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PROTEIN PERFECT BREAKFAST CAKE RECIPE 

THANK GOD for the little things in life.
Every day I find thrill in little things like a perfectly hot cup of green tea, blasting Clair du Lune when it plays on my Pandora, and clean hair. I love this about myself because it truly makes life better. Never forget to celebrate little things!
Today I’m giving you something to celebrate!
After about 8 years – no, I’m not joking – I have finally perfected one of my favorite recipes EVER and I’m going to share it with you!
Introducing…Protein Perfect Breakfast Cake!!!!!!
The reason this recipe is so important:
Nearly every client of mine struggles with finding breakfast options that are delicious and give you fuel for the day

What you eat for breakfast literally programs your body for fat storage OR fat burning for the entire day

Protein at breakfast is critical to stabilize blood sugar, optimize energy and boost brain performance

A macronutrient balanced breakfast promotes fat burning and weight loss

Every one needs a breakfast option that is easy to make ahead of time for grab-and-go mornings

This delicious cake also serves as a fantastic pre-workout option

Literally, I could go on and on about this recipe. Instead, I’m going to share it with you so that you can add your own reasons as to why it’s THE BEST!
This week I am releasing my original recipe: Raspberry Oat Protein Perfect Breakfast Cake. In the coming weeks I will also be releasing these flavors:
PUMPKIN
STRAWBERRY BANANA
CHOCOLATE CHIP
Now THAT is a little thing worth celebrating, so GET COOKING!
PS! I reserve exclusive content just for the members of my Inner Circle email update list. If you’d like to get more inside tips from me on health, fitness and weight loss that aren’t shared here on the Blog, you can sign up at the top right (or bottom) of this page! It’s free.
Ingredients:
Liquid egg whites

736 grams | 3 cups

Quaker Old Fashioned Oats

160 grams | 2 cups

OR [Pre-ground oat flour]

1 3/4 cups

Unsalted butter

56 grams | 1/2 stick

OR [Coconut oil]

3 Tbsp + 1 tsp

Frozen raspberries

560 grams | 4 cups

Salt

1 tsp

Baking powder

1/2 tsp

Vanilla

1 tsp

Tools:
Blender 9×9 inch baking pan
Large mixing bowl Pam for Baking spray
Whisk Tupperware for storage
Measuring cups and spoons
Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9×9 inch-baking pan with Pam for Baking spray.

Place rolled oats into a blender and blend for 1 minute until an even flour consistency. Alternatively, you can use pre-ground oat flour, but blending your own make this recipe better!

If using butter, melt over a low flame, or in a microwave.

In a very large mixing bowl combine egg whites, oat flour, butter (or coconut oil), salt, baking powder and vanilla. Whisk just until there are no flour clumps; do not over whisk.

NOTE: Batter will be very liquid.

Fold in the frozen raspberries and break up any clumps. NOTE: Batter will still be very liquid!

Pour into pan. Gently stir to distribute the fruit evenly in the pan.

Bake for 25 minutes. Rotate the pan ¼ turn and cook for another 25 minutes or until solid in the center of the cake.

NOTE: Ovens vary; cook just until the center is solid, but still a bit wet.

Let cake cool completely. Cut into 4 or 6 pieces. See below for calorie and macro breakdown.

Place each piece in a Tupperware container or tin foil for easy grab-and-go.

Macros
            45/25/30
4 pieces: 440 calories each
6 pieces: 293 calories each
Variation: Drizzle 1 Tb of maple syrup on top of each piece:
            50/23/27
4 pieces: 490 calories each
6 pieces: 343 calories each
As always, I’d love to hear from you. Try out this recipe and let me know what you think! Tell me ALL the ways that it changed your life! Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below!
DECEMBER 20, 201627 COMMENTS

TAGS: BREAKFAST, DIET, EXERCISE, FITNESS, NUTRITION, WEIGHT LOSS

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27

REPLIES

Vanessa

Vanessa

May 3, 2017 at 7:11 am

I love this recipe! I was a bit skeptical as I’m not a very skilled baker and I’ve tried sugar-free recipes before that didn’t taste good at all. This one was super easy to make and screams “healthy”! Thank you for sharing!
Reply

Bella

Bella

May 2, 2017 at 10:04 am

This recipe looks delicious, I can’t wait to try!

Are you able to break down the nutrition facts for me?

Most importantly, protein, fiber and sugar
Reply

Silvia

Silvia

May 2, 2017 at 9:01 am

This sounds seriously amazing! I do a similar version, but with cocoa powder. But now I’m thinking cocoa+ raspberries together!!? Oh yeah!
Reply

Becky

Becky

May 2, 2017 at 6:16 am

Hi Holly,

I was wondering if you’ve tried adding protein powder to the recipe and if you did, how it turned out?

