Progress: A close up of the vegetable garden

Can you believe it’s already the last day of May? I think our garden is doing better than it ever has in the past. I thought I’d share a close up of the little bit of progress that it’s made since planting at the beginning of May.

First up, tomatoes!

In the past we have ended up planting way too many tomato plants and can never use or get rid of all the tomatoes they produce. So this year we chose three different varieties- one being an heirloom. The other two are traditional tomatoes. I opted not to plant any cherry tomatoes because we can never eat them all. We also opted not to plant any roma. I haven’t liked the roma’s that we’ve had in the past. For some reason the skin on them always seems too thick and tough and it’s just not my cup of tea.

We planted quite a few peppers this year but made some changes in that department as well. I planted 2 green pepper plants because I love green peppers and use them in so many recipes.

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As you can see, we’ve already got a few peppers forming. This is kind of worrying me because I’d like the plants to be a bit bigger before they start producing. Is this going to be a problem and cause the plants to stay small rather than fill out?

The past couple of years we have planted anaheim and yellow peppers as well as tomatillos. We decided against them this year because we’re just simply tired of them. Instead, I opted to plant poblanos!! I’m really excited about this. I see chile rellenos in our future. Yum!

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Last year we planted beans and they didn’t come up, so I was pretty delighted to see that they were working well this year. I did one thing different. I soaked the bean seeds in water overnight before planting them this time. I’m not sure if that made a difference but I guess it didn’t hurt. 
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Broccoli!

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We tried cauliflower before and it never worked out. Of course, we didn’t really read up on the proper care of the plant, so I think that was our problem. This time we decided to try broccoli. From what I read, broccoli needs plenty of water to be successful. They have a shallow root system, so you have to be careful not to let your soil dry out. Broccoli is also a heavy feeder and needs nutrient rich soil or fertilizer. We are anxious to see how they do.

The carrots are up as well.

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And clearly needing thinning and weeding.

This little guy is my butternut squash.

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Why is he in a pot? Two reasons: I’m experimenting at trying to keep the slugs away from him. Also, because there wasn’t room for him in the garden. I’ll most likely have to move the pot somewhere where he can really spread out as he begins to grow.

Luckily slugs have not been a problem just yet. Last year we planted a cucumber and it was chewed to bits by the very next day.

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We haven’t had a problem yet and I’m hoping it stays that way.

I always love to have zucchini in the garden. It’s such a versatile vegetable and I have no problem using it all up. What I can’t, use I shred and then freeze, to use later in zucchini bread or chocolate cake. 
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Do you know what this is?

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It’s Kale! We discovered that we actually really like kale this winter. We got some in our Bountiful Basket and after adding it to a couple of soups, decided that we needed to have it more often.

Spinach.

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Just barely starting to come up. No lettuce this year. We haven’t had any luck finding a variety that has a good texture and tastes well, so we chose not to plant any and just focus on spinach.

Peas of course! You can’t have a garden without some yummy snap peas.

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And peeking up behind the peas is the corn.

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Last but not least are the potatoes.

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We didn’t plant these this year. They are coming up from last year if you would believe. They look pretty good, so I’m excited to get digging in there and see what we’ve got. Potatoes are such an easy thing to plant and so nice to have from the garden.
The only thing that hasn’t come up so far are the green onions. I also didn’t plant any sunflowers this year out of laziness. They are gorgeous but are kind of paint to clean up. Although we have several sprouting sunflower seeds leftover from last year so I could just technically let them grow if I really wanted to. 

So there you have it!

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We’re happy with the progress the garden is making but a little nervous that it will all go to crap when we go on vacation at the end of June. But all in all, I think this is shaping up to be one of the most successful gardening years. We’ve come a long way from the first raised beds we had and we are still feeling that we need to make the garden bigger!

Are you a gardener? What do you plant? Do you have a big garden or just rely on pots? What’s your favorite vegetable from the garden?

PS- Tomorrow marks the first day of the June Salad Challenge. Are you ready?

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Her Reads…an update

I am still loving my reading challenges and I think I’ve gotten over feeling guilty about reading all the time. It’s rare to find me without a book these days and I think that’s the way I like it. I’ve also been taking advantage of audio books while I’m at work and that has been awesome!!

