An Excerpt...

"The service ended with a hymn and the collection followed by a silent prayer, in which Agent Morin told Gamache about his late grandmother, who smoked incessantly without ever removing the cigarette from her mouth.

'Her right eye was always winking because of the smoke,' Morin explained. 'And the cigarette just burned down.  She never tapped off the ash.  It hung there, this long tube of gray.  We could watch her for hours.  My sister thought she was disgusting but I kinda liked her.  She drank too.  She could eat and drink without once taking the cigarette out.'
He sounded impressed.
'Once when she was preparing breakfast the whole line of ash fell into the porridge.  She just kept stirring. God knows how much ash and crap we ate.'

'Did the smoking kill her?' Gamache asked.
'No. She choked on a brussels sprout.'

There was a pause and despite himself, Gamache chuckled."

Bury Your Dead, Louise Penny, p 124

In all the pages I read yesterday, this little story stood out, and struck me as slightly funny and offbeat.  I even read it out loud to both my coworkers and to Jake.  (I do that from time to time-I know it must be hard for people to grasp the true essence of the excerpt, since they aren't reading the book themselves, yet I just have to share)

I like the vivid picture that Penny creates.  I'm impressed with her writing, since I don't usually like Canadian authors.   This mystery drama is keeping me on my toes, that's for sure.  Check it out!




In the kitchen:
......hard-boiled eggs, guacamole, and no-bake healthy treats

On the MP3 player:
......Titanium-David Guetta and Sia, Follow the Leader-Jennifer Lopez (Wisin y Yandel), Marianna's Trench

Paid for with VISA:
.......nose piercing, HMV music downloads, dried fruit

X {book} marks the spot:
.......Every Secret Thing by Emma Cole, Colossians

On internet browsing history:
........Pinterest, Facebook, thediva-dish.com, cleaneatingmag.com, oxygen.com

Passing the time:
.......walks with Jake (searching for snapping turtles in the river), sleeping, cooking, eating, reading, interwebs

Grateful for:
........naturewalks, exercise, healthy alternatives to junk food, good sleeps, a job, a Father who loves me, a lovey husband

Looking forward to:
........a week-end visit with my bro, lunch date with a friend, a wedding in BC, teaching ESL in 6 weeks



Without a Clue..

When was the last time you played the game 'Clue'?  Having not played it for 5 or 6 years, it was fun re-learning the rules with friends tonight.  The latest upgrade of the boardgame is colourful, and includes new and exotic rooms like 'the spa' and 'the patio'.  Secret passages continue to be the hidden gems, and there is a sunken pool smack dab in the middle of the atrium.  Imagine owning a mansion like that!

Most of my close friends and family are familiar with my distaste for board games, so it is with great apprehension that I inform you of the growing tolerance I have for these sorts of things. 

I can only speculate on my past hatred for board games.  I will admit, games like UNO, War, and Go Fish are most enjoyable for me.  They are easy to learn, require minimal concentration, and are especially fun to play with little guys (namely my youngest brother and the boys I baby-sat this year).  Board games, on the other hand, often take 10 or more minutes to explain, and, depending on who you play them with, can be quite tedious and competitive.  Don't get me wrong, I have a competitive streak, but I just couldn't find it in myself to warm up to a game of Cranium (or whatever game of choice).  I had to be in the mood.  And no one was allowed to get overtly excited about playing said game.  Seriously.  I had an aversion to coersive tactics applied by dramatically happy gamers.  Which describes my entire immediate family, to the letter. 

Let's just say I had a rebellious desire to thwart any satisfied smirks upon the discovery of my potential enjoyment of said game (after being coerced into playing, of course).   

Because of that ridiculous mentality, I stopped playing most board games altogether, even if they looked remotely interesting.  My family was often saddened by my refusal to join in the fun, and my poor attitude has often thrown a distasteful wrench into social situations with friends.

Jake isn't much of a gamer himself, but he is a lot of fun, and will usually join a game if the opportunity presents itself.  He is also very good when explaining rules to people; I tease him, but his clear and concise use of words are something of a wonder.  He is pretty competitive when it comes to the win, however, and I have been through the whole gamut of emotions when playing opposite him: annoyance, awe, and intimidation. He is a gaming force to be reckoned with.

It is, however, his passion for fun that inspired me to rethink my motives for board game bashing.  A couple of months ago, I realized that it might not be so bad if I just became open to playing every once in a while.  Over the course of time, my attitude has started to change, and I feel something akin to excitement if someone suggests playing a board game.  This has also changed the way I interact with some friends, as people often become more expressive when they're on their way to winning.

I won our game tonight, by the way.  Jake even said he was impressed with my skill, and I must say, that felt pretty good.



A Little Journey...

I have been waiting for the right time to write this.  It seems that there is never a perfect moment to talk about a health journey, since we can spend a lifetime trying to stay on track. 

So let me start from the beginning...


I have always struggled with my shape.  If I'm perfectly honest with myself, this struggle has been due to a deep discontent with how I look.  I'm 5'8", the tallest woman in my immediate family, and have never been able to share clothes with my sisters. I remember borrowing an article of clothing from one of them; later it was given to me because my body had stretched the fabric, and she could no longer wear it. 

