Life · stress free zone · travel

Turning 40

I have been so excited to turn forty. To many, it’s THE dreaded birthday, but not for me. I couldn’t be happier. Since the beginning of the year I started making changes in my life and through a ton of hard work and perseverance, I’m seeing the results of all the planning and work. I know to the bottom of my soul that my 40’s are going to be my best years yet!  They are because I’m going to make them the best.  I’m going to live my best life and all my goals are going to happen.untitled-1-125

How I plan to spend much of the next forty years!

For my birthday, my friends (The Dinner Club) took me two and a half hours away to Big Cedar Lodge in Missouri for the night. Holy cow, guys. This place was amazing! Everywhere you drove, everywhere you looked, there was a view! I would have taken far more photos, but we were too busy enjoying all the amenities to carry around a camera all over the large resort. Big Cedar even had me a little birthday cake and a card welcoming us there. I mean, come on… If you can make the trip to Big Cedar, DO IT!  It’s so worth it.


We took a trip down the lazy river before eating ice cream then going to the salt water pool and relaxing. We went to lunch and dinner at the Devil’s Pool Restaurant and I had the oven prosciutto and brie pizza, which I loved. For dinner that night I had an appetizer of pork belly over a pea puree (seriously, the pork belly was freaking phenomenal) and for my entrée I had the Fresh Trout over lemon rice and spinach. They also brought us out a large brownie covered in ice cream for my birthday. It was great and we ate it all!


My sweet friends spent the day making me feel so special. I can’t tell you the amount of times I was nearly in tears from the amount of kindness that was showed to me the entire day. And even though my gift was them taking me there, they still got me a gift certificate for a massage and facial for when I got home.

My advice, find friends who truly care about you. I don’t mean friends who will buy you things and take you places, I mean friends who go out of their way to put a smile on your face and make you feel special. I’m lucky to have friends like that.

As for turning 40, other than my husband not being able to be there, it was the best birthday I’ve ever had. All thanks to The Dinner Club and Big Cedar Lodge.

Life · stress free zone · travel


In late December, I listened to a Podcast episode from Rachel and Dave Hollis that impacted me deeply. So much so I begged my husband to listen to it (and he did) so he would understand what was about to happen, had to happen, and hoped he would be 100% behind me (and he is). I preordered Girl Wash Your Face and by doing that I received a video she did giving steps on how to achieve your goals. That night I bought a notebook and wrote down exactly how I wanted my life to be. A very detailed list. Seriously, I even wrote down what color nail polish I could see myself wearing in my vision of myself.

I had made the decision that if I wanted this life I envisioned, I’m the only person who was going to make it happen. No fairy god-mother was going to come down with her magical wand and grant me my dreams. I was going to work hard, real hard, and live the life I want.

Every morning (I have missed a handful of days) I get up an hour earlier than I used to. I spend at least thirty minutes looking at my vision, dream, goal, whatever you want to call it, list then write down what I’m going to do that day to get a step, even if it’s small, closer to my goal. I also write down what happened the day before. This way every single day I have a mission and I don’t forget what I’m working towards.

Amazingly enough, it’s working.

I’m not going to say everything that’s on my list, but its three pages long. So far I’ve paid off two credit cards and by this time next year we should be completely out of credit card debit. I haven’t drank Dr. Pepper since January 1st and honestly, I was addicted to it. I have a regular physical activity routine. I trained for and ran a 5k!!! I get out more and spend time with friends. A couple of weeks ago I went on a daycation kayaking trip with my bestie and had more fun than I’ve had in far too long. I was in my element. Kayaking and traveling were both on my list too! And this isn’t a check off list. This is a lifestyle list.

BTW, kayaking at Hochatown was one of the cleanest and fun rivers I’ve kayaked down!


My face cracks me up.  The water was freezing!


Speaking of traveling, in 2019 I may have the chance to take two trips out of country! Not one, but two! Without making my goal list and looking at it every day, I don’t think it would be even remotely possible.

My 20’s were long and I had small children. My focus was on them. My 30’s flew by so quickly it’s mind boggling. Now, being less than a month away from 40 (it doesn’t seem possible), I want to spend this decade enjoying every single year! I want to soak it in. I am going to travel, live with less, have adventures, and be debt free. I want to take cooking classes and have photos my great grandchildren think, “dang, my Yaya knew how to live!”.  Curveballs happen, they always do. Heck, I’ve already had a few big ones in the last 6 months, but I just go back and read my list and figure out how the new circumstance can fit into my goal and not how I’m going to fit into the circumstance.

Life’s short ya’ll. We gotta live it while we can.

health · stress free zone

We Did It!

The Dinner Club Runs!

We ran (I use that word loosely) a 5k yesterday!  It was 75 degrees with 88% humidity and most of the time I felt like I was going to pass out or die, but we made it.  My goal was to finish in 40 minutes or less, but with the heat, I couldn’t force myself to go any faster than I was.  No kidding, I was seeing spots.  We did finish in 45:15, which isn’t too bad for my second race ever.

My husband is amazing.  He could have ran it twice and still beat me, but he stuck by my side and give me all the encouraging words to keep going when all I really wanted to do was lay down on the sidewalk until a golf cart picked me up.  I’m one lucky lady!

