Monthly Archives: April 2012

Greek Yogurt Conversion Chart

If you are as obsessed with Greek yogurt as I am, then you might find the conversion chart below highly useful. And if you are not as obsessed with Greek yogurt as I am, might I implore you to become so. It is absolutely the way to go, boasting double the protein and half the sugar of regular yogurt. Not only is it a quick and healthy snack, but it can also easily be incorporated into your other cooking endeavors as well. How very versatile!

Chobani Conversion Chart

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Number Your Days

Every once in a while, often unexpectedly, something happens that jolts you into the heavy realization that our days are not guaranteed. Each moment is a precious gift, and how we spend those minutes matters. Life is not the time to hold back; it is the time to bloom. It’s the time to try new things, to find beauty in the small details, and to live victoriously.

Which is why I instantly fell in love at first sight with Psalm 90:12.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

What an eloquent reminder of the brevity of life, of how rapidly our days pass away, and how certainly they will eventually come to an end. This Scripture tells us not merely to count our days mathematically, but to number them. To make them worthwhile. We have not enough time at our disposal to justify misspending a single quarter of an hour, nor are we sure enough of life to rationalize procrastinating for another moment.

So fill up your days, and fill them well.

Book that flight. Sign up for the 5k. Give sushi a chance. Do something that makes you uncomfortable. Paint your bathroom green. Forgive your trespassers. Go out on a limb. Love like crazy. Grow your relationship with God. Try something new. Forget the excess. Stop worrying. Notice the scent of honeysuckle in the air. Hug your parents. Make something beautiful. Spend time with the ones you love best.

Whatever it is that’s weighing on your heart, do it, because this life is precious, and it is fleeting. Customize yours, and make it count.

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Calendar Overload

I have been going, going, going nonstop, and I’m beginning to feel it. Over the years, I’ve developed a unique talent for fitting plans into small blocks of remaining open time slots until my days are so tightly arranged that I barely have enough time to fly from one event to the next. Ask me what I’m doing on a random weekend in September, and chances are it includes some event involving physical stamina, live music, travel, or a loved one’s important life event. I’m the queen of the calendar, and while there are some benefits that flow from that, there are negatives as well. It’s no secret that I like to keep a full schedule, but I’ve found that too many consecutive days of too much activity a rested Mel does not make. More is not always better.

My plan-filled week looks something like this: dine with the fam, attend Grizzlies game, prepare and host a dinner for friends, try out a new dance class, play in a late-night soccer game, catch up with an old friend over dinner, attend a rocking concert, swing by a bachelorette party before heading to Nashville, belay and rock climb the morning away, then turn right back around to catch another round of the Grizzlies taking care of grizzness. And that’s just the evenings *catches breath*. Overlay that onto a full-time work week, your typical daily errands, a rigorous workout schedule, and performing normal daily functions such as eating and showering and occasionally sleeping, and you can see how it’s difficult to find a moment of stillness.

I thrive on filling my days with various and random activity, that’s plain to see, but somewhere deep down, I know we weren’t made for constant action. We need down time. It’s a necessity, a requirement. We need time to rest, to reflect, to be quiet and still. I fight this notion, though I know it has merit. If the Author of Life prescribed rest on the seventh day, He must have had a very good reason for it.

So, I think I’ll give it a try.

I’m excited for the remaining days in this week, thankful for the people I’ll get to spend my time with, for the ability to push my body in these ways, for the opportunities I might have to bless others. But I’m also looking forward to Sunday, my day of rest. I await the spiritual renewal that comes from attending church, the emotional rejuvenation that comes from sunbathing with my mom. Might throw a yoga class in there for a little relaxation, perhaps a nice run. Spend time with the family. Sure, some good tunes will be thrown into the mix, and undoubtedly a little reading too, but I’ll also make time for quietness. And stillness.  

Yes, this is what my Sunday will be made of.

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200

In honor of my 200th blog post….

….I’ll share 200 divided by 2 things I did over the long Easter weekend.

