A Fitness Post and Some Rain

Apparently, Colorado has a rainy season now.  It’s basically been raining for 2 days straight.  The sun is supposed to come out later today, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.  It’s also been fairly cold, so much so, that one of our trees in the front yard thinks it’s fall and the leaves are starting to change… poor tree is confused.

I haven’t really minded the weather, although it’s been making me tired and I just want to sleep and/or watch TV all day or read.  I’m not really in the mood to get up at 5:30 in the morning, make breakfast, take care of dogs, and go for a jog.

But I HAVE been doing that!  Yesterday, we jogged in the rain.  It wasn’t fun for me.  I did not like being cold and wet afterwards.  And my poor asthmatic lungs have been bothering me, so today we decided to bring it back and do the C25K.  It feels weird taking several steps backwards, but I would rather do this and improve my lungs, and be able to run a 5K most days with good time, than to struggle more and keep falling because I’m hacking up a lung.

I even printed out a calendar and mapped out my fitness challenges.  When one ends, I’ll start another, doing 2 simultaneously.  That’s pretty incredible for someone that was an outspoken non-athlete who hated exercise.  I don’t know if I’m at the point yet where I LOVE exercise, but I’m definitely at the point where I enjoy it, and want to challenge myself.  Even as recently as March, I was screaming HATE towards exercise.

I also wrote out and posted, to the wall, short exercise routines that I can do in between working, housework or if I have a random break.  In addition to my regular 30-40 minute workouts and jogging, I’d like to get in a few short ones throughout the day.  I know, lofty goal, but I think I can do it.  I just need to be motivated.  At some point, I’d also love to end the day with a yoga routine, but I’m currently having trouble making that one stick.  All in due time.  I’m getting competitive with myself.

However, today, I’ll be doing yoga and weight lifting.  The lower half of me doesn’t really want to move right now because yesterday I did an intense lower body workout that I’m still feeling today.  I guess today is my “rest” day (even though I jogged a little this morning).  I’m not really into total rest days, because I don’t feel good if I don’t at least go for a walk and stretch.  I’m too used to my body moving.

So there you have it.  I’ll post links to the workouts I’m doing right now at the end of this post.  Tomorrow I’ll have my movie review for movie night.  But there will be no posts next week until Friday, in which case, I’ll have another movie review.

Until next time.


Workout Links:

Coffee Break Workout
30 Day Plank Challenge
Rainy Day Runner’s Workout
Quick 100 Calorie Burn


Problems Recovering From Vacation

I had every intention of putting my short, weekend vacation at the cabin in the mountains to good use.  I need to stop kidding myself.  I spent time charging my laptop, thinking I would be inspired to write in my book.  I charged my Kindle, also thinking I could catch up on some reading (I have 2 books going right now).

Nope.  Just sat outside and looked at nature.  Quite literally.  I didn’t read anything.  My phone, for the majority of the time, was off (I only turned it on to take pictures).  I just sat outside, with my dogs and my husband, and we watched nature.  For HOURS at a time.  There was the occasional nap, food break, and hiking along the beautiful trails in between the hours of silence.  Actually, my only complaint was my allergies, which, to be honest, were pretty bad.

I won’t lie, at first, I felt this tinge of anxiety not having access to my phone, or TV or whatever.  Especially when Zach wasn’t around.  Even though I knew he’d only be gone for a few minutes, I got that twinge of anxiety that I HAD to be doing something.

My GOD.  I love technology, but our ability to not even be able to sit in silence for any period of time is ridiculous. I had to RESIST the temptation not to use [my phone].  Needless to say, I won, and after the first day, I was excited to just sit and look at things.  My brain slowed down.  I felt like I had quality time with everyone.  We saw SO MANY ANIMALS.  I don’t know if it was because we were paying attention, or the fact we sat so quietly that animals weren’t threatened by us.  It might have been a combination of both.

I never realized how much I was in a fog because of the constant thinking and doing of everyday life.  Being in the mountains, I felt present and everything around me felt more real, if that makes sense.  We were so sad to come home.  I’m not ready to do “real” life yet.  Luckily, we will be gone next week for camping in Ouray and Telluride, to revisit our honeymoon spots.

So, I will apologize for the lack of blogs earlier this week, and the lack that will happen next week.  I more than likely won’t even bring my computer for writing this time.  I have too much nature to look at.

Until next time.

Yards and Cleanses

Lately, I’ve been feeling a little low on energy.  I haven’t really been into my exercise routine, and yesterday was the worst.  I felt miserable the entire time working out, and afterward, I wanted to be done with the day.  I feel only slightly better after eating breakfast today, but still not feeling great.  This only means one thing:

I have to start a cleanse soon.

