Loving Who You Are, Where You Are

I’m so happy to be a part of Grace Notes Blog Hop!  Today I’m going to talk about loving who you are, where you are and I think this topic goes nicely with the awesome give-a-way that you will have an opportunity to win if you leave a comment below telling me how you embrace who you are, exactly where you are. I will choose a winner out of a hat and one lucky person will win a copy of   Field Guide to Everyday Magic.  It’s a beautiful book published by the makers of Bella Grace. It's perfectly sized so that you can carry it with you everywhere you go, fits nicely in your bag and can be pulled out any time you want to feel inspired. I can hardly wait!  I’m so excited for someone to win this beautiful book. I will also include a little something special to go along with the package.  

Please comment by September 7th for a chance to win a free copy of Field Guide to Everyday Magic.  Contest is open to U.S. residents.  International participants are eligible to receive a free digital edition of Bella Grace.  

I choose this topic because I know it’s relatable.  I know it’s something I have struggled with and I know not a single one of us has a life like the other.  Nobody knows what it’s like to be me, to live in my skin in my exact circumstances, just as I will never know how it is for you to live your life exactly where you are, in your skin and with your exact circumstances.  I’m not to discount any of your worries, anxieties or to think my worries are worse or your worries are worse.  My loss is bigger or your loss is bigger.  It’s all relative.  I do think we can agree though that sometimes we might struggle loving who we are, where we are. I want to share three practices that help me. If we don’t have tools we can’t fix what is broken.  


What I have found to work for me are these three things;  Gratitude, giving and and my faith.  My faith keeps me grounded and gives me hope every day.  These three things help me to love exactly who I am, where I stand, even if it sitting in my mom soccer sweatshirt on the kitchen floor. For example, when I go on a walk and my direct surroundings are dirty sidewalks, lacking nature I can focus on the trash or I can find the treasures.  Finding the treasures beats focusing on the trash any day. I can pick up a tiny pinecone and a broken piece of glass and find the beauty in them.  I can appreciate how ruffly the pinecone is made by our Creator, I can also appreciate the sharp round man made glass and see the beauty in each of them.  I can dwell on the traffic noise or I can focus on the suburban birds who balance on the high wires singing their morning praises.  It’s all a choice. I can choose to give out a smile or I can choose to look the other way.  I have experienced both and a returned smile not only makes me smile bigger it reaches into my heart and gives me a feeling of connection and instant joy.  


This isn’t easy.  It doesn’t come natural.  I believe with practice it starts to feel more natural but it takes practice.  It really does.  I have felt bitterness, I have focused on negative things.  I know this makes me feel heavy.  I know this makes my heart sad.  Knowing and doing, that’s the hard part.  I try and practice lots but this isn’t to say life’s surprises don’t throw me into a tailspin at times but these three practices pull me back, gratitude, giving and my faith.  


I can’t stop thinking about the mom who lost her baby,  the woman who battles each day fighting cancer.  The teenaged girl who hates her body or the friend who recently lost her mother.   How do they find their peace, their joy and how do they love who they are where they are?  It’s a choice for them too as difficult a hand they were dealt.  Life will continue to throw us these crazy curve balls, it will never stop.  I believe it’s to teach us empathy, to make us stronger so we can then help others.  There is always a purpose and since we only get one chance, shouldn’t it be our choice to find the beauty in the mess? I promise, there is always beauty around us and there is always an opportunity to give.  


Mrs. Ostgaard taught me something new today

It’s strange indeed how memories can lie dormant in a man’s mind for so many years. Yet those memories can be awakened and brought forth fresh and new, just be something you’ve seen, or something you’ve heard, or the sight of an old familiar face.
— Wilson Rawls, Where the Red Fern Grows

Today I had the honor and privilege to attend a beautiful memorial for a teacher who taught not just one of our boys but both of them.

It’s been 11 years since Austin had Mrs. Ostgaard for his 5th grade teacher and it’s been 7 years since Dylan had her for his 5th and final year of elementary school.  She didn’t have cancer with Austin and by the time it was Dylan’s turn, she had been diagnosed and like the warrior she was, she had beat it and was in remission.  Do you know how glad I was that my second born son would have the privilege to have her as his teacher too?  I’m a little bit shy in general so I never really had the courage to express my gratitude in person to Mrs. Ostgaard and when my mother-n-law stopped by one morning a couple of weeks ago to tell me that Mrs. Ostgaard was on hospice, we prayed together for Mrs. O and yes, the tears rolled down my cheeks.  “Why Mrs. Ostgaard, why?” We talked about writing her a letter so she would be able to know the impact she had on our lives, on our kids lives but little did we know at the time, she was already gone.  She went to be with the Lord on Mothers Day.  Even though I didn’t have the opportunity to write her a letter when she was still here on earth, I can do it now.  

