Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

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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On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I get up when the clock still starts with 4 in order to make the AM bootcamp session. (Tuesdays and Thursdays mean sleeping until a whopping 5:30 to get to the battlefield to run before anyone else gets there.) Anyway, on MWF, I get home around 6:45 and immediately take Kane and Cynder for a 45-minute walk. I feed them breakfast when we get back to the house, tidy up a bit, and then hop in the shower and get dressed in a frenzy in order to start working at 8. By midmorning, I’ve got an hour and a half of exercise, three hours of work, and 6 hours of awake time behind me. And I’m exhausted.

During this time I often think about how nice it would be to take a nap. To sleep in and skip a workout. To pour some sugary, HFCS-laden cereal and CAFO milk into a bowl three or four times and call it breakfast AND lunch, instead of taking the time to make organic sweet potato hash browns and local, cage-free fried eggs for breakfast. To save my tired and sore legs and not walk the dogs, to keep them penned in the back yard, pining to stretch their magnificent muscles and spend some quality time with me.

How nice it would be to drive through a Dunkin Donuts drive-thru at 7:55 in my pajamas because hey! I work from home and I can, instead of driving to the next town over before most people are awake to do something constructive and healthy and challenging with other people.

How nice it would be to not shower or fix my hair or put on any makeup or get dressed, because realistically the only person I may see today besides Jeff is the mailman. And he’s so terrified of Cynder and Kane he doesn’t dare linger to chit chat.

And that’s when I hear Robert Frost whispering to me that it wouldn’t really be that nice. Because letting yourself down doesn’t feel nice. Sometimes meeting my own needs is exhausting. But it’s always worth it.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

As a side note, to look at these two, you’d swear they were the ones with the sore muscles and packed day.

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I Made It!

The past week has been busy and hard and incredibly taxing on my mind and body. I packed up my single life and moved to Richmond on Saturday. On Sunday Jeff came down with a stomach bug/head cold. There were boxes and clutter everywhere and so much work to be done. Dogs to be walked and petted. Dishes to be sorted. A house to put together.

I can’t handle clutter. Clutter makes me cringe and has been known to make me cry.

On Monday I drove back to Norfolk and cleaned my empty apartment. After 4 hours of scrubbing I sat down on the floor and relived the past year that happened between those blank walls. I drove back in the afternoon, dirty and exhausted, and made Jeff some chicken noodle soup and talked to him about his day and our future. I finally took a shower at 7:30.

Jeff is still sick and I’m not sure what it is about man colds but they must be a million times worse than the colds women get, evidenced by the amount of whining and complaining and neediness coming from his area of the couch.

My mom came yesterday to help me unpack and put the house together. We made twice as much stuff fit into an already-full kitchen. Nothing makes me happier than well-thought-out organization. My canned beans and vegetables and spices are organized alphabetically and my knives are sharpened and hanging from their magnetic strip above the stove. I’m going to Trader Joe’s today to stock up on fish and vegetables because I’ve been living on merlot and pizza and Chinese takeout and I feel like crap. I can’t wait to start cooking and planning meals again.

I’m also going to JoAnn’s to stock up on pretty fabric because I have a long list of projects for the new house. It’s already mid morning and I need to get moving.

I have a few posts in queue about moving and decorating and an awesome recipe for chicken noodle soup. Stay tuned!

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It hit me the other day that I’ve been out of college longer than I was in college (I graduated a semester early, and I’ve been out over 4 years now).

I haven’t made it to grad school (yet). I haven’t started a business yet. I haven’t gotten married or had a baby or bought a house. You know, all those things women are “supposed” to do to be fulfilled. Don’t get me wrong. I want them to happen. But they haven’t yet.

The things I have done since college are varied and eclectic. I’m a scholar at heart, and I always will be. I will never stop learning, never stop making connections, never stop breaking a sweat with anticipation of mastering a new skill.

