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Purpose Driven Blog

cropped-b166ba67-c787-44c0-947a-1b364dcff4ce.jpegGood day friends! Thanks for stopping by my blog. I wanted to take the opportunity, in my very first blog post, to introduce myself and give a little back story. I am a 26 year old occupational therapist living in a small town of Northern Michigan. I have worn many many hats in my short time here on earth 🌎. Among the many include: child of God, wife, daughter, granddaughter, sister of 6 siblings, dog mom, Kancer survivor, aryuvedic health follower, exercise enthusiast, a crafter, recovered eating disorder, a friend, a sorority sister, etc. My identity and life roles are ever evolving and changing (much like yours 😉). We are all multidimensional beings. We remain in motion and change is inevitable. However, we are in control of how we respond to the change. My intent of this blog is to create a space to find our “reset button.” A place to allow the freedom to make 🕊peace with our own minds so that we can live a humble, simple, and purposeful life. Thank you for your company! I hope you can find some value in the words and thoughts that cultivate in my heart. ✨

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Simply Happy Travel 🌎

Traveling is the best. Traveling without hiccups is even better. Below are my favorite tips for simply happy travel; particularly international air travel but these tips can be applicable to all travel, as well.

Preparing for travel:

  1. Electronic travel docs– Scan all important travel documents (such as: passport, license, insurance cards, etc.) and uploaded them to a secure online file. That way you have access to needed documents if they are misplaced or stolen during travel.

  2. Contact bank- always notify your bank of your travel plans to prevent an unnecessary cancellation of card transactions. The last thing you need is to be stranded abroad with no way to pay for needed goods and services.

Packing for travel:

  1. Carry on only– If at all possible, I strongly encourage limiting yourself to carry on only. Not only does this save money, it also saves the headache of having to retrieve luggage from baggage claim at every international customs you encounter during your trip. Using carry on luggage allows you to have quicker connecting flights which means more time spent at your vacay location. Ummmm, yes please!

  2. Make your personal item worth your while– so now that I have convinced you into carry on only, lets get smart with our luggage. Most airlines allow 1 carry on and 1 personal item. Optimize packing space by using a large backpack as your personal item. I personally use a Carhartt backpack; not the cutest but lots of pockets and lots of space!

  3. Fanny pack game with no shame– A sneaky way to get more packing space. I purchased a fanny pack for my most recent international trip and it may have stolen MVP of the trip. You can find all types of varieties online. I carried my phone, license, card/cash, and passport right on my hip. Look for one that doubles as a purse or clutch and you now can check that off your packing list, as well! WIN, WIN!

  4. Packing cubes– brilliant way to creatively fit all packing content in your carry on. I purchased my packing cubes on Amazon for super cheap price.

  5. International plugs– make sure you investigate the type of power outlets that are used in the country you plan to visit. Amazon offers all converters you may need for your trip.

Dressing for travel:

  1. Layers– I always dress in layers when traveling for two reasons: 1) saves room in your carry on and 2) I get cold on the plane.

  2. Throw on your big kicks– I like to wear my bulkiest shoes when traveling because, again, it saves space in carry on. However, for me, my bulkiest shoes is usually a pair of gym shoes so they are comfortable travel shoes regardless.

Happy Healthy travel:

  1. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!– I can not stress this enough. H2O is your best friend when traveling. Travel can be so dehydrating resulting in not only thirst but migraines and (dare I say it) constipation! Make sure you bring a reusable water bottle so that your not using your whole vacation savings on outrageously priced airport water.

  2. Know you hydration type– I have two preferred travel water bottles. One is a filtered water bottle (Grayl) that I use when getting water from slightly questionable area. The second is a compact collapsible bottle that I use when traveling to areas with drinkable or filtered water.

  3. Pack healthy snacks– as I have already mentioned airport food and snacks are pricey, not to mention usually not the healthiest of options (although they are getting better. Yay!). I never travel without a few of my go-to snacks, such as: RX bars or mixed nuts. I also like to bring Emergen-C along in case I start to feel the sniffles during my trip.

