The Everyday Road to a 10-Miler – Week 2

by Angela on November 23, 2014

Week 2 of my 10-Miler training was GREAT. It went something like this:







No, your eyes did not deceive you. I actually did nothing last week. I take that back, I did go to my dance class on Monday, but that works more of my brain than my body. So other than that, I did nothing that would be considered exercise. So many things got in the way this week and I didn’t make much time for myself. Of course this coming week is Thanksgiving so it’s not looking great this week either, but we’ll see. Tomorrow will be unseasonably warm so I just may make it out for an outdoor jog.

Here’s the training program I’m “following”. Day 7 is Monday for me, so that the 2 rest days fall on the weekend:

10mile training programme beginners

The good thing is, I’ve discovered a smoothie mix that I LOVE that has become my daily breakfast. Deena is trying Shakeology, and I’ve been drinking a similar product, Shaklee. We just like to point out that we don’t support any particular brand or product, so it’s very fitting that we’re both trying two different brands. I chose Shaklee because I have a friend in the neighborhood who sells it so I tried it and I liked the taste, simple as that. I have both the cafe latte and chocolate flavor, and I mix with 1 cup of either skim milk or almond milk and a 1/2 of banana.  Sometimes I’ll add some cinnamon to the cafe latte flavor, or I’ve substituted the banana for pumpkin added some spices and made it a pumpkin spiced latte. My favorite mix-in for the chocolate is peanut butter. But I’ve also added some strawberries and peanut butter for a PB&J smoothie. Any way I drink it, I like it because it’s quick to fix, it’s easy, it’s portable, it’s yummy, and it fills me up. The smoothie mix I use is the Shaklee 180 Meal Replacement Smoothie Mix and the description says “Non-GMO soy protein and fiber help keep you feeling full longer, while added leucine helps retain muscle so your metabolism can power on as the inches come off.” I’m not a distributor but I’m sure they are easy to find!

Maybe by mentioning my smoothie breakfasts, I’m somehow making myself feel better about not working out this past week. 😉 Not really, but it’s something I wanted to share anyway. Here’s hoping this coming week “works out” better for me (no pun intended).


Beachbody’s 21 day fix – getting started

by Deena on November 17, 2014

Over the past few months, I had come to the realization that something had to change in my lifestyle, but I wasn’t quite sure what it was.  By mid-afternoon most days, I would find myself completely exhausted, to where I really just wanted to curl up somewhere and take a nap.  In addition to being exhausted, I found that even though I was running 3-4 miles every other day or doing a various exercise DVD, there was a roll of skin hanging over my jeans that wasn’t there in the past.  Each day I would think “ok I guess I need to exercise more, eat less…”  logically I knew that I needed to expend more calories than I was consuming.  But I honestly felt like I wouldn’t be able to function on anything less than what I was eating.  I began to wonder if this was just what being over 40 meant.  It was kind of disheartening and frustrating.

Linda-Hamilton_T2But as luck would have it I made a new friend, who is slightly older than me but who has a body that resembles Linda Hamilton from Terminator 2.  We got to talking about health and fitness one day and she mentioned that she was a Beachbody coach. (Now I know some of you don’t know me personally so let me state this now – that I am in no way in cohorts with her to promote Beachbody or provided anything by her or the company).  I told her how frustrated I had become with trying to get into shape and struggling with exhaustion at times.  So we discussed a few things that lead me towards deciding on the 21 day fix program.

1) I told her about my one wonky knee.  How some days I can run miles with no issues and other times it would throb for a day or so after.  So something that required high-impact on a daily basis would not work for me.

2) We talked about my eating habits and she felt that maybe I wasn’t eating enough or that I was eating foods that would have my blood sugar spiking and then crashing which could lead to why I was so tired.

3) I told her I get really bored with exercise programs.  I need  variety to keep me engaged.

