The Paths of Friendships


My life is usually one straight line with ups and downs I can manage. Well, it was until problems with family began to surface, and I had to find help. I placed my family first, and that choice became an inconvenience for my friends. Suddenly, I had to choose between spending time with them or my family. I couldn’t make parties because I was simply emotionally exhausted. Life happens. It was a choice I made.

During this time, I found that some friends became passive aggressive and angry because they were not in control, and I found that friends became angry when I took a different path because my life fell onto a different journey than what they believed I should take. Some friends even became passive-aggressive bullies and did not even know it. They’re still my friends, and I love them, but our journeys at the moment take us now in different directions.

I accepted this fact that friends can take different paths and drift apart until my mom passed away this summer, and Gabe had a pretty bad health scare, and then life went into complete chaos. I learned about friendship. I learned that there are people out there that you know who aren’t competitive with you and have no desire to judge you. It was a freakin’ enlightenment. I learned that a text or an email brightened my day and made me laugh or at least assured me that someone cared instead of that deadly and awkward silence.

I learned that a friend can be someone I can text out of the blue about what is bothering  me, and that friend will text snarky comments to make me laugh, and I learned that a friend can be someone who writes you an email or a message to ask if you are all right or just invite you for a run.  I might not respond, or I might just write, “Thank you,” but it means a great deal for someone to reach out.

I’m not perfect. I’ve been in the situation too many times when I did not know how to respond to a friend and even family who I knew were going through hard times. I’ve been the judgmental person, the gossipy person, and the competitive person. Yes, karma is going to kick me in the butt big time. Well, it is kicking me in the butt now, and I totally deserve it. However, I can learn from it now, just as I did when I was in my 40s and dealt with the “poisonous friend.” You know, it’s that friend that used me for her own advantage and dropped me when she was done. They do exist.  I’ve also learned to spot the passive aggressive and controlling friend, who controlled me through being extra nice through passive aggression. I think it’s way of survival for them.  After all, my passive aggression and my controlling issues were a means to survival, too.

Out of some hardships that have come into my life, I’ve learned about myself and who I choose as friends. Now, I’m at the point that I don’t want to waste any more time trying to make people happy or worrying if I made them mad or even trying to figure out how to make myself happy. It’s simply time to enjoy my life, to have some fun, and grow into a soul at peace. That’s where I am right now. I’m at the point that it’s time to start enjoying life with family and with friends before life runs out. It’s time to start living.

Finders Keepers by Monica

Even though my blog is about health, I like to add reviews of places that I really like, and Finders Keepers by Monica is one of those places that I love to visit. It’s location is on Main Street in Downtown Garland. Finders Keepers by Monica

Collage of Outfits and Jewelry at Finders Keepers

People always ask me where I buy my clothes when I wear a fun outfit—not the running around in my workout look, but my “I actually wear nice clothes” look, and I tell them about Finders Keepers by Monica. It’s a boutique store in downtown Garland. I have no idea how Monica chooses the clothes, but she has great taste with the cut and style, so they look great on anyone.

Love the Jumpsuit
Cool, peace sign sweater
Love the cover-up
Angel Wing Necklace
Matching Earrings with the Angel Wings

The jewelry is also one of a kind by a local designer, Karin Wiseman. She hand makes every piece, and they are beautiful.

Butterfly Necklace. Beautiful.

She also takes antique pieces that her clients give her and designs them into pieces that can be worn today. She told me that one time a client brought her  a relative’s antique jewelry and said it was just sitting in the drawers and not being used. Karin Wiseman designed the pieces so that they could be worn today, and when the client saw them, she started to cry. It made me think of some antique pieces that are sitting in my drawer.  Hmm.

Now, for the refurbished furniture by Monica. . . I brought a more than 50 year old dresser into the store—well, I actually donated it because I wanted to get rid of it because it was really ugly. I walked into the store about a month later, and there it was. My dresser.

Refurbished. Painted. It was beautiful, and you bet I have it my house now. I had no idea that old furniture could be turned into something beautiful. Shame on me.

