Gym! Picnic! Memories!

Today’s Happy Note: Doing what I wanna do.  Sundays/holidays are the best for that.

Doing what I want started with a visit to the gym!  First time in over a week.  I ran a mile around the neighborhood then lifted weights (lighter than usual) for thirty minutes and spent thirty steady minutes on the elliptical.  The run was hard. Not hard like “oh, I should slow down a bit,” but hard like “I need to lie down for thirty minutes after every block” hard.  I eventually made it to the gym and had to sit down in the weight room.  Felt like a total loser.

The rest of the day was spent napping, watching various TV marathons, studying for the LSAT, talking with my mommy, cleaning, and then having a little picnic/fireworks adventure.

I had a nice outing with friends last night and would have liked to see them today but it was hard to coordinate schedules/locations.  So I ended up with a picnic for one!  Fine by me.  I would rather be by myself and make the most of it — get out of the house, do activities, meet new people — than sulk around and cry and feel sad about being alone.

I won’t lie, my picnic Fourth of July dinner was pretty sweet.  The menu:

  1. Sautéed garlic green beans with a maple glaze
  2. Potato salad with….interesting sauce
  3. Lemon grilled chicken
  4. Maple blueberry pie.

All together now:

I didn’t finish all of what’s pictured and made extra, so it looks like I’ll be eating nicely for a few days!  I am integrating real foods back into my diet slowly.  I didn’t have any other veggies today.  I feel much stronger and healthier but the last of the infection is still lingering around.  I am still being careful about fluids and am pounding the antibiotics (prescribed, of course).

After dinner I studied.  And studied some more.  Who knew logic games could be so damn complicated?  Alex is going to a party with his 25 best friends, known as each letter of the alphabet, B-Z.  Each person will arrive at a different time bearing a different food wearing a different color shirt.  Once they’re at the party they will be grouped into seven groups of different sizes.  We know that F arrived last and Z is wearing a purple shirt and will be in a group of three.  When did each person arrive?  What are they wearing?  What dish did they bring?  And what group are they in?

Seriously.  I’m not exaggerating.  Good thing the fireworks started after a few hours.  It was nice to see something exploding that wasn’t my brain.

I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to take a good picture of fireworks.  Meh.

I like the Fourth of July as a celebration of summer and friends and good food.  I guess the founding of our country is cool too.  I have the best memories of Fourth of July…

Storytime: Camp

From when I was 9 until 16 I attended a camp called AGQ every summer, for varying lengths of time (a week, two weeks, a month).  It was my favorite place in the world.  I grew up there.  It’s located in the most beautiful part of Michigan on a huge inland lake, with plenty of woods, pastures, cabins, camp sites, and everything else a kid could want in a summer camp.  I learned how to water ski.  How to play.  How to talk about myself and then write about myself.  How to be me.  Camp changed my life, not in a silly way, but in a very serious way.

There are a few specific memories about Camp that bring me instantaneous joy (and deep sadness as well). There was one tree; a very special tree.  An oak with the biggest green, sunny branches, draping out in all directions.  It seemed to me like that tree touched the sky.  And it had loving roots; the kind that your back just wants to soften into.  I made some of my dearest friends under that tree.  The ground in the circle around it was just sacred.  It accepted every child who entered i’s domain, unconditionally.

I think I learned how to consciously love at camp.  I hardly know how to explain this, but there is a point when a young person becomes fully and totally human through love: you fall so deeply in love with another being (not necessarily romantically) that you lose yourself.  there is something magical about love, about loving, and about camp.  You learn life stories, traumas, dreams, joys.  There is not a day that I don’t miss the extraordinary community of Camp.

One of the best things was always Fourth of July.  We would have “cookout” dinners with classic summer food (burgers, coleslaw, pasta salad, watermelon,etc.) and then the whole camp would lie out on blankets beside the lake and watch fireworks go off from the dock.  Perhaps I am romanticizing things, but there is not much a child should have to do in summer besides lie in the grass giggling with new friends and dream about s’mores.

