Confessions of an Un-Runner

Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Bio: Who is the Un-Runner?

The daughter of a country preacher and a strong-minded woman, the Un-Runner was raised to fit in, to do what she was told, and to NEVER make waves. She excelled at it - but she's better now!

Cyndi Paxton Johnson balances family, friends, fitness, homeschooling, writing and a family business with humor and tears. She's been published in Donne Tempo, The Washington Times, and Cecil County Magazine, among others.

Kicking Coffee to the Curb

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

I did it.

I kicked coffee to the curb - cold turkey! It's been 10 days now - and this is the first day I've gotten through without a nap. I'd also like to apologize to anyone I've spoken with in the past 10 days - and could you possibly email me what we talked about??? 

This was a spur of the moment decision - no debating, no researching relevant facts. The only thing that entered into the decision was my wonky heartbeat - and the pulse that REFUSED to go below 100 - when I was resting. I have to tell you - going from eight espressos a day to nothing is a jolt to the system - so if you caught me licking the side of your coffee cup, please forgive me! (if you didn't catch me - ignore this message!)  [ALSO...reports of me licking the wallpaper at Coffee Kat are widely exaggerated!]

I'm happy to say my heartbeat has returned to normal - and the pulse rate has dropped into the non-alarming range.  I can also finally focus again - and can write at least three sentences without losing track of what I was doing!

Best of all - to all my coffee-loving friends out there - I PROMISE to leave you alone and let you enjoy your java without me harping in your ear about the dangers of caffeine and the benefits of quitting! (cause if you'd done that to me two weeks ago I might have decked you!) {grin}

Have a great week!

Laboring with Earl

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

I’m tracking Hurricane Earl while I listen to B.B. King sing the blues (which should tell you a bit about MY week!) I haven’t prepared for a hurricane since Isabelle, teaching my small child about the weather as we collected oil lamps, batteries and water.  The little girl is 12 now – but the old “hurricane gene” kicks into automatic function. 

Firefighters in Baltimore are already preparing – because by the time they KNEW Isabelle was going to slam them – it was too late to get into gear.  So…while I cautiously watch the news – and it still doesn’t sound too bad for us inland shorebirds – I’m also making my list.  For those of you on the Atlantic Ocean or Delaware Bay – you not only have to prepare your home for damaging rain and winds – you also have to be ready to evacuate, if necessary.  Makes me glad our small beach is a ½ mile away!

So tomorrow I’ll gas up the car, gather some food that doesn’t require cooking (since it’s too hot for the woodstove – which I cooked on during the blizzard!), refill the oil lamps, stock batteries for the radio, and put away the lawn furniture & decorations.  I’ll also make sure everyone’s prescriptions are stocked! Thursday morning I’ll fill all kinds of containers with water –  six people go through a LOT of water!

Most days I dream of a house on the ocean – today I’m feeling sorry for those homeowners – having to batten down the hatches and hope for the best!  

Happy Hurricane (and Happy Labor Day, too!)

The August Countdown

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Ahhh.....August. Hot, muggy, buggy - and FAST! Like December, August seems to fly by at super-sonic speeds.  Soon we'll be innundated with meetings, school, practices and weekly lessons.  August is all about getting ready - buying clothes (MD offers a tax-free week on clothes under $100 from August 8-14), finding school supplies (keep an eye on Wal-Mart & Staples for some fantastic savings on necessitites) and getting ourselves (and our kids) into a workable routine.

Even we homeschoolers struggle with the August countdown. I've stocked up on notebooks ($.15) and have been researching curricula for months, gathering books, websites and programs like a bird building a nest.  I've also prepared for September by having the kids do 2-4 subjects a day during the week - reading Literature, Science and History books and occasionally working on grammar or vocabulary. We have taken a Math vacation during July, but are ready to slowly start ramping up again. 

Why do we do school-work in the summer? Because last year we didn't - and my kids drove me insane! They argued about doing ANYTHING around the house - and fought with each other incessently. By maintaining a mild schedule (they can be done in an hour or two) they also finish their chores and help out when asked without TOO much struggle.

