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Holding On To Grief

I had to get up early for a work related task and as I was mulling over my blog post for the day I thought, Hmmm…maybe I’ll tell everyone about my spicy okra and beans from last night!

If I believed in any sort of life after death I would tell you that my Dad would see that thought and say, “Thank goodness. She’s finally going to let March 31st pass without some sappy entry about how much she misses me.” And while I don’t believe he’s watching over me in any way, it was a little jarring to momentarily forget that today was the day – six years ago – that he left me forever. It was especially shocking to have forgetten because Dad has been on my mind so much lately. Much more so than usual, as I’ve been feeling fresh waves of guilt the last month that almost feel like I said goodbye only yesterday. This has been a surprise, that the depth of the sadness can still feel so vast even six years away. But it has lately – really since the new year – it’s felt vivid and new and painfully raw. His new grandson, Donnie’s Ironman, E’s college experience, my Grand Slam, Wes’s basketball and Nikki’s vocabulary and dialog development…there are so many things over the last six months that have just made me scream to the clouds time and time again: WHY IS HE NOT STILL HERE TO EXPERIENCE THIS?

The sadness has tainted just about every breath I’ve taken these last few months and I’ll be honest – part of me doesn’t want to shake it off. Part of me has felt a renewed closeness to him with this fresh wave of grief, and I wonder if I’m holding onto it as a way to hold on to him. I know that over the last six years I’ve felt that before – a need to hold on to the grief when it hits. So part of me kinda got mad at myself this morning: Zoot! Okra? How could you be thinking about OKRA on the anniversary of your Dad’s death? I was mad I had momentarily stuck my head out of this fog of sadness and forgotten about how much I missed him.

OKRA!?

But I know that’s silly. If there’s anything this wave of pain has taught me is that no amount of time will fade the grief forever. While part of me fears that letting the sadness pass means that a part of him passes again, I know that is not how it works. I know that time does not build an insurmountable wall protecting me from sadness forever – it only builds small barrier that keeps it at bay so I can live my life. But the grief – it’s always there and letting go now doesn’t not mean I’m saying goodbye again.

I turn 40 in July, but in my heart I’ll always be a Daddy’s girl.

I miss you so much, Dad. Tears trickle down my face as I try to find new pictures of you that I’ve not shown before, because I didn’t know during any of these moments that you’d be gone so soon. I would give anything to have these moments back again.

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Good Thing I’m Selling My House, And Not My Inbox

So, last week was weird. I still had work for my job that needed to be done because I don’t drop to “on call” until April 1st, but the kids were also home for Spring Break and I was trying to keep my house constantly “show ready”. What that meant was that, If I was home and not working or cooking or sleeping, I was cleaning.

And that’s a WHOLE NEW WORLD for me.

Normally, if I’m home and not working, cooking, or sleeping – I’m playing. There aren’t many hours a day when I’m home and “free” so I use those hours to catch up with emails or Facebook messages (which I often miss because Wes plays with my phone and will accidentally open them up when the notification pops up and then FB thinks I’ve read them) or tweets or wall posts or blog comments. Basically, I would sit down a few times a day and just RESPOND to people however they were communicating with me. I don’t think I realized I did that, until I no longer did.

I kept putting it off, “Well – you can get to that FB message or that email AFTER you put up the laundry (that I used to leave in the laundry room).” But then after I put up the laundry I noticed there was a puzzle left out. And that lightbulb was burnt out and OH MY GOD, where did those finger prints come from?

And suddenly – that 30 minutes between soccer practice and bed time is gone and I’ve STILL not responded to that FB message.

(If I even saw it.)

Wesley made Donnie coffee and me a giant mess to clean up. #totesadorbs

Wesley made Donnie coffee and me a giant mess to clean up. #totesadorbs

So…things got pushed to this weekend. I thought a lot on my race on Saturday about how I was going to take the time when I got home and RESPOND to all of the communications I had gotten during the last week. And y’all? I have no idea what happened to my time. By the time I was home and cleaned up it was 1:30. I needed to pick up some groceries and there was a lot of “upkeep” type stuff for the day since everyone had been home all day. It turns out that even when my kids are doing better than I had hoped in keeping things clean, they’re still kids who make messes. Nikki helped a bit, but it just seemed like BAM! It was time for us to leave for dinner. And the same thing happened on Sunday – I ran, picked up groceries, cleaned some floors, did some laundry and BAM! It was time for family dinner.

I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE MY TIME IS GOING.

Or maybe, I had no idea how much time I had before? I mean – I’ve never been the best at getting back to people who have contacted me in one way or another. Emails get accidentally archived before I reply, Facebook messages get forgotten (if I ever see them), and blog comments get pushed back after new entries and I just forgot about a lot of it. And that was BEFORE. Now? The stuff I remember or keep where I can see it? Still goes ignored simply because I HAVE TO SWEEP MY FLOOR EVERY DAY AND THAT SUCKS SO HARD.

