Archive for the ‘Choosing Joy’ Category

We live in a great country.  I love America.  I love the freedoms we enjoy.  I love the life we live because of those who have gone before us.

Life is good.  4th of July week with cousins is BEST.


Check out the tutorial over at eighteen25 where they used my Silhouette phrase celebrating this country we live in.  Click here to find the quote in the Silhouette shop (can only be used on a Silhouette cutting machine).  They put together a little tutorial for you to make your own 4th of July sign.




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You will love this.  It’s one of those things that I looked forward to before it happened but after the fact, I loved it so much that I feel the need to share it with everyone.

It’s a party.  A family party.

But not just any family party.

A party dedicated to celebrating….really celebrating….EVERYONE in our immediate family.  Here’s the thing, though.  It is a family party that will work for ANY group – youth groups, Activity Days, even co-workers.  Totally applicable – just tweak it to fit your needs.


There have been a lot of great things happening in our family recently and my sister, Kara, decided to throw a party for all of us to recognize what an awesome family we have.  We are the Coleman family and COLEMANS ROCK!  This party included our parents and our siblings’ families.  There are 6 siblings in my family and 17 grandchildren.  Everyone who could make it came to the celebration.

1.  INVITATIONS – ask everyone to send in 3-4 things about each person in their immediate family.  Some people had no problem sharing their awesomeness on their own and some people needed a family member to submit their accomplishments for them – either way is fine.  Just find 3-4 things that you can share about each person.  It was easy to email the lists to Kara before the party.  But be prepared to hound some of the people to get their lists in or to help them come up with ideas.  You can also assign food for a dinner or lunch if you choose.


2.  ACCOMPLISHMENTS – we kept it simple and just hand wrote each person’s accomplishments and talents on bright colored paper squares.  Multiple people helped write them because it took forever.  It’s ok if they’re not perfect or the same or extravagant.  Remember the purpose – to share why each person in the family ROCKS….it’s not about perfect-looking writing.


What do you think happened as people trickled in to the party that day?  Reading.  Laughing.  Talking.  Sharing.  Celebrating.  “Wow, you ran a half marathon?  I didn’t know that!  Awesome!”  “That is so exciting that you got into the Nursing Program.  You will be great!”  “Tell me about your new job.”  “Hey, did you see Mackenzie’s over there?  That’s a good one!”


Keep in mind that EVERYONE who was going to be there that night had their own accomplishments included.  My niece brought her boyfriend – we learned that he won a 4-wheeler in a milk-drinking contest.  My other niece had brought her friend with them on their family vacation from Washington.  We learned that she is #1 in her class and on track for Valedictorian next year.  What???!!!  Awesome!


3.  DINNER – we like planned pot lucks in our family so Kara planned the Mexican menu and everyone contributed something to the cause, helping to get it ready all together.


4.  PROGRAM / LESSON – Kara was brilliant in planning the lesson portion of the evening.  Very short.  Kept it light but meaningful.  Perfect.  My brother, Kyle, gave a short lesson about magnifying your talents (see below).  Jason spoke about his Grandma Hall who was a celebrator.  She liked to play the game, “Why is it Like Me?” and for each person’s birthday, they did “I Love ___________ Because….” (see below for instructions of each game).  He shared why these habits were so important for their family to do together and how amazing it is that we can share that same celebrating attitude in our family.  Colemans Rock!  We love celebrating each other!

The messages were short, taught important lessons, and were applicable to all ages in attendance.


Talents Lesson Overview:

  1. Pass around clear pebbles or marbles and have everyone take one.  Discuss how each is individual just like each of us.
  2. Ask everyone to think about a talent that they have and how that talent has helped someone.  Have a few people share (Kyle knew who he wanted to share in advance – people who don’t normally want the spotlight, and people of different ages – this was a really special part of the lesson when we got to hear why each person is awesome).   Ask one person in advance to choose NOT to share something about themselves when asked – this is a secret.
  3. When each of the 4 people share, give them another pebble if they share their talent with us.  Take away their pebble if they choose not to share.
  4. Retell the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25:14-30.
  5. Each of us has been given our own talents and when we share them with others, we are given more talents.  God wants us to recognize our talents and share them with others for good.  Where can we find out what our talents are? (patriarchal blessing, work opportunities, prayer and personal revelation, others can tell us, etc.)
  6. When we recognize our talents and work to develop them and share them, we are given more talents and we are happy.


