Lauri Mackey

Wrenches in the Trenches

Wrenches in the Trenches are not your average, every day kind of hiccups in life.  It’s when you’re on a streak of them that they become wrenches in the trenches.  The last couple weeks of mine have been definite wrenches in the trenches and it’s not ready to stop just yet.  I’m going to share some of this with you only as example, not to be hugely negative.  (I promise to end on a positive note!)

My Wrenches This Last Week

My husband and I own a business and while I’ve stepped mostly away to build up Lauri’s Lemonade Stand, I’m still pretty involved.  Nothing at that business happens at a convenient time.  For example, let’s have our production manager quit without notice and then all of a sudden all of our clients need their orders yesterday.  Then two days later your part-timer calls in sick and the day after that your other one does as well.  Because this business pays ALL of our bills right now, that means that not only do my husband and I drop everything to keep it going, but my daughter as well.  Talk about a family business!  And it hasn’t stopped.

My daughter has finished high school, finished a vocational school and only has two mock state board finals to complete before graduating and then taking the state boards on April 3rd.  She called the school admin and set up two dates, but that admin didn’t tell the other admin and her dates got taken.  Even though we had set up everything with everyone to be there so now we are scrambling to get her a new model (thermolysis – permanent hair removal – have to bring your own model) on the only two dates they have left and one is the day before state boards meaning that if she doesn’t pass, can’t take state boards.

And then there’s the rain.  I love rain!  But not when it has the possibility of bringing flash floods to recent burn areas or cancels our mountain bike race for the weekend for our local high school mountain bike team and we are scrambling for practices or possible spin classes.  That also means canceling hotels, changing plans, re-booking hotels for the next race, etc.  I got most of my money back, but others refused a refund.

Last one…then there’s my dumb thyroid and the needle biopsy that hurt like the dickens and bruised my neck only to have the results come back inconclusive and being sent out for genetic testing that will take weeks to get those results.  Not freaking out, but definitely a wrench psychologically to have to wait.

Combatting the Wrenches

When life throws more than little hiccups your direction and there seems to be a steady stream, those are your wrenches in the trenches moments.  Here’s what I do to combat feeling despair during these crazy life wrenches:

  1. I do the best I can.  I make a list and that list is filled with more stuff than I could ever accomplish in a day and I know it.  I then write the numbers 1-3 of the things that are the most important and I start there.  If I finish those three, I make another priority of the next 3.  And then I let it go.  Oh, I’ll get stressed, but I try to do my best and let the rest go.
  2. I find at least one thing to be grateful for daily.  There is something in every day and I write mine in a 5-year journal I keep at my bedside every night.  Focusing on something good, writing down, and then I get bonus points if I share it with my hubby cause talking about that good thing makes me happy.
  3. Look for the silver lining or the lesson learned.  I truly believe that things happen for a reason.  While our business is still struggling to get caught up, we are grateful to have hired a wonderful new production manager and am embracing the fact that we have lots of work to do which brings us monetary blessings like paying for our mortgage and eating.  Kinda important things, right?  My daughter was able to find a model for tomorrow and I firmly believe there’s a reason why her schedule got re-arranged.  Maybe in finding the new model she’ll meet someone new.  Maybe it will be good to do a mock final the day before her state boards so it will be fresh in her memory.  I can’t always immediately see the blessing, but I’m on the look out for it!  And the rain with the races?  Turns out I only lost $6.84 cents for my hotel.  I won’t be attending the re-scheduled race because my oldest daughter and my two grandbabies are coming for a visit and that fact alone will save me 6 hours of driving.  That’s a blessing!  I’m praying that we will not have flash floods, but I am grateful for the much-needed rain in California.
  4. Last, but certainly not least.  If all else fails, give up.  Oh, I don’t mean permanently, but sometimes you need to just set everything aside, grab your favorite food and chick flick and zone out.  Those problems aren’t going anywhere.  Tell them all to take a time-out, re-group yourself and come at it fresh tomorrow.

Wrenches in the Trenches are inevitable, but they do pass.  If you’re in one now, I feel ya.  The struggle is real.  Take heart, this too shall pass.

Please leave your comments below on this article.  I would love to hear from you!

“1 A Week” Challenge – Save a Life!

We Rise By Lifting Others

“1 A Week” is an honest to goodness force of nature out there challenging everyone to to reach out.  Together, we can make a difference.  We have to.  And kindness is the answer…simple, yet profound.

“If someone had smiled and said, ‘Are you okay?’ I know I would have begged them to help me. I would have told them everything and asked for help. I would not have jumped. I just was unable to ask for help myself.” These are the words of suicide survivor, Kevin Hines.

Hines, like many people who attempt suicide, feel as though they are alone in this world. With no sense of purpose and a feeling of loneliness, it can be hard for anyone to believe that their life is important. When hitting this point, a simple smile or, “hello,” could be enough to make someone feel like life is worth living.

