Warning: Reading this Blog Post Could Cause You to Nap!

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We live in a world of extremes. Extreme diets, extreme exercise, extreme work schedules…which leads to extreme anger and confusion and exhaustion. And frankly, social media is a huge culprit in perpetuating this. I refuse to be one of those bloggers, people, or friends.  I’m all about being well in mind, body, and spirit. So you won’t see the terms “eat clean,”  “go big or go home,” or, my personal favorite, “suck it up so you don’t have to suck it in.” Seriously???

 

In the quest for whole-body health, we need balance. Movement is vital because, anatomy wise, we were made to move! Food is a necessity but should be about so much more than just “fueling your body.” It’s time to slow down, enjoy family or friends, and savor life with your five senses. Work is important so we spend our lives helping others and being productive (and yes, staying at home counts as work)! 🙂 But the vital link so overlooked today is rest.

 

I’m not talking about SLEEP. You’ll see plenty of articles on this necessity~although many are geared toward getting enough sleep to optimize your physical training and results…whatever that means. I’m talking about deep, peaceful relaxation. True soul rest. It’s rare and often confused with laziness.

 

Stick with me while I unravel something for you a bit. I’m sinking into some language arts and foreign language nerd talk…taken from my studies of the Bible. And even if you don’t believe a bit of that is true, hang with me because you will learn something important for living your best life.

 

The Bible is written in several languages such as Hebrew, Greek, and Aramaic. These languages are much richer than English as they often have multiple words for what we express in only one. The word rest is one of those. In the first half of the Bible, (the Old Testament before Jesus was born), there is more than one word for rest. The one I want to highlight today was known as nuach.

 

This word means rest, relaxation, stopping work. But it also has a meaning I absolutely love: settle down or settle in. I think of my dog Tucker, pictured above, turning around multiple times to pick just the right spot to relax. He finally lies down, sighing deeply with obvious contentment. Settling down.  Or imagine getting ready for movie night. You get your favorite blanket, snack, family or friends or pet. You get comfortable. You dim the lights. You settle in.

 

We have got to stop and let the dust settle. Regularly. I would argue DAILY, even if it’s just for minutes at a time. If we don’t, we become grumpy, angry, frustrated, and isolate ourselves. Our productivity wanes and we lose our sense of purpose and joy.

So how do we rest? Find something you love to do for the sheer pleasure of it. Throw the list of goals out the window and just think of what makes you feel joy. I find this in looking back at Cheri as a kid. I loved to go outside, to read, to sing and listen to music, to daydream, color, and write in my journal. So daily I try to do one of those things for at least a few minutes. And one day per week, I take the time to do something for several hours that just makes me feel alive.

 

What makes you happy?  Shopping? Hiking? Having coffee with a friend? Drawing or painting?  Promise me you will do it. This week. Today. And drop me a line and tell me how it makes you feel.

 

As for me, I want to color with my favorite pencils and go take a short nap. What will you do?

 

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Two Things I’ve Learned That Will Help You At Your Job

So, it's funny I would write this after being employed exactly one week…following twenty-two years as a Stay-At-Homeschool-Mom! But in that short of time, working in retail, I've already seen two things that will almost universally help each of us perform well and enjoy our job more.

Now I realize I don't know your workplace dynamics, etc. And there are things that are out of our control. But I've observed my coworkers and have talked with my managers and customers and realize that there are a couple of things we can control. And they really help. And honestly, it boils down to one thing: attitude.

You really do have something to contribute. And people really do need you there. So believe that and think about these two things.

People Bring Their Unique Stories and Personalities to their Job

Seriously, there is no one at your company, school, store, or workplace like you. That's lived your life, had your experiences and has your personality. I have coworkers who are bubbly and extroverted, quiet, male, female, older, and younger, and all are good at what they do in their own way. So for me, I've been a stay-at-home mom, a homeschooler, a pastor's wife, student, and middle-aged person. I've lived in three different states. I'm introverted but love people. And, I'm intuitive and can often read people well. So I bring all that to the table and can share with my customers from my perspective that no one else has. You have that too with everyone you meet. So do you and do it well. You're special.

