5 Gifts for a Meaningful Christmas and Healthy New Year

Giving thoughtful gifts that mean something.  It's something we all want to do ... not just another gift card to a restaurant that you don't even know they if they like.  So, here are 5 gifts that support and care for the people in your life.  The first two are especially for women; the last three are for men, women, and families.  

Self-Care Monthly Box

I met these amazing moms in November.  Each month Bethany (the mom on the right) sends a self-care package to subscribers ... something for the spirit, the mind/emotions, and the body.  What a wonderful way to strengthen the women in your life with a monthly self-care package!


Their focus is "Taking self-care from a hope to a habit."  I agree.  Subscribe the mother in your life at www.ezermama.com

Made-from-scratch Mineral Makeup

Another great gift idea for women is makeup that is free of toxins.  We don't put junk in our bodies ... no need to put junk on our skin either. 


I've been using Emily's eyeshadows for a year now and love them.  She makes small batches in her home studio.  Don't know which colors to buy for a gift?  Emily has gift certificates.  Another huge plus?  A portion of "Redeeming Beauty Minerals" proceeds go toward Operation Beauty from Ashes - rescuing children from abuse in Thailand.

Order some stocking stuffers from www.redeemingbeautyminerals.com

Go Forward: 28 Days to Eat, Move, and Enjoy Life God's Way

Who do you know who wants to grow their relationship with God and learn what God says about healthy living?  Order a copy of Go Forward for them to start off the new year on the right path. 


Order their copy of Go Forward hereTheir book can be shipped directly to them.

New Year - New You Series

Who do you know who is ready to begin (or begin again) a healthier life?  In January I am offering a 6 week tele-course to help couples and families who struggle with making healthy choices fit their busy lives.  (And since I'm offering a "bring a friend" rate, you can join in and support them.)  A gift that will set them up for success in the New Year.

Email me at sheri@thevireolife.com for details.

Nourish Your Life

For the friend who has yo-yo dieted and is confused by complicated food rules.  This video/audio will set them free! 

(Nourish Your Life is available in DVD, CD, and downloadable.)

Nourish Your Life, DVD
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Wishing you a very healthy, fun, fulfilling Christmas with your family and friends. 

May you get all your heart desires and may you give love, health, and joy to everyone you meet.



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8 Tips to Handle Holiday Stress


I was talking with two friends earlier this week about holiday stress vs. holiday rest. 

Friend #1 has kids in high school and college, so they are "fending for themselves" most of the time.  She spent the day after Thanksgiving in her PJ's resting - all day.  Her Christmas prep isn't complete, but she feels on track and isn't stressed.

Friend #2 has grown children, also, but with a toddler and newborn grandchild who came to stay unexpectedly for 5 days over Thanksgiving. (Her daughter's house heat went out.)  So after Thanksgiving, she didn't get to rest or decorate for Christmas.  She feels stressed because does not know when she will "get it all done," since she has committed to several December events.  We talked about possible ways to handle the stress.

Here are 8 ways to rest vs. stress this year:

Get focusedWhat is most important for your holidays THIS year?

  1. What holiday activities give you more joy and energy than they take?  Does baking for your friends and family relax you or leave you exhausted?  Does putting up the tree give you the most joy? Then put up the tree and skip the rest.
  2. If you are in a "life-transition" don't try something new.  Doug and I made this mistake our first Christmas.  We were crazy about a made-from-scratch pineapple jam from our honeymoon in Belize.  So, we got the recipe and decided to make it for Christmas gifts, thinking it would be a fun, easy project.  (The resort chef said it was easy.) Hours (and hours and days) later with an everywhere-sticky-kitchen we realized everyone would have been just as happy with a gift card.
  3. Recognize not just the season of Christmas, but the season of your life.  When I talked with Friend #2 about her plan, she decided to forgo some of the decorating.  Her memories with grandchildren over Thanksgiving was more important. For myself, when we were remodeling our entire house, I cringed at the thought of Christmas decorations on top of blue painters tape and gutted walls and ripped up carpet.  Pure chaos.  So we put a few ornaments on our bamboo tree and went to look at everyone else's decorations.  Simple.
  4. What do you really enjoy once it is done...but don't have the energy or time to do now?  Outsource.  Use technology.  Whether it is a Christmas card service or decorators or caterers, even professional shoppers, there are people out there to make your holidays easier so you can do what only you can do.  Only you can sit at the family table and play games with your kids.  Only you can go walk with a friend who needs some Christmas cheer.  Only you can sit by a fire and thank God for the good in your life.

