Loving

Loving the simplicity of twinkly lights

Twinkly lights in all their glory.

A month or so ago, I saw an article that said people who decorate early for Christmas are happier. I didn’t read the article, of course, since I had all the info I needed from the headline, right?! I promptly sent a screenshot of it to my sisters. Two people who are most likely to sneak Christmas decorations out before the Jack-o-Lantern candle is fully extinguished on October 31. Dia de Los Muertos be damned, these girls skip directly to Christmas and give a subtle nod to Thanksgiving, but it’s just an excuse to carbo-load on the way to their main event.

They both responded as I imagined, quickly and with a smug agreement. 

But that headline stuck in my head because, to date, I have yet to read the article. I may be basing this entire scenario on faulty data that was cooked up by the North Pole but nonetheless, I pondered it.

Then I had the idea to get some of those tiny twinkly lights. I put some in my bedroom and enjoy them while reading at night before I go to sleep. I am loving these lights. I don’t know if it’s because the soft light makes me look 10 years younger or, according to a random Facebook article being a holiday rusher makes you happier. I am not going to question it. I will keep those lights charged with fresh batteries and turn them on every evening. Stay tuned if I accomplish any more rogue premature holiday decorating.

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Sound of Silence

Do you know what I love? Quiet. Solitude. I always knew this about myself. I often drive around during my day without the radio on. Sometimes I listen to a podcast or an audiobook if I am particularly enamored with it but most often I opt for nothing.

My inner world and voices tend to be loud bordering on obnoxious, at times, so the last thing I want or need is more chatter.

For the last few weeks, we’ve had construction going on at our condo to repair an issue. Imagine stone being chiseled off the side of a chimney and crashing to the deck below or sometimes banging into your sliding glass doors. Hear in your mind, incessant hammering, sawing, and pounding. Add onto that attempting to work, have a cohesive thought, or even feel like you can relax.

Yep, so I am today officially on record that I am loving; on the rare occasions that I get it, silence. I almost immediately feel my shoulders relax, and my tension begin to wane. Part of that, of course, is that this project hasn’t gone smoothly, and I am often concerned that it’s not going to go well or be done properly. It’s a long story that I won’t bore you with.

When you have the luxury of your home being a sanctuary, meaning that it feels safe and quiet it’s a true gift. When that is interrupted, even of your own volition, it feels agitating.

I appreciate it, even more, today than I did three weeks ago.

Here’s to keeping it below a dull roar.

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Loving Summer Hours

I am loving the answer to most questions or concerns right now being: summer hours. This isn’t all that formal or even particularly scheduled but summer hours is something I have been doing lately, and it’s just what you think. When I get toward the end of the day, and I could continue to grind it out but don’t really feel like it, I stop and proclaim summer hours.

Summer hours is my blanket permission slip to stop hustling. I can’t play this card every day or even every week, but when I can, I am.

It doesn’t even always show up the way you imagined. For example, last week, I had a break in my day from 4-7. I still was teaching at 7 pm, but I took some downtime from 4-6:30 and whispered to my inner critic: summer hours.

It’s another way to let myself get some wiggle room in what can often be unrelenting personal standards. That’s not to say my standards or expectations are higher than yours. It’s that sometimes mine are too high for me. I hold myself in an exceptionally limited space regarding what’s acceptable. Then I saw this meme, and it all came together. Doing my best will vary daily and some days, summer hours, is just what’s required.

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Loving My New E-Bike

Have you ever gotten something that you didn’t think you wanted or needed, and then you get it and wonder how you ever lived without it? Okay, I might have gone a little too far. I could surely live without this, but I purchased an E-Bike a couple of weeks ago and I am loving it. 

If you haven’t tried one, don’t knock it, and don’t roll your eyes and talk bad about me behind my back. I say this because I was 100% against the idea of an E-Bike. 

About a year ago, my hubby wanted me to get a bike, and he suggested that I try an E-Bike. 

Nope.

I am not a huge fan of bike riding anyway so getting a new bike, of any kind, just wasn’t that appealing. Don’t get me wrong, when I was young, I rode my bike constantly. I also roller skated everywhere, but you don’t see me doing that either.

Back to the E-Bike. When Andy suggested that I try one, I was like, “I don’t need an old lady bike, thank you very much. Don’t talk to me about it anymore; it’s not going to happen.”

Since then, Andy has taken to riding bikes with his buddies, and now their wives have bikes…You know where this is going.