My last few years at camp I participated in various leadership and counselor-in-training programs.  From the day I first set foot on Camp — drove through the woods and scrambled down the dirt road and the long hill and found my way to my cabin — I wanted to be a part of camp forever.  Unfortunately, we are not children forever.  But once I aged out, I wanted to be a counselor.  I wanted it more than I wanted anything else: more than I wanted to go to any particular college, more than I wanted to be good at swimming or running or writing, more than I wanted to work for the UN one day.  It was (and in a sense is) my biggest dream.  And it did not materialize.  I was not selected as a counselor.  In this rejection, I experienced my first heartbreak.  I had been deeply in love with this place for eight years — practically half my childhood, up to that point.

To this day I know that I would have been a phenomenal counselor.  I would have loved those children and showed them that they were valuable and unique and perfect the way they were.  I would have shown them how to love Camp, how to experience its magic, where to dive into the woods for a shortcut.   I do not say any of this out of arrogance or regret.  It’s just something I absolutely know — like I know that I will be a mother one day.  When you love a place that much and it changes your life that much, it is the most natural, perfect thing to, at a certain age, want to help transfer that love to others.

I go back and visit sometimes.  I haven’t been in two summers and I hope that I will have a chance this year.  I am forever thankful for Camp: for showing me how to accept and give love, how to write, how to fall in love with a place, how to express my needs and desires.  If it weren’t for camp, I would not have started writing my poems or switched to a new high school that changed my life.  I am not sure I would have ended up in New York.

If I had to choose a memory to die with tomorrow, it would be Camp.  Sitting in a circle under The Tree with new girlfriends, listening to poems and feeling the lake breeze waft through the hear.

What’s your “place”?  Where did you grow up — actually or metaphorically?  Have you ever loved something so much and then had to part with it?

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Anti-Anxiety Plan of Attack!

Today’s Happy Note: Reading in the park.

Mental Health Note: I was so wound up when I left work today that I could barely walk in a straight line.  I have no idea where this came from.  I guess part of depression is feeling inexplicably sad, lonely, or confused.  That might be it.  It was a pretty straightforward day at the office.  Very routine.  Normally the routine soothes me, but today it just unsettled me.  Maybe because I couldn’t stop thinking about all the other things I had to do.  On my way home, I devised an anti-anxiety plan of attack!

  • Take a few moments to myself to walk through the park, look at the trees, breathe, and read.  I rarely leave the house without a book, and today was no exception.   I had “The Gift of Therapy” by Irvin Yalom with me.  Yet another book borrowed from L.  I am devouring it.  It is most wonderful and calming.  Not in a creepy way, but it reminds me of L, which reminds me to stay calm; that someone nearby loves and appreciates me unconditionally is an instantly comforting thought.
  • Make a list of specific things bothering me and plan out howto deal with each thing (i.e., just do it, shelve it for later, ignore it, etc.).
  • Don’t worry about a workout.  I like to take one weekday rest day each week and I purposely don’t plan it ahead of time precisely because of days like this.  The idea of traveling to the gym or the gymnastics center or the yoga studio or dripping with sweat in the 90 degree heat was unappealing.  I work out enough that responding to a day of stress by not working out actually makes sense.  I did do about three miles of walking.
  • Take extra time to write in my journal.
  • Don’t stuff my face, but do have exactly what I want for dinner…

Which leads me to these masterpieces:

I was craving frozen fruit all afternoon/evening!  The first bowl has frozen cherries with one spoonful AB and one spoonful PB.  The second one is Talenti coconut gelato topped with dark chocolate, frozen berries, unsweetened shredded coconut, and a few mixed nuts.

Coconut, berries, nuts: I could have done way worse.  Definitely plenty of sugar.  But oh so tasty.  Sometimes food needs to serve both a physical, nourishing purpose and an emotional, satisfying purpose.  I think I successfully accomplished both here! 🙂

Don’t worry, other eats of the day involved veggies and protein!  Like lunch:

Giant tuna mess with hummus, herbs, snap peas (nom nom nom!) and peppers.

Off to do work and clean my room!  Neither of which I especially want to do.  Sigh…

What do you do when you are inexplicable feeling down?

Favorite frozen fruit?

