Tag Archives: Hard Cider

Happy New Year 2015

Well, here it is, the time of year in which we’re supposed to look back with a regretful or chastising eye and then look forward with a hopeful or change-oriented one. For me, that’s every day, so this socially constructed mindfulness, reflection, personal analysis seems a bit felt up. I’m not being judgmental toward others who find this act refreshing; I’m simply saying that the way most people feel right now, looking back and looking forward, is pretty much how I live my life. I do enjoy the way the new year brings us all together into the same thoughtful consideration of what we’d like to change about ourselves. I love reading the goals that other people post, and I love hearing how people want to make the world better, starting with themselves. And I do love to participate in goal setting or resolution making. It’s an act of hope, like thinking that one day things will be better. So here’s to 2015, which will be better than 2014!

  1. Social Media: As of January 5, I plan to remove myself from social media. No more Facebook, no more Twitter, no more Instagram. For one year. Instead of these venues, I plan to call people, have real email conversations, and engage in face-to-face interactions with those people I love (or those who I will get to know). My interactions on Facebook, with the exception of some, simply serve to make me angry, jealous, bitter, ungracious, or otherwise not kind, compassionate, loving, friendly, or like someone I’d want to be around. If you know me, you can feel free to email, call, or text.
  2. Blogging: In lieu of social media, I am starting a creative project in which I write letters to people from throughout my life. Some letters will be anonymous, some addressed to the intended recipient, but all will be as close to the “truth” as I can get. I’ll house those posts at Grace and Shame, Letters, which is also linked on the right hand side of this blog. I doubt many folks will read the letters, because I won’t have them posting to Facebook or Twitter, but I hope to simply get improve my writing, post some hilarious and heartbreaking stories from my life (people are always telling me I have lots of stories), and maybe connect to some people through things that we have in common. I plan to allow myself an hour a day for writing, starting on January 5 for a total of 360 letters by year-end.
  3. Athletic Pursuits: This year I plan to work out five times a week, doing a variety of running, swimming, biking, and weight lifting. I have mapped out all of January, and I’ve been running and swimming a mile each day, so I think I’m on a good track there. I have two big goals for this calendar year: Muncie 70.3 (finish in 7 hours) and Big Shoulders 5K (finish in 2 hours). That’s it. Other than a couple of fun 5Ks, I have no other goals, except possibly a fall marathon, which entirely depends on my recovery from the 70.3. You can follow my Muncie 70.3 training by clicking above on Ironquest, which is where I will also begin posting my Ironman Wisconsin training after July.
  4. Food for Thought: I am going to eat what I want, when I am hungry. I will focus on eating whole foods and lean toward paleo/primal, but I’m not going to pass up some delicious crusty bread, Chunky Monkey ice cream, or M&Ms, if one of them is offered to me. I’m also checking one macro in my diet, protein, just to make sure I am getting enough to fuel my athletics. I do hope to lose some weight this year, so I’m going to be cautious, but not overly regimented about what I eat.
  5. Drinking: There will be only water, tea, coffee, and fruit juice. Mostly water (a gallon a day if possible, I hear it’s all the rage) and coffee (because I need it to cope). I am abstaining from alcohol, except for the fourth annual Burris Pub Crawl, for the entire year. On a somewhat related note, smoking is out too.
  6. Spirituality: Part of writing, for me, is thinking theologically. The hour of writing will include a bit of time for meditation, scripture reading, and prayer.
  7. Hairy Topics: A seemingly trivial and ridiculous goal is to let my hair grow. My long-term goal is Ironman Wisconsin in 2016, and if I let my hair grow from now until then, I’ll have enough to donate to Locks of Love again. Human hair grows about half an inch a month, so by September of 2016, I should have around ten inches of hair to pull back into a pony tail and shave off. I say this seems like a ridiculous goal, because what kind of a person can’t let her hair grow? Once my hair gets to a certain length, I have a terrible time leaving it on my head. I’ve been mostly bald for the better part of eight years, I’d say, and hair just seems extraneous. However, I do understand how very important hair is to those who have lost it. And, I say this in all humility, I do have pretty awesome hair.

Well, Happy New Year from me to you. I love you all. I do hope you’ll follow my journey.

