Monthly Archives: September 2012

Radio Silence from the Beastie

So, I’ve written about my Inner Lizard, the shrieking beastie who lives inside each of us and needles us whenever we stretch ourselves. The one who says: that’ll never fit, you can’t accomplish that, go back to the couch. Mine isn’t the voice of anyone but her, that Negative Nancy Naysayer who lurks within and dines on failures.

5 weeks ago, I started on the Couch25K running program and I’ve mentioned how much I’m enjoying myself and how good it feels to just be doing it.

5 weeks ago, I couldn’t run 60 seconds.  Last night, I ran 900 (15 minutes).

Here’s how the conversation went when the beastie showed herself yet again:

Me: I think I can really do this, it’s not that bad.
Her: Are you kidding me? You’re a rookie and the couch is calling …

Me: Man, that first run is always the toughest, my feet feel like lead.
Her: Yeah, you said that last time.

Me: Wow! 11 min down already!
Her: 19 to go, you’ll never make it.

Me: Who knew that running slow is harder than running fast?
Her: Running is hard period, are you sure you wouldn’t rather be on the couch?

Me: Wow! 22 min down!
Her: Can you hear your breathing? You sound like a sick cow!

Me: That last segment was tough, my legs are sure burning now.
Her: They’re burning ‘cause they’re about to give out.

Me: The sweat is pouring off me; I feel like I can do anything!
Her: You know you want to quit.

Me: Hey!  26 min down, time for my cool-down – HOOAH!
Her:        …. silence ….

What does your “Inner Beastie” like to dine on?

Categories: Attitude, Determination, Growth, Joy, Personal, Self Discovery, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 26 Comments

Just how beautiful life can be

Driving North this week, I encountered many signs of fall.

I allowed myself extra time to drink in scenes like this … one of yellows and oranges popping against a startling September sky:


I saw reds and golds and every color in between:

look at that range!

There were pumpkins and mums, bears and old pickup trucks:

near Kingsley, MI

And of course, apples… loads and loads of apples:

bought a bag of course!

But this, this was the sign worth turning around for:

Not his Mom but still I cried.

“Fall has always been my favorite season. The time when everything bursts with its last beauty, as if nature had been saving up all year for the grand finale.” 

– Lauren DeStefano

Categories: Faith, Family, Home, Patriotic, Seasons, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 33 Comments


Have you ever met someone whose personality immediately drew you in? Who, at first glance, seemed like someone you’d like to know better?

Not long ago, this happened to me.

I found myself seated next to another lady while both of us were getting manicures; I couldn’t help but overhear her conversation with another patron. She was articulate and engaging on the topics they discussed (health and health care). When the other lady finished and left, this one turned to me.   For a time, the conversation was pleasant.  Smiling inwardly, I thought, this is fun, because I love to meet and talk with new people.  But it was when she ventured off into alternative care that I felt a smidge of unease.   Bear in mind that I don’t take issue with alternative remedies; I personally think there’s a lot we can learn by going back to the basics – good nutrition, proper sleep, etc.  But, this was  different: I saw her eyes brighten and noted when she licked her lips and leaned in closer, almost conspiratorially.   It hit me that the two-way info exchange had stopped; now she talked at me about energy fields, colon-hydrotherapy and her stance against vaccinations.  Well, “to each his own,” I thought.  A break in the conversation allowed me to sit quietly for a moment and that’s when I heard it, a ringing in my right ear, clear and steady, like an alarm going off.   I smiled while trying to follow her stances on modalities, PH balances and the like.  I found myself a little sad, too, because before me was a woman with a quick and seeking mind.  Before me was not someone seeking conversation or friendship, however: before me was a soul whispering hear me, see me, affirm me.

When it was time to go, she smiled warmly and introduced herself as Jane, slipping her business card into my hand. I smiled back and told her my first name, too, but refrained from sharing my contact information. Instead I minded that little alarm, the one that very clearly said no.

“Intuition is always right in at least two important ways;

It is always in response to something.