I had a friend tell me  that every woman needs that secret location, that secret boutique, to buy one of a kind pieces of interesting and fun clothes and jewelry.  I think my friend was right. So, here’s my secret . . . Go to Finders Keepers by Monica.

I think it’s time to pay a visit.

Address: 915 Main St. Garland, TX 75040

Phone: 214-641-5602




The Brave Athlete: Calm the F*ck Down and Rise to the Occasion

Have you ever stood on the shore of a lake and stared into the calm water in absolute terror because you are getting ready to start your swim workout in open water? I’m not even talking about a race scenario; I’m talking about a training swim. Do you tend to screw up your nutrition in races due to overthinking? Do you start freaking out race morning and wish you never entered the race? Well, I can answer honestly to all those questions with a resounding, “Yes!!!” and add “What the heck is wrong is with me?”

Well, Simon Marshall and Lesley Paterson have the answer in their book, The Brave Athlete: Calm The F*ck Down and Rise to The Occasion. According the them, it’s my “chimp” side of my brain bullying and taking over my “professor” side. Love it. It’s a great book that not only helps the crazy athlete first understand what is happening but also provides ways to coerce both “chimp” and “professor” to live in harmony. Please note that this book not only applies to athletes but to anyone who is putting off huge goals, unrelated to sports, in their lives—that would be me, too.

The book begins with a warning, “To all the confident, motivated, well-balanced, and happy athletes . . . This book isn’t for you.” Do those people really exists? I think not.

The main breakdown of the book is in the first chapter with an explanation of the chimp vs. professor brain. A brief explanation in my own terms is that the “chimp” side is the flight or fight mode and acts on instinct and also is the loudest, especially when you are pushing your body. It’s the bully, and it will take over the “professor” side of your brain, the logic side. One of the best pieces of advice in the book is to not fight the chimp side because the chimp will win every time. It’s true. Totally true.

The book is divided into four sections: The Basics, Heart, Wings, and Fight. Each section, such as Fight, which is about leaving your comfort zone and learning new battles skills, is filled with chapters that offer solutions to distract the chimp side so that the professor side can step in and say something logical like, “Ellen, you will not be eaten by a shark because you are swimming in a lake.”

Well, I’m still standing on the edge of the lake, and the chimp side is talking to me, “Ellen, you know bull sharks live in lakes, and what about the snakes and the alligators?” Here’s where the solutions come in to balance out the chimp and the professor, and these solutions really work if you apply them.

For example, in the Heart section, which is about finding your motivation, your “why,” I used an exercise that helped me get out the door. In this section, the authors acknowledge that as athletes, we usually don’t have a problem setting goals; the problem is actually doing them. Yep. Here’s my chimp, who is saying, “Are you really going to swim the entire course?” or “Are you really going run 10 miles? Seriously, there’s not way.”  Marshall and Paterson suggest to bring in that professor side to distract the chimp, who is in pure nasty mode because you are planning to push your body out of your comfort zone. The professor side says, “I’m only going to swim to the buoy and turn around.” or “I’m only going to run to the two-mile rest stop and turn around.”  The chimp is distracted, and you walk out the door.  Well, we all know what happens. Once you’re at the workout, you usually complete it, but you keep telling your chimp, “Hmm. Just one more buoy.” or “Just one more rest stop.” It works. I did this exercise for a 10 mile run, and I kept telling my chimp that I was running to a rest stop. Total distraction.

The last section, which is called Fight, offers some golden distractions for that chimp in chapters like, “I Don’t Like Leaving my Comfort Zone,” and “I Need to Harden the F*ck up: Learning to Embrace the Suck.” Solutions range from thumb tapping and counting during a run to mantras during a swim. Yes, these solutions do work. Remember, you are distracting that chimp when the chimp yells, “Your calf is about to explode and separate from your leg. You need to stop on this hill. Just walk up it.” Yes, my calf did cramp up on a hill on mile nine of ten, so I tried a visualization exercise with an app that the authors suggest to use for breathing, and I found myself laughing, and I ran up the hill.

