What I’ve Been Up To in January

As some of you may have noticed, I took the month of January off.  I didn’t necessarily intend for a one week break to turn into four, but it happened.

And, as it turns out, I’m okay with that.  I don’t feel compelled to apologize (something that I do too often as it is), because it was necessary, though I will explain why I needed that time.

The fact is that I needed a little re-boot.  I was feeling a bit overwhelmed, somewhat uninspired, and totally worn out.  Taking a few weeks for some hibernation was important. None of this is to say that I haven’t missed it around here.  Or that I haven’t missed you all, because I have.  So, hello again!

Trees at Rhododendron

I may not have been blogging, but I have been doing things over the last month.  The running hasn’t stopped, of course.  I’ve been at it consistently and with a relaxed outlook – enjoying the time off between training cycles.  I’ve also selected my primary running goals for 2014.  They are:

  • complete two marathons (Newport, OR in May and Portland, OR in October),
  • run at least one of those marathons at a sub 4-hour pace (though I’m really shooting to run both under 4 hours, and I do think that it’s totally possible),
  • PR at the 10k distance, and
  • run at least 1700 miles during the year.

All of this seems pretty darn exciting to me!

I’ve also been filling my brain with lots and lots of information and stories.  I’ve been reading voraciously – 10 books in the month of January!  I’ve learned and escaped and laughed and fantasized with these books in the last four weeks and it’s been wonderful.

Trees from below Rhododendron

I’ve been cooking some delicious food.  Banh mi inspired noodles.  Delicious soups from this bookCauliflower parmesan.  You get the idea.

And finally, I’ve been thinking about what I really want this year to be about.  In a few short words, my primary goals for 2014 are about living deliberately and with intention.  In the words of my fantasy BFF Bob Harper, I need to remember in any given moment that all I’m doing is exactly what I’m doing.  Be present and concentrate on what’s at hand, making choices and plans with intention, rather than constantly battling stress and anxiety about the future.

I hope that this approach will be reflected in my posts this year.  I aim to write and share very intentionally and with deliberate thought towards what’s worth writing, sharing, and reading.  I hope you’ll join me!

2013: A Look Back At Some of My Highlights

New Year’s Eve & Day are my favorite holidays.  I get a little sappy and a lot introspective around this time.  While I believe in regular reflection and goal setting throughout the year, I can’t help but find this to be an appropriate time to take stock of where I am, how I am doing, what I’ve done, and what is next.

santa ornament - editedThere was a time when this process was primarily a negative one for me.  I would stop to reflect on what I didn’t accomplish or what goals and dreams were out of my reach.  In recent years, however, I’ve taken to heart just how important it is to give equal billing to what I have done.  Rather then quickly glossing over accomplishments or milestones in order to continue moving upward and onward, I now recognize the value in celebrating the victories (large and small) that are behind me.  And, while some believe that you gain wisdom mostly by rehashing your mistakes and failures, I also see the learning that presents itself in evaluating what has gone well.

To this end, here are some of the highlights, milestones, and victories that took place for me in 2013:

  • 26.2 miles = Done! – The experience of running my first marathon have been shared in depth here and here, so I won’t say Me with medal 3 - editedmuch more other than that it stands as one of the single best days of my life.  I can’t wait for many more!
  • Goodbye, Gluten – Going gluten-free was not something that I ever intended to do.  It was (and still is) extraordinarily difficult for me, but 7 months later, my vastly improved health stands as evidence that it was what I absolutely needed to do.
  • 1500 miles – It took me nearly right up until the end of the year to do so, but as of last weekend, I have run over 1500 miles for the year.  So cool.
  • 71 books – I love to read and always have.  For me, books are a never-ending source of education, escapism, and inspiration all in one.  I track my literary adventures over at Goodreads.  If you’re interested in seeing what I’ve been reading, please head over and say hello (username: srrose).
  • Facing down an old fear . . .  The dentist! – I’ll admit that, prior to 2013, it had been quite some time since I’d dragged myself to the dreaded chair.  It is an experience that long struck fear in my heart.  Having little or poor dental insurance for a long time had supported me in running away from this fear, but I finally did it.  After several trips to get all caught up, my teeth are happy and healthy!
  • Cultivating creative confidence – This year saw me take some big strides in levels of self-confidence related to creativity and pasta with italian peppers - editedcooking.  I can’t say that I produced the largest quantity of creatively driven output this year, but I found myself trusting my instincts more, feeling stronger in my skills, and being open to experimentation.
  • Keeping THIS going – I know that I’ve had periods recently of reduced posting, but I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to keep this site going.  I love it.  I love the process of it and that I get to connect with so many incredible people around the world because of it.

