Sometimes Life Sucks

Sometimes. . .

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. . . really bad things happen in your life and you have to pull through.

On Wednesday, August 12th I woke up to 4 missed calls.  I kept my cell phone downstairs at night; I sleep like the dead (zero pun intended) and rely on the Jag to hear the phone ring which he usually does.  Well, he had earplugs in that night and didn’t hear it either.

I immediately thought the early am coach overslept and quickly scanned the caller id.  Uh oh, 4 missed calls from my parents in the middle of the night.  Not good.  Fearing this was “the call” I quickly dialed the number.  My dad answered, “I’d rather tell you in person”.  Heart pounding I sprinted up the stairs, threw on whatever clothing I could grab and sped over there.

When I walked in the door, he said “your mother’s gone”.  Talk about a jolt to every system in my body.  And on no coffee.  Wow.  Long story short, massive heart attack in the middle of the night and gone before 911 could even arrive.  That will be a day I will never forget.  I stayed with my father and everytime I looked at the clock it seemed to have slowed for that was the longest day of my life.

In any negative event I attempt to find at least a modicum of positivity.  My mother had wished for a quick passing, no hospital stay or lengthy prolonged illness and she wanted to not have to rely on anyone to take care of her.  While none of us get to choose, her wish was fulfilled and she passed 1 month and 3 days before her 88th birthday. I had a wonderful mother and friend for 55 years who was always, always there for me.  And I can tell you, I would not have wanted to raise myself.

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I am so very very blessed to have an incredible support group–my husband of 30 years, my family, his family, a few close friends and an amazing community of people (coaches, friends and members) from our box.  They were all there for me.  Calls, messages, hugs, floral arrangements, food and more overall support than is imaginable.

I have lost those that I love before — grandparents, aunts and uncles, friends and felines but nothing yet that hit as hard as losing a parent.  How do I cope?  My well loved and well meaning sister in law suggested grief counseling and anti depressants.  Hmmm, I don’t think so.  I have enough to deal with without adding vicious side effects.  Yet I wasn’t sure what was the best way.

Being an only child I am the only one to help my father take care of things.  They had 59 wonderful years together, very little outside social circle besides each other and the family and he is now lonely.  Arrangements needed to be made along with the other things you never think of or at least I didn’t.  In other words, I have to be there for him, help him in any way I can and be the strong one.

Thursday I decided I would go to work even though my coach looked at me and said, “what are you doing here, I got this”.  I know she did and decided for a few days I would work in the morning and take care of the other tasks in the afternoon and evening.  I could not sit idle or through another long day like the one before.  Dwelling is not how I will handle this.

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Light bulb moment:  I needed a workout.  Realizing I was under atypical stress I expected nothing, I just needed to move the dirt.  I was all by myself in the quiet and hot box at about 10 am that Thursday morning.  I had put on my wonder woman shirt and sneakers cause I needed to.  That alone helped me call forth the right mentality.  I took my time with a nice long warm up and hit the weights.  It was RDL’s, bent over rows and some trunk work.

I don’t think I will ever forget that workout.  There was a soul cleansing or releasing of something very deep and powerful.  Or maybe a better way to describe was that an answer came from somewhere telling me “yes, you can do this, you will get through it, have faith”.  My focus was more intense than average and many thoughts, an understanding and coming to terms with things ran through my head.  Never my intention  but I also pr’d.

After the workout I felt like a different person.  I had the strength to go pick up my father and make the funeral arrangements for my mother.  At least for that afternoon I was in control and strong.  Friday morning I did the same routine; a little work, workout and then take care of things.  I even worked out on Saturday, that hour or hour and a half spent in the gym enabled me to better deal with everything.

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It gave me courage, it gave me strength and it gave me a calmness, decisiveness and a sense of control I do not believe would have been possible to summon up without it.  The memorial was that following Friday so we had a long week of building up and planning for the ‘closure’ along with family coming in.  I worked out 5 days in a row and I can tell you, after the fact that is what pulled me through.  Without a doubt.

Time is needed now and I am returning to somewhat of a normal routine and establishing a new routine with my father for life is different now and will never be quite the same.  I focus on the memories and the good in the many years we had together.