 

People Crave Connection

Others we work with, whether in the public, our supervisors or coworkers, want connection. We are all made for relationships. And we want to be heard. Since you're a one-of-a-kind person, you have the ability to connect with people like no one else on the planet. Seriously. The best thing we can do is know our story and listen to the story of others. Then we can connect in ways that help us meet needs. Can we always make others happy or satisfied? No, but we can try our best to connect. That makes even the difficult situations more bearable, in my opinion. So listen and try to understand a perspective that isn't your own. It will make a big difference to you and to other people.

Honestly, I didn't learn this in a week on the job. I've learned it in all of life. As a mom, a wife, a friend, student, pastor's wife, and fellow human being. People matter. When that becomes my priority, to honor others (and I personally do this as a way of honoring God), then there is a satisfaction for me even at the end of those really hard days.

Tell me the best things you've learned about working and doing life with others. Leave me a comment, drop me an email, or visit my page on  Facebook.   I would love to hear your story and learn from you!

 

 

My 10-10-10 Fitness Plan for Super Busy People

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I shared a bit about my plan to stay healthy and active in a post about moving. Several people mentioned that they enjoyed reading about that concept. So I'm expanding on it a bit here so you can get some ideas about how to stay active on your busiest days.

I deeply believe there is something mental involved in taking care of our health and well-being. That mental issue is our concept of time. Most things we procrastinate on are things we label, "I don't have enough time for that."

That's why I think like in terms of ten minutes if I am procrastinating. Even at my busiest, a ten-minute window seems do-able without adding extra stress to my thinking. So that's  how I came up with a 10-10-10 plan for those times my life gets crazy. It adds up to 30 minutes of activity during my day without me even realizing it and is nicely balanced.

10-10-10 Fitness Routine

Get Strong

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For me, this is all about Pilates! (Yes, that's me mid-rollup)! I love it and will do a ten-minute routine Pilates arm routine, lower body routine, abdominal routine, total body on different days during my busy weeks. I do this the first thing in the morning so it's done and I can't procrastinate. Plus, there's something almost magical about ticking something off of my to-do list first thing (I'm a HUGE list maker). There are many strength style workouts you can do if Pilates isn't your thing (although I think everyone should do it, that's another post)! If you love lifting weights,  doing body weight work like planks, squats, and lunges,  or practicing yoga, do that. Whatever it is that taxes your muscles and helps you build some strength to get through those busy day is perfect.

 

2.   Get Moving 

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Get your blood pumping, your body moving, and your mind working.  You can walk your dog (my favorite), pop in a DVD or stream a Cardio or indoor walking workout (check out Leslie Sansone or Jessica Smith), run, do jumping jacks…heck do burpees or ballet if it's your thing. I promise you the best thing about this is how energetic and awake you feel. That's why I like to sneak this in during lunch or a break. It clears my mind and gives me a brighter outlook.

3. Get Loose

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Now, now…I mean stretching! 😁 Your body gets tight from moving, sitting, standing, lying…basically anything we do for prolonged periods of time. Our bodies are amazing and intricate and created for movement. So flexibility is crucial. This is super easy to sneak in during the evening. Almost everyone has ten minutes while watching TV. Sit down and stretch. You will love this ritual as it can relax you(especially if you do forward bends and twist your spine). Pure bliss.

There you have it. Easy and simple. And you can incorporate coworkers, spouses, kids, or friends into your routine. You will feel fantastic and will inspire others.

Tell me if you try my 10-10-10 Routine. And share your favorite ways to move and stay healthy, here or on my Facebook page also named Almond Butter Babe. I love hearing from you.

Confessions of a 50 Something YA Reader

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Okay, it's out there. I would rather read Harry Potter and The Hunger Games than Fifty Shades of Gray (I mean, yuck!) or Mary Higgins Clark. Somewhere along the way of homeschooling for the last 14 years, I continued my love affair with Children's Literature (does it get any better than Anne of  Green Gables or Charlotte's Web?) and then developed a crush on Young Adult Literature. I read the Harry Potter Series and The Hunger Games with my avid teenage readers and even ventured into Twilight land (interesting but not destined to be a classic by any means).