I’m certain that I could go on a bit longer, but I will end my list on that note.  So, thank you to every person out there who has been a part of all of this with me in 2013.  I’m looking forward to seeing what next year will bring.

Happy New Year!

Recipe: My Victory Loaf

Do you know what victory looks like?  If you’re not sure, I’ll show you.

Meet my Victory Loaf.

with end cut off

Besides finishing my first marathon, I can’t think of another victory I’ve had anytime recently that has felt this sweet.

Prior to finding out that I’m gluten-sensitive/intolerant, I ate a lot of bread and bread products.  Granted, I was almost exclusively eating whole grain, healthier bread varieties, but bread was a staple in my dietary routine.  Since having to give up gluten that has obviously changed.  For those of you are about to say, “Wait!  There are several gluten-free options available these days – eat those!”, please allow me to remind you that I am also supposed to be avoiding yeast, eggs, and dairy.

That eliminates most all the prepared bread and bread dough products I have been able to find in stores or online.

This has been one of the most discouraging parts of my gluten-sensitive diagnosis.  And, just to be clear, it’s not just about bread.  It’s really about having things that have traditionally brought me pleasure and comfort all of a sudden turn into things that harm me.  It’s about being excluded from social situations because I can no longer join in with the group in quite the same way.  It’s about feeling tense and afraid that I’m going to sick anytime I’m eating something I haven’t prepared with my own hands.  It’s about activities (baking/cooking) that I grew so used to turning to for relaxation and joy all of a sudden being fraught with stress and unease.  It’s about loss and grief and life changes that are at times complex, sad, empowering, challenging, freeing, and frustrating all at once.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that there’s a bigger picture here, People.  And all of this is why this bread, this Victory Loaf, left me standing over my kitchen counter shedding a few little tears of joy.

collage

I have tried gluten free, yeast free baking a few times since my diagnosis (most of what I baked before was vegan, so that part wasn’t so tricky to adapt to), and it never turned out very well.  Some items went straight into the garbage.  Others got nibbled at with desperate hopefulness and then found their way to the trash, too.  While a couple of items got eaten entirely, it was with some sense of disappointment because they still weren’t quite up to my standards.  All of this was done by strictly following recipes.  I had lost trust in myself.  Not yet feeling any level of confidence with the new flours and gums and grains that have taken over my pantry, I was hesitant to stray at all from recipes and followed them all to sub-par results.  I don’t know if I was just selecting bad recipes or if I was executing them poorly (maybe a combination of the two), but I was more than a little discouraged.

Until I decided to give myself a chance.

Drawing upon what I had learned about the new ingredients available to me and the kitchen skills I have gained over the last few years, I put together my own recipe.  I knew that it could fail miserably, but at least I was prepared to do so on my own terms.

But, it didn’t.

It didn’t!

with bowl of soup

In fact, it went better in so many ways than any gluten free baking I had done.  It was incredible.

I made bread that looked like bread, tasted like bread, and exuded nothing less than absolute delight when I took my first bite.

It was pure victory.

I ate my Victory Loaf dry, with Earth Balance*, with jam, with sunflower seed butter, with peanut butter, dipped into soup, and with edamame hummus.  I ate it every way that I could.  I ate it with joy, with pleasure, with feelings of empowerment, with smiles, with fervor, with delight, and with relief.

And every time it felt like a little victory all over again.

*This was my favorite pairing.

