There are two components to breathing. Inspiration and expiration. Inspiration is an active act. Even if it isn’t conscious, it is still active. The diaphragm is pulled down and the chest expands and air is sucked into the lungs. Expiration is passive. The diaphragm relaxes and the pressure outside the chest causes it to deflate and the air leaves the lungs.


There are also two components to life, inspiration and expiration. Just like in breathing, expiration is a passive process. Inspiration, especially of others, is an active process. I can not think of many who inspire without doing something.


 So, the way I see it, is that we have two options in life. We can be active and inspiring (even if we only inspire ourselves), or we can be passive and expiring.


People tell me I am inspiring. I am just living life. I am doing my best to live life to the fullest. I’m going to be, to use the cliched phrase, all that I can be. I’m being active. I’m taking responsibility for my life and my actions. I’m no longer passively living. In that vein, I am no longer expiring, I’m inspiring.


how do I make a goal?

this post was originally written in Oct 2012


I got asked this question the other day… and since one of my goals in october is to write in my blog every day I figured that I would walk you through my goal setting process… 

The first step for me is to decide what I want to work on… so I want to spend more quality time with my kids… and I want to work on my physical stuff… and I want to work on my blog and my book and and and and and and… and a million things that everybody else wants to do….  I like to make SMALL adjustments to my life… because making big changes (in my past) has always led to failure… so I pick between 8-10 things that I want to make a goal and head to step 2

So this is what my list looks like at this point:

1) daily calories

2) push up program

3) superman stretch

4) blogging

5) my book

6) devotions with my kids

7) personal devotions

8) quality time in prayer

the second step for me in setting a goal is to determine where I am… a good goal is a lot like a gps… it will help you get to where you want to go… but it can’t do it… can’t help you get to where you are going unless it knows where you are… so I want to work out a physical goal like pushups… if I decide I want to do 500 pushups in a row this month that could be a good goal… but what if right now I can only do 5 pushups… then that isn’t a very realistic goal… so I have to evaluate where I stand on those 8-10 things… so I go through my list and write down where I currently am

which makes my list look like this:

1) daily calories – 2090

2) push up program – roughly every 2-3 days or (sept 18, 19, 21, 24, 26, 29)

3) superman stretch – 0 but I can do planks very well

4) blogging – 0 but I am stuck on the couch with nothing else to do

5) my book – 0 but I am stuck on the couch with nothing else to do

6) devotions with my kids – 0 but I am stuck on the couch with nothing else to do

7) personal devotions – inconsistent – but I am stuck on the couch with nothing else to do

8) quality time in prayer – inconsistent – but I am stuck on the couch with nothing else to do

The third step is to take that list and figure out how far I think I can push it… I don’t like to make goals that I know I will not be able to meet… because that depresses me and I tend to consider myself a failure and not even try at the next goal setting event because *obviously* I am a failure so why should I bother to make goals?? So I look at my list and try to set a goal that is reachable if I push hard

So my list now looks like this:

1) 2000 calories or less per day

2) work on push up program at least 13 times (about every other day)

3) superman stretch x 60 mins (in the month)

4) a blog post every day

5) brainstorm for my book (and write 3 chapters… 1 week for brainstorming and one week per chapter)

6) devotions with my kids every day

7) personal devotions every day

8) quality time in prayer every day


I then make (or find) myself some sort of tool to track my goals… because what good is a goal if you don’t know if you did it or not?

Who’s with me? Do you want to make some goals? Now is a good time… but you don’t have to wait until the beginning of the month or the beginning of the week… you can make a goal on Wednesday the 15th… because every day is a good day for a new beginning.. and today is as good a day as any!

how do I track my goals and why?

this post was originally written in Oct 2012


Basically, what is the point in making a goal if you don’t know if you got it. To me that sort of makes me think of those “starving kids in Africa” things you see on tv and then you send in 10 bucks because you feel guilty… then you wonder if any starving kids ever actually got anything out of your money.

Also, if you make a goal that isn’t trackable, you kinda have no way to know if you are improving. That is sort of like saying I am going to support world peace by not eating at mcdonalds. Might make sense in your mind, but does that really support world peace?

