Soulmates.

I was out, but at a computer, missing the Artist. I was studying for a midterm, and of course full of stress and anxiety about it. I am waiting to hear if I got into the MA program I applied to and interviewed for, and I am really stressed about that too. Stressed if I don’t get it, yet anxious if I do. If I don’t get in, that is a lot of hard work applying (and applying for a scholarship) that didn’t pay off, and my plans will have to change. But if I do get in, that is 2 more years of what I know will be really hard work. I want to take on the challenge, but still, I know that lots of hard work would be in my future. Not to mention the stresses of daily life, trying to find time to do laundry and cook and all that.

I had been feeling particularly stressed at that moment, my body feeling restless and anxious, and I was yearning (and still am) to take a vacation with the Artist. We took an amazing week long vacation to the Dominican Republic in 2010, and we went to Chicago for a few days exploring in 2015, but that is it. We have bee talking about wanting a vacation together for so long, even just a few nights away somewhere within driving distance where there is a cheap motel where we can watch a “movie on TV” and order all kinds of takeout and junk food for a few days while we enjoy an outdoor pool, restaurants, sightseeing, a beach, etc. Even that seems impossible when you are broke AF, let alone going somewhere tropical or otherwise expensive like NYC or Florida.

But, my number one way to redirect my anxious thoughts it to think about my love, and how we get to share our lives together, no matter what. No matter where we are or what we are doing, we get to be together. Master’s program or no Master’s program, vacation or no vacation, money or no money, we will make it. We will figure it out. And then I checked my email. The Artist sent me an email with nothing in the body or subject line, just a link to a video. The video was of a car commercial, and the song of that car commercial has become associated with our lives. I was just saying that every time I hear that commercial, I think back to last summer. We had just moved, it was a hard, hard move with lots of obstacles. We were even more broke than we are now. I had classes start the day after we moved in, I didn’t know my way around and had no phone to use GPS, on top of the nerves of just going back to school after 5 years off. The summer was spent in a realm of anxiety and stress, with boxes everywhere as we tried to balance school, job searching, and unpacking. I was so stressed that I had no appetite and didn’t sleep well, and if you know me, you know that this is VERY unlike me. And somehow, with that commercial always coming on, the song somehow became associated with that period of our lives.

But now, the song is a reminder that no matter how stressful life gets, I have this guy by my side making me laugh, supporting me, and enriching my life on a daily basis. He sees beauty in such ordinary things that I never would have noticed before, and it reminds me to stop and smell the roses. So we would stop the craziness for a few hours, go exploring in our new city, and have some laughs.

I teared up watching this video, it was like he knew exactly my stress levels and that I was thinking of him, and sent this video to let me know he was also thinking of me, and that whatever happens, we will find a way to flourish, together ‚̧

No, I don’t want to buy your $5 per serving shake/meal replacement/smoothie/whatever you are selling.

Has anyone else noticed that everyone is becoming a representative of some sort of product lately? Skin care, food, kitchen supplies, make up, etc., but the most common thing I keep getting asked to buy and become a part of, is shakes. But the most common thing seems to be shakes and meal replacements, but for me, the answer is no. I get it, though. It is a REALLY tough economy right now and everyone is scrambling to find income and survive. And kudos to all the awesome people in my life that these things work for, who are on a journey of health and wellness and have created a business they love. But please understand, this is not for me. Here is why.

When I tell you I can’t afford it, I really can’t. When you say things like “you are worth the investment”, I appreciate it, and I know that that my health is important and worth a lot of effort an attention. But that doesn’t change my ability to afford it. I use my campus food bank, I budget like crazy, and there are still nights that I have gone to bed without dinner, simply because pay day was around the corner and I had no food because it all went to rent or another crucial bill. This is not the norm every night, though, so don’t worry. I still manage to eat healthy foods on a $100 or less budget per week, in Toronto, for two adult powerlifters with big appetites. We both have smoothies for breakfast that cost $1-2 per person. Mine packs about 40g protein, 10g fiber, 1 fruit, 1 vegetable, lots of fat and carbs, and an array of vitamins and minerals. Sometimes I even eat an orange or kiwi on the side which will up the vitamins and fiber too. These are dietary requirements that are specific to my needs, and meal replacements generally do not meet these needs. Also, I can’t have gluten, which is surprisingly in a lot of that stuff, and I choose not to eat much soy, because it is bad for, and aggravates, all of my weird bodily conditions.

