rockinthemomrole

I'm on the journey called Life, let's travel together


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Sunny Summer Salad

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Try this yummy, refreshing and healthy salad when produce is at its’ peak during the summer. It’s a snap to put together, and stores well for a few hours, or is delicious served right away. The only special tool you need is a good sharp peeler. I prefer a Y style peeler, and I think Rösli is the best brand, it stays sharp. I love zucchini this way. It has such a different flavor than when cooked. If you don’t think you care for squash, try this recipe, you just might change your mind!

This serving size is for a generous 2, so double it for more servings.

Sunny Summer Salad

1 Yellow Squash, small
1 Zucchini, small
1/4 a medium sweet onion (Vidalia or Walla Walla)
1/2 each of 1 Red and Yellow Roasted Bell Pepper, sliced into ribbons. (store bought or homemade)
Parsley, minced
1 large clove of Garlic, peeled, minced

Dressing:
1 Tbsp fresh Lemon Juice (about a 1/4 of a lemon)
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Salt, Pepper to taste
Optional: 1/2 tsp of any mediterranean style spice mix

Optional: Fresh Ricotta Cheese.

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1. Cut the top and bottom off the squat. Using your vegetable peeler, ‘peel’ it into ribbons working from top to bottom. I peel down just to the seed core, then rotate it 90 degrees and slice the next side, working your way around the vegetable. Toss the core.
2. Cut your whole onion in half, then in half again. Lay on its cut side and holding one of the root ends, slice into thin quarter rings.
3. Whisk the olive oil into the lemon juice, add the garlic and seasoning.
4. Toss all the ingredients together.
5. If desired, top with a dollop of ricotta, fresh as possible.
Tip: If storing for longer than a 1/2 hour, do not salt it until serving. Squash has a lot of water. Salt will pull that water out and your salad dressing will be diluted and weak tasting.

This is one of those dishes where there are very few ingredients, as such, buy the highest quality produce you can find. And if your store doesn’t carry fresh Ricotta, any decent Italian Deli will carry it.

Summer in Minnesota is short, so I don’t like to dawdle in the kitchen. Toss this together, pair it with a protein and head outside for a picnic!


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Strengthening Your Core

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In weightlifting, the key to being able to heft increasing amounts of iron is to have a sturdy, strong Core: your foundational strength you build on.
You don’t develop a core overnight. It is built up – workout by workout, day by day, month by month. As it grows in strength, it supports and assists the development of your other muscles. I didn’t just start lifting 200 pounds one day. I had to build up my core strength, increase my bone density, and build the muscle in an intentional way. My ability to lift is dependent upon the foundation I have laid. I am fortunate and blessed to have (the best!) trainer in the world to mentor me and keep me safe. Under his watchful and experienced eye, he has seen me go from puffing away under a few measly pounds of barbell weight, to lifting a full 200 pounds…more than once. Having a firm, sturdy core allows my body to not only perform in the gym, but also in all other aspects of life: carrying groceries, lifting my bike up on the rack, vacuuming, climbing stairs. All are easier because we have invested in its development.

My favorite way to illustrate this is with a tree: A towering Redwood would not stand with a weak core. It would topple under the weight of the branches, or snap with simple gust of wind. It stands though, because it developed its Core along the way.

What I would like to suggest is this: Is your Core strong?
In this case, I’m not talking about your physical strength. I am talking about your non-physical Core. I’ll call it your spiritual side, the ‘you’ who makes you, you. It’s what resides inside your head, that little voice that whispers only to you.
Is it strong? Have you taken the time to develop it? Do you have what it takes to weather the storms in life? Can you stand strong through the hurricanes of life? Can you remain standing, like the Redwood?

This subject is pertinent considering the news of the day:  A potential Greek economic collapse and the negative potential it has for the Eurozone. We are seeing the rise of barbaric beheadings and persecutions going on in the Middle East. Here in the States we feel the division in civil discourse and financial concerns growing. The entire world feels on edge, and in this case (unlike in past world shifts) we have social media to make it all broadcast in real time.

So I ask again, how is the condition of your Core? Have you invested in it, given it the conditioning and training that are necessary to weather the pounding waves that life throws at it?

First you must take an assessment:
What are your weaknesses, what worries you?
What are your strengths, where do you feel confident and in charge?

Next, take those weaknesses and develop a plan to strengthen them. I was terrified of some sort of economic disaster that would lead to hyperinflation and obscene food prices. To alleviate myself from that fear, or weakness, my husband and I developed a plan to stock up on and store food. I taught myself how to can food both water-bath method and pressure canning. I taught myself to preserve foods. I shopped sales and stocked up on dry and canned goods that I know we will eat. We invested in some long term food storage. Tackling that fear and developing a plan we followed, removed that from my ‘weakness’ category. Now, it’s a strength.

Build on your strengths. One of my friends sweetly calls me Miss Martha. I have always loved to entertain and socialize. I love being a Domestic Goddess. I love home-keeping, nurturing and gardening. Knowing this is a strength, I have used it to build my social network. I have ‘loved on’ friends and family, securing those bonds tight. In times of adversity, it’s those bonds we have forged that can help us weather through tough times.