Go all in!

  1. Some years, you just go for it.  Schedule time off from work and other activities and go 100% at making memories.  Pick a couple of friends and spend a four day weekend decorating each other's homes together.  Plan another four day weekend for shopping.  Turn on Christmas music 24/7.  Block the weekend before the family gathering to pre-cook (all) your favorite dishes.  Go to every party invite, even if you only stay for an hour.  And then plan to take the first week of January to recover.  Embrace the season completely.
  2. Get organized for gifts ... set up a wrapping station, make your gift list and block one weekend to shop on line and in store.  If you are like us, we purchase gifts throughout the year.  Pull out your "gift stash" before you make your shopping list.  Who knows, there may even be a re-gift option that is absolutely perfect for Aunt Betsy.
  3. Get organized for cards ... hopefully you purchased a few boxes of cards on sale last January.  We have a list of people and addresses in Excel that we update each year, with columns for "written, addressed, mailed."  On a Friday night (one without a party invite), put a log on the fire and Christmas music on your phone and write several cards.  Then keep a box and the list with you for when you are waiting in the dentist's office or on a plane or when you are on a stationery bike for your workout.

Get out of town.


The final tip?  Escape the stress completely.  Book a cruise or a spa-vacation.  Or hole-up in your favorite mountain cabin.  Skip the cards, other than a mass Facebook post when you return from your great trip.  Gift cards for the kids is the only shopping allowed.  Eat fresh seafood by the ocean.  Go for a hike in the snow.  You might come back feeling as jolly as Santa.



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Eight ways to fit in fitness and rock the holidays


Years ago when making the holiday-rounds to family, in-laws, cousins, and so on I got teased about a dog bite.  Seriously.  No compassion.

I had been walking/running that morning and a dog came out and bit me.  Despite the teasing, I said (and still believe) "You should get to do what you love on your birthday, Thanksgiving, and Christmas." 

It was more than just doing what I loved.  I feel more energized when I move on those days of sitting, traveling, and eating.  Often I like to walk both in the morning and between the feasts.  Beyond the energy, getting out to walk also helps relieve any stress from family in close quarters.  Even in a healthy family, after several hours interacting, I need a break.

Here are Eight Ways to increase your fitness while enjoying the festivities:

  1. At another family member's house? Volunteer to take the dogs for a walk.  (Especially if there are other dogs in the neighborhood.)
  2. Take balls and Frisbees to get games going with the kids outside.
  3. Walk first thing in the morning, before the feasting-rounds.  It will be cold, but you know it will be worth it, should situations not allow you to walk later.
  4. Embrace the full parking lots when shopping for gifts.  Get in as many steps as possible.
  5. Before you load yourself with packages, walk 2 laps inside the mall.  See who has the best sales and plan your shopping strategy while you walk.  (Or combine #1 and #5 like the picture below...walk the dog at the mall???)
  6. Watching a favorite holiday movie?  Strength train and stretch during commercials and anytime you can quote the lines.
  7. Be inefficient.  When you are getting decorations from the attic, don't try to carry several boxes at once.  Make several trips and you'll get in extra steps plus be less likely to break the ornaments your kids made last year.
  8. Turn on the holiday music and dance around the house.  Depending on your nosy neighbors, you may want to close the blinds.

