What trip makes the best Spring Break?


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From the desert to the ocean, we chased one sunny adventure after another on our Spring Break.

We began our trip in the wee hours at the Oakland airport, where we were welcomed with a short security line, and a pleasant gift of Peet’s Coffee from a fellow mother who obviously recognized my valiant effort of traveling alone with young kids! Coincidentally, she was traveling with her grown daughter to San Diego to look at colleges.

Sidenote: I feel like this day will be here sooner than I want! Please time, slow down!

Shortly thereafter, and eager to get the party started, we boarded at Southwest Gate 23, where the pilots gave my girls 15-seconds of fame by inviting them to “fly” the plane. Let’s be honest, sitting in the cockpit when you’re under 8 years old is like winning the lottery.

But let’s back up a hot second to the gear we were carrying aboard.

Once you become a parent you realize your life will never be the same. Not only will you always have a little sidekick, but you will also be the proud owner of a bazillion pieces of, sometimes unnecessary, paraphernalia.

Especially when it comes to traveling.

I like to keep it minimal, especially since it’s only me that will be doing the heavy lifting, but traveling with kids requires some strategy and superfluous goods. 

For Easter, the girls were gifted hatchimals, a cute bunny purse with a couple of dollars tucked inside, and a personalized Spring Break adventure journal. These items were not so neatly thrown into their backpacks (I’m realizing more and more how much it’s up to me to teach these children of mine to NEATLY put things where they belong!) along with the snacks they had picked out: epic bars, Thrive market jerky, Rx bars, larabars, olives, dried mango, cuties, and some foursigmatic elixirs (which were more for me!)

 Snack attack - bags loaded and ready!

Snack attack - bags loaded and ready!

 

Charlie had a few books, and Sam had me for her entertainment. The iPad was charged and ready, if needed. However, I try not to rely on it and have them use their imagination before turning on screens.

Landing in Ontario, we grabbed our rental car (which wasn’t that simple, but I’ll save you from that debacle), downloaded The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett to listen to on audible, and off we went for the hour and a half drive to Joshua Tree.

Arriving hungry, we promptly bought some smoothies to cool down and fuel up for the rocky afternoon.

Stopping at The Natural Sisters Café, the girls decisively chose the Killer Bee smoothie (more for the fun name than the ingredients) and I, wanting some greens, picked the What the Kale smoothie. Both were delicious! Despite being surrounded by mile high, veggie packed plates of food other diners were enjoying, we drank our smoothies and selected somethng to munch on from the plethora of goodies out of our snack bag, such as the Manzanilla olives from Trader Joes.

I highly recommend this small pit stop to stock on snacks, or to sit down and enjoy the people watching.

 Smoothies at The Natural Sisters Cafe

Smoothies at The Natural Sisters Cafe

The girls slurped and munched, while I wondered how the rest of the day was going to unfold. The older I get the more I try to practice the power of now - of being intentionally present - but sometimes that mama brain kicks in and various scenarios begin to unravel in my mind.

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect.

Our glamping trip to Yosemite last summer was simply bearable.

While I never regret getting out into nature, like most solo parenting, your limit of directing, disciplining, and sometimes simply talking, approaches sooner than typical.

Plan and simple, our trip to Yosemite needed two adults to make it work comfortably. We had glimpses of fun, but it was difficult with big emotions and four little legs that didn’t care to walk.

With this as my foundation to work with, I was a little nervous to venture out into the desert with creepy, crawly critters and only hard, dangerous surfaces to climb. This wasn’t your everyday Gymboree class folks!

But like most things, I nearly always opt to brave the adventure. One way or another we were going to have a good story to tell.

At the Joshua Tree visitor center on Park Boulevard, I introduced the girls to the animals and vegetation they were about to experience, grabbed our junior ranger guides, a few $1 bottles of water, and off we went.

Once we paid our $25 pass fee, all plans I had researched went out the window. After a morning of planes trains and automobiles, we jumped out at the first outcropping of rocks. I’ve never seen my girls so excited - they jumped out of the car, ran as fast as they could, and went for it.

Let’s be honest, no one needs instructions to boulder.

It’s only natural to start climbing and aim for the tippy top, as they did. Yet somehow I wasn’t prepared for that.

After all, they’re 4 and 6.

There’s two of them and one of me.

The rocks are not forgiving.

My joyous heart was so proud of them for enjoying themselves and being brave, but it was also in tension with the thought, “Oh shit, they could actually get really hurt up here!”

Thankfully their own defenses restrained them and they were cautious enough.

As beads of sweat culminated on our brow, we eagerly climbed, spotted many of lizards including a huge chuckwalla, pounded the water (note: bring more than you think you’ll need!), and pretended to be queens of the world when we were perched high, looking out above the surreal desert floor.

Sheer gratitude set in, and my heart was so happy! How long had it been since I had been on vacation with these two? Since we took time out of the everyday grind of work, school, laundry and go, go, go?

Simply too long.

It’s sad to say, but sometimes it takes vacations to recapture the wonder and beauty of your family!

Regardless, it was glorious.

 Charlie Bear spotted this Chuckwalla for us!

Charlie Bear spotted this Chuckwalla for us!

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Getting back to the plan though. I had only allotted two days in Joshua Tree, so off we continued to Skull Rock, to work our way backwards to the entrance.

At this point though, a certain 4-year old was hitting her witching hour.

“Carry me”

“I need more water”

“It’s too hot”

“I have to pee.”

“I don’t want to do this.”

We tried to muster up enough excitement to explore Skull Rock: we crawled through caves, climbed to dead ends, and bumped this rock and that rock. But the hot afternoon sun wasn’t doing us any favors. We were running on fumes.

We returned to town to rest our weary heads for a millisecond before heading out for dinner. I found us a little Airbnb within 2 miles of the main strip of Joshua Tree that was just the right size for us. It didn’t have a kitchen but I figured we could go without for one night.

