Healthy Structures and Rhythms

Listen, not trying to shock you today, but I am about to do some real sexy talk. This is heart-pounding, titillating stuff. I’m bringing the heat as I whisper into the universe: “Let’s talk about healthy structures and rhythms.”

I know, right? The sexiest conversation in the zeitgeist! Nothing gets my blood flowing like restored order. I am a real vixen like that. The thing is, I so enjoy Beginning of Summer Me when I become a loose, free-spirited bohemian and we are just “going to live like we want” and “relax into less structure” and “unplug our clocks”…for like two and half weeks. And then I no longer enjoy 2:30 p.m. teen wakeup times and middle-of-the-night “dinners.” In my core, I am an old lady with a map-studying habit and a weekly evaluation of my Money Market account. I like a tidy life, okay? 

Having said that, when I read a treatise on healthy rhythms and there are like 12 action steps, I immediately quit. I like tidy, but everyone take it down a notch, damn. So now that we have exited the wild west of summer and handed our children back to the real adults (teachers), these are my top three areas to wrangle back into submission, and you are only allowed to pick two at the most. So get excited! You get to automatically ignore one of these. You are already winning. 

One last suggestion: Choose the areas that feel the most out of control. Some of us managed summer eating okay but went full frat house on basic self-care habits. You maybe kept up your yoga practice, but the general budget went into cardiac arrest. We don’t all slide into sloth in the same ways. So turn inward, feel around for what areas seem the most chaotic, and just start there. 

1. The cooking and the eating sitch. 

It is how it is. The people want to eat every day. Now that the household is up at a normal hour again and mealtimes have resumed a sane schedule, the Fend For Yourself model has to be updated. It takes far more energy to resist this task (always last minute, never planned, generally frantic) than simply to organize it a bit. 

First order of business: if you have a partner, meals should be shared work; maybe not 50/50, but shared for sure. Configure this however makes sense for your family: someone takes breakfasts, someone takes dinners, someone has weeknights, someone has weekends, someone does lunches, someone takes three nights, someone manages the others. Whatever, man. Split it and share it. Feeding a whole family seven days a week is too much home labor for one person. 

I probably cook dinner three nights a week. The others are leftovers, takeout, sandwiches, or the thing I have now called No One Is Here. On Sundays, I open one tab for recipes and a second tab with Instacart. As I decide what to make that week, I pop the ingredients into my online grocery cart. This takes around 20 minutes (19 involve going into the pantry/fridge to see if I have that thing). This has now taken the decision fatigue out of the rest of the week. I’ve planned it and shopped for it. Food is handled. 

Also moms, I told my kids since elementary school that if they wanted to bring their lunch, they had to make it. If not, school cafeteria food it is. Sydney and Remy made their lunches for a decade and the boys ate I guess school instant mashed potatoes and chocolate milk. Idk. I can’t care about everything. 

2. The money and budget sitch. 

Summer money is a weird beast. Everything drifts into entropy. Costs are astronomical. More food, more activities, more trips, more expenses. It always blows my mind. 

The back-to-school season is the perfect time to adult the budget. 

Good news! You don’t have to figure this out alone. Three years ago, I had to track down every single financial data point, reorganize it, clean it up, and create a whole new budget as a divorced person. When I tell you I didn’t even know how much money I made. It was a full mess. I remember sitting in my financial planner’s office just crying. I couldn’t answer any of his questions. He gave me a short list to do and told me to come back in 90 days:

  • Go through every bank account, credit card, and bill and write everything down. Total up your income and all your bills (including flex figures like groceries and Amazon Prime). Get two hard numbers. I couldn’t believe how much this alone helped me feel less out of control. There it all is. Exactly what is coming and going. 
  • Cancel every unnecessary subscription and monthly fee. You can literally do this on your phone. Those “small” monthly costs add up. I had 23. TWENTY-THREE. Tidy up. 
  • Make a budget. This isn’t as hard as it sounds. There are tons of online tools. The simple effort of HAVING A PLAN takes so much chaos and shame out of money management. Your budget will include paying off debt and/or creating savings, so everything is in there. The effect on your wellness will shock you. 

3. The health sitch. 

This one always gets wonky because of all the shit out there (and in here) (points to brain). It’s just that this matters so much to every other area. Back in May, I learned the reason I hadn’t had a period in four months was because I was in perimenopause. I’m a quick study! Tired of feeling weird, fatig

ued, emotional, and yucky in my body, I decided to just care. 

Over the last three months, I pulled some health levers. I met with a functional doctor, had a blood panel done, and found all kinds of issues. So I started supplements to improve stomach absorption, thyroid function, insulin resistance, inflammation, estrogen dominance, and all my vitamin deficiencies. I went gluten-free (my inflammation markers were sky high and I have an autoimmune disorder). I started intermittent fasting (strong links to menopause relief). I joined a pilates studio. Those were my levers. 