“Why Is It Like Me?” Game

  1. One person goes out of the room.  As a group, the other people in the room choose one item in the room that they want the person to guess.
  2. The person comes back in and says, “Why is it like me?
  3. Giving positive clues, the group tells them why the item is like that person.  “It is bright.”  “It shines.”  “It smells great!”  Whatever you choose – the clues being harder for older people and easier for younger ones.
  4. The person guesses till they discover the item – feeling GREAT because everyone just said such nice things about them!
  5. Repeat.


“I Love __________ Because….”
This family tradition has lasted through to our generation.  On your birthday or other special day, everyone goes around the table and tells why they love the birthday person.  It doesn’t matter if you are a friend visiting and you just met the birthday person for the first time that day or not – everyone tells why they love the birthday person.  We have warned many friends attending our family events to be prepared because they will not be given a pass!

This tradition does two things: 1.  It teaches everyone how to celebrate each other.  2.  It teaches YOU to accept compliments and love from others.

I believe that this is why Jason’s family is so good at recognizing each other’s talents and why they have a strong sense of self.  They have PRACTICED it their whole lives so now they are good at it.  It is an amazing quality to develop in a family.




5.  DANCE PARTY – the evening ended in a spontaneous dance party, complete with a Congo Line and singing along to the “Frozen” soundtrack, of course.

Simple.  Meaningful.  Fun.  My three favorite descriptive words for any event.  Don’t you wish you were there?


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We got dumped on early this year which means lots of sledding days for Coleman.  We live on a golf course so we have some built-in hills right here that are perfect for an almost 5-year-old.  Coleman will say, “Yes” to any offer for sledding and will even head out on his own.  I want to freeze him right where he is – so many things are perfect about this time of life.  But I also love watching him grow and become more independent in the things of life.  We get to the top of the hill and he takes off – doesn’t need Mom, that’s for sure!


Check out Traci’s layout idea over at the Silhouette blog using my Snowflake Flourish.  I have a whole bunch of snowflake shapes in the store right now such as this, this, this, this, and this snowy alphabet.

Happy Winter!


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My husband, Jason broke his neck when he was 15 years old.  About a year into his new life he came to a crossroads where he needed to find a way to take his hope in his future life to the next level.  He pulled out a piece of paper and numbered it from 1-100 and started writing down the things he was grateful for.

The first 25 were easy – food, family, a home, a bed, friends, etc.  The next 25 were also pretty easy but more specific.  The third 25 started getting difficult for this teenager to think of.  76-100 were a test, indeed.  He was thankful for ketchup, lightbulbs and  and the posters on his wall.  If he could see it then he wrote it down.


It’s been about 27 years since that first Gratitude List was created in the bedroom of a 16-year-old.  Many Gratitude Lists have been created since in the Hall house.  I go through this process on a regular basis.  It has taken different forms over the years – I’ve made lists of 1-100.  I’ve kept Gratitude Journals like these for a year at a time.  My first Project Life album was dedicated to finding something I was grateful for each day and taking a photo of it.  Click on my “Project 365 of Gratitude” category for past posts about this project or look at this post or  this post or this post to see why I love using Project Life as a gratitude journal.

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I believe gratitude is the most powerful weapon in our arsenal in the battle against discouragement, negativity, heartbreak, depression and every life challenge that we can face.  It is a life skill that takes practice in order to become strong.  As a habit, it straightens our spines, clears our minds and opens our hearts to hope.  Simply said, gratitude overcomes negativity and creates joy.

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Take a moment this holiday season to write down what you are thankful for.  Make a list of 1-100.  Your children can be very successful at this activity as well, even if you break it up into multiple sittings.  Post your list somewhere that you can look at often to remind you of your blessings.  Big things, small things – include them all on your list.  Mine had Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Bettona Pants from Athleta.  When we choose to be grateful for things like that, it’s easy to be grateful all day.