My two sons began reading other things I wasn't as interested in (like books on fly-fishing and gaming), but my daughter and I kept having similar tastes. We still do. Today I thought I would share a couple of series in this genre I've read and what I enjoyed about them. Who knows, maybe you'll discover a new world in books too.

The Dusk Gate Chronicles

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Breeana Putroff has created a magical world in her Dusk Gate Chronicles. You get modern-day life intersecting with medieval times in this fantasy.  Quinn Robbins is a high school girl who is smart, has a job, and two younger siblings, a mother and step-father who love her. And, she is now dating the most popular boy in high school. Yet she is intrigued by another boy, loner William Rose. After noticing that he seems to disappear once, she begins to follow him and crosses over a bridge…into another world. She can't get back for two weeks and nothing in this world is like her own. Yet, she is oddly drawn in.

There are seven books in this series and I devoured them this summer. I loved that all the characters involved, including several of William's siblings, have a richness to them and were complex, human, and believable. They were also all well-developed over the course of the seven books. I loved the intersection the two worlds and how the story progressed throughout the series. And the idea of being caught between two worlds and two sets of responsibilities, where someone will "lose", so to speak, is something so relatable to me. Definitely, give this series a look-I believe you'll love it.

The Iron Fey Series51H+FY0ch4L._AC_US218_

This series is by Julie Kagawa and is a bit older. It follows high school junior, Meghan Chase, as she finds out that she is destined to be part of the world of the fey, including many characters from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Meghan too is caught between two worlds, and two boys, and is drawn into intrigue and adventure. I like the world of the Fey because it's gritty and terrifying. But it's so very human too, as we can all be very self-centered and focused on "winning." I loved watching two of the Fey, in particular, come to the realization that their past lives and decisions don't have to continue to shape their futures. There is danger, war, violence, and romance in this series. If you liked the vibe of The Hunger Games,  this series may be a great match.

I love Young Adult Literature because the authors often paint characters who have flaws that are exposed in difficult situations.  I get to see growth, have set backs, do things they never thought possible. That's so much what life is like, isn't it? love being whisked away to worlds so different from my own. Fantasy encourages me to dream and think outside the box about the complexities of my own life. And it reminds me to take "the road less travelled" and embrace adventure. As a person who tends to be a homebody and crave security, I always need that reminder. 🙂

What types of books do you read? Do you like Young Adult literature like I do? Share some of your favorite books with me so I can find a new read!

 

Great Gluten-Free Finds…and my Go-To Sandwich Recipe

Gluten-free is the new thing, right? I hesitated to even write this blog post because it’s so trendy. But, I am truly allergic to wheat…and corn. (Don’t ask details…it’s not pretty). So finding anything resembling bread or pasta is tough for me. And expensive.

So imagine my joy finding a couple of tasty, healthy alternatives for pasta and bread lately! I decided, what the heck, it’s my blog, so I will share a couple of ideas you might use for a different twist on your regular dishes.

Zoodles. Where were these all of my life? Seriously…spiralized zucchini. And my go-to tool was about $10 on Amazon. It’s called a Vegetti and I included a link to the product. It’s super easy to use, cleaning is a breeze, and makes great noodles. I spin the zucchini in it, let it sit a few minutes with a teaspoon of oil added to it, and it’s ready to go for pasta dishes, pasta salads, etc. You get the vitamins and fiber in the zucchini, plus it’s lower in calories than heavy pasta noodles. Give it a try!

Vegetti Spiralizer

Sweet Potato Rounds

Have you heard about these? I Slice a sweet potato into circular rounds, approximately 1/2″ thick. Then I toast for two rounds in the toaster oven. All done! I love topping mine with avocado for a savory treat, or almond butter (of course) and cinnamon for something sweet. Sweet potatoes are chock full of vitamins and fiber too so it is a fun break from your regular toast routine.

