Calvin’s adventure– So thankful for kind people!

I first published this on August 11, 2012. On December 31, 2015, my sassy, spunky little dog earned his angel wings. RIP Calvin, you will be missed.

Hangin' by a Thread

Calvin, my sassy, stubborn dog!

As I sit down to write this, I am procrastinating going on a run. So far, it’s working great!

Fast forward to three hours later. . .

It dawned on me when I sat down to write this morning that if I could create time to write, I could surely get my butt out there to run. I would probably write better after a head-clearing run anyways, so I got dressed, procrastinated a little more, then finally leashed up my dogs and headed out. I figured I would warm up by walking them and then head back out for a couple more miles.

When I walk my dogs I like to take them to a trail that runs behind the nearby creek– it’s only three blocks from my house. My dogs drag me down the streets until we get to the trail where they know…

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A 15-tune, hard-rockin’, bad-a@@ playlist to fuel your workout

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It happened almost magically one extremely blustery Saturday afternoon late last November. I had been putting off getting ready for a run most of the day when the weather suddenly tanked, big-time. UGH. Not ready to face the frigid temps and gale force winds, which ironically would be no big deal at this point in the winter, I found myself forced indoors for a workout. (Yes, I understand that the word “forced” is a bit dramatic and in the grand scheme of life–who really cares–but, when running in the great outdoors is something you depend on for your health and sanity– yes, I mean that literally–this WAS a big deal to me. And no judging because I know some of you totally get where I am coming from here.)

At one time, I was a diehard workout-only-to-music person but over the last six months or so, I had gotten away from running with the tunes constantly pounding in my head. I had become accustomed to running sans music and had learned to appreciate the sounds of my feet pounding the pavement instead. I now crave silence and solitude on my runs but a workout indoors, that was completely different story. There was NO way I was getting through that kind of workout tune free! It, quite frankly, doesn’t seem possible to me.

Because I had spent most of the day “preparing” for my run, my motivation to move was quickly waning. I needed to get on my elliptical ASAP, but I had a major dilemma (again, a bit dramatic, I know.) My 1st generation hand-me-down iPod, on which I had spent years accumulating a wide variety of incredibly awesome music, had been reduced to only playing when attached to a power source. To make matters worse, I had just switched phones had not put any music on my new phone yet. I N-E-E-D-E-D music blasting through ear-buds, not from a stereo, to get through the winter workouts; besides, if I sat down to create my usual type of playlist, it would take hours. I would be done for that day, motivation bye-bye.

I scrambled to my phone and decided to see what I could throw together from my cloud. Much to my surprise, what I created in just a few minute’s time was nothing short of a hard-rockin’, bad-a@@ miracle. I rushed to my elliptical, hit play, and before I knew it, an hour had flown by. This little gem of a list had powered me through a 60-minute workout and I had been only hoping for a 20. What? I know. It rocked that much! I have listened to it on almost every gym workout since that day and I have yet to tire of it. It is a bit of a departure from my usual workout playlists–generally a mix of disco, rock, grunge, new-wave, and Christian rock–but it is apparently what I need to survive this brutal winter indoors. (It also may help to explain the lost, blank look I have on my face when I am at the gym.) Anyways. . .

After my inaugural workout, I knew I wanted to share this mix of mine. If you are looking for something rockin’ and different to workout to, you’ll appreciate these tunes. I even created  a YouTube playlist for your viewing enjoyment (which you can find here http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLJU6PG_tnWuu0rWdLowVnev_Al8T5pg2B). (Incidentally, it did occur to me as I was watching YouTube that this playlist is a little dark, a little hard, and probably is very telling of the dark, hard side of me. Nonetheless, there are some brilliantly catchy guitar riffs, screamy vocals, and great beats. A warning though for all of you 80’s kids like me–you may suddenly find yourself singing wildly into your faux microphone, playing your air guitar, and banging your head. Don’t ask me how I know this, I just do.)

For the record, to anyone that may happen upon this, I am NOT a music critic, so don’t bash unless you have an entirely valid argument. This post is just for fun. Music choices are completely subjective anyways, right? So what is to argue (unless you disagree on #6.) It is also important to note that this list is definitely not all-inclusive of the great hard-rocking songs that I love or would be great to workout to. The beauty of this list is that it came together without a hardly a thought. So, without further adieu (drumroll please), let the magic begin. . .