No, I’m not “one of those people,” whomever they might be.  But I’m well aware that about every 6 months, my body benefits from a cleanse.  I’m going to do the Conscious Cleanse this time, because I’ve always done juicing in the past, and it’s never helped me emotionally, if that makes sense.  I normally eat really healthy, so when I have chronic tummy aches and bad skin, I know I need a reset.  This particular cleanse is easy, I don’t have to buy anything special, it won’t starve me, and I don’t need to give up my exercise regiment while I’m “detoxing” (i.e., crying because I’m hungry and weak).  Don’t get me wrong, I love juicing, it’s just not for me for a cleanse.  Too harsh.  I’ll be starting the cleanse after my wedding anniversary trip in the beginning of August, so I’ll do posts and updates about that then.

I thought today might be a good day for a gardening/yard update.  I really wish I could say I have an amazing looking yard right now, but, alas, it’s still terrible looking.  My plants are holding on for dear life because the earwigs and extreme heat.  And we won’t be able to get the grass in this year after all.  Just too many expenses, unfortunately.  Next year we should have grass though.  But we will have to hold off on the other stuff.  It’s a process.  On the plus side, my mint plants are making an amazing comeback!  I thought they were completely dead with a re-potted, but they are just growing like crazy now.  Maybe I should make some mojitos today?

That’s all I have for today.

Until next time.

Las Cruces Casserole and Pinterest Challenges

So, my online music classes started.  They are a lot of fun.  I must admit, I was a little intimidated by them, but I’ve found they fit me like an old glove.  Is that a weird analogy?  Anyway, I was a little angry at myself, because I realized, I should have been doing music all along.  At least I’m doing it now, I suppose.

I’ve also been spending some time on Pinterest.  God, that site can be addicting.  I mainly look at nerd stuff on it, which is fun, but at the same time, even less productive.  I found some fun fitness ideas, and I decided to do a couple 30 Day Fitness Challenges.  Yes, I actually do things I find on Pinterest.  I don’t just pin.  Unless it’s Doctor Who stuff, in which case, if there was a way I could DO Who, I would.  I just have to creepily browse for now.  So for the next 30 days, I’ll be doing the plank challenge and the beach body challenge, in addition to my normal exercise regiment.  I’ll let you know in a month if I’m super buff/making every jealous of my pale bikini body while at the beach (and by beach, I mean some reservoir, because I don’t have beaches).

My favorite thing though, is making the recipes I find on Pinterest.  I know there are a lot of blogs and whatnot of people trying to make Pinterest recipes and they are complete failures, but I have not found this to be a problem for me.  They’ve very rarely failed.  Actually, I think only one failed, and I’m not sure which it was.  So, I’m not sure if it’s just the places these people find their recipes, or what, but I even will adapt gluten-filled recipes to gluten free for my allergy-ridden body, and they still turn out well.  Even bread-based recipes.

But today, I’m not sharing a Pinterest recipe I found.  No, this one is my own, though I will say, it’s inspired from a Mexican cooking show on PBS.  I’ve changed it to be my own.  It’s a great dish if you want to make a lot of food, have it not be terrible for you, taste great, and get rid of those veggies in your fridge you’re letting go bad.

Zach calls it the Las Cruces casserole.  So that’s what we will call it.

Yummy?  Yummy.
Yummy? Yummy.

Here’s what you’ll need:
2 cups white rice
2-3 bell peppers
1/4 red onion
2-4 lbs ground beef
Taco seasoning (I prefer Bearitos)
12 oz cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
12 oz can of black beans
Olive oil (for sauteing the peppers)
Crushed red pepper, dried basil and oregano, to taste

***Notes: You can use any rice you want, but white rice is stickier, and you’ll be smashing it down as a base for the casserole.  You can also use any veggies you want, I just like the bell peppers for taste and texture.  And as for the ground beef, feel free to use any other meat you have – chicken, pork, whatever.  Just make sure it’s shredded or diced, and season it well.

How to make it:
First, cook the rice.  Then lightly grease a large casserole dish (I used a 9 1/2″ X 8″ glass pan) and spread the rice on the bottom, pressing down firmly so it sticks together.

White rice smushes and stickies the best.
White rice smushes and stickies the best.

Add a layer of salsa over it.  Cook the ground beef with the taco seasoning and add it to the dish, spreading it evenly over the salsa.