What if you were to do even more than smile? What if you could do something that not only helped someone else, but made you feel good about yourself too? Even get reciprocated for your good deeds?

“1 a Week,” is an organization that raises mental health awareness and spreads positivity, through random acts of kindness. Encouraging everyone to share their acts, with a participant receiving a gift for their gesture each week.

The name, “1 a Week,” came about with the thought that while one good deed a week is very manageable to complete, you can still have a positive impact on many lives. It all starts with just one! The ripple effect that can occur starting with just one person, one random act of kindness, is limitless. Say you complete your 52 acts throughout the year, for 52 different people. Of those people, twenty of them take on the challenge themselves and complete another 52 deeds. Each of those twenty people, get another twenty, and so on, and so on. Do you know how many people that is, spreading the love? A whole lot, thats how many!

“But I don’t have a lot of spare money to perform any acts of kindness! I don’t have much spare time either and to top it all off, I don’t have any good ideas of what to do.”

These are some of the most common reasons people have for not getting in on the fun of giving. Here is the thing, to be kind doesn’t have to take any money, much time, or a lot of creativity. You can leave encouraging notes around town, give up your seat on a bus, pick up litter, shovel your neighbors walkway. There are endless possibilities! You do what you are capable of and as Kevin Hines pointed out, the impact doesn’t necessarily correlate with how big you go.

So how about those gifts you can receive?

“1 a Week,” teamed up with a few sponsor companies that want to do their part in spreading positivity giving. A month of online personal training? Top quality t-shirt or hat? Positive social interaction card game? A watch?? All gifts that are being sent out to the participants of the challenge.

So let’s get to the details of how to participate. There are two ways to share your acts. You can share it to the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/1aweekchallenge, and if you wish to remain anonymous, just send a private message, and it will be shared for you. You can also post it to your Instagram, tag @_1aweek in the post, and/or use the hashtag #1aweek. A recipient for that weeks gift is selected every Sunday night, announced on Monday.

There are plenty of statistics you can find throughout the internet about the positive mental effect an act of kindness has on the person performing it, not just the one on the receiving end. So if for no other reason, do it for your own health!

THIS IS YOUR CALL TO ACTION! This is your call to help make a change in not only your life, but the life of many others. Check out the, “1 a Week,” pages, get inspired, and get going!

Ms Penelope Pickwick’s Books 2017 – What Books are on your bookshelf?

I am a New Year’s Resolutions kind of gal.  I am that crazy, somewhat OCD person that makes a goal list every year and does her best to get ‘er done.  At the beginning of 2017 I realized that my goal sheet needed some sprucing up…it was BORING!  I renamed categories and just added a healthy dose of fun into the titles and the goals themselves.  Today, I’d like to share one of those goals about books I wanted to read in 2017 with you.

I created a stack of 10 books to read throughout the year.  That was it.  Boring.  Snore.  Probably not going to happen even though they are staring me in the face every. single. day.  And then I remembered something.  When I was in 3rd grade my teacher held a contest.  She created a bookworm for each of us and for every book we read (think Golden Books back then) we added another segment to our bookworm.  I adore reading and my bookworm went around at least two of the walls in our classroom.

So that’s what I did!  This year I created a bookworm and named her Ms Penelope Pickwick and she is beautiful!  I’m not a crafty person, but I AM creative.  I cut out circles on pretty paper and every time I finish a book I add a segment to Ms Pickwick which now goes along an entire wall and started onto the next wall here in my studio.

In honor of it being November and I’m down to my last few books for the year, I’d like to list the books I’ve read here for the year and give you a little rating (solely my opinion, of course) from 1-5 stars and why.  Enjoy and happy Reading!  If you have any comments on any of the books listed here please feel free to let us know so that everyone can decide which one to buy next!  (Links to buy included below and the order is in what I read first, second, etc.)

Books I’ve Read in 2017 (So far…)

Beauty and The Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen – 5 Stars!

This was the first steampunk proper romance I had ever read and devoured it with ease.  Mystery, fantasy, love, women who kick-ass and take names.  This is an incredible read!

The Love Dare for Parents – 2 Stars!

I am a HUGE fan of the movie, Fireproof and the workbook available called The Love Dare so when I started having some trouble with my teenager it seemed like a good fit, but while I am Christian this book seemed a little too fire and brimstone for me.  There was some good advice, but I would not recommend this book.

My Fair Gentleman by Nancy Campbell Allen – 5 Stars!

After I read Beauty and The Clockwork Beast, I wanted more Nancy Campbell Allen (you can listen to her podcast interview with me here) and this was the next one.  While not a steampunk romance, it is a play on My Fair Lady and devoured this one in 24 hours flat.  Yep, it was that good.

The Assertiveness Guide for Women by Dr. Julie Hanks – 5 Stars!

Dr. Julie Hanks was a guest on the podcast (listen here) and her method is pretty much foolproof.  Loved her interview, loved this book, and believe it can help you learn more about yourself and finding the strength to be assertive in your life.