  1. “Animal I Have Become” by Three Days Grace- Great band. Great song. The second verse says it all. . . “I can’t escape myself. So many times I’ve lied. But there’s still rage inside. Somebody get me through this nightmare.” Have you have been to that place? I have, more than once.
  2. “Bleed It Out” by Linkin Park- I LOVE this band! The tempo on this song is perfect for a runner of my speed, especially when you are struggling and need a pick-me-up. Again, some of the lyrics are pretty spot on. “Bleed it out, digging deeper just to throw it away. . .I’ve opened up these scars. I’ll make you face this. . . I’ve pulled myself so far. I’ll make you face this now.” Sounds to me like somebody was gutting out a long, hard run when they penned these words. Whew.
  3. “Fire Woman” by The Cult- “Fire. Smoke she is a rising.” If you have seen me after a run, you have no doubt noticed that I look quite like a “firewoman” with my red hair, crimson face, and entire body radiating heat like fiery coals from hell. LOVE the guitar melody and the vocals on this song. Plus, the lead singer has very pretty 80’s boy band hair. What’s not to love about that?
  4. “New Year’s Day” by U2– Best. U2. Song. Ever.
  5. “No One Like You” by the Scorpions- Ahh, the 80’s. This band. The guitars. The vocals. The cheesy videos. A little change of tempo with this song. It’s good mid-workout when you need a bit of a breather.
  6. “Rainbow in the Dark” by Dio- Ronnie James Dio had one of the best hard-rocking voices, EVER. (If you argue that one, you are crazy. Just sayin’.) Anyways, the lyrics and guitar are STELLAR. “Do your demons, do they ever let you go? When you’ve tried, do they hide deep inside–is it someone that you know?” Crazy powerful words if you have ever been through some dark times. Consequently, this is one of my favorite songs EVER. (Two-versions on the YouTube list. The “official” video comes nowhere near doing the song justice. The live version is definitely better.)
  7. “Self-Esteem” by The Offspring- Another one of my favorite bands. Seriously, what would the 90’s have been without them? This song may be a little slow for faster runners but works great as a warm-up or cool-down. The video is classic 90’s and the retro Evil Kneivel footage brings me right back to the 70’s. Hello, who doesn’t remember sitting in your living room glued to the television when Evil made his ill-fated Grand Canyon jump?
  8. “Separate Ways” by Journey- My favorite Journey tune. The guitar and the beat make this a great running song. The video, however, is one of the cheesiest videos to emerge from 1980’s. FYI: If you love this song, don’t torture yourself by watching the video. PLEASE!
  9. “Turbo Lover” by Judas Priest- This is my second favorite Judas Priest song even though I can’t decide what my favorite song by this group is. The video is completely creepy but the beat and tempo make this a killer song on the run.
  10. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana- My favorite song by one of the best bands to have EVER rocked the planet. EVER. This song has motivated me on many a dreadmill treadmill run.
  11. “Welcome to the Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses– 80’s kids, is it possible to listen to this song and not do a little Axle shoulder sway? I think not. This song is loud, hard, classic, and awesome. You will work a little harder when it’s blasting through your earbuds. I promise.
  12. “Youth Gone Wild” by Skid Row- Another lead singer with pretty 80’s boy band hair. Sigh. This song is hard, heavy, and in your face. Perfect for a workout (or an 80’s keg party, so I’ve heard.)
  13. “The Zoo” by the Scorpions- Yep, the Scorps made the list twice.  LOVE this tune but the video is. . . well, not sure what it is. Definitely not cool, and that IS for sure.
  14. “B.Y.O.B.” by System of a Down- This song is HARD and SCREECHY but has some amazing guitar work and the tempo changes are great for an interval workout.
  15. “Fight for Your Right” by the Beastie Boys- Yes, I saved the best for last. This song is the quintessential teen anthem and it brings me STRAIGHT back to 80’s keg parties high school. Fun fact here for ya– I know every single word to this song and can sing those said lyrics in an incredibly cool faux London/Brooklyn accent. “I’ll kick you outta my home if you don’t cut that hair!” I have solo concerts with myself to this song and you should know that I ABSOLUTELY ROCK! For real. Hence, I apologize profusely in advance to any friends or family members that may be near me if I happen to be in public, have had one too many adult beverages, and this song comes on the jukebox. Just walk away, walk away. It’s really okay. I’ll totally understand in the morning.

How about you? Any awesome running/workout playlists you want to share?

The creating of a lefse snob

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I remember the day like it was yesterday (well, good enough to produce this anecdotal account anyways.)

It was the fall of 2010. .

It was that time of year when my annual lefse cravings began to set in.

I stated this fact to my co-worker and then I innocently mumbled that I needed to pick up some Mrs. Olson’s, you know, the kind of lefse that all good Scandi-Americans eat. Then suddenly, before I even knew what hit me, my lefse-lovin’ world was turned upside down.

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Who knew that this is not REAL lefse?  Apparently, NOT this German-Swedish-American girl.

