ONE Thing We Need to Remember…

Kylee left the dance studio in tears last night. She was upset because she was attempting a new genre of dance and said she simply, “could not do it right.” I know formerly in her training there was quite a bit of technique involved but to an untrained eye–I thought it looked beautiful. That said, she vehemently disagreed and explained how inadequate she felt. Her inner critic was working overtime and her level of drama was uncharacteristically off the charts.

I took a breath…because in that “mom moment” I have found my words often seem (ahem) unhelpful. After I shared what I had observed, but was not heard, I encouraged her to ask her instructor for additional feedback. A small inner nudge reminded me of Kylee’s past experiences choreographing several dances for her school musicals and so I attempted to slide through the tiny crack left in the window of communication before it was slammed shut. I asked Kylee if after only one demonstration of a new dance if she expected her students to “nail” it? I asked her if after only one class if she expected her students to have all the right moves–especially students who were new to a particular style of dance? Of course she said no. I then followed and asked her what she might tell those students if they were frustrated and didn’t feel like they had done it “right”? She said she would encourage them to go home and practice–and that she would revisit the phrase the following week. I knew this would be her response and so I asked her if she might be willing to extend that same kind of compassion and grace upon herself?

She wasn’t sure she could…her standards are high…higher than any instructor at her studio…higher than possibly she can ever fully actualize*.

Upon further reflection I began to personally dig a little deeper. I wondered: Do I ask more of my children than is reasonable? Do I simply encourage them to be fully present and engage with full effort…or am I expecting something more…even unreasonable…something they cannot and should not strive for? I felt like the answer was most often “no” to obvious, overt, or spoken expectations. My internal dialogue continued: “Am I kind to MYSELF? Do I hold standards of perfection over my own life…or am I harsh in the way I speak to my body or soul? Would I extend more grace to others in the areas I am personally struggling or have doubt?” This rang a little more true. I realized I needed to quiet those inner critics and be more tender on the daily. Not only does Kylee need to know her value, worth and identity. I need to love, cherish, speak kindness and grace over my own life just as I am asking Kylee to do these things over hers.

I realized–(and I asked Kylee’s permission)–this story was worth sharing with others. Are we being overly critical of ourselves or others? Are we in an attempt for excellence pushing perfection in places it doesn’t belong? I know that this may sound simpler then it actually is…patterns are difficult to break. But raising our awareness does wonders–and if that still small voice was able to remind me of Kylee’s belovedness, then I am pretty sure that same still small voice might be able to speak love and truth over you. Friend, how valuable and worthy you are…your “rightness” does not make you okay…your belovedness does. You are loved beyond measure.

*I realized through this conversation that I was speaking to elements of  Kylee’s Enneagram 1 typology and my 1 wing.

Anne Lamott reminds us, “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people.”

Ian Cron tells us that in The Road Back to You, “healthy ones are committed to a life of service and integrity. They are balanced and responsible and able to forgive themselves and others for being imperfect. They are principled but patient with the processes that slowly but surely make the world a better place.”

I love the idea that more self awareness will produce self compassion for our lives and the lives of those around us.

May we rise today, be honest with our Inner Critic, tell her she may have been helpful in the past, but she is a little too jarring for our mind, body and spirit. And we will not continue to need her services. May Self Compassion be a new voice we welcome to the conversation and may she steer the ship from this day forward. Onward!

Photo Cred:

  Denise Cerniglia Photography

(I love this photo by the way–the girls are fully present, engaging with full effort…but there is joy, there is a freedom, and this  is what I desire for my life and yours!)

May You Be a Blessing and May You Be Kind to Yourself and Others…


A Seriously Excellent Excuse to Slow Down

Food shared around a table can bring some of the most healing and healthy moments to a soul. It is not necessarily the food that matters. The friendship, conversation, and laughter around our tables provide energy and encouragement to engage in the life we were meant to live. I believe it that strongly…and I believe there is research to back up the power of this intimate time.

Though the food doesn’t necessarily matter it sure is nice when it is delicious. I decided to try a brand new meal out on some friends we have known for a long time. It felt like risky business. This could go terribly wrong. And then we would just be eating salad–because it is difficult to mess that up. But I trusted my fellow foodie who shared the recipe and we forged ahead. Oh and by the by, did I mention the recipe included an uncomfortably large volume of onions? I don’t even LIKE onions. But I like food with flavor and these were promising a caramelized taste and I do like carmel and so we went with it! I went on the heavy side of seasoning and heat and decided to add this kale salad…it sweetened the spicy meal a bit…but in only the best possible way.

