Bluebird skies

I run outdoors almost all year ’round save for the time or two that I’m traveling and can’t get out.  Winters make it tough with the cold and the lack of light but I try my best. 

Springtime is my favorite time to run.  The temps are just right, there is a newness in the air and everything just seems to feed my energy.

On weekends I make it a point to get out for a trail run.  We have amazing trails in the Grand Junction area and I take advantage.  Today I was out running and thinking about how fortunate I am to live in this beautiful area.  So incredibly fortunate.  

Don’t get me wrong, I have found beauty in every place I’ve lived.  Port Huron, MI had the amazing seaway.  North Dakota’s west portion of the state is a rugged beauty.  The eastern portion of South Dakota has a serenity to it.

But there is something about Western Colorado…


Coming in like a Lion…

I’m having a hard time believing that March is nearly over.  It seems like the longest, fastest month ever.  I hope you know what that means and, if not, it doesn’t matter.  It’s how this month feels.

March came in like a lion with putting my baby cat, Punky, to sleep.  It’s honestly still hard to be at home, not as hard as it was the first few days but I still find myself looking over my shoulder to make sure she’s not behind me in the kitchen and I still can’t go into her room much, even though it’s technically my office.  All in time, right?

I’m finding that March has been a difficult month for so many of my friends.  From death of family members to hospitalization of family members to cancer treatments to illness to…it just seems like it’s never ending.  I feel for all of my friends that are hurting right now and I worry that I’m not emotionally able to meet their needs because I feel drained.  I want to be there for them and am trying hard.

I wonder, sometimes, why it all hits at once.  Why it seems like everything flows along so well with everything, everything, and then everything blows up.  I’m certain that God is trying to get our attention about something, trying to say “Hey, don’t forget that I’m here” because we often think we can handle things all by ourselves, we want control.

I’m very thoughtful tonight.  Through my run after work, I tried to just clear my mind and focus on my pace.  I was able to do that but found myself going through the list of people in my life who are hurting, who are right now just trying to make it day by day and work through emotions that I, most of the time, can’t even fathom.

So, I have a feeling that March came in like a lion and will leave like a lion as well.

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No Apologies

I find myself apologizing a lot, mostly because I’m gluten free. I hear myself saying “I’m sorry but I can’t eat there” or “I’m sorry but I’m gluten free” or “I’m sorry I’m a pain” and I’m sure there are many more.

A couple weeks we were in Minneapolis for a business trip and I apologized for not being about to eat somewhere and my boss (who is also a good friend of mine) said “Don’t apologize, you have no reason to apologize”. This got me thinking: Why do I think I need to apologize?

I think because I’m so far from normal (what is normal anyway, but I digress) and because I have a disease that makes me stick out like a sore thumb, it makes me apologize for special treatment. Now, I’m not one to have attention drawn to myself on purpose for something like this. Yes, I like the spotlight but find it in other ways. Having to always draw attention to yourself, especially in a social setting, can be very disconcerting.

For example, I am a member of the Grand Junction Lions Club.  Every week I call ahead for a gluten free meal.  The people at Two Rivers Convention Center have been amazing at providing for my needs but sometimes my meal looks so very different from what everyone else has and typically they are jealous.  I don’t blame them.  Like last week I had a chicken breast and salad but my dessert was a chocolate cupcake topped with a strawberry.  They had St. Patrick’s Day sugar cookies.  They wanted my cupcake and so it goes.  People ask me “why did you get that” and I tell them that I have to be gluten free and the typical response is “maybe I should be gluten free”.  That is another topic for another day.

The end of the story is that I am different.  I need to embrace it and continue using it as a way to speak out on behalf of those of us that don’t have a choice.  We need to stop apologizing…I need to stop apologizing.  I need to accept it, make the statement and just make sure that people know without it becoming my entire identity.  It’s a part of who I am, a PART, not all of me and so from now on, I won’t apologize.  Friends, if you hear me say “I’m sorry but I can’t eat there” or something similar, some apology for who I am, please stop me.

I saw this picture and it may be my new mantra:

No Apologies

So accept it, you are who you are.  That makes you (and I special) and we have things to offer the world!  Happy Sunday!

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Traveling on…

I just finished up my second trip for work, destination: Minneapolis, MN. I spent one year in Minneapolis in college and was there a few times while I lived in Sioux Falls. So, it was going “back to my roots”, in a way. None of the other three gals from my office had been to Minnesota but when they found out we were near the Mall of America, they were all kinds of excited.

Eating is always a big part of a trip so once we hit the Mall of America, it was on! We did our shopping (they even had a store that was ALL running gear! Can you say heaven?) then headed to Tony Roma’s. They had a great gluten free menu and adult beverages as well.  The service was lacking, our dinner there was almost two hours and we didn’t order anything special, but when it came, it was amazing.  I had the Mojo Chicken which had great flavor and a great pineapple salsa on a bed of rice.  Lesson learned, don’t go there unless you aren’t overly hungry or are in a time crunch!

