Where did that time go?

In listening to a friend give a talk in church years ago, he shared how it seems that the days are slow but the years are fast. He elaborated on that: we have so many commitments that one 24 hour routine can take a while. But then it’s time for another birthday, another Christmas, another celebration. And often, another reminder that we quite haven’t done what we set out our hearts to do. There is always next year right?

Last evening we were at back to school night for my daughter. She is 5 years old and will be starting kindergarten today. In one hour, I will be helping her get ready. This is an emotional time for me as I have spent so much time with her over the years. I often took her to preschool and picked her up; went shopping with her; wandered the neighborhood; went to visit grandparents and went to the treat store (almost daily on that last one). Often days felt long as I was in my routine with her–get up, do some work, get her up, get her ready, get her to school, do a lot of work, pick her up, feed her lunch, get her some quiet time, do some more work and then get ready for the next day.

Now in a few months she will be 6 and I am saying, “where did those years go.” The last year in particular. As I wrote in the post last fall, “And So I Write,” I loved the opportunity to write my food blog for a number of years. It was especially fun to write for City Weekly where I got paid to write and eat. What a joy. That ended when the publication, like many, decided to cut back. This was last October and actually came at a good time.

My wife was getting ready to make a transition from her firm to opening her own consulting business. It took much time and energy, both physical and mental. I needed to be there for that. My real estate work has been busy. With all the commitments, I really felt pulled in too many different directions. When that happens, you are not doing your best work–on anything.

I kept telling myself that I will write again once I get pass this particular deal, project, fatigue, etc. The days have certainly been long, one phone call can make it longer it seems. And now almost a year has gone by; a year since I was writing regularly. They say that when you let go of something, either it will drop out of your life completely (which for some things is good), or the pull to do it will get stronger. I have ignored the pull to do it.

Can’t do the ignoring any longer. Yesterday, I pulled off the side of road and wrote down what my rocking chair regrets would be. The main one–”not writing.” Maybe it’s not exactly practical, but it’s therapeutic and fun for me. It lifts me up. It gives me energy.

What is the one thing you have been ignoring? The one thing you keep saying you will get to tomorrow? Tomorrow never comes.

RoDizio: A Brazilian Food Paradise

Gluttony: over-indulgence or over-consumption of food drink or wealth.

Brazilian & American Cowboy doing their pose

Brazilian & American Cowboy doing their pose

 

That may well be the definition of Gluttony, but I knew that going in and if there is a good definition of this word, RoDizio would be the reason to use it.

For at least 15 years, RoDizio has been a fun place to go in the Trolley Square Center of Salt Lake City. A great place to gather as friends, business associates or to celebrate a birthday or graduation. It could be just as enjoyable to see the food come by, as it is to eat it. You don’t dare place the little wooden indicator on it’s side or on red; that would stop the food from coming by. Whether you are full or not, to have the waiters come by with the delectable items on the large skewer, is like having your most admired athlete or celebrity stop by for a personal visit.

We were invited out for a Food Writer’s Dinner. They wanted to introduce us to the American BBQ items that RoDizio was rolling out. This is limited time thing from July through Labor Day. Don’t panic, there is only one Brazilian menu item that they removed to make this happen–sweet & sour chicken. If you are looking to indulge in everything from garlic sirloin, parmesan pork, tri-tip, fish, bacon-wrapped chicken, grilled pineapple, and a whole host of other items, you can. And why wouldn’t you? This is the place where happiness comes to be shared.

2015-07-01 18.31.22

In all my visits to RoDizio I have never not ordered the “Full RoDizio.” This is the unlimited variety or rotisserie grilled meats, glazed pineapple, gourmet salad bar including over 30 hot & cold items, and authentic Brazilian appetizers. There may be a menu that they hand you, but I’m not sure why you want one–maybe for the drinks.

You can have as much fun with beverages as you do with the food. I started out with a Brazilian Lemonade. These were wonderful in the past yet this time it fell a little flat. No problem. Just like the tray of meats–if you don’t like something, try another. I heard the waiter telling someone about their famous limeades, so I had a strawberry limeade. This was amazing. They certainly know their mixology. Cans of Guarana can also be brought out at your request. This stuff is as recognizable in Brazil as Coca-Cola is in America. Funny story: one of the other people at our table requested one. The waiter asked if he had ever had one. He said no. The waiter then said, “I’m going to tell you a trick, when you open it, smell it first. That will change the experience.” They both were happy!

