Good bye 2016

2016 may have had its heart aches and troubles. I myself and so many of others have commented that it was a TOUGH year and we are ready for a clean slate.

How funny it is that we feel year end represents a time for cleaning the slate and starting over when that can happen any day of the year. But the end of the year is a wonderful time to reflect back on your life, where you have been, what you have accomplished, and where are you going. We all should do this in our lives and perhaps more often than once a year.

But today I want to share my journey.

2016 has been tough in many ways. Relationship struggles persist, financial burdens have been more...well, burdensome, and so many around me seem to be battling huge health and life battles and I would by lying if I didn't say it didn't weigh heavily on me at times. I have often said I have way too much empathy for my own good and that means I can take on the pain of others and feel it in what I thought was way too deeply at times.

I was wrong. My empathy is a gift from God. I see that now and I see that me feeling the pain of others and the world around me was completely aligned with my power word....mercy. I was seeing so much through God's eyes as I worked to be more merciful to others and myself. I wouldn't change that for anything!

And even my financial struggles have yielded beautiful results. God works in amazing ways! It was one reason I stepped out of my comfort zone of normal operations and became a Beachbody coach. I would be lying again if I said this was easy as pie but I am working my butt off in more than one way as I strive to chip away at the family debt and secure a brighter future for own family....and perhaps a wonderful retirement day for dear hubby. So....forgive the shameless plug in here but if you love Beachbody, or want to try it, or just want to support a friend, please consider me as your coach. I promise to be by your side every step of the way in just the way you need support. You can email me today to learn more.

Sorry for digressing. I didn't mean for this to be a sales pitch but a year in review post but that brings me to another achievement for 2016. I found my voice. Funny thing from a gal who has been blogging for years! But I found my voice in a new way. Through my workouts and personal development, I am growing in confidence so I will say, I would be the perfect coach for you! I am Catholic! I love God! I am pro life!

I even had the blessing to speak at a pro life rally on O'ahu this past October! That was so scary and amazing all rolled up in one! I am also working with the Respect Life committee on Maui for a walk and event happening this coming January. It is so fun to be involved with others working towards a cause. Meeting new people. Talking. Reaching out. Being involved. And darling daughter gets to join me every step of the way!

She is my champion, my saving grace, my hero. I thank God for her each and every day and life with her is getting quite exciting as her personality bubbles out. She is also becoming my business photographer and videographer so when you work with me, you work with her too! I love it!

2016 has had many blessings such as experiencing my first cruise with darling daughter, my sisters, nieces, nephew, and mom courtesy of my amazing mom! It was a blast and I am forever thankful for that experience in my life.

2016 also had me realizing my 5 year streakiversary...just yesterday! 5 years of running at least one mile a day. Phew! But it is way cool to know I have moved from Neophyte to Proficient on the USRSA Active Running Streak Log.

But 2016 wasn't all fun and games as I struggled with motivation while the darkness of depression and anxiety tried to take hold here and there. The past few months have been tough but I am persevering as I find joy in workouts going beyond my daily run. I would not give up my run for a million years but recently I am loving running less with runs focused on prayer and working hard in my cross training workouts.

I have goals and dreams for 2017. I want to continue to grow in love, faith, and charity towards others. I want to improve my vision in seeing others through God's eyes, especially my husband. He really is a gem and I need to see that more each day and less of the little aggravations in life. My way isn't always the best way but when you have a little obsession with order and cleanliness, life's messes can well....bug you. I need to work on that.

I want to try a new workout each week and I have the tips and tools to do just that. I am beyond excited to do at least 52 brand new workouts in 2017 and I got this with one fee. If you want to learn more, email me as this offer will be ending soon but trust me, it rocks. 

I will run every single day in 2016 but I am contemplating moving my daily minimum from 1 mile to 1.5 miles. I will complete my virtual run from Maui to Nebraska in January and I will complete my virtual run from England to Scotland by the end of 2017, God willing.

I have pulled out of racing right now but I do hope the desire buds again by the end of the year and I just may run my 11th marathon. Right now, others things are pressing deeper on my heart than toeing a race line. I want to help others including my family. I want to follow God's will and do His work. 