New Beginning(s): “This is the first day of the rest of your life . . . “

I feel like I am constantly starting over. Personally, starting over feels good to me, and I wake up nearly every day with the bridge of one of my favorite songs stuck in my head: “This is the first day of the rest of your life.” Sometimes, though, I think this might get draining for my friends. I think they sit around thinking, What is she going to try to do this time, and how long will it last? You know, I think the same thing. But instead of feeling like a flake or feeling defeated by my inability to “stick to it,” I feel invigorated by it. This may be wishful thinking, but I think starting new again and again and looking at every day as the first day of the rest of my life is actually a very healthy place for me to be in. I never get stuck in a rut, unless it is a rut of starting over. This constant change of focus, however, might mean that I never really finish what I start, which is a signal or indicator of failure in American culture that places so much emphasis on the completion of tasks, even at the face of incredible boredom or monotony. I, however, vow that each day is the first day of the rest of my life, and I retain the right to change my mind and to act out those changes in my little corner of the world.

How will this work out, you ask, in the facets of my life I hold most dear? Well, Friend, here’s today’s new and improved me (with a smattering of the old me for good measure, and a touch of the same old topics being knocked around again).

Anyone who’s read this blog before knows that one of my largest areas of struggle is spirituality. I reason with my analytical self and contemplate inside my mystic self, I wrestle with the (many understandings of) the Judeo-Christian God and, lately, I’ve been conversing with Buddhism. I’m also looking for ways intentionally fit in some meditation and prayer throughout my day. Providentially, I happened upon the Daily Examen, which is an Ignatian practice. I think this short simple prayer exercise will complement the other meditation I have started, “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment,” which I read about in Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh. Thay, as his students call him, seems to be onto something that resonates inside of me when he compares mindfulness and meditation to the presence of the Holy Spirit and prayer. Never does he claim that they are one and the same, but he carefully describes the ways in which they can exist side-by-side to bring a further understanding of ourselves in line with a further understanding of the world and its spiritual realm. His writing is so beautiful and his spirit so kind and peaceful, it makes me want to visit Plum Village. I’m thinking about going there next summer if I can find the funding. I need a bit of renewed-ness in my life. Summer seems pretty far away, but I know it will be here before I know it.

Looking toward summer probably isn’t what a teacher should be doing while she sits at her desk spending time on personal writing before beginning to plan two first, six-week units for classes, but it’s what I am doing, and it’s necessary and good work, and looking toward summer is natural for me. However, the school year is here and brings with it many, many changes to our school. Most important to me is the change that enabled me to move to the high school. I am very sad to leave my middle school students and some of my middle school colleagues, but I am excited to embark on a new journey, “This is the first day . . ..” This year I am teaching two sections of British literature, which is new for me. I never imagined I’d teach British literature. I never thought I’d want to, but it’s part of the bargain of moving up to high school. I’m finding that I really enjoy planning for the class and thinking about something new and different to me. I’m also enjoying three sections of American literature, which is, of course, why I made the decision to move to high school. I love American literature. I love everything about it, and now I can restructure the course into thematic units and teach it in a more holistic, well-rounded way, giving more voice to those groups which are currently under-represented. At Burris, we’ve always taught it chronologically by literary movements, which is entirely the easiest way to teach it when two teachers are sharing the classes. However, it’s my own gig now, and I plan to switch things up for next year. This year, because I only have two preps and because we’ve been released from many of our committee requirements, I feel like I can squeeze in a few things that I thought might get squeezed out of my life.

One of the things I’m putting back into my life is my dissertation. This, I think, might be the thing that makes me seem the most flakey. To most, it likely seems that I don’t know what I am doing and I’m flighty and not very serious about this piece of my education, but I am. Very. Serious. I want to finish my PhD, but I don’t want my ideas, my paper, my writing to suck. I don’t want to be subpar, and that’s where I was headed. I’ve taken an entire summer off, rested, and refocused, and I am ready now to a superstar! (That was a little too much, eh?) At any rate, I have a plan this time, and it might actually work. I plan to get up and get to school by 5:30 every morning, giving myself two hours to work on my dissertation every day before school starts. My mind is the freshest at this time of day, and theoretical concepts make the most sense before I’ve intermingled with my students. I’m not a morning person in the way of being with people that early, but I can surely write and read before the chaos of the day clutters my brain. I have two hours of prep time to get things ready for classes throughout the day, and our lesson plans are due on Monday by 4PM anyway. I am really excited about this prospect, and now I can’t, simply can’t, fall on my face, or I will look like a real tool.

I’m also going to start taking piano lessons every other Friday, and, as of now, I’m a little nervous about that bit of exploration and learning!