One has a regular mountain bike, and one has an E-Bike. So, I had the following choices:

  1. Sit at home
  2. Get a new mountain bike that I could ride on the 1% of flat surfaces and gentle hills that exist in Colorado (because see Minds and Bodies Blog_I am a weakling)
  3. I could try an E-Bike

While I was still pondering these options, we happened to be in a sporting goods store looking for something completely unrelated to bikes when I’m just going to say it…I was ambushed into trying an E-Bike. I could have declined and it would have been a whole thing so I just decided to swallow my pride and try it.

I’m not going to lie; I didn’t know anything about an E-Bike. In fact, I wasn’t even sure I had to pedal the darn thing. I was expecting something along the lines of a bicycle-shaped Vespa! It turns out you can pedal that thing as hard as you like. If you want to struggle up that mountain with your super heavy bike ( because the battery makes it way heavier than a normal bike), that’s your prerogative. But if you want to have a little assistance up that hill or mountain, you just have to push a button and pedal. Want more assistance? Pedal and push the button again. You actually have to work. You can’t file your nails on the way up the mountain or call your bestie to see what they are doing for lunch. 

Anyway, back to the ambush. I tested that bike uphill, downhill, flats, changed gears, rode with and without assistance, and you know what? It was so much fun and at that moment, I wanted one. I was ready to take it home right that minute. Unfortunately, as with everything else in this world, there is a shortage of bikes and I needed a medium. No such luck at this store. Lucky for me, Andy is like a dog with a bone and he called EVERYWHERE until he found a size medium that I could test out. Two days later, we drove to Denver and I tested out the medium and before I could even think about it we were paying for it and loading it onto the bike rack.

Last weekend, we rode in the mountains and I didn’t feel bad one little bit as I clicked that electric assistance mode on. It saved me. I would probably still be trying to get up Swan Mountain Road or I would have inevitably been walking my bike up the hill. Trust me when I say, I still got a workout in, but I wasn’t having a near-death experience and I look forward to doing it again.

If you aren’t a biker, but you think you might enjoy it, give one a try. You might be surprised to find out you have a new love.

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Loving my Jeep

I think it goes without saying, but maybe we still need a disclaimer on this. What we love is whimsical and carefree and it’s meant to be. The whole world seems intent on being a Dumpster fire and we all need to steal away for a moment, a day, or a weekend into something that we love. As you have seen from us in 2022 that can be lip gloss, long walks, brown butter, and lemonade liquor. 

What I am LOVING right now is my Jeep Sahara. OH EM GEE. The unadulterated joy that this vehicle brings is absurd but I am not sorry about it. Not even a little.

Now that the summer heat is here and with a little help from the hubs, the doors are off, the top is down and as my sister, Lisa, says, “it’s like a little mini-vacation.” And who couldn’t use that?

When I bought the Jeep at the end of 2020, it was a bit of a dream come true. I will spare you the tale but suffice it to say that John, my husband, asks me at least every 6 weeks if I still love it as much as the day I bought it. My reply most often is, “MORE!” 

Driving with the open-air swirling around me feels like freedom. It feels carefree. It feels liberating. When I am having a hard day and I walk out into my garage to the Jeep it gets just a little better. I think part of the reason why is that I, for once, overrode that stingy voice inside that is always saying that I shouldn’t indulge; that I don’t deserve it.

I don’t know if I deserve it but oh my gosh, do I love it! Now we all can’t go out and buy a car but if there is something that’s been on your list for a long time and it’s within reach don’t deny yourself, go for it!!!

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Loving Movie-Making

Photo by Martin Lopez on Pexels.com

I really love it when you feel like you have found or created the perfect something, whether it’s a gift, restaurant, or coffee house. In early October, my niece (Lowi’s daughter) got married and my husband John and I agreed to create a wedding video. If you are wondering if we’re professionals, the answer is a resounding no. But we make up for a lack of skill with enthusiasm and a can-do spirit. At least that’s what we tell ourselves.

Well, I am currently doing my best to complete the project. I know, we’ve been slacking. (Don’t judge. Creativity is an exercise in patience, right?!)

What I love about it is that I get to relive the whole day top to bottom. I get a chance to encapsulate an experience that was many hours long into what I hope to be the most love-filled, heart-warming gift. 

What I am loving most about this right now is that it is beginning to feel like we may be nearly complete, which means the finished product is becoming clearer.

We are, fingers-crossed, in the midst of creating something that lands exactly as they imagined – or better. (No pressure, right?!)

