A Whole-y Jolly Christmas

It’s upon us! That time of year that is both exhilarating and exhausting, magical and mind-spinning… you get the idea. It’s the holiday season and as I get older I realize that for too many years I’ve just barely limped through the holidays. I wanted to share a few tips that have proven helpful to me in my personal journey toward a healthy mind, body and spirit. 

Best of all, Christmas means a spirit of love, a time when the love of God and the love of our fellow men should prevail over all hatred and bitterness, a time when our thoughts and deeds and the spirit of our lives manifest the presence of God.

George F. McDougall

Okay, I won’t get too mystical here, but I do believe you can’t talk about the holidays without addressing what it “truly means” to you and your tribe. On that note, we’ll tackle SPIRIT first. 


What does Christmas/ “the” holidays/ this season actually mean to you? As a Christian my season does (or should) center around celebrating the birth of Christ.  In my house, we love starting out December with a daily Advent devotional, celebrating the life and times of St. Nicholas and having a big ‘ole birthday party for Jesus. And don’t worry, we still love Santa, write our letters, make our lists, check them five hundred times. 

As a new mom I used to get really caught up in creating the perfect Christmas moments for my boys and EVEN WORSE the perfect post-able photos. UGH! I’m embarrassed to even type out those words.  In my quest to create some magic for my family, the outcome was quite the opposite. I was run down, rushed, sleep deprived and not joyful. And forget actually taking a moment to remember Jesus. 

I’m not sure when it clicked; that I was NOT a Griswald, and didn’t need to outdo the Jones’s with my Christmas displays. I could create a meaningful and very magical Christmas experience for my kids in my own way.  Starting the Advent devotional was the best thing that ever happened to us. We end every evening reading a reflection and prayer about why we celebrate this season. This may not be your style or how you choose to do the holidays, but my challenge is this: FIND WHAT MAKES YOU PAUSE AND PONDER DURING THE HOLIDAYS. Maybe it’s mindfulness, gratitude, acts of service- Find. that. thing!


We’re fast approaching the date when everyone decides they’re going to be healthy…for two weeks. Groan. Let’s not hang out here.

It’s easy to get physically depleted during this time of year. We’re traveling, participating in extra parties, making some of the most delicious goodies of the whole year. I’m not here to tell you to abstain from any of those things- they’re all good.

For me all things in moderation becomes my mantra this time of year. Christmas cookies? In moderation. Wine? In moderation. But lets also add a few other good things to our list: moving our bodies, drinking water, eating lots of fresh vegetables. I wouldn’t in a million years advise anyone (or myself) to adopt any hard and fast rules about eating or fitness this time of year. I feel, in general, success comes through gradual, MODERATE changes (in most cases).

Here are my goals for the next month:

  • Eat a fresh, raw vegetable with every meal. YES, EVERY MEAL! For me this usually means tossing some mixed greens with a yummy infused balsamic and some olive oil for breakfast. For real, folks, breakfast salads changed my life!
  • Move my body every day. A brisk walk around the house, up and down the steps a few extra times, or most preferably getting myself, my kids, and our pup outside.
  • Focused exercise 3 times per week. This includes some intense cardio and lifting weights. You’ll be amazed what this can do for your body and your mental health!
  • DRINK WATER!!!! Take your body weight, cut it in half and that’s the amount of water (in ounces) you should be consuming every day. I’m taking to myself here, too! Find a cute tumbler you like, throw in some fruit slices and ice and keep refilling throughout the day


For those of us who’ve experienced the loss of a loved one or lack of the ideal family situation, the holidays can be a very tricky time of year. There are so many opportunities for these magical, card-worthy moments and I can sometimes get caught up in the lack I’m feeling. Now-a-days I feel the sting when I attend my kid’s Christmas programs. All of the grandparents proudly sporting their Christmas best, snapping pics of their little legacies. You see, even though my dad has been gone almost 20 years and mom and step-dad are amazing grands, I still can’t help but remember my own proud father at these productions and how much he would have adored attending every one now. The potential to circle the drain is so strong.

And here is where I make a choice. A sometimes-harder-than-others choice. I choose to remember my dad, my grandparents and other loved ones who’ve passed and how they celebrated Christmas. I choose to make my Granny’s gingerbread or try (with much failure) to ice skate backwards while holding my kids’ hands, like my dad did for me. I talk about these people with my kids A LOT. I share favorite memories and look at photos. MOST OF ALL, I honor them by NOT sinking into despair or feeling like I’ve been robbed of something. I honor them by CHOOSING JOY DURING THE HOLIDAYS!