Thanks!
Reply

Fatima

Fatima

January 31, 2017 at 8:04 am

Hi Holly,
I just recently discovered you and have started the newbie Lift to Get Lean program and loving it. You demystified the gym for me! Thank you!
I made this cake and LOVE it! So easy and filling. There’s enough sweetness from the raspberries.
Reply

Holly Perkins

Holly Perkins

February 6, 2017 at 12:48 pm

Hello Fatima and welcome to this wonderful community. I am so happy to hear that you have started your Newbie Program from Lift to Get Lean. I can’t wait to hear about your results and goals you have accomplished. Stay on track and please don’t hesitate to ask any questions.
I am glad you loved the cake. It is such a good source of fuel for your workouts!
In strength,

H
Reply

Cheryl

Cheryl

January 25, 2017 at 6:14 pm

I don’t know how you can label this cake. Cake is moist and flaky, this is a soggy, spongy mess. It should definitely be called a quiche because the amount of egg white in it is absurd, and leads to a disappointing consistency. Tastes ok, though; I will try it again with less egg white and more oat flour.
Reply

Staci

Staci

January 22, 2017 at 8:03 am

OK so I made this using quinoa flour and frozen blueberries. I think it taste fine. Mine was dense but I used a different flour since I was out of oats. The recipe does not have added sweeteners so I am surprised everyone thinks it should taste sweet. Its lie making a protein waffle or pancake batter, its not going to be sweet. Just add some maple syrup or agave nectar and its good. Thanks for the recipe Holly!
Reply

Jodi

Jodi

January 5, 2017 at 4:30 pm

This may be obvious, but does this taste “eggy”? I do NOT like eggs at all and if the egg taste is prominent, I would love to know in advance. Thanks!
Reply

Holly Perkins

Holly Perkins

January 6, 2017 at 12:30 pm

Not AT ALL!!! No egg flavor whatsoever!
Reply

Jodi

Jodi

January 14, 2017 at 2:27 pm

Cool, thanks!! 🙂
Reply

Jenni

Jenni

January 5, 2017 at 1:19 pm

100% honesty here: I made this and after feeling like a wasted almost 2 dozen egg yolks I couldn’t even swallow it. I was very bummed that I wasted all the eggs and raspberries because I cannot eat it. This was not tasty to me and the texture was beyond strange. Please let me know if I should warm it, or how I can ease my way into liking this good food combination. I don’t label myself a ‘picky’ eater and was hopeful for an easy breakfast for myself.
Reply

Holly Perkins

Holly Perkins

January 5, 2017 at 1:30 pm

Hi Jenni: SO UNHAPPY TO HEAR THIS! First suggestion is to use liquid egg whites as opposed to cracking your own. I do think this makes a huge difference and that is why the recipe calls for the liquid kind. Also, did you use frozen raspberries? I suspect that the real, cracked egg whites caused a difference in the result. I’ve made this recipe at least 50 times and it always turns out great. The consistency IS bit wet, almost like a quiche, but shouldn’t be inedible. I also wonder if maybe you needed to cook it a bit longer. Cook until the center of the cake is totally solid and not jiggly. Apologies that you didn’t have success the first time. Maybe give it another try?? (Holly P)
Reply

Jenni

Jenni

January 23, 2017 at 5:59 am

OK, second attempt was MUCH more tolerable. I used liquid egg whites (didn’t know there was such a thing) and frozen raspberries. Last time it was very quiche like, I do enjoy quiche, but with the name breakfast cake I was thrown off. I just finished my first piece, no maple syrup added, and it was not the worst. It will take some getting used to and I look forward to the other versions, I suspect the chocolate chip or pumpkin will be my favorite! I am hopeful to get back into a routine of treating my body better.
Reply

Angela

Angela

January 5, 2017 at 1:59 pm

Hi Jenni,
I did the same thing and uses cracked eggs. But I warned my piece up and drizzled a tiny bit of maple syrup. It helps. But next time I will try with liquid egg whites as Holly suggest.
Reply

Holly Perkins

Holly Perkins

January 6, 2017 at 12:31 pm

Angela: how did your “cracked egg” version turn out? Was it a weird consistency? Just curious
Reply

Susan

Susan

January 8, 2017 at 11:07 am

Hi there-
Unfortunately, I would have to agree that this didn’t have any flavor 🙁 I used liquid egg whites and frozen raspberries as suggested as well. I may give it another try with almond extract instead of vanilla. I haven’t tried it with syrup yet…maybe that will help?
Reply

Holly Perkins

Holly Perkins

January 19, 2017 at 5:41 pm

Hi Susan! Keep in mind that this is a healthy breakfast option and not “gourmet” or sugary. The flavor will come from the fruit that you use. I wonder if maybe you didn’t use enough raspberries, but every time I make it it’s VERY raspberry flavored. I’ll be coming out with a Strawberry Banana, and Chocolate Chip Banana as well. Maybe those will strike your palate more!
Reply

