Archive for the ‘Be the pack leader’ Category

I know, I know. I’ve been gone for quite a while. I’d love to tell you that I’ve been absent from my blogger duties because I’ve been climbing Mount Everest or helping save baby elephants in the jungle or teaching inner-city kids how to settle conflicts with nonviolence. But the truth is I’ve been sitting here on my big, round butt doing a whole lot TV watching, junk food eating, senseless arguing, and wallowing in self pity.

I posted over at Bodies and Motivation last week about how I’ve been in a downward, never-ending spiral in my diet and my relationships for a while. Oh sure, I get out of bed and make it to the gym in the morning, and I manage to take care of my day-to-day responsibilities, but in no way am I thriving. In all ways, my life right now is stagnant.

Being stagnant sucks.

For whatever reason, I haven’t had the gumption or the strength or the wherewithal to kick start myself out of this funk. I keep eating junk and undoing my workouts. I keep yelling and Jeff and undoing our relationship. I keep saying bad things to myself and undoing my self confidence. There’s a lot of undoing going on around here.

It’s good timing that Mark Sisson’s annual primal blueprint challenge started yesterday. I need a challenge like this to un-funk me. At this point, saying I’m going to take the primal challenge seems trite. How many times have I made a declaration like this? How many times have I given up on it after a few hours, days, or weeks?

In all my wallowing I’ve managed to do some introspection, and I realized that I was happiest when I was in control of my food intake. Control I clearly do not have right now. I can’t fix all the other crap in my life in a matter of seconds, but I can decide that quickly, “No, I will not eat that. Instead, I will eat this.” And after doing that a few dozen or hundred times, it will get easier. Eventually, it will be control. Fake it till you make it, as my therapist says.

So food, once again, is where I will start to remake myself into a happier, healthier, calmer, more Zen person. And this time, I’m going to be very specific. My primal blueprint challenge is as follows:

  • No grains or refined sugars. Period.
  • Getting 8 solid hours of sleep per night.
  • Keeping my “moderate” alcohol intake truly moderate, i.e., one glass o’ red wine per week. (OUCH)
  • Keeping dairy and natural sugar (like honey) intake to 3 times/week.
  • Taking a 3 pm stretch/yoga break, instead of hitting the cupboards for some sugar.
  • Pushing myself harder during my workouts.

Are there other things I could/should be doing? Sure. But this is where I will start for now.

If I have any readers left after my prolonged absence, I’d love for you to take the challenge with me.

To keep myself honest, I’ll be posting my food and workouts here daily, starting right now.

Breakfast: Smoothie with frozen banana slices, Prograde protein powder, 2 tablespoons sunflower seed butter, 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa, and coconut milk

Lunch: Baked wild salmon, sauteed kale

Snack: 2 hard-boiled eggs

Dinner: Fassoulia (venison, tomato, onion, and green bean stew)

Workout(s): morning 3-mile trail run, sprinting uphill; afternoon 10-minute yoga sesh; evening 45-minute walk


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Kip is no longer staying with us. Yesterday I dropped him off at my trainer friend Ralph’s house. He’ll be staying at a dog training facility for a week or two for basic obedience training, and after that he’ll go to Washington, D.C., where he’ll be trained to work as a PTSD service dog for a woman who was shot in the head by Somali pirates.

They say one man’s trash is another’s treasure. I say that where Kip is involved, the first man never deserved to have the treasure in the first place.

What happens when you put a big, tough pit bull in the same house as a bigger, tougher doberman? In this house, LOTS of this happened:

I’ve got one good boy. I didn’t have room for another. During the two weeks he was here, I often got annoyed that there was another to walk and feed and pet and shed and not step on. But he was worth it. And now, I am at peace because he is where he belongs. Where he will be loved and treasured for the rest of his life.

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Kane and I miss a lot about our old home. Our friends, our walking and running routes, our dog parks, our endless amounts of solo time in our teensy tiny apartment. And the water. Oh, how we miss being near the water. For years, we were within a 15 minute drive of a beach, a river, and a lake. And boy, we loved it.

It’s hotter than Hades here recently, and we’ve both missed being able to get in the water. Until, a girl I met at the dog park tipped me off to a quiet little section of the James River that’s very dog friendly.

We spent the better part of Sunday morning there. Wading around, hopping from river rock to river rock, and chasing a water toy (him, not me). Enjoying the stillness and the smell of life that only a large body of water can emit.

It was glorious. It was the first time I felt a little bit “home” since I’ve moved.

It was a good feeling.

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Last Thursday morning didn’t start off great for me. I woke up late, which meant my running trail was going to be more populous (meaning there may be ONE other patron besides me…two’s a crowd), and it was humid. Then, when I tried to start my car, guess what? It didn’t start.

As I was peering around under the hood (looking for a mechanic or a genie, I guess), my neighbor came over. She told me she’d seen our old neighbors, who got evicted about a month ago, drive by in the middle of the night, stop at their old house, and drop their dog off in their old yard.

They hadn’t left him any food, water, shelter, nothing.

He came home with me that morning, and for the first time ever, I didn’t care that I wasn’t able to make it to my run.

As far as I know he doesn’t have a name, but Jeff and I’ve been calling him Kip, Little Guy, and The Puppy.

He isn’t as smart (or maybe as eager to learn) as Kane is, so training him is taking more time. Granted, he’s a 10ish month old puppy who’s never been shown any kindness, attention, or instruction. I wasn’t expecting an Einstein out of Little Guy. Still, he’s learned Sit, Down, Walk, Enough, and Stay in a few days. He has a brightness in his eyes that says, “I want to learn! Show me how!”

