Ode to the Life Savers

“How are you?”

It’s the familiar rhetorical question we ask friends and family. We’re asking the question to be polite. It’s not that we don’t truly care how the other person is, but it’s just the way we greet each other.

More than likely the response is quite simple:

“I’m fine, how about you?”

And, once again a simple response is reciprocated:

“Fine, thanks for asking.”

Sometimes that becomes the end of the conversation and we move on to the next task on our list or the next piece of business in our busy, hurried lives.

There are, however, those times when you ask and you get an earful of drama that goes on and on and you wonder why you even asked. Was that really the response you were seeking? You’re thinking…geez, sorry I asked. Or, you find yourself at the heart of helping, showing compassion because yep, their life really does suck right now. The tears flow and you’re in the midst of a mini-therapy session.

Then there are those times when I’m asked that rhetorical question. I look up, smile politely, and share that all is well. Inevitablity followed up with that little voice in my head that says,

“You liar, life isn’t fine right now! You know you’re dealing with x, y, and z and you’re sick and tired of this and that. You’re stressed to the max, you couldn’t sleep last night, and you didn’t even want to get out of bed this morning.”

The string of negative thoughts that I wanted to go away have just resurfaced! We’ve all been there at one time or another. But my question to you is what if we stop! We stop asking people, “How are you today?” But rather we ask them,

“What brings you happiness today?

Or, better yet, let’s make it an “open-ended question”,

“Tell me what brings you happiness today!”

Now I have to admit that this sounds a bit awkward. I’m sure it would catch people off guard, but it would channel the response to the power of positivity. I mean how wonderful would it be to allow others to focus on the insignificant or significant aspects of their life that brings them happiness? Truth be told, we more often than not rehash the not-so-positive aspects of our day.

It doesn’t have to be that way, though. If we really take the time, the time to think, the time to look, we will find that happiness is all around us, even if it is something that we may deem insignificant.

So, without further ado, here is a mini list of what is bringing me happiness…what is saving my life right now.

  • My One Little Word (OLW) for 2018 —> simplicity. Since 2014, I’ve had a OLW to guide me through the year. Lately, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, but yet also have felt like I’ve accomplished very little. For 2018, I’ve streamlined several aspects of my life and have been reminding myself to keep. things. simple! So far simplicity has served me well for the month of January. It has bought me a focus and sense serenity, both of which in turn make me happy.
  • The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking: Hygge (pronounced HOO-GA) is a book about the secrets to Danish living. I stumbled upon the book way back in September and wanted to embrace the hygge lifestyle right away. I bought a copy of the book for my daughter and my husband read it too. Some of the aspects of a hygge lifestyle are good food, candles, fireplaces, and cozy blankets. The food aspect…well, we’ve got that covered, but if you happen to stop by my home you’ll notice candles, dim lights, and the best hygge blanket ever that just happens to be hand knit for me by my daughter, Maddie. Hygge makes me feel calm, relaxed, and happy!
  • The wallpaper on my iPhone. This past summer we took a family vacation to Europe. We captured tons (1,000+) of photos! Some of the best ones my husband took in the wee hours of the morning when all was quiet and calm. One of my favorites is of the Eiffel Tower. It’s now on my iPhone and it is a silent reminder of the vacation we were so blessed to be able to enjoy together.
  • My gratitude journal. I know I’ve mentioned my journals before, but I have really taken to my gratitude journal. It has honestly refocused and channeled my daily thoughts and feelings. I’ve developed a new format, because I’m focusing on simplicity, that allows for a focus in the AM and a reflection in the PM. I don’t write in it everyday, but I do write in it most days. I often catch myself rereading my entries and this too brings me moments of happiness.

Ode to the life savers! Regardless of how insignificant, these are just some of the things in my life right now that I can count on day in and day out to bring me happiness.

And while we might find it odd to greet people by asking them what is bringing them happiness or what is saving their life, I ask that you at least start with yourself.

Ask yourself what brings you happiness at the beginning of the day, throughout the day, or at the end of the day. Before you know it, your happiness list will get longer and longer! As you become more comfortable with the saying, perhaps you’ll find the courage to ask others, spread the power of positivity, and embrace the gratitude.