You know, we’re all different and just like there are many good training programs there are many ways to deal with the loss of a loved one.  We had a beautiful memorial service for my mother in the Catholic church because that is where she worshiped and what she wanted.  We we met to make arrangements the woman helping asked and “where do you worship?”  She caught me by surprise and I looked at her and without conscious thought said — the gym, fitness is my faith.  She looked at me like she didn’t quite comprehend.

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And while that may not work for everyone it does for me; I’ve had many ‘come to Jesus’ moments on a field, at a track and in a gym.  That’s where I go to find the strength and whatever higher power one chooses to esteem to I would think they could be found anywhere — even in a hot chalky box.

It helps me to pen things so thank you for listening my friends.

 

Scalloped Potatoes

Sometimes you need some good, old fashioned comfort food.  I’m not sure why but I hadn’t made scalloped potatoes in at least 3 or 4 years.  “A decade” according to my husband who is overly fond of embellishment.  When my Dad requested them for a dinner we were having I couldn’t say no.

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I dug out and dusted off my recipe from a few decades back.  When I find something that works well I rarely make changes.  The old “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality.  There are few occasions where I feel a little rusty in the kitchen but the thought of making a white sauce was one of them since it had been quite awhile.

What’s a ‘white sauce’?  It’s the base for a lot of creamy dishes such as scalloped potatoes, mac n’ cheese and many casseroles.  It’s butter, flour and milk with salt and pepper to taste. Basic.

I like to prep and organize everything ahead of time before I start putting the recipe together.  The white sauce will require your full attention so by having everything sliced and handy you can focus on it without distraction.

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I was pleasantly surprised how smooth (pun intended) my white sauce turned out.  And both my dad and husband raved about how good the potatoes were.

*A note on the cheese.  Traditionally I have used cheddar and that’s what my original recipe called for.  When I looked in the fridge I was out of cheddar.  The raw cheddar that I prefer is not found at my local Publix sooooo, hmmm I thought do I really want to get in the car and drive to Whole Foods right now?  No.

Time to get resourceful. I had about a cup of smoked cheddar in the fridge.  Now I would think 2 cups of that would be overpowering so I ‘diluted’ it by adding a cup of a milder cheese Havarti and  the results were amazing!

Sometimes change is good and when it is I embrace it.  We updated the recipe. . .

Recipe & Ingredients

4 – 5 medium to large Russet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/8 ” thick
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup King Arthur gluten free multi purpose flour
2 cups raw, grass fed milk
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup raw smoked cheddar*
1 cup raw Havarti*

Preparation

Prep:  slice onions, grate cheese, grease (w/ butter) a 13″ x 9″ x 2″ pyrex dish, peel and slice potatoes

In a saucepan over medium heat melt the butter.  With a wire whisk, add the flour stirring constantly for 1 minute.  Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly.  Continue stirring until the mixture comes to a boil and is thickened. Remove from heat.

Assembly:  place 1/4 cup of the white sauce in the dish.  Layer with potatoes, onions, cheese and sauce.  Repeat layers reserving 1/3 cup of cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees covered for 1 hour and 15 minutes to 1 1/2 hours or until potatoes are tender.  Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top and cook an additional 5 minutes.

Serve and prepare for rave reviews!

Bouquet of Ribeyes

Some people send flowers in times of bereavement and some people don’t.  My dearest friend Carol Ann had a better idea when she wanted to do something for my family.  “I’ve got some steaks for you I’d like to drop off” she texted.  Ok, I said that’s awfully nice of you.

When I went to unwrap the “steaks” what to my wondrous eyes should appear but what I can only describe as a bouquet of rib eyes.  Not just any rib eyes; grass fed bone in rib eyes.  It doesn’t get any better than that.

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Recipe & Preparation

Season to taste with garlic powder and freshly ground black pepper to taste.  Right before grilling sprinkle with sea salt.

Place over direct heat on a charcoal or gas grill. Cover and cook 2 – 5 minutes per side depending on how you like your steak.  I am a rare girl (in more ways than one:).  Serve with your favorites.  We had some good old fashioned scalloped potatoes.  Recipe to follow on next post.

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Thank you Carol Ann — this beats a bouquet of roses any day!

Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Been a really rough week and a half with the loss of my mother and I’m not ready to talk about it.  But one thing that has been amazing is the support I have received from family and friends.  The calls, messages, personal words and hugs have been quite the comfort during this difficult time.

