It’s All One Big, Beautiful Mystery

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“I took my love and took it down
I climbed a mountain and I turned around
And I saw my reflection in the snow-covered
hills…”

We went to our spot in the woods on Saturday. Hiked to the alpine lake we went to last fall when I was still pregnant, still in the season of waiting and expectation. We went and let Easton explore the mountain meadow with smiles on our faces. The world is big and beautiful and the woods are lively and magical; all of it more so when we watch him get to know it. Sometimes children are the best teachers. And nature too.

 

We went to Wildflowers on Sunday. I’ve been wrestling with Jesus for a while now, so traditional church services don’t sit well with me. I’ve never sat well through any church really. And I still don’t know exactly what to think about Jesus dying for me. But I believe in God. I look at my son, and and see him in the mountain meadow, and there is no denying that the world holds something bigger than you or me. Mad props to the Maker.

IMG_5674“Oh, mirror in the sky, what is love?
Can the child within my heart rise above?
Can I sail through the changing ocean tides?
Can I handle the seasons of my life?”

Life-Death-Life. That’s what the message was about on Sunday. That’s the message that makes me question if I can really call myself a Christian or identify with Christianity. I have no problem believing in miracles. Every day the sun rises and sets. The world dances to an unseen but undeniable rhythm. My heart beats. My son’s chest rises and falls with each breath. Magic, miracles, call it what you will–they exist everywhere, everyday. I can’t help but want to know more about this man who lived with so much love, who challenged anyone he met to change, whose message still transforms millions today. Sure the message gets misused and twisted and turned into some ugly things–but that’s not his fault. I have no problem following Jesus. But I have had some pretty big doubts surrounding his dying for me. I get why he came to live, I get that his life was an arrow, pointing a new way for our lives to take aim. That he was pulled back by the masses, that his message was met with fear and anger and a sickening, tortured end to his life doesn’t surprise me. I get why he was killed from a societal standpoint, but what his death has to do with my sin and my life still mystifies me.

Nature mystifies me too. All around us colors burst forth in one last show of beauty before it all falls. Before the first bite of cold and snow covers everything until Spring. That’s where he got me. Metaphor. If there were no fall, no winter, no season of death, there would be no Spring. He said the story of Jesus is one of Life-Death-Life. One in which Jesus broke himself open, poured himself into us, and gave us life again. Simile. He said, much like a new mother lets part of her old self die to nurture the new life of her child, that’s the story of Jesus.

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I keep thinking about this passage from Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ Women Who Run With the Wolves:

Sometimes the one who is running from the Life/Death/Life nature insists on thinking of love as a boon only. Yet love in its fullest form is a series of deaths and rebirths. We let go of one phase, one aspect of love, and enter another. Passion dies and is brought back. Pain is chased away and surfaces another time. To love means to embrace and at the same time to withstand many endings, and many beginnings -all in the same relationship.”

I keep thinking about Life of Pi, about the Truth in story, about the existence of the irrational hero leading us to believe. Yann Martel said this of his novel:

“I chose Pi as my main character’s nickname because Pi, the number used so often in mathematics and engineering, is an irrational number; that is, a number that goes on forever without any discernable pattern. It stuck me that a number used to come to a rational, scientific understanding of things should be called “irrational.” I thought religion is like that, too: It’s something “irrational” that helps make sense of things. Along the same lines, I named my main character after a swimming pool to play on a contrast. A swimming pool (“piscine” in French) is a rectangular volume of water, a controlled volume of water. I liked the irony of a boy named after a rational volume of water being adrift in an uncontrollable volume of water, the Pacific. The two Mister Kumars — one the science teacher, the other the mystic baker — and the zebra. One archetypal man — Kumar is a very common name in India, one reality — a Grant’s zebra, two understandings of that reality — one transcendental (“Allahu akbar,” God is great), the other materialist (Equus burchelle boehmi, the scientific name for a Grant’s zebra). The whole novel in one scene. How reality is an interpretation, a choice of readings, a choice of stories. The island winks at old, discredited proofs of God, notably by Paley, an English clergyman from the 18th century, the argument from design; that is, that if there is a design in nature, there must be one who designed it, just as if there is a watch, there must be a watchmaker. A beautiful proof that has an emotional, intuitive appeal but doesn’t hold up logically.”

