Thursday, December 6, 2012

Mini Date Granola Balls

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Mini Date Granola Balls

A simple snack that my fab four love to devour after a long day of school.

Easy. Delicious. Nutritious.

4 cups rolled oats
1 cup finely shredded unsweetened coconut flakes
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
8 dates (soaked, pit removed, and chopped)
1/2 cup coconut palm sugar
1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats, coconut flakes, cinnamon, salt, vanilla and sunflower seeds.
  3. In a saucepan over low heat, combine the coconut palm sugar, coconut oil, dates, and maple syrup.  Let the mixture come to a soft boil and stir with a wooden spoon until incorporated.  Do not allow the mixture to boil for a long time.  1 minute is enough.
  4. Pour hot mixture over the dried ingredients.  Stir until combined. Mixture will be very sticky.
  5. Spread oat mixture evenly in a square baking dish.
  6. Bake for 2o minutes, or until just barely browned on top. Remove immediately from heat and allow to cool.  
  7. Cut room temperature mixture into 12 bars. When mixture is warm to the touch take a square and divide it into two pieces.  Use your palms to roll them into small balls. Store in an air-tight container  if they last long enough.  

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Chicken Tikka Pops

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Chicken Tikka Pops & Mint Raita
One of my all time favourite Indian dishes is Butter Chicken.  I wanted to make a version of this dish that was heavy on flavour but without the butter.  One of the things that are essential to this recipe is allowing your chicken to marinate for up to 24 hours.  Another important must-do is to grill your chicken before hand.  This makes sure that the juices stay in and the chicken doesn't dry out.

4 chicken breasts cubed (2 inches pieces are best)
2 inches of ginger
2 bunches of garlic
1 medium onion
1 cup of goats milk yogurt
1 cup nuts (almond or combination of other nuts)
1 cup of crushed tomatoes
 2 tablespoons Coconut milk (the thick part)
3 tablespoon of butter chicken seasoning or use the mix below
coconut oil (canola oil, safflower oil or your favourite healthy substitute will work)

1. Mince the ginger and garlic in a food processor.
2. Combine yogurt, minced ginger-garlic mixture, and 2 tablespoons of seasoning in a large bowl with a cover.  Add cubed chicken pieces.  Mix to incorporate everything evenly. Marinate for up to 24 hours.
3. Remove chicken from fridge and grill on all sides.  Set aside.  This optional.  You could just add the chicken directly into the pan if you were in a hurry. 
3.  Make a paste with tomatoes, onion and nuts in a food processor.  Set aside.
4.  Heat a large pan with coconut oil.
5.  Add chicken to heated pan.  Add tomato and nut mixture.  Add water and 1 tablespoon of spice mix.
6.  Cook for 15 minutes. Remember to stir it occasionally.
7. Add 2 tablespoons of coconut cream and stir.  Cook for 2 minutes.
9. Use lollipop sticks inserted into the chicken cubes to make this a quick and mess free appetizer at your next party.  Spoon any additional sauce on top of the chicken and serve.  This taste great the next day too!
8. Enjoy!

Butter chicken seasoning mix:
(All of these are dried spices)
1 tablespoon each of coriander, turmeric, garlic, salt, and onion powders
1 teaspoon of green cardamom, black pepper, and ginger powders
1/2 teaspoon of red chilli, nutmeg, mace, and star anise powders

Combine and use according to your taste buds!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Rawtella Coconut Cheesecake: Dairy and Gluten Free Goodness

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Rawtella Coconut Cheesecake

This recipe came together as a result of a desire to make a cheesecake that was dairy and soy free.  Coconut has excellent flavour and great health benefits so it made sense to start there.  I made the coconut cream cheese using a recipe from Pumpkin's Pantry.  It was simple and required easily attainable ingredients.  The Hungry Hippie and Nigella Lawson's site were also helpful partners for creating this recipe.  The following is a recipe that I'm proud to say will make you forget about dairy and make the unconverted reconsider their attachments to dairy!

