Monday, January 30, 2012

Uno, Dos, Tres

cuatro, cinco, cinco, seis!

I may or may not have been channeling this song just now.

No, but really, I only have 3 things. Random things that I felt compelled to write down here and share. You're welcome.

1) As I was eating dinner last night (a scrumptious veggie, tempeh stir-fry) I had a revelation about a specific eating habit of mine.
Everything was sauteed together to delightful, golden goodness and topped with spicy tomato sauce that I mixed thoroughly through it after this picture was taken. Then, proceeded to eat all the veggies separately, one by one. First the broccoli. Then the asparagus, and so on, leaving the tempeh for last. What's the point in that!? I cook them together but won't eat them together? Not very sensible, Rach. I guess it's because it's so much easier to just throw everything in the pan together than to try and keep things separate. And honestly, I don't care that the different things are touching, I just like to eat them one item at a time. One of my many food-related peculiarities.

2) As I was rearranging my little section of my fridge in an effort to make my groceries all fit, I couldn't help thinking "I can't wait until I graduate and move into my own apartment where I can take over the WHOLE FRIDGE!"

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love living with my 3 roommates, and I am in no rush to jump on the college-graduate train. But, I know there are things that I am definitely looking forward to about living on my own. Mostly, being able to spread out and have a whole space to myself. I'm mean look at what I'm working with:
My roommate, Reb, getting busy on our first night in this apartment. Almost 2 years ago!
No, your eyes don't deceive you. That one wall of cabinets is the entire kitchen. Split between 4 girls, all with vastly different eating habits, who don't share food. Obviously, space is tight, especially in our teeny, janky, fridge. But, we compromise and make it work. In a few months, I'll move into an apartment with this kitchen. Right?

Yea. Right. But a girl can dream...
3) Lastly, I am so freaking tired today!! Since I woke up at 7 this morning, I have been able to think of nothing but how badly I want to crawl back into my bed and sleep till tomorrow. But, I had to move my car this morning (gotta love a college apartment with no parking), so I forced myself to the gym. It's on the way. And I was driving. I had no excuse... except I was tan cansada. Still, I went. And, I struggled to stay awake during went to my first class at 10. I still don't feel like my eyes are completely open.

I should have let myself sleep more, but the threat of a parking ticket was enough to get me out of bed. I'm extra hungy today, too, probably because I am so tired. My body needs the extra fuel to get me through my classes and errands today. I'm hoping I can settle down for a nap after my class gets out at 3, but who knows about that one. I haven't been so good at the napping thing lately. If nothing else, I will try and take a day off from the gym tomorrow morning and sleep in. Mmmmm, bed. I can't wait.

Cheers to Monday!
- Rach

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Maybe, Not so Far

*I want to preface this post by explaining that I have never been formally diagnosed with an eating disorder, but I know what I struggle with is real and not always healthy. I am trying to be as honest and candid as possible. If only to help myself sort my way though this.*

This week was just one of those weeks.

Where everything is piled up, back-to-back-to-back, and you don't even realize how busy and crazed you are until you finally reach the end, slow down, and try to catch your breath.

Everything whooshes past your ears, and you realized you are exhausted. Beat.

Needless to say, this was how I was feeling at about 4:00 on Friday. Don't get me wrong, it was a great week. I was busy and focused and overall, very productive. I worked out everyday, had 2 exams, did tons of reading, and taught a very successful lesson to my fourth graders on Friday.

So, after a low-key night on Friday, and some errand-running yesterday morning, I was ready to blow off some steam last night. My roommates and I got all dressed up and went out on the town. It was an awesome night out with all of my best friends. I was one of those nights where everyone is in a great mood, you see people you haven't seen in years, make some new friends, and probably drink too much.

Yes, definitely drank too much.

But you know what? That's ok. It was once in a while, and the fun I was having was more important than the calories I was consuming. Yay! It was awesome! I was feeling like I really had come so far to find myself forgetting about the calories. I was on top of the world.

Until...things took a turn for the worse. Duh. Duh. Duhhhhhhh (cue cheesy horror-movie music).

Long story, short, I ended up in an alcohol-induced panic attack at my best guy-friends' house because of all of the food I ate after getting there for after hours. I tried to dip out of there and sneak home unnoticed, but my friends weren't going to allow that. Alex, one of the guys (and actually an ex of mine), walked me home. He let me cry into his chest and said all the right things to help me start to calm down. It's amazing how someone so unexpected can be just what you need sometimes.

