happiness is...

happiness is...
kenya 2010

Thursday, September 29, 2011

jane goodall (the chimp chick) makes me look like an amateur.

jane goodall is quite possibly the coolest, most amazing, most beautiful woman on the planet. if you don't know who she is, quick! google her and check her out- i'll wait. (humming theme to jeopardy). okay- now you know what i'm talking about.

i loved jane goodall as a kid. i can't tell you how many times i watched the documentary of her time spent in the jungle, studying and analyzing the behavior of chimpanzees. she was a beautiful, largely uneducated young woman (26 at the time) who moved to Gombe, africa on a grant from louis leaky to study chimps. she traveled by boat- which i can't even imagine, considering the flights are brutal enough- and her mom went with her for the first part of her adventure. there was enough money in the beginning to cover 6 months of study. every morning she hiked up into the jungle alone and looked for wild chimps. let me repeat this...every day, she hiked ALONE into the jungles of AFRICA to look for WILD chimps...did i mention ALONE?! her mom waited back at camp. it took her a couple of months before she even found the chimps, much less started interacting with them. then comes the next amazing part- interacting with them. in her accounts, and from what i can tell from the films, she had virtually no fear. she said that she believed she was where she was supposed to be, doing what she was supposed to be doing, and that she would be okay because of that. wow. talk about faith! her only communication with the outside world was a boat captain that brought supplies once a week (that spoke very little english), and handwritten letters that took 3 weeks to get to and from her family and her boss. she journaled by hand. she wrote down every observation- and she was the first person ever to witness an animal make and use a tool. prior to that time, it was thought that tool making and tool use was distinctly human and was what set us apart from the rest of the animals. did i mention wow? she changed our entire view of animals and also perhaps what it is to be human. certainly it brought animals and humans closer together, helping us to understand the depth of their intelligence, and how we are in many ways more similar than different.

skip forward about 50 years. if you notice, my first line says that jane goodall IS quite possibly the most beautiful and amazing woman on the planet- not was. as enthralled as i was with her when i was a child, i am absolutely in love with her today. last night i had the pleasure of seeing a new film out honoring her and her life. it is called "jane's journey" and chronicles her work, her life, and the activism that she took on as a result of her time spent with the chimps. just as she felt that she was where she was meant to be, and doing what she was meant to be doing when she was in africa, there came a time when she became certain that her role had changed. she realized that she needed to take what she knew- what they had taught her- and touch others with it. she had to become an activist and help protect them. that is what we do with those we love...we protect them. she started giving talks, and starting foundations and programs that promote environmentalism and protecting our planet. she founded "roots and shoots" which is a volunteer youth program in over 100 countries. she does seminars and book signings and conferences. she speaks at sporting events and concerts, and anywhere people will listen. she travels back to africa and into our native american reservations, and all sorts of places in between, to help them tackle those issues which are killing our planet and our people. every second that she is not telling her story or inspiring others is, to her, a missed opportunity to do what she knows she was created to do. in the movie i watched last night, someone said that she is like the candle that lights another candle, and then those two light two more, and those four light four more... spreading that light exponetially across the universe...but that SHE lights those candles thousands at a time. she is on the road traveling and spreading her message 360 days a year, every year. she has 5 days "home" each year, and i am guessing feels a little guilty about taking that time off, and wondering whom she could have touched or inspired had she just had the gumption to keep going all 365.

did i mention she's 77?

jane goodall makes me look like an amateur. you go girl!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

a life of balance- and other things that don't come naturally

i once had a friend tell me that i'm not laid back. i was shocked. i really was. if you know me, i bet you're laughing and rolling your eyes right now, because you can't imagine that i'm serious, but i am. i thought i was a laid back, easy-going person. what my friend was quick to point out is that i am friendly, i am adaptable, i am resourceful and flexible, but i am NOT laid back. she started listing other words that describe me which, admittedly, i wouldn't generally use to describe laid back people. intense,"powerful but not overpowering", strong, driven, opinionated. you get the picture. the point is that i was able to deceive myself into believing something that is untrue even when the truth was obvious to everyone else, and was right under my nose. literally... it lived inside me. as i reflected on that, i realized that part of this authentic life quest has to be searching for and examining other areas in my life that i am deceiving myself. i thought there was a pretty good chance i wouldn't find any more (insert sarcastic chuckle here), but unfortunately there is at least one.


