This morning Harper woke up from a nightmare around 4am and I couldn’t go back to sleep.  That happens sometimes, both the nightmares and the not being able to go back to sleep.  So this morning, instead of fighting it, I listened to the whisper that told me to dig into my devotionals.  Like working out, there is rarely a time where I don’t feel better after reading and spending quiet time with God.  So I dug out Savor, by Shauna Niequist and I ready today’s devotion.  While I was reading and writing, I had a huge realization.  Earth shattering, really.  But the thing that brought me there was this question:

What is it that God has made you to love?  How do you declare that love and live it out?

It seems like a simple question, right?

But what happens when you fight against those things that God has made us to love?  Because I realized that’s what I’ve been doing.

God has called me to be a caregiver and I don’t wanna. **Insert the picture of a two year old me, angry and stomping my foot.

Yep.  I’m a caregiver.

Not just in this season because I’m helping momma through her cancer diagnosis and treatment. Not just in the past when I’ve had to make hard decisions.  Not just as when I’m taking care of Harper and Carl.  Not just when I’m teaching my students.

Not just, but ALL.  And I’m tired.  And as a result I’ve stopped taking care of myself.  I’ve stopped being a caregiver to MYSELF because I want someone else to do it.

And while I know that God is my caregiver and takes care of me, He’s not here physically to do all.the.things. He’s not here to do the meal planning, grocery shopping (or Shipt ordering, cut me some slack), meal cooking, dishwashing, shower taking, night time routine orchestrating.

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying here, though.  Carl is amazing and helps out in so many ways.  I couldn’t have asked for a better partner in this crazy life. But even with Carl’s help, I still feel responsible for all.of.the.things even if he’s doing them.

So today, something is going to change.  I’m embracing the Simplified Life, thanks to Emily Ley, and I’m focusing on what God has made me to love and living that out.  It’s not going to be easy.  I’m not going to be perfect.  But I am going to find the joy again.  Because I refuse to spend the rest of my days fighting what I’ve been called to do.


What is it that God has made you to love_

The Call



It was a week ago today that I got the call from my mother.  I was sitting outside of a conference room in New Orleans, watching the rain come down outside.  I was supposed to be listening to people talk about how they grew their business, sharing marketing strategies, sharing their stories.  But I couldn’t concentrate.  I was praying so hard that the text that she had sent me earlier in the morning would be true, “Good morning. I’m confident we’ll get good news.  I love you.  I will text you the good news.”   But it had been too long since the start of her appointment and I already knew what she was going to tell me, I was just waiting for her to say it, “Dani, it’s cancer.”  It was like my heart froze in my chest.  

My mother, who had beaten just about everything life had thrown at her, had something else to fight.  Weeks away from listing her house and moving to St. Augustine, we had to switch gears and figure out how we were going to work with her surgery date and the first few weeks of her recovery.  Texts and phone calls flew around.  I was still in New Orleans for another few days and it was so hard to concentrate but it was a much needed escape at the same time.  While I was away I didn’t feel the weight of the world on me.  I felt like I could check out of life for a bit, focus on something else.  But then I’d remember that my mother had cancer and I would lose all focus.  I felt like I couldn’t sit still.  How was I supposed to sit and listen to something when all I could think about was how many days she had until her surgery, or how I’d have to miss parts of my pre-planning and worry if I’d be prepared for the school year, or the horrible timing of a work trip that Carl has, or who was going to watch Harper.  And dear Lord what are we doing with Auggie?

Then I got home and things started to fall into place.  I swear it was like Harper had grown up overnight and while I miss my sweet baby girl, the sweet young lady who I came home to is so willing to help.  She’s so excited to stay with Pa for a few days and maybe even see Uncle Kiki and Aunt Amy when they aren’t working.  

But as the surgery date creeps ever closer and I’m starting to look for things that mom is going to need post-mastectomy, I feel myself getting anxious all over again.  So I do the things that I know I need to do.  Laundry.  Dishes.  Press play.  Drink a shake.  Invite people to change their lives.  And pray.  Dear Lord, do I pray.  Because I just can’t imagine my life without momma in it.  I can’t imagine cancer taking another grandmother away from Harper.  I just can’t.

And so here I sit, writing this out because once again I know I’m not the only one who has gone through this.  I know that someone out there reading this will have tips or suggestions to help us through this time.  I know that someone out there reading this will be looking for support and encouragement.  And most importantly, I know that someone out there reading this will pray for my momma as she undergoes surgery and recovery.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Because it’s been too long…

I’ve been saying for months that I wanted to start blogging again but I have no idea how I’ll fit it into my life again.  But that’s the thing. I can sit on my phone for literally hours and get totally sucked in.  So much so that I’ve had to start setting a timer so I don’t waste my life scrolling through my news feed or through IG pictures.  Clearly it’s just making it a priority.

I’ve always been fascinated by people and what they were doing, what was going on in their lives.  I remember driving with my grandparents when we’d go home from visiting our family in South Florida and looking at the cars, just wondering where they were going.  Were they happy?  What were they talking about?  I think that’s why I’ve always loved blogging – both reading others and writing my own.  It gives me a sneak peek into what others are doing.  It gives me a chance to share parts of my life.

When I blog it’s like I can speak without being interrupted – mommas and teacher friends can I get an AMEN?!  I can share a part of me that may actually help someone else that may be going through something similar.  And really, it’s fun to go back and look at what I was doing in the past.  For some reason blogging is easier than journalling – maybe it’s just because I’m a faster typer than I am handwriter – are those even words?