Ok, so back to tracking goals. We talked yesterday about how to make a goal. What is a good goal, and so on and so forth. So how do you track your goals? Good question. You track them in a way that is important to you. Some people like little gold stars (when I first started I put a gold star on my date book when I got my 10K steps) I am past that. I want to know so much more than the fact that I got my 10K steps today.

This month my goals are a little different because I am dealing with the broken foot, so my charting is a little different. Normally I use an ap called cardiotrainer (click here for screen shots and info)… my goal normally is more than 100 miles per month…  this ap uses gps to tell me how long I go, how far I go, how long it takes me, elevation change, and gets me a spritzer water after every workout (ok so I am kidding about the spritzer). It also keeps track of historical work outs so I can see what I have done on a monthly basis. It also takes all my miles and puts them on a world map, with the idea that I could have moved from one side of the blue circle to the other in the course of all the workouts I logged. (my blue circle covers florida and almost all the way out to cuba… almost to Kansas… up into canada and almost to that weird lake looking thing at the top of Canada… it says that in 305 workouts I have gone 1089.1 miles and burned 1920930 calories… I like those numbers) it lookes like this… and is very motivating… I had a goal to “see” my friend in florida by valentines day (only missed it by a few days) and to “see” my family in indiana by my birthday 🙂 I want to travel around the world!  




So I also like charts. When I am making a concerted effort to have a goal and achieve a goal I like to have a chart so that I can mark things off… marking them off makes it easy for me to see progress and follow it. I have 8 goals I am working on this month. You may remember them from yesterday but I will post them again anyways.

1) 2000 calories or less per day

2) work on push up program at least 13 times (about every other day)

3) superman stretch x 60 mins (in the month)

4) a blog post every day

5) brainstorm for my book (and write 3 chapters… 1 week for brainstorming and one week per chapter)

6) devotions with my kids every day

7) personal devotions every day

8) quality time in prayer every day

So I made a chart that has 9 columns and 32 rows… one column for each goal and the date and one row for each day and the column headers. It looks something like this…






This makes it easy for me to go through and each day put a Y or a N and then for the ones that are numerical (like the calories and the stretch and the pushups) I can track those. So those columnssay 2K cal/day (y/n cals), P/U prog (y/n #/tot), Superman (y/n min/tot/goal), that way I can keep a running total and know where I am at a glance. It takes about 5 seconds when I finish working on that goal to go ahead and mark what I did.

 I also like color coding my stuff. It helps me to see at a glance. Red for missed/not completed and green for completed. I think it sometimes confuses me when I have “every other day” type goals to see a lot of red. But that green/red pattern is nice 🙂 

My point is, no matter what your goals are, you have to track them. Otherwise you have no way of knowing if you are meeting them or not. It doesn’t really matter HOW you track them so long as you do. I would be more than happy to help you come up with goals, or a system to track them.


So, what are your goals for this month? And how do you know if you are meeting them? 


This post was originally written in Oct 2012



This is my boy. I was looking for pictures that show how incredible skinny this boy is. He just made it to the 5th %ile. We threw a party. He is 12. He weighs 72 pounds. On a good day. Before going to the bathroom.


This boy eats like a hobbit. He drinks a “magic shake” with a combination of protien powder and vitamins almost every morning before school. Then he eats breakfast at school. Then he eats lunch, and an afternoon snack, then an after school snack, then dinner, then a before bed snack. Then many nights this boy is up in the middle of the night stumbling towards the fridge “midnight snack mamma??”

 I calculated it one time. Wrote down everything he eats, averaged it over a week and he averaged 4000 calories a day. He has had his endocrine levels checked (probably 10 times over his life) and he is normal, not even close to out of bounds on any level. His doctor even went so far as to tell me that he should get twinkies and butter every day. I said NO (heart disease runs in THIS family, it doesn’t walk, it runs and jumps and creates as much havoc as it can) but I did agree to add more healthy fats and to allow him to eat whenever he is hungry and as much as he wants.

He is just skinny. High metabolism. Never still. He feels like he is bound to be skinny for life. He hates being skinny. I try to reassure him, tell him his Unkey Monkey (my brother) was very tiny until he was 15 or so and now he is a big guy! Taller than me and brimming with muscles. But Chris won’t hear it.

 He thinks his body is ugly.

He thinks fat is beautiful.

