#perseverance, Beauty, Blog, Career, Faith, Family, Health and Wellness

Amazing Adventures

It seems that lately, adventures are around every bend. From small afternoon ‘errand adventures’ with the kids, all the way to life changing decisions and opportunities. I am fueled by adventures. I am fueled by ‘what’s next’. I have to work hard to be in the here and now – being present and loving the ‘current’. This year, specifically, I have worked hard at that – and it’s been so rewarding. Just enjoying a beautiful day, a relaxing nap, or time with friends and family.

And you truly get the best of both worlds when you do that – because I think the adventure actually ends up following you, ten-fold.


Cheers to a fall full of colors and adventures for everyone.


Blog, Food & Drink, Health and Wellness, Uncategorized

Holy Shiitake

A couple weeks ago I broke out in a terribly odd rash. It was unique in design…almost as though I had gotten into a fight with a cat and had stripey claw-like red marks on my shoulders, neck, and torso. As anyone who has ever had a random rash occur, I wracked my brain trying to figure out the source. I put my money on a zinc supplement I had started taking a few days prior. But, I also thought perhaps it was blank lentils. Those were the only two abnormal things I could think of that I had interacted with in recent days leading up to the outbreak.

I told a dear friend of mine about the rash and she also got curious about the source. After trolling the internet looking at comparable photos (now THAT is a true friend) she sent me a text message asking if I had eaten Shiitake mushrooms recently. I responded that I had not. However, I totally spaced that I HAD actually eaten some on an Asian Chicken Salad three days prior to the outbreak.

My friend and I went out to lunch this past Monday to the same restaurant where I had initially consumed the salad. It was SO good that I decided to order it again. Halfway through the meal, my lovely friend suddenly says…”Aren’t those shiitake mushrooms?” Throwing my fork down on the table, I’m like, OMG. Yes.They.Are.

So, all I could do was wait and see what happened. Sure enough, about 28 hours later the rash started on the nape of my neck just where it had started before. I immediately started dosing on Benadryl and leftover Rx cream. About 16 hours later from the onset on the nape of my neck, the stripes appeared on the front of my neck.

I am allergic to shiitake mushrooms. It’s an interesting thing. Not many cases of it according to Google, so I feel sort of special. Mystery solved. Benadryl, Rx Hydrocortisone, and lavender essential oil helped take the itch away. The rash has now resolved after 4 days. (It lasted 8 days the last time, but then again, I did eat the whole salad instead of just half.) Isn’t it crazy how it all worked out?



Blog, Health and Wellness, Uncategorized

Allergic Reaction

On Monday night I started to get an itchy, spidery, crawling sensation on my neck. I put some lotion on and went to bed. Tuesday morning, I woke up at 6a and headed immediately to the gym. When I wake up, I usually get ready in the dark so as to not disturb my still sleeping family. After I returned home for a shower (yes, my gym has showers, but I have a “thing” about showering anywhere other than home) that is when I noticed something was seriously wrong. I peeled off my sweaty workout clothes and discovered that the itchy, spidery, crawling sensation from the night before had blown up into a full-fledged hive-like outbreak! One look in the mirror and I was like WHOA!!!

Red spider-webby stripey splotches all over my torso, neck, and shoulders. So weird! None of it itched and I felt totally fine. Post-runner high was in full effect. Mood was great…However, I certainly looked like I had just gotten into a tussle with a tiger. I’ve had hives before, maybe 15 years or so ago and knew enough to take some Benadryl right away. I recall that the last time I had a random outbreak like this it resolved within a few hours. I am now on day #3 and this crazy condition just keeps evolving. It’s fading on my torso and neck, but now my fingers and elbows are victims.  I’ll spare you any pictures. Don’t feel like you’re missing out. There are plenty of awful ones available on the internet if your Google searching of symptoms and causes ever takes you down that path.

I did visit the Minute Clinic at my local CVS on Tuesday evening, but nothing conclusive was determined to be the cause. No fever, O2 levels good, heart rate and blood pressure were stellar. Most likely it was an allergic reaction to something, but what that could be is still TBD. One benefit of having a pretty healthy lifestyle and a chemical free home is that I can rule out a lot of possibilities. It’s not my organic-free-of-everything laundry detergent, face wash, body wash, shampoo, lotion, or cosmetics!

Current theories include a zinc supplement that I took for a few days leading up to this outbreak, ironically, to boost my immune system. Perhaps I kicked my immune system into overdrive and now it is in combat mode! Another theory is black lentils. I’ve never had a legume/peanut allergy before, and I’ve had my fair share of hummus or other lentil soups, so I’m not convinced, but on Sunday I had black lentils for the first time ever. They were SO good I had them for dinner on Monday night too. I was almost going to post a recipe blog about it, but maybe I shouldn’t! (Well, it’s still worth a mention…roasted sweet potato, black lentils, scallions, and celery tossed with olive oil, honey, and lemon juice.)


Could this be the delicious culprit??

It is such a mystery! I’m probably just allergic to work. It’s been a stressful few days. Think I could get an MD note excusing me for the rest of my, um, life?

