Sunday, March 30, 2008

"You Know" is the new "Um"

Last night Ryan and I were hanging out with some friends. They were asking me some childbirth and doula questions.
After we left, Ryan and I were talking about how I did. I asked him to honestly critique me. Most of the time when I meet with families I'm on my own but because they're good friends Ryan was with us. He mentioned that I did a great job and he's amazed of the knowledge I have on childbirth, but he noticed that I say, "You know" - A LOT. I never noticed that I did that. He says it seems like I do that when I don't complete a sentence or just fill the space like....the word - Um.
As we were driving home, I began to notice when I said it. Then, Ryan realized he was doing it too. Ryan admitted that it's a bad habit he developed a long time ago, and in 5 years I've picked it up too.
Now, we have a game to help us stop saying You Know so much. It's real simple. Whenever the words "You Know" comes out of one of our mouths, we gently poke the other person with our index finger. It's quite entertaining to say the least. It's a habit I'm trying to nip in the bud (Is that the expression or did I totally mess that up?).
So, if I'm talking with you, feel free to point out my "You Knows" all you want. It's a funny game I've decided to play. And I know that my friend, Jamina, will have a field day with my new tick I'm trying to end. I'm the one that pointed out hers which was a fast-paced, side-to-side motion she did with the tip of her tongue on her top lip when she was thinking. Obviously, since I said "was" her tick, she became aware and quit. But I do miss the fascinating tick. I wonder if people will miss mine.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Oh My! Today My Cup Is Overflowing!

I am so elated and in a heightened state today. I had an incredible experience and I can only attempt to capture its beauty in words.

I'm sure that most of you know that two and half years ago Ryan and I gave birth to a son that passed through this life in my womb. We delivered on the 6th floor of Centennial Women's Hospital. It was a life-opening and life-changing experience. I've always wanted to give back to that high-risk maternity floor, but never knew exactly how. At one point, I even attempted knitting a baby blanket since some kind-hearted woman had done the same for me. But that never came to fruition.

About a week ago, the receptionist at work booked a prenatal massage outcall. For all the receptionist knew I am a certified prenatal massage therapist and I had an opening. She suggested I call the client because she was in the hospital and needed to explain her situation. When I was on the phone with her, she let me know that she had been in the hospital since she was 16 weeks along with twins. The little girl passed, but the boy is holding strong. She's been on bedrest there for 80 days, and her doctor let her know that a massage would be great for her. She called around town but no one would call her back. She found the massage studio where I work and tried again. Well, we spoke briefly about my previous circumstance. Come to find out she is at Centennial Women's Hospital on the 6th floor using the same doctors as we did. For a week now, I have been "Jones-in" for this day to come.

So today I arrived with a body pillow, a radio, some relaxation music, lotion, lavender essential oil, and a homemade room spray. While she was preparing for the massage, I dimmed the lights, made sure the window was open for some fresh air, set the Native American flute music in its proper place, dabbed some lavender oil on a tissue for her pillow, and spritzed the linens with a lavender, rose, and jasmine concoction I proudly made for my Doula clients. After learning how to adjust those electronic hospital beds, we started the massage.

When I placed my hands on her back, she started having an emotional release. Later I reassured it that it was normal. I explained how we store all the things that happen to us physically and emotionally in our bodies, and it was perfectly fine for her to cry. I spent an hour working those achy bed tired and emotionally drained muscles. When we were done, we sat and talked for awhile. She opened up about the journey she's on, and I was able to listen and encourage her. We talked about not being angry at God or the universe and finding peace. We discussed about how going on this journey with our life partners has made our relationships stronger. We shared about how the people you expect to come around you at this time aren't always the ones you thought, but all the while openly receiving the embrace of those who surprise you. I am trusting that it was a very healing and therapeutic session for her because I know it was for me. I felt very rewarded in my career today, and I look forward to another session with her in a few weeks.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Love Circle, Sunrise, & Good Intentions

Vernal Equinox?
I've seen it on the calendar for years and just brushed it off as having something to do with the signal of Spring.