Red Lentil Pasta


This. Is. Amazing! The only ingredient is red lentil flour. Since it’s made from a bean it’s much higher in protein than regular kinds of pasta. My favorite dish with this is a chicken and pasta soup. Plus, it’s less expensive than brown rice pasta. Win-win!

Bread

But, sometimes you need a sandwich. That is where this amazing bread makes me happy. It’s a Walmart brand bread made with ancient grains and is the best, softest, tastiest gluten-free bread I have tried. Expensive, but worth it for a treat. My favorite sandwich ever follows and I always use this yummy loaf.

Grilled Hummus and Cheese.

  1. 2 slices whole grain bread
  2. Olive Oil
  3. Really good cheese(I love sharp cheddar)
  4. Hummus (my favorite is Sabra Supremely Spicy)
  5. Caramelized onions(you can buy these as frozen cubes now or make them ahead in the slow cooker)

I put hummus on both insides of the bread and add my cheese and onions in. I warm a small skillet with some olive oil and cook away! I have added thinly sliced apples too. So delicious.

Do you have food allergies? What types of alternatives have you found to your favorite dishes to make them work for you? Let me know.

Cardio For Haters Like Me


Any other Pitch Perfect and Rebel Wilson fans out there? Anyone else out there who wishes Anna Kendrick had the lead and played Bella in Twilight?

Oh, wait…Cardio. I avoid it and avoid talking about it! I love getting up and walking my dog with my husband most mornings but other than that, I am with Rebel Wilson on this one.

I know it’s good for my heart, cholesterol, blood pressure and stress-all inherited family traits, by the way. So a couple of times a week I try to skip my walk and add in some extra oomph. I thought I would share my three favorite free Cardio channels on YouTube with you so you can find something that might work for you as well.

Cocolime Fitness 


A recent find, this is fantastic for beginners or those with conditions that make it hard to exercise. Suzanne is a certified trainer who suffers with fibromyalgia and Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism so she understands fitness for those of us who aren’t athletic or have medical conditions but who still need to move. She is encouraging and has a wide range of videos with great music. Her site is about way more than cardio, too. Here is a link: Cocolime Fitness YouTube Channel

Pahla B Fitness 

Pahla has a fantastic channel! She is a marathoner and certified trainer and is very responsive to her “Killer Bs,” as she calls her followers. She offers plenty of encouragement and a friend-next-door feel through her wide variety of workouts. I love HIIT (high intensity interval training) because you get a ton of benefits in half the time, haha. I have flat feet and slight scoliosis and hate high impact and burpees! Pahla shines in the area of low impact HIIT and I use those workouts the most. Pahla has a fun group on Facebook, too. Check out her channel here: Pahla B Fitness YouTube Channel

Jessica Smith TV

I have been using Jessica’s workouts for years! She is my favorite in the area of ballet and barre and walking workouts, but you will find everything here! A certified trainer and wellness coach, Jessica offers fantastic cueing, an encouraging vibe, and an adorable French Bulldog named Peanut who makes appearances in her videos. Jessica also has a wide range of professionally produced DVDs and downloads. My favorite workouts with her are Cardio Ball Blast, Cardio Ballet, 9 Minute Low Impact HIIT, and Terrifying Tabata(featuring Peanut in various Halloween costumes, haha).  She offers challenges, Q&As, and much more. Check it out! Jessica Smith TV YouTube Channel 

Now, if you like high impact, running, jumping…go for it! Whatever makes you happy. And on Jessica Smith TV and Pahal B Fitness, you will find high impact and burpees along with the low impact choices~something for everyone.
What do you like to do for cardio? Walk? Run? Exercise on equipment at the gym? Tell me or share your favorite channels or DVDs.

Are you a River or a Pond? Why I Decided to Blog

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I will never forget the day I heard the parable, as I call it, of the river and the pond. It changed my approach to life. Have you heard it?

A pond is stagnant. No inlet or outlet. It sits, still and pretty. And can become a pit of pond scum and bacteria, rendering it unsafe to consume or be in.