That breathing app is one of about five apps that Marshall and Paterson suggest using for distracting the chimp. Most of the apps are free, and they work with visualization or, really, let’s call it what it is, “meditation.” There is one app that I bought for $3.99, and it the app that made me laugh when I was running up that hill. It’s called Breathe, and it looks like some psychedelic light show to help your breathing, but it works. I thought is was stupid until I used it on that hill to quiet the chimp, who was begging me to stop.

Some of the best chapters are about prerace day and race day.  I tend to have the best freak-outs the night before a race. In fact, it’s just part of the planning. That’s the chimp inside me taking over and doing a head game. The authors have great solutions for distracting that chimp,  including giving the chimp a voice for 15 minutes the day before the race to just go berserk with crazy thoughts. Only 15 minutes. Then, you allow the professor to step in and answer the chimp. It’s all about balance and distraction. I can get used to watching a movie the night before a race instead of freaking out, and my family staying far, far away from me.

So this book is a great read, and you can skip around and read parts that pertain to you. It’s different from other self-help books because instead of saying, “Just do it,” which Marshall and Paterson emphasize does not work, as well as those other motivational mantras on Facebook, it gives you tips to help you actually chip away at your goal and not let that chimp rule your mind. Overall, you can’t fight the chimp because it’s part of you, but you can distract it.

So, I’ll still be standing at the edge of the lake and thinking about the swim, but at least I will have some solutions. They are working for running, so it’s time to try them out on the swim and the phantom sharks, who live in the lake and in my chimp brain.


Tribute To My Mom

As many of my readers already know, my mother passed away on a cruise ship last Monday, July 2, 2018. Her Memorial Service was today.

Thinking about my mom, I am grateful that she introduced me to reading for pleasure. She was an avid reader, and she saw how bored I would get with children’s books. She introduced me to Stephen King when I was twelve years old. Today, that introduction does not seem like a big deal because kids are exposed to adult issues at a very young age, thanks to social media and Netflix. Back in the Dark Ages when I was twelve, we had books, the kind that you held. Back in the Dark Ages, I found out about sex, like graphic sex described in detail, by reading Stephen King.  My mom took a risk and let me read adult books, and little did she know that she would set me on a path as a writer.

I remember she had two bottom shelves in her bedroom that were filled with Stephen King and Dean Koontz, and she said you could read any of these books. That was it; I became lost in stories of horror, and I ate it up. I had no idea that people actually made a living about stories that were scary and so much fun to read. I started with, of course, Salem’s Lot, then Carrie, then The Dead Zone, and just kept going. Two books, The Shining and The Stand,  showed me the power of words and how a writer could master a technique in words that could just slam the reader. In The Shining, there was a scene that involved animal topiaries–you know animals cut in shapes from bushes. They moved if you looked away from them, and they came closer. Think of the Weeping Angels from Dr. Who. That whole scene involving those bushes cut into animals gave me nightmares. In The Stand, it was a sentence that made me almost vomit, and it was simply a sentence that described  how a character overdosed on pills and choked on his vomit in his sleep, but the way it was written came out of the blue and hit me in the stomach.

As I read stories that entertained me, I began to look at the layers underneath the stories. I learned about symbolism. I began reaching for other writers, and mom introduced me to Harlan Ellison and my favorite line of all time, “I have no mouth, and I must scream.” I remember in high school, I loved writing papers about Virgil’s Aeneid (I had to translate the damn thing) because I was able to connect the symbolism and the foreshadowing underneath the plot. To this day, the books I enjoy are those with layers, and the television series that I enjoy are those series with layers and a complete running story from beginning to end. Blow my mind. I want A Game of Thrones “Hold the Door” moment, where I did not see that end coming. It’s little wonder that I pushed myself to earn a Ph.D. in Humanities with a specialization in Literature and wrote a book that was filled with symbolism.

So thinking back about my mom, I can say that she introduced me to the power of a good story and set me on a path as a writer. That’s something to be incredibly grateful for–to be set on that path of creativity.

I will miss her.

Review: InknBurn Stars and Stripes/Happy 4th of July

INknBurn:  Love These Clothes!!!

Running shorts that look like denim and can breathe through the Texas heat? No chafing or riding up the thigh and no fidgeting with the fit?  And a sports bra that holds everything in place and matching singlet?