Long story short: I’ve learned one major, two part lesson. I had a lot more free time to respond to people daily on line when I (evidently) never cleaned anything.

BUT THIS WEEK I HAVE NO JOB! YAY! FREE TIME! (#SilverLining) So, I’m hoping that by the end of this week I’ll have my ducks more in a row than they are now. I’m sure I’ll never be perfect but I’d like to not wake up in the morning remembering that message from two weeks ago that I never replied to.

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Weekend Roundup Of Awesome

Here’s the collection of things I’ve posted/found across various social media platforms this week.

 

As always - thanks to Gregg Gelmis of We Run Huntsville for the photos. (This one doesn't have the logo because I purchased it! I love it so much!)

Fourth Go At The Race That Started It All

In March of 2012, after training with my first running group for months, I had a go at my first trail race. It was the McKay Hollow Madness 25K and we all found out that maybe that wasn’t the best race to be our first, each time we told someone it was going to be.

“You know it has the word ‘madness’ in the title, right?”

Training with my small group for that race is still something I hold dear to my heart. Those friends helped build my confidence over those few months, making me feel like I could take on bigger things eventually. I highly recommend trail running groups if you’re a newbie. Every time you fall you can feel your confidence wash away and you need people around you to remind you that A) they fall too and B) you miss out on some amazing adventures if you don’t get up and keep running.

I was going over my old race report and it had me thinking about two things.

  1. Kim of 2012 talked a lot about the mud during the part of Natural Well that takes you to the finish line. Kim of 2012 would shit a brick if she sow how muddy I’ve seen the other 13 miles the last few weeks. Kim of 2015 wishes that would be the only muddy part this year.
  2. I don’t remember writing this part: “I teared up because I was so proud but trail runners are NOT the crying type so I sucked it in and pushed towards the finish.” But it cracked me up because I obviously didn’t care at the finish line at Mountain Mist this year.

However, when I read the race report from 2013, I do remember how I wanted to back out. I distinctly remember looking around and seeing my friends who were there for their first attempt and thinking I’ve done this already, I have nothing to prove. I can go home. I think about that often when I’m miserable before a race – or even during a race. That, in the end, it can still be a great day. The “pre-race” hour or so can be so miserable if the weather is bad. It’s hard to convince yourself you’ll warm up. Especially if it’s raining. But I think about that day often and remind myself that weather can be dealt with. Lost experiences can not.

Then, of course, there was last year, the year I finally beat the 4-hour goal I had been trying to beat for years. That was a good day. It got hot and I probably pushed myself at the wrong times, but it was a good day. And I made that goal with the added few challenges they put in that year to make up for the removal of another challenge.

And tomorrow is Go #4. As with everything since Mountain Mist, I don’t feel very trained as my body basically fell apart the second the Grand Slam was over, but this race is like my childhood friends. Sometimes we’ve not talked a lot and I worry it will be awkward but then we’re together five minutes and I feel my spirit recharged because we know each other so well.

This was something I wrote at the end of my first McKay race report:

Many trail runners say that it’s addicting. If you’ve made it to run an actual trail race, then you’re probably hooked for life. And I can totally see that. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s messy, and it makes you overlook the fact that you might be having a stroke.

I don’t trail run in the summer due to Donnie’s summer schedule and my allergies to poison ivy and my fear of snakes – but for six months out of a year it is what keeps me going every week. I’ve had a rough couple of months and many weekends have come and I’ve thought If it weren’t for these trail runs, I’d be spending money on therapy and medications right now. They are the only thing that have kept me close to sane as I’ve had some weird cycles of grief and stress waving in.

So, I’ll go again tomorrow. Because this was the race that started it all and I can’t miss it, not for anything.

Photo from McKay 2014 by Gregg Gelmis

Photo from McKay 2014 by Gregg Gelmis

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Lazy Spicy Collards

Preface: This was supposed to be a “recipe” entry but I kinda got wordy about being a #LazyHerbivore and the recipe is, like, a million words away. Feel free to skip all of the crap in the middle. And remember – my recipes are lazy at best. It’s more like, “Here’s some crap I through in a crock pot and it turned out tasty.”

Oh! If I ever do a cookbook that will be the title: Crap Vegans Can Throw In A Crockpot That Will Turn Out Tasty.

I’ve struggled with the word “vegan” since day 01 of giving up eating animal products. It started because I learned that the word has a VERY STRICT definition. It’s not like being “gluten intolerant” which can range from [Gluten Destroys My Intestines So I Absorb No Nutrients And Can Become Malnourished] to [Bread Makes Me Gassy]. No. Vegan is very specific and I learned (from vegans and non-vegans alike, non-vegans are actually MUCH QUICKER to point out when you’re doing something wrong, I have found) that I shouldn’t use unless it I follow the strict letter of the law.

Honey and Wool

See, calling myself a vegan would mean I would stop eating honey (which I don’t eat often but I buy at our Farmer’s Market and do enjoy sometimes) and stop wearing my favorite wool running socks (which I won’t do because I love them too much). And those two things probably aren’t going to happen. I actually know people who make their OWN HONEY. (No smoke involved!) Some do it as part of a bigger ecosystem to support other gardens and what not. And I love my socks! So, yeah, probably not going to give those up.

