Thursday, March 21, 2013


When I'm running, I imagine there is black smoke venting from the top of my skull. Each step builds a bigger fire. I push all my dark emotions, all of my fear, all of the things that plague me towards the flame, transforming them into the acrid cloud moving up and out. I wash the sudden internal emptiness with gladness, relief. Light pours into places once dark and I am reborn. Running is the tool. I use it to create a clean reality. Gain sanity. Find zen.

I wasn't always like this. I used to hate to run. But that was because I didn't have the guts to push or the tools to build a demolition fire.

Before, when I would attempt to break my own barriers I would inevitably give up. Face them, and turn away. Run away. It could be something as simple as the physical discomfort I felt during distance running, or something more complex. It didn't matter - whenever I had doubt in my abilities I would inevitably think that failing was worse than not trying. Backing down showed smarts. Knowing your limits was a sign of maturity. Yes, yes - it is truly shocking what information we can cognitively align ourselves with sometimes. And I'm not sure it would have changed, if it wasn't for Willow.

It was motherhood that shattered the first wall.

I never thought I could live without sleep. During those excruciating first weeks of parenthood, if someone had given me the option to quit, I would have. Gladly. But there is no option to give up at 3 AM when a little baby is depending on you, so I learned to adapt. I learned to take command of my ego just a little bit more. Pull back on thoughts of myself, give more than I thought possible. Not always in the most beautiful or graceful manner, but I learned how to push beyond. It was just the beginning.

Doors tumbled open in streaks. Sometimes I felt like I was crashing through them - pulverizing so many mental blocks like steel doors I could kick off the hinges. Shattering my own conventions. It felt amazing.

I learned how to cook, I brought art back into my life. I ran - and I ran farther than I ever had.

I re-learned how to learn. Then, I learned how to unlearn. In fact, I felt like I was figuring it all out for the very first time. I felt the concrete reality of mastering the learning process, but what I was really feeling was evolution. I was feeling it happen - to me.

It made me think suddenly how people always say that having kids changes you. I had always taken that to mean that it changed just your heart or your schedule. But, no. That's not it. Those things are involved, sure. But the real change is more than emotional - it's a warping of your physical fabric. It is an opportunity for reformatting the brain, completely rewiring yourself - should you so desire. There are certainly varying degrees to which people take advantage of this, but I believe when the birth of your child is an earth-shattering experience for you, you get the chance to build the world back up again. And it can look however you want it to.

It didn't happen overnight, but I did rebuild my world. I built it around my little earth-shatterer and my husband and me. And I built it into something much better. Stronger. Even more adaptable. I not only look for challenges these days, I invite them in for tea. It's something I really never saw happening. I would look foreign to an old me, should one come hopping out of a time machine.

So I adapt through a pinch in my side and drive my legs harder. I think about that smoke coursing out from the top of my head, thick with the burning of all my doubt, all my old selves. In doing so, I am evolving, unlearning, re-learning. Venting black smoke. Becoming.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Recipes: Simple Blueberry Muffins

My basic goal as a cook is to find or create simple recipes for family favorites with relatively few ingredients. Add to this my hope to eat only organic, whole foods and my philosophy on food is defined: Let's try to make it ourselves, and let's try to make it healthy. So, I was enormously pleased to find this recipe, have a great first experience with it, and to tweak it into a regular player for team Chamberlain. Kudos to Gale Gand who originated this recipe for her cookbook Butter, Sugar, Flour, Eggs - I have changed only a few minor things here to make these perfect for our family. I hope you like them, too.

Simple Blueberry Muffins

1 stick butter, softened
1 cup plus 2 TB sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp cinnamon, divided

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and prepare a muffin tin by greasing the cups or lining them with paper liners. In mixer, cream butter until smooth. Add 1 cup sugar and mix well. Add eggs, vanilla, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and baking powder. In a small bowl, smash 3/4 cup of the blueberries and add them to the batter. 

3. With mixer running at low speed, add 1 cup of all purpose flour then 1/4 cup milk. When these are well incorporated add the whole wheat flour and the remaining 1/4 cup milk. Fold in remaining blueberries by hand. 

5. Combine 2 TB sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon in a small bowl. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full of batter and sprinkle the tops of each with the cinnamon/sugar mixture. 

6. Bake for 25-30 minutes until tops are golden brown. Mine are always done in 25 minutes flat. Allow the muffins to cool for 15-20 in the pan before turning them out.