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coconut cream cheese in the making

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Coconut Cream Cheese Heaven

1 cup Brazil nuts
8 medjool dates (pitted and soaked)
1 tspn cinnamon
1 cup shredded coconut
pinch of sea salt

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Raw Pie Crust
Blend everything except for the dates in a food processor.  Add dates and place all around pie dish of your choice. it should be sticky and come together easily.  

2 cups of Rawtella (homemade recipe below) at room temp
1/2 cup of hazelnuts (lightly roasted with a little coconut palm sugar, coloured salt)
2 1/4 cup s of coconut or cashew nut cream cheese at room temp
1/2 cup or more of coconut palm sugar 

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Lusciously Delicious Cheesecake batter
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1. Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth
2. Add Rawtella
3. Check for sweetness (Add more sugar if needed)
4. Continue beating until easily combined
5. Smooth mixture over crust. Cover and place in fridge for at least four ours or overnight.  

Serve straight from the fridge.  

Rawtella Recipe (I modified it by using coconut palm sugar mixed in with coconut oil)

Recipe of Myrtle Sodhi with help from Nigella Lawson and Hungry Hungry

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Saturday Morning Breakfast Will Never be the Same!

Gluten free biscuits restore Saturday morning breakfasts.

One of my gifts of love to my children are fresh baked goods on Saturday mornings.  It all started when my first child would scream with glee when he found out I was making pancakes.  I found that kind of enthusiasm addictive.  So I vowed to make baked goods every Saturday morning.  One of my children's favs were buttery buttermilk biscuits.  I became an expert in the gentle handling and restrained hand of biscuit making.  Now since going gluten free biscuits have been a great mystery.  They lack flavour, a crispy-on-the-outside-yet-soft-on-the-inside-texture, and most importantly they were hard as rock.  I ran across the Domestifluff recipe which helped launch this one that I feel has all the right components of a great biscuit worthy of homemade jam or a great partner to awesome omelettes.

Hope you enjoy the recipe!

Gluten and Dairy Free Biscuits
The raw biscuits

1 cup cornstarch or potato starch
1 cup white rice flour
1 t xanthan gum
2 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t salt
4 T butter substitute cold (I use Earth Balance Coconut  flavoured spread)
2 egg whites
1 cup Almond buttermilk- yogurt mixture (I cup of almond milk with 1 T of vinegar or lemon juice left to sit out for 10 minutes. Add 1/8 of goats milk yogurt and whisk. )
1/4 cup goat milk yogurt

Preheat  oven 425 degrees.

Bowl 1:
Add dry ingredients and combine with a whisk.
Add chilled butter substitute and mix with your fingers to create a crumbly mixture.  Try to leave small chunks.
Toss goat's milk yogurt into mixture gently until it is incorporated with some small chunks.  Be very gentle here.

Bowl 2:
Mix almond buttermilk mixture and egg whites until blended.

Add Bowl 2 to Bowl 1 and mix with a fork until incorporated.  It will be sticky.  Domestifluff recommends dropping spoonfuls unto baking sheets.  This is a good method for a Red Lobster type biscuit.  I like the more traditional type so I use the biscuit cutter method.

Grease your hands. Place dough unto floured surface and gently press all around until dough is about 3/4 of an inch high. Grease a biscuit cutter and use it to cut out biscuits.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake for approx. 18 minutes.

Saturday morning breakfast restored!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Gluten & Dairy Free Peppermint Chocolate Crownies

Lately I have been a very chocolately mood.  This means a lot coming from a girl who can take it or leave it where chocolate is concerned.  I was looking for an after school snack for my kids who were scheduled to have a play date.  I was a little tired of the granola bar scene and wanted something a bit surprising. So I stumbled upon a recipe from the Gluten Free Goddess that gave me some inspiration.

Some notes:
I make my own gluten free flours but have been known to obsess over Astoria Mills a little.  The recipe that gave me the inspiration doesn't use a flour mix so you can have a look at what she does if you need  to.

I use a pure extract that is very concentrated.  I find mine in the Bulk Barn where I live.

When you make these for your children they will want to inhale the whole batch (if you don't do it before they do).  I suggest you freeze some for later.