Based on all of those, we mutually decided that the 21 day fix would probably be the best option for me.   So I placed my order online for Autumn Calabrese’s 21 Day Fix – Essential Package and a couple days later this showed up in the mail

21dayfix box


Here’s exactly what’s included in my box:

The Workouts:

There are  seven workouts.  Each is only 30-minutes long.  This is one of the main reasons I chose this program.  I figured I could always find 30 minutes in my day to do a workout.  Unlike the mental preparation it may take me to convince myself to do a 45min or hour long workout.  For some reason 30 seemed doable.  The workouts are as follows:

  • Total Body Cardio Fix
  • Upper Fix
  • Lower Fix
  • Pilates Fix
  • Cardio Fix
  • Yoga Fix
  • Dirty 30
  • 2 Bonus 10 minute fix for Abs

You will need a set of light weights and a set of heavier weights for some of these workouts.

21dayfixitemsThe Portion Control System:

These are dishwasher-safe, BPA-free containers that are color coded based on a specific food group:

  • One Green—Vegetables
  • One Purple—Fruit
  • One Red—Protein
  • One Yellow—Carbohydrates
  • One Blue—Healthy Fats and Cheese
  • 2 Orange—Seeds and Oils

(Note: This is just the number of containers in the box not the amount you could consume.  For instance for my caloric intake needs I would use 4 red containers (protein) daily.)





Shakeology Shaker Cup & Mix

  • Container for Shakes/drinks
  • Shakeology shake mix (I chose chocolate but there is also strawberry and vanilla flavor options)
  • Recipes for shake variations – I add PB2 to mine and it reminds me of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups.  YUMMY!





21 Day Fix Eating Plan

  •  An easy-to-follow portion-control eating plan based on your individual caloric needs
  • Details about what goes in each color coded food container
  • Some simple to make recipes
  • Restaurant and favorite recipe food guide

Over the next couple weeks I will be sharing my experience with this program and in the end hopefully sharing a before and after photo that we can all see a difference in 😉


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The Everyday Road to a 10-Miler – Week 1

by Angela on November 14, 2014

The last time I ran more than 3 miles was March 2012.  Let’s do the math…2 years and 8 months ago.  A lot can happen in almost 3 years, but in my case, not much happened on the running front. I just stopped. The race I ran was an awesome race.  It’s one of the best ones I’ve run, however, I personally did not do well.  My pace was off and I guess I just didn’t train as well as I should have and ended up hurting and walking quite a bit of the way at the end. It deflated me. So I stopped.

The last time I ran 3 miles was about a year ago. It was a 5K I ran with my then 6 year old, and it took us 45 minutes.  Is that even considered running?! What’s funny is he won 3rd place in his age group! Imagine if we had actually run!

IMG 3999

I haven’t run more than 2 miles since. So it’s time to do something. I’ve decided to register for the Reston 10-Miler which is March 1, 2015. It is the only thing that will motivate me. I have to actually register.  Not think I’m going to register, not say I’m going to register, not pretend I’m going to register, but actually register. Once I spend the money, since I’m so cheap, I will feel obligated to participate. And I have about 4 months to train, which is plenty of time.

My problem with training for a race is I get too obsessed with following a training plan, that I stress myself out if I miss a day or get off schedule. So I knew I really needed to find a plan that works into my schedule. I can’t run 5-6 days a week, I ain’t got time for that.  And I don’t want to do long runs on the weekend that will take me away from family time. So I found this plan, the Bupa 10-mile Training Program – Beginners and knew right away it was one I could follow. The best part of this plan is that it has 2 rest days in a row and guess where I made those days fall for me?  Why, Saturday and Sunday, of course. And since this is a 3-month plan that I have 4 months to complete, there is room to veer from the plan every once in a while (such as this week as you will see!).

So I’m going to document this feeble attempt to get back into running. I figure if I journal about it, it will keep me accountable and maybe someone will join along with me. I plan to keep up my weight training as well and will document that as well.  Who is with me?

