My Happy Place 2015

Where’s the place you can go to that almost instantly brings a smile and a sigh of relief from the hustle and bustle of daily life?  Is it the beach, the mountains, your private oasis in your own backyard?  Is it sitting in a chair eating your favorite food?  For me, it’s the place where I can put my toes in the sand, walk along the shore of the ocean, and where I can simply sit and tune out the world for just a few days… happy place is the stretch of ocean between Miramar Beach and along 30A in Florida.

We recently returned from a week of much needed rest and relaxation and even after going for years……it never ceases to amaze me how magnificent the ocean is.  Maybe it’s how it forces you to sit and take in its power.  Maybe its how it invites you in to play.  Whatever it is, I sure do pray God has a few beautiful ocean beaches for me in Heaven.  Think about it….the world is covered in oceans…and each one knows where to begin…where to stop.  That is simply an amazing example of God’s power in creation.  The United States is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  From the beaches of Hawaii, to the rocky coastline of the Northwest to the soft, white sand that I call my happy place.

This year, with the move and then the uncertainty surrounding some medical issues, this trip was much needed.  The only problem every single year….leaving.

Here’s a little peak into my happy place and some of the 2015 memories from the visit.  Enjoy.

You just cannot go wrong with soft, white sand and emerald green water with hints of blue scattered throughout.

What does a Mom do when she is beating her men in putt-putt, why she brags, of course.

Each year, we make a visit to Cantina Laredo for dinner.  This year, it was especially tasty.  Finding Mexican food in Chicagoland has been difficult.

There’s just something awesome about being a Mom to a boy.  This college kid hit the jackpot on an arcade game at the Baytowne Wharf in Sandestin.  In his shopping spree, a Scooby-Doo was acquired.

Another tradition we have, is one morning we trek over to Another Broken Egg, Sandestin for breakfast.  Such good food.

Sadly, I didn’t capture a picture of one of the highlights of the week.  We ventured over to Seaside one day to eat lunch at The Great Southern Cafe.  First, we ordered the crab cakes with fried green tomatoes.  Then…I ordered the Grits a Ya Ya.  Oh my goodness.  I was certainly saying Ya-Ya!  Then..upon a recommendation from a fellow Florida fan, we ordered the Key Lime Pie.  This is NOT your traditional Key Lime Pie.  It’s Key Lime Pie taken to a whole new dimension.  I have been searching for the recipe from the moment I took my first bite.  Since I can’t share a picture of this heavenly treasure, I hope you enjoy the fabulous shot my son shared with me of our happy place.

This is a shot from our table at Dewey’s Destin, Harborside.  It’s one of our “traditions” and seems to be our last meal of the week each year.

On the way back to Chicagoland, we were able to make a stop in Athens, Alabama so that I could visit with one of my dearest, “for life” friends.  We met as locker mates back at Southaven Junior High and over the years formed one of my most cherished friendships.  Sherry Lunneal Clutter Raines, I adore you.  She is a cancer survivor and one of the most amazing women that I know.  Her story is simply amazing.  (And y’all know that’s a Cracker Barrel!  My favorite chain!)

Thanks for letting me share a peek into our happy place with you.  It’s time for my second cup of coffee on this “cleaning house” day…..

Two roads diverging…and neither road has a map.

Robert Frost penned the iconic, “The Road Not Taken”, where he wrote about how taking the road less traveled made all the difference.  What about when you are standing at the point in the road where you have two options and taking the less traveled road could mean your life and the most traveled road could mean your life?  Mr. Frost, what then?

(A huge shout-out to Mrs. Evelyn Sims for what knowledge I do have regarding literary works.  I am confident I was the student she wished would opt out….but I am daily reminded of her in vocabulary words I recall or in a literary work that is cemented way back in the back of my brain that suddenly reveals itself. Creative Writing….aka…the room with painted blocks.)  I am off track now….

I stand at a crossroads.  Two medical options, for one medical issue.  Both of them so far apart, that it’s like comparing apples to oranges times a thousand.  One option seems easier, but comes with some hefty side effects and no concrete evidence it even works on the majority of the population. And if it fails, the second phase of the less evasive plan is less appealing than the first.  The second option could open pandoras box, but it is the option most used.  Yet, does most used make it the right choice?  Or is that what’s used because there isn’t enough data on the other options?

