Do Not Worry

The events of my life yesterday are such that I could not write them as fiction if I tried.  Here’s how my Wednesday unfolded:

I had a 10:15 AM appointment with a cardiologist.  The back story:  I finally heard back from my doctor on Monday evening about the heart palpitations I’ve been having; she was unsure what was going on with my heart and referred me to a cardiologist.  Also Monday, my Wednesday morning staff meeting was cancelled.  On Tuesday morning I called the cardiologist to make an appointment.  While checking for openings, the receptionist said, “Wow, this never happens. Is there any chance you can come in tomorrow (Wednesday) morning?  Our next available appointment is in about a month.”  Why, yes…yes I can!

So yesterday morning I  got ready for the day and left the house with enough time to stop for gas on the way to my appointment.  As I was driving out of my neighborhood I realized I’d accidentally left about 15 minutes before I intended. (Who does that?)  I felt a little annoyed with myself, knowing I’d just be waiting an extra long time in the waiting room.  I stopped at the gas station, filled up the tank, sat back in the car, turned the key in the ignition, and… nothing.  Well, nothing except a gritty clicking noise.  Dang it.

The gas station attendant did not have jumper cables or a car (he’d walked from home) but was so kind and started walking around asking other customers if they could help.  One woman had the cables and was willing to help start my car.  Over the course of the next few minutes, I discovered that the gas station attendant was the father-in-law of a friend from church, and the woman with the jumper cables sends her kids to the camp where I worked in college, and we have mutual friends here in town.  My car started, I thanked the folks who were willing to help me on a rainy morning, and I was headed toward the cardiologist with the exact amount of time I’d intended to give myself.

I started laughing and thanked God as I drove–there’s no way that series of events was anything short of divine intervention.  My schedule that morning had cleared, there was a random, rare opening with the cardiologist, I accidentally gave myself extra time, and when my car broke down, there were kind folks to whom I was already connected willing to help.  I was meant to be at that appointment.

When I pulled up at the doctor’s office, I turned off my car, then attempted to start it again–just to see what I was going to be dealing with post-appointment.  Nothing but that lovely dead-battery noise.  Excellent.  I texted my friend and coworker Evan, who lives around the corner (and was home because our staff meeting had been cancelled), and he said he could jump my car after the appointment.

When I was finally in the examination room, the nurse took my blood pressure.

“114/55… looks good.”

“I’m surprised it isn’t higher; my car died on the way here this morning, and I’m a little worked up!”

“Oh no!  Then you’re doing REALLY good!”

😀

I spent the most time with the nurse practitioner, who was great and explained everything so well to me–basically I’m having a few extra heartbeats throughout the day, but because my heart rhythm looks normal, I’m at a healthy weight, active, and have no risk factors, I have nothing to worry about.  Stress, rather than a problem with my heart, is causing the palpitations.  Bottom line:  I just need to learn to relax.

No problem.  Now let me go jump start my car for the second time today.  😉  Evan graciously drove over to help (thanks, Evan!), and I headed for my regular car shop.

I left the car running and walked inside.

“Hey, as soon as I turn off my car, it’s going to die.  You guys do battery stuff, right?”

“We do.  You can pull it into the garage!”

I pulled it in and walked back inside the office to give the man my car key.

“What’s your plan–are you going to wait or is someone picking you up?”

“Umm… I didn’t really have a plan.  My plan was to jump start the car and immediately take it somewhere it could be fixed.  This is as far as the plan went.  How long do you think it will take?”

“Well, we are all about to go to lunch, so we can’t look at it right now.  I can call you when it’s ready though.”

Learn to relax.  Learn to relax.  Learn to relax.

I thanked him, then walked out the door and down the street to Barnes & Noble, where I bought a magazine and a sandwich and settled in for an indefinite amount of time.  Within an hour they called to tell me I needed a new battery, and they could have it done in twenty minutes.

The hilarious irony of the situation is not lost on me–that my car breaks down on both ends of an appointment where I’m told that I am so stressed that I’m giving myself heart palpitations.  And yet, in what is a notoriously stressful situation, God provided richly before I even knew to ask.  Everything worked out, no thanks to me worrying about how it might be resolved.

