The Dark Side

Anyone with endometriosis can tell you that the disease is more confusing than it is anything else. There are days when the mental repercussions are far more debilitating than the physical. (And depending on your symptoms, the physical are quite debilitating). Sometimes this is due to what I like to refer to as “woe is me” syndrome. An inability to move past the what-ifs and day dreams about what living a “normal” life would be like. That sort of mental state makes living with the disease exhausting.

Other times, it’s simply an extreme influx of hormones. Because having physical disabilities isn’t bad enough, us lucky endo ladies get to enjoy the perks of abnormally increased hormone production on top of it all. This is probably the symptom I personally hate the most. The physical symptoms are atrocious, don’t get me wrong. But they can be explained and in most cases understood by others. What I struggle to explain to away are the moments when I am seemingly fine, in the middle of a work day and suddenly I’m fighting back tears over nothing at all. Quivering lip and all. Like a 13 year old puberty ridden girl trapped in a grown up’s body, I become ashamed. That was me last week. I broke in to tears no less than 3 times at my desk over nothing at all in one day. I’m was exhausted for days because of taxing emotions.

How are we supposed to be successful career women with this disease? I am learning to command respect in other ways but often I wonder how far I will go in my career with what is considered a visible weakness often peaking through.

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Easy Peasy Paleo Strawberry “Ice Cream”

I’m going to make this short and sweet… Literally. It was hotter than H-E-double hockey sticks yesterday and for the first time in awhile all I wanted was ice cream… And a lot of it. So what’s a time crunched lactose intolerant fitgirl to do?!!! Whip up some easy peasy paleo ice cream of course.
If you google “paleo ice cream” you’ll find dozens of fancy ice cream alternatives out there but quite honestly “I ain’t got time for that sh*t” not to mention money. Plus a lot of them still leave you filling up on unnecessary calories and high fats. They’re essentially “f-aleo” recipes. I love this one because it requires things I always have on hand, takes just minutes and is mostly fruit based.

What You’ll Need

2 Large Frozen Bananas
1 Cup Chopped Strawberries
1/2 Cup Coconut Milk (full fat from the can. I like to keep mine refrigerated)
1/4 cup Almonds
1 tsp Raw Honey

Place all ingredients in food processor and blend until they are at your desired consistency (2 minutes)

Voila. There’s your easy peasy ice cream. I put my extras in the freezer in individual serving size glass mason jars for grab n’go snacking later : )20140702-135356-50036553.jpg

Dark Chocolate Coconut Bars

Time is a fickle bitch and I swear every week I end up with less and less of it.

I know I kind of fell of the face of the planet for a couple months but I’m back, I swear. Sometimes it feels like managing my disease is a full time job on top of my full time job. Sitting down to write about it some days is just too much. But after a handful of appointments and some readjusting Im back in the swing of things and my symptoms are starting to subside once again. Which leaves me a little more energetic, enthusiastic and able to focus on other things I love, like writing.

Moving forward I hope to write a little more about all the different topics related to living with endometriosis and focus a little less on the clean, yummy food I shove down my face every day : ) Although, I promise there will still be plenty of food related posts and new recipes starting with tonight’s recipe for the week: home made Dark Chocolate Coconut LARABARS!!! YAY!!! 

These freaking things have become my life raft, I swear. I know so many fitness nerds and clean eaters who get to satisfy their sweet tooth here and there with their guilty pleasure of choice but the whole no-gluten, no dairy, no soy thing really puts a damper on ones ability to satiate cravings easily. Larabars are my guilty pleasure of choice, primarily the coconut crème pie or the chocolate peanut butter. I always have some on hand at the office or at home in case I have a killer craving.  

So the other night I was sitting here thinking “I wish they had a Dark Chocolate Coconut Crème bar”. As it turns out, they do! But I cant find anywhere for the life of me. Not to mention the damn things are so expensive. You look at the package for larabars and its simple ingredients I have in my house. So I got to thinking it was time to start making my own, experimenting with different flavors and save a little money to boot. 

