my annual book and a surprise letter

i wanted to start this post in sharing a handwritten note i received in the mail yesterday, which i opened this morning... Deb, I wanted to take a few minutes to let you know a few of the ways you inspire me. First off, the way you push yourself so far into your art helps me to not be complacent in sharing my vision with the world. You help me to become a better artist.

I can tell that you're a great mom. Someone who knows what matters most in life (family) and puts their heart, soul and full energy into crafting a life that allows for the love and support kids need. I know you're raising well-love kids and they're going to change the world because that's what well-loved kids do. The intentionality in how you live your life inspires me to focus on presence with my help me become a better father. I can feel the passion / heart you pour into the words / images you share, so keep posting...

It might seem odd to get a litter from me, when we've met face to face only once, but when someone inspires me, I want to tell them in a meaningful way. Too many times we think awesome thoughts about people, then never tell them. That makes me sad so this is my way of saying you're awesome, you inspire me and to let you know how much you are loved.

With gratitude, JS

what an absolutely incredible surprise to receive this note in the mail. i'm blown away by his beautiful thoughts and so very grateful for his sharing with me -- i will treasure the card forever and already have it tacked up on my inspiration board --  a lovely reminder (especially during those challenging days) that i'm doing a pretty good job in this world.  something i so greatly aspire to do is not only be an inspirational artist, but most importantly, be a great mother, wife and friend.  i'm happy to know that this comes through in how i present myself and all that i share.

right now, i'm gratefully heavily engrossed in preparing for a portfolio review, two solo exhibitions (new orleans photo alliance in december and baum gallery in february) and the development of a fine art book of my work (edited by the amazing jock sturges and produced by gallery vevais).  yep, just wow, wow, WOW!!  did i mention that i am beyond grateful?

but i've also been recently engrossed in the design of my family's annual book, something i've been doing each year since i started photography in 2006. my family will always be my priority and, well...the making of our book each year makes my heart swell and inspires me.

i shared my book layout on facebook yesterday and received a lot of questions regarding my design process, who i use to print, etc. so here we go, a little about my process...

i use blurb booksmart application. i start with a completely blank book and then select page template  based on the photographs that i am selecting for each page spread. with most of the pages, i modify the template, but the template provides a good starting point. i design the book, keeping the photographs in chronological order. how do i select which images to share? i just do. images that mean the most and share my family's story throughout the year. i also include special artwork and writings from my kids. this is something that i keep up with all year (scanning artwork and typing their writings and place into a folder on my computer entitled annual book). i have a page, where i include each child's age and thoughts about them. this year, i'm also asking them about some of their favorites.

my book typical ends up about 140-150 pages and so i needed a book printing company that was somewhat inexpensive, but still offered great quality and blurb fits that bill for me. i not only print the book for our family, but also for the grandparents as christmas gifts.

if you decide to try a book with blurb, be sure to print with their pro paper. it's a bit more expensive but totally worth it.

here is my overall book layout, along with a few of the page spreads. each book is unique to the happenings of the year, our location, etc.  i don't ever have a specific plan when i start the book.  it just unfolds page by page. all the annual books beautifully grace our credenza and nothing makes me happier than hearing my kids reminisce and giggle as they look through previous year's books.

i hope this will inspire you to share your gratitude with another.   i hope this will inspire you to write a handwritten note to someone you love and / or care about. i hope this will inspire you to get your family's photographs OFF THE COMPUTER. i hope this will inspire you to live your life beautifully and authentically -- and cherish every minute of it.

have questions, feel free to ask in the comment section. i will do my best to answer and will edit the post to share my thoughts.

book layout

front and back book cover

some page spreads

our world | day one

It's so hard to believe that twenty-thirteen is quickly coming to a close. This year has been amazing in so many ways, but the days have absolutely flown by -- and continue to do so!! And with that, I could no longer ignore the fact that I hadn't taken enough photographs of my children this year. While I can't take back the previous months, I decided that I could do something about it now. After talking with my dear friend Rowe, who just happened to feel similarly, we decided to team up on a photo project -- one that would get our focus back on capturing the everyday of our families, while also fostering personal growth. After quite a bit of brainstorming, we decided on a fabulous photo project:  two friends living oceans apart. sharing 30 days of images, inspired each day by one word.

Without further ado, the first photograph from our joint project...


