Thigh Gap and Dirty Grout

How mopping the floor made me love my thighs…and other non-spurious but odd correlations.

It was 111 degrees outside. Although I live 3 miles from an office, my commute was over 40 minutes long and involved walking more than it could have. Social media delivered a zinger to my eyeballs and snail mail reminded me that bills are for paying.

Not exactly the kind of day you wake up hoping for.

Because this wasn’t the first day of its kind, the cup of my sanity got full fast. The mental exhaustion of trying on 49 new scenarios for my life and cross-referencing each one with the bus schedule had won the short straw in the race to a breakdown.

Luckily, the floor in the kitchen was filthy. Honestly, the grout was 4 shades darker than it should be but there weren’t globs of unidentifiable food or piles of pet hair. Floor dirt level analysis aside, the point is the floor became my victim.

On my hands and knees in my grey striped summer pajama set, I scrubbed. And rinsed. And mopped. And scrubbed. Something had to come clean and it was either the floor or my mind. My heart was blubbering too loud to notice it was time to participate.

Six rinses later, the floor looked better. My heart was still crying uncle. My mind. Well, fences will always be a positive part of my mental health.

So far I have skipped over thigh love. Honestly, for 38 years I have skipped over thigh love. I can say my nickname in junior high was thunder thighs and my throat doesn’t completely swell shut. Progress not perfection?

Thigh love. And dirty kitchen floors during an employment drought. In the middle of it all, you realize you have a desire just in time to see your desire turn a corner heading in a different direction.

Yes, had there been ONE SOLITARY OUNCE of dark chocolate in my house, I would have devoured it before ever pulling out the baking soda and scrub brush. It would not have been sufficient for this teetering episode in my life. More chocolate also would not have moved me toward embracing the soft mound of flesh at the top of my thighs. (Note the nickname and the loathing came eons before the frenzy over thigh gap!)

Yes, I am the girl who sees her oatmeal boiling over and believes her passion and sweetness need a better, a different outlet. I am also the girl who scrubs floor grout to reach a kind of tenderness when she sees her thighs. Though I had no idea loving my body, my softest parts could come out of aggression taken out on the kitchen floor.

It is possible. Possible to love your thighs and have a clean kitchen floor. Clean floors don’t equal the right guy or the right job or the best dream. Using the task before you with an openness and presence can lead to epiphanies about the way you laugh or how he is perfect in his imperfections or your true passion is blue. I think it is more likely that in those desperate moments our choices tremble with the opportunity inside them.

Love your softness and your edges. Love your softness and your edges. Love. I am learning that all these years of working ON me has left a hole in my relationship WITH myself. As the saying goes:

If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t no body happy. And by mama I mean your heart and by no body I mean your life, your mind, your soul, your thighs–with or without the trendy gap.

Beach House on the Horizon

These girls are fun. These girls are wise. These girls have a beach house and they are going to share it with you. Need I say more?

I’m in.

Are you?

Did I mention that all the fun this year is FREE?

A free get away to a beach house full of amazing women. Ok. So you don’t have to pack, or sweep up sand, but you might need some imagination and a few friends to make the experience more fun.

Registration starts today,  Monday Jan 14, as in Today! Right now! Sign up today and get a sweet little gift. Sign up anytime and get the Best of the Beach House 2012 eBook.

Wanna see more details about the weekend? Just click here. Or come to the pj party tonight–9 p.m. EST over at #inRL.

I have no idea where in the world I will be come April, or at least I don’t know where my mail will be addressed, but the weekend of April 26th, I’ll be connecting with women I adore from all over the world.



Being Stinky

Listing faults in public can be a cry for attention. It can become another knock out session with your self esteem. Today, though, I am writing my abbreviated list of Things I Stink At to release them from the try to, need to, should be good at list.

Make way for something better, a better fit for me at least and release what is not meant to be, which is briefly stated, these things:

*Ordering at a restaurant. I have the hardest time making up my mind and usually end up regretting my order. If I was out on a date, I’d let the guy order for me not out of chivalry but because I’m lousy at ordering. This is magnified if I am hungry or tired.

*Being wrong. I could be wrong over the most ridiculously small and mundane thing but I hate it. I’m not good at backing down or admitting that I’m wrong. It is a nasty trait that hangs on like a barnacle on hull of a ship that’s been at dock too long.