At William and Mary I:

  • Became a kick-ass writer
  • Learned to read faster
  • Learned to think deeper
  • Learned to do keg stands
  • Learned to solve problems with a broader mindset
  • Learned a whole lot of facts, some of which are important only to me and my professors
  • Learned what kind of people I like to surround  myself with


Since William and Mary I:

  • Learned to train dogs
  • Mastered several cooking techniques
  • Acquired many things and learned to make them beautiful
  • Learned to make the most of the money I make
  • Learned about nutrition and exercise
  • Read several important books
  • Learned about wine and cheese
  • Learned to take care of my body
  • Forgot how to do keg stands


The other night I flipped to MTV to see what was on. (I LOVE Teen Mom 2–don’t judge.) And that’s when I realized how bored I’ve been the past few months. Yeah, I’m moving in a week and a half and about to start a new chapter in my life, but what about the things I do for me?

I’ve lost the weight, trained the dog, refinished the dilapidated furniture, mastered the cuisine, and read the books that matter to me. Now what?

I bought a computerized sewing machine (which is the new love of my life. Seriously, I’d sleep with it if it had softer edges.). I made some curtains and some pillows for the new house (pics to come).

And again, the nagging “now what?” question.

So I signed up for a Modern Patchwork ecourse. I ordered several fat quarters of breathtakingly gorgeous fabric.

I’ve never sewn extensively; only when something rips or tears do I get out the ole needle and thread. But I’m strangely excited about this new endeavor. I can’t wait to make beautiful things for my home and friends and family.

To add one more thing to my I Can list.


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Fasting has been the only part of eating primalishly (SO a word) that I’ve been afraid to try. No grains? OK. No sugar? Who needs it? But MISSING A MEAL? Um, um, um, um,…..

But I’ve been doing this primalish thing for a while now and I’ve only lost a few pounds. I’ve been running like crazy and doing strength training, and the scale should be moving more than it has. In one of my whining sessions at Bodies in Motivation (www.bodiesinmotivation.com), one of my readers sent me a link from Mark’s Daily Apple, which suggested intermittant fasting (IF) once a week.

I’ve been dreading IF like I dread interval running and Pap smears. But last night I did it. (IF, that is.) I had a salad for lunch and some trail mix around 2:30, and that was it until breakfast this morning. Here are my initial thoughts:

  • I kept myself busy last night, which really helped. I took Kane for an extra long walk, did some crafting (pictures to come), and helped my sister write a final paper.
  • The humongous salad I had at lunch definitely helped, too.
  • I didn’t let myself have ANYTHING—not even honey in my tea—for fear of opening the snacking floodgates.
  • When I felt a hunger pang, I told myself that it will go away. I’m not starving. I don’t need to eat. I’ll eat tomorrow.
  • I changed the channel when food commercials came on during the little time I spent watching TV.
  • I was hungry when I went to bed, but not uncomfortably so. I wasn’t hungry at all when I woke up.
  • My workout this morning was rough, but I got through it. I was nowhere near as shaky or lightheaded as I thought I’d be working out that hard without any food.
  • I made it until breakfast at 8:30 without any issues. I ate my omelette, and then resumed my normal eating patterns.
  • My tummy was uber flat this morning.
  • I’ve felt really skinny all day today.
  • The whole experience was actually a lot easier than I expected.

Overall I’m pleasantly surprised at how good I feel. I honestly thought I’d get phsycially ill without eating for that long. Overcoming that mental barrier feels incredible.

Do any of you have experience with primal/primalish IF? What were your first impressions? How often do you do it?

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I’ve been spending a lot of time in the car recently, driving back and forth between home and Richmond in a seemingly futile attempt to find a place to live. It’s not a very long drive. I can usually make it without stopping to pee or get gas. But an hour and a half of highway in front of you has a way of opening the Thinking Floodgates, especially when your iPod is set to shuffle and each song becomes a memory pit stop for some phase of your life.

I’ve been thinking a lot on these drives—about life and love and losing, and all the right and left turns that somehow landed me driving down I64 at 7:30 on a Sunday evening, Jeff’s scent still on my clothes for Kane to breathe in when I step through the door.