Here is what my first week looked like:

Monday (I started with day 7 on the plan because it was the first day after the 2 day rest period, which I knew I wanted to fall on the weekend. Of course I already screwed up right off the bat and instead of running for 2 miles, which is what day 7 is, I did the 30 min/run walk):

Cardio – 30 mins run/walk on treadmill at a 1.0 incline, 2.5 miles

Weights – Legs and abs



Cardio – Rest (did a 5 minute warmup walk on the treadmill)

Weights – Shoulders and tris, abs



Cardio – 2.0 mile run/walk on the treadmill at 1.0 incline, took me 22.16 mins.

Weights – Back and bis, abs


Thursday & Friday – I didn’t get to the gym at all. Nada. Zip. Zilch.


So week 1 was meh, and I was definitely sore because I think my body was in total shock, but I did it. And I am happy to put more (or less) detail, so feel free to comment and let me know what you think! I hope you’ll join me so we can encourage each other along the way!


The Transformation Workout

by Angela on July 7, 2014

I have been on a little exercise hiatus lately, so it’s been hard to write about my previous workout plan knowing I haven’t been following it lately.  I must admit, I’m in a rut.  I had some minor surgery a couple weeks ago to remove some abnormal cells on my cervix (which all came back non-cancerous, thankfully), but it has set me back quite a bit on my fitness goals.  But I wanted to share what I was doing BEFORE this hiatus, because I liked the routine so much that I can’t wait to get back to it as soon as I get the all clear from my doctor!

As I mentioned in my This is 40 post, I started a new workout plan a few months ago.  This “Transformation Workout” I more than loosely followed (not loosely followed, but not strictly followed either) for a good couple months before summer started.  There were definitely missed days and small changes I made to the plan, but for the most part, this workout gave me great guidelines on what muscle groups to work out together.  Here is how it came about:

Hubby:  What did you work out at the gym today?

Me:  Arms.

Hubby:  (slight pause with a stare)  Just arms?

Me:  Yup, that’s all I really had time for.

Hubby:  *shaking his head*

Me:  What?!  

Hubby:  How long have you been working out?  You know better than to just do arms.  

Then he goes on to explain to me how I should be working out larger muscles primarily and then compliment with the smaller muscles.  Blah, blah, blah.  I guess I did know this, but chose not to follow because I didn’t want to spend more time in the gym?  I needed more time for things like Pinterest, of course.  Which obviously paid off when I came across a pin for The Transformation Workout.  It was all part of the plan, see?

So in a nutshell, this workout is a monthly plan of cardio and weight training, 5 days a week.  Every day of the workout you do cardio.  Not 2 times a week, not 3 times a week, FIVE times a week.  This should be some indication on how important cardio is to a fitness plan, right?  The cardio alternates between interval training on the treadmill and interval training on a stationary bike.  Here was one of my tweaks….I think i may have cycled once or twice over the past few months.  Almost all my cardio was treadmill work.  5 minute intervals of a 2 minute fast-walk incline and a 3 minute flat jog.  I just don’t like the stationary bike, period.  If I’m doing a spin class, fine, but it is not my freestyle cardio of choice.

The weight training followed a pretty standard pattern which made it easy to tweak as necessary (maybe there were exercises I didn’t like doing or a piece of equipment wasn’t available at the gym.  I could easily swap out another exercise from one of the other days).  It consists of various exercises for large muscle groups with a compliment of smaller muscle groups.  It went something like this:


Shoulders & Triceps

Back & Biceps


Butt & Chest or Back

After a couple months I noticed the number on the scale going UP?!  What?!  I was getting really discouraged, but was happy with what I was seeing in the mirror so I stopped stepping on the scale.  Then recently I’ve had to weigh myself a few times and noticed the number was going DOWN, but I hadn’t been exercising and my eating habits were mediocre at best.  That’s when it dawned on me that the Transformation Workout was increasing my MUSCLE MASS.  Cha-Ching!!  That’s what I wanted all along.  

So…as soon as I am able, I am going to start back on this workout plan.  Summer will be spotty since the kids are home and refuse to go to the Kids Club at the gym anymore, so my plan is to start some morning runs once my doctor says it is okay.  But come fall, this will be my go-to plan.  Maybe NEXT summer I’ll have the lean, muscular body I was trying for this year.  In the meantime, no bikinis for me this year.  But that’s quite alright with me.