It brings to mind a passage from the book of Matthew (chapter 6), which I’ll share for anyone who’s interested or needs the same reminder today:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the the birds of the air;  they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?…So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or “What shall we wear?’…your heavenly Father knows that you need these things.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I will be meditating on this passage daily for a while (until my heart chills outs, and then probably a bit longer :)) as part of my plan to de-stress, which I’ll outline tomorrow.

In the meantime, do not worry, my friends!

Thai-Style Chicken Pumpkin Soup

True story:  This morning I told Andrew I thought our refrigerator was broken because when I opened the door, I didn’t feel the usual rush of cool air.  I quickly realized that the fridge is working fine, but the temperature in our house had dipped into the 50’s, so the difference in temperatures wasn’t that great.  In related news, we turned on our heat this morning.  I’m hoping to be able to remove either the blanket or fleece jacket I am wearing by the time I finish breakfast and this post.  😉

What goes hand-in-hand with the coolness of fall?  Pumpkin everything, apparently.  I like pumpkin-flavored things just fine, but I don’t get crazy about the stuff like many of you do.  Pumpkin seems to be working its way into a lot of food items this season (Exhibit A), but  I’d pick banana bread over pumpkin bread any day, and I’ve never had a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

However, as one who loves most things containing the word “soup”, I was intrigued when Andrew found a recipe for a Crock-Pot Thai-Style Chicken Pumpkin Soup.

Pumpkinsoup

The recipe came from the Slow Cooker Bible, and because I’m feeling a tad lazy, I’m including a picture of the recipe page rather than typing it out myself. 😉

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In place of the heavy cream we used Silk coffee creamer (original, not flavored), and we left out the onion completely (Andrew put the green onions on his at the end).  We also added sliced mushrooms because we had some on hand that needed to be used.

The soup was incredibly flavorful, and as is the case with most things pumpkin, I liked it, but I was not crazy about it.  I think anyone who really enjoys pumpkin would love it though!    It made for a warm, hearty meal over the last two cool nights (and there are still leftovers).  If you are a pumpkin-lover, give it a try, and let me know what you think!

Well, you may be pleased to know that the thermostat in our house now reads 61 degrees; I have removed the blanket and am beginning to thaw. 😉

Stay warm, everyone!

Pumpkin-flavored items: Love them or hate them?
What’s the weirdest pumpkin-flavored food you’ve seen in stores or tried?

Autumn River Run + Crock-Pot Pho

Yesterday was one of those ridiculously beautiful autumn days, and I decided to skipped my morning run in favor of an afternoon run by the river near my office.

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As you can see from the photos, it ended up being a fantastic decision. 😀  I love the soft trails with the crunch of the fallen leaves underfoot, the sights, the tranquility, and (near) solitude.  I paid no attention to speed or distance, but rather just ran because it felt good.  It was an awesome way to break up the work day.

<Sigh>

On a completely different subject, we made Vietnamese Pho in our Crock-Pot Sunday, and I am really excited about having the leftovers tonight for Stewsday!  The food I desire most when it’s cold and I am lazy/tired/sick/(or not) is noodles and broth.  Not chicken noodle soup, not vegetable noodle soup–noodles + broth.  I love it.  When Andrew suggested making a large batch of noodles and broth, I simply couldn’t say no.  (Yeah, there’s some chicken and vegetables in there too, and I muscled them down for good measure. ;-))

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The recipe was easy and probably didn’t actually require the Crock-Pot.  We put 2 quarts of chicken broth + a pound(ish) of cooked, shredded chicken in the pot on high.  After a few hours, when we were close to being ready to eat, we added a box of brown rice noodles, bean sprouts, a sliced jalepeno, sliced mushrooms, chopped basil, cilantro, and lime juice.  As soon as the noodles are soft, the pho is ready.  It was, pho real, a delicious batch of soup. 😉

Enjoy the lovely fall weather and all the delicious foods that go with it today!

Do you prefer running on trails or on the road?
Have you ever tried and/or made pho?

