Oct 102014

I’m never really sure what to expect when we have a guest speaker at church. I usually prefer Sean’s musings to whatever local charity or organization is looking for volunteers, donations, or simply hoping to spread awareness. Don’t get me wrong. I’m generally supportive, but rarely does any particular outreach speak to my heart. That’s pretty much what I expected when I walked in and saw t-shirts and stickers for sale reading “Liberty in North Korea.”

Sure, I know it’s bad over there, and it’s important to help… but… really, what can we do? It’s North freakin’ Korea.

By the end, I was absolutely fascinated and inspired by this organization.

I learned a lot in that 30 or so minute visit with the LINK nomad. A young guy, probably only about 20 years old at best. The thing that got me was not only are they doing great things and saving young people from imprisonment and death, but the absolute rebellious nature of what’s happening. In a way it’s very American.

The culture is changing in North Korea. Unlike their parents, this generation of North Koreans doesn’t rely on the government to survive. They’ve found that the only way to get the things they need is to go to the Jangmadang, the market, and the only way to make money to get what they need is to sell at the market. They’re turning their back on the government and taking their lives into their own hands.

With restricted media, there’s an underground for outside news, movies, music and information. A lot of this exchange also takes place at the Jangmadang. Today’s young North Koreans are much more aware of what’s happening in the rest of the world than their government would like them to be. Many flee North Korea into China, but it’s still dangerous. They could be caught, sold, or returned home where they’ll be imprisoned and killed. LINK works to locate these refugees and get them safely out of China. From there they have the opportunity to go to school, work, earn money to aid the rebellion back home, and share their stories with the rest of the world.

I encourage you to check out the website, learn more, and get involved if this is something that touches your heart. I’ve decided to start a fundraising page. It takes about $3000 to rescue one refugee, so that is my goal. I would like to give someone a chance at a new life. 100% of donations goes to rescue and resettlement support, and currently donations are being matched 100%, so if you donate $25, it’ll be a $50 donation to Refugee Rescues.

A lot of times I say “I’ll give when I have the money to give,” but I’ve learned that those times never come. There’s always a reason why “I don’t have enough right now.” Then I realized, if I give, I’ll have plenty. The gods always make sure I have enough, so I might as well give. Just something to think about. :)

Aug 262014

I’ve had a lot of thoughts I’ve been wanting to write lately. Actually doing that hasn’t really happened. I’ve been neglectful, silent, and truthfully… overwhelmed and quite often feeling as if I’m drowning in life’s waters instead of being refreshed by them. To be completely honest, as much as I want to appear that I have answers, and brilliant ideas, and cool new hacks for life… I don’t. I have more questions than answers, and a lot of what I do is really just flying by the seat of my pants.

Something happened the other day, and I really wanted to share it. I’m not sure why, other than perhaps to let you know it’s OK to not be great, or even good, and that people are amazing.

I have been doing CrossFit for a couple of months now. Long enough to get an idea of what I’m doing, but not long enough to really feel like a CrossFitter. I certainly don’t look like one. I’m still slow, and clumsy, and (comparatively) weak. I’m somewhere between still being a level 1 beginner, and level 2. Combine with that, I’ve noticed some pretty wicked pain in my left hip that’s causing me to not perform at my awesomest.

In addition to already modifying the workout to my current limitation, I found the level 2 workout incredibly difficult. So much so that I was sweating, and panting, and begging the Universe to just make it end. I had half a dozen team mates rocking it out and finished while I’m still struggling to throw 45 pounds over my head twelve times consecutively. I didn’t even have to do the squats and I was dying. One by one my team mates finished while I had rounds left. My coach was supportive, encouraging me to push through, don’t stop.

Sweaty, suffocating, and now I realize that my t-shirt has slid up exposing the belly I am always so conscious to hide. I couldn’t put the bar down or I’d have penalty reps. I started feeling sorry for myself and all I wanted at that moment was to cry.

As my teammates finished their rounds, they chimed in to the coach’s supportive cheers. I wanted to stop, and they’re yelling “one more! OK good! Keep pushing! One more!”

I hated that they saw me angry, and sad, and exposed, and weak, and I wanted to cry. I soon realized that every time they yelled “Come on! You can do it!” I actually DID it. It was their energy that gave me the strength to push, and I was so incredibly grateful that they were there. If I were alone, on my own, I would have quit a long time ago. These people weren’t going to let me quit, and I didn’t want to quit anymore. I just wanted to get it done.

