Birthday vlog

Surprise!!! Today I’m Defining Happiness with my fist vlog! Whaaat? Yep. It’s my birthday and I’m trying something new. It’s been on my “to accomplish” list since Joi hosted her first blog challenge, so now I can cross it off.

Not only is it NOT my regular posting day, it was NOT an easy task. The most difficult part for was finding the proper lighting and keeping my eyes from appearing closed -_- . I had to do quite a few takes…I think my voice may actually be an octave lower from talking so much :) .

Once I got the lighting and position down though, it was kinda fun. Check it out. It’s a short 1:22 long clip.

I  encourage you to Define Happiness by visualizing the future you want. Regardless of your current circumstance, envision your dream and write them down.I believe that through Faith and with God’s Grace, He will fulfill your dreams even from seemingly impossible life scenes.

  • Do I look or sound different from what you imagined?
  • Are you where you envisioned you’d be in life?
  • What do you like most/least about vlogging?

DON’T FORGET I’ll be at running Ragnar Keys this weekend. Please send your prayers and positive vibes for our team. This quote sums up what we’re in for.

Ragnar summed up

Last thing. Please forgive me. I’m behind showing comment love on some of my fav blogs…but I read when every tiny chance I get :)

Hello February!

I can’t believe that January has already come and gone. It’s as if I blinked and February showed up… So I have no choice but to embrace my 2nd busiest month of the year. Although February is the shortest month of the year, for me and my family it is jam-packed with events and activities culminating with my hubby’s birthday on March 2… Hello February!

Yesterday we celebrated my son’s 4th birthday with a very small and simple Spider-man themed party. I thought about a super bowl theme because it was Super Bowl Sunday, but he WAS NOT having it.

josiah superman

Anyway, on Wednesday, I will be turning 40… then there’s Ragnar...which will be my biggest race so far. By the way, If your on FaceBook, please “like” our HeartandSole Ragnar team page where you can follow our progress throughout the 2-day, 200-mile adventure…and while you’re there, also follow Defining Hope please :)

And who can forget Valentines day (full with school parties and all). The family will also be going on a brief weekend trip for V-day. The following weekend, I’ll be running the Gasparilla Classic 15K, then there’s my daughter’s birthday…which also happens to be my 2nd year blogging anniversary, followed by my husband’s birthday the next day. Whew!!

You see, I had big dreams for celebrating my Big 4-0 and Blogaversary on the blog, but it’s not gonna happen…at least not the way I originally planned.

Instead, I’ve decided to celebrate my big 4-0 by kicking off my birthday with a 40 Days of Wellness theme that will incorporate both my business and my blog.


Over the next 40 days (during my regular Mon/Thurs posting schedule), you can expect specific wellness posts focused on Defining Health, Defining Happiness and Defining Hope (which is kinda the theme of my blog anyway :) ) except there will be a few giveaways and a couple of surprises…and by surprises, I mean…I haven’t thought of it yet.

I hope you’ll join me for my short, sweet and spicy February Celebration.

Stay Tuned…

  • What is your busiest month of the year?
  • Do you have family members whose birthdays are very close to yours?


Inspired by my thumb sucking 3 year old

I had a different post planned for today, but I’m so impressed with my almost 4 year old that I decided to go ahead and celebrate him today.

My son is a thumb sucker. Not only did he suck his thumb in-utero, he was sucking his thumb the minute I pushed him out… Literally. All soggy, wrinkly, scaly and squished… the boy found comfort in his thumb.

Josiahs mighty thumb

I quickly noticed that he had an affinity for his left thumb but I didn’t mind that much since he was able to self sooth…very helpful  for a newborn.

His thumb sucking habit also made him more prone getting infections…(like the time the babysitter took him to a store, put him in a cart and he picked up cart germs, sucked his thumb and literally got a bacterial infection in his throat…. I digress).

We’ve tried to discourage him from sucking his thumb and praised him when he momentarily removed his thumb. We never pressured him. He’s young and I know he’d eventually stop, but we wanted to gently nudge him.