Jenny

Jenny

May 2, 2017 at 6:37 pm

What about adding stevia??
Reply

Sophia

Sophia

December 28, 2016 at 8:04 am

I’m putting everything on my grocery list and can’t wait to make it!
Reply

Holly Perkins

Holly Perkins

December 28, 2016 at 5:12 pm

Let me know how you like the recipe! I would love to hear some feedback.
Reply

Sophia

Sophia

January 8, 2017 at 12:25 pm

Hi Holly, I finally made this last week! I used old fashioned oats, frozen raspberries and liquid egg whites. I have to agree with the other comments in that it didn’t have much flavor. I used a drizzle of honey and that made it better. I’m happy to report that I wasn’t hungry midmorning! That is a A+ on my book so I’ll keep trying. I like to bake at home and I’m wondering if using the oat flour would be better? Also, I used coconut oil but will try with melted butter. More over, is it suppose to be soft or dense? Maybe having the liquid egg whites at room temperature or using cracked egg whites (also at room temperature) whipped up? Just throwing some suggestions but you might have tried these methods already. One more thing, my coconut oil had turn solid so I popped it in microwave to bring it back to liquid form. I don’t know if that makes any difference. I ran out of frozen raspberries and I have some fresh blueberries. How would I substitute with these?
Reply

Holly Perkins

Holly Perkins

January 19, 2017 at 5:46 pm

Hi Sophia!

Remember that this is a healthy option for breakfast and it takes the flavor of the fruit that you add. It should taste “raspberry-y” and not sugary. When I make it, it has tons of raspberries and that is what’s pronounced to me. Will also be adding Strawberry Banana and Choc Chip versions! And yes, can totally add blueberries if you like! You can use old fashioned oats (and blend them at home) OR yes, you can also just buy oat flour that is already ground for you. The flavor should be the same either way. It should be a bit wet and dense, almost like a quiche!
Reply

Staci

Staci

December 21, 2016 at 3:24 am

Can’t wait to try this. Thanks for sharing!
Reply

Anonymous

Anonymous

December 21, 2016 at 6:31 am

Me too!
Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

Here’s What Real Healthy People Actually Eat For Breakfast | The Daily Headline News says:

May 2, 2017 at 6:50 am

[…] Get the recipe here. […]
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20 Questions With: Holly Perkins | Allyson Conklin PR says:

March 14, 2017 at 4:33 am

[…] What do you eat for breakfast most days? Gahhhhhhh, my Protein Perfect Breakfast Cake!!!! I just perfected a banana chocolate chip version that is my favorite!!!! It’s the perfect […]
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What if…

You let go of the stranglehold on being skinnier?

You stopped demonizing the body fat that you have?

You walked in to your next workout with the intention of having fun?

You said: “I may not be exactly where I want to be, but that does not mean “here” is anything less than awesome”? — What if you decided to embrace the…….

“Muffin top”

“Bra bulge”

“Arm pit fat”

“Jiggly arms”

and choose to love yourself BECAUSE of it? —-

It doesn’t work to only love yourself when everything is good. You gotta love all the pieces, all the times; the good along with the bad. To me, that’s radical self acceptance. —

#womensstrengthnation ▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃ #fitness #fitspo #fitfam #strength #gym #workout #exercise #fitnessaddict #fit #fitspiration #fitnessmotivation #girlsthatlift #bodybuilding #fitgirls #healthy #instafit #GirlsWithMuscles #Women #squat #deadlift

Gym. Friday night, 6:29 pm

—-

Male trainer: “You don’t remember me, but we met here before.”

—-

Me: “Gosh, I’ve met so many trainers here over the years…so sorry I don’t remember you.”

—–

Male trainer: “It’s understandable, not too many women come here. You stand out. You’d be hard to miss.”

—- Quite possibly the best compliment I’ve gotten in a long time. “Cheers” to all you women braving Bro Territory in gyms everywhere. 

#lifttogetlean ▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃ #fitness #fitspo #fitfam #strength #gym #workout #exercise #fitnessaddict #fit #fitspiration #fitnessmotivation #girlsthatlift #bodybuilding #fitgirls #healthy #instafit #GirlsWithMuscles #Women #squat #deadlift

Abs are made in the GYM and REVEALED in the kitchen. The more strength training you do, the fewer isolated Ab exercises you need. Adopt a high quality deadlift practice and you’ll uncover your best Abs yet! And yes, what you eat does influence the degree that you can actually see the hard-earned muscle. So sad to admit that beer does not do a belly good 😩

#lifttogetlean ▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃ #fitness #fitspo #fitfam #strength #gym #workout #exercise #fitnessaddict #fit #fitspiration #fitnessmotivation #girlsthatlift #bodybuilding #fitgirls #healthy #instafit #GirlsWithMuscles #Women #squat #deadlift

“Grief can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life’s search for love and wisdom.”

~Rumi

▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃ Yes, I see the paradox. It is only because of the struggles that I am truly able to smile. How can you know real happiness and bliss without challenge and despair? 

Stay strong through your challenges. Tuck your chin, but do walk through the storm. Own the discomfort while you breathe through it all consciously. Learn all you can for it will be over. And then you’ll be stronger, wiser, and free. 

#womensstrengthnation ▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃ #fitness #fitspo #fitfam #strength #gym #workout #exercise #fitnessaddict #fit #fitspiration #fitnessmotivation #girlsthatlift #bodybuilding #fitgirls #healthy #instafit #GirlsWithMuscles #Women #squat #deadlift

Tuesday night, 5:37 PM.
I was in a new gym surrounded by men. Most of them were in their 20’s and clearly super committed to their fitness as if they were in that stage of life where fitness and aesthetics are everything. 