He tells me every day that I shouldn’t lose too much, because I am so beautiful and that my fat makes me comfortable to snuggle.

He tells me every day that he wishes he could have blubber.

Chris has aspergers and sometimes his conversations are very interesting. (I am certain that they would be interesting even if he didn’t have aspergers, but the lack of a brain/mouth filter makes for some interesting situations, and QUICK apologies.) One day we were out riding on the greenbriar river trail ( one of my favorite trails) and we had done like 25 miles so far that day and we were hot and tired because it was 90 degrees and the humidity was like 400% or something. It was our third day on the trail and we were at over 100 miles so far that week. (that’s a lot of words to say we stunk.) This woman walked in, she had to have been over 400 pounds. And he walked over to her after she sat and lovingly laid his hand on her and said “I think your blubber is just so sexy, you are beautiful” and walked away as she sat in shock. After a quick “I’m so sorry, CHRIS come here!” I talked to him for a min and reminded him that words were hurtful and that he couldn’t tell a woman or anyone for that matter that they had blubber. So he walked back over and says “I am sorry if I hurt you or offended you but I still think you are beautiful and sexy” SIGH.


How do you counter that?


I get so frustrated that we live on a planet that criticises people for their body shape. *I understand that there are health issues associated with being overly large or extremely small.* I am talking about the fact that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. (I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. (Psa 139:14)). I am talking about how we are precious children of God. I am talking about how it is our spirit we should be judging not our body!

I know that I am working on becoming fit and healthy. I know that I do not like my body. But I don’t like my body for how I feel when I move in it, not because I am fat. I do not like my body as it is because I can not do the things I want to do with the ease I want to do them in. I want to run, that doesn’t work well with a body this large (hence the broken foot). I want to climb mountains, that would be much easier with a smaller body.

*KNOW* that  I am beautiful. I am precious. I am loved. I know because God told me so. So shall the king greatly desire thy beauty: for he is thy Lord; and worship thou him. (Psa 45:11). For the king to greatly desire my beauty that means that I am beautiful. I *KNOW* that in my heart and soul. 

I long for a day when we judge people not on the shape of their body but for the content of their character. (Thank you Martin Luther King Jr. you were an amazing man). I think that everyone should strive to be healthy, but why does it have to involve such hatred of our bodies?

I long for a day when the men and women of this world embrace their beauty, and understand that they are loved. That there is one who loved them enough to DIE for them, to save them. He created them to love themselves and to love others. THERE IS NO CONDEMNATION IN CHRIST! (Rom 8:1) that means NONE. Stop condemning yourself over your body and your actions. STOP hating yourself because you aren’t the shape you want to be. STOP hating yourself because you don’t look the way that you think you should look. STOP hating others because they don’t look the way you think they should look.

Who’s with me? Let’s love each other. Let’s not condemn, we can start with today. But let’s not condemn for a lifetime. One day at a time. 

how to choose an exercise program

This post was originally written in Oct 2012


So people ask me, “what exercises do you do?”… And “how can I pick an exercise program that is right for me?”… and “what do you think if I pick <insert current fad video here> and do that every day?”… or “what do you think about just running, I could start with 10 miles a day and go from there?”…

Sigh… my answer is always the same… first I sigh… then I smile… people usually don’t want to hear me say it because they expect that there is some magic answer… a one size fits all answer… humans aren’t one size fits all

First… the key to making any lasting change is to make it something you can stick with… so when picking an exercise routine… pick something you like! I can NOT dance… I have absolutely ZERO coordination… so something like a Richard Simmons dvd… or Hip Hop Abs   would totally be a disaster for me (I actually tore ligaments in my ankle when my brother tried to teach me to dance in the 90’s… I am strictly forbidden from trying again) BUT something like Leslie Sansone who has like FOUR steps in her beginner videos… she worked for me… for some of you that might bore you to tears… and that is ok because we are all different…

Second… you can’t just become super fitness guy overnight… you can’t go from completely sedentary to running 10 miles in one session… the key here is making SIMPLE and SMALL changes… download a program called C25K (couch to 5k) it’s a program designed to systematically increase the distance you can run until you can run a 5K… ok good… but what if you are like me and can’t run 60 seconds? I started with a HIIT timer and programmed it to have me jog 20 seconds and walk 90 (repeat for 30 min) with the plan of increasing it 5 seconds every time until I could do 60 seconds… I am so out of shape I even have to modify the beginner programs!

