You Get What You Give

I really like listening to podcasts in the car, working out, or just working around the house. I like music, too, but for long things podcasts are nice because I feel like someone is talking to me.

I’ve been a fan of Rachel Brathen, aka Yoga Girl, for several years now and she recently started doing a podcast every week. This week she talked about body positivity but also how the energy you put out is what you get back and I know how true that is.

I used to be such a bitter, deeply angry person because of my life. I was upset that my parents had been taken from me when I was younger and that I didn’t get to have an adult relationship with them, that my stepmother now held all of the things I remembered from my childhood and would never give them up, and so many other things. I felt ugly and bitter inside and showed it outside, too. I was just mean and so envious of good things in other peoples’ lives, because I didn’t have them but also felt that I didn’t deserve anything good. It was just this cycle of being angry with my life and then showing that anger to others and then being angry because (surprise) no one wants to associate with an angry, bitter person (weird).

I can’t put an exact moment on when things started to change, but it’s taken me years to let that go. Years of being miserable and unhappy and selfish.

It’s so true though that what you put out is what you get back. My deployment in Afghanistan changed me in a lot of ways, all for the better I hope. I’ve felt like a different person since I came back, and I felt differently there, too. I feel like what I do matters and that my life is in my control, which is a lot different from how I used to feel that I was powerless and poor-me-can’t-do-anything-about-it. I’ve also noticed that things that used to be hard for me are a lot easier now, either because I’m more comfortable in my skin or because I don’t make people unconsciously want to escape the room I’m in.

That’s not to say everything is perfect and I’m great now. I worry an incredible amount about things that I can’t change and have a hard time letting go of that, I’m impatient, and snap when I feel like I’m getting stressed. But I really do think that the way you put yourself out there makes a huge difference in what you get back from other people and positivity goes a long way.

Pregnancy Questions

Since I’ve gone public about being pregnant, I’ve gotten asked the same questions over and over again. I wasn’t surprised, but thankfully haven’t gotten any ludicrous advice yet though I’m sure that will come later.

How did this happen?

Well, you see when a man and a woman love each other very much…

I mean, were you trying to get pregnant?

You mean, did I have unprotected sex with my husband?

Are you going to stay in the Army?

I don’t really understand this one, honestly. For one, as an officer I can’t just decide that pregnancy is cause for getting out but also, I have eight years in service. I’m clearly still serving because I like what I do.

What about your dogs and cat?

This one makes me a little angry. My pets are part of my family. I love them and they bring so much happiness and silliness to my life. Zane is too special needs to be happy with anyone else, Sophie’s already been dumped by one family, and Twister has such a strong bond with my husband. I would sooner give our baby up for adoption because that’s how it feels even thinking about giving away my pets. Zane and Sophie have become extra attached to me since I got pregnant, though that could also be because I’m the one who feeds and walks them and they love that I go to sleep to early.

How are you feeling?

Like someone substituted my nose for one of my dogs’ noses but left everything else the same. I can smell everything and it all makes me gag. Also I just feel tired all the time. As soon as I wake up for work I daydream about when I can go back to sleep. I’ve still been walking my dogs twice a day and going to the gym because I know staying active will make this easier on my body, plus, I’m still in the Army and I have to pass a PT test next year after the baby’s born and it’ll be a lot easier to do that if I don’t let myself turn into Jabba the Hutt.


Packing For a Cross-Continental Move

I’m down to my last few weeks here before another big move cross-continent, which means I’m making a series of lists of things I have to do before I leave, I have a list of things to get signed off on before I can clear post, and a big list of things to pack in different places.

