Photo Dump, Part One

Hello, Beautiful Souls,

A few people recently reached out to me and told me they missed my photos. I realized I had not done a Wordless Wednesday post since I finished my goal to take a daily photo for a year.

That was back in 2019, on my 35th birthday. Since then, I have taken many photos, primarily sunsets; some things never change! So, I thought I’d share them. Now that I know so many of you enjoy looking at them, I will start sharing these more often.

I appreciate those of you who have sent emails or sent messages through Facebook or Instagram messenger to check on me.

Enjoy the photos!

FOOD!

Meatballs and spaghetti. My friend, Austin, tweeted about the classic dish a little over a week ago, and it made me crave it. So, I made Italian sausage meatballs from scratch and traditional marina and served them over whole wheat spaghetti noodles. I will forever refer to this meal as meatballs and spaghetti now!

By the way, Austin is a phenomenal writer. If you haven’t checked out his blog, I highly recommend it. He writes a serial every Sunday about best friends, and he has another serial called “The Vanishing Corpse,” They are my favorite stories.

I spent a week with my cousin last month, and whenever I stay an extended length of time with friends and family members, I like to show my appreciation by cooking them a meal or two. Shepherds pie is a dish I often get requests for.

Random Things

Last year, I received this beautiful pie plate as a birthday gift, and something about the sun shining upon it caught my eye.

I love Funko Pops, and I love Die Hard! I have a shelf of villains, and I just had to add Hans Gruber to my collection. Yippie-ki-yay!

Pretty light patterns that I couldn’t ignore.

The creepy house next door often inspires me to write horror stories.

MOI

I don’t remember why I was smiling, but I looked good with a smile, whatever it was.

I took this photo last year after I purchased a new Orioles hat, which I needed.

And this one I took on opening day this year. I sure do love my boys in black and orange!

I was proud of myself for working out after I spent a few days on the couch with a pulled back muscle.

My hair is now hip length and has much more silver than it used to.

A walk at sunset to clear my mind and burn some calories.

I finally got new spectacles!

Just a gal who enjoys playing with makeup.

Have I mentioned how much I love sunsets?

Nature

I wake up early to get a yoga session and a run in before work. I don’t enjoy driving in the fog, but running in it isn’t so bad.

The path I walk around the cemetery to take my sunset photos.

I call this one “Perfect Timing.”

Sideling Hill. I-68 runs between two hills, and a rest stop is located on each side. Weirdly, a rest stop holds so many fond memories for me, but it was a popular stop when I was in marching band, and I often stopped here with family and friends on our way to Ocean City. It offers beautiful scenic views. There’s an overhead walking bridge that provides a birds-eye view, and a tree on top of one of the hills has my initials carved in it, along with the rest of my marching band family.

And the most beautiful photos of all:

Sunsets!

I really enjoy taking photos. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share them with you!

Love & life lessons,

Kristian

Posted in Personal, Photography | 8 Comments

I took the Trash Out to the Curb and Contemplated Life

and worried…

what if the sun dies?
and I thought about Maine,
and how as a child, I used to tell my mother
“One day, I’m going to be Stephen King’s neighbor.”
my imagination carrying me as the sun shone through the trees, just to land upon my face.
when I am finally welcomed home,
I imagine it will feel just the same…

and worried…

what if all the bees die?
and I thought about the butterfly sanctuary in my stomach
and how it’s screaming at me
to keep going, already knowing it will lead me
to my hearts desire.
and how one day
I’ll see how all the pieces fit
all the patterns
and signs
and coincidences, which Sherlock says aren’t actually coincidences, because the universe is rarely so lazy.
I like to agree
and believe it’s the long  journey home
where life will taste like honey…

and worried…

will the world burn?
is there anything I could do to stop it, anyway?
to extinguish the flames that burn
and ignite the ones that comfort?
it’s a heavy weight to carry
but then I heard the sparrows lovely melody
and I questioned the sound of my voice
until I realized it’s not all my weight to carry
and in that moment
with thoughts of the Maine sun floating behind my eyes
I joined the sparrows in song…

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Solitary Moments

At the end of my days when my soul is tired

and searching for the solitary moments

that left their stain on the chapters of my life

I will remember the sounds of laughter

the summer wind kissing my skin

and the poetry between us

I will remember the cherished words

you penned on my heart

that made me feel like I wasn’t alone

Posted in Personal, Poetry | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Journey to the Center of Health

Long-time readers of the blog know that I have been on a health and fitness journey for a little over a year now. I have fallen off the wagon a few times, but I have learned to be easy and more forgiving of myself. The old Kristian would have berated me and slipped back into old habits. The new Kristian pays attention to patterns and allows herself to indulge once in a while. Life is all about balance.

