I didn’t have a hard time turning 30. It wasn’t a big deal at all. 35? No problem. It wasn’t until I was turning 38 that I started to think, Hey I don’t like where this is going.
But today. Today I am a 40 year old. Forty. FOR.TY.
Over the past couple of weeks I have been combating the doom of this upcoming day by making a list of ‘pro’s’ of being on this earth for 40 years. Looking over the list, I noticed that most of the list is made up of three things.
People. Experiences. Life lessons.
I have come to know so many amazing and interesting people in my life. This morning, my very thoughtful husband handed me a stack of envelopes which contained letters of love from friends and family. They wrote the sweetest things and told stories and memories that made me laugh and cry all at the same time. What a gift!
Sometimes, when my oldest, Josh is bored, he will come to me and say, “Tell me one of your stories, Mom.” And you know, I can always think of one to share. It seems that crazy things happen to me. I don’t know if I invite these experiences by my actions, but I’ve got some doozies. Some stories are sad, some are scary, some are inspiring, and some are just funny. I have quite a good collection though, in my forty years on earth. These memories are precious treasures to me.
Kelly asked me this morning if I like me better today or if I liked myself better ten years ago. My answer was that it is easier to be me now than it was then. I have learned so many lessons and bits of wisdom along the way that help me to have a calmer heart and a sense of peace. I won’t bore you with all the gory details, but it’s true that our trials bring such blessings. I really am happier now than ever before.
I think my problem about turning 40 was just that in my mind it was this older person that just sat around doing their taxes all day or wearing elastic waistband jeans. Or maybe it’s because it seems like time is going by so fast and I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I am nearly halfway done with my life.
My brother sent a Happy Birthday text to me this morning and he said, “Age is a state of mind.” I think he’s right. And after considering my list of pro’s and reading the wonderful letters from everyone I love, on this 14th day of June, 40 isn’t feeling so bad.
I have a border collie named Nelly. Border collies are known for an abundance of energy and my girl is no exception. She lives to go on walks, run along-side my bike or play fetch with a frisbee. Sometimes I take her to the park to play. She somehow knows we are headed there even if I don’t say the F-word (frisbee!) As soon as she jumps out of the car she’s running.
It is glorious to watch. She opens up and just runs, tongue flapping, ears back, full gallop. She looks beyond happy.
A few months ago we headed to Arizona for the weekend and I took my bike. I was so looking forward to riding after such a long, cold winter. The first morning we were there I awoke early and headed out to explore the desert roads. My ride took me on a road the locals call “the road to nowhere” because its flat, straight and goes on forever. I turned up the volume on my iPod and opened up my speed. It felt amazing. I can’t quite describe the thrill, but I remember thinking, I feel like a border collie.
I’m always telling my family about the fun rides I go on, and my oldest boy Josh is the one who seems most interested in sharing this with me so I signed the two of us up to participate in a ride called the Salt Lake Century. It’s a good ride for a first timer since the route is flat and there were options to ride shorter distances than the hundred miles. We planned on doing 40.
We spent time together in the weeks leading up to ride day training. We rode longer and longer distances during which we chatted and laughed and just enjoyed the together time. I really loved it. I truly enjoy that kid…his personality and hearing about his life and thoughts.
Race day was this past Saturday. We awoke early to a rainy, cold day, but we decided we are waterproof and we would man up and do it anyway. It rained the entire time. We were freezing. Our faces, fingers and toes numb. But Josh handled both the distance and the elements like a hero. We actually kept a good pace the whole time. I was beyond proud of him.
As other riders would pass, they would say encouraging things to him or comment about how well he was doing. They would tell me how great my boy was keeping pace. I hope that made him feel good. I hope he knows how true it was.
At one point during he ride he said, “Hey Mom, sorry about all the times we fight. Sorry I argue so much.” I interpreted that as Hey Mom, you’re not as bad as I sometimes make you out to be.
Mother/son time= good.
He also told me he wants to quit blowing his money on donuts and save up to buy a road bike. I told him this is good thinking. He trained on his mountain bike but I rented a road bike for him on race day. He felt the difference. He was fast! He loved the speed, and the feeling of flying down the road.
