*The Wonder Keeping the Stars Apart*

…living it right, 27 years in…

A Clean Eating Fresh Summer Salad April 28, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — missmialynn07 @ 5:58 pm

Awhile ago, through the Zite app on my iPad, I discovered a recipe from www.thegraciouspantry.com called “Clean Eating Cranberry Green Bean Salad.”  With only three ingredients and requiring approximately 20 minutes of time, I saved it in my file and figured I’d try it some time.  Well, now that it’s getting warmer, I suddenly got inspired while I was grocery shopping on Friday and bought the ingredients.  Finally made the salad today, and it’s so delicious that I wanted to share it!

*1 pound fresh green beans, washed, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces (I bought mine already washed and cut from Giant Eagle, but am eager to try it with green beans from a farmer’s market over the summer.  And even though they were triple-washed, I washed them again.)
*1/3 cup dried cranberries, fruit juice sweetened (Craisins work fine)
*1/2 cup chopped almonds (I bought the roasted ones with light sea salt.  Warning: chopping almonds means they get all over the place.  It took me about two chops to realize that if I didn’t cover the knife and almonds with my left hand, I’d be shooting them all over my counter!)

1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
2.  Pour the cut and cleaned beans into the water and set a timer for 5 minutes.
3.  When the timer goes off, simply drain the beans quickly and allow to cool.  To truly blanch them, I remembered cooking class and put them immediately into a bowl of ice water after I drained the hot water.  This preserves both the color and the crunch.
4.  Combine with the cranberries and almonds and serve with dressing.

You can use balsamic vinaigrette, or I’d imagine some oil and vinegar.  I happened to have Kraft Strawberry Balsamic dressing in my fridge, so I tossed the salad with that.  I did add a little bit of salt, and may need to add a bit more next time; overall, though, this was DELISH and super-easy.  I didn’t think that 1/3 cup Craisins was going to be enough, but to my surprise, that was plenty.  Definitely a recommendation, and a salad I would make again!


17 Things Running Teaches You About Life April 15, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — missmialynn07 @ 3:50 pm

Thanks to Connie for sharing this article from Thought Catalog this morning. Looking through these lessons, I can say that I have definitely experienced and learned from them–and some of them will bear further reflection, I think, in my own journal.

1. To be good at anything, you have to put in the time and effort no matter how talented you are.

2. Your abilities and someone else’s abilities are not the same. Do the best that YOU can do.

3. If winning is your objective, realize that you have to work 10 times harder than the next best person.

4. No matter how hard you work and how prepared you are, disappointments will happen.

5. The most gratifying experiences usually come as a result of enduring the most painful trials.

6. To be great at anything, you have to risk failing terribly at it.

7. A lot of people endure the same pains that you do.

8. If you focus on putting one foot in front of the other, you will eventually reach the finish line.

9. You cannot reach the finish line unless you start.

10. The mind is a very powerful thing. If you can train your mind to keep going even when your body wants to quit, you can achieve some incredible things.

11. Learning the difference between physically being unable to continue and giving up.

12. Accepting that every day is different — some days 5 miles is really easy, other days it feels like a cruel punishment.

13. Pace yourself.

14. You cannot give 100%, 100% of the time.

15. Sometimes you need a day off, a day off from everything.

16. The worst time, the slowest pace, the last person to finish the race is still better off than the person who refused to try.

17. Even if you fall, even if you cannot finish today, you can and should pick yourself up and try again tomorrow.


For a “beau-tee-full” woman March 3, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — missmialynn07 @ 6:37 pm


On my Dad’s side of the family, I was always admittedly Aunt Bridgie’s favorite, mostly because I’m a girl.  (She’s my great-aunt, really, but we just sort of ignore the “great” with the number of great-aunts and great-uncles I have.  They’re family.  The end.)  Aunt Bridgie and Uncle Mike did not have any children of their own, and I’m not sure how close Dad’s sister really was to them.  All I know is that from when I was very little up to now, Aunt Bridgie always loved everything–clothes, jewelry, shoes, and makeup.  She’d always look at what I was wearing, and from when I was little, she’d tell me how “beau-tee-full” (pronounced that way–byoo-tee-full) everything was.  She was always very fashionable.