I do not know where 2017 will take me but I am powered by my word FORTITUDE to carry me through. I am sure there will be bumps in the road and changing paths but hey, that is what keeps life interesting.

Happy New Year and God bless!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for waking up today.

Daily Bible Verse: I will sing to the one I love a song about his vineyard; My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. ~ Isaiah 5:1


2017 Power Word = FORTITUDE

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from my family to yours!
Do you choose a power word for each year?

I didn't until 2013 when a fellow blogger mentioned it and challenged us all to pick one. I picked strength. I didn't randomly select a word willy-nilly but put thought into it and that word resonated with me. Since then I have picked faith, courage, and mercy. Even though I felt like I was kinda cheating choosing mercy for this year as it was the Year of Mercy, my heart kept being pulled that way so I went with it.

Again this year, I reflected on what is my power word. I prayed for guidance as I can see now that each word I picked held a deep significance for that year in my life. Like this year's mercy. God showered me with mercy and I am doing my best to be merciful to others....and myself. That is the sucker punch. Being merciful to yourself. Oh my!

But I am a work in progress, thanks be to God, and in 2017 my power word will be FORTITUDE.

For some reason, FORTITUDE calls for all caps. It is powerful. It is meaningful. It is deep.

If you just look at it's definition it may not seem all that big. Courage in pain or adversity. Synonyms include such wonderful and amazing potential power words such as courage, bravery, endurance, resililience, strength of mind, strength of character, and more. No not more in itself but more as in more synonyms. :)

I like FORTITUDE for another reason.

FORTITUDE is one of the 7 gifts from the Holy Spirit along with wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord or wonder.


Courage in the face of adversity.

Courage in pain.

Courage when the going gets tough.

On the spiritual side FORTITUDE is often linked to staying strong in the face of persecution. I wondered if I could choose such a strong word. I thought maybe since I was not being persecuted for my faith if I was stepping outside of my boundaries. Going where I should not go.

But prayer kept putting FORTITUDE front and center. Armor yourself, Erica, with strength, faith, courage, mercy, and build something deeper out of yourself and your life. Be who God is calling you to be. FORTITUDE.

This is more than my courage in 2015 even though they are synonyms because I believe focusing on FORTITUDE will take me deeper than being brave enough to step out of my comfort zone. I am ready to follow the path God had laid out before me. I will remain strong no matter what falls my way. I will have faith, I will be brave and merciful, and I will move forward in confidence and joy.

I will not let what others say or do bring me down.

I will move forward and shine the brightest light I can to guide not only myself, my precious daughter, but you too...if you are ready to join me on an amazing journey into 2017, through 2017, and beyond! God willing, we will all rock the boat in the best way possible.

Love and hugs, my precious gems. You are all amazing, loved, and wanted in life.

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the best Christmas gift yesterday. A peaceful, happy house. No fighting. Laughter. Family time. Fun. Thank you, God, thank you ever so much from the bottom of my heart and beyond. Thank you.

Daily Bible Verse: If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.~ John 15:18-19


Unplugged Weekend

I am a busy gal and I gotta say, sometimes all that doing catches up to me and I woke up Friday morning after a tearful night and realized, I needed to unplug. I needed to regroup and refocus and really focus on my why -- God and my family.

It was a tough night Thursday and one thing really stood out front and center - I need to stop letting what people think and say to me get under my skin and provoke me. Period. End of story. I am tired of allowing others to rob me of my happiness, joy, self-esteem, and hope. I am tired of them bring out the worst in me. And what ached me the most is Thursday night I cried out in agony as I felt hope slipping away. Hope is what I am. Hope is what keeps me going. Hope is who I am. Hopeful, positive, uplifting, suck-it-up-buttercup not the crying nothing matters, it is no use, I give up, who cares, I am throwing in the towel, forget it all lady crying herself to sleep!

But as I stand here typing I am thinking, yep, some days suck. Some days I feel weak and hopeless but I know I am not alone. I cried out asking if anything I do matters and I heard a resounding YES.

I reached out to others and got the reaffirmation to not give up hope. To not let anyone steal your happiness. Be joy.

