What I Learned from a Rabbi and How it Helped me Become a Better Parent and Live an Intentional Life

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I once read a book by a Rabbi, I forget the name of the book, but in it, he asked a powerful question,”What kind of person do you want to be?”

He used this simple question to help his children navigate life and their decision making. When they made choices that were wrong, displayed negative character, greedy, or ended with ill-intended consequences, he asked them that particular question.

Many times over, I have asked my children the same question– from the time that they were very small. I changed the word person to boy/girl/man /woman depending on what was appropriate at the time. They would typically answer me the same way: “I want to be a good person.”

“What does that mean?” I would ask.

“That I am kind, nice to my sister and help around the house,” might have been an answer on any given day.

I still ask my children the same question. Their answers are bolder and more solid now that they are older. It teaches them reflection and evaluation. Mistakes will always be made, the power is found in the evaluated mistake.

Equally as important, I ask myself, “What kind of person do I want to be?” or rather, “What kind of person does God want me to be.” When I honestly answer those questions, I become more aware of my current state and how I am leading myself. We all lead ourselves first.

The very wise Rabbi understood that we are always in a state of growth. That growth may be positive, towards a better version of ourselves, or negative, taking us further away from our desired self. He knew that by teaching his children to answer that simple question, he was helping them to become people of strong character with the ability to learn forward and take responsibility for their actions and choices.

I am very grateful for stumbling across that insightful Rabbi’s words so many years ago. He has created a ripple in the world.

What kind of person do you want to be?

What Does the Blue Flame Have to Do with Burnt Chicken


This article contains affiliate links.

A book review.

Anyone who puts a burnt chicken on the front cover of their book has my attention. It is a completely relatable item, burned food. I felt an immediate kindred mother spirit with Jennifer Fulwiler before I even read the first page of her book, One Beautiful Dream! As soon as I began reading, I quickly found myself absorbed in her wacky throws of motherhood. I completely related to this harry-carry, first-hand account of motherhood, pursuing dreams, and passion, all while holding it together.

Jennifer Fulweiler’s personal story of following her blue flame passion of writing and story-telling while growing her family is funny, charming, engaging and at times, gut-wrenching. There were many times during her recollection that I found myself identifying with her lost dreams, thoughts of failing at motherhood, and the surreal moments of parenting gone bad. She is raw and real, and I believe that is what I like most about her writing style.

Jennifer’s first book, Something Other Than God, was a personal account of atheist turned Catholic and the journey of conversion. In One Beautiful Dream, she is at it again, letting us take a look into her life and how she came to terms with the guilt of motherhood while hearing the siren’s call of her passion writing. She shares her doubts, fears, a-ha moments, irrational thoughts as well as her love, sensitivity, and kindness. She takes you on a journey of faith as she seeks to find the answer to her calling while raising a family. Is it selfish? Is this right? Should I wait? Is my family suffering because of my choices? Am I the worst mother ever? Can I do this? Where is God in all this? Can I trust him with my beautiful mess? Am I doing this right? These are questions many of us ponder, though we may not articulate. At one point, she has an internal conflict with the realization that she is unhappy in her life but afraid to express it because she did not want to be misunderstood that she was unhappy as a mother. She was afraid no one would understand her.

In one moment of the book, she shares about the “perfect” mom (Christy) who swoops in and effortlessly made everything look so easy, resulting in Jennifer identifying her feeling of inadequacy. However, in their exchange was the pearl. Christy begins the dialog:

‘People see that I like to keep my home super clean and I love getting the kiddos all dressed up. They hold me up like I’m doing of this only out of some really strong sense of duty. But let me tell you, that is my thing that I love to do, what was that term you used for it?’

‘Blue Flame.'”

As she shares her journey’s revelations and the idea of the blue flame within all of us, she provides a story of peace and a place for all moms to share in. Her story is about the beauty of family and the journey we are on. If we are brave we can follow our blue flame and achieve a harmonious life!