Right now my list of things to carry looks a little like this:


– passport- for border crossings as well as an additional form of identification
– dog health certs (required for border crossings and the ferry)
– Sophie meds
– dog food
– leashes
– poop bags
– dog bed
– hard-sided cat carrier
– disposable cat litter boxes – this way I don’t have to tote something smelling like cat pee around for two weeks in the back of the car
– cat litter (also for traction in case I get stuck in a snowbank somewhere)
– cat food – I typically switch to wet food while traveling because my cat is too freaked out to drink water during stops
– water bowl for pets
– baby wipes (disinfecting)
– winter boots
– winter coat
– snow shovel (also in case I get stuck)
– flares (both in case I can’t get out and also if I have to stop by the side of the road)
– Jet Boil (P says I have to buy my own and can’t keep borrowing his, which I guess is fair since I use his more than he does! I’m going to wait for the REI sale this next weekend, though)
– lighter
– freeze dried meals (in case I get stuck and also for food on the Alaska ferry)
– 2 gallons of water (mostly for my dogs so they don’t get upset stomachs from different water)
– mittens
– hat
– sleeping bag
– cots (I might mail these down to GA instead of carrying them in the car)
– bike trainer (too big/heavy to mail)
– bike
– computer
– external HD
– towels (these ultralite ones take up little space, dry really quickly, and are also really absorbent. Plus they’re affordable)
– dry bags for clothes (I bought a couple of these from Sea to Summit and love them. I’m putting my clothes in a roof carrier so this will ensure they stay dry no matter the weather)
– running shoes
– flip flops
– cross-stitch bag
– 10 x  copies orders
– Milepost aka The Bible of North Country Travel
– bike rack
– mini lamp- I bought a neat USB chargeable one from Amazon while deployed and have been using it ever since.
I’m a big fan of anything that can pack up small and takes up less space so my travel pillow, sleeping mat, and sleeping bag can all compress to smaller dimensions. I also like dry bags because you can get some that work like a vacuum bag and let you press out extra air, while also keeping your clothes dry. I’m trying out a new roof bag carrier instead of packing everything in the car. It’ll cost a bit of gas mileage but I think will help out in giving us more room inside the car and that will be worth it.
Trying to pack for a two-week moving trip in a smaller car is definitely a challenge so I’m trying to also choose clothing items that are breathable and adaptable to different climates. I’ll probably be wearing mostly Oiselle and Soas clothing for a few weeks, which is more than fine by me.

How to Spend Less Time Cooking + Bonus Recipe

Since I got back, one of the things I’ve enjoyed most is making my own food. As much as I enjoyed not cooking for an entire year (and not doing the dishes!) it’s really nice to be able to eat what I want instead of what is on the schedule for the week and after a year, it got really predictable (Monday-grill day, Tuesday- some sort of protein and mixed veggies, Wednesday-Tacos, Thursday-Mongolian barbecue or German, Friday-Pizza/wings, Saturday – soul food, Sunday-more grilling).

It is kind of a pain to menu plan every weekend though. I like to shop early in the morning when all the shelves are stocked and before the store becomes a zoo later in the day so I pretty much have to menu plan Friday nights or early Saturday mornings and lately things have been so draining at work that I come home feeling like a zombie.

Before I left last year I had started getting into freezer meals. Not the TV dinners you find in the freezer section, but meals already prepped and ready to slide into the oven or just heat up and eat. I made a bunch before my husband moved in thinking it would give us more time to get settled and then I made a bunch more before I left so he even if I couldn’t be there this year, he could have some dinners made by me and ready for him.

This past week he mentioned how much he’d liked those meals and I thought I’d give it another go. A massive amount of cooking over a long day with a day to prep beforehand surely is worth two weeks’ of meals, right?


These are what’s in the main freezer, I put most of them in our deep freezer

I used Once a Month Meals because I used their free trial of Mini Meals and loved them. Their subscriptions are very affordable and I liked that I could customize the menu and swap recipes out. We don’t sit down for breakfast so I swapped those recipes for dinners and lunch recipes ins instead. I also like that they have different menu types – paleo, traditional, vegetarian, vegan, and an allergen-reducing menu.

It gave me a consolidated shopping list organized by section (I don’t do that for myself so this was a huge bonus alone).