  1. Left the office early, per my boss’ direction.
  2. Listened to a podcast during my commute (my new favorite driving activity).
  3. Kicked my shoes off.
  4. Grinned at the prospect of a 3 day weekend ahead of me.
  5. Received 4 pieces of personal mail in one day. That’s a rarity.
  6. Snacked on wasabi peas.
  7. Rode my bike for the first time this year.
  8. Stopped by Midtown Bikes for a quick tire fill up.
  9. Checked out Central BBQ’s soon-to-be downtown location.
  10. Discovered Martyrs Park.
  11. Admired the view.
  12. Vowed to ride more.
  13. Listened to a Mark Driscoll sermon about the crucifixion.
  14. Talked God.
  15. Made dinner plans with friends for later in the week.
  16. Finished watching Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Azkaban.
  17. Went to sleep early.
  18. Purposely did not set an alarm.
  19. Slept until 8:40am, which is practically unheard of in my world.
  20. Ate breakfast in bed.
  21. Sorted and stowed my winter clothes.
  22. Listened to Ryan Bingham’s Junky Star album.
  23. Followed that up with Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky.
  24. Rediscovered my Vibrams.
  25. Wore them while I spring cleaned.
  26. Ran a couple of miles outside (sans Vibrams).
  27. Smiled at the sunshine.
  28. Completed three loads of laundry.
  29. Folded said laundry.
  30. And even put it away! (It was a productive day.)
  31. Scrubbed the bathtub with a grapefruit. Really.
  32. Painted my toenails.
  33. Went on a date with the man of my dreams.
  34. Cheered the Grizzlies to a sweet victory.
  35. Connected with friends.
  36. Strummed my guitar.
  37. Sang along while my much more talented friend played actual songs on the guitar.
  38. Listened to records.
  39. Practiced yoga with Allison.
  40. Picked up litter on the sidewalk.
  41. Meandered around the Farmer’s Market.
  42. Purchased bright red tomatoes and brown jasmine rice.
  43. Admired the beautiful flower bouquets.
  44. Ate a veggie burrito from the Fuel food truck.
  45. And a couple bites of Jax’s BBQ nachos.
  46. Wished I had more time to listen to Star & Micey’s performance.
  47. Met up with Kim for our scavenger hunt race.
  48. Participated in the Urban Dare.
  49. Dissected and mapped random clues.
  50. Ran to Sun Studio.
  51. And 6.5 miles of the greater downtown area.
  52. Fantasized about cheesecake.
  53. Hit up Trolley Stop Market in desperate need of hydration.
  54. Took a picture in front of the Fire Museum.
  55. And various other downtown establishments.
  56. Completed the Dare in ~2 hours.
  57. Piddled around guiltlessly.
  58. Discovered the most convenient secret parking area at the Levitt Shell.
  59. Watched live music.
  60. Had picnic sandwiches.
  61. Cuddled on a blanket.
  62. Engaged in beautiful conversation.
  63. Sang hymns.
  64. Worshiped my Savior.
  65. Thanked God for this life.
  66. Met up with my favorite lady in Nashville.
  67. Talked my face off.
  68. Discussed life plans.
  69. Ate seared sea scallops.
  70. Celebrated another Grizzlies victory.
  71. Daydreamed about our upcoming vacation to Denver.
  72. Shared recipes.
  73. Caught up with some friends I hadn’t seen in way too long.
  74. Donned my Easter dress.
  75. Attended church.
  76. Passed out hugs to the family.
  77. Absorbed the message.
  78. Shed some tears.
  79. Celebrated Christ’s resurrection.
  80. Made dinner/Grizzlies plans with my fam for Monday.
  81. Wished my Little a Happy Easter.
  82. Visited with Jax’s family.
  83. Feasted on a most delicious lunch.
  84. Followed by delectable dessert.
  85. Considered a second round of dessert but somehow restrained myself.
  86. Hid Easter Eggs for eager children.
  87. Watched sweet kiddies search for Easter Eggs.
  88. Multiple times.
  89. Invited my cousin to go rock climbing next weekend.
  90. Received confirmation that he is down.
  91. Watched the last three holes of the Masters.
  92. Took a brief, comfy snooze.
  93. Woke up as Bubba Watson won the title.
  94. Drank some hot tea in an oversized mug.
  95. Ate a couple pieces of chocolate for dinner.
  96. Watched the 4th Harry Potter movie.
  97. Said my prayers.
  98. Reminisced over what a simple, lovely weekend I had.
  99. Called it a night.
  100. Slept tight. And didn’t let the bed bugs bite.
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Breaking Two Hours

For months, I’ve been teetering just above the two hour half marathon mark, but it has continued to elude me. Until now.