© deb schwedhelm

© rowe timson

working on me

last year was my year to try and take a photo every day. for no other reason than wanting to. this year, my goal is to get in front of the camera more -- something i greatly struggle with and want to change. i don't like photos of me. i always find a way to rip myself apart. but i know in 5-10 years, i will love these photos. and i know that my kids will love these photos in 10 5 years. i know that they will love photos of me NOW! and i really do ache to be part of my family's photographs. so my goal, for the remainder of this year, is to take at least one photograph every week that includes myself.  me with one or more of my kids. me with my husband. just me. i guess this is my own personal learn-to-be-in-front-of-the-camera-and-like-it therapy. so here i am. today. nothing fancy. dreads tied in a knot (always one sticking out). leftover makeup from the day before. not smiling (because unless it's authentic , i don't like it). here i am. just me.


have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn?or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? or perhaps you know the silence when you haven't the answer to a question you've been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you're alone in the whole house? each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully. - norton juster i've been quiet the past few months.  i needed to.  last year was amazing but i needed to digest all that happened and reflect. i needed to do some soul-searching. i needed a break. i needed to focus on my family. i needed to bring balance back into my life. i simply needed some quiet.

yes, i've been quiet... but i am here, striving to be present, fully present, each and every day!

and i wanted to share this incredibly beautiful video and the story behind it. took my breath away...

Marina Abramovic and Ulay started an intense love story in the 70s, performing art out of the van they lived in. When they felt the relationship had run its course, they decided to walk the Great Wall of China, each from one end, meeting for one last big hug in the middle and never seeing each other again.

At her 2010 MoMa retrospective Marina performed ‘The Artist Is Present’ as part of the show, where she shared a minute of silence with each stranger who sat in front of her. Ulay arrived without her knowing and this is what happened.

meeting sally mann

anyone who knows me...knows that sally mann has been a longtime inspiration.  like...HUGE, HUGE inspiration.  before i knew any better (in the very beginning of my photography journey), i tried to copy her work.  as embarrassing as this is, here is the photo, taken sometime mid-2006 (after purchasing my DSLR jan 2006)...

then i began to learn, grow, evolve and begin to discover the artist that i am myself.  and i tried do a candy cigarette photograph in my own way (i loved candy cigarettes growing up).  taken feb 2007 and i remember being so, so proud of this photograph...

and then i continued to learn, grow, discover and appreciate...

fast forward to a few days ago.  i got to hear sally mann speak...and meet her (even if it was for the briefest of moments).  i'm pretty sure i was asking her if we could pretend to be best friends in this picture...or something like that.  lol.

to be honest, i dreamt about the day i might meet sally mann, but wasn't sure it would ever really happen.  just kept hoping, dreaming...believing.

sally spoke at university of michigan's michigan theatre, which was incredibly beautiful.  and having grown up in detroit, it was awesome to be back in the area, after 20 years of being away.

sally (can i call her sally?) read an excerpt from the book she is writing and shared a new body of work that will accompany the book.  in her work, she is photographing black men.  seeing her new work was awesome.  hearing the background and inspiration for this new work was that much more incredible.  she's hoping to publish the book and show the work (as 30x40 prints) in the next few years.

the talk was followed by a Q&A session and book signing.  i had brought two sally mann books with me to ann arbor, but, to my sadness, i had left them in my hotel room (immediate family was actually the first photography book i ever owned).  i asked chrisstina, who was running the show, if she thought i had time to run back to my hotel to get my books.  she said, " fast".  so that's exactly what i did.  my sickly self ran as fast as i possibly could handle, back to my hotel room -- returning in time to be the last person to have  books signed.

chrisstina was pretty shocked to learn that the group of us had traveled from FL, NY, MN and canada, to  listen to sally mann speak.  so we begged, along with chrisstina's encouragement, to get a photo with sally.  all we had were our iphones and light was minimal...but who cares, right?!!

my sally dreaming isn't quite done yet.  i dream to one day photograph sally and maybe her whole family.  i dream that i can talk to her more.  she strongly discouraged the audience of photographing our own kids, but didn't expand upon the topic, which i found interesting.  needless to say, i have lots of questions regarding the topic.

all in all, it was absolutely amazing -- and i am really, really grateful!!

stay passionate, work hard (really hard) and don't ever give up on your dreams.  you  just never know when it will all pay off and your dream(s) will come true.  :-)