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Remember when I talked about the new books I picked up from interlibrary loan last week? Well here’s the verdict. I sent The Visions of Ransom Lake back without finishing it. I only reached chapter 3. I took the amount of times I rolled my eyes in those three chapters to be an indication that the book was not for me. That’s not to say that it was a bad book. It’s got great ratings and reviews on Goodreads. I just couldn’t stomach it. I think if I’m going to be reading westerns they’ve got to be a little more believable and not so fruity.

And Divergent? Finished that in two evenings, reading after dinner. Then I went online and used a gift certificate from Hastings that my sister gave me and bought it…plus Insurgent. Looking forward to diving into that one but I’m going to take my time since it will be awhile before book three comes out. I’ve accepted that I’m a sucker for dystopian novels. I’ve also accepted that it’s very trendy right now to be a sucker for these. Oh well. I like what I like.

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Ahhh cozy mysteries…my new found love. Where have they been all my life? My challenge this year was to read five. I know I’ll exceed that, but once I hit five I’ll take a break in order to catch up on my other challenges. This time I picked up The Hydrogen Murder by Camille Minichino & Miss Zukas and the Library Murders by Jo Dereske

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I’m also still making my way through 1421: The Year China Discovered America by Gavin Menzies. There is a lot of great stuff in this book. It’s not a book you can read when you’re not totally focused on it. I can only read it when I don’t have other distractions. Plus, I like to take my time looking up his references and reminding me of the history behind everything he’s talking about. I will usually read a page or two and then hit the internet for more information, before reading on. Needless to say, it may take me several months to get through it. 

Anyone want to recommend a book to me that has a topographical feature in the title, now that I’ve dumped ‘The Visions of Ransom Lake’? Also, what are you reading lately?

June Salad Challenge

I’ve decided to join in with the June Salad Challenge hosted by Oh She Glows this month. That means that I’ll be making salad for lunch or dinner every day in June.

The only difference between my salads and Angela’s will be that hers will be primarily vegan and mine won’t.

My plan is to embrace variety. Anything goes. Just think of the possibilities! Fruit, veggies, grains, protein, and noodles even! I’m also allowing myself to prepare something to go along with the salad- so the salad could actually be part of a greater meal.

We’re still going to be getting our bi-weekly Bountiful Basket for a couple more weeks, so it will be interesting to see how I’ll be able to use all the surprises in our basket to make the following weeks salads. I’m excited to get creative with it.

There’s only one thing that I’ve decided about this challenge- it won’t apply to dates. So if we go on a date, we can choose to get salad or not, depending on where we are eating at.

I’ll be kicking the challenge off this weekend. I’m already on the hunt for some great recipes, but if you have salads that you love, please share!

Her Weekend

The long and glorious weekend has come to a close. I know some people had all sorts of travel plans, but for the most part, we lazed around home. We did a few fun things this weekend, but I completely forgot to take pictures when it actually counted. So the only thing I have to post is the random Instagrams I took. ps- you can follow me if you’d like. Username: hersunday

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Hope you had a nice Memorial Day!

Her Favorites: Books from my childhood

I thought I’d mention a few of the books that made me fall in love with reading as a little girl. There are so many more though, I may have to do a part 2 of this post!

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My grandmother has the box set that includes all the little books like Tales of Peter Rabbit & Tale of Two Bad Mice. I loved those books and they were the first thing I dug out of the closet when we went to visit her. I keep looking for my own box set that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg because I’d really like to have these books. I think my grandma’s set will most likely go to one of the other grandkids. 
I had the complete set as a girl. I’m hoping they’re in a box somewhere but they may be lost forever. I loved the magic of these books. They are the first books that made me fall in love with the fantasy genre.
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Hmm. I’m starting to think that my obsession with series started at a young age. I own almost all of these books. The Hitchhiker was my favorite of them all. It ends with a piranha pit. Can’t get any scarier than that! My sister, on the other hand, read R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series, which we also watched on TV on occasion. I used to stay up late curled on my bed under the blanket, with a flashlight and these books, and nearly scare the pants off of myself. 