Third… it is OK to modify a program! If you get it and it is too difficult to do now… say you get a Jillian Michaels dvd… and you like it… but it is plain too hard… then modify it… do the positions to half of what the dvd does… or move at half speed (doing one rep for every two on the screen)… the point is that you move… and move more today than you did yesterday…

Fourth… every workout program should involve (in my humble opinion – and keep in mind that while I am a health care professional – I am not a doctor, physical therapist, kinesthesiologist or in any way trained in exercise – I just know what has worked for me) cardio and strength training. Cardio doesn’t have to be doing a video. Cardio doesn’t have to be running on a treadmill. Cardio doesn’t have to be an elliptical or stationary bike or anything. Cardio exercise is simply something that gets your heart rate up and keeps it up for a while. My favorite cardio is biking. I LOVE it. I also love hiking, the more elevation change the better. I plan my vacations so that I can go on long bike trips or hiking trips (longest biking trip to date was 140 miles on greenbriar river trail in WV in 5 days… we loved it!) strength training helps keep your metabolism up and makes you stronger. I have noticed a definite difference in my ability to handle my chosen cardio. Climbing mountains is so much easier now that my legs are stronger. I don’t have to worry so much about obstacles when trail biking because I can just heft my bike and climb them (we had a giant storm this summer that nearly ruined many of my favorite trails… I felt like I was in the jungle to heft the bike and climb the downed trees in the middle of the trail!)

So my workout program (we are talking my normal program because I am down for injury right now… and when I go back I am not allowed to run again until I lose 50 more pounds)  consists of getting 100+ miles per month in cardio. That could be biking or hiking or walking. I try to get 25 miles per week but that doesn’t always happen and some weeks I have 50. It doesn’t matter to me what I do because my cardio is usually time I spend with my kids. We like to find a new trail and tackle it. And I try to hit the gym three days a week. I am fairly happy with that routine. It works for me. That is the ultimate to any work out program. It has to work for you. It has to be something you can and will do. Once you see that you like exercising you can take a class at the YMCA or join a club (check I found a local singles hiking club that I joined and as soon as I can walk again I intend to get in there and get my hike on!) 


follow through??

this post was originally written in Oct 2012



I have determined something… I am very good at starting things… I am very good at making the lists and the goals and deciding what I want to do and how to do it and when to do it… but I haven’t always been good at follow through…

Probably 90% of my discipline problems with my children arise from poor follow through… 95% of why I have difficulty getting past that 75# mark…. Poor follow through… the condition of my house?…. poor follow through… feeling lonely because I don’t have a date?… poor follow through (although it makes me a pretty good flirt!)

I am WONDERFUL at making lists… I can list make like you wouldn’t believe. You got a problem you need solved? I can break it down into bite sized manageable pieces and order them in an appropriate and logical order and have you on your way. I can make a mean tracking chart and come up with insanely awesome rewards that just make you want to totally accomplish whatever your goal is. I can motivate students (I worked my way through college as a tutor in the learning center, and my ultimate goal when I get my masters in nursing is to become a teacher) that most people find unmotivatable. (even though Microsoft says that isn’t a word 😦 LOL!). I have ways of making things so simple that anyone can get them.

But it is hard for me to have follow through. A simple thing really, you say you will do something and you do it. It isn’t that I am forgetful or lazy or stupid or any of the other things that I say to myself. It isn’t that I have no desire to do the things I need to do (although disciplining my kids is very difficult for me because I don’t want them to hate me and think I am just being mean, but I do understand that discipline is because I LOVE them and they will know it when they are older!)

I just get sidetracked (ohhh squirrel!). Ummm. You know what I mean. I lose track of where I am or other things pop up and I think of better things to do (sleep is usually nice). Or, the obligation really was too big for me and I couldn’t handle it and rather than recruiting help I chose to suck it up and suffer through and martyr myself (because we all know how sexy that is).