I slacked on the prep work and jumped in. It took me about a day and a half of prep/cooking but the end result is we have dinners and lunches for the next two weeks and the total cost was under $200. Not bad at all. There’s still a couple of produce things I have to buy to serve with the meals, but overall it’s a really good value for the money. I also picked the paleo menu and meat-heavy dishes tend to be more expensive as well.


Chicken Cilantro Soup

A couple of things I’d do differently maybe, or would recommend

-writing what ingredient goes in each dish. I thought P hadn’t found Thai chiles so I used jalapeños instead and then later found the Thai chiles hiding in the fridge where he’d put them…so some of our food is going to have more of a kick than intended!

-Seriously, clean your kitchen before you start.

-If you can get someone to help you by cleaning dishes as you go, that would help a lot too. My kitchen is really small and since P was busy resurfacing stairs, I went it alone.

-Do the prep day. I wish I had. About 3/4 of the way through I almost had a breakdown because I felt overwhelmed.

-Make sure you eat during the day. I bought half a dozen cinnamon rolls from the new bakery across the street. Yesterday I ate: four cinnamon rolls, a package of TimTams, too many cups of coffee, movie theater popcorn, movie theater soda, and half a package of movie theater Sweet Tart ropes, and a beer. I felt awful. Don’t do that.

Also, as promised, a bonus recipe from Once a Month Meals, “Aunt Sissy’s Poppyseed Chicken“. This recipe is my husband’s favorite freezer meal and it’s great for two hungry adults. For more people I’d double the whole thing and buy a larger casserole container. I used the cheap disposable ones you can get in the baking section.
chicken recipe



Rug Bug

Before I ever came to Afghanistan, I knew I wanted to bring home a rug with me. Rugs are Afghanistan’s largest export and can last for generations if properly cared for. I was excited to have a beautiful, tangible souvenir of my experience and time here so I wanted to be sure I made the best choice.

I didn’t know much about rugs, so I did some research online. I learned about knots and how to tell a handmade rug from an industrial woven one, and even some of the basic typical patterns. I learned even more by visiting the shops and touching and seeing the differences in quality between rugs.


Originally I was going to buy one…and then I saw a runner that I liked and then I also thought a larger one would be perfect in another room. Ultimately I ended up visiting six different vendors before settling on three beautiful carpets, all handmade here in Afghanistan. It was such a neat experience to have them roll it out in front of you and then rubbing the wool and checking the knots in the back and the fringe. I also worked hard to barter the prices down which is also a hallmark of buying out here. The vendor definitely made a good profit on my sales, but I also love that I will have these for years as a reminder of the beauty of Afghanistan and that I’m helping to support the people here.


Someday I’ll learn how to keep my finger out of the frame. But I loved this runner. 


I loved both of these. Actually, I loved all the ones I saw. But these were the final two. 


This one was especially beautiful, but just too formal for my style. 

Five Things for Friday – Five Favorite Websites

I’ve been a huge Internet fan ever since I was young. I loved all the information that was out there, just waiting to be read. I loved that I could look anything up and get an answer (I used to love reading the encyclopedia).

These are a few of the sites I visit on a daily basis.

1. Facebook

It’s easy to keep in touch with lots of people, I can see pictures of my friends and family, and since my husband is traveling, it’s also the way we communicate most often because I can’t have any personal electronic devices in my workspace where I am 12+ hours a day. Some people dislike Facebook for many reasons, but for me it does more good than harm.

2. Instagram

I really like pictures and I like following a wide variety of people. I’ve been trying to follow more healthy people, so lifters and runners and yogis because surrounding myself with healthy, active people makes me want to be better. If you want to follow me, my Instagram name is crkellr.

3. Reddit

It’s the front page of the Internet! I spend a lot of time here for news, running-related forums, finance forums, and sometimes just cute cat videos.

4. Magoosh

I’m studying for the GMAT next summer. I try to spend a little time here every day either going through lessons, working on flashcards, or working through some questions. I could probably spend more time here, but I have a much longer timeline than most people do and I don’t want to get burned out. Fortunately, Magoosh’s subscription is valid for a year so I have plenty of time.