2015-07-01 18.40.15

Having spent a lot of time around the Kansas City Barbeque circuit in the past few years, I was excited to try some of this American BBQ. Just this past month, I tried to do some competition style chicken on the smoker–learned from a past Grand Champion and winner of the Jack Daniel’s National. I fell short but RoDizio certainly knew what they were doing. The chicken was amazing. Next they brought around the ribs. They were tough and missing flavor. Don’t let that stop you from going–that was the only item in everything they brought around and everything from the salad bar, that I didn’t like.

Dessert options will be presented to you at a time when you feel like you can’t even fit another sip of water. If they were simply explaining them, reason would win out and you would say “No.” They very wisely however, bring a tray of desserts around and let you pick. I chose the Rabanada: warm cinnamon pastry with a creamy center, served with vanilla ice cream and laced with caramel sauce. It’s like part of a churro on steroids. It is beyond wonderful and beyond worth it. Dessert may not be included with the Full RoDizio, but like investing money in child’s future, the happiness will pay you divdends for decades.

Rabanada

Rabanada

Dining out at RoDizio is a “not if but when” decision. Make sure if you go for lunch, that you have a siesta scheduled from 1:00-3:00pm. And make sure that if you go for dinner, the babysitter is putting the kids down to bed–you will want to do nothing but sit when you get back; sit with delight.

Happy Eating
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The Beehive Grill in Logan: A ROOTBEER Brew Pub!

The Beehive Grill Menu

As the NFL Draft approached a few years ago, an executive was interviewed by the media. When asked what he was looking for in a player, he replied: “We don’t know what we are looking for but we will know it when we see it.” How often do you want something but don’t know what it is? It could be a snack, vacation, meal or movie. There is something inside us that knows, but our mind holds us back. We have to search and experiment before the answer comes.

Last week, my family along with Sous Chefs Sam & Jesse and their family were heading to Bear Lake for the weekend. We needed to take 2 cars and I rode with these 2 up and coming culinary geniuses. You have a choice when driving to Bear Lake– either going the route through Logan, Utah or Evanston, Wyoming. Knowing that we needed to pick up dinner, we chose Logan. Nothing against Evanston; we just didn’t want Subway, Burger King, or a gas station hot dog.

In Logan, we pulled up to one place just off Main St. Sitting in the car, we just didn’t feel drawn inside. It was that moment where it would be easy to go inside and order just to get it out of the way, but you didn’t really want it. Sous Chef Sam mentioned that we had passed The Beehive Grill just a block back. We looked up the menu on our phone and the appetizer menu was enough to get us there.

The Beehive Grill looks just like a pub, because it pretty much is as they serve their own brewed beer. But you have to look closer at the sign as you walk in, “Logan’s only Rootbeer Brew Pub.” Rootbeer you say? This was sounding more delicious by the second.

We sat down at our tables to order an appetizer, get food to go and now definitely enjoy a Rootbeer. How could we turn that down if it is one of their signature items? It was sweet, smooth and dry. Something (mainly my personality) told me that this wasn’t going to be a quick stop.

Sumptuous Clam Chowder

Sumptuous Clam Chowder

The menu is loaded with sandwiches, burgers, seafood, pasta, BBQ, mouth-watering appetizers and soups. An appetizer to share turned into one each with us ordering Battered Mushrooms, Potato Skins and a bowl of Clam Chowder. With each spoonful of that delicious chowder, my urgency to arrive in Bear Lake moved slower down the priority lane. We did wake up to the fact that we still needed food to go. Oh this was going to be fun.

It felt like one of those blank check moments–where someone is wining an dining you so you can order whatever you want. Except I was the one wining and dining the others so I knew whatever we ordered would be coming out of my bank account. That was okay, it was family. We got some more battered mushrooms to go, crab and artichoke dip, BBQ pork sandwich, ribeye steak, French dip, rainbow tortellini with pesto–add chicken, triple grilled cheese and a southwestern wrap. Later on in the drive I wished that we had taken a 1/2 gallon of that rootbeer. Was it too late to turn around?

