A rebuilding year

About a year and a half ago, I stopped blogging. I stopped because I had neither the energy nor the clarity. I was struggling with chronic pain from a herniated disc that ranged from moderate to excruciating. I didn’t have the capacity to do many things.

I felt huge amounts of resistance to writing. The blog sat untouched.

Late in 2015, I underwent surgery. It was, on one hand, long over due, and on the other, perfectly timed. It marked a shift in my self in many ways. Life is richer, and I am truly thankful for it all.

And now it’s New Years Eve. Almost 20 months since this long and winding road began, and I am reminded of this quote I read once, “Imagine where you’d be if you started a year ago.”

It describes how I feel about my own healing journey, as well as this blog. Imagine where we’ll be in a year!

I’m eager and so excited to see how 2016 will come together, with healing and inspiration and adventure for us all!

I am hopeful that we will share our stories, our successes, our recipes, and our support with one another even more in 2016. I really cannot wait!

May all your champagne toasts come true in 2016!

Friday Faves-ish

Better late than never on this post!

Whew, the past two weeks have been a whirlwind…which is just kind of par for the course given the holidays are officially upon us, right? 🙂 Filled with family fun, friends, jokes, laughter and definitely some memories, here’s the latest of my adventures. Hope your holidays have kicked off with flair, flavor and a lot of fun!



For maybe the first time ever, I saw snow in November, and it was amazing! Visiting my family for our yearly outdoor extravaganza in Upstate NY, I was thrilled to see snow coming down like crazy the first day I was there. Unlike here in Atlanta, the city does not shut down, people drive without losing their sense of lawfulness, and the grocery stores stay fully stocked (even the bread and milk sections). It was a whole new wintry world! (I must confess, I also tried to catch some flakes on my tongue. No judgment. 🙂 I felt like a kid!)

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One thing that is kind of understated about visiting my family of farmers is… local, organic, farm-fresh veggies! It was an incredible surprise to find this wheelbarrow full of acorn squash, yellow squash, butternut squash and colorful peppers in my uncle’s barn. I scooped up as much as I could to bring home with me, and then cooked a little up for a snack later that day. Fresh veggies, GF rotini, olive oil, salt & pepper made for a delightfully colorful nom!

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Enjoying our time off during the Thanskgiving week, Jessica and I tried out Ladybird Grove & Mess Hall on the beltline. “Campfire-and-lodge themed,” it offered some lovely wintry cocktails and down-home favorites, like Chicken & Dumplings and a S’mores Pie. It was a blast and should definitely be on your tour if you’re sampling seasonal cocktails or looking for a hip take on comfort foods this winter!

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When our usual, traditional Thanksgiving plans changed last minute, we ended up at a good friend’s house in Grant Park instead, and it was a marvelous turn of events! It was just so much fun to spend the holiday with him, his large family and a few friends. A first-time Holiday host, he did not have extensive fall decor for his tablescape. Leave it to my mom to  throw together the perfect holiday centerpiece: a Paul Revere bowl full of clementines with sprigs of holly from her own holly bush for a touch of color.


Part of the fun and privilege of being guests for Thanksgiving Dinner is contributing to the meal! We brought the desserts, among others were a gluten-full apple pie and a gluten free apple crisp. What does that mean for the bakers? Lots of apple peeling. This Thanksgiving was probably the first in a few years that we have done it all from scratch, and I honed my apple peeling and slicing skills like never before. The fruit of our labor (see what I did there? ;)) was this delicious apple crisp – tangy, buttery and with just the right amount of topping to delight the tastebuds. A little dollop of whipped topping didn’t hurt either 🙂 Mmmm!

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In post-holiday recovery, my mom and I took to Whole Foods. Her first trip after hearing about this mecca for years! I was beyond thrilled to finally show her the wonderland that is the hot bar and salad bar section! She had a great time and made quite the smorgasbord, but my joy in watching her whip up her own creation paled in comparison to my glee in seeing her take a picture of her meal, which she has never done before! I think having a food blogging daughter is finally wearing off 😉 It was so much fun to share that afternoon with her! Seeing her have as much fun as I was having was just icing on the cake!

