Wednesday, April 22, 2009

White Chocolate Ganache Buttercream:

Recipe I need to write down before I forget:

1 bag white chocolate chips
8 oz whipped cream
1 stick unsalted butter
4 cups powdered sugar (+/-, depending on your desired sweetness and stiffness)

The momentary sadness I felt at being discouraged from participating in the harming of my body (hence the monniker "Bruisers", my husband reminded me with less sympathy than I felt was kind...) has now been replaced with the realization that bruises hurt, a lot;-) And limping at work, while entertaining for a day, got old pretty quick-- especially when I really and truly couldn't walk normally as I am usually able to feign when sustaining little peepee injuries in the past.

Without a doubt, there were aspects of the experience that were a ton of fun: feeling strong, fast, and incredibly powerful; the overall joy of skating that makes me high as a kite. Falling and bouncing back up as if nothing had happened was also very cool, as was the momentary sting of pain I felt that gave no true indication of how much I was going to hurt every time I needed to use that particular body part for the duration of the week.

Pushing myself has always been one of my favorite pasttimes, spin class being the best example of that; knowing how sick I can make myself after cranking my gears a little too heavily, spinning my wheel until I see stars, feel faint, and keep on smiling, begging for more. Abusing myself has been a source of good, clean fun for a long, long, time-- but have I finally crossed a line?

Part of me thinks that I made the three hour experience that much more difficult by skating two hours just an hour before the Boot Camp, because surely the only thing more difficult than skating "balls to the wall" for three hours is skating hard for FIVE hours in a day, no?

Was THAT stroke of foolishness the true cause of my misery today? Or was the experience itself just that much out of my league??

I would have thought that my daily abuses on the spin bike would have qualified me for a pain free post-Boot Camp experience (minus the falls I took cause I was getting overwhelmed and tired); haven't wiped myself out like that, not even after birthing a 10# baby in 45 minutes (in which I barely broke a sweat, btw) or hiking down a 15 miles trail into the Arizona desert in July completely unequipped (fringed, knee high moccasins and all). But there it was: my ass was kicked in a wholly new way, sending the fear of pain I've only nodded at blankly in my Pain Clinic patients deeply into my bones, my psyche (some of which hurt to this day...).

And so here I sit, faintly more prepared with my padded pants, better hand/wrist guards, a plan in place to take it easier, try not to overdo it in spite of myself... but for what?? Do I REALLY want to join a team? Do I have the time? Can my family withstand the impact of my life expanding in this way??

Questions for another day, because for now I'm just going to take it one moment at a time, to "just do, don't think", which has bcome my mantra (in addition to "do one thing everyday that scares you":

(A newspaper column by Mary Schmich, published by the Chicago Tribune on 01 June 1997):
Inside every adult lurks a graduation speaker dying to get out, some world-weary pundit eager to pontificate on life to young people who'd rather be Rollerblading. Most of us, alas, will never be invited to sow our words of wisdom among an audience of caps and gowns, but there's no reason we can't entertain ourselves by composing a Guide to Life for Graduates.I encourage anyone over 26 to try this and thank you for indulging my attempt.Ladies and gentlemen of the class of '97:

Wear sunscreen.If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine. Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 p.m. on some idle Tuesday. Do one thing every day that scares you. Sing. Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours. Floss. Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself. Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how. Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements. Stretch. Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone. Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.Read the directions, even if you don't follow them. Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly. Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future. Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young. Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel. Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble and children respected their elders.Respect your elders.Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse. But you never know when either one might run out.Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia. Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.But trust me on the sunscreen. Copyright © 2006, Chicago Tribune

Sunday, April 19, 2009


Life has been in a state of flux lately, as it often is in spring. The world around me is heavy into the phase of renewing itself, and of course my DNA wants to get in on the party... it seems to me to be a perfectly natural thing to cycle through life: ups, downs, periods of insane amounts of growth, and then a slowing down, a rest...
Until the sap begins to flow again, the chicks arrive, and I start making plans to train for roller derby.
Yeah, just like you never know exactly when the spring rains will arrive or the precise moment the daffodils will open, you just never know when or where the winds of change will blow me, which for me, makes life a splendid experience worth waking up for.

Who knew back in December that when I strapped on those ugly brown rental skates for the first time in 30 years, I'd experience an exhilaration of my own propulsion I hadn't experienced since the freedom of childhood (which allows such things in ways adulthood never has, I've since discovered). And I'm finally old enough now where I don't care that I can't do it well, how I look, what other people think.
I always knew I'd love being 40 (or nearly 40), and my gal Mary Pipher sums up my relationship with my body these days quite nicely:

"Fortunately, with middle age, I granted my body amnesty. Nobody much noticed its shape anymore, not even me. It was well fed, exercised daily and taken to the doctor for regular visits... I didn't ask 'Am I pretty?' but rather, 'Can I still ice-skate, cross-country ski and carry a backpack up a mountain?'"

And my answer is, yes. I can do all those things, better than when I was younger and had other things on my mind. (Women go through these pretty predictable stages in their lives, and I wish we talked about it more, so we can make sense of it, plan for it, make no apologies, and move on unscathed to the next one-- especially for that "my kids are little, I'm socially isolated, losing my mind, and it's making me fat and depressed" stage. That one was particularly crunchy, and I'm so very glad to have put it behind me... but I digress;-)

The feeling of flying, moving through space is intoxicating, with the benefit of making myself feel infinitely better and making my body work better, improving my coordination and balance and confidence that I can be athletic and learn something new. How can that be anything but fantastic?
I plan on growing old kicking and screaming, broadening my horizons and expanding my world with each step I take into the future... but the family I've found myself a part of likes to stay put; it worries them to try new things, and because I am crazy about them, try to honor it. They dislike it immensely when I go off on these tangents, and even though they renew me, the guilt of leaving them behind and the exhaustion at trying to drag them along gets to be too much, and eventually I stop.
But how much of an obligation do I have to postpone healthy personal growth because it makes my family uncomfortable? There has to exist a balance between fulfilling my needs as a human being who deeply requires these experiences, and meeting my family's needs to feel secure. I just haven't found it yet, and it makes me a little blue.

I'm off to skate, bringing a son and a husband who'd rather stay home, who'd rather I'd stay home...sigh. Maybe someday they'll thank me for dragging them with me into the world, and I'll be all the stronger for pulling the weight.