I stood up for myself and said, yes, I am not who I was 10 years ago so deal with it. I am BETTER! 10 years ago I was a train wreck. I didn't value anything including my life. I felt unworthy and let people treat me as such. Well, I am worthy! And so are you, and you, and you, and yes, YOU! We are all children of God and lovable.

In my avoiding social media and any comparisons that could bring me down I tuned into my favorite station and talk show hosts on Immaculate Heart Radio reminding me to be....yep, you got it....hopeful. To NOT be so hard on myself. It was like they were talking directly to me.

Why are you so hard on yourself? Why do you think you are unworthy? Why do you assume that getting the worst is what you deserve? Why don't you love yourself? Why, Erica, WHY? Because you screwed up?! Guess what, we all do!

Grab a baby picture of yourself and look at it. Okay, I had to do this mentally as I was driving but do it. Look at yourself as a baby. Now that baby messes up, cries, knocks something over, is hurting, crying....what are you going to do? Be mad? Get annoyed? Say you screwed up, deal with it? Say it is the price you have to pay? NO! You know you won't. By golly, if you are anything like me you are cooing and ahhhing and saying it is going to be okay. You are compassionate giving love and mercy. That baby is YOU. You now. You here. You reading this. Why are you being so tough on you?

I can't give you a good reason because I couldn't give myself one beyond.....geesh, how did I get so cold and hard? Why do I treat others better than me? Why can't I forgive myself and move forward in love and grace?

It is hard. Very hard at times. And sometimes you, like me, will lose hope. You might want to yell out or cry it out. Climb into bed, pull the covers over your head, and hide it out. And if you are like me you get mad at yourself for being down when you know you are blessed and others struggling through more....and this is just me being mean to the baby me. Stop it already!

If you are feeling down, I understand. If you miss your family, I understand. If you want one more day with your dad, I understand. If you want you husband to just say thank you, I understand. If you want someone to just give you a hug when you are stressed over finances, I understand. If you are mad because people are hurt and people are fighting cancer and people are saying goodbye to those who have died this holiday season, I understand. I understand. And if you are just ugh and you have no idea why, I understand. Trust me, I understand.

So here is a huge virtual hug and a reminder that you are cool, amazing, and lovable. You are worthy and beautiful and strong! You are AMAZING and I am glad to share my life, and this life, with you.

I love you and God bless.

Have a very merry Christmas and hang on to that hope.

Love and hugs,
Erica G


Budget Friendly Meal Planning

My two weeks of budget saving meals and no shopping challenge turned out to be quite a delight...an unexpected delight. Money has been tight and grocery expenses seemed to be skyrocketing so I decided to tighten the budget and really focus on how I was spending the family's grocery dollars.

I love it when times of struggle turn into time of inspiration. Don't you? I have been making weekly menus for the family for over a year but this weekend the proverbial light bulb went off. Darling daughter and I just returned from Costco where I actually stayed pretty darn close to my $200 budget (we went $7.88 over as I misjudged tax along the way). Moms, this made me VERY happy as we were spending $330-$400 every other week or so (sometimes every week!) and it had been a month since we went to Costco and I even treated darling daughter to the real wreath that she had her eyes on. She seriously loved it and was okay if I didn't get one but said she was going to save up her money so she could buy me one next year. I put back my sweet peppers and hummus and got the wreath. That girl, she melts my heart! She looks at the wreath with googly eyes everyday. AND....I picked up some "expensive items" as I got Tony Roma's boneless ribs and frozen brussels for Christmas dinner! Y'all, frozen veggies ROCK! Look for those that are just the veg and buy in bulk when you can. It saves some $$$ and makes life easier for you. Moms, don't we all need a break?

When we got home I got diligent. Diligent to the point of counting just how many wontons and chicken nuggets are in those big bags. Yes, I do buy some processed items to add into our diets here and there and my hubby and daughter ADORE their chicken nuggets! There are days I make them myself from scratch but juggling two jobs and a household has me picking my priorities and letting some things slide. Like the nuggets I used to shun due to....well, personal ego I think. A few nuggets with tons of veggies is fine.

