On the road again

The title of this post might have you humming the Willie Nelson song, dreaming of a road trip. While I love a good road trip, I’m talking about road running here. It’s been a while … okay, according to my Garmin, it had been nearly two months … since I’ve woken up, laced up my running shoes and hit the streets for a morning run.

I’m sorry to admit that my running had been sporadic even two months ago. I’d maybe go once a week. The past two weeks I’ve stepped into an old habit. And it feels good. I’m not running long distances (no more than 3 miles) and that’s okay. Maybe the pressure I put on myself to run at least 4-6 miles on each run is what pulled me from one of my favorite hobbies because running that much didn’t interest me at the moment. I’ve realized running even 1 mile is worth so much. In these hot, humid (so very humid!) August days it doesn’t take long for me to work up a good sweat. I had forgotten how good it feels to start the day with a run. The endorphins, the morning dew, birds chirping, sun rising – all that corny stuff – feel good. And to think fall is just around the corner – my favorite season to run outside.

I’ll be spending Labor Day weekend at the high-desert utopia that is the Gorge. I plan on taking my yoga practice to new heights and going on a run down to the Columbia River. Ooh, that means I’ll have to come back up! Good thing I’m used to hills in my hometown!


Happy holiday weekend, everyone!


Falling for Clean Eating


Spring is typically associated with rebirth, renewal and starting fresh. For me, fall represents those things. It may be because my birthday typically lands on the first day of autumn, but I always feel refreshed and ready to declutter my closets and mind when the leaves start to fall and the air becomes crisper.

This fall, I look forward to continuing my clean-eating journey. Since first doing the challenge in April, I’ve pretty much stuck to the plan, filling my plate and belly with organic/non-GMO foods and steering clear of refined sugar and processed junk. But it’s the summer and I’ve enjoyed vacations. Inevitably, I’ve indulged, drank a little too much wine and enjoyed delectable desserts. I’ve seen the difference in my skin and energy levels. When I follow a cleaner diet (and one free of dairy, gluten, refined sugar and soy), my skin is clearer and energy higher. And I sleep better.

As an Arbonne independent consultant, I’m leading the 28-day challenge that began on Aug. 4. I’ve enjoyed inspiring others to lead a healthier lifestyle. They are on Week 3 and I’m so proud they’ve stuck it out this long! Along with them, I’ve prepared “clean” meals and supplemented my diet with the detox-worthy and gut-bliss promoting Arbonne products. Naturally, I’m enjoying the benefits of a cleaner diet.

The other day a friend asked me about another diet in which health professionals advocate consuming only 500 calories per day. This plan floors me. It seems any qualified nutritionist would know that drastically cutting calories can put the body into starvation mode. Metabolism slows down and blood sugar levels can plummet. Hormones in the body react, and cause your body to store fat. Keeping blood sugar levels stable is key to any weight management program. That’s why I’m such a proponent of Arbonne’s pure, safe and natural approach. The program touts eating real food that’s not processed or that comes in a box. It encourages buying from your local farmer and cooking in your own kitchen. I used to hold onto to the story I had been telling myself for years – “I’m not a good cook.” Because of this 28-day challenge, I found I am a good cook and am perfectly capable of preparing a meal with multiple ingredients and steps. Such a freeing feeling.

The next challenges start Sept. 8 and Sept. 22 (my birthday!). What a birthday treat it would be for me for you to join me on this life-changing journey! :)


The email had me at “coast.” Working for a local magazine that covers a range of topics, my email is flooded daily with pitches, advice and story ideas from public relations execs and advertising agencies. This subject line caught my eye: “INVITATION: Press trip to Experience the Emerald Coast.” A fully-funded trip. This was too good to be true. It had to be.

emeraldcoast_fourpointssheratonHard to pass up that view, don’t you agree?

I forwarded the email to my team. We run busy schedules so it can take a while for these things to be considered. After a week or two of kicking it around and dreaming about the trip, my boss came in my office, suggesting I represent the magazine on this “girlfriend getaway” adventure!