ETA:  there's been a lot of feedback, thoughts and questions voiced regarding the obvious -- why did sally mann discourage the audience from shooting our own children.  and i don't know the exact answer. her statement was a response to a question asked about her book, 'immediate family' (although i can't remember the exact question). most of the Q&A time was spent discussing sally's new work and the discussion about photographing her own kids was very minimal.

i do NOT think sally meant don't photograph your children at all!!   and i'm pretty confident that her statement revolved around her choice to photograph her children nude, but i just wish she had expanded more on the topic -- especially since i, myself, photograph my children a lot and very often, for personal work / projects.  obviously she and / or her children were affected by sally's journey of  photographing her children.  but i don't believe it's as straight forward as that. i don't think it can be directly applied to me / us, without discussing and considering all the surrounding factors (then and now).  i love photographing my children. they are my muses. they are part of the art that i am currently creating. and i feel that i photograph them respectfully.  they are always aware of the resulting photograph and they know and are aware of what i share publicly (especially if the photograph is a bit moodier, edgier, etc.).

regarding if there was anything that surprised, intrigued me, made me rethink... sally mann shared that she's a bad photographer and a compulsive printer. i had heard her say this before in an interview but it still is a bit strange to hear her say it in person. she was very open and willing to answer any question that was thrown at her. i loved that but wish we had had more Q & A time.

i pretty much suspected, but it was confirmed that sally mann is very private and doesn't get in public very much or even talk much with other artists. it took something like six years of trying, to get her to speak at UM.

i was a bit surprised that she was reading an excerpt from her book as i had hoped that she would just be sharing and talking to us on a variety of topics (she's a brilliant writer). i believe that her book is going to be great and in the end, will probably be more informative and educational than hearing her in person.

someone asked her how she found the black men, who were / are her subjects in her new work. she shared that she sees someone interesting in her town and will just ask them. she pays them $25/hour and will typically work with them for 1-1/2 hours. she says she is as uncomfortable as they probably are through the process of photographing them.

i just came across this harvard link, which shows a few of images from sally's new work. the reading that she shared with us was a smaller version of the reading she did at harvard.

an evening in the water

last weekend, our dear friends asked us if we'd like to go out on their boat with them.  we absolutely love spending time with the skubins, so of course, our answer was an overwhelming yes, yes, YES!!  having not shot underwater for quite a while, i decided to bring my D700 and underwater housing with me.  it was different than what i'm used to (shooting in my pool) but i loved it just as much.  there's something about shooting in the water that so resonates with and speaks to me.  i don't think i could ever get enough of it (except for dealing with my wet dreads).  lucky for me, we're headed to MN for a week -- to a cabin on a lake, where i'm connecting with the amazing  martha (of i see the moon photography). martha and i dream and talk about lots of shooting together, including underwater.  :-) and i so cannot wait!!! here's a few of my favorites from our amazing evening together just off of our (almost) private island...

ETA:  nothing like just finding out that tropical storm debby is continuing to leave her mark in the pinellas county waters.  the pinellas health department just issued a health advisory declaring that the waters at five popular beaches are a potential health risk because of high bacteria counts.  why? because of...

FECAL MATTER that was washed from the land into the gulf.

OMG, how gross!  of course, the waters we were in is one of the affected areas.  yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck, yuck!


let your dreams fly free

most people never run far enough on their first wind,to find out if they've got a second. give your dreams all you've got, and you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you. [william james]

this is what i came home to yesterday...

KIELE:  mom, can i show you something? ME:  sure, what? KIELE:  you have to come in my room. ME: okay, what?

and she brought me into her room to see what she had drawn, cut and taped up on her wall...

sigh -- i love this child and the magical soul that she is.  she's taught me a lot over the years, that's for sure.