It always has your best interest at heart”

― Gavin de Becker, “The Gift of Fear”

Have you ever been in this situation? How did you handle it?

image from

Categories: Faith, fear, Friendship, Personal, Thoughts, Uncategorized, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments

The rust of the week

Sunday has come around again and I’ve asked it to linger.

Friday night was fun, Hubbs and I had a date night in the garage. We laughed, we chatted, we waited in the rain for the Tigers to play but … no dice.

Yesterday was our “warrior” day – suited with Windex, paper towels, garbage bags and the vacuum, I tore through our bedroom, the one resembling a storage unit of late.
Inspired, Hubbs joined me and together we hauled out bags for Goodwill and loads of trash, too.  What a difference!

And now, Sunday’s arrived like the gift she is; the house is clean, the sun’s shining and  leaves are swirling down around the house.  Hubbs has Lions football and a Tigers’ double-header today, can you say ‘happy guy?’   I’ve got a pot of chili simmering on the stove and old dog waiting to go on our walk.

No offense to the other days, but Sunday can’t be beat.  She’s my favorite.

Sunday clears away the rust of the whole week – Joseph Addison

I’m happy Fall’s arrived: image from

What are you up to today?

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Family, Joy, Life, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 23 Comments

On Hinges

I no longer believed in the idea of soul mates, or love at first sight. But I was beginning to believe that a very few times in your life, if you were lucky, you might meet someone who was exactly right for you. Not because he was perfect, or because you were, but because your combined flaws were arranged in a way that allowed two separate beings to hinge together.
— Lisa Kleypas

When did you first understand that you & your mate were a match?

For me, it was the way we finished each other’s sentences. It was how long he’d stay on the phone with me; knowing that this is a guy who loathes the phone.  It was realizing that he was the first person I wanted to see every morning and the last one I wanted to see at night.  It was knowing that no matter where I went, or what I did, he’d stand by my side if only I’d let him.

Hinges.  They don’t work so well if there’s only one.

* * *

And on that note, it’s Friday and it’s Date Night and here we are, 21 years later .. get ready, set, go!

Categories: Attitude, Fun, Life, Men, Romance, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Kickin’ it

No, not the bucket.


There have always been those certain songs that make me get jiggy with it.

Ones I always turn up the volume for.





and one more

Am I dating myself?

Probably … the thing is, there are hundreds more I love just as much. Rock, Pop, Classic Country, Funk, Big Band, Classical, Soul and of course, Elvis (yes, he gets his own category, heh heh).

Hello, Handsome!

So tell me, what songs make you wanna reach for the volume?

Categories: Attitude, Joy, music, Opinion, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Secret worlds

In my secret world, beds are always made and my kitchen always sparkles.

this is not my kitchen

In my secret world, I am never late and every meal I prepare is healthy & balanced.

not balanced but no one cared

In my secret world, when I dance I am graceful and daring and hardly ever Elaine-like.

Seinfield’s Elaine dancing

In my secret world, I’m witty and wise and everyone wants to be my friend.

or not

“Everybody has a secret world inside of them. All of the people of the world, I mean everybody. No matter how dull and boring they are on the outside, inside them they’ve all got unimaginable, magnificent, wonderful, stupid, amazing worlds. Not just one world. Hundreds of them. Thousands maybe.” ― Neil Gaiman

Care to share what’s going on in your secret world?

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Faith, Family, Fun, Home, Joy, Life, Personal, Relationships, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Fall Suppers

It’s here and I feel it.  Fall has arrived.  The days are a bit shorter now, and there’s a nip in the air at dusk.  Oh we can still get sunburnt by September’s bright beams but we’re also just as likely to need a hoodie and socks as we are sunblock.

Without a doubt, Fall is my favorite season. I love the sights, the smells and nature’s bounty: fresh Honeycrisp apples from the Orchard up the road, pumpkins on porches and bright yellow Mums brightening up front steps.  I love being able to open the windows again and feel a brisk breeze float in.

