5 Things I Learned About Life From My Passion Planner Journey

I love my passion planner. Like keto coffee, yoga, and five minute HIIT workouts, it’s life-changing. Check out MY FIRST YEAR WITH MY PASSION PLANNER: HOW THE PASSION PLANNER HELPED ME TRANSFORM MY LIFE IN 2019.

There is no way I could fit all of my love for this planner’s concepts into one blog post. Here are five things I learned about planning and life in general from this paper coach, as Angela Trinidad calls it.

  1. Baby steps really are better than big steps.

Whenever people talked about baby steps, I thought they were saying they were better than nothing. But the truth is: baby steps are better than big ones. Here are some reasons why.

Big steps often have unexpected negative consequences. For example, a workout that pushes you to a painful level of soreness that lasts for more than two days means you will avoid working out for more than two days. When the soreness wears off, you may continue to avoid working out because of the memories of an unpleasant experience. Before you know it, a week has passed by and much of the benefit of the workout has dissipated—only the harsh memory remains.

Little steps, like five minutes a day using apps such as the ones in this post result in an energy boost, only a pleasant amount of soreness, and often quick weight loss. The pleasant experience means you’ll repeat the action again in a short amount of time.

2. Consistency is better than intensity.

I am the Queen of Intense. I love to run fast and I’m 100% committed to anything I’m working on.

Until I crash. With the crash comes depression. Feelings of failure. And the abandonment of whatever it was that had taken over my life for a while—as if I were being delivered from possession or something. I learn to associate the feelings of failure and depression with the goal I was pursuing, and I start to avoid my goal or anything connected with it.

But that’s not very fulfilling.

This cycle creates lots of feelings of disillusionment and confusion. It was as if I thought my dreams themselves were the problem.

But my dreams were usually good, often even reflections of the purpose to which God was calling me.

It wasn’t my dreams that were the problem. It was my execution. Actually, it was my acceptance of them, my faith in the God that called me, which in turn affected my execution.

Being called to a dream requires faithfulness. Plodders, some people say, and I agree. This brings me to point #3.

3. The world needs more plodders and thinkers.

Plodders and thinkers tend to take a long time to finish a project, but the result is head and shoulders above the works of their peers. Not eager to impress, plodders look at problems from every angle and are deeply committed to the complexities of whatever it is they are studying.

They are scholars. Students. Scientists and artists of a world of which they are in awe. Beethoven composed at the early age of twelve but composed his best music after decades of study. Born in 1770, he composed the beloved fifth symphony in 1808. Many students of music assert that his work in this stage of life has a genius that is in a class by itself.

You may be saying that 38 is quite young to achieve greatness. And it is. But Beethoven had been studying music for decades. He was committed, focused, passionate, enthralled.

4. Social media can wait. What you share can be a little bit of what you are experiencing.

5. The five-minute mind map is life-changing.

how passion planner transformed my life
how passion planner transformed my life

Set a timer for five minutes. Follow the exercise. And you’d be surprised at what doesn’t make it into your vision for your life.

I think that’s the best part. In order to have what you want, you have to let go of what you don’t. I didn’t see “ten thousand Instagram followers” on my mind map for my life. So in 2019, I put away the social media frenzy, cracked open my notebooks, yoga mat, and Bible (for starters), and started focusing on my goals.

Read more about my first year and the amazing things I accomplished (at snail’s pace, I might add) in this post here.

My First Year With My Passion Planner: How the Passion Planner Helped Me Transform My Life in 2019

how passion planner transformed my life

Passion Planner made my 2019 amazing and transformative.

Near the end of 2018, I was depressed, anxious, completely overwhelmed, and suffocated by life. I had been saying “there’s no way out” to myself for so long, I believed it.

I saw a post about the Passion Planner on social media and asked for one for Christmas. My husband bought me the beautiful rose gold passion planner in December of 2018.

The Passion Planner is so-called because the founder doesn’t just want you to get more organized or better yourself—she wants you to discover your passion and take baby steps towards that achieving it. Calling, purpose, passion, whatever you call it, the logic is sound. Taking baby steps towards your calling makes more sense than taking giant leaps in the wrong direction.