Crownies: Cookies that were brownies in a former life.

Makes almost 2 dozen depending on size.

Preheat oven to 365.

1 1/2 cups of gluten free flour mix
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of baking soda
3/4 teaspoon of sea salt
3/4 cup of cocoa powder
1 cup coconut palm sugar
1/4 heaping cup white sugar

3/4 cup coconut oil (not melted)
2 teaspoons of honey
2 eggs
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla
couple drops of mint extract

Mix dry ingredients until combined.  Whisk the wet ingredients.  Its okay if there are little bits of coconut oil left after whisking.  Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients.  Mix until it is properly incorporated.

Spoon a tablespoon of batter onto cookie sheet leaving 1 1/2 inches in between cookies.  Bake for 10-13 minutes or until cookies are firm and soft but no longer wet.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Waiting for the Light to Change

The red light. I waited anxiously for it to change. The list of errands for children, myself, and who ever else happened to squeeze in my life hung from the rear view mirror in front of me.

Something new caught my eye. Something I had seen thousands of times before. Yellow streams of fluttering leaves made a beautiful entrance beyond the lights. I was caught up in the wonder and beauty of this ordinary, common and frequent visitor. My attention soaked in the world that metamorphosized all around me. This beauty was all around me and I have been missing it all together - waiting for the light to change.

My life could be summed up in that simple act of waiting for the light to change. The lists of what I had to accomplish or had to become always hung in the rare view mirror of my mind. My life was either about what I had lost or what I was going to create. Moments would slip away unnoticed and discarded. They were uncomfortable to me because I was neither what I once was or what I was going to be. I saw my forward facing stance as ambition, determination, and perseverance. My backward glances I saw as reminders of what I was made of. This mental shuffling left little for the moments in between. I was uncomfortable in the moments. Minute after minute life slipped away unnoticed.

Facing motherhood and life alone meant that my list for the future cascaded in the damp memory of my mind. I am at a place without a map for my dreams and plans. Not because I am despondent or disillusioned but because I hadn't thought of this moment. This place is where dreams meet the past and the future is like the point at the edge of the world. There is nothing here but at the same time there is everything. I don't have a bucket list of plans. I am neither looking to the future to satisfy nor am I rummaging through the past to pacify. Instead I can enjoy filling an afternoon with bubbling pots of love ready to nourish. I can sit in an evening of prayers sent up to heaven by my children. I am content to watch the happy yellow winged trees make an entrance.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

What To Eat Before & After A Workout

Good Morning! I always wonder what I should eat before and after a workout. This article gave some great ideas and I loved the format - I had to share! I also loved how easily my Neurofit plan works with these suggestions.


Get health and fitness tips at

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Running in the Moments

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I remember that first day in February when I got on the treadmill. I gave it a long hard look and wondered if I had forgotten how to run. It had been years since I felt those air like strides. As fearful as I was, I couldn't wait to feel that freedom running brought. I couldn't wait to experience the exhilarating force of energy and joy that your strides can produce. Running meant joy and peace. When I run everything is just as it should be - in the moment. Worries, anxiety and plans are left at the start. Calm, acceptance and peace await like celebratory friends at the end of a race.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad AppSince I started adding mileage to my runs my focus has shifted a little. During the week I am focused on increasing speed. I'm usually anxiously waiting for the voice in my earphones that gives my pace and time. When I hear an unsatisfactory time I speed up and try to focus on relaxing my stride etc... Performance takes over my mind and joy slips away quietly.

When I started doing my long slow runs on Sundays, I made a decision to let the joy slip back in. For this run I pick the most beautiful spots along the lake and soak in the lake breezes. I love watching the water playing and rushing right alongside every stride. I love the sudden cool spots that surprise me every now and then. I especially can't wait to see the water facing lonely benches. Occasionally I'll see another runner who gives me a warm smile or a friendly nod.