I don't even know where to begin explaining what was going through my head during that whole time. I really was freaking out about the food. I haven't done that in months, but it was an all-too-familiar emotion to fall back into. I was also embarrassed because all of my friends either witnessed or were aware that it was going on. They are my best friends, and I don't want them to not know, but I have always been so good at keeping things under wraps that it is just uncomfortable to think that I allowed it to happen so openly.

Mostly, though, I was disappointed in myself. I felt like an addict that has relapsed. Like I have been doing so well, and I know that I have come so far. After all this time, to go back to this pattern of behavior is so upsetting. Yes, I was drunk, which never helps, but I feel like I should have been stronger than that. Maybe I haven't come so far. Maybe all the progress my roommates say I have made is all for nothing because of this one episode.

I know that's crap. I know that this is a process that is going to have some ups and downs. And, yet, I can't help but beat myself up for it. I am disappointed in myself, and disheartened, again, because of how hard this all is for me.

As I think about last night, though, there are some positives that can come of this. I have to try and see the silver lining to keep my positive streak going. This is just a small road bump, rather than a brick wall.

First, the public-ness (may or may not be a word) of my break down may actually have some positive outcomes. My roommates have always been pretty keenly aware of my struggles, but my other friends who don't live with me everyday haven't known the extent. Now, they have seen more of it, and I don't feel like I have to hide so much. I am really trying to own who I am, and this is one step in that direction.

Second, this is an opportunity for me to take control and show how far I have come by reacting differently than I used to. I will not be at the gym the minute the doors open today to start working it off. I will eat well-balanced meals and not restrict calories. I will not punish myself for "mistakes" made last night. This is extremely difficult for me emotionally, but I am going to push through the discomfort and make the decisions that I know are good for my body. This is huge. This is definite progress. I am proud of myself for this one.

So, yes, maybe I haven't come quite as far as I would like to believe. Maybe I am still fragile. But, this is all the more reason to be kind and forgiving to myself. This is an opportunity for growth, and I am forcing myself to make it through. I don't really have another option. I have to put last night behind me and move on.

Here's to another day.

Respect Yourself, Accept Yourself, Forgive Yourself, Love Yourself.

~ Rach

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Joining the Party!

I thought that on my 3rd attempt at the blog thing, I just had to wiggle my way into my favorite weekly party. I am so thankful that it falls on Wednesdays, my one day of no classes for the week.
Much needed study breaks = perfect time to check out some awesome eats!
I know it's not much to look, yet, but I didn't think it was fair to my little baby blog to leave it out of the partay!! Plus, as part of my new, healthier perspective, I'm not letting fear of not measuring up keep me from joining in on things I love. Besides, it's not about comparison anyway, right Jenn? 
So, here we go with WIAW #1!
I tend to be the ultimate grazer. Literally, I eat every 2 or 3 hours. I think it stems from the digestion issues I used to deal with (no more since switching to a vegan!). I just hated the feeling of being overly full, and eating every few hours seems to work for me. It keeps my energy up, and I just love eating, so I get to enjoy one of my favorite activities more often during the day. That being said, there is no way I could photograph everything I eat, but here is most of what a regular day looks like.

7:00: wake up and off to the gym
I love to sweat it out first thing in the morning. SO energizing!
9:00ish: Breakfast.
Best meal of the day, and almost ALWAYS oatmeal.
Today's mix: oat bran, tons of blueberries, flax and cinnamon, topped with AB, and later some granola for some crrrrunch.

10-12: Class (Spanish Linguistics, super hard, but interesting! Probs my fave this quarter)

12:30ish: Lunch
Excuse the blurry iPhone pic: "tostadas" a.k.a. wheat sandwich thin with spicy black bean puree, tomatoes, and Daiya mozz made melty under the broiler; avocado and salsa for dippage; carrots and cukes.
2-5:00: class
Obviously, I can't make it through 3 hours of class without snacks.
Today's choice: Smore's luna bar and an apple (I'm not afraid to be a loud muncher in class) and mucho agua.
7:00ish: Dinner
Big a$$ plate of kale (sauteed with onions and salsa); zapped sweet potato topped with white beans and covered in more salsa.
9:30: snack
After a night of meetings (Spanish Club, and the OU Council for Teachers of Mathematics), it was time for a night cap.
Chocolate oats! Much more scrumptious than they look. Oats, cocoa powder, stevia, almond milk, topped with strawberries.
And, off to bed, just to wake up and do it again. I will definitely be having more oats for breakfast. Once every 12 hours? Seems reasonable to me!