Dear Mrs. Ostgaard, 

I first want to tell you that when my boys were in elementary school I was the kind of mom who prayed to God that He would give my kids the exact teacher they needed.   I was never the kind of mom to go to the principal and try and get the teacher I thought would be good for my kids.  I trusted that who they received would be exactly who they needed.  Little did I know that when Austin my first born got you for his 5th grade teacher that you would impact his life from that year on.  You see that particular year you had a couple of kids with the name Austin.  You naturally decided to give my Austin a nick name and you called him “Ace”  I’m pretty sure you knew exactly what you were doing too because my son had low self esteem.  He was very bright and could talk to just about any adult but he didn’t exactly mesh well with the majority of kids his same age,  he wasn’t the most coordinated and he was a little chunky and kids kind of made fun of him but when you gave him that name, it changed so many things.  He held his head a little higher and it made him feel special.  You gave him value and not just you but the other kids began to pick up on it and even the roughest kid at school went on to call him Ace in middle school and was always very kind to the little outsider. 

I remember Ace’s year was my first experience with your tradition of apple pie.  Yes, I couldn’t believe you were going to teach all of 5th grade how to bake a homemade from scratch apple pie!

When you told me you would be reading “Where the Red Fern Grows” to your class.  I was so excited to know you would be reading that book to the kids because it was my grandpa’s most favorite book and he had passed before Ace was born.  I remember asking you, “How do you read that book to your kids without crying at the end?”  and you simply said, “I do cry, every single time, I cry!”  That’s when I really knew you were the real deal.  

I still have the paper mache bowl that you taught Ace to make and submit to the fair. I’m super sentimental. It holds my colored pens.  

 Four years later my second born son got you for his 5th grade teacher and I was so happy, I wanted Dylan to be able to get to know you how Ace got to know you too and I just had this feeling that you were especially made to be a teacher for boys.  Maybe I’m wrong but it was just this vibe you put off that boys were special, that while some teachers complained that boys could be a little rowdy or unruly, you seemed to “get them”  I had heard you had cancer and I could see this time around you used a cane and had a little bit of a limp but again I was so shy, I was nervous to ask but really just so you know what I wanted to do was hug you tight and tell you how glad I was that you made it, that you were still here to teach my second born son.  Again, I didn’t do that.  Kind of like the quote I opened this up with, it is pretty true how memories can come fresh again when we have heard or seen something that brings them back to life.  That’s what your memorial did for me today.  It just flooded my mind and heart with all those awesome memories.  But it also taught me a lesson, it taught me today that even if I’m a little shy I choose not to let that stand in my way any longer.  Next time I see someone that I want to hug or tell them how grateful I am for them, I’m just going to do it.  I promise I will because I’m pretty sure that’s what you would do.   I also want to thank you for walking in the light of Jesus, that your love for Jesus was passed on to my children and even though they went to a public school, they had a lovely Christian example right before their very eyes each day while they were in your class.  That’s invaluable.  Thank you Mrs. Osgaard, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.  You made such a big difference in our lives. We always, always think of you when we crank out the best apple pie ever.  Our recipe is tattered and has butter stains, it’s well used and just like when I see roses I think of grandpa, when we make that apple pie or even have a slice from someplace else, we will think of you and say a little prayer of gratitude.  

Love Tracie, Ace and Dylan's Mom


40 days and 40 nights

COMMITMENT means staying LOYAL to what you said you were going to do long after the MOOD you said it in has left you.
— Jillian Michaels
this was day 5 of the detox.  Day 5 was the HARDEST day.  I still have my laugh lines and expression lines that I'm actually pretty proud of because it just means I've smiled and laughed an awful lot but I think I do see a bit of a glow to my skin. 

this was day 5 of the detox.  Day 5 was the HARDEST day.  I still have my laugh lines and expression lines that I'm actually pretty proud of because it just means I've smiled and laughed an awful lot but I think I do see a bit of a glow to my skin. 