This meant a dinner date, and I had heard rave reviews for Pie for the People. At only 5:30, off we went.

First of all, I can’t remember the last time I had pizza, and second, who were we, eating a dinner so early?

Well, we weren’t the only ones. The line was already out the door when we arrived, which was a good sign.

And needless to say, their gluten free pizza rocked. As did the Greek salad, even though it didn’t have cucumbers! Next time I’ll order two pizzas and my own salad though. These girls can eat!

All attempts to convince the girls to watch the sunset in the park failed. C'mon, who was I going to tell if they stayed up past their bedtime? Yet as it usually does, the whining won and I succumbed and I took my party poopers home!

Thankfully National Park passes are good for 7 days, so we went back for a quick rendezvous the next morning, after a healthy and bountiful breakfast at Crossroads Café, another joint I highly recommend.

I’ve been known for tornado style road trips, and this was one of them. Our next destination: San Diego!

However, the three hour jaunt south only felt long the last hour in the car when I was ready to eat and move my legs. We owe it to our fine Taylor Swift sing-a-long for our mighty survival, albeit arriving hungry!

There’s no shortage of excellent eateries in San Diego, but we were hungry and as we edged closer to the San Diego city limits, everyone had different opinions as to what they wanted to eat. My mama superpowers hedged bets that Tender Greens would appease even the pickiest of eaters.

Off to La Jolla we went.

With full bellies we meandered around the mall and read some books at the amazon bookstore. Despite it being a bit overcast and most definitely cooler than Joshua Tree, my antsy legs and tired butt couldn’t keep myself or these girls in the car for much longer. We opted for a round of miniature golf.

It seemed like a good idea at the time, not realizing this would only be their second time playing. They HAD NO CLUE how to do it.

Remember what I said about having to teach your children EVERYTHING?

 Not quite getting the hang of it!

Not quite getting the hang of it!

I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Was this hilarious or absolutely the most painful hour of my life?

We may have lost two golf balls in the process, but we completed the course! Praise the Lord!

Seeing that we were staying with my stellar friend, Erin, whom I’ve known since 6th grade, we hit up Trader Joes for easy dinner fixings and a bottle of wine. While she may not appreciate her doorbell ringing when you come to town, her company, as well as her dog Captain, are top notch. If you opt for an Airbnb, with a kitchen, I recommend finding the closest Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods to cook up a good meal like you would at home.

For us, dinner on the patio, with wine in hand, included spaghetti squash with a tomato meat sauce (sautéed ground beef smothered in your preferred sugar-free tomato sauce), and a side salad with easy toppings like artichoke hearts, olives, tomatoes, and avocado.

Our hearts were happy, full, and tired!

The adventures didn’t stop there though! Isn’t Spring Break just the greatest!

Now Thursday, and more than pleased to take on the mothering role, I whipped up some scrambled eggs featuring some leftover tomato sauce, warmed up some water for coffee, and sent Erin on her way to work with a nice breakfast in her bag. Making sure Captain had done his business, we were on our way as well!

Gosh, I miss being a SAHM and making sure everyone is taken care of! But I digress…..

By now the girls were ready for their second breakfast and I wanted to see some architecture!

Did you know that I studied architecture, and my first job out of college was with Miller Hull? Yep!

Somehow I had forgotten about their work on Point Loma, so we went in that direction making a pit-stop at Liberty Public Market for snacks, which was sadly closed. Thankfully the beautiful Moniker is next door. We chose to grab a matcha (for me) and cinnamon almond milk steamers for the littles before continuing on, checking our adventures off of the list.

The Wharf at Point Loma. Check!

The San Diego Zoo - ALL DAY LONG! Check!

 Monkeying around at the zoo!

Monkeying around at the zoo!

Sadly Friday was our last day there, and it came all too soon.

We said goodbye to Erin, and Captain, and meandered ever so slowly to Mission Beach to meet up with my cousins, who also happened to be vacationing in SD.  

For the next couple of hours we basked in the glorious sunshine, caught up on life, attempted boogie boarding, dug for sand dollars, and of course snacked. Our snack game was still going strong! But so was my sunburn. Why is that I remember to apply sunscreen to my children but forget about my exposed, paler skin. Where’s my mom when I need her?

With the polar opposite weather up north in the Bay Area, where it was complete downpour and storms, we were fortunate to stay a couple of extra hours due to a delayed flight.

Out of the goodness of their heart or my super negotiating skills, we managed to keep our rental car without paying more. We took advantage and took in the sights, sounds, and smells of Balboa Park. If I lived here I think I’d wander through the park every day, there’s just something about it!

Yet even with a delayed flight, the minutes quickly passed and like that, our trip was coming to an end. Back to reality, and the very wet Bay Area we went. Spring Break 2018 was over.

We not only survived the very few meltdowns and new environments, we made some very special memories that I hope my girls treasure and recreate with their families someday.

Until next time San Diego….


It's not obvious but click the name of the place, snack item, or book below to find out more information.

Joshua Tree restaurants:

The Natural Sisters Café

Pie for the People

Crossroads Café

Joshua Tree Coffee Company

 

San Diego family friendly, healthy restaurants...and a place to get healthy:

Tender Greens

True Food

UTC Dining Options

CrossFit Invictus (my favorite gym!)

 

Airbnb:

EchoLove Casita with Glenn

 

Essentials:

Snacks

epic bars and bites

larabars

RX bars

Thrive market jerky

Fruit

Veggies

Foursigmatic Elixirs

Water

 

Entertainment

Coloring paper and crayon or pencils

Ipad

books

Binoculars

Camera

Magnifying glass

 

Personal Items

Sunscreen

 

Books I brought but didn’t touch:

Miracles Now

How to win friends and influence people

The Circle Maker



 

WEDNESDAY WISDOM: Step One.


Now this is the story all about how
My life got flipped, turned upside down
And I'd like to take a minute just sit right there
I'll tell you how I became the paleo queen of my home affairs


Long story, not-so-short:

Like a lot of people, I first got into nutrition by healing my own body. You can read more about it on my website.