His response to our nudges have been … “I’ll stop tomorrow”….. ” I’ll stop when I’m 4″ …… ” I’ll stop when I get married”. Eventually it became “I don’t wanna stop. My finger tastes yummy.”

Anyway, someone told be about a product she used on her children to help them break the habit. It’s a really bitter tasting clear nail polish. After researching the product and reading lots of reviews, my husband and I decided to try it.

Day one: I polished both thumbs before bedtime. As soon as he got sleepy, he started sucking. I asked him if it was bitter. He said he only tasted the bitterness when he takes his thumb out of his mouth.

Day two: I polished all 10 fingers. He was eating a snack, he grunted really loud. When I asked what’s wrong, he said his snack was bitter. I felt really bad :( . At bedtime, once again, he endured the bitterness to continue sucking his thumb.

Day 3: Conversation..

son: It’s time to get the thing on my finger, Mommy.

me: No Dear, I’m not going to put it on anymore.

son: Why not?

me: The bitter taste of the polish is supposed to stop you from putting your finger in your mouth, but instead you suck the polish off. I don’t want you to keep getting that chemical into your system.  

 (He looked at me with a silent curiosity.)

son: Mommy, are chemicals poison? (he knows that poison should not go in your mouth)

me: it depends on the type of chemical.

son: I know I promised that I’d stop sucking my thumb before, but this time I’m for real.

me: OK baby (I gave no thought to him actually stopping. My OK was saturated with subconscious doubt and subtle sarcasm that I suspected a 3 yo wouldn’t detect.)

Wouldn’t you know. We are going on day 4 and my son has not sucked his thumb. Four days! Can you believe it?! For the first time in almost 4 years, his thumb looks like it’s healing. I’m almost in tears as I write this because I’m so proud that my almost 4 year old boy has the strength and courage to stop cold turkey.

The product we purchased to help him didn’t work, but the thought of putting something potentially harmful into his body did.

The skeptical adult part of me wonders how long this will last, but I’m inspired by my son to embrace his childlike faith with confidence.

On Superbowl Sunday, my Super boy JR will be 4 years old. Please help me congratulate him!

H4BD Josiah

  • Did you or your children suck your finger? For how long?
  • How did you stop?


Stinky morning breath…WHY?

When I first started blogging, I posted 3 times a week. My favorite posts for a while were my “Winning Words Wednesday”, kind of a spin off from Wordless Wednesday except most of the Wordless Wednesdays post I read was all but wordless. I decided to chose a positive, word or phrase to help bring hope and encouragement to my readers…thus the birth of Winning Words Wednesday. There were some Wednesdays when my winning words were all about my kids and how they were winning in my eyes, but the majority were general posts.

I actually miss doing the series and wanted to resurrect it, but I no longer post on Wednesdays and I prefer my Monday/Thursday schedule.  I can’t think of a catchy title to change it to a Thursday post ;).  I also had an idea for “Ask WHY Wednesdays” based on questions, mainly about health that I’ve been asked or wondered about. But again,  Wednesday is my issue…So having said that, I decided to just drop the “Wednesday” and post anyway…alternating between Winning Words and Asking Why based on how I feel :)

So today, I’m jumping right into my first “WHY” because my baby boy asked…


After a night of sleeping, snoring and sucking his thumb, my 3 yo hugged me and said he was ready for breakfast. When he spoke, I got a waft of an unusually “salty” breath. Instinctively, I flinched and immediately respond “Oh baby boy, lets go brush your teeth.”  He knew what the deal was because he said “Mommy does something smell stinky?” I said yes. Then he asked ….

The Question: “Why does my breath smell stinky when I wake up?”

The Answer: Because there is a lot of bacteria in your mouth. The flow of spit (saliva) helps to wash away some of the bacteria. But at night, however, when you sleep, there is less saliva flowing. This creates a dry environment that leads to the growth and spread of oral bacteria. Oral bacteria is smelly, thus the stinky morning breath.

Of course, the obvious solution is proper oral hygiene. You know… brushing teeth and tongue and flossing twice a day. Mouth wash, gum or mints can also get saliva flowing to help freshen breath.