Today is 40 days!  40 days and 40 nights of a mind change, a serious mind change.  I believe it was 2010 that I began to experience a change in my body that I didn’t understand.  During those 7 years I saw at least 7 or more doctors.  All different types of doctors because I couldn’t understand how for 40 years of my life I was fine.  Relatively fine.  Then all of a sudden I became extremely anxious and my OCD took over.  My body itched and I wouldn’t stop scratching.  The past couple of years things have gotten so much better.  I still like to say I’m 90% not quite 100% and this again sparked me to change the way I have been eating and also take control over my own health these past 40 days.  When will it become a lifestyle and not a crazy weird and temporary diet? I’m hoping to finally get this, because this isn’t a diet I’m on, it’s a new way of life.  A life that includes far more healthy choices and way, way less unhealthy choices.   

I read about it for years, I fantasized about it.  Read health books, fitness magazines, enjoyed success stories.  Watched shows like Biggest Loser as I sat and ate snacks of ice-cream, cookies, brownies, brownie batter, cookies and cookie dough, hand fulls of chocolate chips.  Sugar has had a good strong hold on me for many years.  I have on more than one occasion ordered cake for dinner.  Although I have taken my soda intake way down, I would enjoy a coke as we dined out and never turned down the free re-fills.   As I type this out I can’t believe the choices I’ve made for a number of years.  

I decided 40 days ago to invest money into seeing someone who could help me with this journey.  I have not regretted one bit spending money on this because I feel so different already and I understand so much more.  She is a wonderful teacher and a very good example of beautiful health.  Her skins shimmers and shines, her eyes are bright, her hair is long and shiny and her body fits her skeleton perfectly.   

This is my new favorite tea.  My holistic health coach sells all sorts of yummy teas, have not had one I don't love. 

This is my new favorite tea.  My holistic health coach sells all sorts of yummy teas, have not had one I don't love. 

I still have a very long way to go.  I will take each day as they come and hope to make the best choices I can with each meal I eat.  The first two weeks without refined sugar was horrible.  I felt absolutely horrible.  My energy was low, my moods were mean and even now my skin is still detoxing all the stagnant yuck-ness that has been inside my body.  Everyone is unique and different even in the way they detox.  My skin has always been a big issue for me.  I show my stress in my skin.  A few weeks before I got married my eyelids broke out in a ugly rash, I would get hives all over my legs when I was stressed or little boils would pop up randomly.  I never had bad acne but other strange skin issues.  So I guess my “thing” is my skin.  

Today I have lost 16 pounds in 40 days.  When normally my weight wouldn’t budge much no matter how much I walked or worked out.  I have been told diet and nutrition is a large percentage of how to lose fat.  Working out and moving is very important for your heart and overall health but I have been told if you don’t change your diet you wont change very much. 

I know this has consumed me lately and it’s all I have been talking about and posting pictures of but a large part of my success also comes from the encouragement I receive from my friends and family who read my words and see my pictures and encourage me to keep swimming.  

I never in all my years thought I would reach a weight of 193 pounds on my small framed 5’4” body.  That’s a lot to handle on my bones and joints.  I was feeling it too.  I wasn’t being very kind to myself that’s for sure. I was in a big depression too. It’s up to me to change this.  I’m the ONLY one in fact who can change my path.   Keep swimming with me.  I want you to feel good too. 

A future success story

I’m a big fan of success stories.  I hope I can be one of those stories and that this picture will change. 

somebody loves red and stripes!!

somebody loves red and stripes!!

Hello anyone who wants to read about what I’ve been up to.  Some of you have followed my journey either in person or in the virtual world but if you have followed for some time you will see that I try, I try and I try to often fail, fail, fail.  I don’t mean to but it seems this health journey isn’t exactly the easiest thing to do on this planet.  I have tried often on my own and for many years. I have noticed rather than lose weight and feel healthy I somehow have gained with each passing year and feel worse and worse as the days go along.  I feel tired more than I should, I lack motivation to even get out and take in the fresh air, a little depression, lots of stiffness, and always that anxiety and itchy itchy skin. I’m tired of living this quality of life and in my heart I know I’m responsible. 

I decided to pay a professional and get educated on what I may have been doing wrong all along.  I knew in my heart upon meeting my holistic health coach that I most likely had a sugar addiction.  I knew I consumed entirely too much sugar in many different forms.  Yet I didn’t really want to stop.  The more I ate the more I wanted.  I wanted a dessert after every meal and the in between meals too.  I’ve watched a few documentaries on sugar and I’m completely convinced it’s a drug.  A drug I’m addicted to.  I have no prejudice, I eat all foods, really good and really crappy.  I’m open to it all but because of my constant need for sugar this journey has been very difficult.  

