Saturday, December 29, 2012


I've spent far too little time here this year.  

And while that's not necessarily a bad thing, I have missed it. 

And you.  

Just when I think nobody noticed my infrequent posts, I get an email, phone call or text message saying, "Where have you been?"  "Once a month isn't cutting it, sister!" or "I hope all is well."  

All has been well.  

In fact, as I reflect back to this very day last year, I am reminded of just how well it has been.  

You see, it was this time last year that I was desperately looking for a change.  Something had to happen because I needed 2012 to be different.  The medication I was on was killing my immune system and I was constantly sick.  The pain was hit or miss and life felt a bit out of control.  I wasn't about to give up, but I was getting tired of fighting.

Resolutions seemed silly at the time because clearly I just wanted one thing - to be healthy.  

And so it began.  

In my quest for health, I found new passion and purpose.  

In early January I began a nutrition program that changed my life.  In the last year, not only have I been able to cut my medication by 75% and live mostly pain-free, I have built a meaningful business that shares health and wellness with others.  I have traveled, made new friends, work with incredible people, and get to help others live healthier, happier lives.  I named my business Thriving365.  That was the idea - to thrive 365 days a year and to still be thriving 365 days from now.  

And here we are.  

This year, as I look ahead to 2013, I'm thinking about things a little differently.  Instead of starting with a long list of specific things I want to do or accomplish, I started with a vision of what I want my life to look like this time next year.  For example, instead of saying I'm going to go to the gym 5 times a week and then feel like a failure by March, I'm saying I want to be fit, strong and in the best shape of my 38-year old life come December 2013. It's about staying active, pushing myself and enjoying the process of getting stronger.  That could mean going to the gym but it also leaves room for long hikes through the forest, laps at the pool, dancing with my girls, and regular visits to my yoga for arthritis class.  Don't get me wrong, I'm still the type A, list-loving gal I've always been. I'm just trying to approach the goals in a way that lets life happen.  Somehow I think it will make me love the process more than the act of crossing words off a list.  Details of this beautiful vision for 2013 to be continued.  And yes, I do plan on writing a whole lot more this year.  

Enough about me.  How about you?  Do you remember where you were this time last year?  Where are you now?  Whatever the case, the good news is, however far we have come or backwards we go, there is always a new day.  While life can take a turn at any moment, why not take the symbolism of a new year to start fresh.  Whether it's better health, stronger relationships or a career change, there is no better time to take a step forward than right now.  

What's it going to be?  

Thanks for being here - even when I'm not, 

Friday, November 30, 2012


This is the first year we're doing a fall/winter garden.  I just love learning about what plants are able to withstand the cold, the lack of sunshine and the months of pouring rain.  My husband recently explained to me the concept of overwintering.  Basically some plants are able to wait out the winter season.  It's almost like they go into hibernation.  When the spring comes, many of these plants will begin to flower and flourish.

Imagine that.  These plants that are made to survive the harsh conditions of the season, thrive even in the dark - even in the cold where nothing grows.


Sometimes it appears as strength.

Other times, patience.

Love going out for some fresh kale for my morning green smoothie.

Broccoli is beautiful...

Still going strong.

The last of the fall colors popping through in the background.

Growth is always good.

Wishing you a season full of quiet strength, resilience and growth.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Table Full of Thanks

I don't know where the time goes.  Seriously?  It's been over a month since I last wrote here?

I think that's what happens this time of year.  Holiday events and excitement make the days and weeks fly by.  Speaking of holiday events, our family enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving with dear friends this year.  So much to be thankful for.  I just love sitting around the table enjoying a meal with people I love.  It might be one of my favorite things.  Maybe that's why I love to cook.  Thus, the stack of recipe books piled up next to my bed.  Many of you have asked what kinds of plant based foods I cook on special occasions.  Well, this year I didn't have to worry about the main course so I got to have fun with a few sides.

Here's a recipe I've been wanting to try for a while.  I'll be honest.  I've had brussels sprouts a few times in my life and never liked them.  Still, the recipe (and picture) in Power Foods looked so good, I just had to try it.  Even though brussels sprouts are a power food - high in fiber and loaded with Vitamins A and C - I still maintain that good food should taste good too.  Thankfully (and somewhat surprisingly), this one delivered on both fronts!

I took my Thanksgiving shopping list and headed off to Trader Joe's.  I stood and stared at this heap of brussels sprouts for a few minutes.  I had never seen them like this and wasn't quite sure how it all worked. Finally, I asked a nice little grandma who was meticulously searching for the perfect stalk.

Um, excuse me.  What exactly do you do with this? 

Oh honey, you just twist the suckers off!  

I had to laugh.

But that's exactly what I did - twisted the suckers off.

This is right before it went into the oven. I wish I got an "after" picture but I was too busy sampling.  It was delicious.  And this is coming from someone who has never smiled while eating a brussels sprout.  I thought it was fabulous.  The sweetness of the pears, the buttery sprouts, the caramelized shallots.  Yummmmy!  Click here for the recipe.  

In addition to the whole giving thanks part, the other thing I love about Thanksgiving is the abundance of... yup, you guessed it - cranberries.  Packed with phytochemicals and disease-fighting antioxidants, the benefits of these little berries go on and on. 

One day I'll figure out a healthier version of my favorite cranberry cornbread recipe, until then, it's all in moderation.  

I never knew the full goodness of fall vegetables until I moved to the Pacific Northwest.  Wherever you live, you'll still find some delicious squash and sweet potatoes in your local grocery store.  This recipe is so easy.  Just choose the veggies you like, toss with olive oil and rosemary and roast.  The key is rotating your pan and tossing the veggies about every 15 minutes.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.  While Thanksgiving may be over, the giving thanks continues.  

