“Earning Your Keep”

While browsing through last April’s posts, I stumbled upon this post I wrote. It’s about how New Englanders thrive in all the seasons and the extremes. It takes a strength and pereseverance to live here, to remain content while the harsh conditions can test your endurance. As winter shuts its door and welcoming spring gradually begins, I wish to share this once again.

https://heartandsoul974.wordpress.com/2018/04/14/earning-your-keep/https://heartandsoul974.wordpress.com/2018/04/14/earning-your-keep/

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The End of March Madness!

When March rolls around most New Englanders hope, even dare to think of spring! The 2019 calendar says it’s officially March 20th but we all know it will be long after that. Our yard still sports mounds of snow, icy slopes and chilly icicles dangle from the rooftop. Snowstorms still clobber our region with multiple inches of the white stuff and whipping winds.

This thermometer will continue to rise this week!

When I mention March madness I don’t mean basketball. If you have read my blog posts you’ve probably learned that my interests don’t include sports. My definition of March madness is the hovering cabin fever that sets in, especially in New England where winter consumes many months of the year. It’s the itch for beautiful pastoral scenes, bright sun, blooming blossoms, singing birds, open windows and growing grass.

This was taken a few days ago, after the latest snowstorm that brought 12 inches of snow!

As March winds down, there is slight evidence that spring really is here. The daytime temperatures rise to the 40’s and 50’s, and this coming weekend it’s predicted to be in the 60’s! A burst of sun and needed warmth is what we New Hampshire residents crave! Surely the pleasant weather will break up any March madness or craziness that exists from cabin fever.

As the mounds of snow slowly melt, the warmer days of April are just next week. Gradually temperatures will rise, back dirt roads will turn to mucky mud and wood stoves may not have to be stoked as generously. Spring days will replace the madness of winter!

Here’s a cheer to the end of the March Madness! Welcome spring!

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 🌞

Staying Calm

Lately I’ve been re-evaluating my state of inner peace and calmness. While randomly reading, I’ve stumbled upon an abundance of material relating to being calm. This is purely coincidental yet fortunate as I’m seeking this. As I work on inner peace, it seems natural to focus on being calm.

Let me tell you candidly that my personality is the farthest from calm you can get! I’ve always been hyper, loud, anxious and nervous. I’ve accepted this for its who I am, but with that, I also desire to change some of my ways! I wish to instill peace and calmness in my life replacing anxiety.

Living in a calm state is a challenge, especially in this hectic world we live in. By turning on the news we see devestating occurrences that build a deep rift in our state of peace, severing any calmness within us. Jumping on your cell phone, answering multiple texts constantly and trying to stay ahead of emails can try someone’s inner peace. But I believe that we have a choice!

I choose NOT to own a cell phone. I know, I know, you may think I’m behind the times and fighting society’s norms. I am doing that…but I’m also choosing calmness! Without a cell phone I am not bound to constant calls and I’m truly happy without it!

Lately I’m working on staying calm as a reaction to others. Sometimes people say hurtful things or lash out at you with negativity. In these situations it’s helpful to keep your emotions in check. Is becoming angry going to help or hinder the situation? My suggestion is to keep calm, walk away, breathe deeply and feel the emotions and then let them go.








Staying calm is any situation can be difficult, especially when you’re exhausted. Make sure you get plenty of sleep at night. Eat healthy foods and exercise regularly. Drink lots of water. Journal all your feelings that overwhelm you. All these practices are medicinal and will not only make you feel great, but will aid your emotional and mental states.


My flower garden is a source of calm.

I truly miss my yard of vibrant yellows, deep purples and red flowers, all that keep me calm and centered in the summertime. The flowing green, cool grass on my feet, the cooing of morning doves and the songs of twittering birds all contribute to my peaceful world. I can’t wait for real spring and summer to relish all of these. Nature keeps me grounded and content.

