Living History

This story is coming a week or so late, and I do want to post about yesterday’s half marathon, but I just finished reading this book and I want to get this story posted while it’s still fresh in my mind.

After my last infusion a couple weeks ago I sat on the bench in front of the infusion center reading my latest library find, The Tattooist of Auschwitz. As I’m reading, the woman next to me asks me for the time. She too, is waiting for a ride home from our local paratransit service. I notice she has a slight accent and I ask her where she’s from. She’s from Latvia, she tells me, and asks me if I know it. I regrettable do not, as geography was never my strong subject. She proceeds to tell me all the surrounding areas, and I ask her more about her story, what brought her here to America. This opened up a big can of worms.

The woman was happy to share, not at all shy, about her experience. She lived through World War II. Her family was driven from their home in Latvia because her father owned land and the Germans wanted it. My dad tells me this was common during the war. This woman sitting next to me told me how she worked in slave camps during her teen years, until her family was able to escape to a refugee camp in Sweden. She came to America in 1950 and she’s been here ever since.

As we were talking, the paratransit van arrived and it turned out we were on the same van because we lived near each other. Our conversation continued until we arrived at her home.

It was incredible to talk with her, and I just wished we had longer together. But even in that short time we were given I learned that she is a survivor, though she was quick to deny it. She has PTSD from her experience. And because she subsisted much of that time on soy beans, she still can’t eat anything with soy. She smiles as she tells me that even soy sauce is unbearable. Those odors bring back horrific memories that she can’t bear, even all these years later. I tell her she is a survivor because she kept going when many others did not. She keeps going even now, as she suffers the residual effects of the trauma she lived through.

Her name is Mitsy. She has a precious cat who loves to greet her at the door and she looks fabulous in her big floppy red hat. Mitsy is a survivor. Living, breathing history. I thank God that I had the privilege of that brief ride home with her. It was an encounter that left an indelible mark on my heart.

Love/Hate Relationships

This is not a post about people. This is a post about food. Just a warning, that’s all.

So I’ve been becoming more and more fed up with my belly area lately. I’m trying to accept that it will always be pooched out a bit more than I would like, because I have somewhat of a swayed back. However, it bothers me that it seems to change in size on the daily. Just last weekend at the Girl Scout camp I was joking with the other moms that it was so bloated and firm it felt like I was pregnant. And while that’s funny, and we chuckled about it, it’s also rather uncomfortable. So I have been doing more research into what foods cause that type of bloating and it turns out the biggest culprits are my favorite foods. Duh, right? Coffee, breads, pastas, protein bars, raw veggies! Oh, and sugar, which is of course, in everything under the sun.

My plan of action? I’ve started by doing a better job of reading nutrition labels to look for sugar content in addition to carb and protein content. And stopping to think before I eat something, and ask myself, “is it worth the bloated belly?” Sometimes I’ve decided it is, but more times than not I’ve been able to say no, and find an alternative snack or meal. One of my favorite replacements when I’m craving chocolate (which is daily) is to drink a glass of my ItWorks chocolate greens. I had been drinking it every day and somehow got away from it, so it’s good to have that resource. It curbs my chocolate craving without the inflammatory sugar, and as a bonus it provides me with all those nutrients my body needs to work better. Win-win.

I can avoid raw veggies by roasting them instead, no problem. And I think I can find replacements for the flat-out sugary foods. Its the breads and pastas that will be tricky because boy, do I love my carbs. I’m not the greatest cook, and what I am able or familiar with cooking pretty much all involves pasta or rice. I’ve not been real impressed with substitutes like cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles. I think those are going to be flavors and textures I just may have to endure at first and hopefully I’ll grow to like them.

I am still not eating dairy, because it was causing major headaches when I ‘cheated’, and I noticed the nerve pain in my feet was starting to come back. So that’s one inflammatory food that I have already eliminated. I have put eggs and some meat back in my diet, but only in small portions. With this half-marathon training I was feeling the need to find more variety in my protein sources, and I’m not creative or kitchen savvy enough to do it the way the actual vegans do it. My husband calls me a “chea-gan”. Vegan who cheats, get it?

So, that’s where I’m at. I guess. Trying to work on the inflammation. It’s challenging saying no to the foods I love, yes, but I noticed right away that it was making a difference in how I feel, so that motivates me to keep going with it. Over time I’m sure I will find more appealing alternatives and it will become a habit, just like all the other health choices I’ve been making over the years. I’ve got to stop loving the foods that seem to hate me. It’s just dysfunctional, you know?

