I’ve been wanting to share my sad birthday cake story for the last couple of weeks - but I’m not a great food photographer & just didn’t think a baking mishap was all that interesting. But the fact that I turned it around kind of is so . . . ?
About a month ago I had an idea that I wanted to make a cake for my kids 20th birthday. I probably haven’t made a cake since he was 2? (At some point the crazy box brownies from Trader Joe’s were just easier & way more appreciated lol). At any rate - I decided to make him the cake my mom used to make me every year for my birthday, which is Mocha Pound Cake.
I've tried the recipe a couple times as an adult (probably pre-kids), and all I could remember that it turned out kind of dry. So as I put things together I made an executive decision to use less flour, and to alter the baking time to be about 20 minutes shorter. And also to use butter instead of the margarine that the recipe called for because who uses margarine any more?!? ?
Ultimately, while the batter was fabulous ... the finished cake was so dry (despite my attempts to make it be otherwise) - it was pretty much a complete fail. ?Literally as a cake the only place it belonged was in the trash. #sadness.
But (but!) I decided to instead repurpose it! I cut the whole thing up & froze the slices in individual sandwich bags and turned it into Chocolate Bread! New name, new life . . . throw a piece in the toaster & slather it with butter? That’s some damn good toast! Even my kid gave it a thumbs up. ????
All of which is to say that sometimes when things seem crappy - maybe they just need a little bit of perspective to make them delicious. Yep - that’s my life-coach-y take on a bad baking outcome . . . you’re welcome! ?
This might also be the reason my fitness goals are taking a teeny bit longer than I think they should? ??♀️
What about you? Have you had a cooking/baking fail that you turned into something better? You know I'm dying to hear about it - leave a comment or send me a note!
Oh & if you really want to try . . . here's the recipe!
Mocha Pound Cake
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2 3/4 C Flour
1/2 tsp Baking powder
1/2 tsp Baking soda
1/2 C Cocoa
3 Tbsp Instant coffee powder
2 tsp Vanilla
1 C Sour Cream
Cream butter & sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Measure & mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cocoa & coffee powder. The SIFT.
Add to creamed mixture and beat until well blended. Add vanilla & sour cream & blend well.
Spoon batter into greased & flour dusted 9 or 10 inch tube pan (bundt pan), and spread evenly. Bake at 325 for 1 1/2 hours. Let stand for 10 minutes before inverting onto rack to cool completely.
Toast as needed. :)
Oh my gosh - I can't believe it's been almost four months since my Photography + Life Coaching retreat in Mexico . . . and I haven't really given you a full recap of how it went. That's just plain Cray!
The truth is that even though I committed to sharing about it a couple of weeks ago - I've been massively resistant. I finally took a look at that this morning to figure out why and came up with:
Both of those things are pretty silly, so I'm going to get right to the point and tell you how off-the-charts-RAD it was: It was so RAD that honestly I can't quite believe I did it and sometimes I still have to pinch myself. In fact, here are a few words from some of my retreaters . . . just so you don't think I'm only tooting my own horn. (I totally am - but gosh it's validating when other people join in!)
Before attending Eileen’s San Miguel de Allende, Mexico retreat I was feeling all dried up. I couldn’t figure out where I’d lost my spark, or how to get it back. From day one I was thrilled to discover Eileen’s retreat was like one big “Artist’s Date” with yourself (and a few soon-to-be good friends).
While basic photography skills were the focus, from the beginning she also had us doing simple and easy arts and crafts projects that loosened us up, invited us to play, and helped us toss procrastination and perfectionism out the window. All this fun had the wonderful effect of getting us in touch with intuitive knowledge of our hopes and dreams, while fueling them at the same time! Eileen is so down to Earth and authentic, it puts you instantly at ease and lets you know you're being cared for (not to mention the gorgeous retreat house and amazing private chefs from an organic farm!)
Eileen showed us how simple art-making can be an easy way to transform your daily life from dreary to sparkly. I couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing, fun, and life-changing retreat! - Jen M.