Much to my surprise, shortly after uttering the words “Mrs. Olson’s” I received a scolding. YES, a lefse scolding. (This outburst came from my usually very kind co-worker, Char, so I was really taken aback.) My scolding, well, it went a little something like this. . .

“You eat what?” as she turned swiftly to look at me with a horrified look of disbelief on her face. “That’s NOT real lefse,” she said with a tone. And on and on it went. I was being “schooled” in what REAL lefse actually was.  (Okay, maybe that was slightly totally dramatic? Or maybe not? Wink, wink, right Char?) Who knew that REAL lefse didn’t come neatly packaged, labeled with a good Scandinavian name, and sold in the grocery store? Obviously, not me.

Not long after my education, I came to work to find fresh, REAL lefse (complete with butter and sugar to spread) waiting for me to taste test. Yep, the Lefse Fairy (aka my co-workers best friend) had come to work and my taste buds were R-O-C-K-E-D. There was no denying that the “REAL” stuff made Mrs. Olson’s taste like sandpaper. Again, who knew?

Over the years, the Lefse Fairy would occasionally make an appearance, enough to keep me satisfied and away from faux, pre-packaged, “non-lefse,” lefse. I did break down and buy an “upscale” version (Mike’s or something like that) of the commercially prepared stuff a couple of times, but never again did Mrs. Olson’s grace my lips.

This year though, the Lefse Fairy failed to make an appearance. After my initial shock wore off, I nearly caved in a weak moment and returned to my old ways. I swear, while perusing the grocery store,  I could almost hear Mrs. Olson calling out, “Missy, come back to me. Do not listen to the naysayers,”  but, alas, I simply could not do it. I had been turned into a lefse snob and there was no going back now. Not even in the most desperate of hours.

Luckily for me, the ones that created the lefse snob must have gotten tired of listening to me whine about not getting my fix yet this year. I kindly explained to them, on more than one occasion, that you CANNOT create a lefse monster and then NOT feed it. It just ain’t right.

Redemption finally came in the form of a Year-End Lefse Party– hosted by the Lefse Fairy herself. Yes, on the last day of the year, I not only got to eat my weight in lefse, I also learned to create it. What’s that old adage? “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, but teach him to fish. . .”

Although I knew the day would be incredible because I would finally be getting some lefse, it was so much more than I expected! I got to spend the day with some great friends and family, AND I learned to create REAL lefse, a treat that should really have it’s own food group. I can’t think of better way to end the year. Thank you Char and the Lefse Fairy!

Lefse anyone?

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Mixing it up. Who knew potato flakes could be turned into such deliciousness?
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It was a hard-working, team effort, with a little fun mixed in.
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Rolling and frying, rolling and frying. We produced HEAPS of the good stuff in a matter of hours.
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My dear friends. On the left is Char, the one who initially “educated” me and on the right, Jan, the Lefse Fairy. They are the co-creators the lefse snob, me in the middle. 🙂

Thanks to the Facebook Game Currently Trending, Here Are 17 Random Facts About Me

  1. I strongly disliked my name “Melissa Faith” growing up. Now, I cherish it.

  2. I am working very hard at restoring the creative and musical side of me that I successfully squashed years ago. My mom would be so proud.

  3. I marvel at and thank God for the absolute awesomeness of my kids. Every. Single. Day.

  4. The places my soul is happiest are California, New York City, Africa, and the mountains of Colorado. Also, anywhere I am with my family and/or by water: the ocean first, mountain streams second, and after that pretty much any river or lake will do.

  5. My dream job would be traveling the world rescuing human trafficking victims and slaves. I would bring the hub along for muscle power to put a little hurt on the slave owners as we depart. I shared that dream with him a while back and he wasn’t as enthused as I was. My other dream job would be to travel the world photographing and writing about what I have seen and experienced. Sunrises and sunsets on every continent? Could happen.

  6. I have had to “get over myself” several times throughout my life. I deeply regret the times when I was less than a decent person.

  7. At my core, I am an adrenaline junkie. Having children tamed those urges significantly as the need to be responsible outweighed my need for recklessness– although barely, at times.

  8. I have learned to appreciate and crave silence. This came only after I exorcised the demons from my head.

  9. I LOVE music of all sorts, especially of the alternative and hard rock genres. The only exception to this is the fact that I STRONGLY dislike country music, unless it’s the old stuff. A little Patsy Cline anyone?

  10. I love and miss my family around the world and country intensely.

  11. I am a thrift storeaholic. Most days, all or a good portion of the clothing I am wearing is second-hand as is most everything in my home.

  12. I have the best friends in the world and have had all throughout my life– as far back as I can remember, even when I wasn’t deserving of them. I am deeply grateful for all of them, old and new.