I have had a few people ask me for suggestions on how to make healthy food less boring and how to remain consistent with workouts.

First, let me clarify that everyone is different. What works for me might not work for you, but I’m happy to share some tips and tricks along the way, and if it helps you, great! If it doesn’t, however, do not get discouraged, you can get there, but you have to find what works best for you.

Secondly, and probably most importantly, I have found that changing my mindset was key.

I hate my house. My house is ancient, and when it was remodeled (years before I bought it,) the work was not completed correctly, nor was it up to code. As a result, it has caused numerous problems that I have had to fix, draining my bank account. It’s unfortunate because while I am in school, I’m not generating a high income, and rebuilding my savings account is steadily difficult. I am literally a broke college student at the age of 37 who just wants the opportunity to visit her friends who live far away on the weekend, and I can’t, and it makes me feel like a failure.

I digress. I have learned that due to my hatred of my temporary house, I lack the motivation to keep it organized and clean. Don’t get me wrong, my house isn’t filthy, but it might get a little cluttered at times when stress gets the better of me, or when I’d rather read a book on a rainy Saturday instead of dusting.

Likewise, I hated my body for years. I compared myself to the models on the cover of Victoria’s Secret catalogs, wishing I could look like that, and I lacked the motivation to take care of my body. However, unlike my house, I didn’t take care of it, at least not the way I should have.

After my mother died, I slipped into a deep depression. My mom and I had a strange relationship. We were close in many ways, but she often made me feel bad about myself. She would frequently point out my mistakes, bring up the fact that I didn’t look like Victoria’s Secret models, and save for writing and baking, she didn’t understand my passions. I was lost and broken, and I’d come home from work and go straight to the fridge. I would snack while I cooked dinner, and then I’d sit down on the couch until time to go to bed, and I had a sedentary job. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out this combination of bad habits was not good for my health.

And then, one day, I realized it was all bullshit. All of it! The way I had treated my body, my relationship with food, comparing myself to other women, and my mother’s judgmental opinions of me. I had to make peace with the fact that I will never look like the size two Victoria’s Secret models, and that’s okay! I do not need to be a size two to be or feel sexy. Once I embraced my curves, I learned to love my body, and by loving my body, I actually want to take care of it. And it might be a little vain of me, but I want to look amazing in my new pinup style bathing suit, especially when paired with my new stilettos for pinup photos!

I ordered this swimsuit in my goal size, and although I’m not quite there yet, I know I will be!

I knew I needed to change my relationship with food. I am a foodie. I love food, and I enjoy trying new cuisines, cooking, and discovering new restaurants. I needed to find a way to have my cake and eat it too, only without so many calories and carbohydrates.

My love of cooking benefits me because I am able to take the foods I love and find ways to make them healthy(ish). I have a friend who hates to cook, and she is constantly talking about how hard it is for her to stick to a healthy diet because of her hatred of it. My only suggestions were for her to try one of those meal subscription boxes, like Hello Fresh. They are a bit pricey, but so is fresh produce at the grocery store, and depending on the subscription you choose, the price isn’t much more than what you would pay at the grocery store. Of course, cooking is still involved, however, all the prep work is done for you.

Meal planning is a lifesaver! It keeps me on track, and I can meal prep in advance if I choose to. It also helps me with sticking to a grocery list.

As much as I love spontaneity, I need a routine to keep me consistent. I wake up early so that I can workout before work and school, I am obsessed with walking 20,000 steps a day, and I no longer reach for a snack when I require comfort. Yoga has been my best friend. I sweat the most with yoga, I see and feel the most prominent results from yoga, and it makes me feel alive. Stretching first thing in the morning feels soooooooooo good. I walk every evening, and my reward is often a beautiful sunset.

I’m not perfect. I am doing the best I can with the resources I have. I am a work in progress, but I am getting there in my health and fitness journey, building my finances, and working towards a better future, one where I can go visit a friend for the weekend anytime I want. I appreciate your patience and support as I work towards a better me.

I suppose it’s true what they say, “Good things take time.”

How do you stay fit and healthy? How do you show yourself love?