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As we get catapulted even further into the holidays, it can be far too easy to get caught up in the hubbub, in the “I have to go to _____,” “we have to do ______,” etc.  Have to, have to, have to. The holidays are a magical time, but they are also a time when we can get a little frustrated or feel overwhelmed. Family dynamics can become more pronounced, the pressure for the perfect holiday/gift/dinner is on, the rush to get it all done can eclipse the joy of the season and the experience itself. We need to remember to take it all in, which is why this quote really grabbed my attention this week. It just clicked when I read it that the holiday season comes once a year, and next year’s Thanksgiving, Chanukkah, Kwanzaa, or Christmas will never be exactly the same as the one upon us in 2014. Take the time to enjoy the moments. Turn up the Christmas carols while sitting in that less-than-stellar holiday traffic. Laugh when the dessert goes a little awry because your crazy aunt or overambitious cousin didn’t get the recipe just right. Just be present and find the joy in it all. No matter how small 🙂 ‘Tis the season!

Motivation for Your Monday: Just Dance

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photo cred: Danskin

As a matter of fact, yes, I am!

We all have challenges; whether a big struggle or a little one, a long-lasting time of trial or a temporary hiccup, the struggle is real.

Even when things are going well, we can worry that the other shoe will fall, and carrying that worry and anxiety can be really heavy! Why did this happen? What did I do to make this happen? What should I do differently next time? What if…? 

To carry that weight is a drain on our spirit, not to mention simply exhausting, and it takes our attention away from the goodies in life. Regardless of the burden you bear, positive people and blessings surround you, and getting bogged down in your woes deprives you of the joy of experiencing such things. There is relief to be found in the good stuff, the important stuff that makes life worth it! The people, experiences, pets, pictures, moments that make you happy!

What if, just for today, just for an hour, or maybe just in this moment, you let go of that load.

Let go of  the worry. Take a breath and just be present in the moment. Rent the space in your head to other things, things that are going well, things that make you smile.

Cue up some of your favorite songs and just dance. Be silly! Shake your groove thing. Sing at the top of your lungs. Give yourself a mini-vacation!

The worry will wait for you if you want to pick it back up later, but for now, just dance.


Motivation for Your Monday: The Average

Jim Rohn You-are-the-average-of-the-five-people-you-spend-the-most-time-with.

Within the past week, this quote has crossed my path twice, which means… dum-da-dum! Today’s Motivation for Your Monday!

Jim Rohn, a renowned business person, expressed this notion in the context of business; a leader is defined, in part, by those with whom he spends the majority of his time. Simple, yet eloquent.

If, while aiming to take his/her business public and traded on the NY Stock Exchange, an individual’s team is comprised of a finance guy with no calculator, a marketer with no market pulse, a PR guy who doesn’t speak English, a procurement guy who can’t negotiate and a lawyer whose specialization is family law, how successful will that individual be? She or he won’t necessarily be doomed, but the challenges to success will certainly be more prominent.

Now think of a teenager in this same context. A bit of a trite example, but easy to follow. If a teenager “falls into the wrong crowd” at school, the likelihood of that kid making less-than-stellar choices is higher than the kid who doesn’t.

Now take a moment to think about yourself.

Mull over the personal goals you’ve set for yourself, such as losing weight, getting out of debt, improving your self-worth, learning something new, etc.

If, in the journey of working towards these goals, you surround yourself by nay-sayers, pessimists, or other individuals who do not value, nor support, these types of “must’s” as you do, how will this impact your rate of success? Sure, you can certainly overcome the odds! Absolutely, no doubt about it. But it seems that more stumbling blocks would be created along the way by surrounding oneself with people who tend towards more of a culture of negativity, complacency, etc.