Let March 31, 2012 go down in the history books as the day I broke through the 2 hour time barrier, finishing the Viking Half Marathon in 1:59:44. That averages out to a 9:08 mile, which may not sound terribly impressive, but my battered left hip and black toenails beg to differ. That’s roughly 17 minutes faster than the first half marathon I completed 3.5 years ago, and 15 seconds faster than my goal. As long as my official race time started with a 1, I didn’t care what the remaining digits were. And numbers aside, from an emotional standpoint it was one of the most meaningful races I’ve ever run.

Meaningful, because I was accompanied by a devoted pit crew. Two of my dear friends, Kim and Cristen, joined me on the trip solely to see that I accomplished this goal. It is not lost on me that these ladies essentially gave up their Friday nights, their Saturday mornings, and their own shots at a PR all to support my endeavor. They ran beside me, offering me pace updates and encouragement at regular intervals, and I absolutely could not have done it without them. I am so blessed to have friends who care enough about my goals to make them their own. What a rare act of sacrifice in a world so consumed with self.

We left town at 5am and passed the two hour drive to Greenwood, Mississippi with plentiful conversation. Upon arrival in the Delta, we gathered our race packets, stretched our tight muscles, discussed strategy, then situated ourselves at the start line. The second the gun announced go time, we hit the ground running. We ran the first half of the race a little ahead of pace, and I was feeling great. I often enjoy chatting during my long runs, but on this particular day it was all business. I was in the zone. I bounded along, admiring the overhanging canopy of trees, a lone bird sitting atop a telephone wire, the warm sunshine cut by an occasional breeze.

At mile 6, one of my pacers fell off with a piriformis ache. Kim passed me her Garmin and insisted that we press forward. And then there were two. Cristen and I continued onwards, but my spryness was fading. While the roads we ran were scenic, I no longer noticed. By mile 9, we were both hurting, and 10 and 11 seemed endless. Other than the occasional coaching tip and inspiring word, there wasn’t much room for conversation; we were more focused on staying upright and breathing at this point. At mile 12, my partner stopped for a quick walking break and sent me ahead to tackle the beast on my own.

One mile to go, and it was just me and God. I wanted nothing more than to lay down in the green grass, but that’s no way to run a sub 2 hour half, so I refrained. I ate a well-timed orange slice and hunkered down. Each step was a struggle. I prayed for wings like eagles, for God’s strength to carry me those last dreadful meters, and He showed up. Each trudging step moved me a little closer, and I eventually found myself approaching the most glorious, magical, welcome sight – the finish line. Even at this point, even with only a few steps left, I didn’t know with certainty that I would make it. It wasn’t until I literally stepped foot across the threshold that I knew my efforts had paid off.

And just like that, less than two hours later, I was done. I crossed that line with seconds to spare, fell into Kim’s congratulatory hug, and then went straight for the water jugs. It took a while to really sink in that we had accomplished what we set out to do, and oh, what a sweet, sweet victory it was.

 

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March Taught Me

  1. Cilantro and coriander come from the same plant.
  2. The Godfather is the longest freaking movie ever. But so good.
  3. Pizza crust dipped in honey is divine.
  4. I am a machine when it comes to lunchtime productivity. Four crucial errands in one hour – BAM.
  5. Yoga is not just stretching, people. It can be hardcore if you have the right instructors.
  6. The pastor of my church is leaving to pursue missions work in Ethiopia. I’m thankful for his obedience to the Lord, but so sad to see him go.
  7. Sunshine and movie days with my mom are the perfect way to close out the week.
  8. I did not win $640 million dollars this weekend.
  9. So far, the Harry Potter movies are better than I thought they’d be.
  10. I can’t wait for the Downtown Farmers Market to open this Saturday.
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