5. Washington Post

I’ve liked the Post ever since I lived in Northern Virginia. I like its mix of articles and recently have been enjoying reading about how others decorate and live in tiny apartments. My duplex back home is only 768 square feet, so it fits the tiny apartment category for sure. I also appreciate that they do live feeds of important press conferences. Last night I watched live as President Obama announced we were keeping 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through the next year.

I bet you thought there’d be more fitness sites on here? I visit a lot, but these five sites I’m guaranteed to visit every day whiles I can go a few days between my other favorite sites like The Daily Mile and various blogs.

One Month Down

During the month of September, I ran at least a mile every day. Having a routine has made it much easier to stay on track, plus it helps break up the monotony of the day. Things can be incredibly dull when every day is the same as the day before and the only variety is what’s for dinner, and even that’s on a seven-day schedule. Tonight’s dinner was pizza. Every Friday is pizza.

I had a day trip to another location earlier this week to try to get fingerprinted and also spent some time indulging in a facial and a massage, doing some shopping at the bazaar, and enjoyed a large caramel macchiato on a terrace.

Not an actual Zales.

A look down one side of the bazaar.

This is one of my favorite shops. I wish I’d taken pictures of the bowl and vase I bought this time, but he wrapped them up so quickly.

I liked these little bud vases.

Enjoying my caramel macchiato and some good reading.

I got back to my usual location just in time for dinner, but I still hadn’t gotten any running in. I’d gotten plenty of walking that day, but no running. I had tried to get up early that morning but like the procrastinator I am, I promised myself I’d do it…later.

Fortunately, the unusually kick of sugar and caffeine mid-afternoon meant I was wide-awake in the evening when I usually get tired so I ran after I got off work. The extra alertness also translated to a very fast pace and some light weights before I decided I really needed to get in some sort of bedtime routine if I was going to sleep at all.

I’m hoping to do some more traveling but I will have to be less lazy about working contingencies for runs since I may not always get back the same day.

Five Things for Friday

I can’t believe it’s already Friday.

Here’s what’s been on my mind this week.

1. BackBeat Fit headphones

I couldn’t take running with earbuds anymore so I took the plunge and splurged on bluetooth headphones and boy, am I ever glad I did. No strings attached.

Kind of like this

2. Fighter Diet Whey in Natural Chocolate flavor

I was looking for a protein powder that was clean without a lot of added fillers, artificial flavors, and without added sweeteners. I decided to try Fighter Diet and I can’t tell you how GOOD it is. I have a big sweet tooth so the chocolate flavor was a must. It’s made from grass-fed cows and has NO artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, no artificial colors, and no preservatives.

It mixes very well with liquids and while it doesn’t taste amazing with water (it tastes like chocolatey water), if mixed with soy milk it is absolutely delicious. I usually drink it with vanilla soy milk but tried it with chocolate yesterday for a double chocolate experience and man, was that good.

It does now, however, taste as good when mixed with shelf-stable milk

It does now, however, taste as good when mixed with shelf-stable milk

3. TP Massage Ball

I picked this up back home on sale at REI. Um, amazing. I like to roll it against my back while leaning on the wall and it really digs down into my sore muscles in a good way. It’s small enough that it’s easy to take along while traveling. Some people use tennis balls but I think this one is a little more firm and up to the job than a tennis ball would be.
tp ball4. Any kind of hip stretch

I’ve been doing more running and more lifting more consistently and my hips are constantly tight. One of my new favorite stretches to relieve their soreness is the “Pigeon Pose” from yoga. You cross your leg in front of you with the opposite leg stretched back and then gently fold your upper body over the bent leg in front and feel the glorious stretch.

Hurts so good

Hurts so good

5. Constantly changing goals

The fluidity of things out here makes it hard to plan. Sometimes I think it’d be easier to nail Jello to a wall.

