Thursday, May 27, 2010


It's a German word meaning “pleasure taken in what one can do best.” I like to think of it as pleasure taken in physical movement ---just the joy of being alive and being able to move, to feel my heart beat fast, to sweat, use my muscles. I felt it tonight running. I feel like I have to do a follow-up post to the last one where I struggled so hard with that last run. They're not all like that. After that run, I tell myself I never have to run again after this race. SCREW IT!

I felt back on top tonight, and had the thought cross my mind that I've got to talk my kids into coming on runs with me long enough to feel this. What a high. I've felt it in Tae Bo often enough, where the music hits just right, and you push through that last set, beyond what you thought you were capable of, but being outside... it brings one more dimension to the pleasure.

I ran to books on MP3 a for a long time. Nothing like it to keep from getting bored, and getting lost in a story instead, but I'm glad i finally figured out how to do the music thing on my Zen. My taste is eclectic to say the least. Right now I've got:

Judy Garland
The Cult
Black Eyed Peas
Celine Dion
Green Day
Jackson 5
Cage the Elephant
and some others. My only requirement is that the song has to get my blood pumping when I hear it. So yeah, Judy Garland singing "C'mon get Happy" does it, "Firewoman" from the Cult does it, and "American Idiot" from Green Day does it all equally as well. It feels like cheating to borrow energy from these performers, but that's what we pay them for right?

My time is back down too! Last week was pretty bad because I had my hyperthyroidism acting up, and lost some muscle. I'm fast again compared to that "herd of turtles" I was last week anyway. I'm so grateful my body is working right again.

Gina from "Choosing Raw" did a post a few days ago on body image (there's also a part two you can get to from there if you're interested) that was fantastic. This girl thinks before she writes (unlike my blabbering). I thought it was so interesting the changes noticed in womens' journals after the 1930's. There was a big shift in focus towards body image. Before then, it was more common to express personal goals which were more spiritual in nature. It's easy for me to fall into this trap myself, and pick this most trivial of focal points.

Athleticism helps me maintain that balance. Although I'm no elite athlete, making sure my legs stay strong helps me let go (some of the time!) of the desire for thin thin thighs. Those thighs do a lot for me! Let 'em live! Pushing a little further each time lifting weights helps me appreciate my arms even though they will never be the willowy, graceful appendages of a supermodel. I'm short and stubby all over, and I can't change that much. But I'm grateful for functionality.

No big conclusion, thanks for listening to my rambles. --Amara

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Friends for dinner --and training update.

We had a great dinner party Friday night. There's a family in our neighborhood that has let us adopt their daughter on school mornings, since both parents have crazy work schedules, and their older daughter is one of my young women. They treated us to the best restaurant in town a couple of weeks ago as kind of a thank you --which was far to much thank you for the joy of getting to know their girls better. We had THEM over to thank them back on Friday. There are some recipes I've been wanting to perfect for a catering job coming up, and they were graciously my guinea pigs for my latest iteration of Lemon-Rosemary chicken with preserved lemon slices, and also a wild rice-pecan pilaf. I'm thinking of a few minor changes for when I make them again. We also had fresh wheaty rolls with last summer's strawberry jam (from my yarden berries!), roasted purple, green, and orange veggies (I liked that color combo), and a Fresh Blueberry, Feta and Candied Cashew Salad with Spring Greens and a Blackberry virgin olive oil vinaigrette. For dessert, I made Lemon Tres Leches cake (kind of a knock off of the Macaroni grill Lemon Passion ) with lemon mousse, heavy whipped cream, and fresh raspberry homemade ice cream on the side (--which was a great tart balancer). Yeah. We may be doing that dessert again for every dinner party I ever have in the future. Heaven on a plate.

The salad minus dressing. I used EVOO in the dressing which you could really taste. I like that flavor, but you could use a milder oil and it would still turn out fine.
Here's the chicken. I used a tried and true marinade of my sister's , but added lemon zest and fresh rosemary, and grilled it, which on my barbeque is similar to cooking over a camp fire. It's the oldest, most uneven grill still working in the continental U.S. I just move things around a lot. The lemon slices I preserved last spring when I had a case of them, and couldn't bear to throw them out. I like to eat them plain like candy. But maybe that's just me... They're pretty as a garnish.