Much Love,

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

About Time

I canNOT believe it took me this long, but last night I finally got around to watching Forks Over Knives.

I was blown away. Of course, the movie was kind of "preaching to the choir" with me since I already firmly believe in the benefits of a vegan diet. Still, I found myself glued to the screen, and even I was flabbergasted at the undeniable medical evidence presented in the film.

In the past year that I have kept my plant-based diet, I have definitely felt the scrutiny of people who don't understand my choices. I feel like I am constantly defending myself, and that's fine because I am steadfast in my passion for this lifestyle. Plus, food is one of my favorite topics to chat about, and I know my sh!t, so I am happy to defend my stance.

What I have found though, is that food and what we choose to include in our diet is a very personal choice, and that people tend to resort to a defensive state when their habits are challenged. So, while I am happy to share my beliefs, I sincerely try to avoid being "preachy" or seemingly-attacking when discussing this stuff.

Often, and I have notices mostly from guys, I am perceived as being a hyper-sensitive, overly-emotional, hippie who is concerned with animal cruelty and saving the planet. While this is partly true, and I am concerned with those things as most vegans are, it isn't the only- or even the main- reason that I avoid animal products. Really, it is the health effects that animal products on our bodies that motivate my desire to maintain my plant-based diet.

This is the reason that I found Forks Over Knives to be so effective. It leaves out the emotional side of a vegan diet and appeals entirely to the hard medical evidence. I truly believe that it could be persuasive even to those most hesitant.
"Who cares about the animals? Check out the health benefits! Be selfish and save yourself by turning your health around with a vegan diet!"

After watching the movie, I felt this strong urge to spread it to my family and loved ones. I texted both my parents, my brother, and his girlfriend encouraging them to watch the movie and seriously consider its implications. 
My brother was the focus of this attention (he doesn't read the blog, so no worries about what I am about to say). The broski's weight has fluctuated greatly in his life. He went from offensive-lineman size in high school, to too-thin-I-might-not-be-so-healthy sized in college, and back to his original size-minus-the-activity now. I love him, and he is my best friend regardless of his weight, and honestly it isn't about his size. It's about his health. His risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and cancer I worry for him. I know he isn't the healthiest of people, and I just worry for his future. I want him to be around for a long time, have kids with his girlfriend (hopefully soon-to-be-fiance), and be around to watch his family grow.

He is also the least receptive to any of my opinions. When it's coming from his baby sister, he wants nothing to do with it. He can't take it seriously or believe that I could have something going. He often calls me his "little, dirty, tree-hugger" and doesn't buy into any of the emotional reasons behind my vegan diet. 

It is my hope that the arguments presented in Forks Over Knives could plant some kind of seed in his mind about how he can start taking his health into his own hands. The message could spread like molasses from person to person if everyone would just be open to these new ideas.

I love him, and I want him to be around for a long time, but he won't accept it coming from me. Maybe hearing doctors and scientist present the same arguments could change his perspective? Here's hoping.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Out of the Ordinary

Last night, I did something that just a month-or-so ago, I would never have done. Whoa, now! Calm down. This is a positive thing.

Last night, I went to the first of seven Modern Dance classes that I signed up for at my school's rec center. No, this isn't the big news, although it is exciting.

I signed up for, paid for, walked to, and participated fully in this dance class completely alone. I knew the instructor, but didn't know anyone else taking it, what kind of content would be taught, or even what to wear. But, I did it anyways. And, it was awesome!

Rewind about 10 years to where this all starts. All through grade school and high school. I was a dancer. I was on a competitive dance team from age 10-18, and it was my life. Out side of high school, I danced. That was it.
Proof. This was my team during my senior year, the year that I was captain. I'm back row, left. Definitely have changed physically since then.
When I got to college, I pretty much stopped dancing except for participating in the tap dance club here on campus for a few quarters. Needless to say, I am out of practice, and starting this class last night, I wasn't sure where my skills, flexibility, stamina, or strength lied. Add onto that the fact that I had no friends in the class to fall back on or ease any awkwardness that I felt.