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Prep Time: 15 mins

What You Need:

1 Cup packed pitted soft whole dates (Fred Meyer now sells large boxes at a pretty inexpensive rate! I paid $2.99 for a box that has about 2 cups in it)

1 Cup Warm Water

1 Cup Raw Cashews (I get mine at Tacoma Boys but you can find them at nearly any grocery store in the bulk isle)

1/4 Cup Unsweetened Coconut Flakes ( I suggest Bob’s Red Mill)

3 Tablespoons Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips ( I prefer to use these because they are gluten, dairy and soy free. But if you don’t have sensitivities any brand will do just fine)

1 Tablespoon  Baking Cocoa (I use Equal Exchange brand which can be found at Marlene’s or any local health food store)

Start by removing pits from dates and place in a small bowl. Cover with warm/hot water and let sit 5-10 minutes. Dates are pretty soft to begin with but you want them a little more maliable for blending.

In the mean time, put cashews in food  processor and pulse for 1 minute. Add the rest of the ingredients one by one except for chocolate chips.

When dates are finished soaking, drain and try off lightly with a paper towel. Add dates to food processor and pulse until well blended. The mixture should be thick like chocolate chip cookie dough. Once blended, remove dough from the food processor and place in a small bowl. Fold in chocolate chips.

Cover the bottom of an 8×8 pan with parchment paper or plastic wrap. Press dough into pan evenly and cover. Place in refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour. Once set, remove the mix from pan and section off into desired portions using a smooth knife.

I like to wrap each one individually in suran  wrap for easy grab and go snacking.

The bars will last:

3 days out of the fridge

3 weeks in the fridge

6 months in the freezer (if you choose to freeze, store them individually wrapped and inside an airtight container. Make sure to remove from freezer at least 1 hour before you eat them) 

Voila!!! You now have home made Larabars. I would love love love to start making different versions of these so if you have any suggestions or requests feel  free to leave me a comment : )

  

Paleo Blackberry Raspberry Pie

I’ll be the first to admit, I have absolutely zero will power when a berry pie is in front of me. Seriously, blackberry pie might be the one thing on the planet I love more than peanut butter covered bacon (mmmm bacon). Ive never been a big fan of fancy pies though. Forget the apple pie or strawberry rhubarb while your at it. Im a bery pie girl, through and through. Warm with a lattice top and a little scoop of coconut whip on the side. YUM!!!

While I truly enjoy eating pie, it’s really the activity of baking the pie that warms me the most. There is something soothing about the process. Like no matter what else has happened in the day, I’m calmed by the assurance that mixing well known ingredients together creates something so classic and comforting. Picture Amy Adams in Julie and Julia while making chocolate creme: “I love that after a day when nothing is sure—and when I say ‘nothing’ I mean nothing!—you can come home and absolutely know that if you add eggs yolks to chocolate and sugar and milk, it will get thick.”

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That’s how I feel about reducing berries and making crust from scratch. Someday’s it seemed as though the only thing I knew how to do right was bake pie, and when I’m done, there was this amazingly satisfying treat in front of me.

But you see, its a dangerous thing for a single girl to bake pies. Who is going to eat them? In college I had roomates and guys friends who could help me split the shame. But nowadays, a whole pie in my apartment means a whole pie in my tummy. Therefor, I rarely bake them anymore. But when a good friend asked me to make a paleo version of my favorite pie for her wedding I jumped at the chance!!

Now if you’re looking for a smooth perfectly polished crust a la Martha Steward this  is not the receipe  for you. I learned the hard way that in order to get a lattice top from a gluten free dough, there is a lot more time and effort needed than this little fit girl was able to give. This recipe is easy peasy and tastes amazing but its a bottom only crust.

Filling:

3 cups blackberries
3 cups raspberries
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1/3 cup raw honey

In a medium sauce pan add water and berries and place over medium heat. Stir occasionally for 20 minutes or until the berries have reduced. Add remaining ingredients and continue to stir for 5 minutes. Take off the burner and let cool while making crust.

Crust: I stole this crust recipe from ElanasPantry.com. I tried a couple different recipes  and this was the only one that worked well with a berry pie filling with little effort. Her recipe calls for 2 tbsp. coconut oil but the first crust I made was a little oily so the second one I used slightly less.

2 cups almond flour/meal
2 tbsp. coconut oil
1 egg

Pulse almond flour in a food processor (a high powered blender works well too). Add eggs and coconut oil and blend until dough is formed. Press evenly into 9 inch baking pan and cook on 350 degrees for 4 minutes.