Because it just isn’t very nice to keep things this great to yourself…I am going to share the whole meal and hope you find the courage to try it. It is not a week night meal–or at least it isn’t in our house. The caramelizing and cooking of the lentils took at least an hour but because I didn’t want to burn them or cook them too fast, it probably took closer to an hour and a half to caramelize my onions. Years ago someone told me you spell LOVE…T I M E. This is a meal made with love…and you have been warned…don’t get angry at the chopping or length of cooking cause love takes time.

Moving forward are Jen Hatmaker’s words describing her Sweet Potato Lentil Bowls. She will guide you through how she cooks this…I personally think the recipe is pretty forgiving…so just go with it.

Sweet Potato Lentil Bowls

1 bag of brown lentils

2 cups of rice (I like basmati here)

8 cups of veggie stock

5 sweet onions

2-3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

2-3 cloves chopped garlic

Olive oil Spices: Cumin Cinnamon, Curry powder Cayenne Plain Greek yogurt for serving Chopped cilantro for serving

So basically, this is all to taste, and I am reluctant to tell you how much spice I add because it will seem irresponsible. We like spicy food, okay? Rinse and sort your lentils. Over medium heat in a pot, sauté a chopped onion and 2-3 cloves chopped garlic in a few tablespoons of olive oil for about 3-4 minutes. Add the spices in any quantity that makes sense for your tribe and stir for about a minute (maybe a tsp of each for normal people?). Add the lentils and toss to coat. Add around four cups of veggie stock, cover and reduce heat to low, and cook for around an hour.

Slice up all your onions. Four will cook down so much, so don’t be scared of the enormous pile of raw onions you just amassed. In a large skillet on LOW HEAT (all caps means I am yelling), add a healthy pour of olive oil, all your onions, and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Stir periodically and cook down for around an hour. This will turn into a sweet, carmelized pile of deliciousness that could stand alone as the whole meal if you ask my opinion, which you basically did by reading this. Peel and cube your sweet potatoes, toss in olive oil, salt and pepper, and some of the same spices you used in the lentils, and roast at 375 for around 45 minutes. Cook your rice according to package directions. I like to use stock instead of water so the rice tastes like something. One part rice to two parts liquid. Plus salt! Oh my word. Unsalted rice is such cause for weeping. Layer it all up: rice, lentils, sweet potatoes, carmelized onions, a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, and a sprinkling of chopped fresh cilantro. You could also add chopped peanuts because it is a free country. My kids pick and choose their bowl layers, but I am here to tell you that somehow every single layer together makes the magic. A couple of my kids leave off the yogurt, and their lives are the lesser for it. Leftovers are delicious the next day, and no one will even realize you served them a totally healthy vegan dinner.

Okay it’s me–Jenni again…

(Thanks for this photo……I didn’t take a photo…mine was not as beautiful as this dish…but to be sure…the food tasted better than this looks.) 

I don’t know how your heart is…or how your much you are needing a slow night to be with your family or a few close friends…but this meal will give you a great excuse to do it.


May You Be a Blessing and May You Nourish Your Body and Soul…


Don’t Go Christmas Cookie Crazy…

I keep reading that the average American gains anywhere from 1-7 pounds between Christmas and New Years.  (Some reports were as many as 12 pounds!)  We are not surprised, since this time of year is filled with holiday food, festivities, parties, and treat traditions.  With our schedules full of evenings out–we are eating at home less.  Parties are not the time to be impolite and talk about our food preferences.  But with two Christmas parties back to back this week, I was reminded that I should NOT throw caution to the wind and accept my “feasting fate” for the holidays.  

I am all or nothing.  So if I feel slight failure I am tempted to cave in on all occasions.  Pass the eggnog and the fudge.  

Waking up this morning I was reminded that I have been given 3-5 daily opportunities to make a good choice.  I may not be able to control what is served at the parties I attend…but I can control what goes in to my mouth while I am there and more importantly what I eat the rest of the day!

So here are 5 suggestions that might help you better cruise through Christmas cookie cravings…

1.  DRINK LOTS OF WATER.  Blah blah.  No seriously…please don’t make me go in to all of the health benefits of drinking water.  Last year a friend gave me a super cute plastic Christmas cup with a straw.  I take it everywhere.  Do whatever it takes.  Just do it.  

2.  KEEP STOCKED.  What are your favorite healthy “fast foods?”  Keep them on hand, in your car, and in your fridge.   Carrots, celery, peppers and hummus.  Almonds, apples, peanut butter.  Kale and spinach for a quick salad or smoothie.  Get as close to nature as possible and eat loads of “nutrient rich” foods through the month.  You don’t have to prepare a masterful meal each night–just be sure when you do grab something quick, it is healthy.  