A month or two ago, I would say I was at the most self-conscious I have ever been in my life. Which seems pretty silly since I was thinner and more active than ever. At least for me, though, being in the middle of some serious issues with food and having recently gone through the worst heart break I could imagine, my self-confidence was the first thing to go. And, it disappeared  almost completely.

I am so happy to say that I am proud of myself for going through with this class. I stepped back into something I love whole-heartedly. Even if it was a little nerve wracking. I'll admit, I had some butterflies. But, more than that, I was excited to step out of the familiar and take a risk by trying something on my own.

This is even more evidence as to how far I have come in such a short time. It seems that little accomplishments like this are revealing themselves to me all the time, especially when I am least expecting it. I can't wait to get back into that class next Sunday. Bring it on!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Daddy's Little Girl

After a busy week, an icy night, and a gray morning, I had the best pick me up on Saturday. This weekend was Dad's Weekend at my college, and my amazing Dad came to spend the day and night with me.

My university won the ranking of #1 Party School in the country this year (Google it. We are simultaneously proud and embarrassed by the ranking here), and the various parents' weekends throughout the year are no different. People go crazy, and there are wasted middle aged men wandering around all weekend.

Don't get me wrong, it's great fun, and it's really heartwarming to see everyone with their families. But, my family does things a little differently. My dad doesn't drink. At all. And my mom is far too small to drink more than one glass of wine before she is ready for bed. Bar-hopping isn't their scene, and I love when they visit because I get to do things around the town that I normally wouldn't. Plus, we get some great time in together after not seeing each other for a few weeks.

So, on Saturday, my dad got into town around noon. We had talked about driving bout an hour out of town to go hiking in the Hocking Hills, but Friday night we had a huge ice storm, and the whole area was coated in about half an inch of solid ice.
You think I'm kidding? No literally ice on everything!
For most people, this would have game-changing. Hiking in an ice storm? Understandably not for most people. Well, not for this girl and her dad. We bundled up and headed out for some slippery hiking at Old Man's Cave. The ice only made it more beautiful.

The falls behind me and Dad. You know you're jealous of my hat.
My Dad even decided it would be a good idea to take an extra mile of trails that were roped off due to "danger caused by falling ice". Yea that is my family. But it was awesome!

We got back into town and relaxed before heading to dinner at one of my favorite local spots, Lui Lui. It was totally packed! So, we were lucky that I called ahead and made reservations. Naturally, I forgot to take a picture of the food, but everything was lip-smacking. I had Hunan Tofu and Veggies with extra hot sauce on the side. Mmmmm.

Later, my friend, Chris did stand-up at open mic night at a local coffee shop. It was a blast, but there is something a little too uncomfortable about listening to raunchy college-guy jokes while sitting next to your father. Only more to laugh about, I guess!
The funny-man, himself. You can't tell, but his tshirt has sea turtles all over it. He was great!
Breaking from the OU parents' weekend traditions again, we didn't sleep in late, nursing hangovers. My dad and I were up at 7 to hit up some grocery shopping. He shares my love for food, and one of our favorite weekly activities when I am home is grocery shopping on Sunday mornings. We made sure to get that in while he was here for the weekend. Thanks, Dad, for feeding me for the next week!

We ended his visit with breakfast at his favorite local place. My treat.
Village Bakery and Café. I love their whole philosophy and their food is beyond delicious.

Again, I forgot to get a pic of the food, but I did manage to remember to snap a shot of our damage. Dad: smoked trout frittata with Parmesan polenta. Me: wheat toast and a side of fruit.
This Dad's weekend couldn't have been more perfect. I am definitely a Daddy's girl, and he is one of the few people in my life that I can say really gets me. It's so sad to think that this will be the last real Dad's weekend before I graduate! But, I guess once I am settled, we can have our own Dad's weekend any time we want.

Wishing you all a Happy Sunday, and a great start to the week!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Moving Forward

Last night, my roommate, Rebecca interviewed me for an upcoming post on her fantastic blog, Keep Moving Forward.