  13. Running has saved my life.

  14. I LOVED dinosaurs when I was little. Still do.

  15. I am adopted.

  16. I could eat pizza, watermelon, ice cream, and cereal every day.

  17. I have learned that practicing gratitude will lift you from some pretty dark places and that faith in God will sustain you, despite what life dumps on you.

Hello deliciousness! Simple and tasty cookies that are healthy too. What?

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Occasionally I stumble upon something on Pinterest that is actually as simple and tasty as it appears to be.  (Simple means as few ingredients and prep time as possible. Tasty means it should be relatively healthy but makes me feel like I am eating something that is totally not.)

The other night while craving something sweet, I decided to look at some of my pins and choose something to actually try (as opposed to just hoarding pins on my “healthy food” board.) MUCH to my surprise I found the AWESOMEST cookies!

Are you ready for the recipe?

(2) Two ripe bananas                                                                                                                                                                                  (1) Cup oatmeal

Yep folks, that’s it! Mash em’ up and mix em’ together. You can add anything you want to jazz it up if you would like. The ones you see pictured have dried cranberries and slivered almonds (and were my afternoon snack along with a cup of french pressed coffee.)  You could also add chocolate chips, coconut, or about anything else that you would deem appropriate. Can you say DELISH?

Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. (I flip mine about half way through for a nice little glow on both sides but that is totally not necessary.)

The original pin can be found here http://www.pinterest.com/pin/242068548694437612/.

P.S. These cookies are totally breakfast worthy. Enjoy!

P.S.S. I am aware that “awesomest” is not a word but because these cookies earn high marks in the simple and tasty categories, awesomest was the best word choice.

A little advice for the one seeking the orange headband. . .

The orange headband
The orange headband, yes, I had it with me at work. Don’t judge.

To my Aunt Lori who will be earning her very own orange headband this weekend.  .  .

Think of all the amazing athletic accomplishments of the last few years of your life– the dashes, the tri, the half’s, the marathon (and not to mention the fact that you are now a certified instructor) and you will realize before you even cross the starting line that you’ve got this little Mudder thing down no problem. F-E-A-R no longer exists in your vocabulary.

But in case you are still a little anxious after my brief pep-talk above, keep the following in mind when tackling the Mudder:

  • The ice water compares only to jumping into a frozen Minnesota lake in January. It hurts and it will LITERALLY take your breath away. Wait a few seconds for your breath to return, and then go for it. Don’t panic, just breathe.
  • Being shocked also hurts. It can stop you in your tracks, but, the pain lasts for only a second or so. Don’t panic, just breathe. The faster you go through, the better. Electricity be damned. You are a mudder.
  • The walls get slippery and are a bit higher than the dash. Take your time, it’s worth it. If you slip a bit, hang on tight, don’t panic, and just breathe. (I saw a lady biff it off the tall wall from half-way up. She didn’t land too prettily. Can you say ouch?)
  • Wear clothing that won’t hang to your knees when it gets wet and stretched out. See my photo below. Not the best look or very comfortable or conducive to wall climbing and crawling under barbed wire.
  • Lastly, SOAK UP EVERY SECOND OF THE AWESOMENESS! BREATHE IT IN!
Me, in all my muddy glory, May 2012.
Me, in all my muddy glory, May 2012.

To anybody else that may be reading  this and are contemplating the Tough Mudder (or any other big physical challenge) know that YOU CAN DO IT! I was 210+ pounds, 43 years old, and could only run (and I use that term loosely) just over a couple of miles at a time when I completed the Mudder. My best advice? JUST DO IT! You never know what you can accomplish until you choose to try. FEAR is nothing but a four letter word and life is way too short to just stand on the sidelines.

To my Aunt Lori and anybody else facing some fears this weekend as you set out to accomplish new fitness goals, don’t panic, just breathe. YOU CANT DO IT BECAUSE YOU ARE AWESOME!

Today’s blessings. . .

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Picture from http://www.picturesdepot.com/quotes/23672/patience+yoda.html.

Today, God blessed me with MORE PATIENCE THAN I EVER, EVER THOUGHT POSSIBLE.

He also provided me with a witness to prove it.

But wait, it gets better. . .

AMAZING homemade pie (with my equally amazing work partner and witness to my patience),

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Raspberry Cream Pie with Pecan Crust and Real Whip Cream

new running shoes (to run off the stress of the day and the homemade pie), AND. . .

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Check out the Clymb for incredible sales on anything and everything outdoorsy. I got these beauties for CHEAP!

a lovely beverage to re-hydrate with after my run later (because somebody once told me that beer is 99% water.)

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Had one of these delish beverages yet? You should. 🙂

Thank you God (and also my work partner) for being awesome.

I am feeling extremely blessed and the day isn’t even over with yet.

What were you blessed with today?