He’s not staying with us forever; we are at capacity in our small house with 2 adults and 2 big dogs. I hope to have him in a permanent home by next weekend. Going from two to three is a challenge, but he’s been an adorable addition for the last week.

I was a bit nervous about bringing a 10ish month old intact pit bull puppy into a home where there’s already a 2.5 year old male doberman and a female Weimaraner. But you know what? There have been a handful scuffles, but for the most part, things have been peaceful. The two boys can’t get enough of each other. I know Kane’s going to miss his buddy when Kip finds a home.

He’s such a good boy. He really deserves a family who will love him forever.

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I have a confession to make. I break the law, willingly, consciously, knowingly, and without regret, 2 – 3 times a week. I’ve been caught committing my crime red-handed before, and still I don’t care. I know the consequences, and oh, it is so worth it.

Kane and I run the trails at the Cold Harbor Battlefield park a few times a week. It’s hot as Hades, so we go in the early morning. The woods are dense, dark, cool… they’re packed full of bugs and snakes and deer and squirrels… and I’m pretty sure it’s haunted. No matter how much bug spray I soak us with, we leave with a few itchy bites each time. I’ve tripped over the uneven terrain more times than I can count, bruised my toes, strained my knee, twisted my back, and most recently, completely skinned my kneecap and the palms of my hands.

We cannot get enough of it.

My crime is not being clumsy or filthy when I leave. My crime is that, each time we go, as soon as we are out of sight of the ranger station, I let Kane off leash, despite the billions of DOGS MUST BE ON LEASH Department of the Interior signs all over the place, and the wary, watchful eye of the park ranger. For the rest of the run, he has the freedom to do whatever his doggie heart pleases, just as long as he stays within sight. He chases squirrels, deer, pees on numerous and random shrubs, scratches at the dirt trail. Sometimes he just trots along beside or slightly behind me. He is ever ready to warn me of any disturbance in our solitude. We run as a pack: uninhibited and not forced. Natural. Intimate. How Man and Dog have run together for tens of thousands of years.

So, it’s a trail run, and I run it with my dog. What’s the big deal?

The big deal is that I do not eat as primally as I should/could. Having a desk job like mine is just about the most unprimal lifestyle imaginable. But running trails with Kane makes me feel alive, fulfilled, reverent. Being in the woods, moving my body and feeling my surroundings, trusting Nature—both terrain and animal—detoxifies me, physically, mentally, and emotionally.

So I will keep going and I will keep breaking that arbitrary law. I may get ticketed one day and have to pay a couple hundred dollars in fines. To me, that’s a small price to pay for therapy. And if you have access to a wooded trail and a dog (or friend) who you can trust off-leash, I highly recommend you do the same. Grok would want it that way.

(Please note, running with your dog off leash only makes sense if you’re almost 100% sure no one else is on the trail. Subjecting dozens of other hikers to a ginormous doberman is not being a good park steward, nor can you ever be sure any other dogs you encounter will be as friendly as your own.)

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These days, the time I used to spend blogging gets spent doing other things. Mostly sewing.

Here’s a look at what I’ve been up to.

A hanging shoe organizer. This project cost me a grand total of $2. I got both cuts of fabric at the thrift store for $1 each, and the “shoulders” (a piece of wood at the top to keep the organizer from collapsing under the weight of 12 pairs of shoes) came from a bamboo tree in my back yard.

Leather and linen purse. I’ve made four variations of this bag. A few weeks ago I scored some awesome English linen and Italian suede from the nicest lady in the world. The first three purses I made (one for me, one for my mom, and one for my sister) have a dark brown suede base and a super luxurious linen bag part. They each have a different lining, inside pocket, and outside rosettes. The second one pictured below is also a gift, but I made it out of a leather coat I scored at the thrift store ($5 for about 2 yards of soft, worn-in leather) and a different cut of linen.

Don’t you love the rosettes? Me too. I’ve got a tutorial on those in queue. 🙂

And finally, my most labor-intensive and treasured project yet, a patchwork quilt. I saw this quilt several months ago on Under the Sycamore. It’s actually what made me decide to buy a sewing machine on a whim (well, that and the glasses of wine I had for dinner that night), and what’s inspired me to learn as much as I have. I’m so in love with this quilt. I love the simplicity and the pop of color in the corners. I love the randomness wrapped up in coordination. I ADORE the line of fabric that makes up the corners (the Lovely collection by Sandy Gervais for Moda). And I love that I cut all of the white squares from some flat sheets I got at the thrift store for $1 each.

I’m hand-tying this quilt, rather than actually “quilting” it, and as you can see, have yet to bind it all together. But it’s getting there.

Close-up on the hand-tying, which is really just doing three loops with an embroidery needle by hand… on 110 squares.

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The honeymoon phase of my relationship with my Brother CS6000i hasn’t waned yet. I still love him as much as the day I got him. (Yes, him. I know most sewing machines are given female pronouns, but mine is different. He’s refined and strong and has amazing stamina, and I love him. He’s my better half.)

He came with a plain plastic cover. But he deserves something better to keep him clean and dust free. Hell, my office deserves better than a plain white plastic box talking up a big chunk of the desk.

So we made him something better, together.

(This project is directly from the Home Ec ecourse I’m taking.)

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