In the meantime I exercise, go for walks in this small country town, read and write for calmness, and take care of my emotions so that I can thrive as a human, a wife, and a mom.

How do you stay calm in difficult situations? Are there vital things that contribute to your sense of peace?

All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💕

A New Lifestyle ( My tips on Successful Weight Loss)

Before
at 162 lbs

About 10 months later,
after at 132 lbs


Listen to me…I’m no expert nor do I pretend that I know what the right practices for your lifestyle will be. I’ll tell you what I do know and what I’m 100 % confident about as it pertains to my life. If you want to lose weight and become fit, you need to throw away the word diet from your vocabulary. Once you commit to a diet it solidifies pressure on many aspects of your life such as your eating habits, social eating, your exercise regiment, etc. This kind of deep hold on your life works but what I’ve learned is that it doesn’t last. Eventually it fizzles out!

My weight loss journey unexpectedly was launched through a stressful situation. I don’t wish this on anyone but it catapulted me into a different version of my life. It was a negative that transformed into a life changing positive. ( Thank you God) I was living from one sweet to the next with an overload of non-nutritious foods on the menu. I didn’t exercise nor did I wish to. I was sick for weeks every winter with a run down immune system. Lastly my emotional and mental well being went haywire, thrusting me into rough waters to try to swim out of.

One day I woke up…really emerged and I asked myself, is this the way I want to truly live, to exist and not thrive? That day I set a mini goal on the horizon, that I lose a little weight for my son’s wedding. Then I started eating healthier and lighter. Instead of eating a whole sandwich at lunch, I cut back to a half. I snacked on almonds, pistachios, fruit and veggies and hummus. I walked a few times a week with my neighbor Anita, not only experiencing a great workout but a mental strengthener from our enlightening conversations.

As my journey progressed, I maintained active in my garden and did yard work. I stacked wood with Tom while sucking my abs and bottom in. ( This sounds wacky but I feel it helped) I practiced my old Denise Austin aerobic/ exercise/ weight training dvd a few times a week. I journaled( and still do this) all the meals and snacks I ate so that I would see what I actually shoved in my mouth on a daily basis. It’s a fantastic way to stay accountable to yourself. This has been quite an eye opener as I didn’t realize how much I was eating. Journaling goes hand in hand with meal and snack planning. Jot down what your meals and snacks will be for the week and use this for a generated grocery list. Try a variety of foods so you don’t tire of your choices.

stin also has a website and free exercise videos here and there

One trick that worked for me was not weighing myself. In the past on my weight loss journey, I would get upset if the scale didn’t favor me so in turn I ate. This time I went for months not weighing myself but gauged my progress through how I felt physically and how my clothes fit me. As they got baggier and bigger I knew that I was getting favorable results. Now I weigh myself once a week at school for The Biggest Loser program, which isn’t a competition but an individual track of your personal weight loss.

As of yet I have lost 33 pounds and feel unbelievable! I feel healthy, fit and in turn that helps me emotionally and mentally. Knock on wood, I haven’t caught the flu or even a cold this winter! Proper sleep at night and a multi- vitamin has its benefits as well.

Here are some of my tips that may help you:

Start small without huge expectations and pressure

Downscale your meals at first, focusing eating a variety of fresh vegetables, a protein every meal and limited carbs like potato and rice

Eat two snacks a day, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. That would put you at five times a day of eating( three meals and two snacks)

Drink lots of water and stay hydrated

Start exercising a few minutes at a time every day or every other day. I started at three times a week with the dvd and now I practice it four to five days a week, 50 minute workouts every time

Walk with a friend twice a week to start. Make sure you stretch first to avoid painful Charlie horses at night. This happened to me last summer! Ouch!

I skip eating bread all but maybe a piece of toast a week and sometimes a half a sandwich at lunch. It’s been a tough adjustment as I love bread! But I’ve done it and sometimes I treat myself!

Try to not talk too much about your new lifestyle, unless it’s collaboration with a friend who is doing the same thing.  Sometimes talking about a diet to everyone puts pressure on yourself.