Let the crust cool for 5 minutes then pour in filling. Put back in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Simply, easy peasy paleo summer pie!

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Breathe In, Breathe Out

It started early Monday morning. 530 am, not even a mile in to my run I felt suffocated by my own lungs. What should have been a very successful 5 mile run turned out to be a taxing 4 miles while I struggled to breathe. It made absolutely no sense to me. Since I quit smoking 5 months ago my lungs have slowly but steadily improved making my runs that inch more enjoyable. When I reached my apartment I stretched and found a comfortable breathe again praying my struggle hasn’t been the beginning of an anxiety filled week.

Ever since I can remember I’ve struggled with anxiety issues. Over the past 6 years I’ve learned to take care of myself and monitor my symptoms and behaviors to ward off panic attacks but sometimes, like this week, they feel unstoppable. I have very little reason to be anxious. In fact, I’ve had an extremely productive and inspiring week. But that’s quite possibly the worst part of my anxiety, it’s ability to undermine any relevant happiness or joy I’m experiencing.
As the week progressed my runs got worse and by last night I struggled to breathe even while sitting still. Simple tasks like getting my purse out of the car made me anxious. As I fumbled with the strap caught on the seatbelt my heart rate quickens and I lose all ability to breathe normally. In fact I’ve taken very few full breathes since this morning. Trying everything from increased exercise to edition to simple breathing exercises, I’m now at a loss. Feeling borderline panic attack for absolutely no reason. Terrifying. It’s been about a year since this last happened and most days I thank heaven it doesn’t happen more often but I don’t know what to do. So I thought perhaps writing might help. Seeing as I’ve entirely neglected this blog for the past month, this might be a win/win??? I promise to write more positive things this weekend…. For now I’m going to go back to breathing….. Or maybe make some paleo berry pie!?!?!

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Paleo Sweet Potatoe Pancakes

Confession: Some days, I get so lost in my own internal narrative that I forget everything I’m doing. My motor skills are seemingly in tact until I abruptly snap out of my mind while running head first in to a pole or tripping down stairs. People think I’m clumsy but the truth is I seem to get truly lost in thought while living out my day to day life. More often than not, lately, these things happen because I’m writing my next blog post in my head or planning out my next post to my challengers. I find myself so consumed by cooking and writing that everything else disappears into the back ground. The sad thing is, for the last month, none of these blog posts have actually been posted!!! I have over a dozen half written recipes or topics that need to be finished. I swear there is just so much I want to do or say and not enough hours in the day to both DO and SAY them at the same time. So this last month I chose to DO and this month Ill work on sharing a little better.

For now I’m going to post more food and hopefully get to post more than a couple pending recipes.

Sweet Potato Pancakes

1 Large Sweet Potatoe

1/3 Cup Almond Butter

2 Egg

1Tsp Cinnamon

(for a special treat, add three slices booked bacons bits)

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Cook large sweet potato in microwave for 5 minutes or until soft. Be sure to poke holes in sweet potato before cooking. Once soft, cut sweet potato in half and scoop out the innards into a blender. Add almond butter, eggs and cinnamon and blend until smooth..

Note: Don’t throw away the skins. You can save them to eat with a little almond butter as an afternoon snack later in the week.

Cook like a regular pancake batter and serve or freeze in single servings for later use.

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The Thrifty Girls Guide to Zucchini Pasta

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News Flash: You don’t need a million dollar kitchen filled with KitchenAid products to make healthy meals. You just need to be a little inventive. If you’re like me its a little discouraging seeing instruction like “then place the ___ in the juicer”. When I first starting eating clean all I could think is “I cant afford to buy a juicer/food processor/ spiralizer!!!!” I’ve got all the ingredients in front of my and suddenly I don’t have the tools to finish : (

Now, I’m a thrifty girl pinching pennies on the daily. Over time I have accumulated a couple of nice items in my kitchen but all in all, I’m far from Martha Stewart in the gadgets department. So far as I can tell, none of my recipes have suffered because I didn’t have a $200 mixer. You wont believe this but….. most of these fancy machines are convenience items.

