When Life Hands You Lemons

Sunday afternoon was spent in the local Family Food Center, washing and squeezing fruit into fresh and natural strawberry lemonade.

This is not a “Look-at-this-good-deed-I-did-I’m-such-a-good-person” post. It’s meant to be a “Wow-I-needed-a-reminder-to-get-out-and-do-something-maybe-I-should-remember-to-do-this-more-often” kind of post. In reality, I didn’t even come up with the idea to volunteer this weekend on my own. An email was sent to all students at my university informing us of various Caesar Chavez Day of Service Activities that were available. It’s similar to how Thanksgiving and Christmas are major days for volunteering; we remember the less fortunate when we are reminded. I, too, needed to be reminded.

Sunday afternoon, a friend and I met at the Family Food Center to volunteer our time. We’d never been to this facility before and weren’t sure exactly how we could help. Immediately after dawning new white aprons, we were put on “strawberry duty.” We went through dozens of cartons of donated strawberries, weeded out the best strawberries, rinsed and chopped the tops off. Next we pureed the berries, along with other raspberries and blackberries. We combined the bright red berry sauce with fresh lemonade, made from scratch with real lemons. It was so thick with fruit and sprinkled with seeds. Some people looked questioningly at the jug, but most came back for refills.

20140712-204816-74896015.jpgOnce the doors opened for the public to enjoy a hot free meal, I was at the drink station. We had milk, nondairy milk, water, hot tea, sweet tea, and our freshly made strawberry lemonade to offer. Next they went into a cafeteria-style line for their dinner which was BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, roasted potatoes and veggies, cantelope, and assorted pastries from coffee shops and grocery stores.

The facility is only open for 90 minutes, and there was a continuous steady line of people for the entire time. Some people came alone, other came in full families, some just mothers and children. Every person said thank you to each of the volunteers and I think they were truly appreciative. When I saw children come in, I was happy that we had so much food to offer them. But I also felt incredibly sad for a family that relies on a shelter to provide their nightly meal.

Out of the 20,000+ recipients of the email, with the address and volunteer information for this center, there were 4 other students who showed up to volunteer. This just shows that the mentality “Oh, there will be plenty of other people who go. It won’t make a difference if I do or don’t go.” COMPLETE AND TOTAL CRAP. It’s like on American Idol when the clear favorite and most talented contestant is eliminated in week 2 because all of his “fans” thought, There will be so many votes, mine won’t even matter. The majority of people have this same logic, and guess what? It did matter.

Like my dad says: “Did YOU vote?” No. “Then you can’t complain about it.”

That’s what I gathered from volunteering on the day of service. I need to nix the thinking, “There will be plenty of other people to do it.” We can’t control any other people and we get no credit for passing the baton on the rest of society. We have the capability to really help someone who is hungry, homeless, and struggling. Would you really rather hit “Next Episode” on Netflix?

Stronglikemycoffee.com Medical Update blog postMy second take-away is that we can never ever make judgments or assumptions on other people based on one or two interactions. We have absolutely no idea what goes on in their lives the other 23 hours of the day.

I think anybody who comes into a shelter and asks for food is pretty damn courageous. If I were in that situation, I would be too self-conscious for a while. I would feel ashamed, like the staff was judging me. Or worse, pitying me. We greeted everyone with a big smile, and I tried to avoid looking in the dining room because I didn’t want anyone to feel like I was watching them eat.

Honestly, it made me feel pretty low before it made me feel good. The “feel good” comes from knowing that I used my time and energy to serve others. The low comes from knowing that I am horribly picky, too judgmental, and sometimes entitled. I walk into Sprout’s a couple times a week because nothing in my fridge or cupboards look good. I turn up my nose at any apple that has a bruise.

The fruit that is offered at the shelter is not in its prime. It is donated from grocery stores because it can no longer be sold. Rather than serving it as is, we pureed the berries and squeezed the citrus into a lemonade. People who are struggling and rely on shelters to provide food do not have the luxury of being picky. They take what we hand them and they say thank you.

I’m excited to return to the center again soon, this time to prepare sack lunches for families to pick up. Once we volunteer one time, it’s a good idea to hurry and schedule your return visit so it isn’t until Thanksgiving that we remember again. :) Altitude Training for Runners // Stronglikemycoffee.com

It’s a perfect weekend for….Spring Cleaning!

Okay, Mom, I get it. I’m sorry for rolling my eyes and secretly loathing chore day.I finally see that your neat-freak tendencies were actually warranted.

As a kid, cleaning up is such a chore. It wasn’t until I have my own apartment and live in my own space that I realized how necessary weekly cleaning is, and I actually do it by choice.

*My mom is going to go HA! at this post because I’m not quite on her level of clean. But she’s never lived with other 20-year olds who consider dusting “optional.” (And by optional, I mean never-gonna-happen.)