Enjoy the holidays.  Stay active.


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How to manage holiday party food

women's renewal retreat 11-11-17 023.JPG

The holidays are a wonderful time creating memories.  I remember traveling as a child from house to house for multiple family Thanksgiving and Christmas meals (and at least three sets of presents to unwrap!) all on the same day. 

The holidays are also a time of creating stress.  Since as a kid I just ate and opened gifts, I didn't understand the enormous shopping, wrapping, cooking, cleaning, and "family dynamics" that went into the celebrations.  By age 9, though, I did begin to understand one aspect of holiday stress:  the diet.

Dieting in November to January 1st takes on many forms:

  • Throw out all concerns about health and nutrition with "I'll start again on January 2nd."
  • Try to stick-to-a-diet and fret over every party's array of high-saturated-fat/high-sugar foods piled to the ceiling, instead of enjoying the party.  (I remember at one party, during my diet-mentality-days, going to a side room to self-talk and decide if I had the willpower to eat healthy and worried what might happen if I ate one decadent food.  No fun at that party for me.  Just stress.)
  • Tell Aunt Susie you are truly full and don't need 3rds.  And, no, that does not mean she is not a fantastic cook.
  • Take home leftovers to freeze...but since you deprived yourself at the party, you binge on the goodies on the drive home.

Fortunately, for me, I have not experienced that kind of holiday food-stress in years.  After learning Mindful-Intuitive Eating and listening to my body's cues until there is no emotional difference between chocolate and celery.  I can choose whichever foods at a party I am most in the mood for at that time.

As you come into the next few weeks of parties and celebrations, I encourage you to listen in to your body.  Nothing is forbidden.  But nothing is to be eaten mindlessly.  Everything is permissible.  And everything you choose to eat is worth savoring without distraction or guilt.  

Notice how the first bite of food tastes.  Then notice how the second, third, and fourth bites taste.  Once the pleasure diminishes, move on.  You can always have the food again at another party...or as a re-heated leftover that actually made it home. 


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How to finish your year strong (a.k.a. why I love November)


I was always one of those kids who loved the start of a new semester at school...the blank notebooks, the new pens and pencils, and, of course, the new clothes.  These all promised a fresh beginning: last term is over and this semester will be better.

In adult life, that experience is (kind of) January.  

As an adult I don't get a clean slate every few months.  Even January is not purely a fresh start, since the emails and projects left incomplete on December 31st are still to be finished.  In adult life, though, I get to experience the joy of November.  What's that?

It is taking a deep breath, digging into reserves, and finishing strong. 

I ran cross-country in college.  (Don't be too impressed.  It was a small school that needed 5 people to qualify as a team.  We had 4 runners.  The coach said, "Sheri, I know you like to run, though I know you aren't fast.  The other runners can make up your time, I just need you to finish every race."  I did.  Once I even finished last...but I finished.)

Anyway, in training I learned how to finish strong.  

I don't want give up on the race of this year, saying "Oh, I'll just do better next year."  I love November because there are still two full months to make a huge impact on my life and goals.  Plus, I can more easily envision two months than I can a whole year.

What about you?  What can you do to finish this year strong?  Perhaps...

  • Revisit the dreams you had for this year.  Which one still burns bright in your desire? 
  • What time can you carve out to focus on that goal in the next 8 weeks?
  • Is there a project you began at the beginning of the year that you need to decide "keep or toss?"  If your answer is "keep," then re-prioritize and make some progress.
  • How are your health goals?  In 8 weeks you can significantly increase your fitness level.  Why wait until next year? 
  • How will you keep stress levels low during the upcoming holidays?

As I learned from my pastor years ago, how I finish one season is how I start the next.

To start next year strong, let's finish strong. 


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Two unique recipes for Fall

Thank you to a ViREO Life reader who prompted this video.  When I posted the Lemon-Rosemary Chicken recipe one response was "What can you do healthy with ground beef?"