A river flows. It has a beginning and an end…a destination. It moves constantly over rocks and branches and its bed, weaving its way to an endpoint to join a larger body of water. That keeps it churning, fresh, and healthier than a pond.

I thought about my life as the parable asked me to do. What was I doing with all I was learning as a stay-at-homeschooling-mama? I taught Bible studies or Sunday School occasionally. I even preached once a year or so (because my husband has an engaging smile and demeanor and I can’t say no to him, haha). But I love learning so I  read a lot and wrote, and studied and kept most of that to myself. I spent years seeking out information on living a full, abundant life as a woman of God in the 2000s.

So along came this blog. I’ve graduated two children and they’re off in college and the work world. I think they’re great and they still want to be around me and ask my advice from time to time. 😉 And I have one at home for two more years who is light years ahead of me in most of his work. But hey, he’s great at tech support and making me laugh and teaching me about higher math and making me think. So I decided I had time to share my life with the “blog world.”

I have no idea if anything I share helps. You’ll find lots of different types of information along the way in my eclectic blogging. But it’s all geared to share and learn and not become stagnant. And the focus is to be women who, at the end of our lives, look back and say, “That was a life well-lived.”

So that’s why I have a hobby blog. No affiliate links as I’m not making any money off of things I share. If that ever changes, you’ll be the first to know. I do add links to other blogs and websites I think you might enjoy and who I give credit to for things but that’s about it. The rest of the information is my “thinking out loud” and hoping you can learn from my life. And as you comment and share with me,  I can learn from yours.

And you take anything you learn from me, as I will, and share it. Let’s give one another rivers of encouragement throughout the ebb and flow of our lives. And channel hope to others.

Thanks for reading, fellow river woman. Go live life well.

My Top Tip for Summer Body Confidence

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Summer time! Shorts, t-shirts, bathing suits…and lots of photoshopped images of body perfection. Well, forget that. I’m all about whole-body health, and that starts in the mind!

Or does it? There is tons of information out there these days about “positive self-talk,” “loving yourself,”  and “embracing your flaws.” But this isn’t easy to do and takes lots of time. In the meantime, life goes by and we realize we’ve been too uncomfortable to put on the bathing suit, put on the shorts, and enjoy life outdoors.

So today, I’m giving you my very best tip. It is easy, quick, and doesn’t take any type of thinking or mind-blowing change. It’s self-tanner!

Seriously, this was a game-changer. I have tried tons of them and will tell you, from a 52-year-old’s persepective, that it really does improve the appearance of any cellulite. spider veins, bumps or lumps. And that in itself helps you to be more confident.

Okay, ladies here is my current favorite. There are many that last a long time and are much more expensive. But this is my budget-friendly tanning confidence in a nutshell.

Jergens Natural Glow Wet Skin Moisturizerdownload

I seriously love this stuff! I didn’t believe that it would work. You take a bath or shower, put some on and rub it in, pat yourself dry with a towel and get dressed. That’s it. It doesn’t have tons of that nasty self-tanner smell and is gradual and natural. I have used it daily or every other day all summer long. My husband even asked if I’d been out in the sun tanning myself (as a melanoma survivor my answer was a resounding no, as he hoped).

Clients|AlmayAlmay Healthy Glow Makeup plus Self Tanner with SPF 20

This stuff is really good. It looks natural and gives me more of a CC cream type coverage. Not too thick, not too little. Goldilocks perfection here. 😉 It is thick and can be a bit difficult to deal with since it ALSO contains sunscreen. I love multitasking products. I use an inexpensive foundation brush and also prepare my skin with a few drops of Rosehip oil (which is a favorite moisturizer of mine~a tip I learned from my friend Lisa Pentony of Pilates by Lisa. I put it on daily and my skin looks like it has a nice, subtle tan.

downloadSt Tropez Gradual Self Tanner with Bronze Tint

This stuff is fantastic. It works overnight, dries quickly, and contains self-tint that helps you not have streaks. It also lasts several days, meaning you don’t have to reapply as often as the Jergens. That said, it’s pricey at around $30 a bottle. I ‘ve not bought it yet but would DEFINITELY do so. It would be fabulous to use before a big event or vacation so you don’t have to deal with daily maintenance.