And for the first time- maybe ever- I felt out of place. I thought: “Oh God…why am I the only woman here? Am I the “old lady” trying to be something else? Exactly WHY am I here???” *** I’m here because this is my life. I’m certain it’s why I was placed on this earth. I have a mission that gets played out in the gym. On the outside it may look like fitness, but on the inside it’s a metaphor for life. Hard work. Sweat. Breath. Strength. Self doubt. Progress. Community. Feeling out of place. Feeling right at home. 

#womensstrengthnation #lifttogetlean ▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃ #fitness #fitspo #fitfam #strength #gym #workout #exercise #fitnessaddict #fit #fitspiration #fitnessmotivation #girlsthatlift #bodybuilding #fitgirls #healthy #instafit #GirlsWithMuscles #Women #squat #deadlift

There’s GOT to come a time when you stop doing it “to get skinny” – It’s not sustainable, and the underlying message is that what you are right now is not good enough. 

There’s GOT to come a time when you start using different metrics to measure progress and put your scale in the back of the hall closet. 

When you are ready for that time, you’ll start doing it because it is an expression of the gift of life that was given to you. You’ll do it because you have a body that CAN, and because it makes you powerful. 

There’s got to come a time when you realize that body fat is NOT a reflection of YOU. Your spirit is a reflection of you. 

And I guarantee that if you start doing it in celebration, your spirit will soar. 

#womensstrengthnation ▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃ #fitness #fitspo #fitfam #strength #gym #workout #exercise #fitnessaddict #fit #fitspiration #fitnessmotivation #girlsthatlift #bodybuilding #fitgirls #healthy #instafit #GirlsWithMuscles #Women #squat #deadlift

Happy Easter to all of you who observe the day! Cadbury Cream Egg anyone? 🙋🏼🐣🌸💐🌺 ▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃ #fitness #fitspo #fitfam #strength #gym #workout #exercise #fitnessaddict #fit #fitspiration #fitnessmotivation #girlsthatlift #bodybuilding #fitgirls #healthy #instafit #GirlsWithMuscles #Women #squat #deadlift

Had such a blast at the gym today. The more thorough my pre workout prep is, the better my session. Check out my full #prep from today in my Story above and try it. I’ll betcha anything you’ll have the best workout ever 😆😆😆

#womensstrengthnation #lifttogetlean ▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃ #fitness #fitspo #fitfam #strength #gym #workout #exercise #fitnessaddict #fit #fitspiration #fitnessmotivation #girlsthatlift #bodybuilding #fitgirls #healthy #instafit #GirlsWithMuscles #Women #squat #deadlift

💪🏻

#womensstrengthnation #lifttogetlean ▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃ #fitness #fitspo #fitfam #strength #gym #workout #exercise #fitnessaddict #fit #fitspiration #fitnessmotivation #girlsthatlift #bodybuilding #fitgirls #healthy #instafit #GirlsWithMuscles #Women #squat #deadlift

3 Move Leg Workout 👯

LOVE this mini workout for leg strength and a great booty pump ✌🏻

Aim for 10-20 lb DB’s and let me know how it feels!

#womensstrengthnation #lifttogetlean ▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃ #fitness #fitspo #fitfam #strength #gym #workout #exercise #fitnessaddict #fit #fitspiration #fitnessmotivation #girlsthatlift #bodybuilding #fitgirls #healthy #instafit #GirlsWithMuscles #Women #squat #deadlift

Coming up later today: ☝🏻Join me LIVE at 4:00 PM EST for a nice lil chat sesh ALL ABOUT MACROS!

✌🏻A great 3-move leg workout that you can do anywhere 👯💋❤️

#womensstrengthnation #lifttogetlean ▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃▃ #fitness #fitspo #fitfam #strength #gym #workout #exercise #fitnessaddict #fit #fitspiration #fitnessmotivation #girlsthatlift #bodybuilding #fitgirls #healthy #instafit #GirlsWithMuscles #Women #squat #deadlift

#mood

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Refocusing Blue Jeans

I’ve decided to revamp my blog. Writing isn’t the only thing I do; though I’m retired, I’m in the process of remodeling a 1400 square foot, two story, 1936 Dutch Colonial Revival house.

When I’m working alone at the house, I write in my mind. Unless I have a power tool in my hands and need to focus on the job at hand because I’m adverse to losing a digit or appendage, or my life. But if it’s a repetitive no brainer job, this is when I write. I obsess about a piece I’m writing, a topic, emotion or a problem, a poem, song lyrics, a sundry other things which amount to pounding bleached dead horse bones into powder. Unless I have a satori and then I need to write it down because I’m a sixty year old netting butterflies before they disappear.

This house spoke to me, I bought it for a song and promptly tore it apart to make it better. To give it the attention it was asking for. Gutted it completely. Electrical, plumbing, lath and plaster. A grueling physical job and I was sore as hell for weeks. I have the requisite scars and dented fingernails. 

The sellers rented this house to the same tenant for over twenty years. They could have bought the house five times. This made me sad. The sellers did not put a dime into the house except to cover things up. I took down a suspended ceiling to find water leaks, rotted wood and a hole the squirrels were using to store nuts and pine cones in the ceiling. Eighty years of whole and half eaten pine cones fell onto my face. That pissed me off.

