Wednesday, December 16, 2015


the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.
an intended or desired result; end; aim; goal.
determination; resoluteness.
the subject in hand; the point at issue.
practical result, effect, or advantage:
to act to good purpose.
verb (used with object)purposed, purposing.
to set as an aim, intention, or goal for oneself.
to intend; design.
to resolve (to do something)

I have been spending a lot of time contemplating my life and what is next for me, since completing my doctorate. When I was in the third grade, I felt a deep desire to be a missionary to Africa. I can't really tell you why. I just felt it deep down in my heart. This desire returned again in 1995 when I met an incredible family that served as missionaries to Africa. Then once again, while the principal of Oakwood Manor in about 2009, I had a beautiful family that was called to serve in Madagascar. Why am I telling you this? I have been thinking so much about my purpose in life, and whether things in my life are aligned to what I believe is my purpose or dharma. 

Being an elementary principal definitely aligns with my purpose/dharma. I believe that education is what causes us to rise above our circumstances. Being an elementary principal also affords me chances every day to show how much I love.

Singing and sharing the gift of music aligns with my purpose/dharma. There is so much healing power in music and dance. So much joy. Yes - I have been called to this, as well. 

Bottom line is…my life purpose/dharma is to love, educate, empower and to spread joy. I am looking for ways to ensure that everything I do in my life aligns with this purpose. What is your purpose and how are you aligning to it?

(P.S. - I am sure Africa is in that life purpose somewhere, too. Stay tuned. :)

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Power of Habit for Weight Loss (Part 2 of the on-going saga)

In my last post I shared with you the on-going diet saga of my life. Since my last post, I am down another six pounds as well as down several inches in my waist. My body fat percentage is down, too. :) Remember, I have gone over a year without seeing much progress in the weight loss department, so I am celebrating!

After attempting every diet on planet earth, I am sharing the things that are truly working for me at this juncture of my life. I would like to point out, that one size does NOT fit all! What is working for me, may not work for you. (This aligns with my deep beliefs in the Ayurvedic approach to holistic health...more on that another time.) I have become my own science experiment by journaling and examining my own data, which, in turn, has helped me change my mindset and create new, powerful habits. Let me explain more.

I am going to begin with how important habits are in our life. Habits are hard to break. Period. Bad habits and good habits. They are much more powerful than any willpower we think we can muster. This is why, for example, I can endure an extreme eating plan for 2 weeks, 21 and even 28 days. But after that time frame has passed, I find myself going right back into my previous ways of eating. This is because I am relying on willpower. It is exhausting, and not terribly delightful. But a good habit...that is not exhausting at all! For example, when I get up in the morning and brush my teeth, I don't even think about it. I am on auto-pilot. Brushing my teeth is a great habit and contributes to my overall health, and it feels easy! I needed to find a way to approach good health, nutrition and fitness in the same way as I approach brushing my teeth.

During this journey, I have changed a habit that I did not think was possible. And I mean that with all of my heart. For 43-ish years, there was no way on God's green earth that I was going to wake up early to work out. I am a night owl. I love sleeping in. I only get up early for work because I have to. But over a year ago, something happened that changed that. I found an exercise that I loved. And I mean I really love it! It had Amy Casey written all over it. Pound ~ the rock-out, work-out!

I had been working out with my trainer Denise Sarver (who is incredible, by the way!) for at least six years when this huge change happened. I always felt she was the reason I didn't just completely balloon up over the years, but I could just never seem to reach my goals. I was always maintaining or hanging on by a thread. Then last summer, she offered an introductory Pound class on a Saturday morning (reasonable morning know, 10 am). Then she tricked me! She only offered the full classes at 6 am during the week! Well I had never had so much fun working out in my life! I loved the music, I loved banging on things, I loved the rhythm. It was summer after all, so my schedule was a little more manageable. So I dragged my butt out of bed twice a week at 5:30 am to make this silly class. It was AWFUL. I had an argument with myself EVERY morning when it was time to go to Pound. But I PAID for the classes, so I had to go. I am not going to lie. A couple of mornings, I just couldn't do it. I lost my money. However, I felt so good when I went, and had such a good time that it eventually became easier. (Side note - Denise told me, "You are really good at this, you should go get certified!" And I did just that! Also another story for another blog post).