I can’t say it was pretty by any means, but I finished. And I didn’t puke. Walking out to my car is when it hit me. “At first I wanted to cry because I wanted to quit. Then I wanted to cry because my team mates wouldn’t let me.” I was overwhelmed with gratitude for people I barely know, that I spend a few hours a week with, where we’re all just trying to make ourselves a little bit better.

It’s a sacred space in its own way. The rest of the world ceases to exist. There is no future, no past. Only now, and the task at hand.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am for my teammates that day, for showing me that I’m stronger than my will to quit, that it’s OK to be exposed and be authentic, and that I have people who are there for me and will help me get through. Thank you, Rhema. I appreciate you.

May 262014

Omar FordThis morning’s workout at CrossFit Rhema was a Hero Workout. This particular workout’s name is “Murph” in honor of U.S. Navy SEAL Micheal Murphy, who led the four-man reconnaissance team on a mission to kill a top Taliban leader. Some of you may know the story of the Lone Survivor. This was that mission.

What is “Murph?”

Murph is a 1 mile run, 100 pull ups, 200 push ups, 300 air squats, and another 1 mile run. For us newbies, we cut that in half, so I did a “half-Murph.”

Before our workout, we were all given a name of a fallen hero, written on our arm. Someone to remember and honor when we felt like quitting. The name given to me was Omar Forde.

The workout was brutal, no doubt, but when it was over I looked down at my arm and saw that name written there. I didn’t want it to just be a name. I wanted to find out who Omar Forde was.

Sgt.+1st+Class+Omar+FordeSergeant 1st Class Omar Forde, 28, of Marietta, Ga.

Forde grew up in Cobb County where he attended Dowell Elementary School, Pine Mountain Middle School, and finally Kennesaw Mountain. He was known as a “fixture” of the Mustang football team and made history in 2001 when he intercepted a pass in what is now known as “Omar’s Corner.” After playing three years of varsity football at Kennesaw, Omar Forde had offers to play college football when he graduated in 2004. Instead, he passed on football and decided to serve his country, and start a family with his high school sweetheart, Megan. Together they had two boys.

During his eight years of military service, Ford had been promoted seven times. Sgt Forde was one of six soldiers killed in a helicopter crash as part of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afganistan. He was one of five from Fort Riley, and was assigned to the 1st Infantry Division’s 1st Combat Aviation Brigade. He died when the UH-60 Black Hawk he was in, crashed in southern Afghanistan on December 17.

Today we honor those who gave everything so that we can have our hotdogs, our fireworks, and our brutal Crossfit workouts that, compared to men like Sgt 1st Class Omar Forde, make us look like complete wusses. Thank you, Sgt Forde.

May 012014

191163_c89f1488-aa18-45e8-91c5-0087d480d74c_oHappy Beltane!

For those unfamiliar with this holiday, it’s the last of three Pagan fertility festivals. (The first two being Imbolc and Ostara.) It celebrates the fertility of nature, and the onset of summer. Some of the best  ways to celebrate are with bonfires. sex (especially if you want children. Be VERY careful if you don’t!) or  get some friends to help you construct a May pole. It’s very phallic. Whatever you do, celebrate with lots of color! Wear bright colors, add some flowers and bright colors to your home, make colorful foods and pretty cocktails. Brunch with some mimosas anyone?

Here are some fun recipes you might want to try for Beltane.

Wild Rose Faery Jam

2 cups water
2 cups fragrant rose petals, white bases removed
2 1/2 cups super fine sugar
1/8 cup lemon juice
1 1/4 Tbsp rose water

In a large sauce pan, bring the water to a boil. Decrease heat to simmer and add rose petals. Simmer 5 minutes until the petals are pliable. Add sugar and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Decrease heat and simmer 30 minutes. Stir until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture begins to thicken. Add rose water, let stand until foaming.

To test doneness, place a spoonful of jam on a cold saucer. Allow it to cool and push on the surface. If it wrinkles, it’s ready! Allow the jam to cool slightly and pour into sterilized jars. Store in the refrigerator. It’ll keep about 2 months.

May Day Wine

1.5 liter bottle white wine of choice
1/4 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1/4 cup sliced fresh raspberries
12 sprigs woodruff
1 orange, thinly sliced for garnish

Pour the wine ito a carafe or wide-mouth bottle. Add the strawberries, raspberries, and woodruff. Allow the mixture to blend for at least 1 hour. Strain and serve well chilled. Garnish with orange slices.