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Loving Lemonade

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

In most of the US, the lazy days of summer officially began with the Memorial Day weekend.  For those of us in Colorado, we have continued to endure bouts of cooler weather, but are hopeful that summer is just around the corner.

Since we are all about fun in the sun these next few months, I thought I would share one of my favorite summer cocktails.  I love to have things at the ready for that impromptu cookout or small gathering with friends and a bottle of Deep Eddy Lemonade is a must-have.  My friend, Gina, who introduces me to all things fun, scandalous, and sinfully delicious causally brought a bottle over one afternoon several years ago and I have been hooked ever since.  Now, when I say hooked, I don’t mean that I am sipping from the bottle daily.  I just have it available for when it’s really hot outside and we’ve worked in the yard all day and I want something cool, refreshing, and easy to make or as I said, we are having a summer get-together.  Okay, I’ve also been known to partake on a long winter’s night, too, but who can blame me when it snows in May!

So, all you need is Deep Eddy Lemon Vodka, some Crystal Light Lemonade, and ice.

Fill your glass up with ice, add a splash or two of your lemon vodka and fill the rest of the glass with Crystal Light.  If you really want to get fancy, you can add a lemon wedge or a sprig of mint, but it’s really not necessary.  

Enjoy and stay tuned for another summer love installment in a couple weeks!

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True Crime

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

Unless you are my husband or I birthed you, you likely do not know that I love True Crime.  I secretly love a good 20/20 mystery or Dateline’s In Depth Investigations.  I have listened to every single episode of Crime Junkie which amounts to 262 episodes.  I have discovered there are also podcasts that allow you to binge whole seasons around just one crime.  This allows you to get all the details surrounding the investigation.  Unsolved crimes, coverup and lies are my absolute favorite and always leave me wanting more from these investigators.

I recently stumbled upon a podcast called, Serial.  Specifically, I have been hooked on the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee.  Her ex-boyfriend Adnan Seyed was convicted of the crime and sentenced to 40 years in prison. He has always claimed his innocence and there are many people that believe there just wasn’t enough evidence to convict him and that the evidence that was presented wasn’t even accurate.  There are interviews, books, podcasts and even a limited series TV show that documents the investigation and follows the attorney trying to get him a new trial.  It is fascinating.  

Perhaps I missed my calling somewhere along the way, but I do enjoy being an armchair detective. Send me your favorites.

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Loving the Comfort of Routine

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind with birthdays (oh my gosh, the birthdays), a race, a prom, Mother’s Day, and race recovery. I spent some time pondering what I am loving right now and this is the nerdiest of answers: routine. I am loving getting back to some regularity in my life. My life, especially when training for a race, becomes fairly scheduled. The more miles I want to cover, the more sleep, food, and time are required. So when the post-race week arrives I am more than ready. I gladly blow off any routine or schedule other than what is 100% demanded of me. I stay up a little later and sleep in more than normal. As I told a friend, I was going to eat all the food, drink all the drinks, and nap all the naps. I really did my best to meet that goal and aside from missing out on a few naps, I think I excelled. 

But then there comes a point in the week where you start to feel more rested and your energy slowly begins to return. Then your mind gradually but assuredly begins to form thoughts about what’s next. What do I need to work on to improve? What is the next race? What does this next training block entail? But also what’s next in life. After a 24-hour excursion like the Outrun 24, there is also a distinct period of clarity. It clears a bit of the static for a span of days and you are again reminded of where you want to spend your time, finite energy, and attention. 

This is why I am loving routine because it provides the framework to lean toward a new goal. I am a big believer in savoring the accomplishment, and I have. Routine offers me grounding and anchoring. It gives me room to grow and also reminders to take care of myself. In fact, I have been reading a book lately called Essentialism and there is a whole section on “Protecting the Asset.” In case you aren’t clear, we are the asset. We are what matters and routine is the vehicle that best lets me protect the asset. I am back (mostly) to my normal life, easily returning to training, and also tending to the boring things that pay off like sleep, stretching, eating the greens, and drinking water.

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I love Grammarly

Grammarly is brought to you today by the letter G!

I am not sure if we have established as common knowledge that I am a bit of a nerd. I like to read and learn and I am a sucker for school supplies. When those crisp folders and flashy post-it notes line the aisles of Target around early August my heart rate creeps up and my palms start to sweat. I try to come up with all sorts of reasons that I need a brand new folder, spiral-bound notebook, or a glue stick.

This is the kind of affirmation and positivity I appreciate in life!!