(I might have cried when I read that the first time. #forreal)
The truth is that I knew I could put on a fantastic retreat, I had a venue that was over-the-top, a caterer who not only made us the most delicious farm-to-table organic meals, but who loved on us like family, and a location that is to die for. San Miguel de Allende is so magical - going into it I just felt like whatever my retreaters learned from me (and each other!) would just be icing on a crazy-cool cake.
Granted, I put my heart & soul into making it exceptional - everything from the retreat activities/content to special treats for my VIP's to a Saturday morning Photo Journaling session with Jen Trulson - I can honestly say that I'm so proud of my hard work and it was a resounding success!
Some more kind words . . .
"One of my intentions for 2018 was to do more things I love, even if I had to do them solo. On Jan 4th, a friend posted about the Eye Wonder retreat and I knew this was my first opportunity to live this out! Lucky for me, it combined 4 of my favorite things - photography, travel, meeting new people and Mexican food!
Before I could think of reasons not to, I reached out to Eileen to get registered. Within a few days, I had booked a VIP spot and while I was nervous about all the details, Eileen answered every question I had leading up and I arrived ready for an adventure. I knew we'd eat well, take lots of photos, but I was not at all prepared for how beautiful all the details would be. The stunning location, delicious meals, creative sessions, and oh so lovely retreat participants all worked together to create a wonderful, relaxing environment where I felt cared for, at ease and ready to explore.
I came with some expectations to learn more about myself and photography, but left with so much more.
Look how cute we are!! And see that TALL kid on the right? Yup - I brought my teenage boy with me! I know that sounds crazy on paper - but he is seriously one of my favorite people and I know he's not going to want to hang out with me forever . . . so I took advantage of this time and included him in the trip. I'll just say that when I did the quick feedback session at the end of the weekend - these women put him in the "What We Loved" column. :) He's already asking me about next year . . . so I'm letting you know that I'm looking at the third week in March (tentatively). If you wanted to come with me to Mexico this year and weren't able to make it - message me here and I'll add you to my "first to know!" retreat email list for 2019!
I hope you'll consider it because #thisisgonnabeevenbetter
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Have you noticed? The Body Positive Movement is going strong! I actually have a number of friends who are exclusively Body Positive Photographers or Life Coaches who focus their practice on nurturing a healthy body image . . . it's awesome!
Here's what's curious though: All this body positivity has a weird side to it. I know, I know . . . but hear me out.
Last year around this time I decided I was going to host a Life Coaching + Photography retreat in Mexico. I was so excited and totally flipped out about it all at the same time. And I managed to pull it off successfully - which was no small feat! In fact, during the last six months of planning I think I ate my way through every stressful thought, $$ deposit and freak out that no one was going to show up. All of which was evident the night before we left when the suitcase wouldn't fit on the scale and I had the brilliant thought of weighing myself first (which I hadn't done in months), and then weighing myself + suitcase to figure out the difference.
The scale read 170 lbs.
At this point my inner voice yelled "That's a DAMN LIE!" And I chose to believe that it was a lie even though I had to buy a bunch of new clothes for my trip because none of what I had fit, and I was not in fact feeling like a picture of perfect health. (As a point of reference - the place where I feel healthiest is somewhere between 145 & 150 lbs.)
Turns out it was the truth, and at 170 lbs I was weighing in at heavier than I've ever been in my life (by a lot!) other than when I was pregnant. About a month ago I looked at the health app on my phone which kindly showed me I'd walked 542 steps that day. In that moment I knew that I needed to up my game in order to feel better and wear some of my favorite summer clothes. Game On!
Here's where the weird part comes in. Y'all I cannot have this conversation with anyone except my boyfriend and maybe my sister - without someone saying "Oh Please . . . don't hate on your body!". Or "You don't need to lose weight!" Or "You look GREAT!"
So to be clear: I actually love my body. I know I look good for 47. I have had two successful pregnancies & two healthy kids. I don't have any long-term illnesses or injuries. I am beyond grateful for all of this.
AND (And!) . . .
I know when I weigh too much. When I don't feel good about myself (even while feeling grateful for all the things above). When my clothes don't fit and I struggle to find things to wear to work. It lands me in a place that is dark and gloomy.
I recently finished Girl Wash Your Face, and the message on the last page really stuck with me: This is my life, and I get to choose how it's going to be. Like #nowstyle (as my older son likes to say).