Asparagus Potato Soup

1 cup chopped chives
1 Tbsp butter
4-6 cups vegetable stock
3-4 potatoes, peeled and cubed
12 spears asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
salt and pepper

In a small saute pan, saute the chives in butter for 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a large pot. Add vegetable stock and bring to a boil. Add potatoes and asparagus, adding more stock if needed. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are soft. Transfer to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Salt and pepper to taste.

Beltane loveHere are some more fun projects or recipes you may want to try…

Make your own Candied Flowers

Dandelion Biscuits *(Non-Paleo, but gluten-free flour can be subbed.)

Dandelion Wine

Also, if you’d like to learn more about Beltane, there’s a fantastic article on WitchVox, HERE.

Apr 292014

CommissionsI would like to say a great big THANK YOU to my dear friend, Emily Swan for the gorgeous new blog header!

She’s amazingly talented, and if you like her work you can see a lot more of it on her website.

She does commissions too. :)

Thanks Emmy! You rock!

Apr 202014

This has got to be one of my favorite springtime dishes. It’s colorful, delicious, and loaded with stuff that’s good for you. There are lots of tweaks and adjustments you can make to it as well. The measurements are merely a suggestion. If you really like apples, add more apples. If you don’t like raisins, try grapes. This is a recipe you can’t really mess up… unless you try really hard.


1lb shredded carrots
1 1/2 cup raisins
1 large apple, diced
1 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup honey
2 tsp lemon juice

Other ingredient options:

Pineapple chunks
Shredded cabbage
Sunflower seeds
Shredded coconut

If you want, you can even make it raw. Opt for raw nuts and raw honey, and make your own mayo (as I did.) For a sweeter slaw, add more honey. Make more tart by adding more lemon juice, or add a tangy flavor by subbing cider vinegar. If you’re trying to keep sugar content down, you can experiment with using stevia instead.

The process is super simple. You can buy matchstick carrots, or shred your own. Do it by hand or use a food processor. Incidentally, I used a hand-crank meat grinder (because that’s what I have.)

Just throw all your fruits, veggies and nuts into a bowl and stir them together. Mix mayo, honey and lemon juice in another bowl, then combine them.

You’ll want to make this soon before serving and keep it refrigerated, though I will tell you it’s also good after about a day when it starts to soften up, at which point it almost reminds me of a Paleo oatmeal substitute. It’s excellent for a breakfast side!

Apr 152014

IMG_20140415_210536Knoxville now has its very first Paleo cafe!

Located inside The Health Factory, just beside Rhema Crossfit gym and The Health Factory chiropractic services, The Paleo Foods Cafe is just the latest example of Knoxville’s impressive food culture.

Their Grand Opening was this last Saturday, and of course I had to check it out! I was a bit surprised at just how packed the parking lot was. Although I knew Knoxvillians loved their fine local foods and healthy eats, I was unaware of just how popular Paleo foods might be in this little city. It didn’t hurt that they were offering up free samples of their delicious granola, and Cruze Farm ice cream.

IMG_20140415_211152While waiting in line for my latte (made with fair-trade, organic coffee and organic milk) I took a few moments to browse over the menu. The Paleo Cafe offers local non-GMO eggs and chicken, grass-fed beef, local organic milk from the nearby Cruze farm, grain-free goodies, teas and kombucha. They also have a great selection of smoothies including flavors such as “chocolate covered cherry” and “orange Julius.” You can fuel up with a coconut yogurt parfait, Paleo granola with milk, handmade Paleo biscuits (it IS the south you know,) or one of their delicious Farmer’s Frittatas. If you need a quick snack on the go, they also offer apple chips and raw kale chips. And let’s not forget Paleo ice cream cones. Yes, cones.

The Paleo Foods Cafe is also offering up various workshops to help get you on your way to living a wholly healthy lifestyle. You can sign up for a workshop to learn how to have more energy, get your kids to eat healthier, or even figure out if dairy is really your problem. Learn about toxins, how to build muscle, the importance of sleep, or learn how to eat perfect foods on a budget. You can sign up for any of these right on their website, where you will also find their own food blog.

The Paleo Cafe also has its own food blog, which can be found here.

IMG_20140415_210357As I mentioned, inside The Health Factory you can also find Rhema Crossfit. As it so happened, at the cafe opening they were also offering a special introduction to Crossfit at a deeply discounted price. I decided to take advantage of the deal and give Crossfit a try, since it was something I’ve always wanted to do. Whether I’ll be able to afford it after the first two months remains to be seen, but I’m curious to see what results will come in the next 8 weeks. Even if I can’t afford to continue my Crossfit membership, Rhema offers an Open Gym every Saturday at 10am that is absolutely FREE to the public.