So it doesn’t look like I will be running the Air Force Marathon and my trip to Japan may not work out, either. Instead, I’m changing my focus to an entirely new goal (with less variables to mess it up) and I signed up for the Dopey Challenge!

What is the Dopey Challenge? It’s four days and four races. A 5K, then a 10K, then a half-marathon, and on the final day, a full marathon for a total of 48.6 miles. It’s also at one of my absolute favorite places – Walt Disney World!

I am beyond excited for the challenge and am going to register also for the Disney Castaway Challenge. After I’ve completed the Dopey Challenge, P and I will be on a cruise to the Bahamas where we will stop at the Disney-owed private island, Castaway Cay, and run a 5K there.

I think it will be a perfect blend of my favorite things as well as give me some much-needed relaxing time. Plus, I’ve never been to the Bahamas before so that will be really neat!

These Are a Few of my (Least) Favorite Things

Now that I’ve been here almost a month (really, how did that happen so quickly?) I was thinking of a few things that I wish I hadn’t brought with me.

Doxycycline. I really don’t like this stuff. It makes my skin more sensitive to the sun, reduces the effectiveness of my birth control, which although is not a priority out here, I use to keep me regular, and it gives me really scary dreams if I take it anywhere close to bed. It makes me queasy in the morning which is when I take my birth control and vitamin and I don’t come back here during the day. Also, I haven’t seen a single mosquito here.

What I wish I’d brought instead: Ibuprofen. I had to order some online. Meanwhile, for headaches and muscle aches I had to ask around for some pain relievers. I’m usually really good about bringing Vitamin I with me, I just forgot this time.

NoRinse Shampoo. I loved this stuff and the body wash when I was at NTC. However, I really don’t need it out here. I have a shower maybe 20 feet from my room and it’s inside. I think I used this once in traveling here to freshen up, but I could have just as easily taken a full shower.

What I wish I’d brought instead: Some sort of hair mask. It’s dry out here and my hair is falling out like I’m starting chemo. It’s depressing. 

Baby Wipes. Again, not sure where I thought I was going. I haven’t touched these at all. They’re currently living in a bag under my bed. I guess I’ll use them to help clean the dust that accumulates inside my weapons?

What I wish I’d brought instead: Some sort of exfoliating scrub. I don’t like loofahs but my skin was pretty itchy for a while, especially on my feet. 

Mascara. For real. Why on earth did I bring this? I think I wore it twice. I forgot it was on, I rubbed my eyes at some point during the day, probably to get the sweat and sunscreen out of them, and when I got back at night I looked like Raccoon Girl.

What I wish I’d brought instead: Queen Helen’s Mint Julep Mask for deep cleaning beyond my CeraVe daily cleansing formula. 

For One More Day

I’ve wondered for a while what I would do if I knew one day would be my last. Would I jump on a plane and go somewhere I’ve always dreamed of seeing? Would I call my family and friends to talk to them one last time? Or would I spend it quietly at home, going for a run or going fishing?

Yesterday was about grieving. Sadness held me in a big, cold hug. It felt oppressive and gray.

Today was about business.

I went for my last run here.



I ran down by the river and into downtown.


I ran through the park one last time. It was one of the first places I went when I moved here and I think it’s so cute.


I finished my cross-stitch project that I wanted to get done before I left. I think the K could be a little more left but the pattern was very vague there so it’s probably fine. Either way, I’m not changing it.


Finally, I finished packing. I hate packing. I put in a pair of socks and Zane came and took them back out and walked away with them. Eventually I put them in a plastic bag and he was sad.

I also watched Star Trek: The Next Generation pretty much all day, The Butler (which made me cry because I’m a big sissy sometimes), shipped my saddle off to the woman who bought it, and sometime later P and I will go to my favorite sushi restaurant in town for our last meal. I ate there right before NTC so now I feel like it’s my good luck ritual.

I thought I’d have liked to go fishing, or spend all day at the movies, or reading a book but as it turns out, there is no other way that I would have liked to spend my last day here than with the things I love most in all the world.