Back in January…January…I decided that I wanted to try to volunteer more often. And until today, over the course of the last 340 days I’ve volunteered a whopping O times. ZERO. Really? Pathetic. So in my last month of opportunity I came across an entry in our graduate school’s newsletter that something called the Global Women’s Institute was looking for volunteers to help out during their Day of Service, which was part of a larger 16 days of activism against gender-based violence. I had no idea what it entailed, but I thought VOLUNTEERING! YES! SIGN ME UP!
I’m always kind of proud of myself when I randomly sign up for things and then actually show up. Go me!
So at 10am, I showed up to La Clinica del Pueblo not having a clue what I was in for. I thought that maybe it was a domestic violence shelter catering to latinas?
Turned out, I was about half-right. La Clinica does in fact cater to the hispanic population, but it’s actually just a normal health clinic. Part of what they do during routine medical screenings though is help those who may be in abusive situations. Out of the 4 hour block of volunteer time I signed up for, more than half was just spent learning about their facility and the type of people who see them. I know very little about the Hispanic population of DC, so some of it was pretty interesting/awful to hear. Like the fact that some women who are trying to secure passage across the border are forced to offer sexual favors to their “coyotes” (the guys transporting them across) or even offer up their daughters for sexual favors. Women in abusive relationships sometimes assume that’s the norm, and that all husbands beat their wives. Those that do press charges against their husbands or family members for physical abuse can wind up getting their whole family deported as a result. Great incentive to speak out. A lot of challenging obstacles I never really thought about.
Eventually the center put us to work doing light administrative tasks, filing and organizing paperwork. Very easy. I didn’t really even feel like I was doing anything particularly useful but the directors seemed super appreciative of what we accomplished so I guess that’s what counts.
When I initially was pushing for myself to volunteer more, I guess I was partially expecting to find a job working a crisis hotline, or volunteering in some sort of direct, face-to-face way, but maybe this behind the scenes stuff, just learning more about some of the situations in which people can find themselves will help me to become a bit more sensitive. Regardless, check this baby off the goal list.
I know this is so simple I really doesn’t even deserve it’s own blog post, but I almost always forget how I make chicken thighs, so now, I finally have a full record. These little guys were AMAZING. I don’t know what it is about a hot, juicy, crispy chicken thigh (properly seasoned of course) that makes my mouth water. I mean, don’t get me wrong, BLSL chicken thighs are pretty good, and a helluva lot better than their chicken breast sister, but you add that skin back on and make it super crispy? OH MAN. Deliciousness. Best part? my husband doesn’t like food with bones in them so when I make these – they’re ALL MINE. Yessssssss.
The preparation is very simple. Take your skin-on chicken thighs and arrange them on a foil or parchment paper lined baking sheet. Preheat your oven to 400F. Blot the chicken dry so it increases it’s crispy quotient. Rub a little olive oil on the chicken skin and season with your favorite spices. my favorite is a Caribbean Seasoning blend that we picked up in the Virgin Islands. It’s almost out which makes me super sad (or means we need to go back?). Toss in the oven for one hour. That’s it. I didn’t even flip or rotate or nothing. And they were amazing. I’m salivating thinking about them already.
I don’t know what’s going on with the weather right now, but this is one of those times where you just don’t question it. 60 degree weather in December is a welcome reprieve from windchill, sleet and cold toes. It was just one of those days where you’re practically begging for an excuse to be outside. And I found one!
One of my goals for this month is to prep the spot where I eventually want to set up a small raised garden bed. Right now there’s a bunch of dead hydrangeas, and while they can be lovely, they’re hogging up some prime sun real estate. So they need to go. I figured it would take me a bit to dig these things out, but actually, it didn’t require much effort at all. Just a little tug and *POP*, out comes some roots. Guess that means they were ready.
So. Now instead of some nasty stems and dead little puffs of flowers, I have a relatively flat piece of terrain on which to grow me some vegetables. Or herbs. Or fruit. Or something. I haven’t really gotten that far.