Getting ME ramped up is more challenging. If you're having trouble getting into a workable schedule - try www.Cozi.com. They offer a free planning package including calendar, to-do lists, goals, shopping lists and more.  (now if they would only offer a drill-sergeant to yell in my ear every five minutes - why does no one see the obvious?)

August is here - and really - it's too hot to play all the time! Start figuring out your goals and schedule for September - and build a ramp to get you there!

Then - have a cool drink and a swim - you've earned it!


My Brain Went on Vacation and all I got was this Filthy T-Shirt!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

I can count the number of actual vacations I've taken in my lifetime on one hand.  Recent years the count goes down to one finger! It seems "Vacation" has become synomonous with visiting relatives, or working around the house.  Now that we're self-employed "weekends" have virtually disappeared, as well.  We're always trying to do more, and there's ALWAYS more to do.  A vacation seems as realistic as a self-cleaning refrigerator and self-emptying trashcan. (and if you find one of these treasures - LET ME KNOW!)

Turns out - it doesn't matter how much WE want to WORK! Our wonderful, complex bodies know what they need - and are in a position to get it! This past week, for example, my brain went on vacation - without me.  It did NOT request vacation leave - nor leave a contact number! I hope it's having a wonderful time, exploring new worlds and new civilizations. Yeah - since I'm stuck here - brainless - I've been filling the hours with Star Trek re-runs. Luckily, I had to wait around anyway - for the Sear's repairman. Our BRAND NEW hi-tech washing machine is broken.

So I sit here, waiting for the repair-man in my crumpled, slightly stinky shirt. I'd like to write something catchy, inspirational and memorable. Uh........nope. I've got nothin'.  Hopefully, my brain will return soon - refreshed and ready to take on the world!

And I hope it brings me CHOCOLATE!!!

Murphy's Law of Summer Gardens

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Almost every Spring I succumb to the allure of Earth, warmth and bounty. I buy endless seeds and plants, I dig beds, fertilize, and plan. I'm always so proud when the sprouts poke through the earth, announcing the plentiful abundance of things to come.

From there things go downhill for me. Some years, I don't transplant quickly enough, and the sprouts crumple like ice cream on a hot sidewalk. Other times I manage to transplant - but weather or birds quickly destroy my fledgling sprouts. Sometimes they just flatly refuse to grow (other times I forget they need regular watering - SHHH!).

This year I knew the deer and rabbits would attack my garden like hungry children after a birthday cake. I delayed my planting until we had installed a protective fence around the majority of my garden. I replanted my seedlings, added more fertilizer and watered every morning. Finally - I was going to have a bumper crop!!! I'd planted enough tomatoes and peppers to ensure we'd have salsa all year thru! (I lost a few plants to the construction workers, who dumped a load of dirt on them!)

And then I recalled that my husband ALWAYS refers to my spring planting frenzy as "the annual immediately to the gardening gods".  First, my lovely tomatoes are all ROTTEN on the bottom. (I'm told I watered a bit TOO frequently). No problem - I'll stop watering everyday - and the REST of the tomatoes will be wonderful!

It's Too Darn HOT!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

I've been remembering our wonderful winter - two blizzards, four feet of snow and sipping hot spiced wine while warming oneself in front of the crackling fire. {sigh} What fantastic days!

Fast forward a mere five months - and we find ourselves immersed in Dante's version of hellfire, complete with 107 degree days, power failures and breathing difficulties caused by the thick, heated air. The chickens are panting, the corn is wilting and the idea of leaving air conditioning is enough to make one turn vicious.

Regardless of the heat - and my zero tolerance of same - not everyone is safely hiding indoors until Mother Nature takes a Chill Pill. I know of many local folks raising money for various charities while training for an enormous physical challenge - a marathon or 60 mile, 3 day walk. They've been out training during Nature's Hot Flash, determined to reach their goal.