Reb and me all dolled up for a wedding last summer. Isn't she gorgeous?
She wanted to know how my big decision to transition to a vegan diet has affected my life. We had an awesome conversation about self-reflection and the process of pulling yourself out of the depths of a tough time in your life.

It made me think about and reflect on everything I have been through recently. I will discuss it in a later post when I am ready. I don't quite feel like I have the words for it right now.

What I do know - and what the convo with Reb revealed to me even more - is that I am truly beginning to accept all parts about myself. I have gone through this journey of self-realization in the past few months, and I am so proud of the woman I have become.

In the past, I have had a tendency to make decisions and, essentially, live for the happiness of the people around me. Be it family, friends, or most-likely boyfriends, their happiness always came before mine.

Well, not any more. It's time for me to step up, be an adult, and figure out how to live and create the life that I want and that I deserve. For myself. For once in my life. I am being selfish, and I am completely ok with it. No, I am ecstatic about it.

In the interview, Reb asked me if I have a mantra or phrase that I use to motivate myself or get me through rough times. She, herself, has been through some life-changing things in the past few years, and "Keep Moving Forward" is the phrase that she uses.

Maybe it was because I was just chatting with one of my besties, but I actually revealed to her the thing that I repeat to myself almost daily. After every journal entry (like a paper journal that I write in with my hands and a pen. Old fashioned, I know. But, it makes me feel better when anxiety strikes), I write these four lines, take a deep breath, and I am ready to move on. They remind me that the priority in my life is me, my health and my happiness. That I deserve to love myself before anyone else.

Respect Yourself
Accept Yourself
Forgive Yourself
Love Yourself

So, I leave you with those words. Check out Reb's blog. She is an inspiration. I'll definitely link up when she posts my interview.

Do you have any mantras or phrases that inspire or motivate you?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

How I: Eat My Oatmeal

Admit it. When you read the title of my post, you said, "Why do I care?". Honestly, why would you?

I have this theory that the way you know you truly understand and know someone really well is when you notice and recognize the little eccentricities about their everyday life. The way they do certain things. Their quirks. My ex always called me quirky. It was a nicer way to say that I can be a bit unique sometimes. And, you know what? I am totally ok with that. I think quirky is probably one of the most appropriate descriptions I have ever received.

I am thinking that this post may be the first of a series about things that I do in particular ways. It's entertaining to me to reflect on how downright silly I can be about certain things, and maybe take a step in to releasing some of the self-induced rituals.

One of the things that I am particular about is my morning routine. It is important to me to start the day off on the right foot so I can spend the rest of the day following that trend and just feeling altogether good.

Ideally, my morning starts at the a$$ crack of dawn, going to the gym for a good sweat sesh. I love working out in the morning. It gets it out of the way, and wakes me up so that I am ready for the day.

The quirkiest part of my morning, though, is definitely how I eat my oatmeal. Breakfast is always oatmeal. It is delicious, full of nutrients, and fills me up so that I stay satisfied through my morning classes. I have experimented with other breakfasts, and while there are many scrumptious options, nothing does it for me like my oatmeal.

So, let's take a look:
First off, what's in the mix. Technically, I don't know that you can even call this oatmeal, because the only oats in it are actually oat bran. This morning's bowl was pretty typical: 1/3 c oat bran, about 1/4c blueberries, half of a chopped apple, cinnamon and water. Zapped in the micro for 2 min. I know, I know, stove top is better, but what college student has 45 min to cook oats?

The whole thing then gets topped with a drizzle of nut butter. Anywhere from 1/2 to a whole tablespoon (today it was 1 tbs almond butter). Then, I use the back of my (mini) spoon to spread it out so that there is an even layer all over the top.
 After judging my nut butter spreading for the area with the most nutty bite, I start digging in from the opposite side, working towards the more heavily buttered side. I eat it across in rows, actually digging away underneath the nut butter so that I always end a row with a bite of the good stuff.
 The last row is always the trickiest because I really do want to keep the nuttiest bite for last. I keep the top layer stuck to the sides of the mug and scrape away below it. I end on a high note of mostly nut butter with (hopefully) a blueberry right below it. Mmmmm

That's how I do it. That's how I like it. Now you know. I am sure that you are thankful for all the info. But, think about it. What are somethings that you always do the same way? Any funny eating habits?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

2 Down, 2 To Go

This week has been jam-packed full of teacher-y happenings. Mostly, in the form of studying for the Math Content Praxis II that I took yesterday morning.