It was too late for more rootbeer, but we were so excited to share these delicious dishes with those waiting at the lake. It was hunger, it was excitement, it was delicious. All of those things conspired to make us inhale our food. What did remain was eaten for breakfast the next morning; it didn’t even need to be re-heated to taste good.

No in-depth review of each item here. Just pure excitement in finding The Beehive Grill. If the 9 items we did order are indicative of the quality & taste of this place, then I wouldn’t hesitate ordering anything from the menu.

Usually you plan the vacation and get whatever food you can find on the way there. Now I know that I am going to plan my lunch at Beehive Grill, and the vacation can come together as it was meant to be–priorities people!

Happy Eating!

Beehive Grill on Urbanspoon

Tom Garwood: From Carpentry to Beverage!

Tom showing off his beverage creation at Liberty Heights Fresh

Tom showing off his beverage creation at Liberty Heights Fresh

Isn’t it human nature to have a plan, and to think that this plan is set in stone for the next few years, or decades? This past Sunday I was talking to a gentleman who told me that if his work doesn’t become more regular, he is going to go back to school and find something that is. I told him that this isn’t the world we live in anymore. We have to prepare for the ups & downs. The days of 30 years at a company with a pension and benefits are gone. Such is the story of Tom.

Tom is young, ambitious, and was kind enough to share his “Carpentry to Ginger Beer” story with me. When Tom was a teenager he worked in Carpentry. He kept doing this until he was 22, when he got a job washing dishes in a brew pub in Massachusetts. At this time he wasn’t excited about restaurants or attempting to get into cooking. It was a job that was flexible enough to allow him to go on tour with his band.

While working in the restaurant, he would finish the load of dishes from lunch and then help with dinner prep. This was involved with many items to get ready for the evening rush. The Chef noticed his increasing interest in food and threw him on the line. This was exciting for Tom–the rush of adrenaline giving you the energy to push through the evening–like a sprint to the finish line.

The job continued to allow him to go on tour with his band, sometimes for 4-5 weeks at a time; all the while sleeping in a van. Each time he returned for work at the pub, he moved up the line; eventually taking the lead on sauté. Tom felt that the prep was true cooking, and that the line was assembling. He appreciated the building blocks but 80% of it was the prep. If the prep was done right, the line moved along during the dinner rush and things didn’t fall apart.

When Tom was 25, he came to Salt Lake. He thought that it would be fun to come and hang out for the summer. He got a job doing dishes and prep at Tin Angel. Feeling like he wasn’t sure if this was what he wanted to do with his life, he went back into carpentry. It could only be best described by him. “Those three weeks back in cabinet making were the most miserable job experience of my life.” Feeling like the universe was telling him something, he went looking for a restaurant job again.

Ian Brandt, the owner of Sages Café and Vertical Diner called him back on his application. Ian started the vegan/vegetarian dynasty of Salt Lake and had a part time position available at Sages. Tom worked there for 2 months before Ian moved him to his juice bar–Supernatural Café. The concept was smoothies and meals where the ingredients were all fresh, all raw. Tom began experimenting with raw juices at home. The work at Supernatural, and his own practice gave him a deeper perspective and burgeoning interest in raw juices.

With a baby on the way, again the question of what to do with his life came up. Knowing that 20 hour days in restaurants wasn’t what he desired, he re-entered the music world. This time, not as a touring musician living like a vagabond, but a sustainable career in music focused on recording and editing. He also went back to school for musical composition and production. This occupied a good year and a half–all this time away from the restaurant scene.

While school is great, it’s also a money taker and not an immediate money maker. With that in mind, he needed a part time job. He had a friend who was serving at Pago and got him a job on the line. He liked the fine-dining, farm-to-table, wholesome food concept. It interested him with it’s modern takes on classical dishes. This got him excited about cooking again. This was a challenge, on a level that Tom hadn’t done before–really fast paced with a focus on presentation. He pushed himself and enjoyed the thrill of the rush. He worked at Pago for 8 months when he needed to return to school full time.

