Category Archives: Kristin

Sometimes Blooming is a Bunch of Dooky (and some Fabulous Friday GF cookies)

Since Laura’s last post, I’ve been thinking about what success means to me. And my inspirational gem is:

Sometimes “bloom where you are planted” is a bunch of dooky (yes, I said dooky).

Back in 2006, Nick bought a vanilla orchid cutting. For those of you not as nerdily awesome as my husband, a vanilla orchid is a vine on which vanilla beans grow. They need hot, humid, tropical climates. You know, just like Iowa. The vines typically grow to be 10 feet long before they are ready to flower, and then the flowers last only one day (and are usually hand pollinated). And – voila – you have an expensive vanilla bean!

With Nick’s plant magic, the vine actually grew and we started dreaming of financing graduate school with our mini vanilla farm. Nine years and 20 feet of vine later, still no flower. Because (gasp), we don’t live in the jungle and don’t own a tropical greenhouse.

Property of Kristin Giuliani

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It has taken me three decades, but I finally have a grasp on my gifts and talents. I am creative, spontaneous, laidback, and compassionate. I can reroute a derailed plan with ease. I am a global thinker who can uncover the most unlikely connections to build my case. I love creating and unconventional projects and letting the girls skate on a thin layer of flour sprinkled on our kitchen floor.

But.

My brain cannot grasp organization. Setting and maintaining a routine is about as easy for me as running a marathon (or a 10K). I am not a natural cook. I get overwhelmed by too many choices, so trying to plan meals takes me hours and hours. I can handle detail, but in small doses. Planning ahead and sticking to the plan feels like walking through a giant vat of rubber cement. Keeping my schedule straight, without even adding in the schedules of four other people, is exhausting.

Property of Kristin Giuliani

So, if you can’t already see where this is going, I am that vanilla orchid. In this particular setting of my life, which demands way more organizational acumen than I possess, I will never bloom without constructing a completely artificial environment around me.

Over the years, I have tried hard to bloom. I vacillated between making minute-by-minute schedules for every single day and throwing my hands up in surrender. I tried every organizational tactic, method, and fad. The not-so-subtle message drenching womanhood is that you can (and should!) be organized if you just learn how. If I could just get the time to finally get everything organized, I thought, my problems would be solved. I wasted so much time and energy trying to become organized like the rest of my non-ADHD friends with Pottery Barn-like houses that I lost myself. My unique gifts were suffocating inside all my disorganized organizational bins.

But this past fall, I hit a low (for the third time in seven years). I let everything go. Clutter filled every horizontal surface and we ate lots of painfully expensive gluten-free mac-n-cheese.

As I crawled out of the gutter, I realized it wasn’t that I lacked the time to do everything, I lacked the brain capacity. I finally acknowledged my limitations and embraced my strengths.

Property of Kristin Giuliani

In the last few months, I have found a (mostly) happy medium. I recognize that we have an uncontrollable, demanding schedule where Nick is largely unavailable and all three girls need to see medical specialists on a regular basis. I stopped consulting to seek work with consistent weekly hours. I clean less than I would like, but everything has a place (even if it’s a teetering pile in the corner of the kitchen). We enforce consistent dinner and bed times, but everything else fluctuates daily. The girls have weekly chores and are not allowed to keep something unless they can find a place to put it (even if it’s a teetering pile in the corner of their closet). We only eat mac-n-cheese once a week.

Property of Kristin Giuliani

I am a happier, more creative person, but there are still days where I lose it. On my bad days, I worry that my chaotic way of doing things is stressful for my routine-needing girls, and that they will leave home not knowing how to be functional adults. On my good days, I trust that by respecting my gifts and limitations (and not screaming at them on an hourly basis), I will be able to help them become confident and creative enough women to fill the gaps.

I may not be able to bloom right now, but I can grow. Perhaps not as quickly as those orchids in the jungle, but the growth is there. And, I can even offer a completely different kind of beauty – evergreen beauty during the gray Iowa winter.