Louis L’amour Favorites: Bendigo Shafter, Borden Shantry, Brionne, The Broken Gun, The Californios, Callaghen, Catlow – All 5 Stars!

This year I completed my collection of novels by Louis L’amour via second hand stores, thrift stores, used book stores, and finally some on Amazon.  He is one of my favorites and I never tire of the good guy winning!  Glad I didn’t live in that era of old western towns, but can’t get enough of these!

The Artists Way by Julia Cameron – 5 Stars!

My husband bought this book for me Christmas 2015 and it took to the end of 2016 to crack it open.  I was really interested, but other books came first  What I didn’t know is that it was a workbook and would take weeks to complete.  I learned more about myself during those weeks than I have over the last decade.  It is a MUST READ and is phenomenal in its content.  It was through this book that I got the idea for #PlayDates and #Recess and was a influence in me finding my creativity and learning that I was actually creative!  Who knew?

The Mismatched Nativity by Merrilee Boyack – 5 Stars!

This is truly a children’s book, but because I had Merrilee on the podcast (listen here) and we talked about this very book, I had to get it and read it for sure.  I highly recommend it for your young’uns!

The Go-Giver by Bob Burg and John David Mann – 5 Stars!

“A Little Story about a Powerful Business Idea” is so good that I still have the 5 steps of business on my dry-erase board in my studio.  Want a teaser?  The first one says, “Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment”.  Get it, read it, enjoy it, implement it!

Kissing A Frog by Sharlene Hawkes – 5 Stars!

This was recommended to me by my best friend, Elizabeth and not only did I read it, enjoy it, and implement parts of it – I then asked Sharlene to be on the podcast and you can LISTEN HERE!  Miss America 1985 and the first foreign-born Miss America ever – you will love her!  There are only 95 copies of her book left in print and if you click here you will be directed to my website where you can get an autographed copy just for yourself!

The Conference of The Birds by Peter Sis – 3 Stars!

Given to me by a friend, it is beautifully illustrated and hard to understand.  Maybe I am just too simple to get all of it’s deeper meaning, but it is now my coffee table book because the artwork adds beauty to my home.

The Vicar’s Daughter, A Heart Revealed, Lord Fenton’s Folly – all by Josi S Kilpack – All 5 Stars!

Josi stole my heart long ago with her recipe/mystery novels featuring Sadie Hoffmiller and I’ve never looked back.  I was so deeply honored (and am a crazy huge fan!) that I asked her to be on the podcast and she accepted!  (Listen Here!) These three are some of her best proper romance books to date and I fall in love with her all over again every time I read them.  I went on a bender here obviously and read three in a row!  Highly recommend all three, but would read A Heart Revealed before Lord Fenton’s Folly – interconnected just a bit, but still can be read as stand alone books so pick your favorite!

You Have 4-Minutes to Change Your Life by Rebekah Borucki – 4 Stars!

This is an insightful book on how you can fit meditation (even four minutes) into your daily schedule.  It is definitely a way to do that, but found myself only giving four stars because I’m not very woo-woo…sorry ladies!  I loved the stories and indeed love Rebekah “Bex” Borucki so much that I had her on the podcast and had an incredible interview!  (Listen Here!)

Strong Is The New Pretty by Kate T Parker – 5 Stars!

If you need a Christmas present or birthday present or graduation present for any girl or woman in your life, look no further…this is it! There are not a lot of words, but little there are makes an impact.  Even more impactful are the images.  Kate’s photography in this work is worthy of any bookshelf or wall.  I found myself going from laughing to crying to being all out contemplative as I consumed the photos that fill it’s pages.  A must have for you and anyone else you can think of.  Want to learn more about Kate?  Listen to her podcast here!

There Is No Good Card For This by Kelsey Crowe, PhD – 5 Stars!

Another guest on Lauri’s Lemonade Stand The Positivity Podcast for Women (Listen Here!) Kelsey has empathy down to an art and in fact teaches it to other via her workshops.  In all honesty, I didn’t read the book before our interview.  Then this happened:  One of my closest friends started going through a divorce that still isn’t over as I write this and I felt like I could be a better friend.  I then devoured the book within a couple of weeks and started using its wisdom immediately.  It’s worth every penny – get it!

The Secret of the India Orchid by Nancy Campbell Allen – 5 Stars!

Don’t need to say another word more than what I did on her first two books listed above other than I can’t wait for her next steampunk romance coming out in 2018!!

Money, A Love Story by Kate Northrup – 5 Stars!

Ladies, this book is tailored just for you and your dirty money secrets you might be hiding.  Don’t hide under the covers about your finances any longer…Kate take you through her own experiences and what you can start doing right now today to make a difference in your personal finances.  True eye-opener and guess what?  She tells much, much more during our LLS Podcast interview (Listen Here!).

Choose Yourself by James Altucher – 5 Stars!