*Parallel parking. It just isn’t gonna happen people. I’d rather walk a mile in sleet.

*Anything that involves a ball and running—likely at the same time. The coordination of arms and legs and keeping one’s head up for sports like basketball, tennis, volleyball–not happening. I’m more apt to duck at a ball coming over a volleyball net than actually try to hit it.

*Verbal communication. I’m a written word gal. I come from a long line of mumblers. This fact does not help with the struggle to clearly voice a thought. I apologize in advance for the difficulty this creates, and in retrospect for all of the drama that came on strong when my voice was weak.
Yes, items like being wrong and verbal communication need my attention, my effort. Admitting my struggle is important, it allows me to sit behind the steering wheel and actually navigate myself toward a different path.

I won’t however be turning down the lane towards, “You-won’t-amount-to-anything-if-you-can’t-dribble-a-basketball-ville” anytime soon. Anyone who wants to convince me I should will be forced to endure me plugging my ears and singing to myself–which sadly, is another thing to add to this list…hopelessly tone-deaf and rhythmically challenged.

Linking up over here today:

Countertop Treatment

I stumbled across this new countertop treatment today. You are going to be thrilled at how easy it is. It will probably end up on Nester’s weekend files–what will all of its embracing her motto–It Doesn’t Have to Be Beautiful to Be Perfect. Oh wait. I think I have some of those words turned around, never you mind.

Since this was an accidental discovery, I think it best just to dive right into the how to.

No pre-cleaning necessary. Don’t even move all the gadgets and goodies on your countertop. Just proceed with haste through the rest of the steps and voila! Your black granite countertops will be an even lovelier shade of dark.

Assemble a bowl of pancake batter, pancake flipper, your favorite mug, french press, sugar bowl, a spoon or two, your creamer of choice–I suggest one of these. Also, like I said, whatever currently resides on your countertop should remain.

Now prep your french press, heat the water and pour it right in. Pull your cast iron skillet out and get it heated. Add a little coconut oil, and get ready to start cooking your pancakes. Deciding that you don’t want to knock over the coffee, skooch it back an inch.

I know that I can’t control your mind, but I think that you should believe in what you are undertaking, truly embrace the chaos. That being said, here was my thought process, should you care to take a similar path.

That might be too much coconut oil. Nah. All good. Oh wait. Where to sit this? I’ll just put it in the batter, that’ll be fine. Does the batter need more liquid? And if I move the bowl and well skooch the cup back a bit, well maybe, the press doesn’t fit so well. Too late. That went well. See. No worries. It sat right up on….

Top. Yup. I thought I had pulled it off. Alas. Instead of a lovely cup of french pressed Bustelo, I got a countertop treatment. You wouldn’t benefit from my cup of joe, but look at how it all turned out. You get this quick little refinishing tip.

If it is laundry day when you undertake this little DIY, all the better. You will have moved all the dishtowels to the washing machine, well out of reach. You see, panic helps the color set. That or all the time it takes you to remember where it is in your kitchen of 23 years you keep the dishtowels.

I should also mention that if you are thinking of tea-dying or, in this case, coffee staining anything, you could accomplish two tasks at once. The towel you select will likely remain soaking in the coffee for a bit while you try to rescue your cheese slicer, the knife caddy, your quarter cup of coffee, the pancake batter, well you get the idea.

I must apologize for not getting good photos of the actual process. Photos would probably distract you and this is truly best performed in the most fluid of motions, much like lyrical ballet.

In case you were worried, the blueberry pancakes made it through the refinishing treatment just fine.

19th Ave & Now

I had no idea back then how close I would live to that spot. All I knew was how very far the hospital was from my dorm room. How many miles of 19th Avenue my mother would have to drive without much help from me. How a dorm room and the top bunk weren’t on my list of top recuperating choices in 1997.

I and my nauseated cut open stomach just wanted the drive over. Wanted the hospital to live as far away as it literally was from where I would sleep that afternoon and night and well into the next day.

