Our Anniversary, and a Happy Easter Too!

Good morning my friends!

It’s a beautiful, sunny Sunday, it’s Easter, and it’s mine and Michael’s TWO YEAR anniversary! I can’t believe how much time has just flown by since I met him. Since today is Easter and he has to work (he is a project engineer and his plant does installs on holidays while they’re shut down and employees are off site, so he has to be there to oversee things), we did our celebrating yesterday.

We ventured downtown yesterday morning and I stopped by Spanish Street Farmacy, a local old-timey general store and restaurant that sells locally grown items, fresh baked bread, and herbs – I picked up a chamomile plant that I’m going to plant in the herb bed later today. We had a late breakfast there, and tried their ginger turmeric tonic – which was so delicious!

After that we ran to the actual pharmacy to pick up Michael’s prescription for the steroid ointment that he for his skin (he has CTCL, Chronic T-Cell Lymphoma, which presents as dry red patches on his skin and is treated with UV light therapy and topical steroids). Then we went back downtown and browsed an antique store in search of fun items for food photography props – sadly I didn’t find anything that really caught my eye.

Then came the fun! Our favorite downtown spot, Ebb & Flow Fermentations, was having live music and launching their new menu. It was a sunny and warm 65 degree day and they have a gorgeous brick patio perfect for sipping some drinks, eating some food and listening to some music. Their new menu was loaded with vegetarian and vegan options, which I absolutely love! It is so difficult to be plant based at most of our local restaurants, because about the only thing on the menus that don’t have meat or cheese is a salad and fries.

Ebb & Flow came through with flying colors. They had a salad with edamame, apples and chickpeas. They had a chickpea wrap, two different kinds of hummus with veggies and pitas, roasted sweet potatoes, a roasted sweet potato and mushroom sandwich, and a pickle plate. Plus plenty of fun and unique options for the meat-eaters of the world too. Their menu is one-of-a-kind and diverse and I loved it! Not only did they fit everyone’s needs, they also deliver on taste and quality too. The chef who owns Celebrations, the original fine-dining restaurant in Cape Girardeau, also owns Ebb & Flow, designs their menu, and trained their chef. Their self-brewed beers are unique and fantastic as well. They definitely know their stuff!

When we finished up there, we went out for dinner. We originally planned to go to Gabriel’s, an Italian fine-dining restaurant. But with a perusal of the menu online, I quickly realized that their current entrees offered nothing that was plant based-friendly. They had a vegetarian lasagna, but of course that has cheese. So as much as we had been looking forward to that, we altered plans and ended up going to The Southerner. They had enough dishes that could be altered to accommodate plant-based eating, and I ordered the tuna poke bowl.

I had a couple of bites of the tuna, but I’ve been noticing especially here lately that when I do have meat of any kind, I can’t stomach very much of it. A few bites and then it just starts to taste undesirable to me. But the poke bowl came with edamame, so I was able to just scoot the tuna aside and eat the rest – greens, rice, edamame, tomatoes, carrots, avocado, sesame and a soy miso dressing. It was delicious!

Sadly I failed to get any pictures at Ebb & Flow…which I’m sure doesn’t surprise you if you’ve been reading my blogs for a while! Speaking of which, it’s time to move on to the weekly meal planning and prep. I’m getting ready to move to the kitchen and start whipping up some food for Michael for the week as soon as I’m finished writing to you.

I will be making the Tikka Masala today, as well as some oil-free vegan banana muffins and the stroganoff. I’ve never made tikka masala before, so I’m excited to give it a try. Michael and I went to St Louis on Thursday for his quarterly oncology appointment, and I was craving some Indian food. The Indian restaurant we had at home closed so we haven’t had Indian in quite a while. Unfortunately none of the Indian places in the area around the hospital opened until 5, and we were finished at the hospital at 3:30, so Indian didn’t happen. But we did find a place that had Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern food.

We picked up lots of yummy stuff. Michael got some kabob sandwiches, and I had a chickpea tomato stew (can’t remember what it was called). And we got a small plates sampler that had Baba Ganoush, Falafel, Makdoo and Stuffed Grape Leaves. Soooo good, and I’ve decided I’m going to try making some baba ganoush at home! But for today we’re going with the tikka masala, with a side note to start searching for some more Indian and Middle Eastern recipes to expand our recipe repertoire.

On that note, I will leave you with some snaps of the only food I remembered to photograph last week – tempeh tacos, which were not one of the planned meals, but whipped up on a hungry whim!

And with that, I’m off to make some food! I promise I will remember photos this time – I’m bright-eyed and bushy tailed, and the whole day is my oyster. Food, photos, then yard work and gardening! Happy Easter my friends!


How I’m Surviving Quarantine + A Sheltered Anniversary

Hi Friends,

I’ve missed writing to you so much these last few weeks! As you may know if you’ve been here for a while, I process SBA loans in my day job, and things have gone absolutely bananas since this Coronavirus pandemic began. I’ve gone from a causal and typical 40 hour work week, to working 50+ hours with no breaks to be had…and we are not yet able to see a light at the end of the tunnel. 