Around the same time, I married into a CrossFit gym, and was introduced to what seemed like the wacky world of paleo. I was already gluten free but this was no doubt taking it up a notch. I turned into the friend who made raw brownies (aka larabar bites since desserts were off limits), made every meat dish under the sun, used my crockpot to make the spiciest adobo ever, and basically spent all of my time looking up recipes. Sadly, it was the early 2000's and Pinterest was not a thing back then! Shocking, I know!

And by the way, I was not a good cook….yet!

Most of the time I got the evil eye because I turned into that friend who made social gatherings awkward when it came to food.

Ultimately my fascination with paleo and continuing my journey of healing my body through food, included my vision to step up my involvement at the gym by creating create a nutrition program to coincide with the intense training of these beasts. I also wanted to become a better chef. These interwoven aspirations spurred my pursuit of going back to school for nutritional studies, or naturopathy, or Chinese medicine, or holistic cooking.

Side note, sometimes I can be really indecisive!

While I knew a fair bit from my own studies, my intention and dream was to go to Bastyr. After attending an info night, going on a tour, and sitting on the shores of Lake Washington to pray about it, I felt certain this was the road to take. I truly felt like the world was my oyster.

And yes, I’m a total nerd and LOVE school.

After a quarter of prerequisites in the books, I got pregnant with my first daughter. Working full-time, going to school part-time, and being pregnant, was interesting. When the fatigue hit and I’d fall asleep mid-sentence of a conversation, I decided something had to give, and my dream got derailed….for a bit.

Funny how life throws you curve balls once you think you’ve figured it all out!

Then one day, now with babe in arms, I picked up a little book called Practical Paleo at Costco.  Or perhaps I ordered it from Prime, charging it to the business! At this point mom brain has set in and the timeline gets a little fuzzy!

This not so little book, in case you’re not familiar with it, is essentially the Paleo gospel. Every ailment is addressed, from adrenal health to thyroid health – with a meal plan; to how to live a paleo lifestyle – from getting started to eating out to getting your friends on board; to healing digestion to managing stress. The 470 page book truly covers it all.

I was a quick fan.

Since Practical Paleo was such an inspiration to me, I later, nearly a year post-partum after my second daughter, decided to try my first 21-Day Sugar Detox (21DSD).  Although I only did Level 1 (Elleno’s guava greek yogurt was too hard to give up, and I may have slipped in a bag of popcorn along the way), I was amazed when I noticed my abs making an appearance.

Please believe me when I say it’s not about the aesthetics of my body, but the sheer excitement of how simple shifts (um, wasn’t I already eating clean paleo?), made such a difference.

Needless to say, Diane Sanfilippo became my kitchen buddy and guru.

When she launched her 21-Day Sugar Detox beta coaching group, I was naturally curious. I was a SAHM, now with two daughters, and it was nearly 4 years between when I took the first step toward my nutrition education, with nothing to prove for it.

At this point there were so many more options to choose between. NTA was just starting, IIN was big, Bastyr was still there, FDN was gaining traction, and on and on. I felt overwhelmed with the different avenues, time and financial commitments. Did I already mention I was indecisive?

The 21-Day Sugar Detox Coaches group felt like a happy medium – and an easier commitment for my little family to swallow. It was a platform in which I could get my feet wet, have the structure and support I needed, while shedding the fears and doubts of starting a business from the ground up.

Since I was already helping other mamas sort out what the heck to feed their kids, meal prep, and navigate their grocery store outings, I jumped into the 21DSD beta group.

Now let me get one thing straight - I’m not one for doing one thing at a time. Once I decided to join the beta group, I also started studying with Precision Nutrition (which I’m now certified in) and continued cooking for the frozen paleo meal service I started for some clients at the gym. Oh yeah, I forgot to mention I started that a few months prior when a coach persuaded me to help his client dial in his food. Eeek!

It was a slow start but I have fond memories studying my Precision Nutrition, the more science heavy chapters, and listening to the 21DSD coaching calls at the South lake Union Whole Foods, or while slurping up pho on wet PNW nights, and while drinking chai at Uptown Espresso in Belltown.

I have visceral memories of these Wednesday nights, which was my “night off” as a mom and wife. As I pursued these things that fed my mind and future, they quickly became my favorite evenings around town.

And of course during all of this, I was raising two babies, battling infidelity in my marriage, and trying to figure out what the hell to do with my life!

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, there’s NEVER a perfect time for anything.

There’s no doubt about it, with what you have at any given moment, make the wisest decision you can. But remember, you have the power to course correct at any time. Life is about constant change; and life rarely unfolds as well as you expect or plan for.

Now, nearly four years later (if you haven’t noticed TIME FLIES!):

  • I’m divorced.
  • I’m living in the Bay Area.
  • I’m Precision Nutrition Certified.
  • I’m still a 21DSD coach.
  • I have a nutrition coaching business.
  • I'm a Beautycounter Educator and mentor
  • I also have a FT marketing job.
  • I solo parent – making all the lunches, doing all of the laundry, meal prepping, and cleaning all of the toilets!

And somehow, I make it work. Even on the days when too many people comment, “I don’t know how you do it all,” and I want to slap them in the face - seriously, this comment is not helpful and really, what kind of answer are you trying to elicit? – we survive.

This not the end game.

Sure, everything takes longer than I expect. I’m tired. I don’t get to read as much as I desire. My house never stays clean as long as I’d want it to. Nor do I don’t exercise as long or hard as I’d like to.

But hope remains!

I know this is only a season.

Somedays it’s easier than others to crank out the gratitude, yet I'm always thankful and grateful for:

  • Podcasts, audible, and the kindle app for the long BART rides (does this count as my tribe?);
  • Unique chances to learn
  • For trial and error
  • For pushing myself out of my comfort zone
  • For new opportunists to create healthy streams of income
  • For fresh starts every morning
  • For cuddles
  • For the little sleep I do get
  • For my body, living room, and kettlebell allowing me to creatively break out into a sweat session.