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Space Witch by Don Freeman (also the author of the Corduroy books) 
I absolutely loved the story of Tilly Ipswitch who decides to travel to outer space with her cat. I was captivated by stories of witches thanks to movies like The Worst Witch. Wasn’t that a great movie? 

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I have no idea what first drew me to this book but I must have checked it out from the Summit Elementary library a hundred times. I kept going back for it and reading it again and again. I was always disappointed when I would go to the library and find that it was already checked out. I started hiding it on other shelves just to ensure that it would always be there for me. I think I found her strength and her journey totally compelling and inspring.
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This is a wonderful book. The story is sweet and funny and the illustrations are fantastic. Imagine my delight to find that Andy had read it as a kid too and that his mom still has a copy of it. Another example of a child being independent and taking care of himself. I was always drawn to those types of characters.

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I loved Berenstain Bears books but this one was my favorite. Again, the illustrations and the slightly frightening storyline (well frightening as a little girl) excited me. 

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Another series love. I wouldn’t be a typical girl in the 90s if I hadn’t read at least one Babysitter’s Club book (and also tried to start a Babysitter’s Club of my own.) In fact, I owned several of these books. It was, of course, Mary Ann who I identified with the most, but I always wished that I was more like Dawn.

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Another fantastic children’s book. I found a reprint of it and it’s great but I really wish I had an original copy. It’s a story about a cloud and the wind who eventually become friends. Again, wonderful illustrations. 

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Little Golden Books were a staple at our house, as I’m sure they were in many homes. So many of them I loved, but this one sticks in my mind the most. It’s a story of a little girl who never cleans her house, so it finally gets up and walks away. It seems that cleaning my room was a constant battle between my mom and I while I was growing up. I used this book to remind me why my mom was so adamant on taking care of my possessions by putting them away each day. It worked, because my mom’s habits of cleanliness and respect for the things that we own is a big part of who I am today. She always taught us that we can show our gratitude for the things that we have been blessed with by taking care of them.

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My fascination with far off places and traveling started at a young age. This book fueled that interest. It’s the story of a doll and the journey that she takes around the world, the exciting things she sees and the many people who own and love her along the way.

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One of my favorite authors. My copy of this book is well worn and used. I’m not even sure how many times I’ve read it. 

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Mr. Men & Little Miss books by Roger Hargreaves
Loved these books, the silly characters and the vibrant illustrations. I found a complete set of them at a used book sale here on campus a couple of years ago and bought them all up.

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Yet another series that I devoured as a kid. And what drew me to it? The character’s independence and ability to look out for themselves. That seems to be a strong theme of my childhood. I know the reason for this so it doesn’t surprise me that these types of books were favorites of mine.

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An absolute favorite and another that I can’t count the number of times I’ve read it. I adored Claudia Kincaid’s ‘brilliant’ plan for running away and living at a museum. This book began my fascination with museums and history. I owe a lot to this book.
 That’s a lot of books! But there are so many more that I’ve loved over the years.
What’s one of your favorite childhood books?

lately

I’m on a photo kick lately. I’ve shared nearly 150 photos with you this month and there’s still more to come. Life lately is just chugging along. But that’s a good thing. I’m grateful that our life is peaceful right now. This is what our life looks like most days:

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Our life pretty much revolves around our furry babies. They run this joint.
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I have no idea what happened to my lovely plants but I’m suspecting they’ve been mowed down by Ash in her haste to run to the gate.
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Baked lemon tilapia for dinner, wedge salad covered with french fried onions for lunch.
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I have two of these planters on either side of my front bench. I’m hoping the sweet potato vine does as well as it did last year.
So we have motion sensors on the lights in our office. The only problem is that they can’t sense me from where I sit. Today I’m here alone and every five minutes I have to get up from my desk and walk to the middle of the room to make the lights turn back on. So annoying! I think it may just be easier to work in the dark all day long. It’s going to be a long day.
PS- Please tell me something else I can use to edit/host my images instead of Photobucket. Preferably free. I am so over Photobucket’s inability to function properly. I use Photoshop to edit  when I have access to it, but I don’t have it at home so it’s a little hard.