It is a bit surreal to be on the inside of this situation and see firsthand the impact that forced closings has had on our small businesses. The economic impact of the pandemic is every bit as great as the health impact, and it is both heartbreaking and exhausting to be in the thick of it.

Aside from the work side of things, the home front has changed as well. I am now working from home, which I admit has been so nice. I know a lot of people are chomping at the bit to get back to the office, but I am a huge homebody and I’m really loving this new routine and schedule.

The state of Missouri has decided to cancel school for the rest of the year, so the boys’ dad and I worked out a schedule to get us through until their summer break. They are now rotating between us one week at a time, which is the same schedule Michael is on with his son. Then when what would’ve been the last day of school comes around, the boys will be with their dad for the summer, coming home every other weekend until school begins again in August.

Last week I had both boys home, plus Michael’s son, while also working. It was interesting, but all three boys are pretty low maintenance so interruptions, thankfully, were brief and far between. I will admit that I’m looking forward to the quiet and solitude in the house this week, though.

Michael and I are in new uncharted territory as well. We are not used to having time together without kids. That only typically happens two weekends a month, but right now it is every other week, which is so crazy. I told him the other day that I feel like this is how normal couples in the early stages of a relationship are — before marriage and kids and careers, when they’re young and carefree and don’t have to focus on much besides each other. The rules are definitely very different when you come together later in life and each have kids from previous marriages to bring into the mix.

Speaking of our relationship – we celebrated our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY on April 4th!! We had planned a short weekend getaway to Gatlinburg, TN, where we were renting a cabin in the mountains with a hot tub and a view. We were going to do some hiking, eat some food, have a nice anniversary dinner out, and do a whole lot of relaxing on the deck overlooking a creek. COVID-19 had other plans, so we’ve postponed the trip until May 15th and celebrated at home in isolation instead.

We ordered appetizers, salads and dessert — an INCREDIBLE tiramisu — from a fabulous Italian restaurant in town, plus made some crab legs and scallops to go with it. We had a really nice, relaxing, quiet day together, our delicious dinner that evening, and totally vegged out watching House until bedtime.

He got me an anniversary present too:


Then I worked my tail off all week, including a little bit today. Today was supposed to be my spring cleaning day, and I got a little bit done, but I just couldn’t go anymore. I am so tired from the week, I just needed some downtime. I did our grocery shopping for the coming week, worked about another hour and a half, then came over to Michael’s to do my nails, and complete an assignment for one of my classes (I still have another big assignment to do for the other class, but the professor told me to turn it in when I can, so I’m feeling much less stressed about that one since I haven’t had a chance to work on it all week).

That assignment was all about visuals in video journalism, and it got me thinking about my own website, which led me here to write to you. I’ve been missing this outlet and I admit that it feels good to put fingers to keyboard (for something other than producing and uploading Promissory Notes). I wish I had time to tell you everything I have in store for you when my classes end (only another month!), my nutrition cert is complete (only one last book to go!), and the pandemic has ceased.

I have four articles currently sitting in my queue to work on, including the update about my month of going 100% plant-based in March. Hint: it was ALL positive! Acne went away, no cramping AT ALL with my period, my anxiety went away, and my sleep has improved drastically. But I will expand on all of that at a later date!

For now I’m going to sign off, order some more food from that lovely Italian restaurant downtown for our very quaint and quiet Easter (just me, Michael and his son Gabriel, because the boys are with their dad for Easter this year), and get out a book and read — not for school, just for me. Remember, when things are stressful it is so important to take some downtime to let yourself heal and rejuvenate. Everything else can wait a while.


Setting Goals for 2020 + A Review of My Goals for 2019

Dear Friends,

It is so hard to believe that we are here; recounting the end of another year and setting goals for the next. It still feels in so many ways like 2019 just began, and in three more weeks it will be behind us.

I began 2019 with some goals that I set for myself in my post My 2018 Farewell and Anticipation for All 2019 Will Bring. So what were these goals and how have I done?

#1 – Sleep

My insomnia made a comeback in 2018, and I entered 2019 still battling it. The work it took in my daily and bedtime routine to combat this was tedious, but it worked. About halfway through 2019 I was finally back to sleeping normally…or as normally as sleep can ever be for me. I wake easily, and my internal clock is so strict that sleeping in is an impossibility for me. But, I now fall asleep easily and the early waking happens very intermittently. So I consider this goal conquered!

#2 – Yoga

On this I feel I haven’t done so well. I did great at the start of the year, but then life changed. I met a man, entered a relationship, and my focus shifted in ways I hadn’t anticipated. I suddenly found myself busy with making time for him, and the time I was giving to myself slipped a lot. About six months into our relationship, when the new was wearing off and we were settling into a place of familiarity and comfort, we had a talk about our individual lives and what we needed to take care of ourselves separately, as well as our relationship.

Each of us began once again making time for the things we needed for self-care, and for me that meant resuming my yoga routine. I have been doing much better recently with this, but I did fail at any type of consistency throughout the entire middle of the year and am far behind where I saw myself being my the end of 2019. Another reminder of why it is so important not to lose sight of your own needs when you enter a relationship — something I am very grateful that Michael both understands, and agrees with me about.