I have goals this month. Big goals. And this is really the first time that I have tried to do goals of this magnitude. Goals that don’t have anything to do with school. Goals that are designed to bring some spiritual growth and help me out of the quagmire I am in. goals that I have followed (mostly) for the week since I started them. (basically only missed 5 of the 32… I have 8 daily goals and it has been 4 days). I am excited about that. BUT (and that is a big fat hairy butt) the weekend is here. Tomorrow. And I know I have a tendency to fall apart on the weekend. Ahh whatever, I don’t need to do <insert task that isn’t so unpleasant but is different than just lounging around that I know I will be appreciative of when I am done> because it’s the weekend and it’s my only time to rest!

I need follow through… I need to keep this momentum going. I understand the laws of physics and I know that a body in motion tends to stay in motion and a body in rest tends to stay in rest and I KNOW that if I want to stay in motion I have to stay in motion. (that was a horrible long run on sentence, may the grammar police forgive me) I know that I can do this. I know that I can be renewed by the transforming of my mind (Rom 12) and that I can change the way I think about this.

So. That is why at the beginning of this post I said “I haven’t always been good at follow through… “ I am going to transform my mind. I am becoming good at follow through. No, that isn’t right. I am good at follow through. I am going to accomplish my goals this weekend. I am going to get er done.

Who’s with me? 

Old Rag

this post was originally written in Oct 2012

warning: this is a post about a miracle and the way God is working in my life… if you are offended by Christian sentiment… that’s ok… I still love you… but you probably don’t want to read this 🙂



going through and trying to think of miracles in my life… trying to meditate on the positives because this pain in my foot has me VERY depressed… 




20 Feb 12

We went to old rag the day after the big snow in February. It was the four kids (Jeffery, Caity, Chris and Jeff’s friend Thomas) and three adults (Me, N and B). So the kids and I were dropped off at the kiosk and B and N parked the car a mile down the road and walked up to meet us. Trouble started not long after we did. We got about a mile up the road and Jeff started having problems breathing. Then about a half a mile past that Caity hit her knee and decided she wanted to turn around. 


Caity had sat down and said that she was going to turn around. She was specifically told that she was NOT to turn around and that she had to continue. I kept walking and the guys walked ahead of me. After about another half mile we didn’t see Caity. I asked Thomas to please walk down to a specific point to see if Caity was there and if she wasn’t to come back and tell me. 


We (Chris, me, N and B) continued. So we got up the rock scramble. We still had not seen any sign of Caity or the boys. We had been asking people if they had seen them and they talked about how they had seen a boy chasing a girl and they were near the cars. We decided to continue and that we would just have to meet them back at the cars. The rock scramble is about 1 mile long. We took about an hour to get through the first obstacle on the rock scramble. (which didn’t cause me any trouble last time). We took almost two hours to get through the first two tenths of a mile. We went through the one part where you go down through the narrow crevice then around the big rock then there is a slide then another slide then you go around and then have to climb up. It took me a short while to get around all the stuff and when I went to get up to the part where you climb I couldn’t get to it. I couldn’t get purchase on the spot because of the snow and ice. I was also at this point panicking about Cait and Thomas being near the car. N and Chris had gone ahead and we hadn’t seen them in almost two hours and that was freaking me out. 


So at this point I told B to go ahead and tell Chris and Nick that I was turning around. I felt that I could get out of there… We hadn’t gone very far into the rock scramble and I thought that I could get back out. So B left and I told him that he could send Chris back to me or send him ahead or whatever. That it didn’t matter to me as long as I turned around. Before B left he said that he was ok with me turning around as long as I agreed to come back again. So I tried to go back up the slide and I couldn’t get up… B had gone ahead to try and find Chris and Nick. I tried for almost 10 minutes and I couldn’t do it… finally I just stood there and sobbed because I was all alone and stuck and I couldn’t do it. This one group came through just as I started to sob and they were all young kids and I knew that they couldn’t help me so I told them to just go on and that I would be fine. I started telling God that I couldn’t do it and I couldn’t see where to put my feet how to get out of the spot. And that I just needed help to get out. And that I just needed help to get out. And God spoke to me and said, “I don’t want you to be afraid” and I was like “I am trying not to be afraid God but this is hard and I don’t know how to do it and I CAN’T” and God said “what kind of spirit did I give you?” and I was like “ummmmm” and He said, “you got this, what kind of spirit did I give you?” and I was like “ummm not a spirit of fear” and He was like “yup, and I don’t want you to be afraid and I don’t want you to worry” so I was like “ok God, I will come back” as soon as I said that, I heard voices behind me and turned around and saw the most beautiful angels standing above me. Brit and Ryan were there and I explained to them that I was turning around and that I was stuck. Ryan was so awesome. He climbed down in the crevice with me and then climbed up and wedged himself and let me pull on him. And Brit would guide my feet. And they worked with me for almost a whole hour and got me back to where it was flat and easy.


