Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Sorting through documents, I found this thing I'd written about my Nana shortly before she died.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Last night my mom told me my grandmother has 2 months at the very most. I was supposed to go see her today but hadn't the energy left to drive there and back tonight. I felt absolutely terrible, but I got to talk to her on the phone which made me feel a thousand times better.

She was baptized this morning as a Catholic. For 20 years she's been a Protestant in a Catholic family and I am so happy for her. She was very sad and emotional on the phone, but she was so happy to be baptized this morning. That's so wonderful for her.

She told me how she'll always love me and everything you'd expect from your dying grandmother. My throat caught when I had to say good-bye though. Last time I saw her, I knew I'd get to see her again. I'm going home tomorrow, but I don't feel so sure anymore.

I want to remember her forever just as I saw her the last time on Easter. You might have seen a sick old woman lying in a cold hospital, but I didn't. She was so beautiful to me and so amazing. She was a vision of perfection that day, and I could swear she was an angel. Perhaps it was the white gown she wore and the white lights around her in the room or my memory exaggerating and perfecting as it sees fit, but I don't think so. She glowed with that inner light which I've only seen in a few people I'm close to.

The love I felt from her in that room, surrounded by all her children and grandchildren and her husband was so strong and enveloping. I don't know if you would have seen it, but the world did not exist outside of us.

I want to remember my Nana shining as she did that day, with the light of the love of her family, all flowing and intermingling and connected to all of us.  I want that image burned into me forever.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Fun at Fugitive Fitness

Last night I had a great first Functional Strength class at Fugitive Fitness - Parkour Dallas. I've done a couple Parkour Foundations classes there, but the scheduling is sometimes tricky, so I wanted to check out the strength class.

Since no one else signed up for that hour, I got a one-on-one session with the instructor and a personalized workout. It was very challenging, but I *just* completed it in the allotted time.

I definitely could have gone heavier on the deadlifts but wanted to start conservatively because I don't practice them and had never seen the large ball weights before. I rocked the push-ups (no knees!) with only minor wormy-wobbling near the end. Hated the crunches but got through with only a very few poorly done.

My resistance band pull-ups were admittedly pathetic, but I've never attempted nearly so many at once, so I'm okay with what I managed—especially since I did keep going until the end and did more than a shoulder shrug on every rep.

I should try to find more creative ways to do core work since it is definitely my least favorite.
I definitely want to attend more parkour classes, but I think I'll also attend the strength class again.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Eat a damn vegetable

If you’re at all like me, then you’re also one of the 9 out of 10 Americans who don’t eat enough fruits and veggies and for whom no amount of PSA messaging is likely to change that.

The reasons hardly matter, be they access, preparation, taste, or disinterest. There’s no need to judge ourselves harshly for this “failure” either.  I’m sure we all have enough other stress in our lives—between work, training, commuting, kids, partners, art, chores, volunteering, activism, etc.—that fretting over finishing your peas just isn’t worth it.

But (again), if you’re at all like me, then you probably also go through cycles of trying to increase or diversify your veggie intake—a week, a month, or more at a time, you might find the motivation and determination to make it happen. Even then, it may take A LOT of energy to plan and execute.

Here I share some ideas for the in-between times when you have interest in getting more produce but have limited time, energy, desire, or funds. These are my favorite ways (or “hacks” if this were a clickbait listicle) to eat a damn vegetable, specifically simple ways to sneak them into my usual diet.

  • Fruit smoothies: Preparing your own breakfast smoothies is an easy way to get both fruits AND veggies. My go-to recipe includes 1 or two bananas, a handful of baby spinach, ginger, granola, almond milk, vanilla yogurt, and a scoop of vanilla protein powder (because I also struggle to get enough protein). The great thing about spinach is that it has a mild flavor easily covered by the other ingredients and adds a lot of important nutrients to the mix. Pinterest of course has a lot of recipe suggestions, and you can add any variation of fruits and veggies that you like.
  • Frozen Steamfresh veggie and protein mixes (or whatever brand you like): Technology has come a long way such that flash-freezing produce is the norm, and the method preserves nutrients just as well as canning. Supermarkets offer lots of tasty vegetable mixes, some with light sauce or seasoning and/or added protein items. And you can just throw the whole bag in the microwave for five minutes and pour out a fresh, hot bowl full of veggies. Hawaiian style is my favorite: whole grains, shelled edamame, carrots, pineapple, and white beans with a pineapple ginger sauce.
  • Baby food: I actually got this idea when I was pet-sitting my sisters’ sugar gliders once. They get a tub of baby food each day, but I splashed a bit when I opened the food and licked it off my fingers without a thought. Turns out that baby food fruit and veggie mixes are freakin’ delicious (especially when chilled). So I buy the pouches with a cap from the grocery store to snack on during the day, and I get a wider variety of produce than I’d ever buy and prepare myself: pumpkin, squash, beets, and even kale masked by yummier things like mango and raspberry.
  • Subscription boxes: I don't know yet whether I'm recommending these, but next week I'm starting my free trial of Blue Apron, so I'll be back to write more about it.
Balancing your eating habits doesn't have to be a chore and doesn't require cutting out all sweets and restricting your favorite foods. Just add some variety and nutrients when you can.