With love and gratitude, 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Several weeks ago, I had some routine blood tests done.  I don't think much of it these days.  In fact, as I sat in the lab's waiting room, I thought about how nice it is to just go in for these tests without worrying about the results.  

Two days later, I got a voicemail.   My rheumatologist wanted me to call him back right away - on his cell phone.  

My heart sank.  I felt flush, that sensation where you don't know whether you are hot or cold.  

He told me he was concerned about some of the numbers.  

How can that be?

He was worried this was a "complication" from my medication.  

Trading one disease for another...

I had to wait a week to re-do the test, then another few days to get the results.  Oh, the waiting.   

But in that waiting - those minutes that make up hours, that make you crazy if you let it - something powerful happens.  A new sense of clarity and purpose, an urgency to live, a deep appreciation for every moment, total and complete mindfulness.

The phone rings.  I take a breath as I look down at the caller ID.   

No matter what, everything will be okay.

Your numbers are back up and looking normal.    


There's talk about medication, rethinking "treatment" and weighing risks and benefits.  We talk about some changes that need to be made and where to go from here.  He reminds me that AS is a progressive disease and that it's not going anywhere.  I remind him my goal is remission.

I spend the next day devouring dozens of books on health and healing (both the physical and spiritual kind).  I fill my head with those voices.

And it changes everything.

I don't write this simply to update you on what's going on with me.  I write this because sometimes wellness and illness aren't so black and white.

Sometimes there's a lot of gray.

Sometimes health and disease can co-exist.

It seems strange, I know, but in my case it's the truth.  Ironically, I am as healthy as I have ever been, more mindful than I have ever been.  But it has been a journey - a series of decisions, actions and changes, a resolve to keep moving forward because the alternative just isn't acceptable. While there may not be a cure - not today anyway - it doesn't mean I can't live my healthiest, best life. Somehow, if I focus on that - the rest may take care of itself.  I'm reminded that I've come a long way, that I've made more progress than I was supposed to.  And for that, I am so very thankful.

"Health is more than the absence of disease; 
it is a state in which the body, mind, and spirit thrive in balance." 
~ Institute of Complementary Medicine


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Where are you heading?

Stop for a second.  

Think about your life at this moment.

I'm thinking about mine.  

We often ask ourselves, "Am I where I want to be?"  

While this is a valid question, I think the more important question is, "Am I heading in the right direction?"  

When I think about where I want to be one year from now... five years from now... ten years from now, am I positioned to end up there?  

This can apply to your work/career, health, relationships, personal growth, every aspect of your life.  I'm of the opinion that we don't accidentally stumble upon a lasting marriage, a fulfilling, successful career, a healthy body, or deep friendships.  

We invest in these things.  

Make decisions.  



"If you do not change direction, 
you may end up where you are heading."  

~ Lao Tzu

The good news is that it's never too late to change direction.  What will I do today?  How about you?  

Take a risk?

Slow down?

Ask for forgiveness?

Eat your veggies? 

Get moving? 


Whatever it is, know that it's bigger than today.  It will change your tomorrow.  


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Reflections from the Garden

It never fails. 

For the last year and a half, our garden has been my teacher.  On Labor Day, as I watched my husband and daughter plant our fall/winter garden, the lessons kept coming.  

There is a joy that comes over my daughter when she digs in the dirt - purposeful, yet curious. She loosens the soil, digs, makes a home for our food.  I watch her little fingers grasp her shovel, wonder what she's thinking, thankful that joy comes so simply.  

It's crazy how the most important job in the world is something we are never trained for.   And yet, every day we have a chance to guide, encourage, lead and nurture these little ones into the people they were created to be.  So very thankful.  

I love beginnings.  Birthdays, New Years, Weddings, Seasons.  I think it's the hope - the possibility - that gets to me.  And today, it doesn't matter how our spring garden did or what we got out of our summer harvest, we're starting over with new seeds, new possibilities.  I love that.  

And that's life.  

There is always a way to start over.  

To be refreshed.  

To grow and live and reach your potential.  

It really doesn't matter what happened yesterday, last year, or in your childhood.  What matters is what we choose to do today.  

And there's no better time to start than right now...

As she planted this one, she looked at it and said, "Grow big, little kale."

A sweet wish.

A simple blessing.

And there it is.

A new season.

A fresh beginning.

And while we look forward to the harvest to come, it's this moment that I'm soaking in.

This is enough.

With love, 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

36 while 36 - revisited

A friend emailed me the other day asking me how I'm doing on my list.  I had no idea what she was talking about.

Your list.  You know?  The one.  The list of things you were going to do this year.


I forgot about the list.

And 37 is just a couple weeks away.

I'll admit, I had to laugh a little when I read it again.  Most of the things I did this year weren't even on the list.  Just never know where life is going to take you.   Let's revisit...