i have been selling stuff to try to save money toward my goal of full time mission work. i love books, and have/had hundreds of them. i have sold more than 200, and as i was sorting through the last batch, i ran across a book i always intended to read, but had never gotten around to. it is called "the journey toward relevance- simple steps for transforming your world", by kary oberbrunner. self-help books lost their draw for me once i figured out what god's purpose for my life is, but this book was soooooo easy to justify- it was a book about living a relevant life, and it was on the 50% off table at signs of life bookstore. i love it when that happens.

so, i'm reading along in this book, feeling pretty good about myself and how "relevant" my life is, when it convicts me. it hits me over the head with a truth that i hadn't recognized before. my life is out of balance. again, you may be rolling your eyes and laughing at me right now, but i swear that i didn't know that. yes, i know that my goals and life values are different than most peoples'. yes, i know that my steps and plan for attaining those goals are unconventional and seem a little extreme to most people. what i didn't know is that in my zest and zeal to serve and please god, i have started serving people less. i have started loving them (in the verb sense) less. i have lost the balance between faith and culture. i think that what initially hit me was this: "separatists have thir christian friends, their christian music, and their christian church. they wear their faith all the time, but fail to relate with the world around them. they pride themselves in having a pure faith. separatists fail to see that no one wants to hear about their faith, because they are completely irrelevant to the culture all around..." this hit me hard. i had a friend tell me once that he thought it was really powerful that i was a "normal person" and still had such a strong and visible faith. he felt that my life itself was sharing the message of god because "everyday people" could relate to me and see that not all christians were freaks, nor lived some foreign and boring lifestyle.

i am at a crossroads and the choice of which path i take feels very important. if i continue with the way i've been going, i risk becoming so irrelevant to others that i won't be effective for god, either. i also don't want to take a completely different path because i believe that this is the direction i've been led.  what i need to look at is where my focus is, and how that is affecting my relationships with others. as i said earlier, i am doing all i can to save money for my mission work. here is part of that lack of balance; "all i can". when i say all, i mean all. i am selling belongings. i have stopped purchasing groceries. i have stopped eating out. i have stopped purchasing anything that isn't an absolute necessity. i have stopped going to the movies. i have stopped going for a cup of coffee with a friend. i have stopped nearly all the things that bring me joy, and more importantly, things that bring others joy. this is where i got off kilter. i stopped focusing on loving people. when my eye is strictly on my savings account balance and how much i can accrue, i stop looking for the people that i can bless with what i have. they say you worship where you heart is...and i don't want my heart to be focused on money. my heart needs to look up from its account balance and continue to look for people to bless. i have to believe that god will honor that and the rest will come. as hard as it will be for this "all i can" girl, i need to start picking up the tab again when i go out with friends. i need to buy them a little gift when i sense they need a pick-me-up. i need to be the first in line to cook meals for friends in need instead of worrying how much it will cost. i need to invite a hurting friend out for a drink or a cup of coffe and a long talk, instead of figuring first if it fits into my budget. i need to remember that god values people and relationships, and that is why he put me here on the earth...to build those relationships and to serve people- all people. not just the ones in africa, or nepal, or honduras... i need to love and serve the ones around me, too. those at work, and next door, and in my family.

oh my, god has a sense of humor. as i am writing this, my niece texted to say she will need a dinner break from studying later, and asked me what i'm doing this evening. here's my chance. guess who's picking up the tab?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

how to make a rotisserie chicken last a week, and other freegan tips.

this entry is for all the foodies out there.

if there is one thing i love, it is good food. the decision to try to drastically cut down on my food budget had the potential to wreak havoc on my culinary bliss. as much as i want to save money, i don't want to eat boring, bland, or uninteresting food all the time. that would make a life not worth living. well- maybe that's a little dramatic. you know what i mean, though.

the first step in the plan to save was to limit myself to $50 a week for food. in the beginning, i hadn't decided if that included eating out, or just groceries. i budgeted for one $50 dillons card through my church every sunday (so that they could get a little charitable income, too), and when it was empty, i was done buying for the week. i found out a few things. one, it is really easy to eat for $50 most weeks. two, i must have spent a whole lot more than that before i started paying attention.

