out.  It sucks.  It sucks for me just like it sucks for everyone else.

“But it’s easier for you, you actually like to work out.”

Correction:  I like to feel strong.  I like the way working out makes me look.  I like how empowered working out makes me feel.  But I HATE to work out.

“But it’s easier for you, you are already in shape.”

Yes, I am in better shape than I was when I started.  But when I started I wasn’t in shape.  It sucked then.  And guess what?  It still sucks now.  The more “in shape” you are, the harder you push so the suckiness becomes exponential.

Working out is hard work.  It’s super uncomfortable.

013CFGR_NE_TE36638 1016135_395471297239774_1707596221_n 1013713_395472750572962_159272150_n I, too, experience that feeling when you feel like your heart is going to beat out of your chest, like your lungs just can’t possibly keep up, like every ounce of you is shaking, like you can’t possibly do one more rep, like your arms and legs are jell-o.  And I don’t enjoy it, but it goes with the territory.

I, too, experience that dreaded fear of a heavy barbell when you just aren’t sure you can lift that weight today even though you’ve done it before, but today,for whatever reason, you’re feeling weak/scared/intimidated.  And I’m uncomfortable the whole time, but it’s the only way to get stronger.

So, no, I don’t like working out.  But I’ve made it a priority in my life because there are a TON of positives that you experience when you’re “in shape”.  I’m willing to put myself into a really uncomfortable place so that I can experience all that good stuff.

I like going to the gym.  I like seeing my friends there.  I like learning new things there.  I like getting stronger.  I like getting faster.  I like getting leaner.  I like feeling better.  I like sleeping better.  I like having more energy.  I like having more confidence.

But don’t get it twisted.  I HATE working out.

recipe round up january snow day edition

It’s a snow day!  I woke up early so that I could get the shoveling out of the way.  The snow was pretty light and easy to move.  There was just so MUCH of it!  I think we got around 16 inches.  Now that the snow clean up has been taken care of it’s the perfect time to hunker down and write a few blogs.

I’ve got a couple random recipes to share.  The three don’t exactly pair well together, but all of them were a big hit in our house so I figured they were worth sharing.

First up:  Salami Salad.  This was so easy and turned out so delicious!  I was looking for a change of pace with my salad, and knew I wanted it topped with meat and cheese.  I went to the grocery store with the idea of a meat greek salad in mind and here’s what I ended up with.  I just mixed field greens and chopped red onion, topped with rolled and chopped salami, feta cheese, and Yasou Greek dressing.  I, personally wouldn’t eat this on a regular basis because the salami and feta aren’t exactly Paleo.  But it was perfect for a Saturday night meal.  We always treat ourselves a little on Saturdays.

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My next recipe is something I call Pumpkin Pancetta Stuffing.  I adapted a recipe I found on a Paleo website.  In fact, I adapted it so much that it’s actually a completely different recipe altogether now.  Here’s what you need:  2 cans of pureed pumpkin, 2 packages of pancetta, one small red onion, 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of coconut flour, salt and pepper.  Mix the pumpkin, eggs, coconut flour, and salt and pepper in a bowl.  Cook the pancetta and onions in a saute pan over low to medium heat until the pancetta is browned and crispy and the onions are soft.  Add the pumpkin mix to the pan and thoroughly mix the pancetta and onions into the pumpkin.  Be sure to spread the mix so it is in an even layer in the pan.  Cover the pan and allow to cook for about twenty minutes.  Every five minutes or so use a spatula to scramble up the mix.  Think of this process as if you were scrambling eggs.  It needs to cook evenly so every now and then you have to scramble it up so the bottom doesn’t get burned.  I find it cooks better when covered.  You’ll know it’s done because the consistency will change from a “slop” to a more fluffy, dry stuffing-like product.  I think I kept the heat on medium the whole time, but you can adjust as you’re scrambling if  you find it’s cooking too slow or burning on the bottom.

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My last recipe is inspired by Whole Foods Sonoma Chicken Salad.  It’s Cranberry Pecan Tuna Salad.  I make it in bulk so we can have it for the week.  I use four cans of tuna, a whole celery heart (chopped into smallish pieces), about a cup of dried cranberries, and about a half a cup of chopped pecans.  I mix it all together with Spectrum Organic Mayonnaise with Olive Oil.  I use half the jar when I make this much tuna.  It’s amazing.  Again, not exactly Paleo, but close enough for us.  Tastes great on top of lettuce or with a side of sweet potato fries!

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Enjoy!

inspired

I have been so uninspired lately.  That’s not true.  I have been so LAZY lately.  I have a couple blog ideas brewing but every time I think about writing them up I end up being a total load and just pouring over facebook statuses for way too long.

But today I became inspired.  Really inspired.  I went with my mom to visit my sister in Providence.  She’s been working as a jewelry designer for about five years.  Recently her company closed their jewelry division and she went to work full time for her husband’s business but she’s still doing some freelance jewelry work on the side AND developing her own brand.  I’m so excited for her!  I’m going to do a write up on her product once she gets her etsy shop up and running, but in the mean time, here’s a little sneak peak…

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When I went back to work I told myself that I wanted to still write 4-6 blogs a month.  It’s definitely WAY harder when I’m working full time. But I still do have the time to write, I just need to make it happen.  Since getting home from Providence this afternoon I have written a blog for the CrossFit Hingham page (which I’ll post on here as soon as it posts on the gym’s site) and I’ve got a rough outline for two additional blogs that I hope to have up within the next week and a half.

Creative juices are flowing….stay tuned!

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