Being like a border collie is where it’s at.
(SLC at lunchtime, yesterday)
Yesterday I was having lunch at the Robin’s Nest with my friend, Barbara. It’s a charming little sandwich shop downtown SLC that is only open for lunch. I had to park a couple of blocks away and it was windy out yesterday, so when I entered the restaurant, I was a bit disheveled. I stood in line composing myself for a minute before I realized that everyone in the place was looking at me. It was somewhat unnerving, but I ignored it thinking it would stop eventually. It didn’t stop, though. I said to Barbara, ” Hey, is my hair sticking up all over the place or do I have a booger hanging out of my nose or something? Because everyone is staring and it’s weirding me out.” Barbara looked at the crowded restaurant, confirmed my paranoia, and then suggested maybe they were all in some sort of club and are wondering what we are doing crashing their meeting.
By this time it was my turn to order, which I did (The New Yorker, which is a pastrami sandwich with melted Swiss, red onion, spicy Dijon and a dill pickle. SO GOOD). I filled up my drink cup and as I headed back to the counter to pick up my order, I realize that standing in line directly behind me was Jeff Hornacek of the Utah Jazz. I’m fairly certain now, that everyone was looking at him and not me, which is a relief and also funny.
So the lesson here, is that you should definitely try that place for lunch sometime because a dill pickle on a pastrami sandwich is the best thing I’ve eaten in a while.
I have been participating in a daily photo challenge every day of this year so far. I’m amazed that I’ve kept up with it every day, but it has been so much fun, and I look forward to each new challenge. There is something wonderful about going through each day purposefully looking for something interesting or beautiful to take a picture of. It forces you to see ordinary things in a whole new light.
This project was the impetus for another photo project that I am having so much fun with. It’s a series of photographs of various people, things, sights and places that make where I live unique.
“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” ~Confucius
**Join me! Click the link above to read about it, or follow me on Instagram (@kellyannesansom).
A few days ago, I was looking for a particular photograph when I came across a picture of me that a friend took while we were on a bike ride last May. I audibly gasped when I saw it because it is a terrible picture of me. I look so fat in it. I’m a fatty on a bike.
Now, I know that people are not just their bodies, I know that my husband, children and friends loved me unconditionally, and I know that I was still a valuable person with talents to share with the world. I know.
But here’s what else I know:
If I saw someone I hadn’t seen in a while, my first inclination was to avoid them because I don’t want them to see how fat I’ve gotten.
Whenever I participated in an organized bike ride, I was sure the other riders were thinking, What is SHE doing here?
When I had photo shoots, I worried that the clients wouldn’t take me seriously because I was frumpy and fat.
I felt tired and weak.
I didn’t like how I felt, physically or mentally.
Then one day I saw on Facebook that a gym was giving away ten trial memberships to try their bootcamp for 12 weeks. I entered, because, why not? I’d tried everything else. (HCG? Yes! Lost 15 then gained it all back plus 8 more bonus pounds! Yay!).
I got picked for the opportunity to try this gym called Firehouse Fitness and even though I knew a few people who were members, I was nervous. Really nervous.
After my first workout, I came home and sat on the floor for two hours. I was spent. The next day, I could barely walk. I couldn’t lift my arms above my head and it hurt my abs to cut up a cantaloupe. Everything hurt. I was told that the best way to help myself was to workout again to get rid of the stiffness. So I did. It helped a little but I was sore everywhere for about two weeks.
I wondered why anyone would choose to do this regularly. It was brutal! But, I had committed to the 12 weeks so I kept going at least three times a week. For two months I ate smart, only ate dessert on Sundays and I didn’t lose a pound. Instead, I gained something better. I felt myself getting stronger. I could do things that on my first workout, I had found impossible. Every day that I would workout, my mood was so much better. It was wonderful, and I was hooked.
After the first two months, I did begin to drop weight. As of today, I am down 40 pounds. I still have more to go, but there’s no stopping me because I feel awesome!
