This quote was in an email I found in my inbox this morning

“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived.”
––Gabriel Marcel

The one consistent exercise that each human being faces worldwide is change. We know all the ways we resist or attempt to control change, but how can we instead embrace change or partner with it? The Inuit people have a wonderful saying, “There are two plans to be honored every day: my plan and the Mystery’s plan.” How can we equally value, hold, and make space for both plans to co-exist everyday? How can we become change masters, a term originated by Rosabeth Moss Kanter? A change master approaches change as an adventurer, explorer, or discoverer. Research indicates that most of us will finally change under two exaggerated conditions: either we cannot stand or tolerate the situation, issue or circumstance any longer, so we will change; or we want to experience something that has such a passion for us that we will go for it, no matter what it takes. Both of these are extreme motivational processes. Change masters instead face and understand change as a natural daily process that creates constant openings for growth, learning, and psycho-spiritual development.

Adopted from Walking the Mystical Path With Practical Feet by Angeles Arrien

It’s really relevant to feelings and circumstances in my life right now and I thought it was worth sharing.


Push the envelope, watch it bend

Well, I haven’t updated this blog in a while because I haven’t made time for it, and I’m not going to make any excuses about that.

Today, though, today was phenomenal. I told my mom that I would volunteer at an Autism Awareness Walk. It involved waking up quite early on a day I usually reserve for hiking and/or cooking something nice and COMPLICATED!

But I woke up early enough. I got out and helped out in any way I could and it felt amazing. The walk was organized by a group called POAC (Parents Of Autistic Children).

I loved it. Showed up around 9 am with my mom and dad. Met the people who ran the show, Gary and Shannon. Shannon was the Vice-Prez, but she was totally in charge as far as I could tell. As we were unloading food stuff from the rented U-Haul, I jokingly said, “Hey, I’ll take the huge cooler!”

It was big enough for me to crawl into and fully loaded. Prrrrrrooooolly around 100 lbs. Shannon was like, “Well, I’m gonna help you with it!”

And my mom was all, “Oh, I think Frank (my pops) and Gary should get that!”


Shannon and I carried the huge cooler to exactly where it needed to go. And she didn’t doubt for a second that I had the strength to carry it. That’s all I needed. The rest of the day was CAKE.

I am stronger than I look, muh’fuggers. GRR/1\\\!

Side note- I thrive on that. I loved working at Princeton, where they were like “oh, hey, go and build an adapter to make this 40-pin square IDE connector interface with a 32-pin round connector. I know you have absolutely NO experience with electrical engineering, but go ahead ad DO IT!”

Or when I was volunteering in Pisco, Perú, and they were like, “Go on ahead and climb onto that wobbly bamboo scaffolding with that jackhammer and knock down that brick shit house! You go girl!”

So I fawkin DID ITTTTTTTT, Mannnnnnnnnn.

My point is.. tell me I can do something… anything, really… and I will go and try my darndest. And I might just succeed. Most likely will, actually. Right now, though, I don’t have a whole lotta people telling me I CAN. The few glorious individuals in my life who are pushing me are ringing out loud and clear, though. Love yas.

Side note- I just sat in some peanut butter and it’s a little bit sad.

So I spent most of the day overseeing the butt of this giant inflatable alligator, as young children (autistic and non) pushed their way through the bouncy obstacles within. One kid, who I loved, kept relaxing on one of the alligator’s taste buds. After I first asked him, “Are you just chillin?” He kept announcing “I just wanna CHILL!” as he reclined on one of the alligator’s air-filled taste buds.

The Alligator bouncy of which I spent 4 hours manning the ass.

It was a great day. Nice weather up until it started raining when it was time to shut down anyway. I let way too many kids rush into the ass of the alligator while listening to various parents tell me how absolutely amazing my mother is. I watched her carry three huge bags of trash through the rain while all the rest of us were huddled beneath the safety of the pavilion or long gone. Mama rawks.

I felt great when I was looking at a T-shirt designed for the sibling of someone with autism and said “Oh, I don’t have a sister. And definitely not an autistic sister.” Then an incredible sweet 13-year-old volunteer told me that “Anyone could be your sister.”