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The joy returns and the strategies, anxiousness, plans and pace slip away quietly.  Running becomes what is has always been about - the moments within the moment.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Gluten and Dairy Free Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry Muffins, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad App

Our trip to Wilmot Orchards was fun, carefree and fruitful. While in their beautiful yummy cafe I was introduced to Astoria Mills Gluten Free Flours. I am a little obsessed with these flours right now. It has become the life support to my gluten free baking. Seriously. Anyway, I couldn't wait to get home to start baking. Nothing is more satisfying on a summer morning than freshly baked blueberry muffins. My children sat at the table anxiously awaiting the fruits of their labour from the previous day.

Blueberry Picking, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad AppBlueberry Picking, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad App

Blueberry Picking, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad App

Now for the recipe. I am obsessed with Julia Childs. I love everything she did and liked. (Except for the cigarettes!) One of my beloved recipes from her Baking With Julia cookbook is the Blueberry Muffins. The only thing I had to tackle was how to "clean up" this recipe. That means, no dairy, no gluten, and no refined sugar. So here's what I came up with.

First some words of caution. This recipe requires a gentle hand and the ability to hold back a little. The fluffy delicate texture will be your reward if you comply. Trust me.

Dairy and Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

1 3/4 cups Astoria Mills Gluten Free Pastry Flour
1 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tarter
1 teaspoon salt
1 pint blueberries
3/4 cups coconut milk
1/4 cup coconut cream (This is the top thick part of the coconut milk that stays at the top of the can. Try to keep it thick)
Scant 1/4 cup creamed honey (optional)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (coconut is a great one)
2/3 cup coconut sugar (you could use other sugars)
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
(Whisk the eggs and set aside)

Makes about 18 muffins. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, coconut sugar and salt together. Mix a tablespoon of the mixture with the blueberries. This prevents the blueberries from sinking to the bottom. This is a great tip from the original recipe.

Gently fold the coconut milk and coconut cream together.

Whisk the honey and eggs until blended and creamy-ish.

Add the egg-honey mixture to the coconut milk mixture. Gently fold the mixture.

Shift half of the dry ingredients into the coconut-egg mixture bowl. Fold it gently. Don't worry about getting it fully combined. Add the rest of the flour. Make sure to fold it in until almost mixed. Gently place blueberries over the bowl. Fold very gently.

Spoon the batter into paper lined cupcake tins at 2/3 full. Bake for about 15-20 minutes. I usually check by touching the tops to make sure they are firm but also give a little. The tops will get a nice golden colour.

Blueberry Muffins, Uploaded from the Photobucket iPad App

Let them cool a little on a rack. It will be hard to resist digging in but it will be well worth it.


Have you "cleaned up" any recipes lately?

Monday, July 23, 2012

Gluten and Dairy Free Pizza

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Since my neurofit practitioner, Bharat Oza told me to eliminate gluten and dairy from my diet I have been in no man's land with my kitchen. What would I do without my beloved dairy and wheat?! Bharat was clearly unaware of my love affair with butter, cheese and wheat. I loved the way dough would rise and the things I could do with butter and sugar- oh my!

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Well as I mentioned in a previous post I have found my way back to my sweet love (minus the sugar and all of course!). This renewed passion is due to finding the best gluten, soy and dairy free products. Hallelujah people!

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The best gluten, dairy, soy colour free cheese.  Can you believe it?  I almost want to cry!

I use Astoria Mills enriched gluten free flours and I love them. I followed the directions on the back of the package. The only thing I did differently was I baked the crust first. You should brush the crust with olive oil before you prebake it. Also remember not to knead the dough too much after it rises. I did it gently for under 30 seconds.

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone AppThe baked dough turned out light and had a nice crust. My youngest daughter had 3 slices! I decided to use one of the pizza crusts for sandwiches because it was so good.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Protein Gluten and Dairy Free Apple Spice Muffins

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Since I started our family on our gluten, dairy, soy, preservative, refined sugar etc... free way of life my passion for baking and cooking has taken a bit of a nose dive. I tried baking gluten free bread by using my own knowledge of baking. Big mistake. The bread tasted horrible and the texture was disastrous.