I went on a bike ride with a friend today and had her snap a photo of me so I could compare it to the one from last May. I am in no way thinking I look like a supermodel, but I am so happy with my progress.
And here’s something else I know: I feel more like myself than I have in years.
Two days ago, I walked past my front room window and noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. Upon further inspection, I realize that it’s my 7 year old son, wearing headphones and dancing his heart out to what I later learned was Gangnum Style. He had placed a hat at the end of the driveway with the hopes that someone would see his talent and deposit money into it.
Across the street, I saw two neighbor girls staring, in disbelief at my crazy kid. When he came into the house, I asked him if he made any money. He said, “No, but some girls watched me and they liked what they were seeing!”
I quit blogging around a year ago, for many reasons, but during that moment, I thought to myself, I need to write this story down so I don’t forget. I have thought this so many times in the last year, and I never do it. Somehow, I am better about writing things down on a blog.
So here we go.
Sometime around mid march, I decided that I was going to stop contemplating, and finally do a century (100 miles) ride on my bike. I have wanted to check this off my life’s to-do list ever since I started riding a road bike.
I sat down and mapped out a training schedule, setting aside enough time each week to get my training rides done, which included a long ride each week. These long rides got progressively longer each week. I started at 25 miles and my last long training ride was a fun 75 mile ride to Antelope Island and back.
My training was fun. It seemed to consume most of my free time, but I loved it. I could feel myself getting faster, and stronger. Routes that were really hard for me last spring, were easy to do this time around. My average speed increased by about 6-7 miles per hour. I have never trained physically for anything before, so it was thrilling to see actual progress like this. Still, though, I would have moments of self doubt and fear. I am not physically fit by any stretch of the imagination and I always had this voice in my ear telling me that I am crazy to try this.
At some point along the way, I just decided that I had put in the work to get ready and come what may, I was going to do it. Or at least die trying.
The morning of the ride the sky was dark and threatening rain. I was actually glad for this because I LOVE riding in this type of weather. Nothing sucks the energy out of me like the blazing sun, so the cool air and overcast sky was perfect.
I rode with group of awesome friends that I have been doing a lot of my training rides with. I know, I don’t match, but I’m wearing the official jersey for Little Red 2012. I bought it to commemorate the occasion. I love riding with these girls. It’s fun to have people who love to bike as much as I do, and who challenge me to be better and try harder.
This photo below is of me and Tanya, my training buddy, at the start line. I wish I looked better in a helmet. But, seriously, does anyone?
Below is the route map and I have included a little key to sort of illustrate the ride.
1} The first scheduled water/rest stop was at 14 miles, but we skipped that one. It wasn’t necessary and it’s always crowded. At 14 miles, I felt amazing and so happy to be out for this ride.
2} This was our first stop. I remember thinking that we were at mile 23, which is pretty much like one of my short training rides. We were making great time and again, I felt exhilerated and confident.
3} I think this is about the point at which it started to rain. It didn’t rain hard, but it was refreshing and welcome. I loved it and couldn’t stop thinking that we were so lucky with this weather.
4} This was the halfway point and our lunch stop. A few miles before, we were riding single file along a long streth of road with and endless line of women on their bikes. We were all moving at the same speed and drafting off the person ahead of us. I wish I would have taken a picture of it because it was so cool to see how many of there were. If I had to guess, I would say at least 50 bikers all in a row, moving together like a line of ants.
Just before lunch, I felt a surge of energy and we were making excellent time. I know it’s silly, but I love passing people on the road. Usually I am the one getting passed, and I am consantly hearing other cyclists yell, “On your left!” It’s much more fun to do the passing. The sun started to come out and it was getting a bit hot, but there was a breeze so it wasn’t bad.
5} Here is where it started to get hard for me. The sun was out in full force but we were riding into a faint head wind, so the heat wasn’t bad. I remember turning right, so the wind wasn’t on me anymore and it felt like I was in an oven. The heat was a wall. It seemed to have actual weight.