  • Paint something (I'm terrified of art and not very good at it - so I need to try:  a canvas, a table, a wall, something, anything.)  Hmmmm... does watercolor during arts and crafts count?  Yes.  I say it does.  I'm crossing this one off.  
  • Dust off my guitar and play again (it may only be for 10 minutes at a time but that's better than nothing).  Took it out a few times.  Not enough to build up any callouses though.  Thus, the dust collection.     
  • Go country line dancing.  That would have been fun.  
  • Write letters to old friends and mail it (like with a stamp).  Yes!  This, I did - and will continue to do.  
  • Play in a poker tournament.  Nope.  I even went to Las Vegas last month, but for very different reasons.  Don't get me wrong.  I'm down for some Texas hold'em any day.  
  • Plant a tree (or two).  I'm not 37 yet.  This will happen.  :)  
  • Write - my story.  Okay, well I guess I sort of am - maybe that's what this is all about.  
  • Eat at new restaurants.  Easy one.  
  • Drink hot chai tea in the snow.   Check!  
  • Pick apples.  Barrels and barrels of them.  
  • Write a song (and sing it).   Ha! 
  • Allow spontaneity.  Yes, and this came in the form of choosing fun over laundry, last minute road trips over summer house projects.  Lesson:  there are a lot of things in life that really can wait.  
  • Raise awareness for AS.   I guess in my own way I have.  This one will be a process.  
  • Laugh at myself.  :)  
  • Create irresistible vegetarian meals.  It may depend on who you ask.  
  • Refurbish some furniture.  I'm over it.  
  • Write - something to be published.   To be determined...  
  • Wear more colors.  Sure did.  
  • Sing (either in a microphone or in the shower - just sing) Nothing beats singing with my girls.  Nothing.  
  • Become a better gardener.  Let's face it, my husband grows the food.  I pick them and eat them.  It's a good arrangement.  
  • Pray without ceasing (and believe without ceasing).  Still believing...
  • Listen to live jazz as often as possible.  Not even once. Just a lot of Coltrane on Pandora.  
  • Stomp on grapes at a vineyard.  Yes!  It's on the calendar for later this month.  Can't wait.  
  • Write - a song.  Oh my, apparently I was really into writing last year.  Sorry, no songs here. 
  • Make jam (or jelly - I don't really know the difference).  I'm not doing so hot on this list.  
  • Learn how to knit (or crochet - whichever is easier on my hands)  No, my but 4-year-old daughter did.  Does that count?  
  • Embrace the rain - walk in it, play in it, splash in it, LIVE in it.  YES! 
  • Make pumpkin pie out of the pumpkins in our garden.  Not exactly. I used the pumpkin in my smoothies instead.  Delish!  
  • Dance in a flash mob (seriously, if anybody knows how I can go about doing this, please let me know.  this is a non-negotiable, must-do!!).   I'm still looking for one!  One of these days...
  • Read poems to my children.  Love.  
  • Stay in a cabin in the snow - embrace winter!  Giving myself 1/2 point for this one.  
  • Be kind to myself - set lofty goals, but allow myself time to get there.  Who would have thought that this vague point would end up taking up most of my year.  
  • Take water aerobics.  Taking my 2 kids to the pool should count for this one.  I'm crossing it off.  
  • Go snow sledding!  YES!  
  • Walk in a "Race for the Cure"   I was out of town.  Next year...
  • Choose joy - because each day is a gift and I won't take a single one for granted.  YES! YES! and YES!  

  • -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A year ago when I wrote that list I had no idea what 36 would hold.  I never would have thought it would look a little more like this:

    - Start a health and wellness business.  
    - Decrease medication by 75%!!  
    - Travel to other states helping others build their own businesses and have so much FUN doing it.  
    - Take the girls to Disneyland.
    - Spend one month in Hawaii.
    - Become stronger, healthier and more determined than ever.

    I'll have to spend some time in the next couple of weeks thinking about where I want to be when thirty-eight  rolls around. Be careful what you hope for, having a vision is a powerful thing.

    To living life,

    Monday, August 20, 2012

    A Tale of Two Structures

    For the last several months my daughter has been fascinated by the house being built down the street.  She always make me slow down as we drive by so she can check on the progress. Yesterday, as we drove by once again, we had a conversation that really struck me.

    Mom, the house is happening so fast now.  They took forever and ever doing the floor.  Now the bedrooms are so quick.  It's finally starting to look like a real house.

    Forever and ever doing the floor.   

    I explained to her how important that "floor" really is, how the builders need to spend a lot of time making sure there is a strong, solid foundation.

    She nodded her head, gazed out the window, quiet.

    Then came the next question.

    What happens if they don't make a strong floor?

    I thought for a second, not wanting to give her nightmares of collapsing buildings.

    Well, honey, if the floor isn't strong, the rest of the house won't be strong either.  It wouldn't be safe to live in.  

    She nods again.

    I'm sure glad we have strong floors, mama.  

    Me too, baby, me too.  

    Her attention turns to her sister as they start to sing Old MacDonald.

    I, on the other hand, keep thinking about "floors".

    Just last week, I heard about a half-billion dollar hotel in Las Vegas that was built but never opened because of serious construction defects.  Inspectors noted that the building would likely collapse in a major earthquake.  After millions of dollars and months of litigation, a Nevada state judge recently gave the go-ahead to implode the building.

    What happens if they don't make a strong floor?

    Shiny and beautiful on the outside, the entire project will soon turn to dust.

    But isn't it the truth?  When it's all said and done, no matter how things look on the outside, your foundation is what keeps you standing.  I'm thankful my four-year-old reminded me where I need to spend my time.  When my floor - my family, my faith and my health - is taken care of, everything else works out.  I'm strong and can take on everything else.

    And unlike the Las Vegas hotel that awaits its fate, you and I can always go back and strengthen our foundation.  Why wait for a collapse or implosion?  We can do something today to make sure we have a strong tomorrow.  Whether it's spending quality time with your family or making changes to your diet and lifestyle, check your floor and see how it passes inspection.  The rest of your house will thank you.