Since that 542 step day I have switched things up:
I'm averaging over 10,000 steps a day. The way I look at it if I'm moving, it can only have a positive effect. And guess what? I'm losing a little bit of weight, and I feel so much better physically & mentally . . . I'm motivated to keep going.
None of this is a surprise - studies show that being active will give you more energy and improve your mood - I can vouch for this first hand.
And as a gentle reminder: If someone who "looks" tall and thin (and who by your estimation isn't a candidate for weight loss), is working on exercising more and being healthier/stronger? You may want to check yourself before you say something, because you never know the whole story.
Don't judge me because I'm thinner than you. It's my body & I know it best.
You do you, and I'll do me.
In good health,
p.s. I'd love to hear your thoughts - send me a note or leave a comment below!
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I have been a lifelong avoider of conflict.
As in I used to really, really hate it - and that's coming from someone who counsels her kids on the regular to not use the word hate. Looking back I think a lot of it had to do with being a perfectionist, and knowing that if there was conflict relating to me, it was most likely because I'd done something wrong. (Or thought I'd done something wrong.)
Being wrong is not a place that a perfectionist feels comfortable. In fact, the amount of anxiety I endured around making sure I was doing all things right so as to avoid any future conflict . . . was exhausting.
But back to this idea of conflict or dealing with difficult life situations - the deal is that you can't avoid it, you can't sit in the past, or jump to the future. (Well you can - but the results are almost always decidedly unsatisfactory!) Truly, the only way to the other side . . . is through.
In Martha Becks' book "Steering by Starlight" she uses a metaphor of our "Three Ring Life" - which includes three concentric circles of consciousness: The Shallows, The Ring of Fire, and The Core of Peace.
People who are living their lives in the "Shallows" tend to be focused on material possessions, let themselves be guided by negative emotions and false beliefs, along with hefty doses of unease, stress and a constant want for "more". Bleh.
By contrast, The Core of Peace is where no untruths can exist and there is "no apparent separation from the fabric of The Universe." Attachment to grandiose thoughts or fancy things aren't important - and we don't have any concepts of being famous, noble, smart, handsome, influential, etc etc etc. It's where we most want to be, in what Beck refers to as "the state of the Stargazer".
So why do we spend so much time avoiding it?
Because we don't want to pass through the third ring to get there: The Ring of Fire.
"The Ring of Fire is the emotional process we must go through in order to reach the core of peace. There are only two ways to accomplish this. We can disbelieve any false ideas that are causing unnecessary pain. And we must grieve any unavoidable pain, such as the loss of health or a loved one."
She makes it sound so simple!
What I've found is that the same idea can be applied to resolving conflict - in order to get to the other side (The Ring of Peace) the only way is through (The Ring of Fire!). Let me tell you, once I figured that out . . . life got a whole lot easier.
These days when my boyfriend and I have a disagreement, this is usually the thought process that goes into our discussion:
* Ask myself "What was my part?"
* Own what's mine, let the rest go.
* Be willing to be wrong.
* Do better (or differently) next time.
Do I love it? No. But I do love how much better things feel on the other side of those conversations - it really is so peaceful!
What about you? Do you have some favorite conflict resolution practices? Some people actually really love conflict (which is so foreign to me!) - I'd love to hear your stories . . . send me a note or leave a comment below!
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On May 1st an email went out to me + thousands of other people, announcing the new podcast "Casting Call" - which also included a call for entry to submit an application to be a contestant on this new show. In short: Squarespace + Gimlet Media have teamed up to create a new reality-style-podcast where three finalists will compete to have their idea turned into a new podcast - which will all be documented along the way.
Of course I decided to apply (duh!), and spent a few weeks working on the written questions, and more importantly crafting my required three-minute-or-less audio sample.
This was a bit of a herculean feat for me - choosing a story to share, writing it out, recording it only to find that it was three minutes too long, cutting out all the parts that weren't necessary, convincing my 19 year old to get on Skype with me so I could "interview" him, & recording it over and over so as to not sound like I was awkwardly reading it off a piece of paper. (Which in all fairness, I totally was.) Then editing it all down so that it seamlessly fit into the three minute time window. It was a big deal.