#3 – Explorative Cooking

On this, I have done extraordinarily well. I’ve tried and developed numerous recipes throughout the year, and continued my education on health and nutrition. In fact, I am wrapping up the year trying another thing that is new for me — making plant based cheeses using ingredients I have never worked with before, like nutritional yeast, tapioca starch and agar powder. I’m learning that these cheese substitutes are so good that I, a self-proclaimed cheese addict, can be completely content and satisfied using them in place of cheese in my cooking. I am ending the year much more plant centered than I was at the beginning.

#4 – Fun & Discovery

Specifically I said that I wanted to “try new things, go new places, meet more people, learn all that I can, and have at least one fun experience every week”. I began the year making sure I got out of the house at least once a week, and frequently by myself rather than with a group, so that I was open to the new experiences and meeting new people. This goal turned out to be the biggest life-changer for me, because it allowed me to meet Michael, which has changed everything about my future.

The day that I met him, I wasn’t feeling it. My insomnia had not yet been conquered and my sleepless days were many. I was having one of those days when I met him. My friend Zach invited me to join him, his girlfriend and her sister at the monthly Beer:30 event hosted at his workplace. I was tired and miserable and just wanted to go home and go to bed, but I remembered the promise I’d made to myself for this year. And so I sucked it up and I went anyway. After all, I had kids at home so it’s not like I could just go home and go to bed. I only had to make it at the event for an hour, then I could go home. So I went, and Michael went with his uncle, who is also a friend of Zach’s. The rest, as they say, is history.

#5 – Passion

 The goal was to focus more on my writing, specifically through blogging (which I have done well with), writing a book (which I basically haven’t touched since I met Michael), and freelance writing (I did do an article for a magazine this year). So much of my time and focus has been spent on both Michael, and on continuing my education on nutrition and blogging, that the book has definitely suffered. However, as much as I don’t like falling behind on it, I do not consider this a failure since the places my energies have been focused are very important. An important lesson I’ve learned this year is that there just isn’t enough time to do it all.

#6 – Stop People Pleasing

I’ve probably done better at this than anything else. It’s like a switch was flipped somewhere inside, and I no longer allow myself to feel obligated to things that I don’t want to do. Sometimes I do still feel guilty about not participating in things, especially in work events or special events in the lives of people I care about. But going back to the last sentence on the previous paragraph — there truly is not enough time to do it all, and one of the most important things to me is not feeling stressed or anxious. What creates feelings of stress and anxiety? Trying to take on more than I can handle. My life is plenty busy without adding to it obligations to things that I don’t have time for.

This concludes the review of my goals for 2019, which means it’s time to start setting goals for 2020.

What are some big changes for me? First, obviously, is my relationship status. No longer am I thinking of myself individually, but also of myself as part of a couple. This definitely has an influence on the goals I will set for myself. Other changes are in the health of those I love, which have pushed me even farther into my focus on nutrition, diet, and cancer and chronic diseases. Two people close to me have been diagnosed with some type of lymphoma in 2019, and an uncle passed away very suddenly at the age of 57, on the day after Thanksgiving.

In talking to my stepmom, I learned that my dad hasn’t had a checkup in all the years that she’s known him, and my mom also admitted that she has not had a health screen in about five years. Here I am, laser-focused on health and nutrition, and some of the people closest to me are deficient in this area. I talked to my grandparents the other day and landed on the topic of nutrition and cancer, and explained some things that I’ve learned over the years. My grandpa said, “you should’ve studied some sort of nutrition or been in the medical field.” You better believe this has an impact on what I want to do in 2020, and the decade that will follow.

With that, here are my goals for 2020


#1 – Get More Plant-based.

The more I learn about the link between diet and disease, the more I want to eat plant-based. Since it isn’t just me that I have to cook for, I can’t make the unilateral decision to make everyone plant-based. I can, however, make some adjustments so that we are eating more plants and less animals. A compromise of sorts, between their desires and my own. To do this, I’m setting some bullet points for myself:

    • Reduce dairy to only once per week
      • Which means making more cheese alternatives in meals
    • Reduce meat to three servings per week
    • Eat fully plant-based four days per week
      • Which means portioning out parts of some meals for me that I can make with beans or nuts instead of meat
    • Start pushing kids more on making healthy choices

#2 – Speak Up About Health

Because people only really like to hear things that confirm their beliefs, which is called confirmation-bias, they tend to be resistant to information that disagrees with them. For that reason, I’ve adopted an “if they ask, I’ll share” policy around health. I don’t want people to feel like I’m telling them they’re wrong or like I’m pressuring them to be different.

What I want to do is find some common ground on this. Find opportunities to share information when and where I can. And lead by example — share more about what I’m eating day-to-day. Prepare plant-based dishes for gatherings. Just talking about it more will expose people to it more, which in turn will pique curiosity and encourage more openness. I also will make a point to talk to those closest to me more about their health and encourage them to be proactive. The less the people I care about get sick, the happier all of us will be.

#3 – Physical Fitness

I want to make sure I’m doing yoga five times per week. I’ve recently begun doing some morning yoga a couple of times per week and I’ve really liked that. Working in this routine sometimes means putting my hair in a bun and going to work sans-makeup, but so be it! I’m in an office and only see a handful of people throughout the day anyway.