The Praxis tests are a series of tests that teacher candidates have to pass in order to get their teacher licenses. So, basically, they determine whether or not I will have a future career in education. I took the Principles of Learning and Teaching (basically a test that shows that you know how to be a good teacher) last fall, and I passed easily. I mean, I would hope so. I have been teaching in some form since I was 14.

But the Math Content... that was a whole different story.
This test covers all math material from the 7th grade level to the math that I am taking now as a senior in college. No joke. I bought a review book and have been slowly plugging away at it since mid-December. Last Sunday night, I got down to serious studying, and completely freaked out. I attempted the first of the practice tests, and it was ridiculous! It was as if the more I was studying, the dumber and dumber I felt. Cue minor panic attack.

I talked to my roommates, my parents, and my brother, and they calmed me down enough for me to look at the material seriously again. I decided that I would study for a few hours every night leading up to the test, and that was all I could do. You can only cram so much into one little brain in a week.

My life this week was spent a prisoner my desk. With my space heater by my feet (my apartment is always outrageously cold), and my nose in this book. Over 300 pages of torture.
It's amazing how the pressure of the test combined with the frustration and lack of self-confidence could make me hate studying something that I usually really enjoy. There may have been a few incidents in which the book ended up thrown on the floor in frustration.

Friday night came around, and I just couldn't do it any more. So, I quit the studying for the night, painted my nails, watched a movie with my roommate, and went to bed early. I woke up early enough to give myself enough time to wake up, eat a good breakfast, and take my time getting ready.
Breakfast. The same as every morning. Oat bran, blueberries, apple, topped with peanut butter. The true breakfast of champions.
At this point, my mental health was more important than staring at the same math problems over again.

I made it to the test building with perfect timing to get settled and hit the bathroom before the test (which I did again during the test and right after. I have no idea what is with my teeny weeny bladder. TMI? Sorry, I'm not sorry).

It went better than expected! I really do think my studying helped, and even more than that, giving myself the time to relax the night before made a huge difference. I will never be one of those crazies who pulls all-nighters right before exams. Girl's gotta get her beauty rest!

The day wrapped up in an equally delightful way. Lunch and coffee with a bestie. Zumba and a cardio workout at the gym. Relaxing dinner. A night out with some great friends.

It's just amazing to me that a week that started out so full of anxiety could do such a 180 and end with an awesome weekend! I think this is only a foreshadowing of how awesome the rest of this quarter is going to be. I have a good feeling about this one!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Third Time's the Charm

I have to admit...

This will be my third attempt at blogging- excluding the online journal I kept during my study abroad in Toledo Spain. Two summers ago, my roommate and I decided we would try blogging about cooking in our tiny college apartment. We created a title and design, and that's where we left it. I am sure that our black page is still floating out there in cyberspace somewhere.

The summer after that (so this past one) I started a blog that I kept up for the whole summer and into the beginning of Fall Quarter of my senior year. Everything was going smoothly, and even though I don't think I had many- if any- readers, I really enjoyed writing every few days.

That was until everything imploded.

Senior year started with a crash. An insanely busy schedule with 18 hours of classes, 15 of field observations/teaching, and 20 hours of work at 2 different jobs. A terrible breakup with the guy I thought I was going to marry. All leading to the resurgence of some disordered eating habits that I had been working through with said boyfriend.

I tried to keep up the blog, but it largely focused on food. I was overwhelmed and felt too much pressure regarding my food to find any joy in writing any more.

It has been a few months. I have spent some much needed time at home with my amazing family. I have reconnected with friends that I had alienated when I was consumed by my own problems. I started this winter quarter, and 2012 with a new sense of hope.

For the first time, I am excited to begin figuring just who I am on my own.

This much I know. I am deeply passionate about teaching, and the closer I get to graduation, the more I itch to get out there and have my own classroom. I still have a passion for healthy, whole, plant-based food. I have discovered a new appreciation (I won't say love, or even fondness) for exercise. I love writing, and I find that it is one of the best ways to relieve my stress.

And, I have a whole lot to say and share.

So, here we go... again. Hey, third time's the charm, right?