Try simple body moves while washing the dishes or brushing your teeth. I do a stretch where I try to keep my heels up tall and squeeze my legs, calves, thighs, inner thighs, bottom and abs as I go up and down a few reps. While washing dishes I kick my legs up on each side six reps while sucking my abs and bottom in.

My great snack ideas that have worked for me:

Carrot or celery sticks with hummus ( I love red pepper and the garlic flavors)

celery sticks with peanut butter

10 whole cashews, 15 almonds,or 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds

apple slices and peanut butter ( sometimes I sprinkle dark chocolate chips and granola pieces on them)

pretzels with hummus

roasted chick peas 1/4 cup a serving, a great source of protein!

Avocado slices and ak- mak sesame crackers

one orange, two clementines, half a banana, one cup berries are all one serving for me

one mini box of raisins


Breakfast ideas:

One piece of whole grain toast ( I buy loaves of freshly baked bread from a bakery in Vermont that sells to Shaw’s) with two tablespoons peanut butter, a half of banana or apple slices

An overnight oatmeal cup, 1/2 cup steelcut oats, 1/2 cup milk, one tablespoon peanut butter, place in a small mason or jelly jar, set in fridge overnight. The next morning add apple chunks or banana slices and more milk if needed. You can eat this hot or cold, I enjoy it cold.

1/2 cup Grape Nuts or Kasha Shredded Wheat cereal with fruit

1 cooked egg with spinach and garlic, one or two slices bacon

2 small homemade pancakes with fruit one tablespoon maple syrup

Treat yourself





One important aspect of my new eating lifestyle is treating myself! I have always savored chocolate and have adamantly decided that I will still eat it in moderation. Most of the time I treat myself three times a week, mostly on weekends so I can workout to limit the damage. Sometimes I indulge in a cup of Haagen Daas almond milk ice cream or a homemade cookie or two. Other times I have a few squares of dark chocolate or dark chocolate raisins. Don’t feel guilty if you go off track, after all you are human! Maybe a rigorous walk or workout will offset your treat intake.

freshly cut carrot sticks to roast, a delicious side dish!

I will post on this topic again as I try new things in my new life and will communicate my strengths and shortfalls. All I know now is that as a 49 plus woman ( a few months shy of the big 50), I currently feel the best that I have ever felt physically! I wish this success for you as well! I feel women need to support other women during the journey instead of tearing each other down!

Believe in yourself for you are worth changing your routine! It may take a few weeks of trial and error with building confidence, but stick with it until it becomes a positive habit.

Let me know how your eating/ exercise regiment is going. Are you committed to feeling the best you ever have? If so, take a chance and make small changes that could grow into an amazing positive lifestyle!

I made these low fat Chocolate Chip cookies with banana yesterday. All they have is two ripened bananas mashed, 1 cup oats, 1/2 cup semi sweet chocolate chips, 1/2 tsp. Vanilla. Mix together. Place in tablespoons on cookie sheet. Flatten with a fork. Bake at 350 F for ten or twelve minutes. They will be soft and need to be stored in the refrigerator.



All My Best,

Heart and Soul 💕

Daily Positive Intentions

One gratitude I hold dear to me right now is my discovery of Maria Shriver’s Sunday paper. Maria posts a positive and uplifting message about thriving in this noisy and chaotic world we live in. Shriver writes with sincerity and clarity, drawing me in and helping me through everyday life’s noise. She also ends her paper with a prayer to God pertaining to her topic, something I read with fervor and end with an amen. If you wish to sign up for her free weekly paper, go to Mariashriver.com for details. Maria also hosts a free podcast called Meaningful Conversations that I enjoy as well. I just listened to a conversation with Jon Bon Jovi and his wife Dorothea discussing Soul Kitchen, their successful project that has not only fed many homeless souls but empowered them with the opportunity of working and giving back to the community.