IMG 4971




This is 40

by Angela on June 4, 2014

I turned 40 on Easter, and I’m okay with it.  I’m fine with the age 40 and saying that I am now 40, but I would be lying if I told you I didn’t FEEL (or feel I look) 40.  It wasn’t until Easter Sunday came and went that I started noticing little things here and there that I never noticed before.

I’m tired.  Not tired like I was at 39, but an amplified tired.  4pm hits and I could lie on the couch and nap….and I don’t nap, ever.  So I don’t sit down, at all.  If I sit, it’s all over.  So I push, push, push until I literally fall into bed at night.  This is a new thing I just don’t understand.

My skin has aged.  The other day I noticed the skin on my upper back is sun-damaged.  Oh the things I would tell my teenage self.  I never noticed the spotted skin on my upper back before, but for some reason it jumped out at me.  Probably the age gods sticking one to me.

And my vision??  I actually had to do it the other day…I put something I was reading at arm’s length and looked down my nose to read it.  What is that?!

The other day I was filling out a registration for something and I had to scroll down to select my birth year.  And I kept scrolling, and scrolling and scrolling.  And those age range options?  I’ve jumped from the 30-39 age range to the 40-49 age range.  That kind of sucks.  Unless I’m participating in a race or fitness competition (haha, that’s a joke), then I’m the youngest in my age group!  Bright side, always looking at the bright side.

40 belly fat is no joke.  I put on some winter weight, as I do every year, and it’s never been a problem before.  I buckle down, start exercising again and eating right after the holiday madness and it usually disappears.  That didn’t happen this year.  That extra weight seems to want to enjoy summer as well, by hanging around my waist and ass.  So I started this new Transformation Workout I pinned and the last few days have been following this Flat-Belly Meal Plan (more on these later).  I have 2 weeks until I’m at the beach.  TWO WEEKS.  I took “before” pictures a couple weeks ago.  Then I deleted them.  No one has any business seeing those. Maybe I’ll do “after” pictures.  Maybe.

The way I think I look in my mind isn’t always reflected back at me in the mirror.  About 50% of the time I’ll look in the mirror and think, okay, that’s what I was hoping to see.  But the other 50% I look at myself and wonder when the bags under my eyes and wrinkles around my eyes appeared, and what are all those freckles??  And don’t get me started on #selfies.  It’s not that I’m one of those people who take selfies all the time, but out of the few times I’ve goofed around and done it, 99.9% of the time it doesn’t come out the way I imagined in my mind so I just delete it.

Here is an honest, fresh, no-makeup view of my 40s.  This is 40, people, and despite everything I’ve said here, I’m okay with it.  But first, let me take a selfie:


IMG 4776



040413_1354_TracyAnders2.jpgSo those of you that have been following us for awhile, probably will remember that I started Tracy Anderson’s Metamorphosis Workout last April.  I wrote about the first 10 days of the of the workout in this previously posted article.

And while I went on to complete a few more weeks of the workout series, I totally neglected writing about it. Then something came up and I would miss a day or two of the workout.  And then I just lost interest in picking it back up again and felt that the results wouldn’t be conclusive since I wasn’t being consistent.

But as with most things, I hate not finishing something once I’ve started… so while it may be almost a year later I have kicked off this workout plan once again.  I’m currently on day 9 of the workout series.   Yeah me.

Of course I have my lessons learned from the last time around… I paced myself with the cardio workout the first couple days.  I also have my own set of music that I listen to during the workouts.  And  instead of doing Tracy’s cardio workout daily, I run every other day.  My run is an interval training on the treadmill run that looks like this:

Speed Miles Total Miles Interval Time Total Time
5.7 0.50 0.50 5.16 5.16
6.6 0.55 1.05 5.00 10.16
5.5 0.20 1.25 2.11 12.27
6.6 0.55 1.80 5.00 17.27
5.5 0.20 2.00 2.11 19.38
6.6 0.55 2.55 5.00 24.38
5.5 0.20 2.75 2.11 26.49
6.6 0.55 3.30 5.00 31.49


Both Tracy’s cardio and my interval running last for about a half hour…  And if I’m doing them both with my full intention then I am drenched with sweat with either cardio option.