This book is all about possibilities.  Believing in possibilities.  Coming up with new possibilities.  It was so fun (even hysterical in some parts) to read and chock full of knowledge about how to Choose Yourself in this world in the best possible way.  Implementing even one part of this book could seriously change your life.  Try it out!

Books I’m reading right now (Unfinished)

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene’ Brown

Maybe It’s You by Lauren Handel Zander

Bragg’s Healthy Lifestyle by Paul C Bragg, ND PhD and Patricia Bragg, ND PhD

Better Each Day by Jessica Cassity

What’s on your bookshelf?

Would love to hear recommendations on new books, give me your two cents on any of the books written above and let me know if you purchase any of these based on the above reviews.  I would love to hear from you!

Random Thoughts on Taking Out the Trash

Taking Out the Trash

For Real This Time…

I don’t know how many of you are Mac Users (I’m a Mac, not a PC), but there is a little to-do item that I sometimes forget about, but it’s very important to do especially on my laptop where I do all my work so there isn’t a lot of disk space to mess around with.  It’s a little chore called, “Empty Trash”.

I delete stuff all the time on my computer!  From emails to tossing out documents or photos of videos.  Memes I’ve downloaded and used and then no longer need.  Photos of items I’ve put on Craigslist and sold…months ago.  Screenshots I’ve taken for a specific purpose and now that purpose has passed.  I created a word document for a to-do list and now that chore has passed so I toss it out.  I put it all in the trash.  Out of sight, out of mind.

But just like the trash we throw into our trash cans outside for the garbage man to take away, it’s not like that stuff just disappears.  In the case of our household trash, it ends up in a landfill doing damage to our planet earth. And the files in my computer?  They sit in the trash until I go take one more step and EMPTY THE TRASH!

I’m not sure why we have to throw out the trash twice, but we do.  Of course, in the case of our household trash, I try to limit what goes into the landfill.  I try to reduce, re-use, and recycle as best I can so the impact I have is less.  And on my computer, I try to make a habit of regularly taking out the trash so that stuff is not just out of sight, but permanently gone.

Where is all this headed?  Sometimes we need to mentally take out the trash.

First, IT IS a good idea to simply reduce, re-use, and recycle the mental garbage.  Trying to put better things into our creative and mental space is definitely the first line of defense.  Do watching scary movies give you nightmares that keep you up at night?  STOP WATCHING THEM in the first place!  Stuck in a bad habit or need to simply create a new one like flossing twice a day?  Take the first step towards either one.  Remember that it takes baby steps…moving forward however small is the key.

Second, we may think that we have taken out the trash but just like my EMPTY TRASH button you may need to permanently take it out.  Setting it aside is not enough.  Sometimes we need to take that extra step and permanently let it go.  Here are a few examples:

You’ve quit coffee, but still own a coffeemaker and coffee is still in the cupboard.  You’ve forgiven a friend, but are still hanging on to hurt feelings that we can’t quite release.  You were in a horrible relationship, got out of it, then are still mentally bashing that other person or worse, ourselves for being in the relationship in the first place.  How much mental space are you taking up by not permanently deleting the trash?  By taking that extra step to let go for real this time?

I’m not saying it’s easy, but this blog is just about awareness.  If you are in a situation where you haven’t permanently deleted your trash – you are the only one who truly knows.  If you read this blog and instantly thought of something in your life that this applies to – then this article is for you.  Do some mental decluttering, some soul-searching, some meditation, whatever does it for you to start taking baby steps towards healing – and EMPTYING THE TRASH.

Would love to hear from you!  Please comment below and let’s start some chatter!  Have a gorgeous July and see you next month!

#Recess #PlayDate #Ideas #SelfLove

5 Ideas for Self-Dates!

It wasn’t until I read the book, The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron that I truly embraced self-dates.  And to tell you the honest truth, the first one stunk.  It was supposed to be for 2 hours and I don’t know why, but I chose to go to the beach and people-watch.  I don’t even like the beach.  I live 15 minutes away, but I’m more of a mountain girl.  I sat on that beach for 2 hours!  Doing absolutely nothing!  Lame, but lesson learned.

I was so mad about my first date going so horribly wrong that I was determined to make the 2nd one more fun.  I planned a trip to Ojai which is about 30 minutes from my home.  I went on line and picked two new stores to check out and then had lunch at my favorite vegan restaurant called Hip (highly recommend it!).  The first store turned out to be closed, but the second one was an open air bookstore – really!  An outdoor bookstore and I bought more Louis Lamour books – it was fabulous!

As of this writing, my 17-year old has now taken herself on her first self-date.  She got treats for the movies and watched Wonder Woman at the theater.  Dollar treats, bargain day at our local theater – perfect for the teenage budget!

I truly recommend self-dates!  The ultimate would be once a week, but if you can pull off once every two weeks or even once a month consider it a huge accomplishment as you will have gone from zero to something!  Here are 5 Self-Date Ideas to get you started.  Re-instate #Recess for Adults!