So I did the five-minute mind map exercise in which you envision your ideal life at various stages (an exercise so life-changing I couldn’t stop telling everybody I met about it), and, like so many others, I was startled by what made it onto the page.

I wasn’t spending my time doing any of the things that mattered to me!

I was settling for lesser dreams, obligations, false guilt, and busywork.

I was a Mom without a moment’s peace about my parenting or my child’s welfare. My marriage was strong underneath but stressed out. Work wasn’t jiving the way I wanted it, too. And I barely even had time to clip my toenails, much less get pedicures.

But everything in my mind map was the opposite of that. In the “alternate reality” I built, I had a romantic relationship with the man I loved. I had time to stare out the window with a cup of coffee and craft the next scene in a novel I had always wanted to write. I snuggled with my daughter on the couch and read to her—one of the most enjoyable experiences in life. I worked smarter, not harder, at work, and envisioned profit and peace on the team of which I was a part. I was paying off debt every month and would someday live on author royalties. And I was healthy and fit like I used to be before pregnancy, during pregnancy, and the year afterward (before stress took its toll on me). The only problem was, these dreams were dreams, not reality. They were like another Earth in the Multiverse.

Queue the Barry doppelganger scene from my favorite show The Flash.

There was more, but you get the idea. Everything was the opposite of the life I was living.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. Using my passion planner, I broke down my first gamechanger goal into baby steps. First step in the first goal in the first dream—I had to join a yoga class again. Simple as that.

And the rest is history. Starting with my health (a very good place for anyone to start), I started rebuilding my life. I stopped putting everything else but what truly mattered to me at the top of my to-do list, and I started planning for success.



This year I’ve accomplished the following (with help from God and others):

  • lost 15 pounds (booyah—this wasn’t even one of my goals but was the byproduct of prioritizing my health)
  • finished two drafts of my novel and found a smarter way to write the next one
  • found a writing coach and started working on the parts of writing that are most challenging to me
  • bought a house with my husband
  • found a way to spend more time with my precious daughter and accomplish more at work at the same time
  • paid off a few small credit card bills and our car
  • rediscovered how my husband and I can emotionally support each other and listen to each other from a place of compassion and care
  • finally published “A Calisbury Christmas” and blew my launch plans out of the water (buy a signed copy here)

My passion planner continuously brought me back to my plans with inspiring quotes, helpful goal-tracking tools, and reminders of what was important in life. I loved the weekly “personal” and “work” dream lists. Making these weekly lists is a habit I hope to continue into 2020.

What about you? What do you hope to accomplish in 2020?

Scratch that.

What do you envision as your ideal life in the next three months, year, three years, and in a lifetime?

Start there.

And then, use a passion planner to help you get to where you want to go.


5 Ways To Fit Exercise Into Your Busy Day As A Mom

It’s no secret to most that Moms have one of the hardest, most challenging jobs there is. Children are all-consuming, so even if you just have one, your whole mind and heart are both tied up with their wellbeing and not your own, often leaving your resources exhausted and wearing thin. On top of that, certain segments of society often respond to the overwhelmed Mom with the answer, “this is the way it’s supposed to be—you’re a Mom.”

Before and after I became a mother, I found this answer to be problematic. It is, unfortunately, often this way, whether it should be or not.

This is why I write about health, fitness, dreams, and more. You are worth investing in, Mom, because we need you. Please take care of you.

When I asked my network of Moms what kept them from daily fitness, one Mom said, “I would say [it is] overwhelm for me. Between writing work, and my part-time job, parenting, keeping up with Olivia’s school events and requirements, and trying to spend time with her, I get so mentally exhausted that I don’t prioritize exercise.” (Deidre Bennett).

This post isn’t about the benefits of exercise.  You probably already know you should exercise. Instead, here are five ways busy Moms can fit healthy, therapeutic movement into their already busy day.