What are your favorite ways to prepare and eat fruits and vegetables?

Friday, April 14, 2017

Ego and Fragility

[CN: Weight loss, surgery, assholery]

I subscribe to a weekly e-mail list that provides creative art prompts for the whole year. One week’s e-mail frivolously lauded weight loss:
“Back in November I had a major surgery.  One of the positives about that was that I lost 26 pounds.  I have needed to buy a lot of new clothes as a result.  Last weekend, I ran out of room in my closet because I was still hanging on to my pre-surgery clothes.  In order to bring anymore new things into my closet, I was going to have to let go of what didn't fit anymore........I was going to have to release what was no longer serving me in order to make space for wonderful new things.
“That experience left me in a week of inquiry about other places in my life that I needed to do some releasing.  What else could I let go of that wasn't serving me?  People, thoughts, feelings, behaviors, stuff.......what needed to go to make room for new possibilities?  The best time to do releasing work is during the full moon energy....which is now!”

After hesitating and revising a few times, I sent the artist some feedback:
“Weight loss (and lauding it) is a very serious topic that can easily trigger those who’ve dealt with weight cycling, body dysmorphia, and eating disorders, which are far more common than most know. I'm disappointed there wasn’t a content note at the top of this week’s e-mail to give readers a heads-up. It would have been just as easy to tell the story without going into the weight loss info; it’s common for people to hold onto clothing in older sizes that no longer fit and to need to buy new clothes, no matter whether larger or smaller in either case.”

https://ssl.gstatic.com/ui/v1/icons/mail/images/cleardot.gifHer response?
“M, I don't appreciate your lecture.  If you have been triggered by my subject matter I would suggest communicating with your therapist and take steps to self regulate.  Attempting to shame me is ineffective and of no value.
“I had most of my stomach removed. The weight loss was secondary. The point of the post was about letting go. Im sorry you missed that. Blessings.”

Since she decided to be a major asshole, I decided it wasn’t worth my time to respond. I wasn’t triggered. My point is that such dialogue is actively harmful to others. I’m sorry you missed that, lady.

A short, fair and dispassionate critique is not ‘an attempt to shame and lecture.’ If I wanted to lecture and shame you, I’d strongly suggest you practice letting go that aggression, self-centeredness, smug attitude, self-righteousness, and ego. But that would be ineffective.

It isn’t fucking about YOU, lady. Oh, wait. You’ve just clarified that this art prompts workshop that you’ve SO generously provided is NOT, in fact, about guiding, inspiring, teaching, or lifting up others or building community—it is only all about you, almighty art guru.

Oh, boy. And then she went and posted this to the Facebook group for the e-mail list subscribers/participants:
"Hey ya'all. A little mercy please. There are occasionally typos and errors in my emails, things that make you uncomfortable, etc. It isn't necessary to email me before dawn to tell me I'm imperfect....I got five today. I already know and I'm ok with that. And you are responsible for managing your emotions if something triggers you. Attempting to shame me or project your shit onto me...Never ok."

I sent the message at 10 a.m. CST, and she responded within minutes. And she generally sends the prompts at 3 or 4 a.m., so I don't know what that is about. But if FIVE people tell you there’s a problem, maybe you should think about the people you’re hurting.

And talk about projection. The irony: it burns us.

You don’t have to put up with people being inconsiderate and deliberately being jerks when asked to think about it. And you probably ought not be giving regular advice about self-reflection that you cannot take.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Running for Geeks

I’d loved running since I started doing it in 2010, but after my December 2016 marathon, which was miserable, I was blistered, beaten down, and burned out. Now I’m in this weird running purgatory. As of this writing, I’ve run seven times in 2017 and maybe one or two times more than that since the marathon, and most of all that was walking intervals.