From what I’ve seen so far at The Health Factory, not only do they have a very appealing business with a lot to offer, but they care about their community and seek to educate and share the good life.

If you find yourself traveling down Alcoa highway, take a minute to stop in and have a look around, maybe even order a coffee or ice cream cone. You’ll be glad you did.

In the meantime, enjoy a virtual tour…



Parfait anyone?



Who can say “No” to Paleo Hot Fudge?


Sea Salt Caramel. Oh my…




The little Paleos love it.



Apr 072014

You know when the gods are trying to make a point. It’s when patterns start revealing themselves, when there’s a reoccurring theme that just won’t go away. The gods are prodding me again. Something’s up, and I have a feeling I’m about to get a pop quiz. I really hope I pass.

Sean & Sara, Knoxlife Church.

Sean & Sara, KnoxLife Church.


It started with a simple, somewhat off-the-cuff conversation about what love is, and that love is not a feeling, but instead it’s an act and a choice. I can’t disagree with that at all. On one hand, I believe you can’t choose who you fall in love with, and on the other, you have to choose to continue to love them, especially in the times when it’s the hardest. For me, love is more than just choosing to act. Romantic love is spiritual and sacred. When I’m in a relationship with someone, I love them with my entire soul.

Then there’s what happened at church. It was one of those random sort of Sundays. In fact the theme of the day was “Random Thoughts,” where Sean and Sara just shared some of the things that had been on their minds and hearts lately. Of course, that included what it means to be “a lover.”

Now, most of you know me, and I’m not the type to quote bible versus, but this one is worth remembering.

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful;[a] it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Sitting there in the balcony, it occurred to me that in my search for love, I need to look at love differently, and be a better lover. Especially that bit about “It does not insist on its own way.” If I’m ever going to have true love in my life, I have to start living love.

Switching gears away from romantic love for a moment…

The mission statement of KnoxLife Church is simple. “Love God. Love People.” Easier said than done. What if the person in question is someone who is difficult to love, or is unpopular to love? What if loving and accepting a person is controversial? My heart says that’s when you need to do it the most.

Someone from my past just resurfaced, quite by surprise. I was saddened to realize how much I’d lost, and never noticed. To accept them back into my life just may cause controversy with others, and I’m not the kind of person who participates in drama. I refuse to get caught up in that sort of thing, but my heart says it would be wrong to keep the door closed just to maintain peace. It’s about making the choice to love, even when it’s the hardest thing to do.

Maybe this is the quiz. Is this what the gods are testing me with, to see if I truly understand what love means? Are they testing to see if I am really ready to have love in my life? If I cannot do what my heart says is right, all in an effort to maintain peace, then I have failed.

Apr 032014

Yellow sign in the forestI’ve sort of been putting off rebuilding the blog. It’s not because I don’t want to, but part of me is wondering, now with this empty slate, what direction I want to take.

I’m not the same person I was when I started this blog. Shoot, I’m not the same person I was a year ago when I was living in New York, in my big farm house, out in the middle of nowhere. That part of me still exists, but it’s learning to live in a tiny urban apartment now, Without a kitchen.

There are things that get me fired up, that I never really share here. I don’t want this to be a political blog, or one that focuses on social issues, but there are things that I sometimes wish I could share or say.

As a food person… a foodie, I’m a big fan of raw milk. It’s frustrating that in many parts of the country it’s hard to get without jumping through a number of hoops (including right here in Tennessee.) I think if you want to consume a product, you should be able to without the government getting in the way. I’m very much a libertarian but I’ve sort of kept myself from getting into non-food and non-Pagan related topics.

In essence, I’ve only been sharing part of myself here. It sometimes seems, well… not untruthful to share only some of my thoughts and not others, but a lesser for of lying by omission.

In the coming months you may see this become more of a personal journal, with helpful bits of recipes and spiritual thoughts combined with the occasional rambling on whatever problem is on my mind. There may even be a soapbox rant from time to time. I don’t know.

I have a couple of food-related projects coming up to share with you, so at least I’ll be starting out on a familiar path. Which tangents I may take in the future, well… I guess that’ll be a surprise for us all.

Mar 292014

Well, it looks like it’s gone. All gone.

I’m not sure what happened or when, but this is what I’ve got now.

I have most of my photos, still looking for content…

Please be patient. I will add new stuff (and re-post old stuff) as I can.

The lesson?

Back. Up. Everything.

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