With my list of what homemade frozen meals and meal starters I had in the freezer and my knowledge of what I just purchased, I sat down and wrote out a 4-week meal plan with the idea of little to no shopping until the beginning of January. We may need to get eggs but I did buy 3 dozen. 18 eggs for $2.19 is a steal when you can pay $5 or more for the same amount in other stores here on island. How much do you pay for eggs? Really, I want to know! I need to find a place with an amazing cost of living!

And here are a few menu planning tips. I like soups. They are easy to prep and leftovers make a great meal on late nights after horse lessons etc. I also plan easy to prep meals on my late work days to make meal prep easier. I am not always working from home or getting home just after 2 pm. I try to balance out the food loves of the entire family and having theme days that repeat are not a bad idea. I rotate those repeated meals based on what I purchase in bulk. From the bulk nuggets, wontons, sausage, tofu, and veggies, here is what I came up with.

The only meal on this list that requires an item I know I will need to purchase is enchilada night. I will be making homemade tortillas for taco nights but like store bought for enchiladas PLUS I will need to pick up some vegan cheese for mine. But since that is our holiday New Year's Eve meal I think it is okay, I will work it into my very small weekly budget.

And my other tip, be flexible, My family is used to me moving days around from time to time and since I have decided to do a 3 Day Refresh the start of January, those few days will be vegefied and that is okay, I have frozen veggies and plan to be shopping around then anyhow.

Finally, this meal plan does work with my eating plan. For dinners that are more carb-based, I tend to avoid the carbs earlier in the day as I know I will be eating them at dinnertime. It is all about balance and being flexible. And y'all, if you want to join me in starting 2017 with a refresh, email me. I would love to have you as an accountability partner as this will be my first time to try this!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for being able to refine my budget and to shop and meal plan better.

Daily Bible Verse: Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5

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8-week challenge end results

Aloha y'all!

I got to say, I LOVE challenges as they can be a good motivation to do things you already want to do but may not have enough oompf to get to it. Come on, don't you feel that way at times? I know I do!

Back in October I started an 8-week challenge solo. One that I always wanted to do but felt I couldn't do. You can read my thoughts halfway through the challenge HERE but today, I want to share a virtual cup of coffee with you while I tell you about this amazing journey I was on.

First, the challenge I embarked on was a fitness program called Insanity Max30. (Note, that is an affiliate link and if you like the program, please allow me  the honor to be your coach. Better yet, email me and I will help you select the best program and pricing to fit your personal needs.)

Since I do not put full confidence into a number on a scale, I like to start my fitness programs with pictures to get a good starting point documented. And as much as sharing pictures can leave me feeling vulnerable, I feel I got to do it since we aren't sitting across each other or see each other daily. Here is my starting point.

My goal was to get stronger and perhaps find some more abs since it has been a long-lived dream to have defined abs. But most important, get stronger and balance out my strength. Running daily since December 30, 2011 has given me strong legs but I had muscle weaknesses in other places. In particular, my arms (WAAAAAYYY weak), my glutes, and my pesky hip were on top of my take care of list.

I have been cross training since May and have been seeing remarkable gains through the added fitness workouts and eating according to a plan suited to my particular needs. An eating plan that works. I tried to combine these with my daily running and I got to tell you, it wasn't always easy.

The workout plan was 8 weeks long with 5 30-minute workouts each week. In the first 4 weeks, I did all 20 workouts although some were moved to other days as a Saturday could be used as a catch up day if I missed one Monday-Friday. The workouts are INTENSE and the goal is to push, push, push until you Max Out and record that time. During those 4 weeks, I managed to pull off 4 workouts without maxing out! I was ecstatic and encouraged but the workouts were still intense and took pure determination and will power. But Shaun T always seemed to know just what to say and exactly when to motivate me to keep pushing....plus darling daughter was a huge support calling out "You can do it, Mommy!" just when I needed it too.

For the second 4 weeks I am a bit less stoked about my commitment. To be honest, with my birthday on October 7th (end of week 1), Halloween, and Thanksgiving plus financial stress brewing, some days were just plain tough but I did not give up and friends, that is what matters. Do not give up. Some is better than none. One slip does not undo all the successes you have logged. Do not give up.

