you and me

I haven’t written in awhile.  There even have been times I’ve considered deleting this blog altogether, but something inside held me back.  Some of the entries I wrote in the past were raw and emotional.  Honestly, it’s scary to show yourself to the people that think they know you.  Critics caused me to doubt myself over past months. That little voice showed up and told me that my story doesn’t matter, that I’m hurting people by sharing it.  I hate that voice.  Let me be clear that I don’t hate the critics, I actually love them deeply. They don’t mean to hurt, they’re just scared.  What I hate is that I’ve allowed their fear to become a part of me and become bigger to me than the good that my writing can do. They are scared because maybe my truth shows a little bit of their truth. Something messy in me might also be in them. Weakness.  Imperfection.  Failure.  Fear. Words we don’t like to say.  Things we don’t like to feel.  Emotions we try to bury and hide.

In recent months, I’ve spent a bunch of time wrapped inside of Brene Brown and Glennon Doyle Melton’s work.  These ladies have given me the courage to keep writing. I’ve learned a whole bunch about vulnerability and truth and owning your story. Much of what they teach resonates with me because I’m an emotional being.  I’ve actually been called sensitive my entire life and I’ve grown, even in my adulthood, to see it as a weakness.  But the work I’ve been doing on me has allowed me to turn that perceived weakness into a strength. Truth can be covered up under a warm blanket by the word ‘sensitive’. The word itself is just an excuse.  Something to blame.  A cover up.

I need to continue writing because honesty frees people. It frees the people out there willing to admit and own the fact that they are also imperfect. I don’t claim to know it all. I don’t claim to be right.  But it’s my hope that as I write, you’ll see a little bit of you in me. You may begin to see sensitivity and vulnerability as a strength.  Maybe you’ll have that little ‘ahhh, me TOO.’

You and me – we aren’t as different as you think.

My Whole 30 Journey, Take 2

A few years ago, the Whole 30 was recommended to me as a way to clean up my diet and make healthy changes.  I started by reading the book, “It Starts With Food,” by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig, the creators of the Whole 30 program.  I knew after finishing the last page, this would be a journey I would take.  I remember the first time doing the program, it was challenging.  But I did it and felt so good on the inside and outside!

Fast forward three years later, a friend was doing this same challenge and inspired me to go for it once again.  I knew it was time to make changes in my diet.  The first reason, I have been working out in my yoga studio many hours during the week, but those few pounds that I had gained were not coming off, no matter how much sweat came off of me in the hot room.  And the reason for that was 100% about what I was putting in my mouth.  The second reason is that I’ve been on the wellness journey, passionately sharing disease prevention for many years, yet here I was making choices that I knew were not benefiting my health or my body.  You know how the saying goes, you can’t out-exercise a bad diet.  You can’t.  I had a sugar and cheese addiction, along with REALLY loving our weekends of eating out at restaurants.  Something had to give.

The second time around, the decision to do this was easier and the actual 30 days was easier.  It was likely because I knew I could do it.  I’d done it before!  And I was also following my friend who was a bit ahead of me in the process and she continued to inspire me every day.  Everything is always better and easier with a buddy! Since completing these last 30 days, I have had many people ask more about what this entails.  My goal is to outline and share my experience.  Is this something for you?  Only you can make that decision.  No ONE thing is right for every person.  But here is what I do know.  If you tell yourself this is hard, it WILL be hard.  If you believe you can’t do it, you WON’T.  If you complain the entire month, it will make it so much worse.  I love what they say on the Whole 30 website –

“It is not hard. Don’t you dare tell us this is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Losing a parent is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard. You’ve done harder things than this, and you have no excuse not to complete the program as written. It’s only thirty days, and it’s for the most important health cause on earth – the only physical body you will ever have in this lifetime.” 

Way to tell it EXACTLY like it is.  Puts things in perspective, huh?

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So what does this entail?  Cleaning up your diet.  Taking out the bad and putting in the good.  For 30 days you avoid sugar of any kind (real or artificial), dairy, grains, legumes, soy, alcohol, carrageenan, MSG or sulfites.  Nothing processed.  Nothing artificial.  You consume real food.

What do you eat?  Meat, eggs, seafood, tons of vegetables, some fruit, healthy fats from fruits, oils, nuts & seeds.

And you may wonder… HOW is this possible? What will I eat?