Fall reminds me of my farming childhood, too. Of Harvest time, when there was more work to do than there were daylight hours to do it. Of meals packed in newspaper and beach towels, driven to the field and accompanied by a wash rag, a jug of lemonade and home-made pie.  Fall-in-the-air makes me want to cook like the farm girl I am and today, well today I did.

You see Hubbs was off harvesting some golf shots of his own, youngest was visiting a friend and Frankie was right by my side nodding enthusiastically when I made the decision: the decision to simmer up a classic Fall Supper: Swedish Meatballs.

Savory and tender, hearty and delicious, Swedish Meatballs are the perfect ending to a bright September day.  Taking little time to assemble, they’re best if set up and then neglected. Simmering only makes them better.

So with that, I give you, MJ’s No-Fail Swedish Meatballs.  You can supply your own moans & groans!

Ready? here we go:

  • 4 lbs lean ground beef
  • Italian bread crumbs, about 1/2 a cup
  • 2 eggs
  • Seasonings of your choice – I like Mrs. Dash regular and some minced onion

Mix above ingredients and form into 1 ½” meatballs.  Reserve about 1 cup of meat mixture and set aside.

google.images.comPlace meatballs in a single layer on top of a broiling pan coated with non-stick vegetable oil (Pam). Place rack over a reservoir pan lined with foil to catch the drippings.  (this is the pan that came with my stove and it’s great for cooking meatballs and meat loaf as the grease just drips off).

Bake meatballs for 20 min, turn and bake 20 min more.

Next, brown reserved hamburger in 1 tsp. of vegetable oil making sure to break the meat into small crumbles.   Bring to a boil and then pour in 2 cups of low sodium beef broth, stir well.  Turn heat down to medium and in a separate container mix the following ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 tsp. each of:  onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper and
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley.
  • 2 tbsp. flour (last).

Mix all seasonings into cream and then stir in 2 tbsp of flour. You will now have a thick, seasoned cream … pour this into the bubbling meat/broth mixture and whisk at  medium-low heat.  The mixture will thicken and bubble.

Optional add-ons:

  • A cup of sour cream will thicken the sauce
  • Fresh or canned mushrooms (without the juice) add even more flavor
  • ¼ cup of dry white wine mellows out your sauce and makes your mouth stand up and smile!

*I add the sour cream & the wine and skip the mushrooms ‘cause Hubbs is not a fan.

Allow sauce to simmer on low while the meatballs are cooking. Enjoy the aroma filling your kitchen!  As soon as the cooking time is up, gently ladle the meatballs into the sauce and simmer on low for another 40-60 minutes.

MJ’s Swedish Meatballs: mm mmm good

My guys like these with mashed potatoes but they’re just as good over egg noodles or with Pierogies.  Me?  I like a roasted sweet potato and some stir fry with this.  It’s my way of enjoying comfort food without totally going off the rails (and yes, I did run today, whoop whoop!)  Whatever your choice, you can’t go wrong with my No-Fail Swedish Meatballs.

easy peasy veggie stir fry; an emjayandthem photo

These travel great and, like Chili, taste even better the next day.  At Mom’s last month, I made a double batch for a family gathering and froze the rest for her in individual servings.  She has commented, more than once, how much she’s enjoyed warming them up for an easy supper.

Are you feeling fall in the air in your neck-of-the-woods? 

What’s your “go-to” fall supper?

Categories: Food, Home, Life, Mom, Personal, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 27 Comments

Do it anyway

So, I’ve written about how eager I was to start the Couch25K plan, an 8 week program that gets you off the couch and running 3 miles in about 2 months. (download the free podcasts here).

What I haven’t written about is the transformation that is occurring.

“I run because it’s so symbolic of life. You have to drive yourself to overcome the obstacles. You might feel that you can’t. But then you find your inner strength, and realize you’re capable of so much more than you thought.” Arthur Blank

Oh, there’s a wee part of me that whispers shh don’t talk about it yet, you’re only in week 3.  But there’s a stronger, louder, more powerful part of me that tells her to shut it.