In answer to that question, lean beef - especially from grass-fed cattle - eaten a couple of times each week is considered healthy.  (Of course if you have high cholesterol check with your physician about the frequency appropriate for you.)

The Mint Meatball recipe in the video works best with lean ground beef.  The Powerful Plate Chili recipe can be enjoyed with beef, or if made the same week as the meatballs, you can use ground turkey breast to keep the saturated fat intake for the week acceptable.  

Try these recipes and let me know what you think!


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Move from Perfection to Progress

Don't let perfectionism hold you back from your life and your dreams any longer.

In this video Tammie Sutherland encourages you to put one foot in front of the other and live "perfect enough."


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The meaning and importance of mindful eating

Why is intentional/mindful eating important?  For that matter, what does it even mean to "eat mindfully?"

In this video, Tammie Sutherland and I talk about this important topic as we prepare for the 2017 Women's Renewal Retreat.

Watch the video to learn about Mindful Eating.  Then, ladies, come experience it in-depth at the Renewal Retreat.  Gentlemen, make sure the women in your life get a chance to watch this video to learn about Mindful Eating. (You can register here.)




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10 Tips for Fitness Travel


When you travel for business or fun you want to keep your exercise going.  Yes, so you don't lose the fitness you've gained in your everyday workouts, but also to stay alert for the meetings and happenings around you.

1.  Find out about the hotel's fitness center.  In a recent trip to Indianapolis, the Sheraton's fitness center was amazing.  The picture below is half of their fitness room.  If the exercise room is not so nice then ...


2.  Bring your stretching mat and resistance bands.  Here's a nice option for a foldable mat for your suitcase.

3.  Before the trip use online searches for walking routes around your hotel or...

4.  Ask the hotel staff and locals for walking routes they recommend.  That's how I found out about places around the canal in Indianapolis.


5.  Check the city's calendar of events.  Oops, I didn't do this before visiting Indy.  There were a couple of races and an Out of the Darkness Awareness walk I could have joined in, if I'd known.

6.  Walk a restaurant tour downtown.  Seriously.  Walk 10-15 minutes to find a restaurant for an appetizer.  Enjoy.  Then walk 10-15 minutes to find another restaurant for an entree.  Savor.  Then walk 10-15 minutes to a cafe for dessert and coffee.  Circle back to your hotel.  A very tasty three-four miles.

7.  Learn what unusual sport can be done in the city.  In Indy?  If I go back, I'll plan to paddleboard on the canal.

8.  Of course zoos and museums are great for physical activity, though power-walking through a museum might cause some disturbance.

9.  For a more intense leg workout, climb monuments.  In Indy I walked the Soldiers and Sailors Monument twice (two different days, of course).  It is almost as tall as the Statue of Liberty.


10.  Just stretch.  If your trip is short, perhaps two to three days, simply enjoy some stretch breaks to keep up your energy and come home rested and ready to push a little in your home routine.

Happy travels!


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How to eat for energy when traveling

One of the dilemmas of travel is how to eat.  Rely on fast-food?  It is quick, but leaves you sluggish and not able to learn from a conference or play on vacation.  Rely on sit-down restaurants?  Better food selection, but who wants to go from sitting in a cold meeting room to sitting in a chilly restaurant for every meal?  (Not me.)

When I go on vacation I usually rent a place with a kitchen.  Simply having a full-size refrigerator and stovetop makes healthy cooking easy.  It is vacation ... no complicated recipes for me.

However, when I go to business conferences, eating healthy is more challenging.  What can I do with a refrigerator and coffee maker?  A lot, actually.  

I made this video at a recent conference Doug and I went to in Indianapolis.  It is funny I did not think about making a video until 2 days into the conference.  (Oops, no mic or tripod.  The camera was balanced on a stack of books.)  So, while the sound has a little echo, you get to see exactly what we bring to eat - including a bag of organic chips.  (No apologies to the diet purists, thank you.)