Hiking: Humpback Rocks + Dobie Mountain

Hiking is good for my soul.  Apparently it’s good for my heart as well, because we hit the mountains Saturday, and I didn’t have a single heart palpitation all day.  Nature for the win!

Andrew and I went with our friends Evan and Kristina;  Evan is one of my coworkers, and we’d been talking about all going hiking together for a while.  It was great to finally make it happen!  Kristina’s sister and her boyfriend drove up from Virginia Tech and met us at Humpback Rocks.

This hike, which is one of our favorites because of the awesome views and close proximity to home, is always steeper than I remember.  There was very little conversation happening for the first 15 minutes or so :-D.  The ascent to the overlook is only one mile though, so before long we were looking at this:

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After we reached this overlook, we decided to continue hiking–the trail meets up with the Appalachian Trail pretty quickly.  Humpback Rocks shares a parking lot with another hike we’ve done recently–Dobie Mountain–and the two are connected by the AT.  Now, we had never done the combined hike and weren’t sure exactly how many miles of AT stretched between the two, but the group decided to give it a try.

This section of the AT (going north) was beautiful–mostly downhill, lots of pretty leaves, and lots of switchbacks.  So many switchbacks… none of which were visible on Google maps (yes, the AT is on there!), so when we’d been hiking for 15 minutes and I said, “We’re just about a mile away from the next overlook,” I was very wrong.  About an hour later, we were…one mile from the overlook.  My bad, guys. 🙂  Eventually we made it, and it was worth the extra miles:

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The whole gang

By the time we made it out of the woods, I think we’d hiked about six miles.  Not too shabby!

Hiking just makes me feel alive, and as I previously mentioned, it seemed to quiet the frequent heart palpitations I’ve been having lately.  Plus, we had great company this weekend, which made the day even greater!

Where have you hiked lately?
What was the highlight of your weekend? 

Late Wedding Photos + This Week Randomness

This week has been a bit hectic, so I haven’t had much time to blog.    Here’s a quick recap of our week, as told mostly by the photos on my phone:

1.

Jenny1Andrew’s sister, Jenny, is in town from Denver this week, and it’s been so great to spend time with her!!  In the photo above, Andrew is giving her the extensive tour of our garden.  We’ve also been able to do dinner a few nights, and we convinced her to come to yoga with us last night. 😀  We love you, Jenny!

2.

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For date night dinner Saturday we opted for (mostly) convenience– Applegate Farms chicken tenders (GF nuggets for Andrew), Alexia spicy sweet potato fries, and roasted beets.  Mmm.  I love to cook, but sometimes you just need to pull a box out of the freezer.

3.

heart monitor

I’ve been having weird heart palpitations the last few weeks, so I went to the doctor on Tuesday to get it checked out.  It’s probably nothing serious, but they hooked me up to this lovely heart monitor (there are five more electrodes stuck to me in places you can’t see…all I can say is, “TGISS”–thank God it’s scarf season. ;-)) I had to wear it for 24 hours and record when the palpitations occurred and very specifically what I was doing.  How did my dear, loving Andrew respond to this?  He tried to do as many weird things as possible so that if a palpitation occurred I’d have to record, “Having my face licked,” or “Watching my husband dance with a shirt tied around his head.”  (He did not succeed, so I did not have to write anything weird :-D).  Anyway, I should get the results within a week, but, again, I’m not super worried, so you shouldn’t be either (I’m talking to you, Daddy ;-)).