Changing your behavior and your life are hard enough. Set yourself up for success!

Take stock of the people with whom you spend the most time.

Do they value and embody the ambition and priorities that you are working towards? It’s not so easy as to slice and dice your entire tribe, particularly if you’ve been friends with many of them for years, or they’re your own family. That’s ok. You don’t have to.

Look at other avenues for you to spend time with people who do embody those traits you want to emulate. Take advantage of opportunities to spend time with them or mix them into your group.

You’ll bring up the group average while also exposing new ideas to old friends and setting yourself up for success.

Win, win!

Photo Cred: thedreamsintoplanproject.wordpress.com

Friday Faves

Whew! I can hardly believe that Friday is here, and we’re staring down the weekend already. This week has really blown by in a blur! Here are a few of my favorite things from this week that are still keeping me buoyant as we enter the weekend, which is energy I’m certainly going to need if I want to keep up with some of my favorite outdoorsmen in a certain dairy country for the next few days. 🙂

Now tell me, what do you have planned?!

John Green

Having fallen in love with John Green’s style and prose in The Fault in Our Stars (so good; right up there with To Kill a Mockingbird)I did not hesitate to download this one while searching for books to read on a recent up-and-back day trip to New Jersey. (The fact that my name is in the title – and spelled properly, I might add – notwithstanding, of course.) 😉 Even though I’m only on chapter three, I can safely say I will enjoy it as much as Fault.

Here’s the gist: Colin Singleton, our protagonist in his late teens, is a bit OCD about becoming a “genius”  through having what he calls a “Eureka moment.” Well, dear Colin, turns out, is to not exactly the genius he had hoped he’d be, then he gets dumped by his girlfriend, Katherine XIX, named as such because she is the 19th girl named Katherine whom Colin has dated (hence, “the abundance“). Colin is so distraught by the breakup that his partner in crime, the pragmatic and dry-humored Hassan Harbish, suggests a road trip.

Oh, what a stopping point! I can hardly wait to devour the rest this weekend!

Adventure Awaits

Speaking of adventures and road trips, my travel buddies and I have become painfully aware that it is time for some globe trotting. The last excursion, to Puerto Rico, was a trip that was definitely unforgettable.

A few highlights:

  • We got lost in a rainforest; thankfully, The Commodore, a.k.a Dodd, provided literally everything we needed out of a wee satchel, except for snacks (you’re welcome, guys)
  • The truck in which we were riding to this rainforest was being driven by a local movie star and broke down midway up the mountain
  • While waiting for help to arrive, that same local movie star produced an armadillo shell ukelele and serenaded us with Spanish folk songs  (you can’t make this up)
  • There were numerous moments “lost in translation,” one of which resulted in us being referred to as “drunk donkeys” (we are still puzzled by that one)
  • We devised quite an impassioned plan to run for Puerto Rican political office in order to enact laws and/or guidelines regarding water conservation, pollution and animal rights (grand in ideology, pitiful in execution; refer to the above mention of those moments of “lost in translation”)

All this in a mere five days! Can you blame us for wanting to get back in the saddle and ride off again!? It makes my heart happy to imagine the possibilities!


I purchased this skirt on a whim last year when I was, um, “emboldened by strong emotions stemming from a rather shocking display of ungentlemanly behavior” (i.e. “retail recovery”). There is just something about sprinkling sparkle and sequins into the everyday and/or putting on a certain statement piece that brings out your inner “MEOW.” It really cures almost anything that ails you.

Ready to be rid of any lingering tension from last week, I pulled that skirt out, dressed it down a little bit (it was a Sunday morning, after all), and went off to meet Miss Too-Much-is-Never-Enough (Jenna) and Sweet Victoria for brunch. When Jenna, a seasoned fashion & lifestyle blogger and stylist among other things, insisted that I be in front of the camera that morning, I was not so sure; however, after calming my inner critic and nudging my inner diva with a few pointers from Jenna, it was a complete blast! (More to come on this in a future post!)

