staying relational [nc series] : in real life

People…please tell me that you’ve had completely geeked-out moments when you’ve gotten to meet someone in real life who you’ve previously only known through the invisible world of the internet and felt that this experience was probably on the same level as finding out that your favorite ice cream is healthier than kale covered in quinoa boiled in green tea?

The second thing didn’t happen, but the first one did!

While I was in North Carolina, I was given the wonderful opportunity to meet my very favorite blogger, The Carpool Queen. And by “given the wonderful opportunity” I mean I sent her a long fan letter that would have alarmed most people emailed her and asked her if perhaps we could get together while I was in her general vicinity. And she didn’t call the cops said yes!!!

This is where a picture of our coffee outing at Jubala would be placed if I wasn’t so beside myself that I remembered to take pictures of something other than the brewing system:

…and the coffee

Way to play it cool, slick.

But lack of photographic documentation aside, it was one of my favorite coffee outings to date – and not just because the coffee was to die for. First, it’s a wonderful experience to meet someone who you’ve followed online for years, laughing and getting teary-eyed and gaining perspective through daily blog posts, and then find yourself in the middle of that same set of emotions while sitting across from the real person, being given valuable lessons about your own life. Second, it’s validating to know that this thing I spend all of my free time doing isn’t just wasted space on the world wide web. Meaningful relationships can be made with people you probably wouldn’t ever have known otherwise, and I really think that’s what makes blogging so special. Sometimes it’s more about the unexpected community that forms around a thousand stories about check-out lines and bad daytime TV and failed recipes than the stories themselves. And third, I’m just so glad to know Susan in real life now. And not only because she introduced me to both Jubala AND Savory Spice Shop (where I purchased Mexican Cocoa and Honey Powder and will need to go back for refills on both asap).

(I’m so glad I captured this stunning picture…of a door.)

But mostly because if I grow up to be anything like her, I’ll be thrilled.

THANK YOU, CPQ! The effect your kindness has had on me can’t be overstated.

(And, as per yesterday’s post, neither can the accuracy of your culinary recommendations.)

beka stays compassionate and relational : programming notes

2012 GOALS


DEFINITION: to love people, especially those who need love most

2012 GOAL: volunteer one day per month


DEFINITION: to love the friends and family who make my life so rich; to make people a priority

2012 GOAL: make one meaningful connection per week with a friend or family member

Let’s review those two.

I know I’ve promised in multiple month-in-review recaps (which, speaking of, March’s is on it’s way this weekend) that a post about volunteering at Strong is forthcoming, but it has yet to actually surface. It’s not that I’m not enjoying working with the Better Day Buddies program (I am!) or that I don’t have anything to say about my experience so far (I do!). It’s just that blogging about it doesn’t feel right to me. It’s so vastly different from my other goals. I have no problem blogging about crock pot dinners or running around the canal or making things happen, but to blog about volunteering? It seems antithetical to the cause. It feels self-serving for something that’s supposed to be others-serving.

Blogging about the relational goal also took me by surprise. Apparently I way (WAY) undershot how much quality time I routinely get in with friends and family. It’s much more than I thought! So that was a nice surprise. But something about blogging about the number of interactions I have with humans on a weekly basis feels too scientific. It’s the same feeling I have about blogging about compassionate endeavors; it feels too much like checking items off a list, like turning people into “to-do” tasks. That’s exactly the opposite of what I originally intended. It’s so far removed from the person I hope to be.

So, like everything that grows, it’s time to reevaluate and adapt those two goals, or at least the way that I blog about them.

For compassionate posts, I’m going to start highlighting people who are making a difference, because there are SO MANY wonderful people in the world who are doing great things. Hopefully their efforts can inspire our own as we all find ways to make a difference every day! I’m still going to be volunteering twice a month with Better Day Buddies and looking for ways to brighten people’s days on a daily basis, but I won’t be blogging about them.

For relational posts, I’m going to focus on quality rather than quantity. The goal is still the same: making meaningful connections every week. But the format will be much more about featuring the amazing attributes of the people whom I am blessed to know and love rather than how often we go out for coffee in a week.

And one more change – I’m taking my name out of the beginning of every post because, oh good gravy, it’s just too much. All future posts will be simply prefaced as “staying __________.”


beka stays athletic : it runs in the family

This just in:

The woman who brought you lessons in geography, politics, and coffee keeping is now taking on a new endeavor:

Running a 5k.


Let’s talk about this.

For as long as I can remember my mom and I have gone on walks together. It’s a tradition that was passed down by my mom’s mom, who I also remember going on lots of long walks with (when she was in her 80’s!). The assumption is that after dinner on a nice night the question “want to go for a walk?” will be raised and answered affirmatively.

(Now that I live 3 hours away and no longer go home for the summer, going on walks with my mom (and then going out for soft serve with my dad) is by far the thing I miss most about home.)

But in all of that walking there has never been any running. Until the past year or so, when my mom would run short stretches whenever she felt so inclined – during a walk, on her way to and from her car in the parking lot, etc. And when she did feel so inclined, she always reported back with positive feelings about the experience.

So the last time I was home, I floated an idea.

“You know, I think I’m going to come home to do a 5k in June. We could do it together!”

The idea did not float. It sank like a boulder.

“Pshhhh. Yeah, right!” was the response I received.

Then there was some coaxing, some trial running around the block, some training plans, some more coaxing – all covered by the assurance that we could always walk it if running didn’t pan out.

I came back to Rochester and left her in possession of an easy walk/run plan (walk a minute, run a minute, adding one run minute per week) and the power to do with it as she wished – no pressure either way.

A week later, she had ditched my plan.

She was already running for 30 minutes straight.

And had only fallen off the treadmill once!