I don’t wear any of this as a badge, but rather to thoughtfully share with you that this is the messy life I live right now. And that if I can pursue dreams and goals, so can you.

At this point in time, I get to connect with and help men and women, mamas and grandpas, across the country connect the dots between their health and nutrition.

For me, this is a stepping stone toward creating a platform for busy, career parents, in the throes of raising young kids, to find confidence, balance, and happiness in their kitchen, skin, and life.

What is it for you?

Have you forgotten that you’re stronger, more powerful, and more creative than you think?

Your beautiful mind is waiting for you to crack it open and try something new. To break free from the mold you think you’re supposed to fit into and shine brighter than you have before.

It’s about taking the first step. Putting one foot in front of the other until you get enough momentum.

I can’t say you ever gain enough confidence to never fear, even a little bit, but it’s getting up and getting in the race that will get you closer to your goal.

So again, what is it for you?

  • If it’s nutrition, call me!
  • If it’s writing more, write your 500 words today.
  • If it’s that guy over there that gives you butterflies just looking at him, go talk to him.
  • If it’s going back to school, enroll.
  • If it’s joining a gym, get your membership tomorrow.

Just please, don’t wait. Don’t sit on the sidelines waiting for the right moment.

One way or another, the time will pass. Embrace it because in a year, or five or ten years, I want you to have a really good story tell!

I’m sorry, you want to do what?


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Before it was trendy to do so, I went gluten free in 2003. I recall having immediate results - my head and gut aches practically vanished, and my body was simply happier. Even as a self-prescribed bread addict, I thought it wasn’t terrible to give up bread and wheat. Call me young and naïve, but I even wondered, what else could I do to my body to heal it? I’m no biohacker like today’s Ben Greenfields or Dave Aspreys, but I dabbled.

Detoxes, fasts, blood tests, weight training (pre CrossFit days) or cardio - I tried it. Honestly, not a lot of profound results, but I learned about myself and my body as I chased the ideal of healing limiting beliefs, aches and pains.

So in 2007, when I continued to explore other alternative health options for my ailments, Laura, my yoga teacher recommended I come in to see her for acupuncture.

I trusted her so I went.

Otherwise it would have been a big hell no. Me and needles, um, no thanks!

But again, when you’re in your twenties, childless, and apparently don’t have much else to do on a weekend, the hour or two spent with needles in your limbs is quite the adventure.

We chatted, she looked at my tongue, took my pulse, and with quick precision placed the needles. I barely felt them, and even napped.

Acupuncture was nothing what I expected.

Not only was I pleasantly surprised at how relaxed I was, I was more impressed by having the best night of sleep that evening. Needless to say, I returned.

In my next appointment, after addressing my issues with the needles, Laura asked me if I had ever done cupping.

I’m sorry, what?

When you’re exposed, lying on a table, and people ask you vague questions, it can be a little intimidating.

I got the run down and was game. At this point in my life I was at the gym every day, addicted to running, sitting behind a computer for 8+ hours, and needed whatever she offered.

But back to cupping. Even if you’ve been debriefed and mentally prepared, it’s hard to know what to expect with that first experience with the cup. While there is more pain associated with cupping than acupuncture, it’s a good kind of pain. It truly hurts so good. You feel me?

Where acupuncture gently realigns our energy, reminding our body how to heal on its own, cupping provides pressure, encouraging blood flow, breaking up any stagnation to the area applied.

All in all, cupping was different, somewhat magical, and since it leaves painless bruises, it was an easy conversation starter at the gym the next day.

But, life happened, as it does, and I didn’t see much of yoga, acupuncture or cupping for some time. That was until I got pregnant and had other aches and pains I wanted to address naturally.

But as you can imagine, once my babies came, I again pushed my healing to the side.

Sure, I made time for things I love, like a good meal with dear friends, moving my body regularly, and a good living room dance party with my littles. But what I love about acupuncture and cupping, aside from the healing, is the personal nature of the time spent with the practitioner. This is not your typical run of the mill 10 min, box checking, interaction with your GP or therapist. Acupuncturists take their time to get to know you. They have to!

Part therapist, part healer, part teacher, acupuncturists are there to help, and spend their time to do so.

Though I often find myself a little lost when my daughters go with their dad on his weekends, it’s not hard to hide my excitement for the quiet and the ability to retreat to activities that speak to my soul and offer healing. My most recent visit with Candise provided just that. Once we got past the formalities and updates from the last month, Candise quickly had me in tears. Happy tears, tears of frustration, tears of freedom! When was the last time you were in someone’s presence and you could let your guard down and let everything flow? No judgment, only pure empathy, concern, and care.

Like a friend who has seen you through thick and thin, and still chooses to offer a hand, Candise has that touch. That is in addition to her touch with needles, ear seeds, and cupping.

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Where are you on your journey of health and balance?

Have you hit the wall and realize it’s been far too long since you did more than the usual to take care of yourself? As career women, as moms, we do what we can, when we can. Manis, pedis, a spa day, a glass of wine, here and there.

But does it add up to the balance you need? Does it address the root issues or only numb the dissonance between your desires and your reality?

It’s a lot to address right now, I understand. But do take the time to ask yourself these questions. What’s missing? What are you ignoring? What could you say “no” to, to be able to say “yes” to feeling your best?

Let’s return to the first issue I brought up – I quit gluten, which led to an interest of healing all of me. Even knowing, despite wishing otherwise, it wouldn't be a quick fix. But why wait? There are no perfect moments to start anything!

Do you have the confidence to search for and find balance? Are you bold enough to take control of your health - whether that is ditching the foods you know don’t love you back, or creating the time to exercise, or finding a coach to help you strategically make sense of it all, or making a monthly appointment for acupuncture?

All are good, all can be necessary, but what makes you feel your best?

Start there!