She had some great life stories, about how she and her sisters would sell “hot clothes” (read: stolen!) out of someone’s car when they were probably in their teens or 20s.  She got them from someone, and would just have these designer dresses and clothes hanging on a rack in the backseat of the car–furs, sequins, beaded gowns, the works.  She told us that story for the first time last year, and we were all laughing at how great that adventure must have been.  She had also worked as a seamstress at a bridal store, and knew a TON about fabrics and fitting work; luckily, she got to see pictures of when I had been trying on some bridal gowns when I was engaged.  I’m sad that she won’t get to see the real dress some day, because I know she’d be pleased with whatever I chose.

I will miss her amazing deviled eggs at Easter (she always made way too many, and then gave everyone about 5 dyed, hard-boiled eggs to take home…I swear she probably bought 6 or 7 dozen eggs TOTAL to do all of this) and, though I didn’t eat them, the millions of pounds of sweet potatoes–both mashed and candied–at Thanksgiving.  Whatever she made for holidays, she made an abundance.  [Not] surprisingly to anyone who knows Italian families, when she found out that you liked something, she’d then make an entire EXTRA dish JUST FOR YOU the next time.  See also: poor Mom, who is one of the only people who eats sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving, and always got sent home with a container completely filled with both kinds of sweet potatoes.  If she did eat all of what she got sent home with, she’d probably eat sweet potatoes for about two weeks. 

Consistent with living a beau-tee-full life, Aunt Bridgie always got both Mom and I something bath- or makeup-related from Kohl’s for every Christmas.  I can’t tell you how many makeup kits, bath sets, foot scrub/slipper sets, hats/scarves/mitten sets, or something along that variety we received.  I admit that we usually took the gifts back and exchanged them for something else at Kohl’s, but…you know.  We loved her for her thoughtfulness!

Aunt Bridgie’s heart and lungs, though, were weak.  She was a smoker for a very, very long time, and had COPD.  From factory work when she was younger, I believe she also had asbestos or another similar chemical that had caused damage.  The three weeks that she was in the hospital were volatile, in and out of the ICU, on and off the ventilator, and became too much for her body.  She had so much mucus in her lungs that she was too weak to lift herself up, let alone cough anything out (ew).  She passed away peacefully at 2:30 a.m. on Friday morning, and I’m sure that God has welcomed her into His kingdom so that she can do the makeup and clothing alterations for even the best-dressed up in heaven!  Oh, and she probably has a beagle or two by her side as well, since she loved them, and had at least two that I remember–Ralphie and Cody.

This is a big loss for our family.  There have been two others on my Dad’s side of the family that passed away in earlier years, but they weren’t as close to me as Aunt Bridgie.  I’m going to miss her (for the record, she’s on the left in the picture above, and Grandma is on the right), but it’s comforting to know that she is not weak and suffering anymore.


Four trips in the next month and a half? Bring it on! February 18, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — missmialynn07 @ 2:16 am

Four trips in the next month and a half?  Bring it on!

Though this is a photo from senior year of college when my friend Meredith and I went to Pittsburgh for the Sigma Tau Delta national conference, it’s still one of my favorites. I love to travel…and there will be PLENTY of that coming up soon!

This coming weekend, I will first be travelling to New Orleans for the first time for the Heartland Delta Faculty Conversations 2013 conference at Loyola University.  This wasn’t a selection of mine; I was actually approached by Tom last semester, who told me about the conference and said that he thought I should go, too.  It’s not exactly what I am interested in studying, but it’s a university-funded opportunity, so whatever.  And *bonus*, Samantha is going with me, too, so I’m really looking forward to spending time with her [have I mentioned that she and I have randomly discovered more than one person that we somehow happened to both know back in high school?  Because it’s hilariously fantastic.]