Before we left Grand Junction, my manager called ahead to the hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn in Eagan, to make sure that there would be gluten free meals for me. While they weren’t sure about the breakfasts, and only confirmed that the eggs were ok, they did amazing with the lunches. The first lunch we had was Chinese and they made me a special plate with sauteed veggies and rice as well as a side salad. The second lunch was a huge bowl of pasta and they went the extra mile by going to the nearby gluten free bakery and getting me desert! More on that in a second…

After we finished up our first day of training, I told my manager that we were going to hoof it the half a mile to the gluten free bakery, Bittersweet Bakery.  Before I left for my trip, I did some research on good gluten free places in Minneapolis and was pleased to find that there was a gluten free bakery so close! There was a kindly gentleman at the counter and he helped me make my breakfast choice for the morning: cinnamon pecan coffee cake. Since I LOVE cupcakes, I couldn’t pass up the marble cupcakes with chocolate frosting and candies on top. I also nabbed a double chocolate chip cookie because, honestly, who doesn’t like cookies. All of those items were under $10 too! I’ve never purchased that much in gluten free items and have it that cheap! I tried the cookie out on the walk back to the hotel…ok, devoured it. It was amazing! I had the coffee cake the next morning and it was equally amazing. It almost didn’t even taste gluten free. The cupcakes, even after a day, were still soft and tasty.

When I returned to the hotel from my trip to the bakery, my workmates were at the hotel bar and I just had to show them the treats I had gotten, minus the cookie:

Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake and Marble Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Cinnamon Pecan Coffee Cake and Marble Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

The bartender, who I later found out was the assistant general manager, Ronnie, overheard our conversation and told me that his son had a wheat allergy and he had forgotten about the bakery.  He said that they would get me something for lunch the next day from the bakery but I didn’t think much of it.  The next day they delivered:  two double chocolate chip cookies from Bittersweet Bakery!

We decided to stay close for dinner that night and we across the street to Ansari’s Mediterranean Grill.  They had amazing food and were very attentive to my needs, even checking to make sure that the Ooso, the Greek beverage, was gluten free.  When we ordered hummus, they accommodated me and brought celery for me to have with the hummus.  Our server was amazing!  They also had karoke so it was a fun time by all!

Our last night, we decided to stay close as well and Doolittle’s Woodfire Grill was recommended by Ronnie.  I was pleased with the huge selection of gluten free options on their menu, even appetizers, which I find aren’t always on a gluten free menu.  The Balsamic Tenderloin Skewers were a great way to start the meal.  So tasty!  For an entree I had the Spit Roasted Chicken.  It was the most tender chicken I’ve had in a long time and the mashed potatoes were so good too!

It was a great trip, great training, amazing people and amazing food!  I would recommend trying the above places, they won’t disappoint!

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Feel the Love

The past two weeks weren’t the easiest ones I’ve had in my life. Making the decision to put my Punky to sleep was a hard one, but the right one. I never want to have one of my fur babies suffer.

I learned a lot about the people in my life over the past days and I want to publicly thank you for your support, kind words and actions. I’ve been feeling the love more than ever before.

I had so many friends reach out to me: making dates to go on walks, for dinners, drinks or a day at a wrestling tournament. My parents spent so much time with me too, my dad helping me clean carpets. Yup, I said cleaning carpets.

All of these people wanted to make sure that I was ok, that I didn’t just dig myself into a depression, which could have easily happened. I had people email me, call me, text me, message me on Facebook, Twitter and through this blog…all with beautiful memories of Punky and encouraging words. And the gifts that are reminders of my beautiful fur baby. Those will help me to remember her as well.

I am one of the luckiest girls alive. And I thank you.

There’s no easy way to say good-bye

It’s been a long, emotional week.  Sunday was the day that I realized that I would have to say good-bye to my cat, Punky.

Punky is an 18 1/2 year old cat who has been diabetic for 6 1/2 years.  I kind of adopted her by accident.  Here’s the story:

In 1996, my parents took my brother off to college and my grandma was checking in on our cat at the time, Tuffy.  I lived an hour away and when grandma called me to tell me that Tuffy was listless, I told her to take him to the vet.  He died that night.

A month later I was in a pet shop, to get my cat fix, when a little black kitten caught my eye.  I adopted this kitty who was already named Allie.  Around the same time, Mom and Dad adopted Punky.  When I decided to move to Sioux Falls, SD to go to college, Mom and Dad adopted Allie for the time being.  When I moved to Colorado and got my own home, I took both cats with me.

Allie was always the “apple of my eye” but after Allie passed over six year ago, Punky became my protector, the one always by my side.

Punky always had been a cat that didn’t like people, Allie was the people-cat.  After Allie left this earth, Punky filled the void and started coming out of her shell.  Once she realized that people weren’t so scary after all and that she got attention, she became the “bell of the ball”.  Punky was always in the middle of the room, usually on her back waiting for someone to rub her belly.  Otherwise she was always on my lap, purring, looking at me adoringly, like I was the only human for her.  She would touch your face with her paw and then give kisses, both her ways of saying “I love you.”  She would greet me at the door, come when I called or whistled, would sit on command and would get upset on the weekends when I would open the door to her room and then crawl right back into bed.  She has the most loving personality that I’ve ever seen in a cat.  One that makes you realize what unconditional love feels like, should be like.

And tomorrow I will have to say good-bye.  In the past six months she’s had several bladder infections and UTI’s.  The last one has left her incontinent and she has kitty dementia.  The loving look she used to have is replaced with a blank look like she should know who I am but doesn’t.  She doesn’t have great balance, can’t find the litterbox and can’t hear most times when I call her.

This is the hardest decision I have ever made.  This is the part of life that makes me want to build my blanket fort, crawl into it and ignore the world.  This is the part of life where I have to think beyond what I want and think about what is best for Punky.  As my vet, and my friend asked, “would she want this quality of life?”  And I know she wouldn’t.  I know she doesn’t.

So I make the hard decision…and tonight I hold her tight for the last evening.