Fast forward to today. Getting up for that class made it easier for me to get up in the morning, in general. It became a HABIT. I now get up twice a week to work out with Denise for weight training. (Along with several other workouts during the week at more reasonable times. :) The weight training, which is extremely important for a 45 year old woman for several reasons, is just alright to me. It is not Pound. Are you following me? I created a new habit. I get up at 5:30 in the freaking morning, for something that is not necessarily my favorite, people! That is just slightly short of a miracle!

The thing about changing our habits is that it is hard to change more than one or two habits at a time. So if you try to change everything, all at once, in the name of "Lifestyle Change," you are bound to fail. For more on this topic and the science behind it, I highly recommend the book, "Foodist" by Darya Rose, and the book "Switch, How to Change Things When Change Is Hard" by Chip and Dan Heath.

In order to change our habits, our mindset is especially important! In my next blog, I will share with you about Mindset and the other habits I have created slowly over the past year that are finally paying off!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Diets - They Don't Add Up (part one of an on-going saga!)

Let's get one thing straight, I love to eat. I have been "pleasantly plump" since I was a child. I have battled the bulge for as long as I can remember and have only been "svelte" a few times in my life. I have no desire to look like a fashion model, nor do I have the need to feel comfortable wearing a bikini. My desire to lose weight is about feeling healthy, feeling comfortable in my own skin, and having the energy to do all the things I want to do in this lifetime.

Now, let's explore the number of ways I have attempted to lose that bulge that has ranged anywhere from 10-20 extra pounds at any given time. First, there was Slimfast and simply not eating, in my teen years. Next there was Weight Watchers. Weight Watchers proved helpful for a time. I met my goal and even became a leader! Slowly, the weight crept back on. Then there was a second attempt at Weight Watchers, the Cabbage Soup Diet, The Grapefruit Diet, The Atkins Diet, The South Beach Diet (also somewhat successful on this one…but here I am again.), Raw/Vegan Diet, Herbal Life, Vegetarian, Pescetarian, Xingular Products, Fast Metabolism Diet, Mediterranean Diet, Juicing, French Women Don't Get Fat Diet…and the list goes on and on. I have bought a number of gadgets over the years as well. Food scales, Body Bugg, MyFitnessPal, Fitbit. I have joined gyms, and actually even gone to said gyms! Does this sound familiar to anyone else out there?

At 45 years old, I have decided, "I am a smart woman. I finished a PhD. I can do ANYTHING I set my mind to. So why I am I still battling my weight?! I decided I would commit to a fool-proof plan to lose weight. I ordered meals from a company that uses organic/local foods and creates five meals a day at a set number of calories depending on the amount of weight you want to lose. By getting their fresh meals daily, I absolutely knew I was eating 1500 calories a day. No measuring, no shopping, no worries. I also decided it was time to commit to fitness seriously, but reasonably. I am working out 6 days a week. I do a 30-60 minute cardio-based work out 5 days a week and strength-based training two days a week. In addition, I still do one or two Cherry Bomb shows a week and try very hard to get in at least 10,000 steps a day. There was no way I could fail on this plan! 12 weeks on this plan and I should easily see results! Right?! WRONG!

After 12 weeks, I fluctuated up and down about 3 pounds. I was devastated. I had invested a lot of money into the food plan, and time into the extra exercise classes. What the heck?!