Part of his school requirements was a business class. I remember little from those classes but Tom took it in. One particular class taught him how to get a creative business started. His music studies focused on the theoretical standpoint–the building blocks (much like the prep work in cooking). The excitement about how to build a business with the knowledge he had gained, really intrigued him. Anyone who is of the Chef mindset, can’t sit still for long–either mentally or physically.

While dreaming and planning of what he could put together, he saw an opportunity in Ginger Beer. There was nothing like it–no market other than a international brand or two. And because it’s based on raw juice, unlike a soda, he could bring something new & unique to the food scene. Although Supernatural Foods (one stop on his culinary education) ultimately was boring, the passion he gained for raw foods and juices remained. He used his spare time (whatever there was) for business planning and to get in touch with his connections from the restaurant industry.

Many late nights and missed school classes later, we have arrived at Garwood’s Ginger Beer! When asked what makes this product unique, Tom responded that the only ingredients are organic produce and organic cane sugar. He cold presses the lemons–raw juice–as his flavor base rather than syrup or extracts. It is sweetened with a simple syrup made from the organic cane sugar.

Tom’s philosophy with his Ginger Beer is that by keeping the ingredients in their raw state, he is maintaining the full nutritional value and exposing remarkable taste. Ginger is incredibly healthy and has many nutritional and medicinal qualities. Oh and by the way, it’s delicious!

What’s coming for Garwood’s Ginger Beer? He is partnering up with Sugarhouse Distillery for promotion. Many bars use ginger beer as a mixer and Tom’s goal is to have it on tap as a non-alcoholic option. Giving tap space away for a non-alcoholic drink will prove a challenge (it already has), but Tom is prepared to move through those roadblocks. Nothing good ever came without work.

You will also find it bottled at Liberty Heights in April, 2015. They are also hoping for shelf space at Real Foods and they are looking into some Farmer’s Markets this summer.

I know Tom. I have cooked with him. To say that this guy knows food and knows the process would be an understatement. He has taught me so much. I have also tasted the Ginger Beer and mentioned it’s deliciousness above. There are a few ginger beer options in select stores. This could even be a lemonade with a kick–it has more lemon juice than any ginger beer I have tasted! You feel the stuff, it wakes you from your early afternoon grogginess. It’s healthy and a treat at the same time.

One fun story. Tom was making the ginger beer one gallon at a time. He tried to scale it up to ten gallons by simply taking the recipe and multiplying it by ten. It didn’t work; he didn’t think it would but gave it a shot. Being newly business minded and culinary-trained, Tom went back and re-engineered the mixtrue. Don’t those things in life that we think will be a simple change, not work out so? Tom learned and made it work; oh did he ever! Meet for a ginger beer anyone?

You can find Tom and his delicious drink of choice at: www.facebook.com/garwoodsgingerbeer
Instagram: @garwoodsgingerbeer
Twitter: @slcgingerbeer

Happy Drinking

Tomorrow Never Comes

In my early teenage years, I had a Sunday School teacher who a very dynamic man. His career had been one of financial success with business deals throughout the world. Many experiences in that arena and also with his family, had taught him some great lessons in life. He shared those with us more often than anything from the scriptures or handbook. He was kind, he was compassionate, he was wonderful. All these years later and some of those lessons still resonate with me.

He was also very heavy. Not that this mattered to us–it was just one aspect of his weight which he shared that I still remember. The extra weight he had carried for many years had really worn out his knees–they both needed to be replaced. In order for the doctor to replace the knees, he had to lose some weight. He was very open about always wanting to start tomorrow. Even though tomorrow is only one day away, it can really be weeks, months, years or even decades; it’s up to us.

For the last few months, tomorrow hasn’t come. I am not pretending to be Bill Murray in the movie Groundhog Day, but I keep telling myself that I will do something tomorrow. That something is writing. For those of you who follow me here on this blog, you know how much, and how frequently, I would post restaurant reviews, recipes and life lessons. It was all exciting and really lit me up inside.

Back in October, I wrote about how my column with City Weekly was ending. Print media has been dying a slow death for years and the wave finally hit this publication (not in it’s entirety but a good half of the columns are gone). This really hit me hard. I couldn’t believe that I had that opportunity–to get paid to review restaurants.