I also want to start walking more. I used to do this a lot, but have definitely fallen away from it. I’ve moved so much of my focus to yoga that I’ve let this slip. I believe there is room and time for both, if I only make it a priority. This could also be something I can get Michael to do with me…wink, wink since I know you’re reading this 😉

#4 – Go Out with Friends

This is something that, a year ago, I never would’ve imaged I’d need to add to my goals. Since Michael and I have been together, he’s received a huge chunk of my time…as it should be, in all honesty. But I also realize that I’ve spent less time with my friends. I used to be the “group planner”, and over the last few months I’ve definitely not been so great at coordinating outings and inviting people out.

I used to go out for drinks with friends every week, and now it is more sporadic. I want to start making it a point to get together with friends like I used to at least every other week. I have to make adjustments for my relationship, but I definitely want my friendships to be a priority as well. I love my tribe!

#5 – Stick to my Budget

This is something that I’ve had a hard time doing recently. In the last six months, only one month did I stay under budget. Mind you I’m not blowing it completely out of the water. But I would prefer to not go over it at all, and that will be my goal for next year. Which means no spontaneous spending without factoring it into my monthly budget. And I also need to work a “going out” category into my budget as well.

#6 – Grow my Relationship

Since I am in a relationship going into this new year, it certainly makes the list. Michael has been wonderful, and I honestly wouldn’t change a single thing about us. With that said, we’ve been together for eight months and that means we still have so many things to discover about each other and so many milestones ahead of us. I want to focus this year on doing things that will continue building the foundation for a future, and maybe start discussing that future more by the end of 2020.

#7 – My Reading List

This is something I do every year, but my decision to increase my number of books in 2019 failed. Again, my new relationship took up a good chunk of my time and I’ve read less as a result. So for 2020 I’m decreasing my goal from 36 books, back to 24 books, which is what it’s always been prior to 2019.

These are my goals for the upcoming year, so all that is left is my theme. For 2019, my word of the year was Adventure. The corresponding color for adventure was orange. I was in a place of discovery when I began 2019, and discover I did — in so many ways!

Going into 2020 I am in a very different place. While I will always have an adventurous spirit, I have fallen into a place of satisfaction in my life. What I want for 2020 is a season of peace while growing into the future.

Word of the year:

Color of the year:

I’ve already purchased a new bullet journal and began setting it up with this new theme. I’m ready to tackle a brand new year, and all that it may bring.

What are your hopes and dreams for the upcoming year? I hope you achieve them all ❤





In Closing — Recounting Another Year and the Ending of a Decade

Dear Friends,

Somehow we find ourselves here, propelled to the end of a year that still feels in so many ways to be just beginning. It is December; a month of celebration, gratitude, and reflection. It is a little special this year because not only is it the ending of a year, but the ending of another decade — a decade in which so many things have changed.

How do I cover so much in such a short span? 10 years ago was December of 2009. I was newly single, divorced in February of 2009 (divorce finalized in April). In November I began a new job in banking, at which I just celebrated my 10-year anniversary on November 16th of this year. 2009 was a major life-shifting year for me, and I began the new decade on January 1, 2010 with nothing but the unknown ahead of me.

Over these last 10 years I have done so much that I never dreamed I would do. When I was growing up I always thought that I would get married, have kids, live the traditional life with the bread-winning husband and fill a role as mother, wife and care-taker. I never really knew there was another option for me as a woman. It was not until this last decade that I navigated the realities of life and shifted my perspective. I am a mom, but I learned that “mom” is not my identity. It is something I do; the most important thing that I do. But it is only one piece of who I am. My identity does not come from being a mom, or from being a wife/girlfriend, etc. It comes from being true to who I am and living for myself just as much as for those I love.

I learned that I should have stuck to my original dream of becoming a writer, as I am now, finally, nearing the end of my degree in journalism. I have become a freelance writer and had pieces published in a local newspaper and local magazine, I’ve built this blog to both fulfill my longing to write and share my passion for diet and health, and even started writing a book. But the journey to get here was long.

I got an associate’s degree in Early Childhood Education because I got pregnant right as I was starting college and was completely lost on the direction I wanted my life to go. So I chose Early Childhood Education because I thought it would help me become a better mother, and because I greatly value education and literacy. But a teacher I am not; after teaching at the preschool level for a couple of years I knew that it was not the career for me. As a single mother, spending all of my days surrounded always by small children left me feeling stressed rather than fulfilled.

So I left teaching and went into banking. It was supposed to be a temporary move until I figured out what I wanted to do. And it turned out — I really liked my new job! I enjoy (nerd alert) economics, especially macro economics, and my new job related very much to that. So I decided to seek a business degree for my bachelor’s. What I learned in the process is that the only part of business I actually like is economics! The rest of my classes I hated, and as soon as I started business stats, I knew it wasn’t for me. I am not a mathematical person, I am a linguistic and artistic person. It was like trying to force my right foot into a left shoe; it just didn’t fit.