Me proving that you don’t have to be at a yoga studio or even in yoga clothes to do yoga. Side plank tightens your obliques, an often-neglected part of your abs.

Dance Party with Your Kids

One of my Facebook followers sent me this idea.

“When I did daycare the kids and I would grab some scarves, put some kids music on, and dance. They always felt better, and so did I.”

I love it, Lisa Waldner! I’m all for anything that gets kids and Moms to work, play, and read together.

Live Fit App

This is my favorite go-to right now. At the beginning of this year, I was working out about four hours a week doing challenging Barre and Yoga Shred classes. I know I built some muscle, but in eight months, I lost about eight pounds. In the past eight weeks, I’ve been faithfully doing my little five-minute workouts (everything from HIIT to yoga) in this lovely little free app and I’ve lost eight more pounds in eight weeks.

Baby steps are often better than big ones.

Yoga—search “yoga in 10 minutes” on Youtube.

Sara Beth Yoga. Yoga with Adriene. These are two of my favorite youtube channels that offer premium content that is absolutely free. I also appreciate the fun-loving, genuine spirits of these two ladies. I think it’s easier for me to find power yoga routines and other intense workouts with Sara Beth Yoga, while Yoga with Adrienne is a beautiful, light-hearted tapestry of surprisingly therapeutic freedom flows and routines focused on specific problem areas. My husband loves the “yoga for back pain” that is under fifteen minutes on the Adriene channel. I try to do one of these videos once or twice a week.

Find A Class With Childcare

This fitness idea can work for those Moms who live in cities or towns that have such a thing as yoga with childcare. When I lived in Denver, my favorite was a place where a wonderful teacher took Anneka to one class while I went to another. It was fantastic for both of us.

Just Do It.

The final idea I have to share is just to do it. Just do five jumping jacks. One plank. Ten situps. Do one thing a day just before you get out of or into bed, or just after you get dressed or when you’ve had that first sip of heavenly coffee. After a week, layer it with one more. It’s easy to get started. The difficulty comes when we overthink it, overdo it, or overachieve it. My “five-minutes-a-day” routine is the best and longest workout streak I’ve had since my Bikram yoga days. Both have incredible value and I’ve learned to appreciate the seasons and styles in their own right.

What have I missed? What are you favorite ways to work a bit of exercise into your day? Do you have a favorite style? Has becoming a Mom made you want to be more or less healthy? Whatever the case, I dare you to dream about your own well-being again.

Seven Children’s Books We Love—Dreams of Freedom and A Dog Named Doug

A Dog Named Doug

Screen time was getting to be too familiar of a friend. It had been a long time, too long, since we went to the Edmond Library.

So off we went, with much joy and anticipation from Anneka. And her Mom—I love picture books almost more than my four-year-old does. I love the colors. I love the way Anneka snuggles close to me when I read them. I love the way she plays afterward for a good hour about the things she’s read, lost in a world of make-believe magic.

I love the way they are held to a higher standard than books for grownups.

We got lucky this time. We always enjoy our books, but this particular book haul from Edmond was rich in imagination, values, poetry, and artwork.



Voted up by Anneka was How To be A Dog, a silly manual for dogs.

How To Be A Dog, By Jo Williamson


Another huge favorite of Anneka’s was A Dog Named Doug, a picturesque journey through Doug’s impressive digging skills and a tongue-twister to boot.

A Dog Named Doug, By Karma Wilson


This was my favorite page.



The Children Who Loved Books won me over with its simple message that books are the most valuable material possessions you can have. In a very short picture-book, Peter Carnavas leaves you aching for more books and illustrating how books bring families together.

The Children Who Loved Books, by Peter Carnavas


I’m a poet at heart. Dreams of Freedom stirs the imagination with what could and should be and reminds us that to do great things, we must dream great things.

Dreams of Freedom, in association with Amnesty International



Any Laura Ingalls Wilder picture book ends up being a favorite. With their quiet courage, the Ingalls family make us all feel a little bit braver in the coldest winter and wildest frontier.