My most recent discovery is by far my favorite thrifty-girl clean eating tip…. Did you know you can sub a juliane peeler for a sprializer? No I’m not kidding you! Is a spiralizer easier, yes! But it cost me $3 for my peeling kit which had a julianne peeler in it and it works just as well for straight edged vegetable pasta as any spiralizer I’ve seen. (plus its much easier to clean)

Now if you NEED those special swirly pasta shapes and thick cut fettuccini noodles, I cant help ya there. I’m just not that fancy.

So now that you have been so enlightened, what are you going to make??!!!!

My favorite quick meal is sauted zuchnin pasta and it takes 5 minutes from kitchen to table using my peeler.

What you need:

1 Julienne Peeler
1 Small/ Medium Zucchini
1 TBS Olive Oil
1 Clove Garlic

Start by putting a small pan on medium high heat. In a large bowl, peal zucchini away from you using the peeler. The zucchini should shred pretty evenly into the bowl. No need to peel the zucchini before hand. Once that pan has heated, pour olive oil and garlic and sauté. Add zucchini noodles stirring frequently. Cook for about 3 minutes.

Top with homemade pesto, marinara or my favorite  

Lemon Aioli

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My dad returned from his recent trip to California with 4 large fresh lemons from my aunt and uncles trees. Seeing as I put lemon in waaaay too much these days I was quite elated when I found out he was gifting them to ME!! 

Now I just have to decide what to use them in. Many recipes to consider. I don’t want to waste such precious gifts on something trivial. (I put waaay to much stake in my food these days lol) I know for a fact that 1 will be used hfor Salmon on Friday but what else?!?! Maybe aioli with some steak…

At dinner with my family the other night my father says out of the blue “that’s what I need to find! I promised Monica (our aunt) Id find her a good aioli recipe.” My sister of course lights up, looks at me and says “Ashley makes an awesome lemon aioli!!!” Can I just say, proudest moment of my life : ) Not only did I receive a compliment but it came from quite the picky eater lol. At 17, life is all coffee and pizza and burritos so the fact that I got her to eat something called aioli in a dish with no gluten or dairy still astounds me. 

I know in have posted this recipe before (see Carne Asada Taco Bowls) but for the sake of speed and efficiency I decided to repost the recipe all by itself. It really does deserve singular applause for being such a simple, delicious addition to any meal. I’m also in the process of writing up my post for my chipotle aioli so I thought this might be a nice little precursor. 

If you have any questions or need suggestions on what to serve it with, feel free to comment below. 

Have an awesome hump day peeps : )

Lemon Aioli:

1/2 cup mayo (I prefer Soy Free Veganaise)

2 tsp minced garlic

1 tsp fresh grated lemon

the juice from a small fresh lemon

a pinch of salt

In a small bowl combine all ingredients and stir. On occasion, I make three times the recipe to use throughout the week. In this case, seal in an air right container and store for up to 5 days.

A Little Ranting And Some Roast Chicken

Sundays never seem to last long enough. Am I the only one who feels this way? There is just so much I want to get done on a Sunday but I want to do it all from my bed hahaha. This last week has been painful to say the least and I decided that no matter how much was on my plate, I will not leave my bed until noon at least. So here I am, watching Moonrise Kingdom and drinking coffee from bed. This is happiness right here.

My bed time last night was 7:30pm. I slept for a whole 12 hours and damnit I needed it!!!

Waking up refreshed

Waking up refreshed

Woke up this morning feeling refereshed and healthy again (thank goodness) after a week of feeling beaten and bruised.

Unfortunately, the stress of my big girl job got to me this month. I have been fighting off a cold, working my hiney off and burning the candle at both ends all month long. To top it off, my endo symptoms are back with a vengeance, this week particularly. They are so overwhelming it sucks the life out of me most days. I come home and my body feels so bruised and beaten and all I can do is climb in bed and hope I wake up better. On top of the exhaustion, earlier this week I started experiencing excruciating pain in my lower back and legs again. This is the first time since my surgery that they have gotten this bad. Most days this week I was able to make it until 3 or so without it interfering too much. But by 3 pm I am stretching every hour, popping ibuprofen and holding back tears. When you are trying to be productive, this sort of situation is nothing short of impossible. Normally I would go home early or take a sick day if necessary but that really wasn’t an option this week : ( Truthfully, the scariest part of my week was Thursday evening. After three hours of unbelievable pain, I headed to a dress fitting for a wedding I am in this fall. As I sat in the dressing room slipping on the gorgeous flowing dress, my entire right leg went numb. I lost complete feeling from my hip to my toes. All the while, my left leg remained in excruciating pain. I took a deep breath to hold back tears, unsure of how long it would last. I regained feeling after about 20 minutes, finished the dress fitting and went home to take a hot bath.

