moving forward

Christmas and life lessons

If I’ve learned anything in the last year or 10 or 40+ years, life is short.

Friendships may not last a lifetime. Health fades. Jobs sure can suck sometimes, but are necessary. Military life is hard. You move. You adjust. You move again. Making new friends as you get older is hard.

But at the end of the day you embrace what brings you joy. Family. Sunshine. Lifelong relationships. Belly laughs. Memories. Good food. Spending too much money on something you know will make someone smile. Heartfelt gestures. Hugs. Random acts of kindness. Inclusion. Smiles.

Wear the dress. Eat the food. Call someone you love. Laugh every day.

Life is short. Embrace it.

Merry Christmas to you all.


Five things, Friday

Ah, it’s been a while since I did a five things, Friday post.  This week my 5 things come with photos of a few of my favorite things this week…because isn’t every good blog post filled with pics?

Here goes:

First…tonight I had a day off because I am working the next 6 days and IL law states you can’t work more than 6 days in a row.  What did I do?  I set my alarm to take my eldest to school so she wouldn’t have to wait outside in sub zero temps, I took a nap,  I cleaned my house, did laundry, my AB challenge,  and cooked this beautiful meal for my family.  Once I perfect the recipe, I’ll post it!


My deconstructed "Burger and Fries."
My deconstructed “Burger and Fries with homemade BBQ sauce.”

After picking up my mini me from after school care I checked the mail.  It’s been a while as our drive way is hella long, and well, it’s darn cold outside.  I received this beautiful hand made apron and pot holders from my dear friend Michelle who is the most self-less person I know.  While she battles her second bout of cancer, she sews me an apron because she is concerned about my thumb, and over all well being.  I couldn’t hold back the tears.  Wow.

A gift from someone who deserves more gifts than I can even dream of giving...
A gift from someone who deserves more gifts than I can even dream of giving…

And then there’s this guy…We’ve had our fair share of struggles.  He travels more than I’d like.  He plays too many video games.  But at the end of the day, HE supports me and loves me, even when I am pretty tough to love.  Which is often…lol

This dude...yeah...
This dude…yeah…

THIS day.  This.  The day I put off for over a year because I let self doubt win, over. and. over.  ALL THE DOUBT.  And none of the confidence. But this day I took a chance.  It may have not panned out.  But darn it I sure tried and will continue to do so.  #chefwannabe My life will be forever changed because I took this chance…

A reminder of a day where I chased my dreams full force.
A reminder of a day where I chased my dreams full force.

Lastly there’s this little fella…this dog, this FRIEND who hasn’t left my side in years.  True love right here.

My little prince, who's now 7 years old, but still a puppy in my eyes and heart.
My little prince, who’s now 7 years old, but still a puppy in my eyes and heart.

My point to this post, is to hang on to the things you love dearly.  I lost a friend from high school yesterday, without warning, and I am again reminded how short life really is.  So these are just a few of my favorite things that have touched my heart this week.

What keeps you going?  Do you have pets?  Have you stepped out of your comfort zone lately?

Keep Movin’ forward, gang!


❤ Michelle



Naperville Half marathon preparation and packet pick up

Today is a new day.  My daughter, the tough little cookie she is, is doing fine…I think Mom took it harder than daughter when reality slapped us in the face.

But today, after not a lot of sleep, I rolled out of bed and hopped in the shower.  It was time to pick up my race packet and hit the expo for a race I haven’t trained too terribly hard for, but that I know I can complete.  My #doepicshit friend Andrea was working the expo until 1 o’clock, so I wanted to make sure I got to see her.

And see her I did!  She graciously handed me my packet, and I shopped around while I waited for her to finish her volunteer shift.

Free chair massage?  yespleaseandthankyou!

Meet massage dude that was stuck in the 80's sporting his spray tan and gold chains.  But hey, he worked the knot in my back like a mad man.  WIN.
Meet Rico…my massage dude that was stuck in the 80’s sporting his spray tan and gold chains. But hey, he worked the knot in my back like a mad man. WIN.

Afterwards, we decided to grab a bite to eat to celebrate having some time together.  Living an hour apart, and both working crazy hours we don’t get to see each nearly enough.