The amazing thing is even though I only logged 17 of the 20 workouts in the final 4 weeks (I missed 2 in week 5 and 1 in week 6), I did not max out in 9 workouts! And y'all, weeks 5-8 are TOUGHER than weeks 1-4 as the program is laid out on the premise that you are getting stronger. That final week, I pushed like crazy and did not max out one single day....and I think that explains why I need this week now as a recovery week. I worked HARD for the past 8 weeks!

You can see the final few seconds of my workout HERE. And, my end results photo....

What have I gained? A LOT! Here are my notes:
  • My weight is the same and since I was eating on the maintenance plan I did not plan or hope to lose weight. I honestly believe my weight is perfectly fine.
  • My core is stronger. I can feel it in how I sit and hold myself up.
  • My glutes have been activated. I can feel this difference in my runs.
  • My pesky hip --> It has been quiet 99% of the time and this is AMAZING for an ache that was present practically every single day. 
  • My arms and back are stronger. Dear hubby has even been commenting on them!
  • My legs are less wiggly. I know I said my legs were strong and not a focal point but it is nice to see them shaping up in a new way. 
  • My confidence is building. When you push yourself and prove to yourself you are strong, how can you not believe in yourself more?

What is really cool is that I look forward to doing this workout challenge again because there is room for growth PLUS there is an option for a more advanced 8-week challenge in the exact same program I purchased. That is like two-in-one and a program that is intense and rich enough that it can be repeated and not be boring for your mind or body. You know we grow through changing things up and pushing ourselves. I look forward to pushing play and moving away from a few more modifier exercises as I continue to build a better me. 

If you want to join me, email me today, and don't forgot to ask how you can get paid to work out with me in January. Seriously, this is no trick. I don't like scams or lies but if you just want awesomeness with no effort, this won't work for you. You do need to commit, work with my accountability team, log your journey, etc. to win. 

Daily Gratitude: I am beyond thankful for workouts I can do at home that yield results.

Daily Bible Verse: Do all things without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. ~Philippians 2:14-15


Waking Up

Hey mom! How are you? Grab a cup of coffee and let's chat.

I stumbled upon some interesting reading awhile ago about waking up our kids. How we wake them up in the morning matters. We are setting the stage for their entire day. I never really thought of it that way, did you?

I mean, how do you wake up your kids? I know! It sounds like a silly question.

But do you go into Army mode with an "Up and at'em!" or do you let them just roll out of bed on their own accord? I would imagine you are somewhere in between because hey, sometimes there are time frames that those little minds may not have in complete focus. You know, school, church, etc. There are things to be done, places to go, and time lines to stick to...some days are tougher than others. I mean, some days are waaaay tough! Do you yank the sheets down and bellow, "Get up!"

When I read about how we wake up our kids matters I reflected on how I tend to wake up darling daughter and was happy that I was on the gentle spectrum. The side of waking with love versus stress. You see, I tend to go into her room about 15 minutes before I need to leave work. She likes to send me off to work each day and I love seeing her and going through our morning ritual. Come on, don't you love those hugs and kisses from your kiddo's too?!

So here is our routine:

Step 1: I go into her room and turn on her light, find her in her bed, and cuddle up to her smothering her with kisses and gentle "I love you"'s. Then I let her know where I am on my time frame as some days I am running late. It can be a "I'm about to take my shower" or "I will be leaving as soon as my coffee/shake is done" or "I'm running late and will be leaving very soon". Then with one final cuddle and kiss I leave her in her room. And to be completely honest, sometimes she moans I am too heavy or too sweaty.

Step 2: I go back into her room in the final minute or so and let her know I am leaving in a minute. Very seldom will I yell across the house. One, dear hubby is still in bed and two, it is just nicer to go to her, right?

Step 3: The I am leaving now message. Most days she is out before I get to this final phase but rarely I need to go back to her room and let her know. She will pull herself out of bed and is a happy camper once her feet hit the ground. Thank you God! If she isn't happy, something is up and I better be prepared!!!

On weekends, this changes up a bit. She tends to still be out of bed at the same time each day but since we are both early risers, I do not need to set the pace as much on the weekends. Thank goodness for that! I love that it gives her the freedom to stay resting in bed until her little heart is content and I have a bit more time to listen to the roosters, birds, rain, whatever during my morning workout.