After that, one week of spring break, and then it will be spring break from JCU.  Most likely, that entire week will be spent at home…lots of conference preparation to do (eek!)

Literally three days after I get back from spring break, it’s off to LAS VEGAS for the Conference on College Composition and Communication conference…I’m really nervous, especially since the paper isn’t written yet, but I’m SO excited for this opportunity.  I worked really hard on my proposal last year, and now I will get the chance to talk about how I feel that disciplines from across the curriculum are affecting the perceived and natural roles of First-Year Composition classrooms as part of a “core/general” curriculum at universities.  I’m hoping that Rachel will be able to go, but I’m also excited that Jennifer and her husband are going to Vegas/the conference as well!  Further, I’m hoping that I will be able to work that paper into something appropriate for publication.  That’s a big hurdle, but I need to try.

Two weeks after that one, I will be going to D.C. for the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association national conference.  *Bonus*, I’ll get to see Yarina and Joe, and [hopefully] my grandparents, aunt, and uncle!  This one will be fun, because I’m going to present on the concert poster/visual rhetoric unit that I incorporated into my EN 111 course last semester.  I love talking about teaching and first-year composition, so taking the opportunity to do that will be SO much fun.  And I love D.C., so that always helps!

At any rate, I’m sure I’ll be exhausted and tired of my suitcase after the end of all of this, but I’ll be sure to post about each of my conference trips after they’re done!


Revising the significance of Valentine’s Day February 13, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — missmialynn07 @ 9:34 pm

Well, you all know me well enough to know that I <3 revision.  I absolutely treasure the opportunity to rip a previously-written paper [of mine, I’d never be that brutal to someone else!] completely to shreds and piece it back together while evaluating its strengths and weaknesses.  What isn’t expressed clearly?  What sounds great and fits in with my overall argument?  Where might I need more information?  And where does this new idea fit in?  And, as an extra bonus, I get to use fun colored pens to both revise and edit!

So, on the eve of Valentine’s Day, and knowing that there will inevitably be a barrage of “Singles Awareness Day” Facebook posts and tweets tomorrow, I want to share a different way of thinking about Valentine’s Day in hopes that maybe I could change at least one person’s vision of the holiday’s significance.  In all honesty, it’s never been my favorite holiday.  I don’t care whether I had a boyfriend at the time or not, Valentine’s Day is just kind of….there.  We all have the same stories about how we didn’t get carnations or roses from our crushes and how it was so embarrassing when the Student Council members came to the door with deliveries and called the cheerleader’s name 25 times and then left.  Or how we dated someone that didn’t really make it a priority to send a card or hit “send” on some flower delivery website to ensure that you at least knew he was thinking of you on that day.  “Next time we see each other, I’ll take you out to dinner,” he’d say.  And you’d be fine with that.  But I digress.

In an effort to try and be more positive, I looked to the other significant people in my life, rather than the significant other, whether I had one or not.  My Dad got me a Valentine every single year–and he still does.  In fact, he sent me a card just yesterday with $1 in it, telling me not to spend it all in one place!  (Family inside jokes…not to worry.)  I also get Valentines from my Mom, my grandparents, and my best friend from college–Annie and I trade funny cards every year, mostly related to how we’ll talk to each other when we’re old, or something about drinking or fart jokes.  Yep, we are mature.  In return, I pick out Valentine’s Day cards for my parents and my closest friends as well, just to let them know that I am thinking of them.