A good friend of mine, Maranda, mentioned it to me earlier this week. She asked if I wanted to meet her at Love Circle (a small road in Nashville that overlooks the city) at Sunrise to burn our intentions for the year. "Huh?," I said with a crinkled nose. I'm always open for new adventures, so without much hesitation - I agreed. She told me to work on what I wanted or intended for myself this year and write it down.

I went to the computer to find out - "What is this thing they call Vernal Equinox? I knew it was a change of seasons, but after a brief google search, here's what I found. Equinox means "equal night." The Sun will cross directly over the Earth's equator. Because the sun is positioned above the equator, day and night are about equal in length all over the world during the equinoxes. I never knew, but
people have recognized the vernal equinox for thousands of years. There are lots of rituals and traditions surrounding the coming of spring. Early people celebrated for the basic reason that their food supplies would soon be restored. The date is significant in Christianity because Easter always falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. It is also probably no coincidence that early Egyptians built the Great Sphinx, so that it points directly toward the rising Sun on the day of the vernal equinox. In Japan, Vernal Equinox Day is an official national holiday and is spent visiting family graves and holding family reunions. In many Arab countries, Mother's Day is celebrated on the March equinox.

So, this year just as I plan to Spring Clean my home, I've set aside a Spring Cleaning for myself to create space for new abundance that will come my way.

When I started writing it out, I kept saying...I want....I want...I want. It felt weird, and I called Maranda up for a little more guidance on the matter. She suggested that saying "want" admits that you're lacking. Hmmmm....good point. With my English-degreed mind, I went to a thesaurus searching for the right words. I looked up "intend" and words like aspire, determined, aim, dedicate, look forward to popped up. It got my juices flowing and away I wrote. I covered things from our home, finances, personally, career wise, relationships, vacations. It all came out!

This morning I woke up before the sun came up and got ready. Bundled up with some matches, a coffee, my camera, and my intentions, I headed for Love Circle. The sun was starting to light the Earth when we got there. We climbed to the top, made some final adjustments, played a quick game of Paper, Rock, Scissors to see who went first, and I started to reading out loud my intentions. After we read them, we burned them as the sun came over the horizon. We opened our arms and voiced our acceptance of the goodness and abundance we would receive this year.

It was a fun experience! I'll definitely do it again. If you want, I encourage you all to do the same. It's never too late. Vernal Equinox was just a cool day to do it!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

DELICIOUS New Recipes from Kari's Kitchen!!

People are their own worst critics, and I admit I do the same. People tell me I'm too hard on myself, so for me to say I have some Delicious New know they gotta be good. So good that I have to post them for everyone! I've been told that everyone needs a good cookbook, and I finally found one. It's called "Vegan Planet." Even if you're NOT a vegetarian/vegan, these recipes ROCK!! My friend, Galit, told me about it. So, I owe her big time. I've cooked 6 recipes from this book, and they've all been praised from those lucky people who've dined on them. Here's what I've been doing. Some of the recipes take awhile, so I choose a day that I'm off or have a little time in the morning or evening to start preparing it. I get in the kitchen, open the outside door, turn on some music, and reach deep into my inner "cooking" self and have a blast making some healthy and scrumpulescent munchies. Then, we have food for a few meals. Here are a few of the recipes from "Vegan Planet" that everyone should try.

The pancakes and hash go great together for breakfast, brunch, or breakfast night!!

Spiced Banana Pancakes
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar or natural sweetener
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1 1/4 cups soy milk or other dairy-free milk
3 medium-size, ripe bananas, peeled and sliced

1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice and set aside.
2. In a food processor or blender, combine the soy milk and half of the bananas and process until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing with a few swift strokes until just combined. Fold in the remaining bananas.
3. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Ladle about 3 tablespoons of the batter onto the hot griddle. Cook on one side until small bubbles appear on top, about 2 minutes. Flip the pancake with a metal spatula and cook until the other side is lightly browned, about 1 minute more. Keep the cooked pancakes warm in the oven while you prepare the remaining pancakes.