So here’s my measure of success instead:

Grow where you are planted and recognize that sometimes, blooming is just pure dooky.

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Property of Kristin Giuliani

 

Aside from the first snow of the season (for which the girls have been waiting since MID-JUNE), my Fabulous Friday this week is my proud creation:

Property of Kristin Giuliani

Kristin’s Awesomely Soft and Chewy Grain-free, Gluten-free Totally Unhealthy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 stick of unsalted butter (at room temp)
  • 3/8 cup each of brown and white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ¾ teaspoon of baking soda
  • 2 1/3 cups of blanched almond flour (Honeyville brand works the best – Bob’s Red Mill can be too grainy)
  • ½ to ¾ cup of chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk almond flour, baking soda and salt together. In a separate bowl, cream butter, sugars, and vanilla together. Add eggs one at a time and beat until light and fluffy. Add flour mixture and beat until well combined. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by tablespoonful onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Bake 9 – 12 minutes, until just starting to turn golden on top. Watch them carefully so they don’t burn. Let cool on the sheet for 3 – 5 minutes before moving them to a cooling rack. Enjoy! Do NOT store them in an airtight container – they will get soggy.

Property of Kristin Giuliani

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The Untapped Power of 1 Hour, 3 Minutes and 55 Seconds

So, I ran my 10K on Sunday.

It was so much better than I thought it would be. Although let me just say that I still hate running, I still felt like puking and I still am not good at it.

But I did have one intense moment as I started up a hill nearing mile three. And I started to cry.

Yes, cry.

I, Kristin, who did not cry when saying goodbye to my best childhood friend as she moved away, or at my graduation, when I left for college, when I got engaged or married, or at the birth of any of my children, cried in the middle of a 6.2 mile race called The Chocoholic Frolic.

Photo by Amy Brand
Photo by Amy Brand

As I pushed up the hill before the 3 mile mark, I could hear a growing cheer from the runners in front of me. It rippled back toward me, swallowed me up and rolled on back to the runners behind me. Lagging slightly behind the cheers were the forerunners of the 10K (you know, those people who finished in half my time). They slammed into our cheers and flew past us, focused intently on the end goal. At that moment, a single sentence burst into my thoughts:

Feel the power of humanity striving toward a common goal.

And I let out a sob. A legitimate, audible sob.

Yeah, I don’t know what happened. That has never happened to me before, and it caught me completely off guard. Perhaps I could blame it on the perfectly timed crescendo of the refrain of Kryptonite from my Live Pandora station with the crescendo of the cheering crowd of runners. Or perhaps, the physical and emotional fatigue of preparing for something challenging made me particularly vulnerable.

But really, I think it was the thrill of feeling the power of 1000 people working hard to accomplish something personally challenging all together, and cheering each other on rather than fighting for notariety. And then, the profoundly sad realization that this power remains largely untapped.

The rest of the run, I couldn’t help wondering what our world would be like if the collective we approached injustice, suffering, conflict and pain with that same fervor, excitement and willingness to run together. What if we all recognized the naturally gifted leaders, and cheering, followed them despite the hard work it is for those of us less gifted? What if, instead of fighting to be the winner and garner our own followers, we put aside our egos and were willing to work together, albeit imperfectly and messily, toward a common, challenging goal?

Think of the impact. Think of the beauty. Think of the change we could bring about. The potential was suffocating to think about.

As an extreme introvert, it was a humbling run to realize how much I need community. I can’t do it myself. And why should I, after witnessing the power of many? We let so many unimportant details hinder the bigger, more important work. And in the name of being right (or at least making sure others know we think they are wrong) we lose the potential to make a real, tangible difference: to bring the healing and reconciliation we are called – and created – to bring.

Property of Kristin Giuliani

One hour, 3 minutes and 55 seconds after I started my race, as I dry heaved across the finish line, trying desperately not to throw up all over the volunteers passing out chocolate bars, I made a promise.

I will listen more, enter into the messy work of community more, and watch intensely for ways open up my arms and ask others to join me.