Soon after this, we started to climb the only real hills on the course. They weren’t terrible, but coupled with the brutal heat, there was one in particular that really gave me trouble. I kept looking only at the pavement in front of my tire. I didn’t want to see how much farther I had to go. I told myself to keep going, that I can’t count this as riding a century if I stop on the hills. Just keep going. I am proud to say that I did make it to the top. Thankfully, there was a scheduled water stop at the top and after dousing my head and body with ice water, I was back in business and ready to finish.
6} The finish line was approaching and my bike’s cycle computer said I still had 4 miles to go. Tanya said she really wanted her computer to say 100 on it. I told her I was done, that I did the route and was going to call it good. She looked at me and said, “I’m going to ride the last 4 miles.”
Peer pressure! But such good peer pressure!
We rode around the block and up and down streets until we had both reached the full 100 miles. Now we could cross the finish line and really be able to say we did a full century.
I am so glad she pushed me into doing those last four miles. I don’t think I would feel quite as proud of myself in saying that yes, I did my century. I rode my bike 100 miles. I did it all with my legs and lungs. I sat on that tiny seat for hours and hours and accomplished this goal I set for myself.
First thing I did when it was over was call Kelly and tell him that I did it. He said he knew I could and that he was proud of me. My boys are proud of me too. Three days later, I can walk up and down the stairs without my legs screaming and I can sit without wincing.
And there is a new spring in my step that wasn’t there before.
I am grateful for this body. It is not perfect, but it does anything I ask it to do, and through it, I experience the beautiful world in which we live. I will never say a bad word about it again, because on Saturday, June 2, 2012, it made me so proud.
I hate to say it, but I think I might be done posting here on this blog. There are a bunch of reasons, but mainly, I find myself wanting to write about things that I am unsure about sharing publicly.
I am leaving it here just in case the mood strikes, because I’ve felt like ditching it before and then changed my mind.
If you want to see what I’ve been up to lately, you can find me on instagram. I post pictures all the time. My user name is @iamkellyannie
No iPhone? Well here are a few favorites…
I have three children. They are all boys, and they are all different.
I spend nearly every day, all day with the youngest. He is just 6 and goes to kindergarten for two point five hours per day. The rest of the time, he is my buddy. We go to lunch. We ride our bikes. We do laundry. We have plenty of one on one time and I feel certain he is getting enough of my attention.
My oldest is teetering on the edge of tween and teen at the age of 11. Truth be told, he is acting more like a teenager every day. Eye rolling, limit testing, being too cool for everything and everyone. But each night, I enter his room, plop down on his bed and we talk. He saves topics for us to discuss during these chat sessions. Sometimes, he will say, “Mom, I have a topic for tonight…remind me. Keywords: the librarian is missing an ear.”
Or, something to that effect.
We have a television show we love to watch together too, and it’s something we look forward to doing and discussing later. I believe this is precious time now because soon, he probably won’t want me in his room at night. Soon, he will pull away from me as I’m told boys do. I am soaking this up.
Where does this leave me with the middle child? It seems there is always someone else around when I try to talk to him. His time is always shared. I used to call him my soft spot until Kelly D. mentioned it might make the other two feel bad, but there is still something about this boy that I can’t put my finger on. He just owns me. His expressions, his laugh, his tender heart. I don’t know what it is. But I’m putty in his hands. My affection notwithstanding, I think he’s been getting the short end of the stick when it comes to one on one time. It’s bothered me so much in the past months, so I sat him down and asked him to help me think of things we might like to do together, just the two of us. We came up with the idea of having our own exclusive book club since we both love to read. It has been wonderful. We meet together in the living room every other night to discuss what we have read. These conversations have been little gems! Good grief, my boy is bright. We talk about the characters, we take turns telling things we have learned about them. He’s brave. He works at a zoo. He is good at baseball. We choose a character we are most like and tell why. We talk about our favorite parts. I have gotten to know him so much better from these book club meetings. And, if it is possible, I like him even more for it.
Tonight, during our meeting, he said, “Hey Mom?” (every thing he ever says to me begins this way) “Did you ever think what it would be like to be a tree?”