I won’t ask if you have morning breath :) But I’d like to know how do you tell someone that their breath smells stinky?


Why you no Zumba?

So I decided to really diversify my workout routine for this year instead of mainly running. For the last few weeks I’ve added BodyPump twice a week with a few strength training sessions in between. (BodyPump review forthcoming.) Another exercise that I wanted to add was Zumba. Nellie from Brooklyn Active Mama is the Zumba Queen in my book. I’ve watched a snippet of her in action (scroll to the end :) ) and was blown away. So I decided to give it a try… again… 

y u no zumba

I say again because my first ever encounter with Zumba occurred a year and a half ago at our local YMCA. I looked at the schedule and saw “Zumba Gold”. I was immediately intrigued. I was thinking this class is going to be the “creme de la creme”…because it’s wasn’t JUST Zumba, it was Zumba Gold…. like Solid Gold…not bronze…not silver…But GOLD!

The first thing I noticed when I entered the class a few minutes late was how fit the instructor was “for her age”. I was very impressed. As I made my way to the back of the class and finally situated myself, I was a little surprised that I was able to catch on so quickly. The movements were much slower than I anticipated. About 10 minutes into the class, I noticed the lady next to me as she smiled at me. I remember thinking, ‘what a sweet old lady’. Then I noticed another older lady smiling… then another, and another…..

elderly exercise Zumba

I looked around and I was surrounded by nice little grandma’s. Suddenly I felt extremely awkward and out-of-place… Zumba gold was NOT like Solid Gold at all… it was more like SILVER… as in Silver Sneakers…  It was Zumba for the elderly! I couldn’t stop laughing at myself. I tried to keep my composure as I contemplated my exit strategy. Soon, I just smiled and nodded as I made my way out the door.

Last month was my 2nd time taking Zumba. A patient invited me to attend with her. This time, it was more in tuned with what I saw Nellie do. I was very apprehensive and somewhat intimidated by the moves. It was fast paced energetic and I was lost, confused, a little shy and extremely stiff.

thats Zumba

I was told to just keep moving…which I awkwardly obliged. I really don’t like to “suck” at something so I was determined try to catch on, which was virtually impossible.

It took me a whole month before I decided to go back last week. Although I was still pretty lost and confused the majority of the time, I managed to break a nice sweat. I was surprised that I was sore the next morning for my 15K (9.3miles) race.

It didn’t really feel like work, but it was great work out. The energy was through the roof. Folks for nice and “forgiving”. They were too busy getting their “Zumba” on, many in their cute little Zumba outfits. A part of me feel like I have to keep going just to master the moves.  Right now, I can only squeezing out once/wk, but I’m happy with that. So my workout routine consists of running 3 days/wk, BodyPump twice and Zumba once.

  • Have you done Zumba? Or Zumba GOLD :) ?
  • Do you diversify your workout routine?
  • What’s the one workout you feel you’ve got to tackle?


Martin Luther King Jr….10 facts

In celebration of the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I’ve decided to compile a list 10 most interesting or “little known” facts about him.

mlk jr

1. Name change. MLK, Jr. was actually born Michael King Jr. His father later changed both their names to Martin Luther King  — in honor of the German Protestant reformer, Martin Luther —

2. Youngest Peace Prize Winner. In 1964, Dr, King was the youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize at the age of 35.

3. Prodigy. He skipped the 9th and 12th grades in high school and entered Morehouse College at the young age of 15. 

4. He graduated from Morehouse at 19 years old and received his * Bachelor of Divinity from Crozer Theological Seminary and his PhD from Boston University at age 25.

5. There are over 700 streets named after Martin Luther King, Jr. around the world. There is at least one MLK Jr. named road in most states in America.

6. He is one of only three people in American history that have national holidays honoring them. The others are George Washington and Christopher Columbus.

7. Aged Heart. Although he was only 39 years old when he died, autopsy results revealed that major stress had taken its toll. The doctor noted that he “had the heart of a 60-year-old”.

8. Grammy award winner. He won a posthumous Grammy award in 1971 for Best Spoken Word Album for “Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam”.