Here are the links to this outfit:

Star Denim Shorts:

Stripes Sports Bra:

Stripes Singlet:

I tested this outfit for 10 miles in the Texas heat. My run was awful, but what a joy it was when people passed by me and said, “Cute outfit. Where did you get that?” or “Is that InknBurn? Do you like the four inch shorts?” or “You know, denim shorts are not the best clothes for running.”

The shorts do like denim,  and you get a bunch of second looks when people are trying to figure out if you are running in blue jean shorts. Add the colorful singlet and matching bra, and you have a killer workout outfit to keep you going uphill at mile eight in the Dallas heat.

Did I mention that I wear InknBurn for Pilates, Weight Lifting, and even going to the store? Sure, I love this company because their workouts clothes are functional and cute, but the real reason is that when I put on InknBurn, I feel  either stylish or I feel like a bada$$–well, it depends if I’ve had my coffee.

Here’s the website and happy shopping:


Dallas Morning News Feature: Blast From the Past

Here’s a blast from the past from an article from The Dallas Morning News about quick workouts:

It popped up again today as a feature for workouts inside in the air-conditioning and out of this Texas heat.  It’s great timing because it’s almost 100 degrees in Texas, and these workouts are great for working out inside, where the cool air is blowing.

Leslie Barker, Senior Writer for Health and Fitness for The Dallas Morning News, wrote this article, and I was so happy to be contacted and featured. That’s me on the cover, and I was terrified about how I would look for the video and photos. How silly. It was a great experience. Enjoy the article.


That’s me for a section from the video. So fun!!

When You Have a Bad Run

When you have a bad run, you either turn around and say, “Screw it,” or you just keep going. For injuries or dehydration, use common sense and turn around or get some help. For mental breakdowns, push through it, and that’s what I did on my long run over the weekend.

I had one of those runs where everything went wrong. I think I had mentally blown off the run because it was a low-distance week for marathon training, and that meant a short run of six miles. Well, six miles without your running group at 5:30 in the morning, without your water stops, and without the group motivation is a very long and very boring six miles.

I had to make my rest stop my house, so that meant two loops. I forgot my water bottle, which is major act of stupidity in the Texas heat. Of course, I forgot it because I was too busy fiddling with my headphones, which broke the first half mile. Going out for that second loop when I was home was quite difficult with all the mental whining and “I’ll do the run tomorrow” excuses.

The bad runs make you mentally tough for race day. You just push through it and stop the mental games. Easier said than done, but it’s a process to change that stinking thinking.

Giving Up Diet Coke

So I might have a little issue with Diet Coke. I drink it on and off, and then it builds to one per day, and then I add in more per day if I am stressed out. Soon, I substitute it for water until I realize I have to detox again. What in the world? It’s Diet Coke. It’s not that big of a deal, but it is. When I get off of it, my face clears up, my sweet tooth fades, and all that water I hold, comes off. That’s just for me.

I started drinking Diet Coke in high school or maybe I started in college. I don’t know. I just know it was always there as a comfort: it helped soothe my anxiety when I wrote undergraduate papers, and then my dissertation, and, finally, my book. It helped settle my stomach when I went to Friday classes after late Thursday college nights, and it settles my stomach now after long runs.  It’s that carbonation and sweetness that hits the spot of any hunger that I have. Add that caffeine to the mix, and that’s a powerful drink, filled with memories and jolt of happiness.

As I detox once again, here are some substitutes that I use:

Unsweetened Green Iced Tea: It’s caffeine loaded, and you can sweeten it any way you want. Plus, it tastes really good when you are thirsty.

La Croix Water: I like it because it’s carbonated and a good alternative if I want something to settle my stomach.

A Big Gallon Jug of Cold Water: There’s nothing like ice cold water to satisfy that thirst.

Nuun Tablets: I throw about three of these tables into my gallon of water the day before a long run in Texas, especially during our summers. The tablets help with dehydration. I’ll start drinking the water with the tablets the day before my long run, and then bring it with me for after the run. It really helps. Oh, and the tablets make the water carbonated. Some of the tables are caffeinated, another bonus.