Let’s just chit chat today.

* I say a lot of things like ‘chit chat’ that seem to get me funny looks. I also say ‘good grief,’ ‘oh, for Pete’s sake,’ and ‘gee wiz.’ I know. It’s not at all ‘cool,’ but I can’t help it. My future children are going to be so embarrassed of me. I purposely use these phrases when I’m teaching dance, just to make the younger kids laugh. It’s a silly way for me to make the point that they need to try harder. Let’s say we’re doing pirouettes and they turn the wrong way for the millionth time. Instead of getting frustrated, I will say, “Oh, for Pete’s sake, girls. You can get this right. Even Pete knows you can,” and then they will start laughing and almost always get it right the next run through. They know when I ‘talk funny’ that it’s time to step it up a notch. Although sometimes this backfires and they do it wrong just to make me ‘talk funny.’

* Are you on Spotify? First I convinced the hubby to get on there and now I’m going to convince you. I listen to music pretty much all. the. time. so Spotify is awesome. I’ve even pushed Pandora to the wayside in favor of it. The only thing I don’t like is the sharing feature. I don’t need everyone seeing that I listened to Lady Gaga four times in a row. What? Don’t tell me you only listen to ‘cool people’ music all the time and I’m the only one who cues up Gaga once in awhile.
* These two books came from interlibrary loan today. I’m 185 pages into Divergent already. I know I’m a little late to the party, but you guys were right- it’s good. I’m also aware that I have an obsession with trilogies of any kind (or series in general) and also an obsession with young adult fiction and now dystopia. I’ll never grow up when it comes to books.

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* Speaking of series and convincing my husband to do things- so far I have gotten my husband hooked on the following book series: Pillars of the Earth, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, Hunger Games, The Eye of the World, Game of Thrones, The Maze Runner, and Ender’s Game. Our conversations these days go something like this:

Me: “Oh my gosh. You have to read this book. It is SO GOOD…”
Him: “It’s part of a series, isn’t it?”
Me: “Yes…but it’s SO GOOD!”
(For some reason I have this uncanny ability to choose books without even knowing that they are part of a series, only to find out later.)
And then he groans saying that he’ll never get through all those books, especially if I keep introducing new series to him. I’m thinking I may have to introduce him to Divergent next. muawhahaha!

*I’ve discovered how much I like wedge salads. Although I typically substitute the blue cheese for ranch. I like blue cheese crumbles but I’m not big on blue cheese dressing.

* So I was on Pinterest a lot for awhile there. Like a lot, a lot. I was on it so much that I finally had to create a brand new account because my pin boards were getting so full. But the minute I created the new account, I suddenly had no more desire to pin. So everyone is still gushing over it and some people are just discovering it and I’m totally over it. You can still follow me though if you want. I may get hooked again. My old boards. My new boards.

*If you’re not watching Up All Night, you really need to. Hilarious. But watch from season 1, episode 1. You’ll enjoy it much more. I promise. We are also hooked on Grimm and for the love of TV, I really need Walking Dead back immediately. Also, I had to call a help quit line to stop my obsession with Downton Abbey. Don’t judge. I swear I never watch this much TV. Graduating college did something very bad to me. Ooh- have you seen that new cooking show, Around the World in 80 Plates? Me thinks I need to watch it. Plus the Bachelorette is back on.

I suppose I’ll get on with my day now.

What do you plan to do with your Tuesday? Any random chit chat you’d like to share with me?

Her Weekend

Back to Monday but it was a good weekend while it lasted! On Friday and Saturday I had dance recital to attend. This year I taught first and second grade tap/jazz combination classes. The girls did great and I was really proud of them. We went to dinner Saturday night after the matinee but I was just so worn out that all I wanted to do was come home after and go to bed. 

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{1st Grade Class} 

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{2nd Grade Class}

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{a goodbye gift from a student} 
I was hoping for a decent night sleep but that wasn’t in the cards. Ashland woke us up with the sound of constant flapping ears. She’s been having ear issues where it’s like there is something in her ear and she can’t get it out. As a result she will walk around the house shaking her head and flapping her ears. It’s very loud and when it wakes her up in the night, it wakes us up. Poor thing just couldn’t get any relief. 

