eating a whole new way in January

eating a whole new way in January

A few years ago, I was complaining to a friend about my struggle to lose a few pounds. She suggested that I try an eating plan, called “Whole 30.”

When she explained that the concept was to eat only meat, fruit, veggies, nuts and some fats for 30 days, I told her there was absolutely no way I could do it. I couldn’t imagine living for 30 days feeling so deprived. I couldn’t imagine giving up things like cereal, bread, pasta, sugar and dairy.

Fast forward a few years.

I have been wanting to make a change to my diet the past few months and decided to take another look at the Whole 30 plan. Strangely, after being gluten free for six months, I saw the eating plan in a totally different way.

Although I’ve learned how to prepare good food that is gluten free, I often don’t plan for my own eating needs. I will make a big dinner for my kids, and then sit down at the table to realize I don’t have anything I can eat. I love to try new foods at restaurants, but now I don’t really enjoy dining out. I know there might only be a few items on the menu that I can eat, and even then, I risk cross contamination which can make me sick for several weeks.

In a word, I often feel deprived. As a result, I end up over compensating on ice cream, tortillas chips or gluten free cookies that I have stashed in the freezer.

When I started scrolling through all of the Whole 30 meal ideas on Pinterest, I started getting excited. Sure, they don’t contain dairy, sugar or grains of any kind, but they are ALL gluten free! Instead of feeling deprived, I felt like I had tons of choices. The meal plan encourages you to try new foods, as long as they are real food. That idea excites me because I love to try different food.

Sure. I could just cut my biggest culprit — sugar — out of my diet and do a better job of planning meals that are gluten free. But there’s something about making a really big change that excites me. I really love a challenge, and I was looking for a good dietary change to start off the new year.

I’ve created my meal plans and completed all of my grocery shopping, so I decided to get started on the Whole 30 today. Why wait until tomorrow? Weird, right?

I started the morning with chia seeds soaked in coconut milk, a side of bacon and some pomegranate seeds. By the way, my decaf coffee looks a little weird because it has coconut milk in it. (Yes… I’ll probably become one of those people who takes photos of her food everyday!)

My husband loved lunch! We ate roasted sweet potatoes, apples and pecans, with some Whole 30 approved sausage.

I stopped eating sugar a few days ago to help me prepare for the change. Typically, this alone would have me sulking around with a head ache all day. Instead, I’ve been eating so much filling food, that I feel great!

I also splurged and bought a subscription to If you are doing Whole 30, this is an amazing resource. The service gives you access to 500 Whole 30 recipes that you can drag and drop into your monthly menu. It comes with a free app that makes it easy to use in your kitchen. Once you are done planning out your meals, it creates a shopping list that you can use on your phone.

I’m sure the reality of doing Whole 30 will set in when the kids go back to school and I go back to work and don’t have time to stay on top of the meal preparation. But I went into Day 1 ready with awesome food choices. I’m pretty sure that I’m going to GAIN weight eating so much yummy food, but at this point, I don’t really care. I’m just excited about having a plan for delicious, healthy meals for the next few weeks.


What about you? Do you have plans to make any dietary changes in the new year? Have you done Whole 30?

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The disaster in our backyard

The disaster in our backyard

One of the universal truths about life it that sometimes the most difficult situations are the ones that create the best and most long-lasting memories.

These are the times when everyone in a family has to set aside his or her agenda and expectations and work together as a team. They have to think strategically and problem solve together. And sometimes, they have to race against time to work toward a solution.

That’s what happened to our family this morning. And I’m certain that someday we all will look back at Dec. 26, 2016, and be able to laugh at how we worked together to fix the disaster in our backyard.


As many people know, we built an ice rink in our back yard this year. This is the fourth year that we have built a rink, so we consider ourselves somewhat experienced in how to build a solid rink that will endure for the winter. However, it was the first time we had built a rink at our new house, and it was the largest rink that we had ever built.

For the past week, we have been excessively excited about the fun and joy the rink has brought our family. Our kids have had lots of friends over and spent hours during the day and into the evening outside skating. The kids have played broom ball, we taught our youngest to skate, my husband and I have enjoyed skating and we have had big plans to invite friends over throughout the Christmas break for some outdoor fun.

I wasn’t too concerned when I heard the temperature was going to suddenly rise to nearly 60 degrees today. What’s the worst that could happen? I assumed the ice would melt, giving us a nice smooth surface to skate. No worries.

This morning, we were getting our things together to head out to celebrate Christmas with our family. We could see out the window that the rink was full of water, but we still weren’t concerned. The hubs went out to check on things, and when he came back in, he delivered the startling news.

“The ice rink is done.”

I struggled for several minutes to comprehend the meaning of the word, “done.”