These products are what I have used and will continue to use to detox off Diet Coke yet again. Will I drink another Diet Coke ever? Sure, I will. What I have to watch out for is that I drink them in moderation, like once a week, as opposed to every day because then it starts to become an addition again.

Good luck to you in your own Diet Coke Addiction.




InknBurn–My Two Cents on Some Cool Workout Clothes

My InknBurn Outfits

I like this brand of workout clothes called InknBurn:   The fit is flattering and fun, and it’s comfortable. I started wearing the brand about a year ago when a running friend told me about it. I bought a pair of shorts and became hooked. It’s pricey compared to what I would pay, but the brand is worth the price because the colors do not fade even with all my sweat, and the fit is great. The 6 inch and 4 inch shorts don’t ride up and neither do the shorts in the running skirts. The bras and camisoles don’t chafe, and the singlets and long shirts are comfortable. I have not bought a short-sleeved shirt yet, but I have my eye on a Medusa design.  I really like the capris and tights because they’re not all black and boring; there’s some cool designs. The clothes are fun to wear. I also wear them to the gym for weight lifting and to Pilates reformer classes. I’m hooked on the brand. I usually look for the sales and the new designs that come out usually once a month. However, I have to be be quick because if the design is popular, it sells out fast. There are also designs on Poshmark and Ebay, but I have to be fast because if it’s an older design or anything related to Star Wars, it is snatched up quickly either to be worn or resold on Ebay for double or triple the price. Yes. Those designs can be very popular.  Workout gear doesn’t have to be all black and drab; it can be comfortable and fun.

Seasonal Depression Sucks


Seasonal Depression Sucks. It’s called S.A.D. Yes, it is sad. It’s depression. It’s not happy.  For me, it hits in January to the end of  February. By March, the sun starts to come out , and the weather gets warmer.

Don’t tell me to snap out of it. Um, you don’t snap out of depression. You are not cured overnight. It’s a process. I know that depression is a part of me, and I refuse to be in a constant battle with it. Life is way too short to be at war, fighting your inner demons, all the time.  I acknowledge the depression, give myself a break, and then slowly start using my coping devices to work my way out of the funk. Yes, it’s sometimes chocolate.

Don’t tell me how to get over my depression. Don’t give me any advice. I’ve had depression long enough to know what it is and when it hits. I know what to do. But there’s the rub. When I’m depressed, it’s hard to get out of it because I’m depressed with a huge weight sitting on me. It’s a slow process. I have the tools, but  when it’s hitting me, it’s hard to get off the couch and go for that run. It takes baby steps. There is no snapping out of it and no overnight cure. If anyone tells you that there’s an overnight cure, that’s not depression.

Let me take my baby steps. Do not pressure me. Writing is part of the baby steps I take. I am acknowledging the depression, accepting it. Once I accept it, then I can start taking my steps. Of course, working out is another baby step, including working out outside even when it’s cold. Who wants to get out in the cold? Getting my light box out is another step. I know I need to get that light box out of the drawer, so I will. I’m taking those baby steps to climb out of the hole.

Don’t judge me. I advise you not to judge me or anyone else for your own sanity because of the simple rule of karma. If you don’t know what karma is, then look it up. I’ve had karma kick me in the butt so many times when I have judged that my booty is really sore. And karma is a hard kick in the ass. Of course, karma can come in a good way, too.  That’s what you want to focus on–karma returning good experiences to you.

I can only speak about myself because I have been dealing with depression pretty much since high school, and I’m way out of high school now.  I’ve had years and years and years of therapy and still am in therapy. It’s a process. I’m fine, and I have the tools.

Most people are like me when they are dealing with Seasonal Depression and maybe even their own depression. If they have lived with it all their lives, then they know when that depression raises its ugly head; they know what to do. However, some people have no clue about it. If you happen to find someone who is struggling and cannot figure out why, then suggest help for them. You’ll  know it because you’ll feel those red flags in your gut. However if you encounter someone like me and notice that my personality has become darker than what it usually is, and my personality is pretty dark and dry, then know that I’m good. Yes, I will appear as a bitch until March, but then the sun will come out, and all will be right with the world again, well, maybe not the world.




Bad Mother Runner