Another way to do it is to write down something you are grateful for each day for a month.  See how it changes your heart, your attitude, your outlook on daily life, and how you interact with others.

I’ve added some shapes to my Silhouette store that will help you with your gratitude lists.  I hope you enjoy them!

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So Thankful For You - Thumbnail

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Uggghhh!  Jason is back in the hospital for the same sore he has been dealing with all year.  After a third surgery (muscle flap and skin flap) and 10 weeks in the hospital, we thought he was coming home.  But his wound suddenly got terribly worse and now are back to square one.  It looks like it’ll be another surgery and another eight weeks before we get to be together full time as a family.  So, we’ll have to settle for face time calls and hospital visits like this one where Coleman is attempting a record-length smooch on Dad’s head.  It was long and full of giggles….the visit and the kiss.

hospital kiss - small

The hospital is where have I been since I haven’t been on my blog.  Bummer!

And to top it off, Coleman figured out how to pronounce the word “hospital” correctly today.  Double bummer!  I love it when he speaks the way that he hears things and verbalizes words the “4-year-old way”.   Coleman is a great communicator but up until today, hospital has been pronounced “hos-ti-ble” and it always made us smile.  I would have been happy with him pronouncing it like that forever.

It is just a tiny manifestation that our little guy is growing up, learning and experiencing life faster than we want him to.  Parenting is a funny thing – we want our children to grow and become independent and move forward but at the same time we want them to stay right where they are forever.  I’ve been feeling those opposite pulls a lot lately when, as an early-bird, Coleman snuggles his little body next to mine at 5:30 in the morning.  Or when he holds my hand as we walk into the grocery store.  When he calls me, “Mama” or believes that the lavender “Bye Bye Scarys” spray really works to keep the monsters away at night.  I know that the more he grows into himself, the more he will grow away from me.  I want it, but I don’t at the same time.  Being a mom is tough and wonderful work, that’s for sure.

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Along with visits to the pumpkin patch and picking out the perfect ones for our “jacky-lanterns,” this is a great time of year to be in my line of work.  I think I have created hundreds of Halloween and thousands of Christmas designs for various products over the years.  I love designing for this season and my Silhouette store is bursting with all kinds of Halloween quotes, words and shapes for any project.

Whether you have independent children in your life or not, enjoy this time of year with it’s ideas and projects and fun for any age.  Hang on to those memories and moments and embrace whatever stage your family is in right now.

Happy spooky cutting!  It’s project season everyone!

Once Upon a Midnight Dreary - Thumbnail Witching You Happy Halloween - Thumbnail Basic RGB Come With Me All Hallows Night - Thumbnail

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I don’t really live with regrets.  I try to live my life the best way I can and if I make a mistake, my goal is to learn from it but try not look back.  Move forward.  Sometimes life gives me lots of opportunities to learn from my mistakes but I’m grateful for the principles of forgiveness and personal growth and improving myself to become better than I was before.

There is always a chance to become better.  I love that.

I received this email recently.

Kolette, I can’t thank you enough for creating this file.  It has special importance to me. Eight years ago my husband of 38 years died after a short illness.  I thought maybe my life was over.  Shortly thereafter, I unexpectedly bumped into my highschool sweetheart that I hadn’t seen in 43 years.  I guess fate brought us together, and we have now been married 2 1/2 years.   I have included a picture of the finished product hanging on my wall.
Thank you again.  You made my day.  Hope there are more of your quotes to come.


new start

Thanks, Becky!  I admit that I love quotes because they always seem to say the “right” thing about the stories of our lives.  Send me pictures of your projects using my designs but more importantly, the story behind it and I’d love to feature it on my blog.   Here are a few other vinyl phrases that I have recently submitted to the Silhouette store that help us remember to be happy, live the best life you can and always keep moving forward as you create a beautiful ending.


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Happy Girls Are the Prettiest - Thumbnail

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We’ve been playing furiously for the last few weeks at our family reunions.  No time for blogging or designing while the calendar was chock full of swimming, family games, roller coaster rides down the mountain and at the theme park, boating, s’mores, campfires, one rainstorm, lots of sunshine and nonstop fun.