I have put in fourteen new windows and will be moving the stairs which are located in the middle of the house and take up 20% of the first floor square footage. My intention is to open it up completely. I cut out the back door to put in a patio slider that felt like eight hundred pounds. I put in a front door with side panels. Friends and passers-by ask why I’m putting so much time and money into the house if I’m going to sell it. Because it’s my baby, my hobby, a work of art and my reputation. This week I return to work after a three month recovery from rotator cuff surgery in January. Second surgery on my right shoulder while I’ve had the house. The surgeries and paying for our daughters wedding have caused significant delays.
Another project I completed last year. I saw a picture of this fence that I love and finally put it together.


The gate took a long time to complete as I had to individually rip sixty 1/8 inch strips for the weave.

Back on Balance

A few years ago, a wonderful friend, lost her best friend suddenly and chose to divorce her high school sweet heart in the same year. She felt she had no choice and had to do this to survive. She was alone, lost and adrift and very depressed. She was homeless and unsupported. She cried when I spoke to her and expressed her despair and questioned whether she could go on. We discussed the future that was filled with her uncertainty and doubts. I did my best to encourage her but felt weak in my efforts. We talked from time to time and she cried. Every time. Today I saw her and she was ebullient and excitedly told me how she had been approved to purchase her own mobile home. I felt touched in my heart. She gave me a High Five and felt triumphant. She told me her balls were bigger than mine, a contest I would willingly concede. I gave her a hug that lasted forever. I asked if in her darkest hours, had she ever foreseen this possibility. She teared and said no. I am proud of her but I have no right to be. This is all her. That strong soul that won out against all odds. Today I realize that birth is frightening and painful no matter what age we are. Happy Birthday my good friend. 

Finishing in Clearwater

  
 “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned”. Wait until you meet her kid.

Throughout my life I thought about having a man-to-man conversation with my biological father who vanished when I was very young. It came to mind during my favorite time with each of our three children: after their bath, when they were on the changing table, when I rubbed their chunky soft bodies with baby lotion. My heart was full and proud as I slathered their bellies, dimples, back and neck wrinkles and baby biscuits, all the while watching their heads bob up and down, curiously scanning the room. Then I would put on a diaper, dress them in their onesies and carry them into the living room, nestle into the rocker, all the while breathing in the sweet bath smell, my nose buried in their chubby cheeks and necks. And time and time again, I would ask the question: how could anyone leave such a beautiful miracle and give up these moments? My parents divorced and Bob had left by the time I was ten months old. There was a brief visit at the Dairy Queen, when my two brothers and I were expected to hug this stranger in Wayfarer sunglasses, who asked about school and sports. The only memories I had of him, mere slivers and slices: at the zoo with him, Grandma and Grandpa Hall, balloons, riding in a convertible. All perhaps conjured in my mind, eye of newt, bat wing and a wisp of a wish. When our last child reached ten months, I decided to have that forty-year-old conversation with Bob…if I could find him. He was getting older and if I didn’t follow through I might never have the chance to have the conversation. My mind was set even though I knew it would involve self induced pain and uncertainty. Either way, I would not sleep, I’d be pre-occupied, grumpy, and dodging anxieties like errant fast balls with all becoming exponential if a conversation was to occur.

I had a vague idea that he lived in Clearwater, Florida. I went to the library at Michigan State University to search for his name among the rows of phone books. When I found the Clearwater phone book, there were predictably many Robert Halls. I copied the pages of Robert Halls and began making calls, each time with that reminiscent adolescent feeling of asking for a date, anticipating rejection. Remembering that it was so much easier to be the “leaver” than the “leavee”, who is left unexpectedly to contend with a porcupine dumped into their lap.

I made several calls and not one of them scored. I remembered the name of my Aunt, who we always referred to as Auntie Ann. Her family had a unique last name and I went back to the library confident it would narrow the field. After finding one that I suspected may be correct, I went home and made the call.

I have always had a good auditory memory. If I had seen an obscure movie star in one movie, I could guess their identity from the other room just by the sound of their voice. The more popular they were, the easier it was. When I called the first and most likely number, there was an answering machine recording and I recognized Auntie Ann’s voice. We had not spoken in 30 years. I left a message of who I was and that I was looking for Bob’s phone number so I could meet him in the spring when our family would be traveling to Florida. She called back and was ecstatic. When she said “PRAISE JESUS!”, I remembered the Baptist brand of Christianity ran deep in this family. Bob had been a gifted Baptist minister, or so my mother had always said. I had heard stories throughout my childhood of his miracles, abilities and dedication to the Lord – all the while contrasted with the knowledge of a single mother raising three boys, who too frequently ate macaroni and cheese or oatmeal because we were too poor to afford anything else. We had a live-in nanny who stayed rent free, which allowed my mother to work as a secretary at Ford Motor Company. I had also heard that my older brother was the original poster boy, waiting-for-his-promised-birthday-puppy, sitting on the front curb for hours on end until called home. He would walk crushed and broken, empty handed, through the dusk and street lights to the house. Auntie Ann said they had been praying for so long that I would contact Bob, which made me wonder at the perversity of why the hell it had become my responsibility as the leavee?  She said she would contact Bob and give him my phone number. 