I knew it would take several weeks to heal from the physical pounding of such an event, but I hadn’t imagined how long it might take to heal mentally and emotionally. Knowing that it’s not uncommon for a runner to find herself in a bit of a funk and needing a short break or recovery season doesn’t make it easier to deal with.

But instead of worrying over it, I’ve spent the down time lifting weights, developing a personal yoga practice, walking more, fighting zombies, and hatching Pokémon. The Pokémon Go and Zombies, Run! apps got me through the most mind-numbing miles or marathon training, and I have faith that they will help me find the drive to run many more.

Competition is a great motivator, and sure, you can invite friends or coworkers to challenges like logging the most steps per day on FitBit, but that doesn’t interest me these days. I need more creative and interactive fitness-driven games.

So I find myself absorbed in collecting a virtual zoo. In addition to spawning wild monsters, the PoGo app spontaneously distributes eggs to hatch into Pokémon, achieved by walking or slowly running 2K, 5K, or 10K, depending on the egg, up to nine eggs at a time.

Zombies, Run! is an interactive, narrative audio game about YOU saving the world from zombies, mad scientists, lions, and rogues all while collecting supplies to expand, upgrade, and protect your virtual home base. The writing is absolutely brilliant, and the cast of characters is delightfully diverse, including many women and queers, with those identities being merely incidental not integral to the plot itself. Each time, I can barely wait for my next mission; the engaging story always has me wishing I could run more miles or minutes to find out what happens next.

Combining North Texas’ bizarrely beautiful spring weather of late, that Team Valor “gotta hatch ‘em all!” attitude, and the encroaching apocalypse, I’ll find the joy of running again soon enough.

Friday, March 17, 2017

New Ambassadorship — Bullet Dodged

I got started running when I joined a women’s walking club in early 2010. One ultra marathoner in the group tried to talk us into signing up for a 10k that summer. We peer-pressured one another into all registering and started running to prepare for that race. And we all did it.

I’ve been hooked (off and on) ever since.

Edited on March 22 to add: A much later confirmation e-mail indicated ambassadors are expected to re-share Run4Life posts twice a week, submit a blog post monthly, and participate in a running event monthly (and would receive a t-shirt and maybe some other miscellaneous branded gear). Which seems excessive. And is expensive.

For comparison:
  • The year-long ENELL ambassador program provided two sports bras, a tech t-shirt, a long-sleeve tech shirt, and a cool tote; paid for three race registrations; and required that I write about those three events and tag/reshare ENELL on social media, though no set number.
  • Moosejaw sent a tech t-shirt, bumper sticker, flag, can koozie, and discount codes in exchange for posting photos of myself wearing the shirt and holding the flag at races and tagging them, no set number.
  • BondiBand requested a 3-month commitment, social media tags, and monthly blog or video posts and sent a pair of compression socks to review (which weren't great) and paid a commission on all sales made via my personal discount code.

Since Run4Life's ambassador program was new, I asked in the ambassadors Facebook group what inspired the requirements for ambassadors and received a  response about someone's illness inspiring the founders to share/promote their love of running. I said, "Thanks, I find it interesting that the social media and racing requirements are more than the other three brand ambassadorships I've completed ... combined." And I was deleted from the group without a word for two days until I reached out to ask about it.

Chat transcript:

Me (Moniqa): Hi, Jeff. I don't know if Facebook is being glitch or what, but I'm having trouble finding the ambassadors' group. Do you have a link for it? Thanks.
Jeff: Moniqe, We decided that our group was not a fit with you.
Me: And is there a reason you chose not to discuss that with me or even inform me of this decision?
Jeff: I just informed you.
Me: Yes, after I sought you out. That is very unprofessional behavior. Please remove my content from the Run4Life site/blog.

Though I'm irritated with this behavior, I'm ultimately glad to have dodged the bullet of providing so much free labor and content for a brand that definitely doesn't offer the "encouragement," "guidance," and "community" it claims on its banner.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Discrimination is NOT a Texas value

I'm sharing the wording from my recent letter-writing efforts to state and national legislators/politicians for those who want ideas on where to begin. Do feel free to borrow my ideas and wording and get shit done.

Dear Gov. Abbott,

As a native Texas, I oppose SB6. Transgender people pose NO threat. Trans kids need our protection, not discrimination.
It is egregious to use me and other cisgender women like me as an excuse to discriminate against other Texans. We don't need potty police protection, and this bill would have the exact opposite of its intended effect: NC has seen an INCREASE in assaults against women by citizen vigilantes who think the HB2 bathroom law gives them license to attack any woman who doesn't look "feminine" enough for them.
Discrimination is NOT a Texas value.