On May 18th - three days before the due date - I filled out the online form, linked to my recording on Dropbox, said a quick blessing and pressed the "submit" button.
Here's the funny part: Even before I sent in my application I was quite certain I was going to be selected as one of the top three - and that part of my summer was going to be spent in Brooklyn, NY learning the tricks of the podcasting trade with my future-bestie & host of the show Jonathan Goldstein.
I'm not sure if that falls into a category of "Optimistic" or "Delusional" - but the truth is that I had so much fun acting as if this really exciting adventure had already happened. With this sense of confidence I also shared my submission with a handful of friends (which historically I absolutely would not have - being a former firm believer that if you "tell" something that's important to you, it won't come true . . .), and had some amazing feedback. I was on fire y'all!
Until yesterday when I got the "Thanks, but you weren't selected . . . " email.
I was seriously confused. And then had a big "Who do you think you are anyway?" moment.
Thankfully it was just a moment. Because . . . even as I entertained my "Summer-in-New-York" fantasy, I had decided that I was going to keep moving ahead with my podcast regardless of what the Casting Call outcome was. I didn't put anything on hold as I waited for their response - and if all goes well I'll be launching my podcast in September!
I'm currently reading "Girl, Wash Your Face" by Rachel Hollis . . . and yesterday came across this gem:
"Someone else's opinion of me is none of my business."
She goes on to say:
"These words are never more profound than when we're creating something. Maybe it's a book, a blog, a company, a piece of art, or your fashion sense. When you're creating something from your heart, you do it because you can't not do it. You produce it because you believe your creation deserves to be out in the world."
Of course in my case I'm creating a podcast - one where I'll interview Courageous Mom's, Parenting Experts, and Fabulous Teens about why they sometimes do crazy shit. It's going to be amazing!
Am I a teeny bit disappointed that my idea wasn't selected for this fun new audio reality show? Of course! And I also know that the contest application totally motivated me to a) Just Do It! (& not worry about being perfect), and b) Learn a bunch of technical things in a hurry that I would have otherwise probably approached with my traditional slow-poke attitude - all of which I'm so grateful for.
It also makes for a great story.
You can listen to my three minute audio submission below - which is the tale of the toilet on my 2nd floor.
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In the last month I've been working on manifesting a variety of things: New projects, a better relationship with my 20 yr old, podcasting magic . . . and more!
In classic woo-y fashion - I've been employing all the manifesting tools I know . . . meditating, saying my daily mantras (out loud & proud!), putting new practices into action, consulting oracle cards, having mini New Moon manifesting ceremonies, getting into my Core Desired Feelings, lighting candles & arranging my crystals, future writing, turtle stepping my way into what I want (& how I want to feel when I get there) - you name it I've been on it!
And somewhere in the middle of that - of trying to do it "right", I realized a piece of me was totally attached to the outcome . . . that the energy surrounding my dreams was that grasp-y, want-y, clingy, claw-ing, desperate feeling. The kind that The Universe generally does not respond well to. Oops!
I'm glad I could see the humor in the fact that despite my very best intentions - I was bringing a few things to the table that I decidedly did not want. So how exactly do you switch things up mid-manifesting-stream?
I recently read an article about the Immunotherapy trials happening at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Institute here in Seattle, where a patient reported a feeling of the large tumors on his neck "melting away" a week or so after his initial treatment. Wow! (You can read more about that here - it's fascinating.)
At any rate - once I decided to change the course of my manifesting ship, I literally had this vision & feeling of all that clingy energy melting away. Yes it's a rather dramatic comparison - but I'm rolling with it!
Then I decided to replace all that desperation with a new approach: "Wouldn't It Be Cool If . . . ?"
I wrote an intention statement - letting go of what wasn't working, and creating what I wanted in its' place.
And then reminded myself that everything happens with divine timing, and that the Universe always delivers. Also if you're a believer in coincidence, "signs" or energetic "winks" . . . they've been showing up almost daily in my little world - a reminder that I'm on the right path and to just keep swimming! Phew!
Disaster Averted. :)
What about you? Are you manifesting anything special these days? Do you have a favorite way to go about bringing your dreams into reality? Is it working? I'm so curious to know! Send me a note or leave a comment below!