Along with this amazing dinner from my friend and client Karen.  Karen has been training with me for several years and is the most #Jacked 51 year mother of 5 that I have ever known not to mention a wonderful person.  She took time out of her very busy life to cook from scratch the most amazing and tender chicken dinner I’ve ever eaten.

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After heating the chicken up I went to cut it into pieces to serve and it literally was falling off the bone.  “How did she get it so tender”? my husband asked.  “A pressure cooker”?  Knowing Karen I didn’t think that was the case.  And mind you, this is not a conventional chicken this was a happy pastured bird fixed with love and from the drippings came some of the best chicken gravy I have ever eaten.  And it was gluten free.

I steamed up some green beans and whipped up some potatoes to go along with the gravy.  My father, husband and I ate almost the entire chicken.  I just had to get her recipe, thank you Karen. . .

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Recipe & Ingredients

1 pastured chicken 3-4 lbs
1 onion
2 carrots, cut in half
2 stalks celery cut in thirds
1 onion, quarted
1 clove garlic
2 tablespoons butter
sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and celery salt to taste

Preparations

Now, the instructions were a little on the general side but here is Karen’s recipe.

“Easy peasy meal.  I brined it for a few hours in the am.  Then, stuffed it with onion, carrots, celery and a clove of garlic.  Place it breast side down in roasting pan.  Put a few tbsp of butter on top, then season with sea salt, pepper and celery salt. Cover and put in oven, low and slow at 250 degrees for 4 hours.  Gravy is just the drippings, thickened with Bob’s Red Mill gluten free, all purpose baking flour and a little chicken broth.  Added more salt & pepper to taste”

Summer Stew

Stew in the summertime?  That’s what I thought when I was digging through my freezer to use the remains of my last Peaceful Pastures order to prep for the upcoming delivery and I found a package of stew meat.  Not one to waste any food especially grass fed beef I started thinking how I could lighten it up.  And with 3 weeks of a steady downpour this lighter stew was just the thing for a rainy day. . .

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Recipe & Ingredients

1 pound grass fed beef stew meat, cut into bite sized pieces
1 tablespoon beef tallow or other healthy fat
1 sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 cups beef stock
1, 16 oz can diced tomatoes
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup fresh or frozen corn
1 yellow squash cut into 1″ pieces
2 teaspoons non GMO cornstarch
1 tablespoon water

Preparation

Melt the tallow or healthy fat in a large dutch oven over medium heat.  Season the beef liberally with sea salt and black pepper.  Brown the meat and then transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon. Add the onion and saute until tender.  Add the garlic and saute for an additional minute.

Pour in the beef broth, tomatoes and remaining spices.  Bring to a boil, add the meat and carrots, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 to 1 1/4 hours or until the beef is tender.

Add the corn and squash and cook at a moderate simmer for 5 – 10 minutes or until squash is tender.  Bring to a boil, stir in the cornstarch and water mixture and cook for 1 minute stirring constantly.

Attitude Adjustment

I don’t know about you but some days are not as great as others.  I’m not a very patient person and having to put up with the day to day bullshit and stupidity of others that is sometimes life had mine stretched to the limit last night.  I didn’t sleep quite as well as I usually do and woke up really sore from my Monday/Tuesday workouts.  Decision needed to be made whether to take a rest day, perform some active recovery or workout and rest the next day.

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I’m rather good at feeling out exactly what my body needs on any given day as I’ve been working out for over 20 years.  I had an important meeting in the afternoon and I needed to be clear headed and at the top of my game.  Based on that I figured it was prudent to workout — best form of anger management I’ve found is hitting the steel.  And I needed to adjust my current state of mind.

Well, deadlifts were on the menu; lots of them.  I approached the workout with a lengthy warm up as I was sore and stiff.  After about a solid 15 minutes and a nice sweat going I was ready.  I wasn’t going after a PR today I just needed to move the dirt.  While it wasn’t as glamorous as Melissa’s 315# PR above (over 3x her body weight) it’s just as therapeutic some days.

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After about the 3rd set of 10 deadlifts I was coming around; sweat was pouring and I was smiling.  I did a 4th set and then took on 5 sets of 5 bent over rows and finished with 50 evil wheels.

All in an hour including warm up.  Perfect.  Spent an extra 10 minutes rolling it out and a little passive stretching.  Bam!  I am revived.  I am relieved of all pissed-off-ness .  Is that a word?  Doesn’t matter.  GAME on. BRING it!