Also, I tend to separate the cardio and mat workout into a morning and evening workouts.  Tracy recommends doing them both at the same time.  But I just prefer splitting them up mostly so I can get on with my day in the morning.  And it really just depends on my mood as to which one I do first.

Here’s to hoping I  actually complete the full 90 days this time around because I really don’t want to be writing a similar article again this time of year next year. 😉


Mason Jar Salads

by Angela on January 9, 2014

This one is a long time coming.  I have perused Pinterest for various pictures, recipes and tips for mason jar salads but it has taken me months to finally make the effort to try this out.   Blame it on the new year and all those attempts at resolutions for making this finally happen!

Mason Jar Salads Closeup

Let me start by saying I’m not a big fan of salads.  I never feel completely satisfied after eating one and never in my life have I craved a salad.  But I wanted to try this mason jar thing to see if I could get into the habit of eating more salad during the week by making it easy.  

So this time around, since I’m starting mid-week, I made 4 jars, 2 lunches each for my husband and I.  According to everything I have read, the salads stay fresh for about 4-5 days in the jars, so I’ll wait until Monday to make more for next week (I guess depending on the success of this round!).  I planned out pretty basic recipes, purchased all my veggies and came home and started prepping.  I washed my mason jars, hard boiled eggs and chopped the veggies, all with these two salads in mind: 

Chef Salad:  Romaine, carrots, radishes, cucumbers, eggs 

Greek Salad:  Spinach, mushrooms, olives, eggs, feta


Mason Jar Salad Vegetables2


Then it was time to assemble!

If you want to put dressing in the jars, that should be the bottom layer in the jar.  This is great if you want a salad on the go and just want to shake it up, pour onto a plate or in a bowl and enjoy.  Both my husband and I work from home, so we will just add dressing when it comes time to eat.  

After the dressing should be your hard vegetables…carrots, cucumbers and radishes, for example.  For our greek salads, olives were the bottom layer (the picture below I had already added the mushrooms).  I was a bit unsure on deciding how much of each veggie to put in the jar.  It is much easier to judge when it is spread out in a bowl or on a plate!  I guess I’ll find out tomorrow if I got it right!

Mason Jar Salads Layers 1


After the dressing, olives and hard vegetables, then layer in the softer ingredients, such as mushrooms, tomatoes, eggs and cheese.  This time around I didn’t have chicken or ham to add to the salads, but next week I plan to have one or both, and it would layer in above the hard vegetables as well.


Mason Jar Salads Layers 2


And the final layer is your leafy green of choice.  I was able to pack it in pretty tight, which I read is best to minimize the air in the jar.  Seriously, how pretty do these look??

Mason Jar Salads completed


Mason Jar Salads


I felt pretty domestic and healthy after making these!  I can’t wait to try one tomorrow for lunch!

Some additional notes:

-I read that things like avocados and onions should not be added until ready to eat.  Avocados will not keep well and onions are too strong and fragrant.  Makes sense to me!  I’ll probably add some red onions to the greek salad and avocados to the chef salad when I eat it.

-I had both wide-mouth and regular mason jars.  Obviously the wide-mouth ones work much better, which I didn’t think about when I bought a pack of 12 (!!) jars.  Oops!  Fortunately I already had a couple wide-mouth ones I could use.  I have a feeling when we go to pour out the salads in the regular mason jars, we will have to help the veggies out a lot more than the wide-mouth jars.  So if you’re buying a new set of mason jars to try this out, make sure they are wide-mouth!

-I used a salad spinner on my romaine.  I think getting as much of the water out as possible will make it stay crispy longer.  