Believe it or not, the midpoint of the winter season is Friday, February 2nd! On this day blogger Anne Bogel encourages her readers to share what is saving their life right now. You can read about what is saving her life here and here.


What Worked for Me in 2016

It’s that time of the year when reflections are in full swing! I’m usually reading reflections of others, but this year I decided to write and share my own. So, here they are.

  • Journaling & Blogging: I ordered an Erin Condren journal at the end of 2015. I really didn’t have high aspirations for it when I purchased it. I just knew I wanted one. As I moved through 2016, I started to dabble in writing morning pages. Once I saw how rewarding my journaling was, I decided to challenge myself and fill the entire journal. While finding time to journal can be difficult and perhaps a deterrent at times, I always enjoy going back and rereading what I wrote. I even branched out and added some cute little doodles here and there in the journal. I’ve found it is a great way to capture those magical moments and celebrate all that is marvelous in my life. Likewise, blogging has worked for me in 2016. Not only do I enjoy reading the blog posts of others, but I have enjoyed sharing “slices of my life” right here on my blog.

Erin Condren Journal

  • Essential Oils: Yes, I love them! I was originally introduced to them by a dear friend who is no longer with me. He would always be telling me which ones I needed for this or which ones I need for that. I’ve since expanded my collection to include a diffuser and a wider variety of essential oils. I love to use them at night for a peaceful rest or if I feel a cold is lurking inside of me. I also enjoy using my diffuser in the bathroom. It gives it a “spa-like” feel and well, makes me feel special!

My diffuser and doTerra essential oils


  • Volunteering at the SPCA: In 2016 I spent more time volunteering in the Small Animal Room (SAR) at the SPCA. The SAR houses mostly Guinea pigs & rabbits. My work in the SAR pretty much consists of cleaning the poop out of the cages and feeding the animals. And while this may seem minuscule, it means a world of difference to the animals who have traveled a challenging road in their short life. I’ve also had the opportunity to volunteer for the Meet & Greet adoptions sessions at our local PetSmart. But the most rewarding part…the kisses and loves I get to give to these precious animals!


  • Instagram: This is my new social media go-to or should I say time-waster! One of the main reasons I have enjoyed it so much it the positivity of my IG feed. I enjoy the many positive quotes I capture, the inspiration from others, and the book recommendations that are posted. Oh, and yes, I adore following all those crazy rabbit-loving folks that share countless photos of their fur babies!


  • Running & Cross-Training:  While my milage in 2016 was a bit lower than the previous two years, I actually participated in more races and managed to squeeze out two more Personal Records (PR).  Perhaps I can accredit this to the Yoga/BODYFLOW that I have incorporated into my weekly exercise routine. I’m not sure how or why I am able to accomplish what I have, but I’ll just say it’s working and I’m good with that!



  • My One Little Word: For the last three years a One Little Word (OLW) has chosen me. In 2016, my OLW was “practice”. This has helped me maintain some sort of balance in my life by allowing me to focus on what is most important for me and for my family. I’m forever grateful that Matt is always there by my side by supporting me in my endeavors. Stay tuned for my OLW of 2017!

2016 OLW: practice

What worked for you in 2016?

I’d love for you to take a moment and share!


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races, races, races!

In August I raced…

who was there: Livvy & Me

what was my time & pace: 1 hour, 25 minutes, 42 seconds @ 8:37 pace

where the race was: York County Heritage Rail Trail

when did the race happen: August 27, 2016

why the race was awesome: I clinched 2nd place for my age group! I won my very own 2nd place beer glass. It’s kind of funny since I don’t even drink beer. And, this was a 10 mile personal record (PR) for me.

how many miles: 10 long, flat miles


In September I raced…

who was there: Sandy & Me

what was my time & pace: 25 minutes, 13 seconds @ 8:04 pace

where the race was: New Hope, PA (Run Now, Wine Later)

when did the race happen: September 18, 2016

why the race was awesome: It was a *short* race and we were served wine and o’dourves after our race. I ran this race last year and both years I had the exact same time. Just think that’s kind of interesting.