I went outside to see for myself.

Constructing a backyard ice rink is a fairly simple process. It’s basically a wooden frame, an enormous piece of plastic and a ton of water. Because the yard at this house has a slight incline, the back of the rink is about two feet deeper than the front of the rink. My husband had built a large wall at the back of the rink to hold the extra water. The plastic was clamped to the top of that wall.

As the ice melted and the wind picked up overnight, the plastic had been pulled away from the clamps. It had been pulled under the water and was sitting at the bottom. There was no way to pull the plastic back up because it was weighed down by an enormous iceberg that is 35 feet wide by 45 feet long, mixed with thousands of gallons of freezing water.

As we both stood looking at the situation, our minds were racing with the inevitable situation before us. Without the plastic tarp as a barrier, water was already leaking out several cracks in the wooden wall. It was only 8 a.m., so the ice would continue to melt as the temperature rose all day. The water would continue to pour out the back. We needed to leave town in three hours and while we were gone, the water would freeze again, trapping the tarp underneath. We wouldn’t be able to fill the rink again because we wouldn’t have the tarp to hold the water. So basically, several hundred dollars in materials and water and about 40 hours of work were now all going to waste.

As my husband said, “Done.”



“We can’t leave.”

I’m not sure why this thought had not crossed our minds before. We were going to have to all deal with our sadness of missing my family gathering. We needed to stay here and come up with a plan.

His suggestion sounded crazy to me.

First, we would need to drain the water. I watched in dismay as we purposely let thousands of gallons of water pour out the back of the rink.

Next, he would use a chainsaw to cut the ice the length of the rink about five feet in from the wall.


We would remove the huge chunks of ice.


We would remove the wall and pull out the separated sheets of ice.

We would pull up the tarp.

We would move the back wall in about five feet, reattach the tarp, patch the holes and have some chance of saving the rink.

All hands on deck.

For the next six hours, my husband and the kids went to work. (I mainly took photos, made food and cleaned up after everyone.)

I remarked several times that I was very thankful we had a 60 degree day to get this done. “If it wasn’t 60 degrees we wouldn’t have this problem!” my son kept reminding me.

We raced against rising temps that threatened to melt more ice, letting even more water pour out before my husband could reassemble the wall.


Shockingly, after a full day of hard labor and team work, the rink is looking good. We went from thinking the situation was hopeless, to creating a plan and working together to make it happen. Everything is put back together, and we are hoping the holes in the plastic are sealed. We are all sad we didn’t get to be with family today, and everyone is sore and tired.

Hopefully, sometime in the future when everyone is warm and dry or maybe skating on the rink, this day will make us smile. Maybe someday, this day will stand out from all the rest as one of those days when we worked together to solve a crisis.

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What was your theme for 2016?

What was your theme for 2016?

I know a lot of people who start the new year with a word for the year. I’m always so inspired when I see the words people choose, and I have tried many times to do this. For some reason, I’ve never been able to look ahead and select one word as my focus for the next year. One thing I do much better is look back and review the past.

As I’ve been thinking about 2016, my theme for the year was “seeking clarity.” I know it’s not one word. I wish I could say that my theme was “clarity,” but I’m not there yet.

When I think about what made 2016 unique, my mind automatically goes to Feb. 10. That was the first day of Lent, and the day that right in the middle of an episode of Alias on Netflix, it became clear to me that I needed to respond to the nagging in my heart to give up watching television shows.

The most positive side effect of this change was that I now had at least an hour a day, if not more, to pursue other interests. I started devoting more time to my creative hobbies. I discovered podcasts and started listening to shows that helped me in my spiritual walk and work life. I subscribed to Audible and began listening to more audio books. All of these things have had an impact on helping me seek clarity in what I love to do and what makes me unique.

For the purpose of this blog post, I want to focus on a few books that have made a big impact on my year and my theme of seeking clarity.


One of the first books I listened to this year was called, Living Forward, by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy. The book helps readers identify the key areas of their life and take an inventory of how they are doing in each of these areas. The writers actually have an online assessment if you want to do that an easier way. I remember sitting on the beach while we were on spring break in March, and going through the top 12 areas of my life. I wrote down how I was doing in each area and how I wanted to improve this year. I loved creating that baseline that I can look back on at other points to see how I’m progressing.


We’ve all heard the adage that “less is more,” and this book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, helped me see how that applies to so many areas of my life. The author, Greg McKeown, helps readers think about the clutter that is keeping them from focusing on what really matters. This applies to all areas of life, but has been a great tool in my work life. Thinking this way helps me ask myself if I am doing tasks that someone else could do or focusing on the things that only I can do.