    With love,

    Friday, August 17, 2012

    Five Minute Friday - STRETCH

    It has been far too long.  But this morning, I'm joining Lisa-Jo for Five Minute Friday.  This is when we stop, drop and write.  No editing or over thinking, just five sweet minutes to write for the love of writing.  Today she asks us to give our best five minutes on:    

    S  T  R  E  T  C  H



    It's funny how a simple word can take on such new meaning at different points of our life.  This word brings up all sorts of emotions for me. This time last year, being able to stretch was a daily goal.  Between regular physical therapy sessions, yoga for arthritis classes and daily exercise, I worked hard at maintaining my ability to stretch.  It wasn't that long ago when simply bending down to touch my toes got a standing ovation from my rheumatologist.  Every morning, alone in the bathroom, I made it a point to reach for the ceiling - as high as I could, pulling, stretching, straightening out my spine.  It hurt.  Hard to breathe.  So much work.  Just to stretch.  

    But what was the alternative?  

    Weakness.  Pain.  Inability.  

    Today, while I still stretch to maintain strength, flexibility and range of motion, life is stretching. 

    The goal is no longer just stretching my limbs, but stretching my vision - leadership, passion, faith. Stretching, reaching - out of my comfort zone and into places I never imagined - because there is no alternative.  


    Hugs and Health, 

    Five Minute Friday

    Thursday, July 5, 2012

    Strong Enough

    They say summer doesn't start around here until after the 4th of July.  Sure enough, after months of rain, yesterday was amazing.  The sun made it's entrance and the day was perfect. We powered it out for 12 straight hours of 4th of July fun!

    So this morning, on this unofficial 2nd day of summer, I did something I've been wanting to do for weeks - months, even.  Nope, I didn't throw my suit on, pour myself some lemonade and blow up the swimming pool.  I did something even better.

    I mowed the lawn.

    Yup, you heard me right.  I mowed my lawn - front and back, up and down.

    And I loved every second of it.  

    You see, last 4th of July, I stayed home with my baby while daddy and big sister went to watch the fire works. I was in the middle of a flare up and all the physical therapy, shots and steroids wasn't going to let this mama enjoy the show. I remember going to bed early last year wondering how many special events I'd miss. I remember thinking, "Next 4th of July, I am going to be there. No matter what. I'm going to celebrate."  

    And that I did.  All day and night, with amazing friends.  

    So this morning as I drank my green smoothie and stared out the kitchen window, I knew exactly how I wanted to start the day.  

    When my oldest daughter saw me rolling out the lawn mower, she said, "Uh, mommy, you better leave that for daddy.  He's the one with the stronger back."  

    "Don't worry sweetie.  Mommy is stronger than you think."  

    Stronger than I think...

    And with that, I was off.  The girls laughed and cheered.  I smiled - thankful.  

    Two hours later, sweaty and dirty, I couldn't help but step back and marvel at it all - marvel at strength.

    Pushing forward, 

    Monday, June 11, 2012

    What a Difference...

    This time last year I was wrapping my head around a diagnosis I had never heard of.  It was June 1, 2011, when a rheumatologist told me I had ankylosing spondylitis.  He said there was no cure, but that they could treat me with a new biological medication that would slow the disease down.  Unfortunately the medication would kill my immune system and put me at higher risk for other diseases.  Talk about a rock and a hard place. This time last year I could barely lift my baby or get a bowl off the top shelf without some sort of steroid. The future seemed so uncertain.

    And yet - the future comes.  Time never stands still, it passes - one way or the other.

    Amazing what can happen in one year.  This June 1st, 2012, I was on an airplane heading to Los Angeles  - on my way to grow my business, share health and hope, and celebrate possibilities.  I should mention that I have been able to decrease my medication (with the goal of completely eliminating it) and have boosted my immune system and overall health naturally.






    It was no accident.  It was a year of choices, from what I put in my mouth to what I allowed in my heart.  It was a year of saying "we'll get through this" even when it didn't feel like it.  A year of holding tight to all that mattered and letting go of everything that didn't.  And today, the choices continue.

    Where do you want to be one year from now?  Five years from now?  Are you making decisions to get there or are you just hoping things will change on their own?  I'd like to encourage you and say that even as the years pass - our health can get better, our marriages - stronger, our dreams - brighter.  Life, with all its ups and downs, is such an amazing gift.  Decide where you want to go then take a step in that direction.  You won't regret it.


    Monday, May 21, 2012


    Our family just got back from vacation.  While I spent the days leading up to it doing laundry, packing, re-packing and cleaning the house, my husband worked away at his latest project:  an irrigation system.  He was literally tweaking and testing that thing up until the minute we left for the airport.  We crossed our fingers and hoped that it would keep our garden alive while we were away.   

    Eight days later (with not a drop of rain) we got home and rushed to the backyard.  We were amazed. Not only did our garden survive, it flourished.  

    I sat and stared.  

    Because isn't that what we all want?  To flourish.  It's not a coincidence.  We don't grow on accident.  

    I'm new to this gardening thing.  I don't know all the lingo or the tricks for ensuring success, but here's what I have learned.

    Soil.  It breathes life or births disease. You can spray and weed and fight, but if the soil isn't rich, if the foundation isn't healthy, we will not thrive.  

    Water.  Often times, especially here in the Pacific Northwest, nature takes care of the watering.  But when the dry spells come, when the days are long and hot, you get out that hose and water (you even build an irrigation system if you have to).  One way or the other, we need to be watered.  

    Light.  Even when it's gray, the sun is shining.  The clouds eventually clear.  The darkness passes and we grow.  

    What happens when all these things work together?  


    And from the harvest...

    Caesar Salad - romaine from the garden
    (dressing:  1/4 cup olive oil, 3 cloves garlic minced, 1 lime, salt and pepper to taste, Parmesan cheese)

    Kale Smoothie (aka: my daily breakfast):
    1 cup almond milk, 1/2 banana, Shaklee Cinch Protein, 3 kale leaves, 1 T ground flaxseed, 1 t almond or peanut butter,
    1 cup ice.  Blend and enjoy!