Let me know what you do to eat healthy when traveling.


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How to maximize your walk time


Some time ago a ViREO Life community member asked me about how I use my walking time. She also shared her ideas, which I'll include below, too.

  • Focused Problem-Solving: Take a question/issue in my mind plus an index card (old school) or smartphone (new school) and allow the question to roll over gently in my head.  No pressure to solve it, just let it be there.  Usually by the end of the walk I'll have a few ideas written on the card or recorded into the smartphone.
  • Mindful/Awareness Break - External: To occupy my mind with something completely opposite solving issues, I'll try to notice as much in nature as I can.  I always had trouble with this until Doug taught me how.  I would usually be pre-occupied with thinking through things, that I would not see squirrels or birds (unless it was unusual, like a heron in the middle of a field).  As we walk he points out animals and plants and I am now noticing nature on my own.
  • Mindful/Awareness Break - Internal: This one came more naturally to me.  While walking I'll pay attention to releasing any tension in my shoulders or back or abdomen.  Sometimes I'll breathe deeply to a count of 4-6 to relax.
  • Work Meeting: A favorite way to get brainstorming done with co-workers is to walk and talk. This is now such a universal productivity trick it is not a trick anymore.  On this morning's walk I went into a city area and heard at least 3 sets of co-workers creatively discussing work while walking (actually one set jogged past me talking work).
  • Prayer and Confession Time: Most mornings I do not get all of the praying or scripture confessions I want to do during my "devotion" time...so I enjoy talking with God or quoting His Word while I walk.
  • Daydream: This is something I've done since childhood while walking.  As a kid I would walk and talk with my imaginary friends about my future.  (Give me some slack.  I grew up on a farm.  It was either talk to imaginary friends or cows.)  Now when I walk I still daydream out loud, but my imaginary friends don't have names now.

Thank you, Vanessa McPeak, for asking for this.  And thank you for allowing me to share what you do, as well.

"I love this time. It is a time for me. Some times I go alone, sometimes I get my hubby to join me. It doesn't matter as I love both scenarios. I commune with nature during this time. I silence myself and pray and listen for God's message to me. I take this time to thank God for my many blessings and to practice gratitude. I talk to the deer who are grazing in the yards. I make way for the numerous geese crossing the road in front of me. I feel the breeze, smell the smells, hear the sounds of nature. Some times I work thru issues, some times I place a call to my mom and we catch up. 

However I spend my walk I always end up happier than before I went. It is good for me in countless ways!" - Vanessa McPeak

Now it is your turn - How do you maximize the time and pleasure of your walks?


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Take Three: Healthy School Lunches and Snacks


I don't mean take three lunches.  (Though, if you can take a mid-morning snack, a lunch, and a mid-afternoon snack that's great.  However, not all schools allow a place and time for snacks.)

Here's what I do mean: a reader asked for ideas for healthy lunch options for her son going back to school.  My response:  Powerful Plate, of course.  A whole-sprouted-grain bread sandwich with chicken or turkey (no nitrates or junk), lots of cut veggies with hummus or peanut butter, and fruit.  But a year of just that would get boring and the ice cream bin at school would become a very tempting substitute.

So, I reached out to some friends and got three great takes (hence the "Take Three") on Healthy School Lunches and Snacks.  One of the coolest things I noticed -- there is a lot of overlap PLUS a lot of individualization, depending on likes/dislikes and personal schedules. Just the way it is supposed to be. 