Here’s hoping I can run tomorrow! This girl has a half-marathon to run in a few weeks! I don’t have time for this craziness.

Here’s to your health!



Beauty, Blog, Family, Health and Wellness, Parenting, Uncategorized

Oh, Baby!

Baby powder that is. I have had some in my girl’s bathroom up until this very morning. I just did not know. The product seemed so innocent…I mean, it goes on babies for crying out loud! What is more innocent than babies?! This product was literally found guilty- and Johnson & Johnson had to pay up. Check out this article from Time Magazine, Johnson & Johnson Is Just the Tip of the Toxic Iceberg, dated March 2, 2016 to learn more about the need for tougher safety standards and informed choice about safety of products in the cosmetics industry. To learn more about the $72 MILLION dollar lawsuit, check out this article from Time, Jury Awards $72 Million to Woman in Johnson & Johnson Talcum Powder Cancer Suit, dated February 23, 2016.

If this information disturbs you, get curious! Learn more about product safety by visiting the Environmental Working Group, a non-profit dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.

If you want to take action, join a movement in asking Congress to Hold a Hearing on the Personal Care Products Safety Act. It hasn’t been updated since 1938!!

Your voice matters!


#perseverance, Blog, Health and Wellness, Uncategorized

Igniting the Fire Within

Every now and again I’m able to articulate exactly the emotion I am feeling inside. The piece I am sharing below is something I originally wrote for my friend, and co-author of this blog, to use for her business blog. During the month of February I wrote pieces for her business centering on the theme of Perseverance. I am now proud to say that I can write the word perseverance without using spell-check. This blog is the story behind the piece.

I am a runner, and I also do yoga. The two activities complement each other perfectly. A few weeks ago I was indulging in a noon-hour yoga session after having a particularly stressful morning at work. (Turns out that yoga and work also complement each other perfectly…) As I was assuming Dancer’s Pose, which is by far my most favorite asana (posture), the inspiration for this piece landed.

Later in the evening, when I found the time to sit quietly with my thoughts, I closed my eyes and visualized every action and corresponding feeling I could think of to describe the physical and emotional experience of practicing yoga. The experience of developing perseverance. Yoga is as calming as it is invigorating. It is as relaxing as it is challenging. It has helped me improve my mental discipline, which is helpful whether I’m on a long tempo run, or handling my seventh walk-in employee of the morning seeking consult on a difficult case.

With no further ado, I give you:

Igniting the Fire Within

Fire within

Focus intense

Eyes locked on the horizon

A single breath rises and falls, solid, filling her chest

Heart swells, rhythmic beating

Slow… steady… purposeful…

She will persevere.

Silent as a stalking tiger

Alert as a hungry hawk

She will not be underestimated

Goals, dreams, all within reach

One final push

The journey has been beautiful


She has persevered.

Fingertips gracefully stretch forth

Hands open

Energy releases

Soul awakened

This is what it feels like

To risk everything

And succeed

It’s worth it



This piece originally appeared on February 29, 2016 at http://avantsynergy.com/igniting-the-fire-within/



tree pose

Blog, Health and Wellness, Running, Uncategorized

When the going gets tough…

…the tough go running. Every other year since 2010, I have participated in some type of running event. Here is what I have accomplished thus far:

  • Fargo Half (May 2010)
  • Twin Cities 10K (October 2012)
  • Run for the Lakes, Brainerd (April 2014)
  • Lifetime Commitment Day 5K (January 2016)

You’ll notice I have already completed my running event for 2016…but then life went and got all stressful on me and I decided I needed to turn to the only outlet that truly reduces my stress. I signed up for another race. This time it will be the Stillwater Half which is scheduled for May 2016. I’m now into Week 2 of training and have decided on a Tues/Fri/Sun run schedule. There is nothing more soothing to me in times of stress than to have ONE thing on my calendar that is predictable and necessary. My mileage. Running is my religion. It brings me peace and balance. Cupcake consumption without guilt.

Non-runners may not relate to this post at all, but those of you who do run, most certainly will. Seeing a training plan mapped out for the next 12 weeks is heavenly. My days and nights are now ordered around distance and time goals for the next day. Nurturing my body so that it can develop, perform, and recover. Sleep is now “part of the plan.” I can be more intentional about actually getting some Zs. You know, I’m in training. My pantry is quickly turning over from its supply of  winter comfort foods to the lean, body nourishing, muscle repairing, delicious foods of training season. (Cupcakes excluded.) I love everything about training.

All of the races I have completed thus far have been “fast and flat.” The Stillwater Half will add a new challenge of hills. From what I understand they will come around miles 10 and 11. Sounds fun… (yeah, not really), but at least I know in advance so I can try to prepare. When I lived in Saint Paul a few years ago, there were some incredible training hills to run on. I may have to visit my old haunts this spring.

Last Saturday night I spent some time updating my “Miles of Smiles” running playlist. If Demons, Imagine Dragons, isn’t on your playlist right now I highly recommend. When I was running on Sunday, that song came on and I got the goose bumps. Definitely gave me an extra boost of energy. I’m still looking for some more songs to add. Anyone have any personal favorites that get you through just one more mile? Let me know!