These amazing individuals deserve our whole-hearted support and encouragement. Not only are they pushing themselves to reach a personal goal, but they're helping cure diseases, support children and saving the world at the same time! If someone in your world is training for charity - please help them reach their financial goal. If you don't know anyone - check out www.EastonROCKS.org - a local group in Eason, MD.

Keep cool - and if you can't stay cool - stay healthy!


The Good Ole Summertime!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson
Remember the hot, lazy days of summer? Swimming in the river, trampling through woods and fields, fishing or crabbing from a small dock, biking for miles - and eating your weight in crabs, corn on the cob and ice cream! Archie Bunker was right - those were the days! 

Surprisingly enough - I'm having another one of those summers I thought had gone the way of the dinosaurs. To be fair, there's also cable television, Playstation games and internet - but the rest is there, too! My kids are riding their bikes with friends, swimming in the river and playing outside until darkness drives them home. They're turning brown (and blonde!) They'll sit around the kitchen table, playing Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit.

Meanwhile I'm processing many, many pounds of strawberries and blueberries - and even made jam with agave syrup! (it can be done - you just need the right pectin!) I'm baking high-fiber breads and muffins using whole grains - and filled with sweet berries. Top that off with iced tea with fresh mint and some home-made ice cream - and you have an official "Good Ole Summertime".

Slow-Carb Cracked Grain Bread


This tasty bread is rich in flavor and high in fiber! For an added “zing” grind your own flour! There’s very little white flour, and those fast carbs are balanced by the whole grain. This bread is nutritionally dense, with plenty of fiber and protein! The carbs will be digested slowly, meaning it will NOT spike your blood sugar! Fantastic for diabetes or those wanting to lose fat and build muscle!


½ cup cracked grain (sold as cracked grain cereal)

1 ¼ cup water

1 package (2 ¼ tsp) active dry yeast

1/3 cup warm water (@110 degrees F)

2 Tbs butter

1 Tbs salt (Tablespoon of sea salt is best )

3Tbs baking molasses

3Tbs Agave Sweetener (or honey)

Slow Carb Sugar-Free Cake Recipe

 This quick cake is light, flavorful and satisfying! No sugar and no white flour make it healthy for diabetics & those trying to eat healthy foods!


  • Raisins, 1 cup, packed 
  • Egg, fresh, 2 large 
  • Mott's Apple Juice Concentrate, (no added sugar), 3 Tbs
  • Canola Oil, .75 cup 
  • Vanilla Extract, 1 tsp 
  • Baking Soda, 1 tsp 
  • Salt, .5 tsp 
  • Cinnamon, ground, 1 tbsp 
  • Nutmeg, ground, .5 tsp 
  • Ginger, ground, 1 tbsp 
  • Walnuts, .75 cup, chopped 
  • Applesauce, unsweetened, 1 cup 
  • Soy Flour, .5 cup, stirred 
  • Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, 1.5 cup, stirred 

Plump raisins in water, drain. Toast walnuts.

What do Chickens and Bluegrass have in common?

By Cyndi Paxton Johnson

The Eastern Shore is hosting both the Delmarva Chicken Festival and the Bluegrass Festival this weekend!  (although chickens playing bluegrass would be totally cool!)

It’s SUMMERTIME! Schools out and the June end of year recitals and concerts are behind us! While many folks relax naturally into that “Summertime Frame of Mind”, some of us have difficulty actually putting PLAY ahead of work.  Not that we I don’t waste time – we I just don’t do anything purposeful with it!

This week I was (once again) writing out my 6-month goals.  To my surprise, the majority of them did not involve earning or spending  money.  At the top of my list were:

  • Play with the kids everyday!
  • Eat healthY foods that make me feel GOOD!
  • Be more physically active, strong and healthy!

I suddenly realized (I’m a little slow, sometimes!) that the items on my list were not dreams – they were CHOICES!  And as I’m continually telling my children – we are responsible for our own choices!

What do YOU choose? Write down how you would spend your time and how you would BE in your IDEAL life – then CHOOSE to start living that life – TODAY!

And, if in your travels, you happen to see that “Pickin Chicken” – let me know!


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