4.

 bobcat goat1

If you read this blog regularly, you probably know that I love goats and that there is this beautiful park in Richmond (Maymont) that has goats and other animals.  My friend Kate and I walked there yesterday for exercise and to enjoy the fantastic fall weather.  In addition to the goats, we were able to see the bobcat, which I had never seen there before!  It usually stays in the indoor part of its habitat.  Very cool. 🙂

Kate took our late bridal/wedding photos a few weeks ago, and she gave me the disc with all the photos yesterday when we got together.  They. Look. Awesome.  Here are some of my favorites (sorry in advance for the photo overload) :

Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey  Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey

Catherine & Andrew Storey

Catherine & Andrew Storey Catherine & Andrew Storey   Catherine & Andrew Storey  Catherine & Andrew Storey

A huge thanks to our friend Katie for giving us this photo shoot as our wedding gift, and thanks to Kate for being so talented and working with us!  After doing this, I think everyone should take after-the-fact wedding photos–no wedding day stress, no rush to get to the reception so guests aren’t waiting, a chance to put that dress back on… 🙂  Yeah, we waited a while to actually take them, but we don’t look that different from our wedding day, and I know ten years from now we won’t be able to notice the 1.5 year age difference.

You can check out more of Kate’s work here.

That’s been our week (so far) in a nutshell.  Have a great Thursday!

-Has anyone else taken late bridal portraits/wedding photos?
-Heart palpitations: have you ever experienced them?  Were they anything serious?

Rainy Day Beef Stew

Rainy days call for hearty dinners.  Last night that hearty dinner was a simple beef stew.  While we typically don’t eat a lot of red meat (and lately I’ve had one foot even more firmly in the vegetarian camp, as Andrew puts it…but more on that another day) we had a package of Simple Truth organic stew meat in the freezer just waiting for such a day as yesterday.

Simple Beef Stew

1 lb stew meat
5 carrots, peeled & sliced
4 celery stalks, sliced
3 Russet potatoes, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 c chicken broth
2-3 c beef broth
1 tsp dried rosemary
Worcestershire* sauce (a splash)
Pepper
1-2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in equal amount cold water
Red wine vinegar (a splash)

(*I spelled that correctly on the first try!  My trick is to say in my head: “Wor-chester-shire” and take out the “h”.  😀  It’s the little things.)

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add beef and brown all sides.  2.  Reduce to medium heat, add garlic, and cook until fragrant (about a minute).  3.  Add all remaining ingredients except vinegar and stir well, making sure broth is covering all veggies. 4.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about an hour.  5.  Add splash of red wine vinegar.  6. When vegetables are tender, the stew is ready for you to enjoy!

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It was quite good :).  And for someone who regularly brings home the baby carrots she packed in her lunch that morning with great intentions, it’s a great way to eat the vitamin-A-packed roots.

Andrew’s review:  “This is really good, baby; two thumbs up… even though it isn’t Stewsday!”

What else tastes great on a rainy night?  Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, of course.

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Speaking of eating, I’m now off to eat my words from yesterday–specifically the words, “I don’t mind running in the rain.”  😉

Have a great Friday!

-Rainy day meals: what’s your go-to?
-Raw carrots:  love them, or love them in theory, hate them in taste unless dipped in Ranch dressing?

Rainy Day Weight Circuits

I don’t know how things look out your window, but here on the East Coast there was a quick switch from hot to cold-and-rainy in the last week.  While I am not afraid of the rain and certainly don’t mind running in it, if I can complete my workout without actually leaving the house in this weather, that is fine by me!

I created and have been doing this weight and cardio workout from the warmth (well, dryness, anyway) of my living room this week:

Living Room Weight Circuit

 

By moving straight from one exercise to the next without a break, you can make it a cardio workout as well as strength.  I typically use two 10-lb dumbbells for the moves that require weights (and sometimes for the walking lunges, if I’m feeling ambitious :)).

Give it a try, and let me know what you think!

What have we been eating this week to power such a grueling workout?  Well, I’m glad you asked!  The last two nights we’ve had one of the most neutral-colored meals possible:  tilapia + brown rice pasta + spaghetti squash.

tilapia

We baked the tilapia with a mixture of butter*, garlic, lemon juice, and basil, and made extra to season the brown rice pasta.  We roasted the squash with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Everything was delicious, despite falling in the oh-so-visually-appealing beige-yellow-tan category.

(*Nature’s Promise organic non-dairy buttery spread)

Tonight may be a stew night, despite the fact that it’s not Stewsday. 😉

Have a great Thursday, and if you’re experiencing the weather we are, stay dry!

What are you eating this week?
How does the rain affect your workouts?