Camp Deer Trails 2019

September is going to be a ridiculous busy month, but all for good reason. It started off with a camping trip with my daughter and her Girl Scout troop. This is an annual event that we participated in two years ago, only because last year she had only joined halfway through and was kind of on the fence about her commitment to the group. I’m happy to say she’s gotten more excited about being in Girl Scouts. We have a thriving Scout community here and I’ve made friends with many of the moms, so I’ve grown somewhat attached. Most importantly, this is a great way for her to stay active and build on her friendships with girls her age.

The first night we ate dinner as a troop at the Ponderosa on the way. Nice buffet, but kind of ridiculous expensive, if you ask me. When we arrived at camp we set up our our tents and bedding and headed down to the biggest bonfire you’ve ever seen. Go big or go home! They work very hard to make this bonfire, and the girls sing crazy silly songs while the older scouts and helpers roast marshmallows – I’m guessing at least 10 at a time – to make s’mores for everyone. It’s quite a sight to see and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t impressed.

The second day was long and full of activity. The girls decorated an outhouse, had archery lessons, made crafts, played games, and had a costume contest. The theme this year was the Arctic so Natalie recycled her brown fox Halloween costume and renamed it an arctic fox, because apparently they aren’t always white. I am not much for costumes, so I wore a coat and winter hat. It was getting kind of chilly anyway so it made sense.

The last day was shorter but they still had time for boating and fishing. Natalie really loved both the boating and the fishing but I think the boating was her favorite. She was able to go out on the lake on a kayak (or a funyak?) and when she came back in she was ready to hop right back in another boat and go back out. She did really well with the fishing too. She’s not grossed out by the worms so she was able to bait her hook all on her own. She even caught a baby fish!

Over the course of the weekend the girls had quite a few disagreements with each other as they were often either tired or hungry. And of course they are in 5th grade so you’ve got some hormones coming into play as well. They were given a stern lecture though and they were able to straighten things out pretty quickly. My hope is that these girls all continue to build deeper and deeper friendships as the years go on. I couldn’t do life without my circle of amazing girlfriends so I know what a gift that can be.

That last day it was great coming home to a happy dog, a quiet house, and a hot shower! I had a blast but I’m ready for the next adventure. Bible Study Fellowship, here I come…

Short Runs

Post run puppy kisses

Today’s short run was fantastic! Barely had to walk at all, and foot drop feels like just a thing of the past. I can’t believe I’m calling 4 miles a short run, but I guess that just shows what progress I’ve made in this training process. What really struck me as interesting during this run is that my breathing was not labored, and I was still able to maintain a pace around 13 minutes per mile. The other exciting thing was that my feet and legs felt lighter, and my legs seemed almost like they were propelling me forward, almost wanting me to go faster. I had to fight that urge, because that’s what landed me on my face last time. The cooler weather is nice too. Overall it was just a really great run, and I feel like I’m finding my rhythm, my groove.

The thing that has me a little perplexed is Friday’s scheduled run. My plan has me running 12 miles. TWELVE MILES! Aside from that being a really freaking long distance for me to run, I don’t even know WHERE I could run from my house that could get me to 6 miles, so that running there and back would bring me to twelve. I do have a decent 8 mile route, 4 out and back, so I guess I could shorten it to 3 miles out and back and just run it twice. That’s 12, right? I’m making a huge deal about that number, but I am curious to see how my body holds up to it, since I’ll be running 13.1 in just 25 days EEK!

I don’t know if you can tell in the photo above, but Piper is wearing a hoodie. Luke has one he wears with the sleeves cut off and the kids thought it would be fun to put it on the dog. Turns out, she doesn’t hate it, and it really seems to calm her down. She’s a high anxiety dog, and when we told our vet about the sweater, she said she would really benefit from a thunder coat, which would fit her better since they are designed specifically for dogs. So we’ve looked at them and will probably buy one for her soon. In other news, I added a pet category to our monthly budget so we can stop using our food budget to buy Kong balls and dog treats. HA!

Now I’m going to let you go because I have banana bread in the oven and the heavenly smell has me wanting to snuggle up in my recliner with a cup of coffee and a good book. Have a great day, friends!

All things fall

This post is dedicated to sweater weather which, here in Michigan, is right around the corner. I love sweater weather. I love summer, spring, fall, and winter, and I love this state because we get all four seasons in equal parts. Each one is just long enough so that you love it when it’s here, but as it’s ending you are more than ready for the next one to begin.