For my senior year of college, I’m sharing a three-bedroom apartment with two roommates. Living with other college kids is always a risk; your styles will certainly clash on some things. Cleanliness is one of those things. Now I wouldn’t quite categorize myself as “Monica” yet, but I am concerned about the state of our apartment more than ever. The environment that we live in is a reflection of ourselves. Just like a fit body is reflective of an active health-conscious person, a clean and organized living space is reflective of someone who takes care and pride in their home.

SO. During a particularly boring class yesterday, I jotted down several items I needed to tackle this weekend. Pretty soon that list was a page long, and I knew I had a mega spring cleaning weekend ahead of me. And honestly….I’m looking forward to it!

Okay granted, the cleaning process is not so fun. But I actually get a lot of satisfaction out of throwing out old junk and clearing space. And I’m pretty sure you will too. Here is my Spring Cleaning To-Do List. Some of these are normal weekly chores already, but others I have neglected.

Spring Cleaning To Do List on Strong Like My Coffee at stronglikemycoffee.comThen treat yourself with some fresh flowers and new delicious candles! (The Glade candles are so inexpensive and yummy! I love grabbing a couple every time I go to Target and lighting them for a little as I’m getting ready for bed.)

Here’s another fabulous article that goes into way more depth that I found on Pinterest, if you’re interested: 30 Days to Domestic Bliss.

What else did I miss?!

Biscuits (It’ll make sense later)

This morning I woke up at 4:00am. Try as I might, my body was not going back to sleep. I made myself lay there until 5:15. It reminded me of when I was a toddler and my parents put a clock next to my bed, teaching me to wait until 6:00am to get up on weekends ;)

Around 5:30 I was sipping my first cup of coffee. Now I have a few extra hours in my morning that I didn’t expect, so here I am. Thought I would put together one more spring break post before I break into some new territory with projects I’m working on for next week. A lot of my California friends have different spring break schedules and many are on vacation now, so I feel like it’s still appropriate to bask in the spring-y-ness one more time :)

Any college kid will tell you one of the best parts about coming home is family dinners. If not, then A.) they are lying or B.) their momma’s homecooking left a lot to be desired… (insert smirky emoji here). Healthy Food Collage on Strong Like My Coffee (Stronglikemycoffee.com)

You go 18 years eating the same kinds of dinners at home with your family, until suddenly you’re living on your own. Dining halls, communal kitchens, take-out, fast food, delivery, cooking for yourself….it’s just not the same. I’ve come a long way in following recipes and recreating family favorites, but eating by yourself in a tiny apartment will never compare to eating at home.

In 9 days, we only went to a restaurant once. My parents had LOADED UP on produce at my request (well, they usually do anyways) and we had the most colorful dinners.

Healthy Dinners on Stronglikemycoffee.com

I told myself that I was completely inspired to return from spring break and start cooking similar colorful balanced meals……and then I went and got three sushi rolls. It’s a work in progress.

My dad pumped up the tires in our bikes so that I could take a leisure ride around town and he could ride with me on my Sunday long run for the marathon training. I probably spent more time snapping pictures than pedaling. 90 degrees feels like heaven after a frigid Flagstaff winter.

Bike Path in Spring on Stronglikemycoffee.comAnd of course the sea-level (extra-oxygenated!) air did wonders for my marathon training. I was able to get in another great Yasso 800s workout on Wednesday, some cross training, and a killer long run. I set out for 15 miles on my favorite running path at home. This time, I had water and fuel along the way! I used the Vega gel for the first time, which is made with dates, water and grape juice rather than straight sugar like other brands. I felt better about putting something a little more “natural” in my body during the run…..but it didn’t taste great. Seemed to do the trick though because I ran my last couple of miles at 7:00 pace, averaging 7:18 overall.

(Yes, I used a picture from my Warrior Dash Race haha)

Marathon Training Long Run Stats on Strong Like My Coffee at Stronglikemycoffee.com

Also got to spend some quality time with my girl Missy….HAH whattajoke. That maltese of ours has grown quite comfortable being the “only child” now that I’ve been gone off and on for four years. She onced used to cuddle and love me. Now she has a jealous side whenever I visit my parents. She literally pouts when I take my mom’s attention away from her. (This is coming from a spoiled only-child herself.) She did watch me as I curled my hair, trying to imitate Miranda Lambert’s from the pool scene in her Little Red Wagon music video. Nailed Failed it!

Profiles (literally.)

Well this turned into a pretty random hodgepodge of pictures and tangents, didn’t it? Might as well add in a new jam that I’m loving!

*I’ll throw something more organized/themed at you next time. This is what you get at dark:thirty in the morning! <3

Kacey Musgraves, Queen of Country Cool, has been on my playlist since I heard her hit Follow Your Arrow. Biscuits is actually pretty similar, and equally adorable. Good message and reminder to stay focused on myself during the last weeks of college. We need less negative comparisons in our lives because that is just stressful. “Pouring salt in my sugar won’t make yours any sweeter.” Hope you enjoy it as I do. :)

What were/are your Spring Break highlights?!

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