He called the next night. I had no memory whatsoever of his voice. He wanted to have an extended conversation as you would with an old friend you had lost track of over the years. He asked me about children and I told him we had three. He seemed elated that he had more grandchildren, which I let slide at the moment. I expressed my interest in meeting him while we were in Florida. We set a date and he gave me an address. 

For forty years I carried a childs shame of being left behind. I had believed I was the reason for the leaving. Nobody had ever said as much. I had soaked it up with my childish mind. I was the last to be born before the divorce. And for these years, struggled to come to terms with feeling unworthy of love, a burden of shame and guilt. And rage. Therapy and hours of mind-time, praying in my youth, writing and ruminating, had provided insight albeit never a resolution. I felt embarrassed I was still dealing with Daddy issues as a grown man.

Forgiveness had never come easy for me. It is the pinnacle and the most noble of disciplines, an almost Christ-like state of mind. A giving when it is least affordable or deserved. An act of unrelenting faith. Especially for someone you don’t even know. But forgiveness came to me through an unconventional writing exercise. It spontaneously started with me writing how much I loved to listen to a childrens chorus. If there was such a thing as angels, they were surely manifest on earth by those sweet innocent voices. However, the song “Jesus loves the little children”, that I was taught and sang as a child, had never felt true for me. It was propaganda. It was at this point, out of nowhere, that I began a conversation with Satan. There was no consternation on my part. No critical eye interfering, looking for just the right words. I had entered my mind through the back door, a 180-degree change in direction. Jesus didn’t give me answers, so maybe Satan would. Characteristically, he started immediately criticizing Jesus, claiming that in such dire times for man, it was his own sin for keeping silent. Perhaps he should be born again; the last time hadn’t worked too well for his followers since he was still absent. He could have come up with another way to provide reassurance. It showed his poverty of thought and lack of creativity. Because Bob was caught in flagrante delicto, Jesus, in all his power, should have caused Bob’s penis to wither and fall off. To allow him to live a life free of responsibility for the pain he had caused was unforgivable. I began to ask Satan questions. How could I expect him to be truthful with me? He wondered why I thought he could do anything now to make the experience more painful than it had been for a lifetime? That I thought too highly of myself, believing what had happened to me was unique. It was not. There were others who had suffered more painfully. I knew this was true. He said a ten-month old child does not have that kind of power. I was wrong to take personal responsibility for those events when I was so young. That was just unrealistic. Very little of what transpired had anything to do with me. With that simple exchange I experienced the first emotional movement ever. My mind shifted to visiting Bob’s grave and posting a note on his gravestone that declared he was not a good man. He was a fraud. Then I pictured him as a child. I wondered whether he sang too, with all the hopes, optimism and dreams that children hold. And what had happened to that child? I felt compassion for him for the first time. I had been moved over several pages of writing. And it was a lasting movement because the feeling of forgiveness I experienced for him has never changed, twenty years later. My Baptist relatives would never have recommended talking to Satan. No therapist or book had suggested it. It just happened. Of course it was logical that a snake knows best how to shed skin.

I didn’t realize it was a cloudy Florida day until I walked down the driveway to our van. Our family hoped for sunshine everyday after making the long journey from the frozen north. I looked up at the roiling clouds, various shades of swirling gray, but I didn’t feel cheated. Today the clouds seemed welcome, uncharacteristically reassuring, as though I had externalized fetid emotions into a tangible sky. I had waited for so long. Barely remembering the drive through my brothers neighborhood, I entered the highway thinking of a conversation with my therapist 20 years earlier. I wondered aloud if I should look up my biological father someday and how would I know it was the right time? My therapist answered, “Probably when you don’t want to kill him.” 

During the two-hour drive to Clearwater everything seemed poignant and symbolic. A car with a flat tire on the side of the Interstate. Cresting a hill to see the entire field on fire on the right side of the highway as the smoke obscured the road ahead. Some asshole monopolizing the left lane at 60 miles an hour so no one else could pass. Three feral pigs gathered at a fence post beside the highway. My fear was that during my man-to-man conversation with Bob, I would break down crying like a baby. That baby was in there somewhere but I was loath to show it to him. I was also a father in search of answers. That was where I was hoping to stay. I knew emotional reactions were not predictable, at least for me.

When I get anxious my stomach tightens and I struggle even with the involuntary function of breathing. I felt as though I was suffocating as the address numbers counted to the finish. I pulled the car over and reminded myself to breathe. I felt reluctant, panicky, and wanted to turn back. No one would think less of me. Except me. I would be angry and disappointed in myself for the rest of my life. And rather than dumping the life-long Bob Hall porcupine in my lap, I would add another of my own choosing; that I was too afraid to leave the first behind. I no longer wanted to be stuck in this childish loop. It was not going happen. 