Love and life lessons,

Kristian

Posted in Lessons, Personal, This Is Me | Tagged , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

Pieces of Me

I am made up of all the places I’ve been,

lessons I’ve learned,

and stories that have yet to be told.

I am stitched together by

song lyrics,

classic books,

and strong coffee.

I have soil that smells like heaven when it rains

flowing through my blood.

I’m made from hanging laundry on the clothesline,

and homemade buttermilk biscuits.

My heart beats to the sound of an old acoustic guitar-

that my father still plays on that old front porch

that he built with his bare hands.

Where I become that little girl in pigtails

sitting at her daddy’s feet

every time I listen.

I am from Larry & Peggy’s branch on the family tree.

From fried green tomatoes

and peanut butter fudge.

From the Glenn Miller albums that my granddaddy used to play

to the ceramic sculptures molded by my mamma’s dainty hands.

In my closet is an old hat box

spilling pictures of lost faces

and places that no longer look the same.

I am from those faces and places.

I am from those moments in time-

captured before my roots were planted-

before I blossomed on that family tree.

Posted in Personal, Poetry, This Is Me | Tagged , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Light Patterns

she can sing.
it’s a little known fact
only those closest to her
know.

she does not like
to find herself in the center of attention,
save for certain celebrations, and certain company.
still, if people knew she could sing, they would ask her to, and for those she loves most, she’d brace anxiety for,
so she reserves singing
for times when she is alone, and in front of those with whom she feels most comfortable, which are few.

and him…
she had yet to meet him
save for in her dreams,
but she already knew
with his head on her chest,
to ease his woes, she would sing him to sleep.
she wants nothing more.

all she wants is to kiss his scars
and to show him the kind of softness
the world so rarely does.

there is something
about him…
he brings out sides of her she didn’t know existed. He introduced her to herself.
how could she resist the irresistible grasp?
it drew her
like patterns of light from a sunrayed glass door dancing across the darkness of a cold wooden floor.

he calls to her…
he, her raging fire
and her, his calming rain.

Posted in Love, Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Winter and Baseball

In honor of Opening Day, I thought I’d share one of the best fictional stories I have written about my favorite pastime! I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Love & life lessons,

Kristian

My love of baseball started in the womb, I am sure. My mother tells me that my grandad would listen to the Baltimore Orioles on the radio every evening while drinking a tall glass of Guinness and eating peanuts, throwing the shells on the ground, ignoring my mom’s dirty looks, and responding:


“The squirrels will eat them, or the birds will use them for their nest. It’s not littering, I’m contributing to nature.”


My mom, pregnant with yours truly, would sit next to him in her rocking chair, knitting an afghan, booties, or various other items of clothing for Christmas gifts.


Growing up in the Appalachian mountains of far western Maryland wasn’t always easy. I was born in the early ’80s, and my childhood was great, but winters were harsh, the closest mall was an hour away, and there wasn’t much to do other than go to the lake, which was always filled with tourists. Winters were fun for those who liked to ski because Garrett County is home to the Wisp but lacking the grace and coordination, skiing was not for me. I tried it once when I was 8-years-old. I stepped on the back of my instructor’s skis, apologizing profusely, but he was a saint of a man with the patience of Job, even though I caused both of us to fall many times before we even headed down the hill. I gained some confidence once I could finally stand on the skis, I took off, and I still remember the look of horror on my instructor’s face as I tripped over my skis, tumbling down the hill only to land on my wrist and break it. I haven’t skied since.


I dreaded the winters, but I always longed for the summers when my cousins, friends, and I would get together and play baseball. My grandfather built a very makeshift baseball field in his backyard, but it was a baseball field nonetheless. He would sit outside watching us, and he taught me everything I know about my favorite pastime. I spent so much time at my grandparents as a child, especially during the summer, because of that ball field.


I remember begging my parents to take me to a game, but we lived 3 hours away, and both of them worked hard just to make ends meet. We couldn’t really afford a vacation, but I begged them anyway. I loved listening to the games with my grandad, I loved watching the games on TV, but I desperately wanted to go to a live game.


On the morning of Wednesday, September 6th, 1995, I woke up feeling heartbroken because my all-time favorite player was about to make baseball history, and I wanted to see it in person, but I had stopped asking my parents to take me to games, knowing the answer was always going to be no. I started getting ready for school when I heard my mom.


“You might want to open this package before you get dressed today.”