There’s something to be said for the elementary school practice of buying a box of Valentines and [sometimes begrudgingly] giving one to EVERY PERSON IN YOUR CLASS; yes, even John, whose clothes always smell like cigarette smoke, or Rachel, the class snob who lived to compete with you and always thought she was better than you.  Whatever.  What I think this teaches you, though, is that kindness and “love” can extend beyond the traditional “romantic” sense of the word.  I have so much fun picking out the funny cards for Annie and my Dad, as well as the right card to send my Mom, because they are important people in my life that have been around for a long time.  And new friends that I pick out cards for represent fantastic friendships with people who add a lot to my life.

It’s unfortunate, actually, how few cards there are in the “Just Anyone” category.  When I was at Target looking at cards, it was difficult to find the right cards for friends, because the majority are in the “Romance,” “Husband/Wife,” etc. etc. romantic love categories.  There are so many more forms of love than that!  At any rate, that’s how I will be viewing Valentine’s Day tomorrow–a celebration of the many different types of relationships in my life, and my “love” for each person.  Maybe if more people can broaden their understanding of the word “love,” the meaning of Valentine’s Day will see less “Singles Awareness Day” messages and instead undergo some revision.


Heartbreak Warfare February 10, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — missmialynn07 @ 9:04 pm

I hate that I even have to write this, because it actually has been difficult for me to think about, but I think I have to take a hiatus from running.  I’ve still been struggling with lower-back pain since I first hurt my back in January–I think that it’s a pinched nerve, according to what I researched on the internet.  The symptoms match the weaknesses and pinching sensations I get across my lower back and in my legs, despite the fact that when I do run, I feel fantastic.  I finally told my mom how I haven’t felt great for the past month or so, and she told me that I should probably switch to another form of exercise for awhile.  Back injuries take a long time to heal, and what I don’t want to happen would be the image of the herniated disc tearing into my spine that I saw in the “worst-case scenario” section of the medicine websites I read.  Um, gross.

I know it sounds ridiculous to actually be this upset about exercise, but I really am.  I don’t know if it’s the treadmills, or the fact that I didn’t go to a proper running store and get the “right” kind of shoes for me, or a combination of everything, but I’m angry that my own body defeated me.  Thinking back, when I was running 3-4 days a week back in September, October, and November, that’s the BEST that I have ever felt about myself.  I felt strong, confident, and (dare I say it) reasonably attractive–none of which I had felt in, well, ever.  My style and attitude changed to reflect my happiness, and I couldn’t WAIT to come home and get out the door for a run.  It’s hard not to see this setback as a giant shove backwards, despite the fact that I know injuries are a part of any process. 

I don’t know how this is going to affect my goal to run a 5k in spring or summer.  I’m hoping that maybe if I do a short run once a week for now, and then do the recumbent bike or the elliptical to rebuild some strength, I won’t lose ALL of the ability I had to actually run.  Another lesson in listening to your body and taking care of yourself, I suppose, and I’m not even sure that this blog post has accurately expressed how difficult this is for me (or if I just sound ridiculous), but here’s hoping I can “come back with a vengeance” soon.


Learning to Love and Value Yourself February 7, 2013

Filed under: self-love — missmialynn07 @ 5:46 pm
Tags: ,

While I’ve come a long way in the last year, I still come across a well-written reminder of ways that I still can and need to improve my own relationship with myself.  I really liked this article I came across on Huffington Post’s Women page this morning, and wanted to share it with those of you that read my blog.  So, here it is:

8 Strategies to Create More Love In Your Life

1. Be your authentic self and speak your truth.

Speaking your truth is vital to your authenticity as a person. However, that does not give license to be hurtful to another person. When you speak out of anger, what frequently follows is regret. It is wise to take a few deep breaths to feel calm and clear before speaking your truth. Then you are poised to speak with greater thought and care, regardless of the message to be delivered.

When you deliver a message, begin by saying something positive about the relationship, then express the problem that you are experiencing, and then close with something kind and compassionate. For example, “I love spending time together. I would just really appreciate your showing up on time when we have a plan. This would help my stress level and probably yours too.” Consider how what you are going to say will help the relationship.