PSA: You simply must try it. Put on whatever makes you shine from the inside out, tell your inner critic to Zip It!, then strike a pose (or two! or ten!) and have a friend take pictures. It does wonders for your outlook. Try it this weekend & report back!

The Tools I Need...

Perhaps I marveled at the dexterity of whomever created this chalkboard art hanging above the bar at King + Duke in Buckhead (there was not a smudge) or maybe my fondness for three of Faulkner’s four tools just spoke to me? Whatever the reason, I found my attention lingering on this piece intermittently throughout the evening. It’s so simple, yet profound. Would love to hang it in my own study one day!

Last, but not least, Argus’ battle with the Tater Tot had me laughing as I watched him zip in and out of the frame as he plotted his plan of attack. Oh, that face! Enjoy!

Motivation for Your Monday: Live Your Passion

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I wish I knew who designed this image, so I could say thank you, if not give them credit because I simply love it.

I found this image around the time Nelson Mandela passed away when I was looking for inspirational quotes with a…”compelling” design, I guess you could say. One that I wouldn’t mind looking at every time I glanced at my phone to check the time or find an app. There was just something about the glistening that caught my eye; wise words that are both poignant and effervescent at the same time. It is one of my favorites that I go back to time and time again, and I wanted to share it with you all, particularly since last Monday’s motivation touched on calling on your courage to ask for what you want, and Living The Life You Imagined seems to be a recurring theme lately among the people in my life.

Here is my observation from having so many conversations and musings on the topic. We come into the world with a clean slate – hopeful, blissful, lit from within by the passion, dreams and desires we have for our lives; we know we are protected, loved and supported without exception and believe we can conquer the world. Somewhere along the line, though, we begin to form opinions, beliefs, and perceptions of the world and what is possible. The more we experience, the more we learn, and the richer the textile of our story, but at the same time, we also strengthen our perceptions of our reality. We become convinced that either the world is our oyster or there is a limit to what we can achieve.

What I want to say is this: The world is your oyster. You are the force in your life that will bring the sparkling, effervescent, impassioned, refreshing, rewarding life you fathomed. What lies outside of you is nothing compared to the strength, beauty and ability that lies within you. (You remember that quote, right? It’s timeless because it’s true.)

You want a better job? You can get it. You want to provide more for your family? You can. You want to lose the weight, get out of a relationship that doesn’t bring you peace and joy, raise your child differently than you were parented? You. Can. Do. It.

Aim Higher!

You have a passion that, even if dampened right now, is there with a reason. Do not settle for less than you are able to achieve, and you are able to achieve far more than you give yourself credit for. It doesn’t matter if we have met or not, it’s true. It is a commonality among all of us that we underestimate all that we are capable of and the powerful impact we currently have, and could have, on this planet.

So again, aim higher! Believe in yourself, find your courage, awaken your passion and GO!

Motivation for Your Monday: Find the Courage

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courage, inspiration, oprah winfrey,
Photo Cred: mooreaseal.com


It seems so simple, even obvious. Asking for what we want… it’s not “rocket science,” right?  But, somehow, we don’t actually ask for what we want! Not really.

Don’t get me wrong. If I asked you to tell me something you want, you could easily spout off a few things, no doubt about it. That next promotion, for example, or that house with the picket fence, or that pair of Jimmy Choos… But, it’s too small. It’s not enough. We play within a box when we start making the list.

In other words, we define what we want within certain limits, within lines that are drawn based upon what we’ve seen as possible or believe is possible. If we don’t believe that certain goals, opportunities, possessions or success are achievable, then we naturally dismiss them, thinking they are just not for us in this lifetime. These sorts of beliefs can take shape because of a slew of reasons. They can be formed because of what we were told in childhood. They could evolve out of what we’ve seen when friends or family pursue bigger, brighter lives. Or more commonly, they can arise simply because we give too much credit to our inner critic and buy into the BS of fearful, limiting thinking.

