Letting Go

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go.

She let go of the fear.  She let go of the judgments.  She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head.  She let go of the committee of indecision within her.  She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go.

She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go.  She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go.  She let go of all of the memories that held her back.  She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward.  She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right.

She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope.  She just let go.

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go.

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go.

There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that.

In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

Poem by  Rev. Safire Rose

Tips For the Weekend Warrior

Tips for the Weekend Warrior in US All.
Spring brings us plenty of reasons to take our physical activities outdoors.
And why not? The benefits of exercise are well documented. Exercising outdoors also proves to be beneficial to our brains, as well as, our bodies.
For those who lead a fairly inactive lifestyle (desk job) during the week, and then try to fit in a week’s worth of exercise during the weekend, may result in some very sore muscles at the very least. Injury is also a common factor.
Even those of us who are advanced exercisers, may find moving our activities outside may result in DOMS, or Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness. New activities often use different muscles than we are accustomed to using.
Activities that are known to create soreness may be:
  • Jumping
  • Step Aerobics
  • Hill Walking or climbing
  • Jogging
  • Strength Training Exercise
“Any type of activity that places unaccustomed loads on muscle may lead to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This type of soreness is different from acute soreness, which is pain that develops during the actual activity. Delayed soreness typically begins to develop 12-24 hours after the exercise has been performed and may produce the greatest pain between 24-72 hours after the exercise has been performed”
–The American College of Sports Medicine.
What can be done to help ease these symptoms?
  •  Progress slowly with any new program or activity.
  •  Proper Warm-Up before exercise is essential
  • Recovery
  •  Stretch after muscles are fully warmed up (after exercise)
There is little evidence that proves warm-up, recovery, and stretching will eliminate DOMS completely, but can help prepare the muscles for future exercise.
No Pain, No Gain?
Pain should not be present in any exercise program and is not an indicator of fitness gains. In fact, pain is an indicator that we need to reduce activity to avoid further injuring the muscle or joints.
Keeping active is one of the best preventative measures in eliminating the ‘Weekend Warrior’ soreness.
30 minutes of moderate physical activity performed a minimum of 5 days per week is recommended. Moderate activities equate to hard enough to break a sweat, but easy enough to carry on a conversation. If performing vigorous activities, 20 minutes or more 3 times per week is recommended. These types of activities would include aerobic activities such as; walking, running, cycling, rowing, swimming or stair climbing. Strength Training should be performed on alternate days.
Keeping our bodies moving in a safe way is not only enjoyable, but beneficial.  Asking our bodies to perform beyond it’s capabilities may lead to injury and setbacks.
Just remember; when we push our bodies too hard; they push back!
The Thoughtful Voice in Lifestyle
#DOMS #SoreMuscles #WeekendWarrior #HealthyBody #WomensFitness #Exercise #Optoutside

Student and Teacher

Photography by Tracy Sheppard


“One of my core beliefs is that every single person you meet is both your student and your teacher: that every single person has a gift or a lesson to offer you, if you look for it, and that you have a gift or a lesson for them, if you allow yourself.”

“I value momentary and passing connections and have many thoughts of being receptive to them, but right now I’m specifically thinking about how affected we are by the main people in our lives.
Our “main people” introduce us to the possibilities in the world, and the possibilities within ourselves. They expand our minds and our hearts and ultimately our lives.”

“f you want some advice on how to love yourself better, examine the people with whom you you spend time and energy. Choose to spend time with people who nourish you and expand you and elevate you and challenge you and adore you.”

I am a deeply convinced of this quote from Jessi Kneeland. I wholeheartedly believe that people cross our paths for reasons we may never understand, while we walk this earth. We should respect and treasure those dear people and pay attention to the lessons that may unfold.

This is what creates such a magical environment while traveling.  Not only do we experience new lands and cultures;  we are given the gift of seeing the world through new eyes and possibilities.  When we allow ourselves to be open to those serendipitous encounters;  all manner of magical beginnings can be explored.

Our travels can take us to far away lands or while exploring paths in our own neighborhood.  I am always amazed at how many places remain on my ‘adventure list’ right near my own town.

We are all woven together for a reason.  Like the proverbial tapestry, which may not appear particularly beautiful from beneath, with threads crossing every which way;  from above, spectacular artistry unfolds.

So, Thank You. If you are reading this today.  Thank you for being a part of my life, no matter the capacity. We are woven together for a reason.


You Are Allowed to Change



How often to we resist change?  We fight it, go out of our way to avoid it and just plain don’t like it.

One thing is certain.  Change is constant.  But that doesn’t mean change is easy.

We have to learn to adapt, and flow.

Or become stagnant.

