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Love Notes: Precious Time

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I nearly quit my job last Monday. Over nothing particularly crazy or extraordinary. A whole bunch of little, tiny, rather stupid things that I let get to me. Some I can control, others are out of my hands and not worth mulling over. I came home, harrumphed onto the couch and allowed my preposterous mood to fester. When Alex came home, it didn’t take long to realize he was pretty much on the same wavelength as me. We had a talk. About him, mostly, but it opened my eyes. Something wasn’t right.

It’s not that my job is horrible. Or my life. In fact, we are rather grateful and happy at where we are in our marriage, in our lives, in our jobs. But there’s this part of our lives right now that just hasn’t been satisfied. And that’s when we made a tiny, yet extremely significant shift in our outlook. That’s when we made one statement, to one another, that changes our marriage, our lives, our jobs within 12 hours.

We took control of our lives. Together.

For the past few years, our busy schedules, our multiple jobs, our classes and professional developments…. these things controlled our lives. We woke up solely to go to work five, sometimes six or seven, days a week. Free time occurred if we chose to abandon daily household chores, forget about the gym and force our eyes to stay open for just… an… hour… longer. We lived to work. Eat, Sleep, Work. Lather, rinse, repeat. And we were so exhausted that we couldn’t see where we’d led ourselves astray. Or to really see who we’d become.

So we turned off the Oriole’s game, tucked ourselves in, and fell asleep with a plan. The alarm sounded two hours earlier than usual. By the time I walked out the door for work at 7:20, my husband and I had already completed a 45 minute workout at the gym, showered, sat down to a proper breakfast of eggs, tomatoes, sourdough toast and baked apple slices, cleaned the kitchen, and cuddled the cats while having a discussion about nothing wild or controversial…. together. We kissed, said “I love you” and drove our separate ways.

This is our new routine. And tacking those 2 hours onto the front of our day, rather than the back of the day when we often run out of time, has been the greatest decision we have ever made.

Are we entirely satisfied? No. There are moves, career changes and a growing family still awaiting us in our dreams. If we had the choice, we wouldn’t live here. We wouldn’t work these jobs. We wouldn’t have this schedule. But if we only live one life, and there are no guarantees in this one life, we better start loving what we’ve got. Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.

So the fifth hour certainly isn’t our first choice but it is better than squeezing in a life when everything else is over (or ignored). I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… if you look really hard, you’ll find the word rut in routine. Yet, sometimes, if the routine is controlled by what you love and whom you love, rather than work, money, responsibilities, the rest of that stuff shines brighter, finishes quicker, and fades into the background.  

*photo credit: Jodi Miller Photography*

Napa & San Fran: The Healthy Way

So today’s guest blogger is a pretty special person. Not only is she a blogging friend, but she’s an IRL (in real life) friend, AND she’s my next door neighbor. No, seriously, our husbands like to think they’ll knock the walls down one day and make one, big, awesome room made up of both of our townhomes. So Brie has this pretty cool job that has sent her to some pretty cool places. Most recently, northern Cali. She’s got some pictures for you, along with some great advice on traveling healthy… because, let’s face it, traveling can get unhealthy really fast. Enjoy Brie!

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Hi Like Ordinary Life readers! I’m Brie of Recipe for a Beautiful Life, where I blog about my passion for fitness, my love for all things fashion and beauty, my obsession with sports, and everything in between.

Recently, I’ve been on a little health kick {and have worked hard to drop some major LB’s}, so when the hubs and I started planning our trip to San Francisco and Napa, I was of course thrilled and excited, but also apprehensive about keeping up with my fitness routine. I knew there was a lot of amazing wine and food awaiting me on the West Coast!

I don’t think I am the only one who feels like when you have finally saved up some vacation time, planed out a trip, and cut loose from you cubicle, it can be very tempting to leave all responsibilities behind…even (or especially) the fitness and healthy eating ones… But…the last thing I wanted to do was slip down the fitness slope and come home from my vacation discouraged… Here’s what helped me stay on track, but still enjoy my travels: Turn sightseeing into fitness! No one wants to spend their vacation laboring away in a hotel gym. So get out there and see the sights whileyou workout! The hubs and I saw some of the best sights in San Francisco while out for our runs. We used our iPhones to plan out the best routes to maximize sights and mileage. The hills were brutal, but it was a badge of honor making it up those suckers!

Scenes from our 6.5 mile run:

Pack healthy breakfasts and snacks! Having your own stuff on hand minimizes the chance you will cave and order room service or stop off at Starbucks for a giant muffin. I trekked a box full of Clif bars across the country and it was a great way to start each day on a healthy note {plus, they’re great fuel for your workouts}. Use your own body weight for strength training! No weights? No fancy machines? No problem! Lunges, squats, pushups, and crunches are great ways to get in a good workout, even in your hotel room. Add in some jumps, jumping jacks, and high knees to do a mix of cardio and strength training. Bring your best {fitness} friends along for the trip! A jump rope is one of the best cardio workouts you can do. It’s perfect for travel because it’s small and light weight. You can easily pack a jump rope in your suitcase {even a carry on}. It requires only a little bit of space for the workout! Resistance bands are also easily packable and usable anywhere! Moderation is key!Let’s be real, you have to live a little. There was no way I was going to San Francisco, and Napa, and not drinking wine {I had previously been on a self-imposed wine ban} or enjoying some of the fabulous food. Know what your priorities are. I stayed away from unnecessary snacking and desserts because I would rather indulge in my main courses and, of course, vino!