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Victory Loaf

A Move Eat Create original recipe

Makes 1 standard loaf

** Note:  You should note that this bread does taste of buckwheat and dark grains.  If you’re looking for a soft, white bread, this is nowhere near that.  But, if you like whole grains, dark breads, and buckwheat, then this just might work for you.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups buckwheat flour torn slice
  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 1 cup millet flour
  • 2 ¼ cups room temperature water
  • 1 tblspn molasses
  • 2 tspns salt
  • 1 tspn baking soda
  • 1 tspn fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tblspns shelled sunflower seeds
  • 1 tblspn millet

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a loaf pan by coating with cooking spray.
  2. Combine flours and salt in large mixing bowl and set aside.
  3. Add water and molasses to the flour mixture and stir until just combined
  4. In a small bowl, combine baking soda with lemon juice and whisk together.  It will bubble/foam (this is the yeast replacement and will help create a similar rise effect).  Quickly pour into the rest of the batter and stir all ingredients until well incorporated.  There is no need to mix aggressively or to knead this dough.
  5. Pour batter into loaf pan and gently pick up the pan an inch or two and drop it on the counter in order to settle the dough and get it to level out.
  6. Lastly, combine the sunflower seeds and millet together and sprinkle on top of the batter for a seeded crust.
  7. Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool in pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
  8. Savor every bite.

A Move Eat Create Medley: Looking Back At Some Favorite Posts

It occurred to me the other day that I’ve been at this blogging thing for a bit over a year now.  I decided to take a few minutes to look through the content I’ve been putting up and to see which posts have been the most popular.  Like any good blog-mom, all my posts are special to me, and it was interesting to see which ones seem to have most resonated with others.

Here, in no particular order, are the top contenders.  Missed any of them?  Click through the links to get caught up and see what they are all about.

Salad - edited

burrito sliced - edited

Me nearing finish 4 - edited

My (Wonderful) Weekend in Pictures: Long Runs, Kitchen Escapades, and A Celebration

I had a totally lovely weekend.  Here’s a little glimpse.

Absolutely gorgeous weather for a 17 miler on my Saturday morning long run:

Followed by a delicious breakfast of coffee and this amazing oatmeal:

breakfast

Back home to make black bean brownies (so good!) and garlic/dill refrigerator pickles:

food collage

Celebrating Mr. Move Eat Create’s birthday on Sunday with quality sushi, homemade cake, and gift giving.  This is his happy sushi face:

birthday collage

What a terrific two days it was!!

Book Review: Warrior Pose, With A Giveaway to Win Your Own Copy!

War correspondent and ultra-yogi aren’t exactly two identities naturally linked in my mind.  At least they weren’t until I read Bhava Ram’s Warrior Pose: How Yoga (Literally) Saved My Life.  And, now, just like that, they are.

I read quite a lot of memoirs, but despite my broad exposure to them, Ram’s (aka Brad Willis) stands out as particularly remarkable.  Plus, if you’re in need of a healthy dose of inspiration, this should do it.

book

The story goes something like this.  Willis leaves small town America to rise up through the ranks and become a successful, hard working war correspondent, traversing the globe to cover stories of international importance.  Already, you’ve got an interesting story, right?  Willis, however, suffers an injury (a broken back), which he tries to hide and live with.  As to be expected, the injury worsens over time and, through desperate attempts to cope, Willis finds himself addicted to alcohol, pain medication, and unable to maintain his career.

Then, he gets cancer.

Yep.  That’s right.  Cancer.

Things were not looking so great for our friend, Willis.

The story that takes over from there tells of Willis’ discovery of yoga, re-discovery of his sense of self, and a transformational journey to his own health and wellness: body, mind, and spirit.

I will confess that when I started this book, I was most interested in the parts about his days as a war correspondent.  My mind was piqued by stories of war, travel, and the human condition.  I wasn’t sure how I would feel about the rest of the book.  I tend to be somewhat wary of stories that speak of such dramatic transformation through spiritual means of any sort, so my guard was a bit up.  Surprisingly to me, as Willis’ story of his career shifted into the discovery of himself as Bhava Ram, I found myself remaining just as engaged and just as intrigued as I was at the start.