I put the car in drive and crept toward the address of a modest Cape Cod on my left with a large and wise sentinel oak in the front yard. I pulled in the driveway and shut off the engine, got out and walked around the car with trepidation. As I approached the front porch Bob appeared, opened the door and greeted me with, “Are you Tim?” Of all greetings, why choose that one? Sarcastically I answered, “Are you Bob?” There was nothing about him that was familiar. He was tall and heavy and I could see a slight resemblance of one of my brothers, but there was nothing that looked like me. He extended the screen door and his hand. I shook his hand and walked in. To my left, near the kitchen, stood an older woman and a young man who appeared to be in his twenties. Bob introduced his wife Jingles. I had never met a Jingles. He introduced her son Tim, who walked towards me and with face grimacing, spoke unintelligible words. Tim was developmentally impaired. He seemed the embodiment of my own developmental delay. God has a wicked sense of humor I thought. Regaining my composure, I told Jingles and Tim it was nice to meet them and extended my hand to Tim, which he shook while saying something else. As if the strangeness of the moment was completely lost on him, Bob swept his hand toward the table, introducing the sandwich platter. Ham, turkey, two colors of cheese and halved buns.

“We figured you might be hungry so we bought a sandwich plate. Would you like something to eat?”

“No thanks. I’m good.” 

“Are you sure?”

“Really. I’m good. Thanks.” I would not keep it down although throwing up seemed aptly appropriate.

He gave me a tour of their home and showed me his office. He explained he had moved to California, graduated with a Masters Degree in Counseling or Social Work and worked as a therapist. Of course he did I thought. He showed me his bound thesis, which I thought was relatively thin, and a picture drawn by his other son who I knew existed but had never met. He asked if I would ever like to meet him and I was non-commital, one major life event at a time I thought. Before long he acknowledged that I was there to talk and suggested we step into the front yard and sit beneath the oak tree. A large branch ran perpendicular to the ground with a white swing tied by ropes. He sat down and the large branch started to swing. I had a pocket nightmare; the branch would break and fall, killing him instantly. Under the circumstances I would not have been surprised. But I would have been disappointed. Our conversation started with fundamentals. How long have you been married? What do you do for a living? He said he heard the tape of my original songs that I had sent to Grandma Hall (I remember being angry at his handwritten note that was signed “Dad”). Are you still singing and writing?

“Tell me about my grandchildren!” he said excitedly.

Not this time I thought. “Actually Bob, these are not your grandchildren. You have to be a father before you can claim grandchildren. My father was John, and he died in 1981 of renal cancer. These are his grandchildren. Before he died, I changed my last name from Hall to Johnides because he was my father.” He nodded as if he understood. I told him about our children, their ages and interests.

“I would love to meet them someday.” Which was not going to happen I thought. 

“You must have a lot of questions” he said. I recognized his training as a counselor, leading with a statement rather than a question, encouraging the other to respond with the payload.

“I do.” I lead with a statement: “Karen and I have been married for years. We have certainly had our ups and downs like other couples that have been married for a long time. But even if it were all to fall apart, wild horses would never keep me away from my children. I just don’t understand how you could walk away and not be interested in your first born children.” He started weeping. Heaving and gushing. I was surprised by his reaction. Rather him than me I thought. I had never considered the 40 years of pain he may have stored. I always assumed he was a cad who didn’t care, but now that had changed. I had been a child with no control over the past events. He had been an adult and equal partner in the responsibility, which he had avoided for years. I begrudgingly felt a cringe of compassion.

“I have not been a good father” he said between gasps. I let him cry it out, the large branch nodding in agreement.

“I was told you had an affair.”

“That’s not true” he said. The nuances of truth didn’t really matter. With most couples it was always fifty-fifty. He could tell me one thing, and my mom tell me another. I wasn’t going to find absolute truth.

“I just can’t understand how someone could have three children and never come around.”

“I was told by John and your mom that I was not to come around,” he said

“No birthday cards? No phone calls?”

He looked at me. “I was told never to contact you boys. I came to your brother’s graduation from college and it was a disaster.”

“It was a disaster because you just showed up. You never let anyone know you were coming.”

“And if I had, I would have been told not to come. So I just went.” There were the wild horses.

“Your mother and I were married in our late teens. We were much too young. I made mistakes and I always regretted them. You see Tim, I have never met another person in the world who could get under my skin, make me so mad, like your mother. I would get so angry. One time I kicked in the kitchen cupboards. That was not like me. I had never been that way. I became another person.”

He asked me if I had met my sister. I was incredulous. How had I never heard about a sister? She was not living with him. I wondered what she had been through, with and without him. I felt compassion and a bond, never even knowing of her existence.

“I never knew I had a sister.” He told me she lived in California. She was a year older than our oldest daughter.

I told him I should probably get back to my family. Forty years distilled into one hour, my questions unfettered and candid and exhausted. He followed me to the car when Auntie Ann pulled into the drive. She and I hugged and talked. Bob said that he was hoping we could stay in touch. I told him that was not likely. I was not there looking for a father since mine had died in 1981. I had only wanted this one conversation and I thanked him for that. He told me he would be there for me if I needed him.