I think we can agree, we all yearn to be heard, understood, liked, loved, and to belong. It begins with knowing who you are and being willing to write a different ending for ourselves.

I know I want to thrive, and I’m sure you do also.

For lack of better words, for the most bang for your buck, or when all else fails, start your journey of health in all of it’s imperfection….and get yourself an acupuncturist (or a health coach, like me!).

Comment below with where you are on your health journey or if you love acupuncture.

I’d also love to know what would serve you best as you navigate the balance between work, health, kids, and life.

xox

Do you have a PULSE?


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When in a moment of wanting to zone out on my commute home on an overly packed BART train, I accidentally read an article about mercury going into retrograde soon. Dude, wasn’t mercury just in retrograde?

So yeah, while I’m over here trying to simplify and creatively be the superhero in my life, I guess things could get crazier. However, that’s not where I choose to focus or put my energy.

That being said, March snuck up on me like a ninja in the dark. 2018 is whizzing by and I’ve barely been able to come up for air. I’m bursting to create but I never feel like there is enough time. Yet, it’s time to manifest this whirlwind of dates, ideas, words, and emails that have been swirling in my mind.

It hit me especially this last week when everyone wanted something yesterday. As soon as I began to focus on a task, an email, a skype message, or a text would buzz through and someone needed something else. My mind was ever shifting from this deadline to that deadline, or to this idea scribbled on yet another sticky note, to another line item on the personal development to-do list, to what’s for dinner, to wondering who I could pay to come fold the laundry that’s in a pile on the couch. I’ll skip the many “mama, mama, look at this,” and “MOM! She hit me,” and “I’m starving, I’m going to die,” interruptions, conversations, and fatigued shifts in direction and focus. Phew!

I jokingly told a coworker that I was going to lead a lunch + learn on mindfulness and single-tasking because I was fed up with the barrage of chaos, stacking deadlines, and the feeling of early onset Alzheimer’s, let alone the shame of wanting to sit in silence or take a time out.

Having deadlines is nothing new and can be great motivators, but when your work becomes subpar because there are too many week after week, it’s simply too much.

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And somehow, despite not being proud of the busyness, I get used to it and don’t know how to turn off.

Even on vacation, I find myself checking email unnecessarily because I fear I might miss an important email (even knowing I won’t) and more so, don’t know how to fully relax, because it almost makes me feel like I’m lazy if I actually enjoy myself.

Can we all agree that’s not healthy?

Based on a suggestion, I started reading Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time, by Brigid Schulte. When I initially began reading the book, I found myself wanting to throw it across the room with every other page I read. As a woman, and a single mom, I could relate with the author’s frazzled existence and pursuit of leisure and time. Simple enjoyment of one’s life and family -  the elusive balance we all talk about but seldom discover, seemed more doomsday and I didn’t want to read it. I’m more hopeful than that, or so I want to believe. Perhaps I’m just being naïve – or else I need to move to Denmark. Regardless, I kept reading.

She made it apparent that women, especially mothers, have a bum deal.

“Women’s leisure tends to be more fragmented and chopped up into small, often unsatisfying bits of ten minutes here, twenty minutes there, that researchers call “episodes.” ….that’s too short for anything other than a quick item on the to-do list.”

“Mother’s leisure tends to be more interrupted, contaminated by mental noise, and “purposive.”

It seemed like a dead end. This was something I most certainly didn’t want to read about since my pursuit of 2018 is to include more peace and joy, and surrounding myself with freedom and learning from the dreamers and doers, the high achievers, movers and shakers.

Redemption came toward the end of the book, as it usually does.

This nugget of wisdom, and the following tips of how to create the time management, leisure, and freedom we all crave, is golden. Because let’s be honest, at the end of the day, all of our problems are a TIME issue:

[Terry] Monaghan’s approach to time management is simple:

You can’t manage time. Time never changes.

There will always be 168 hours in a week. What you can manage are the activities you choose to do in that time. And what busy and overwhelmed people need to realize, she said, is that you will never be able to do everything you think you need to, want to or should do. “When we die, the email inbox will still be full. The to-do list will still be there. But you won’t,” she told us. “Eighty percent of the email that comes in is crap anyway, and it takes you the equivalent of 19 ½ weeks a year just to sort through. Eighty percent of your to-do list is crap.

Look, the stuff of life never ends. That is life.

You will never clear your plate so you can finally allow yourself to get to the good stuff. So you have to decide. What do you want to accomplish in this life? What’s important to you right now?”

So much grace, with a healthy dose of reality and tough love.

So let’s do it. It starts with you, me, right now. Yes, right now.

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How, you ask?

If Shulte can do it, so can you.

Her trick: “Pulsing — deactivating and reactivating the brain — actually makes it pay better attention.”

Despite the belief we accomplish more when we multi-task, it in fact fragments our time and our thought processes, making tasks take even longer.

We've become a society of lollygaggers, with extended water cooler conversations, multiple IG and FB scrolling every 20 minutes as source of a “mental break,” all the while extending our actual work day.

What if we got our work done in an allotted time frame and allowed ourselves the rest of the day to be free? To actually live, in the moment without thinking about the emails that “need” to be written (hint – they probably can wait), or the dishes that need to washed when our kids ask us to play a game.

This tactic of pulsing allows you to focus on yes, a single task, and follow it through to completion without interruptions.

As a result, the structure of dedicated time allows you to accomplish more, more efficiently.

Much like attempting meditation for the first time, it may seem foreign and excruciatingly painful to sit there for 30 minutes in utter focus. If needed, set a timer and begin with a single task for 30 minutes before you take a break or move on. Most tasks require more than 30 minutes, but begin there and slowly increase the time to 45 or even 90 minutes. Take a short break and come back to the task, or move on to something else. But given that time span, only focus on that one issue – do not be tempted by the black hole of email, or any other “alarm” that sounds.

Applied to the family side of things, this can be accomplished with family rhythms which provide an organic approach to creating structure around reoccurring activities built into your day. This works especially well with kids who need to know what comes next as a sense of well-being and safety.