Happy Running!


Blog, Food & Drink, Parenting, Travel, Uncategorized

Dining in Orlando, FL

Ask my kids the 4 main food groups and they will give you an Elf-style answer. Candy, Candy Canes, Candy Corns, and Syrup. Disney World is their personal heaven. Not because of the rides or characters… Oh, no. It is because it is a confectioner’s paradise. Suckers, tubs of cotton candy, candied apples, chocolate chunk cookies, chocolate covered crispy treats, ganache covered everything… Plus, it all tastes 10x better when shaped like Mickey Mouse or served up in a Disney-themed container. I wouldn’t usually give in to so much sugar indulgence, but when I pay $100/person to get into the theme parks, and know a good sugar rush will help us maximize the hours in the day or help the kids better tolerate long waits for popular rides…it seems justifiable. #parentoftheyear

I do know that kid, (nor parent) can live on sugar alone, so we have actually had some other fine cuisine. Here are the highlights:

Be Our Guest Restaurant (Walt Disney World, Magic Kingdom)- a fine mix of kid and adult-friendly French inspired selections. Croque Monsieurs, Pommes Frites, Vegetable Quiche, Braised Slow Cooked Pork, Quinoa Salad, and of course, fancy cupcakes! We tried the Master’s Cupcake (“Chocolate sponge cake topped with Lumiere’s special Grey Stuff”). The grey stuff tasted like a vanilla buttercream of sorts. The ambiance of this restaurant and extra courteous staff make this a great place to take a break from the activities of the day. There are three different dining rooms each with Beauty and the Beast inspired themes. We sat in the West Wing, where the magical rose is located. Caution-if your kids are Nervous Nellies, the West Wing may not be the best seating because thunder and lightning effects take place throughout the hour it takes to dine. For some reason, my kids kept asking if the castle was going to disappear. We reassured them that many more people had reservations after us, so no, the castle was not going to blow away in a storm.

Hollywood and Vine (Hollywood Studios, Character Experience)- So.Much.Food. First, the obvious perks of doing a character dining experience is skipping long lines to get guaranteed time and photo opps with favorite Disney characters. This is a Disney Junior breakfast and I’m telling you, more adults than kids know the words to the songs. Speaking of- there are great sing-alongs, dance time, and hugs.

Second thing to know, this is buffet dining. It’s important to remember, your young children do not comprehend how much money you have paid for them to have this encounter with Doc McStuffins, Jake, and others. They will not eat their worth in food and you have to be OK with that. There certainly is more food available at the breakfast buffet than reasonable to consume- even for an adult who takes two trips back to the line. Not that I would know…but if your kids are at all like mine, they will opt for a small dish of Fruit Loops, and maybe take a couple bites from a cinnamon roll. Perhaps three or four grapes. Expensive grapes, yes, but the memories will be priceless.

Something else worth mentioning here- The Star Wars Jedi Training for kids age 4-12 is at Hollywood Studios. I’d heard that some people will make reservations for breakfast at the park just so that they can get in early and sneak over to register for the Training. What we discovered is that this is not necessary. When we arrived an hour before the park opened, we were happy to discover there was a special park entrance line designated for people who just wanted to sign up for Jedi Training. We were able to enter the park early (before 9a), without the super early breakfast reservations (ours were at 9:40a). The attendants directed us exactly where to go, and we were able to get signed up with no issues at all. You still want to get there early, as spaces fill up quickly, but no need to try and “work the system” by doing breakfast reservations. Book breakfast just because it’s a fun experience.


Not visiting any of the Disney Parks? No problem. Here is an awesome recommendation:

Cooper’s Hawk Winery (International Drive)- We first discovered this restaurant about a year ago while in the Chicago area. Award winning wines, flavorful food, and generous portions. See the picture of the child serving of spaghetti below and notice how the plate is literally bigger than my five year old. Something I really like about this restaurant is how they make a wine pairing suggestion with every single food item on the menu. They will also let you sample two wines per adult before, during, or after ordering your meal. I made reservations for 4p in order to take advantage of Happy Hour that is available throughout the restaurant. $5 wines and a great selection of appetizers, including Seared Ahi Tuna Tacos, and kettle cooked chips with Caramelized Bacon Onion Dip. the kid’s meals are finished with a chocolate dipped strawberry. I had some Lobster Bisque and a Peach Sangria. If the kids can be sugared up on this vacation, I can certainly have my fun, too!

Sweet Tomatoes and Souplantation (Lake Buena Vista)- This is a buffet chain that serves health foods! Salads, soups, sandwiches, and pastas. Not many restaurants, let alone buffets, have the likes of Kale Salad, Vegan Chocolate Chip Muffins, Black Bean and Quinoa Chili, and Tuna Tarragon in the line up. There are plenty of vegetarian and gluten-free options available. Finally, guilt-free buffet dining…you know…after you’ve had your fill of sugar.

candy rush

To your health,