I assure you, it is possible and for me, I eat more on this program that I do NOT on this program.  The wonderful thing is that there are so many recipe ideas out there (even a Whole 30 cookbook) and bunch of products that are approved under Whole 30.  You just have to take the time to research and plan ahead before beginning.  You can make your own mayonnaise or salad dressings or purchase the right ones from some amazing companies committed to putting the right ingredients in their products.  Two of the companies that I love the most – Tessamae’s & Primal Kitchen.  Check them out!

I believe that the main thing that this program helps you to do is identify your behaviors around food.  I grew up in a family that loves food.  My great grandparents and grandparents immigrated from Italy.  Food was the center of my childhood.  Cheese, pasta, 3 course meals, dessert…  Truly, I LOVE FOOD.  It is nostalgic for me.  It is often times difficult for me to separate that love of food, or the pictures in my unconscious mind surrounding food, from what I know to be true about what we should consume to keep us healthy.

The great news is that after these past 30 days, I feel as though I’ve gotten a handle on that behavior.  I don’t want to go back to the way I was eating.  I don’t want to feel the way I was feeling.   I want to feed my body what it needs to heal on the inside.  The truth is, none of us can feel prevention, just like we can not feel disease until it is too late.  We have no idea what’s going on behind the curtain.  If I understand from what I read and hear, sugar feeds cancer.  Then why, just by knowing that fact, do we continue to eat ridiculous amounts of sugar (real or artificial)?  How can I understand but not do what I need to do prevent?  This is something we all struggle with because none of us are perfect people.  Food is many times joyous and fun.  It is something we should experience in this one life that we have.  What I feel is that these 30 days have given me perspective.  I needed to change my thinking around food.  And I have.

My results: better sleep, glowing skin, zero stomach aches or cramps, very little cravings, more energy & 7 pounds lost.  I know many could read this and think that because I was a fairly healthy weight, WHY would I need something like this?  First of all, it’s not a diet.  Second of all, just because I appear healthy does not mean that I am.  Third, if I don’t feel comfortable in my clothes, I have the right to make the changes that I need to be comfortable.  Let the judgments slide and focus on what you need for YOUR journey, not what you think that I may need for mine.

Give this a try if you want to give your body what it needs.  First start by reading the book.  The best results for your life always begin with an understanding as to why you’re doing this in the first place.

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I will continue on with this way of eating.  Since my 30 days has ended, I have added back my Juice Plus+ Complete smoothie, which has been a lifeline for me for many years.  I’m happy to say that my body had no reaction.  Yippee!  So the Whole 30 life will continue on, with Complete being a part of it.

Best of luck on your journey.  You do what’s right for you.  If this is something you think you should try, take the time to understand it and then go for it.  You will never know how good your body is designed to feel unless you give it what it needs and take away from it, the things that it doesn’t.

Here’s to your health!

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The Gift of the Present

The quote says, “Yesterday is history.  Tomorrow is a mystery.  Today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the Present.”

My journey of discovery through yoga in the last year has given me a huge gift. Respect for the present.  

I know I’ve been pretty open about my journey over these last few months of blogging, but let me recap.  About one year ago, things shifted for me.  I had been happily working hard in my business for 6 solid years, forging ahead, very focused on my goals.  Within that 6 year period, I also moved my family twice from Georgia to Pennsylvania and back to Georgia.  I really never rested.  Never gave myself a break. Never allowed myself to let things go for a bit.  You know, goals can be a tricky thing. So can desire for success.

I heard the call to be still.  I listened.  Then a door opened.  Remember that passion you had, Jackie? Remember how much you loved yoga?  How alive you felt when you practiced?  

Yes.

Then go and do that.

I had no idea one year ago when I began practicing at Ember Yoga, how my life would transform.  God did.  And I’m so grateful that is the place he used to redirect me.

I spent years focused on my goals.  There is perfection in that, I promise you.  Beauty.  It’s amazing to work towards something and achieve it.  But then this happens.  You’re working towards something that just isn’t happening in YOUR time.  You’re going forward, God is saying NO, not right now.  And you know, God has a way of bringing you down to your knees and stopping you in your tracks in order to redirect your path or maybe even your mind, to get you back to the truth.  That it’s all in His time for His purpose. 

Here’s where I got lost.  I was so focused on the future that I forgot about the present. Simple as that.  

For those that don’t practice yoga, I don’t expect you to understand what it’s all about. I’ve heard so many misconceptions and judgements over this past year.  But it’s ok, that’s what people do when they don’t know or want to understand.  They judge, right?  