All of that information will allow what I am about to tell you next to make sense. I love the app called Grammarly but more specifically I love the progress email it sends me each week. Grammarly is what you may have surmised, an app that helps you improve your grammar, punctuation, and all things writing. In fact, I hope I get some bonus points in my email next week for writing about Grammarly while using Grammarly. 

This email tells me how many weeks I have been using it, and tracks my productivity, my mastery of the English language, and my vocabulary. Friends, I possibly have been waiting my entire life for someone or something to appreciate my affinity for and the collection of words I hold inside my head – and thanks to my friend Heather who referred me, I have found it.

Not only all of that, I believe this app has made me a better writer. It highlights for me the tone of my writing and where I could create a clearer or more succinct sentence. Sometimes I still ignore it because I like to think I have a certain flair and on occasion, Grammarly tries to edit my style but on the whole, it is amazing! Try it out yourself. You can use it for free or upgrade to the Premium version. Of course, you know what a word-lover like I did.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

If you know me at all, you know I love to bake, and more specifically, I love to bake chocolate chip cookies.  Yes, I bake other things, but this is my specialty.  It’s been my thing since I was young and it’s still my thing.  I bake them when I’m happy, sad, stressed, or just in need of something sweet. I have baked them with various kinds of chocolate, M & M’s, oats, nuts, and even gluten-free.  

You may recall that last year, I even baked one in a skillet on the stovetop.  That one tried to beat me, but I wouldn’t rest until I had mastered it.  It’s still not my favorite way, but I’m always up for a good challenge.

Now, I might be late to the party, and likely I am, but I have just discovered the art of browning your butter prior to baking with it.  This is a game-changer.  Just when I thought a classic chocolate chip cookie could not get any better, they go and brown the butter.  It smells all warm and carmel-ly (is that even a word) and then you add it to the cookie dough and…I may just have to go bake another batch right now.  

My mind is blown by this and now I need all the ways you use brown butter.  Please let me know because who doesn’t need more butter in their lives?

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Cold Showers

I know this sounds awful but what I am loving these days is cold showers. To be more precise, I am loving what cold showers do for me in the long run. Many of you have likely heard about the benefits of ice baths, cold showers, and the like in the realm of Wim Hof and others. Without getting too in-depth, the overall idea (proven by research) is that immersion in cold water whether in a bathtub, lake, or shower while still maintaining a consistent breathing rhythm can aid in recovery, boost heart rate variability and even improve sleep quality. 

I started out at 30 seconds, increased to a minute, and now am at 90 seconds. 

I won’t say that the process itself is all that enjoyable but after my cold shower, I dry off, hop into bed and start my wind down for the evening. I read a book or simply snuggle under the covers to warm up. I tell myself that 90 seconds of discomfort is worth a quality night’s sleep and better recovery. And you know what? It is. 

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Loving laughter …. and a cat

What I am loving these days is making Reels on Instagram of my cat, Bhakti. I appreciate and recognize the absurdity of that first sentence. But on day 2 million and 87 of this pandemic in 2022, the year of our Lord, I cannot work up the self-consciousness to care. Each day I post on @bhaktithecat on Instagram because it’s a public service. If stupid cat content doesn’t get us through the times we are in, I ask you, what will? Recently, I have stumbled my unskilled way into making Reels, which is a quasi-fancy way of saying you make videos with songs that Meta (the soul-sucker formerly known as Facebook) has strong-armed artists into providing for wayward content creators such as myself. 

Most mornings I sit on my sofa with my steaming hot cup of coffee and giggle in the dark pre-dawn hour as I create something that nobody else may watch or enjoy because I can. Because I kinda love it. These silly creations make me laugh. And from some of the feedback Bhakti receives, it makes others laugh too. This is what I am loving right now and if you would like to avail yourself of the stupid cat humor. I have included some for your impending delight.

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For love of a ring!

What I am loving is my new gadget called the Oura Ring. Let me tell you why before you look it up and judge me for buying a wildly extravagant tracker. (Of course, after you are free to judge me all you want). One of the few intentions or goals I made for myself this year was to commit to recovery and rest as wholeheartedly as I do training. I have many times during training seasons been lackadaisical about sleep, stretching, trigger point, and mobility. It’s not that I haven’t participated in any of these disciplines before but I have never put them on the same level as training. I knew they were important and yet still failed to give them the priority.