The 5 Senses Date

#1  One of my favorite self-dates was last month when I decided to enlist the 5 senses and create a date around it.  Touch, Smell, Taste, Sight, and Hearing.  Start by making a list of your 3 favorite in each category and then pick your favorite from each one.  Here is how mine played out:  Touch – my favorite comfy afghan my oldest daughter made for me while dressed in my night shirt and slippers.  Smell – wild orange essential oil in a diffuser to remind me of the orange blossoms in the local orange groves.  Taste – what else?  Sweet Potato Fries from Veggie Grill, of course!  Sight – sat in my favorite room of the house and grabbed my favorite book by Josi S Kilpack, The Vicar’s Daughter.  Hearing – gonna love this one…I ran the dishwasher.  Weird?  It is a childhood sound that I love because whenever we went to bed, my mom or dad would start the dishwasher – love that sound!  Best date ever!

Traveling Exhibit

#2  This one was simple.  I live on a University Campus with a beautiful library.  There was a traveling exhibit featuring this area’s local agriculture history.  Other than the one gentleman who talked my ear off for about 30 minutes, it was fascinating and I even toured the library for the first time after living here for the last 6 years!  Check your local library or museums to see what’s on exhibit now or coming soon.

Something Old, Something New

#3  When I went up to Ojai, I picked my favorite restaurant Hip because I was familiar with it and then coupled it with something new in visiting the outdoor bookstore.  The restaurant made me feel warm and comfy and the bookstore made me feel adventurous.  Is there something you can couple with something old and familiar and still taste some adventure?

It’s Elementary, My Dear

#4  This one seems silly at first blush, but it is oh so fun once you’re into it.  Collect at least 10 magazines and grab your scissors and a piece of poster paper from Michael’s or Target.  Cut out anything that you like or strikes your fancy and then paste them with a glue stick on to the poster paper.  Proudly hang it up in a prominent place in your home for as long as you can!

Sacred Space

#5  Sometimes you just need a solid time-out.  What is your sacred space?  A temple, synagogue or church?  Perhaps the library or a special place on your favorite hike?  There is a choice of a couple of things you can do.  One is that you just go sit and be.  Take this time to simply be still, quiet, and savor the silence.  Two is that before you head out to your sacred space, write down a burning question to take with you.  Write it down on a piece of paper and put it in your pocket.  Once in your sacred space, open it up and lay it beside you.  Don’t overthink this.  Don’t make yourself think about it, just knowing it’s there will help.  Is there a solution or at least a next step that comes to mind?  I will tell you that the times I’ve done this, I either think of a solution or a next step OR I get a feeling of peace that I just need to be patient and that the answer will come in time.  Either way, I feel immensely better for having taken this time for myself.

Pick a date, set the time on your calendar, fulfill the date, then come back here and comment to let me know what you’ve done.  Others will appreciate hearing back from you and get more ideas – remember, we are all out to help each other!

Playlists! I Share my Favorite Playlist – Bike!

I don’t know what I’d do if I lost my music that I have collected for years and cultivated into so many playlists.  I have lots of music and lots of playlists!  Motivate, Meditation, Melancholy, Bike, Gym, Run, Smile, Time to Sing, and Work Faster!

Not only do I have lots of songs and lots of playlists, but the songs within each playlist are about as random as you can get!  When I hear a song I like, I buy the song.  Not the album, just the song.  It’s just my method and I like it.

I collect songs about as randomly as the playlist itself.  Shazam is my go-to app.  I bust it out at movies, during bike videos on YouTube, in restaurants, or stores.  Shazam doesn’t cost a dime…try it out!

Today, I’d like to share my favorite workout playlist with you:  Bike!