We’ve all been around a stagnant pond.  Not only will a stagnant pond appear repulsive;  it doesn’t smell pleasant.  Once water stops flowing, it becomes a breeding ground for a plethora of dangerous and unhealthy environmental woes.  It turns dark and lifeless. The water that may have once teemed with plant life, birds, fish and other creatures;  now hosts nothing but parasites and bacteria.   In other words, it is contaminated.

photography by Tracy Sheppard

A pond becomes stagnant for one simple reason.  It lacks the exchange of living water that flows and continues to provide the necessary ingredients for balance of oxygen and nutrients to keep life vital.

photography by Tracy Sheppard


When we don’t allow the proper balance of fresh thinking, combined with movement;  it invites stagnation.

Thinking the same way day in and day out, without inviting our minds to explore new thoughts; can lead to lethargy.   Motionless and without life.

Change can be scary.  I get it!  It’s so easy to become a creature of habit.  Our comfort zone becomes a place void of stress. We are on autopilot. Coasting.  Call it what you will.  It becomes a place that prohibits growth.  And when we don’t grow….we become stagnant.

Keep the waters moving!  Stimulate the thought process with positive thinking.  Live with the intent to try something new each day.  Start the morning with gratitude for what is present, good or bad.  Keep the momentum.

photography by Tracy Sheppard

Our brains our hard wired to avoid anything unpleasant or challenging.  We have to intentionally step out of that safety net and explore the wondrous possibilities.

Not feeling motivated?

Motivation is often not enough.  We may NEVER feel ready.  We may not be able to WORK UP enough confidence.  Move anyway.  Go through the motions.  Forward is the only direction to go.

I don’t know about you…but I don’t want to become like that stagnant pond.


photography by Tracy Sheppard


In the Moment

“The trick is to enjoy life. Don’t wish away your days, waiting for better ones ahead.”

― Marjorie Pay Hinckley

This is a tough one!


Photography by Tracy Sheppard

It’s easy to enjoy life when the weather is sunny and warm. Being ‘in the moment’ is no hard task when our walks take us on sunny paths and golden trails.

I adore hiking during the most beautiful part of the year, which is Autumn, in my opinion. All five senses become fully engaged and energized. The air even feels magical.

Hiking in the Winter? Not so much. As much as I try; I just don’t enjoy putting on layers upon layers of clothing, heavy coats, boots and gloves just to get fresh air and movement. Now, once I’m out there, of course, the beauty of the season is everywhere.

Depending on where you live; it can be a real challenge to ‘be mindful’ and in ‘the moment’ when our walk involves slushy, icy, and frozen obstacles. It’s difficult not to feel ourselves wishing it were Spring!

I’m working on this. How about you? I’m not perfect! Maybe you’ve nailed this part. Not me. It’s my challenge.

How often do we ‘wish away’ other areas of life? Parts of our lives that are as natural as the Seasons?

Hormonal shifts, aches and pains, struggles with weight, emotions gone wild, fading eyesight, and all the things that can come naturally with aging. Everyone ages in their unique way due to diet, lifestyle and their genetics. We can slow down the clock, which is great news. There are still those days life seems to ‘catch up’.  Those days require a bit more intention to become mindful over wishful.

How many days do we ‘wish away’? Do we run wildly through our week, wishing for the weekend? Do we stop and take time to breathe? Take a moment to ‘smell the roses’? Are we always wishing for something other than the present moment?   When we wish for ‘different’, we rob ourselves of happiness.

Let’s stop playing the ‘wishing game’.   We have no guarantee of tomorrow.

Let’s work on this …..together!

These Are the Women


These are the Women…
Who shaped me and molded me
Into who I am today.
My Nanny (Grandmother) on the left.
My Mother on the right.

Two very strong women…. Total opposites, personality wise.
Both small in stature (under 5 foot tall) but tall in my eyes.

My Nanny was a Chicago nurse and self proclaimed health guru. She planted the seeds deep within my psyche concerning the relationship between exercise, nutrition and health, when I was just a teen.  She took me on long nature walks deep into the woods of Northern Wisconsin, where she resided in her later years.  She had a deep respect for nature.  She encouraged me to see the Redwoods and Sequoia Trees before I died.  She was feisty and fun.  She laughed easily and always bought me red dresses when I was a little girl.  She had my attention, always.

My mother served in the Coast Guard and was one of the most poised and kindest persons I have ever known.  After she left the Coast Guard, she happily settled in to her role as Wife and Mother.  She was a nurturer.  A peace keeper.  My mother was the least judgmental person I know.  I’m pretty certain the only swear word I ever heard my Mother utter from her lips, was caused by me.  She was the essence of grace.  She let unkindness roll off her like raindrops on a bird’s feathers.  She was beautiful.  My mother lived for others.  Unconditionally and with no regard of the favor being returned.

Both were taken from me by a stroke.  Suddenly.  Without warning.

I would give ANYTHING to be able to spend just one more day with them.

This is why you’ll find red quotation marks on my quotes on Instagram. Women’s heart health awareness is a cause that is very near and dear to me.

February is heart health month. Get your screenings. Know the signs of heart disease and stroke.  Many times those signs are very subtle. Make your health a top priority.