  4. Take dem stairs doll!- when traveling I always skip the people movers, escalators, elevators, etc. when possible. Yes, even with my luggage in tote (luggage is a great way to get toned arms). We spend a lot of time seated during travel our bodies are practically begging use to move, so take advantage of opportunities to engage your muscle and get your blood pumping. Added bonus: reduced risk of blood clots!

  5. Stretch– before and after travel make sure to stretch. When seated our bodies tend to hold a very flexed posture: our shoulders round, our hips are bent, our knees are bent. With prolonged sitting our muscles get tight which can lead to imbalances in the body. Before and after travel I always make sure to complete a few extension yoga postures to counterbalance the flexion postures we naturally take when seated. Here are a few of my favorite poses: cat-cow, supine twist, cobra, upward facing dog, camel pose, pigeon pose, low lunge.

  6. Lumbar roll- so we just talked about the toll sitting can take on our bodies. One way to reduce stress on the spine, when seated during travel, is to use a lumbar roll. Now I know we all can’t travel with a lumbar roll so I am going to share my hack. Roll your sweater or ask a flight attendant for a blanket ( if not already provided). It’s important to have support of your low back when traveling to keep that natural “S” curve shape of our spine.

  7. Neck pillow– if you plan on catching some Zzz’s when traveling, a neck pillow is a must.

  8. Paper face masks– why not take advantage of this downtime and give yourself a quick facial. The paper face masks are simple and easy with no mess. I like to use “Yes To” brand. This mini pamper sess keeps me feeling fresh and energized for my trip.

  9. Comfy socks– The first thing I do when I find my seat on the plane is kick off my shoes and put on my slipper socks. It’s a small simple way to bring added comfort to the cramped quarters. Sit down, buckle up, and get comfy.

  10. Breathe. Smile. Repeat. Avoiding hiccups during travel is ideal but not always possible. Remember to take a deep breathe and smile if a road block should come your way. Some of my favorite vacay memories are a result of the unexpected’s. Just because it’s not on the itinerary doesn’t mean it will ruin your day. Carry on my friend!

Safe travels my friendly readers! Hope these tips help! Would love to hear some of your fav travel tips and tricks!

Cold Hands Warm Heart

As I begin to type this morning, each digit of my hand is transcending through a wave of numb, to burning, then tingling, before returning to their normal state of homeostasis. This may be a sensation you can relate to? It’s a sensation many Michiganders can relate to during winter months of cold and snow. I just nestled into a downtown Traverse City coffee shop after venturing a couple block walk of winter vortex snow, wind, and cold. With that being said, no topic seems more appropriate to write about today other than the ever lingering presence of winter. If you feel that you are at your wits end with Old Man Winter, my quest is to gift you with a whole new appreciation. Ready, set, here we go!

    Winter is a much needed change of pace. We are literally forced to slow our day-to-day routines. We walk slower to avoid slipping on icy terrain and as we bulldoze our way through hip high snow. We drive slower to avoid fatal collisions. Our communities, as a whole, absorb a slower way of life to compensate for winters curve balls (or should I say “snow balls”). The physical slow in pace results in a mental break or freedom from the always racing and on-the-go lifestyle we adopt in warmer weather. Our bodies need this “reset” to stay present throughout the everyday mundane.

    Winter creates a warm sense of community and connection with those around you. There is some sort of bonding element when you see your neighbor brushing of the snow from their car right along with you in the morning. Or when you learn to interpret people’s smiles through their eyes because that is the only part of their body not covered by some sort of warm garment. There is a pride factor that floats through Northern Michigan winters. Pride associated with the strength we all have to carry on despite the unpredictable weather. Our community finds ways to trek on. I am proud to live amongst men and women strong enough to work in these extreme temps. External strength renews as strong inner character and good human moral. I am proud to live amongst people caring enough to ensure that their neighbors drive is cleared enough for them to exit their garage. Without snow, we would lose that particle of connectedness with our populace.

    Winter is a reason to be lazy. Summers are filled with celebration galore. There is always something new to explore or an event to attend. It can almost become overwhelming. Sometimes we just need a reason to binge watch our favorite TV shows. Winter is a no judgement zone for lazy weekend routines. Winter hibernation metamorphosizes into summer pleasure!

  • Winter builds anticipation. Summertime in Northern Michigan is indescribably magical. Folks literally travel from all over the world to see the beauty of the land and water. As a local, it can be easy to take for granted what comprises our region. Winter keeps us humble. With the lingering battle of snow and cold we regain that appreciation for the sunny months. We eagerly await for the return of heaven here on earth. This anticipation is good! This anticipation is gratitude; knowing the best is yet to come. Without darkness we would not know light.

  • More snow = more wine. Snow is essential to Northern Michigan agriculture, which is a big part of our economy. Snow is a form of precipitation. Our farms, vineyards, orchards, and gardens depend on snow to maintain soil hydration and fertility. Snow accumulation accounts for more than half of our total annual precipitation. Fun fact: 10 inches of snow is 1 inch of water for our ecosystem. Snow also traps necessary minerals into soil, such as: organic nitrogen, nitrate, and ammonium. In other words, free fertilizer! Lastly, snow (or technically the air caught in snow) serves as insulation for crops to prevent winterkill caused by extreme temperature drops. Snow can actually raise the surface soil 30-35 degrees Fahrenheit. Without snow, we would not reap the benefits of our worldly famous returning crops and harvest.

  • Sweater weather! My personal favorite. I love to bundle up in oversize clothing, leggings, and fluffy boots. Not to mention, carbohydrates become a staple accessory (not a source of nutrition LOL). This is my time of year to shine and embrace the “fat and gutty” because no one will see your body for months underneath all those layers!

    No bugs. Yep! I bet you forgot all about those pesky no-see-ums and mosquitoes. They suck, but not in the winter months (pun intended). Enjoy the outdoor bite free and scratch free life my friend!

    Winter is unblemished. Winter makes things clean and/or makes things appear clean. No need to fret about Aunt Millie Mae’s tacky overgrown fairy garden because it can’t be seen under all the snow. Or maintaining grass (or lack of grass) in your yard; nobody knows! Everybody’s yard is immaculate and pure. No grass stains on kids clothing after playing outdoors. No muddy dog prints through the house. Snow is an escape from dirt.

    Winter creates endless fridge space. Hosting a party in the summer, ice is always a priority. The world is our refrigerator in the winter months. Drink and be happy!

    Winter soups are so satisfying and comforting. Our palate as a whole changes in the winter months. We indulge in decadent warm filling comfort foods (i.e. casseroles, pies, hot chocolate, pastas) that are often too heavy in the warmer summer months. My crockpot is my best friend in the winter!

    Winter brings opportunity for new fun and more money. Snow shoeing, downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, fat tire biking, sledding/tubing, snowboarding, ice-fishing, etc. Not only do we get to experience new opportunities of fun, but our economy gets a lovely boost from all the “out of towners” who come to experience all this winter glory. Many small towns depend of this influx of traffic to maintain their businesses and homes. Especially inland towns away from lakes but close to snowmobile trails and ski hills. Give thanksgiving to snow, for without it our neighbors would combat the burden of financial aches.

    Winter reminds us to let go of the urge to control all things in life. Even the most powerful figures in the world fail to control all facets of life. Aside from our Heavenly Father, no one holds that kind of power.  Winter is unpredictable. We can not control the duration, the frequency of snow, the amount of snow, etc. What we can control is the choice to accept that things will happen in God’s time. Surrender the desire to have every aspect of life planned. Find flexibility in your day and in your thoughts. Know that life dominance is not what brings peace; it’s the divine ability to accept and trust that where God has you in the moment is enough. Winter is happening for a reason and with purpose.  

Finally, in my last few words, my fingers have returned to body temperature and my heart is toasty. I am a list kind of girl. Taking inventory of all fortune found amidst discomfort helps gather praise for the gift of existing. I hope my list brings you the glow that your crave, as we rally through the closure of this season.

Because I Know You’re Hurting….

Physical, emotional, mental, you name it; pain sucks! It’s so frustrating because I see pain daily and often feel helpless to those in pain. Why? Because pain is most often an internal battle. All I can do is advise and cheerlead until success is achieved. My mission is to make pain feel small or obsolete. I write today, overwhelmed by my empathy and care for you. Let my words surround your heart like a warm hug. Let my realness open your eyes. Let my words ignite a candle of change in soul. Let my experience remedy your hurt. Name your hurt and I’ll share my heart. Here are a few hangups I so commonly hear:

I just don’t know what I want to do with my life?

We live in a fast paced world where the answer to many things are right at our fingertips. I can hardly make it through a dinner without having to Google an answer to my wandering thoughts. This accessible information is so gratifying to our instant mind mentality. However, while our web based world may be able to tell us what books to read or what recipe to try, it lacks the ability to disclose our purpose here in life. As a result I have witnessed so many lost people seeking happiness through the things they can find in stores, online, in a pill, or on their social media news feeds. We see catchy ads and products that claim to unfold the cure. The search continues and presents impossible answers because the truth can not be found in an external search engine. The truth is an internal unique possession.

It was no mistake that we were created differently. Even identical twins have different fingerprints because we were all born to make a different impact on the world. Not having an answer to your purpose right away is ABSOLUTELY okay. You are exactly where God wants you to be in this moment. He is currently laying the foundation for what your future holds.

My advice to you is simply start doing. Do good. Do good on the daily and doors will begin to open. This sounds ridiculous, right? Let me explain… Every small act you make to better yourself will accumulate to large outcomes. You wouldn’t give a flower a lifetime’s supply of water on the first day of planting it, would you? No, you would provide the water it needs in that moment as to prevent overwhelming the plant by overwatering. We humans also do not blossom as instantaneous as that Google search I mentioned afore. It takes time to create quality.

By “doing” you will discover what brings your inner being happiness. From there, find a way to make a living doing what you love and do that passionately. Everyone always comments to me “you are so lucky you knew what career you wanted straight out of high school.” Was it really luck? Or do you think it could have been my optimistic pursuit to establish and mold a career that I look forward to “doing” every day.

Focus less on what will bring you success and fortune and focus more on who you truly are when stripped from the daunting pressures of the outside world. Success is really what you can do for you on a daily basis to make your heart feel full. The rest will fall into place from there.

I don’t have the money to do the things I want to do in life…

Money is so intimidating and the topic of money often strikes fear. My thoughts and relationship with money has changed significantly over the last few years. So lets talk some “cents” (Ha! Ha! Get it? Cents…. Sense. #DadJokeWin!) Money is energy my friends!

Money does not control my life, money is simply a form of expressing your gratitude and value in this world. The more you put out into the world the more you get back. I truly believe this! I’ve made the choice to stop hoarding my income in fear. Realizing that a dollar amount is not what defines me has been freeing and has allowed greater focus on what truly matters. I find a euphoria in giving to others in need. I have downsized my excess spending and funneled that energy towards those around me in greater need. I focus on investments that make lasting impression on my impact in this world.

Spending money should be purposeful. I like nice things (I take after my Nonny, We have expensive taste). However, I don’t let consumable goods consume my life. Debt is a tether. The fear associated with debt can be paralyzing. As I was saying before, money is energy. When you invest in something or make a purchase you are essentially saying “I believe in this whole heartedly.” For example, if you buy a gym membership you are saying “I am vouching to better myself and invest in myself/health.” You are investing your hard earned dollar back into yourself, not someone else’s hard work; therefore, you are more likely to follow through in your investment. I 100% believe in this theory right down to my toothpaste! My family thinks I am over the top insane because I research the ingredients in everything (yes, including my toothpaste) because I want to know exactly what my dollar is supporting. I feel like I have grown in a generation where people are spending money that they literally do not have. What this screams to me is “I don’t value my work and time enough to save for this purchase.” It’s simple folks. If you want something, respect your hard earned dollar and don’t let debt abuse you. Plus the added bonus of paying for something complete in cash is just ever so satisfying.

If there is something you desire, ask yourself “will focusing my energy (aka money) on this help to better serve my wellbeing and life purpose?” If the answer is no, maybe it’s not worth the purchase. If the answer is yes, proceed to work diligently for yourself while continuing to be of use and service to others. The energy you expend into this world will, with time, be recognized and the reward will undoubtedly find you.

I’m so fat but I can’t afford to eat healthy.

This is one really gets my ticker going. You can’t afford to eat healthfully?? Then how the heck are you going to afford chronic disease management? I work in the healthcare field as an occupational therapist and I see the outcomes of poor life choices on the daily. It just boggles my brain! As my Nonny always says (boy, I’m thinking about her a lot today LOL….) “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” What you put into your body is how you’re communicating your worth to yourself. If you are loading up on inexpensive processed junk you are telling every cell in your body “hey, I think you are cheap junk.” If you are consuming whole clean foods that you can actually find in nature, you are saying “Hey body, thanks for all that you do for me. I want to repay you by offering you some fuel that will make your job functioning for my daily needs a breeze” (Yes…. I do talk to my body. The love is real!).

When you invest in your health you begin to respect what you put into you body. Even if you do pay a little extra for your food, you will begin to respect the food; therefore, becoming less likely to over consume because you know how much hard work and energy you put into getting that nutritious fuel for you family.

It really is not expensive to eat healthy. Here are a few tips:

  1. Eliminate convenience foods from your grocery list. Convenience foods are loaded with toxic chemicals and additives. Plus you’re mostly paying for the packaging. Instead, opt for a DIY: you can pre-cut/wash/slice fruits and veggies that are grab and go great! This option is much more nutritious, much more satisfying for your nutritional needs, and much more cost effective.

  2. Skip the snacking. We don’t need snacks. Our culture began as a 3 meals a day custom. Snacks were not even a thing back in the day! Pour your energy and budget into nutritionally supportive meals.

  3. Shop seasonally (aka sales! Bargain babe!)

  4. Drink water! We don’t need special protein shakes or juices to be healthy. Word of advice: if it can’t be found in nature, it’s probably not essential for your wellbeing. Hydrate with water and focus on getting your dietary needs met at meals.

  5. Eat at home. Eating out can be so expensive and unbelievably bad for your gut! Instead of meeting up with friends for a dinner out, make a dinner in. Try new recipes together. Be creative! Be fun!

I want to lose weight but I hate exercise!

Me too! I have a history of abusing my body with exercises so that I could look a certain way. I wasn’t exercising from a place of love. I was exercising from a place of vanity. My relationship with “exercise” has completely flipped. I now listen to my body. Exercise is the biggest form of self love. So don’t exercise. Just move. Move because your soul craves it. Move in a way that brings you happiness. Move to find balance in your muscles. Move to enhance flexibility. Move because God blessed you with a working body!

At work I use the phrase “don’t move it, you lose it” all the time. My patients probably wish to hang me in that quote. But it’s true ladies and gents! Our bodies were designed for motion in a whole body interconnected way. I don’t believe in target training. You can not sculpt just one area of your body without it resulting in imbalances in other areas of your body.  Just as pain in one area of you body may be related to an imbalance in a total different region of your being. We must focus on our bodies as a whole body system.

This always happens to me! Life is just so hard!

Damn straight it is sweatie! Life is miserably juicy and full. But here is the good news: as life’s encounters becomes more deeply complex and challenging, we find greater happiness and joy. Our daily function is dependent upon millions of pathways in our brain. We developed these pathways, more commonly known as habits, through repetitive behavior. By focusing on the bad you will instinctively begin to see the bad in situations. On the other hand, if you seek out joy in all situations your life will feel like a never ending music festival (if that’s your thing). Endure the hard, it creates resilience. Hard creates patience. Hard creates what is uniquely you.

The rough patches of life are like an old car wash. It beats the hell out of you from every angle when you are going through it. You might even get a few scratches and dents but when you come out the other side you are sparkly clean and ready to take on the road before you.

Physical, emotional, mental, you name it; pain sucks! The pain I have experienced in my life is so massive that I find it absolutely absurd that I can find gratitude in those moments. From the day I was diagnosed with cancer, to the nights where I lay wrapped around the john eliminating the guilt I had ingested, to the hours I spent at the gym at war with my body, to the friendships lost because of the fear I created through comparison. I am blessed to have found answers to my pain at such a young age. I once sought complex answers to solve my pain (I’m talking dozens of self help books, multiple talk therapists, a hypnotherapist, etc.) when all along the answer was simply within me and the one who created me.

I wish I could write a “how to” manual for all my friends and family. Not because I know everything but because I know and acknowledge that I know so little. I am humble enough to rely on a greater power than myself. God strategically placed us here in life to fumble our way through. He blessed us with so many gifts including the ability to learn and grow in community. He gave us the freedom to choose to see His gifts or to blindly stumble by.

So here I am fumbling my way through with eyes wide open. I love all the beauty God has placed in my world. I love all the beauty so much that I want everyone else to see the beauty as well. As I write, I envision my words forcefully opening everyone’s eyes open to God’s creation (kinda like that new Sandra Bullock movie, Bird Box, but in a less scary take away your soul way LOL).

Because I know you are hurting, I want you to read this post and realize that all that hurt can be changed within you! You are powerful! Go on and imperfectly rock the uniqueness that is you!

The Power of Tone

I’m struggling with the power of tone lately. Being a natural born people pleaser, I love to find answers and solutions to all dilemmas in life. The conflict that I fail to find solvable answers for are the things that usually eat at me the most. I like to write advice blogs to better myself and others but today I am writing a struggle blog. The topic being: tone.

Ever notice the power of tone? It’s not the things we say but the way we say them or the intention placed behind our words that does the dirty deed. Tone creates the atmosphere that you inhabit. Kind words bring a positive healthy environment. Negative words bring insecurities, fear, and doubt.

For me, my struggle with tone goes back as far as the development of my language skills. I can remember expressing my hurt to my momma after an ill interaction with a bully. I dolefully shared the words that shattered me the most. My mom placed a unusual spin on these hateful words by vocalizing the same exact words that broke my heart from a place of love and joking spirit. Yes, the words were still inappropriate but her uplifting tone changed my perspective and diluted the power of my bullies inflection. I no longer cared what I had been called because those words were a reflection of the hate that bully carried. I felt no obligation to help with that wicked load. My mom taught me to carry what serves me and that, my friends, is love!

I do continue to struggle with the power of tone, though. The biggest struggle, for me, is with the people you can’t remove from your world. It’s easy to write off a friend, whom your life no longer aligns with, but how do you handle a toxic family member or coworker?

One of my greatest role models seems to have taken a defensive outlook of the world. They diffuse a “the world is out to get me” kind of attitude. Their tone is often harsh and overwhelming powerful in the worst kind of way. Their behavior brings a frown to my face that takes tiring and very much intentional strength to detach. Their once desired companionship now leaves a sour taste in my mouth.

We can’t always control life and the people in it but we do have the power to stop the trend. We have the choice to spread love not fear. Acknowledge the toxic impact of ones harshness and then use that as a road map for life. Kinda like the traffic alerts on our map app, avoid at all costs so that you can keep smooth sailing. Not saying avoid the person, I’m saying avoid falling into the trap of their behavior.

We attract what we put in to this world. If you spread love, you receive delight. If you spread pessimism, your receive despair. I mean this in all that you do. Think of the energy you put into all activities of daily living, right down to the way you brush your teeth or fill out bills. Focus on your warm coffee and good tunes along your morning commute and you may find the traffic is not so bad. Praise the food you prepare for your family and you may find it nourishes more than just your bellies but maybe a happy conversation too. Do everything with humble pride, appreciation, and respect. As a result, I PROMISE you will start to receive more from this earth.

I guess I write as a way to hold myself accountable. I am choosing to spread love, not hate, by means of my daily direct and indirect actions. Tone is contagious and you never know who is watching and learning from the way you interact with the world around you. Help create an atmosphere we all desire by continually watching the connotation of exchange with the people and objects around you. Communicate from a place of love.

If you share a similar struggle as my own, my hope is that together we may bring awareness to this issue to help diffuse the impact of negativity on this globe. Life is short, let’s make it sweet!

Christmas Calories Don’t Count

Ever notice the internal makeover everyone gets around the holidays? Our culture seems to obtain a half glass full outlook on life. We grow to be much more than our exterior, as our spirit is overflowing and outpouring. Our bodies simply become meat suits that we inhabit while here on earth (an outfit gifted from God, so to speak). I like to credit this change greatly to the big Guy upstairs (OBVIOUSLY) but also to the closeness we find in the reason for the season. We begin to view life from a more appreciative lens. The gratitude goggles are tightened and secured, allowing our lives to dive head first into the dunk tank of love. Once consumed by love we naturally expel love in all we do.

Everything we encounter in our world is digested, processed, and then used for the development of our inner spirit and outer being, good or bad. For example: The food we put in our body either nourishes or hurts us. The relationships and conversations we surround ourselves with can support us or tear us down. The words we speak bring positive or negative tone. The wisdom we acquire will prepare us for a better future or lead us down rocky paths. Ultimately we are in control of what we put in, on, or around our bodies.

Know what you are exposing your body to and choose the sustenance that best serves you. Choose to surround yourself with love. Choose to pour out love. Choose to cultivate your form and soul with good whole food amongst good whole people. Choose to challenge your intellect with continued education (knowledge is power ). Choose to fuel your thought, body, and vitality with value that can be digested and processed as building blocks for a better you. And lastly, in highest relevance to this time of year, chose to honor your spirit this season.

Soon will be the “get fit” frenzy season. If you’re anything like me, your mind grudging drifts there when mentally tallying the caloric scrumptiousness of Christmas goodies. Are you with me? If so, acknowledge those thoughts then let them melt away smooth as frosting on grandmas sugar cookies. Americans are strategically targeted following a season of indulgence. Advertisers thrive off our guilt. Focus quickly shifts from our inner happiness and holiday vigor to our exterior make up. Let’s not partake in this dramatic changeover this year. Hold tight to that inner spirit muscle you’ve been maxing out and pumping up all December long. Have your cake and eat it too!

Indulge in the season but in a nurturing way. 90% of our serotonin levels are produced in the gut, so it’s no coincidence that healthy foods result in healthy minds. Serotonin is that “feel good” hormone that regulates memory, digestion, social behaviors, appetite, and sleep. Without the right nutrition your body cannot find homeostasis in those areas just mentioned. Honor your healthy constitution while honoring your heart and mind. Don’t make yourself miserable by withholding yourself from fun and traditional yummies. A cookie isn’t going to deplete all serotonin supply. Actually, if enjoyed in a joyous atmosphere with a friend or loved one, it will add to your “feel good” brain juices. Just know and listen to your body this season.

Everything in moderation. Allow yourself the things that will best serve you. Your needs may change from day-to-day. Balance your cookies with activity and veggies. Take breaks from your Christmas “to-do” to appreciate the Christmas now. As you buy for those you have, donate to those who don’t. Get creative with holiday traditions to stay healthy and happy: Pinterest a Christmas movie workout, go for a Christmas light walking tour versus drive, make a snowman at your holiday party instead of lurking around the dessert table.

Enjoy ALL this season has to offer when you CHOOSE to submerge yourself in the things that serve your best self!

When this season comes to a close and we approach a new year, may the focus continue to be on inner spirit and happiness. May we choose to carry the happiness year round and not feel pressure to feel victim of post- holiday guilt. Approach the season with gratitude for our bodies, gratitude for our minds, and gratitude for our character root. Pour out and surround yourself with love year round, the way God designed our spirit within.

Walking with Gratitude

A few months ago, my brief 1-minute walk from parking lot to my work desk was extended to a 10-minute walk from parking lot to desk secondary to growth and construction of the hospital I work for. Instinctively my thoughts were focused on the 10 minutes of sleep I would lose as a result of this addition to my morning routine or the ever so unpredictable Northern Michigan weather that I would have to dress for🧤. I chuckled to myself because this minor change developed as a form of stress.

We all have stress. We have always experienced stress in all stages of life. As a child we have happy stress in anticipation of Santas arrival, the stress morphs into Varsity district final sporting events, to graduate thesis papers, to launching careers, to starting a family… I think you all get the pattern. Stress is inevitable and unavoidable. When I was going through chemotherapy I remember thinking that nothing could ever make me feel stress after being assigned something as huge as a death sentence. I assumed that an experience as big as life would minimize all other stressors that would come my way. As much as I would like to say that I have kept that mentally, I have to admit that assumption was false.