Ain’t Nothing Wrong With That by Robert Randolph & The Family Band

Boom, Shakalaka, Boom Single (Instrumental Only) by Stigmata Party

Shake ‘Em On Down by North Mississippi All Stars

I Bought My Eyes by Ty Segall Band

Reservoir Park by The Dutchess & The Duke

New Blood by Zayde Wolf

Thunderstruck by AC/DC

True Believers by The Bouncing Souls

Born This Way by Lady Gaga

Viper Rims by Marc Adamo & Tico Zamor

Bad Reputation by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

Get-Together by Tim Myers & Serengeti

Do Your Thing by Powerman 5000

Ya Mama by Fatboy Slim

Shatter Me (featuring Lzzy Hale) by Lindsey Stirling

Cashbox by Big Head Todd & The Monsters

Random Hearts by Tom Gabel

Send Me a Postcard by Shocking Blue

Immortals by Fall Out Boy

Write It All Down for You by Elliott BROOD

On the Floor (Featuring Pitbull) by JLo

The Rhythm Method (Move!) by Flobots

Roundtable Rival by Lindsey Stirling

Greenlight (Featuring FloRida & LunchMoney Lewis/TJR Radio Mix) by Pitbull

Bad Girl (Featuring Marilyn Manson) by Avril Lavigne

Run Boy Run (Instrumental) by Woodkid

Back In Black by AC/DC

Love Don’t Die by The Fray

Right Place, Wrong Time by Dr. John

Let Spirits Ride by Black Mountain

Lose Yourself by Eminem

Howlin’ for You by The Black Keys

The Monster (Featuring Rihanna) by Eminem

Cobrastyle by TeddyBears featuring Mad Cobra

Sabotage by Beastie Boys

E-Pro by Beck

Dougou Badia (Featuring Santigold by Amadou & Mariam

The Core by Uppermost

Cloverland by Ki:Theory

Geronimo by Sheppard

Come With Me Now by KONGOS (one curse word in this one)

Daybreak by OVERWERK

Eyes Down by Eels

Gold on the Ceiling by The Black Keys

My cycling coach I hired last year commented that he thought I was a good Christian girl and was surprised to see all these songs on my playlist, but I assure you other than one sh** in the one by the KONGOS, I only bought clean versions of these songs and they’re awesome!

Next time you listen to these songs just picture me out on my mountain bike trying to grind up hills and not crash bombing downhill!

How do you collect songs?  What is your favorite song you’re listening to today?  I would love to hear from you!

Reading is a Magic Carpet to Unknown Lands

There comes a time when you have to choose between turning the page and closing the book.   – Josh Jameson

It seems a bit funny to me to be writing an article on reading, expecting you to read it, because I love to read and want to inspire you to read more.

I am addicted to books and love to read.  I will admit however that I’m as picky about what I read as I am with just about everything else in my life. I like certain books, certain types of writing, certain authors.  I devour Louis L’amour, Nancy Campbell Allen, Josi Kilpack all of which write novels.  (Western, Steampunk Romance, and Proper Romance respectively)  But I also like Kristi Ling’s, Operation Happiness and Sharlene Hawkes, Kissing A Frog, or Dr. Julie Hanks, The Assertive Guide for Women just to improve myself.

If you’ve been following me on Facebook you’ve heard me talk about Ms. Penelope Pickwick and my weekly bookworm report that’s on FB Live on Lauri’s Lemonade Stand.  My goal was to read 10 particular books this year and it needed to have an element of fun.  Ms. Pickwick is my bookworm.  Made out of colorful circles and each time I finish a book, she grows by another circle.  She is beautiful and growing at an alarming rate!  I most definitely love to read!

This love of reading has brought me to loving libraries more, learning about book events and the best part?  Finding out about organizations like “Books on The Underground” in London, “Books On The Subway” in New York, and “I Believe in Book Fairies” which is now worldwide and will be featured later this summer on the podcast.

Do you like to read?  It’s time for summer reading picks and I would love to hear about yours!  Share your favorites and some that you might be interested in grabbing for those days on the beach or if you aren’t close to the beach, by the pool, or to my Arizona or Texas friends…inside a lovely air-conditioned home.  Enjoy your summer reading!

Hint:  If you click on the authors above it will take you directly to their links to buy those books!  Happy reading!

“The Big Fat Fail” – My Stab at Poetry

Poetry can be inspiring, motivating, heart-wrenching, powerful, but it always inflicts emotion.  It can pull at my heartstrings or just make me laugh.  Writing poetry is a hobby for me and have decided to keep a notebook in my backpack just for this purpose.  While sitting at the car wash a couple of weeks ago (why does it take them so long?) I penned this one I call The Big Fat Fail.

Enjoy and let me know what emotions you feel when reading it by commenting below.  Feel free to share your stories of taking your “sucking lemons” failing moments and how you turned them into “sweet lemonade”!

Fail Rubber Stamp

The Big Fat Fail

Fail forward, they say!  And I can’t disagree,                                                                                              but it’s hard to focus while nursing skinned knees.

Bumps, bruises, scrapes, the inevitable aches,                                                                                            the road rash of crashing, but that’s what it takes.

To live is to fail, that’s the lesson I’ve learned                                                                                    through age and experience, or just getting burned.

20/20 vision for me has ALWAYS revealed,                                                                                           every fail that I’ve suffered has earned me more steel.

Failure = Opportunity! To this I confess,                                                                                                         I love who I am now, having passed or “failed” each test.

Be sad in the moment, scream, cry or kick,                                                                                                 but look for the good, and lickety-split,

you’ll find your opportunity, practice!  Give it a whirl!                                                                            The Big Fat Fail can turn (I promise) into your pearl.

Want to read more poetry?

Check out Mary Oliver’s biography here and buy one of her books, House of Light here.

Negative Self-Talk – Reminders!