Enjoy (and personalize) their ideas --

"I do try to have fresh fruit in my kids' lunches, and buy lots of healthy protein bars for snacks- I'll mix a big salad and put it in separate containers for the week and add dressing the morning of and mix. I buy whole grain bread and make sandwiches and I do cheese and crackers a lot, string cheese, and peanut butter or ranch dressing and carrots. (My girl likes pb and my boy likes ranch) I also do yogurt a lot for snacks and lunches. And I actually feed my kids a full meal after school, because they both have sports until later in the evening. So after sports they will snack."  Thanks for sharing...Christine Carter at TheMomCafe.com

"From Pinterest I make batches of healthy breakfast cookies. There's all kinds of recipes. And then I send one or two with each of my kids to eat when they get hungry. Could be snack time for my young ones or after school on the bus for the older ones. They decide. It's homemade, healthy, and tasty. They loved it!" Thanks for sharing...Lois Pearson at SunnysideWoman.com

"I provide my kids with healthy snacks to have during school time, and they only bring water to drink. I make their lunches so I know they're eating healthy. They have lunchmeat that qualifies for the heart check program, whole wheat bread, baked chips, yogurt or fruit." Thanks for sharing...Brenda Melendez at brendalovessharing.com

The other thing I noticed...all of these ideas work for adults, too.  Prep ahead the salad, make the breakfast cookies, and toss in some yogurt and fruit.

Share what you do for healthy lunches.

What to plant in your fall garden


It's spring

again, kind of

Thanks to one of the ViREO Life readers for asking what to plant in a fall garden.  The answer is "Like spring, almost."

The cool weather (spring/fall) crops will germinate faster in the fall, due to the warmer soil.  And some spring pests (cabbage worms, especially) I have found less of an issue in the fall.  The real difference for me is have available floating row covers for when killing frosts begin, to extend the harvest into November and December.

What I plant and why:

  • Beets - the green leaves to blanch and freeze; the beet root to store in the fridge through the winter
  • Lettuce - but much less, since we eat fewer salads in the fall
  • Greens - kale, swiss chard, spinach, as many as the beds will hold, to be able to freeze for the winter (or if a mild winter, cover and eat out of the garden in December).
  • Radishes - I can get two batches of radishes in because they grow quickly.  I won't eat as many radishes as we grow, but I blanch the radish greens with my other greens for freezing.  We get a lot of food grown in a small space because of the 30 days maturity time.  (This means if you live near me and like radishes, you may end up "gifted" with a few.)

Broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts - I do not plant these in the fall, simply due to space.  In the spring I plant them in the same bed where sweet potatoes are started.  By fall the bed is covered to overflowing with sweet potato vines and there is no room.  If you have the space, plant them again as you would in the spring.

Plants I have tried unsuccessfully to "over-winter" are leeks and onions and garlic.  If you want to try planting them in the fall, do so.  If you are successful, let me know what you did so I can try again.

When to start your fall garden?  Late August and early September seem to work for us to sow seeds.  By the time seeds have germinated the weather is cooler.  If I was planting broccoli and cabbage plants, I would not plant them in August, due to the heat.  Other gardeners plant in August, in a shadier spot.

One last note about fall gardens:  if you are planning to plant cover crops (oats, vetch, winter rye, etc.) where your summer crops were, let me know and I'll blog separately about cover crops.  That has been a study-then-learn-by-oops experience for us that I'm happy to share.

Happy and healthy gardening!

A Challenge to the Bakers

Photo by Cala on Unsplash

Photo by Cala on Unsplash

I had read rumors in several books and websites that pastries in France were not as sweet as in America.  I had even read that the spices were subtle.  Neighbors who go to France regularly confirmed these rumors.  But, still, I wasn't sure.  

Then we went on vacation to a little town in Florida that has a La Macaron French Pastries cafe. I was hungry.  I ordered a pain au raisin.  It looked vaguely like the cinnamon-rolls we popped out of a can and baked on Sunday mornings growing up.  But that is where any similarity ended.

After I took a bite (yes, with the fork and knife served with the pastry on a china plate), I encouraged Doug to try a bite.  "So?  What do you think is different?"  His reply was exactly my first thought, too.  "It's not sweet."