And at least my cat was super helpful. Thanks fuzz!
I meant to post this yesterday. This was my training plan for last week. It was to be my first week post 2nd Marathon to add in running.In actuality, very little running happened. Just walking to class on Mon/Tues, I could feel my shins cramping up and my hip is still all sore and achey. Part of me wonders if I have tendonitis because it’s just so tender in that area. So. More rest from running. But also more cross-training.
Monday: Yoga, focusing on arms/hands and another full body flow
Tuesday: Yoga for splits.
Wednesday: Insanity “Cardio Power and Resistance” (To take place of the sprints), Yoga for ITB
Thursday: Yoga again. Shoulder strengthening and headstand practice
Friday: Dancer Pose and Full Body yoga. Also, I’m so sore from Insanity that I can’t touch my toes anymore.
Saturday: Restorative Yoga, No-Sweat Yoga, and office Yoga
Sunday: Yoga. And Signed up for a gym.
And as you can see by more “cross-training”, really it was all yoga. I was trying to finish out all the yoga sessions from the “30-day yoga challenge” YouTube series and had a few to make up this week. Having officially gone 2 full weeks with zero running, I’m finally starting to feel…refreshed? My hip isn’t hurting nearly as much as it was during marathon training. I haven’t limped around due to “Peggy” (what my husband calls my plantar fasciitis since I walk around like I have a peg-leg). And mentally, I’ve enjoyed not having to figure out when I need to shove hour+ long runs into my schedule, particularly since right now is finals time for school. I’ll test running next week and see how things feels.
December!! Last month of 2013! Goal review time!
Old Cooking Goal:
Once a week, cook something that could be deemed a “healthy meal”.I surprisingly managed to do this and ended up with meals like spaghetti over spaghetti squash sweet potato fries with broiled fish, and even a couple of creepy looking smoothies. They weren’t exactly new things but I did help to cut down on the number of times we ordered papa johns.
New Cooking Goal: Host our first dinner party! Step 1 – figure out what to serve. I should also mentioned that in order to keep up with my yearly goals, I have to make a solid batch of croissants at some point.
Old Fitness Goal:
Do yoga every day (also the 30 day challenge). Check! Well, 28 out of 30 days. But I call that a win.
New Fitness Goal: So as of this morning, I just joined a new gym (I was getting tired of running in the cold and bumping into my furniture doing yoga). This new gym has 37 different fitness classes/week. Now I know I would never master trying one of each this month. That might be a bridge to far (particularly the 6am ones). But I do want to make sure I’m getting my money’s worth. So my goal, somehow in conjunction with my previously published exercise plan, is to try at least three classes a week. I give myself allowance to sub out some classes for the P90X/BBL sessions.
Old Professional Goal: Read Viktor Frankel’s book “In Search of Meaning”. Didn’t happen. Mainly because I couldn’t find where I had put the book (on my bookshelf of all places!). But I figure since I’m in the midst of finals and papers, my professional goals should probably be focused on doing well on those anyway.
New Professional Goal: Volunteer – ideally in some sort of mental health capacity, but at a minimum try to find an opportunity with a target population.
Old Reading Goal:
Read John Sandford’s Shadow Prey. Good. Now I can get rid of the book.
New Reading Goal: To finish out my yearly goal I need to read two books I already own. My choices are 1) The Known World and 2) The Whispers. And If there’s more time, finish off the Flow book.
Old Cleaning Goal:
clean/organize my dresser area so it’s pretty. CHECK!! I’m supser excited about this one because I finished it at around 8pm last night. I was totally going to push it off til today but then thought NO! Do it now!
New Cleaning/organization Goal: This is less about cleaning, but the goal for this month is to get the house ready for Christmas. Lights up, wreath up, tree up, ornaments up, etc. etc. etc.
Old Self-Improve Goal:
Journal at least once a week. Check! I counted this morning and I had 9 entries in the month of November. Score!