In April of 2015 I wrote the following article on Negative Self-Talk:

Negative Self-Talk

Listen to Your Best Friend

It took some practice to put this theory into motion for me, but like I always say, “if I can do it, anyone can do it!”  I have issues with negative self-talk about my weight.  I am not overweight, but I am hyper-conscious about my body shape.  I am a grandmother after all and body parts that were once perky are now sadly stretching for the ground and have declared gravity as their best friend.  As a friend of mine used to say, (who has since passed on, losing her battle with cancer), “I used to be a 36D, but now I’m just a 36Long”.  Once I applied the “best friend advice” theory – it made me see myself as my Heavenly Father sees me.  As a daughter of God who is beautiful.  Let’s try it out, shall we?

Take the first thing that pops into your head when it comes to your own personal negative self-talk.  It could be anything, but usually you are able to think about it right away because it has been your constant companion for as long as you can remember.  Now I want you to imagine that you’ve graciously gifted this negative thing or idea to your best friend.  She is now you.  (This works great if you do this in front of your mirror).  Your best friend is now telling you that she hates the shape of her body and that dimples are only cute on baby bums, and that rolls are meant to be eaten not worn.  What do you tell her?

I recently did this exercise in a group of about 40 women and I had the leader of the group play the part of “best friend”.  She was telling me how she was overweight and hated the way she fit in her clothes.  I then asked the audience what advice should I give her?  I panicked as the silence dragged on for just a little bit longer than anticipated.  I worried that people would actually start giving advice on weight loss ideas, diets that never really work, to fast, or to exercise like a maniac.  One woman in the front row saved me with the perfect answer:  YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!!  There have not been a lot of perfect moments in my speaking career, but this one I will always remember.  She said the answer that I had written down in my notes and she said it out loud and clear:  YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!

Ladies, try it out right this second.  Take that negative self-talk and hand it over to yourself as your own best friend.  What advice would you give that best friend?  It changed the way I view myself forever.  I am beautiful.  And not in some egotistical way, but truly beautiful inside and out.  Why?  Because that is how my Heavenly Father sees me, how my husband sees me, how my children see me, and how my best friend sees me.  My best friends would all come and tell me the same thing – YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL!

Reminder of Negative Self-Talk

The Power to Change

I had two reminders this week from gals that are awesome!  My friend, Allie Steele holds periodic bootcamps that run for 4 weeks, Monday, Wednesday, Friday and I usually cannot attend, but this one worked in my schedule!  So this last week I have sweat like crazy and walked around like I had a corncob up my butt with how sore I was on more than one occasion.  But I digress…the point is that during one of the workouts I let out a jokingly, “I suck” and was immediately told by my friend and another participant in the class to not think that way!  I was capable of hard things, I was strong.

I was a bit taken aback when that happened and realized that I indeed needed to change my self-talk to more positive words.  And then something else happened!  I was having lunch with a friend of mine from out of state, a surprise visit!  She was asking about how my business was going, speaking gigs, my writing and I must have been on overwhelm because she said, “I’ve never seen you so down about your work.”  What??  I’m the positivity queen!  I don’t get down about my work!  Hogwash!

Why was I having a poor attitude or negative self-talk?  I really thought about it quite a bit and realized that I was comparing.  Comparison is damaging.  If I compare myself to one out of the fifteen women attending bootcamp and focus on her doing things better than I did I create negative thoughts.  When I compare myself to other people who were already accomplished authors, writers, speakers, podcasters, I create negative thoughts.

How had that little bugger of negative self-talk sneak into my way of thinking?  I don’t know, but it’s about to get a swift boot along with an immediate eviction notice.  Now, I know that it will not be that simple, but awareness is the key.  I am practicing daily mantra’s that will bring a more positive light into my life.  Here’s two from Rebekah “Bex” Borucki (Check out her interview on my podcast here.) that I really like:

I say “no” when I don’t want to.  I say “yes” when it feels good.  I take care of myself through movement that makes me feel wonderful.  I eat foods that make me feel fulfilled.  I have relationships with people who love me as I am.

It is not my job to be in control.  My purpose is to be at peace and to be happy with who I am in this moment, to be loved, and to inspire love.

Want to learn more?  Bex has a 21-day Mantra Challenge that is Free!  Just click here and enjoy more positivity in your life, a break from the negative self-talk, a relief from stress, and experience more gratitude.  Listen to your self-talk this week…what is it saying?

I’m a Crazy Vegan! Are You a Crazy Vegan, too?

Vegans run the gamut from strictly raw, only eating eggs or fish oil supplements, SOS-free (salt, oil, sugar), paleo-type vegans to those who do this crazy vegan thing for health, the planet, or the love and welfare of animals.  There is so much debate out there on what the right thing is from the science to the popularity.  And there is so much shaming going on!!

The vegan who is earth-loving, tree-hugging, no-leather, won’t eat at a restaurant that even serves meat, never drinks from a plastic bottle…you get the idea who is shaming the vegan who is trying to just go meatless on Meatless Mondays.  Today’s blog is to declare my stance on veganism from what I eat to what I wear and tell you that wherever you are in your journey, you are loved and you should be proud of the steps you take daily to do the best you can by you and your family, period.

