Wednesday, January 28, 2015

He's Two

Dear Canon,

Your second birthday letter is three days late. I would apologize, but I felt like a three day grace period was acceptable given that's how long I was in labor with you! Your birthday party was a lovely time with grandparents, aunt, uncles, and cousin. You were mesmerized by your train cake and intent on deconstructing the engine!

You are a happy, snuggly little dude with a sparkle and a hint of mischief in your eyes. You love to sword fight with your father, sing and dance (your rendition of Let it Go from Frozen is quite a thing to behold), and "help" wash dishes. You enjoy decorating yourself with sparkles on your nails and marker all over your legs.

You chatter up a storm and are starting to put together phrases and even recognize some letters. There are books scattered on your bedroom floor and trucks and trains under your pillows and stuffed in the nooks and crannies of your bed. You look up to your sister and seem perfectly capable of keeping up with her!

You're too busy to be wrapped much anymore, but you still count on having "boobah milk" several times each day. You sleep well in your bed and love to snuggle down under the covers, but sometimes still come in by us for a cuddle.

Your golden hair is curly and wild and looks alternately like amazing perfect ringlets and a rat's abandoned nest. Your smile and laugh are contagious and light up a room. You use your strong little body to climb all over everything, to throw and kick balls, to swing bats or bat-like objects like vacuum cleaner attachments, spatulas, and brooms. Occasionally your willy-nilly swinging around sometimes connect with other people, and when it does, you're quick to say "sorry!" and give a hug.

You are sweet and loving nearly always, and when you're not, you're too adorable to get mad at.



Monday, January 19, 2015

Fellow White Allies, Keep on Keepin' On

As someone who identifies as a white ally, I find myself with no shortage of opportunities to shut up, listen, and learn from people of color.  It's also not uncommon that I find myself in frustrating situations in which my fellow white people say or do unintentionally racist or culturally appropriative things, get called out, and proceed to flip out in epic and embarrassing ways.

It can be tempting to disengage from these conversations, frustrated and fed up, feeling hopeless. It can be tempting to retreat to spaces where social justice is the norm, where privilege is checked, and where whiteness and the feelings of the privilege are de-centered.

Today, in honor of a pillar of civil rights activism, non-violence, and peace, I ask my fellow white allies not to go silent in the face of ignorance. I urge you to have the hard conversations. I urge you to maintain a calm and rational front as you lay out the evidence supporting the existence of white privilege, and the evidence that people of color still are and continue to be oppressed in a culture that values whiteness and all its trappings as "normal" and as the default experience.

It's going to be hard. You're going to want to scream and cry and call people names.

Keep on.

When our brothers and sisters of color have to step away, because the blatant racism and disregard for their lived experiences becomes too triggering, keep on. Remember that being able to "check out" on matters of race is an example of your privilege, and push through that discomfort.

Right or wrong (hint: it's wrong), white people remain overwhelmingly more likely to listen to other white people on matters of race.

Keep on.

When they accuse you of "reverse-racism" (not a thing!), keep on.

When they call you names, keep on.

When they tell you to worry about "more important" things, keep on.

Whey they insist that "making everything about race" is the problem, keep on.

Keep on, because behind that loud backlash of people who just don't get it, there are quiet people who are learning. They're too timid to speak up in support, because this is new to them and they are confident in their handle on it. But they are there, and they are learning and growing, and they are well on their way to being a conscious ally themselves.

I was given an important reminder of this last week, when a heated and very toxic discussion chock full of racism, cultural appropriation, and ignorance veered off the rails in a big way, leaving people of color who I respect feeling rightfully angry and hurt. I was angry and hurt too, but my anger and hurt were less personal, so I kept on. Then it happened. One by one, people began to contact me privately to thank me for the information I was sharing. They asked questions about it. They learned. They kept me going when I was about to give up and cry with my friends of my color.

We don't always get the benefit of those silent bystanders reaching out to let us know that they hear us. But hear us, they do.

Keep on. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Basic Jar Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

I love salads in jars. Love them. SO MUCH. I can spend about 20 minutes on a Sunday evening and have my lunch ready for 3-4 days at work! This is one of my basic salads that I prepare using the 21 Day Fix containers. If you're following the fix, each salad consists of 2 Green, 2 Red, and 1 Orange container, and you can add a yellow or a blue too, if you want! I like my salads BIG so that they keep me satisfied and away from the candy dish in my office.