And then all the baloney noize in my head stopped spinning around, and I just looked this 13-year-old boy in the eye.

Annnnnnnd, *SIDE NOTE*- after hanging out with actual 13-year-old kids today, I realized that when I say “Aw man, I went to an all-ages show last night and it was fulla 13-year-old kids,” they were probably actually 18-22 year-old kids. I’m OLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLD


Anyway, I looked at this kid and realized that he gets it. Anyone can be my brother or sister. You all are, actually. And he reminded me. Real bright kid.

This same kid, by the way, ran out to his mom’s car to get me a pack of gum after I asked for a slice. Really gives me hope for the future. Wonderful pack of children. Parents are certainly doing something right.

Generally, today made me remember how much I absolutely love working with kids.

Recently, I’ve been feeling very down on myself. A lot of people I graduated college with have earned their Ph.D’s in the past couple of months (and I’m incredibly proud to be their colleagues). I used to stand in front of the mirror, pinching every inch of fat I could find on my body and squeezing my pores. Nowadays, I look in the mirror and ask myself why I’m not a Doctor yet. They’re equally destructive. Hating myself will not benefit anyone.

Today helped me to move beyond that and realize that I’ve chosen a different path. On that path I’ve made some significant connections, some with autistic children who continue to melt my heart with every knowing glance. Or ANYONE who is just hurting or misguided and needs someone a little bit stronger to guide them, because I’ve been in those dark places and I know how lonely it can feel. You’re never alone, guys. That’s not even possible. I’m right there.

I may not have any impressive letters following my name, (which I’m already proud of), but I have learned how to heal and inspire others. And there is something telling me that I am exactly where I need to be right now.

You’re all my brothers and sisters. Ya-yah- hippy-dippy, but it’s TRUE! Sometimes, I just need someone 15 years younger than me to remind me of it. All I am is a single thread in this intricate tapestry. All I can do is be as strong as possible and hold on to you.

I know I have some friends going through hard times right now, and sometimes I get exhausted and want to throw up my arms and walk away out of frustration. Only human. But I want you to believe that I will always be there, reaching out, and reaching out, and reaching out.. until you are beyond my grasp. Because I love you and I am convinced that this is what I’m here to do.

I guess this is what happens when I don’t update my blog in a long time. Everything is mashed into one.

Oh yeah, listen to this, please:


Pizza without cheese OR flour!

I made this BEET pizza last night! And my own sauce, too! I make blenders and food processors cry.


I followed this recipe here. When I first decided to make it, I didn’t realize that the beets were actually in the CRUST of the pizza as opposed to on top!

I have so much fun with beets. There is no vegetable that makes a more beautiful mess of the kitchen, and they taste great, too!!

This recipe was pretty tasty, but it took a few bites to get used to. I think the fact that it was a “pizza” recipe really threw me off. This was not a pizza. A pizza has crust that you can hold and fold, gooey cheese, and all the saturated fat you can handle in a day. What this recipe made was a vegetable pile in a baking dish. If it had told me that right from the beginning, we could have been friends from the start. It’s cool, though.

I ate 1.5 pieces and felt really full. But not the kind of bloated, sluggish full you get from eating a real pizza. I felt GOOD.

The crust is full of sunflower seeds, which are an excellent source of vitamin E, and also omega-6 fatty acids. Nuts and seeds tend to trigger whatever satiety chemicals are responsible for convincing me to stop shoving food into my face, no matter how delicious it tastes. **This is one of the reasons that eating enough healthy fats help you manage your weight.** I couldn’t even finish the ice cream I bought at Cliff’s later..

I decided to go back to being a non-strict pescatarian (a sort-of vegetarian that eats fish). Non-strict meaning that I’ll eat meat if it means trying something I’ve never had before, making it easier when other people cook for me, and eating a freakin bison burger when I get the PMS.

Since I’ve been taking a nutrition class this semester, I’m doing a lot of research about vegetarian diets and feel like a sucker for thinking I needed so much protein in my diet. Eating lots of protein doesn’t build muscles, exercise does.