In this week’s paper Maria discusses rising up from life’s noise and breaking news to staying calm and focused. She suggests that you don’t get wrapped up in every media news story or tweet but limit the noise. Shriver also shares how she lists her positive intentions every morning for the day. This is something that I already practice in the shower while I’m preparing for the day. I also pray for my family and people I know who need it. I think focusing on light rather than darkness ( which Maria discusses as well) is the perfect calm in any storm.

As I write this, I’m planning on journaling most days of my positive intentions. One intention is to spread kindness to all, even people who dislike you or don’t seem worth the time for who are we to judge?We don’t know everyone’s battles so choosing love, acceptance and kindness is the answer. This can be tough at times but everyone deserves the embrace of graciousness.

Another positive intention I’m currently practicing is avoiding watching the dramatic news every morning. First of all, it’s never good. Do you notice that? It heightens my anxiety level and causes me to question our flailing President and government. I choose calmer and peaceful shows to watch in the morning or I connect with my blogging friends. It’s one way I can control what I’m inputing into my heart and brain and limit the clamoring confusion.

I believe focusing on a positive idea and implementing it throughout the day is my personal way of creating peace. It grounds me and keeps me centered heart and soul, as I continue to live and thrive in this life. I challenge you to set a positive intention today. Do you wish to focus on peace, kindness, acceptance or forgiveness? Once you set that daily positive intention, you are on the right track for the day.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️🌈

Love and Magic

This reminds me of the big day coming in two days.

Valentine’s Day is the time to renew and revive love in your life.

Remember where you started, where you are traveling and why you are together. Try to instill special Valentine’s moments into every day of the year!

Happy Valentine’s Day!❤️❤️❤️❤️😍



It’s February…

Our driveway
Looking out my back kitchen window at a dwindling fire stash under cover.

It’s February in New Hampshire

Ice blankets our driveway in gleaming sheets, making a trip to the mailbox a risky excursion. Icy crusted snow encompasses the perimeter of the house. Everywhere one looks a fierce whiteness blinds, yet the sky above is a robin egg blue. The air is crisp and cold, while inside the house, it’s warm and dry. It’s the winter season and we are in the midst of snow storms, icy roads in the early mornings and bright twinkling stars adorning the blackest night. This is all to be expected of this month in New Hampshire!

Usually in late February I fall in a cabin fever trance, longing for spring sun and blooming plants and blossoms. This year there’s a stark contrast in my attitude. I’m feeling great physically and healthy, with a sincere wish to skip the winter blues. After all, I choose to live here so why shouldn’t I make the best of it? Why not enjoy winter’s gifts, these little moments that some probably wish for.

Our family has much to look forward to this month, as we celebrate three family birthdays and a quiet Valentine’s Day. But also we live in such a beautiful place with white magic lying around. It’s fun to walk in it, to explore the frosty woods and look at animal tracks. You can hear winter birds cooing in the trees as well as a random owl hoot now and then.



There’s a time and season for everything and presently it’s time for snow, ice, chilly temperatures and red hot stoked stoves. It’s a perfect opportunity to move the body and snowshoe in the deep woods, to look for animal tracks and white owls, to hike on the snowy trails and truly appreciate the warmth of a raging fire afterwards. Even lugging armfuls of wood feels good as we walk the snowy path to the house.

Our son Dylan in a community college picture on their website.

As I close this post I wish to share Dylan’s first modeling job. I’m just kidding but that was what his wife Lexy joked about. This photo was taken a few years back while he attended a community college for Auto Technology. I randomly found it on a Facebook post a friend shared. At first I wasn’t sure where it was from but I figured it out. The college used it as a cover photo for their Facebook page. Tom and I, like most of you parents, are proud of his accomplishments and thank God for him! ( As well as our other son Branden).

I hope the start of your week is wonderful and if it’s not, breathe. This too shall pass and better days are ahead. Believe me.

All My Best,

Heart and Soul ❤️