Serves 4

Spicy Sweet-Potato Hash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, diced, and cooked (use leftover baked sweet potatoes OR peel and dice the potatoes and place them on a lightly oiled baking sheet, and bake at 375 degrees F until tender, 15 to 20 minutes)

2 frozen veggie burgers, thawed and chopped or crumbled
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, or to taste
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and bell pepper, cover, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes, veggie burgers, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 4

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 small, fresh hot chile, seeded and minced
1 1/2 cups cooked or one 15-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
One 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon chili powder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups fresh salsa or your favorite salsa
8 large flour tortillas
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Arrange the sweet potatoes in a single layer on a lightly oiled baking sheet and roast until tender, turning once, about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
2. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and chile and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the beans, tomatoes, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the sweet potatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Set aside.
3. Spread a thin layer of salsa over the bottom of a lightly oiled 9x13-inch baking dish and set aside.
4. Place a tortilla on a flat work surface. Spoon a portion of the sweet potato mixture down the center of the tortilla and roll it up. Place the filled tortilla in the baking dish seam side down and repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling mixture. Spoon any remaining filling mixture on top of the enchiladas, top with the remaining salsa, and sprinkle with the onion. Cover and bake until hot and bubble, about 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Serves 8.

Happy "Vegan" Cooking! The Animals Thank You!!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Motorcycle Gang

We went on our first ride with our motorcycle gang this afternoon! We're a bunch of wild bandits. You wouldn't want to mess with us. To be initiated, you have to agree to go on an adventure with us at some point. We initiated the first two members of our biker gang last spring on a trip to Alaska. Jim and Choyer started asking me about motorcycles a while back and I just answered questions for them. After watching a motorcycle movie called Long Way Around, I got a call from Choyer saying "want to go motorcycle shopping?" Kari and I went motorcycle shopping with them one weekend, two weekends later I was taking a rider safety course with them and two weeks after that they had their license and we were at the store again shopping for bikes. Sure enough they bought two wheelers and now my motorcycle has two friends!
We went on a ride all together for the first time today down the Natchez Trace. We stopped after about 45 miles and had a snack under the trees then headed back. Causin' trouble...that's what this biker gang is doing. Eating apples on a scenic parkway pull off.

Park Ranger 101

This is my second day off of work in 5 weeks. But surprisingly, I wasn't in desperate need of a day off.
For the last 5 weekends, I have been working at Radnor Lake State Park and Natural Area as a Seasonal Park Ranger. (That's just a fancy term for Part-Time Park Ranger). I started volunteering at the park last summer one weekend a month just to see what work inside a park was like. Was it boring? Was it too difficult? Would it be monotonous?
Well, no, no, and no. Ok, it's pretty difficult, but never boring or monotonous.
After volunteering for a number of months and getting to know the park staff, the Park Manager let me know they were short handed and needed some weekend help and that if I wanted to, I could have a job there. I thought about it for about 15 seconds and agreed. (Although I came home and talked to Kari about it for a few days.) I would be working every Sat. and Sun., doing things like trail maintenance, patrolling the parking lots during our busy times and making sure people don't park where they're not supposed to, hiking the trails to make sure people are staying on them and don't have dogs on them or picnics or feeding the animals, and just general park upkeep.
And that's what I've been doing. Alot of other things go along with the job, but that is a general overview. I have been able to do some cool things though. When doing trail work I get to drive a 4 wheel drive hauler down some of the trails. It reminds me of riding the 4-wheeler when I was a kid. I've been able to see so many amazing things. The wildlife alone has been an experience in itself. Owls, beavers, otters, geese, ducks, hawks and lots and lots of deer. The deer aren't even afraid of you, (which can be a bad thing outside of the park). I've been able to feed two captive hawks and two owls also. I've cut trees from across trails, built trailers, and hiked, hiked hiked, and hiked.
Everybody wonders if I am wearing myself out working this much. The thing is, working at the park is actually really refreshing. My weekday job is pretty monotonous. Pretty....florescent. Working at the park means I am outside all day, most of the time doing physical work. Work that gets your hands dirty, your body sweaty, and your muscles very tired. But my mind is always refreshed after a weekend of fresh air and hard work. I always feel better on Sunday evening than I do on Friday after work. I like it.
The job is supposed to go until July 1st. Steve, the Park Manager is hoping he can get permission to extend it through the Summer. The nice thing is that I was thinking about getting a part time job anyway. Kari and I have been living with one car for a few months now. We'd like to buy a car, but we don't want to make any payments. So this will help us save up some money for that. So what a better way to make a little extra money than being a Seasonal Park Ranger!
And just if you were wondering, the house is not falling apart since I have been so busy. Kari is working her rear off taking care of things around the house and in her work. Part of me feels bad for putting a bit more responsibility on her shoulders, but she has been very supportive of the whole endeavor and really doing great picking up the slack of me not being home on Saturdays and Sundays.
Chaco misses me being home with her on Saturdays, but I make up for it by letting her on the bed and playing with her when I get home.
So, from now on, you can just call me Ranger Jenkins, (pronounced by Kari, "Ranger Jankins!").
Randor Lake State Park
Friends of Radnor Lake