Here are some photos.  They are not great quality, but thought I would share.  Doing more 5k’s was on my goal list and every single day I’m chipping away at that list to become the person I want to be.  I’m happy I was able to take one little step, but it felt huge.  We can all do anything if we set our minds to it.

Michael and Me before the race.
Michael and his sister and one of my best friends, Carrie
From left to right: Carrie, Darla, Amanda, Me, Paula (The Dinner Club)


Halfway mark and I was dying! It was so hot!!
Life · stress free zone

One Hour Early


Trying to find time for myself in this season of my life is difficult. My days seem cram packed with work, cooking, cleaning, and babysitting. While I’m at work I imagine all the things I’m going to get done when I get home, but as soon as I clock out I have so many things to do by the time I can take a breath, it’s 9pm, I’m wore out and ready for bed.

Thanks to some advice from Rachel Hollis at The Chic Site, I’ve been waking up an hour early every morning (even weekends). I’m actually writing this post during one of my early mornings.   I’m surprised how much I can get done in one single hour while everyone else sleeps. I’m not talking about cleaning, laundry, etc. I’m talking about achieving my goals.

Every morning I sit down with my notebook containing my goal and all the thing that will have to be done to meet my goal and decide what I can do in that one day to get just a little bit closer to accomplishing it. My goal is huge for me. It’s a goal I have dreamed about for years now, but didn’t see a way to get there with my life the way it is right now. Things simply aren’t working the way they are now. I’m not happy in this season and neither is my husband. Happy with each other, yes! Happy with the direction we’re going in life, no. So you know what? It’s time to change my life to meet my goals.  That first step is waking up an hour early so I have the time to really look at myself and my day and make it happen.

I’m a month in, and though my goals are going to take a long time to achieve, I’m seeing small progress. Far more progress than I was at a month ago. In addition, I feel better about me. I’m becoming more optimistic about my dreams that I worried would never be fulfilled. Instead of dreading the day, I’m eager to get going and conquer the day. In general, my attitude toward myself and others has been far more forgiving and more pleasant. The people around me are noticing the difference also. I don’t know how many times in the last month I’ve been told it’s good to see the old me coming back to life. For over a year I’ve been in a complete fog and the light has finally started to clear the haze.

I’ve worked hard this month to create a good foundation on which I can build on throughout the rest of the year and the rest of my life. I’m more excited than I’ve been in a long time and can’t wait to see where this leads me.

Tell me what you would do with your hour?

Food · House · Life · stress free zone

The Dinner Club


After years of talking about it and never following through, I finally had a dinner party. Why you ask that I waited years to get together with my friends at my house? Because I’m a perfectionist. I have always had it in my head that everything in my house, everything on the table, everything we wear has to be perfect and if I can’t make it perfect, then I can’t do it. Because of this I’ve missed out on the kind of fun and pure enjoyment that I had last night.

I’ve worked hard on myself for the last year. I’ve tried to recognize my own faults and fears to see what I can do to get past them and to a place where happiness is within myself. Being perceived as perfect (which I know no one else actually sees me as, but in my mind, that’s what I want them to think), is one of those issues. So, me being me, I decided it’s time to work on it. I text my two close friends and said, “Hey, I’m throwing a dinner party next month and this time I mean it.” I imagine they rolled their eyes and decided to leave that date open on their calendar for when they expected me to say a week later that I wasn’t going to do it. Nope, not this time. This time I immediately sent out a group text to all five friends and said we’re doing this on Friday 13th. It just might end up being a nightmare, but we’re doing it anyway.

I ended up changing out the center piece, but you get the gist.


While planning I made a pact with myself that I wasn’t going to go overboard. I wasn’t going to panic. I wasn’t going to try to make it perfect. In some ways, I failed at all three, but in others I let go and let be.

I love to decorate. Love it. It brings me joy. So, I went full steam ahead on the table. Other than these plates I ordered (which I was planning to order anyway), I used only what I already had to set the table and decorate it. How I limited myself is I didn’t go out and buy a new dining table and chairs. Yes, the old me would have had to have this done before ever inviting people to come over. My husband is planning to build me a dining table and I’m going to purchase chairs, but I made myself wait until we could actually afford it and not just break the bank because I wanted the people I was having over to only see the best. Is anyone else like this or am I on a lonely island over here?


The panicking side I did really well on….until the day of the party. I was all good until I came home and started getting everything together and kept noticing things around the house out of place or something that was messy. I started to panic thinking what will these people think of me when they come over and see the vacuum hasn’t been put away yet. No kidding I started sweating so bad I had to take an extra shower. Seeing what I was doing, I left that freaking vacuum sitting out where it was so I could prove to myself that it doesn’t matter. If my friends cared that my place had things out of place, then I don’t need those kinds of friends. (no one cared!)