ETA: she told me today what she wants for her birthday (may 3rd) -- a vintage bird cage from the store down the street so that she can put it on top of her art cabinet (underneath her LET YOUR DREAMS FLY FREE).

the gift she left us

i think i've re-written this post 10 times now.  i'm not sure i could ever express my complete gratitude to jen, for capturing my own family's photos.  these are a few of my absolute favorites. i hope that one day my children will look back on these and see our family's absolute love and joy for one another.  we are so very blessed!! \

you can see more of our photos here.  thank you jen.  deeply and truly, i thank you!!  i hope that one day i can return this most amazing gift you have given my family.




a weekend of inspiration

to say that this past weekend was incredible and inspiring would be an understatement -- i had the awesome opportunity to spend the weekend with jock sturges in palm neach, where he was there teaching at FOTOfusion. we arrived saturday afternoon.  my kids were modeling for his ‘the meaningful portrait’ demonstration shoot. it was wonderful to hear his thoughts on shooting people and so great to see him in action. one thing that i really grasped onto is jock’s deep respect for the people he shoots.  he also stressed the importance of getting to know your subjects – something that i’ve always believed as an essential part of making a great photograph.

my kids and i also had the opportunity to visit the ‘full of grace’ exhibit at the palm beach photographic center, with jock.  the exhibition was so well put together and it was incredible to hear jock’s knowledge and thoughts on much of the displayed photographs.  he also took the time to teach and inspire my kids, who are now asking to visit museums here in tampa. if you happen to live in florida and can make the trip to palm beach, i so highly recommend the ‘full of grace’ exhibition.  i guarantee you will not be disappointed.

on sunday, jock and i spent hours talking about painters and their influences, not only on one another, but also on various photographers.  we began with cave paintings and journeyed through time – discussing artists such as sandro botitcelli, hieronymus bosch, jan vermeer, eugene delacroix, van gogh, picasso, piet mondrian and mark rothko. it was fascinating and something i plan to engross myself in, in the coming months.

we [my kids and i] then watched a slideshow of jock’s work, from the time he was a child through last summer’s work, sharing his thoughts and stories along the way.  it was impressive that jock knew every person’s name and many of them, he’s photographed for generations.

throughout the weekend, we laughed and shared.  he took the time to teach my kids – not only about photography and art, but also a few magic tricks, which of course, they thought was the best thing ever.  we left palm beach sunday evening and the first thing my kids said was, we really like him; when are we going to see him again.

jock sturges is one of the most kind, caring, giving people i have ever met.  he selflessly shared so much time, knowledge and information, asking for absolutely nothing in return. to think he’s a master photographer pretty much blows my mind.  he inspired me and encouraged me.  i'm not sure how i got so lucky, but i am beyond grateful.  he shared with me that he sees something special in my work and well, i’m not taking that lightly.  he had some recommendations for me, which i am going to see through.  one thing for sure, i’m going to make his time and energy spent worth it – i will not disappoint!

jock -- i can’t thank you enough for your friendship and the gift you have given me.  i feel more than blessed and i will make you proud.  my children and i thank you for a most-magical weekend -- a weekend we will never forget.

and a few photos from the weekend...

cleanse | days 10-12

DAY 10 -- breakfast: smoothie [protein, fiber, bee pollen, water, almond milk, raspberries, pineapple, spinach] snack: apple with almond butter lunch: [applegate] chicken sausage, lettuce, spinach, mushrooms, avocado & hummus wrapped in brown rice tortilla snack:  none dinner:  smoothie [protein, fiber, coconut water, raspberries, mango, kale]

while i was so hungry the previous three days, day 10 brought something different -- i was actually full after lunch and stayed satisfied the rest of the day.  well, i stayed hungry until we went to a 10 PM movie and oh...the smell of movie popcorn.


DAY 11 --

breakfast: smoothie [protein, fiber, bee pollen, flax meal, coconut water, mixed berries, pineapple, spinach, kale] snack: none lunch: smoothie [protein, fiber, bee pollen, flax meal, coconut water, mixed berries, pineapple, spinach, kale] snack:  none dinner: grilled chicken with side salad and 1/2 larabar [at restaurant at the polynesian hotel, disney world]

today was supposed to be disney world but the parks were so crowded, we decided not to go to any parks.  but we did go visit our friends, who were in orlando, from pennsylvania.  since i wanted to eat dinner with everyone, i decided to do a smoothie for breakfast and lunch and dinner at a restaurant [with our friends]. all went well with no cheating but i sure did want a sip of steve's jalapeno margarita and a bite of his white chocolate cheesecake. oh yea, i really wanted some of the fresh right-out-of-the-oven hawaiian bread too; it smelled amazing.

