Annual Vacation NOT the Same Old Same Old!

Friends, I just came off our annual family lake vacation more energized than ever before! We’ve been driving up to the Alexandria, MN area for 24 years, many of which exhausted me…I usually returned home feeling like I needed a vacation from my vacation. Does that make sense?

It used to be a crazy week for me when the kiddos were younger, making sure we packed everything, keeping them from drowning or hooking each other with their fishing rods, keeping up with their unlimited energy and filling each moment with unforgettable memories…kind of like being the activities director. I suffered burnout every year. And I’m just going to say that a week is a lot of together time for our tribe!

Luckily, seasons change, kids grow and I wised up.

This year it finally hit me…the only person’s activities I needed to direct were my own, so I aimed a very different direction that made all the difference!

A solo five mile walk around Lake Moses was refreshing. The birds serenaded and the breeze coaxed me forward while the water beckoned…ahhhhh.

A trip into town treated me to a relaxing energy work/intuitive reading/massage session. Another soulful way to spend some me time.

I stopped to enjoy coffee and conversation with someone I heard astounding things about…thanks, Fr. Darin!

I treated myself to a ridiculously expensive, playful dress for my son’s upcoming wedding…a dress that shouts FUN (kind of like me haha)!!!

I took time for the things that feed my soul…catching nearly every awe-inspiring sunrise.

And oh, those sunsets. And while my family continued to do all the things they do on vacation, I set out to try a few new things…like marking SUP yoga off my bucket list with the extraordinary instructor, Karen of Kosha Wellness at the Lake Carlos Marina.

 

That experience only lasted 90 minutes, but it will be etched on my heart forever! Namaste.

 

I’ve never taken time to explore my passions during this annual vacation quite like this year. Do you know what happens when I do? I find fascinating new FIT BFFs that feel like old friends…how amazing to be able to vibe on this tribe! Loved meeting you, Nikki, Siw and Karen; can’t wait to do it again!

Sure, I spent some time with the fam…

But I took things slower, calmer, quieter…

Watching my kids (and soon-to-be daughter-in-law) grow even more independent, yet enjoying the inner child within each of them.

I made the annual F Day dessert to honor the dads in the bunch, while still missing my own dad fiercely.

So much so, I decided to treat my wounded heart to a healing session with Debra at Soul Harvest & Healing.

My time spent with her was the best gift I could’ve given myself. I feel like crying all over again (in a good way) just thinking about what happened in that sacred space.

Before I knew it, the week was over…

It was time for one last paddle around Lake Aaron to bid my beloved playground a fond farewell… reminiscing over a beautiful, wonderful week of new beginnings.

I can’t wait until next year!

52 Fridays…It’s All in How You Look at It!

I’m running a bit behind this week, as I wrap up one week of travel and look toward the next. It’s Friday again, Friends! Another opportunity to settle in, get comfortable and breathe.

This week’s 52 Fridays takes a look at the idea that life is constantly changing, whether we like it or not. Within a lifetime, we go through countless beginnings and endings. Take some time to consider what’s going on in your life. Are you finding yourself at the end of a chapter or chapters? Does this feel good for you or does it fill you with trepidation? Are you prepared to move forward?

If you look deeper, does it appear to be not just an end, but a new beginning of sorts? If we take time to consider that endings are merely the start of something new or different, we can begin to feel excited about the upcoming chapters of our stories.

If we can learn to put a more positive spin on life’s surprises, those tricky transitions that once felt unsettling can begin to find you gliding over calm waters. It takes practice, but soon you’ll be turning those stormy seas into smoothe sailing.

Shifting perspective in such a way is one more great way to put our Best Foot Forward.

52 Fridays…Nourish to Flourish

Yup, Friends, it’s totally that time again…52 Fridays! We survived another week and are headed for the weekend! YAY!!!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed so many people running around, stressed to the limit, trying to accomplish their tasks in a hurried frenzy this week. Is that you? Unfortunately, I’m very guilty! It doesn’t even add up for me, as school is out around here…our son is off for the summer, but those summer activities are already in full swing. Somewhere, I missed that notion of relaxed summer days, but I’m about to do something about that!