I believe I adopted this wake-up strategy for her as it is one that works for me. I am a slow riser too even though I am an early riser. I never have been a hop out of bed type of gal although sometimes I wish I were. I have read that is better for you. Like ripping off a Band-Aid. Just get up and get moving. Don't delay.

Perhaps my snoozing is a bad thing but it works for me and the gentle wake-up seems to work for darling daughter too.

What works for you?

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the bedtime feature on my phone with the soothing wake-up alarm for me.

Daily Bible Verse: Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” ~ 1 Corinthians 15:51-54

P.S. Did you know you can get a 6-day sampler pack of the shake I love with special add-on's from me? The cost is only $35 and includes shipping. Makes a great stocking stuffer! I only have two packs left so don't wait too long to email me and say, yay!


Battling the Snowball of Debt

God works in funny and amazing ways. Often when He is working in my life I do not immediately recognize it but when I reflect back on events I see His footprints every step of the way.

Last month I got myself into a snaffu. I HATE debt and in my mission to just get out of it I made a wonderful payment and paid of my lounger and felt oh so happy until the next day I realized something. I totally forgot about the auto payment of my car loan. Oops. Everything went through but we immediately went from my self-imposed comfort living zone of living paycheck to paycheck to one that is a wee bit too tight for my comfort.

I became the freaky, stressed out, way too serious mom and wife and can't say that I like that mom. Geesh! She is no fun! No more splurging, tighten those belts, remember the reason for the season. Do not spend one penny.

Thanks be to God I already had darling daughter's Christmas gifts bought and paid for so that was one worry I did not have but it meant I needed to really focus on those extra dollars. Our grocery budget. Those little $3 here and there of treats and impulse purchases that add up to the snowball of debt.

Call me crazy, but I am kinda happy this happened. In a weird sort of way.

I have learned so much over these weeks of struggle and my mind was finally opening up to hear words of financial wisdom from others. Things like the RedCard and Cartwheel at Target. Things I never listened to. Hey, this momma doesn't want or need another credit card and don't try to con me in with that 5% off my purchase when I sign up. Not listening. Made up my mind. Nope, nope, nope.

What?! It is 5% off your purchases ALWAYS?! Seriously?! Always! And it doesn't HAVE to be a credit card (with no annual fee), you can link it to your bank account and still benefit? And this Cartwheel thing....ummmm.....it's like digital coupons for the kid that grew up cutting coupons for her mom. Fun! I mean, seriously? (And nope, not being paid by Target to say this but Target, if you wanted to pay me, that would be okay. Just saying....)

Come on, did you cut coupons for your mom? I remember the stacks and stacks of them to go through. She taught us which to cut when we saw them and sometimes we asked, "What about this one?", and sometimes we, well at least me!, cut out one or two or three for a special treat we may like. You know, like Lucky Charms. Hmmm...maybe if Mom has this coupon she will buy me some!

I don't know if my ploy ever worked. She never said anything. But I do know, yep, sometimes those Lucky Charms showed up and maybe it is because it was a magically delicious deal where coupons were doubled and tripled and the cereal was already on sale and my mom was able to get it for a steal! Maybe. (Yes, that really happened. You always shopped on double and triple coupon days!)

But that is the kind of fun darling daughter got to feel when I said, okay, I will buy you some Goldfish. It was a swimming good deal with a sale price and Cartwheel savings and RedCard savings and I stayed within my very tight but not too bad budget. Seriously, $38 for groceries for a week is good for a mom who was paying $200 or more a week. This coming week will be a "big" week with Costco on the plan but I am empowered and strong. No. I will not spend $400. Imagine if I could cut down that trip to $200! Oh the happy chills and dancing butterflies I see swirling magically around me with a delightful fairy dust!

We are eating well and being creative with our meals. I am looking at our protein sources and focusing on those with more bang for the buck. Thank goodness we love eggs and tofu and don't rely on meat too much. That can add up; however, I just may splurge on Tony Roma's ribs at Costco if they have them in stock for our Christmas dinner. Wouldn't that be cool?!