For the past 8 months, I have been on my mat on the average of 6 days per week, usually 8 different classes.  I’ve done some tough personal growth over the last 6 years, but me and my mat, it’s been the biggest growth I’ve experienced in my life so far.

When you stand on your mat and you work through the asanas of whatever type of yoga you are practicing, you have one focus.  The present.  There’s no time to get lost in the thoughts of what may happen tomorrow or in two months or six months or a year.  This doesn’t happen right away, it takes time to train your mind to focus on the moment and your breath. When I’m in a balancing posture or an inversion, it’s pretty difficult to think about what I’m making for dinner or what phone call I need to make when I walk out the door.

The present moment was the gift I was missing all along.  The thing that would bring peace. 

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If you are caught up in the race for the future, I’m not saying to stop.  I know it can be fun and exciting and exhilarating.  But I hope you can learn from my story and take time to live and love the moment each day.  I found that on my mat.  You may find it on a hike or a bike ride or on a ski slope.  Your present is your present.  I just hope you don’t miss it.

I’m sick and tired of the six letter word.

For the past seven years, I’ve considered myself a ‘Mom on a Mission’.  I first learned about a life changing product called Juice Plus+ back in 2009.  I was searching for something to take, as I began my own health journey.  Different paths and questions all converged into one answer:  Juice Plus+.  It was as easy as this, it made sense.  I knew my family did not eat enough fruits and vegetables, so this could definitely help.  And it did. As the months passed, changes occurred within our family.  The first thing that we noticed was that we weren’t tired anymore! What? You mean the right foods in your bloodstream could give you energy?  Over the first year, we noticed many changes in our family that we still notice today.  Let me sum them up for you:  more energy, less illness and infection, quicker recovery when ill, decrease in allergy symptoms, better food choices.  Our family changed.  I noticed bigger things. My LDL cholesterol decreased, as HDL increased – and this has been across the board in my entire family.  My husband’s stomach and heartburn issues became non-existent.  My vision has IMPROVED (that really stumps an eye doctor). My gum health has IMPROVED.  A heart arrhythmia condition that I had, no longer appears on my routine EKG’s.  ‘We see no sign of this, are you sure you had it?’  Um, yes.

But here’s something we never talk about.  That terrible, ugly six-letter word.  The one we all dread, the one that makes us cringe when we hear it.  The one that brings us to tears and down on our knees.  You know the word.  But you know what?  Not many people think about that word until they actually hear it spoken.  No one thinks it will happen to them, until it does.  Not many people think about what they are putting in and on their bodies that may actually prevent and not cause it to occur.  It just seems that people would rather ignore the possibility than think about solutions.  

My story is that I watched my Aunt Debbie pass away from Multiple Myeloma in her early 40’s.  She had two bouts with the disease, the second took her life.  She was an active, healthy, lovely, beautiful and kind woman.  She loved playing tennis and walking her dog. She loved her two children.  The ugly word took her from us.

 

My maternal grandfather is one of 13 siblings.  Almost every one of his female siblings had it and many were taken because of it, as was his mother.

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This is my Pappy (seated in the center) with 9 of his 11 siblings.

It’s in my genes, folks.  Likely, it’s in yours too.

So here I look at these pretty red, purple and green capsules.  They contain powders that contain powerful antioxidants that go directly into the bloodstream.  Powerful antioxidants that stop the growth of bad cells.  Kill them.  Fight them.  We all have the cells.  But what are we doing to stop their multiplication?

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You see, you may not choose to think about it.  Just pretend like it won’t happen.  It may not.  And I’m not saying that swallowing these capsules every day means it won’t happen. But what I do know (because it has been researched numerous times) is that it’s doing good things in my body to prevent it from happening. Do I have a number? 10% less chance, 25% less chance, 75% less chance of it occurring?  Here’s what I know, a 0.1% less chance of it occurring is more than enough for me.  And I think it’s safe to say, without making claims, that it’s well more than that.

Yes, my eyesight improving is great.  Energy during the day is great.  Less virus and infection is great.  But the greatest benefit, the one that fuels my passion, is what I CAN NOT FEEL.  