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Over the weekend, we stumbled upon a family of Moose. A whole, freaking, family! It was amazing, and I could have watched them for hours, but my own husband and son needed me. So on the drive home, I kept thinking about the magic of meeting them in the wild. I kept thinking that it was a sign of something more. That the son will shine on us as a family, that we are meant to be together and both wild and free. That we are meant for Goodness, that good things are to come, that we are so lucky.

And I keep thinking, if I can believe in signs, in magic, in miracles–which story do I want to believe? Which is the one that will lead me to choose and do better things–which is the one that leads to goodness and beauty and love–in all it’s irrational, beautiful, heartbreakingly amazing mystery?

With Love from Colorado,

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A Few Things I Would Teach My Daughter.

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Up late and nursing my son to sleep, I saw this Huff Post Parents article show up on my facebook feed. 101 Things I Will Teach My Daughter. The subheading was, “7. Even if he bought you dinner, you owe him nothing.”

And something stirred within me. True, it was late. True, I have only one son and no daughter. But still. I envisioned 23 years down the road. I saw my son, nervous to meet his date, but doing everything to play it cool. I saw him putting effort into planning an evening for her, carefully choosing if he would offer to pick her up or thinking she might feel more comfortable meeting him there–the relationship being new and all. I saw him putting an effort into showering and getting dressed, nothing fancy, but caring none the less. I saw him stopping by the ATM and withdrawing cash for the date–enough to buy dinner and drinks and tip the servers well. Extra for any what-ifs. I saw him balancing his account–either mentally or physically; choosing to give his money (which is a symbol of time) for her.

Then I imagined her. She, who was beautiful, intelligent, and independent. I imagined how my son would feel, if she didn’t say thank you. Not because she owed it to him because he bought her dinner, but because she recognized that not all men are a-holes who think they own a woman when they offer to buy dinner.

IMG_5426I don’t have a daughter, but I am a daughter. I believe in saying thank you. If someone does something for me–no matter how small the gesture, I believe I owe them a thank you. More, I believe I owe them sincere gratitude. If I had a daughter, I would teach her:

1. The most beautiful thing you can do is show up and be present.

2. Embrace life–in all its mystery and heartache and beauty.

3. It’s okay to think another woman is beautiful. It’s okay to think a man is beautiful too–and to say so.

4. Don’t be catty to other women. Don’t think all men are cretins. Think of everyone as someone’s baby. Someone who needs and deserves kindness, love, respect–even if they don’t always know how to show it.

5. Don’t let any man convince you he is powerful enough to change you. Don’t let any woman do this either. But recognize when you need to change to become the best version of yourself, and recognize that sometimes men and women teach us how to change–even when we most resist it.

6. If he bought you dinner, say thank you. If she bought you a drink, say thank you. If anyone buys you anything, say thank you. It’s the decent thing to do. If they are acting like you owe them part of you–your body or soul, always bring enough money to pay your own way and politely leave.

7. Men do not owe you dinner. Women do not owe you dinner. The world does not owe you anything.

8. You owe it to yourself to make a life that you can be proud of–financially, mentally, morally, spiritually, physically.

9. Don’t eat to look good in a bikini. Eat to swim at the beach with energy.

10. Develop a love for the world around you. Develop a reverence for living things, an appreciation for beauty–even in the smallest of things. See as much of the world as you can, but if you can’t afford to travel, find the beauty and wonder that exists where you live.

11. It’s okay if you don’t want to play princess, it’s also okay if you do.

12.  Try many things–sports, arts, music, craft, dance. Find something you love. Do it as often as you can.

13. Capture the beautiful moments on your life. Keep the photos to yourself or post them on Instagram. But keep them as a reminder that life is beautiful, even when it feels like it isn’t.

14. Don’t smile if you don’t mean it. But do try to find something to make you smile every day. If you can’t, jump up and down 25 times with a frown on your face–if you can even make it to 25.

15. Be open-minded to gender, race, sexuality, religious and political beliefs.

16. People are people. People are stories, sometimes they tell themselves and others a bad one. See the soul instead.

17. If you can’t be yourself around them, they aren’t really your friends. But real friends are also the ones who will challenge you. Cherish them.