When you say that if I join the business, it will help with my money problems, please understand that I am a full time university student with multiple part-time jobs that I enjoy- I barely have time to shower in a day, let alone participate in the constant social media presence involved in these things. I do enjoy social media, but not for posting every meal and workout I do in a day. And my part-time jobs are ones that are enhancing my life in some way, and I enjoy them.

When you say that I won’t have to step foot in the gym or cook dinners, because all workouts are done from home and dinners are a shake (for example), this does not sound appealing to me. I LOVE going to the gym and cooking. Mostly, I love eating home cooked meals. I do powerlifting, which requires a gym, unless you have your own gym, which would be incredible lol! When you say that I can get weights and modify the workouts to include them, the answer is no. I do powerlifting, it is not the same as getting some dumb bells and following a video.

So I ask that you understand that I have different interests than you, and that is ok. I am excited for you that have a business you love and are healthy and enjoy what you do. I also enjoy what I do, it just happens to be something different. I am so proud of you for working hard towards your health goals! I am also proud of myself. My goals are a little different, and that is also ok. I am looking to gain muscle mass and intense strength, which requires intense workouts at the gym and lots of calories consumed. Hence, low calorie shakes are not suited for me, and meals that cut calories are out of the question. My basal metabolic rate, which is just to maintain my body, muscle, organs, etc. at rest is a little over 1600 cal per day. Add in a workout that burns probably 700 cal AT LEAST, plus add in additional calories to create a surplus for muscle building…that is a lot of food.

So all in all, these shakes and meal replacements just do not suit my life, my goals, or my interests. They may suit yours, which again, is ok. Lets focus on encouraging one another to strive towards our goals, no matter what they are ūüôā

The 27 year old undergrad.

It has been a busy, stressful summer. ¬†I started classes the day after moving into our new Toronto apartment and we still aren’t completely unpacked and set up. ¬†We have been frequently thrift shops looking for furniture, but haven’t had any luck. ¬†Things are slowly coming together back up in the great white north!

My summer semester was definitely hard, it is such a shock going from the working world back into school full time. ¬†But I made it, and with decent grades. ¬†The biggest shock of all, however, was the fact that I am at a completely different life stage them most of my classmates. ¬†Being a 27 year old in undergrad classes, I am 8 years older then some of my peers. ¬†Although that really isn’t much when you consider one’s lifespan, it is quite a difference in what “phase” of life is happening.

I am 27, will be celebrating my 6th wedding anniversary with the Artist at the end of this month, I have lived on my own and with the Artist for many years and in turn have many bills to pay, and my favourite pass times include reading, watching films, listening to CBC radio, cooking (well, I am the assistant- the Artist is the actual cook!), relaxing while listening to our record collection, getting crafty, and powerlifting. ¬†Through conversation with other students around campus, it seems, as it should when you are 19, that going to bars and hanging out with friends are what the kids are doing these days. ¬†I wish I was saying that I was declining invitations to go out to the bar because I just wanted to go home and relax, but it must be obvious that I am an old lady. ¬†Either that, or I come across as an unapproachable person. ¬†Its probably both. ¬†Chandler from Friends articulates it perfectly…

Chandler Bing

I also feel like I am one of the last people to be fit the “starving student” archetype. ¬†I feel like I am surrounded by people who can afford all kinds of travelling and vacations, Mac laptops to bring to class for note taking, take-out food whenever they want, and no problems paying tuition or rent. ¬†Meanwhile, I am doing my laundry in my bathtub, using the campus food bank, sharing a laptop with the Artist (we need a computer equally for our own livelihoods) as well as a cell phone, and taking notes in class with a notebook that my parents bought for me and a pen I took from their ¬†house. ¬†I filled that notebook completely, so lets hope they buy me a new one for the upcoming term, LOL. ¬†I also have no idea how I will be paying my tuition that is due at then end of this month, not to mention bills, and I continuously sew together the same few clothing items that keep gaining new holes or tears.