I promised a training update. This isn't me. Y'all know I've got fatter calves; it's just a visual aid. I finished a 16 mile run yesterday. That's the longest I'm going to do in training for the Wasatch Back. I've got one more 16 miler in pieces like I did Monday, and a solid 15 the next week, but I never have to run that long again. Yay!
It was a beautiful run in parts. Jeff drove me to the top of Hobble Creek canyon until there wasn't any more road, and I had to do 4 more miles of trail up and back to make it 16. About a mile from the end of the road, there was a meadow, where a flock of what we think were turkey vultures (they were bigger than hawks, and had white patches under their wings, and red on their heads) were swooping around. They reminded me of the hang-gliders at Point of the Mountain, just messing around on the air currents for fun. They swooped low over me a few times. I'd be craning my head to get a good look at one passing over me, and another would be right in my face when I turned my head back around. It was amazing. Later on in the trees, I saw some other raptor with light tan feathers swoop from one tree to another. I saw claws, and a huge wing span. If it were night I'd say great horned owl, but I don't know. The tree he landed in was positioned looking straight into the sun. I couldn't tell anything about his shape after he landed.

I brought along 3 smarties packets to try to refuel on the run, thinking they would quickly dissolve, and would be easy sugar energy. Bad idea. It's easy to choke on small round tablets while running. I had to stop for a restroom at mile 5, and ate the last two, and got a drink of water, and started up my timer again. Then at mile 12 or so I got the worst stomach cramp I had in years. I don't know if it was the smarties (ironic name), or the water, or the Lemon Passion cake the night before, but it was like a knife in the abdomen every time I put my right foot down. Funny it was on the right side, and not the left. My left foot was already bothering me on this run pretty much the whole time (remember that plantar fasciitis? I ended up getting inserts from a podiatrist to try to rest the fascia while I trained, but they weren't working so well yesterday) so when the wind kicked up and a storm started blowing in it was really hard to keep going. Jeff came by to check on me, and it was all I could do to keep myself from jumping in the van. By that time though I only had 2 and a half miles to go, so I pushed it through.

I don't know about you guys, but when things look bad like that outside, I have to fight panic a little bit. Something about cold and dark and wind kind of freaks me out. I remember my scuba instructor years ago having to talk me down on my first open water dive because it was cold and dark. It kind of felt like that. I was also discouraged because my pace was so bad with this cramp. You know what though? I finished. I got back and Tia said --"16 miles? I couldn't run three." Isn't it funny how different everyone's breaking point is? This was my limit, but the guy down the street did 22 miles on the same day, and those ultra marathoners can do 150 miles.

I don't know why I always look at other people to decide how much I can take on; how much I am capable of. If my running level is so different, why not my level of tolerance for trials or work or stress? I get so disappointed in myself when I don't live up to my own expectations, that I've often arbitrarily imposed based on someone else's accomplishments. For example there's a lady in our ward that serves, serves, serves. I wonder sometimes why I can't handle doing more like she does. When I was visiting her the other day though, she was talking about ANOTHER woman, a leader in our church, that does so much, and how she could never measure up to her. Why do we do this to ourselves? Why can't we be happy that we just went 2 more miles than last week?
150 milers aside, coming home, I got right into a hot bath to try to loosen up my muscles a little before I iced my feet, knees, hips, you name it. I started to black out and had to lay on the bathroom floor in a towel to keep from losing it. I fought nausea all afternoon and could only drink my spinach green drinks without getting sick. Everything else hurt my stomach or brought on nausea. I'm glad I pushed it though. I'm glad I know I'm capable of succeeding when it's so hard for me. I can feel this experience becoming part of me, becoming part of who I am. That's a big part of confidence for me, knowing what I'm capable of. This race isn't going to be a picnic. We figure with our team, it's going to be 31 hours or so total that we'll be in a van riding from exchange to exchange. At least one of my legs is going to be in the middle of the night. I've got an 8 mile leg that goes uphill, and another 4 miler that goes straight up a mountain. It's all going to take place at a higher elevation than I'm used to, and it may be super hot, or it may rain on us. Both have been known to happen. But this run has prepared me just a little bit more for that race. The race will prepare me just a little bit more for the rest of my life. My limits will be pushed just that much further along.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

"I want a carnival birthday!"