New Self-Improve Goal: I was going to put this off in the cooking category, but it technically doesn’t relate to cooking. So I moved it. Next month I plan on attempting the Whole30 challenge. This month, in preparation, I was to clean up the diet during the week. That way I don’t have to feel super deprived during the holidays, but maybe I can gradually get used to more veggies, less sugar. Maybe.
Old Craft Goal:
Finish (or at least get close to finishing) Vivi’s Xmas present. Not even close. School work picked up which meant less time was spent cross-stitching.
New Craft Goal: FINISH CROSS-STITCH.
Old Gardening Goal:
Start establishing my side-garden! ie, buy some logs to set up a terrace. Well I did at least start. I bought a kit to build a 4×4 raise garden bed. Now I just need to put it together.
New Gardening Goal: Remove the dying hydrangea bushes to make room for the garden bed.
Old Relationship Goal:
Try something new together. I wasn’t sure what this was going to be and kept trying to think of things we could do together. Then, when some other plans feel through, we ended up hosting our very first Thanksgiving together. Turned out pretty well, and I was proud that we pulled off a delicious dinner.
New Relationship Goal: Time together is going to be pretty crunched this month, so I’d like to try having dinner at the table together once/week so that we can talk and reconnect.
Old Social Goal:
do something with friend OR family at least once a week. Check! Hung out with an old HS friend, reconnected with college friends I hadn’t seen in a couple of years, visited my parents for the first time in a while and had lunch with a deployment battle buddy. Great month for sociability.
New Social Goal: Write out Christmas Cards for our friends/family
**December’s 30-Day Challenge**
Since my husband has been pestering me about improving my cleanliness, this month’s challenge is just for him. I saw this article on Apartment Therapy with the task to spend 20 minutes a day cleaning, specifying a task to complete each day.
After the MCM, I decided I needed a lot more stretching and flexibility in my life, and decided maybe a day or two after the race that for November, I was going to try to do some yoga everyday.
So, how did things go?
For one, I was pretty motivated during this challenge because I found a 30-day Yoga Challenge on YouTube. Score! That means I didn’t even need to think about which video to do, just have to follow along. I’m all for taking the guesswork out of workouts. Plus, the videos were usually only about 15-min long. Sometimes I doubled up or looked for longer videos, but really the 15-min length meant that I had very little excuse for getting my yoga in. Out of the entire 30 days, I only missed two days of yoga. Oddly, the day before and the day after the Richmond Marathon. I was traveling on both days and kind of all over the place. But still – 28/30! That’s great!
Another great part of this challenge was that I actually enjoyed it. Stretching everyday felt good. I’ve learned that I’m super tight pretty much all over so just about every stretch hit something I needed.
I was really hoping to notice more of a change having done some yoga almost every day this month. I can touch my toes, but generally I can touch my toes on a regular basis. My hips and hams are still very tight. Basically the 15 minutes of yoga each morning warms me up just enough to get my flexibility back to normal but I don’t know that there’s been any improvement to my flexibility. Or to anything really. The daily I guess only gave me some short-term benefits, which is a little disappointing. Perhaps because I was only doing it 15 minutes/day?
So while I haven’t really gained much flexibility, I have been somewhat re-energized to focus on my flexibility. Fifteen minutes isn’t exactly a whole lot, particularly when you’re talking whole body, and a mix of different yoga style. I would like to continue my short daily stint of yoga but to that add some longer yoga sessions. I’d really like to get back in a gym or yoga studio to have that added push of an instructor. I liked having that structure. After watching the video below I’m even considering trying out Bikram Yoga. I used to go to a hot yoga studio down in NC which I LOVED, but have yet to find a studio with a similar vibe. Least with Bikram I can get the heat which I personally find to be helpful to deepen stretched. But seriouslly….the video below is insane. At first I was like, oh neat, he’s pretty flexible. And then that turned into OMG LOOK WHAT HE’S DOING?! I’m used to preteen/teen girls being all bendy and spineless, but an adult male??? Incredible. Gives me hope.