I have seen first hand tremendous results in other people, like my cousin Miss Moonspinner who gave it up and has been successful for some time now.  I can tell you this, she radiates!  Her body has found it’s natural weight and she is gorgeous.  My sister she also glows, she has bright eyes and has healed her health issues with food.  My holistic health coach, Maritza is also another example of what healthy looks like.  There is just something plain different about them.  When I use words like glow and radiate it’s no joke, they just look fresh, bright and alert!  They have learned the art of taking very good care of their human temples.  I admire them as I daily fail.  I’m tired of beating myself up.  Of thinking I can’t do it because it’s too hard.  What if I fail yet again?

But I will never know unless I try.  I’m always up for a try.  Always. I’m on day 15 today without refined sugar, without gluten, without soy, without dairy, without caffeine and eggs too.  While it doesn’t mean I have given it all up for good, it’s the first steps as Maritza says for healing my gut and fighting the bad stuff off.  I do know I don’t want to abuse sugar like I did.  So if it means being really, really strict for a while then I should try.  

It helped that she gave me a lot of new recipes to try when she could tell I was teetering on the edge. I spent last Saturday making my own coconut yogurt, sauerkraut, a flavorful quinoa with black beans, peppers, onions and spices I don’t normally use, like turmeric, curry, cayenne pepper, nutritional yeast etc.  I made this really yummy purple potato salad with a flavorful cashew dressing and I couldn’t find he nettles so I used dill and it tasted terrific.  I made my own bread out of plantains, (that takes some getting used to but it’s actually growing on me.) I made green tea lemon zest gummies and cashew/garlic/dill cheese.  In my entire life I had never made any of these new things.  Of course I’m still waiting on the sauerkraut, that takes 2 to 6 weeks.  There is this satisfaction knowing that I can make these things by myself and in most cases save money rather than buying these healthy things pre-made and then I also know exactly what I have put into them. 

I believe it takes a few things.  

  1. A mindset.  This is so important.  If your mind isn’t right then it will not work.  
  2. A willingness to try new things.
  3. Parting with a few dollars and especially in the beginning while you build your healthy staples.   Better to spend it now on good health choices than later for medications and doctors bills. 
  4. A community.  It’s important to have support, lots of support.  

I am yet AGAIN,  trying.  I say things to myself like one step at a time, literally while on walks I will sing that song, put one foot in front of the other and soon you’ll be walking cross the floor, remember that song from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town?”  It gets all whirled up in my head.  my new mantra is just keep swimming, taken from my most favorite fish Dory. 




Yesterday I shared just a few good things that happened then I asked what good had happened in my friend’s day?  I’m so glad I asked because their good stories added to my good day.  And I think I want to do more of that.  Focus on the good things and listen to other good stories.  

Remember that wall that came crashing down last week?  Like literally a wall, a block wall.  California really needs rain and it has been coming in buckets and even though it took down our wall I still love the rain.  The very day the wall came down I was baking cookies and filming the pretty rain scenes.  Just maybe 10 minutes before we hear a HUGE CRACKING THUNDER SOUND, I had filmed out the back window into our yard and a little of the once standing fence is in that clip.  I was going to make a sweet little rainy day video.  Then the wall came crashing down and yeah, we were a little in shock to say the least.  Rich looked like he was standing on another planet for a few minutes.  It was like “is this a dream?”  “um, did that just really happen?”  So weird.  He began going into immediate action…moving motorcycles, draining our pool, putting tarps over the sliding mud.  Rich's dad and brother came out to help lift the fallen wood fence.  I called the city and insurance within minutes of it all happening.  We just started doing what had to be done.  At one point I looked at Rich and said “I know there will be good that comes of this, blessings will happen”  He looked at me like I was a little bit crazy, he even questioned me “what good is going to come of this?”  I said “you’ll see”

Turns out insurance doesn’t cover the damages, the cost.  Nothing.  That’s OK though because like I mentioned yesterday in a post, we have endured far greater. 



May I share just a few blessings that have already occurred?  Brotherly hugs.  A neighbor stopping by with donuts for Rich and his dad. Lots of offers of physical help more than I ever could have imagined.  Yesterday when I got home Papa had transplanted Abbie’s tree into a bucket.  It was hanging on the edge with its roots exposed.  I don’t think it would have made it too much longer in that condition.  We are hoping it makes the transplant. That gesture alone had me filled with such gratitude. 