My friends, far and wide, know my passion around this product.  Those that know me well, know that it’s because I truly care about keeping anyone I know healthy. Because we are NOT perfect people.  We eat terribly.  We don’t exercise as much as we should.  We don’t get enough sleep.  We are stressed.  We may have perfect days, weeks or months.  But it’s not every day, week or month.  But guess what, I swallow 6-12 capsules every day, week, month and year.  I don’t skip a day, like I may skip that salad or that workout or that night’s sleep.

Why don’t we care more about taking care of ourselves?  This keeps me up at night, folks! Over the past 7 years, I’ve had to learn how to accept the fact that many people just don’t want to face this.  They don’t want a solution. They aren’t open to hearing or learning or trying to understand.  They analyze, dissect and question the simplicity.  It’s one of those things that is so simple, that people want to complicate it.  Perhaps they see me as a ‘sales person’, out for myself, in one of ‘those’ types of businesses.  And I’ve had to grow strong, pray, and fight on.  Because yes, I am a sales person.  I am in one of those businesses.  And many don’t understand the beauty of all of that, which is a story for another day.

I will leave you with this.  I’m writing this today because I am tired of hearing that word. You probably are too.  I am tired of people not caring.  Maybe you are too.  I am tired of people not taking their health into their own hands, as our health care system (if you can even call it that) in the United States is an absolute mess.  

I don’t want to join another group on Facebook of another young mom fighting for her life. I don’t want to hear another story about another 12 year old girl passing away far too soon after a fight no 12 year old should never have to make.  

It’s time for solutions.  It’s time for prevention.  And if you’re suffering with ANYTHING, it’s time for healing.  God gave us foods to heal us.  We don’t eat enough of them.  But we have access and we have this simple solution that comes in capsules.  And because I’ve seen it with literally hundreds of people, and I’ve read the research and I’ve listened to the Doctors, they heal.

I hope this story somehow resonates with you.  I’d be open to discussion with absolutely anyone that would be open to listening or learning.  That’s my only goal. I am not a Doctor or a medical professional, but I know that my Company has hundreds of the best Doctors from around the world backing the product and the research that I represent.  I don’t understand it all, but I know there are people that do.  And I trust them.  I ask that you trust me.  

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Me and my daughter with Dr. Bill Sears, America’s Pediatrician (www.askdrsears.com)

It’s time to take your health into your hands.  If you’re looking for a sign, THIS IS IT.

Don’t let that word hit you like a ton of bricks, when you have a shot at stopping it before you have to fight it.

Here’s to good health,

Your Mom on a Mission

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#FortyandGolden Friendships

I’ve thought a lot in the last few days so I thought I would blog.  Turning 40 brings out all kinds of emotions!  Another chapter ends, but another decade begins. I think this is the absolute best time in my life for various reasons.  I’m so excited about the future!!

The one thing that stood out to me this week, above all else… FRIENDSHIP.  

I’ve spent my life building relationships.  My Nana taught me from a young age that no one is a stranger.  She lived her life as that example.  I realize how that must have stuck with me as one of the biggest lessons that have carried me through my life.  Making friends.  Building relationships.

Some friends come for a season and some for a reason.  Some stay forever and some just touch your life for a short time. If you’re anything like me, though, you’ve struggled with friendship.  There are those seasons where you just feel like you don’t fit in.  There are the times you were a part of the clique, and times you vowed to never enter one again.  The times where you just prayed, ‘God, why can’t I have that ONE best friend?’  Aren’t we always searching (or am I the only one)?

Then last week happened.  And it was a gentle reminder from God that life is so much more fulfilling with a multitude of friends.  I don’t just need one.  I need all of you.  My friends I grew up with, my high school and college friends, my work friends, my Pennsylvania friends, my Georgia friends, my small group friends, my church friends, my yoga friends and my family friends.  Each and every one of you have given me something different that has made me a better wife, a better mom and a better person.  One friend can’t do that.  But many can.

When I think about what lessons I’d like to pass along to my daughter, this is a huge one. If you build deep relationships with many people, life is truly full. 

Nana is looking down on all of this and nodding her head.  “Smile at everyone.”  “Always say hello.” It goes deeper, though.  When you find those people that you just love to be around, be a friend.  Stay secure in who you are.  Of course there will be people that don’t get you, don’t like you, don’t want to stay in your circle.  That’s ok!  Be confident enough in yourself and be secure enough in your relationship with God to trust that the right people will stay.  People want to be surrounded by happy, positive, confident, loving people.  Insecurities scream loud and push people away.  So be you and just own it!  I’ve made mistakes, a lot of them I’ve owned up to, especially in recent months.  I sat at my birthday dinner the other night and my one friend remarked how we hadn’t spoken in recent years and how good it was to just be in this place of deep friendship again.  Why? Because we said we were sorry and we got over it.  And thank GOD for that because I’ve laughed more with her in the past months than I have in a long time.  So if you need to say you’re sorry, just do it.  Just get over it!  This life is too short to not fill it with as many friends as possible.