The Bearitos is my favorite, but use whatever makes your seasoned heart sing.
The Bearitos is my favorite, but use whatever makes your seasoned heart sing.
Ground bison would also be lovely in this dish.  What it vegetarian?  I think chopping up tempe would be delicious.
Ground bison would also be lovely in this dish. Want it vegetarian? I think chopping up tempe would be delicious.

Sautee the peppers and onions in olive oil until they are lightly cooked (but still firm).

Don't forget the oil!
Don’t forget the oil!

Add them to the dish.  Rinse the beans, and sprinkle over the dish.

As you may notice, these aren't black beans.  I didn't have black beans, so I used cannellini beans.  They were just OK.
As you may notice, these aren’t black beans. I didn’t have black beans, so I used cannellini beans. They were just OK.

Add cheese and top with seasonings.

Mmmm... cheese.
Mmmm… cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Gobble up, eat for lunch the next day, etc.

Add your favorite hot sauce or some more salsa, or enjoy as is.
Add your favorite hot sauce or some more salsa, or enjoy as is.


Until next time.

“Do the Tears I Cry Fall to the Floor?”

Do the tears I cry fall to the floor?
No, they are buried inside
Burning, burning all hope of pain and sorrow
Until the keeper comes to make the bed
This cut doesn’t bleed, but laughs out loud
And I am left dead in the darkness
She touches my face and I hate her cold fingers
As they scratch little holes in my wall
She calls to him, and he walks with one eye on the side of his face
I reach to him but he is not there and neither is she
And the holes are actually my heart.

Copyright 2009 Meg Swensen

Earwigs and a 5K

I wish I could say this weekend was super eventful, but alas, that’s not entirely true.  We lost a whole day because Zach worked all day Saturday.  It was productive though.  We spent some time with Zach’s grandma, Zach got overtime, I finished a lot of house projects I’d been putting off…

Ugh, but it makes for terrible weekend stories.

We did, however, jog a 5K in Denver for the Donor Dash on Sunday.  That was a lot of fun.  Even though I had been slacking for 2 weeks in the fitness department, I did my best during this race.  It just goes to show, the more fit you get, it not only gets easier, but it’s also not the end of the world if you slack off occasionally.  Just don’t make a habit of it.  But I inspired myself yesterday, so I’ll be hitting some strength training this morning after I write this post!  We are doing the Color Run next month – I think 5K’s are my sweet spot.

Photo from Instagram
Photo from Instagram

I also continued my war on earwigs.  I made these little traps to kill them.  They didn’t go over well.  First off, don’t use water, use oil and soap, because it won’t evaporate immediately.  Secondly, that didn’t even matter, because one of our dogs ate the traps.  It was a yummy, Mediterranean/soapy aluminum foil snack for her.  The Sluggo pellets are doing a good job though… if we can keep our dog from eating that too…

I spent all that time make dishes for nothing!
I spent all that time make dishes for nothing!

Lastly, I am starting a new class today through Coursera.  It’s a music class.  I needed something to help me be a better musician.  I’ll be starting private guitar lessons next month too, because I feel like I need to be able to do an alternative folk rendition of “Let it Go” in order to be the best I can be.  I have dreams, man.

Until next time.

Friday Film Review: Heathers

Photo source: The Atlantic
Photo source: The Atlantic

As always, no spoilers.

OK first off, if you haven’t seen this movie, just go ahead and add it to your weekend movie night plans.  This is a fun, hilarious, yet incredibly inappropriate film.

How lucky we are that Heathers was made in the 80s, because this film could never have been made today.  You know, because it has themes of school shootings, school bombings, and knocking off your popular classmates one by one.  It really hits close to home in this violent world of ours, especially in the tensions of gun control and what that means for our schools.

Actually, I first thought this film was a surrealist black comedy, because I did not know that JD had blanks in his gun during the cafeteria scene when he shoots the two jocks (beginning of film).  Like in the film If…, where school shootings and bombings are part of the surrealist counter culture (oooh, maybe I should add that one to the review list).  I wondered why everyone was super nonchalant about it.  He used a real gun, but no one was hurt.  Wow, times were different in the 80s!

So the technical stuff:
I mean, I personally think this film is a work of art.  Sure, the writing isn’t exactly great, but what it lacks in realistic dialogue, it more than makes up for in the most memorable catchphrases I’ve ever heard in my entire life.  And I love a good story about counter culture and rebellion and satire.  The acting is great (helloooo Christian Slater!) but Winona Ryder is the one that shines as a strong and sassy leading lady.  The use of ominous 80s music is great.  With the exception of clothing, there is little reference to pop culture, so the movie actually stands the test of time pretty well.