i did pretty well. the first week i spent my $50. the next week, i went a tiny bit over due to some purchases that would last me multiple weeks (spices, bulk items) and i totalled about $68. then the competitive side of me kicked in and i aimed to spend less. a lot less. the third week i spent about $30. the fourth and fifth weeks i spent $30 combined. the next week i spent zip. zilch. nada. i had my first dinner out, but it was a date and i was blessed with a guy that refused to let me pay. oh how i love chivalry! the only food money i spent was chipping in for appetizers for a coworker's going away party (miss you, tricia smith!) at encore restaurant- a bittersweet occasion. i would have much preferred to pay for her to stay! in essence, i spent $45 for three weeks' worth of breakfast, lunch, and dinner. i would love to pretend that i ate like a mouse and lost oodles of weight- but i'd be lying. i ate well, and here's how...

the rotisserie chicken:

do yourself a favor and pick up a rotisserie chicken, especially if it is on sale. i got one for $3.99 one evening at dillons, and in 30 minutues i had prepared 3 dishes that stretched for about 7 meals. the first meal didn't take much imagination- i had rotisserie chicken. period. i cut off one breast and one leg, and ate those with some steamed veggies...

... then i pulled all of the meat off the bone and separated it into dark and white meat. the white meat i chopped and made into chicken salad for chicken salad sandwiches. i added a little onion, a little mayo, and a little curry. you can make lots of other variations, though, depending on what's in your fridge. try grapes and walnuts, or dill and cucumbers, or green peppers, carrots, and scallions. be creative- it is hard to screw up chicken salad. you can even stuff it into a hollowed out cucumber "boat" and serve it like you're fancy. :0) 

i took the dark meat and made a simple chicken noodle soup, using chicken broth (or bouillion) from the cupboard, and veggies from the fridge. i used some baby carrots, celery, onion, and greens that were past their prime in my crisper drawer. swimming in a chicken soup perked them right up! i added some noodles from the cupboard, too, but you can use rice, or beans, or just the chicken and veggies if that's all you have. the soup was enough for 4 large bowls...

...i also bought a large loaf of italian bread for $1.59 and ate it with the chicken, the soup, and used it to make the sandwiches. leftovers made great french toast.

the moral of this story is that you can eat for 3-4 days for under 6 bucks, and not starve. i even had people at work asking for the recipes. maybe that'll be my next entry :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

time to be authentic. read at your own risk- this one's not funny.

sometimes i hide behind my humor. other times, i hide behind my faith...or the busy-ness of life...or my smile...or my generally optimistic attitude. but some days, like the past two, i can't hide. i guess it's more accurate to say i can't hide from myself- because i've been pretty good at hiding the truth from everyone else. if i am going to live an authentic life, though, i need to be careful about hiding- especially from myself.

i've been sitting at home most of the weekend, listening to what's in my head and trying to face it head on, instead of drowning it out. what it's telling me is that i am lonely. super lonely. heartbreakingly lonely. maybe it's the fall weather, with the cold and the storms. i call it "snuggle weather". yeah, you get the picture. it's hard to snuggle solo. i won't deny that i miss the warmth of a real live person next to me sometimes. don't get me wrong- i have wonderful friends and family that i can always turn to, and that would keep me company at a moment's notice, but you know full well that's not what i mean. i know full well that's not what i mean, too. the best friend in the world can't take the place of being in love. or even in "like". i've almost forgotten what that feels like, and that makes me sad.

i can blame it on the weather, but i think it's more than that. the people that know me well won't be that surprised at this, but the ones who don't will probably never understand. i think it's scott. more complicated than i can ever explain- but here is the nutshell. 28 years ago i fell in love with the man i thought would still be by my side today. two years later, he had a car accident that left him in a nursing home with a head injury for the next 25 years. i loved him every minute of those 27 years...and last year, 4 hours before his 49th birthday, he died. his birthday (and for all intents and purposes the anniversary of his death) was yesterday. his 50th birthday. most days i celebrate his life and i am grateful that his suffering is over and that he's finally moved on and has been healed- but not yesterday, and not today.