how many miles: 3.1 miles (5K)


In October I raced…

who was there: Sandy & Me

what was my time & pace: 1 hour, 49 minutes, 25 seconds @ 8:20 pace. Yes, I crushed it!

where the race was: Hershey, PA

when did the race happen: October 16, 2016

why the race was awesome: I set another 1/2 marathon personal record (PR) for myself and came in 13th for my age group! The course was hilly, but I pushed myself and can’t even believe I achieved another PR.

how many miles: 13.1 miles (1/2 marathon)


And in November I will race again (Turkey Trot 5k),

but in December I will rest!



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Whole 30: Love It or Loathe It?

There are less than 24 hours, less than 24 hours left on my Whole 30 journey! By the time this post is published I will be on Day #30.


***throw confetti***

***do a happy dance***

Matt and I began our journey on July 11th right after we wrapped up our family vacation. You can read the previous posts here, here, and here. Basically though, Whole 30 is about eating whole real/natural foods.


So, how has it been?

Truthfully it’s been an emotional roller coaster for me. Love, hate, tolerate is where I’ve been with this journey. But, I made a choice, I took a chance, and I definitely saw a change – a change for the positive no matter which way I look at it.

Whole 30, while it’s about food, I believe it’s about much more. It’s about self-control and a mindset, a growth mindset. It’s about planning and being prepared. It’s about setting expectations, making a commitment, and wrapping your mind around a challenge.

Yes, I missed cheese. Yes, I missed a glass of wine at dinner, and yes I missed ice cream. But, what I know for sure is that all of these foods will be consumed in limited quantities from this point forward. I am currently in the best shape of my life after completing Whole 30. While it wasn’t about weight loss for me, I did lose a significant amount of weight and so did Matt. I am truly amazed at how my body has changed. My sleep improved to a certain extent. It’s still not consistent, but it is improved. And, I do have more energy.

On the other hand, there were days that I didn’t want to eat another scrambled egg for breakfast. I didn’t want chia pudding as a snack. And, I certainly didn’t want to eat another daggone salad for lunch. I mean in the last thirty days we have had National Ice Cream Day and National Chocolate Chip Cookies Day…seriously!  I never even knew there was such a day and of course they had to fall during my Whole 30 journey. But, motivation is what got me to look the other way and stay committed to the goal I set out to reach. It became a habit, a healthy habit.


I’ve been committed to my fitness journey for the last five years. I run half-marathons, marathons, and cross-train. These activities burn serious, serious calories, and I have reaped the benefits of my exercise routine. It has taken time. Time I’m willing to spend to stay healthy. But this, Whole 30, is a definite game-changer. By day number 22, I was feeling calm, confident, and strong. The Whole 30 gurus call it “Tiger Blood” and it is a great feeling!

You hear so much about calories in, calories out, but I truly don’t believe that’s where you get your bang for your buck.


Real food, folks. Real whole food. Not protein shakes, not cutting back your calories so that you’re starving. I didn’t count one single calorie on this journey. Not one. I ate real food and I ate it whenever I wanted. I now realize how powerful food is, and unfortunately how much garbage food is out there. And, it’s out there! I read all the labels now. And so much of it is junk and overrun with sugar and mysterious ingredients. But, there is good stuff out there and you can find if you take the time and make the commitment.

So, Whole 30…do I love it or do I loathe it?

Yes, I loved it at times…

Yes, I loathed it at times…

But most of all I learned from it-the power of my mind, the power of my body, and the power of food. It does all start with food! While Whole 30 won’t be my day in and day out daily lifestyle, it has changed my thinking about what I will and will not eat from this point forward.





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Join Me at Starbucks!

If we were chatting at Starbucks this morning I would share…

that I bit the bullet and signed up for *three* races. My first race will be a ten mile race right here in my home town. It’s on the local rail trail. I am so familiar with the course that there shouldn’t be any surprises. The ten miler is right around the corner, and before I know it August 27th will be here. I also signed up for a 5k in New Hope, PA. It’s called Run Now, Wine Later. I mean who wouldn’t want to run a race the serves you wine at the finish line! Actually, I ran this race last year with my friend Sandy and we had so much fun we decided to go back this September. And last but not least, in October I will be running a half marathon in Hershey, PA. This will be the first time I participated in this race. Several of my running friends will be there too. With all these upcoming races, my training is in full swing!