And white flour really is evil.

I also randomly remembered watching Food, Inc. and how disturbed I was by the poultry industry. That had something to do with my decision.

SURPRISE visitor on my yoga mat!

My power animal

I’m still running rrrrrrrrrrrreally slow and getting tired after 5 miles or so. If I challenged a penguin to a trail race, he’d not only win, but would likely have enough time to eat a peanut butter sandwich and then learn to fly before I finished. On the plus side…


Is it an oxymoron to be fixated on impermanence?

“In today’s world, it is increasingly difficult for any institution- religions, universities, newspapers, manufacturers, or even music genres like punk rock- to cling too stubbornly to absolutist principles of what “should be.” The changes that dictate “what is”- including the creative combinations that come from vastly enhanced social networks- are occurring with blinding speed. It may seem impossible to keep up with all the changes, but I find it is difficult only if you insist on a static worldview. Once you embrace the dynamism inherent in an increasingly connected world, the changes are not as worrisome.”

-Greg Graffin

Twentysomehing wisdom

I find myself saying something like “you’re probably too young to remember that…” or “just you wait a few years…” pretty much at least once a day recently.
Does anyone else in their late 20s do this?!?

Blood + dirt + blue eyes = Lauren

I took a glorious fall on my run yesterday!

My booboo

I have a gnarly scar on my right knee from falling on the SAME TRAIL last summer. I’m trying to start thinking of them as sexy.

At least the ground was nice and soft this time. I guess I should take this opportunity to explain that my blog name, irunintotrees, was chosen both because I prefer trails to road running, and also because I often run late in the afternoon, while the sun is setting right in my face and sometimes doesn’t let me see that branch/root/tree/etc. until it’s right in my face. I wear sunglasses to protect my eyeballs from getting scratched more than to keep UV rays out. So, yeah, I run into trees.

I decided to have leftover taco salad for dinner last night, but someone in my family finished the tostitos scoops I was saving! I contemplated going out and buying a new bag, but instead decided to make my own soft corn tortillas with my Bob’s Red Mill Masa Harina.

Mixing and rolling out the tortillas brought back memories of Costa Rica, when my friend and I would make our own tortillas and stuff ourselves with burritos pretty much every day. So I poured the rest of my Costa Rican liquer into my coffee and decided I need to give my friend a call soon.

I’m so glad I decided to make my own rather than go out and buy a bag of chips. Not only was it fun and nostalgic, but the tortillas came out shaped like flowers!!

Flower-shaped tortillas!
Hippie health nut.


Lonely ghosts of crazy people

So, after the exhaust pipe fell off my car on Valentines Day, I was forced to have it repaired, which was horrible news for my wallet, but in effect has left me with a vehicle that’s actually safe to drive >10 miles at once. To celebrate, I drove to Philadelphia this past weekend to visit a friend!

Long solo car rides are perfect opportunities for semi-focused introspection, so I spent most of the trip down there pondering the causes and effects of isolation. Some of the most brilliant, creative individuals in human history have fallen somewhere on the hermit spectrum, so I was thinking about which came first. That’s it. No answer.

This was probably sparked by my own period of social hibernation over the past couple of months. I haven’t been a total shut-in, but definitely prefer to spend my free time obsessively reading, writing, self-reflecting, listening to music and watching The Fabric of the Cosmos on NOVA over and over again :)

Anyway, this topic was totally appropriate for the day, because my friend and I decided to take a tour of Eastern State Penitentiary, where the whole concept of solitary confinement originated!!!

Some pictures:

This was taken from the sweet cafe across the street. Good muffinz.
That would be my coffee.

This was my second time at ESP, but my first tour. I’ve gone to the Terror Behind the Walls haunted house, which is really awesome and highly recommended. My friend told me that they have a rockin’ audio tour narrated by one of my all-tome favorite weirdos, Steve Buscemi <3<3<3 We almost cried when we learned that the audio tour wasn’t available that day, but the actual flesh-and-bone guide was enthusiastic about his job and cute enough to distract my attention. I’ll have to go back again for Steve.