18. Find friends who you can have a beer with, but find friends who you don’t just drink beer with, and try not to drink so much that anyone has to hold anyone’s hair back.

19. You can be the best from wherever you are. Be patient with yourself in getting there.

20. The best doesn’t mean perfect.

21. Develop a voice, and make it worth hearing.

22. Find the right book. If you think you don’t like reading, you just haven’t found the right book. Find it.

23. Be generous with your time. Give to others. Serve.

24. Take time for yourself too.

25. I will always love you. No matter what.

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I’ll teach my son all of these things too.

 

With Love,

 

Keri

 

 

Fall Traditions.

DSC00432Since Summer slipped out of my hands before I could even realize it was gone in my sleepless-nights-mental-fog induced my new motherhood, I’ve decided to make a list of traditions that I’d like to incorporate for our growing little family for fall–my favorite season.

But who am I kidding. I love all seasons. Each one has it’s own beauty and rhythm. And we are rhythmic beings. Beginning nearly at conception, we are begin to grow by the rhythm of our hearts. Beginning at birth, the breath is a new rhythm we live by. Each day has a rhythm–morning soft and then a burst of busy crescendo, an afternoon pause, before evening activities, and then rest. Each season has a rhythm too, and I find comfort in living by the natural rhythms all around us. When we do, life seems easier–less clumsy and more graceful.

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Autumn has a busy rhythm–it’s the season before we go within and become reflective. So as the light begins to fade, colors begin to change, and nature begins making her preparations for the cold months to come–I aim to dance along (with baby E.) by:

* Going for one hike a week as long as the weather holds—taking in the changing colors, the smell of in the air, and the coolness of the season.

*Collecting different colors and shapes of leaves and letting E. explore the different textures and colors.

* Apple, apricot, or berry picking and make jam/applesauce/ etc.

* Making elderberry syrup to help keep us well through the winter.

* Making a big pot of soup once a week. Baby E loves cooking with me so far–getting to see and smell and taste the different vegetables is so interesting to him. I hope he will enjoy cooking with me in the future too!

* Going to the park one day a week–soaking in as many nice days as we can before the snow hits.

* Letting Easton pick out his first pumpkin at a pumpkin patch, taking pictures, enjoying the day.

* Making pumpkin bread, soup, smoothies (recipes will be posted here), and letting Easton taste.

* Watching the boys watch football.

*Making an Autumn themed mantle:

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*Spending one evening a month without lights, tv, and enjoying candlelight and music. If we had a firepit, I’d do this in the back yard.

*Watch football—in our house, this is a given, and now that I have a son, I think it will be for the rest of my life. I’m learning to like it.

* Begin buying a few Christmas presents a month so I don’t spend December in a panic.

* Reading Fall Themed Books–we are open to any suggestions not listed–but we this year we plan on:

-The Busy Squirrel

-Apples and Pumpkins

-Apple Farmer Annie

-You Are My Little Pumpkin Pie

-In My Tree

-Fall Leaves

* I’m hoping to knit Easton a few hats in the evenings.

*Dress up for Halloween!

*Celebrate fall solstice with candlelight, an end of summer feast, and time outdoors in the afternoon.

* Not get too attached to our list and remember to breathe when we don’t do everything we plan :)

 

What are your favorite things to do in the fall?

With Love,

Keri

 

Hi, I’m Keri, and I am…..

IMG_2151You guys!! I’m excited. Tomorrow, I get to be around women who are my own age! Women who say words back and drink coffee and are mothers and wives and daughters of the Almighty too. I joined a small group book study in our church. They also have childcare. I’m not ready to use it, mind you, but the thought of it looms in the next few months. Grin. Grin with a slice of guilt for thinking that grin, but grin.

This isn’t a post about mommy guilt though. Or maybe it will turn out to be. I’m writing from the heart. I’m writing because sometimes I’m not sure what I think about something unless I’ve written it down. And I’ve been asked tomorrow to share my story. I’m to include: a few great and a few not-so-great moments from childhood, high school, and beyond and talk about them in light of our relationship with God, ourselves and others. In five minutes. Eeep!

So here goes.

