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important nothings blog

"which of all my important nothings should i tell you first?" – jane austen

Month

February 2016

Gym-Bike-Music Motivation

I hate exercise bikes. With a passion. They are boring. They make my butt hurt.  They have a false promise of transport and travel. Bike are meant to be on boardwalks. Bikes need to have baskets for holding fresh flowers and loaves of bread.  Bikes are for Audrey Hepburn.

I’d rather be on a stairmaster. Or an elliptical. Or a treadmill. Or an arc trainer.

But my foot has been hurting. I put off the gym all week on the excuse that it was cold and snowy and people in the south don’t know how to drive when there is weather and terrible horrible things could happen in the mile and a half between my house and the gym…

But really it’s because my foot hurts.

So today, I went to the gym, resolved to the fact that I would be on the bike. I uploaded a book on my phone that I have to read for work to pass the time.

I would get through this…

But at the 16 minute mark, the book became interactive.  WHAT? I have to take notes and make graphs?  I almost blew past it and kept reading, but this is information I really do need to know, so I was force to make a decision:

Bike and watch The View?  No.

Bike and watch Sports Center? No. Football is over. No reason to watch ESPN.

Bike and believe that iTunes would pick out a perfect motivator song? Yes.

iTunes always knows what I need.  I believe there is a person at Apple, dedicated to knowing exactly what I need to hear. I’m rarely let down…and today is no exception.

Need a motivator to get on the bike. Or the elliptical? Or to get that walk in at the park?  How about a little “Godspeed” by Anberlin.

All together now: “They—Lied—When they said the good die young…OH OH OH OH!”

 

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Almond Flour Blondies

IMG_24491So, I am in month 2 of the UHA program – and, ya know? – there is something to it.  I know that I’m breathing better, lessening stress and just getting healthier in general.

Month 2 is gut health, so we are trying to do some tummy- healing. Unfortunately, this has happened during our snowy few weeks in Nashville, so we’ve been distracted by yummy snow-day comfort foods.

That’s allowed, right?  The spirit is willing…

I did get the smart idea that we should have some healthy and gluten-free options for our Super Bowl party, and google helped me find this recipe for Almond Flour Blondies on Meaningful Eats.

OMG.

First – warning. You won’t stop eating these. They are gone. Cleaned out. Destroyed. 4 days after the party, we still have bags of regular cookies and brownies. These blondies? Yeah, they didn’t make it to Monday.

Second – warning. You need to let these cool for them to firm up enough for the cookie bars.  Now, if you don’t, I would recommend eating these in a bowl, with a dab of whipping cream (I know – that’s not on the gluten-free list, but if you’re going to eat an entire 8.5 x 11 pan of delicious treats, adding the whipping cream isn’t going to hurt!)

These are amazing.  AMAZING.  Next time I’m going to try to add in some coconut and dark chocolate chips.

Note – the pic above is actually from the Meaningful Eats site. Ours didn’t last long enough for a pic… Will try to get our own photos next time…but no promises.

Get the recipe here:

Ash Wednesday…

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Ash Wednesday.  It’s always an interesting day for me.  I didn’t grow up in a tradition that acknowledged Ash Wednesday, Lent, Fast days, Feast days…

…well, we did have a lot of potlucks so I guess feast days happened. They just looked a little different. They had a much different meaning.

Growing up, I remember a few people giving up things like chocolate, alcohol or eating pop tarts for breakfast.  I sort of assumed they were likely just seeking a good excuse to lose a few pounds instead of actually fasting from those things that may be taking up space in your life, or a way to turn your gaze more to the sacrifice of Christ.

Last night, I told Chris that I was trying to make a decision about Lent, and he suggested that I give up coffee. I sad no. An absolute no. No No No.

I think that may be because coffee is a part of my daily ritual. I read my Bible while the coffee is brewing. Prayer and stretching involves breathing in of that amazing, delicious aroma of coffee. It would be like abstaining from my alarm clock.

Giving up my alarm clock, on the other hand, may be a good option.

But I digress.

As I prepare to head to church during lunch-hour, I am still a bit torn. I have a new fun devotional (will share about that later), but it is remarkably minimalist.  I am not being pulled to one thing or another this year, and that is likely from feeling displaced from church.  Today I am going to go back to a church I tried out a few months ago. It felt cold before. Perhaps that is what you are supposed to feel when you kneel and receive ashes.

I’m thinking this is still the year of #Give. I need to give thanks, give credit, give stuff and give time.  Give thanks to God and to those around me.  Give credit to people who deserve it (but likely don’t realize it).  Give time to causes and give resources to those who need it.

How do you observe Lent? What does it mean to you?

(Graphic pulled from the http://abcdfinnestad.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-real-meaning-of-lent.html blog. He graciously gives permission for folks to use his graphics…and I’m grateful for that!)

Buechner on Lent…

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Frederick Buechner on Lent. 

“In many cultures there is an ancient custom of giving a tenth of each year’s income to some holy use. For Christians, to observe the forty days of Lent is to do the same thing with roughly a tenth of each year’s days. After being baptized by John in the river Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves.

“If you had to bet everything you have on whether there is a God or whether there isn’t, which side would get your money and why?

“When you look at your face in the mirror, what do you see in it that you most like and what do you see in it that you most deplore?

“If you had only one last message to leave to the handful of people who are most important to you, what would it be in twenty-five words or less?