Meal time is a good place to start. Turn off all electronics and focus on your food, each bite, and the people sitting around the table. Talk to them, ask questions, and get to know them!

For example, in our house:

  • Friday is our Picnic movie sushi date night, where we make homemade, nothing fancy sushi, pick out a movie, pull out a towel and eat dinner picnic style on the floor while watching the film. Ok, yeah, this one involves a movie, but we it’s really the only time we have the TV on for more than 10 minutes.
  • Saturday mornings are for waffles or scones and sausages before ballet classes.
  • Sunday mornings are for farmer’s markets and church.

It’s in these little moments where the extraordinary can happen.

Not only can this time be more focused because we’re somewhat on autopilot due to the rhythm we created, but we also allow our brains to sit happy with the single task rather than jarring, redirection every 5 seconds attending to this thought or that email or that person’s emergency.

The world will not end if we slow down.

The weight of another’s crisis, is not a burden we’re called to carry alone. You’re not Superman.

The laundry pile and dirty dishes don’t have a heart and soul like the child that simply wants to play a game with you. It can wait, your child cannot.

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. – Annie Dillard

Don’t waste it away with a frantic brain in a sea of deadlines and busyness. Pursue purpose and passion, and create the space and time to love on those that mean the most to you. What’s the point of running the race, burning out, and forfeiting your precious time?

It’s up to you my friends. Seize the day and seize your life.

Why you should set your expectations low, low, low (and the easiest damn salad recipe)

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Does anyone talk on the phone anymore?

In the age of texting, Instagram, FB messaging, and skype, when was the last time you had a phone conversation?

There are times I certainly avoid it, for sure. Yet reminiscent to my junior high days, when I would pick up the phone the second I got home to talk to the same people I had seen all day, there are a select few I’m more than happy to talk to, old school style, for hours.

Just last night I talked for nearly two hours to a dear friend I’ve known for 25 years (what? seriously how old am I?), as she drove home from a work trip. We ran the gamut of updates, laughed, sighed, dreamed, and overanalyzed, as girls do. What was more a nod of releasing our expectations and control over external circumstances and people, we laughed over setting our goal of low expectations for 2018.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big dreamer, ambitious AF (overly so), but what I’ve come to realize is that to stay mentally in the game, I have to LET GO of external expectations, especially when it comes to people.

I can only control my thoughts, my actions, my responses, my dreams, my life.

I’ve heard it before, but have you?

All that you have at the moment,
you’ve attracted by the person you are

Does that bring a grateful smile to your face, or a punch to the gut?

I was recently reading Jim Rohn’s “Leading an Inspired Life.” Though simple and straightforward, the reminders of how discipline, whether the focused attention to or the lack of discipline, will sow the consequences of either action and growth or neglect and stagnation. It’s simple, but we easily choose comfort, fear, excuses, and carelessness over growing in our habit of discipline.

None of us have control over the external matters in our lives, but we can control what’s internal, especially the 3 pounds of flesh between our ears. Pick up a book and learn something new, take a class to up your game, bite your tongue if you have to stop yourself from speaking unhelpful words, whatever it is, redefine your success by taking whatever step needs to be taken.

Take heart and have discipline. Period.

Quite simply, begin by taking baby steps. And by all means, don’t lose the momentum by letting fear or laziness in. It’s far too slippery of a slope.

Rohn highlights Ben Franklin’s three principles of success:

  1. Number one: big achievements come one step at a time, one day at a time.
  2. Number two: you have the power to mold your life. You can make it whatever you want. You can shape it and reshape it.
  3. Number three: success is measured through pleasure. This is the key principle. You’ve got to be happy along the way. You’ve got to learn to give yourself a pat on the back. You need to tell yourself, “I’m proud of me today!” You’ve got to learn to enjoy the process.

If you haven’t read this book already, I highly recommend it. I may have highlighted every other paragraph. It’s just that good.

The same week I was reading Rohn’s book, Bedros Keuliian was interviewed on Shawn Stevenson’s Model Heath Show. This interview was hard core and I also highly recommend you listen to it for inspiration. He says it best, “if you want to be a high performer in life, in a relationship, in your diet, in your fitness, in your business, in anything, at work, you've got to be disciplined, structured, and do the highest value stuff first. Take care of yourself...to me discipline and structure equal freedom…I have more freedom because of structure and discipline than I ever had before.

Boom.

Create structure in your life and carve out the time for the most important items that align your life with your values and mission. For me, it’s waking up early to meditate, pray, and to exercise; to meal prep on the weekend to eat healthy all week; to read and listen to podcasts to continue to learn.

At the end of the day, when you align life with your values, you show up as the best version of yourself. You’ve taken care of yourself and feel good in your skin, you vibe higher, you spread more love and joy. In effect, you create more and radiate. You’re contagious.

So, set your expectations high for your dreams, but release the expectations you have for everyone else. Let them be themselves. Forgive, accept. Forgive and accept yourself.

Be generous with your kindness and love. Be you.

P.S. If you’re all about inspirational talks, I also recommend Simon T. Bailey’s talk on “This Is What’s Holding You Back From Brilliance”:


“It’s not who you are that holds you back from brilliant success,” Bailey says. “It’s who you think you’re not that holds you back. And sometimes we focus on who we think we’re not instead of who we are.”

"Find an environment where you are celebrated not just tolerated. That environment should invite you to be a vitamin not an aspirin."

Now that you'll be kicking some ass, you'll need a quick, healthy salad to keep you going. Better yet, if healthy eating is a goal of yours, start by little habits such as starting your day with room temperature lemon water, or swapping one of your meals to include double the veggies you typically eat, such as this salad, the world’s easiest damn taco salad, with ingredients from Trader Joe’s:
 

Easiest Damn Taco Salad

INGREDIENTS

  • Arugula or favorite green mix
  • 1 cup tomatoes, sliced
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • 4 mini sweet bell peppers, diced
  • Black olives
  • Chicken
  • 2 tbps Salsa Verde
  • lime wedge for an extra kick
  • 1 Sliced green onion, optional

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a medium sized bowl mix all of the ingredients with the salsa verde
  2. Squeeze with lime and garnish with green onion

 

when life gives you balls, you juggle them

 Jump down to the end for the recipe....I kind of go off on a tangent!