As I drove away, I was grateful to Bob for a most significant gift. He was accessible, accommodating, accepting and remorseful. He had cried. He allowed me to express myself, and listened and never told me I was wrong. I knew it could have been otherwise. There was so much to think about and I was drained. I drove into town, stopped to buy a pack of cigarettes and found a restaurant with a back deck overlooking the ocean. I ordered a beer and lit a cigarette. Just a few hours earlier I carried a burden which I perceived as shameful, that I had hoped to cast off once and for all. When I started my trip to Clearwater, my mind was overloaded, my memories and feelings mingling with the outside world, which I viewed through symbolism. As I stared out over the ocean, there were no sailboats mooring after a long journey, no waterfowl smoothly landing on the water. It seemed unnecessary. I would never be free of my history because it was a part of me. The hope I could leave it all behind was perhaps the last vestige of a childish wish and naïveté. I had expected to finish, but what I accomplished was a transformation. My history had created the most important aspiration in my life: to have children of my own, to do it right. I wanted to straighten the legacy of twisted links of a cycle. To raise children in a stable loving marriage, to be a mindful parent, porcupines and all. I wanted to give them that which I felt I had missed and through which I had hoped to change myself. Our family is fortunate that we were able to accomplish what we had. Our children know how to hug and to love. They have grown into responsible adults. They have even said how much they hate their home town because it was boring and nothing ever changed. I find that reassuring, even if they do not. Years later, as I write these words, I am grateful and proud of the choices I have made. Most of all, for not turning back. I am grateful for what I have. For my children. They are glorious.


My Fantasy Revisions

  
I’m not being defeatist. Really. But while fantasizing about marrying Julie Andrews the other day, I conceded I may need to update my fantasies. Sure. In this world I know that anything is possible, even if it is unlikely. But being realistic, here is a list of things I may have to give up at 60:

1. Being six feet two and built like Arnold Schwarzenegger.
2. Becoming friends with Vic Morrow from Combat.

3. Appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show.

4. Being Shogun.

5. Being kidnapped by a tribe of over-sexed Amazon women (I was once cruised by a woman with blue hair in the elevator at the Traverse City Resort).

6. Being as handsome, classy and debonair as Omar Shariff.

7. Winning the Clearing House Sweepstakes.

8. Collecting enough S & H green stamps to get that car.

9. Being President.

10. Touring with my rockband.

11. Chucking it all to live in the wilderness like Jeremiah Johnson.

12. Winning an Oscar.

13. That my curly hair would straighten out.

14. Having a full head of hair when I get older.

15. Making that album with Joni Mitchell or James Taylor.

16. Living on my big, huge-ass yacht.

17. Becoming James Bond.

18. Buying an island.

19. Winning a Grammy.

20. Climbing Mt. Everest.

21. Playing for the Tigers.

22. Participating in the Olympics.

23. Being good at math.

24. Becoming a professional golfer.

25. Winning the Lotto and adopting a passel of kids.

26. Meeting Santa Claus (the Easter Bunny creeps me out).

Now that there is a huge gap in my future, the question is, what do I replace these fantasies with?

Golden 2.0

Forty years ago, I dreamt of hot women. In my dreams now, I’m looking for that damn bathroom that keeps moving. Back then I completely misunderstood “The Golden Years”.

Best Response

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A life-size model of the Iceman.

I like to read the comments sections of controversial topics. Here’s one exchange regarding an article written by a lady that feels ashamed of being overweight. The respondent thinks she has the answer:

Comment: “she should be more active. Did you ever see a picture of a caveman? They were thin because they ran and stayed active”.

Response: “Actually I’ve never seen a picture of a caveman. Cameras were so unreliable back then”.

The Bull

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Our acreage on Oak Grove Road abutted Joe Harris’ property separated by a creek. Joe owned the Diamond Dot store on M59 in Howell and raised beef. We were told it was private property, to never trespass, so we were always back there. We often took “hikes”, would see Joe’s cattle and would taunt the bull to chase us. I have no idea why we thought that was a good idea. We would taunt the bull by jumping around, calling to him and dancing, and he lazily go back to his business of eating grass. Except one day when we were again walking away a disappointed.

It’s never a good sign when one of your buddies yells “HOLY SHIT!” and runs for their life. It’s all in the way they run. Not a jog or running to first base but an absolute panic complete with head down and arm twirling. I think of the line “I don’t have to run fast, just faster than you”. The rest of us looked behind we could see one really pissed off bull bearing down on us like a train. We all ran for the same tree. The guys taller than me, like all of them, grabbed the low hanging branches and swinging up, left exactly no branches for me. My brother Mike extended his hand to pull me up but I knew he would dangle me like a red cape in front of that bull. A huge branch of the tree was lying on the ground. It was just big enough for me to fit under. He chased around the tree to get me from one side and I’d slip under the branch. Then he’d go around the other side and I’d duck under the branches again. This stalemate went on much longer than was necessary. Bulls, like kids, may not be bright, but what they lack in smarts, they make up in sheer stubbornness. I got tired of this real quick but not enough to be gored by Mr. Bad Mood. He eventually lost interest and slowly walked away. My “buddies” got down from the tree and we decided our hike was over. Now we just had to walk by the bull on the way out.