This recipe yields 12 big muffins - so, I will regularly make these muffins as a BFD (Breakfast for Dinner) treat and then we have the remainder on hand for a quick breakfast option over the next couple of days. Enjoy!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Music for Cool People: 3/8/13

They use part of this song in a promo for Curious George on PBS Kids. Let's ignore the obvious fact that this song is steeped in the drug culture of the 1960's and just say, "Yeah PBS!" Because this song is dope (no pun intended).

Grazin' in the Grass - The Friends of Distinction

Get funky. It's Friday.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Black Magic Woman

You ever read any of The Dresden Files books by Jim Butcher? If you haven't, you should. They are fast, pulpy and imaginative - sometimes a bit repetitive, but altogether fun and enjoyable to read. Forget a lame synopsis though, the only thing you really need to know for this story is that the books are about a modern day wizard and because of his magic he has major difficulties relating to electronics. Because his mere presence will interrupt electronic signals and fry circuits, only the most rudimentary machines will work for him - forget computers. Got it? Good.

Flash to reality, and I'm likely sitting jaw-dropped in front of yet another piece of electronic equipment that just won't work for me, or with me, or whatever. The screen may be stuck on a repeating, flashing, seizure-inducing image, or in the midst of a forced reboot. There is definitely a high probability that some kind of official-looking message containing the words "factory settings" or "restore mode" is staring back at me with startling hostility. I just have problems. Even my beautiful iPhone, just birthed from its packaging required me to restore to factory settings THREE times within the same day. And each time after I had entered in a few contacts by hand.

Right around Ryan's birthday last year, I nuked our laptop somehow. I was writing a blog post, switched to a separate screen and then when I came back to try to type - BLACKNESS. It was one of the more dramatic incidents I had experienced, and as this was only the most recent event in a string of minor problems I had caused (technologically speaking) it brought Ryan to his feet and set him pacing around the kitchen. Eventually he threw up his hands asking me, "What on EARTH is wrong with you?" I gave an exaggerated shrug and said, "I have no clue, man. I'm SO sorry." He shook his head, "This is like Harry Dresden. You walk by our laptop and the thing basically explodes - his magic fries all the electronics he comes near." I gave him a sarcastic look behind my smile. But he continued on about the logic of the entire thought, and the fact that he always knew I was special anyway. He winked away the last part, and I smiled again. We never really get mad about anything, and this was just a minor annoyance anyhow - magic involvement or not. I left him then to his impending repair attempts, and went on about my own thoughts.

All kidding aside, it did bug me that complicated electronics seemed to sputter at my touch. Was it magic? HIGHLY unlikely. It could be that I was just bad with computers - but, in my defense, my bad internet habits were few and relatively mild. But still, I'm definitely no computer scientist, so that could be it. Or was I just unlucky? Perhaps, but my bad luck did seem to have insane aim - hitting me in the electronic device Achilles each time. My thoughts of luck turned to the possible existence of Karma. Then fractured to another tangent, and another. Some far away part of my brain even worried intensely about the possibility that Artificial Intelligence will take over the Earth someday and I'd be one of the first they'd ax. "You just don't get us." They'd say.

Then I settled on a topic that Ryan and I had discussed several weeks prior that suddenly seemed to have a possible connection - he had brought up a concept he'd read about called a noosphere. Basically, it was the idea that we all have energy coursing through our bodies, and out around them in a sort of orb. Think an aura. A real, physical thing containing energy. And the interesting part (aside from getting to think of yourself as a cloud) is the way that our noospheres may be interacting with each other, influencing each other - all the energies of people, animals, and things able to push together. It might be a part of our existence that we have forgotten, or never really discovered. We might be able to unite through that, conduct it together - and what kind of world might that be?

I love the idea of being a conduit. Conducting energy as I see fit. Not the creator of the energy, but the one who harnesses it - directs it. The blessing of this life is just that, I think. That we may conduct the forces residing within us in whatever direction we choose.

Should the existence of a noosphere be the explanation for my mysterious and unintentional black widow-ing of computers, I feel badly. I would certainly never intend to set my phasers to kill. And should it be magic, meddlesome and swift, I'd be pissed - Harry Potter is like my dream life, so being a witch and not knowing it? NOT FAIR. You can bet your life I will be cutting out a lot of right-clicking and some other habits I have been informed might be troublesome, so any user error should shrink to a minimum. And hopefully it is not a curse of bad luck for I haven't the foggiest idea how to begin fixing that.

An aura of energy around each of us. Individual magic sipped straight from the belly of the Universe. Perhaps they are one and the same. The laptop was fixed and so far remains functional. My thoughts are mild and appreciative when we are in each others' presence - just to be safe, you know?