When this happened, my wife was working on a transition from being an employee to an independent contractor. This plan had been in the works for months and we were making it a reality. There was so much work for her to do; so many details that took a lot of time and emotion. I told myself that I would take a few weeks of not writing and get through the transition.

Well a few weeks later we were into the Holidays–time for me to do some cooking for Thanksgiving, then it was time for me to smoke 120 pounds of meat for our church party in December, then Christmas was here, then New Years, then a visit to Florida. And on top of that, the kids are young and busy everyday so there are many demands on my time. Real estate was on fire, leading to the busiest winter I have ever had. “As soon as I get these next few deals closed, then I back to writing” I told myself.

The days turned into weeks and then into months. We all have many demands on our time. On the show Restaurant Impossible, Chef Robert Irvine travels the country to help failing restaurants. He is quite fit and a reporter asked him how he stays in good shape with his busy travel schedule. He said that he gets his workout in each morning period–no excuses. Well I have been busy, but I also have been using a lot of excuses. It’s time to get things done!

This is my tomorrow. And like the first workout after a time away from exercise, it feels good!

And so I BBQ

 

Ribs N' Brisket

You know that feeling of not knowing what to do? You get introduced to someone and have no idea what to say. You commit to something and have no plan how you will make it happen. You want to break an old habit–or start a new one–and don’t know where to begin. It’s easy to get lost in the research. We can always wait for the perfect time–when the stars are just aligned. I even hesitate hitting the publish button on this blog at times thinking it’s not quite ready. I heard the story from Dan Miller of a guy he knew who took a job at a bank until he figured out what he really wanted to do with his life. 17 years later, he was still at the bank.

Well, my wife may never accuse me of doing too much research on something to pull the trigger. To take another line from Dan, I am a “ready, fire, aim” kind of guy. It may drive her crazy, yet we now know how to play to each other strengths–she researches and I pull the trigger.

This isn’t a column about the intricacies of how my wife and I communicate. If it were, I’m sure you would have already clicked off the page. It’s about taking a step even if you don’t know where that step will lead.

It has been a relatively short amount of time (29 months) that I have owned a smoker. That very first day I threw on a slab of beef ribs given to us from my in-laws. I don’t even know if I put rub on it. It was turn the heat on, throw them on the smoker, and hope that I would know when they were done. A few hours later they were done alright; and they were nasty! Was it a bad herd of grain-fed cows–sure! Was it also that I had no idea what to do–you bet! Here I had this beautiful smoker and I wasn’t even sure how to really make it sing & dance.

A few months after that first slab of ribs, I joined the Kansas City Barbeque Society; even taking classes on how to judge BBQ competitions. Wait a minute? I was learning how to judge the taste, appearance and tenderness of meat that I didn’t know how to cook myself? Well yes! They say that those who don’t know how–teach; and those who don’t know how to teach–write books for those teachers to use. All these years after college and that line finally makes sense.

Yes I felt hypocritical as I was being trusted with judging people’s competition turn-ins; people who put their whole heart, souls and money into this. But what I was really doing was finding out was fabulous meat looked and tasted like. I was blown away at that first competition. Wow, these BBQ contestants made some stuff that paled in comparison to any restaurant meat that I had ever tasted. From there I knew that I had to learn the fundamentals. It can taste good, but how? I never could have imagined what a process it could be.

From that very first judging class at the Casablanca resort in Mesquite, NV, a door opened. Casinos are built like labryinths to confuse and disorient. That way you spend more money. While looking for the ballroom where the class was to be held, I met a couple who were obviously looking for the same class. We struck up a conversation and ended up sitting next to each other inside. That turned out to be Ira Pupko of Hog Heaven BBQ Co. in Temecula, CA. His help with my ribs and pork shoulder would become invaluable.

The spring after becoming a certified BBQ judge (again, the irony had not left me by this point), I was judging the KCBS Sam’s Club Invitational and heard someone at the table next to me say that Pat from Pat’s BBQ was there. The very next week I was eating lunch at Pat’s, saw him in the hall and 15 minutes into conversation later we had a tentative agreement to BBQ together. He really is an institution around Salt Lake and I learned some valuable insights from him.