I told him no, that I hadn’t. We both sat in silence for a minute or so pondering this question.
I finally said, “I think I might like it. To be strong. To be silent. To feel the wind all day long and only concentrate on growing. To feel my roots digging slowly in the ground. And to be just still.”
“Yeah”, he said. “Me too.”
That is a bold claim, yes. But I think I tried enough recipes over the past month to say it with confidence.
I tried recipes from all sorts of places. I used beloved and trusted cookbooks. I looked to internet recipe sites. I got recipes from friends. I even tried two recipes that had “To die for” in the title.
After all the trials and all the muffin eating, the winner of our blueberry muffin bake-off comes from Hannah, a blogging friend all the way over in New Zealand.
My family was dying over these muffins. They are moist, not overly sweet, full of blueberry flavor and just, flat out delicious.
Now, go forth and bake these. You can thank me (or Hannah) later.
New Zealand Blueberry Muffins
1¾ cups flour
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ cup sugar
2½ teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
1¼ cups blueberries
1 large egg, at room temperature
¾ cup milk
1/3 vegetable oil
little extra melted butter and sugar
Sift the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder into a large bowl. Sprinkle over the lemon zest and the blueberries. Beat the egg well then add the milk and oil and mix well together (don’t beat as this makes the muffins tough).
Spoon at once into buttered muffin tins or paper-lined muffin tins, filling the tins to the top.
Bake in an oven preheated to 425°F for 15 min until risen and golden. Remove from the oven, leave in the tray for 5 minutes, then flip out with a small knife onto a cooling rack.
Meanwhile melt the butter. Brush the tops of the muffins with the butter then dip in a bowl containing the extra sugar.
Serve warm with extra butter, ricotta cheese, sour cream or whipped cream.
*this recipe made 11 muffins for me.
Ever since I said out loud that I plan to ride 100 miles on my bike, I have this little voice in my head that is telling me I’m crazy. You’re too slow…you’re too fat…you haven’t ridden enough…that’s a really long way…that’s a long time to be on a tiny seat…what if you can’t make it?…
On and on it goes.
Still, though, I am sticking to my training schedule. Two short rides a week (20 or so miles each) plus one long ride that is progressively longer each week.
Last Monday I was supposed to ride 40 miles. I know that my parents live exactly 20 miles from my door to theirs so I could get in the 40 riding there and back. Two summers ago, I rode the 20 miles there and called Kelly for a ride home, and even that was hard for me.
It’s a slow climb all the way there pretty much and at one point, I remember giving up. It was after what felt like a big hill. I was so tired. I stopped and got off my bike and lay flat on my back on the grass by a church. I called Kelly and told him I was too spent to go on and asked him to come pick me up. I ended up getting on my bike again after about 5 minutes and telling myself to just make it to the top of that next hill and then decide what to do. Over and over I did this until I made it to my final destination. I did the whole 20 miles but I was wiped out.
On Monday, as I followed the same route, I remember thinking that everything felt easier. The hills weren’t killing me as they had that first time.
When I got to that ‘give up’ spot, I stopped to take a picture of myself to celebrate my progress.
This time was different. At that point in my ride I felt amazing! Like I could go all day. Such a difference! The rest of the way there was the hardest part of the whole ride but I knew I could do it, and I did. I rode there and back…all 40 miles.
As I peddled I smiled because that tiny bit of progress had silenced those doubts in my mind. Not to say they won’t return ever again, but I have something to say to that critical,skeptical voice now.
Look at my progress! I get stronger every day. Why not me?
The boys and I made plans to go on a hike during spring break. We were all chatting about it one day in the car when the older two expressed concern that Beck would “wimp out”. Beck insisted this wouldn’t be the case so I said, “Listen guys, let’s just give him a shot and if he can’t keep up then we can go on a bigger hike later.”. From the back seat I hear his little voice, “Why do I have to get a shot??!!??”.