I’ve learned when I am at this point, to pull back. It’s time to observe the observer…to break it down and get to the heart of the cause. In doing so, I can look around, adjust what needs it and go forward a bit lighter. Refreshed.

That is my sole aim this next week, and it can be yours too!

Take some quiet time for yourself. Breathe. What items on your calendar can you let go for next week to bring yourself back to a more “youer” you? Think about what feeds your soul (maybe take a moment to make a list) and carve out some time for that instead.

It’s impossible to flourish is we are constantly throwing ourselves forward into the next thing, and the next thing…we need time to replenish ourselves. It is not selfish, it’s absolutely necessary! It’s very important to understand, this is not a one-time fix; it’s a constant work in progress.

Friends, this 52 Fridays challenges you to remember what nourishes you because you’ve got to nourish to flourish.

Have a nourishing weekend!

 

I Still Do!

Today marks 24 years I’ve been married to my BFF! I can’t imagine where in the world I would be without Eric by my side. He’s supported me through every last challenge and struggle I’ve encountered…loved me though them all. He encouraged me every single step throughout my tumultuous road to a healthier, happier me. Truth is, he has loved me unconditionally, whether at my largest or smallest. My size never mattered to him, only my happiness.

As I searched for a quote that sized up this relationship, many resonated, but one stood out today…

“Every love story is beautiful, but ours is my favorite.”

Friends, I’ve recently been reminded again and again of a story I shared over a year ago.

Funny how a symbol of love can mean so many different things throughout a relationship. At this moment back in February 2017 is was far more than a token of our love…it was also a great metaphor for the repaired, resized, restored new me (and we).

If you missed it, check out my greatest NSV-non scale victory of my transformation journey…that gift is still very much giving here.

Happy Anniversary, Babe!

52 Fridays…Because You’re Worth It!

Yay for us, Friends, we made it to another 52 Fridays! Forget about what craziness might be going on around you. Take a moment to stop thinking about your to-do list…you deserve a little me time! So grab that beverage, journal, pen, cozy into that chair and let’s just breathe!

If you’ve been around here long, you know how I feel about the myriad of things that are vying for our time and attention. I’ve learned that I don’t need to say yes to every volunteer opportunity, I can let events and happeneings pass me by. Really, it’s okay! Because in doing so, I have more time to come back to me, to regain focus, clarity, balance.

Take some time to pinpoint and record the things you prioritize on a daily/weekly/monthly basis…are YOU included in that mix? If yes, good for you…keep it up! If not, what things on that list can you let go? What would you do for yourself if you had a bit more time to focus on you?

Friends, I PROMISE it’s not selfish to love and care for yourself, to prioritize your happiness…it’s a basic need! Once you accept that, look out…your life is about to change in ways that will astound you. Why? Because you are worthy!

Cents of Style Dress Review and SALE!

Friends, I’ve been searching for the perfect dress for my son’s outdoor wedding next month. The venue is a beautiful, built-for-weddings barn and meadow. The standard mother-of-the-groom dress is not what I’m looking for; I’m aiming for something comfortable, airy, playful. On my hunt, I came across a dress that caught my attention.

The kind folks at Cents of Style generously provided me with that dress in exchange for a test drive and sharing my results with readers. How cool is that?!?

I should tell you, I didn’t have high hopes. About 98% of what I tried on in brick and mortar shops looked fantastic on the hanger, but much less so on me. I have a tough time finding a dress that fits my uniquely proportioned physique. When this little number arrived, though, I thought only positive thoughts as I removed it from the neatly tissued packaging.