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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about taking a pause between projects - and apparently I really took that to heart because last week for the first time in over two years I spaced out and didn't write a blog post!
In hindsight I think it was some combination of not feeling creatively inspired (or that I had anything interesting to share . . .), and being totally exhausted. The latter being a side effect of my new crazy workouts at Orange Theory Fitness & not drinking enough water. Yes, I still struggle to stay hydrated - I think I'm going to be working on that for the rest of my life.
So there have been lots of solid naps, finishing a book (with two new ones arriving from Amazon this week), and baking!
Yep - sometimes I become my Mom and baking (and feeding people) becomes my love language. The first batch actually started out as a thank you gift for my sons' friend who let me interview him for my podcast last week (it's going to be awesome!) - but then my kids wanted some too, and I had a few . . . and then it turned into lots & lots of scones.
The are so yummy and generally so appreciated . . . I thought I'd just share the recipe with you.
Preheat Oven to 400°.
1 Cup Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
2 Tbsp Sugar
1/4 tsp Salt
Mix dry ingredients in a small food processor. (or in a bowl).
Blend in 2 Tbsp Butter.
Add 1 egg (saving a little white on the side), and 3 Tbsp sour cream. Mix until it turns into dough.
Turn onto floured board & knead a bit "until nice." Add currants or candied orange peel if you wish.
Pat into a circle & cut into 1/4 or 1/6.
Transfer to greased aluminum foil, brush with reserved egg white, and sprinkle with sugar.
Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes.
& VOILA! (or VIOLA! As one of my co-workers used to say . . . cracked me up every time. :) )
After making these for years . . . here are my notes:
Yep - that's my well-loved recipe from about 20 years ago!
Do you have some favorite recipes that you find yourself making when you need a break from "Life"? I'd love to know - leave a comment or send me a note!
When I was in Maryland, my friend asked me at breakfast one morning about my "seemingly boundless energy". I was quick to correct him that I am human, and do have all kinds of limits in that department . . . but it got me thinking. While boundless energy is a bit of an exaggeration (or misconception?), it is true that I am a big fan of doing and finishing things.
The last month has been a blur. Hosting my first retreat in Mexico, coming home & getting caught up at work, a weekend trip to Baltimore, my birthday + Mother's Day, and getting my older son home from his 2nd (& last) year at school in Colorado . . . Phew! Last week I also got way out of my comfort zone and submitted an application for something that feels like a big deal to me. (More on that hopefully soon!).
And then I felt a big wave of "Now What?"
As a "do-er" it's been weird to have what feels like a bunch of free time on my hands after working so hard on some big projects which are now complete. Don't get me wrong, I'm still finishing up my podcasting class & setting up interviews for this summer so I can launch that in September, and I've got a few other unfinished things I need to wrap up. But overall, not getting up at 4:25 every morning so I can get an hour of my work in before I go to my other job, and then not having a list of things to do when I get home in the evening? It feels both free-ing, and aimless at the same time. Ha!
Because I know it probably won't last, I've decided to embrace this time as "The Space In Between".
In this space I am:
While it does seem a little bit abnormal at times, mostly it feels awesome. Like taking a big, intentional breath. Yes!
Have you had a similar experience of feeling a little bit lost when you suddenly have lots of extra time on your hands? What do you do when you finish a big project and then aren't sure what the "next indicated step" is? I'd love to know - send me a note or leave a comment below!
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In February my boyfriend I and I took a quick trip to Phoenix to see my older son play baseball. I was so excited to see him and had some expectations that he would be so excited to see ME, and deeply grateful that we made the trek. Ummmm . . . not so much. I mean, I think ultimately he was happy that we came and said so later, but jeez in the moment? He was the same kid he always is: a little bit entitled and not super grateful. And wow I was bent out of shape about it!
So I took my own advice ("Know Your Resources!"), and signed up for a one-day workshop with Dixie St. John who is a Master Certified Martha Beck Life Coach, and Master Certified Equus Coach (Horse Specialist) who specializes in boundaries.