9. Although Martin Luther King, Jr holiday was officially signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1983, the last states to officially observe the holiday were Arizona in 1992, New Hampshire in 1999, and Utah in 2000.

10. When Dr. King was shot at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis on April 4, 1968, Lorraine Bailey (the wife of the motel owner and who it was named after), had a heart attack and later died after seeing King shot.

Lorraine was also the switchboard operator so when Rev. Samuel Kyle tried to call an ambulance using the motel room phone, no one was at the switchboard, causing a delay in getting an ambulance.

Rev. Kyle stated:

I ran into the room and picked up the phone to call an operator or to call an ambulance. But, the operator had left the switchboard. There was nobody on the switchboard. I was saying, “Answer the phone, answer the phone, answer the phone.” And there was nobody on the switchboard. So the phone was not answered. (I learned later that the operator had gone out into the courtyard to watch Dr. King. When she saw what happened, she had a heart attack. She was the motel owner’s wife, and she died subsequently.) 

There are so many interesting facts available out there. It was a little difficult to narrow them down. The only one that I was not previously aware of was that of the motel worker having a heart attack after witnessing King being shot.

Was there anything you weren’t already aware of?

*Edited for correction (Thanks Allie)


Without my cell phone…

I’m always quick to declare that I’m not technologically savvy nor am I dependent on technology. I’m not one of who has to have my phone with me all the times. In fact, often times I’ll send a text and walk away from my phone forgetting that I’m expecting a response. And I admit that I get a little irritated when someone tries to call me back to back to back and when I finally answer the phone they drill me about not getting in touch with me instead of just stating the reason for their call.

Anyway, I recently discovered that I my so-called “non dependency” on my cell phone existed as long as my phone was present and readily available. Gah!. I hate to admit it, but like the rest of the modern world, I realized that I am pretty dependent on my cell phone (Not addicted though).

without my cell phone

Case in point: Last Friday morning, I attempted to go for a run. On the way to the park, my improperly sealed water bottle spilled on my cell phone. When I arrived at the park, my phone was soaked and already short circuited. I was disappointed that my phone was wet (and still wanted to go for a run), but when I realized that my music was not working due to the moisture, my disappointment quickly escalated to irritation. I decided to go home, disassemble the phone, dry it out, put it in rice, etc.

Because it was water damaged, the insurance would not cover and I’d have to get a new phone. I checked out a few refurbished phones but the reviews were mediocre at best. I soon realized how much I dependent on my phone. Not only could I not make phone calls because I couldn’t remember anyone’s phone number; I couldn’t instantly check my many email accounts (including for my business), set reminders and add events to my calendar, take pictures (which i do A LOT), add to my to-do list, look up info on the web or interact with social media when I felt like it…I could barely remember what day of the week it was, much less remember what my schedule was. I felt disconnected and somewhat prehistoric. I even forgot to attend an important out of town event.

With this planned technology hiatus, I could feel frustration mounting (especially with the way my cell phone carrier responded to my attempts to acquire a new or used phone). I quickly had to shift my focus and calm my mind. And just like that, I let it go. I found my very old Blackberry and transferred my number to it so I could use it in case of emergencies. I became much more present with my activities. I got an unbelievable amount of work done with no distractions of phone, text or social media.

I also realized how little I actually use my computer, iPad or laptop. Sure, they were always available,  but my cell phone was my main connection. When it went away, my other devices remained secondary (because I had to physically go to them, unlike my cell that always came with me).

There’s no denying the impact cell phone have made on society.

Before and after cell phones Collage

Well, I changed carrier and got a new phone, but this ordeal taught me to

  • memorize my ICE (in case of emergency) numbers
  • make better use of my online back up resources
  • get a land line at home
  • don’t put all my eggs in one cell phone basket, use diverse means of getting things done (ie camera for pictures, pen and paper for to do list)

How dependent are you on your cell phone? Have you ever been forces to go without a cellphone. Do you still memorize phone numbers?