I honestly thought it would be scarier during the day than it was at night with a ton of zombies walking around. As many know, I’m legit afraid of ghosts. Like, I need to sleep with the lights on after seeing a Paranormal Activity commercial.. but even with the spooky, overcast sky, I was more focused on the history behind the building and the experimental rehabilitation institution it was initially designed to be.

Perfect day for a haunted prison tour!
Prisoner art.
Some lady knitted a room. She was not a prisoner, just a passionate knitter with some time on her hands. She probably has several cats.
Alien masonry.
One of the original cells.
One of the cells built after the idealistic rehabilitation plan turned to shit.

Toward the end of the tour, our guide asked the group to think about which we would choose:

a) A relatively sanitary room with an hour of fresh air in a personal yard every day spent in complete isolation. No contact with other people at all, not even prison guards. No music. No speaking. The only book you got to read was the bible.


b) Overcrowded, nasty prison with a common outdoor area and much, much smaller rooms.

I thought about this, and I think I would go with choice a, just because I’m curious. I want to know how long it would take me to go completely crazy. I’ve gone to a few music festivals and developing countries, so I know I could handle overcrowded, unsanitary living conditions.

But even at my most reclusive moments, I’ve still been surrounded by people. I can only imagine the kind of freakiness that begins to unravel when a person is truly shut off from others, and I’m really intrigued by it. I kind of want to try sensory deprivation, as it seems like a safe way to experiment with this without catapulting myself into a place I’ll never come back from.

What would I do if I had nothing but a room and a bible? As I suggested to my friend, probably a lot of meditation and parkour.

Completely unrelated: I went for a 7.5 mile out & back flat run on Weds and was “lapped” by a pudgy dude


First Trail Run of 2012!

Also- First Run At All of 2012. I haven’t been a total lazy ass, I’ve just haven’t been running. I was trying to put on some muscle, mostly in my upper body, and couldn’t manage a running routine combined with strength workouts.

The more time I spend running, the more time I need to spend EATING and SLEEPING as well. I freakin loooooooove both of these things, but between work and school, I just ain’t got all that time!

On Friday, a girl in my bio class mentioned a cool hike off of Clinton Rd. to a nice clear lake where people go cliff jumping in the summer. I’d never been, so when I was considering places to run on Sunday, I couldn’t think of any reason NOT to drive an hour away to a supposedly haunted road and run on completely unfamiliar trails. By myself.

I’m really glad I went. It was gorgeous day with temps in the high 30s and a killer blue sky. Furthermore, Clinton Rd. isn’t even a little bit spooky in the daylight. I was dressed perfectly for the weather: running skirt, short sleeved shirt, windbreaker jacket, compression socks, and a big headband. Didn’t feel hot OR cold- until I sunk about 6 inches into an icy mud puddle.

*shrug* It happens, but it made me decide to cut the “run” short by turning around after reaching the pond instead of taking the loop of trails I had planned.

I put “run” in quotes because I took my sweet time the whole way. The route was steep and rocky, just how I like it, with a few good hot & spicy points (spots marked on a trail map with stars to point out areas with great views) along the way.

I would have taken photos, but I did not have my phone on me. There’s no cell service in any of Jersey’s creepiest forests, anyway.

Since I wasn’t expecting to use my hands for locomotion, I had brought my hand-held water bottles. For those who aren’t major gear nerds, these are special, small water bottles that have a little strap to secure them to your hands so that you don’t waste energy clutching a bottle. Yeah, really! I love mine, but they made it pretty tricky to scramble up and down boulders. I kept shoving the mouthpieces into dirty rock cracks and then taking sips anyway. Honey badger don’t care.

Side note- I think I’m fighting off some kind of infection.

So there I was, silly white girl all decked out in bright green running gear, crawling up massive rocks in a plaid running skirt, slamming my faaaaancy water bottles into muddy moss, and launching myself into a small patch of very thorny bushes, when I stopped to ask myself, “why do I love doing this so much?”

I’m either very badass or very stupid.

Unrelated: Wanderlust was hilarious. Go see it!