I consider high school to be the beginning of when I came into my pseudo-adult consciousness. Sure, some pretty great and terrible things happened before then that helped shape who I am, but high school is when Adult, Rational Courtney began to emerge. That’s the Courtney that I’ve come to know, and whose mind and body I now inhabit.

I haven’t always loved this Courtney. I spent the most part of high school and college doing things and believing things that were bad for her. I’ve changed so much in the past 11 years, and yet for the longest time I was the same person, whether the aspects that made me Me were true or not. I was fat, and when I wasn’t fat, I thought I was. I was sad. I was lonely. I was misunderstood. I wasn’t an athlete. I wasn’t funny. I wasn’t pretty. I was worth nothing unless Faceless Boy wanted me. I drank too much. I smoked too much. I ate too much. I rarely moved. I was young and careless and not particularly focused and not at all secure. I didn’t know my parents. I had no skills. My skin wasn’t clear and I needed to lose 30 pounds, no matter what size I actually was (which varied quite a bit during said years).

And then one day I stopped. I stopped telling myself I was fat. I stopped looking for excuses to be still. I started saying good things to myself in the mirror and started practicing not caring about what a man thought of me. I started working on me for Me.

During this time I lost a lot of weight. But that was only on the surface.

I learned that I love to paint, but I’m not very good at it.

I learned that I am athletic, but I have no desire to be athletic with anyone else around or involved. I am a loner.

I discovered that I have a knack for working with dogs.

I discovered an interest in nutrition, especially from the lens of evolution.

I started to think I was pretty. I tucked all those boys away into a memory box, and when I bring them out now and dust them off, my heart aches a little. But it doesn’t ache for them. It aches for me—for all those hours I spent pining for men I wouldn’t give a second glance to now. I’m out of their league.

I discovered Faulkner and then discovered a much deeper part of my soul, which I had never known was there.

I learned to speak in a way that commands respect.

I learned that I’m hilarious. As long as you’re sharp enough to get me, that is.

I learned how to decorate and how to give a dinner party.

I started to form a relationship with the earth and with the Divine.

I learned that I’m a damn good cook.

I learned that I look way better in a wrap dress than I do in an empire.

I met a man who loves and respects my body and my mind as much as I do. I don’t care whether or not he loves me or what he thinks about me. Because I know he loves me. And because I know I am strong enough to leave if he doesn’t.

I’ve lived my life. I’ve established a career (insignificant as it feels sometimes) and I am doing OK financially. I’ve lived alone in a city with no family or friends. I’ve established a home base completely on my own.

When I happen upon a high school or college classmate, my heart doesn’t skip a beat and I don’t have the desire to hide or avoid them, like I used to. Because I’m proud of the choices I’ve made since we parted ways. It’s admirable to do what I have done.

It’s been a while since these changes and outlooks have come to fruition. They aren’t “new” anymore. But what I realized for the first time driving down the highway last night was that I grew up, wised up, and straightened up for me. And only for me. I stopped trying to change myself to please the popular girls or the cute boys. I even stopped doing it out of spite. I don’t care anymore that I have complete freedom and some girls I went to high school with are pregnant with their third child. I don’t care that I’m further ahead in my career than someone who sat in the front row of a class I had to withdraw from or fail at William and Mary.

Because none of that matters. None of that is conducive to real, sustainable change. I changed myself because that’s what I needed to do to love myself.

The thing about doing it for You is that once you’ve done it, you couldn’t care less about what They think. Because compared to what you’ve done, They are nothing.

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Peace at Dawn

The best part of my day is after I’ve worked out, when I take Kane to a big field near our house, and I throw the ball for him. This usually happens right as the sun starts to rise and the city starts to come alive on the other side of the river. There’s a peace about the sounds of office buildings waking up and cars rushing along their morning commute, muffled by the half darkness. That’s the best part of my day: standing in the field, bundled up, worked out, with my best friend, listening to the day begin.

(Forgive the quality of these pictures; I took them with my phone.)

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