We did the hike on a Thursday and it was beautiful. Sunny 70’s, blue skies. Each of us wore a backpack containing a water bottle and our lunch. I had to talk The Fish out of taking a slew of superfluous supplies like an emergency blanket, flashlight, and an official army survival guide. Too much bulk and weight. Am I right?
We took Nelly with us as well, and she was in heaven. The Fish had her leash and she ran ahead dragging him behind, setting a brisk pace.
We hiked five miles and I was very proud of my little Becker boy. He kept up fairly well and was chatty as ever. He even occasionally grabbed hold of my hand as we walked, which is probably the sweetest thing I can think of. The trail had switchbacks all the way up the mountain so every so often Beck and I would lose sight of the other two boys and Nelly. When we rounded the next corner, they would be standing there waiting for us. Fish said she wouldn’t walk ahead. She would stop, cock her head, and wait for us. How can you not love a dog like this?
On our way back, Beck did start to complain about his tired legs. I told him that we had to be tough so the brothers will want him to come on all our fun hikes this summer. I said, “This is the part where your brain tells your body who’s the boss.” I told him to focus on the good things about the hike and keep the complaints quiet upstairs in his head.
He didn’t say much for the next few minutes so I was thinking my little speech was working. Until he said, “So if my head is the upstairs, then my feet are the downstairs. What is my belly?”
I love staying in bed until little people wake me up. At first he is quiet and just sits there patiently waiting. I feel him moving, and I hear him breathing. I opened my eyes, and from this shadow, I knew just who it was.
I roll over to ask for cuddles, but instead I get clowning.
And, look, he brought a friend.
And, she brought a frisbee.
Time to get up.
I don’t know what the deal is with my laundry lately, but my whites are looking dingy and gray. I don’t know if it’s our new energy efficient washer, or that there are no longer phosphates in my detergent (I miss phosphates!) or if it’s because I have started buying cheap laundry soap, but something is wrong. I see Kelly D. walking around in a supposed-to-be-white undershirt and it looks like prison-issue gray.
Recently, I posted this to facebook:
Dear world, My whites are not white. HELP!”
I got several different responses and I tried nearly all of them. Except the one that told me it was time to go shopping. That one was funny, but I have a few white shirts that I really love and then there’s also that fact that I don’t have any money! ha ha ha.
I tried bleach. I tried Mrs. Stewart’s blueing. I tried Biz. I tried freezing the clothes. Washing in cold. Washing in hot.
Then, a friend sent me a link to something she found on Pinterest. It was a concoction of all sorts of things, but as a last ditch effort, I gave it a try.
My whites are blindingly, brilliantly white. I’m not kidding either. The difference with one treatment was amazing, and after two times, they look almost new.
Here is the magic potion:
Soak your white in this mixture for at least an hour (I did it for three)
HOT HOT HOT water
1 C. bleach
1 C. laundry detergent
1 C. granulated dishwasher soap
1 C. Borax
After soaking, wash and dry as normal.
I don’t think it necessary to do this every time you wash whites, but I will be doing it anytime I see a need.
My oldest boy, aka: The Fish, loves blueberry muffins. They are his favorite thing to have for breakfast and he thanks me again and again when I make them. He is just so grateful, which is wonderful.
Except a few weeks ago, after consuming the usual blueberry muffin which I made using a Betty Crocker (or something like that) mix, he said, “Thanks mom. You make the best blueberry muffins ever.”
Yeah, so this has been bothering me ever since. For so many reasons. Taking credit for the box mix, phoning it in with the box mix, my son thinking the box mix is the best thing out there…
Need I go on?
So, I am now on a quest to find the best blueberry muffin recipe in the world. IN THE WORLD! I went to Costco and bought a big ol’ thing of fresh blueberries and haven’t stopped baking since. We are having taste tests over here nightly. I’ve made recipes with yogurt in the batter, lemon zest, and some with just different variations of the usual ingredients. So far we have one favorite but I think I need to try a few more to be sure.
I’m going to share the recipe we deem best because I’m putting in the time, people. I’ll share the knowledge.
PS. If you think you have the best recipe, by all means share it with me! I’d love to try yours.