In 1997 there was no movie theater across from the front doors of John C Lincoln. Entering into the hospital, I had no daydreams of buying school supplies at that Office Max, or summer clothes at that Target. No reason to believe that I would drive past the hospital daily on my first job of the day, 5 days a week in 2010.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not suffering from nostalgia over a hospital, or Target. I’m just in awe that once again something so removed from my daily life became the absolutely mundane and not noticed part of my daily life a decade later.

And I’m hoping, (In this year of declared Hope.) this silly little story is just a nudge. A wee reminder that I don’t see all. I can’t even wish for all. I couldn’t and wouldn’t have wished for the situation that had me driving past the hospital on a daily basis. Both the hospital and later living near it were both blessings. I mean who doesn’t want photos of their ovaries, right? Maybe not.

Seriously, though, I am clueless about tomorrow. Which is fine because the dreamer-upper of my tomorrow happens to have fabulous taste and killer timing.

Now who is up for seeing the image where my liver photo bombed my ovary’s close-up?

Artistic ADD & A Tale of Avoidance

It has already been said that I am a cheater. I am cheating on my prime passion with another distraction.

Lent and this season of gluttony could not have been better timed.

Actually now that I think of it, the distractions, the rabbit trails of desire have been many of late.

Soap making taking over for the gaping wounds of schedules ripped clean open.

Eating unprocessed for a month to find my path back into the kitchen, praying for nourishment to extend through vessels down limbs and up into neural pathways in my mind. Working at beefing up my blood without actually consuming a cow. Hearty blood making for happier thoughts, or more thoughts that would end in my hands making art again.

The fifth paragraph is a great place to get to the telling them, you, the audience what you hinted at in the intro and by the title right? Great. Good counting. So, the point?

What’s a girl with a deadline to do? A market coming up at a fabulous little retreat in the midst of the bustling city, you say. This Saturday? As in Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and ta-da Saturday.? This one? Yup.

How about choose tonight to hone your pizza making skills? Feed the family a little culinary wonder on crust. After work and shopping where you find this fabulous cheese that is sure to dazzle your family.

You know I did, right? Then I chose to write about it. I got 2 batches of soaps wrapped. Not sure how many to go, and I am reworking my table design. Surely a table design will work its own way out while I sauté red onion, roast sweet potatoes and determine if the fennel needs roasted or not. Never you mind the screeching smoke detector or your family scampering about the kitchen doing your bidding. The deadline will work out just fine.

Yes, just fine, after work, oh and teaching. It’s on the schedule, so surely I’ll recall.

Back to the pizza because that is the real reason for this distraction.

There were several varieties. Not one the clear winner, so seconds were consumed by everyone around the table.

The breakfast pizza was a late but necessary addition–the craving for Market Basket focaccia was overwhelming as soon as the dough started to rise. (crust, tomato sauce, sautéed red onion, garlic and red bell pepper, cheddar cheese, spinach, english bacon and eggs–put on the top raw & cooked until  the yoke is set)

Sweet potato was fantastic as asauce substitute. Roast the sweet potato, squish it out of the peel right onto the crust. Top with purple haze goat cheese (fennel seed and lavender laced chèvre), some english bacon, a little rosemary salt, chopped walnuts. Maybe a smudge of finely shredded mozzarella. Delish.

Veggie. There was extra onion/garlic/pepper blend. Can’t waste. Oh and spinach. Mozzarella. Red sauce. The basics.

And the veggies that started it all. Fennel and brussel sprouts. I bought both last weekend, determined to make it to my 35 new foods before the end of my 35th year. I had seen what seemed like a tasty way to make the sprouts over at Ree’s site. I was right that she was right on. Of course, she didn’t put hers on pizza, but the girl is busy, what with a new cooking show and all. A little ricotta on the crust. Ree’s balsamic sprouts (minus the cranberries).  Some crumbled goat cheese for a little extra creamy goodness. Fennel. Drizzle a little extra of the balsamic glaze on top after it comes out of the oven.

I think, all in all that was a decent way to waste the past 6 hours of my life. My belly is full. My family is fed. The kitchen (amazingly!) is clean. I even have a few left overs to share with a friend.

Now, for the sweetest form of avoidance…..sleep.

Does This Shirt Make Me Look Divorced?

I am struggling to get dressed. Not for work. For after work. For a night out with a girlfriend.