In my job, I work processing SBA (Small Business Administration) loans, which means I get to help small business owners make their dreams come true — without having to spread financials. A lender has to do that, and I get to do the work of preparing documents for closing, booking and maintenancing loans, submitting reports to SBA, and constantly keeping up-to-date on new and changing SBA mandates and government regulations. And I love it!

I also worked my way into this position, which requires either a 4-year-degree or the equivalent experience in banking, with my only completed degree being in Early Childhood Education. I am here, in a job that requires a bachelor’s degree in some sort of business or finance, without the degree in business or finance. Which means I am free to get my degree in whatever I want. And a couple of years ago that is exactly what I decided to do. Right before I started this blog I was accepted at UMass Amherst University Without Walls, and have been studying there part-time ever since. As of the end of this semester, I have four classes left to complete my degree!

It took about eight years to get from being lost about my future, to knowing exactly what I wanted for myself and taking the steps to make it happen. And I didn’t get there by accident.

What I mean by that is, in order to reach the point of focusing on my writing and studying journalism, I first had to find myself. Yeah, I know, “find myself”. What a cliché. But oh, how real that is. I married my high school sweetheart and had my first child at 19, and my second at 21. I grew up in a family where not one single person in my immediate family, on either my dad’s or mom’s side, had been college educated. Plenty of them were smart enough to — my dad and my maternal grandfather both are incredibly intelligent and talented in so many ways, they could have moved mountains had they lived through different times, grown up in a different family, or lived in a different place.

In fact, my father never even finished high school. And yet he is himself now a small business owner and has done very well for himself in life, and I am proud of him for that. I am also extraordinarily proud of my grandfather for managing to build a future for himself and his family on a high school diploma and a career in a coal mine, where he dedicated countless hours and worked his way through to a financial security that I hope and pray to repeat after him in my own life endeavors.

Now here I am, the first on either side of the family to have a college degree, and soon to be the first to have a bachelor’s degree. This journey has taught me so much more than I ever knew possible, and has given me deep respect for education. It is about so much more than just learning math, science and literature. It is about exposure to the unknown, and embracing the unexpected. It is about gaining knowledge in areas that are not our expertise, and allowing that knowledge and that experience to shape and change us.

I have discovered countless things that I never received from my upbringing, diet and a healthy lifestyle being only a part of it. All of those things have changed my views and perspectives, and have allowed me to learn on a much deeper level, who I really am. Not all of that discovery, however, came from education. A great deal of it came from facing my demons.

My parents separated when I was 11 and divorced when I was 12; right as I was hitting adolescence and learning the skills that would carry me into adulthood. Neither of my parents knew the “right” way to handle things, and for that I most definitely forgive them. But it took a very long time to reach that point. I spent the remainder of my childhood essentially raising myself. My mom moved away, and I was left with my dad who was never much of a touchy-feely type and became focused on new girlfriends and finding his way in a new life he hadn’t expected to be living.

gma gpaI had my maternal grandparents, who I had always been close to but had quickly become my rock and still hold that role to this day. They will always be my guideposts for everything that I do, and as I round out this decade they remain one of the things for which I will always be most grateful.

Due to a disagreement with my father’s relationship choices, I left my hometown to live with my mom when I was a sophomore in high school. I was back with my mom, stepdad, and brand new sister who had just turned a year old. I had fallen off the educational wagon during junior high, but by the time I made the move to my mom’s, I had gotten myself back to being an honor student and remained there for the rest of high school. It is something that I can proudly take credit for myself, and also give credit to my grandparents for since they drilled the value of education into my head constantly from the moment I was old enough to speak.

In spite of improving my grades and giving myself a chance for a future, I still carried a great deal of anger, hurt, and animosity toward my parents and the way they handled things with me following their divorce. I felt that after they divorced, they forgot about me. They each turned to their new lives and left me to fend for myself. I carried that with me for many years, until 2015.

In 2015, I finally faced those demons. I had been very lost, and also had become very good at hiding what was going on inside, for a long time. I always thought “I know what is wrong with me, I can fix this by myself”. But I was wrong. I finally reached a point where I was tired of feeling lost, broken, insecure, undeserving of love, and like I wasn’t enough. I was exhausted from trying to win the battle on my own, and I finally sought out someone to help me navigate it all. Her name is Brenda, and she is a licensed counselor in my hometown. It might have been my choice to seek her out, but it is she who deserves the credit for where I am today.

img_0773Working with her changed me. Just 10 minutes into my first session she pinpointed the reason for everything that I felt, everything I had done in my life up until that point, even the reason I ended up repeatedly in the same type of unhealthy romantic relationships. We spent the remaining few sessions working through that reason, which was a combination of my parents divorce and my relationship with my mom.

I am happy to report that my mom and I have a good relationship. I have no more anger or resentment towards her or my dad, and all of us are now in places in our lives where we are happy and thriving. The three of us made missteps in the aftermath of their divorce that we have healed from. And my healing came solely because I chose to cast aside the stigma of “needing therapy”, and I got that damn therapy! I needed it, and I am a die-hard believer in it because I’ve seen the power behind it. So if you are still reading this far in — please, I urge you to remove any stigma you might see in this. If you are struggling, please reach out for help. It will be the best thing you ever do for yourself.

img_0777As a quick side-note before moving on, I made another transformation in 2015, about a week after my first counseling session at the end of October. My whole life I always wanted to be a redhead, but I was afraid to make the change because it would be hard to undo if it didn’t turn out right. But I took the plunge and have never regretted it!