    Wishing you abundance,

    Sunday, May 20, 2012

    A Familiar Face

    Yesterday my family and I went to a birthday party. As soon as we arrived I saw someone who looked oddly familiar.  I couldn't place him at first.  He said hello and shook my hand.  The sound of his voice alone made my mind race and emotions swell.  Who was he?  How did I know him?  He was out of place.  Out of context.  Until I heard his name.

    It was my neurosurgeon.  The doctor who stood at the side of my hospital bed explaining my options, the procedures.  The one who nodded silently as I cried.  He left a mark - a two inch scar on my back where he removed lesions from my spine.  I haven't seen him since.

    Thank you, God.

    Needless to say, hearing his voice and seeing his face brought back a lot of memories.  He remembered my husband and me and asked how I was doing.  I got a little choked up when I looked him in the eye and responded, "I'm doing great."  Because really, I am.  Seeing him reminded me how thankful I am for that.  A part of me wanted to sit him down and re-live bits and pieces of the last twenty months.  I wanted to bring back to life the pain, the fear and the uncertainty.  I wanted to walk him through the journey that followed - the seeking, the fighting, the believing, the healing.  But instead, I smiled, took a deep breath and nodded my head.  Somehow I think he understood.

    All I know is that I wanted to get home and write.  I wanted to see the words - black and write, running across the page.  I wanted to come back to where it all started.  I wanted, needed, to write.

    Because hope cannot be contained.  Should not be contained.

    So let me say this.  I am not doing well on accident.  I didn't get lucky.   I made changes to every part of my life.  I learned to be weak, to be strong. I fought for my future, my faith, my family.  I read everything I could get my hands on.  I juiced.  I fasted.  I believed. I made tough decisions. I surrounded myself with amazing people.  I prayed - for purpose.  I chose joy.  I gave thanks.

    I don't forget the nights I poured over my keyboard with tears in my eyes or the days I was angry and frustrated and in pain.  But for now, I am reminded how far we have come and for that, I am thankful.

    With love, 

    Sunday, April 22, 2012

    Earth Day Starts at Home

    If you're anything like me, April 22nd has come and gone for many years.  While I always have good intentions, I have never done anything grand on Earth Day.   Sure, my family and I recycle, occasionally compost, and do our part to use less and be green.  Still, I wish I could say I planted a bunch of trees, organized masses of people for clean-up projects or drafted a bipartisan bill that would save the earth once and for all. 


    Isn't it funny that when we fail to do the "large" things, we often ignore, and ultimately fail, to do the small.  But actually it's those small acts that really make a huge impact.  And like so many things in life, those actions almost always begin at home. 

    The simple act of choosing nontoxic, earth friendly household products not only impacts your family's health, it also helps our planet. I have been using Shaklee cleaning products since the late 90's. In fact, I have been using Basic H longer than I have been married (and we're getting ready to celebrate our 10th anniversary!)  For almost 60 years Shaklee has been a leader in environmental stewardship.  Click here to read about their impressive environmental heritage.

    From an environmental standpoint, switching from conventional cleaners to Shaklee's Get Clean Starter Kit eliminates 108 pounds of packaging waste from landfills and eliminates 248 pounds of greenhouse gases.  This is the environmental equivalent of planting 10 trees.  

    From an economic point of view, you would need to spend over $3400 to get the same cleaning power as what you'll find in the Get Clean Starter kit. The products are highly concentrated, which means they last longer and ultimately save you money.

    And as for your health, Get Clean products are nontoxic and natural and do not contain any harmful ingredients.  In fact, did you know:

    - Approximately 20 million Americans have asthma (including 1 out of every 13 school-aged children).
    - Asthma rates in children under age 5 have increased 160% from 1980 to 1994.
    - Common household cleaners give off fumes that can potentially increase the risk of children developing asthma.  
    - The average U.S. household generates more than 20 pounds of hazardous waste each year.  
    - Many household cleaning products are designated as hazardous waste by the EPA and improper disposal of these wastes can pollute the environment and pose a threat to human health.

    Check out Shaklee CEO, Roger Barnett and his wife Sloan on Oprah (by the way, in 2007, Oprah gave away the Get Clean Starter Kit as one of her favorite things).  

    If you are interested in making a difference in your health, your home and our planet, click here to get your Get Clean Starter Kit today.  The good news is that for the month of April, you will receive FREE membership ($19.95 value) with the purchase of any product.  That means you will receive member pricing (15% off retail) and all the other benefits that come with Shaklee membership. 

    Please feel free to email me at with any questions or leave a comment below.  

    Cheers to healthy homes, healthy families and a healthy planet!

    Monday, March 26, 2012

    A Change of Tune

    In the last few months I've had several conversations with people on the topic of "what ifs."  In fact, these conversations have become so regular I figured I'd write about it.

    The conversation/email/text usually starts with the question, "How do you deal with all the what ifs?"  You know the endless questions with no answers:

    - What if I never get better?
    - What if I can never do the things I once did?
    - What if my spouse isn't in it for the long haul?
    - What if I lose my job? my friends? my future?
    - What if....?

    The list goes on and on.

    First of all, let me say that I think it's perfectly normal for these questions to cross your mind. After all, when facing any sort of life challenge you can't help but wonder what you're up against. In fact, sometimes these "what ifs" can prompt us to move and act and plan accordingly. But here is what I have learned:   More often than not, these kinds of what ifs can be paralyzing. They zap you of your energy, strip you of hope and make your mind run in maddening circles.

    So what do we do?  How do we avoid sitting under that looming gray cloud?  Maybe the answer is found when we change the conversation, adjust the tune and shift our thinking.