Salad Spinner

-Finally, I had some leftover chopped vegetables that I didn’t use, but stored away to use for next week’s batches.  Do any of you use Tupperware FridgeSmarts?!  These things are amazing.  They use a vent system and rigid bottom to keep your food fresh.  I didn’t believe they would actually work, but I’m a sucker for good marketing and it actually paid off this time!  I put all my leafy greens in one and they never wilt or get slimy before I get a chance to use them all.  And you know those huge clamshells of strawberries from Costco?  How many do you end up throwing away because they get moldy before you finish them?  Put them in one of these Tupperware FridgeSmarts and it will last for weeks.  And I swear I’m not a Tupperware rep!!

Tupperware FridgeSmart vents


The label on the side tells you which vegetables need 2 vents closed, 1vent open, both vents open, or no refrigeration at all.

Tupperware FridgeSmart

It’s genius I tell you!  😉

But I digress.  So one more picture of this scrumptious (I’m stretching, people) lunch waiting for me in my fridge for tomorrow:

Mason Jar Salad looking pretty in fridge


Healthy Eating!


Meat Free Monday: Vegetarian Hoppin John’s

by Deena on January 6, 2014

vegetarian hoppin john simmeringHave I told y’all about our yearly New Years day meal?  I can’t remember.  My parents are Southern and with that come traditions. Traditions that go back so far, no one dares to mess with them.    This particular tradition consists of  eating Ham, Black-Eyed Peas, and Collard Greens for our New Years Day meal.  The only saving grace was the fresh corn bread.

I wish I had a photo from back then.. I’m sure it would have consisted of my parents happily dishing out the meal while my brother and I grimaced and tried to figure out if we could hide the peas in our napkin.. or just how far we could spread everything around our plate to make it look like we’d eaten more than we had.  (My parents never fell for either… but it was always worth a shot).  Needless to say we hated that meal.

One year, on a fluke, I spent New Years Day with a girl friend… and her family’s tradition was take out Chinese Food.  You can only imagine my delight and my confusion in that I thought EVERYONE ate the same terrible meal on New Years as we did.  Apparently not – my parents were just “mean“.

I’d like to say that my poor kids have been spared the miserable New Years meal… but they have not.  They attempt the same food hiding/spreading around/complaining that we did… and when asked “WHY DO WE HAVE TO HAVE THIS??”  I simply say “Because it’s tradition” and then turn away so they can’t see me giggling.

This year I kept all of the usual dishes from our traditional southern meal but decided I also wanted to try something new with the black-eyed peas.  All these years later I still barely tolerate them on New Years Day.  I searched around and found a dish called Hoppin’ John that was getting rave reviews.  Wanting it to be vegetarian I modified it slightly and I must say it was delicious.  I love a good Cajun Red Beans and Rice dish… and that is very similar to how this ended up tasting to me.

Vegetarian Hoppin’ John


  • 1 cup of dried black-eyed peas (these will need to be soaked overnight)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1/2 chopped red pepper
  • 1/2 chopped green pepper
  • 1 chopped jalapeno (remove seeds for less spice)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • 1 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • salt & pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon tabasco
  • 1 to 2 vegetarian sausage links –  chopped ( I used Field Roast Grain Meat Mexican Chipotle)
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes (drain them)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup prepared rice (follow rice cooking instructions on box/bag)


1.  Soak black-eyed peas 8 hours or overnight – Make sure the water is about 2 inches over the beans.

black eye peas soaking

 2.  Chop peppers, onions, and jalapeno

diced veggies

 3.  Heat olive oil in large pot or dutch oven and saute garlic

saute garlic

 4.  Add diced onions, peppers and jalapeno to garlic, saute for until vegetables are tender about 6 mins.

sauted veggies

5. Add paprika and the next 9 ingredients (through bay leaf).  Stir to combine. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and cover.  Let simmer for 50 minutes (peas will be tender).

veggies and diced tomatoes

6.  Remove bay leaf.  Stir in prepared rice simmering dish.

7.  Serve and eat.  Yum

Vegetarian Hoppin John

This dish got rave reviews from everyone who joined us for New Years Day meal.  It probably could have been a little spicier for me but nothing a little added Tabasco sauce couldn’t fix.  To make it less spicy, you could go with a regular vegetarian sausage (vs the chipotle one I used), remove the jalapeno, and hold off on the Tabasco sauce and just let people add it to the dish once plated.