I turned around, confused, it wasn’t my birthday, and while my parents did buy me things throughout the year, a package for me to open on a day that wasn’t my birthday or Christmas was rare.


“What’s this?” I asked.


“You’ll have to open it and see.” My mom replied sweetly.


My eyes grew wide as I opened the package to see a brand new Orioles Jersey, #8. Ripken’s jersey. I looked at my mom with tears in my eyes. “This is for me?” I asked.


“Oh, sweetheart,” she pulled me into a hug. “I know these past few years have been rough on you. Dad and I both have been working hard, grandma has been sick, and your brother moved away to college. Your friends have all gone away on summer vacations, and you’ve been stuck at home. I think it’s time you deserve a treat, don’t you?”


I smiled at her. “You could have saved this for my birthday.”


She smiled. “We could have, but today’s a big day.”


My dad walked into my room carrying my favorite baseball hat, baseball glove, and some bottled water and granola bars.


“You’re going to need these today.” He said.


“Why?” I asked, confused for the second time that morning.


My parents looked at each other with smiles as my dad made a come here motion with his finger.
I stood up and made my way over to him, and he walked me out into the living room, where my granddad stood in his Orioles gear.


“Are you ready, squirt?” He asked.


“For what?” I don’t think I’ve ever had a more confusing morning in all my life. My 10-year-old brain just could not process what was happening.


“For the game, squirt. Go put on your jersey, we’ve got a long trip ahead of us.”


My mouth dropped to the floor, and my eyes bugged out of my head. I must have looked like Bugs Bunny whenever he saw a beautiful dame in one of those cartoons.


I ran and jumped into my grandad’s arms, and he caught me effortlessly, swinging me around and kissing my cheek. I had never been as happy as I was that day!


That game, my very first baseball game, Cal Ripken Jr., broke Lou Gehrig’s record for most consecutive games played, his 2,131st consecutive game, and I got to experience it in person. I thought I loved baseball before, but my love for the game grew ten times that night! I watched as he was pushed out of the dugout by his teammates, and Cal made his 22-minute victory lap around the field! I distinctly remember looking up at my grandad, his frail, hunched figure standing, his wrinkly, age-spotted hands applauding, and his bright, blue eyes shining with so much pride. He looked down at me, and as we made eye contact, I just knew that this memory would forever remain etched in my brain. I remember looking around the stadium. There was so much emotion there that day, you could feel the joy and sentiment as Cal hugged his wife and child, his parents were recognized in the skybox, and his teammates stood proudly, applauding Cal. You could tell by their expressions that they were genuinely proud to call him an Oriole! It was a day I will never forget.


That was the first and only game I attended with him. My granddad passed away two months later. At the age of 76, he suffered a massive heart attack. I may not have him anymore, but he gave me the best memories of my childhood, and I will be eternally grateful.

Posted in Personal | 21 Comments

Comfort Food

Comfort food is at its best when shared with love and laughter. When generations are sat around the table, passing serving spoons, and wine, and stories. Some new, some heard time and time again, but they never grow old. An uncle’s eyes light up and a mischievous grin graciously dances across his face as he talks of boyhood, tires, and railroad tracks. Or the way a cousin laughs at her husband’s fascination over a squirrell fighting a bluejay. Or Grandma’s stern tone after being interrupted as she inquires “Did you hear a period at the end of that sentence?”
In terms of comfort, there is nothing like Shepherds pie, fond memories, and family gathered around the dinner table.

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Ode to a Crab Cake

I can comprehend why Neruda wrote odes to onions, and the hands of loved ones working, molding, crafting, and fish in a market…
It’s easy to write about the beautiful things, or difficult, depending on what the heart can carry…
All I know is when the hands of a cook combine blue crab with egg, mayo, mustard, crackers, and Old Bay…
I’ve never tasted anything so poetic.

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Wrinkles in Time

I will always be taken with beautiful things.
Trends often come and go, but I pretty much end up the same, with all the good, the bad, and the ugly. Almost unyeilding…
chasing sunsets, historic textures, bright colors, and simple and complex arrangements.
Stories found in wrinkles of time and floorboards of old houses.
I miss sharing this with like-minded people gathered around a beautifully set table
for no particular reason, being together was reason enough.
Finding joy in small corners, that some say are too plain, or small, or random to notice.
I miss handwritten letters, cards in the mail, and meeting for coffee in quirky cafés.
I cannot wait for the wheel to start turning, and people to welcome back the idea.
Perhaps, it’s closer than we think…

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments