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I knew being grateful was a practice people used to enjoy life a little bit more, and I wanted to bring it into ours. We brought it to our dinner table three years ago, and still to this day, every time we sit together to eat my kids now remind us (and whoever is over!) that we need to say our Thank You Fors. (sidenote: When my older son (4 1/2) was just 1 we were introducing this to him. He changed “I am thankful for…” to “I am fank you for…” It has stuck ever since.)

At first we went through some of the normal things – family, friends, each other, this food – but after you say what you are thankful for every day for a few weeks, and sometimes multiple times in one day, you get a little – well – uncomfortable. What am I thankful for?

My brother recently sent me a freakonomics podcast on being grateful. Tom Gilovich, a professor of psychology at Cornell University, made a statement that resonated about why being grateful is such a difficult task for people to continually complete. He said, “We have to pay attention to the barriers in front of us because we have to get over them, or get through them in some way. We have to overcome them. We don’t have to pay attention to those things that are boosting us along. We can just be boosted along.”  And he suggests that in order to really see, and dig in to what we should be grateful for, we might need to change the question to “What are the ways in which I’m boosted along, the invisible things that make my life easier?”

So, instead of that list of what am I grateful for, which can sometimes get monotonous, I say to myself, what has been boosting me along in my life? What has been there? What are my constants? What stabilities have created a ground for which I can feed off of? People, circumstances, feelings, teachings? And the flood gates open and I realize that who I am is a combination of a whole lot of good, and the learning from some bad.

I realized some things from long ago, like incredible high school friends who loved me during a time when I didn’t love myself and my childhood passion for gymnastics which turned to yoga, which instilled a value of mindfulness. I noticed some things I took advantage of like my ongoing love of education and the unbelievable patience of my husband.  I found all of these tiny little joys wrapped up in the gratefulness and that’s when it clicked for me. When my gratefulness got so specific, I was able to use it to notice all the good.

So, that’s what I do now. I do the work. I move the mountains. And I don’t let myself forget to sit and take in the view along the way.

What boosts you along?



Featured Nutrition

You Are The Magic

Dieting can be hard. Finding a diet you can stick with forever can be even harder. Sometimes diets focus on limiting our menus, and to be honest, that just kinda sucks. If someone tells you that you can’t eat something, then you end up wanting it pretty badly. My personal nutrition journey has opened my eyes to the idea of not following a diet and instead, to eat with health and nourishment in mind. One way to change your eating behavior without limiting food is to focus on adding in.

Colorful vegetables and fruits are a key component to proper function for our bodies. They are anti-inflammatory, full of antioxidants, vitamins and more. Start by simply adding them in. In the morning, before you eat your usual breakfast have a bowl full of color rich berries. Put some red, yellow and orange bell pepper slices and a side of guac or hummus in your lunch to eat before you have your usual lunch. Have a big salad or a vegetable soup before you have your usual dinner. Let those changes happen. Just give it time. You’ll notice how you feel, you’ll notice it curbs your hunger. Enjoy it.

Then, when you’re comfortable, take it to the next level. Have two servings of color rich foods before you eat your regular meal. And it will just get that much better. Enjoy the food and enjoy the feeling of nourishing your body. You just might notice, eventually, that the colorful foods taste good and become easier to cook. You will give your body what it is so desperately searching for, and over time your body will crave those nourishing foods. In the meantime, do your research. Learn about food and what makes it good for you. When you understand it’s function, your choices will mean more to you.

Remember that the reason we eat, the fundamental reason we need food, is to nourish our body. So nourish it. Provide for it. There’s no magic pill. You are the magic.




Finding the Time, part 1

Finding the time for all of it can sometimes feel impossible. There are so many things that we want to do, and so many things we have to do, and when you add a partner or kids into the mix it all quadruples. So one of the best things I have found to do besides the bigger picture idea of simplifying and figuring out what’s truly important, is to try and combine events as much as possible. Welcome to my blog series: Finding the Time.

So many of us need some quiet, alone time (or even meditation time) but have wild (and adorable) hooligans to entertain. Sometimes it’s just hard to catch a breath, yet sometimes that breath is all that we would need to get re-charged. Here’s one way my family tries to get it done.

We use coloring time to get some quiet time. Our whole family sits at a table with books and plain paper and all kinds of coloring tools. We turn on some music and we color. Sometimes we talk or color a picture together. Sometimes it is completely silent and each of us is wrapped in our own thoughts, or non-thoughts.

I actually recently began coloring mandalas (pictured above), which are spiritual representations of the universe, and my kids jumped right in. To quote my Meditation Coloring Book, ‘Mandalas are ‘sacred circles’, geometric shapes without a beginning or an end. They echo the balance and symmetry of the world around us-from the nucleus of a cell to the structure of a snowflake-and they symbolize harmony, wholeness, and healing.’ Who doesn’t benefit from some quiet time enveloped in that?

It’s an excellent time to work on motor skills and focus for the kids, as well as their need for a quiet and meditative practice. It’s an excellent time for my husband and I to each be quiet, breathe, self-talk or just be. The biggest bonus? We get to all be together while we do it! Can’t get better than that.

Here are a few tips for reluctant colorers:

  • We started out this activity with some giant paper and all drew the same picture together. The kids loved building off of what we drew (giant jungles, or farms, or under the sea) or coloring in some of our animals.
  • Google is great for free coloring printables. Some of our nights have themes where we color all of the characters from Kung Fu Panda (for the millionth time). Right now my older son is coloring Lego characters, cutting them out, and putting them all over his room. Interesting decor, but adorable.
  • Use crayons, colored pencils, markers, thin markers, oil pastels, traingle crayons, dot-a-dots, everything. And if you call them ‘Mommy’s special markers’ they really get a kick out of it.
  • Make a mix of music that they love AND you love. My kids currently know the words to my favorite The Last Revel song, but I am also able to belt out a good Maui, You’re Welcome! Just make sure you all can be interested and not driven insane. There’s also a lot of movies that have some great songs like the Pete’s Dragon song Nobody Knows by the Lumineers, or Elton John’s I’m Still Standing from Sing.
  • Try doing this activity just after you’ve all done something physical. Many times we come in from sledding or a hike and we are all ready for some relaxing, quiet time.
  • Always make sure it’s enjoyable and never give up. If it’s not working, wrap it up and move on, don’t force it. Don’t forget to try it again another time, kids are just like that sometimes.
  • And lastly, sit down and enjoy some coloring even if the family doesn’t. They are always watching you and if you are giving something your attention, they will begin to wonder what it’s all about.

Happy Coloring!



Starting Their Lives in Color

Keeping color on my kids’ plate has been my way of encouraging them to eat their veggies since they were babies. We started them with colorful soft foods~ steamed veggies, avocado, and so forth. I just loved seeing them with a colorful plate. And for some reason, I just never give up on it, even when I know they are probably not going to go for it.

If I am serving salad, I always put a small salad on each of their plates. With my first-born, he started eating it right away. He loves it, and loves what it does for his body (we also talk a lot about why we eat certain things). My second was different. He didn’t touch it for close to a year (thank you dad for clean-up duty) Occasionally, with encouragement, he would try a bite. We never forced it and we always plated multiple veggie options. We kept it consistent – three or four leaves with a little dressing, just so he could see it. And now, all of the sudden, he gobbles it up! He claims, “I’m fwee (three) now, I can eat sawad (salad)!”

I try to add color, and nutrients, to “normal” dishes too – like the grilled cheese pictured above. I just dice up some kale and add it to the cheese. Our mac and cheese always has peas. And there’s even a great recipe from 100 Days of Real Food that has carrots in the Sloppy Joes. I try not to hide the vegetables because I want them to know what they are eating, and to understand the importance of eating in color. Most of these additions have no real taste change, add nutrients, and again, allow them to see that we need to eat color! I can’t promise it works, but I do know that tonight my kids asked me for seconds of brussell sprouts and that has to be good for something.


The Wahls Protocol

Good teachers inspire you; great teachers show you how to inspire yourself every day of your life. They don’t show you their magic. They show you how to make magic of your own.  Alfred Doblin

I will never regret giving myself the time to think about my body, my family, and my life before starting an MS medication. There was A LOT of pressure from my doctors and the drug companies to get on a medication immediately. But, somehow, when my beautiful little sister sent me a link to Terry Wahls’ TEDx Talk (click here to watch!), it gave me the strength to stand up for myself and say, ‘Give me a minute’. I learned about what was actually happening to my body. I learned about what I could actually do naturally to help my body heal itself first. I had no set intention on definitely starting medication or definitely not starting medication. My only thought in the beginning was to see how much I could heal naturally at first.

I don’t want to put myself in a box and be forced to live there.

Two years later, I continue to use food, sleep, stress management, exercise, and relaxation to live my life in a healthy and happy way. Will I need meds some day? Maybe. Am I completely opposed? No. I don’t want to put myself in a box and be forced to live there. Giving myself the freedom to do what I need each day, gives me the freedom to uniquely care for each little problem that will arise.

I don’t have the records to prove that food and self care have healed my MS. My eye issues are gone. My energy level (or as much energy as you can have after chasing a 3 and 4 year old all day) is optimal. I am strong. And most importantly, I feel confident in what I am choosing to do for my health every day.

Terry Wahls has forever changed my life and encouraged me to live my life the way I think I should. I am forever grateful for her courage to share her story and for her incredible dedication to wonder and question and simply have hope.