2014 Intentions

by Angela on January 1, 2014

I hate to be so cliche, but I really do like the whole New Year’s Resolution thing.  I like coming up with my list, trying to think of new ways to improve myself, and then attempting to carry them out sometime during or by the end of a year, usually failing miserably, but the intention was there.  So here goes my list for 2014 (not in any particular order).

1.  Spend more time on our blog – Deena and I debated on shutting down Everyday Road to Healthy this past year.  Neither of us were giving it enough (any) time, and couldn’t foresee a lot of writing in our future.  But I just can’t let it go.  This blog idea stemmed from our hearts and our experiences.   We put a lot of effort into the name and logo and spent time building it up a few years ago.  We had a system.  But life got in the way, things far more important, but why can’t Everyday Road to Healthy be important again?  For me, writing is always stressful.  I want to make sure I say the right things and I thought I had to write something great that made people say “Ahhhh, yes!”.  But that’s not what e.r.t.h. is about.  It’s about sharing knowledge, that’s all.  It’s about every day life and talking about things we are trying out to make our lives better.  It’s about our successes and our failures.  I’m not going to write anything that will have publishers banging on my door or that will go viral on the internet.  I’m just going to write about life, at least once a month, that’s my goal.  I can already mark January down as a success!  🙂

2.  Take better pictures – Last Christmas my parents bought me a kick-a$$ camera.  It takes great pictures in auto mode, which is all I’ve ever really done.  So back in June (yes, like 6 months ago), I paid for an online photography course through Momtographie.  The course was just what I needed and wanted.  I could print up all the material, which was very user friendly, and complete the course at my own pace.  Unfortunately my pace has been slower than molasses.  Summer came and went and I never found the time to complete the lessons.  Then school started and I thought I’d have time then, but the fall and winter holidays were upon us too quickly.  So one of my goals for 2014 is to take more pictures with my fancy schmancy camera NOT in auto-mode.  Hopefully as the year progresses, the blog will benefit with better pictures!

3.  Be IN more pictures – I lost a friend to breast cancer this year, and while attending her visitation, I sat and marveled at all the pictures her husband and sons were able to pull together to show us the life of Sharon some of us never knew.  Her life as a young bride and young mother made my heart ache and sing at the same time.  Marriage and motherhood are such special times in a woman’s life, and it was wonderful to see my friend during this time in her life.  I vowed that day to get in more pictures with my kids.  Not just me, but my husband too.  We’re always behind the camera, focusing on the kids only.  But one day we will want to look back at this time in our lives and see the smiles and love reflected back in our own eyes.

Of course with my husband behind the camera, I get pictures of myself like this (caught off guard, food in mouth…).  Lovely.

2013 12  christmas eve me

4.  Learn to say no – I saw this on another blog post and it rang so true for me.  I volunteer for everything.  I’m usually quiet at first, but when asked, I always say yes.


I like to be busy and if I know I have a free moment, which I always find one, I say yes.  My to-do list grows from about 2 or 3 important things to about 6 or 7 (or 8 or 9), and all are equally important and must be done NOW.  I can’t go on like this.  🙂  The not so important things (though still important) are suffering.  So what if I can’t sit down for 30 minutes with my kids and read books, or take the dog for a long mind-cleansing walk, I have “more important” things to get done.  But really, they aren’t more important.  I’m missing out on what is truly important, and that is taking a moment, enjoying a moment and just breathing it in.

5.  Relax – I don’t mean feet up, cocktail in hand, enjoying a good book, although that’s not a bad idea either.  I mean lower-the-blood-pressure relax.  I’m wound up pretty tight.  On more than one occasion I have yelled at the kids for just being kids.  I have 2 boys.  They are loud, they are high energy.  But I expect them to be….girls.  Why won’t they sit nicely and play with stickers or dolls (er, I mean action figures).  Seriously though, I am the mother of two high-energy, rough and tumble, goofy boys.  I need to let them be who they are.