What would Mr. Frost have advised when there was no confidence in either road?  No confidence in any of the “guides” that would be on the road?  Would he have told me that my fear was eroding the confidence that should be there?  Would he have written a line about the over-analyzation of the two roads? The “guides” are some of the best in their field, shouldn’t I trust their wisdom?  Yet…I sit here needing a consensus.  I need clarity.  I need the two roads to turn on their street lights.  I need to see what’s at the end of each road.

So, today I sit.  I sit on the stump, at the juncture of two roads.   A decision has to be made soon.

(Today, I sit here as a girl that has learned she has pulmonary involvement from her recurrent respiratory papilloma.  I sit here grateful for God’s protection while we sorted out what showed up in October’s CT.  I sit on my stump.  I have places to go, people to see, and dreams to watch unfold.  This…I don’t have time for this….and today, I’m going to leave my stump and prepare for my nephew’s wedding and a trip to the beach.  This…this will wait.)

Life's decisions would be so much easier if we could see the end of the road.

Life’s decisions would be so much easier if we could see the end of the road.

An Orange Theory…AKA “This is going to kill me.” – Update One

So, it seems three to four times a week, I somehow manage to get down our stairs into the garage and head over to Orange Theory for the hour long…..well….it’s a WORK-out.  Don’t get me wrong.  Once there, as I see my blue turn to green..then to orange and the sweat begins to be everywhere and I am confident I won’t make it the entire class….I’m glad I came!

The weight training exercises are becoming less foreign to me.  I can actually do most without extra instruction (The old person needs extra help-me.) …..but… bring out those bands…and well….you might as well be asking me to program the DVD player!  Help!  After a few tries with the trainer…I am on the right track.  I’ve gone up on most weights and can already tell some major changes in my abs and my calves and in my arms.  All Burpee form of events have to be modified for me in order to prevent Mr. Menieres from showing up…but so far I don’t feel cheated by any of the modifications.  Honestly, that’s one thing that i have loved about OT.  Modifications are readily available on almost everything based on your physical condition, limitations etc…and  you won’t feel like you are getting less of a workout.

The Water-Rower.  It’s either going to kill me, or I will kill it.  I switched up this past week so that instead of starting on the treadmill, I now start on the rower.  I found I just didn’t have anything left to give when I saved the water-rower for after the treadmill block.  Still struggling keeping my heels down during the row, but I noticed I finally got my wattage up today!  Small steps…big results!  Not going to sugar-coat this….300-500 meter rows then straight into weights and then back on the rowers and back to weights…repeat…until that block is over…..well..IT IS HARD!  I seem to stay in the orange for the majority of this block.  Nate and Andrea have been so patient with me and have really worked hard to make sure I get the hang of the rowers.

Treadmill.  “So this is how they are meant to be used???!!!!!!”  It’s interval training on the treadmill.  Endurance, power, just never know what the day will be.  I have already had to go up a bit on my speed at base and push and I can’t hang out with a 4-5 incline on push anymore.  Well, I guess I can, but I like that green and orange!  I’ve become quiet agile in jumping out to the sides of the treadmill when we go from all-out to base.  I’m already realizing at some point…I will move up to jogger…for now…I’ll just keep pushing that incline!  BTW….12 incline at 4MPH is a tough all-out!

Changes I am seeing….I think one of the biggest things is my core is getting stronger.  I can tell when I am sitting and standing. I can also see HUGE improvements in the cellulite areas.  Yes….one might say I am skinny fat.  I have also noticed it’s getting easier to bring my heart rate back down.  It’s been almost a month since this all began.  Crazy.

Now….y’all remember I said I wasn’t weighing.  Well….had my primary care appointment last week and they weighed me.  I was down three pounds.  I haven’t made any huge changes to my diet…I do drink more water and I do find I eat more healthy on workout days…if you don’t… feel awful!

So….I think OT is a good fit for Kimmielou.  It keeps me honest…cause if I schedule and don’t show…well…I’m charged!

It was a hard workout today and I think I have earned a treat….coffee and a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie.  See ya later!

Don't be a chicken....workout!

Don’t be a chicken….workout!

My distaste for the NFL and what college football has become….

This will be short.  This will be sweet.

This past week we have been reminded of the issues facing communities in this great nation that face oppression.  Whether that’s all from outside forces or some of it created by inside forces (They say we can be our own worst enemy sometimes.) is for people much wiser than myself to debate.  What I do know is this…anger festers, it boils and it is ugly and it doesn’t think for one moment about the consequences of its actions.