This salad consists of the following:

-1 Red Container (about 3/4 cup) Cooked and cubed Quorn cutlets. If you eat chicken, feel free to use chicken breast! Other vegetarian options include Tofu, Seitan, or even a veggie burger. 
-1 Red Container chopped hard boiled eggs (2 eggs)
-1/2 Green Container (1/2 cup) grape tomatoes
-1 1/2 Green Container (2 cups) greens. I'm using spring mix here, I also like using spinach!
-1 Orange Container (2 Tbsp) Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing

I also sometimes add a yellow container (1/2 cup) of chickpeas or black beans, or a blue container (1/4 cup) of cheese or avocado. Sometimes I do a red container (3/4 cup) of cottage cheese instead of the eggs. It's easy to switch it up so it's not the exact same salad 4 days in a row.

Assembling the Salad:
Layer the ingredients in a clean Quart size jar with a lid. I prefer the wide mouth jars so I can get my hand in there and really pack the greens in. Any wet ingredients (dressing, cottage cheese, avocado) should go in the bottom of the jar, followed by the protein (red containers) and/or beans (yellow container), then tomatoes or other veggies, then greens on top. I prefer to keep my dressing in the little orange container and shove that in the top of the jar before I put the lid on. When I'm including eggs, I keep them in a separate container, because I predict that leaving chopped up eggs in jars with the rest of the salad for 3-4 days might get kinda stinky. When I'm at work and lunch time rolls around, I just dump it all in a big bowl and dig in! 

Do you do salads in jars? What are some of your favorite combinations? 

Balsamic Vinaigrette Salad Dressing Recipe

I've held out for a long time on making my own salad dressings. It seemed way too tedious, time consuming, and expensive. I was flipping through the 21 Day Fix eating plan and found that I had nearly everything I needed to make my own Balsamic Vinaigrette; I just had to make one tiny substitution! It took less than 5 minutes, tastes great, and no salt, preservatives, or any of the other stuff that comes along with store-bought dressings.

I made and stored it in a small jar and am keeping it in the fridge! This can be used as a dressing, a marinade, or a dip.

Do you make your own salad dressings? Share your favorite recipe with me!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Join me in a January Fitness Challenge Group!

A post-workout "Sweaty Selfie"
This post contains affiliate links.

Back in November, I embarked on a bit of a fitness journey. After getting my latest bout of depression under control, I decided it was time for me to re-evaluate my priorities and work toward the more active lifestyle I used to enjoy. I got in touch with a friend of mine, who I knew to be a Beachbody Coach, to ask about a workout program that I'd heard about. I was full of skepticism for the "eating plan" and even more for the "magic shake" I'd be required to drink in order to participate in the 30 Day Fitness Challenge Group she'd told me about.

Let me back up a minute, actually.

I don't do diets. I don't do restrictive eating plans. My eating plan goes like this:

Step 1. Decide you want to eat something.
Step 2. Decide what you are going to eat.
Step 3. Make/acquire decided upon food.
Step 4. Eat the food.

I don't place value judgments on food or eating. I don't believe in "bad" foods or "good" foods. I believe that foods vary in their nutritional value, but I believe that there is nothing wrong with enjoying foods that are less nutritionally dense than, say, Kale. So my philosophy about food is that it is more than just fuel; that it should be enjoyed without guilt or shame.

I believe in health at every size. I don't believe that you have to lose weight in order to look or feel better about yourself. I believe that everyone deserves to enjoy movement and food in whatever body they are in. Every body is a good body, and every body deserves to be nurtured and cared for.

I wasn't so much doing that. I was lacking energy, I felt uncomfortable in my skin, and I wasn't moving my body enough. I wanted the support and accountability of the challenge group, so I went for it with the 21 Day Fix workout program, and yes, the Shakeology.

I was so pleased with the first challenge group that I wanted to do another one, and decided on PiYo for the December group.

I plan to review both of these work out programs more thoroughly, but for now, I want to share my experience thus far with the challenge groups.