For six people, that’s a lotta cheese and bread! 🙂


You know what? It wasn’t perfect, but it was a blast. We laughed loud, ate too much, drank too much wine, and it was everything I hoped it would be. I actually had so much fun that I forgot to take photos of the food, but it was easy and delicious and I’ll leave the Roasted Chicken over Red Potatoes recipe video from Honeysuckle Catering here.  I sautéed fresh green beans as a side and that was it. Since we had a ridiculous amount of cheese beforehand I knew the dinner didn’t need much to fill us up.

Now we are planning on having a monthly Dinner Club. Once a month we’re going to go to one of our houses, eat, and enjoy each other’s company. One thing I know for sure is we women need each other. We need encouragement, acceptance, and love for one another.  In this time in my life, I need it.

health · Life · stress free zone

5 Tips for a Good Night’s Sleep

After weeks, heck months, of just an hour or two (if I was lucky) of shut eye I learned ways to help get a decent night’s sleep. You’ve probably heard most of these, but maybe not. I just know how it feels to try to function throughout a day after a sleepless night and hope I can help someone else.

  1. Yoga! Yoga makes a huge difference in my sleep patterns. It took a couple of days to notice a difference, but now, I don’t like to miss a day! You don’t have to go to a yoga studio to get your Namaste on. All you need is a mat and YouTube. Every evening I watch Yoga with Adriene. She fits me and what I’m looking for in yoga. I use yoga time as my time to clear out all the noise of the day. Go search some videos on YouTube and try a few out and see how you like it. 
  2. Warm Tea. I like tea a lot. I’m from the south so I typically drink sweet tea, but in the evening I like to drink a nice calming, warm cup of tea. I’m not a tea expert by any means, but this is what I like to drink about an hour before bed, Yogi Honey Lavender Stress Relief Tea, 16 Tea Bags, Packaging May Vary .  If I’m feeling extra fancy, I go to my local tea shop and tell them to make me happy, then I bring whatever they suggest home and add a little warm cream!
  3. Bedtime Snack.  I don’t know about you, but when I’m stressed I don’t want to eat.  I’ll go to bed and listen to my stomach growl for hours until I finally pass out or just get up for the day.  Even if I don’t want to, I make myself eat a healthy snack within an hour before bed.  This might be a banana, sunflower butter on a tortilla, a handful of nuts, or even a yogurt.  Just one of those, not all in one night…..
  4. Bedtime Soundtrack.  I love to listen to waves and rain while sleeping.  When I first attempted listening to music to sleep my therapist told me not to listen to any music with words.  Apparently our brains stay active longer spending time making out what the words are saying instead of relaxing.  I’ve found I can’t even sleep if there are bird chirps, crickets, or any other background noise.
  5. Holes in My Feet.  This one is going to sound a bit odd, I know.  When I was first told to try it, I gave a fake smile and said I would when in my head I thought she was one odd duck.  But, being wide awake at 3am, stressed and exhausted, I was willing to try just about anything to catch some zzz’s.  So here’s how you do it.  While laying in bed (the floor, wherever) pretend there are holes in the bottom of your feet. Focus on your feet and breathe in good air through the holes and push out the bad air (stress).  Sounds ridiculous, but seriously, it works!!  If I’m having a particularly difficult day at work I will close my eyes and do this at my desk.

I’ve been doing a lot of research on aromatherapy and just got my diffuser and oils, but haven’t tested them out enough yet to know if they help or how to use them to their best ability.  If you know any oil combos that you love, let me know! URPOWER Essential Oil Diffuser and Essential Oil Set

If you try any of these and they work for you let me know!  Also, if you have any tips that I didn’t mention, leave them in the comments.

Food · stress free zone · Uncategorized

Tea Time

Downtown Fort Smith, Arkansas has impressed me with its continuous growth and variety. Five years ago I would have never imagined it to be as it is now AND it’s still improving.

Savoy Tea is one of my favorite places to go downtown. The cool colors, cute décor, and amazing smells never fail to cheer me up and make me feel like I’m doing something special. And in my opinion, they have the best chai latte in town and their Ozark Sunset Sweet Tea is perfect on a hot summer day.  I’ll also be signing up for their Tea Toaster’s Club this month.



This weekend my best friend and I went to Savoy Tea to discuss nothing and everything over a cuppa (me) and coffee (her). There’s nothing better than having a friend you can be in tears with one minute and laughing the next. I’m not going to lie, this season in my life hasn’t been an easy one and I’ve needed my friend and thankfully, she’s been there.   With two unexpected grandchildren on the way, work, school, and just life, I’ve been unintentionally isolating myself and she’s the kind of friend who forces me to get out and do something with her and talk about things instead of letting me close off the outside world. She’s also the kind of friend that I can say, “Hey, can you go outside and take a photo of me through the glass?” and she says, “I hate you, but yes.” HA!

Savoy Tea-1-8Savoy Tea-1-5Savoy Tea-1-4

One thing I’ve learned lately is life usually doesn’t go as planned. Things happen that are out of our control and in that moment you might feel like everything you’ve worked for is up in smoke, but life goes on. Take a yoga class, call a friend, have a cup of tea, make a new plan, and before you know it things don’t look as bad as they did before.

Dress : Brickyard Buffalo  (This dress is no longer available, but I always find something great on their site)
Chai Latte: Savoy Tea (Fort Smith, Arkansas)