I gladly accepted the invitation from Margaret at Peter Mayer Advertising in New Orleans. She coordinated the press weekend and kept us on task while there. I packed my beach towel & sunscreen and was ready to enjoy a complimentary flight and long weekend stay at the Four Points by Sheraton. During the jam-packed weekend (Aug. 7-10) exploring Fort Walton Beach, Destin & Okaloosa Island with remarkable cuisine and beach activities, I had the privilege of meeting and learning from other writers and professionals. We shared every meal and excursion together. We shared laughs and sang songs together in our fancy ride for the weekend – a top-of-the-line minivan. I will never hear the 1980s version of “Puttin on the Ritz” the same way, thanks to Misty of Girl Will Travel. ;) I’m amazed at how spending a few days with strangers can turn into lifetime memories.

emeraldcoast_ajs_emeraldgrandeThis photo encompasses the camaraderie we established in just a short time. After a delightful lunch at AJ’s World Famous Seafood & Oyster Bar on Saturday during which we were spoiled by the restaurant’s marketing director (and history buff extraordinaire!), he was gracious to transport us by golf cart to our next stop. The Spa at Emerald Grande is on the Harborwalk, where AJ’s is located, but it was hot & humid, and after a two-hour adventure with standup paddle boarding, we happily accepted the ride – albeit a bit overcrowded. We giggled along.

The spa experience – ahhhhh, what a relaxing hour. I melted into the massage table and afterward felt like one of the jellyfish I had spotted the day before at the Gulfarium.

The Gulfarium (right next to my hotel resort, turns out) is where we experienced up-close-and-personal encounters with dolphins. I know aquariums and zoos can spark controversy, and I’m no animal/marine life expert, but I can say the animals at the Gulfarium seem happy and cared for in the most humane and proper way possible. We talked to one knowledgable trainer who most definitely cares about how animals are treated. That warmed my heart. The child in me was giddy over the dolphin encounter. I’ve been fascinated by them since I can remember.


emeraldcoast_gulfarium_dolphins4Our group of three (me + Nathalie from Chattanooga and Tyler, the social media guru from Peter Mayer) played with Cosmo, who’s 10.


Hope he didn’t mind having his tail held and or his belly rubbed. I sure enjoyed it :)


One of my favorite views at the Gulfarium was this elevated spot.

IMG_6678What a perfect view of the green water, sugary-white sand and beach life.

Other highlights of the trip were a visit to Destin Commons and Uncle Buck’s Fishbowl & Grill, candlelit meal at Cuvee Bistro, standup paddle boarding in Harborwalk Village, another fabulous meal at Jackacuda’s Seafood & Sushi and a to-die-for-brunch at Clemenza’s. I could have stayed and talked for hours with Clemenza’s owner, Dom Damiano – the real Italian deal. He’s brought so much history and richness from his Chicago upbringing to this uptown bistro (sister restaurant to his Fat Clemenza’s pizzeria).

Pictures tell it best so here goes …

Fruit plate greeted me upon arrival at Four Points

Fruit plate greeted me upon arrival at Four Points

Under the pier

Under the pier

emeraldcoast_blackpearlOur sunset view during dinner at the Black Pearl. Thanks to Kendra Moore – our helpful, fun and very knowledgable tour guide – with the Emerald Coast Convention & Visitors Bureau, we were alerted at the perfect photo-op time.

My first meal – seared tuna (double yum!)

My first meal – seared tuna (double yum!)

Super neat bowling alley/grill

Super neat bowling alley/grill

Underwater theme inside the bowling alley/grill

Underwater theme inside the bowling alley/grill

Handpainted murals and carefully crafted props give the underwater illusion

Handpainted murals and carefully crafted props give the underwater illusion

After our bowling alley tour and warm welcome reception from the Destin Common folks, we dined at Cuvee Bistro. We were met with fireworks.

emeraldcoast_cuveebistroWell, not really fireworks, but sparklers!

Sunrise ...

Sunrise …

Our SUP adventure begins ...

Our SUP adventure begins …



emeraldcoast_SUPWe stood up once we reached the other side of the harbor. SUPing is a recreational activity (and great workout) I can’t wait to do again! You’re practically standing on water. Doesn’t get much better than that!

Hmm … maybe paddle board yoga is in my future. ;)


Jetpack anyone?

Southern Star Dolphin Cruise time!

Southern Star Dolphin Cruise time!


emeraldcoast_sunsetcruiseSunset over the Gulf. The moon was just as impressive that night.