    Instead of "What if I never get better?" ask, "What if health is just a few steps away?"

    Instead of "What if I can never do the things I once did?" ask, "What if I learn incredible new things, things I never imagined doing?"  

    Instead of thinking that life as you knew it is over, think "What if something great is right on the horizon?" 

    This line of thinking makes me want to move forward, look for answers, fight for hope, believe. And this is so important because actions follow thinking. While I do consider myself an optimistic person, I am no Miss Sally Sunshine seeing the world through rose-colored glasses. I'm a realist, but a realist who believes in the power of hope.

    If I focused my thoughts on what I was told - there is no cure, you will have to live with this disease for the rest of your life - I would have done nothing.  Why bother?  Instead, I asked, What if I could be the small percentage of those who go into remission?  What if I let this pain teach me something? What if this makes me a better mom, wife, woman?  What if God's best is right around the corner?  What if...?  And then came the actions.  The looking for answers, trying alternatives, the changes - inside and out.  I put my energy into not just feeling better, but being better, living better.  All of a sudden I didn't have time to wonder if I'd ever be "cured" - I was too busy living my life and living it well.

    If you've been paralyzed by "what ifs" I would encourage you to change the conversation.  After all, what if a simple shift in your thoughts could set you on a new and amazing course?  It's at least worth a try.


    Friday, March 9, 2012

    When Healing Happens

    There was a time - not that long ago - when I dreaded the question, "How are you?"  Most of the time, I answered with a polite, "I'm fine, thanks."  But the truth was, while I was doing my best to move forward, find solutions and stay positive, I was also very afraid.  Afraid of the disease getting out control, afraid of the complications and the long list of "what ifs."

    But today, when someone asks, "How are you?" I can't help but smile (and get a little teary-eyed).  I can't help but think about where I've been and where I'm going.  For months, I have blogged about my journey.  Many of you have been reading from the beginning, when there was lots of pain and little answers.  You have seen me through the fears, doubts and struggles. You have seen me vulnerable and honest, broken and afraid, resilient and determined. You have seen it all and you have so graciously journeyed with me.

    As I mentioned in a previous post, the end of 2011 had me seriously re-evaluating the future. The risks of my treatment plan were outweighing the benefits and it was time for a change of plans.  Little did I know that those change of plans would dramatically change my life.  Since the beginning of 2012, I have been on a nutritional program that has made an incredible difference in my health.  I have been able to cut my medication dosage in half, my blood work has been normal (for the first time in over a year), my inflammation has decreased and the pain has subsided (not only does my husband NOT need to help me out of bed, I am up to 20 minutes on the elliptical).  And get this, I haven't been sick at all in 2012.  Keep in mind, I was the girl who was told she would have to wear a mask on airplanes or crowded places.  My immune system was weak and that resulted in constant sickness, infections and food poisoning.  Today, I am getting stronger - cell by cell - I am healing.  Let me say that again.

    I. Am. Healing.

    It is so powerful, humbling, liberating to write those words.

    The good news doesn't stop there.  My quest for health, wellness and prevention led me to start my own business, Thriving 365.  Yes, from Thrive Out Loud to Thriving 365 I am living and breathing health and hope. I have partnered with Shaklee, the #1 natural nutrition company in the U.S., and am now able to share natural, alternative solutions with others.  I wasn't looking to start a business.  I was simply looking for answers and this is where it led me.  Please click here to visit my website and read my story.

    This post has been a long time coming.  Several months ago, during a very dark time, I wrote, "I know something great is on the horizon.  I just know it."  It seemed crazy at the time, because the horizon looked anything but great.  And yet, here we are.  I know that this journey is not over.  Healing is a process, but there's nowhere else I'd rather be.

    With Love,

    Wednesday, February 29, 2012

    Feeling the Love

    On Valentine's Day I got the most amazing gift.  And I mean AH. MAZE. ING.

    It came in the mail.

    A check.

    And in the memo section, the words:  VITAMIX.

    I told you - amazing.  If you read my blog you would know how much I've been wanting to get a Vitamix.  In fact, a few weeks ago the girls and I watched the Vitamix guy at Costco for almost an hour.  We were in awe and devoured every sample.  Needless to say, it completely blew my mind when a relative that I haven't seen in years emailed me saying she wanted to give me and my family a Vitamix.  Her generosity left me speechless.  I didn't quite know how to respond, let alone receive such a gift.  In the end, I simply said thank you - sincerely and humbly - thank you.  

    This post isn't so much about the Vitamix (which I LOVE and use everyday - I'm blending everything I get my hands on) it's more about learning how to receive.  Whether it comes by way of encouraging words, small acts of kindness or generous gifts, learning to receive has been one of my greatest lessons.  I lived most of my life in the "no, no, no thank you" camp - thinking it was polite and more acceptable to turn down such offers. It wasn't until I was in position where I couldn't do things for myself that I started to learn how to receive, how to open up and let others in, how to graciously say thank you.

    Thank you Aunty Cathy for your incredible thoughtfulness and generosity. I can't wait to post pictures of all our fun creations (I'm still learning how to use this powerful beauty).   Hopefully one day we can cheers with a (perfectly blended) green juice.  Until then, please know that I am overflowing with thanks.

    Feeling the love,

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    A Valentine Anniversary

    It just takes one day, one moment, to change the course of your life.  

    Valentine's Day will no longer be just a day for romance, Hallmark cards, flowers and boxes of chocolate.  

    It will always be a reminder.  

    An anniversary.  

    A pinnacle moment.

    When life changed. 

    When my world's axis shifted, causing a ripple effect in every crack and crevice of my being.  

    The phone call.