These are the moments I fear the most. There is so little that can be done when I am in them and even worse, there is nothing that can be done to prevent them. I refuse to let them interfere with my life but honestly, it was very scary. Does this mean its time for surgery again? Should I dish out the money for another docors visit? Or wait it out and see if the symtoms calm down next week? Ugh. So, needless to say, I am taking it easy today and giving my body anything it needs!

On the flip side, there are so many great things happening in my life right now that I can’t stay frustrated too long lol. I am only 5 days away from my first long vacation in 2 years!! YAY!!! I’m taking today to plan out my vacation/staycation to Portland. So very much needed. I will also be, as usual, meal planning today and decided it was absolutely necessary to FINALLY share my roast chicken recipe with the world.

Recipe for Perfectly Simple Roast Chicken

Time to cook this baby!

Time to cook this baby!

Ingredients:
1, 5 lb Whole Chicken (preferably organic, hormone free)
1/2 Yellow Onion
1 Small Lemon
5 Sprigs Fresh Rosmary
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
1/2 Tablespoon Pepper (I prefer to use Penzey’s ground pepper)
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Preheat oven to 400.
It cannot be overstated how unbelievably easy this recipe is. Don’t over complicate it! I swear, for me, it’s simple nature makes it taste that much better haha. First step after turning on the oven is to rinse off the chicken. Reach inside and make sure that any and all remnants inside the chicken are discarded. Wash out the inside as well as the outside until the water runs through the center cavity, clean. Pat chicken dry. Place the chicken in the roasting dish (I use my favorite casserole dish because its the perfect size and allows the juices to stay close to the chicken while it cooks)
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Sprinkle the salt and pepper on the top and bottom of the chicken then coat with olive oil. Rubbing the entire chicken down, make sure that all outer surface is equally coated with olive oil, salt and pepper. Stuff the cavity with the onion and lemon. Now that is the step that I have been messing up for the last two years. I have been chopping the onion and lemon and putting the chopped pieces and slices in the cavity. DO NOT CHOP ONION!!!! Cut the onion in half, remove the outer skin and stick the whole onion half in the chicken. Cut the lemon in half and stick the lemon halves in the  chicken as well. Once this is done, make sure chicken is properly positioned in the pan (see photo) and top with rosemary sprigs.
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Cook chicken for aprox 75-90 minutes depending on the size of the bird.
Basting is key!

Basting is key!

Make sure to baste every 20 minutes or so with the juices accumulated in the pan.
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And voila! You have a perfectly juicy roasted bird : ) Enjoy!

 

Fighting for The Life I Wanted: My 10 Goals for 2014

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I hit a milestone Friday that cannot go unaddressed. So I am forgoing my meal prep Sunday post to brag about my accomplishment but more importantly about the goals I set for myself this year. This is my year!

Friday, 3/21,was officially my 90 day Tobacco Free mark! For those of you who have never met me, this is huge. I started smoking just before my 18th birthday nearly 9 years ago. Over the years I have tried to quite several times. Some times it was semi successful but it never lasted. I would cut out smoking on the weekdays, or just smoke 1 cig a day. But these patterns just lead back in to heavy smoking after a couple months. I can honestly say that over the last 8+ years I have smoked on average 1-2 packs a day. For the last year I did pretty well to not smoke too much. I would smoke 1 or 2 at night but mostly just a few/ a pack on the weekend. That was, until this last summer. Going into summer 2013 I was in good health and extremely active, burning the candle at both ends with my job and social calendar. The crazier my schedule got, the more I smoked until I was back to half a pack a day. When my boss left on maternity leave in October, all hell broke loose. By December, with a world of stomach problems, crazy anxiety and my unhealthy habits rearing their ugly heads I decided it was time once and for all to live the life I wanted. It was time to make some necessary sacrifices and put in the  time to live the life I deserved. I set goals for myself and made a list of the things I wanted to learn/accomplish in the hopes of being a happier version if myself.