I’d like to say that I’ll come in tomorrow and update on how different everything is, but I probably won’t.  So let’s just say this is a fresh start.  A chance to share my life from this point forward.  Because at the end of the day, nothing has really changed and everything has changed, if that even makes sense. So let’s just say that this little blog post is me taking a step toward the life that I’m capable of living.

Summit 2016: Biggest Take Aways

I’d really love to do a full recap of my entire Summit experience, but to some degree I feel like this moment right here says it all.


It was 12:15am after the Closing Celebration and we are working.

Are we tired?  Absolutely.  But the fact that we are awake, reaching out to people to help them change their lives, shows me that we all took away something from the last three days.

I know I did.  I feel like the same things kept being presented to me over and over again.  Not just at Summit.  But for the last month or two.

Be consistent.

Be patient.


Recipe: Pepperoncini Beef

This has to be one of my most favorite recipes ever, you guys.  Seriously.  Between it being easy and delicious, it just warms my heart with it’s beefy, juicy goodness.  Yes, I just said beefy and juicy.  I’m telling you, it’s that good.  You can serve this over rice, potatoes, spinach, or bread.  Seriously anything.

You may have seen this recipe floating around on the internet before but haven’t made it yet.  I first heard about it from my husband who had it at a work potluck.  He couldn’t stop raving about it and after he made it for me it for me I could totally see why.


Pepperoncini Beef.jpg

  • Ingredients
    • 1 jar of pepperoncini peppers
    • 3-5 pound beef roast
  • Directions
    1. Add salt and pepper to roast.
    2. Brown roast on all sides – don’t skip this step! Trust me!
    3. Place roast in crock pot.
    4. Remove stems from Pepperoncini peppers.  – don’t skip this step!  Trust me!  Put peppers in the crockpot and pour in the juice from the jar.
    5. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.
    6. Shred meat and enjoy!

TIP: You can also do this with pork but it doesn’t have quite as much flavor.  I’d recommend adding onions and peppers in with it.

Add this to your meal plan for next week.  It’s so good.

The scale

Tonight was a turning point for me, friends. Tonight, while Harper and I were at Publix we walked out of the bathroom and she saw the scale. You know, those big giant ones that when you step on, it feels like the entire store can see your weight? Harper looked at me and I knew she wanted to jump on and see how much she weighed. I encouraged her, and she jumped right on. “How much do I weigh, momma?”, she asked. “35 pounds, love! You are so big and strong!”, I said. Then she looked up at me, “What about you, momma? How much do you weigh? Why don’t you get on.” I paused. I looked at her. I looked at the scale. “I’m okay, love. I think I’ll pass.”

I’ve thought about this moment for four years, a moment that I knew would come. The moment I could make sure that my daughter would never, ever have a problem with the scale or use it to judge her self worth. And what what did I do? I said, “I’ll pass.” Luckily my child is nothing but persistent and she asked me to get on again. I looked at her sweet face and I got on that scale. She saw the hand on the scale go far past where it stopped for her. She looked at me and said, “What does it say, momma?” I said, “More than yours, love.” And we laughed together and walked out of the store and to our car.
In that moment I had a choice – and luckily I had two. But I never, EVER want to pass on my insecurities about my weight or size on to my daughter. The scary part is it’s just that simple, friends. It’s just saying “no thank you” or “I’ll pass” to a simple thing like getting on the scale in public that can make my child wonder why it’s not okay. Because if I’m not okay with my body, why should she be okay with hers? Maybe I’m making a bigger deal out of this single incident than necessary. But maybe not. I just know that I want to continue on my journey to find the best version of myself – to be comfortable in my own skin. To step on that scale without hesitation. To love myself.

Are you ready to take the step to Love Yourself Healthy? I’d love to have you join me and allow me to be a part of your journey, too. I don’t have to do this alone. And neither do you. Comment “I’m in!” or click on the link to submit an application:


February Announcement

Workout shaming


How many of you have every looked at someone’s workout post on Facebook or on another blog – with them all red faced and sweaty – and thought “Really?  You call that a workout?”  “That’s so easy and you’re sweating like that?”  “Oh you just must be a beginner.”  Oh don’t worry, I’m raising my hand high because I’ve definitely had that thought. And honestly, I’m ashamed of it.

When I did my morning post on Facebook this morning, sharing how Carl and I added 12-30 pound weights to our weight collection, I had this realization.  A realization that someone out there would think that just because I was only lifting 12 pounds during my Hammer & Chisel workout this morning I wasn’t getting a good workout.

Maybe this comes from doing CrossFit for nearly 2.5 years.  Don’t get me wrong, CrossFitters are some of the nicest, most genuinely caring and helpful people you will ever meet.  Everyone in a box wants to help and give tips on how to do a specific movement.  They will cheer on and encourage the other athletes and the person who finishes last typically gets the most high fives and cheers.  Trust me, I’ve been that last person many times.  But when you’re doing a nearly 200 pound dead lift on a regular basis I can see how  doing a 20 pound dead lift with dumbbells for 1 minute wouldn’t seem like much.  But trust me, try it.  Until you’ve tried a workout that someone else has done, don’t judge it.  For real.

Whether it’s a 10 minute walk around the block, a sub-five minute mile training run for a marathon, 100 burpees, 5 push-ups, 10 sit-ups, or 10,000 steps – it’s a big deal to the person who is sharing it.  Congratulate them.  Tell them they did a good job.  Give them a virtual high five.

At the end of the day, anyone who does a workout or chooses a healthy meal is making a step toward changing their life in a positive way.  And that, friends, is worth celebrating.