Easter Eater

Today’s Happy Note: There are so many!  Lying down in the park and enjoying the sun with friends was a highlight!

Yep, I said sun.  It was 72 degrees today!  This is quite nice for early April in New York City.  I like to think that the fact that this sunniness and warmth happened on my most favorite holiday means I’m a good person.  I don’t know how that’s logical, so don’t ask.  Even in the evening I didn’t need so much as a jacket.  Me likes.

I spent several hours in the afternoon with friends in Riverside Park.  It was plain old glorious.  I actually had spent most of the morning moping around because I was tired and none of my friends wanted to hide easter eggs; but I cheered up around one and went for a walk with some school books, snacks, and candy-filled eggs to give to people.  In the park I ended up running into some people from my floor and hung out with them and chatted, read, and munched.  Twas a very happy Easter afternoon, and I’m really happy that I was able to turn my day around like that!

After the park, I went to the most beautiful church in the world and marveled at how small, but also important, it made me feel.  It was a nice little spiritual moment.  I also read some psalms.

I strolled about two-ish miles in the park.  There is a really nice/rugged, but short, trail that I like.  I didn’t see any birds even though I was supposedly walking through a bird sanctuary.  Well, that’s a lie.  I did see obese pigeons and some scraggly sparrows.

Exercise: After my walk I came home and did schoolwork.  Eventually I went to the gym with my best friend Jonathon (the one who just started running outside with me!).  I got him to do intervals on the treadmill.  I wanted to do some HIIT, so here’s what mine looked like:

Minutes      Speed

1-10             6.0 mph

10-11          8.0 mph

11-12           6.0 mph

Repeat minutes 10-12 ten times (until you have reached thirty minutes).

This was perfectly tough!  This might sound weird, but sometimes I really like to count when I’m running, especially on the treadmill.  As a child, I used to count out loud during car trips, for hours at a time.  Then, when I was on 7342, for example, and someone else said something and distracted me I would get really angry.  But you already knew I was a weirdo…

I did about ten minutes of heavy arm lifting and them swam 3000 yards.  I used to be a serious swimmer in high school but don’t do it very often anymore.  It seems to loosen up my legs pretty nicely; I’d like to swim more frequently.

Eats: I took pictures of almost everything today, minus a few easter m and m’s or mini chocolates.  I had my share of sugar and chocolate and guess what?  It was so worth it.  And at the end of the day, when I tallied up my calories, I realized that I’d done a good job intuitively balancing things out with a smaller lunch and a produce-filled dinner.

Breakfast SIAB with mixed frozen berries, lite chocolate soymilk, acai protein powder, and spinach.  Topped with not-sweet-vanilla granola from galaxy granola and a few pastel peanut butter m and m’s for good measure!

Cadbury creme egg.  Tasty, but too sweet.  I would love it if they made a version with some real, dark chocolate.  Wow, I am officially not a kid anymore now that I have said cadbury creme eggs are too sweet…

Really random part 1 of lunch.

Slightly more random part 2 of lunch: small corn tortilla topped with Justin’s maple almond butter, mango butter, and a few spoonfuls of siggis blueberry yogurt (which works surprisingly well as a spread) and mini cadbury eggs.

Mini cinnamon roll.  First baked good I’ve had since before Lent!  I might have a cupcake or muffin tomorrow.

Easter Dinner!  It was quite simple, but I am really proud of it.  This is the first holiday meal I have ever done on my own.  I have helped my mom or other family members and cooked side dishes and whatnot plenty of times before, but this meal was all me!  I wouldn’t have served it to a table full of family members because it was so simple, but it was yummy and got the job done.  I would have liked to have another fun side, but didn’t want to have to cook and store four different dishes.

I made a massive side salad that probably would have served an ordinary family of four.  But they would have been veggie deprived, and I clearly wasn’t.  The salad had romaine, cucumbers, carrots, and Annie’s Goddess dressing.  Next up: plain steamed green beans.  The “main” dish: spicy turkey burgers!  With garlic hummus for dipping.  It was what I had on hand!