2016 was a new year, and a new start, for me. I had reached a place where I finally felt like I could stop dreaming of who I wanted to be, and start actually being that person. I stopped looking ahead to the future, hoping and waiting for things to be better sometime down the road, and started really living. I began a journey of self-discovery, trying new things, travelling to new places, taking on every new experience I could find. In the process I learned who I am, I learned what I love, I gained confidence and lost my depression and uncertainty. I finally knew that I was enough, and for the first time in my life, I loved myself.

img_0778Since that time my life has blossomed so much. I took the boys on a trip to a favorite place of mine, Wilmington NC, in October 2016 and came home ready for a change. I had the opportunity to relocate to a larger town 30 miles south and work with the rest of my SBA team from the Southeast Market, and it was a welcome move. I had always wanted to get out of my small hometown and get somewhere that had more to offer. I thought this would be on hold until my boys graduated from high school, but the chance came sooner than expected.

Much to my surprise, both boys were excited for the change as well. I was thrilled to know I was raising children who are not afraid of change, but actually embrace it and look forward to it…because like it or not change is a guarantee in life and it’s so much easier when we flow with it rather than resisting it. With the three of us all on board, I listed my house and started shopping for homes in Cape Girardeau. It took just a couple of short months to get my house under contract, and get an offer in on our new home in Cape.

img_0205During the few weeks between going under contract and closing on the new home, a fluke winter tornado struck my hometown on February 28, 2017. It ripped right through the heart of my grandparents neighborhood and what I had come to know as my childhood home since I spent as much time there as my own house growing up, and left my grandparents homeless, but alive. The place of our family’s roots and foundation was gone, taken away in a mere 20 seconds and left scattered for miles across field, forest and river.

img_0780Two weeks later I closed on the sale of my Perryville home and then on the purchase of my new house in Cape. It was the second home I had bought all on my own in my adult life (the first was in 2014), and it was the home that I knew was more than just a starter home. It was a home I could stay in for a lifetime. It’s the home I knew could become for my boys what my grandparents’ home had been for me.


We moved in, painted, redid the kitchen cabinets and counter tops, and made the place our own. The boys left St. Vincent, the private Catholic school where they’d spent their elementary years after I was confirmed into the Catholic church and joined the choir in 2012, and started school at Cape Central. They loved their new school, we loved our new home, and I loved my new working location. As time went on I developed and strengthened friendships, so even though I was 30+ miles from my nearest family I still had a tribe. I had a new family all of my own making, and I am still so incredibly blessed to be a part of that circle.

Perhaps my biggest struggle in the last decade has been dating. So much of this was due to my unwillingness to really deal with the underlying things that kept me from finding a healthy relationship. Once I reached out for help and tackled my demons in 2015, things changed dramatically in that arena as well. I finally knew my worth, and I knew to stop settling. When I saw red flags, I stopped ignoring them. When I knew that something wasn’t going to work, or knew that my needs from a romantic partner were not going to be met, regardless of how interested I may be or how I may have felt about that person, I cut it off. Time had become valuable to me and I didn’t want to waste anymore.

In fact, when I made the decision to move to Cape, I was a couple of months off the end of a brief dating experience, and I made the decision to stop dating altogether. I had so many changes going on in my life that dating was not a priority. I was also admittedly fed up — very fed up — with the disappointments and feeling that no single men out there shared my same values: commitment, closeness, connection, family; something deeper than just a fling. I was tired of the disappointment and the back-and-forth, so I stopped dating. And I didn’t start again until the summer of 2018.

What I got out of that dating experience was more disappointment, more aggravation, and the realization that no matter how kind and sincere someone seems, they can most definitely be dishonest and deceitful. He and I were never meant to be, because his heart was elsewhere. My only wish is that he had been honest with me about it and not pursued me, rather than pursuing me anyway while secretly carrying on with his ex behind my back. Finding out that truth was a bitter pill to swallow.

As much as I can fault him for his dishonesty, I must also credit him with this: he pulled me out of my place of hiding and contentment, and pushed me forward. He opened my eyes to the one thing I did not yet have, that I hoped I would someday find — a partner. A real partner that I could trust and depend on, who would be there for me through everything and not always have one foot out the door (as most men I’d come across always seemed to). A partner who shared my faith, my values, and my idea of a relationship.

Being lied to sucks. Having someone choose someone else over you sucks even more. But in the aftermath I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t let that discourage me, and I would not go back into hiding. I was officially back in the dating world, and that’s where I was going to stay. I may not have been actively searching, but I was open. I knew what I wanted, I knew what I wouldn’t accept, and armed with that knowledge I let myself be present to whatever should come.

And that brings me to 2019; the final chapter of the decade. I entered 2019 with a full life and a happy heart, open to possibility. I didn’t expect to find that partnership I dreamed of anytime soon, and maybe not even at all, but I was equally open to it and satisfied without it. As fate would have it, what I was hoping for came so much sooner and more suddenly than I ever could have guessed. It came on April 4th, 2019, when a tall man with a short beard and a red pullover sat down beside me on a couch at an event at my friends’ workplace. I said, “well hi there,” and a conversation began that would never have an end.