So just after Brit and Ryan showed up this guy walked around the corner and asked me if my name was Jenn, and I said I was and he said that there was a guy walking down the mountain asking if they had seen me. So apparently B had gotten around me and was going down the mountain looking for me and he had walked right past me on the path and hadn’t seen me. But there was no way around me and he COULDN’T have gotten past me without going through me (there was no other path at that point). 


I was still worried about Chris and Cait and the others. And God said “I SAID I didn’t want you to be afraid I don’t want you to worry”. So I told God that I knew that and I was trusting him to get the kids down and to get me down and everyone would make it to the car safely and that I wasn’t going to worry about it. 


Six times I got worried through the course of going down the mountain and six different times I spoke it out that I wasn’t going to worry about the kids that I was going to let God take care of them.


So I was approaching the other part where we had gotten stuck the first time and I was unsure of how I was going to make it through that part so I just looked up and said “I know you are going to get me off this mountain and that I will be ok and I will come back and I am trusting you God”… next thing you know I heard Spanish being spoken behind me and I turned and there was a group who was doing the trail opposite… I told them that I was going down and that I needed help at the next spot but that I had straps I was using and that if they would just untie it when I got down that was all the help I needed. Well the one guy braced himself and held my straps while I slid down backwards on my belly… the other guy guided my feet to land in the right spot. After that I was just walking downhill. And I was fine. People kept asking me if I was Jenn and told me that my friend was going down the mountain looking for me. I told the three groups that passed me going down to please pass on the message that I was ok and on my way (which he apparently didn’t get the message until Brit and Ryan decided to turn around and pass me).


So I got to the bottom at the same time as another group was finishing. (it is a big loop trail and they meet at the kiosk). The guy asked me if I happened to be missing a kid. I said I didn’t think that I was because he was supposed to be with his grownup. They described him and it was Chris exactly. So I started walking up the backwards way and saw several other people who described Chris to me exactly. 


So when I caught up with Chris I asked him and he told me that N left him and told him to stay and wait for me. And he waited for a while and got bored. He said “so I asked God to send me a grownup and He did!” he said that God sent him a group of weblos and that he was with them for a while then he got tired and sat then he asked God again. He described the groups he was with. He switched adults six different times. Exactly the number of times I told God that I was trusting Him to get us all off the mountain. When the guys told me that there was a child on the mountain with no adult all that I could think of was that autistic boy a while ago who was lost near Richmond and they were searching for him for three days. That was all that went through my mind and I just told God again that I was thanking him for getting everyone off the mountain. 


Everyone made it to the car within an hour of each other. No one was injured seriously. No one was lost. No one died. It was truly a miracle. 


Try two 2 March 2012We went again (without the kids) on Friday the 2nd. I made it through in 7 hours 15 minutes. That was HALF my time from last year. The place where I spent TWO HOURS last year (the keyhole) took me TWELVE minutes. And most of that time was my friends setting up the straps that I used to climb through the keyhole. Every time I started to get afraid I just put my hands up and said “God, you didn’t give me a spirit of fear, I will not be afraid” and then I would feel better and I could go on. I really didn’t have any overwhelming paralyzing fear (which is part of what took me so long last time… I spent nearly five hours stuck in certain places because I was afraid). I told that mountain where to go and I believed in faith that I could do it and By GOD I did it!


we climbed from the level of this car to the top of the mountain between the two telephone poles … this one was taken the day we turned around… 

this is from the top…. not the day I kicked it’s butt… but another day… this was the first time we did it… when it took us more than 14 hours… 
half way up…. the summitt is on the right side… (this was the first time we did it… when it took forever)
Chris looking down the mountain… this was the day we turned around… 
Caity on the trail – the day we turned around …. you can kinda see why it was hard to climb 🙂