If we were chatting at Starbucks this morning I would share…

that I attended the Scholastic Reading Summit in Leesburg, VA. It was a one day conference but we managed to make it a girls’ overnight stay for a little pampering at the beautiful Landsdowne Resort & Spa. The theme of the conference was the power of Independent Reading. Although it was a small conference it had a big bang of presenters. In just one day I had the opportunity to hear John Schumacher, Donalyn Miller, Nancie Atwell, Lauren Tarshis, and Sara Pennypacker. Everyone was so motivating! I came home with an AwEsOmE “swag bag” of books, compliments of the Scholastic Reading Summit, and I bought my own stack of books for our classroom library.  All the books at the Scholastic book fair were 25% off! I have so many new titles to share and book talks to present. ***throw confetti*** If a Scholastic Reading Summit is in your area, I highly recommend it.

If we were chatting at Starbucks this morning I would share…

that summer is quickly coming to an end. Maddie and I have been busy getting ready for her move back to college. This year she will have an apartment off campus so we have been diligently shopping for big and small items for her new place. We’ve been pricing everything from mattresses, to curtains, to decorations. It’s an exciting time and she’s quite anxious to have her own place and space.

If we were chatting at Starbucks this morning I would share…

that I am quite envious of the pastries you picked out to enjoy with your coffee. I would only be drinking a hot tea straight up with no sugar because I am on day 16 of 30 of my Whole 30 food challenge journey. I’m happy to say that I have successfully made it past the halfway mark. It’s been a challenge to say the least, but I guess if it was easy everyone would do it!

So, that’s what’s been happening this running, reading, and rockin’ mom’s world. I’m wondering what you would be sharing with me at Starbucks this morning!



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Note to Self

Tomorrow is the kickoff of our Whole 30 journey. As I embark on the next thirty days there are some points I want to keep in mind.

Note to Self #1:

It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell yourself this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black is.not.hard! You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only 30 days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth-the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime. (The Whole30, p.16)

Whole30 will be a challenge, and yes, challenges are hard! But, when I read this I think: Cancer vs. Whole30 – I choose Whole30, seriously! Then I think, look at what you have done – 4 marathons, each one 18 weeks of training. Yep, that was a challenge, and yes, hard, but that was longer than 30 days of eating healthy. Then, I think of Matt and his IRONMAN training. Which would I choose: IRONMAN vs. Whole30 – sign me up for Whole30!

Note to Self #2:

Don’t even consider the possibility of a “SLIP”! Unless I physically trip and my face lands in a box of donuts, there is no “slip”. I make the choice to eat something unhealthy. It is always a choice, so do not phrase it as an accident. Commit to the program 100% for the full 30 days. Don’t give myself an excuse to fail before I’ve even started. (Whole30, p.16)

This is important to me. Setting expectations allow me to wrap my mind around the challenge journey. And, my personality compliments setting expectations. If this is the rule, I follow it.

So, here we go! I can do hard things! Yes, I can!


Cleaning Out to Clean Up!

Yes, I’m starting to wrap my mind around my Whole 30 journey that will begin Monday, July 11th. I’m in the “I have to eat it so I don’t eat it” mode.


I’m glad to report that the Thomas’ English muffins and waffles are now gone. GONE! NO MORE! But the bagels are still lingering and there is some yogurt. Regardless, I will start to transition my breakfast. The Hershey’s dark chocolate kisses need to go too. As we get ready to leave for vacation I think we will pack some of these snacks and other items with us so when we return they are GONE too. The wine is gone. I’ll have some on vacation, but no more will enter our house until after August 9th. I usually don’t gravitate toward soda but we better take the few cans of Sprite that are hanging around. There is no sense in having temptation waiting for us. Perhaps I’ll replace it with La Croix sparkling water when I feel that need for a little extra oomph or zing of taste. Fortunately, I believe I will have success with my beverages. I’ve been enjoying my cucumber infused water in my glass water bottle and I already drink my tea “straight up” – no sugar or honey added.