One thing I notice is that when I’m out for a run, I’m much less miserable (that’s not to say that I’m usually miserable on a run, I’m just being overdramatic. It’s what I do.) It’s really nice to have the cool, gentle breeze, and then to come home and not be covered in sweat. Today I ran 5 miles, with a couple short walking breaks, and I was surprised when it occurred to me that I was not struggling to walk or breathe. I was quite comfortable throughout the entire run. Part of this is that I’m learning to slow down and give my body some grace when it needs it. I learned this lesson best by falling on my face last week, and I won’t soon forget it. I take shorter steps, for safety, and then when my knee gives me that warning that it’s about to give out on me, I walk for a bit. This warning comes in the form of a shooting pain in my knee just as my foot hits the pavement, and I have to really catch myself to avoid falling. As of yet, it’s not caused me to fall, and I hope it stays that way. I’m still really hopeful that I’ll complete this half marathon next month on my own two feet.

In more exciting news, my kids went back to school today! My son is in 7th grade and my daughter is in 5th. They both got the classes and the teachers that they wanted, so other than the fact that they can’t sleep in and sit around playing video games anymore, they are pretty hopeful this will be a good school year.

My son is going to be on the cross country team this year, which is totally new. He does love to run, and has often run with me, but I think cross will still be a challenge for him because he will need to build up his stamina. He’s a great short distance runner, but he gets tired and bored fairly easily.

My daughter is not into any sports, but she loves art and science and horses. We may get her in for more horseback riding lessons down the road. She wants to sign up again for Girl Scouts, which she has been rather finicky about in the past so I’m hoping it sticks this time. Our community has a strong Girl Scout community and its a great way for her to build friendships with her classmates and learn some cool stuff in the process.

My ItWorks business is going fairly well. I added a new customer last month but this month is kind of at a standstill because I’ve been so focused on wrapping up the summer and getting the kids back to school. I’d like to do more promoting of the products I personally use on a regular basis, so you might see that coming around in the next couple weeks. If you are interested in checking out the product line, feel free to hop over onto my webstore at stillmindy.myitworks.com. Most people who have heard of the company have heard about their weight loss products, but there’s actually a lot more there. My personal favorites are the greens and the skin care line, for example. If you see something you like, let me know and I can help you get the 40% discount.

I have my next Financial Peace University class coming up in just 3 weeks and I still only have 3 people/couples signed up! Not that I don’t love a small group, but I would really like to see more people in the class because it’s such a wonderful life-changing experience and there are so many people out there who need to learn this stuff. This is God’s way of handling money, so it works. It’s not easy, for sure, but nothing worth doing ever is.

Well. What else? Bible Study Fellowship classes start up around the same time as FPU, so I’m going to be extra busy. Actually, I’m hoping for FULL, rather than busy. I’ve been working a little at watching how I’m spending my time so that I’m using it purposefully and not wasting it. I do allow myself downtime to rest my brain, I’m just being careful not to stay there too long. It’s been helpful having the kids home because I kind of feel like they are watching me and so I’m less tempted to waste time, so we’ll see how that changes now that they are back in school.

On that note, I’m going to make sure kitchen counters are cleared off because my groceries will be delivered soon!

Courage

Yesterday was my scheduled long run of the week, in preparation for my very first half marathon in 36 days (but who’s counting?). I planned out my route, a simple 5 miles out through town and on to the park trails, and 5 miles back. I started out feeling really strong, and I was excited for this run because up to this point my longest run had been 8 miles. I knew I was going to have to walk for parts of it, to rest my knee, and I was okay with that concession.

Do you ever embark on a new challenge and you feel really confident about it, only to fall flat on your face, metaphorically speaking? Well, I did this, only it wasn’t metaphorical. A mile and a half in to this long run, I tripped on the sidewalk and fell Flat. On. My. Face. I sat on the grass between the sidewalk and the street and inspected my wounds. Were my teeth still in tact? Was I gushing blood? Were my cochlear implants still on my head? Yes, no, and surprisingly, yes. After about 20 seconds I stood up, brushed myself off, and continued to run. But as I ran I could feel my upper lip swelling and I could taste blood. I decided to call my husband, who happened to be working from home that day, and ask him to bring me some ice. Until he drove up to give me the ice pack, I fully intended to run the remaining 8.5 miles with a fat lip and what would eventually turn into a massive headache. I think he could see that I was on the verge of tears, and he suggested that I ride back home with him and just rest a bit, that I could always go back out when I was ready. After a few moments of hesitation, I said yes. I kept my running clothes on for several hours, under the delusion that I would go back out and run the 10 miles. But then the headache came, and I decided I was better off taking an Aleve and sleeping for awhile. I could always try again Saturday.