    The doctor needs you to come in right away.  

    Sitting in his office.  My three year old with Valentine chocolate smudged on her face.  The baby crying, wanting to nurse.  

    There are lesions on your spine.


    I want to admit you tonight.  We have to do more tests.  

    Heart racing.  

    It could be anything - anything from an infection to cancer. 

    Fear.  Paralyzing fear.  

    You are sick.  

    Can't breathe.

    We packed our bags, headed to the hospital.  My husband propped up our Valentine cards next to my hospital bed.  The nurses rushed in and out, wearing red and pink scrubs covered with hearts and flying cupids.  They tried to hide their glassy eyes as they read my chart and saw the teddy bar leaned up against my breast pump. What did they know?  What did it say?   

    My baby needs me.

    It was surreal then.

    Vivid now.  

    February 14th changed the course of my life.  Fear, pain and sickness birthed fire, resilience, passion.  

    And today - today I celebrate.  



    New beginnings.  


    But I don't forget

    what brought me here

    what guided me through.  

    Today, I'm taking back Valentine's Day.  

    Writing a new chapter.  

    Believing for a different ending.  

    Celebrating every breath of life.  





    What does this day mean to you?  

    Love and Gratitude, 

    Friday, February 10, 2012

    Change of Plans

    It's February 10th - six weeks after what woulda coulda shoulda been a new year's reflection and resolution post.  Considering my love for contemplation, lists and goal-setting, you would think I'd be all over the whole new year's thing.  A lot of people (especially in blog world) come up with a "word for the year."  I love the idea - the whole state your theme and rock it all year long deal.

    Well, six weeks ago, I was in no place to plan out a whole year let alone narrow it down to one word.  No, six weeks ago I was in one-day-at-a-time mode, faced with a failing immune system and uncertain future.  But sometimes that's all it takes - one day - for everything to change.

    I spent the days leading up to 2012 thinking about my next step - because there needed to be one.  I put my quite consuming job search on the back burner and turned my energy once again to alternative treatments and solutions.  Since flying around the country looking for the best out-of-the-box thinking doctor/naturopath wasn't an option, I decided to be my own advocate.  The goals were really quite simple:  boost my immune system, manage pain naturally and reduce inflammation with the goal of decreasing and possibly eliminating my medication.  I decided to put myself on a supplement regimen.  I thought if I could just give my body all the nutrients it needed, maybe - just maybe - it could start to heal itself.  So that's what I did.  

    It's has been one month.  One month of rebuilding, healing, feeling stronger - one cell at a time.  My last panel of lab results came back - all in the "normal" range.  Yeah!  I met with my rheumatologist earlier this week and explained my concerns and desire to decrease my medication.  He agreed to reduce my shots from every week to every other week.  Double yeah! I am thankful for his support; my intention is to be well, not a rebel.

    The amazing part is that my quest for health has led me not only to a new treatment plan, but to a new career path (details on this to come).  For now, I'll just say that I am overwhelmed with hope and determined more than ever to thrive.

    Hope and Healing,


    Tuesday, January 31, 2012

    A Beautiful Battle

    Sometimes there just aren't words.

    How do you string together letters to form words, to form sentences, to form thoughts that dance between life and death?  



    Yesterday, a friend lost her 14 year long battle with cancer.  I say lost only because I know she would have chosen to stay.  Chosen to watch her daughters graduate from college, get married, have children.  She would have chosen to see more of the world, to laugh with friends, sing, dance, ring in another new year.  She would have chosen to decorate another Christmas tree, plant a new bed of flowers, celebrate another birthday - or two, or five, or fifty.

    She would have chosen


    But here we are.  Here I am.  Without her.

    My heart is heavy as I think about her family, her friends, the people that love her that are left behind.  I let that heaviness seep in - into the crevices of my heart, mind and soul.  It makes me hug my girls a little bit harder, for a little bit longer.  It makes me stop what I'm doing and look them in the eye.  It makes me pay attention - to the sound of my breath, the tone of his voice, the light in their eyes. It makes me unafraid to chase after wild and crazy dreams because what is there to lose. It makes me want to love better and bigger.  It makes me thankful for




    of my life.

    Let that seep in.  Then live - and love - every minute of yours.

    Goodbye, friend.  I will miss you.

    Love and Peace,

    Tuesday, January 24, 2012

    Easy as a Rainbow

    Maybe it's the time of year.  January:  the month of trying to hold on to new year's resolutions, a fresh slate, an opportunity to try to new things.  Whatever it is, there's been lots of talk about eating healthy.  You see it on facebook, on TV, you hear it among friends.  Often times, there's a sense of overwhelm - Where do I start?  How do I make it last?  If I could offer my humble two cents, I would say one thing:


    Yup, that's it.  That simple.  I mean sure there's more we could talk about but I think small steps ensure consistency.  And consistency brings us a whole lot closer to overall healthy living.  

    Here's what we do around here.  We try to eat at least three colors per meal.  If I'm rushing to make lunch and hand my 4-year old a peanut butter sandwich with an apple, she'll say, "Mom, 2 more colors please."  Oh yeah.  So then I'll go through the fridge and find some carrots and purple grapes.  There it is - 3 colors for lunch.  We talked early on about these colors being things that we can pick or grow (with the exception of cheese).  In other words, blue tortilla chips and a watermelon fruit roll up - although yummy - don't count.  :) Green salads are anything but just green.  In fact, we try to see just how many colors we can throw into one bowl.  It's kind of like a game, but boy does it work.  And last but not least, you must employ the crunching game.  Table manners are put on hold for a second as we see who has the loudest crunch.  I still hold loudest crunch for carrots, but my little one is queen of crunching a bell pepper.  It's fun.  No more, "Eat your vegetables!! They're good for you!"  