And the subtle spice?  Yep.  No overpowering cinnamon or nutmeg.  However, the pastry wasn't bland either; I just could not detect exactly which spices were used.  The pastry was the opposite of bland - it was intriguing.  Since there was no taste of sugar I could try to taste everything else.

Even more strange was several minutes later I could still taste the pastry, but not in an "my mouth is drawn from too much sugar" way.  Just a delicate flavor when I paid attention to it.

My lessons:  

  1. Eating with a knife and fork really does enlarge the experience of eating.  
  2. Eating food with less sugar allows the flavors to be tasted.

The challenge: If you bake, try cutting the sugar in your recipes drastically, experiment with level of spices needed, and then get out your knife and fork to savor the difference.  (I'm going to try it with a family blueberry teacake recipe.  Here's to experiments in the kitchen.)


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5 Books and 5 Articles to Re-Charge Your Life

Stop giving "lip service" to the idea that "I take better care of others when I take care of myself."  Actually do something to recharge yourself.  I was talking with a friend just this week who felt guilty for investing time for herself in the most simple of things (a long shower).  But she knows renewing herself will help her be a better wife and mom, along with performing better with work.  

Look outside at a tree or flowers or at a potted plant nearby.  In nature what is not renewing and growing is dying.  We are the same way.

Take action.  It is time for renewal.

When I need rest, sitting down with a cup of tea to savor a book is high on my list.  When the book is about renewal, even better.

The following 5 books and 5 articles can start you on your path to refreshing your spirit, mind, and body.

Finding Rest, Renewal and Delight in our Busy Lives by Wayne Muller

A great read to understand the rest we are to get daily and weekly, as part of our rhythm of life.

Clinician's Guide to Self-Renewal by Robert Wicks and Elizabeth Maynard

An in-depth detailed guide on renewal.  Not just for clinician's, but for anyone in a "helping" role - whether moms or pastors.

What to Say When You Talk to Your Self by Shad Helmstetter

I love how the title separates "Your" and "Self" - what you say to the Self you call "You" impacts your daily renewal.  A must read.  This one stays in our library.

The Woman's Comfort Book by Jennifer Louden

Not sure where to start with ideas for self-nurturing?  Tired of turning to food for comfort?  Start with this guide.

The Art of Extreme Self-Care by Cheryl Richardson

A month-by-month action plan to put balance back into your life.

The following links are some videos and articles to help you learn and practice renewal.  The last article, by Regent, is a must read for anyone who helps people as part of their work. 










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5 Tips (and Products) to Create Your Spa Weekend

You feel like you need to get away from it all.  You want to spend a week at a spa, refreshing your body and mind.  But arranging life to do that?  Maybe later, you say. 

Don't wait until life hands you a week to take care of yourself.  Create a weekend - or at least a day - for an in-town spa retreat.


A spa setting is typically clean and quiet, with a lot of nature.  So plan to get the house clean before the weekend, perhaps even hiring a residential cleaning company (or your teenagers, if they have a clean-streak).  This is a great time to purchase new bath towels, if needed.  Or break out the plush bath towels you saved for guests.

Quiet?  What a great excuse to have the younger kids visit the grandparents overnight.  The teens may stay with friends, or perhaps they want to join you in a spa-weekend.

Nature? Inside the house, add fresh flower arrangements in each room.  Outside the house, enjoy a nearby park for journaling or walking.  Another way to add nature is candles, especially beeswax candles.  The purest I have found is www.nashvillewaxco.com.  The way the wax is processed makes a difference in what you breathe.

If these ideas don't work...there's always a nice hotel or bed-and-breakfast option.


One of the joys of a spa is letting your mental-to-do list take a break.  That is another reason to have the house cleaned ahead of time.  Plan on Thursday and Friday evenings to have the laundry, grocery shopping, and any other weekend chores already complete.  

If cooking is a relaxing pleasure, you can leave that for your weekend spa.  If cooking is a chore, then arrange catering.  (If you live in the Nashville area, check out Linda's Perfect Platters - she cooks from scratch whatever you'd like.  You can find her company on Facebook.)