What if all desires to create–both with children and with work–are, in fact, all pointed in the same direction? What if both are different but complementary ways of getting in touch with the ultimate Source of creativity? What if following your God-given passion is not just okay to do during the baby years, but actually something that has the potential to enhance your whole family’s life?”

I always tell my children that if you don’t laugh and cry with the story, then it wasn’t a great story. I did both during the pages of this book. Interestingly, I did not cry tears of sadness, but tears of hope. It touched me in my core because it centers around our callings, purpose, and dreams and aligns it with the reality of life. How do they merge together? And that, my friends, is what makes One Beautiful Dream beautiful. In story-telling form, Jennifer Fulwiler opens up the possibility of a remarkable journey for all of us!

I vote YES to this book!!

Word of the Day: Priority

Priority: something given or meriting attention before competing alternatives.

What is your priority? What is your number one? Is it God, family, spouse, work, or something else. What is your number two and three priority? Why are these so important to you? When you think of them, how do you feel?

Now, consider this… what does your calendar say is your priority? Do your activities and appointments reflect your #one and #two?

Identifying and assessing your priorities is an important exercise in coordinating an intentional, well-balanced life. When your priorities and activities do not align, you lose the sense of self and find yourself more in a grind and less in a place of joy. Your energy outflows need to be replenished by the energy inflow of priority living. For example, if one of your top priorities is spending time with your spouse in a meaningful, connective way, yet your schedule does not reflect purposeful time together, how will you “find time” or “squeeze in” a dinner or date?

Life is fast and furious- the intentional time on the calendar beckons a deeper meaning and experience based on what is most important to your values. As with your spouse, you can choose to enjoy each other in a no-rush time of your selection, doing the activities you enjoy and building a stronger marriage and bond. Without the purposeful time, one or both of you can feel like an afterthought, losing love energy while forming resentful attitudes. The feelings of being underappreciated can potentially swell as you each adhere to the demands of life. Alternatively, when you make your spouse a priority, they know it, and so does you, which provides energy into your relationship. The realization of importance if felt and fuels a tighter bond.

If what feeds your soul is not making it onto your calendar, it is time to reevaluate your scheduling technique. Often, we think of a schedule as the work schedule and the home schedule, when in fact you are a whole person. By taking a broad view of the calendar you can gain perspective and lead a more intentional life-based on the priorities that you select.

Sometimes, people feel as though that keeping a calendar steals their freedom, they like to fly by the seat of their pants or make decisions as they come. However, the act of keeping a calendar can actually lead to more freedom as you are leading your life and choices in the direction of your intention. There is less procrastination, more accomplishment, and more time for the important things. You wonder less about where the day went simply because it went where you directed.

Steven Covey on PriorityHere are a few key practices when working towards a more prioritized and purpose-filled life.

  1. Identify your priorities. Think about all facets: family, spirit, fun, education, work, health. Choose one or two from each category, then choose your top 3.
  2. After you have selected your top 3, look at your future month (preferably) and mark in specific time designated towards that priority. If your spouse is a priority, designate date night or a weekend getaway, if it is time with your children, mark their ball games or schedule a weekly game night, if God is a priority- get him on the calendar too. Add church or daily devotional time into your schedule. Give the important items first dibs on your time.
  3. Learn to say “no” to the things that are not adding value to the main ideas of your life, or if they steal energy from your top priorities. No energy vampires allowed! I actually find this to be the hardest of the 3 steps, but it is critical for aligning your life.

I hope these little steps make a big difference for you! I know that they did for me. The most important thing to remember while you are writing your story of life is to keep your main ideas aligned and practicing these efforts on a regular basis, you will make progress.



I began my day thinking about bookends. Yes, bookends.

One would use bookends on each side of their book collection to keep the books within straight and tall on the shelf (I actually have a cute set of bookends in my office that, if together, would form a bicycle). My thoughts, however, were taking me to a different form of bookend:
How do we bookend our day?