Donuts

Donuts are my comfort food and when I’m having a really bad day, they bring me joy. And yes, that is part of a bigger issue as it relates to my relationship with food. But for right now, let’s just stick to the fact that donuts make me happy and so sometimes I eat them. And while I’m fairly certain I could give those up eventually? I’m at a stressful point in my life right not and IT IS NOT HAPPENING.

Unknown Ingredients

There are these websites and apps where you can search ingredients you see listed and y’all? I’m too lazy to do that. If I think something should be vegan but it might have ingredients I don’t recognize? I’m not going to search it out. I have memorized things like: Vegan breads. Or tortillas that were made with vegetable oils instead of animal fat. I have done research, but I’m not googling ever item that I eat to make sure: THIS BETTER BE VEGAN.

Rudeness

I don’t want to turn down food someone who didn’t know better made me. And I don’t want to make someone cook something special for me. Now, I usually eat before I go places if I don’t know for sure (I did that this Sunday, as a matter of fact, just ate first!) or I bring a frozen vegan burrito with me if I’m going somewhere that I know they wouldn’t care for me to heat it up. But there have been a few incidents where I’ve enjoyed something somewhere simply because I didn’t want to seem rude or ungrateful.

SO! I’ve settled on being the #LazyHerbivore. I tell people who ask that I eat vegan when I’m in charge of my own food but that I don’t use the word vegan as I’m not very disciplined. I also don’t like cooking so I depend a lot on my crockpot and on stir-fry so I don’t want people thinking I’m doing green smoothies and cauliflower pizzas when in reality I’m doing bean burritos and vegan chili.

But the strangest thing of all, has been how I’ve had to really face a lot of demons in relation to my feelings about “what people think about me”. I mean, I am very vocal about a lot of controversial things but I guess – because they’re controversial – no one seems to really confront me about them. People don’t challenge me about my atheism or my stance on gay marriage or the fact that I’m pro-choice. (Sidenote: I prefer “pro-reproductive rights” because so much of anti-abortion legislation effects people with fertility issues.) No – people don’t confront me about those often so I can live in this little world where I assume no one cares and they still love me regardless!

But people have NO PROBLEM confronting me about my eating habits. A few months ago a guy started snarking on me out of the blue, making fun of me when I said I’m vegan. I had someone just meanly confront me about the honey thing early on. “YOU CAN’T EAT THAT IF YOU’RE VEGAN!” I even had someone point out a (fake) leather belt once and say, “Hope that’s not leather!” And of course ALL of them were meat eaters. So, I find myself doing that thing I did in middle school where I’m constantly imagining people complaining about me behind my back.

“Kim and this vegan thing, what is up with that? How long do you think she’ll stick to it? What a pain in the ass. The only place we can all go eat together is Anaheim Chili because of her weirdo eating habits. It’s so annoying.”

Seriously. I have these visions of people bitching about me when we’re planning outings or family gatherings or work events. It’s awful. And my lone vegan running friend had to MOVE, damn her. NOW IT’S ALL ON ME.

So, while the Plant Based lifestyle has really changed the way I think about food and where it comes from, and I’m so glad I made the change, it has REALLY challenged me to try to try not to be a 12-year old girl all over again and to stop projecting my own insecurities onto other people. Most of the people in my life don’t care, and if they do care? That’s not my problem, right?

RIGHT??!?!?!?! (Says the 12-year old insecure Kim.)

Oh my goodness. Would you believe that my goal with this entry was actually to share a recipe with you? Can you believe I’ve written almost 1,000 words and still haven’t gotten to the recipe? MAN. I need to add a note in the beginning. Hang on.

Okay! Preface Added! Now for the “recipe”.

Lazy Spicy Collards

All I did was throw a bag of frozen collards and three cans of rotel (Ideally I do 3 cans of “chunky” but only one store I go to has that so I’ll do 2 original and 1 hot for an extra kick) into a crockpot on high for 3 hours and BAM! A delicious side dish that I added to meals for DAYS. I do keep an eye on the moisture level and have added up to a can of water if it cooks too low. My crockpot’s “HIGH” setting sometimes gets a little too “HIGH” (If a recipe says 4 hours on “high” mine does it in 3 or less.) so I can’t just walk away. But maybe you can, I don’t know!

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Either way – it’s my new weekly “Go To” because it goes good with EVERYTHING. One day I even added some sliced mushrooms I needed to get rid of once and it turned out good. Obviously you could do fresh collards but, you know…#LazyHerbivore and all. I do stir fry fresh stuff sometimes. But if it’s a crockpot night? I’m in the mood for comfort food and my most comforting meals are the ones that require no effort whatsoever.

Spicy Collard Greens + Black Eyed Peas and White Rice = #LazyHerbivore lunch!

A photo posted by Kim Holmes (@misszoot) on