So Friday felt like a bust and I woke up Saturday knowing this was my day to get that long run in, but really feeling like I need to be safer about it. This had been the 3rd time I fell this month, and while I need those long runs to prepare my body for 13.1, I don’t think it’s wise to run so far from home without a guide. I can still get the same workout on the dreaded treadmill in our basement. I hate running on the treadmill, but I need to get ready for this race, and not injure myself in the process.

To be honest, I woke up Saturday not really sure if I was going to run or not. But then I was on Facebook and my friends were posting reports of their long training runs. And then a friend texted asking how my face was doing, and another friend reminding me that yesterday’s fall was not failure, because she still remembers when I needed a walker to walk. So with a few messages of encouragement, in just a matter of minutes, my extreme discouragement transformed into full-on Courage. I was ready to run these miles. The icing on the cake, folks, was when I walked down to the treadmill and was reminded of the picture I keep above the display that says: “There will be a day when I can no longer run. Today is not that day.” I had forgotten all about it, but you can bet that was the final word of encouragement I needed to make sure I got that run started. And once I start, you better believe I’m a stubborn mule and I will finish, dang it.

I learned some things about running on the treadmill. One, when you run longer than 99 minutes, it stops moving and restarts the timer. Thankfully it didn’t reset the distance because that would have really frustrated me, but I ended the run at 9.99 miles just to be on the safe side. Some other advantages to the treadmill are that I can watch tv, I can stream Pandora without using data, and I have immediate access to a bathroom. So it wasn’t all bad. I did struggle with finding a good pace but I suppose that’s all part of the training. Better to figure this stuff out here in the safety of my home, than out on the course on race day.

I’ll be honest, compared to most of my runs, this one was pretty sucky, but it’s done and I have to be okay with that. My legs didn’t fail me, although my knee did cause me to fall once so I was glad I had a grab bar, I had zero drop foot issues, and I was actually able to finish with a very slow jog. So it’s a win in my book, whether I like it or not. Two days of rest and then I’ll be back out again for some short runs!

Who do you work for?

Do you ever encounter a child who likes to ask “why?” about everything? As in, “why do I have to do the dishes?” or “why do I have to clean my room?” And because you’re tired of giving them your well thought out, logical explanation, you give them the ol’ “Because I said so.”? Or maybe the child doesn’t ask why, but simply responds with a grunty moan, while muttering about how much they hate doing chores.

Do you know a child like this? Or better yet, are you perhaps that child some days? For me it’s a yes, and absolutely yes (some of you may have heard how much I hate folding laundry). So while I have been working hard to change my thinking and learn to just do the things before they get out of hand, I still have my days when my attitude is in the crapper. My kids have those days too, and I find it’s helpful to let them know I understand and can even relate.

23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.

Colossians 3:23-24 English Standard Version (ESV)

The other morning I was reading my devotional and I came across this verse. It spoke to me, and this chore hating procrastinator hiding inside winced a little, but the message stuck. So later when the kids were grumbling about chores, I shared the verse with them, and I hung it on the fridge for all of us to be reminded.

I realize throwing a Bible verse in here may not be relevant to you unless you are a follower of Christ, but I believe the message still has merit. I believe the greatest impact of our lives is not necessarily from the big notable things, but rather a lot of little things added up over time. The daily minutia. It’s like the butterfly effect. If we can wake up daily with the mindset that the small things matter to someone, somewhere, at some point in time, then maybe we can wake up feeling hopeful that if I can just do these mundane tasks with a smile, maybe it will make someone else’s day. Or from a believer’s perspective, maybe I can show the love and relatable humanity of Jesus by doing grunt work without grumbling. Honestly, that’s hard to do unless I truly believe that all of the work I do here at home is not just for my family, but ultimately for the Lord.

I would encourage you to sit down with that inner whiny child and let them know that the little things do matter. Start small. Do the hard things, little by little. It all matters to Someone. Just try it, I dare you!

I may be deaf and half-blind, but I am and will always be… still Mindy