I read StrengthsFinder about seven years ago, and felt a need to go through it again this year. I was thankful that our entire staff at work actually went through it together. The book comes with a code you can use to take the StrengthsFinder test online. You also can take the test online for $15 without purchasing the book. Having greater clarity about my strengths, as well as those of my co-workers has been incredibly useful in helping me focus on what I do well, while asking for assistance in areas where I struggle.


I have become a huge Gretchen Rubin fan this year. I read two of her books, and faithfully listen to her podcast. Happier at Home and Better than Before both focus on one of the topics I’m obsessed with in life: habits. Better than Before gave me a better understanding of some of the reasons we create habits and changes I can make to break bad habits. Happier at Home has transformed the way I think about each month. It inspired me to think about what makes each month unique, changes I can make to cherish the time and how I can set monthly goals.


A few other books that made an impact on my this year were Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg, who also wrote The Power of Habit. I also enjoyed Born for This by Chris Guillebeau and The Sleep Revolution by Ariana Huffington.


I guess it’s fitting that one of the books that will conclude my year is The Road Back to You, which I addressed in my last two blog posts. This book has been huge in helping me understand not only myself, but the people I love most.

What about you? As you look back at 2016, did your year have a theme? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

(This post includes affiliate links to the books that influenced me in 2016.)


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more about the Enneagram

more about the Enneagram

Thank you so much to everyone who took the Enneagram test yesterday and gave me your number. I loved reading all of your comments over on my Facebook page and the discussion about this topic.

A lot of people asked about the other two numbers associated with their main Enneagram number and what this means. Being the perfectionist that I am, I feel that it’s my duty to try to explain this in greater detail. I want to do my part to make the world a better place by answering this question as best as I can. 🙂 However, if you truly want to understand what it all means, I highly recommend the book I suggested in my last post, The Road Back to You.



Before we get into the subject of the other two arrows leading away from your main Enneagram number, we have to discuss “wings.” Your wings are the two numbers on either side of your main number. For example, I am a 1, so my wing would either be a 9 or 2. In my case, my wing is a 2 (helper). I have a sensitivity toward the needs of others. I love to “help” people by organizing meals for someone who had a baby or offering to babysit for a friend. In an unhealthy place, I can build up resentment that other people don’t have the natural ability to sense my needs and repay the favor.



Each Enneagram number points to two other numbers on the circle. If you are a 1, for example, your arrows will always point to 7 and 4. If you are a 2, your arrows point to 4 and 8, and so on. In times of security, a 1 will take on the positive characteristics of a healthy 7. So, for me that means that when I am feeling secure, I will by more spontaneous and fun. I will shift my perfectionist attention from what’s wrong with the world to what’s right with the world.



The other arrow indicates the direction you will move when under stress. For example, a 1 will adopt the characteristics of an unhealthy 4 in times of stress. In these times, I can by hyper sensitive and feel unlovable. My inner critic is at its worst when I’m under stress. My need to feel unique is amplified, and I compare myself more to others.


I have to say that when I first heard the description of my Enneagram type in the book, The Road Back to You, my initial reaction was that I need to quit blogging immediately. My goodness! I have created a public record for the world to see of my quest for perfection. I’m sure everyone who has been reading this blog for the past nine years probably felt sorry for me as I tried to take a photo every day, organize my closets, set goals for myself and decorate my home!

I was relieved when I got to the end of my chapter, to realize that the whole point of the book is to help you know yourself better so you could be the real you that God created each one of us to be. I loved the 10 tips the author gave at the end of each chapter to work toward transformation. I was able to see that my tendency toward perfectionism can be a positive contribution to the world, but I need to grow in the security of feeling loved for who I am, not what I do.

I also asked my kids to take the test last night. As I suspected, one of our sons also is a perfectionist. He and I were able to have a great conversation about how conflict can arise between two perfectionists living in the same home. This gave us a better understanding of each other and more compassion for each other, knowing that when we have conflict it’s because we are so ALIKE, not so different.

Our seventh grade daughter giggled, laughed and made jokes all the way through the test. She kept asking why she couldn’t respond with, “I take a nap,” to most of the questions. We all agreed that her result as an 8 (a controller) was not a good description of her fun-loving personality. So, I’m thinking that anyone in seventh grade (one of the hardest years of life, in my opinion) can’t possibly take the test accurately.

I also figured out that when reading a book on Audible, you can speed up the pace of the reader, so I’ve been flying through the rest of the book. It’s been super helpful in gaining a better understanding of myself, as well as the people around me!

As a 1, I really want to meet with every person who gave me his or her number and explain what it means in great detail. But, hey! I need to work on my perfectionism! So, instead I’ll leave it to you to do your own research. You can download the book here, or take the Enneagram test here.