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We don’t have kids, but we were up at 2 in the morning as if we did have them. It takes both of us to get the medicine in her ears and clean them out. She usually starts to feel better and can fall back to sleep after about 15 minutes. But then of course I couldn’t fall asleep. I tossed and turned all night long. 

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By Sunday morning I felt like death warmed over. Andy suggested we head to Einsteins for a bagel and then hit the trail with the road bikes. I agreed hoping that some exercise would wake me up a little. 

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The ride was great. We only did 10 miles but it was just the trick to make me feel better. Speaking of bikes- do you like our new door mat? We couldn’t pass it up when we saw it. 

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Pilates every day this weekend helped me keep my energy up. After I tried that Pilates class on Thursday and was disappointed, I came home and searched around online for some good videos to do at home. I really love a group exercise atmosphere but decided to take matters into my own hands. 

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For the last three days I’ve been following along with Cassey at Blogilates and I love her workouts! They are super challenging but upbeat and fun at the same time. I also subscribed to her blog so I can keep up with new workouts as they come out. Her workouts are just what I’ve been looking for. If you want to try Pilates, her basic workout is a great place to start. On Sunday night we watched the eclipse through the welder’s helmet. It was really cool. You can see some great pictures of it here

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{attempted picture of the eclipse} 

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{another attempted picture} 
Oh, and I also made blackberry crisp which we ate while watching a movie!

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Photobucket{after the movie Henry said it was time for bed}

What did you do this weekend?

Saturday Meal Planning

Picked up another Bountiful Basket this week and I’m still lovin’ it! $15 for all this. You can’t beat that. I love how fresh it is and the variety of stuff we’ve been able to try each week. Not sure how far into the summer we’ll carry it. Probably another month or so. We’ll have to see how our own garden does. 

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So this is what we came home with this week:

6 Bananas (I’m having fun getting creative with the using all the bananas we’ve gotten recently-but we still love just plain old banana bread)
2 Red Pears
11 Apricots

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Package of Blackberries
2 Lemons
Honeydew Melon

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1 Cucumber
2 Green Peppers
5 Carrots

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Cauliflower
6 Ears of Corn
5 Tomatoes
6 Yellow Onions

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I also have: 
Leftover Jicama
1/2 bag of red potatoes
Mint

Recipes planned: 

Baked Lemon Tilapia 
Cauliflower Gratin
Roasted potatoes with lemon & dill (from Real Simple Magazine)
Quinoa Stuffed Peppers
Apricot & Almond Rice (from Real Simple Magazine)
Fresh Corn & Tomato Casserole
Grilled Chicken & Corn Salad with Avocado & Parmesan
Orzo & Cucumber Salad
Basil Spagetti with Cheesy Broiled Tomatoes
Chopped Greek Salad with Pita Chips
Corn on the Cob with Garlic Butter
Potato Salad with Bacon & Parsley
Turkey Burgers with all the fixin’s
Hibiscus and Mint Lemonade
Blackberry Crisp

What are you cooking/eating this week?

It starts today

Growing up a dancer, I’m accustomed to driving myself physically. I need to challenge myself physically in order to find be fulfilled. 
But I’m also lazy. I fall into ruts of inactivity. I make excuses.  I feel guilty. I crave that physical drive again and eventually I get myself moving.  It’s a bitter and very unsatisfying cycle
I want to be physically active and feel healthy EVERY DAY. I want to take care of my body. If I die young, I don’t want it to be because I didn’t take care of my physical health. 
For me: physical health brings mental health. When I feel good….I feel happy. It’s a wonderful way to LIVE. Physical health includes feeling strong…feeling flexible…feeling mental peace. It’s about eating good food, staying active, enjoying the outdoors, and having fun
I have been sedentary too long. I feel that drive pumping again. I want to challenge myself physically again. But this time..I don’t want to stop. I want it to become a way of life. I want it to be a bigger part of who I am. I want it to be important all the time- in action, not just thought. I want to stop thinking about it and begin doing it. TODAY.
How do you drive yourself physically and what motivates you to keep going?