The workshop was held near Baltimore on May 6th, and the weather the day of the workshop was highly questionable. Rain (which is fine), and Thunder/Lightning storms (which are not) were predicted. Not gonna lie, I had a bit of a moment given that I'd traveled all the way across the country for my horse encounter - and then I decided to just let it go because well . . . I have no control over Mother Nature! In the end, it rained for about ten minutes total, and we had a smaller group as a result of the weird forecast - which meant more time with the horses and a really great day!
Some of my experiences are hard to put into words, but here are a few things I learned (or re-learned in a new way!) that I'll carry with me for the rest of my life.
For starters we had a quick lesson on horse-y behavior so we'd know how to better read them.
When horses are comfortable with you and accept you as part of the "herd", they will move their mouth like they are chewing . . . effectively saying "I will eat grass with you". :) They'll also bow their heads down as a welcoming gesture. These signs are good to know because a) horses are big animals, and b) they are animals of prey - so if you're not "in" you're "out" - and that's not great.
And then we got right to work!
1. Horses won't always do what you want. Especially if they are hungry, and you aren't communicating clearly. (Wow there's a parallel to having teenage boys already!)
2. It's OK to ask for help, especially when you are learning something new.
3. There were several times when things didn't go exactly how I wanted them to, and I promptly gave up. But then I decided that I really, really wanted to accomplish a certain goal, and I made it happen. And when the situation changed mid-stream . . . I handled it like a boss. Which led me to really believing that . .
4. When I apply myself I can do whatever I want! I am in charge of my life, and how I choose to show up (in relationships, work, goals, etc.) - just like I did with the horses.
Also . . .
5. I was really proud of myself because I wasn't afraid! (<--- which weirdly I expected myself to be?) Amazing things happen when you move beyond fear. I'll just leave that right there.
Of course there was more, but overall I'd say it was absolutely worth the trip to the East Coast for the weekend and I am so glad I went! Have any of you had profound experiences working with horses? I'd LOVE to hear them! Leave a comment here or send me a note!
p.s. Big thanks to Ellen Weiser for the photos. As the photographer I don't always end up with any photos of ME - so I'm extra grateful for these!
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This weekend I'm having a little adventure on the East Coast - doing a workshop on Boundaries with the fabulous Dixie St. John near Baltimore. There will be horses involved, and it is my hope that I learn some new tools to help me show up in a new way in certain relationships. Specifically the one with my older child which has for years been more of a "friendship" than a "parent-child" relationship. In theory this is fine as your kids move into adulthood, but we're not there yet and I need to get some of my Mom MOJO back that seems to have lost its' way in the jet-stream of guilt that engulfed me post-divorce.
Is it crazy to hop on a cross-country flight just for the weekend? For one day in the ring with horses, with no guaranteed results? Ummmm if your definition of crazy is "not practical", with a touch of "financially irresponsible" then yes, yes it is.
However . . . I've done some other things in my life that definitely fall into that category that have been nothing short of life changing, which is what caused me to throw the voice-of-reason to the wind and just do it anyway!
Honestly? I've tried to make some behavior changes in this area for years - through therapy, reading books, and a solid "I can do this!" attitude . . . and it just hasn't produced the results (or sticking power!) that I want. Which is where I like to say "If it's not working - do something different!"
And that is how I landed on a plane to Baltimore, blogging at 10,000 feet.
What's funny is that this week I've had some other "crazy" whispers that have passed through . . . one that said I was going to have wood glasses (I did say crazy right?), and the other one that said I was going to pay of my debt in six months. (errrm that's crazy too y'all . . .) But here's the deal: I'm listening. Because not all of life's messages appear as a neon sign in the middle of the desert - sometimes you have to be actually paying attention to know what's coming next. Even if it seems crazy at the time.
Have you done anything that felt crazy in your life? Thinking about it now? I'd love to hear your stories . . . send me a note or leave a comment below!
P.S. If you've been thinking about making some life changes and perhaps (dare I say?) hiring a Life Coach . . . I'm offering a 47% off sale on all my coaching packages this Tuesday, May 8th!! Let's work together!
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Meet me here on Saturdays for some weekly vibes - honoring the week that has past, and clearing the way for what's new. Gather your journal and favorite pen, along with a hot cup of coffee/tea/chai - and settle in for 30 minutes dedicated to YOU.
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