Turn on your "out-of-office" messages and leave your calendar behind.  Don't check your social media.  Unplug.  Scary?  Maybe.  But I promise you will be grateful by Sunday night.


Speaking of cooking, spa food is delicious and good-for-you.  Focus your menus around fresh vegetables with lean poultry and fish.  Add lots of cucumber-lemon water.  Perhaps visit a farmers market mid-week to pick up your in-season vegetables.  

If you do not want to cook during the weekend, pre-cook your meats and enjoy as leftovers on salads.


An occasional class is nice at a spa, so include a video or a book on a self-care topic.  If you are wanting to learn about exercise, read LePersonal Coach by Valerie Orsoni.  If eating and living healthy are your desire, then The Self Compassion Diet by Jean Fain or any book of the French Women Don't Get Fat series.  (Of course, this would be a great weekend to start Go Forward: 28 Days to Eat, Move, and Enjoy Life God's Way.)

Don't forget that your best expert on you is, well, you.  So journal each day; see what insights are revealed.


Here we get to the essence of a spa.  A spa should include novelty and familiarity.  

  • Hike or walk in a new park.  
  • Try a Pilates class at that boutique studio you've wanted to visit.  
  • Take your journal and stretch mat for a few hours at a park.  
  • Of course, a massage from your favorite massage therapist is "practically" mandatory for a spa weekend.

Enjoy next weekend at your personal in-town spa.


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Lemon and Rosemary Chicken - Yum!

The in-laws were in for a long weekend, which meant a lot of cooking.  I wanted to spend less time in the kitchen than usual...so this recipe was great because it roasts two chickens to use many different ways.

The rosemary scent also helps with memory.  I just read this from the Herb Society of Nashville:

"A recent study suggests that one very effective strategy for remembering to remember to do something is to inhale the scent of rosemary. A study involved a group of volunteers over 65 years of age who were divided into two groups. The groups were put into 2 separate rooms and then given tests of their memory. In one room, four (4) drops of rosemary essential oil were diffused, and in the other, no scent was added.

To quote the article, 'Scores on prospective memory tests among the participants in the rosemary-scented room were 15% higher than scores among those in the unscented room, according to a paper presented at the British Psychological Society’s Annual Conference in April 2016. The study’s author attributes the memory boost in participants who had inhaled the aroma of rosemary to the presence in their blood of traces of eucalyptol, a compound found in the herb that increases brain levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter linked to memory. The compound appears to have an effect on the brain similar to that of drugs used to treat dementia. Further research may lead to new drugs to treat cognitive decline.'"

So, while the chicken is cooking, enjoy the smell of rosemary.  (Yes, the delicious smell of chicken roasting is stronger than the rosemary on it.  But you can keep a few sprigs on the table to smell, right?)



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How to eat healthy from your back yard

What to plant in the spring and fall to enjoy fresh healthy food for most of the year? Here is what we planted in the spring. And a quick tip: radish seeds fell late spring when we left them to flower (the mess you see in the video) and planted themselves for our surprise summer harvest, too!

You don't have to have a large garden for spring and summer healthy eating.  A single bed for greens and lettuce, with some peas growing up a trellis.  The brussel sprouts we found better for harvest over time, for the same space, than cabbage or broccoli.  Eat healthy from your back yard this year.


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How to come home from vacation feeling great

We've all been there.  You're set for a great vacation - it is planned, booked, and anticipated. Then the lines, the hot sun, and the funnel cakes (at best) leave you drained and dragging.  When you get home you need a, well, another vacation.

You can enjoy your vacation and come home refreshed with a few simple tips.


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How to fit in fitness...easy everyday ideas

Is your schedule sometimes (often) too busy to get in a "regular" workout?  Would you rather go play than go to a gym?  Watch this quick video for some ideas for everyday activities to use as your exercise.


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