Jump down to the end for the recipe....I kind of go off on a tangent!


Standing at the kitchen sink washing a pan, I gaze out to see Charlie maliciously wave a dirty mop in her sister's face.

That was it.

I had just told her an hour ago that there is never a reason to hit her sister. And now this.

Perhaps I should have just kept my mouth shut, but I immediately begin to mediate and tell her to go to her room. While she was at it, to clean up the earlier tornado that hit that section of the house.

Stomping off, the wailing begins.

I shout, "crying about it won't get you closer to the goal."

I can't believe I utter those words. Yet in sheer frustration, the darkness and humbling truth is usually revealed. Were those words for her or for me? 

Quite plain and simple, I'm tired. 

There's no doubt a laundry list of reasons why exhaustion burdens me. Parenting alone, however, tops the list. Cuddling, having fun, playing games, and cranking up the music for dance parties is easy. On the flip side, discipline, and understanding the bigger picture of not only my legacy, but the minds, and the legacies of these little people I was blessed with, is created in the minor moments of loving correction. This is hard. These moments continue to beat me down, and make me feel I'm doing something wrong. Like I know better but can't learn the lesson myself. 

Relationships are funny, intricate things.

And then there are moments like this - 

Yesterday at a 6-year olds birthday party, I was caught in the crossfire of a dad exchange:

With empathy one dad asks, "How long is your wife out of town?"
The tired dad replies, "She was in London last week and will be in Charlotte next week. So two weeks."
"Oh geez. You need a raise and a 'World's Best Dad shirt' for that kind of stint," the empathetic dad responds, but with a hint of disgust.
"Yes, yes I do!"
I blankly stared forward, thoughts swirling in my head.

Really? I guess I knew men felt this way when their wives went away, but I had never been caught in the middle of the banter. Seriously, how do you think your wives feel when you go away? Why is this even a discussion? Is equality still this skewed? It took both you to create these children, so buck up!

Well, that's only the beginning of my G-rated version.

Shaken from my stupor, I feel the kids racing up the stairs for cheesy pizza and cupcakes. It was time to choose my own battles with my children. To choose gluten or not.

I certainly don't stew on the following ideas, but I was reminded of them through various conversations this weekend:

  • I didn't get married to boast I had a husband who cheated on me multiple times. I don't need to share this, but some people give you the look of "why are you divorced?"
  • I didn't get married to end up a single mom. Though it's hard and not what I intended, I don't want your pity.
  • I didn't get divorced to be judged on whether or not I made the right decision to move to a different state to be closer to family. You don't know the full picture and boundaries had to be defined. Period. 
  • I didn't get divorced to feel a special kind of overwhelm. That kind of just comes with the territory when you're playing the role of both mom and dad at all hours and doing it all. Even with shared custody, the "overwhelm" doesn't go away.

So with that, that's where we land today. In the here and now. We make it work. Though I'm so very tired of doing it alone, especially at 2am when there's no one to nudge to ask to take this shift for the night, I know things won't always be this way. Apparently there's an actual Law of Rhythm that dictates this fact, establishing the seasons of life. Sometimes it's hard to see beyond tomorrow, which looks a lot like today. Yet like a pendulum, we swing to the left and back to the right - in constant motion, growing, changing, learning and evolving. Thank goodness! 

So with a deep breath, I keep moving forward, knowing anything is possible, especially when I dare to create it. With eyes in my own lane, focused on my end goal, keeping the balls in the air long enough to learn what I need to learn, and teach both myself and my little ladies. This one life is precious and I want to live it to the fullest, providing a rich and vibrant environment for all of us.

This post definitely took a different turn than I intended, but I guess I had to get some things off of my chest.

With that note, speaking about balls, how about some homemade energy balls, or bars, that are easy, quick and totally satisfying?

We made both mango and chocolate versions, but at the end of it, the girls voted their favorite was chocolate. So here it is. Email me if you want the mango version!

Double Chocolate Date dates

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened toasted coconut
  • 1/3 cup dry roasted and salted macadamia nuts
  • 10 pitted dates
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 squares of dark - 70% or higher - chocolate cut up to little pieces 
  • 1/4 cup raw cacao powder, optional

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a food processor, pulse the macadamia nut until they're just chopped. Any longer and it will become nut butter. Remove from food processor and place in a big bowl.
  2. Add dates into the food processor and pulse until just blended. Add coconut. Pulse again until it's a nice paste.
  3. Add to the nut mixture. Add in chocolate pieces.
  4. Form into balls with your hands or press into an 8x8 roasting dish to make bars.
  5. Roll the balls in the cacao powder for some extra chocolate love.
  6. Refrigerate and enjoy.

 

 

Finding your Tribe

Perched over a snowy path, sitting in the Sierra-at-Tahoe Java Junction café, catching up on my Money Mindset Academy class, the air is crisp with sugar and fried foods. Walking through all consuming crowds at the Santa Cruz Boardwalk come to mind – hot chocolate, fritters, donuts, ice cream, French fries. All things sweet and crispy. To be honest, it’s a little distracting, and nauseating.

Similar to how I’m submitting myself to the sweet aroma and icy wonderland view, I’ve been thinking a lot about my tribe, the people I surround myself. These people I submit myself to, ultimately help to create my perspective, my thoughts, my aspirations, my life.

Jim Rohn says we are, "the average of the five people we spend the most time with."

Aside from my very engineering minded co-workers I spend 8 hours with, and my very young children, who are these people? Parents, cousins, siblings, friends, books, podcasts, and TV shows.