For my birthday in summer 2014, my wife got me one of the greatest presents ever–a competition BBQ class. Rub Bagby from Swamp Boys BBQ in Winter Haven, FL was coming to Salt Lake for a competition and he was bringing his Q school with him. Yes it was over 100 degrees (thankfully we were in a covered picnic area) but here was a guy who has won the Jack Daniel’s National–a big deal in the BBQ community. I was the novice there as everyone was part of a team–a team that competed. At first they seemed a little confused as to why I was there; I shared their confusion. By the end of that second day, they were teaching me so much that I could keep up. Now I have standing initiations to come and be part of their BBQ team during competitions. No better way to learn.

I love Rub’s humility. He is a school teacher in Florida and could not buy his way into BBQ like so many try–all the meat, equipment and travel is expensive. If you have loads of money, why not just spend some serious cash and get famous that way? That approach rarely works in life. Rub took a few extra bucks each month, bought meat and practicing cooking. He joined forums–getting involved with like minded individuals. The single best thing he taught me was this: “how bad do you want it?” You can do anything if you want it bad enough. He went to competitions and got his butt kicked for years before his BBQ career really took off.

How many of us are afraid to jump in the ring because we are afraid we will lose or not be perfect? You learn more by getting in the game than you do by researching the same game. I have been guilty of “I’m not quite ready yet” or “I just need more time.” You know what you want, just go for it–you will be delighted at what you will find!

 

I Write for Fun, and for FOOD!

Belgian Waffle Inn Breakfast

The Title of this article might sound a little arrogant or self-serving. That is far from my intent. When I began this journey in 2011, it was to keep an online journal of recipes. From there it morphed into reviewing restaurants. Not for pay but for fun. I remember the looks the waitresses gave me when I would pull out my camera and snap a picture. One even said, “are you trying to make someone jealous.” My reply: “you have no idea.” I was trying to make everyone jealous. Isn’t that the point of social media?

It was when Siam Orchid first contacted me to come in and review their food that I felt the reach of the platform. When I wouldn’t post for a few days, I would get messages wondering where my next review was. And then came City Weekly. What a great experience to write a column for them almost weekly for 2 years. Not every good thing lasts but every good thing does open new doors, it’s just up to us to walk through them.

What I did love about writing for a well-known newspaper in the Salt Lake area, was that I had near instant credibility. When I would contact a restaurant, it was typically a warm welcome, a chance to eat a few entrees, and to hear the owner’s story–oh how I love this–not just writing about the taste and quality of the food, but the journey. Some restaurants never returned my call–I wrote anyway. Some contacted me and thanked me after the column was published. Some even told me the reaction to the article: how one place sold out of food for the few days following the publication (thank you Charlotte Rose’s Carolina BBQ); another had a noticeable uptick in business for 2 months after the article came out (thank you Alice’s Restaurant); another contacted me and said that I must have a lot of followers because they didn’t know where the business was coming from–until someone showed them the article (thank you Bosna); another offered to have me work there for a few days or weeks if I wanted to write a much more in-depth feature (thank you Fiana Bistro).

The highs in life don’t always stay that way forever. It was sad to me when driving through downtown Salt Lake last week that Good Dog was closed. I loved their gourmet hot dogs and getting to know the owner, Josh. In late summer, another personal favorite closed, Charlotte Rose’s Carolina BBQ. Maybe it was road construction, maybe it was a tough location. Maybe it was part of the large percentage of restaurants that don’t stay open for even a year. Whatever the reason, it’s hard to see Trae not have his place anymore.

I love pulling for them, for the little guy, for the food, for the passion. It’s difficult to watch some not make it. I admire that they tried and hope to see their next place again soon. Until then, it’s always interesting to drive with me–i’m always looking around around saying, “what restaurant is that,” or “hey, that place looks good.”

Smokin Chicken N' Ribs

On that note, time to get the brisket and ribs prepped for my growing infatuation with BBQ.

Happy Eating

 

And So I Swim, and Hurt

During the summer of 2013, I hired a swim coach. Improving my aquatic ability was something that I longed for yet didn’t get around to for a while. I wrote about my experience here. It was a lot of work and led me down the path to my primary form of exercise today.