That was a long time ago.  I still can't share clothes with my sisters because I'm too far away, but the impact of moments like that has lingered.  My adolescent body has slowly changed into my more womanly figure of today, but my insecurity and discontentment are forces that must still be reckoned with.


I've never been embarrassed to tell people my weight, and there have been moments when I've relished the surprise in their responses: 'Wow, I would never have guessed! There's no way you could weigh that much!'
The most I've ever weighed was 178 lbs, and that peaked in May 2011.  I kept thinking back to when I was 140 lbs after coming out of the hospital 2 years prior, and so I started to run. 


Running has always been my go-to sport.  It's easy, my legs are strong, and it doesn't cost a dime.  I'm sure I look a little bit funny, but I think everyone has a quirky running gait.  I ran for 4 months, from May to September, and got down to 166.  Then I got plantar fasciatis in my right foot, and had to stop so I could let it heal.  I took up swimming instead, another one of my favourite things to do.  I went swimming for 2 months, then stopped.  [I've recently discovered that if I don't switch to a different form of exercise every 2 months, then I will simply get bored and stop exercising altogether.] 

By this time I had started seeing a naturopath, and told her that I'd like to get down to my goal weight of 140lbs.  In January she gave me a meal plan to follow so that I could start to lose weight.  By that time I was 168 lbs and feeling very desperate.  We decided that 145lbs would be the best weight compared to my height and body type.

The meal plan was very balanced, and is based on low glycemic foods (those that contain low sugars).  I didn't have to count calories, but I did have to make sure I got a certain amount of the following foods every day, which would total to 1300 calories a day:

-nuts and seeds (1 serving)
-legumes (1 serving)
-Category I veggies (most vegetables) (unlimited servings)
-Category II veggies (sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, squash, which all contain higher amounts of sugar) (1 serving)
-whole grains
-protein shakes (2 servings)
-Protein (2 servings)
-Fats (good ones, like avocadoes, olives, etc) (4 servings)

The low amount of calories would ensure that I would lose weight, and if I exercised on top of that I would  lose it even faster. 

I stayed on this meal plan for 4 months, but I have to admit that I did cheat sometimes.  I tried to stay off sugar as much as possible; at one point I didn't have sugar for one full month! This was extremely hard to do, but it was a good lesson in discipline.  I have never bought so many vegetables in my life, and I gained a new appreciation for spices and homemade sauces and dressings.  I started scouring the web and magazines for new recipes so that I wouldn't have to live off mere salads and stir-frys.  There is a world of creativity that exists, and I am pleased to say that I have enjoyed cooking and discovering healthy alternatives. 

I hardly cooked unhealthy foods prior to this, but I learned how to balance my diet to make sure I'm getting all the nutrients I need every day.  I also learned about portion control, and how to pair foods, such as peanut butter and apples, to make a satisfying snack more filling.  I'm not following the plan as strictly anymore, but I still try to make sure that I get all of these food groups into my day.

I am now trying to maintain the weight that I've lost, which amounts to around 23lbs since January (or 33lbs since last May, if you're still counting!)  It didn't happen in a moment, because I didn't gain it all in a moment.  It took hard work and diligence, and that doesn't just mean the exercising and eating healthy.  It's also a mental battle, which is something I have to struggle with every day.  Even though I know that it's good for me to eat healthy, and I don't feel so sick when I fill my body with good foods, my mind tells me that processed foods taste delicious.  It's a constant fight to over-ride the years of poor choices and justifications.


I am the most in shape and the smallest I've been in years, but even that has been a source of discontentment.  My pants don't fit and I often feel tiny and vulnerable. 

And yet...I feel a sense of accomplishment for how far I've come, and every day I get a bit more comfortable in this new skin.  I'm also grateful for the chance to better my health, by eating healthier and exercising. 

Thankfully, this journey doesn't end here...


P.s.  Jake has been my biggest encouragement, and has helped me in situations when my willpower has been at its weakest.  I couldn't have had a more impactful and loving (some tough love, too!) supporter than him. Thank you, sweetie, for believing in me and for eating all the random food that I have made over the past few months! I love you.


Fears, Phobias, and Frights...

I finished reading a book about a woman with amnesia.  Upon awaking every morning, her husband was required to tell her who she was, who he was, and what her life entailed.  Once I neared the end of the book,  however, it became clear that this 'husband' was not who he seemed to be, and was using her amnesia as a way to manipulate her thoughts regarding her own life.  It was dreadfully provocative writing, and I was transported to a place I dare not dwell. 

All of us fear things.  I'm afraid of spiders, of suffocation, and of falling and hitting my head (I suppose that happened too many times when I was younger). 

One thing that absolutely frightens me is being drugged, being put into a strait jacket, and being manipulated to believe things about myself or people I know that aren't true. 

As you can see, that book hit a little too close to home for me.  I was reading in Ecclesiastes, and Solomon ends the book with this sentence:

"Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man's all. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil." -Eccl. 12:13b-14

I know that I'm human and have fears, but really, I should be fearing God the most.  He is my loving Saviour, but He is also the Creator of the universe and the Ruler over all.  He will judge us all at the end of time. Because I'm His child, obedience and love for Him should be my priority.

I need to have more than a healthy dose of fear, respect, and awe for my God.  It's a good reminder when the small fears threaten to take over.