At the same time, I was reading a book called "Foodist" by Darya Rose and I made an appointment to see my doctor,  Deborah Jantsch (an OB/GYN that also has degrees in Holistic and Functional Medicine - I HIGHLY recommend her!) Nothing in this book was new to me. Nor did my visit to Dr. Deborah prove to be earth shattering. But there are some common threads that run through my successful attempts at weight loss. These threads are shared in the book "Foodist" (among some other really great books on health and nutrition) and became the topics of conversation with Dr. Jantsch. I am going to share those topics with you here and will dive deeper into these topics in separate blogs in hopes that they will be helpful to you, as well.

1. Habits and mindsets
2. Knowing yourself
3. Processed foods
4. Sugar
5. Good Fats
6. Insulin resistance
7. The role of protein (There are MANY sources of protein beyond meat!)
8. You've got to move it, move it.
9. Being healthy for life, not healthy for 28 days or however long the current diet you are considering claims it will take to give you the results you are looking for.

I will share this only a week or so of thinking about things differently and ditching the caloric math formula ~ I have finally started to drop some pounds after watching the scale refuse to move for nearly a year. I will also say up front...there is no magic pill, no quick fix, and no detox that is going to help you for the long term (sorry!).

Within the next week, I will share my continued results (and struggles) with you, as well as share more on the topics of habits, mindsets and knowing yourself, so stay tuned! :) Namaste, friends!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Finding the Sweet Spot...

Suspended mid wall, a bead of sweat rolled into my eye. Right foot planted on a little nub. Left foot planted on a more substantial lip. Reaching upward for the next projection would not only get me closer to the top, but would also put me in reach of that bell that signals to everyone below, "I did it!"

This was my first climb. It was exhilarating! Richard Lonski had invited me on several occasions to go give it a try and I finally took him up on the invitation. Why did I wait so long?! He was a very patient teacher as he demonstrated how to put on the gear and how to tie a "magic eight knot." I giggled nervously as I accidentally made a "non-magic nine knot," instead. Being nervous was a good thing because that "magic eight knot" is what keeps you from falling to your demise! You must get it right!

I learned how important my belayer was (the person who keeps you secure during your climb by manning the belay device) and was so thankful to put my trust into Richard! I learned that beta information (helpful hints from your belayer who can see things from a different perspective than you) was important for a newb and that communication with your belayer is imperative. Richard needed to know when I was ready to "climb on," when I needed "slack," when I needed "tension," and when it was time to be, "on you."

As a life long learner, as soon as my feet hit the ground after my first route, I immediately began to reflect on the experience. I was so proud that I made it all the way to top without falling. There were some tough stretches and I had to make my body get into positions that it really wasn't familiar with. Oh, and I was really thirsty! As I rehydrated myself, I watched Richard climb. That was a fast 10 seconds. Seriously, the man is like a real life version of Spider Man! He didn't even need numbs to balance on…he just shimmied up the wall! I paid careful attention to how he navigated the wall and tucked the information into a new mental file on rock climbing.

Off to my next challenge. It was named "Udderly Ridiculous." And yeah - it was. I got three fourths up the wall and got stuck…for a minute or two. And here is where I learned my valuable lesson on the sweet spot, even though I didn't know it in that moment. Richard told me to let go and just rest for a minute. I thought I could just hang on for a few, so I held on tightly with my arms and they began to spasm. I finally listened to Richard and purposely let go as I relied on him to keep me hanging there like a circus aerialist. At Richard's instruction, I shook my arms out to get the blood flowing again. He reminded me for about the fifth time that it was all about my legs. "Think about where your legs are going first." I was then able to latch back on and successfully do a rock climbing two-step to the top as that coaching finally set in.

"On-you!" I cried. Richard manipulated the ropes to bring me back down to mother earth and I was already reflecting on why I got stuck, how I would do it differently, and the importance of my legs and feet in the climb. As I carefully observed Richard negotiating his next climb, it dawned on me! As I considered the moves that went smoothly for me as compared to the ones that didn't, I was aware that there were two ways that I approached each climbing movement. The "easy" way (ha!) and the "hard" way. When I moved almost effortlessly, it was because my legs were working in tandem with my core. My arms only offered an "assist." I explained this to Richard and described it as finding a "sweet spot" for climbing. When I got nervous, I relied too heavily on my arms to do the work and that only paved the way for a fail (or a fall).