It is all very weird, being in undergrad classes at 27.  When I was 19, I thought for sure that at 27 I would have the best job that ever existed and been done school with a prestigious degree(s) and have my dream home and life all figured out.  Well, I have come to the conclusion that you never really figure life out.  It is an ongoing journey with changing goals and aspirations along the way- so you might as well enjoy things, one day at a time.

Today I enjoyed bacon, egg and veggie scramble, and hash browns for lunch.  I enjoyed grocery shopping and still having about $10 left over for any other food needs that might arise this week.  I am going to workout later with the Artist, and despite my current sciatic pain, I will enjoy that too.  I will enjoy watching the Olympics tonight snuggled up with my love, and I will enjoy how beautifully gloomy and rainy it is this afternoon.

To see more photos of me enjoying the simple things in life, check me out on instagram @capitaineflash

As much as I would LOVE to travel and take a vacation, not have to worry about how I will pay tuition, or go shopping for new clothes and shoes whenever I feel like, I am sharing my life with someone who makes me smile and laugh every day, who shows me unconditional love, supports me, and inspires me….and that is more important than anything.

Suddenly, the mangled and torn insoles of my shoes seem so insignificant ‚̧

A breath of fresh air.

Sometimes we just need some fresh air. ¬†There is something about spending time with nature that is soothing, and helps you find peace with whatever you are struggling with. ¬†We really wanted to go camping (secluded style, not in a massive field full of tents), and although it is a cheap thing to do, we just couldn’t afford it. ¬†I was really upset, annoyed, etc. but tried my best to stay positive and come up with an alternative. ¬†We decided to take a walk at Castlewood State Park, and then a drive through Lone Elk Park instead. ¬†Our walk was very beautiful, and the air was very crisp- just the way we like it. ¬†There was a bench on one of the bluffs, so we sat down and just enjoyed the view for a bit. ¬†We breathed in that beautiful fresh air and just talked, and although I still want to go camping, I didn’t seem to mind as much anymore. ¬†It was very calming. ¬†Afterwards, we drove through Lone Elk Park, and briefly got to seek some elk and even a bison in the distance!

I often find myself craving to spend time outside or be with nature in some way, which I take as a sign that I am carrying around too much stress and need to take care of myself.  So, take care of myself I did.

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What if I don’t want razor abs or a “thigh gap”?

As a woman, I feel like we are expected to strive for flat stomachs, thigh gaps, and a sleek physique. ¬†I have always hated my love handles and “muffin top”, something that I have struggled with my entire life.¬† I have always felt like I jiggled a little too much in too many places, and yearned for that flat stomach.¬† I thought that eating less food, and taking up jogging/running was the answer.¬† But my problem was, I thought that was the only answer. ¬†And I thought that this was the only body that was “acceptable” and that this is what I should be striving for. ¬†So when I would try running, and hated it, I felt doomed to ever feel good about myself, because no matter what routine, style, etc. that I tried, I hated it.¬† I didn’t realize that there are many types of people and many types of bodies.¬† I also have Hashimoto’s Disease.¬† I have been living with it for over a decade, and although it presents challenges, I don’t want to use it as a crutch.

I have been feeling displeased with my body, and one day, out of the blue, thought “well, what if I don’t want a six pack?!”.¬† And I got to thinking…….What if I don’t want a perfectly sculpted body?¬† What if I don’t mind if my thighs touch, or my stomach jiggles a little?¬† What if I don’t want to be a runner?! ¬†Now, I am not suggesting unhealthy lifestyles, but rather, the expectations I had been carrying around for myself were unrealistic, and not very well thought out. ¬†I didn’t ever truly think about what I ACTUALLY wanted for myself, I just thought about what I felt I SHOULD be wanting. ¬†I just assumed that is what I should look like,¬†and being a runner with razor abs is what I should be striving for.¬† It was like a switch flipped in my brain.¬† After some reflecting and long conversations with the Artist, my goals and aspirations became more clear….