This was quite a frontload admittedly, but once the puzzle was worked out, the pieces came together and now this is just the daily stuff I do. My body responded immediately. I feel better in every way. It just feels good to care about yourself, to move and get stronger and sleep better and nourish your body. It’s like how you feel when someone else is really, really nice to you, but the person being nice to you is you. 

Also, pilates! I love it! The reason I always quit exercising is because I hate the exercise. But I genuinely enjoy pilates and thus I am doing it. Maybe just find some way to move your bod that doesn’t make you rage. All movement is good movement. It all counts. It doesn’t have to feel punishing. (If I didn’t live in Texas, I’d probably enjoy long walks but it sucks here. Pass. I’ll take my air conditioned pilates studio.)

For me, these three areas take the hardest hit every summer. Even applying a small degree of order calms my overstimulated central nervous system. The tail doesn’t always have to wag the dog. And like all good rhythms, getting started is generally the hardest lift, and then the machine becomes operational and hums right along. 

Until next June of course…

Five inspiring reasons to listen (or re-listen!) to ‘Make Me Care About…’

If you’re like me, you scroll through your news feed and within a few minutes you have the urge to crawl back under the covers. There’s so much content fighting for our attention that it’s easy to get overwhelmed — and equally difficult to feel hopeful.

That’s why I leapt at the chance to host the Make Me Care About… podcast in partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. In 30 minutes or less, listeners hear an expert talk about a specific global challenge and present solutions. That’s where the hope comes in.

This podcast reinforces a core belief of mine: What happens to you matters to me.

Books: A Love Story

Oh sure, NOW I am socialized and able to speak directly to other human people in full sentences, but I was the weirdest, quietest, most awkward kid.

I got plastic glasses in second grade that reeked of great aunt energy; I had homemade bangs thanks to my mom who I guess hated me; and my little nerd brain finished assignments so quickly, my teachers gave me Teacher Errands and Special Tasks solidifying my place as everyone else’s least favorite classmate.

You want to make friends in third grade? Don’t design Mrs. Branch’s bulletin boards while everyone else finishes their United States map. 

When I was in fourth grade, my teacher Mrs. Moise called my mom: “I’m worried. Jennifer doesn’t play with other kids during recess. She just reads books under a tree.” (Can I live, Mrs. Moise?? The Secret Garden wasn’t going to read itself!) Having mastered zero social skills and unable to satisfy my outrageous craving for stories, I read like it was my sole responsibility to advance literacy for my generation.

Side note on Mrs. Moise: For Christmas, she bought a book for each specific student, and my girl classmates got the enviable Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High delights, and I got the very dense A Wrinkle in Time. I cried to my parents that she hated me then proceeded to read it in one day. 

When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I said a librarian. Dewey Decimal System, turn up! Books were my first love, my best friends, and my portal into wonder. 

A non-exhaustive list of my earliest favorite worlds: 

  • The Secret Garden
  • A Little Princess
  • A Wrinkle in Time (FINE, MRS. MOISE)
  • Every Nancy Drew book in existence
  • Sarah Plain and Tall
  • Dear Mr. Henshaw
  • The Call of the Wild
  • The Ramona books
  • Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
  • Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
  • Anne of Green Gables (all)
  • Hatchet
  • Stone Fox
  • The Westing Game
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond
  • The Outsiders
  • Julie of the Wolves
  • From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

And you better damn well believe I read every single book in The Babysitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High series. Ain’t nobody keeping me from Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey.

How lucky we are as humans to be readers. I absolutely revere the written word. The utter magic of putting pen to blank paper and creating whole worlds out of sheer imagination is a wonder I’ll never get over. The way stories and characters reach us with precision, like the author knew us, like he or she uniquely understood our personal delights and demons, is unparalleled alchemy.

The way books bring us together, discussing plot points and story arcs like we were speaking of friends, enemies, or a favorite character gone sideways we might correct with enough robust conversation; what enchantment. 

Not to get too science-y, but reading is also a known accelerant for creativity, health, empathy, vocabulary, mental wellness, sleep quality, and even longevity. Reading makes us better. It is medicine for our minds and lives. In a world now trussed tenuously by screens and algorithms, books offer the old fashioned opportunity for actual nurture. Get a library card, and it is free sustenance. Reading will not return void. Ever. 

Among its many advantages, the increased capacity for empathy has me interested today. “Research has shown that people who read literary fiction — stories that explore the inner lives of characters — show a heightened ability to understand the feelings and beliefs of others. Researchers call this ability the “theory of mind,” a set of skills essential for building, navigating, and maintaining social relationships.” 