I did not become vegan to save the planet or rescue animals…at first.  I was in it for purely selfish reasons…I wanted to be the healthiest version of myself.  Looking back, it was a small step by small step journey.  It started with cutting our red meat and pork.  I then learned that chicken was just as bad or even worse so it was back to being a vegetarian which I had dabbled in before coming pregnant with my last child a million and a half years ago.

Vegetarian was pretty easy.  I was what they called lacto-ovo-vegetarian.  I didn’t miss the meat a bit, but I was still eating dairy products and using eggs.  It wasn’t until I read Brendan Brazier’s book, Thrive that I began to believe that it was possible to eat only plants and do what the book suggested…THRIVE!  I’ve told this story before and remember lying in bed reading and leaning over to my husband and saying, “I think I need to do this” and him replying, “I don’t think I can go there with you” and I couldn’t blame him!

The thought of going vegan was scary!  I could cook and I mean COOK!  Chicken-fried steak with incredible gravy, white chocolate cheesecake with macadamia nuts and a pastry crust, key lime pie, quiche, pancakes…you name it!  I later learned that this was the SAD diet (Standard American Diet) and it was killing us and most of the US population at large. What would I feed my family?  How would I cook without dairy and eggs?

But Brendan Brazier wasn’t just an ordinary Joe like you or me, he was a professional Ironman Triathlete who was quite literally THRIVING on a plant-based diet without any animal products whatsoever.  I continued to learn and found Scott Jurek, author of Eat & Run who was thriving on a plant-based diet and running ultra-marathons and 24-hour races – crazy!  If those men could do it with the expectations they had on their bodies, I could most definitely do it!

The research began.  Trust me when I say that I flubbed up A LOT!  Some nights were disastrous and some were big hits, but I kept plugging away and never looked back.  That was 5 years ago.  I’ve learned a lot since then!  I was certified in The Starch Solution by Dr. John McDougall and started teaching vegan cooking classes along with the science to back it up.  I received a certificate in Plant-based Nutrition from eCornell University, and became a Certified Holistic Health Coach through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition in New York.

I have taken classes from Chef AJ and began a Facebook page called VeganMormon that has almost 1000 followers that get posts from me daily.  I joke that I should have named it VeganMormonRepublican because then I could offend just about everyone.  Let’s face it…when it comes to conversations that ignite a defense mechanism almost immediately…let it start around food, religion, or politics!  Right??

My actual diet has been refined and after speaking with leading experts in the field of nutrition realize that I am not alone.  We are all constantly changing our minds on what we want to tweak next, but I do stand behind ZERO animal products.  My diet is pretty simple these days.  Delicious, but simple.  No oil, no sugar, no processed food of any kind.  I limit my flour to almost nothing to help with brain fog and my hypothyroidism.  I just eat food…real food.  Rice, potatoes, beans, greens, veggies, fruits, nuts, avocadoes, seeds…all amazing and wonderfully yummy foods.

Since becoming vegan I have watched powerfully moving films and documentaries like Forks Over Knives, Cowspiracy, and What the Health?  I have subscribed to nutritionfacts.org with Dr. Michael Greger (even had the pleasure of speaking with him at a conference here in California..he is awesome!) and continue to read books and articles that will help not only me, but my audience on their journey.  Try out the 21-Day Kickstart program with PCRM – uh-mazing!

I don’t buy leather products, but I didn’t throw out what I already owned because that just seemed silly to me.  I know there are those out there that will judge me for that, but that’s on you.  I don’t buy down pillows because I have seen how the down is “collected” and it’s gruesome.  I don’t buy anything wool because despite what you may think about it not harming the sheep…guess what?  It does.

I am not perfect as I still buy plastic containers or water bottles sometimes, but by me not eating meat or animal products I truly feel like a super-hero and that I’m saving the planet!  Not to mention, saving a crazy amount of water!  Where I was once vegan for purely selfish reasons, I am now out to save the world!  By not consuming anything from an animal, I am more healthy for sure, I am not harming any animals, and I am quite literally helping to save our dear planet earth.  Will you join me?

Wherever you are on  your journey, I encourage you to soldier on.  Keep up the good work and know that you have a safe place here to talk about it.  If you are further along in your journey, DO NOT SHAME OTHERS because of where they are on their journey.  Only reach out to help them with love, compassion, and kindness.  If I had been shamed by others in the beginning there is no way I would have made it this far.  Be encouraging.  Be loving.  Be careful with your words.  Do your best and then help others to do their best.

Have questions for me about my vegan journey?  Send me a message and I would be happy to answer, but please be kind!  Bringing others down is not my goal and I don’t want to fight about it.  You’re either in and curious, or you’re not and you stay silent. Don’t argue for argues sake.  I will answer any questions that are respectful, curious, and can be helpful.  Good luck wherever you find yourself on this crazy vegan path!!

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