Friday, March 07, 2008

Winter Wonderland

We're walking in a Winter Wonderland in March! The snow and sleet started around 5:30 Friday evening and quickly changed to steady snow at 7 pm. It truly hasn't stopped since. We have 2 inches where it's compacted, but 5 inches in the grass. At 6:30 this morning, I felt like it was Christmas! I was nervous to peek out the window in fear of it being gone, but when I saw it wasn't...I just laid in bed staring at Ryan hoping his eyes would open soon. When they did, I smiled and asked if we could go outside. He asked for another 30 minutes of sleep. Like a child, I stared at the ceiling and pouted until 7. And we played for an hour. Chaco is loving it! And I confess, I love Snow Days too!!

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Wake Up, Fellow Earthlings

So, I thought about writing this blog and then debated it for a week or two. I guess I was concerned about offending somebody or something. But then I realized - Hey this is my blog and I'm supposed to be honest and express myself. I have something that's important to me to share, and therefore, why would I keep it from you.

A friend from work was talking to me about a documentary she saw called Earthlings. She gave me the general idea. I told Ryan about it. He wanted to watch it first since he knows that I have nightmares from television and movies. He told me he didn't think I should watch it. He let me know about it and admitted that he barely made it through the hour and a half....watching it in various sittings and wiping tears from his face. Well. Well. I guess the curiosity got me and I watched it. It took me two different sittings a week apart, but I pushed myself through the documentary knowing that "Ignorance is not bliss."

Earthlings is a free documentary that you can watch online. We went to and found it by typing in the title Earthlings or go to the site and click on animal abuse and then find the title. Now, I probably lost a bunch of you when I just mentioned animal abuse. But wait. I too toss the mail I get from animal abuse organizations not wanting to take a glimpse at the horrible treatment people do to animals. I mean, our dog, is so spoiled she sleeps in the bed with us at night. So, that's not me, and I don't want to see it is my usual thought process. That's NOT what this documentary is necessarily about. Here me out and then decide to watch it or not.

The documentary discusses the 5 ways that humankind uses animals: Pets, Food, Clothing, Entertainment, and Science Testing. They use undercover cameras to show you where your meat comes from, animals at shelters, exactly how the leather sofas or shoes we wear become shoes, the infamous circus and zoos we pay to go to, and how, as a consumer of products, animals get to test our crash ratings for vehicles and on and on.

Here's the argument I hear from most people who don't want to watch this documentary. "I don't want to know where my meat comes from. I like my chicken and burgers. I don't want to give it up." And here's my response. It's not fun to watch the movie, but people know in the back of their minds that things aren't nice in "those places." But how not nice??? Ignorance my friends isn't always bliss. Just because you choose not to look at it doesn't make you any less responsible. You're still a consumer; why would you not want to know where it comes from. You're feeding it to your families. You take your families to these places for fun and entertainment. You buy these products for yourself and the ones you love. In my opinion, you're crazy not to want to know. It doesn't mean you have to give up everything if you don't want to. But at least educate yourself to what you pay for and how it affects others. Be an informed consumer.

Ryan and I are still working through what having watched this documentary means for us as a family. It is life-changing...No Doubt. But I would rather be figuring it all out than to try to play dumb to it all when I'm not.

Please watch this documentary and then make an informed decision about you and your loved ones.
Remember -We are all Earthlings!

Video Link: Earthlings