the past two days have been a reminder that his love is gone from my life, and that not only was he not by my side the past 27 years, but he never will be again. if it ended there, i would be okay with it. love and loss. they go together. i get that. what i am not okay with is the little voice that starts asking if i think he was "the one" and if i think i'll ever find that again? and then i start looking at my life and what i'm trying to do with it, and realize that i have made it harder than ever to find someone that will want to share this journey with me. if i think it's hard now, i should skip forward to when i'm living in a hut in africa somewhere, doing mission work. that's what my brain has been doing this weekend. skipping forward and focusing on how isolated i will be from romance and intimacy and all of those things that seems so desperately important today. and i start to wonder how i will survive. by the grace of god, i guess. that's how. i sure can't do it on my own. even that feels like a load of crap today, in the midst of my loneliness.

how's that for authentic?


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

it's not all fun and games (but it's always fun)

i had someone ask me, "why africa?" today. i wasn't sure how to explain it. she asked why i don't set my sights on someplace closer. someplace easier. someplace a little less remote and a little more safe. maybe that's exactly the reason i chose africa- or more specifically, why africa chose me. because there are lots of people who want to go to places that are close, and cheap, and safe, and feel a whole lot like home. there are far fewer that are willing to tent camp instead of sleep in a guesthouse or hotel, and travel by dugout canoe or flatbed truck rather than by bus or by car.

don't get me wrong- there is nothing less admirable or noble about going to the places that are a little easier to get to, and a lot easier to tolerate. need is need, and people are people, and anywhere you are serving people in need is where you should be. i just feel that the reason god blessed me with single life (ie: no one to answer to or be responsible for) is so i could take his love farther than most are able to go- to reach those "unreachables". that, and africa is just cool. when i am there, i feel fully alive. the more covered in sweat and grime i become, the cleaner and more pure my heart feels. in my exhaustion is stillness and the sense that i am exactly where i should be, doing exactly what i should be doing. there is something so powerful about knowing what god's purpose for your life is. there is a sense of peace and stillness, because the restlessness that goes along with uncertainty is gone. when i am doing my work in the "field", i feel i am doing god's work. i am including a couple of links to videos made by team members on my last two trips- so that maybe you can take a few minutes to stand by my side and see through my eyes, and fully understand "why africa".

click here to see a small snapshot of the work i/we do in kenya- this video was made by jeff alejos, who accompanied both the K2K community team and medical team to kenya the summer of 2010. i led the medical team on behalf of mercy and truth medical missions and Kansas to Kenya (K2K). if you watch long enough, you might see someone you know! :0)  (*note- in 4 1/2 clinic days, we saw 1,152 patients)

click here to see video of the trip to malawi- this video was made by christina smaus, one of the amazing KU nursing students that i led to malawi in march of 2011. we partnered with mercy and truth medical missions, and ministry of hope- and assisted both at a crisis nursery (aka AIDS orphanage) as well as with mobile medical clinics to villages who had been cut off from contact with the outside world by the rains for the prior 6 months.

imani-  k

Monday, September 12, 2011

volunteering is good for the stomach...i mean SOUL! good for the SOUL!

volunteering is an excellent way to feed yourself for free. and i'm pretty sure if you do it for that reason, you'll burn in hell. well, maybe that's a bit harsh...perhaps it's better to look at it like this- if you volunteer, god will bless you with lots of snacks. okay, okay, even that theology is a bit sketchy. haha. i'll stick to the facts- the volunteer life that i lead has been a perfect venue for my freegan lifestyle.

here's an example; i am the primary coordinator for "family promise" at my church, which is a program that houses people experiencing homelessness in our church space. this is our host week, and one of my duties is to go every day to "meet and greet" the guests, introduce them to the volunteers for the evening, help set up dinner, and troubleshoot any needs or problems that the guests, volunteers, or facility might have. the bonus is that i just happen to be there at dinnertime! last night i had some of the best chicken enchiladas and beef burritos that i've ever had- and anyone that knows me knows i LOVE mexican food, and that i probably eat more of it than anyone that doesn't actually live in mexico. i'm a bit of a connaisseur! there were tons of leftovers, and i even got to take some home. THANK YOU GOD! :0)