The big cousins were fabulous with the little munchkins, creating activities for all of them to do together.  Playing till the sun went down out on the lawn was a highlight to end each day.

DIY FIELD HOCKEY: Use foam noodles cut in half as the hockey sticks and a lightweight plastic ball (about 10″ diameter).  Works for any age and all supplies were found at the dollar store on the cheap.


The Halls have done “Anything Goes” games since they were a young family 30 years ago.  We continued the tradition at the Hall reunion and then the next week at the Coleman reunion as well.  A complete list of the games will come soon but I’ll preview our favorite game here.

EGG ROULETTE – we had 21 people so we used two dozen eggs for this activity.  We cooked 10 of the eggs so they were hard boiled.  Then we mixed up all the eggs in the egg carton.  In groups of 2 or 3 or sometimes 4, we chose an egg each and smacked it on our foreheads to find out if it was cooked (lucky!) or raw!  Awesome Egg-Fest for sure!

Here’s me, my sister, Kara and her daughter Brynne during our egg smack.  I love these pictures…do we look related, or what????



We played hard and laughed hard and slept hard.  I’m so sad it has come to an end tonight.  Jason and I are blessed to love being with both sides of our families.  Halls.  Colemans.  It’s all family to us.

You can find these family-oriented vinyl phrases here in my Silhouette store along with a whole slew of other fabulous quotes.  Just click on each image to find to these.

I’ve got family on my mind.  I hope you love your summer as much as we are.


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Just a reminder – if you are participating in our neighborhood Healthy Living Challenge we are starting tomorrow, Friday, April 12.  Click here to see the entire program and to access the downloads.

Time to strap on those running shoes, fill the shopping cart with fresh food and get your mind focused on a fabulous 6 weeks!



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You read about my current Healthy Living journey here.  Have you been thinking about our challenge?  Ready to see what our Healthy Living Challenge is really about?

Workout Mouse

Enter LynDee.  My neighbor and friend who inspired women in our neighborhood to take a Healthy Living Challenge in teams of two.  The original “Feeling Super in 6 Weeks” program has been floating around the internet and here is how we adapted it.  We earn points based on the good foods we eat, the exercise we do, the life we live.  We lose points for naughty choices.  Yikes!  We then report our weekly points to our partner and then to a group recorder who tells us who is “winning” each week.  Pounds lost plays a small part in the challenge because it is more about healthy living than about losing weight.  But we all know that we can’t live healthy without losing some weight in the process so that is definitely a goal for me.

I am now 8 weeks into this thing (the other ladies started 4 weeks before me).  I’ve lost about 15 pounds and I feel like a new person.  Literally.  The group is taking a 2 week break right this minute and then we’ll have one more 6-week session right before summer starts.  New partners. 6 new weeks.  It’s coming starting Friday, April 12.  I decided to keep going during the two week break but I’m not being quite so strict.  I don’t want to backtrack so I decided to stay focused and keep moving forward with the challenge till the rest of the group joins me again.

Now, let’s get down to business.  First, there are guidelines to this challenge.  Rules need to be followed to earn your maximum number of points.  Be honest!  No cheating yourself of the changes that are possible!  These rules are focused on the entire body and spirit so you will see religious things included.  You can choose to leave those things out or simply replace them with something that feeds your spirit.  Click here (Healthy Living Program Rules) to download the rules that WE are using.  Feel free to adapt it but I encourage you to stick as closely to the plan as possible since it works.  I’m here to prove it!  All of these downloads are a reflection of our 4-week sessions.  Our next session will be 6 weeks because we are trying to be done before school is out and summer hits.  But you can do it for 4 weeks or 5 weeks or 6 weeks or whatever works for you.  I loved doing a longer commitment but in 4-week increments.  That was a really successful formula.

Microsoft Word - Healthy Living Program Rules.doc

Microsoft Word - Healthy Living Program Rules.doc

Next you need this Point Tracker.  This is the one we are using and you can create your own really easily – it’s just an excel document.  Our week has been starting on Wednesdays and we report our points on the following Wednesday morning.  I like doing it like that because Sunday is a free day for exercise (20 free points!) and that lands in the middle of our week to give a day to recover.  Due to other calendar items happening in April, we will be starting on a Friday and reporting each Friday.  I am including both Point Trackers (Wednesday and Friday starts) but they can be changed to whatever start day you want in excel.  See the list at the bottom of this post for all of the downloads.  Friday, April 12 will be our start date – all my online friends you can join us or start it whatever day you like!