I recently started summer holidays and I've taken some time to get to know more about gluten and dairy  free clean baking. I've looked at a few good sites and found some recipes that  my kids love.  My favourite site is Gluten Free Girl and the Chef.   The recipes are clear and easy to follow but also show evidence of a love of good food.  Another site I like is Heather Strang.  Her recipes are very yummy.  Here is a recipe that I adapted from Heather Strang's site using what I had in the kitchen. Feel free to check out her version.

This recipe makes just a little over 2 dozen.
1/2 cup oil (coconut is great)
1 cup coconut sugar
1 ripe banana
Mix these until somewhat smooth

Mix in 3 eggs

Stir in 2 cups applesauce (Homemade and a little chunky. I added 2 ripe pears to mine.)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

Add per-mixed
1 cup quinoa flour 1
1/2 brown rice flour
3 tablespoon of rice protein powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

 Spoon a heaping tablespoon into muffin cups. (I line it with paper cups) Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. The kids loved these. I'm sure you will too!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Pride in the Fall

I have a fear of falling.  Big time.  I rather look silly trying to keep my balance than falling.  Falling represents failure, defeat, and shame.

Yesterday I went for my run as usual. I had eaten a small meal, drank my coconut water and I was on my way. At about 1/3 of the way I happened to spot a truck that was going to turn in front of me. I almost got hit the other day from a car so I wanted to make eye contact with the driver. Then it happened. The patch of uneven sidewalk met the tip of my shoe and I went flying into the air.  In that nano of a second I was devastated and thought about how long and shameful the walk home would be.

Then I felt the slap of determination and perseverance wake me up and push me into my next stride. As I ran with the sting of shame and bruises all at once I realized that my journey with running had arrived at a new marker. Today it wasn't how far, fast or how perfect my run was. It was about accepting the fall and discovering the joy that comes after.

When I got back up and realized that my next step was a leap not a slow walk I knew things had changed for me. There was pride in being that runner that seemed to loose it for a minute but just picked herself up, dusted off the bruises and kept going. There is pride in being the woman who failed at a marriage but picked her heart up and kept it beating. There is pride in being the mother that goes to bed exhausted from the days fighting, endless cleaning marathons, and cook offs but wakes up in the morning to renewed plans for splash pads, bike rides and paper air plane tutorials. There is pride in being the fat woman who let herself go but continues to find new pieces of herself in her new life. There is pride in being the person that accepts the fall and waits for the push that follows.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Poop for the Course

Last week I ran my first official 5k race.  I spent the past 3 months preparing for this race.  This included running 3 times a week and cross-training 3 times a week.  I tried to eat clean and maintain a healthy mind.  When the day came for the race my mother and my four children joined me with as much excitement and anticipation as I had.  Watching the other women I saw that  though we were on the same course we are not all running the same race. 

As I took hold of the first 10 minutes of the race a bird came out of nowhere and decided to poop what seemed like Niagara Falls on my leg.  I had a moment where I thought this is it.  I can't continue with this menagerie of diseases following down my leg.  The next thought pushed through.  If I can run the rest of the race with this vile stuff strolling down my leg I would have accomplished something even greater than I set out to.

Lately I have been struck with feelings of loneliness, grief and a general feeling of being overwhelmed.  I heard myself say over and over that I just want to get over these feelings.  I cried out to God to relieve me of these feelings. Not only did these feelings hang around but more worries seemed to accompany them as the days swept by.  I felt overwhelmed at the thought of raising four young children on my own and knowing that at the end of the day the responsibility falls solely on me.  Don't get me wrong my mother is a strong support and help to me.  But at the end of the day I can't expect her help the way you would with a spouse.  When I get help it is a privilege that I am very grateful for.

Another realization I had with separation and divorce was how much I looked to others to meet my desires.  I remember having this strong need to belong from an early age.  I tried to have my friends, family, children, and marriage fill this need.  As a result of my separation I recognized this time in my life as an opportunity to accept that my fulfillment and desires cannot be completely satisfied by others.  I have had to sit with desires for companionship and belonging amongst others and place them in the hands of God.  I recognized that God alone can completely fill these desires.  When I look to others to fill them I will always ask of them what they were not meant to give.