    For now, my 4-year old understands that these colorful fruits and vegetables give our bodies energy so we can play all day, run real fast, help us grow and make us happy.  As she gets older, we'll explain that these phytonutrient-rich foods are amazing antioxidants, strengthen our immune system, reduce inflammation and contribute to overall well being.  

    So, instead of shocking your family with an entire plate of foreign foods they've never seen or heard of, just start slow.  Add color to your meals and simply start with the rainbow.  I also found that pre-rinsing and chopping means I'm more likely to eat everything instead of letting things get pushed to the back of the fridge only to spoil and be thrown out.  

    Last summer I wrote about my favorite hummus recipe.  It's the sweet potato hummus recipe from Power Foods, but it can also be found on the Whole Living website.   It is delicious - every time.  

    Normally I use regular sweet potatoes and it looks like this - just like regular hummus but a bit sweet from the sweet potatoes.  

    Over the weekend, I used purple flesh Okinawan sweet potatoes and it was deeeelish.  In Hawaii, we ate Okinawan sweet potatoes all the time.  In fact, I didn't know there was any other type.  I finally found some at my local Asian food market and was so thrilled!!   Don't you just love the colors?  

    And here's our rainbow salad:  spinach, greens, grape tomatoes, almonds, orange bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms.  Colorful, crunchy and so yummy.  

    So instead of being overwhelmed, just slowly add some color.  You'll see how easy (and delicious) healthy eating can be.  

    Peace and Rainbows, 

    Friday, January 20, 2012

    Five Minute Friday - VIVID

    While I may be lagging in the whole blogging department, it certainly isn't for lack of something to say.  In fact, it has been a whirlwind of events around here.  I promise to share details soon.

    For now, I'm going to give you five minutes, because that's how we roll on Fridays.  I'm joining up with Gypsy Mama where we stop, drop and write for five sweet minutes.  When I saw today's prompt I couldn't resist.

    Here's my five on:




    You'd think they'd go away by now

    those memories, details.

    But they are vivid as ever.

    The phone call.

    His hand resting on my shoulder

    telling me

    it doesn't look good

    i need to go

    to the hospital

    more tests


    The girls staring

    one with valentine chocolate on her face

    the other, hungry, wanting to nurse.

    head spinning

    heart racing



    You'd think by now it would be a fading memory.  After all, their fears were not my fate.

    And yet

    the days, weeks, months

    of the last year


    V  I  V  I  D

    Like it was yesterday.

    But the thing is

    I don't want it to fade.

    Because it moves me

    pushes me

    makes me hungry

    for health






    Running in the Rain

    There's a woman who lives in my neighborhood.

    She runs.

    Almost every day.  

    Pushing that jogging stroller with a little one in tow.

    She runs in the heat of summer, child shielded from the sun with water bottle in hand.

    She runs in the cold of winter, child bundled warm and toasty enjoying the ride.

    Yesterday, as I drove home, annoyed that I got soaked during the 20 feet I had to run from my car to the store, I saw her running yet again.

    It. Was. Pouring.

    And there she was.


    The jogging stroller was decked out with one of those super deluxe water-proof coverings that you would only buy if you live (and run) in the Pacific Northwest.

    As for the woman, not only was she running, she was smiling.

    I'll admit, my first thought was, "she's nuts."  But then, it hit me.

    She has run with the seasons.

    She has adjusted.

    She has embraced.

    She doesn't wait for the weather to be perfect -

    for sunnier days, with light winds and intermittent puffy white clouds.

    She is running - with a smile on her face.

    I love that.

    And while I may not be joining her on her daily runs anytime soon, I will run my own race. Today, tomorrow and every day after that.  And that alone is reason enough to put a smile on my face.

    Through rain and shine,

    Friday, January 6, 2012

    Five Minute Friday - ROAR

    It's Friday - time to stop, drop and write.  I'm joining up with Gypsy Mama for five minutes of unedited, free flowing fun.  I love today's topic.  In fact, I may have to come back to it later in the week because five little minutes may not do it justice.

    Let's do this!  Five minutes on....




    My little ones are experts.  They practice all day, every day.  Even my 16 month old has got it down.  They hold their toy lions and in full character, let out a mighty rooooooooar.  I almost always laugh and they shoot me that serious look like, "Hey, what are you laughing at?  The king of the jungle is not supposed to be funny."   They are right.  

    He is King 

    of the jungle.  

    And his roar says it all.  

    This year, 2012, I am going to learn how to roar.

    No whimpering, whispering, talking under my breath.  

    Roar in the face of 



    fear of the future

    the unknown.  

    Roar with 






    Because life is not small.  I will not hide until it's safe to come out.  

    I will not be silent.  

    Cannot be 


    I will join my little ones

    and together we will



    to be continued...

    Thursday, January 5, 2012

    Birthday Love

    It never fails.  On the eve of your birthday I always cry.  It's not a sad cry.  It's a I'm-so-happy-to-be-your-mommy/I-can't-believe-my-baby-is-another-year-older kind of cry. 

    You amaze me.  

    You are smart and hilarious and witty and compassionate all at once.  

    Insightful beyond your years, you teach me life's most important lessons.  

    Funny, without even trying, you make my belly hurt from laughing. 

    My joy overflows - every. single. day.  

    Because of you. 


    are a precious gift, 
    a world-changer, a peace-maker, a bridge-builder.  

    Your kind words and sincere heart

    make people smile


    What a gift you are.    

    I am so thankful to be your mommy.    

    May this year be filled with incredible adventures, laughter and love.  

    Loving you to the moon and back...