I knew if I wanted to recover well I needed to have objective and undeniable metrics to guide me. I considered many trackers and the pros and cons and landed with the Oura Ring. What I am loving is that I get great feedback each day on how well I am recovering, where I am lagging, and if I need to rest even when my training schedule says today I need to run. 

It’s nudging me to fully lean into the discomfort that is resting when my mind is telling me to push harder. It also gives me reinforcement the next day when I realize I feel so much better and stronger because I didn’t do a high-intensity workout when I truly wasn’t ready. 

Is this ring for everyone? Definitely not. If you don’t need information like respiratory rate, heart rate variability, body temperature, and recovery index then it’s likely not worth the money. If you wouldn’t act on the information to make changes, also not the best purchase. But, if you are a bit of a nerd when it comes to these sorts of things and would be willing to make adjustments to improve your wellness, sleep, and decrease your stress you may want to look into it. 

OK, I am done, judge away.

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Jewelry Cleaner

This post about what I am loving right now is a two-for-one because you get a little life hack as well as someone new to follow. So, the life hack I love is a jewelry cleaner. I know, first lip balm and now a jewelry cleaner. You might be thinking we can only go up from here. 

There are a lot of things we love at Lowi and G that might have a much larger impact on your life, but I thought I’d share another practical item that you also might come to love. Let me begin by saying that I stole this idea from Instagram. I have followed @livingwithlandyn for several years and she is creative and funny and has some fantastic life hacks. Her “Bling Wash” as she refers to it is the absolute BEST jewelry cleaner I have ever used. I like to clean my rings at least once a week and more often if I have been baking, slathering my hands in lotion, or traveling. I’m sorry, but you can’t always take your rings off. I know you should, but unless I have a perfect place to store them, I will forget where I put them or God forbid, drop them down the sink. So, I clean them regularly.

Like Landyn, I have tried the jewelry cleaners from the jeweler and the store, but they get gross very quickly and they never really do a great job. When I stumbled upon her “Bling Wash” I had to give it a try.

So, basically, you take a glass dish and pour in 2 cups of ammonia-based glass cleaner such as Windex. Then you add a few drops of dish soap. Now microwave this mixture for about one minute WITHOUT ANY JEWELRY IN THE BOWL. Got it? You only microwave the liquid, nothing else. Carefully remove the bowl from the microwave because it will be HOT. 

Once in a safe place on the counter, drop your rings in. Let them sit for at least 10-15 minutes. You can leave them longer for a deep clean. 

After they have soaked for at least 10-15 minutes, gently scrub around the prongs with a toothbrush to loosen any additional dirt and grime. Now, over a bowl or a sink that has the stopper in it, gently rinse the rings, and then dry with a paper towel. That’s all there is to making your rings sparkle like the day you first put them on. 

If you want to read the “how-to” and “why” directly from Landyn herself, click here and you’re welcome.

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Walks

In late 2021, I by chance heard about the mental toughness builder 75 Hard. Embarrassingly, this is how I go about most things in life. A new book, practice, approach to life ricochets into my sphere and I decide that I should definitely give it a whirl no matter how utterly ridiculous it may sound. I immediately attempted to get Lowi on board and she soberly and rightly said, no. We were headed toward a family wedding and she thought it best a challenge saved for the new year.

However, one of the staples of 75 Hard is doing two workouts a day. I thought maybe I should start easing myself into this practice without any pressure. This little experiment caused me to stumble into what I am loving right now: early morning walks. I began walking just to see what it would be like to add an additional “workout”  before my day began. What I have learned is that I could more accurately call it solace. This walk is not something I do with the intent to physically better myself, it is for my mental wellbeing. Before the day is able to reach full speed and carry me off into distraction and chaos, I go outside and walk. I breathe in the cool air, often listen to a guided meditation, and slow to measured strides to match the voice in my ears. Once the meditation is complete I many times listen to nothing but the sound of the trees, passing traffic, barking dogs and I watch my day and the world around me gradually come alive. It’s the best 50 minutes of my day I think because it is without expectation. I am not trying to accomplish anything with this walk other than to be present, to be in the quiet. By the time I return home I am ready to begin the day. I invite you to give it a try even if it’s for a few minutes. Silence is soothing and I am loving it.

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Lip balm

This is going to sound ridiculous, but I love Fresh Sugar Hydrating Caramel lip balm.  It comes in a small little glass jar and it’s way too expensive for the amount you get, but it is amazing for dry lips.  It is a must-have for me in Colorado and while I have tried some other flavors, the caramel is the BEST.  Don’t knock it until you try it.
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