Blue moon beer counts as carb loading, yes?
Blue moon beer counts as carb loading, yes?

After talking race strategy (run..walk…move…don’t die, and finish), we parted ways and I headed home to get my flat runner ready.

Flat runner ready!
Flat runner ready!

Upon my arrival home, my hubby asked what our dinner plans were?  What?  I am running a half marathon tomorrow…I’m. not. cooking.  LOL!  So he prepared some yummy pasta for us…DELISH!

True carb loading, LOL
True carb loading, LOL

And now, with my gear set out, my Garmin and IPod charging, I am relaxing in an almost too quiet house.  Wait…is that possible?  LOL…

My plan for tomorrow is quite simple…take all the stressors I’ve been dealing with the last few weeks, and let that energy fuel me for 2+ hours.  Leave the yuck on the road, and run with my heart.  I nearly tried to wimp out and either 1. not run the race or 2. just finish it half assed…But my friends know me far too well, and I just don’t work that way.

So I’ll meet up with my amazing friends before the race…shiver, hug, and embrace all that is right in the world by surrounding myself with these people.  Will the race lead to a PR?  Doubtful…realistically I am just a little rusty from the last few weeks.  But I’ll finish, and give it my all!

Thanks to you all, for your amazing support these last 2 days!

Cheers to my last major race of 2014!

dedication, food, goals, moving forward, running

Top 10 things I’ve learned as a 40-somethin’ year old-pictureless post

This post may seem a bit “common sense” like, but I felt compelled to share things I have learned in my 4 decades of being blessed to live on this earth…Some are fitness related in the relative sense, while most are a part of my mantra of #keepmovinforward

1. Do what you love, and do it with all of your being. No…we all can’t have those dream jobs of being (for me) an executive Chef or famous writer. But I do my job to the best of my ability and spend the rest of my time focusing on things I love. I love to run, I love to write, I love to cook, and above all I love sharing all of these passions with my family and friends.

2. Leave the past where it belongs. In the past. But…yes, BUT…learn from your past mistakes, your past situations, and your past hurts. Don’t let yourself repeat the past…Learn, let go, and move forward from things that may have caused you pain.

3. Embrace what you’ve learned from #2, and allow these past hurts to fuel your future. Have you racked up your credit cards? Have you lost your job? Have you found yourself in a failed relationship? Learn…pay off those cards and put the credit card DOWN. Let go…it sucks being layed off from a job, but don’t give up! Get out there and keep looking for where are meant to be! Is your relationship causing you complete and utter pain, day after day? LET IT GO. Life is too short…(these of course are just a FEW examples).

4. If you want to be better at a certain task-WORK for it. Enough said…No one can make you stronger at ANYTHING. More times than not, you have to be your own rock.

5. Do you dream of a happy life? MAKE IT SO…No ones life is unicorns and glitter all of the time. But embrace those moments that make your heart sing, and let the rest BE. Example? I had a rough day at work today…Monday’s are always my nemesis for disaster it seems. But today, after thanking one of my employees for her extra hours I found myself in awe listening to HER thank ME for being the best boss she’s had…I had to hold my emotion inside as I genuinely thanked her. This made all the “ick” go away in a heart beat. Find your moments each and every day…and hold on tight to the wonderful feeling they give to you.

6. Stop chasing people wishing for acceptance or praise. If you want to chase something, chase that runner in front of you in your next half marathon, but let the acceptance and praise come naturally. Not everyone was built to give out those warm fuzzies that we all covet. So be it…yet there are SO many souls placed on this planet for that VERY reason…I am grateful to have several in my corner who do just THAT.

7. Find your niche in life, and GO FOR IT no matter what the outcome. Here are some examples:
I love to cook, so I’ve worked hard these last several years to hone my skills. Am I a Master Chef yet? Not by a long shot…but I love it, and after a hard day at work I find nothing better (other than a good run) than to get in my kitchen and create. I rarely if ever use recipes, I simply cook by taste, touch, and the feeling I get from creating something wonderful for the people I love. I love to run, but will I win a race anytime soon? Probably not…but I will continue to work hard, run faster, and push myself to my outer limits to win MY race. I love to write but will I publish an award winning book? My guess is no, lol…but I love it, so I DO IT.