Like my race that was literally pooped on, I can't expect to go through this separation and not encounter some poop.  Sometimes the poop has to sit with you for a while.  At the end of the race I joined my family, drank lots of water and almost forgot to wipe the poop off my leg.  The thing that almost stopped me in my tracks became manageable in the end.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Shake It Off

I pulled more clothes that had grown too big off the hangers in my closet. As I put clothing after clothing in the bag I had a sense of fear and panic. What if I need these clothes again. What if I gain all the weight back?

With each new item I took out of my closet I made an agreement to myself, I will not hold on to what no longer fits.

Right now a lot of things don't fit. Love that turns on you, nightmares that steal your dreams, and the heavy weight of unworthiness. A few nights ago I had encountered a deep piercing hurt. It came unexpectedly and with ruthless force.

I crumbled to the bathroom floor in tears and poured myself into my comforting bed. When I awoke the next morning I decided to bathe myself in self-love. I wrote a poem to help shake off those self-loathing nests.
I am perfectly formed.   
My body is a reminder of who I am.
          No sharp edges here. 
         Just smooth curves that hint at gentleness, tenderness and a comfort giving nature.
My stride is a reminder of what I'm made of and where I'm going.
I'm made of incredible strength, determination, and the ability to move forward despite the weights that may cling to my feet.
I am a child of The King.
A princess.  
A vision of beauty.
An intricate, well thought out, planned creation.
His beloved.
His light in the world.
His servant- useful to him.
His special possession.
When someone hurts us we have the tendency to take it out on ourselves and say if only I was good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, nice enough... That night I realized that I was enough. I was exactly what he created me to be. The tendency to cling to clothes, dreams-turned-into-nightmares, or thoughts that no longer fits sneaks up on you.  Make a choice to bathe yourself in true self-love.  Decide that when hurt and disappointment find you that you will take the opportunity to shake it off.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Running Feeling

Photo credit: MPH photography.  Amazing Artist!

How did it feel? Is the first question my mother asks as I hobble back to the car after my first 5k.
It felt intimidating waiting to start the run with a group of people who belong on the cover of a running magazine.  It felt frightful.  What if I slip?  What if I can only continue for a short time and have to walk the whole way back?  What if my knee doesn't hold up and I just can't run through the pain?

Pushing past those thoughts...

It feels like your body is whispering words of thanks through every stride.  It feels like your feet are clusters of feathers and you finally realize that you have always had the ability to fly.

It feels like every can't, won't, shouldn't, is being crushed with every step on the pavement.  You feel like a champion crushing all the attempts to defeat your spirit and crush your heart.  You feel free.  Free of any form of mental disability and any attempts at lies that try to nest in your mind.

Even though I stopped running for several years, running always been there.  Like my running shoes, it waited quietly on the shelf for my return.   My return wasn't glorious or applause worthy.  I didn't run like I belonged on the cover of a magazine.  I just got up and ran.

As my mom followed me in the mini van full of my children, I realized that this running feeling reached over and touched the hearts of those I love.  My mother was full of pride.  She saw her daughter who a year ago was emotionally beaten down and wore the clothes of defeat hold her head up and face the long road with a smile on her face.  With every wave at my children at every kilometer I knew that this running feeling was spilling over to them.  I was showing them that life will knock you down but you will always have the ability to get up and run.

Taken by my 6 year old after the run.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Bitterness Blooms

A fruit that requires patience and gentleness to really enjoy.

That day at court when the judge wouldn't hear the concerns I had for my children or the risks that I was trying to avoid - something took root.

That day in court when after speaking to the judge my soon to be ex-husband made immature faces at friends who came to support me.  That thing began to sprout.

Later on love escaped me - again.  I felt the vine growing and tightening around my feet and binding up my hands.

When I looked at my dreams, settled on my plans and was cautioned by my reality the branches now took a hold of my heart and anger bloomed.

In the minutes before my head found the pillow and my eyes released pools of loneliness, disappointment and rejection, I felt that bitter fruit take my breath away.