Swimming is quite enjoyable for me now, especially since fine tuning my form with the  coach. I use to try to jog but found that pure misery. About 4 times a week, I am at the Rec Center to get my exercise. The pool is 25 meters long and when I started with the coach, I couldn’t go 100 meters without a break. At the beginning of the lesson, you were afraid that you would drown; by the end, you were afraid you wouldn’t.

As time has gone on, I have continually pushed myself. I started with taking a break every 100 meters. Then I got up to 200 meters. Then 300, 350 and finally 500 without a break. Now I must interject here, these lengths are nothing for some of you on swim teams or performing triathlons, and I understand that. For me, I am a natural sprinter so I am hitting it hard with each stroke to feel accomplished. Plus I am not training for the Olympics. At 36, I kind of think that ship has sailed. For the first time in my life, I actually like exercise.

Now my workout is 1000 meters in approximately 30 minutes. It was 32 minutes a few weeks back but my last time was 27. Now earlier I mentioned how I push myself. I think that this is good for all of us but we need to know our limits. Two weeks ago I went for a swim. We had all been sick as a family and I was just starting to get better. I had not been in the pool for a week and, knowing that my energy was low, I was really trying to pace myself–for a moment. A few hundred meters in however and the demons of self destruction took over.

At 500 meters (my usual rest time), I thought that I didn’t need a break and would be proud of myself if I went further than before without a rest. At 800 meters, I really was starting to feel the wear. Remember, my body was recovering from illness. At 1000 meters I had the crazy thought of why not swim further than I ever have? A few weeks back, I had swam 1100 meters but 1000 was my usual stopping point. At 1150, I thought that I should go 50 more to make it an even 1200. Finally, at 1200 meters I got out of the pool. Was I awesome or what?

Not quite. You know that “it hurts good” feeling after a workout–the one where you pushed your body and got your endorphins going? Yeah, I didn’t have that! I hurt bad. I knew that it wasn’t good the way my joints and overall body felt. It felt foreign to me and was a little scary.

It has taken nearly 2 weeks to feel decent again. It was as if the oil warning light went off in my car and I said, “well, let’s get to our destination quicker and then I will look at the problem.” Bad choice. My wife says that I have a sickness of never feeling like I have done enough. Because of this I run at super high octane and then burn out. And when I am burned out, I can barely get the basics done. There are things to embrace about this cycle, but it can be limiting.

I don’t just do it with swimming, but with work, with writing and with projects. Going at full speed and checking things off my task list is a rush that I love. The problem is that I rush the rush and leave many things out; things that I need to go back and fix later. So many times I have pushed the PUBLISH button on this blog and then read it–oops, should have proofread that sooner.

It’s so foreign to me to actually take things at a decent pace. But for the first time in my life, it feels like I am getting things done right. There are less items being checked off my list and I am also realizing that it’s better to have less on the list, and to make those things remaining count. If you juggle six things, you will do them all poorly.

When on a particular day a couple weeks after my 1200 meter death sprint, I told my wife that I was deciding whether to go swimming or not because my body ached, she replied with this: “If it were anyone but you, I would tell them to go and enjoy, it would be good for them. But since you aren’t capable of that, I would tell you not to go.” Oh I went, maybe to spite her and maybe not (I’ll never say publicly) and I took 8 minutes longer to swim my normal distance. Did I feel like a failure because I took longer? Well yes, at first. But surrendering what doesn’t work, even if it is a lifelong habit, is incredibly relieving.

It’s kind of exhausting rushing through everything. Hopefully a little lesson about pacing myself and enjoying what I do–from an exercise session in the pool–can be applied to all aspects of life.

 

 

The Old Dutch Store: Insulate my Heart for Winter

Old Dutch Store, Sandwiches & Soup 1

In the Netherlands, there’s an old folk belief that a layer of fat around your heart keeps you warm and happy throughout the winter. And though the concept is contrary to current health trends, food that contributes to such a layer certainly tastes good.

The Old Dutch Store on Highland Drive sells traditional foods from the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia that will make you happy. In addition to chocolates and sweets, the shop boasts a deli counter with soups and specialty meats and cheeses.

I ordered turkey, havarti, tomato and lettuce on a wheat roll—and, following Dutch tradition, I passed on all condiments except butter. Americans know that butter is great on toast, and now I know it’s wonderful on sandwiches, too.

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