today was a really good volunteer food day, too. every monday evening i volunteer at "just food" which is a local food bank serving low income residents. NO, i didn't eat food bank food. even i wouldn't stoop low enough to eat food donated for needy folks...but the food bank had a fundraiser golf tournament today, and the director brought the left overs back for the volunteers to eat. i had a double fisted pizza and blueberry fritter dinner. yummmmmm. but wait- i'm not done! after that, i ran by a going away party for the current family promise director, which just happened to be a "make your own sundae" party. it would have been a success even if i had only visited with great people and had a delicious sundae, but the bounty didn't stop there. one of my friends told the host about my "freegan-ness", and before i left the host placed a bag full of greens and a small watermelon from her yard in my arms. i think of this as a sort of version of the home shopping club. i come empty handed, i eat food, and i leave with more. GOD PROVIDES!

there are tons of volunteer opportunities that feed you for free. at the van-go fundraiser ("what floats your boat") there was free beer and barbecue. at the humane society auction, the volunteers can eat from the snack buffet. the red cross disaster action team meetings always have food- usually pizza, but sometimes jane b. springs for mexican or barbecue (thanks jane!). the "extreme home makeover" worksite provided sandwich wraps and a really random buffet of burritos, tater tots, and breakfast sausage. are you getting the picture? :0)

of course, all of this is tongue in cheek. i volunteer for very real reasons, most of which do not include free eats. the point is, though, that the volunteer gets something from volunteering. the volunteer often gets more from volunteering than they give. i volunteer for more causes and organizations than i can count sometimes, but instead of draining me, it revitalizes me. it makes me see a side of life and a side of society that i can forget exists if i just stay in my comfy semi-corporate world and keep looking straight ahead. it helps me to realize just how much i have, and how little many others have. it also helps me get some perspective on life and has redefined my definitions of "need" and "want". it has helped me realize that i can give things up to make it possible to give more to others. it has also shown me that god knows my needs and will reward my faithfulness. he is all i need, and will put food on my table if i listen to him and follow him. my thought when i started on this road (both volunteering and doing my "freegan" lifestyle experiment) is that i would probably end up hungry and broke. truth is that i have gained a richness of experience and a richness of life that i didn't have before, and god has provided for the very thing i trusted him enough to give up. food. everywhere i turn. volunteering really is good for the stomach and soul.

i learn something new every day!


Saturday, September 10, 2011

sometimes it's all about the joy

i'll never go the distance if every minute of every day is about others. yes, i believe that my purpose in life is service to others (and god, of course), but i also know that i won't be any good to anyone else if i don't take time to recharge and do something for the other important people in my life- me, myself, and i. that is what the last 30 hours have been about.

earlier in the week i decided that i needed R&R combined with a little adventure. the weather forecast was great, so i settled on camping. i love camping and haven't been able to do it since last summer (before my neck surgery), since sleeping in a tent meant 13 minutes of sleep followed by 13 days of pain. now that i'm minus a cervical disc and have the addition of a shiny new plate and some screws in there, i thought it was high time i gave it another shot. my plan was to head home after work on friday, cram my camping gear in the back of the jeep, throw my bike on the bike rack, and go to perry lake. interestingly, this caused some shock and a little bit of horror in the girls at work, because my plan was to go camping alone. is that weird? well, i know it's weird- they told me. it seems normal to me. maybe that is a sign that i'm way too independent, but i love the idea of sitting in front of the campfire, playing my guitar (i sound way better when no one else can hear it), curling up in a warm sleeping bag on a cold night in my tent, listening to the coyotes and the critters sing to me, and then going for a ride or a hike the next day around the lake.

lucky for me, my friend blair saved me from the stigma of solo camping and the turmoil that might have caused at work. i invited him to go with me, and he invited me to the banff film festival at liberty hall. a new plan was hatched. 1. run out to the lake before the festival to set up camp. 2. head back to the festival. 3. return to the lake for our overnight. his only request was we ride out in an open jeep. lucky for us, i just happen to have a jeep! i took a few minutes before picking him up to take out the doors and all the windows.  