I want to…

  • exercise regularly doing a variety of activities, and lift even heavier weights then I already do
  • improve my yoga practice
  • get a minimum of 8 hours of quality sleep every night, 9 is actually my preferred amount for me to feel well rested
  • eat a clean, whole foods diet

I DO NOT want to…

  • rely on meal replacements or other “diet” products
  • be a runner/jogger, because that is not me or where my interests are, nor do I not enjoy it…kudos to all you runners out there!¬† Doing what you love is the most important thing!
  • wake up at 4am every morning to work out
  • want to work out in my living room (I know this works well for others, and that is awesome, but this is not for me.¬† My living room is my special relaxing space, where I read, listen to music and spend time with my Artist, and I do not want it associated with working out.)

I want to aim to incorporate exercise and fitness into my life, and NOT the reverse- trying to fit some “life” into my exercise schedule. ¬†But mainly, I want to feel healthy, energetic, and most importantly: STRONG.¬† As I said above, there are different types of people and different types of bodies- we are all different! ¬†And if we are all different we should have a variety of goals, and I should not be comparing myself or my goals to others. ¬†I consider myself as “thick” and “dense”, and for the first time, I am perfectly ok with that.

The Artist and I are 2 months into our new workout routine. ¬†To simplify, our routine goes as follows: lift often (3 times a week for us), and left heavy. ¬†That is all (with the occasional walk or bike ride thrown in there). ¬†When I started dabbling in weight lifting about 3 years ago, I didn’t really know what I doing, and I was more experimenting to find what kinds of exercise I enjoyed. ¬†I wasn’t really lifting anything heavy, I wast just trying to figure myself out. ¬†I thought it would be pretty cool, if one day, I could put 25lb plates on the squat bar (95lbs total) and do all of my sets that way. ¬†This was my “dream goal” that I 100% thought I might never actually achieve.

Here I am, 2 months into our “lift often, and lift heavy” regimen, squatting 25lb and 10lb weights on the bar, for a total of 115lbs, above and beyond what I thought I might never be able to do!

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And I also wanted to share a video of me doing deadlifts. ¬†My “dream goal” on this was 45lb plates on the bar (135lbs total), and again, I 100% thought I would NEVER be able to do this. ¬†I could barely do a 40lb barbell 2 months ago, so I am really proud of myself on this one ūüôā

When watching these videos and viewing these photos of myself, I was kind of disappointed at first. ¬†I don’t look nearly as strong or good as I feel, but then I realized that is the most important thing right?- how I FEEL! ¬†So although I am still working on changes and improvements, and as I feel discouraged when things aren’t happening “fast enough”, I just remember that me going to the gym, or taking that bike ride, or going on that walk, is better then me sitting on the couch. ¬†Everyone knows that famous quote, that every journey starts with a single step, and it is very true. ¬†I am just trying to make healthy choices for myself, one day at a time.

Homemade Woven Coasters

As a working woman, I find that I don’t have much time to just be. ¬†Time to lounge around, watch TV, read, work on my latest project, write a blog post, or just have some time with my thoughts. ¬†Having this time is something that is very important to me, and I try and savour it whenever I can, even if it exists for only a short period of time.

To say that the Artist is a night owl would be an understatement. ¬†Every night as we are climbing into bed to watch TV, a movie, or read, he has lots of energy and is bouncing off the walls. ¬†Literally. ¬†He has the most energy at this time of the day, and in turn, sleeps in during the morning. ¬†Long after I have fallen asleep, sometimes on the couch, the Artist is “arting” away through the night creating his masterpieces. ¬†So on the weekends, I get up at my usual hour, sometimes sleep in a tad, and enjoy a nice, slow, relaxing morning. ¬†If I sleep in too late, and I will if I don’t set an alarm, my sleep schedule gets so thrown off and I am dragging myself around all week until I crash. ¬†So these mornings are my primary time to read, learn, and relax.