So maybe your holiday angst doesn’t come from this same sort of loss, but something you’re longing for or waiting for. Make a choice to acknowledge those feelings without letting them be the focus or driving force of your holiday. Give voice and name to those feelings (don’t ignore) but don’t hang out with them. Put yourself in a better position this year. Maybe that means changing up your traditions; serving at a feeding center, not going into debt to purchase gifts, inviting someone new into your celebrations. Just think about it and make a better choice. 

Now for something a little more light-hearted, head over to my recipes page where I’ve shared my Granny’s gingerbread with a few tweaks of my own!


I was here- I. AM. Here.

It’s not too small. It’s not insignificant. My voice is just that- MY VOICE.

Photo: Amanda Donaho

Hey there, friends. I’ve been holding back on you a bit. You see, I can’t even count the amount of posts, articles, infographics, etc I’ve composed in my head and never shared. I just figured, who am I? I’m NO expert. It’s not a lack of caring. I just don’t want to waste your time.

Your words, your work, your online life is one of the things your kids will look back to when you’re gone to say, ‘ this is what my mom was about.’

So let me lay it all out there.

I’m too scared to try.

I’ll get to telling you all about me, my point of view, my passions, my faith; but first I need to tell you a story.

I just spent the weekend at a retreat for creatives; photographers, designers, planners, videographers. I am none of these. I was hanging out in the kitchen. Cooking, doing dishes, and watching some really inspiring entrepreneurs hone in on the heart of their business. One of my oldest, dearest friends was hosting this group and maybe it was my FOMO (or her intuition) but I pretty much inserted myself in this weekend. “How about I come and serve as your private chef?”

So while I didn’t sit in on the sessions on building your brand, finding your point of view, connecting with clients, I did have some really incredible conversations. These women have so much grit. Almost all have overcome personal hardships, tragedies, so much struggle, and yet still have built vibrant, successful businesses. And even more, they’re creatively fulfilled, leaving their marks on the world. USING THEIR GIFTS.

And then the questions…
“What’s your story?” “Do you cook for a living?” “Has food always been your passion?”And the scariest one, “What’s your social media handle?” (I can see you rolling your eyes right now. Also, I’m 38). My social media presence consists of a moderately active Instagram account, which is mostly pics of my kids and puppy and a Facebook account which exists only to keep up with friends and family. I occasionally post a food photo or maybe a PR at the gym, but I’m not lifestyle social media sharer. I just want Aunt Kathy to be able to see how cute my guys were at summer camp.

But, why?
You see, I LOVE to learn about food, nutrition, fitness, supplements, high performing gear! And if you know me, you know I will evangelized you to the max! When I get behind something like that it’s all I can talk about. Seriously, ask my friends and family. But, that evangelism has never translated to the online world. Here’s why: I’m no expert. I don’t have any letters behind my name to validate my research. Most of this stuff wasn’t even on my radar during my college years. So when I think about putting it out there for anyone beyond my circle of quiet (more on this later) it’s always been a hard pass.

Enter Terri

Are you familiar with an alcoholic beverage called Hot Damn? It’s this kind of crazy liquor that burns your face off with cinnamon and spice and finishes sweet. This is Terri. She is strong and feisty with the biggest, sweetest heart! She pulled me aside one night during the retreat and share her story; complete with near death experiences due to a very acute heart issue that popped up during a pregnancy. She asked me that scary question about social media. I gave her all of my reasons (read: excuses) and she blew up every one with this one statement: “You don’t blog for others! Who cares if you have 5 followers or 5 million? Your words, your work, your online life is one of the things your kids will look back to when you’re gone to say, ‘ this is what my mom was about.'”

Terri and I are the same age and she’s had experiences that demanded she look at the things she’s leaving as a legacy for her family. And it’s true. Why can’t I share my thoughts, the things that make me the person I am at this place in my life? I want my now 8 year old to read this when he’s 28 and say, “Yep. That’s my mom.”

So maybe my thoughts about mind-body-spirit will resonate with you. And maybe they wont. But, Levi and Abe, however you’re reading this when I’m old or gone, this is your mom. I’m 38 years old. I just decided that I’d share some of my crazy wellness rantings with you and the world. And maybe you can even show your kids and grand kids why I made you eat that hard, sprouted bread or green food smoothies. xoxo.

I was here. I AM here.