 Sunday came too soon. I set my alarm an hour earlier so I could take one last walk on the beach.


Till we meet again!

In the meantime, girlfriends (or boyfriends), get your crew together and go #emeraldcoasting!






… and I’m off!


Big news!

I had my official launch party last night to kick off my Arbonne business! I was nervous that no one would show up, anxious and excited for the unknown journey ahead. I’m happy and so very thankful to report that I had a good crowd. Some I had personally invited and others were invited by my friends (and my oh-so supportive mom!) and their friends.

I planned this party knowing I would have just returned from a jam-packed business trip to the beach (more on that soon!). But because of its location and the relaxed trance the ocean breeze through my hair and the sand between my toes typically put me in, I figured I would still be in “beachy” mode upon my return. Once I reached the mainland and back into a crowded airport, the salty air and crashing waves became a faint memory. It was back to the hustle of everyday life. And I was one tired pup after a long weekend of eating, more eating and beach-activity hopping. The thought Sunday night of hosting a party the next day after a full’s day of work was daunting.

BUT I knew I had a great support team in place. As per usual, I worried for nothing. My good friend Alex offered her mother’s idyllic home for the evening. That generous offer took weight off my shoulders – no cleaning or party prep was required. I walked into her perfectly manicured home with my bags of product samples & food and was ready to set up.

Amy, one of the Arbonne regional vice presidents in my upline, offered to host my launch party. I was fortunate to have her on board. A wealth of knowledge, she’s business-minded with a calm, at-ease approach. I’ve learned so much from her. Breezy, who re-introduced me to Arbonne, was able to come, too! She teaches evening yoga classes so it can be difficult for her to attend evening affairs. I am so happy she could attend!

The happy-smelling and oh-so-moisturzing Awake Sea Salt Scrub greeted guests as I had them lather their hands in the goodness upon entering the party. A Pomegranate Energy Fizzy Stick + frozen strawberry concoction refreshed their palates. Judging by the empty serving pieces at the end of the night, they didn’t seem to mind that the snacks I offered were detox-friendly and healthy :) – even the bite-sized protein bars that taste like nutty brownies.

The time came for me to share my “why” with the group. I was nervous at first, but this overwhelming sense of confidence came over me and I knew I was where I am supposed to be. It went something like this:

They say one thing leads to another or a new experience might open another door. This new thing for me was yoga. My co-worker Katie introduced me to Barefoot Studio three years ago. I latched on pretty quickly and yoga began to transform my life. I came to know Breezy, who owns Barefoot, more and more and she quickly grew to be a great source of inspiration for me. I appreciate her honesty and integrity and genuine nature.

Back in January, I started noticing all of these posts she was sharing on Facebook about this Arbonne clean eating challenge. I thought, “I eat healthy and exercise. I’m good.” But as the months wore on, Breezy kept posting about all of wonderful things she was feeling and experiencing because she changed her eating lifestyle. Finally, after three months of seeing her posts, I decided to give it a try. I was feeling bloated and having digestive issues. I knew Arbonne products were quality products because I had used them before. I thought, “It can’t hurt.”

Within one week of being on the challenge and seeing the physical and emotional changes in me, I knew I had made the right choice. People started asking me about it and wanting to try it. That’s when I knew I wanted to have my own Arbonne business. Helping people feel and look their best makes me feel good. The perk is I get compensated for recommending good products and helping others. When you recommend a favorite lipstick from Sephora or the lotion you got at the Body Shop, you don’t get paid for advertising for that company. Arbonne rewards you.

I think about my future now more than ever. There are no guarantees in life and I want to be able to provide for myself and build a cushion for a prosperous life. I enjoy adventures, meeting new people and developing meaningful friendships. Arbonne has already done that for me. It can only get better from here. I’m canceling out negative thoughts like ‘What if it doesn’t work?’ to ‘But what if it does.'”

I reconnected with some old friends I hadn’t seen in a while and everyone seemed to have a good time. It was a perfect evening. My only regret from the night? There are no pictures! I’m usually the picture-taker, and well, I was a bit busy :) There’s always next time!