I was raised by wolves. Kidding, kidding. But we did spend an amazing amount of hours in the wild. My parents, whose relationship I admire and whose love I am forever grateful for, instilled in me a love for being outside. Every Sunday from May-November, we were in the mountains, together. We’d rise, make pancakes from scratch, load up the car, and head for the hills. Days were spent looking for arrowheads, fishing in small mountain lakes, hiking among aspen trees, picking wild currants, and watching whatever wildlife we saw. It was beautiful. My mom always said she felt closer to God in the mountains than she did in a church. I am my mother’s daughter. When I really want to hear God, I go outside. I go alone. I come down from the mountains with a certain kind of ease and peace and wholeness that I had forgotten I had known.

IMG_2149“But I always think that the best way to know God is to love many things.” -Vincent van Gogh

 

My home life was full of love, was full of wonder, was full of wildness in imagination and spirit. School was a little different. I was a good student. Shy, creative, introverted, obedient, nerdy. I am 7 years older than my sister and 12 years older than my brother, and in ways felt a little like an only child. I spent a lot of time observing others, observing myself when I was around others, changing who I was to be what I thought others would like. I wanted to be liked. More than anything.

So when the little girls at the bus stop noticed our shadows of our feet that the morning sun made and exclaimed, Look we have little Cinderella feet; You have big, ugly step-sister feet! Ha ha! It stuck with me. I was big. I was ugly. And even then, in second grade, I began a long journey of trying to make myself small. My freshmen year of high school, it turned into anorexia. My freshmen year of college, I graduated to bulimia. I’ve spent more hours then I can count in the bathroom promising to God that I would never purge again. Never stuff down my emotions, never turn to food for comfort, never plummet into guilt and self-loathing, never throw up again.

IMG_2185I prayed for God to heal me and simultaneously believed that I was unworthy of God’s healing or God’s love. I believed I was unworthy of being loved by anyone. I wasn’t enough–pretty enough, popular enough, and most of all NORMAL enough. Probably, also, I didn’t want to be called out and lose my dysfunctional relationship with food. My true best friend. Food was always there. Food didn’t judge me. Food didn’t care that I was tall or ugly or strange or too intense. So I spent a lot of time alone. Kept friends at a safe distance, so as not to hurt more. In ways, I suppose I kept God at a distance too.

 

But God didn’t keep his distance from me. I don’t believe that God intervenes in our life because of our prayers all that often. I don’t believe in praying so I can get something, I don’t like thinking of God as some grown up version of Santa. Instead, I think that prayer should be used to understand, to change us, to transform. But there are events that have happened in my life, and I know these events are from God. Meeting my husband was one of them, but I didn’t know it then. I know it now–after the birth of our son, when all of my healing has been called into question in the most poignant and powerful way. It’s as if God has said to me lately, Are you sure? Are you really ready to feel the fullness of every emotion; are you really ready to let go of your old wound, your old story, are you really ready to heal? Being pregnant with my son was another. I was so scared to gain weight before I got pregnant. I gained 50 pounds. I’ve lost 47. I haven’t binged or purged once. Because the love I have for my son is greater than my fear or self-doubt. I don’t dwell in self-loathing anymore. Something shifted in me the moment I knew I was to become a mother. To spend time hating myself was time wasted, time I could spend loving my son, and knowing that his life depends on mine–this relationship gives me a reason to love myself.

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And I think in ways, as we depend on God, He depends on us to realize His presence and to know Him. I also think my mom and Van Gogh were right. Yes, we might come to know God in church. But I have come to know Him in my son’s embrace, in the brokeness of my heart, in my wound, in the mountains, in my husband and in his wounds, in my family, in sunsets, in random strangers, on my yoga mat, on the bathroom floor, in classrooms, by the ocean, in the desert, everywhere under the stars. Anywhere love can be found is where God is.

All we have to do is look.

 

With Love from Colorado,

 

Keri

 

 

A Promise to My Son.

 

IMG_5047According to the calendar, it’s still summer, but something always shifts within me after Labor Day weekend. Something shifts in the air too. The light is different in the morning and in the evening. Morning runs require an extra layer. The windows are closed before bed. The neighborhoods are more somber, silent; the schools come alive. I start becoming more reflective. Start pouring over nourishing recipes–for body and soul. Start layering–clothes & thoughts. Start lingering in the light while I can, start holding on to warmth.