Now, the 65 year old woman who had never run a mile in her life, who laughed at the idea of ever being able to run a 5k, is taunting me with threats that she’s out to beat my time. Walking isn’t even a consideration anymore. She’s going to run this and run it well.

I couldn’t be prouder. I couldn’t be more grateful that I’m cut from that cloth.

(See you at the finish line, Mom. You’ll probably beat me to it!)

beka stays relational: coffee lessons from my mom

Happy Leap Day, everyone!

I think an extra day deserves an extra gift. Which means it’s time for a good Mom story.

My mom is a hard worker. She works as a bus aide and in the middle school cafeteria. She leaves the house every morning around 6am, goes on her first bus run, and then has a short break before heading to the cafeteria. During that break she likes to have some coffee.

If only it were that simple.

The problem is that she prefers her food and beverages to be hot. And by hot, I mean volcanic. So putting coffee in a travel mug and saving it for her break just isn’t an option because it won’t stay hot enough. I’ve tried to help the situation by giving her super-insulated mugs and mugs that plug into the car lighter to self-heat. Neither of those options complied with her temperature preferences.

So she came up with her own solution instead. And when she started telling the story of how she prepares her coffee every morning I knew I had to write it down because it’s the best thing I’ve heard…basically ever. And then I knew I had to share it with you guys, because I love you that much.

Here’s our coffee conversation, as told by my mom, with select input from my dad and me. Good luck.

Mom: (Said in about 3 seconds) Okay, fill a coffee cup with hot water and put it in the microwave…

Me: Wait wait wait how fast do you think I can type this?

Mom: Oh…(laughs uncontrollably) sorry. I’ll have to send you a picture of –

Dad: Yeah there’s an idea!

Me: Of the mug?

Mom and Dad: Yeah!

Mom: Ok so anyway fill a coffee CUP with hot water and put it in the microwave until it boils, or you know, whatever, comes to a boil. Then I put the boiling water in my coffee MUG and I seal it up. I wrap the bottom part in foil –

Me: Bottom part of what?

Mom: My mug!

Me: Why the bottom?

Mom: SHHHH. And then, before I leave – I figure it’s like 10-15 minutes since I put the boiling water in, whatever – when I leave I pour the coffee from the machine into the CUP and put it in the microwave.

Dad: Now you know why she has to get up at 5am…

Mom: And put it in there –

Me: Wait, in where?

Mom: In the MICROWAVE. Just shy of 2 minutes and 45 seconds, just shy of coming to a boil. Then I empty the hot water from the insulated mug and pour the hot coffee into the mug…put the lid on…hahahaha!…And then I put the foil on.

Me: What happened to the foil on the bottom?

Mom: It’s still there!

Me: So where are you putting the new foil?

Mom: On top! And then I put the plastic bag on top of everything.

Dad: You have to see this…

Mom: And then I put a rubber band over everything (starts to break into another fit of laughter). But it works because you can see the steam inside of the bag once I’m done with my bus run!!!

Dad: Gee, I wonder why…

Mom: And then I put it in the car and I have a big beach towel and then a regular towel and then I wrap it around with all the towels –

Me: Ok wait, towels?

Mom: Well I have the beach towel which I wrap around the “mug” and then, like I said, I have the other towel and I wrap that all around the other towel…it’s like a cocoon around my mug!

(Pauses momentarily.)

But if I DON’T do that…well even if I don’t do the foil! Or the microwave! I mean it’s just not the same. This stays HOT for 2 hours! And sometimes, just as extra, I put a bag on top.

Me: On top of…the towels?

Mom: Yeah!

Me: So you leave at what time in the morning?

Mom: No later than 6:15.

Me: And when are you drinking this?

Mom: About 8:45 or 9.

Me: And your coffee stays hot?

Mom: Oh, absolutely, absolutely!

Dad: It wouldn’t dare get cold.

Mom: It’s just as hot as if it’s being served in a restaurant!

Me: How…did this happen? How did you start doing this?

Mom: I don’t know how I started doing it. But I’ll tell you what: it WORKS!

End Scene.

And just in case you thought it was too good to be true, here’s the visual:

One towel:

Two towels:

The bag:

And the mastermind behind this whole process:

Mom…I love you more than you’ll ever know. Thanks for making life so much fun.

beka stays relational : celeste, karen, julia, lauren, carloyn

Perhaps I need to reevaluate this goal.

And perhaps I need to actually remember to take pictures when I’m out being a social butterfly.

(Or perhaps I’m too occupied because my friends are just so interesting!)

But absolutely, not perhaps, I have a lot of wonderful friends.

Thanks, everyone (EVERY one! Near and far, seen and unseen, and YOU!).

You make my life full and rich. And I’m so grateful!

beka stays relational : shane, marissa, lauren

If I’m going to continue being such a social butterfly, I may need to adjust this goal. Or maybe I’ll keep it as-is and feel especially accomplished every now and then.

One thing I do need to adjust is remembering to actually take pictures. Apparently I’m not especially accomplished at that since I’m 1 for 3 this week. Shane and I rendezvoused to Starbucks, Lauren and I to Max Market, and Marissa and I…

OH, yes…to Simply Crepes!

I love friends. I love food. I love this goal.

beka stays relational : karen, lauren, mary

Um, yeah. I shattered the relational goal this week. SHATTERED!

First, a delicious post-workout Moe’s dinner with Karen.

Then, a fun Wegmans outing with Lauren that, like a dope, I forgot to photograph. (I’m sorry, Lauren!)

And yesterday, a delicious lunch with Mary.

(Who was nice enough to stick around after I pulled that orange out of my purse…because sometimes (most times) I bring my own produce to restaurants. It’s a tragic flaw.)

It was so nice to see friends this week. This is going to be one of my favorite goals, I think.