Let’s just get it out there! Here’s what I’ll miss:

  • mozzarella cheese
  • yogurt
  • English muffins
  • ice cream – boy will I miss this!
  • Hershey’s dark chocolate kisses
  • croutons on my salad
  • brie cheese
  • butter
  • mayonnaise
  • burritos
  • Jasmine rice
  • risotto
  • pasta
  • Chinese take-out
  • a glass of wine with dinner

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. Again, Matt will be my saving grace. I know with proper food planning I will be able to forget about these items. Well, maybe not ice cream! Possibly this won’t be so bad. I already know that rice can be replaced with cauliflower rice and pasta can be replaced with spaghetti squash and zucchini noodles. How about tomato sauce? That will need to be replaced. Guess, I better go read some more, but I am glad I’m already on the path of cleaning out to clean up!


thirty days, just thirty days!

So, I said, “yes”! Yes that is to the Whole 30 challenge journey. While it’s been in the back of my mind, I finally decided to make the commitment. The commitment to eat whole foods that taste good and that are good for you-for thirty days, just thirty days. I have asked myself why do the the Whole 30 challenge and honestly I’m not quite sure. So then I replied with a why not. I mean why not do the Whole 30 challenge. Perhaps it’s the fact that Matt will be doing the challenge and I don’t want to be left out. Seriously though, I have nothing to lose and much to gain; I hope!



What I’m really hoping is that it will help with my sleep, or truthfully, lack there of. I have absolutely no problem falling asleep, but staying asleep is another issue. You see my body only seems to want to sleep for about five hours and then I’m awake, wide awake. By the time I’m ready to fall back asleep, well, then it’s time to rise & shine. Topple that with the fact that I would love to take a nap at about 4:00 pm everyday makes for a very nerve-wracking sleep pattern. That’s my biggest goal for the challenge beside the fact that I want to eat healthier.


Now that I have said “yes”, I do have some concerns so I want to get them out there. They need to be out there so I can start to wrap my mind around them. My first concern is what am I going to do when I need a quick meal? Pasta is just about always my go to meal when I need something fast and easy. Yes, I LOVE Easy Mac, and I’m not going to lie! I also enjoy cheese and yogurt if I want to pretend I’m making a healthy choice. I’ll be okay giving up bread, um…I think, and I love a bowl of ice cream before I go to bed so I’ll need to find a new night time snack. Perhaps, bananas. I tolerate them but never really look forward to eating them – a bowl of ice cream vs. a banana? Hummm…what would you choose? Well, maybe an apple with some almond butter. That’s a possibility too.


What else is on my mind? I guess I’m worried about what do we will do when friends want us to go to out to eat. I know… invite them over to eat at our house is what we’ll do. That would be a good alternative. I know that our saving grace will be Matt’s culinary skills. I am so fortunate to have a true chef that studied the culinary arts at the Culinary Institute of America. As Matt and I go through our Whole 30 journey, I’ll be sure to share his creations here on the blog!


Then there is the fact that I do have a conference scheduled only three days into my Whole 30 journey. Thankfully I have some time to think about this and plan accordingly. Also my friend Holly has already completed one round of Whole 30 so I will be seeking her guidance and expertise for those initial days and throughout the thirty days.


The last issue on my mind is meal prep. As I alluded earlier, I’m concerned about what to do for quick and easy food. This is where meal prep will be important. It will help when when I think there is nothing to eat and it will help me for when I need to eat something quick before a workout or before a run. I’m thinking Sunday, of course, to make sure snacks are prepared and to make sure meals are planned for the week. Breakfast will be easy and Matt will be able to whip something up for dinner lickty-split. I’m just not sure about lunch yet, but I still have a lot of reading to do so I’m sure I’ll come up with something.



So it’s official! He said “yes” and she said “yes”! The start date for our journey is July 11, 2016, and our journey will end on August 9, 2016. We got this…thirty days, just thirty days!


we got this!