My yoga moment

A few weeks ago, YogaGlo – an online yoga service for at-home practice – asked for stories sharing “aha” yoga moments. The Facebook call to action also said you could mention your yoga studio and they would share that link as well. I love my hometown yoga studio and thought, “why not?” Maybe inspire someone and give some love to Barefoot Studio – a win-win.

I submitted my story and had forgotten about it until this morning. I get notifications from YogaGlo when they update on Facebook. I liked the quote on the photo they shared: “The beauty of yoga is you never fail. You do what you can in that given moment. Nothing more, nothing less.” Then I realized that was my quote! They shared my lil story. (They did misspell my last name, but oh well.)

I was having a bad morning. This added some spring back in my step. Only, I’m strapped to my computer pretty much all day, so I’ll have to get springy and do some celebratory yoga later :)

Road trip!

I recently had the fortune of taking a week off from my hometown life and venturing out on the road.

Jerry picked me up in Cleveland, we played around at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, ate a divine meal at Morton’s, and then journeyed across the upper Midwest, making our way to Chicago. Jerry drives a custom coach for a living. Riding in it for a couple days when he’s not obligated to his regular job duties is one of the best ways to see the countryside. It makes for the best view around.

Lovely view from way up in the air on my way to north.

Lovely view from way up in the air on my way north.

Some of my favorite sights at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Some of my favorite sights at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Two musical greats!

Two musical greats!

On our way out of Cleveland, look what I discovered!

On our way out of Cleveland, look what I discovered!





Then we parked in Sandusky, Ohio – this beautiful little shore town full of history. I was so impressed at the landscaping work in and around the town square. And of course, I couldn’t resist snapping a shot of the above homage to the First Amendment. Once a newspaper girl, always a newspaper girl.

After exploring Sandusky, the plan was to do a little outlet mall shopping in Indiana, grab a good dinner and then make our way to the Sand Dune Park along Lake Michigan, just on the other side of Chicago. Shopping and dinner (at Timbuktoo’s – this different restaurant that definitely stands out in its hometown) were achieved. Jerry mentions Timbuktoo’s in the book we published about his life on the road. We chatted with the owner and gave him a complimentary copy. He was thrilled!
Because of a severe storm and downed trees, we didn’t make it to the park for final resting that day.


We did, however, catch a pretty cool lightning storm over Lake Michigan in Michigan City just before the storm hit landfall. We sought shelter in the bus until the storm’s strength dwindled some. I wasn’t so calm as the bus shook a little from the high winds and I looked out the window to see toppled over port-a-potties. But I knew I was in good hands.


The next morning, after crews got the trees cleared, we made our way to the sand dunes. Now that’s some calm after a storm.


Hello, Chicago! Duty called Jerry away to Milwaukee for a day, so I stayed back in Chicago and enjoyed the city! First thing I did was go on a guided bike tour through the city and Lincoln Park. This was our first stop – the tour guide’s favorite view of the city. I met a neat family from Napa Valley, saw where Oprah resides and rubbed Abraham Lincoln’s shoe in Lincoln Park for good luck. It was a good day!


I especially enjoy walking around Chicago and taking in the architecture and old homes.

I especially enjoy walking around Chicago and taking in the architecture and old homes.



I love that skyline. The week ended with a couple of concerts with good friends. I couldn’t have asked for a better week and way to celebrate July 4th!



It’s clearly summer, because I have what I call “summer brain.” You know, where mustering up the energy to fix your hair and look presentable on a work day is a good feat in these energy-sucking hot temps. And doing things like updating your blog fall by the wayside because a friend invites you to the pool or you’re living in the moment on vacation.

No excuses, I know, I know, just being honest. And certainly not complaining. Despite the heat, I love the laidback feel of summer.

I was lucky to enjoy a weeklong vacation roadtripping, enjoying new sights and spending a whopping five days in one of my favorite cities: Chicago!

I stuck to my healthy eating habits for the most part but also didn’t punish myself for indulging. It’s all about balance. That’s what I love so much about what I’ve gained from the clean eating challenge I completed back in April. No deprivation. No crazy, unattainable diet. Just real food for real living.

I want to write a longer post about my trip with some lovely images, but until then, I’ve got to get some sleep for a busy Tuesday! I’ll leave you with a new find that I’m digging.