I still feel stress. I feel stress over feeling stress because I shouldn’t feel stress after getting a second chance at life (🤯 did you follow that??? LOL… welcome to brain). I used to feel guilty for getting overwhelmed. I use to reason that I didn’t deserve the life I have because I didn’t applaud and adore it 100 percent of the time. I used to feel that I was insulting God, by feeling sad for sometimes no concrete reason at all. I was certain that something was wrong with me or that I was broken. The more guilt I felt, the harder it was to stay happy because the emotions remained heavy on my heart.

You too may be able to relate to these thoughts. If so, let me tell you: we are not broken! We are human! We are allowed to feel a smorgasbord of emotions. God gave us that freedom. Our country gives us that freedom. Can you imagine how bland life would be without our crazy highs, lows, and in-betweens? It would be like eating the same plain bowl of oatmeal 3 times a day 365 days a year. 🥴No thank you! We have to taste sour to know sweet, we have to feel cold to recognize warm, we have to experience dry to distinguish wet. Deeply embrace, frolic, and acknowledge every emotion that enters your day. Cling to the emotions that best serve you and let the ones that don’t drift away.

I allowed myself to feel bummed over the new parking assignment but then chose to let the unfavorable reactions float off to negative-ville. I held on to the feelings that would best serve my purpose here on earth. God has transformed these 10-minute walks into “Gratitude Walks.” I start and end each day listing the things in life I am grateful for. Some days the list is easier to come by and other days my gratitude is as simple as my ability to see the sidewalk that leads me to my car.

We live in a very privileged country and we often take for granted what all we are blessed with. I challenge you to join me on my “Gratitude Walks.” No matter how long or short your walks into work/school/the grocery store may be each day, spend that time listing the things you are fortunate to have in your life. Is your co-worker, child, or significant other walking with you? Great! You have someone to share your gratitude list with as you walk, even better! This small conscious act will result in much big outcomes. These walks grant you the time to reframe and regroup for your daily to-do.

“Gratitude Walks:” the one size fits all, free, harmless tool that can help us embody our emotions so that they may be used for the greater good. Also known as a mini sneak attack hug and kiss from God. Happy walking my friends!

Crying Over Shrunk Laundry 🧦

Just the other day I came home to my husband who met me at the door with a “I have good news and bad news” scenario. I, always wanting to end on the good note, naturally asked for the bad news first. My hubs then admitted to me that he had washed and dried my cashmere sweater…. but the good news was that the laundry was complete 🤯🤯🤯…..

I instantly felt a rage of emotions sweep over. I CRIED! I literally cried over a piece of fabric that literally has nothing to do with my purpose here on earth. I wanted to scream at my husband. I wanted to call him names. It was his fault, right? He deserved that! Wrong….

It’s okay to feel emotion. It’s actually more than okay.

It means you’re alive. It means your working as humanly designed. We are designed to react to unpleasant stimuli. It’s how we out smarted and survived amongst our natural predators. However, over time our natural predators have evolved from vicious animals in the great outdoors to things such as a busy work caseloads, tight finances, or juggling the kids chaotic schedules.

The beauty is, we have the power to respond not react. Yes I cried. I acknowledge my sadness over the loss of my beloved shirt but then I took 3 deep breaths, said a quick prayer, and allowed myself to look at the bigger picture. I took control of my emotions instead of letting my emotions control me. It’s not easy! Let me tell you 🤬! It would have been easy to scream and yell but I chose to take the path that would bring me strength and my relationship with my husband strength.

The fact that I’m writing a post about a lost sweater may seem silly, again it’s just an inanimate object that probably only had a few years life span anyway. The reason I bring it up is because if we can control how we respond to the little and mundane things on the daily, imagine how prepared we will be for when the bigger more significant tragedy happens.

If your science or health freak, like myself, you may have heard the quote “neurons that fire together, wire together.” In other words the more we practice a behavior the more it becomes engrained in our brain. So the more we chose to respond and not react, the easier that behavior will be in the next “not so desirable” event that falls in your path.

Yes I miss my sweater. No my husband did not get the “get out of laundry” pass for the rest of his life. Yes this was a life lesson learned: feel, acknowledge, and experience your emotions but do not let them fuel a reaction. Chose to respond and strengthen yourself and the relationships around you. 😉🧺