Now, eight months later to the day, that man is my partner. We have the same values, we have the same faith, we have the same idea of what commitment means, and we have the same dedication to the relationship and the future that we are building. We communicate, we share, we compromise, and are kind to each other. It is the type of relationship neither of us has ever had. One thing that he and I agree on is that neither of us, both divorced single parents, knew what we were missing before we found each other. We didn’t even know that a relationship could be like this, and now that we know we never stop being grateful for each other.

While I am blessed to have Michael, and for my grandparents to still be here after a tornado, there has also been loss and hardship over the last 10 years. A cousin was killed in a motorcycle accident. My grandmother was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (which is responsible for my road to discovery in diet and health). My uncle passed away from kidney cancer. My boyfriend was diagnosed with Cutaneous T-Cell Lymphoma (incurable, but with treatment and monitoring he is expected to have normal life expectancy). And another uncle, brother to the uncle with kidney cancer and father to the cousin who died in a motorcycle accident, just passed away suddenly this past Friday and was laid to rest yesterday.

If you ask people what they want in life, the most common answer is “to be happy”. Reality is, happiness isn’t permanent. Life is filled with ebbs and flows; ups and downs. They say that happiness is a state of mind, and I sincerely believe that is true. It isn’t possible to stop hard things from coming. Everyone will experience tough times; that much is inescapable. I think the greatest mindset I’ve developed over this decade is that it isn’t what happens to us that determines our happiness; it’s how we respond. There will always be a silver lining. There will always be something to be grateful for. In order to achieve the blissful days, we must also endure the difficult moments. Life is a blend of both.

With that, what I’ve learned in this last decade is this:

Time is an illusion. We think we have plenty of it to waste; we don’t.

When we hide from our problems, we only prolong the ability to resolve them and find inner peace.

There is more strength in reaching out for help, than in dealing with things on our own. Most people refuse counseling because of the fear of how they’ll be perceived by others, and this fear unnecessarily prolongs the struggle.

The key to happiness is to disregard the opinions of others, and instead be honest with ourselves about who we are and what brings us joy. Try as we might we can never please everyone. But we always have the ability to please ourselves if we are true to ourselves first.

Being healthy is about so much more than what we put into our mouths. Diet is only the start of health. The rest is a state of mind, and that can be much harder to get in tune with than changing what we eat.

We should never stop learning. No matter how much we know, there is always a lot more that we don’t know, and the opportunities to learn something new are endless.

Open-mindedness is everything.

My original intent for this post was to do both a year and decade recap, and talk about my goals for the next year and decade. But 3500 words later I realize that there was so much to talk about (and to be honest I’ve only hit the bullet points) regarding these last 10 years, that my goals for the next year and decade need their own post. I will have that coming up later this month, including an assessment of how I faired with the goals I set for myself at the end of last year.

I hope this finds you well, and I wish you and yours a very blessed holiday season and year-end. I will see you back here again soon ❤








Balancing Time and Changes in Life and Relationships

Dear Friends,

The one thing that is constant in life is that nothing stays the same. Sometimes things change slowly, so that one day you turn and look behind you only to realize that everything looks different. Other times, change happens so suddenly that it knocks you off-kilter and leaves you stunned. Then there are moments in life when one tiny, seemingly insignificant moment can change everything you thought that your life would be. 

For me, that moment came at an event I attended after work on a Thursday in April. I was invited by friends, and even though I was struggling with insomnia at that time and hadn’t slept the night before, I decided to suck it up and drag myself out because, dammit, I wasn’t letting insomnia steal my life! While sitting on a couch, talking to my friends, a tall and handsome man sat down next to me and said hello.

Six months and 20 days later, that man is still sitting next to me on the proverbial couch. I never expected to be in a relationship again. In a small town, in my 30’s, a single mom…the odds were largely stacked against me and I truly believed I would spend the rest of my life single; and I was honestly okay with that. Now my future looks entirely different, and I realize just how suddenly life can change and become something you never planned or expected.

Now here I am, writing to you about relationships instead of how to navigate life as a single, independent woman. Don’t get me wrong — the independent woman part will not ever change! The difference is, now I’m learning how to be a partner; how to focus on someone besides myself (and my kids, obviously); how to compromise and communicate and keep a relationship strong and healthy.

That has been an extreme change for me after spending the biggest part of the prior 10 years single. I had a lot to learn about relationships. And Michael being fresh out of a divorce when we met, was re-learning what he thought he knew about relationships. From the start, we talked about what we needed from a relationship, and what we needed to do to make sure we built a solid foundation, and to prepare for the days when those new warm and fuzzies wear off and things “get real”.

Just over six months in, that time is now here. We’ve transitioned from wanting to spend every waking moment together and putting everything else on the back burner, to needing to take back some time for ourselves individually. This is most definitely new territory for me. I’ve rarely made it past a couple of months before the guy decides the new has worn off and he’s ready to cut and run before the word commitment starts getting tossed around. Now here I am, so far into a relationship that we’ve actually begun moving out of the first stage of a relationship and into the second.