An herb saver that has saved me from the frustration of buying fresh herbs only to watch them wilt before I could use them up. Yay for small victories!

Finding my fuel

What I love so much about the new way I’ve learned to grocery shop, fill my cabinets and cook is it’s about taking care of me. It’s been so freeing to make choices for myself when it comes to what I put in my body.

For a while I had been searching for a way to fill this need. I would read articles, pin recipes on Pinterest and pick up related books at the store. Then meal time would come around, and I’d reach for old habits. I would often stick a frozen meal in the microwave or eat the most convenient thing without giving much thought to where it came from or what was in it.


The Arbonne 28-day challenge got me back on track. What I love about the program is it’s not about getting skinny or a quick fix. The opportunities to learn about what foods work for you and how to expand your culinary skills is so great! My friend started the challenge about a month after me. She had only ever cooked instant rice in a bag. Now we’re exchanging recipes, and preparing & cooking the best foods for us is part of our everyday routines. I had always wanted food preparation to be just another part of my day rather than some daunting task. Now it is. And I’m loving summertime in Arkansas with all the bountiful fresh produce!

The pure, safe & beneficial supplements from Arbonne that I use complement my diet and help my elimination organs to their jobs + boost my energy. My exercise regimen has been enhanced, too. I’m not doing anything different. I’m just finding I have more stamina and strength.




Another day, another cooking adventure

Today is the first day of another 28-day clean eating/detox challenge. Oh, happy day! I am excited for my friends who just joined.

I enjoy so much responding to their texts, answering their questions and guiding them on this life-changing journey. I was so inspired during my first 28 days of this new way of grocery shopping/cooking/eating that I became an Arbonne independent consultant. The proprietary products – herbal detox tea, Digestion Plus probiotic blend, energy fizz sticks, just to name a few – go hand-in-hand with the program and complement the clean eating plan perfectly.

I never got around to making a meal on one of my weekly meal plans. Crispy Baked Quinoa Crusted Parmesan Chicken. Sounds good, eh? I got around to making it last night. It IS good.

photo 2

I need a professional photographer to shoot my food ;) Take my word, it was delish! And those pretty green leaves are straight off my basil plant that I’ve  managed to keep alive. Score 1 for my not-so-green-thumb.

The ingredients:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (free-range chicken, no antibiotics or hormones)
1/4 cup almond flour
1 cage-free egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1 tsp clean Italian seasoning (no MSG or sugar)
1 cup (dairy-free) mozzarella
1/4 cup (dairy-free) parmesan, grated
2 cups clean spaghetti sauce (no sugar)
2 tbs. fresh basil

Season chicken with salt & pepper, dredge in flour, dip in egg and coat in the mixture of quinoa and Italian seasoning. Place chicken on a rack on a baking pan and bake in preheated 400-degree oven until cooked and lightly golden brown – about 25-30 minutes. Transfer chicken to a baking pan dish, top with cheese and broil until cheese is melted – about 2-4 minutes. Plate chicken and top with hot spaghetti sauce and fresh basil. Enjoy!

For dessert, I made vegan chocolate mousse. I love chocolate mousse and this option does not disappoint. Add in some fresh strawberry slices, and you have one sweet treat.




Clarity of mind & body

From the time we enter this world, women are inundated with images – on TV, in the movies, in magazines – of what the ideal female body should look like. We hear our moms talk about dieting and see them trying the latest exercise trend. Then we get older, our bodies start changing, we start having the thoughts “am I fat? will this make me fat?” and we become each other’s worst critics. Nearly every women’s magazine has some sort of weight loss tip on its cover. We compare ourselves to supermodels, celebrities and athletes. We obsessively count calories, even if where those calories come from isn’t a priority. We judge people by how big they are on the outside rather than how delightful they may be on the inside.


I’ve seen those dear to me suffer from eating disorders. I’ve had my own self-deprecating thoughts about my body. I’m guilty of exercising to compensate for an indulgence, eating a Nutri-grain bar and apple for lunch in junior high because I was afraid of becoming overweight, and frankly, just being too hard on myself as I tried to live up to societal standards.