DAY 12 --

breakfast: smoothie [protein, fiber, bee pollen, flax meal, coconut water, mixed berries, pineapple, spinach, kale] snack: none lunch: salad of lettuce, avocado & black beans [at mexican restaurant at epcot] snack:  none dinner: a couple of beers

yes, you read right, i had a couple of beers at dinner. we spent the day with friends at epcot center and ended up at 'the house of blues' in downtown disney, for dinner. we sat on the patio, listening to awesome live music. we ate [well everyone except me], we drank and the kids played and played and played. we didn't get back home last night until about 10:30 PM and exhausted, i went right to bed. so it's now the morning of the 13th day and i'm back at it but feel pretty much like shit. i'm tired and way, way dehydrated right now.  but it sure was an awesome day and evening spent with our friends, who had flown in from DC. hoping to get my body back on track today.

you can find my original post regarding this clean program cleanse here.

a couple of iphone photos...

i love you...

after weeks of cutting out letters and words, my kids and i made this the other night -- an 'i love you' collage on a 20x20 canvas. and i love it so!

originally inspired by this 'i love you' collage

next, i'm going to make the 'I WILL SURVIVE' pot from this post.

ETA:  i've been getting some questions regarding how i made my 'i love you' collage.  so, here's what i did...

i started with a 20x20 canvas purchased from michaels. i didn't want the background stark white so we painted it a light beige. then the kids and i spent weeks cutting out letters from magazines, junk mail, etc. -- all shapes and sizes. to place the letters, i painted a layer of modge podge and then began sticking 'i love you' letters and words. the hard part is making sure that a complete word goes all the way to the edge, so begin thinking about this when you get close. once i had a few rows done, i modge podged on top of the letters. once the entire collage was done, i did a final two layers of modge podge on the entire thing. note: we were very low on Vs and Ys and had to do some more cutting of those letters. it was quite a time consuming but worth every minute!! it was super fun seeing how creative the kids got with the letter cutting -- a dragon's tail became a letter O, an eye became a letter I.

cleanse | days 1-3

i decided to share my journey with the clean program, for anyone that might be interested in doing this cleanse in the future... i'm doing the clean program with my dear friend, em (thank goodness!!).  i can't share how much it has already helped, doing the cleanse with a friend -- sharing our food choices, different ideas, our moans & groans, etc. we both decided that we would skip the elimination diet and just go right into the cleanse.  i had already been eating well since new year's eve, so i considered those few days an ALMOST-elimination diet.

DAY 1 -- breakfast: smoothie (protein, fiber, water, almond milk, spinach, kale, berries & pineapple) shot of brown rice protien powder (mixed in 4 oz water) lunch: roasted chicken & quinoa salad dinner: organic split pea soup (kind of gross)

i start each morning with a glass of water and probiotics. then i have a cup of green tea. i wait an hour or so before having my smoothie. i gagged like crazy on the protein powder, to the point that i had tears strolling down my cheeks. i already had tried the rice protein powder in my smoothie the day before and it was terrible. rice protein powder was dumped in the trash. and i've switched to whey for now. i also purchased the program's nourish powder and will see how that compares.

i was pretty hungry the first day and basically thought about food all day. i climbed 42 flights of stairs (training for this). although i don't think i'm going to do that again until i'm through a full week of the cleanse. my calves still hurt three days later.

my biggest complaints on day one were that i had this weird cotton mouth feeling all day, even though i was very well hydrated and i had the most raging, killer headache at night. i laid on the couch at 6:30 PM and never got back up, until i went to bed at 9:30 PM.

DAY 2 -- breakfast: smoothie (protein, fiber, water, almond milk, spinach, kale, berries & pineapple) snack: carrots & homemade hummus lunch: applegate chicken sausage, a few bites of quinoa & 1/2 lara bar snack: 1/2 lara bar dinner: smoothie (protein, fiber, water, almond butter, kale, berries & pineapple)

day two went pretty well. i was less hungry and no raging headache. my head did nag a bit at one point but no big deal. the toughest part of the day was when my family had pizza and i had my smoothie. went to bed at 10:30. overall, a pretty good, satisfying, not too hungry kind of day.