I love these people, yet I feel I’ve stagnated in having the support to challenge me. To have people understand me, really know me, and my dreams. To be part of something bigger than what I am, what I’m doing right now.

Personally, I want to surround myself with people who are building schools, who are creating change in their community, who are using their God-given gifts to show the world their superpowers, who are loving life, making money, and sharing love and truth.

Currently I get super pumped listening to podcasts and reading books. When the hour is up or the last page turned, I get a little sad. If only I could call these people up, like an old friend, and simply hang out, letting conversations organically flow about life and growth, and about getting old, and everything in between.

Who do you surround yourself with? Are they in line with where you want to go, or are they keeping you safe and comfortable? We only have 24 hours in a day, how are you spending them, and with whom?

I’m not going to throw away my family and friends, but I can be more selective with who I allow into my space and brain.

With that being said, I jumped at the opportunity to embrace the chaos of Taco Tuesday this past week with a total of 6 kids (4 being boys). A last minute dinner text from my dear friend of nearly 30 years resulted in us combining forces when it came to pulling dinner together. Kids were clinging, screaming, and running in circles. There was homework resistance, there were rumbling bellies, and some were hanging on the precipice of hangry, but we made it and enjoyed it.

Truth be told, being a single mom is quite lonely most of the time, but I find dinner time to be the worst. At the end of the day, with little to give, or little energy to push through to engage and teach the littles, talking to another adult, let alone be part of a team to pull it off, was exactly what I needed.

Having a tribe to lean on, grow with, be challenged by, and just eat tacos with, is where it’s at.

Do yourself a favor and evaluate your tribe. I hope you can feel they are elevating you to be your best, or better yet, better than ever before. Better than you've ever imagined.

And in the words of Judah and the Lion, “Hey, my life is real great, feel I'm well on my way to my dreams coming true, and I'm getting to do it with you"

In case you need some inspo for your own Taco Tuesday fiasco fun night, here is my favorite recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground meat of choice, I prefer organic, grass-fed beef for these tacos

  • ½ onion, diced

  • 2 tbsp chili powder (more if want spice, less for less heat)

  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp. onion powder

  • 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

  • 1 tsp. dried oregano

  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin

  • 1 Tbsp. salt

  • 1/2 Tbsp. black pepper

    Directions

  1. Over medium heat, place a pat of butter or coconut oil in pan, preferably cast iron pan

  2. Add onions to the pan and sauté (approx. 10 minutes).

  3. Add ground beef to the onions and sauté, stirring and breaking up the beef (approx. 15 minutes).

  4. Combine spices and add to beef for the final few minutes, and the beef is completely cooked.

  5. Create your tacos using romaine leaves, or my favorite siete tortillas. Top with tomatoes, avocado or guacamole, cilantro, a squeeze of lime and cheese (optional).

Fill those bellies, laugh hard, and love harder. Cheers, friends!

peace and joy


2018.jpg

Freedom.

That was my theme for 2017.

I embraced freedom by letting go of a lot of shit that was holding me back. I took hold of the uncomfortable and put myself out there. I’ve been brave. I’ve been scared. I’ve been nervous. I’ve been disappointed when my expectations looked different than my reality.

I faced a lot of fears, stepped out of my comfort zones, and took an extra bite of courage to do things I never thought I'd do.

From business goals to flops. From relationship giddiness to sadness. I’m proud of myself for accepting the challenge to dream and grow; to let freedom provide the space and grace to show me the way.

Despite the ups and downs, and constant noise, there’s been a lot of knowledge that has seeped into these bones and grey matter. There’s been a lot of growth. And for that, I’m grateful.

The crazy thing about this journey of life, is that as much as we may want others to hold us accountable, offer encouragement, or even do some of the work, it all comes down to one thing:

IT’S ALL UP TO YOU!!

You, me, we are 100% responsible for not only the outcome, but the process. What kind of effort are we putting in? How are we showing up every day? Are you walking in integrity even if you lose?

You can respond like my 6-year old does after I tell her to do something, with, “I forgot!” But let’s be honest, the response, the procrastination, the dilly-dallying you (and I) do is really just fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of failing, fear of disappointment. When you set a goal, or there is risk involved in your decision, it’s only natural to have those emotions. But that’s where the magic happens. That’s when you learn about how powerful you are, your values and character, and how you have the choice to embrace the opportunity to fly or stay still.

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I’m no superwoman. It certainly wasn't all rainbows and butterflies. 

Despite the growth and excitement, there have been polar opposites. There have been hardships. Potential clients and business relationships went cold. I’ve let people down. I’ve let things remain unsaid. I’ve held back. I’ve let fear build a wall, keeping others out. Phone tag with "big guy" went silent. I’ve completely spaced on Christmas gifts and arrived to the party flustered and empty handed. Heck, I even forgot deodorant once, on the hottest day of the year. Yikes!

Don’t forget, we’re human. We have ample daily opportunities to remember this point. We’re not perfect and most definitely still a work in progress. Whether you're looking to lose weight, learn how to cook, travel more, pursue a new relationship, quit your job, tuck these little truths in the back of your mind as you live with intention:

  • Ask questions to understand.
  • Don’t assume.
  • Live in the now.
  • Let go of your past.
  • Pursue growth.
  • Don't lose sight of hope.
  • Keep the faith.
  • Read. Read. Read.
  • Forgive and offer grace.
  • Keep it simple.
  • It's starts with you.
  • Love.
sparklers.jpg

I’ve heard it time and time again, 2017 was the fastest year ever. In 365 days we may be saying the same thing about 2018. However, what resolutions and actionable baby steps are you dreaming up to make 2018 a different game than 2017? What is your picture of you thriving?

I'm working up a few goals based on my values, but my overall theme for 2018:

Peace and Joy

Whatever may come, I want to receive as a gift and be at peace with myself, the process, and the outcome. Hopefully I can also spread some joy along the way as well.

Shine bright friends, it's contagious!

Happy New Year!