Yoga may or not be your thing, but I see in this book a narrative of embracing humility, exploring possibilities, and developing wisdom that just about anyone can relate to.  Yoga is the conduit through which Ram found these things for himself, but surely there is any number of methods that could be used for similar journeys.  And, if yoga is your thing, Ram’s story will uphold the belief of the restorative powers of a dedicated and consistent yoga practice.

Read this book for some international adventure, sure, but also read this book for a bit of inspiration and, just maybe, a dash of motivation to try some new approaches in your own life.

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And, now, for the giveaway.

Ram and his publisher have agreed to offer a copy of Warrior Pose to one lucky reader of Move Eat Create.  If you would like to get your hands on your very own copy, please leave a comment below.  Each reader may enter once.  Comments will be counted and ordered, a winner will be selected with a random number generator, and said winner will be contacted via email, as well as listed here on this blog post.  The giveaway opens now and will run through Wednesday, 7/17/13 at midnight (PST).  My apologies to non-US living friends, but the giveaway is only open to those who can take shipping within the U.S.  Be sure to include your email with your post so that I can contact you if you win.

This giveaway has closed.  Congratulations to zebveg who won a copy of Warrior Pose!  Thank you to all who entered.

Disclaimer:  Though I was provided a copy of this book free of charge and invited to attend a workshop with Ram, all opinions about the book are completely my own. 

Good luck and happy reading!

The Super-Incredible Reinforcing Loop of Creativity and Confidence!

red loops

photo credit: Patrick Hoesly via photopin cc

I don’t know if this happens to you, but I’ve noticed this neat cycle in my life involving creativity.  I have even given it a name.  I am calling it the Super-Incredible Reinforcing Loop of Creativity and Confidence!

What do you think?

Sometimes I’m a total cornball, but it’s kind of great, right?? Eh???

Okay, in all seriousness, let me explain what I’m talking about.  It goes something like this:

I tentatively try something new.  This something new is successful on some level (maybe it’s great, but at the bare minimum, I survive it intact).  Feelings of wonder, amazement, euphoria, surprise, relief, and etcetera ensue from the successful venture.  Emboldened by these feelings, I try something else new, this time maybe a bit less tentatively.  And the loop starts again and again and again.

Sure, I’ve tried new things before, but what’s different right now is the way in which my creative mind is responding to it.  I’m keenly aware that with each endeavor my confidence builds just a bit more, which in turn, triggers more creative sparkage and subsequently builds even more confidence.

It’s quite the little snowball of activity, I must say.

And, my creative side is showing up in interesting ways.  I haven’t blogged about the more obvious manifestations of creative exploits lately (like my knitting) because I haven’t been doing so much of them, if I’m going to be honest.  (I miss this activity and will get back to it in time, but for various life-related reasons, I’ve had to take a knitting hiatus.)

But other creative endeavors are flourishing.

There is my cooking mojo, for instance.  I’ve been feeling much more inventive in the kitchen lately, heady with bravado, tossing strict recipes to the wayside and operating more organically, spontaneously, and fluidly as a result.

In bowl with parsley 4 - edited

There is also my blogging/writing.  Ideas have been popping up in my head left and right.  The challenge for me right now is to organize them for filtering and action.

Then there’s my work.  Moving into a new job where I’m being given space and encouragement to think, try, and just go out and do has been refreshing and welcomed.

There are other things, too.  I’ve started a balcony garden, unleashing my creativity on the tasks of selecting seeds and planters, gathering ideas for growing methods and combinations of herbs and veggies to nurture.  I’m thinking about running and workout training methods with a fresh perspective.  I’m itching to refresh my wardrobe with some new infusions of color and style and having visions of ways to clean up and brighten up my living space.

pot with scoop - edited

It’s strikingly clear to me right now how much just simply surviving something that can be scary or intimidating can build new levels of confidence that filter in to so many parts of my life.  I am by no means totally triumphant in all the things I’m attempting, but just getting through them without complete disaster striking is sometimes all I need to spur the next attempt, the next idea, and the next big (to me) thing.  It’s one loop I don’t mind being stuck in.