For about two months now, I’m proud to say I haven’t had many (if at all) self-deprecating thoughts about my body. I haven’t felt the need to over-exercise to compensate for my diet. I haven’t found myself comparing my body to ones I know aren’t realistically attainable for me. I’m tall with long limbs. I can’t help genetics. I run but don’t win every race. I practice yoga but am limited in my twisting, back-bending and flexibility. I stand tall because I can. I keep practicing running and yoga because I can. I may never be the fastest or you may never see my picture on a yoga site displaying some advanced pose. That’s okay.

What you will see is someone comfortable in the freedom she has from making eating & exercise choices right for her. People do the 28-day clean eating challenge for different reasons. I entered the journey because I physically wasn’t feeling good. I was tired of my stomach hurting, feeling gut heavy and bloated after I ate. I was tired of that awful crash feeling when I became hungry.


When I first was into the clean eating challenge, a dear friend expressed concern about it leading to an eating disorder. A valid, solid point, she made. I can see how following an eating plan might lead down that unhealthy slippery slope. I keep that in mind constantly and check in with myself to make sure whatever choice I’m making is for the right reason and not some superficial, shallow standard.

Fad diets and those that use harmful chemicals in their products and food make me crazy. They don’t address real health issues. They appeal to women’s insecurities about being skinny. They condone the unhealthy culture that teaches it doesn’t matter what you put in your body. All that matters is whether it will make you thin. For a time, maybe. Who cares about long-term health?

There has been a lot of talk recently about gluten – it’s a made-up problem, it’s just a trend, there’s no scientific evidence that such a thing as gluten intolerance exists … celiac’s disease, yes, but gluten intolerance, no. Gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley & rye and lots of other items, is one of the substances you eliminate during the 28-day challenge that I support. Along with dairy, soy, whey and artificial sweeteners. These substances have been known to slow digestion and elimination as well as contribute to other uncomfortable bodily situations. I’m not claiming to be an expert. All I can tell you is by eliminating those things, I was able to restore my digestive functions, my scalp & skin conditions improved, groggy feelings disappeared, bloating after eating became non-existent and I noticed my thought process became clearer as well as my writing (which is a plus since that’s what I get paid to do for a living!). And best of all, because of the support + suggested recipes I received, I NEVER felt deprived. Food actually tasted better. I still follow the eating plan for the most part, and when I do have processed food, it doesn’t even taste good to me anymore.


If you’re considering the challenge for weight loss, I share my mom’s story. My mom, who has become overweight for her small 5’4″ frame, recently completed the challenge. She lost 9 pounds over the four weeks. She called me yesterday happily surprised that she was down another 6 pounds, which means that during the week after the challenge was over she lost that additional weight. Mom is smart. She’s a math professor by trade and is an avid reader of all things. One area she keeps up with is the medical and health world. She pointed out she knows she will continue to lose weight because she eliminated toxins during the 28 days. And when you eliminate toxins, inflammation, excess weight and fat can dissipate.

In case this is your first time tuning in, the 28-day clean eating/detox program I tout uses Arbonne pure, safe & beneficial products + support from Arbonne real, genuine people like me ;). The Arbonne program is in line with Dr. Oz’s clean detox program.

Several friends have expressed something like this to me over the years: “I just don’t understand. I’ve been exercising and eating healthy. I just can’t lose weight.” I share with them and you the 411 on weight loss:

How and when weight loss occurs varies for each person. Everyone comes into the detox with a different level of toxicity, a different genetic history, and different hormonal patterns. For many, the body will not begin to reduce inflammation and release extra weight until it has found balance through the cleansing process. 

Excess weight is often a result of consuming foods that do not work for the body, resulting in poor digestion and toxic overload. Detox helps the body re-balance itself and help repair the damage done by years of poor habits. When you lose weight without doing this important foundational work, the weight loss typically doesn’t last. It also doesn’t bring about the increased vitality, that in the end is what we really want.

How you feel is a more accurate measure of success. Instead of numbers on the scale, focus on your energy level, sleep patterns, digestion, elimination, mood and clarity of thought. And that’s what it’s all about.

I have found I love inspiring others to find their gut bliss, happy place. Don’t hesitate to contact me if you’re interested or have more questions about this life-changing challenge. As one of my “bootcampers” said, “The stewing is a lot harder than the doing.”

Happy living!