anyone want to guess what happened next? remember that weather forecast? yeah- it never changed. 30% chance of rain for the NEXT day, with showers in the afternoon only. what DID change was the weather. we headed toward the lake and into a black and green horizon. the wind went from 15 miles an hour to about 40 miles an hour with super nasty gusts. debris and dust was flying everywhere. the wind was pummeling the left side of my face so hard that i couldn't keep my eye open, and it was blowing drool out of my mouth and into the passenger seat (don't tell blair. pretty sure he thinks it was rain). then the rain actually started. i am also pretty sure i heard (and felt) hail. remember- i took out the windows and the doors in the jeep. let me suggest that you always have a plan B. we didn't, but made one pretty fast. we got about 2 miles from the lake and turned around. one of the things that i like about blair is that he always puts a positive spin on things. he focused on the fact that it was his very first ride in an "open" jeep, and that we didn't already have our tents set up when the rain hit. well, i have to admit that is a pretty good point. he was also pretty pumped up about "all the adventurey things we got accomplished in the last hour." i swear, he's got a little bit of cheerleader in him. the point is that he kept me smiling (granted, mostly laughing at the cheerleading). one of the most important things in life is to surround yourself with positive people. you know what happened? the night turned into a home run.

we got back to town with time to spare before the festival, since we saved so much time not setting up camp. we got to eat our chicken sandwiches in the park instead of on the fly in the car. it also allowed me time to respond to my niece morgan's text to come see her at work- and enough time to actually GO. i got a kiss and a hug and a free scone (you didn't hear that from me). we were early enough at the festival to get really good seats and the films were spectacular. they were also inspiring and made us really pumped up to do some "outdoorsy" things- so after the show, we headed back out to the lake. want to know the best part? well, i can't pick just one- but the bonus was that the storm chased off pretty much all the tent campers and we had the place to ourselves.

we set up camp like champs and lit a nice fire. the best part was our decision at midnight to put the kayaks in the water and do a full moon paddle. the cool air from the storm, combined with the warm water, made this amazing mist/fog on the surface of the lake and it was like kayaking through clouds. when we were done, we roasted marshmallows the size of our heads (and i have an enormous head!), and drank a beer. we went to bed at 4am, got up at 9a, cooked breakfast over the fire, and headed back out on the water for 5 more miles of exploring. lunch was sardines and crackers while docked at a little deserted beach area, watching the sailboats. looking back, that seems like so much. so much adventure. so much fun. so much activity. but my day wasn't over yet.

we tore down the site in under 20 minutes, and headed back to lawrence. then i rode my bike to campus for "family day" at the KU game. LMH offered 4 tickets to every employee and volunteer, along with a fully catered tailgate tent. on a whim, i invited my sister and her family. i was a little surprised that she said yes- but am so glad she did. my niece met us there with her student ticket, and my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew used the LMH tickets. we started in a huge tent filled with people that i work with, and their families (so cool). then we went to the game and i got to simultaneously spend 4 hours talking to my sister, and watch KU win. my niece leaned back into my lap every now and then, which gave me the perfect chance to stroke her hair, or give her a hug. any aunt knows, that must be what heaven's like. at 10p, i rode my bike back home in the dark, hoping my little helmet light and blinking butt would keep the drunk fans from plowing me over on the way. mission accomplished.

what did i do on friday and saturday that was worthwhile? who did i help? well, i spent quality time with my friends and family, and built relationships with those i care about the most. i helped my racing mind and restless spirit. i hung out with god and honored him by enjoying and appreciating his creation and all he has blessed us with. i pushed the limits of my body and my abilities...

...and now i am completely exhausted, with aching knees, muscle spasms in my back, a headache from lack of sleep and dehydration, and bumps and bruises that will take a week to heal.

totally worth it.


Thursday, September 8, 2011

freakin' freegan

so i've decided to become a "freegan". well, not a true freegan. i read an article awhile back about people who dig through the trash and take out other people's old food and make meals out of it for the week, essentially eliminating their food budget. that's disgusting- but i decided that this would be an excellent opportunity for me to save some serious dough (pun intended!) and sock away more money for my "mission fund". this is coming from the girl who has frequently spent up to $50 on dinner and a glass of wine at a nice restaurant- by myself! the potential savings in my world could be HUGE! the plan was to only eat foods that are free, if at all possible. sound impossible? don't be so sure...it is actually a lot easier than you'd think.