Easy 15 minute spicy turkey burgers

1 pound extra lean ground turkey (I used a hormone-free, free range 96/4)

1 large clove of garlic, chopped finely

1 tablespoon olive  oil

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon lemon pepper

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (and/or chili powder)

Combine the garlic, oil, and spices in a medium glass bowl.  Add turkey and mash it all together!  Easy peasy.  Make sure spices and oil are evenly distributed and that the mixture is soft-ish.  Shape into four patties; about 3/4 of an inch thick. Place on baking sheet.   Broil for five minutes per side.

I almost forgot to show you the contents of my Easter basket!

Obligatory toothbrush, eyeliner, more candy filled eggs (don’t worry, I gave most of the contents of the many eggs away), duck gel gem stickers, solid milk chocolate duck, ducky shower sponge, toffee dark chocolate bar.

The note says “please decorate Herbert’s window, ps you can hide [eggs] for your friends, love mom!”  How cute is she?

Herbert says he hopes you had a great Easter and a lovely weekend and a nice week too!

Goodnight friends!

Beautiful World. Happy World.

Today’s Happy Note: Springtime.  Easter weekend.  Hardly any homework.  Walks in the park.  What more could I ask for?

Mental Health: I had lots to do today, but it was mostly fun stuff; it was like one big day of playing.  I thought that having such a long day planned would exhaust me and sad Caronae would emerge, but that didn’t happen!  Everything seemed to fit together perfectly; I felt happy, healthy, confident, and lovely.  This was really monumental for me.  There was no anxiety or melancholy present — I just went about, doing my business.  Talking with friends and coworkers, playing in the park, not being afraid or unhappy to just be me.  It’s days like this that remind me how far I have come.  A year ago, I would have been overwhelmed, confused, anxious, and depressed about a day like today.  I might not have had the energy or confidence to get out there and get things done.  I certainly would have felt uncomfortable in my cute new sundress.  But today was different; I still have many underlying emotional issues, but it’s learning how to manage them that has changed everything.  It’s such a new world out there now, and I am having a delightful time discovering it!

Exercise: HIIT and strength training!  Nothing like a 7:30 am speedy session on the elliptical to wake you up!  I love how challenging thirty minutes of tough intervals can be; I definitely think I was in a cardio rut before discovering it.  Now I’m having tons of fun doing stuff besides just running!  I also did a lot of abs and arms too.  No leg strength until after the ultramarathon next weekend though; my legs don’t need to be any more fatigued than they already are.

I also walked at least four miles today; this probably would have been sufficient exercise in itself, but I hadn’t planned on it, and this city just has so much that has to be seen on your feet!

Beautiful day in the park my friends.  Please spend time outside this weekend!  You will enjoy every minute of it, I promise. 🙂

Today I felt freeeeeeeee!  Like my food didn’t matter; I wasn’t angry at my body or my perceived failures, I didn’t feel like I needed to run 10 miles or else I’d be fat, I didn’t feel like I had to go to a party, I didn’t feel lonely or guilty or unsure or blue or anything like that. I did feel enthralled, curious, beautiful, strong, graceful, unique, joyful, and worthy.  A good day!

I don’t want to dump twelve thousand pictures on you so no foods today.  I’ll recap some highlights though…

~Sweet eggs!  Egg puff/sliced banana souflee.  Totally nom-able!  Next time I’m adding maple syrup and cinnamon.

~Grilled cheese and veggie soup.  Why haven’t I had grilled cheese in forever?  Oh yeah, because I was afraid of bread.  No longer, my friends.  No.  Longer.

~Dinner oatmeal with chocolate covered pretzels.  I went there.

~A grapefruit the size of my head.

I have a little surprise to tell you about tomorrow!  I guess I’m just full of surprises.  I actually hate them myself, but I don’t mind making other people wait in suspense. *Evil grin*.

Have a fabulous weekend; do something fun for yourself!

Running Styles

Today’s positive note: I am a good cook and baker!  Most college students I know live off of the dining hall, takeout, and cereal, but this would not work for me.  For one, I like to eat healthfully, and I also like variety.  There is something ritualistic about cooking: whether I am following a recipe or making things up as I go along, the process is almost always comforting and familiar.