Finally, you need this Good & Bad Food List.  At first it may seem like everything good is on the bad list!  You’re right – there are a lot of tasty things on there. But they are not doing us any favors so for THIS challenge we are committing to giving them up.  And here’s what I’ve found, it was really hard at first to let go of some of those things, but by focusing on the good food list, I am starting to crave those foods more than I ever did before.  I’m not saying I don’t want to snack on the chocolate chip cookies my friend Kristy brought me for my birthday this week (thanks a lot!), but my cravings ARE reduced the more healthy foods I eat.

Good & Bad Food List

Also, here is a Weekly Calendar Example to give you an idea of what kinds of things can go on yours.  A different person doing the challenge creates the Weekly Calendar each week.  It can include anything that helps us live better – spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally.  You choose these daily challenges.  Here’s the links again for each file:

Healthy Living Program Rules

Point Tracker – Wednesday Start

Point Tracker – Friday Start 

Good & Bad Food List

Weekly Calendar Example

Take a look.  Think it over.  Can you commit to this right now?  I couldn’t do the first 4 week session with my neighbors because Jason had just gone into the hospital and I couldn’t add one more thing to my list.  But I was ready to take it on a month later.  Do what’s right for you but consider jumping into it and creating a more healthy life for yourself.

Let me know what you decide!  We would love to have you!

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Life gives us many journeys.  I don’t think that life is confined to just one adventure or journey or road or trail.  It’s made up of a combination of paths and hikes and jogs and strolls, depending on what is going on at a particular time in your life.  The beginning of May three years ago was the beginning of one of my life hikes.  The climb was steep.  Overwhelming, in fact.  Rocks were tumbling down around me and at times I just curled up and tried to survive the onslaught called gallstone pancreatitis (click here if you want the story from the beginning).


Weeks in ICU, a pseudo-cyst in my abdomen that made me swell larger than when I was pregnant, pain so intense that I couldn’t move or breath for fear of triggering a greater ache.  My only nutrition for about seven months was from a bag I carried around to a picc line in my arm.  My pancreas was removed except for 30%, my gallbladder is gone and my organs are rearranged in a way that affects my digestion and creates a constant pain.


But I did survive.  Two and a half years later, after working my way through a laundry list of problems and ailments – some temporary (the need for iron infusions each week) and some permanent (diabetes) – my doctor said, “You need to gain more weight.”

I was a ghost.  I had gained 60 pounds in one week because of the pseudo-cyst and water retention at the beginning of my illness.  I then lost much more than that while on my picc line.  I had survived but I wasn’t very healthy.


My ability to eat real food was a challenge for many months so when my body finally kicked in and started hanging on to the food I was eating, craziness happened.  I’m not kidding.  The diabetes wasn’t familiar to me and we were playing with my insulin a lot.  I wasn’t experienced in how to read my new body and the sugar lows so when I finally felt cravings for food I acted on them….even when it happened three times a night.  I was ravenous.  Suddenly starving after 2 years.  Since I was told to eat, I ate.

Six months later, I was 20 pounds overweight and my doctor was saying, “OK, now you need to lose weight.”  Talk about frustrating!  I couldn’t believe I had done that!  But I tried not to beat myself up too badly because again, this was one journey I was on in my life.  One experience.  One adversity.  One challenge.  And I was working my way through it.

This was so much more than losing weight, though.  My pain level was still controlling me on a daily basis and I was on many different medications and supplements.  A pill for this, a tablet for that.  I looked at my handful of pills one night and thought, “What am I doing?  There has to be another solution.”

Thus started my attack on my own poor health.  I have a 4-year-old son and I wanted to live a long and healthy life with him and for him.  It was time to tackle this thing.