How is it that we begin and end each day? Do we start and finish each day by scrolling through Facebook, watching tv, writing a journal entry, prayer, meditation, scripture reading, gratitudes, stretching, planning our day….? Do we start and finish well?

Do you have a daily routine, or habit? Is it an intentional routine or one that has just come into play? Does it serve you well?

When I am being unintentional about my days, I drift into scrolling FB or TV doldrums. Whatever I see, fills my mind and enters my domain. If, however, I am intentional with my time, I get to choose what enters my mind, body, and spirit. Each morning I am filling my cup with something besides coffee! Let it be of my choosing! And each night, before I sleep I am setting the stage for dreams and a new dawn.

Do you have a bookend routine?

What if the Acorn was Afraid of Change?

brown acorn
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What if the acorn was afraid of change?

The tiny acorn does not fear the future. It knows that within itself there is greatness. The sapling does not ask, “Is this enough, can I stop growing now?” The ancient oak does not falter and say, “I am ready to retire, can I just be a tree and sway in the wind?”

The old oak tree does not complain, “Oh, I have been through so much! I have been tormented by mighty wind gusts so powerful that my roots were barely able to cling to the soil. I have endured the fiercest of lightning strikes, nearly splitting me in two. I have faced hail that beat at me in anger, and fire so hot that I was scorched from the flames. Torrential rain and floods have swamped me. I am only a tree and I am tired, may I quit being a tree? I don’t matter. I do not make a difference.”

No, the mighty oak never complains. Its rings tell a story of age, drought, rains, lightning and more. Its bark is marked with battles old and new. Its limbs in some places are deformed and awkward, but it continues to grow and become the tree it was meant to be.

When the mighty oak was just a little sapling, it learned to sway in the wind hoping to be mighty one day. Its roots clung to the soil as the gusts tested the young tree. When it was a little larger, birds would swoop in to use its limbs and leaves for shelter in the rain. As it continued to grow it became a home to varieties of birds and squirrels, each making nests and growing families in the safety of the oak’s sprawling limbs. It is a place of life and love. It is where, under its big canopy, children play and build dreams. It is shade for a picnic or passing animals. Its strong limbs hold swings that lift the spirits of children as their feet reach to touch the sky. In its tallest branches, the mighty oak holds the all-seeing owls and collects the sunlight for the world.

In its age, the mighty oak is a place of memories and reflection. It is a reminder of time and beauty. It holds secrets to the past that only the tree can hold. It is deeply rooted and strong. It provides comfort, shade, peace, and beauty to all who are in its presence.

The mighty oak doesn’t ask to stop growing, for it grows as long as it can. And in each stage, it reveals more of its truth and capacity for life. Even through tribulation and adversity, it grows. While the adversity may be part of its story, it is a story of victory and courage and a testimony that life goes on after the storm, and that there is still more to do in the life of a tree.

What if the acorn was afraid of change? Its purpose will never unfold unless it is watered, nourished and cracks open to release the sapling. It knows that to grow into its future, it must let go of its past. For the acorn knows its truth and purpose, and will continue to grow all the days of its life.

beautiful blue sky branches bright
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“To grow, you must be willing to let your present and your future to be totally unlike your past. Your history is not your destiny.” –Alan Cohen

Jim Rohn ponders, “Every life form seems to strive to its maximum except human beings. How tall will a tree grow? As tall as it possibly can. Human beings, on the other hand, have been given the dignity of choice. You can choose to be all you can be or, you can choose to be less. Why not stretch up to the full measure of the challenge and see what all you can do.”

How tall will you grow?