Almost every dress I tried prior was fitted, constricting, too short for my generous legs’ liking…I was not having much luck. The moment I slipped into this Shelly Lattice Back Dress, I knew it was a keeper! Remember I said I wanted comfortable, airy, playful? Well this was all of that! The polyester/spandex content, a super-soft fabric, is comfier than my jammies! Its cut is generous and drapes in all the right places…so much better than the fitted straightjackets!

Keep in mind, I’m no model, so I will provide some additional pics from Cents of Style to give a better idea of what it looks like in a moment. But first…a little visit to the park with my soon-to-be-married son. He was such a great sport in capturing what this dress does for me.

I was in my element…I LOVE the outdoors, but I don’t often (well never, really) wear a dress outside. But because I didn’t feel trapped within this garment, I could be myself…I could let my light shine!

I mean, I don’t often visit a park without relaxing…

I didn’t realize just how at home I felt until I found myself doing what I do…soaking in the good vibes of nature!

And do you know how comfortable I was? Well, this is the first dress I’ve ever been tempted to climb a tree while wearing. It made me reminisce about the relaxed fit of play clothes from my childhood.

Not even kidding…I was right up there in that tree. In a dress. A dress that allowed me to be totally and completely ME!

If I’m this comfy here, I’m excited about how great it will feel to wear this versatile dress to work, play, church, parties, picnics, the beach, etc. As for the wedding, I can’t yet be certain I’ve said yes to the dress, but this could be it!

As promised, a few professional shots provided by Cents of Style. Check out the fun shape and colors…

  

Comfortable, airy, playful…Cents of Style nailed it and they want you to experience that feeling too! Friends, here’s the good news…this dress retails for $54.95. And the GREAT news…between now and Wednesday, 6/13, you can save 35% and enjoy free shipping too with this VIP Exclusive Offer just for you, FITBFFs readers!

Simply follow the link below to a comfortable, airy, playful summer dress of your own for under 36 bucks! You may not climb trees in yours, but I know whatever you choose to do, you’ll feel comfortable, airy and playful too!

Exclusive Deal for FITBFFs – 35% off Summer Dress! + FREE Shipping w/code: FITBFF

 

Keto Adventure Kickoff

Friends, I have been considering changing up my eating for quite some time. I’ve been really curious about the keto or ketogenic diet and have felt like my body has been wanting me to give it a whirl. I didn’t understand quite how I was going to lose weight by eating lots of fat, some protein and very little carbs, so I did several weeks worth of research. I joined some Facebook groups too. But what really gave me that final nudge was “The Magic Pill” –a Netflix documentary that follows several people through the beginning stages of their keto journey. I found their results profound!

What is the keto diet? Simply stated, it is a low-carb, high-fat way of eating. People following this diet burn through their small portion of carbs quickly, so their body then switches to fat for energy. And when this occurs, it’s said the body goes into a state of ketosis. Many people who follow a keto diet have weight loss success and a host of other benefits. Not everything works for everyone, but I hope my body is one of those that finds success. I’ve finally come to the point where I just have to try!

I spent the past week reading everything I could on the subject while eating up the foods in my cupboard that are not good ingredients for keto. By the end of the week, our cupboards looked like that of Old Mother Hubbard! Our poor teenage son began to get concerned.

Although he will continue to eat his way, I’m excited my husband is joining me on this adventure! Eric and I took a trip to Aldi yesterday to see what we could find for our first week of keto. We read lots of labels. LOTS! And we may not have made expert choices, but we managed to leave the store with a selection of items that, teamed with what we already had on hand, will provide us a good variety to keep us from getting bored the first week.

Armed with an array of choices, we kicked off our adventure this morning. Ordinarily, when I begin a new eating plan, I’m nervous. But, Friends, I am intrigued! I’m about to eat so many foods I previously thought detrimental to my health…seems to go against nearly everything I knew about healthy eating. We shall see!

I documented yesterday’s grocery haul and today’s breakfast/lunch on the Facebook page and was surprised by the response. I had friends and followers reach out, my inbox was inundated with a flood of folks offering support, encouragement, advice and even multiple cookbooks coming my way! They really made my day!