My latest project has been weaving, and I am addicted to it. ¬†So I have been putting on an old sitcom like Friends and weaving away in the mornings. ¬†I made a make shift loom using cardboard, and have been making these coasters that I really love. ¬†The Artist saw them on a blog…¬†http://www.prettyprudent.com/2014/09/prudent-home/diy-woven-coasters/ and asked me if I could make some, as I am fairly decent at “crafting”. ¬†I loved these, and they are just our style. ¬†So here are just a few, I have been making tons of these. ¬†When weaving, I feel very zen. ¬†It is like meditating. ¬†Just typing about it is making me crave a weaving session this morning.

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Without my special weekend mornings, I feel off balance and kind of irritated.  I guess it just goes to show how important self-care is for our overall well-being, and that we should engage in it often.  By taking care of myself, I am the best wife I could possibly be, the best daughter, friend, and colleague that I could possibly be.  I am the best version of me, in all of my roles.

 

Life and Homemade Kettlecorn.

As adults, we have so much going on that days slip away in an instant, which turns into weeks and months. ¬†How easy is it to walk in the door after a long day and be so tired, you microwave something for dinner and watch TV until you fall asleep? ¬†How easy is it to waste precious time mindlessly browsing the internet? ¬†How easy is it to give your full self to your work, and be so busy with that you forget about other aspects of life? ¬†It is hard to find the energy to go to the gym, spend time in the kitchen doing home cooking, and and be “present” as a wife, mother, daughter, whatever your roles may be.

This is something I have been finding hard lately. ¬†The evenings are spent trying not to fall asleep before 8pm. ¬†So The Artist and I devised a plan. ¬†We decided to think about what we wanted, and what was important to us, and how we would incorporate that into our lives. ¬†It is like a vicious circle‚Ķ.you’re too tired to go to the gym or cook a meal, but if you exercise and eat well you will have more energy. ¬†One day, it was like “enough is enough”! ¬†This cycle of no exercise, bad eating, and crashing in front of the TV every night HAS to stop! ¬†Here is what we decided we want; more time together, a clean apartment, more home cooking and healthier eating, more sleep, more exercise. ¬†These are our goals to achieve them.

1. Go to the gym 2-3 times a week to lift weights together. ¬†Yoga etc. at home on the “off” days for me. ¬†Lots of exercise during weekdays, so weekends are reserved for “fun exercise” like a day walking around the zoo.

2. Home cooked meals every week night. ¬†Even if it is leftovers, it is healthy, balanced left overs. ¬†We like to make meals in bulk solely to have leftovers ūüôā ¬†Weekends are for extra special homemade meals that are more time consuming (we put on some music, pour some rum, and make a night of it!). ¬†Or the opposite: we have “cheat” meals like chicken strips or poutine.

3. We limit mindless internet browsing. ¬†We catch up on how each other’s days went, and then sometimes returning Facebook messages or reading the latest on blogs I follow is a good way to wind down. ¬†In the evening hours, we try to limit this to 15 minutes. The Artist uses the internet during the day when he has some free time, and I like to “browse” in the mornings when I first get up. ¬†So only 15 minutes in the evenings isn’t so bad because we have used our “non-together” time to complete emails and check out our favourites sites already.

4. We do one thing together every day. ¬†Whether it is cook a meal together, watch a movie together, play cards, etc. we do at least one thing together per day. ¬†This comes naturally, and isn’t really something we have to think about.

5. We do one fun outing or event together each weekend.  Sort of like a date night.  We might go to Forest Park, the zoo, thrifting, we might marathon a TV show until 3am all snuggled up on the couch, or even decorate for an upcoming holiday.  Recently, we went to a fundraiser for an organization I used to volunteer at and caught up with friends, and went to the zoo!  The sea lion loved The Artist.