1. Quit Smoking For Good! (I know now that I can never be that person who just has 1 cigarette. I told myself “this is it. Never again will you touch a cigarette”. What is the point of putting in the hardwork to reward yourself with one in a month? Your probably saying “Why was 90 days such an accomplishment?”. Before I found my current job, there were a lot of jobs I wanted to apply for but never did because they required a tobacco test be done. This meant you had to be 90 days tobacco free or they wouldn’t hire you. This thought was inconceivable to me. There was no way I was going ot make it that long. So I walked away from a couple of jobs that I really wanted because I didn’t believe I could do it. I don’t ever want smoking to stand in my way again.)

2. Learn To Say “No” Without Excuses. (Have you ever noticed how people have a tendancy to say “NO” and then list all of the reasons why they are too busy to help? Why, as a society, do we feel so defensive about saying no to something? Why do we expect a reason from someone when they say no to us? If someone tells you no, it means no! You don’t have the right to ask me why and I shouldn’t feel the need to tell you if I don’t want to.)

3. Stop Apologizing For The Life I Live. (It’s my life and I’m going to live it how I want so that I can be as happy as possible. If I wrong someone, I have no problem apologizing. But if you’re offended by my lifestyle, if you are offended that your needs are not my priority above my own, I will not apologize for that any more. This goes hand in hand with learning to say no)

4. Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff (In the past, I have had a tendency to get defensive when I feel  someone does not respect my hardwork or effort. While I love my job, I often felt belittled by my co-workers. I felt that while my job was extremely important, they saw me as a 26 year old girl they could push around and walk all over. I took their childish response to emails and lack of concern about gravity of some of their situations as a personal attack. Why didn’t they respect me?!!! The truth is, not every one is going to respect you. There were battles worth fighting but most of them  were not worth it. A couple months ago I started telling myself “I don’t mind the little things” when I found myself getting upset by these behaviors and let me tell you, its sounds simple, but it really works. People say unkind words, they will tell you how you “should” live your life without you ever asking for their opinion. They will cut you down or belittle your words but that doesn’t mean to have to take theirs to heart. Its wasted energy. My mind has been so much clearer ever since I started saying those simple little words.

5. Learn To View Food As Fuel. (This is huge for me because I am truly an emotional eater. My body is not a trash can and I will not continue to treat it as such. I’m not on a diet, I’m not trying to loose weight. I’m trying to FINALLY treat my body like something I respect and cherish. Like something I want to keep strong)

6. Finish a P90X Program (This has been on my bucket list for years and after a little set back with my “runners knee” I am almost able to cross it off)

7. Run A Half Marathon (Scheduled for September)

8. Be Able to Do A Pushup Without Effort and Without Using Me Knees (This goal has been adjusted. Thanks to P90X I was able to check this one off in 30 days. I can now do several pushups on my feet without effort. My goal now is to do a pull up without kipping and 100 push-ups without stopping. Ultimately the point of this goal is to set goals that make me stronger and give me a sense of accomplishment)

9. Read 1 Book a Month (When I was a lit major I read multiple books a week but have struggled since graduation. Some days I feel like I have abandoned something that feeds more soul more than anything else. I want that back. I have a phenomenal book collection some of which I’ve never read. My goal is to check off at least 12 this year)

10. Learn How to Be Vulnerable (Anyone who has dated me knows this is going to be the most difficult of all of these goals for me this year. I am well guarded in a relationship, in my friendships and sometimes even with my family. But mostly in relationships. I have been  told I have intimacy issues and I know that it has cost me dearly in the past. This summer will mark 5 years of being single. I have dated in the past 5 years but have not been in a committed relationship since my Junior year of college. Writing this blog and starting my facebook page has helped me open up a little bit more and, while its been several years since I have been in a committed relationship, I hope that by the years end, the thought of being with someone is not the scariest feeling in the world. I truly think you have to know yourself  and love yourself before you can truly love someone else. I’m working on me for now.)