Mommy, I’m done! Can you come wipe…

“Mommy I’m duh-hun!” (interpreted done)… In the average household, that phrase that can mean a variety of things: Mommy I done with my homework, my chores, my food or anything…you can literally fill in the blank. But in my home “Mommy, I’m duh-hun” (in a sing-song voice) has only one meaning: I’m done going poo-poo, can you come wipe my bottom? Yep. That’s it.

***This post is about poopy bottoms****

(I decided to spare you the actual visual of my son with head down, bottom in the air, waiting to be wiped 😉 )

Poopy bottom collage

For the past four years, those words have rung out from our bathrooms…sometimes simultaneously. When I hear those words, it doesn’t matter what I’m doing; whether eating, cooking, washing dishes, I have to drop whatever it is and attend to the needs of whoever is calling.

In the past, they would give me the heads up by letting know they were going to go potty. At least then I could anticipate the call. Now, they do no such thing. They just quietly go, then notify me loudly with a demanding bellow across the house. And I’d better run, not walk to wipe their tushies. Once, my son made his need known…I was eating and did not feel like seeing, smelling or wiping poop. So I told him to wait. I took my time and finished eating. When I finally went into the bathroom, he had attempted to self wipe. There was poop-smeared toilet paper on the floor, poop on the toilet seat, and his hands and clothes were poop tainted. Not only did I have clean a whole lot more poop, I had to give him a bath and clean and sanitized the bathroom. I’ve definitely learned my lesson.

My children are programmed to hold their poop until they get home. They don’t poop at school (because the teachers don’t wipe). Maybe I’m an enabler. I taught my daughter how to wipe, but it an effort to avoid throwing out poop streaked undies, I end up obliging when she calls. Honestly, I think it’s way past time for her to wipe herself. My son will be 4yrs old next month. I’m not planning on wiping him too much longer either. I’m thinking 4 might be a good age for him.

My question is, at what age do you stop wiping your kids? How do you teach them to wipe? Do you wash or discard poopy undies.

From Wogging to Jogging

On my last post I mentioned that one of my goals was to run my best and my fastest at Ragnar next month by maintaining the 11 min/mile required for our team. I realize that for some folks, an 11min/mile isn’t that fast. But for me that pace is achievable only for a 3 miles or less, but anything longer than that is a “kick butt”  pace for me. iRUN collage

Somewhat recently (about 9 months ago), I set a goal  to become a faster runner. Of course, the word “faster” is relative. When I began training for my first and last marathon (26.2 miles) 10 years ago, the goal was to get moving. Speed was never an important factor for me. So I took it slow… and by slow I mean molasses slow…like a turtle in peanut butter slow.. you get my drift. Slow got me across the finish line in 6hrs 28min and I was happy with that.

Two years ago when I started running again consistently (after giving it up for nearly 8 years), “slow” was still ingrained in my running DNA. I enjoyed running wogging (jogging so slow I might have well be walking) 5 miles at a 13+ pace. I could laugh and talk and not get too winded. In the end I burned a few hundred calories, broke a nice sweat and felt accomplished.

It wasn’t until about 9 months ago after signing up for Ragnar Key West  (200 mile overnight relay race) that I realized my kind of slow was not going to cut it. The team is required to have an overall 11 minute pace. I was in trouble! So I enlisted the help of a running coach and signed up for several races to keep me motivated. The coach, in addition to giving me a running plan, monitored my progress weekly and made modifications and suggestions as needed.Two of the most important lessons he taught me was 1. Run Faster 2: Don’t take walk breaks just because you’re tired. That was foreign to me. Why would I want to run faster and ruin my fun? Being tired seemed like the perfect reason for a walk break. My coach advised that brief walk breaks should be predetermined…such as for water stations. Ok, I get it… I think.

Anyway, once I began applying those two principles, running changed for me. The conversations and laughter pretty much was exchanged for regular  breathlessness and side stitches. Leisure runs became the exception, not the norm. Running was no longer as fun for me, but it became so much more rewarding. My 13+ pace for longer miles is now a low 11 and sub 10 when I push. It wasn’t easy, but I’m excited with the progress I’ve made from “wogging” to actually jogging :) Hopefully next stop: Running…fast!

So I’m excited that next month I’ll have an opportunity to put all my training to the test when I complete my 3 legs (about 16 miles total) running with an overall 11 minute/mile pace.