“Of all the things you have done in your life, which is the one you would most like to undo? Which is the one that makes you happiest to remember?

“Is there any person in the world, or any cause, that, if circumstances called for it, you would be willing to die for?

“If this were the last day of your life, what would you do with it?

“To hear yourself try to answer questions like these is to begin to hear something not only of who you are but of both what you are becoming and what you are failing to become. It can be a pretty depressing business all in all, but if sack-cloth and ashes are at the start of it, something like Easter may be at the end.”

– Originally published in Wishful Thinking.

Snow day. Fat Tuesday. Paczki. Mmmm.

paczkiLast night at 1:30, my weather alarm went off warning  of a winter storm watch through Wednesday morning.

Seriously. Why do storm alerts only happen in the middle of the night?

Anyway – that’s when I also saw the alert on my phone that our county’s schools were closed.  We don’t have kids, so I went back to bed. Nothing really changes in my life.

But this morning, I woke to snow. More than a dusting, less than what we northerns would consider impressive. You can still see the grass, and the little yellow flowers that bloomed a bit to early look shocked under the weight of the white.

But outside it is so still. So beautiful. So calm.  So clean. So quiet.

It’s like time stops in Tennessee after a snowfall.

And I’m not complaining at all.

It’s also Fat Tuesday so start cleaning out your kitchens kids. Make some shove pancakes. Play some games.  And, of course, PACZKI for everyone!!

 

 

Learning to deal with stress…

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I did it!  I passed the first section of the Unhealthy Anonymous program titled “Understanding Stress”.

And it wasn’t so bad.

If it wasn’t for a lovely crash of my browser, I would have had proof in the form of a big Congratulations! screen – but alas, I procrastinated taking a screen shot, and the page is apparently floating somewhere in space.

Maybe procrastination is causing me stress? Hum….

In the past month, I’ve become far more mindful of my breathing. I’ve said ‘no’ to a few things and realized that I need to say ‘no’ to a lot more things. I started being more intentional about reading labels on the food I buy, and have been more mindful about things like not putting any plastic in the microwave. The recipes that I made were really tasty too!

I’m going to continue to GIVE myself a break and try to keep my stress in check.  February is looking to be a rather brutal work month, and so keeping on track with breathing, exercise and eating real food should make a big difference.

Onto Gut Health!  Yay Kombucha!

When Security is Needed…

Just down our street, there is a sign on an unassuming brick building:

“Love for all, Hatred for none”

It’s pretty rare that I see people there.  Occasionally there will be cars parked in the small lot on a Friday night or Saturday during the day.  On even rarer occasions they have cars parked in their overflow lot across the street. Kids play outside and their laughter is contagious. Daffodils bring color to the building in the spring, and someone is hired to mow the lawn, but that isn’t much of an ask, as the rest of their non-daffodil landscaping is minimal.

From what I can tell, it’s the only mosque in our town. They are nearly impossible to track down – no website, no social media, no fliers around town welcoming people with promises of friendship, child care and donuts.

They are directly across the church from a medium size, mainstream church. This building, which is nearly exactly the same color of dark orange brick, has a parking lot is flooded with cars daily. No matter the day or the weather, something always seems to be going on there.  i

This small Islamic group, however is much more reserved.

I don’t think much about them most days. We get their mail occasionally, and when I walk there to give them the letters, they are very kind and soft spoken. As I’m not super up on the culture, I always try to be respectful and just approach the women, who are GORGEOUS with their flowing clothes and dark hair.

But there has been a change the past few weeks.

Now, anytime they meet, anytime there is a car in the driveway, a security guard is positioned outside.  This weekend they had some sort of event, and there were 2 security guards keeping guard the entire weekend.  On the sidewalk where I sometimes walk the dogs, there was a folding chair, a coffee mug and can of Mountain Dew placed under the seat.  Sometimes a guard rested his legs by watching the world from the chair, but mostly I think they walked back and forth, watching our sleepy neighborhood.

And despite 60 degree weather, I sadly didn’t hear the sound of kids playing during any part of the weekend.

It breaks my heart that they feel the need to have security. There are churches all around our area, and people happily come in and out, feeling safe in their own space. I hope that, perhaps, our churches may see this disparity and step in to help lower their fears. That we can literally love our neighbors as ourselves.

I hope and pray this was just them being overly cautious and not due to feeling threatened by come part of the community.

Love for All. Hatred for None. Shouldn’t that be the vision for all of us?

 

Monday Music Motivation

What music keeps you going at the gym?   Is it some good 70’s funk?  Maybe you need a New Wave blast from the 80’s. Hip hop, dance music or punk rock…what’s your choice?

Today, that elliptical machine was taunting me when I walked in the gym.  I really didn’t want to be there!  It was just standing there, mocking me, knowing that I had zero intention of having a worth-while workout.

But then, through the magic of iTunes this song came on shuffle…and suddenly that machine had no power.  I owned that thing for about 25 minutes…until my phone rang with a work call. Sigh.

25 minutes is better than zero minutes though!

I know nothing about this band, other than that they obviously grew up listening to a lot of The Cure like I did…

I give you Black Kids and I’m Not Going to Teach Your Boyfriend How to Dance with You.  At the gym today you’ll be motivated, moving and cheering “dance! dance! dance! dance!”

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