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6. The Artist does day to day household chores like dishes and making the bed. ¬†We don’t have a dish washer, so they pile up on the counter quickly! ¬†I do the more weekly jobs during weekends like laundry, cleaning the bathroom, or dusting. ¬†That way, our place stays clean and neat and we share the chores. ¬†For both of us, a clean and tidy place makes relaxing easy. ¬†It is hard to relax your body and mind you are surrounded by a mess.

7. We do things for ourselves, at least once a week. ¬†For example, I am taking a pottery class right now. ¬†It is something I am doing just for me, and that I have been wanting to do for awhile. ¬†Or writing a blog post on here ūüėČ ¬†And as of lately, the Artist likes to browse magazines with a coffee when I am out and about.

8. Minimum of 8 hours of sleep a night.  Minimum.  No less.  Sleep is something we value and that is important to us.  Every night, we think of what time we are getting up the next day, and count 8 hours (minimum!) backwards to get and idea of when we will go to bed.  We also leave lots of time for teeth brushing, and actually falling asleep.  So if we are getting up at 8am, by 10pm the night before we will settle down and do quieter activities, usually watching TV.  By 11pm we are getting ready for bed and brushing our teeth.  And sometime between 11pm-12am, we are asleep.  So that is 8-9hrs of glorious slumber.

Now, these things sound sort of obvious, and I get that. ¬†But as we get older and our careers and families begin to blossom, these things are easily forgettable. ¬†I know lots of couples who spend very little quality time together, and lots of people who forget about their hobbies and interests because watching TV after a long is much easier and more desirable- let alone remember to eat well and exercise. ¬†And I can especially think of many busy folks who don’t get enough sleep and are tired on a daily basis. ¬†I understand there are lots of reasons as to why, and that is fine. ¬†But at this time in our lives, we don’t have many reasons as to why we can’t get more sleep, so we are taking advantage. ¬†I am sure this will change should be we lucky enough to have children one day.

And honestly, having this conversation and making this list helped 100%. ¬†We felt like the days were slipping by and we weren’t stopping to smell the roses in life- and we were not ok with that. ¬†It brought these wants and needs to our attention, and we decided on realistic goals. ¬†From thereon out, there was a difference. ¬†We no longer feel like like life is flying past us. ¬†We have healthier bodies, more energy then before, active hobbies and interests, and we are not being lost in the dust ‚̧

During one of our stay-at-home nights together, we watched a movie late at night, when the rest of the world was quiet and peaceful. ¬†We made a “nest” of blankets and pillow on the couch and I made some homemade kettle corn. ¬†It was a fabulous night. ¬†Here is my recipe ūüôā

1/3 canola oil

1/3 white sugar

1/2 cup popcorn kernels

salt to taste

In a large pot (that has a lid), heat the oil.  I like to throw in a kernel and when it pops, the oil is hot enough.  Turn of the heat and add the sugar and stir.  Add the popcorn kernels and return to medium-high heat.  Hold the lid on the pot with oven hits on your hands on each side.  Alternate shaking the pot up and down, side to side, and in circles for a few seconds.  Place on heat for a few seconds.  Repeat back and forth, shaking, and having it sit on the burner, for a few seconds each.  Do this until it is all popped, there will be several seconds in between kernels popping.  Remove from pot immediately into a serving bowl and add salt.  Stir gently.

Notes:

– leaving the popcorn solely on the burned will burn it (badly)

– solely shaking it and not alternating having it sit on the burner will take forever for everything to pop, it just doesn’t get hot enough

– I have a gas stove, all stoves will be different and temperature will vary

– the first time or two I made this, I scorched it (like the sugar went black and it was a disaster to clean lol!) so it might take practice

– it is worth it because it is delicious ūüėČ

– when you pour the popcorn into the serving bowl, it will be sticky- don’t worry, it will cool almost instantly and be very crunchy

– it may seem like there is barely any sugar or anything on the popcorn at first, but there isn’t much colour in this, when it cools, it is the texture that you will notice, and each piece should be coated (the picture below looks like plain popcorn, but it is all shiny from the sugar!)

– when I add the salt, I gently toss/stir to avoid the popcorn sticking into a bowl-shaped chunk as it cools

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