Last weekend we got some much-needed time together without kids and responsibilities. But at the end of it, on Sunday afternoon, as much as I missed him the moment I left his house…I loved going home. I was so far behind on laundry because I’m never home on the weekends to get it done. I have projects I’m behind on, a reading list I haven’t kept up with, a book I’ve written one chapter of and haven’t touched basically since I met Michael. But most of all, I haven’t had any time to myself. I really loved just being home, by myself, free to do what I want to do and recharge my batteries.

In fact, I’ve been a little moody lately, and it wasn’t until Sunday evening that I realized the reason for that is I’ve neglected myself entirely. I’ve been giving my time to my kids, my job and my boyfriend, and there’s none left for me. I was feeling so depleted and didn’t realize why. I had projects I really wanted to work on (like turning my family room into a movie-watching space, and finishing up some landscaping) and not finding the time had me feeling aggravated. And the boys and I both seemed to be fed up with never having any clothes in our drawers and closets because I could never find time to get them folded.

As soon as I realized what’s been bugging me, I told Michael we should talk. So that night after the kids were in bed I told him how I was feeling, and he agreed that he’s been feeling it too. It felt good to take some time to myself this week and get some things accomplished, but after a couple of days I realized a new potential problem — going from neglecting everything else to be together, to neglecting each other to do everything else. I quickly realized we were going to have to find some middle ground, pronto, to keep the relationship strong as we navigate this change.

So last night, after dropping Logan off at SRE, I drove over to his house and we sat on his back porch and talked. We talked about how much time we needed to be spending on ourselves individually, how much time we needed to give to each other, making sure we make the most of the time we do spend together, and any changes in what we need from each other in light of this new phase of the relationship.

One thing I can say for certain is that figuring this out is tough. He is entering his busiest part of the year at work, and both of us have busy schedules and demands on our time. I jokingly asked him how people actually find time to sit down and watch TV in the evenings, because I have no idea where I could find an hour to watch a live television show! The majority of my TV watching happens on the chromebook or my phone while I’m cooking dinner or getting ready in the mornings or folding laundry, and it happens in piecemeal…meaning I can’t sit down, start an episode, and watch it through to the end without stopping.

So if we can’t find an hour to sit and watch a show, how do we make sure we find the time to spend on each other? The sad reality is, what you give your attention to is what’s going to flourish. And what you neglect will die. I mentioned this last night while we were trying to figure out how to balance our time and talking about how hard it is to manage.

Then I said this — “for our relationship to stay healthy, then after the kids it has to be the number one top priority. It has to come before work, housework, hobbies, social life, everything. Because if it doesn’t then it will start to unravel. I think we need to keep reminding ourselves of that.” Then I asked him, “is that still what you want? Are you still willing to do that?” Without hesitation and with conviction, he said “yes!” I told him, “then as long as we both feel that way, this will work itself out.”

Relationship novice that I still am, I feel that may be the master key to relationships. It has to remain a priority always, to both parties involved. You can’t get complacent or take it for granted. You can’t neglect it while giving attention to other things, and you can’t be selfish. No matter what else is going on in your life, your relationship always has to receive an adequate amount of attention in order to stay strong.

This is tough when you have other things that also need your attention — kids, work, school, kid’s extracurricular activities, taking care of a home, keeping a family fed, exercise, hobbies… That is what Michael and I are working on finding a balance for. We have a tentative plan in mind, and we will see how it works. And if it needs some tweaking, then we will do that.

Most importantly is communication. Staying in contact when we are apart. Speaking up if something isn’t working, or if one of us needs something we aren’t getting or needs something different. Being fully present with each other when we are together. Being understanding of each others’ personal lives and demands on our time and trying to provide support where we can. Just sitting down and discussing our needs and how to balance them last night drew us a little closer together. Feeling a sense of camaraderie with a person will do that.

Changes are going to come. They are inevitable. Life changes, and people change with it. And when you’re in a relationship, two people are changing both separately, as well as together. I’m pretty proud of us for being able to see and tackle the change from that euphoric, warm and fuzzy newness of the first stage of a relationship, into whatever is coming next.

So what is coming next? For me, I’m going to be setting up a projector in the basement family room for movie nights. I’m going to take time to do yoga and face masks and paint my nails (new self care post coming soon??). I’m going to take time to catch up on reading and get some more writing done on my book. (I made Michael promise that he wouldn’t spend all of his “me” time working and would take some time for his hobbies too) I’m going to take more pictures, and share more with you on Instagram. I’m getting ready for the holidays by putting together wish-lists, planning a party, planning my family Christmas, and finding some fun outings to attend, like a hot chocolate bar and Small Business Saturday (more things coming soon to the blog!).

Even though balancing time is hard, I’m pretty excited to get to spend some more time on myself. I’m really looking forward to all that is to come as we finish out 2019, and I’m really glad this transitional period came when it did because it will help me set realistic goals for next year. As always, there will be a year-end review coming up after Christmas, and a goal-setting post to kick off the first of the year. The time between now and then, no matter how busy, will be spent with a full heart ❤


time and balance