This year I want to maintain a sub 11 running pace, diversify my workouts by adding more strength training (which I’ve recently fallen in love <3 with BODYPUMP) and fun classes like spinning and Zumba.

Ragnar was my motivation for achieving a faster running pace. It was a constant physical reminder of the goal I wanted to achieve.

  • What’s your motivator for achieving your goal? It doesn’t have to be fitness related…
  • Are you a wogger, a jogger or a runner?

New Year, New goals.

Every new year many of us are inspired to make resolutions and set new goals. I stopped making “New Years Resolutions” several years ago, but each year I’m inspired to set new goals and work on plans to achieve them. This year I’ve decided to set 12 clear and distinct goals…one for each month. Having a goal for each month will help me remain focused on my specific plans to achieve each goal…although there are some goals that may require several months to accomplish and/or maintain. Not only have I made personal goals, we’ve set a few goals that involves the entire family. In this post, I’ve decided to share some of my personal and family goals as they relate to health and fitness.

JanuaryWeight Loss. Although I’m within my “healthy weight range” for my height, I can stand to lose some weight…20 lbs will put me at the lower range. I haven’t done much or focused my efforts to lose weight. But last year with the help of Joi and her weight loss challenge, I lost 10 lbs. in 90 days (with minimal to no effort). I didn’t follow the plan (for good reasons) so I didn’t even realize that I had lost 10 lbs in the 90-day time frame until I received an email. So I imagine if I put some real effort in, I can lose 10 more in 30 days… by January 31. So far, I’m down 2 3.5  :)

FebruaryRagnar. If you’ve been following this blog, you might be aware that I’m a part of a 12 member Ragnar team  “Heart and Sole” who will be running relay style from Miami to Key West. Yep. That’s about 200 miles. My goal is to “kick butt” and run my best and fastest while staying within the required 11 min/mile. I’m scheduled to run on a gravel road, canal path, run in the heat of the day (1pm-ish) and in the early morning (4am-ish). Our T-shirt was designed by one of our super talented team mates.

BGR Ragnar KEYs

And oh yeah, I’ll be celebrate turning the big 40 all month-long :)

MarchGluten Free. My family decided to go on a 3 month gluten-free diet beginning January 1st. March will conclude our 3 month goal so that we can evaluate the effects of a gluten-free diet on our overall health. It hasn’t been that easy because wheat is found in so many things, but we’re on track. Personally, I think it’s contributing to my weight loss so far.

AprilFamily 5K. We’ve decided to participate in more out-door activities as a family. Which means spending more time at the park, riding our bikes, playing sports and running together. Over the next several months, we’ll be working on building up endurance so that our soon to be 4 and 7-year-old children can participate in a 5K race along with me and my husband. Last year the kids got a taste of racing when they participated in the Gasparilla  Junior Classic kids fun race. They’ve been asking to run with me, so they’ll have plenty of opportunities to do just that. I’m super stoked about this one.



May – November is chucked full of those small, bite-sized goals with multiple check points along the way to make sure I’m on track to reaching them. Most of these goals are personal goals relating to spiritual, marital, business and financial matters. Maybe in the future I’ll share some as they are accomplished.

DecemberRun a marathon (26.2 miles). Wait! Before you get excited for me, this is NOT my goal. Been there. Done that. One and done! But I have to include this because my beloved husband has decided to run his first marathon. Whoot Whoot! It’s been a goal of his since I completed my first marathon 10 years ago. He supported me and saw the time and effort that I put in and said he wanted to do one too. I think after seeing how much pain I was in afterwards, he backed But after I completed the Space Coast Half Marathon in December and bragged about what an awesome course and experience it was, he decided that he’d train to run the Space Coast Full Marathon in December.

These are some my/our health and fitness goals for this year. I made several small goals, wrote them down, developed a plan to accomplish each, have checkpoints along the way and once they’ve been accomplished I’ll either maintain or set new goals.

  • Do you make and keep resolutions?
  • What are your health and fitness goals?
  • Do you have a plan to accomplish them?