I used the My Fitness Pal app on my phone to track my eating because I’m accustomed to it and I love how it easily breaks down the macros for me. Here’s a peek at my day…

Breakfast was a flavor filled mushroom and cheese omelette with bacon and coffee…yum!

Lunch was an experiment using a sliced Mexi Cali chicken patty on a bed of spinach and arugula with avocado, blueberries and ranch. It was so amazing, I plan to make it for dinner tomorrow night so Eric can experience it too!

I didn’t photograph the walnuts and almonds I had for a snack, or the many ounces of water I sipped, but I rounded out my day with a sirloin steak, avocado, broccoli and strawberries. And I am FULL. I’ve actually felt full all day. And on 1580 calories, I’ve never really been able to say that before!

Here’s a look at how the day measured up. Not bad for my first attempt. True confession…I took today off from work, so I’m not sure how tomorrow will go when I don’t have an abundance of time to prepare meals. But I’m not too concerned. I actually welcome the challenge and look forward to feeling how my body performs tomorrow when I put it through a tough workout fueled by fat! I’m already thinking very good thoughts!

Have you gone keto? If so, feel free to leave a comment below. I’d love to hear how it went or is going for you!

52 Fridays…Expect the Wonderful

Are you like me? Did your week go by so fast you feel like your head is spinning? I can’t, for the life of me, figure out where it went! This is a crazy-busy, insanely-paced time of year for me, but I know it’s only for another week until school is done. I’m only thinking good thoughts as I attempt to keep up!

And that thought brings me to today’s episode of 52 Fridays! I’ve got my beverage, journal and pen readied, I’m cozied into my chair and ready to explore this week’s idea. Come along!

It fits right into this time of year for many. Back when I was living a much unhealthier lifestyle, weeks like these would tear me apart. Why? It was all in my way of thinking. I was always on guard…just waiting for and expecting the next bad thing to happen. And do you know what? That’s exactly what happened because that was what I had my brain trained to look for. How depressing is that?!?

Let’s examine your way of thinking. Do you worry? Are you just waiting for the next thing to break or to derail your day or life? If so, how does that feel? For me it was downright exhausting, until I made a mindful change. It took me some time to shift my thinking, but once I did, I was able to recognize that feeling, adjust my thoughts and let the negative go. I can tell you it has made a world of difference in my life. And I’m sure my drop to a normal blood pressure has much to do with this more positive way of thinking.

If you don’t already, could you shift your thinking to expecting the positive instead? What does that look like for you? Take a few moments to try it on for size, then notice how you feel? Jot down those thoughts and feelings. Want to make an even bigger impact? It will take some effort, but put it do daily practice! You will be surprised at what happens…I promise!

If you only expect the wonderful, look out…here it comes!

52 Fridays…Dream BIG!

Yup, it’s that time again…happy 52 Fridays, Friends! Now that we are headed into summer, you may choose to switch out that warm soothing beverage for something cooler…water, iced tea, wine cooler…hey, I won’t judge (but I do recommend something hydrating)! Grab that journal and pen, cozy in and let’s make some plans!

Memorial Day weekend marks the start of summer! If we don’t take time to think about what we hope to get out of this special time of year, it can easily pass us by! I LOVE summer because the weather is conducive to so many activities that feed me on a soul level. What will you do this summer?

I want to challenge you to dream. If you could do something, anything, outside your comfort zone, what would it be? Is there something a bit crazy and intimidating you’ve been wanting to do for a long time, but you are holding back? I have a whole list, but this is more about you! What are you waiting for? It’s not a secret that none of us are getting any younger. It’s time to put pen to paper…what are those bucket list items you’ve been dreaming of doing that maybe give you a funny, tingly feeling of fear behind your ribs/lungs (that’s where I sense it, anyway)?

I mean, don’t go too crazy…I feel led to remind you of my disclosure, although I am encouraging you to step outside your comfort zone…consult with your physician before doing anything completely insane because I can’t be held responsible haha!

