Monthly Archives

October 2015


Amazing women

October 27, 2015

I am incredibly fortunate to be surrounded by many truly talented and amazing women. I am constantly inspired by all they believe and accomplish.

In talking with one of these awesome women recently, we lamented the fact that often, as a society, we do not celebrate the accomplishments of others.

For example, I was recently able to introduce this very friend to a group of co-workers. This particular amazing woman is head of a very prestigious project in work, something many people work their whole career for. Still a semi-recent college graduate, not only is she doing this job, she’s rocking it! And she is so much more than her work successes. She travels often, loves scuba diving and speaks fluent Spanish. Plus she has a heart of gold. She is inspirational!

In what we later deemed standard fashion, she shied away from the accomplishments I shared, understating my declarations.

We talked about this later. Why is it that we find it so hard to accept others words of praise about our own lives? Why is it difficult to refrain from the “oh stop, it’s nothing” brush-off of what we’ve done? Why is it never enough to say, “this is what I’ve done and I’m proud of it?” She is far from the only one who is uncomfortable being praised, though she more than deserves it.

In college, we used to toast to any and all accomplishments. When someone finished their senior project, cheers! When someone’s research paper was accepted into a conference, cheers! When someone finished a paper an hour ahead of a deadline, cheers! The point is not that we physically clinked glasses every time but that we took the time to celebrate the great things in each other’s lives.

We need to return to this way of celebration. We need to shout from the rooftops the wonderful things we are accomplishing! I am surrounded by women who have done incredible things. Let’s celebrate all the wonderful and inspirational things our friends are doing. Don’t sell short all they (or you) have done or dream of doing. Instead of shrugging off compliments, let’s try to take them.

Tell their stories, inspire others, raise each other up with well wishes and cheers!

To all the amazing and gifted women I know, know that you inspired me every day with your lives. I celebrate you and all you have done and all you have yet to do.

Good eats

1 week vegan

October 21, 2015

It’s been one full week since I’ve started my vegan challenge, and I’ve already discovered so much about myself.

The first few days, food was all I could think about. What am I going to eat now? And as soon as I’d finished eating, what will I eat next? I seemed to have the word “vegan” on a continual brain loop—it was always there.

After a few slip-ups when traveling over the weekend, I feel much more confident being at home and cooking. Coming from a vegetarian diet definitely makes this a lot easier than if I had been eating meat, since I already have a good arsenal of favorite meatless recipes. What I’m doing now is mostly tweaking, taking out the butter or yogurt and finding substitutions.

That being said, I know I’m still going to struggle. But that’s okay. Being vegan isn’t about being perfect, it’s about following a lifestyle that aligns with your ethical center.

One thing I am certain I am going to struggle with is explaining my choices to others, especially my family *cough dad cough* I know I have a tendency to apologize for unnecessary things. Hello, I was raised in Minnesota, it’s what we do! That can make for some awkward social situations when I feel the need to apologize for any inconvenience I perceive, whether or not they are real.

But I was reading through The 30-day Vegan Challenge by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau (which I highly recommend if you’re at all interested in going/trying vegan). In her chapter for Day 24, she tackles how to eat “confidently and joyfully in social situations” (italics my own).

Being vegan isn’t about forcing your views on someone else, making someone feel bad if they eat meat or feeling bad when you are asked why you’re not eating at a party. Here is a quick summary of what spoke to me in this chapter:

Making your own life changes is uncomfortable for others and can even be threatening to them. They often go on the defensive, either asking you any number of scientific/philosophical/ecological questions about your lifestyle choice or explaining the reasons for theirs. “You tell someone you’re vegan and that person takes it personally,” writes Patrick-Goudreau.

It can be threatening to others who maybe wish they were living up to their ethics or who believe they are and are measuring themselves next to you. That’s not what veganism is about.

One of my favorite quotes from the chapter (and there are many) reads: “When you state ‘I am vegan’ you aren’t simply saying ‘I eat vegetables.’ You are a physical representation of someone who is living a conscious life with an awakened mind and heart.” In all other aspects of my life, I strive to be aware, since I am a firm believe that an unexamined life is not worth living (thank you Luther College Paideia!). I am an avid practitioner of yoga, which is all about self-awareness. I believe in local and sustainable food sources, so it only makes sense that I fully commit to a vegan lifestyle of skating by as a vegetarian, fooling myself into thinking it’s good enough. For others, it might be. But if I stop and am truly honest with myself, it’s not enough for me.