 

And, shout out to Ipsy! My $10 a month Glam Bag subscription contained the Wet Moisturizer Sample and the St Tropez so it was a great way to try those out.  If you’re interested in checking out Ipsy, here is the link: Ipsy. 

Do you use self-tanner? What are your quick and easy tips to feel good about yourself during the summer? Leave a comment and let me know.

 

Overnight Oats Meet Smoothie Bowl

Okay, true confession: I want to be an oatmeal girl. I pin overnight oats recipes and I try them. I search for steel cut oats recipes you make in the in the slow cooker overnight. I add in all kinds of fruits or spices and scour recipes…but I just love smoothies and smoothie bowls. Oatmeal isn’t my thing.

Until now. The other day I saw a recipe on Pinterest for an oat smoothie bowl. The bowl itself was simple (the recipe was more about the homemade granola topping), so I took it, tweaked it, tried it, and LOVED it. It starts with an overnight oat base and is a game changer. Overnight Oats and a smoothie bowl? Yes, please!

So I am sharing my recipe. Feel free to play around with it. And be sure to tell me how it goes if you try it out.

Overnight Oats Green Goodness Smoothie Bowl

Overnight Oats:

  1. 1/3 cup rolled oats 
  2. 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  3. 1/2 teaspoon vanilla 
  4. 1/2 cup coconut milk
  5. Pinch of salt

Combine and let sit overnight.

Smoothie Bowl

  1. Overnight oats mixture 
  2. 1 or 2 frozen bananas
  3. 1 tablespoon peanut butter or nut butter
  4. 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (optional. My favorite is Designer Whey Vanilla Almond)
  5. 1/2 cup coconut milk 
  6. Large handful of greens(I used a mixture of spinach and kale)

      Ice as needed, depending on the texture you prefer.

Whirl away and top with fruit, granola, etc. Mine had fresh Rainer cherries and Bear Naked granola. I often make my own granola but haven’t since we moved.
Do you like overnight oats? Share your favorite recipes with me.

No, Mary, I Didn’t Know! The Need to Slow Down and Think

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Hang with me today if you’re not a Jesus person. I am, and a total Bible Study nerd, so that colors my perspective and my worldview. But tucked away in the Bible, in a book called Luke, there are a couple of verses that have the power to help women live life well. I promise not to get preachy, so let’s dig in!

The story is about the birth of Jesus. Mary has been really pregnant, riding on a donkey for days (for which she deserves heaps of credit. Trust me, as a woman who has  given birth three times, when I say that I could not have done that!) She had the baby in a cave and no one was there to help except her husband. But, a group of shepherds showed up and told her angels appeared announcing Jesus’ birth. They were so excited that they ran to see this baby and his mother.

Right after that is the little sentence I want to think about: “Mary treasured all these things in her heart and always thought about them.”

Treasured all these things. Always thought about them. Some Bibles say “Pondered” them. It’s sort of like a cow, ruminating with it’s food. Digesting, re-digesting. Pulling all the nutrition it can out of that food. This is what Mary did.

Today is so fast paced and busy. Life is complex and we’re told to multitask, think fast, eat fast, go, go, go. We often have no time to breathe, let alone think or take care of ourselves. But, what if that’s not the way to live? What if we as women are hardwired with a need to think, treasure, reflect? What if we really can live the type of life we want by DOING less and PONDERING more?

For me, this translates into doing something I don’t like: Going to bed earlier. A total night owl, I still go to bed earlier (this took training) so I can get up and begin my day in quiet. I roll out my Pilates mat and move, I make a smoothie or smoothie bowl,  I drink my water, and I slow down and study my Bible. I journal. I think.

What could pondering look like for you? Would it be a “first thing?” Or, would your pondering be better when the baby sleeps, or at night, when everyone is in bed?

So today, I’m thankful for the story of Mary. Of the reminder to BREATHE deeply, think deeply, and treasure my life in my heart. And I want to encourage you to carve out some time to do the same for yourself.