If you do take the test, let me know your number. I would love to hear!


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how the Enneagram rocked my world

how the Enneagram rocked my world

A few months ago, one of the bloggers that I follow sent me a bulk e-mail suggesting I take a personality test called “the Enneagram.” According to his e-mail, this test was going to help me understand myself and others better. It would help me become more effective, both personally and professionally.

The e-mail caught my attention, but I was at a hectic place in life so I cruised on by. If you know me well, you know that this was unusual for me. My favorite form of entertainment is listening to audio books or podcasts that focus on topics about to be a “better” person — more productive, more organized, more focused. I love taking tests that help me understand myself better. I also love any type of tool that helps me understand other people better.

That e-mail must have been hanging out in my subconscious because a few days ago, out of the blue, I remembered that I hadn’t ever taken that test with the funny name. I found it in my inbox and clicked the link to take the test and find my personal “Enneagram number.”


I have to say I was more than a little disappointed when my results came back. The Enneagram is an ancient tool that identifies nine basic personality types. It explains how these personality types see and interact with the world in different ways.

My result said I was the number 1: Perfectionist.

I could see how this might be true, but it really wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear. I’ve been working my whole life to battle my perfectionism, so I thought maybe I had made enough progress that the test wouldn’t smoke me out. I was curious enough to understand more about my results that I used my Audible credit to download the author’s book, The Road Back to You.

The next day, I went into work and ran into a friend who is equally obsessed with understanding people and what makes each of us unique.

“Have you ever taken the Enneagram?” I asked.

“I’m OBSESSED with the Enneagram!” she responded. “Let me guess. You’re a 1?”

“Ugh,” I was thinking. “I thought that maybe I had answered the questions poorly and my result had come out wrong.” But somehow, the one person I know who likes to study personality types as much as I do had pegged me without even having to think about it.

The author of the book goes through each of the nine Enneagram types in great detail, explaining their tendencies, strengths, weaknesses and challenges. He started with an explanation of the number 8 and worked his way around to 9, before hitting on 1. So, I had a few hours of listening before he got to me.

At the beginning of each chapter, he gives 20 statements that describe someone with that personality type. I was dumbfounded as he summed me up in perfect detail. I laughed, I cried and I shook my head as he continued to describe my life so perfectly that I felt he had known me for decades. This total stranger seemed to know me better than my husband, my closest friends or my own mother!

I’m only half way through, but there are a few things that I love about this book.

1. The author describes what each personality type looks like when in a healthy place, versus a neutral place or a negative place in life. While it’s easy for me to get discouraged about my perfectionist tendencies and how they can negatively impact others, he gives examples of how each personality can be an asset in a work environment and a blessing to friends and family.

2. Each number has two numbers on the opposite side of the Enneagram number wheel that also apply to that personality type. One is where we go in times of stress, and the other is where we go when we’re feeling secure. This is really helpful to understand why we sometimes act completely out of our normal character or how we can take on the positive qualities of another personality type.

3. Probably the most helpful to me was the list he gave at the end of each chapter: 10 paths to transformation. He gave some great tips that can help better handle the challenges of each personality type and in my case, tame my inner perfectionist.

Here are a few of the things that I learned about being a 1.

1. As a perfectionist, I’m constantly on the lookout for how I can make things better. This can come across as critical or demanding if I’m not careful how I communicate with others.

2. I have a relentless inner self critic, who never gives me a break. If I make a mistake or even sense that I might have made a mistake, I will spend hours, days or even weeks, reviewing it in my mind and basically beating myself up. By the time someone else points out my flaw, I have usually thought about it for so long and in such great detail that it’s difficult for me to hear their critique.

3. I love creating systems to make things run more smoothly or organize the chaos around me. That’s why I’m constantly trying to organize my house or create checklists for my kids. It’s also why I enjoy creating systems at work.

4. I love to attempt to perfect things (even though I do know it’s not possible to be perfect). I like to create the perfect themed party. The perfectly color-coded closet. The perfect meal plan. Heck! I’ve subjected the world to an entire blog about my perfectionism! (Sigh.)

5. As a 1, I’m constantly trying to learn how I can be better at the things I do. Oh. My. Goodness! So, THAT’S IT! I’ve wondered why I’m so obsessed with constantly trying to absorb information to help me work smarter, improve my productivity, be more organized. Oh my.

I’ve been devouring this book this week, and I love listening to all of the descriptions of the different personality types. I feel like a huge light bulb just switched on for me to help me understand not only myself, but some of my closest friends and co-workers. “NOW I get it!” I’m constantly saying to myself as the author describes someone I know.

With that said, I would love to know you’re Enneagram number! If you want to take the test yourself or learn more, click here. Then let me know your score!

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