DAY 3 -- breakfast: smoothie (protein, fiber, water, almond milk, spinach, kale, berries, mango & pineapple) snack: carrots with hummus lunch: smoothie (protein, fiber, water, spinach, berries) snack: some fresh pineapple & a bit of guacamole with brown rice chips (skyler said the chips taste like paper) dinner: chicken burger, avocado & onions on a bed of lettuce and spinach with homemade salad dressing (dijon, oil, vinegar, lemon)

i've decided that i'm going to eat a couple dinners with my family every week.  so i did liquid for breakfast and lunch and burgers with my family for dinner. :-)  my back bothered me all day -- kind of aching, kind of hurting.  by the end of the night, my back was killing me along with another headache. i'm assuming it's all part of my body working to detox all the crap out.

all in all, the first few days were a wee bit painful. i had the cotton mouth, headache, backache and felt a bit sluggish and cloudy-headed. but today, the beginning of day four, i'm feeling pretty good. i feel less fluffy-puffy already and that feels awesome. no ailments at the moment, but i KNOW that could easily change throughout the day. the thing that bothers me the most is that my thoughts are always on food. normally, i never think about food. i eat when i'm hungry and that's it. i'm not usually a bad eater except during the holidays, when i get into the cakes, pies & cookies. also, it's not easy to prepare my daily meals separately from the rest of the family's meals. it takes a lot of time, thought, commitment and will-power (as i smell donuts, coffee, pizza, etc. that my family is eating).

to read why i'm doing the cleanse or simply learn a bit more about the clean program, check out my blog post HERE.

fav finds | week twelve

can't wait to make these once i'm done with the cleanse. i'll probably replace regular flour with coconut or almond flour.

such a beautiful photo. can't wait to shoot in some fog. it's been a long time.

i want to get this print for my kids' room.

i love absolutley everything about this little space.

such a cool window, reflection, self-portrait shot.

i want...

would love to have a terrarium in my house one day. using air plants is such a great idea, especially for me, who has a magenta thumb.

i am an artist!

adore every bit of becky earl's work and super love her new year's resolution she shared today.

wise words from a dear friend of mine.

love this 'don't be a di*k during meals with friends idea, although i personally would love to take it even further and implement with family time .

a perfect example of the joy, beauty, awesomeness, treasure...of capturing the everyday.

these look so good. trying to figure out a way that i can make them without dipping in egg (no egg for me right now).

last but not least, the clean program makes it to my fav finds this week. i decided to make yesterday the first official day of my 21-day cleanse and i have to say -- it really sucked!!  it was the raging headache that set me over the edge last night. but this comment, on my yesterday's post, has me so inspired.  i KNOW this is the right thing for me.  thank you reb!!

I'm planning to start my 3rd annual Clean cleanse in about 2 weeks.  I love love love the Clean program and plan to always do a cleanse each January - it's the perfect way to re-set your body after the holiday season and at the start of a new year.  You'll feel incredible - even after just a few days.  I have found though that I spend quite a bit of time each day preparing food and after a week or so feel like I'm getting nothing done except the cleanse.  It helps to plan ahead and to make food/smoothies for a couple days.  I'll cook enough salmon/chicken/whatever for a few lunches or make enough smoothie to last in a fridge for a few days as well.  I also plan to cook very simply for my family during that time since it sucks having to make dinner for them and then a smoothie or soup for myself.  But, even with the extra planning it helps to understand that the cleanse does add one pretty big thing to your to do list each day and that simplifying elsewhere is often necessary.  Anyway, I hope you love it.  Whenever I get sick of it or felt hungry I always remind myself: this is the kindest thing I can do for myself right now. Good luck!

need to reset

i've been eating like shit. i haven't worked out in months. i've been drinking way too much (coffee & beer). i've haven't been very positive about things (especially about living in tampa). i'm fluffy-puffy -- just all around YUCK! i need to reset. i need to cleanse. i need to detox. i need to rejuvenate.

and that's exactly what i'm going to do.

i'm starting the clean program -- a 21-day cleanse, designed by cardiologist, dr junger. the basic premise of the clean program is that give the right conditions, your body has the ability to heal itself and achieve optimal health.  dr junger shares that many of the symptoms we suffer from (headaches, fatigue, weight gain, negativity, etc.) are caused by toxin build-up, which is readily accumulated throughout our everyday lives.  the clean program allows your body to reactivate your detoxification system, supports the detox process nutritionally and enhances elimination. there's also a lot of basic questions answered here.

i just finished reading the clean book and i have to say, i loved it. i have always believed in functional medicine and that's what dr junger is all about (a mix of eastern and western medicine).