Lastly, stay in shape, build on the core you have developed. I never, in my wildest dreams, would have thought that I could ever lift that much weight. But I did. And I am continuing build on it, so that I hope to one day lift 2 of the big plates, which is 235 pounds. I also continue to build on my spiritual core. I continue to look at the areas I harbor fears and doubt. I tackle them one by one, working to turn them into strengths, shoring up, and building on that internal core.

When the winds, or hurricanes of adversity blow through my life, with a strong foundational tree trunk, I should be able to weather them and be a shelter for others. And lets be honest, isn’t that a much preferable way to approach life? I want to be stable in my boat when the oceans turn dark and stormy. I want to be able to have what is necessary, emotionally and physically, to ride out the squall. And, as a person of faith, I want to be a source of comfort, stability and hope for others whose boats may be sinking, or taking on water.

I am reminded of the story in the Bible of the Disciples out on the Sea and getting caught in a storm. Jesus, exhausted, was resting in the bow of the boat, calmly sleeping through a ocean raging around them. His followers freaked out, waking him up and carrying on about how they were all going to die…AND DIDN’T HE CARE?
Jesus, being a dude I’d have love to have met face to face, calmly stands up and with a wave of his hand, the seas turn flat as glass. In the disciples recounting, he gets a bit crabby and frustrated at their lack of faith.

Just think if those disciples had strengthened their inner Core, would they have panicked the way they did? They certainly were buff guys in good shape, they were seasoned fishermen. But what about their inner core? Maybe they would have been calm, maybe not, because Jesus was a guy who liked to teach and they had a lesson they needed to learn. But I can learn from their unpreparedness. I can read about their weaknesses and I can learn from it. I can be strong spiritually as well as physically. A calm place, in the middle of a stormy sea, for others.

I hope this gives you the motivation to not just be focused on the ‘physically’ fit. I hope that it inspires you to take your inner core as seriously as you might your physical one. I am no prophet of old, but just read the headlines sometime. There is a storm on the horizon. It may not come ashore, but it may. I know that I sleep better at night now, knowing I’ve been strengthening my Core.


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Two Steps Forward…

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Two steps forward, one step back, is still a net gain.

I have been reciting this truism quite a lot lately. It seems that my 52 year old body likes to raise a ruckus with my heart, brain, and internal drive to push myself to higher levels of fitness.

Thus, for every two steps I advance, I end up taking a step back more frequently than I care for.

I have to remind myself that my general progress has been forward, not reverse. It is a small consolation when those nagging injuries prevent you from really achieving your goals, but it is an important point to make. I put this out there so others can see, it is not the day-to-day we should necessarily obsess over, it is the direction we are moving in. If I focused only on what I didn’t do today, I would be in a constant state of frustration and disappointment. But when I do look back at where I’ve come from, this is what I see: A place where 2 years ago I was someone puffing to walk up a single flight of stairs, and struggling to pick up some of my heavy pans. A place of lethargy, and yes, apathy. A place where I had resigned myself to feeling far older than my years on the biological ‘clock’. A place where I sat on the sidelines and watched my family…from the sidelines. Today, I am able to bicycle 8 miles to my trainers, lift weights for an hour, and bicycle home with ease. I have regained my joy of traveling and exploration, because I can walk, climb stairs all day long and still have energy to spare for evening. I enjoy vacations with my family. I don’t shy away from fun physical activities: Riding a Zipline, racing my daughter on a paddle board, hiking up a trail to some far off falls or cliff providing a gorgeous view. The difference is profound. All this, in just two years.

2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back = 1 Step Forward. Net Gain.

I can apply this concept to all aspects of my life: fitness, education, cooking, relationships, my faith walk, and so on. It is important, when you are thrown the proverbial ‘curve ball’ to take a breath, step back, and check your direction. Are you looking back? Because the body and spirit will follow the head. Be sure to keep your eyes focused ahead, on your goal. There will be times you might have to slow your pace, stop and take a breather, or yes, even take a step back. But you don’t have to turn around to take a step back. Just like we glance in our cars rearview mirror before changing lanes, merging or pulling out into traffic, allow yourself to glance back. It shows you if you have a clear path, and reminds you of how far you have come. Then, if circumstances require it, still looking forward, allow that step back knowing that your goal for the next step is forward.

Example: Last fall, I achieved one of my fitness goals: To DeadLift 200 pounds. When I achieved this goal, my next goal was 2 plates on the bar, which is 235 lbs. In-between then and now I had a shoulder injury, neck muscle strain, my hips went out, my knee (which has had surgery twice) decided to go on strike, and my asthma decided to make an appearance after 2 years of having it under control. I confess, there were more than a few times I complained to my trainer that I was regressing, not progressing. (Confession: I complain to my trainer Ron. A LOT. And he is gracious, good natured and a good sounding board, but he will NOT let me wallow in self pity nor frustration!)

In the midst of my bummer mental attitude, he shared this little gem of truth: 2 Steps Forward, 1 Backward is still progressing Forward. Since then I have concentrated on the journey back, and on to my next goal. I know I can do it, I have done it once already. We are just going to take it a little slower this time, to hopefully minimize those back-steps. And I won’t allow myself to get discouraged again. Because I know…

2 Step->, 1 Step <- = Net Gain.