And darling daughter is more excited about her few and meaningful gifts but totally cracked up when I went over budget on our angel gifts yesterday (where I took advantage of 50% off Cartwheel deals and more). We ALWAYS buy gifts for two kids who are less fortunate from the angel tree at church. I do not care how desperate finances may seem. This WILL NOT be cut. I set a budget and we headed off, darling and I, to pick the sweetest gifts we can think of and this year, just like last year, my heart swelled, my eyes teared up, and I thought about how tight money is for us.

Then I thought about other families. Families were money can be tighter. Moms who may be facing the same struggles I am but do not have gifts for their kids and I cried. Yes, I cried in the middle of the store (and am crying now) thinking, somehow we will survive. God has blessed me so abundantly and I will take these blessings and share them even if it means adding on more weeks of super budget friendly meals and no fancy coffee flavors for me.

And then today I got the greatest gift! I got to sit down with paychecks and bills and looked at them front and center. I did not feel my heart racing like usually, I just said, okay, how can I do this? And I made some amazing payments that made me do the happy dance AND I was able to see my path for the next couple of months. My snowball is not growing anymore. It is stabilizing and dare I say it, God willing, shrinking!

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for my husband, his job, and my jobs.

Daily Bible Verse: Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” ~ Hebrews 13:5


No Alcohol December

It is no secret that I have suffered from insomnia my entire life. As a child I spent many nights tossing and turning trying desperately to just go to sleep. I can equate most of those nights to my active mind either being excited or worried about the day to come. 

Fortunately, since I started drinking my daily shake I am sleeping much better but I still have some of those nights tossed in and then it dawned on me. Those nights now often happen after I have had some alcohol the evening before. I do not drink much. A glass of wine here and there because hey, it is good for you, but is it?

I am not here to knock alcohol but I got to say, I am beginning to see it in a darker light. I see the negative influence it can have when a family member is inclined to drink just a wee bit too much just a wee bit too often. I can feel the heartache of the family who sees a loved one trying to find peace and happiness in a bottle while potentially putting the family under financial strain. But this post isn't about that.

It is about how that casual drink here and there can be negatively impacting me in ways that I do not like. Years ago I drank more often and to be honest, I was acting out on frustrations in life. Unhappiness in life. Since then I am careful to drink because I want to enjoy the drink not to find happiness. And that is what I have been doing.

But also over the years I have become more in tune with my body and I am beginning to feel that this just isn't right for me. I want to sleep peacefully like a baby {go ahead, finish that line for me if you remember the commercial from ages ago -- it is in my mind right now and you just need 4 words to get it right - if you do, I just may send you a shake on me! Maybe....}

All kidding aside, alcohol does impair sleep quality. Yes, you may fall asleep quicker but it impairs your ability to get into that really deep nice sleep and stay asleep.

Alcohol also impairs your fitness gains by acting as a diuretic leading to dehydration and messing with how you make and use energy since the breakdown of alcohol by your liver changes your normal glucose levels.

And finally, alcohol can sabotage any weight loss plans you may have due to its high caloric impact and it really is a lot of carbs.

I am not working out to lose weight or training for the Olympics so I have fallen into the trap of that glass here and there won't hurt. And perhaps it won't. But with another restless night under my belt and really just wanting a good night's sleep so I can get up and perform at the level I love to perform at, I am embarking on a no alcohol December challenge -- which shall be fun and challenging with holiday parties, peer pressure, etc. But this means something to me.

I work my butt off in my daily workouts. I push myself to be the best I can be, to eat clean, and to set a good example. I want to be an energized, positive, fun-loving mother and wife and if I have the dark cloud of restless nights and a tummy that isn't 100% due to that glass here and there....I am ditching the glass.

I am a bit excited to see how I will feel at the end of the month after going through this challenge. I am a bit nervous how I will do when my Scottish hubby loves his drinks and wants me to join in. I don't want it to become a source of strife in the house but it means a lot to me to be the best me I can be. I pray he understands. I pray I have the strength to say no when he is drinking or pours me a drink. Please pray for me too.

I will be sharing this journey with you and if you would love to join along, shoot me an email and let me know, or comment below. I would love to create a support group for those on the same page in saying no to alcohol and hello to unforeseen health benefits. 

Daily Gratitude: I am thankful for the strength to try something potentially challenging.

Daily Bible Verse: Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes? Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine. Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder. Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things. ~ Proverbs 23:29-35