Armed with this recent cerebration, I was ready to hit the next climb. Even though it was more challenging than my previous two climbs, I completed it swiftly, with more confidence and less achy arms! It was a clean climb!

Under the careful, patient and explicit instruction of Richard, I experienced three successful climbs! The other climbers cheered me on and reinforced my efforts. It was evident that they have created a trusting and encouraging community with one another. They were family and were eager to welcome newbs into the fold.

After a sweaty hug and expressing my deep gratitude to Richard for allowing me this experience, I headed to my car in a state of healthy exhaustion. As I turned the key in the ignition, I began replaying the whole experience in my mind and I ascertained that climbing was both meditative and a metaphor for life. First of all, I definitely hit a mediative state while climbing. There is a point when you find that "sweet spot" and everything just moves in a natural flow. During those moments, I was completely present and my mind was totally clear. Yeah, those were freaking awesome moments! :)

All I ever really needed to know about life was summed up in a climbing lesson...

How often do I fight the natural flow in my life as I did when I was trying to hang on for dear life with my arms instead of using my legs and my core during climb number two? I turn things into a struggle instead of trusting my great teacher (The Universe in my life, but Richard, for my climb). I had to PURPOSEFULLY let go. That really smacks right into what feels like the correct thing to do. Climbing caused me to consider what habits and things I am holding onto in my life that are not serving me well. I need to purposefully let them go.

What "beta" information is helpful to me? I got stuck on the "Udderly Ridiculous" climb because I could not see where to move next. My vision was limited while hanging vertically on the wall. I needed Richard to share some "beta" with me, in order to become unstuck. Sometimes we get stuck in our lives…we can't see where the next step is because we are so limited in our view. These are times we need to consider "beta" information from other people who have a different perspective so that we can become "unstuck."

There is a "sweet spot" in life. Have I found it? What am I doing that makes life more complicated than it needs to be? "Sweet spots" are not necessarily easy, they are just easier than the "hard way." What happens when I allow things in my life to work together in flow as my legs and core did for the climb?

What happens when I find my balance, even on the tiniest little nubs as I did on my last climb of the night? When I find a balance between my physical, emotional, mental and spiritual self, I feel confident and experience the "aches" of life differently along the way. What happens when I trust my friends and loved ones when I find myself in a pickle or I need help? During the climb, I called out "On You!" and Richard was there to help me down or to give me a break. He assisted me with the burden for a bit. I really needed him for a successful climb, just as I need my friends and family in this thing called life. Interdependence is what that is called.  And what happens when I build trust among a group of friends that I can depend on to literally save my life? I create community. What a beautiful thing!

I am already planning for my next climbing experience. Who wants to come along?!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Letting Flow

Our mom "let flow" today at 1:20 am. She was ready. We were not.

She had a way of always going with the flow. The flow of God's love. You could not be in her presence without feeling this constant stream of love. She freely shared this love with everyone, but she especially loved the children. And oh how this woman loved Jesus with all her heart. She declared this love by embracing the teachings of Christ and living them out every single day.

Matthew 25:35-36 says, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes and you clothed me. I was sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to visit me." 

Our mom NEVER turned anyone away, including me and a host of others. Going with the flow of God's love.

Matthew 19:14 declares, "Jesus said, 'Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.'" 

Our mom loved the children the MOST. Even up until her last breath, she insisted on watching her grandbabies. They brought her so much joy. Going with the flow of God's love. 

Matthew 5:8  reminds us, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." If anyone has seen God, this pure-hearted woman has...Going with the flow of God's love.

May I learn to "let flow" and "go with the flow of God's love" as she did.