I know this is kind of all over the place. I’m still trying to formulate coherent thoughts, but I have found there are many things to be thought. What you eat makes a powerful statement, even if (or especially if) you are unaware of your food choices. I am fortunate in that I truly enjoy cooking and that I love food and all that it stands for (and there are huge political and economic consequences to what and how we eat).

If you’re curious, here are a few things I’ve been eating this past week:

Breakfast – fruit smoothies, oatmeal with almond butter, nuts, dried fruit and cinnamon, and hash browns (just cook them in oil, not butter!)

Lunchcurried dal from Oh She Glows (I’m obsessed with this recipe!) and other dinner leftovers

Dinner – Burrito bowls (cilantro lime rice, black beans, corn, sautéed onions, peppers and mushrooms and homemade salsa), chickpea salad (chickpeas, carrots, celery, veganaise, Dijon mustard)

I am so excited to be on this journey. And, like much of life, being vegan isn’t a destination, it is a journey. Thanks for being here as I start mine.


My 30-day vegan challenge

October 14, 2015

I readily admit I am a sucker for documentaries. Especially food documentaries. In fact, it was a documentary that pushed me to become vegetarian in 2013. Now, two and a half years later, a documentary is again pushing me to make a big lifestyle change, this time to veganism.

I’ve debated going vegan almost since I became veggie, but I’ve always managed to talk my way out of it. Recently, a friend recommended I watch “Cowspiracy,” and it gave me the kick I needed to go vegan. (If you would like to hear the reasons behind my decision, I would be happy to talk with you about them, but that’s not the subject of this post).

I am doing a 30-day vegan challenge starting today. My intention is to stay vegan, but I am using these 30 days to make the transition, to be forgiving if and when I mess up and to figure it out. I know there will be challenges (including cooking for my gluten-free, meat-loving husband who is supportive of my decision) but it is time to face them.

Thankfully, I have friends who are vegan who are more than willing to share recipes and help me through the process. Also, I have found the library to be full of vegan cookbooks! I’ve already checked out a few and will be adding my favorites to my Christmas list.

I will be journalling throughout the entire process, sharing bits and pieces of my thoughts with you.

So, without further adieu, here I go!


Hitting reset

October 6, 2015

Sometimes you don’t realize what you’ve been doing until you stop. This past weekend, my husband and I went camping to celebrate our first anniversary. I had grand plans: watch the sunrise, go for a long hike, canoe in the early afternoon, make a delicious meal over the fire.

We did wake up early and hike to the beach to watch the sun rise. It was a beautiful, albeit chilly, moment, as we’ve tried many times before but always failed to catch the sun. This morning, however, we were there early, the sky was cloudless, and we got to witness a beautiful sunrise.

A fire was in order when we got back, not only for breakfast but for warmth. We sat for a few hours, then ventured out for a hike.


It turned out to be more of a leisurely walk. Sure, we could have hiked quickly, gotten our hearts pumping, used the time for a workout, but instead, we wandered through the woods, weaving in and out of view of the beautiful Mississippi River. We stopped, talked, and enjoyed every moment.

camping hike2

Back to the fire we went. And we could have rushed to get ready to make it to the lake to have enough time to canoe, but instead, we decided to just…pause. Relax. Hit the reset button.

Sitting in front of a fire has never been so necessary.

I sat there and, for the first time in I don’t know how long, I wasn’t thinking about what else I had to do that day or what was coming up during the week.

I just sat, watching the flames surround the logs, embers glowing red and white.

And it was beautiful.

“Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else.”

Shunryu Suzuki

I was reminded in yoga yesterday just how often we rush through our lives. My teacher talked about rushing through elementary school to get to high school where we rush through to get to college where we rush through to get a job. Then we rush through to get to retirement so we can finally…

Listening to her resonated with my weekend experience. We spend so much time looking toward the next big thing, the next weekend, the next month, the next thing on our to-do list.

But what about what we’re doing right now?

Take some time today to slow down. Think about each task as you do it. Commit fully to your day, whatever it brings. Let your mind be fully engulfed in the moment instead of always straining to look ahead. Live now, for what if today is your last day? And if it’s not, you can sleep well tonight knowing that you gave today your all. Because what else do we have to offer except our whole selves?

So go ahead, give yourself permission to hit your reset button in whatever way calls to you. You might not realize just how badly you need it.