There you have it. That’s my lesson.

Thank you for the memories this week, my friends (and family too).  Here are some of my favorite moments from the week.  And cheers to #fortyandgolden!

 

 

Our new Golden, Walker

 

A Towne Lake/Eagle Watch 40!

 

Lost in Motherhood

I truly believe that the ultimate career is motherhood.  We dream as little girls about all of those cute babies, bows, blankies & bottles.  We plan out how many of them we want to have and even go as far as naming them.  Truly… Raising a child is such a gift and such great work!

And there we find ourselves in our 20’s & 30’s with one or two or three or even four or five (believe it or not, this is pretty normal here in the South).  We find ourselves lost in a world of laundry and feedings and a lot of poop and spit up.  We don’t sleep much.  Many days we have no idea how we will survive to the next.  Sometimes it just all blurs together. Throw in some Postpartum Depression and add a little Zoloft to make things better.  It’s just the truth.  Surviving, right?

Ok, but let’s not forget the baby giggles and smiles and the warm cuddles of that sleeping baby on your chest.  The peace that just overwhelms you when you look down at that little one in your arms. The first steps. The first words.  Knowing that God gave YOU to ME.  How could this be?    

Motherhood is quite an interesting journey, isn’t it?  As time goes on and we all grow up, Mommy included, things do get better.  We start to breathe & sleep. We go out with friends, make play dates and even begin to look at and talk to our husbands again!

I promise you that I wouldn’t trade one day of the experience.  One day of the tears, the falls, the sicknesses.  One day of the laughs, the smiles, the achievements.  Not one day. I’m grateful for it all.

But I’ll be honest about something that baffles me.  Why in this process of motherhood, do we lose ourselves?  Why do we forget to live and forget to dream?  I have had so many conversations over the last few years with Moms who don’t have dreams or passions. Their kids are their dreams.  They can’t see beyond it all, even as the babies grow to toddlers, elementary age and beyond.  And it makes me sad.

I believe we have so much to teach our children, but Moms, it begins with us!  How can our children learn to dream themselves when they don’t see their Moms doing that?  

Moms, we are doing good work, but we can do better work if we begin to be an example. Let’s become women that are passionate about something.  Let’s show our kids what it looks like to take care of ourselves! This doesn’t mean go back out into the workforce if you’ve been at home for years raising your family.  This could mean anything – health, fitness, church, a cause.  What are you passionate about?  It’s time to wake up and start living!

I believe we are doing our kids a great disservice by not being an example of how to live bold and passionate lives.  God gives us all passions beyond motherhood.  Let’s use those to teach our kids that they can live bold lives too, for His glory!  

Puppies, Puppies, Everywhere

You know how you love a certain car and you see them everywhere?  It seems crazy, but it just is the way our brain and perception works.  Same thing is happening to me lately, only with Golden Retriever puppies.  They are everywhere.  Jimmy Fallon featured them in his ‘Puppy Bowl’ (which, by the way, they predicted the Super Bowl winner…. that must mean that they are the smartest dogs ever).  And the Subaru commercial.  I mean, could you even take it?  Well, then add my 12 year old daughter, who is currently obsessed with following different Golden’s Instagram pages.  Yes, you read that right.  GOLDENS HAVE INSTAGRAM PAGES.  So they really are everywhere. 

Let me share a little bit of the Golden sweetness with you:

So we aren’t sure when we are getting this puppy, but we are counting down to some mystery date near the end of March.  

Everyone is excited.  Except for Kirby.  To be honest, the only thing that gets Kirby excited is food. And her sister, who gives her food.  And her Aunt Jenny, who also gives her food.  And her Pappy, who used to give her food.  She doesn’t forget. Since she won’t be eating the puppy, she’s bound to just be her grumpy old self.  Darn, I love this old lady.

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We are planning a trip to see these amazing little pups next week during our Winter Break. Stay tuned.  More sweetness (and an angry Bean) to come.