I have found the things that I dreamt of doing, the big ones that scared me the most…running my first 5k, my first 10k, my first half and first full marathon, my first backpacking trek, riding RAGBRAI, completing the black course at Flagstaff Extreme, climbing to the Hidden Peak summit for an aerial tram ride down Snowbird, a canoeing journey through the Boundary Waters. I could totally go on. My point is, without any of these adrenaline rushes, my life would feel pretty mundane, I’d always feel like a great big part of who I am is missing.

I’ve been imangining some pretty exciting (adrenaline-explosive) dreams for the next few years, but without making plans, setting goals…well, they just won’t happen.

So the opportunity is NOW, Friends, take some quiet time to determine just what you dream of doing if you had the determination, the courage, the fearlessness to do it. Dream BIG, Friends. And my Memorial Day triple dog dare…set a date to just DO IT!!!

Write it on the calendar, start preparing, put your Best Foot Forward and enjoy the full length of summer. I would LOVE to know what you dream up…please leave a comment below with what you plan to go out there and do!!!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Growing Around the Grief

Growing up, my parents taught me a LOT about gardening. They grew an impressive vegetable garden each year and included me in every aspect of its growth. I’m grateful to have learned the process. So much so, that I’ve carried the practice into my adult life. I’d like to say I’m half the gardener they were, but maybe someday I’ll get there.

Our family’s time-honored tradition of planting occured every year between May 14th-21st for reasons I’ll get to in a minute. I wanted to follow this rule, but was incredibly busy all week in preparation of some pretty important events.

Our family is growing. Hitting me square in the feels, our oldest son Logan arrived smack-dab into adulthood Friday night, graduating from the Mayo Clinic’s Paramedic Medicine Program. That sweet little heart of a boy has grown so much and is ready to save the world one person at a time!

And the family is growing in other directions too…Saturday afternoon, my amazing mother-in-law did an exquisite job of helping me shower Logan’s fiance in a lovely manner. We will soon be adding this beautiful young woman, Anna, into our tribe. Again with the feels, Friends!

So yesterday I needed to decompress, to let it all sink in how quickly this precious life goes by. I found myself out in that garden…boy did that thing need attention to get it planted by my deadline.

See, we used the May 14th-21st span because the frost is generally done by then, an easy rule of thumb for us to remember because those dates are my brother and dad’s birthdays. My dad’s birthday was rolling around again, this the 7th year we’d celebrate without him. These special days so hard to get through, yet I’ve grown, Friends, and I had a plan to observe this year a bit differently.

I’m stronger these days, more grateful for EVERYTHING! I couldn’t help focusing on that gratitude yesterday as I rototilled with the tiller my dad gave me when he stopped gardening. Couldn’t help feeling him holding on because the thing is a BEAST! I planted all my seed vegetables yesterday but saved the seedlings for today.

I purchased my plants just as it began to rain. Drat! But do you know what? I was so determined to finish planting by the 21st that I did it in the rain. He’s probably the one up there who made it rain anyway…he was quite the jokester and why would now be any different. Instead of feeling the familiar heaviness in my heart, I smiled.

I wore one of his favorite shirt jackets, played a playlist of all the songs just like he used to play on the organ, and I got it done. On time! The birds we both love were out there singing too…it was as if he was right there with me, and we had a ball. I can’t wait to watch this garden grow and think he had something to do with it. This felt like the perfect way to spend his day.

Birthdays have always been very special in our family. I look back to one of the last we celebrated with him, and gratitude hits me square in the heart again…

I came upon a video on Facebook the other day that best illustrates how we grieve; it made HUGE sense to me. Check it out here.

I wanted to share it with any of you missing a loved one so much it hurts. As I think back to the pain of missing this guy these past seven birthdays, yet moving forward with an abundant, happy life, it makes perfect sense. I’m growing around the grief.

Happy 82nd Lotus Conrad, thanks for being there today!