3.  FIBER IS YOUR FRIEND.  Along with staying hydrated, fiber keeps you fuller, and keeps everything moving nicely through your system.  So instead of something easily processed, be intentional about popping something full of fiber in your mouth.  

4.  FOCUS on the FESTIVITIES…not the FOOD.  Why are you celebrating?   Focus on your co-workers, neighbors, the people that you are with.  The family you never see.  Think creatively how you can make that time more memorable and not solely surrounded by food.   

5.  FORGIVE AND MOVE ON.  If you mess up…get over it…don’t start constantly using the drive thru, or dumping trash in your grocery cart because you had a rough meal.   Between now and New Years you have 63 meals to eat.  (Even more if you eat mini-meals throughout the day.)  Are you going to let 3-7 holiday meals mess up your month???   

Food is NOT your enemy.  Food is NOT your friend.  Food is fuel. 

May we spend the next 63 meals living this out and enjoy the real reason for the season.  

May You Be a Blessing and May You Be Blessed!



7 Ways to Get Out of Your HEAD While Running!

I might be one of the “headiest” runners on the planet.    

Don’t get me wrong…I do run, but I rarely experience the pure joy and euphoric bliss that surrounds a long runs’ reputation.  I find it repetitive, exhausting, and hard on my joints.  Science continues to prove that steady state running certainly is not the most efficient or effective way to exercise, lose weight or even maintain weight.   

Yet I run because I know that it has awesome heart health benefits.  I run because in balanced doses it builds bone density.   I run because (to quote my favorite trainer) “athlete’s run.”  I run because I train my clients to be athletes.  I run because I need to be able to get away from an attacker–or to rescue one of my children who is beyond arm’s reach.  I run because my body was designed so uniquely that I am able to run…so I run because I can.  

Inspiring right?  Well truth be told, I am far from the world’s most inspiring runner and I find my head tripping up my feet.   Most days I need external motivation to get myself in the mood to run, never mind actually put my peds to the pavement.

So any excuse my clients use to discuss why they do not run–I have already formulated and thought through.  While going for a run today I realized that I might be able to shed some light (or hope) on some of the things that have helped me to push through my headiness and simply RUN.   Here are a few “get out of my head hints” to help you choose mind over matter and embrace what your body was designed to do!

The KEY is to create an environment that forces you to say, “YES” to a run.  Below are a few suggestions on how to get out of your head and on to the road! 

1.  Set a Goal.  Choose a local 5k or 10k to complete.  Or choose a race distance that you have run before but plan on decreasing your time or increasing your speed for the new race. 

2.  Find a visually interesting spot.  Run near water, trees, or a place that is new or has interesting things to view.  If you are sucking in smog or looking at the same neighborhood you drive through every day it could be what is setting up some mental road blocks.  

3.  A Rockin’ Playlist.   Earbuds and some great jams go hand in hand with a great run.  Find some really motivating tunes that will carry you through the first mile or two and remember…  

4.  The first mile is ALWAYS the worst.  Period.   Go slow…one foot in front of the other and tell yourself that it is a warm up.  Ignore the discomfort and push through–it does get better.  

5.  Create New Mantras.  Often “heady” runners have bad tapes that play over and over again.  “I can’t…I hurt or I am going to get hurt…I am tired…I can’t run that far…I can’t breathe…I am not built to run…”   Those need to be replaced with, “I am strong, fast, and more than capable to complete this run. I am an athlete.”  

6.  Fuel Properly.    When I am not hydrated or haven’t eaten well and fueled properly  before my run I literally feel like I am running on empty.  To avoid the empty tank and feeling crumby on a run…fuel properly.

7.  Find a FRIEND.  Better than any other motivator…I have found that another runner who shows up and holds me accountable to both complete the run but also pushes me REALLY helps.  Find your runner girls…get out of your head and get running!

May You Be A Blessing and May You RUN!


Sweat EVERY Day.

Sweat, according to my doctor and my therapist, is something we should do EVERY day!
My doctor wants me to sweat to release toxins in the body.  Cleansing it and allowing fresher skin and a more toxin free vessel.     Yes please.
My therapist wants me to sweat as it is most likely in response to physical activity that has then released natural endorphins.  Endorphins help to regulate mood and sleep patterns.  It also suppresses appetite and decreases fatigue.   Double yes please.    
Okay what are ways that we can sweat every day?
1.    Walk or run.  Mix it up…do an interval run of 30 seconds fast…30 seconds slow.
2.    Hike, bike, or trike.  
(Okay maybe the trike is just for Joshua.)
3.    Dance…shake your grove thang.
4.    Swimming makes me sweat.  (Sorry about that.)
5.    Janine’s yoga!  (And sometimes mine!)
6.    Mixed Martial Arts…a Fight or kick boxing class.  (Obviously, any P.O.W.E.R. class is gonna make ya sweat!)  =)
7.    Play tag with your kids, find a trampoline and jump!
8.    Tennis, basketball, soccer…go join a team.
9.    Run your stairs, do lunges in your backyard, or burpee tabatas if you know what those are! 
10.  Sex actually burns up to 500 calories an hour. 
(For any dudes who read my blog feel free to share this with your wives–and–you are welcome.)  