2. Practice self-compassion.

Self-compassion occurs when we tune into our own needs and feelings. We are usually hardest on ourselves. While others might receive the overflow of our negativity, we take the hardest hit when we are lacking in self-compassion. This can be cultivated by thinking about how you would treat your child or a loved one when they make a mistake or fall short of expectations.

With self-compassion, we recognize who we really are, including our limitations and strengths, and still find a way to practice self-love and acceptance. We all share the human condition. None of us are perfect, and most of us are doing the best that we can. Being kind to yourself has a way of being contagious, and opens space for others to do the same.

3. Remain open and curious. Be curious rather than judgmental about what your friend or loved one shares. It is much more compelling and informative to listen carefully when someone is speaking to you. Judgment and criticism can be toxic to any relationship. At times it is easy to assume that you know what your friend is about to say, or even to complete their sentences. When you remain open to the possibilities, you may find yourself surprised by the outcome. People feel cared for when they are truly heard. Pay attention to their words, the nuances of their body language, tone of their voice, and eye contact. Remember, “tone over content” matters most.

4. Assume the best of the person with whom you are talking.

Our minds have a way of taking us to weird and sometimes paranoid places. Often, we think the worst without considering the alternatives. Odds are we will discover that our friend or lover is well-intended if we allow ourselves to listen with an open mind and heart. Try to understand the other point of view and assume the best, even when you disagree. You stand to gain powerful insights about your friends when you understand their perspective. When you assume the best about the other person, she or he tends to step into their best selves.

5. Laugh often.

Deliberately craft fun experiences, for these times together create the memories that bring meaning and sweetness to our lives. It’s been shown that laughter may lower stress and the risk of heart disease. While there is not much hardcore data about the health benefits of laughter, most of us have experienced a reduction in tension, anxiety, and pain — and an increase in hope and other positive mood states — when indulging in a good laugh.

Think of a time when you had a great belly laugh with a friend. Chances are not only did you feel better physically, you probably also felt more connected with that person. There is a form of yoga based on the practice of laughter with deep breathing. The idea is that you don’t even need to be in the mood to laugh, but once you start practicing the “he, he, he,” “ho, ho, ho,” and “hah, hah, hah,” notice what happens, especially when you are in the presence of others. Not sure of the science behind this, but I can tell you that by mistakenly landing in one of these classes that this practice works magic!

6. Apologize.

Be quick to apologize when you have hurt or offended another. Apology is an important way of showing compassion, respecting another person, and letting them know that their feelings count. An apology can heal relationships and alleviate suffering. Although the past cannot be undone, a heartfelt apology can work wonders to repair a damaged relationship. Apologizing means digging deep and taking in how you have wronged another and letting them know that you understand and that you are sorry. You will benefit by not carrying around the guilt and regret for having said or done something that caused someone else pain. They will benefit by being recognized and feeling that they can more readily move past the offense or wrongdoing. An apology also clears the path to forgiveness.

7. Forgive.

Forgiveness requires a shift of perception. We make the decision to look at the person that has wronged us through a different lens. It does not mean that we forget what happened or that the person is off the hook for their behavior. It means that we are ready to let go of the wrongdoing and of the past so that we can move forward in our own lives. Sometimes forgiving another person deepens the relationship, and sometimes it means that the relationship is over and you are choosing to no longer look back. Either way, forgiveness liberates us from the pain, loss, and disappointments of the past. Learning to forgive can be cultivated with practice and the passage of time.

8. Express gratitude.

Be grateful for friends, loved ones, and acts of kindness by others. Expressing gratitude by saying thanks and showing appreciation in all kinds of creative ways keeps the relationship wheel well oiled. We are fortunate to have people in our lives that love us, and we must do whatever we can to honor these crucial relationships.

Focus on the areas in which you can improve your relationships and discover the myriad possibilities that will unfold before you. Let this be the year that you deepen your relationships and find the love that you truly deserve.



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