Going To Town, by Laura Ingalls Wilder

A Chair For Mother is a heart-warming, poignant tale of a daughter who helps her family save pennies to buy Mother a cozy chair after the destruction of their home by a fire. It’s a tale too precious and rich to break into a list of values. Hard work and selflessness, love and enduring through hardship, empathy, the value of saving, gratitude for the things you have, the list could go on and on.

A Chair For Mother, by Vera B. Williams


Anneka loved Harry and the Dinosaurs Make A Christmas List. It may have been that Harry’s love of his family of dinosaurs echoes her own relationship with her overabundant “sleepy stuffies” as she calls them.

Harry and the Dinosaurs Make A Christmas Wish, by Ian Whybrow

There were many more books. But these are our November favorites. What about you? What are your favorite children’s books or library finds? I’d love to hear from you!

The Magic of Beets

Beets are rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and fiber.

Inflammation is at the root of many diseases—a common factor, Harvard calls it.

Multiple rounds of strong antibiotics left me at a lower health point than I’ve ever been in my life. My immune system seemed almost nonexistent, and chronic yeast infections, UTIs, and kidney infections left me exhausted, depressed, and fearful.

There is no one thing that is going to restore broken health. In my blog, I talk about the things that have helped me the most consistently, the things that become lifelines between me and getting my health back. The year 2019 was a year of healing for me. I’ve lost sixteen pounds, beat yeast, banished recurrent UTIs (for the time being), and started waking up with a brightness to my outlook I haven’t had in years.

Just recently, in addition to the wonders of keto coffee and yoga, I’ve discovered the humble beet.

Beets are nutrient-dense. They’re a rich source of folate. They also contain iron, B6, magnesium, and manganese. If you’re trying to lower your blood pressure, eat beets. If you’re fighting inflammation in your body, eat beets. One cup of beets contains a generous 3.4 grams of fiber, so if you’re trying to balance blood sugar and cleanse your colon, you guessed it—eat beets. Even those who suffer from inflammatory bowel disease can benefit from beets.

I buy beets cooked in ready-to-eat packages at Costco.com. I love that I don’t even have to cook them. Prepping and cooking beets is a messy process. Most of the time, I don’t even heat these nutritional wonders. I like them cold with salt. If my chef husband is around, I get them with rosemary—divine!

I have experienced relief from inflammatory symptoms on the days that I eat beets more than on other days. All that fiber and those anti-inflammatory betalains really benefit gut health!

Here’s a tip. If you’ve read a lot about the benefits of probiotics but don’t seem to be experiencing much of their benefits when you take them, make sure you’re adding prebiotic fibers to your diet. Probiotics can’t live without prebiotics (what will we discover next?), and I can’t imagine a better source of prebiotic fiber than the simple, humble beet.


If you want even more beet goodness in your diet, or you can’t imagining slicing up a this cold, red vegetable every day like I do, try a really easy and yummy source of beetroot powder I just added to my diet, Simple Reds. Because I’m fighting a fairly relentless battle against inflammation, I double up on beet’s benefits by drinking Super Reds daily. This supplementary powder dissolves easily in water and is really yummy! Even Anneka (my four-year-old) agrees.

This handy and easy-to-drink supplement also contains the following antioxidants: Acai berry, goji berry, pomegranate, black currant, and hawthorn berry (hawthorn berry is really good for inflammation and circulation as well)!

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For more solutions for tired and exhausted immune systems, and to find energy to reboot your dreams, check out Super Green Girl.

Super Reds label.

Beetroot, hawthorn berry, goji berry, Aronia berry, amla fruit, grape skin extract, green tea leaf extract, quercetin dihydrate, maqui berry, raspberry, blueberry, strawberry, cranberry, cherry fruit, acai berry, black currant fruit, bilberry, acerola cherry, blackberry, elderberry, pomegranate fruit, pineapple fruit, pear fruit, peach fruit, mango fruit, carrot, tomato fruit, papaya fruit, apple fruit, inulin, beet fiber, apple fruit pectin, grapefruit skin pectin, citrus skin pectin.

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