today, i'm starting a 3-day elimination diet (strict diet of three meals of approved foods from this list, on page 8. and yes, i know...the forbidden food list is crazy.) then i will start the 21-day cleanse, which will consist of a liquid meal (shake, juice or soup) for breakfast and dinner and a regular meal (made from the approved foods list) for dinner. there's a whole bunch of recipes here and they really don't seem too bad. and i can snack when i'm hungry.

there's also supplements to take while doing the cleanse. dr junger's program charges $250-425 but you can also buy your own substitutive supplements, which is what i did (see below).

i'm hoping to get back to regularly working out too.  i'm starting to stair-train today, which should prove interesting since i'm so out of shape right now.  my goal is to eventually get back to crossfitting, which i haven't done since september. and i'd love to try yoga and incorporate it into my weekly routine.

as i was reading dr junger's book, i reminisced about how amazing i felt when i was crossfitting and eating a paleo(ish) diet. at the time, i was also getting lots of compliments on my skin. i always attributed this to the the exercise, but now i truly believe it was just as much my diet, as it was the exercise.

i know there's the skeptics, naysayers, cleanse-haters out there but i'm ready and excited for this -- a mind, body and soul reset. this cleanse just seems to make sense to me. my husband supports me. and i also plan to talk to my kids about what i'm doing, why i'm doing it, etc.

here's my BASIC CLEANSE PLAN -- days 1 - 3: elimination diet | three meals each day from approved food list

days 4 - 25: first thing in morning – probiotic with every meal – digest gold two hours after meals -- candizyme lunch - meal from approved food list put in morning & evening smoothies – brown rice protein, fiber, green vibrance (although i'm doing protein powder shot pre-smoothie because it's so gross) every evening – MVI, milk thistle, garlic tab, mag-citrate, vitamin D before bed – 2 TBS olive oil (not sure i'm going to be able to do this)

here's my PLAN FOR TODAY -- breakfast: shot of brown rice protein water morning shake (almond milk, ice, blueberries, mango, kale + fiber) tea

lunch: quinoa salad with chicken if juicer comes, i will also drink a juice (cucumber, celery, carrots, apple, ginger)

dinner: pea soup and spinach salad with dressing (oil, vinegar, dijon), onion, avocado & almonds

snacks, when needed: almonds, apple with almond butter & carrots with hummus

i want to note that i am NOT doing this cleanse to lose weight. yes, i'm a bit puffy-fluffy, but that has nothing to do with my current weight.

i'll keep you posted on how things go and how i feel. i'm hoping to last the full 21 days but we'll see how things go. right now, i'm afraid of the headaches and potential detox symptoms i've read about but from what i've heard, the outcome is amazing. if you are considering this cleanse, i highly recommend starting with the book. and of course, if any doubts or questions, check with your doctor before starting.

ETA: the brown rice protein powder shot (in a bit of water) was even more gross. i gagged like crazy, to the point that tears were strolling down my face. don't think i'll be doing that again.

what ____ looks like | month five [part II]

every christmas break, we head to oma and opa's in nevada. they live in an awesome house in carson city, amongst the beauty of the sierra nevadas. we're always hopeful for a white christmas. this year was anything but. when we arrived, it was freezing, hitting the single digits at night. by the time we left, they were having record-breaking temperatures in the 60's. and i think they also made a new no-snow record. but, we had such an awesome time there as we always do. so here's a bit more of what our 10 days, with family in nevada, looks like...

seeing lots of deer.

tons of tree climbing.

sometimes sky climbed too high and needed her uncle's help getting down.

i can't get enough of sky's dirty rolled up pants.

the older cousins, having some time away together.

meeting and playing with new friends. ryder's the only boy cousin, so it's nice that he got to meet a couple boys, from the neighborhood.

the hill, where they spend hours playing.

quite the duo.

the life of the party.

going on a hike.

it took linus a few days to recover from the hike, but i think he had fun.

someone turned seevn and  had a bowling birthday party. we had a blast and definitely plan on bowling as a family more often.

we celebrated his birthday (on his birthday) at home too.

siblings (minus wendy and thomas, who couldn't make it this year).

all of us. i promise oma a group photo every year.

i love that my kids have this time at oma and opa's every year -- time to run, play, explore, climb, hike, camp. and i love it that they're now old enough to spend a few weeks there in the summer too. so many joyful memories being made.