Which brings me to the point of this little blog post.  I am angry this morning.  I am angry at FSU, angry at the NFL and most of all, angry at this kid named Winston.  I was already angry last night when that coveted first round draft pick was offered to this kid by the Tampa Bay Bucs.  Today….I wake up and see how he mocked the entire nation by eating crab for his celebratory dinner.  He mocked every kid out there who day in, day out…works hard and does the right thing.  That kid is sitting at the breakfast table today seeing this “star” mock all those that tried to bring justice.  “It’s ok if you commit crimes, we are going to look the other way and reward you will millions.  It’s ok if you commit crimes, we are going to let you be the star on the field at the college game on Saturday.”

That’s the message sent to every kid in America last night and this morning by Winston, the NFL, Tampa Bay and FSU.  Doing the wrong thing gets rewarded if you are a star athlete.

I’m typically not a fan of Fox News…but they did have a very good timeline of the known behaviors…that were just rewarded with millions of dollars last night. Maybe I am the only one upset today….I pray that’s not true.  I hope that we, as American’s, have not become so jaded we view rewarding a history of events ok. Is this really what the NFL and college football are about?  The almighty dollar….without regard to the message it sends to our youth?  Off soapbox now.  I believe I need a lot of coffee for today.

Directly from Fox News:

Nov. 25, 2012: A woman calls 911 to report that there are two men on a bike path on the Florida State University campus with what appears to be a black, long-barreled pistol. Police respond and draw their guns as they approach Jameis Winston and his roommate and teammate, Chris Casher, and ultimately handcuff them. The two tell the officer they were shooting at squirrels with a pellet gun, and they are released without charges being filed.

Nov. 25, 2012: A few hours after the incident on the bike path, Winston, Casher and two other Florida State players, Mario Edwards and Kenneth “P.J.” Williams, allegedly engage in a BB- and pellet-gun battle at their apartment house, inflicting an estimated $4,000 in damage. Management at the apartment house declines to press criminal charges after an FSUathletic official vows that the players will pay for the damage.

Dec. 7, 2012: Winston is accused of raping a woman at his off-campus apartment. The woman reports the assault to police that day and five weeks later calls a detective and identifies Winston as her attacker after seeing him in a class. Tallahassee police drop the investigation, contending the woman has refused to cooperate, then revive it nine months later and sent it to State Attorney Willie Meggs. Meggs conducts a new investigation but concludes that there is not enough evidence to file criminal charges. Winston’s lawyer contends the sexual encounter was consensual.  The U.S. Department of Education later launches a federal investigation of the school’s handling of the incident after questions arise about whether Florida State followed the provisions of Title IX, and in August 2014 the school launches an investigation of Winston under the student code of conduct.

July 21, 2013: Winston is accused of entering a Burger King in Tallahassee and helping himself to soda from the fountain machine without paying for it. A restaurant employee later tells police she gave Winston a cup of water but that he poured the water out and helped himself to several cups of soda despite her objections. No charges are filed.

April 29, 2014: Winston is accused of stealing $32.72 worth of crab legs from a Tallahassee supermarket. He is given a civil citation that allows him to perform community service and is suspended from the FSU baseball team until he completes that work. Winston tells police he “forgot” to pay for the crab legs and publicly apologizes.

May 20, 2014: Winston is expected at a code-of-conduct hearing for Chris Casher and Ronald Darby, two FSU teammates who alleged the witnessed a portion of the sexual encounter involving the quarterback and the woman who accused him of rape. They are both accused of violating school rules. Winston does not show up for the hearing, and his lawyer contends that no one from the school ever asked him to be there – something that is disputed by attorneys involved in the process. However, FSU officials later acknowledge that they have no way to force a witness to attend a code-of-conduct hearing.

Sept. 16, 2014: Winston is seen by several students jumping up on a table on campus and screaming a sexually charged expletive-laced phrase that was made popular on the internet. FSU head football coach Jimbo Fisher suspends Winston for the first half of the team’s upcoming game with Clemson, and school officials vow that he will be subject to “internal discipline” – most likely under the school’s code of conduct. Winston apologizes.


Oct. 13, 2014: ESPN reports that FSU’s compliance department is investigating whether Winston accepted money in exchange for autographs. The university’s athletic director issues a statement on Oct. 17, explaining that the compliance staff looking into whether Jameis Winston accepted unauthorized benefits for his autograph has “no information indicating that he accepted payment for items reported to bear his signature, thereby compromising his athletics eligibility.”