8. Don’t wait for tomorrow to start exercising and eating right. Life is short, and we are given ONE chance…take care of your body as it truly is a temple of God. I let myself go this past winter, and realized what a mistake I’ve made. It takes MONTHS even YEARS to get in good shape both mentally and physically…yet you can throw that away so quickly if you let yourself go. Don’t let life’s struggles serve as an excuse to let your body/mind go to the crapper.

9. Allow yourself the little moments of ‘ick’ but don’t let them steal your joy completely. We are all human, have problems, issues, kid drama, etc…see #2.

10. Don’t try to change people. Either embrace who they are and what they offer to your life, or decide that they aren’t a good fit in your life and let them go. Yup…see #2. again…

11. Yes, I said the top ten things…BUT…if your 7 year old comes running down to you, crying that there is a HUGE spider in her room and she needs you to help her, GO…save her from that monstrous spider, and kiss her sweet face goodnight. Because all too soon our children grow up and no longer need us in a sense…but if we show them we are here for them NOW, they will continue to reach out…don’t let those moments pass by…

As always, keep movin’ forward, learning, letting go, and moving forward with all of our life blessings.

dedication, food, goals

Life lessons…

Today was a six day work week. I used to complain about such weeks, yet today after hitting the snooze on my alarm 3 times, I rolled out of bed to get dressed and ready to teach at our local community college. The job, that truly isn’t really ‘work’ but more joy…
Yes…I teach in the histology program, despite being doubted by so many in the local area. And…I truly love the things I not only teach, but learn from my students. These amazing men and women show me so much about life each and every time I teach them about a field I don’t necessarily love, yet respect dearly.
Today I relearned a love and respect for not only the field, but for life…I was reminded that even in our darkest hour, or toughest day, there is LIGHT.
I encouraged, helped, and guided this amazing group for the better part of the day, and their heartfelt thanks, thoughts, and simply watching them grow as histo-techs did my heart wonders…
Keep in mind teaching is no joke. I spend countless hours AFTER work, pouring over research, lesson plans, and planning for the day of class in which I hope to change lives.
And EVERY single time I am allowed to teach, despite cussing the alarm clock, I find myself blessed to be a part of shaping a new technicians career. Even if for just a moment…
As I transition OUT of this career field, I find myself remise because I am nearly sure I won’t be teaching anymore…
Yet I know I have been brought to this place, for a reason…
Added confidence, hope, and faith in mankind I believe are the basis of my purpose here…
These students have no idea what THEY teach to me, bring to me, and even give to my life.
I came home smiling after a long day of teaching, grading and working…and my smile continued on for the rest of the day.

I cooked an amazing pork rib roast served over sautéed spinach with a side of scallop potatoes…and my family raved…
Pork Roast recipe:
Mix kosher salt, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, garlic salt, cumin, paprika, and pepper together….sorry, no measurements, just season to taste. Rub over your pork ribs, and sear in a pan on high heat. Transfer to the oven at 275 degrees for about an our or until cooked to 150 degrees (internal temp). Let rest for 15 minutes which will bring the temp to 160 degrees.
Sautee 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 small onion and red pepper flakes in 2 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil. Add in 4 slices of thick cut bacon chopped, and brown through. Drain the grease. Add in 3-4 cups of fresh spinach, and wilt down. Season with salt and pepper. Voila!
Scallop potatoes:
Take 2 cups of veggie stock, and add 2 tablespoons of corn starch to thicken. Mix well, and bring to a boil over high heat. Add 1 pat of unsalted butter, salt, pepper, and parsley. Thinly slice 4 large potatoes and add to the mix…simmer for about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked with a slight bite to them…
Serve, and enjoy!

We had a family Wii night, playing golf, bowling, archery, and table tennis with some sword fighting to boot.
And now, I am relaxing with some wine, with no guilt of having NOT run for 6 days…
I am planning to run tomorrow, but am allowing myself this bit of respite to regroup, recount, and find my way.
For taking small breaks, to me, isn’t a sign of weakness…
It is a sign of strength that you are using your energy to keep moving forward…