There it was - a bitterness I could taste in my mind, heart and breath.  After times in court with my husband when victory seemed to elude me I fell hard.  I fell back.  When I got up I waved that finger at God asking him about his whereabouts and his intentions.  I question his love and his commitment to me and my family.  I treat him like a wayward husband who is prone to abandonment and unfaithfulness.  Eventually I find myself turning away from him and ignoring his gentle calls to me.  How could he let me go through this?  How could he put my family through so much only to call us to this desolate place?  How could he?

Then something happens in the place that I crawl to beside him.  This place that he carefully carved with his arms where my body feels the weight of his protection and the comfort of his love.  He speaks to me and shows me his mercies.  He begins to cut away that fruit, cut down the branches and uproot that bitter plant that grew so deep.

I begin to see that he is carrying me and my kicking and screaming have only made him hold on tighter.  I begin to see that he won't let us go no matter how much others may abandon or try to hurt us.
I begin to see that he is waiting for my complete surrender and obedience.
I begin to see that out of my bitter circumstances something new can take root and bloom.

Then I begin - again.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Running Out

When I run I don't want to stop.  My weight, my separation, my stresses as a mother and teacher don't seem to factor.  My feet lift and land and I am transported into a different space and time.

I stated running when I was in grade 6.  I had never run competitively before that.  I remember that first run around the grounds of the my elementary school.  Most of the students couldn't make it all the way but I just flew.  I felt a surge of energy hit my body and felt delighted with my new found love.  When I got into junior high I had an inspirational gym teacher, Mrs. Hudson.  I will never forget her.  I used to see her running in the rain, snow and sun.  Whatever the weather she was out there running.  She encouraged me to keep active and she made me promise that I would never stop running.

Time passed, I got married, had children and I forgot Mrs. Hudson's words.  As a teen it was hard for me to understand why this women so close to retiring would spend the early morning hours of the day running up (a very hilly) Don Mills road.  Where did this desire come from and how did she maintain it? I don't know much of Mrs. Hudson's story but I can assume that she didn't run to look like a model, she didn't run because it was popular, and she didn't run to join a club.

On February 23rd, 2012 I lifted my feet and got ready to fly for the first time in years.  I remember being afraid to take those first few leaps because I thought I had forgotten how to run.  I found the image below and I use it as inspiration.  I remind myself that I am a runner.  That will never change.

Now as I lace up my battered running shoes I understand the compulsion, the desire and the need so much more.  I run because it brings my mind, body and spirit to a place where I can push the cant's, wont's, shouldn't, and couldn't beneath me.  When I run my tumultuous separation, my worries for my kids, my unending struggles run out before my desire to stop do.

What are you passion do you want to reclaim?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Mapping it Out

My life has taken some turns but God has it all mapped out.

Lately, I have felt like a ping pong ball being blown about out at sea.  One minute I'm happy with my renewed love of running and the sense of freedom it brings.  The next I'm saddened by the loss of dreams and the reality of separation.  These feelings stir an uneasiness in me because the one thing I crave is stability.

Going through a separation I experienced a myriad of emotions.  At first I felt this incredible weight lifted from my shoulders.  I felt renewed strength.  I breathed in air that was filled with hope for a better future for my children and myself.  People are always surprised when I say this because it seems like I didn't really care about my marriage.  The reality is the farthest thing from that statement.  What most people don't realize is that I grieved the loss of my marriage as I watched my husband slowly turn into a stranger over the past 4 years.  I grieved the loss of my marriage when I realized that improperly treated mental illness robs not only the sufferer but the rest of their family of any sense of security or peace.  I grieved the loss of my marriage when I realized that I had to make a choice that put safety and security on one end and marriage on the other.

Though I don't regret the decision to separate I am disturbed by the havoc it can spur in my life.  Dealing with custody and access issues are complicated especially when mental health issues are involved.  I find that I constantly have to find the balance between the health and safety of my children and consistent involvement with their father.  There is so much uncertainty in what you can expect from a situation that your mind is tempted to always to go beyond where you are comfortable.

Through this process I am hoping that God will show me which turns to take and which ones to avoid.  Right now that is all I can hope for.