And I love it. I love it all. Everything that fall brings. The return of autumn each year is like visiting an old, dear friend–one that you don’t talk to that often, but withing two minutes, you’re right back in the middle of a great conversation. I’m longing for it more than ever this year, since I got too caught up in my broken-by-circumstance, loudly hurting, and post-partum-hormonal heart to really enjoy summer. So this past weekend, we took a mini-trip out of the noise of the busy city. We spent time at my parent’s house (which is sadly for sale in case anyone is looking), and I had space and silence and stillness to think.

IMG_5057My Dear Son, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t do summer justice. I have so many bright memories of summer when I was a kid, and I promise that I will make sure that you are a wealthy man when it comes to remembering the care-free, simple and silly times you had as a kid. So right now, I’m making you a promise. In summers to come we will:

*Start memorial day weekend with barbeques and bike rides. Maybe we’ll run some Bolder Boulders. We’ll go to the festival and enter the rubber duck race and buy you a frisbee to play with for the weeks to come.

*Set up a blue plastic kiddie pool for you to splash with in the yard. We will have a dog one summer for you to swim and giggle with too.

*Run through sprinklers in the heat of the day.

*Go to story time once a week at the library.

*Read under the shade of a large tree–or climb into it’s branches, find a nook and linger over a book.

*Ride our bikes to get ice-cream.

*Play baseball, tee-ball, kickball, volleyball, badmitton, or tag in the evening light.

*Go to a Rockies game–in June!

* Watch fireworks on the fourth of July.

* Eat watermelon and spit the seeds as far as we can.

* Make popsicles.

* Go to the Museum on a rainy day.

* We did camp, but we will camp more.

* We did go to the beach, but I will worry less and play more.

* Go to the pool on really hot days.

*Visit farmer’s markets-especially the Boulder farmer’s market.

*Go to the fair.

* Go on more hikes, & when you get older, climb a few mountains.

* Run a 10k or half marathon.

*Camp in the back yard.

*Watch the Persiad meteor shower.

* Go to a drive-in or outdoor movie.

* Go on more picnics.

* Play outside on a rainy day.

*Get dirty, get tan, eat food cooked over a fire, run wild through the woods, stay up too late, get up early, take in more life and share it with you.

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Did I miss anything? What were your favorite summer memories?! I’d love to hear about–let me know in the comments :)

xo.

Keri

 

 

 

I Want a New Tattoo.

IMG_4762It’s been cooler lately. Rainy. Summer is whispering her last secrets through the weeds and over the lakes, through the tips of trees and on my cheek. In the mornings I run with a long-sleeved shirt and feel my legs shiver until they move enough to get warm. I cover E’s legs with an extra blanket and wonder constantly about whether or not to pack a hat. Feel his cheeks with the back of my hand, check to make sure his hands and chest are warm. I look forward to showing him the seasons, to seeing them change and seeing them through his eyes.

Fall has always been my favorite time of year, I’m usually aglow with excitement for the season to come. But.My mom has always said that fall makes her melancholy. The season she most loves is coming to an end, the dark and cold of winter loom ever-more-present, lurk in the mornings and evenings. And while I’ve never been a fan of winter, I embrace fall with a wide smile and open arms.

I’m still smiling at the changing of season, but I’m approaching this fall with awareness that in a way, a season of my life has come to an end. My heart has been broken in a way that I can’t explain yet, but can’t deny.

IMG_4854Nature is so good at growth and change. A season comes with small simple announcements. A shifting of color, expression. No wailing, no fighting back tears, no wasting time in rewind. No fitting in to expectations or meeting strict deadlines. No forsaking her soul to be what someone else needs or thinks she should be. But ALWAYS on time. And ALWAYS is enough, gives so much–each and every day. Nature doesn’t adorn herself with accessories or accoutrements. Nature faces each season nakedly. Openly. Embracing whatever difficulties time may bring and then carries on.

I’m trying.