A Little Survey

Ladies, I need your help. I am in the planning stages of a retreat. Your feedback is very important to its development. Would you mind taking a few minutes to answer a few survey questions? TIA


Food For Thought – 3 Practices to Help You on Your Weight Loss Journey

When living an unmuted life, we have to seek to line up our values and priorities with our choices. We are not solely one thing. We are beyond our jobs, relationships, and hobbies. We are a mind-body-spirit that strives to live in harmony.  As we begin our various journeys towards an unmuted life, we are faced with letting go of our shadowed self while we seek to live in the light. One area of renewal is health and weight.

I tpexels-photo-374632.jpegoo have embarked on this journey many times over. Obsessing over food, always thinking about my weight or how I am making ‘bad’ choices.  The more I obsessed I became, the worse I felt. After much personal growth and development, I found that there is a better way- and it starts in the mind. These are practices I put in place this past year. I have found success and harmony with these initiatives. I am certainly not perfect, but I have made progress.

As you read through these, remember that I am not a nutritionist or doctor, nor do I claim to be. However, if these practices help your “stinkin’ thinkin'” and build a resilient spirit that aligns you with better choices to assist you with your health/weight progress, then wonderful!

We need to consider that we must create an inner space for success on our weight journey. We focus heavily on the technicalities of weight loss- the pros, the cons, the what’s, the what not’s, the how’s, and how not’s… We have been inundated with information for decades in addition to being conditioned on what the perfect body looks like. Our minds have been morphed by comparison. You know HOW to do it. There is tons of information- everywhere. But, how do you break through your barrier? By realizing you are a whole person- mind-body-spirit and ALL of your needs to be nourished.

Look at these 3 tips as food for thought…

#1 What you focus on grows.

If you are focused on your weight, you will attract more. Your language and self-talk are very important in this application. Empower your mind-spirit-body connection through language that will resonate positive results. I am healthy. I am strong. I am youthful. I am inspiring my children. I am a work of beautiful art. I am a house of an eternal spirit. I am breath. I am body. I am graceful. I am energetic. I am awake. I am aware. I am clear. I am resolved. I am worth it!

Build beautiful words around yourself. Create and imagine you in the best version of yourself. Build a picture of your FULL self. What it feels like and looks like to be you. Write it down with a vivid description in current tense. Write your story! Claim your truth.

Let this become your new focus. Let these words of life work in your day-to-day. They will begin to serve you. Maybe slowly. We are seeking progress, not perfection. The truth in your story will appear in your day to day decisions. Your choices will begin to serve your vision.

#2 Release the Stuff.

It is time to move on from your baggage. Just as in our physical realm, we horde and cling onto things in our mental and spiritual realm. We fill our space with things. Your mind-body-soul has a similar relationship. For your health journey to have hope… let go. What is it you are hoarding and holding onto? Anger, grudges, shame, rejection…? How can your body find peace if your soul is in angst? You are a not a person in parts you are whole. All of you needs to be fed, nourished and encouraged.

Begin by practicing forgiveness. Forgive yourself. Step into love and speak kindly to yourself. If you have a day you eat poorly- forgive yourself and give you encouragement. Bring yourself into a place of peace. What are your eating triggers telling you? Listen in to yourself and unpack your boxes. Imagine that you are cleaning out your house. Evaluate and deal with the stuff in your boxes.  Keep it or toss it? You decide. Even in your own environment, take a look around…is it time for a spring cleaning?

#3 Permission to Celebrate

Choose a lifestyle that feeds your mind-body-spirit.  Live your every day in that lifestyle and pause to reflect on how your choices are serving you. However, I have a rule of celebration, give yourself permission to enjoy! When it is a holiday or birthday- indulge a little. Live in your moment. Find peace with yourself. Gluttony is an unbecoming service to the spirit, it is the exercise of habitual greed or an excess in eating. Key word= greed.  In the practice of celebration exercise the habits related to joy, harmony, and love and treat your body thusly. Simply in creating a harmonious balance within you, your activities will then match your spirit. Celebration can then be a place of reasonable choices.

Good luck on your journey. YOU are worth it!

Be Blessed and Be a Blessing!



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