Because here’s what I need to say:

I mustered up my courage and actually went into a running store. You know the kind: everyone in there is a 9′ tall gazelle with 3% body fat and knows what to do with the hydration stuff and anti chafing products sitting at the till.

Not me.

I ambled in, took a deep breath and let the athletic gal fitting me know that I had absolutely no idea what I was doing.  She found me some new runners and let me try them out. And I did. I ran in the store.  Me. I know! And here’s the thing: I didn’t care who saw me.

Yes I still have my old tanks and sports bras and I haven’t invested in any new shorts or cute outfits. I run on a treadmill and the only one who sees my wardrobe is the 12-year-old dog who is partially deaf and near-sighted.

But the very best part is this: Everything, and I mean, everything – my job, my co-workers, my family, my ancient, arthritic dog, and even our neglected house have taken a backseat to this.


Because nothing I’ve ever purchased, tasted or experienced has ever made me feel as alive as this does. Nothing.  I love everything about it! I love the sweating (and I’m talking rivers of sweat).  I love the endurance and confidence I’m gaining. I’m loving the kick-a** way 30 minutes of this makes me feel. I love that moment that comes in the middle of a workout when my inner lizard harps that I can’t possibly finish; I love to silence her by pushing through anyway. I’m loving how well I sleep at night.  I love the “atta-girls” I get from the Hubbs and the pride I feel when I reach another milestone.

At 49, I’m loving that I can.

:: Just run:: Image from

What have you discovered about yourself lately?

Categories: Thoughts, Uncategorized, Women | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

on Intentions

I’m a little tired this morning because I stayed up too late watching 9/11 footage. I couldn’t help myself; how could I watch a movie or read my book when that was on?  To that end, I heard audio I’d never heard before, saw footage I’d never viewed and remembered more than I wanted to.

Today, I’m taking a page from their book and am going forward with intention.

What do I mean, you ask?

It’s another blue-skied day here in West Michigan and I, for one, am gonna roll in it.

I’m going to put my face into the sunshine, do my work and be my quirky self as I do it.  I’m making it a point to smile at strangers, help my colleagues, exercise again and keep my distance from the naysayers.

Today, I’m going to do what they were all busy doing:  living.

Join me, will you?

* image from Pinterest

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Life, Life Lessons, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Blue Skies

It was a Tuesday, a bright blue-morninged September day and one we’ll never forget.

Here in West MI, we’ve had four or five days in a row of those blue skies. You know the kind I speak of: skies so blue, so true, so clear, one can’t help but think of planes and towers, firefighters and hijackers, office workers, dust clouds and innocence lost.

It’s been 11 years since Tuesday, 9/11 and the forecast is eerily similar: blue skies.

We remember.

Categories: Faith, Family, Grief, Life, Patriotic, Thoughts | Tags: , , , | 10 Comments

The first brick

I remember the first time that I knew, really knew, that Hubbs was the one for me.

It wasn’t the way he showed up early for our dates or the thoughtful way he listened when I had something to say.

It wasn’t the flowers that he’d sent, although he’d sent them often.

It wasn’t the tender way he played with my (then 5-year-old) boy, although that surely melted my wounded heart (and still does, just thinking about it.)

It wasn’t even the way he kissed me good night or how he always added an anguished growl as he left us.

No, it was all of those things and more: It was doing what he’d said he’d do.  Calling when he said he would. Showing up when he promised to be there.  He taught me, in his own quiet way, that before me was a real man, an honorable and dependable man,  a man with a deep voice, broad shoulders and a tender heart.  A man a girl could set her clocks to .. forever.

“Here’s something else to think about: calling when you say you’re going to is the very first brick in the house you are building of love and trust. If he can’t lay this one stupid brick down, you ain’t never gonna have a house baby, and it’s cold outside.”
— Greg Behrendt, “He’s just not that into you.”

*and I can’t write of bricks without adding in this classic Commodores hit!

How about you? When did you know that someone had built a foundation for you?

Categories: Attitude, Faith, Growth, Quotes, Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 27 Comments

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