These are trying times. Times I am trying and failing. Weeping in quiet, crying in the shower–when and if I can get them. Tired eyes. Tired, wrinkled, heavy skinned, dry eyes searching for signs of life and hope. And here’s where I am lucky. In this season of brokenness is so much beauty. So much life–in my son and in him hope. Hope that I can summon the strength and carry on to show him what a strong woman is each day. To show him joy in spite of my pain. To show him life, and how it changes–even when I’m not sure I like parts of my life and how they have changed. In this time I am given a gift–a constant reminder to never lose hope, to never stop trying, to never cease to fall to my knees and pray a prayer of thanksgiving. I get this gift everyday.

God is meeting me more than half way. Making me into a mother, crafting the seasons to shape me into something more beautiful (even if I’m less “pretty”) every single day.

IMG_4794I want a new tattoo. To remind me. If I were more rested, maybe I wouldn’t need a reminder, but I am weary and can’t sleep. So when I say this on Pinterest during a late night nursing session, something stirred in me:

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The Archer knows His mark. Weary and weathered, broken-hearted and strung tight against the dividing line, I can’t lose sight. Not now. With so much of my little one’s and my life on the line. So each day we will run at sunrise, and walk at sunset. And in the most trying times, the most weary and disheartening days, I will keep my eyes open to the mark, keep my heart alert for the Maker’s message:

IMG_4834It’s all going to be alright.

With Love from Colorado,

Keri

 

A Day in Eating

IMG_4714Breakfast on the porch. Peaches are in season this time of year, and I can’t get enough of them. A couple days a week, I’ve been enjoying this Peaches & Cream Smoothie:

1 Banana

1/2 large peach

1ish cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk

1 scoop your favorite protein powder ( I use Vega or Sunwarrior most often)

Topped with a pinch of home-made quinoa granola (Recipe to come)

 

Then post 40 minute yoga workout, I had this classic snack along with coffee and a splash of coconut creamer:

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3 stalks celery

1.5 TBSP crunchy Peanutbutter

 

Lunch was this protein and fiber rich mess of veggies, lentils and grains:

IMG_4725Baby Kale topped with Oh She Glows Protein Power  Goddess Bowl. Since it’s from her cookbook, I won’t post the recipe, but know it includes spelt berries, lentils, tomatoes, red onion, more kale, & this awesome garlicky, lemony tahini dressing. I omitted the sundried tomatoes from her blogpost in the link above–I don’t remember seeing them in the recipe?!

Not pictured: 3/4 cup green grapes & a small handful (1/3ish cup size) Boulder BBQ potato chips. My weakness is Boulder brand potato chips. The struggle is real y’all.

In between 8 million loads of laundry, reading board-story books 900 times, chasing my little guy away from the fireplace, I snuck in a 20 minute strength workout. I know 20 minutes doesn’t sound like much, but I always surprise myself by how many squats, side lunges, box jumps, plank-core work, tricep dips, and modified burpees I can get in. And because I got in this 20 minute workout I rewarded myself.

IMG_4746With an Honest Tea (Assam) and a Chocolate truffle at checkout when we went to Whole Foods. Also, this was the first ride in the shopping cart instead of being worn for my little guy. He was pretty excited. :)

Dinner:

IMG_47562-3 handfuls of Arugula, topped with grilled corn on the cob, 1/2 grilled peach,  3 tbsp raw pumpkin seeds, Annie’s pommegranate dressing (1 tbsp), 1 slice–halved of french baguette topped with an TON of  Red Lentil Spread. It’s a staple in my house, I make it every week:

1.5 cups red lentils cooked until they are pretty mushy

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 garlic clove, minced

sea salt, black pepper & paprika to taste

Throw all ingredients (but 1/2 cup cooked lentils into blender, mix in the half cup after–for texture)

Keeps in the fridge for about 4 days–maybe longer, but it never lasts longer around here. It’s a nice alternative to hummus, although I have my fair share of that too!

 

So there you have it! A typical day of my “diet”, but I prefer to call it a lifestyle. Eating like this, along with running, yoga, and strength has helped me lose weight slowly, fit into my old clothes, and feel strong post-pregnancy. I will say that this may not work for people who might not fit physical activity in their day, and I eat extra while breastfeeding. Hope this helps–either for your own health goals or just gives you some ideas for what to whip up in your kitchens!

xo.

Keri