I wanted to write about some of the pros and cons of different types of running today.  I feel like I really try to mix up the surfaces and places that I run on/in, and I know that not everyone has access to such variety, so I thought I would write about each type of running (I’m sure there are more that I haven’t tried, feel free to tell me about them!).  If you’re a runner, what’s your favorite style of running?  If you’re not a runner, have you ever tried it or does it intimidate you?  What kinds of workouts do you prefer instead?

Trail Running: When I run eight or ten miles on a trail, it often feels like I’ve only been running for a few minutes.  The beauty and scenery make it very peaceful, and in this sense, it definitely is an “escape” more than other forms of running, at least for me.  The surface is usually soft, and I enjoy the variety (i.e., dirt, snow, pine needles, etc.) it provides.  Being out in nature also makes me feel more primal – like I’m a real human (I know that sounds strange, but try it and you’ll see what I mean).  The rocks, roots, and elevation changes simultaneously provide a fun challenge and a dangerous hazard, although this is part of the thrill of trail running – you don’t always know what to expect.  I have fallen on my face several times before.  There is also a chance of running into wild animals, although they are rarely interested in you.  I have seen coyotes, snakes, deer, fox, big birds, giant cows, and elk.  When you’re going on a trail or out into the wilderness, it’s always a good idea to let someone know your plans, and to carry ID, a cell phone, and a snack.

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Track running: The most obvious advantage of the standard 400 meter track is that you can consistently and easily determine your distance and pace.  You can’t run six laps and think, oh, maybe that was two miles.  Tracks are very useful for speedwork.  If I don’t want to do a speed workout, I just jog over to my local track, and it instantly inspires me.  You can do any distance you want from a 100 meter stride to a four mile tempo run.  In this sense tracks are quite useful.  But I also find them very boring.  I have heard of other runners who do all their workouts on tracks, day in and day out, and I really have no idea how they do it.  My tolerance for running around in circles and staring at bleachers usually runs out after about three miles.

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Parks: Park running is like a less extreme version of trail running.  The paths are typically paved, and you will most likely see signs of civilization around you.  In many ways, a park is like an amped-up track: the path is usually longer and more scenic, but you also have the consistency of knowing your exact distance (most park paths have a clearly marked distance).  One of the park loops near my house marks off every tenth of a mile with a sign.  This can be either extremely annoying or a blessing, depending on what kind of runner you are (meticulous or free-spirited) and what kind of workout you’re doing (speed or distance).  The paths frequently have hills and other features that make it a bit less monotonous than a track.  When I am going to do a run of three to five miles, I often opt for a familiar, comforting, park path.

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Roads and Sidewalks: This category actually encompasses a wide variety of environments, and in this sense, it can be fun – one day you can run along a quiet country dirt road, the next day you can run along a sidewalk in a city and people watch.  The surfaces are most often hard and unforgiving, so be careful with your gait and try to mix it up once in a while if you mostly run on cement.  The most obvious problem with roads is the danger of cars.  You must be very careful, especially in early morning or late at night.  Make sure you are visible.  One of the nice things about running along a road is that it feels like you are interacting with the world.  You can see houses, kids playing in yards, cars, and businesses.  Sometimes this can be entertaining.  Other times, it’s annoying, which can actually be quite useful if you are doing a tempo run, because it makes you run faster to get away from it.  If you live in an urban area, this might be one of your only options, so be sure to plan lots of routes and loops so you don’t get bored.

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Treadmills: Everyone’s favorite!  Okay, kidding.  Although the treadmill is mainly known for its monotony and artificiality, it can be useful to runners.  I use it once or twice a week in the winter when it’s too cold or icy to head outside, and I also use it for speed work.  The treadmill is unforgiving.  If you set it at eight miles an hour to do some quick half mile repeats, you have to run at eight miles an hour, otherwise you will fall off and/or injure yourself.  I actually kind of enjoy this discipline, although not all runners do.  If I do not have music or a magazine on the treadmill, I will not last longer than thirty minutes: the boredom factor is definitely highest for this type of running.  That said, it is useful for tempo or interval workouts, especially in the winter.  And it is consistent.

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