If you ever hear those words out of your child's mouth, drop what you're doing and IMMEDIATELY run the other way. Or, instantly make up a rule that they can't have a party on their ____ (fill in the blank) birthday. Or, burn the house down. Become an astronaut. Do SOMETHING so you don't have to deal with the huge chaos that is now in your current future path. I did try to tell her she'd need to choose between a party and a present, but the party won. No dice. Needless to say, the party cost way more than what I'd ever spend on a present.

I had one thing going for me. I'm the second counselor in our youth group organization, and there is nothing those girls like more than a party. I had one big handful of enthusiastic volunteers. In fact, Tia (who's in the group) is the one whom I need to blame for talking Ari into picking the carnival party. So we gave out tickets, and had 8 different "booths" for the kids to go to. The picture above was from the "photo booth" where they got a picture of themselves with Ari in a carnival frame. I was a little worried Ari wouldn't dress up like a clown. I don't know WHY I long have I known her? She was all over it.

This was our balloon animal booth. We started out thinking one of my girls would make them an animal, but it was fun for the kids to learn how to make their own too. We got some pretty crazy hats too.

Here's the top of our fishing pond....

...and here's the bottom. Kai nabbed this job before anyone else could.

Of course Tia wanted the face painting. She made up a sign with all of the options to pick from first. In fact, Tia made all of our signs. I kept thinking about the posters I made in High School to run for Sophomore class president (which I won only because nobody ran against me) and they SUCKED compared to what Tia could do freehand at age 12.

Pig Trough. You find a piece of gum in a plate of whipped cream, and blow a bubble to win. The only catch was half of our guests had braces. So we modified it to say you could find a saltine and whistle a tune instead if you were braced up.

My girls had a little too much fun with the whipped cream. You should have seen their shirts after their whipped cream "fight" Their moms probably hated me yesterday...

This was the big expense: the cotton candy machine. I was originally planning on renting, but it was the same price to buy this small one from Bed Bath and Beyond. it worked fine...but needs some supervision. It was a little bit of a prima donna. It worked if everything was exactly right. It got a little frustrating for my helpers though.

The popcorn popper was free --borrowed from my catering partner Audrey. What a mess to clean up! I found out later my girls were adding some extra oil to flavor it up. Ah. That explained some things. Audrey, I can get you some more oil
Can you see the beautiful rainbow my girls drew me? This was a penny pitch "over the rainbow". Fun and cheap to do. My Mom in Law took charge of this one. (My father in Law was taking pictures of the whole thing for me!)

Here's everyone waiting for cake. Look at those cool hats! The cake turned out to be a lot more trouble than I thought it would be, but turned out pretty cute I guess. Not like the google images I WANTED it to look like....
It's a carousel. Here's the top canopy, which was card stock frosted to match the bottom.
Here's my little horsey. I started out thinking I'd just put animal cookies on there, but they looked like amoebas. They went on the sides instead.

Here's the whole thing. If you squint......not too bad.

Thursday, May 6, 2010


So I went back to yoga this morning. Man I love being there. It's so hard to make that drive that I can't do it as often as I'd like. However, as good as that class feels, I was supposed to do 5-6 miles running today. I'm not sure what I'm going to do. I've been doing a lot of stretching since my heel first started hurting about 5 weeks ago, but I'm adding ice. I did a circuit class yesterday morning, and then just 24 minutes of hills on the treadmill at a 6, along with all of the weight lifting I usually do. It felt great at the time, kind of an easy workout, but then it was really hard to hobble out of bed this morning. That was after icing, and Jeff massaging my feet and rubbing aspercreme into them last night. Once I get going I'm OK, and the yoga with the 23,785 downward dog poses really felt good. But but... it was so hard to work up to my pathetic gains in speed and distance I don't want to lose them by cutting back. My dad gave me a great site for Plantar Fasciitus that I'm studying, but do you think I can just do my thing for another month and then take time to heal? This sucks.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Ummm. I went to the Dr. yesterday just to check on my heel that bothers me periodically. I wanted to make sure it wasn't something like a stress fracture because I'm getting into the next round of training for my race in June --the Wastach Back relay. He thinks plantar fasciitus. Not good. He said it should be fine if I cut way back on mileage. Right.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Acting on vs. Hearing the word (LDS post with lots of jargon --beware!).