Please!   I urge you!




p.s.   Both my Nanny and Mom knew how to rock their shoes and their style!  Both loved fashion and looking their best.   I inherited that!



S-T-R-E-T-C-H Yourself



Take stretch breaks often, throughout the day.

–Increases blood flow to the muscle
–Maintains flexibility
–Helps decrease risk of injury
–Invigorates and refreshes
–Helps you to maintain mobility with less pain
–Reduces stress and cortisol levels
–Helps create better posture

Aging Gracefully

Photography credit: Tracy Sheppard of Studio Soleil


Aging gracefully

Aging is inevitable, and “Old age,” as Bette Davis once said, “is no place for sissies.” Much of the way we age has to do with our genetics and the way our parents and grandparents aged.

These factors cannot be controlled. But there are proactive steps we can take that can make a big difference.

What we eat. Yes, nutrition matters. Sugars, unhealthy fats and carbohydrate heavy diets age our skin. Foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, such as walnuts, salmon, and flaxseed, help our skin manufacture the essential oils it needs to protect itself and maintain a youthful appearance.

Sleep. Beauty sleep is real. During sleep, our body releases a growth hormone that helps restore collagen and elastin, the essential building blocks of young, healthy skin.

How much we eat. Overeating creates a host of unhealthy scenarios in our body. Learn to stop when satiated and full.

Exercise. Literally, the fountain of youth. Maintaining muscle mass, as well as strength, can keep us independent and reduces the risk of dementia. Exercise strengthens the hippocampus, the region of the brain associated with learning and mental focus.

Skin protection. Sunscreen. After only a few moments in the sun, our skins stops making essential vitamin D, and begins to make skin cancer. Protect the largest organ on our body; our skin.

Get social. Maintaining a close circle of friends and family is essential to aging well.

Think positive. I can’t say enough about this one. We truly are what we think. Spend time using positive aspirations, and engaging in positive activities. Negativity drains the life out of us!

Aging with class, grace and beauty starts within, and radiates outward.


Sweet Dreams

Sweet Dreams!


Foods that promote a good nights sleep


–Whole Grain Bread
–Whole Grain Pasta
–Whole Grain Cereals (Steel Cut Oats, Old-Fashioned Oats)
–Brown Rice
–AVOID Simple Carbohydrates, such as white bread, sugary treats, cookies, pastry, white pasta or crackers which tend to reduce serotonin levels and do not promote a good night’s sleep.


–Low fat cheese
–AVOID high-fat cheese, deep fried anything, chicken wings.
–Lean proteins are high in the amino acid, tryptophan, which tend to increase serotonin levels. Fatty foods are just the opposite, and tend to take longer to digest, keeping you awake.


–Natural, no sugar added Peanut Butter
–Natural, raw Nut Butters
–Raw, unsalted Nuts (almonds, pistachios, walnuts)
–AVOID highly processed foods which are high in fat (snack chips, potato chips, french fries or other high fat foods, which will decrease serotonin levels.


–Herbal Teas (peppermint or chamomile)
–Warm milk
–AVOID anything caffeinated after 2 pm.


–These herbs contain chemicals that can reduce tension and promote sleep
–AVOID red pepper, black pepper or anything too ‘spicy’ as they tend to have a stimulatory effect.


–Low fat, plain yogurt
–String Cheese (low fat mozzarella)
–Low fat cottage cheese
–Peanut Butter smear on 100% whole grain crackers
–Pita Chips (100% whole grain, only)

Sweet Dreams!

#foodfirst #highground #sleep #goodnight #sleepwell #healthybody
#selfcare #naturalbeauty #antiaging #rest

source: Cleveland Clinic

Let Your Feet Kiss the Earth

Photography by Tracy Sheppard
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
What a privilege it is to be able to spend time breathing in the beauty of our natural surroundings. Taking our exercise outdoors provides extra health benefits in addition to physical well-being.
Exercising outdoors provides a mental boost. Research shows that spending time outdoors increases energy and decreases stress.
Research shows exercising outdoors increases self-esteem. There is no self-comparison among the trees! Often, a gym setting brings about feelings of inadequacy, especially when ‘new’. Exercise in general increases self-esteem. Taking it outdoors has even more positive effects.
Outdoor fitness is easier to stick with. When we enjoy an exercise program, we are more likely to stay with it. Take a friend along, and you double the benefits.
Soaking up the sun provides added benefits. When the sun kisses our skin, Vitamin D3 is created. This is essential for bone health, metabolic function, improved sleep, increased immune function, and endorphin production.
More cost effective than gym membership. While resistance training (weights) are important to keep age related muscle loss at bay; cardiovascular exercise is also essential for keeping our bodies healthy.
For those on a limited budget, investing in quality walking shoes and weather friendly workout gear, is all that is needed to get out and enjoy nature.
An exercise program, thoughtfully designed, provides enjoyment and depth to life. It provides a rich and multi-layered experience that provides many health benefits, in addition to quality to life.