Deeper Reading:
I know a lot of people like to say this movie paved the way for movies like Clueless and Mean Girls, and that might be true, but I really think it should be more aligned with If….  You know what?  I’m not going to review If…, just watch that gorgeous piece of work and make your own conclusions!  Sure, Heathers is incredibly satirical about high school and the whole “click” or “group think” mentality, but it extends beyond high school.  It celebrates youthful thinking and rebellion while at the same time, pointing out how problematic it is.  It never talks down to the youth though, in fact, the adults are always represented in an idiotic fashion.  The adults can’t connect to reality.  The reality adults create is an illusion, hyped up (this is done through media and frenzy/sensationalism over death) and the teenagers either try and control it, or bring it down.

JD is the “rebel without a cause.”  He’s ridiculous.  His grounds of creating violence are shaky, sound more like terrorism and have nothing to do with creating change.  Here’s his best line: “People will look at the ashes of Westerburg and say, ‘Now there’s a school that self-destructed, not because society didn’t care, but because the school was society.’ Now that’s deep.”  As Veronica points out, when you take down the leader, another will take their place.  Veronica wants change, but she understands that JD’s way may seem effective, however, it is short-lived.  And really, from this quote alone, JD knows it too.  He wants a living, breathing (jokes, man) example of how dumb society is.  He’s a rebel that actually wants NO change.

Like I’ve said before, if you haven’t seen this movie and are sensitive to school violence, this may not be the best for you, because it makes light of it all.  It’s a black comedy.  That’s what they do.  For everyone else, I’d highly recommend this.  It’s a cult classic.  If you have a dark sense of humor, like me, you will be laughing most of the time.

All in all, this movie was so very.

Favorite Line: “Dear Diary: Heather told me she teaches people ‘real life.’ She said, real life sucks losers dry. You want to fuck with the eagles, you have to learn to fly. I said, so, you teach people how to spread their wings and fly? She said, yes. I said, you’re beautiful.” – Veronica
Favorite Scene: All the funeral scenes.  I mean, seriously, they were the best.

Movie Stats, Courtesy of IMDB:
Director: Michael Lehmann
Writer: Daniel Waters
Date: 1988
Runtime: 103 mins
Rating: R

Currently streaming on Netflix.

For more MOVIE NIGHT recommendations.

Super Tornadoes and Morning Reflections

OK, today I feel a lot better.  I’m even drinking my morning tea.  Thank god.  Just in time for Friday and the weekend.  I got a little more sleep this morning, and more cuddles with dogs, so that made it better.  Although, I had a nightmare about super tornadoes in the UK, which was weird, and now I’m wondering if I have the most awesome, meaningful and abstract dreams.

Sometimes it’s really hard to calm my mind.  The world is loud, chaotic, and at many times, really terrible.  Sometimes, I argue with myself on whether or not it’s a bad thing.  I mean, the human race needs to figure stuff out for itself.  Change takes time, it’s not something that happens overnight.  Paradigms shift.

But it’s really hard to have such a cavalier attitude when like, children are being bombed, journalists tortured, and civil disobedience being labeled as “terrorism.”  Also, it pisses me off that the NSA is probably cataloging this blog because I’m using disruptive speech.  I’d encrypt it, but then I’d lose what little readership I have.  That, and this blog isn’t an activism blog, but I digress.

The thing is, I’d really like to think we could live in a world with perfect harmony, but I don’t actually believe that.  That would mean everyone thought and believed the same about everything.  Ugh, how boring!  That would be the opposite of progress.  However, I don’t think what’s going on now is any more productive.  We need balance, and we need to shift focus away from religion and trivial things to humanity and what’s best for the planet.  Humans, so selfish and thinking we run things – ha!

Right now, I’m sitting outside in my back yard writing, listening to birds and watching a bee take his sweet time with the sage bush.  There’s a cool breeze.  Seems like I’m having such a zen morning, right?  It would be, except my dog Penny is upset with the other dogs and wants me to hold her and Layla is stalking that poor bee, so I’m having to tell her to “leave it” every five seconds so she won’t murder it.  And my poor lilies… Zach accidentally got wasp spray on them and they fried, but today, two of the buds bloomed.  They just look even sadder.  Even my time out in nature gets stressful.

By the way, that's a yellow jacket on the lily.  WTF??
By the way, that’s a yellow jacket on the lily. WTF??

And yet, being out here, daydreaming and letting my mind wander – it still makes me happy.  I feel refreshed.  I feel like I can get it all done.  I don’t feel hopeless.