2013 12  Christmas 1


So for 2014 I wish you love, health and happiness.  I hope you will dance like no one is watching, love like there’s no tomorrow, and forgive with your whole heart.

Peace out 2013.


As 2013 ends…

by Deena on January 1, 2014

As 2013 ends, Angela and I discussed what each of us would write to kick off the New Year… it was decided that I would write a year in review while she focused on the upcoming year.   I’ve rewritten this article so many times now trying to think about how we collectively would have experienced 2013.  But the truth is I can only write from my own perspective and hope that somehow there is something that holds true to you too.

My friend Tracie labeled 2013 the “Year of Deena”… which when she first said it I rolled my eyes and sighed.  But truth be told in the end she was right.  2013 was all about losing and finding myself once again.

2013 didn’t start out that way… it started out much like the previous year had but then April rolled in.  And in the same week that my family and I would be acknowledging the 1 year anniversary of the passing of our oldest son, Owen..   I lost my job of 13 years.  Which came as both a bruise to my ego and a loss of part of my identity.  When I couldn’t claim that title as part of my persona I felt a sense of failure or let down.  Being a mom, wife, friend, all the other adjectives I could use to describe myself didn’t seem like enough.  And somehow in my soul I knew that was wrong.  And so I decided to let myself sit in that space…

And in doing so I felt myself and my family begin to heal.

Looking back at 2012, I think I was just going through the motions… I was able to avoid as much heartache as possible by keeping myself really busy.  Work, kids sporting events, homework, etc.  Anything to keep me from being to present in my grief.

In 2013 I had to learn to grow and accept my life for what it is… heartbreakingly beautiful.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I would make a good stay at home mom.  I knew I was a good weekend or after work mom.  But full time with a 4 and 10 year old – I doubted myself a lot at first.  I worried that if I was teaching my 4 year old and not a preschool that he would somehow fall behind or not be social enough.  And was I disappointing my 10 year old because I wasn’t working.  Would he be embarrassed that I was just a mom now?

As the year ends what I’ve found is that my kids are doing just fine.  I feel them healing from the loss of their brother in the stories they tell and reveling in our time together.  I see them excelling both in their school work and their social life.   I still struggle a little bit when people ask what I do for a living.  I’ll feel myself wanting to say oh I’m a VP for a charity, instead of just saying I get the privilege of raising these 2 boys.  What can I say, I’m a work in progress.

My health?  Well I’ll be honest I always thought well if I was a stay at home mom I’d be in phenomenal shape.  I’d have plenty of time to work out without the stress of having to commute and work, etc…  I can honestly say I’m in no better shape physically than I was when I was working.  I do however feel that I am healthier than I’ve ever been.

Instead of using exercise as a way to force my body to be something it may never be.  I use it to bring about what I need for that day.  I run on days that I need to release stress or pain.  In releasing pain, it’s the ache I feel in my heart over the loss of Owen.  Running is the only way I’ve found that can make the rest of my body ache as much as my heart.  And in doing so it helps to release the pain.  I also discovered power yoga.  For me, power yoga is like getting a deep tissue massage where at times it hurts just enough for you to recognize the sensation.  Then it releases and with it the tension eases too.  I use yoga to center me and to bring about a feeling of peace or relaxation.  And then there is my guilty pleasure, horseback riding… which brings me a sense of pure exhilaration and joy.  I believe everyone should have one activity that just makes their soul sing while doing it.  For me that is horseback riding.

Spiritually, I found that meditation and charity work has enabled me to find more peace in my life; to recognize how blessed I am with what I have and to be thankful for what I’ve been given.  Charity work reminds me that there are others that need help.  And as cliché as it sounds any charity work done probably helps me heal far more than I am ever helping anyone else.

I’m looking forward to 2014 with a renewed sense of self.  I wish you courage, strength, and knowledge that you are enough exactly as you are right now.

From my family to yours “Happy New Year”  – Deena

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