first, i went to the obvious places- my cupboards and fridge/freezer. they were crammed full of stuff that i must have thought looked tasty at SOME point, because i bought it. my first project was to eat my way through all the stuff already in my house before buying any more. this led to some delicious creations (black bean and corn salsa with jalapeno and agave nectar) and some revolting ones (bulgar wheat salad with cranberries and blue cheese crumbles. i know, right?!).

i am kind of a social bee, though, and couldn't stand the thought of spending all my meals alone in my kitchen, eating stuff out of a can. that is when the full plan hatched. i would research all the events that had refreshments, snacks, drinks, etc...and attend them. i would then fill up on as much free food as possible before going home and supplementing, if needed, with the stuff from my "stash". this has worked beautifully, for the most part. with this lifestyle, however, i am definitely at the mercy of the event planner. for instance, one wednesday evening, my meal consisted of 4 cones of kettle corn and hawaiian shaved ice. that would be thanks to the lawrence public library and their "end of summer" party. another dinner was bacon wrapped dates and red velvet cupcakes (lawrence arts center). i have gone to open houses, and ribbon cuttings, and birthday parties. i have attended housewarmings (thank you summer skeet- yours was YUMMY!), art gallery openings, and music recitals. sample day at the grocery store is like going to disneyland! i have flooded my social calendar and have met with lots of interesting people- and saved oodles of money in the process!

now for the downside. as i pulled on my favorite old jeans this evening to celebrate the beginning of the beautiful fall weather, i discovered the biggest downside. or backside. you see, the freegan diet is not the healthiest diet. i am usually the girl that bypasses processed sugar, or white flour, or anything too greasy. i lean toward fresh fruits and veggies and lean meats. i shop(ped) at the merc and the natural sections of the bigger stores. i treat my body well and try to fill it with nourishing foods to help fuel it. now i eat anything that i can get my hands on that is free. this is the part of the strategy that may need some adjusting. haha! since starting this experiment, i have taken to eating cookies, and crackers, and cake, and all sorts of things that i wouldn't have ever considered putting in my mouth before. i volunteer at a local food pantry and the other day, a box of "sugar smacks" cereal was damaged (i swear i didn't do it just so i could take it home!) and i had that for dinner, the next day's breakfast, AND lunch. seriously. sugar smacks! i might need to rethink the menu.

one really fun development is that now my friends have nicknamed me "freegan" (um...is that a compliment?) and give me food that is going bad. one friend gave me her squishy tomatoes (which i made into a wonderful bruschetta) and another pointed out her stash of expired yogurt and told me to have a ball! i am finding that expiration dates are just a guideline and that gumballs purchased in 2005 with a 2007 expiration date are still very soft and "gummy" in 2011.

this has been so educational! well- it has been a long night so i had better grab a bite to eat and head to bed. i think i have a can of sardines and some raisins calling my name from the pantry...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

allow me to introduce myself...

welcome to my new blog. please don't be offended by the lack of capital letters...or my random rants. i consider them part of my charm- and hope you will too! this is entry #1, and it corresponds with my first entry into the blogosphere. i hope this is fun for me, entertaining for you, and helpful to someone. anyone. or funny. i'll settle for funny! let me introduce myself. my name is karĂ­n (pronounced kuh-RIN). blame my mother- she was born and raised in belgium. as much as i love my name now, i hated it with a passion growing up. i was a kid long before you could custom order items with any freakish spelling you desire. soooooo, i went through childhood twirling around those little metal racks of bike license plate holders, and belt buckles, and pencils, just praying for a typo that said "karin" instead of "karen". never. not once. oh, how i envied lisa with her personalized notebook and pencil set. oh wow....i digress! i am karin, and i am on a mission. i hope to be, anyway. literally. my passion is mission work, and my heart is in africa. i am on a personal mission to get to the place in my life where i can do full-time, long-term field mission work abroad. this blog is going to be about my life transformation, and the steps i take to achieve my goal. i hope you choose to follow along with me and give me encouragement and guidance on this journey. i have a feeling i am going to need it! as you'll see, i have already taken some drastic steps forward, and it seems that with every giant step forward, i take an even bigger step backward socially. i am finding that the ways of god and the ways of the heart are often in direct opposition to the ways of "the world". it is one thing to know that, and another to live it. this is going to be a wild ride!