I won't be sharing any before or after photos in this post (though I've got no shame with the sweaty selfies!). For one thing, full body shots in my underwear being on the internet is not compatible with my line of my work. For another, the physical changes so far are subtle. After 60 days of working out consistently, I lost about 5 pounds and about 15 total inches from various locations. The numbers themselves might not seem too impressive, though maybe more so when you account for the fact that these 60 days included Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's celebrations.

The thing is though? It's about so much more than the numbers. I've had a number of "Non-Scale Victories" that mean much more to me, and have a greater impact on my quality of life, than the numbers that indicate my relationship to gravity or the measurement of the space my body occupies. Things like increased energy, better sleep, more quality interaction with my children (actually having the energy to race them around the couch 20 times! involving them in my work outs! having more focus to concentrate on the outlandish story or silly song!), greater strength and flexibility (my yoga practice has been coming along nicely!), and even deeper connection in my marriage (my husband did the first challenge right along with me!). I had someone at work tell me that they were inspired by my new commitment to fitness to start working out again themselves!

I was able to get the support and accountability I needed to help re-establish exercise as a habit. I got to enjoy cheering others on as they worked toward their own health and fitness goals. We shared recipes, motivation, and daily sweaty selfies.

And so, I continue on in the Challenge Groups, and I invite you to join me! My next challenge group will start on January 19th, and the deadline to sign up is this Wednesday, January 14. There are a variety of workout programs available to meet the needs of everyone from beginner to athlete, and many workouts are 30 minutes per day or less!

If you think you might be interested, or want to learn more about challenge groups or otherwise meeting your health and fitness goals, please either message me on facebook or fill out the form below and I will contact you by e-mail!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

2014 #365feministselfie wrap up

Okay, so there aren't 365 selfies here. There are 321. And a couple of them aren't even selfies.

My 2014

Participating in this project has been so, so much more than I ever anticipated. First of all, I (relatively) successfully completed it! I didn't have high hopes, after previous 365 projects I've started have typically petered out after a few weeks. But this? This was different. No specific theme, no subject assignments, just (near) daily photos of myself, taken by myself, in moments from mundane to magical.

2014 was quite a year. As I glance back over these selfies, I am reminded of many memories. So many of January's photos were "babywearing selfies" from a 30 day carry challenge I completed. There are photos with my children, outdoor adventures, family trips, babywearing meetups, and birthdays.The day I passed my licensing exam. My new tattoo. Delilah's first day of 4K. Our 5th wedding anniversary. A struggle with depression. The start of my fitness journey.

Just as important as capturing all of these memories, all of these moods, and all of these moments, are the women I have come to know and love through this project. I feel like I've said some version of what I'm about to say several times before this year, but all of it bears repeating. My interactions with the women I've crossed paths with in this project have helped to shape my views of feminism. These women have had valuable and positive impact on my life. There are stay-at-home moms and career women. Those who are mothers, and those who are childless by choice. Some are married, some are otherwise partnered, some are single and loving it (and some hating it). Some are straight, some are gay, some are bi, some are trans. Some are perfectly coiffed nearly every day, some eschew make up and other "beauty" rituals altogether. Some are young, some are old. Many races are represented. We all come from different beginnings, and we are all on different paths, and yet, we are united.

Feminism is for every one of us. Feminism sees the worth in each woman. Feminism supports our right to make choices that work for us and our individual circumstances, values, and beliefs.

This project allowed me to get to know women as their true selves, day in and day out. We were kind to one another. We gave each other advice, when asked. We offered our support and our understanding. We shared in the excitement of pregnancy news, seeing some pregnancies to their ends and "meeting" new babies. We saw new love bloom for some, and painful endings for others. We mourned with each other through losses and commiserated through struggles. We celebrated special events and cheered on as goals were accomplished.

I'm not sure why I wrote that last paragraph in the past tense, as the project, and group of women, is still going strong, and I fully intend to go on with them; one feminist selfie at a time.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

#365feministselfie December

I'll save my sappy wrap-up for the epic collage of every #365feministselfie I took this year, but for now, I present December! It was hectic month with much travel for the holidays, a bunch of working out, lots of smiles and silliness, and apparently a lot of different stuff on my head.

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