What have I been doing since?  Knocking out my health issues and taking control of my own body in more natural ways.  I believe in doctors.  I believe in medication and prescriptions.  But I was ready to try some holistic options for certain things.  Here’s what I’m doing and how it’s affecting me:


My first step was to try foot zoning because my neighbor, Kathleen, has been certified in it and she is a down-to-earth person who was looking for ways to help her family with different medical issues.  She is not mystical or too extreme and that is why I finally tried it. It is similar to reflexology where the entire body is mapped out on the feet but as they work and massage the feet in a specific pattern and method, the entire body is affected.


My expectations were low and there are many claims of things that it can do to help our bodies.  I didn’t really see the kind of results that others might experience with this method of treatment but after the initial series of 8 sessions, there was one major change in how I felt.

My energy level was remarkably improved.

For the first time in 2 1/2 years I could keep up with my son.  I still felt pain every day but I no longer needed a nap every afternoon.  Naps were over for me and I could move easier and was more free than I had felt since I got sick.  That was worth every penny.  I still do foot zoning about every two weeks to keep things going.  My health issues are long term and we are working toward a maintenance schedule of once per month.  Foot zoning is one piece of the puzzle in my attack to gain a healthy body.


I had heard that Chinese acupuncture helped with pain and since I was taking 6-8 low-grade pain pills in every 24-hour period, pain was ruling my life.  I went to a local acupuncturist with hope but again, not very high expectations.  I started on a 8-session series where I visited her twice a week and she targeted my abdominal area, digestion and pseudo-cyst area.  She also worked on helping me sleep better and controlling my food cravings.

Acupuncture has changed my life.


After 6 weeks I was able to drop to just one pain pill every 12 hours and I’m working on getting off of those right now.  I have left behind many of my other meds because my digestive issues are more controlled and healed.  My body temperature has been extreme – I am always hot and can’t really function in anything but cool areas since my illness.  My body temperature is now more normal.  My food cravings are very controlled.  My sleep is better than it has been in a long time.  I have to roll Jason over every night, usually twice a night, so being able to maximize my sleep and get back to sleep easily is really important to my overall health.

I am now down to one session per week and feeling the effects like nothing I have ever experienced.  I am a believer.  After feeling this kind of pain for almost 3 years and to be virtually free of it after 6 weeks is remarkable to me.  I feel balanced in so many ways and I am grateful for this method of treatment that has literally changed my life.


Finally, my friend LynDee spearheaded a challenge that has been floating around the internet for awhile, tweaked it to fit the needs of our neighborhood and invited some truly committed women to be a part of it.  It involves having partners to keep you accountable, exercise almost every day and keeping track of good and bad foods you eat.  Everything has a point value and the goal is to get as many points as you can by the end of each week, report your points and see where you land on the leaderboard.  Oh, and you get points for losing weight but weight is not the focus here.  It’s all about eating right and moving more. (click here to see post explaining the challenge & free downloads)


I’ll share the program in more detail in this future blogpost but I want you to think about joining in with us for our next 6-week session.  We’re finished with our second session this week and we will be starting up again on April 12.  Start thinking about it.  Do you want to change your health?  Nutrition is key and this challenge helps you focus on healthy eating and healthy habits.  I’ve lost 14 pounds in 8 weeks but more than that, I look great.  I look healthy.


This is my journey.  And my tools to navigate this particular path.  It may not be the same path that you need to take but I wanted to share my experience with you since it has impacted my overall health so dramatically in just a few short months.  I started Foot Zoning last fall but acupuncture began 10 weeks  ago and the Healthy Living Challenge began just six weeks ago.  All of these things are working together for the same goal.  The same good.  The same results.  One step at a time.  I am not an expert on any of these things.  I’m just sharing my experiences.  I add what I can, when I feel like I can tackle it.  We should all do what we can, when we can without feeling pressure to do something we are not ready to do.


I am reminded of this post from 2011 (click here for free download).  The idea of balance applies at every stage, including this one.  But I can’t help thinking of it in new a new light – balanced energy, a balanced diet, a balanced spirit, a balanced body.  This is what matters most right now in my life in order to make the most of the rest of my life.

But I would love to join you on my journey this next round of our Healthy Living Challenge!  Watch for more info about the program – coming soon!

Here’s to a journey full of health, energy and joy.

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