What does this do for my swimming and running, my athletic endeavors, you might wonder. I’m canceling the rest of the races I had planned for this year, in favor of being a bit more low-key and doing some 5Ks as they come up. I’ve decided to put a hold on my morning swims. It’s going to be two school years of sacrifice, and then I can swim again. I doubt I’ll forget in that time. As far as biking goes, the season is almost over for it, and I don’t plan to bike on my trainer until spring. Until it is over, though, I plan to go on long rides on Saturday with Bec, and I ride my bike to school every day anyway. In order to sort of rein in my extra energy and balance my moods, I plan to combine the prayer and mediation I mentioned above with an evening run to wind down from and reconsider my day. It’s my goal, Monday through Thursday, to walk over to the lookout by Minnetrista and do the smiling and mindful meditation, then run two miles. When I return to the overlook, I will then complete the daily examen and walk home. There is no reason that I can’t have an hour to myself to be contemplative before going home to cook.

I plan to continue to cook delicious—I’d even say gourmet (sometimes)—paleo meals. We feel better and look better in just the nine months we’ve been eating grain-free. I hope to keep it that way. Also, my brother and I want to eventually open a paleo gastro pub with our own home-brewed hard ciders. We’re going to start brewing the ciders this fall, I think, and we’re hoping to make some pear cider next fall. One thing we both love is trying new foods and drinks, so I think it’s a bonus that we found paleo eating when did!

Cheers! (Raising a hard cider): here’s to starting over. Here’s to rethinking. Here’s to new beginnings. Here’s to exploration, and growth. Here’s to future hopes, past failures and success, and present moments to savor. Here’s to “the first day of the rest of your life. Even in the darkness you can still see the light.”

More Things I’ve Eaten, and Some Cider. Sports. The Light of the World. Opening Day.

More Things I’ve Eaten

I don’t want to turn into one of those people who only posts pictures of the food they eat, writing endlessly about how amazing their cooking is and about how fantastic the food they eat is, but I love food, I love cooking it, and I love eating it, so it only seems right to post pictures of my first love. Lots of pictures. I promise, though, that I won’t brag (too much) about my cooking skills.

Along with my love of food, my second love used to be beer, but it doesn’t make much sense to me to avoid grain products all week long, just to inundate my body with them on weekends. In fact, many people who follow a paleo or primal lifestyle eschew alcohol all together. Instead of completely abstaining, I’ve switched to ciders, but the sad part of this scenario is that there aren’t nearly as many ciders available to try as there are beers, especially in the Midwest. My brother and I are hoping to visit some cider breweries this summer, so I’ll make sure to keep you in the loop about that.

Here are the deliciously luxurious food photos:

Coconut Crusted Catfish; Dandelion Green and Spinach Salad

Beef Stir Fry with Srirachi; Woodchuck Spring Cider

Grass Fed Sirloin; Mixed Green Salad; Samuel Smith's Organic Cider

Charcoal-Grilled Sockeye Salmon; Mixed Green Salad; Strongbow Cider

 Sports: Racquetball, Swimming, Barefoot Running

The more time I spend playing or participating in other sports, the more I agree with the idea that physical conditioning just prepares us to play more and better. I know myself well enough to know that I will never be a fast runner. In fact, I’ll probably never finish in the top two thirds of any race I run. Likely, I’ll finish in the last quarter, if not in last place, but I don’t care. I don’t care because I don’t run to be competitive; I run for the fun of it. I don’t swim to be competitive; I swim for the fun of it. I love the sports that require lots of stamina and that make my body sore and achy the next day because I’ve worked hard to have fun and to finish. I consider swimming and running to be the building blocks for every other sport. (I’d consider cycling to fill this purpose, too, but it’s not summer and I don’t generally ride my bike when it freezes my face.) These sports exist to prepare our bodies for more.

For example, I realized last night that I signed up for two races that I probably won’t finish, because they’ll cut the race off before I will make it around the course the second time. I don’t care. I’ll just keep running and cross the line after the awards ceremony, but at least I will have finished. I didn’t look at the times before I signed up and they didn’t list a cutoff time, but last years times are posted now, and I will run it in about 15 to 20 minutes longer than the longest time listed. I assume this is because lolly-gagging, fat, barefoot or Vibram-clad, pushing-40s, running-for-fun women don’t generally sign up for 15K trail runs. I just hope my time doesn’t go down as a DNF because it took me too long to cross the line. I’ll just have to time myself with my watch and be unofficially proud of myself for finishing.