Here’s the thing: All these reasons that can limit you are perceived (ahem, “self-imposed)” constraints. They are not real, and if they’re not real, then you can toss them aside.  Redefine your world and your life as you see fit! I know, I know, it’s easier said, than done. But, it it IS possible. Think bigger.

Let’s reframe. For instance, do you want that promotion or do you want to increase your scope of influence at your company or one day be CEO or perhaps go off on our own and start your own company? Do you want that house or do you want a comfortable home that reflects your taste and is full of love, acceptance, and laughter where countless joyful memories are made? Do you want a pair of high-dollar shoes or do you want a level of prosperity that allows you the flexibility and capability to provide for yourself and those you love without having to worry?

Think. Bigger.

Tap that inner strength and uncover the courage to throw off what you’ve known. Retrain your brain to think BIG about what is possible for you and chart your course!  You may have to step into uncharted territory, but that’s ok! You can do it. First thing first, dig deep to uncover your true desires. If there is a passion in your heart, just know that it is part of your destined journey. Find the courage and go after it! Ask for what you really want and know you are, and will always be, supported along the way!

Tell us. What are you finding the courage to ask for?

Motivation for Your Monday: No Such Thing as Rejection

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Ugh. It can be beyond frustrating, heartbreaking at times, when we don’t receive or accomplish whatever we figure is coming to us in our journey, whether that’s a  career-defining job, the seemingly be-all-end-all relationship, the sought-after promotion, the to-die-for apartment… When it doesn’t come through? Ugh. There are really just no words to describe the disappointment, right?

If we’re not careful, we can easily turn our disappointment & frustration inward, berating ourselves for making a mistake <gasp> or being caught off-guard, or worse, telling ourselves we don’t deserve what (we thought) would make our hearts happy or lives complete. Why is it all too easy to fall into the (self)blame game that undermines our self-worth or purpose on this planet?

Whether it is a legitimate “no,” or just a curve in the road of life that feels like rejection, comfort can only be found in having the faith that whatever lies beyond the curve will be better than we ever thought. This truth is definitely not always easy to accept, nor is it a cake walk to make it from the pain of here to the hope of there, but the truth is, we don’t know all that Life, God, or the Universe has in store for us.

The next time you feel life is telling you “No,” consider that you are actually receiving a super big “YES” to something better than you dreamed in your future.


A Trip Down Memory Lane… Where the Grass is Always Greener?

The other day, I was driving home from work. The rain was lightly falling, so I had decided to take a different route home than usual. I drove down a suburban street in Buckhead, noticing how green everything has become, enjoying the twists and turns of the curves of this road, one of my favorite roads, through the beautiful suburban Atlanta neighborhoods when an old familiar song came on.

You know exactly what happened next. (…aside from me belting out the lyrics, I mean…)

I took a trip down memory lane!  And, in all their glory, like it was yesterday, I recalled the details of the time in my life when this song was first released.

I fondly remembered the boyfriend I had, the work I was doing (and doing well, I might add!), the house where I lived… I remembered all of the vibrant, sensational pieces to the puzzle that was my life during that blink of time when this song was popular. Ah, the Good Ol’ Days, I thought (well, not exactly, but it was something along the same lines…)

And that’s when an interesting little observation occurred to me.

How often and how easily we fall back on the past for comfort, for ease, for escape, for comfort or as a sign of better times. Whether its the highlight reel of our personal lives, or the nation’s current affairs, we feel certain that the best is not yet to come, but it has, in fact, come and gone. We watch the news today and see some pretty disheartening headlines. Stories of political, economic, and inhumane strife seem to outnumber the reports of triumph, peace, decency, prosperity, and collaboration, don’t they?