But the thing that got me the most yesterday was the neighbor who lives about 7 houses down who knocked on our door.  You see this man almost lost his life recently.  He was hospitalized for a very long time and everything that could have gone wrong went wrong.  I don’t know all the details but I know he was very close to not making it.  He has two very young daughters and a wife and they had not been in their house for very long before this happened.  New neighbors. He is still in major rehabilitation and he walks every morning and every night.  He even has been working on speaking again.  He lost a lot.  He stopped by to let us know he would help us with the fence.  He is fighting his very own battles each and every day and he knocked on our door to offer help.  These are the blessings I’m talking about.  Yes my dear friends and family have also said they will help but when a stranger knocks on your door, that’s impactful beyond words.  These are the blessings.

Today when I got home from work, guess who was shoveling dirt behind our house?  Papa and Vincent our neighbor 7 doors down.  All I could think to do was pour two tall glasses of really cold water and tell them my heart was full.  These are the blessings.  In lots of ways it feels very hard to accept.  We want to just conquer this on our own.  "we got this"  "thank you but no thank you"  I keep reminding myself things like, "you know how good it feels to help others....let them help you" "accept help, say yes"  It's a little bit easier for me, much harder for Rich. But if we don't open our hearts and accept help we will be missing out on the blessings.  

We all have battles.  Some are much more difficult than others.  We are not supposed to compare our battles and think maybe mine is less, yes, it might be less but as a wise friend once told me….it’s all relative.  I’m finding that if we focus on the good in our tough times that it makes it much more bearable to endure.  When we do for others in the midst of our own struggles it makes our heart glad. When we accept the help of others it goes beyond glad...it becomes a big blessing so big it's hard to explain and it may even bring tears of joy. 

I did it!! 30 days of no soda!!

January is nearly over can you believe that?  I had a few goals in January.  One of them was to stop drinking soda for 30 days.  I did it! Tomorrow is day 30 and I completed my goal.  I can say this because I know I will not blow it tomorrow.  I kind of don’t even miss it.  I wrote down this goal and also wrote down a reward for accomplishing this goal.  You know that record player I have talked about getting for years?  And yes my dear kind friend Lisa gifted me the most beautiful old, old record player but I can’t play Simon and Garfunkel on the Victor.  I received payment for an article I wrote and some of that money will go towards the new record player…which will be delivered to my work tomorrow if it’s on schedule.  That’s called having faith in myself. 

I was more mindful of being mindful.  I ate breakfast every morning and I fit in some intentional walks this month. These are just some of my January goals.  Abbie and I took our mother daughter photo in January. I finished a couple books.  One of them called “29 Gifts”  in which I began practicing 7 days ago.  

Now for February.  I’m not a planner.  I’m late for birthday’s and I forget things kind of often and I dig in my feet when it comes to making schedules.  However, that being said, how about turning over a new leaf.  Or at least giving it a really good try.  I sat this weekend and looked ahead for February, so much so I thought I was already in February.  There was a satisfying feeling about it.  I know a few friends with birthday’s this month…They may just get their cards on time this year.  I even know when the next full moon is. 

I have some February goals too.  I decided to practice just two yoga poses I’m hoping daily but I won’t beat myself up over that either, if I do it just three times a week it will be more than what I was doing.  The two poses I will practice will be downward facing dog and cobra.  I can’t at this time do downward facing dog flat footed.  I’m so excited to see if by practicing more often this month if I will improve on my flexibility and my feet will be able to go flat.

Tomorrow I’m staring a study on the Song of Songs.  Just two weeks of daily reading on this romantic book.  Then a few days before Lent begins I will be reading along in a Lent study with “She Reads Truth”  This will last until Easter.  I have not decided what to give up for Lent. 

I also met a new friend who was kind enough and brave enough to send me a message when she read my blog recently.  She has invited me into her book club. It’s my style too because it’s a nice simple book that my kids actually read in elementary school called “Tuck Everlasting”  We will read a chapter a night, the chapters are like 2 and half pages.  So DOABLE.  I love DOBALE.  And it’s not crazy fancy over my head kind of reading.  I wonder if she knows I collect children’s books?  

I will continue my crane folding obsession because it calms me down.  I love finding things that calm my spirit down.  I have really also wanted to try cross stitch.  Maybe in March.  It also seems to be a calming practice. 

If you have any goals for February tell me about it.  I would love to hear from you.