Need a few more “whys” from the Mayo Clinic for the importance of regular exercise?   

May You Be a Blessing and May You Sweat Every Day!

Palates Like People…CAN Change

I used to believe when fit “fools” or “granola” girls ate sticks, grass and berries and then said they LIKED it…they were LIARS.  I could not image that any truly healthy food tasted that good or that I might actually crave leafy greens.  I did not believe that a big creamy bowl of ice cream might actually someday taste too rich, heavy, and “artificial”.  These things were so foreign to me and I felt it was the fit folks’ way of deceiving themselves so that they might daily choke down that many fruits and vegetables.  Or could it possibly be that their taste buds just didn’t work?
After my 1st clean eating challenge (which took out all processed foods and sugar)…I decided it was time to “treat” myself after the 9 weeks of hard work.  I popped a leftover Halloween Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in to my mouth.  I was anticipating the same “feeling” and “taste” that came before the challenge.   I slowly chewed to take in all the “goodness”  and immediately was shocked by the “fakeness” of the food.  It tasted like fake peanut butter, fake chocolate, and were there hints of some sort of synthetic substance holding it all together?  Yuck!  I could not find a trash can fast enough!   For those Reese-Loving readers—I get that you might think one insane to spit out a cute little cup!  But truthfully, it was an automatic response.  Apparently those fit “fools” were right:  PALATES CAN CHANGE.
It has taken me years of trial and error with my family to encourage them to change their palates as well.  One of the best ways to change is to pull the “fake food” from your diet.  Cold turkey.  If you eat “pretty healthy” but still have sweets at night, your palate will never change.  If your kids eat pretty well but then get a sucker at the bank, a cookie at the grocery store, and a dessert most nights at dinner their palates WILL NOT CHANGE.  I had to pull our Velveeta Macs and Cheese off the market for a while and bring in the organic bunny kind many months later.  I had to stop making cheesy chicken enchiladas and replace it with a vegetable heavy meal.  It was not an easy road…our palates have been conditioned to crave sugar, fat, and salt.  At first it appeared that our food lacked flavor.  It takes some time to figure out different ways to season your food and for our taste buds to find a deep appreciation for the sweetness and flavor of fresh fruits and veggies.   To my great dismay, a rich pasta with heavy tomato cream sauce can not be easily substituted in nature.  But over time you will grow to appreciate and love these flavors.  Your health will thank you.   Sugar, fat and salt lead to sluggish, sick, minds, bodies, and spirits.   
For me, this did not happen over night.  I had a very strong bond with food and was very resistant to change, or anyone telling me my food was “not fine”.  It also seemed impossible to shift my family from the “S.tandard A.merican D.iet” (SAD) to one that was nutrient dense full of protein, minerals, vitamins, and fiber.  For some encouragement (and humor) on the subject of continuing to introduce healthy, nutritient rich foods to your family check out:
It is a slow process and a journey of trial and error but the truth is…change does a body GOOD
May You Be a Blessing and May You Be Blessed…


10 Things to Promote Health and Wellness TODAY

Everything that you value in life, including your family, finances, career success, ministries, and friendships all depend on you being in GOOD HEALTH.

There are precious people close to me and to those I love who are sick.  It is debilitating and all consuming.  Often the sickness is completely out of our control.  But loads and loads of research is proving that often it is not…

I believe change starts with ONE simple action.

Moving toward wellness is vital to the things we value.  

TODAY do one thing to promote your physical wellness:

1.  Take a walk or run.   
2.  Eat more vegetables.
3.  Drink water instead of Coke.    
4.  Sweat in any way you can. 
4.  Drink one less coffee…pass on dessert.
5.  Do yoga.   
6.  Empty your pantries.  Throw out the junk.
7.  Eat IN instead of OUT.
8.  Did I mention eat more vegetables?    
9.  Take the stairs.  Park far away for a longer walk.  
10.  Pray for strength, courage, and motivation to do one more thing tomorrow.  
May You be a Blessing and May you Be Well!