It’s no wonder we romanticize and reminisce about those good ol’ days! There’s no way it was like this!

Ah. And in that thought came my Aha! Moment.

When that little musical memory jog first hit #1 on the Billboard charts, I was content, yes, undoubtedly, and grateful for the boyfriend, the job, the house, the friends, the everything, BUT I was also frustrated that I felt I had no career path or passion, angry that the relationship was not what it should have been, tired from trying so hard to do everything to perfection, and feeling like a bit of a lost girl without direction in some pretty big areas of her life at a milestone age when the pieces were “supposed to be” falling together.  And you know what else? Countries were at war; the economy was up and down, food and gas prices were rising, and… everything felt pretty much the same as now! In relative terms, it was no different!

So, what does this mean, you ask? Well, I’ll tell you how I feel about it, and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

In a few years, when I look back on this time of my life, on today, on the girl driving home from work enjoying the greenery, singing her heart out in the car, with her day-to-day challenges and frustrations, I will still very likely remember her and her current station in life with joy and a glad heart.

So, why not just have the joy and the glad heart now? When times get tough, we have to choose the joy, choose the glad heart now.

In five years, looking back on who you are today, you will feel warmth, contentment, perspective, wisdom, self-appreciation, so be that person you would be in five years, now. Feel the feelings now that you want to feel when you look back at this time. Relief, gratitude, appreciation, humility, love. Choose to feel it now.

Life goes up and down. You’re in a Down today? Ok, well, the Up is coming, so act as if it is here. Do what you can, however you can, to feel the Up already. Fast forward. See that you’ve climbed the hill. You won the battle. You made it! It’s now in the past.

You will make your journey through this life easier and the road to “better” shorter.

When the world moves too fast, when countries battle, when negotiations aren’t favorable, when relationships sour, when life gets complicated, it is so easy – and even comforting – to reminisce about the past. To remember a “better time.” But really, that better time IS now, it is IN the Now. Why not just go ahead, fast forward to the good stuff and start feeling it today?

A Shout-Out to Those Who Served & The Meaning of Memorial Day

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Memorial Day, gluten free cook-out, health coach atl,
photo cred: clipartpanda.com

Today is a day we recognize as a holiday, and for most of us, Memorial Day is an overdue day away from the office. It’s a day to leisurely enjoy time with friends, throw together summer fare to bring to our neighborhood cook-outs, and indulge in poolside relaxation. But, how often do we consciously consider why we’re afforded the luxury of such free time today?

Without being prompted, we often don’t recognize or realize the cost of our freedom: the men and women who have fought for us, for the many ways we choose our ways of life, and given their lives to preserve those choices.

Until yesterday, I really & truly believed that I was fully aware of the significance of Memorial Day, that I “got” it; I know people lost their lives, that soldiers fight every day. I read the Facebook posts of thanks and notice more high-flying flags decorating the Atlanta streets than usual, but the impact of why we celebrate this day did not truly hit home until last night while sitting in an Irish Pub, of all places.

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Sean Thomason: Veteran, Inspirational Speaker & Incredible Musician

A local musician & friend stopped three times during his three-hour set to gently remind us of the significance of Memorial Day. Though it took only mere moments for him to describe his ten years in the Army, his fortunate return home, and the loss of his fellow servicemen and women, his words were piercing. His effect on all of us, lightheartedly singing and dancing and getting rowdy for the three-day weekend, was palpable.

Perhaps it was his specific mention of the women who did not return that grabbed my attention or because he stopped during his own time in the spotlight to honor a cause greater than himself… Whatever the reason, raising my glass just felt different, heavier and deliberate. And then he went on singing but that contemplative toast still lingered as we sang along to his songs.

With that, Memorial Day became more than a holiday, but instead an occasion to be thankful for and mindful of the many luxuries and freedoms that we can often take for granted.

For all of those who have fought for our country, in honor of those who did not return, and in reverence for the families who lost a loved one, thank you.

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