If you would like to learn more


Fit for Life

I used to think that being fit meant that I needed to spend time in the gym. Hours. I had to do cardio, lift weights, stretch. I had to do it all. When I was younger, I had the time for those 1-2 hour gym excursions. Not anymore. That may change and it may not, but for now what I’ve realized I need my fitness to be is useful. And I’m striving to teach my children the same thing.

We ride our bikes to and from school whenever we can. We walk to the store on occasion. We walk the nearby paths almost daily and always walk to the nearby parks. We walk our dog, for his benefit and ours. We bike ride and just cruise the neighborhood for fun. We go on longer hikes in more adventurous places. We go to special open swim times for littles. And when we do go to the gym, we found a place where the kids are just as active in the daycare – jumping in ball-pits and climbing up and through tunnels.

For the kids, our hope is that they are brought up with this naturally active lifestyle. That biking to work might not feel weird, or even be a question.  We talk a lot about the benefits for us and the earth when we are active like this and we hope that it resonates in their spirit.

For me, my hope is that through this crazy, busy time in my life I can see (and feel!) that being fit doesn’t have to be about the gym. Getting my heart rate going while jogging next to the little bikes, lifting and holding 30 lb kids while we are hiking in the woods, and stopping randomly to do a few yoga pose challenges on the walking paths are all efficient ways to stay healthy and strong while providing my kids with their lives as well.

Some of my friends do go to the gym for those 2 hour chunks, and I love them for that, too. What happened for me was that it wasn’t fitting into the life I wanted anymore and it ended up in some major guilt. So again, trying to strip away the “rules” that somewhere in my life I created for myself, I tried to start noticing how much I could do at home during the day that could replace what I did in the gym. It’s all up to you. Whatever you need is what you should do, because I promise you this – the stress you cause yourself about the workout (whether it’s to rid the guilt of not getting to the gym, or the guilt of wanting to get to the gym) the stress is countering the workout you’re trying to get to.

Be brave and do you. Being happy makes you healthy, too.



That Facebook scroll that shows me a million articles on how my life is not quite good enough, the political rhetoric on the media that has me so confused that I feel a loss of control, the pressure to have my kids involved enough to enjoy activities but not involved too much to induce a loss of family, working on the Top 10 Tips for a Healthy Marriage – even though we don’t have a babysitter, feeding my family healthy food – is it organic – should it be organic – or more simply are they finally full,  friendships that mean everything – you know, those friends I haven’t really spent quality time with in months, giving back to my community, taking care of the earth…so on and so on… The list is endless. Then one day I realized the only person actually putting the pressure on me to get this list of demands completed was me. I was allowing the stress.

So, to simplify, I began to pick away at the list in small tiny steps.

  • Turn off the Facebook scroll – going from looking daily to a couple times a week.
  • Turn off the TV and confusing media and watch a show or two on Netflix instead. Get my info by reading trusted sources.
  • Just give myself a moment to think and watch. Are my kids happy? Are we having meals together? Write out their schedules and look at their lives.
  • Grab my honey’s favorite gelato at the store.  After the kids are asleep put some of our favorite old songs on my phone, lay in bed, talk and eat. The dishes will be gross in the morning and it will be harder to start the day with a messy house, but the light in my heart (and hopefully his!) will make it worth it.
  • Send my friend a text, preferably with a funny memory from our childhood and a quick I miss you. They know – they are in the thick of it too.
  • Pick up garbage around the park while the kids play – or better yet have them help. Small steps are still steps.

Now I didn’t do these things all at once, but gradually I have been taking each stressful situation in my life and trying to find some way to make it a little simpler. I didn’t take the situations completely off my plate, there is room for improvement still. But as I’ve mentioned before, lightening the load does just that – makes it all lighter. If gives us a little extra time to take a breath, to sit and smile, or to have a warm peaceful cup of tea and be grateful.

“I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” Wendell Berry

We are living in this crazy time that is starting to feel extremely polarized – right or wrong, get it done or don’t, say yes or no – and we are forgetting that our lives don’t have to be like that. It stiffens our hearts to always feel we are doing it perfectly right or we are failing. Allowing ourselves to let go and take small steps to being a better person allows us to actually live, and breathe, and enjoy this crazy thing we call life.




Featured Lifestyle

Let Yourself Be Loved

Sometimes your husband takes you to go see a favorite band in the most beautiful place, and you have the best time, and they don’t have a poster left when you get to the front of the line. And then sometimes your best friend scours the internet for months, and finally finds it, and randomly sends it to you…just when you need a little love. And now all of the time you get to be reminded of how loved you are, and how lucky you are, and how beautiful and lovely life can be.