San Francisco, and especially wine country, were amazing! I highly recommend a trip. If you love wine as much as I do {and that’s a whole lot} then Napa and Sonoma are a must-visit! The wine was amazing, the scenery was stunning, and everyone was so warm and welcoming. We are already planning our next trip!

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The Useless Digital Filing Cabinet Formally Known as Pinterest

The scarlet letter. P. It started as an idea board for our wedding. Way easier than emailing a million images to my sister and mom every day, I entered my pinteresting beginnings. But back then not many people used it so I gave it up for a few months. The Pinterest honeymoon period of one week had worn off. Then, upon my prodigal return last autumn, wholly guacamole... everyone and their sister were pinning away. This made things a bit more fun.

Now, it’s become the worst thing in social media since the advent of Facebook. I’m talking back in the days when we had to be “invited” to join. So addicting. I mean, don’t these photos make you happy?

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Pin. Pin. Pin. Here’s the truth. My board, teacher tools, is seasonally complete with 65 educational pins. I’ve used/created 7 of those for my classroom. That’s 10%. An occupational waste of time. My workout inspired “physique" board means well with 30 fitness related pins. Less than a dozen times have I referenced that pin for interval workouts or inspiration. The only good in my "the d.i.y. list" board is the living succulent wreath I conquered a few months ago. Go, me! Let’s not even discuss the recipes for yummy dinners or charming desserts fit for a party. Not one. single. recipe. Zip, zero, zilch. 

Do you know that kitchen drawer where you put the coupons and handymen’s business cards? The throw away drawer that also holds miscellaneous post-it notes, inkless pens, nail clippers and scissors? That’s Pinterest. You’re positive you’ll need that mechanic’s number one day, but when the day comes, you just search Angie’s List. When you finally reach in to grab the Rita’s free italian ice coupon, you find out it’s a year old. And then there’s the nail clippers. You’ve already replaced them two or three times. If only you knew, all along, they were in that darn drawer. 

I want to go to this magical place.

I’ll tell you the true value of Pinterest. Birthdays. Christmas’. Anniversaries. Take a look at somebodies boards and you know exactly what to get them as a gift. No more guessing. They lay it out for you. Board by board. Neat little digital files of all things they desire. Ahem, hubcap. My birthday’s in about 80 days….

Boys… listen up. She says she isn’t thinking about marriage, but check out her boards. Hidden in between a fashion board and a recipe board, she’s got her dress, flowers and colors picked out. The ring’s there, too, if you need some help.

happy.

Will I stop pinning? Well, did I ever stop dropping coupons in that kitchen drawer? The one thing Pinterest has going for it is that it takes the creepy, stalker feel out of Facebook. And I like pinning. It’s a great little filing cabinet with quick links to everything I could never possibly need. (Yes, I meant to say it that way).

Have a fabulously pinteresting day.

*Filed under Personal Life*

On Gratitude and Strength

Drenched in the orange ombre evening dusk, sheltered by the overgrown maples and magnolias on every side, the water’s disrupted just enough to cause a wave against the cobalt blue cement. The rhythmic sound of the push and pull through the thickness of the well. I get lost in the repetition, meditate to the rush of water as I split through, floating as one with my surroundings.

Swimming came as somewhat of a miracle in my life after a bad ski accident freshman year of college. With a torn ACL and meniscus, running and soccer were consequently placed on the shelf- to be discussed at an unknown later date. As luck would have it, I’d blown my knee out in the only way possible to not illicit necessary surgery, but, sadly, throw me under the bus without ever having a full recovery. After a hiatus from exercise, mainly a pity party of depression I threw myself because, let’s face it, depression is no more than throwing yourself a pity party so that you don’t have to deal with life, I jumped into the deep end of the pool, ready to give my knee a new, healthy life.

Months later on a perfect fall day with a slight breeze and chill in the air, one of those days that threatened to turn my mind straight back into depression, I laced up my tennis shoes and sprung out the door before it had a chance to latch behind me. A steady, careful two miles later, I had overcome my deepest fears. I could run. In a straight line, but it was running nonetheless. And my indepted gratitude falls soley on the goggles tucked away and the chlorine-eaten piece of fabric hanging in my locker at UREC, ready for another lap.

To call swimming therapeutic for me is an understatement. Pulling my suit on in the locker room, ready to grab a kickboard and flippers, taking seat at the edge of my favorite lane, I learned how to appreciate my body. The physical struggles I go through in the water are unlike anything I’ve ever known. I’ve never been a strong swimmer. Walking home after finishing my first mile of laps without stopping, I felt more adrenaline and pride than when I drank cider out of the shiny, challace of the winning Cup at the end St. Andrew’s soccer tournament, a champion, back when I was 14- and that is saying something.

My swimming days were strong and pleasant. They faded, slowly and unassumingly, into a star-crossed love for the pavement. I visit occasionally, as I did today. I enter the water with care, my toes slicing the gentle dance of the pool’s edge kindly, making sure he know’s I mean no harm. He embraces my body, blanketing me in the warmth of an old friend. I begin with a falsely confident push forward into the length of my companion. It takes two or three laps to gain my strength, to believe I can actually do this. Then again, I never got over those first few painful laps. With each stroke, my body calms and my mind zeroes in further.

Water lives in my soul. From the waterfalls that mark every spectacular moment of my life, from childhood to adulthood, to the fresh waves of Lake Michigan, water cools my fiery soul. Water is good for a Pitta, and as I’ve mentioned before, the heat is nothing short of my enemy. To build my strength when I was my weakest, injured and broken, it could only be the water. So I visit, to give thanks and to gently test my neglected friendship.

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Robat de piscina / Swimming pool furtive shot

*Filed under Personal Life*