OK, enough of that!  Tomorrow is Friday, so that means… movie review!  I’ll be watching Heathers.  I’m excited, you should be too.  I also have a few recipes I need to post, but I’ve been really lazy in that department.  I’ll do that next week.   And for the garden/yard geeks, there’s more of that in a couple of weeks.

Until next time.

This is a Sad Post

I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to write about today.  What with everything going on in the Middle East, and Assange’s hearing on the Swedish rape case, there’s a lot on my mind.  And still, there’s something else that’s been bothering me and consuming my mind more than these huge events.

My friend, Jhade.

I don’t know what happened yesterday, but I just spiraled into sadness.  I’m still feeling the effects of it today, so I decided I might as well write everything out.  Normally, I would call Jhade up and make her hang out with me when I just felt overwhelmingly sad.  And I made her do the same when SHE was overwhelmingly sad.  At the end of our time together, we would be laughing and sharing all our favorite songs of the moment.

Unfortunately, Jhade isn’t here anymore.  She passed away a little over a year ago, from complications of an illness she mostly kept hidden from friends.  I was stunned and upset in so many ways.  Because I found out on Facebook.  Because I thought about calling her the night before but didn’t.  You know, the usual gut-wrenching guilt and anger that generally surrounds the death of a loved one.

Let’s rewind to oh, around 2008.  I got a voicemail from Jhade, stating she was in the hospital, she was fine, but she almost died, and had a serious condition.  Naturally, I made my way to the hospital as fast as I could, and with a half-crying, half-trying-to-be-lighthearted, I told her if anything EVER happened again I needed a call (I never got a call – but I think that has more to do with the fact Jhade hated when people worried about her).

Life was hard for Jhade after that.  She was this amazing singer, writer, painter, and artist of all sorts, but her limitations changed her, made her sad and hopeless a lot.  She was literally told by doctors she couldn’t sing anymore, because her heart couldn’t take it (how sad is that?).  She was a singer.  And you know what?  She probably had one of the most beautiful voices on this planet.  It’s a shame the world never got to hear it (though I feel lucky I did – and can still hear it in my mind!).  I tried to encourage her to do things she COULD do, and she did them.  But it wasn’t the same.  I understood that.

But Jhade, like she always was, took care of everyone else, no matter how bad off she was.  We went out to lunch one day and talked about music.  There was a Guitar Center right across the parking lot and she wanted me to go look at guitars.  So we walked over.  Even though she struggled with the short walk there, her face lit up and had 3 people working there tending to my every need.  I had no money in my bank account, so she told me to just put the guitar on my credit card.  Ha!  Oh, she forced me into the best bad decision I’ve ever made!  And I could never turn her down for anything when she used her “mother” voice at me…

I still miss her every day.  Some days, like today, it just hurts my heart how much I miss her.  Days like now, I wish I had called her more, I wish I had talked her into a few more “bad” decisions and I wish I had listened to her good advice.  Days like today, I would give anything for a letter from her, and I wish I could write her.  I don’t believe in heaven, but she did.  Either way, I know that her soul is still out there, doing things.  I dream about her all the time.  So much reminds me of her.

But nothing reminds me more of Jhade than music.  That’s where our souls totally linked.  And she did this really annoying thing all the time, and I do it too, when she really liked a song, she’d play it on repeat until it was burned in your brain forever.

One night we had a sleepover and watched 50 First Dates and she played IZ’s version of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” for like, 3 hours afterward.  I was annoyed by the song, until now.  Now, I can’t help but cry when I hear it.  It means a lot more to me now.

So here’s to you, Jhade:  I will always love you, you’re always on my mind.  And I promise to never again waste a moment of my life not doing what I love doing.  Life really is short, but it can be a great ride if you want it to be.

Until next time.

“Reflections on Light”

OK, this week I decided to do something different.  I’m going to share a poem I wrote, circa 2009.  I may do that occasionally.  Share old things.  Enjoy.

“Reflections on Light”

When will these winds stop blowing blue?
They’ve got me considering my own condition too
Old books, they batter my Muse
None of my pages are bare with you.

Shadows of the seen
Shadows of the green
Shadows of the dream
Shadows of light between the seams of the beam

To seek the syncing beat of time
I’ll find no inspiration in color this time
Not when nothing in my mind seems to rhyme
It gives me chills to know all these pieces are mine

Last night I dreamt that I lied
Shot in the head, but did not die
The light on the wall was my guide
But I just sat there with my hands full of knives.

Copyright 2009 Meg Swensen