I’m 35 and single. I can dress my 35 year old self just fine. It is dressing the single girl that is difficult. As if single requires trendiness or skinny jeans or highlights instead of greylights. Complex equipment cluttering my bathroom countertop or equations to balance patterns and fit of clothing.

This is how getting dressed plays out in my head, maps of all exits are in the basket to your left.

34 and married was more forgiving. Last season’s jeans were overlooked because of a ring on the right finger, or the proper left hand finger, actually. Your requirement to be cutting edge is overshadowed by the cuteness of your children–or even their trendy outfit. I don’t think I have the energy to follow the fashion trends of 8 month olds any longer. I may be doomed.

**Insert image here of a brain sliding swiftly down the slipper slide to Woetown.**

It is too late for me to find fashion forgiveness through matrimony. Too late for sassy onesies that I believe others will see as my literary brillance balanced with the simplicity of nuturing a la Mother Theresa.

I am too tired for the chase or the race.

Then I hear it.

Women are not born with that grace. Our birth doesn’t bestow us with a golden ticket pass to the rose colored world of AllsWellVille. I may be exhausted by the idea of a newborn. Or too stubborn for blind dates. Petrified by small talk that starts with Hi! I’m LG and I’m a __________.  (All that trauma/drama because I refuse to use the A word…A.R.T.I.S.T.)

Lucky for me, God gives His own push presents. They may not appear in dainty robin’s egg colored boxes but they do make the race worth entering and the chase worth starting. Harrowing stories of 38 hours of actual labor to give birth to a baby are not required for such gifts. Grace comes after the guy doesn’t call back and your teary eyes open to the reality that you are still you and that is enough. Grace dons shoulder pads to cushion your cheek when missing someone you lost comes barreling down on you like a lionness hunting on a National Geographic special–and you are the smallest impala in the group. We push and He guides, comforts and cheers from the finish line.

Although, just a side note here, if I expect anything to come my way in such a sweet little box (blue or otherwise), I might need to leave the smokey eye make up tricks to the professionals. Just sayin. And all the girls with two left hands said, “Amen!”

Did I Mention Cookies?

I laughed at myself. I laughed even harder when I realized how my pants could be a billboard declaring who I am.

I was standing in the kitchen making up a batch of cookies for Valentine’s Day. How else do you say love? Cookies = love. Peanut butter chocolate cookies = real love. Right? I thought so.

So in the kitchen at 9:30, there I stand between the stove with chocolate and peanut butter melting together blissfully and the mixer with more peanut butter and real butter singing their little song of love. I look down and my lovely black yoga pants are spattered with powdered sugar. Sweet snowflakes dotting my legs right down to my knees.

Now you know. That’s how I roll. For the record, my sugar coated yoga pants don’t have a hole in them though. I got one up on Ree. Yes indeed, the stretchy nature of yoga pants can benefit you when you are lunging into warrior pose or you know, when you need to turn off the burner right now so that your lovely chocolate doesn’t burn but you also have a spatula in hand dripping butter and you need to keep the spatula over the counter and rrreeeaaach across the kitchen to stove. Yoga pants.

Happy Valentines Day. *

*This message is brought to you by greeting card companies and yoga pants manufacturers worldwide. Not really, but if there are yoga pants manufacturers that want to send me samples, I would be happy to bake up a batch of brownies in them to test their true abilities.

Red Petals

Color. That’s the theme for today’s five minutes of focused writing. Well at least something like five minutes…

Yesterday’s blissful blue-green attitude has caught fire today.

Cheeks a blustering, flustered red.

Flushed from exasperation at technology. The noise in the room next door that escalates and no one remembers to shut the door. Giggles and guffaws sneak through the door at the wrong times and crimson my cheeks.

I want the quiet to take away some of the splashes of emotion that have made a crazy Pollock painting of my day.

The music on her blog soothes. Paints broad strokes of muted greens and creams across the chaos of my surroundings. The speakers are up louder than they should be but the colors, they are still quiet.

And who knows how long these fingers have been typing…so for today, this is my five minutes.

P.S. A dear customer just brought me flowers…the timing perfect. The petals flushed like my cheeks, and I thought how beautiful this red—seconds, seconds after thinking how awful the red of my face was, how hot the moment was making me.