You see swimming and running are sports I play to finish, but racquetball, disc golf, basketball and those types of games are sports I play to be competitive. I don’t by any stretch of the imagination mean that I am exceptionally good at any of these sports, but I love to be competitive in them. I play hard. I win hard. Or, I lose hard, but I always have fun. I played racquetball with my friends Celeste and Sarah yesterday and had a blast! To me, the grueling workouts of running and swimming serve only to prepare my body for playing hard and having fun, not that I don’t have fun swimming or running—if I didn’t, I wouldn’t do them—but I don’t swim or run to play or compete. On second thought, maybe that’s why I am so drawn to trail running, because it’s fun, and so much more like playing than road racing could ever be?!?

Opening Day

Speaking of playing, baseball’s opening day is just around the corner! Go REDS! Their home opener is April 5 against the Florida Marlins. I hope to make it to several games this year, but we’ll see how the funding works out. If anyone wants to donate Red’s season tickets to my summer fun basket, let me know. I’d appreciate the dugout box, or the infield box seats. They’re reasonably priced. Ha!

The Light of the World

Today at church, Matt spoke about being the light of the world. He mentioned that we are “set,” or systematically placed to be the light of the world. Matthew 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (TNIV). We are intentionally built as a city on a hill. We have God’s light inside us. We are to share that light in intentional ways.

St. Paul Cathedral at Night from MPR News

I have forgotten that I am supposed to be the light of the world. Instead, I’ve been spending a lot of time being the opposite of the light, repeatedly putting myself under a bowl. I’ve been the harbinger of pessimism, sadness, and anger. Lots of anger. How can I be the light while I am being angry? Matt showed us a video about Bob Goff, and in it, Goff said you can’t be angry if you keep your palms up. It’s easy to get angry when your fists are clenched or your hands are facing down, but it’s very difficult to get angry when your palms are facing up. Yet another example of the ways in which God designs our bodies to worship and not to harm: the physicality of our bodies guides the emotionality. I need to remember that.

My challenge to myself is to remember that I am where I am for a purpose. I need to ask myself everyday, “How is it that you are going to let God use you today?” And I need to make sure I face my palms up when I am meeting with colleagues. Does this mean I will do it all right? No. I am sure it doesn’t. But does it mean I will be a little more intentional about trying to be the light of the world, about trying to show God’s love to others? Yes. I certainly hope it does.

Some Things I’ve Eaten and the Places I’ve Eaten Them

Here is a picture of the pumpkin curry I mentioned in the previous post. Had I thought about it, I would have put it in a different bowl, because the soup is obviously the same color as the vessel it was eaten from. Also, I will probably never get the gist of photographing food, which kind of makes me sad, since food is my most favorite thing in life next to swimming (which I can’t photograph well either!).

Pumpkin Curry

Here is a photo of tonight’s delicious dinner: grapes, blueberries, and raw milk extra sharp cheddar from grass-fed cows. Delicious, light, and everything dinner should be!

"Do you have any staples? No? Well, then, do you have any gwapes?"

And because I’m sort of messed up like this, here is a picture of dinner a few nights ago: grilled/blackened bone-in chicken breast and spinach salad with bacon, blueberry, balsamic dressing.

Lots o' Greens!

Early this morning my brother, my parents, and I went to Trader’s Point Creamery for their farmer’s market. We also stopped at Whole Foods and The Fresh Market, but, in between, we went to Brunchies in Carmel to have—you guessed it—brunch! I had a three-egg omelet with spinach, mushrooms, jalapeños, and sausage and hash browns. It was delicious, and their coffee was pretty tasty, too.

"Kiss my grits." —Flo, Mel's DIner

Finally, right now I am enjoying a delicious Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider. I’ve always been pretty much a Porter girl, but since I’m trying to stick to a primal lifestyle, when I do splurge with alcohol, it’s mostly with hard ciders. (I mean cave people probably let their apples or fruit ferment from time to time, right?!) I didn’t used to enjoy them at all, but now I find great pleasure in sampling different ones. Also, I’ve noticed—whether the wheat, hops, barley, malt, whatever—I have an allergic reaction almost every time I drink beer. My cheeks flush and get hot, and the whole affair is simply rather unpleasant. So far, so good with ciders of any kind.

It’s been a great day, all in all.