I never shy away from using things I love to add warmth and light to my home. When I was younger I decorated just to decorate, had nice paintings and curtains that matched and stuff. Then I renovated an old farmhouse in Iowa and I treated my home more like a piece of artwork. Every little thing that we added to a wall or table had texture or meaning. And thus evolved my style. The farmhouse didn’t work out, and it made it so hard to leave because we were literally living in all the love of people and places from our lives. We carefully packed up as much as we could and have now tried to work in the same feeling into our more cabin-style Minnesota home.

The poster is obviously a meaningful memory and a reminder of my beautiful friend. The plants add texture, the candle holder shimmers in the light. The flower paintings my husband and I picked up at a market we went to while dating, which gives me those butterflies I get while holding his hand. The framed writing is one of the readings we had at our wedding, 30 people in the middle of a canyon showering us with hope and love. The family picture is pretty self-explanatory, especially since we are laughing and tickling and simply in love. So it’s one tiny wall in my home, and people have told me a few times they really like it, but what matters to me the most is that it warms my heart to sit in this little area. Surrounding myself with reminders of beauty, love, friendship, and laughter helps me remain hopeful and comforted no matter the circumstances. I come into my house and immediately feel the warmth and comfort of my past, present, and future. Dorothy said it best didn’t she? There really is no place like home.

Featured Lifestyle

The Magic of a Photo

If we are ever to enjoy this life, now is the time, not tomorrow or next year…Today should always be our most wonderful day. Thomas Dreier


You have to get use to the feeling that ‘a most wonderful day’ doesn’t have to mean much of anything happened. It doesn’t have to be your biggest adventure, the happiest you’ve ever felt…it just needs to be a day you are grateful for.

Especially when things are really hard in life I have found that I turn to my (iPhone) camera. It didn’t really happen on purpose at first, and they are not by any means close to professional pictures, but I just started taking them. What I realized after many months is that I was feeling really grateful. The moments I was capturing were reminding me of tiny little things that filled my heart – my little boys’ fingers, the sunset behind the snowman we built, my amazing poochisimo (aka. dog) catching a ball in mid air – the tiny little things that in really difficult times kept me striving for more.

Don’t worry about the quality, just take them. Snap things in your life, in the world, in others and see what you find…it might just tell you more about yourself than you realize.

Featured Nutrition

Ditch the Rules

Most of my life I ate whatever I wanted whenever I wanted it. I was overweight for a chunk of time where life was difficult, but even when I wasn’t, the nutrients I was choosing to give my body weren’t optimal. I would occasionally try and follow a diet or program, but nothing ever really stuck.

It’s ok if you fall down and lose your spark, just make sure when you get back up you rise as the whole damn fire. ~ Colette Werden

Two years ago, my life was jolted by a diagnosis of Muscular Sclerosis. It’s a story for another time (Wanna grab some chai?). But what ended up being the major result is that I looked at the nutrients my body was lacking, and I tried to provide it. For the first year I followed the Wahls Protocol developed by Terry Wahls, MD. Only level 1 (there are 3), but very strictly level 1 and some parts of level 2. I combined this and exercise to jump-start myself into the mindset of repairing. I chose to remain medication free – which is also another story – and I focused on sleep, meditation, and stress reduction as well. Fast forward another year, and I have eased myself back in to eating some of the things restricted on her diet. I continue to strive for whole, real food and multiple vegetables, mostly greens, at every meal. I recently completed the requirement to become a Holistic Nutrition Coach from the AFPA, mostly to further my own knowledge on this whole nutrition journey.

For so long I believed that a fad diet would make me a better person, and if I could just follow their rules I would be in a better place.

So, to say the least, understanding nutrition has been a journey for me. For so long I believed that a fad diet would make me a better person, and if I could just follow their rules I would be in a better place. What I have come to understand most though, is that my diet and my nutrients are up to me and my body. Following someone else’s way of energizing themselves is stressful for me because it does not fit my life or who I am. I can learn from others, I can use their suggestions, I can try recipes, but if it is not authentic to my life, my family, my experiments in the kitchen then eventually I will “fail”. Sometimes failure can spin us into a not so great place.

When my nutrition is my own journey, I never fail…and that keeps me in a good place. So, I read and read and try to understand what it is that our bodies need to work best. I make choices and changes that resonate with me, I try and provide the same for those around me, and then I let it go.

I don’t give myself the rules of eating this or counting that, I give myself knowledge and resources. And then I trust myself 100% to believe I am worth it to make the best choices. There is definitely a time and place where following a strict set of rules is a must, and there are definitely days where I feel like I didn’t do a great job. But allowing myself to ditch the rules, allows me to forgive myself easily and try again the next day.

I feel freedom in the choice. Because really, it’s all about making today better than yesterday, right!?