How do you teach spirituality with a language barrier?

A couple of weeks ago, after the stellar April General Conference, I realized I needed to do a little more with teaching my children about the spirit and cultivating their own testimonies. I was in charge of the lesson for Family Home Evening, and decided that this time, I was going to share how I got my testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith. I got out a couple of pictures of him, and after a nice song and prayer, spoke about my experience in the MTC. I had a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon already, but during the course of study there in the training center, found I could use a little more assurance about Joseph Smith himself. I shared the subsequent experience I had with my family, and really felt the Holy Ghost as I was speaking. Maybe it was just because it brought back the feelings I'd had before. At any rate I felt like it was a good lesson. It seemed like Tia and Jeff were touched. OK Kai was a little young, but when I asked Ari some questions, I could tell that next to none of it had gotten through. I don't know if she really heard or understood what I had said. I'm pretty sure that a LOT of what happens in Primary goes right over her head. This was so discouraging to me. I felt like I had really given all I had and it didn't work.

I have to give Ari credit. When she understands a rule she tries so hard to be obedient (--and make everyone else around her obedient too!). She wants to please and do what is right. She seeks and wants approval from authority. However, when teenagerhood hits, limited personal experience tells me this will probably go by the wayside for a few years as she figures out who she is. "We are not in the business of giving our children fish --but teaching them how to fish" Elder Eyring said in conference, and I think this is why. I know the only thing that will get her through teenagerhood clean and unscathed will be the few principles that she's internalized and is willing to fight for completely independantly.

This happened on my mission too, I vaguely remember (I tend to vividly remember only the good experiences or shockingly bad ones). I would bear my testimony to an investigator pouring my whole soul into it, only to have them say --thanks for coming over. Here's your book back. I have to assume that some of those experiences happened because my accent or grammar was so distracting they couldn't pick up on the message I was trying to convey. Other times we'd be reading a powerful section of scripture with them, and they would feel nothing, because their reading skills were so primitive they simply couldn't understand. I know the spirit is supposed to communicate directly to the heart when someone speaks by the spirit, but I also know that with myself, my body gets in the way sometimes and I'm distracted with worry for the people around me, or the room I'm in is too hot or too cold, or I'm tired and just can't push through the accent or language choices of the person speaking to get to the spirit of the message. I think this happens to most of us under certain circumstances.

We got our ward newsletter yesterday, and there was a message from the Primary president in there that gave me some hope. In the message she also mentions Elder Eyring's talk and how important it is for our children to gain spiritual strength early in their lives. Then she gives an alternate idea for teaching it. This is the Faith in God program for Primary and Personal Progress program for Young Women. These programs are sets of small goals to help kids learn to act on the gospel. The scriptures mention this too: testimony comes from hearing the Word of God (Alma 31:5); but Jesus also says testimony comes from acting (John 14:21) on the word. This might work out better for my little girl. I have a hard time communicating feelings and principles to her through words, but acting on those principles may bring the spirit to her in a way I can't.

We haven't been great about helping her with her program in the past, mainly because Tia's spoiled us, and done it completely on her own (just like she gets up on time, showers, makes her bed...who's child is this anyway?). I'd be interested to hear how any other family sets aside regular time to work on personal progress, faith in god, duty to god etc. instead of just hit and miss once in a while times. Bedtime won't work for us, Sundays are a little tricky but we may be able to squeeze something in there, family home evening doesn't work: I tried that for a while, but it's hard to make time for one or the other let alone both in one evening. Maybe at the dinner table? What do you do?