This makes sense to me. While spoiled and petulant, you better believe I was Team Colin Craven halfway through The Secret Garden, and I learned that difficult kids aren’t always as they seem. Sara Crewe taught me that kindness trumped circumstances and a rich interior life was its own comfort; long live A Little Princess. Annemarie Johansen left me speechless with her bravery in the WWII novel Number the Stars. (When I was a fourth-grade teacher, I read that book to my students every year, and I never once made it through without sobbing. One year, my most macho boy, Greg, had to stay inside during recess because he was so overcome by the ending. BLESS HIM.)

Books introduce us to other cultures, different types of families, experiences outside our purview. They stretch our understanding of trauma and give us insight into dysfunction. They help us see the good kernel inside the bad guy and the dark side of the good guy. Books give us a front row seat to conflict, repair, and resolution. They locate us squarely in 1961 interior Mexico, 1944 terrorized Poland, 1928 rural China, current-day inner-city Philadelphia. We get to imagine the smells and sounds, the cultural norms and relational structures. We literally walk a mile in others’ shoes, and it changes us for the better. 

It’s hard to formulate or codify; there isn’t an equation to apply or a template to overlay. In this case, the sum is simply greater than its parts: reading a bunch of fiction makes us more empathetic. It just does. How many books? I don’t know. How many years does it take? Man, just keep reading. We will experience the accrued effect without trying, like how crossword puzzles make you accidentally smarter. 

In a world gone plumb mad, reading fiction is a quiet antidote. It interrupts the freefall of dehumanizing our neighbors and slowly, like a river over a rock, makes us a little more gentle with each other. It is a tool in the hand of every parent intent on raising kinder kids.

Books tap into our most human parts and remind us that we mostly hope for the same things: love, belonging, forgiveness, meaning. It helps slow the avalanche of hasty judgment and holds the possibility of connection a bit longer. Reading does indeed make us better. 

And at the bare minimum, it offers a business plan to pre-adolescent girls interested in starting a babysitter’s club with elected officials like the one in Stoneybrook, Connecticut. 

Beat that.


Want to read together?

Join my Book Club

Delightful summer mocktails to put in rotation

Where are my mocktail people?!

I have an arsenal of summer mocktails I absolutely love to make with elixirs, sparkling waters, lime, a tajin or salted rim. You know how I roll.

In addition to just “winging” it with my mocktails and flinging a few things into a glass, I’ve been inspired by creating some intentional flavors — heavy on the fruity, citrus, and unbelievably refreshing notes.

And, make no mistake: I DO have a magic ingredient that really takes mocktails to the next mega level: FOCL flavored CBD drops.

Put a dropper-full in your mocktail — and you get a double-down on flavor and chill factor. Not only do you have a dreamy, delicious cocktail, the CBD drops promote calm centeredness and relaxation.

And FOCL just released a brand-new flavor in time for summer: WATERMELON BASIL. I dare you to tell me two things more summer than that. Even better? You can buy one get one 75% off with code: JENBOGO

You can always use my code JEN20 if you’re not taking advantage of the BOGO!

Cheers to all this goodness!

Watermelon Basil Summer Cooler


  • 2 cups fresh watermelon cubes (seedless)
  • 6-8 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey or simple syrup (adjust to taste)
  • 1 dropper FOCL Watermelon Basil CBD Drops
  • Ice cubes
  • Sparkling water or soda water
  • Watermelon wedges and basil leaves for garnish


  • In a mixing glass or cocktail shaker, muddle the watermelon cubes and basil leaves until well mashed.
  • Add the lime juice, CBD and honey (or simple syrup) to the shaker.
  • Fill the shaker with ice cubes, close tightly, and shake vigorously for about 15-20 seconds to combine the flavors and chill the ingredients.
  • Strain the mixture into a serving glass filled with fresh ice cubes.
  • Top off the glass with sparkling water or soda water.
  • Stir gently to combine the liquids.
  • Garnish with a small watermelon wedge and a fresh basil leaf.
  • Serve chilled and enjoy!


Sparkling Limoncello Mocktail


  • 1 tablespoon Simple Syrup
  • 2 shots Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 3 fl oz Sparkling Water
  • 1 dropper FOCL CItrus CBD Drops
  • Ice
  • 1 sprig of mint for garnish (optional)
  • 1-2 slices lemon for garnish (optional)


  • Add Simple Syrup and Lemon Juice to a serving glass. Top with sparkling water and CBD Drops.
  • Add the ice cubes. Stir.
  • Add garnish, serve.


Mocktail Mule


  • 4 Fresh mint sprigs (muddled)
  • 1/2 oz Lime juice
  • 1/2 oz Simple syrup (optional)
  • 1 dropper FOCL Mint CBD Drops
  • 4 oz Ginger beer
  • Copper mug (optional)


  • Gently muddle (mash) the mint sprigs in the bottom of the mug using a cocktail muddler or wooden spoon.
  • Add the lime juice, simple syrup and CBD. Stir to combine.
  • Add ice and the ginger beer and stir gently. Garnish with lime and mint.


Orange Green Tea Sparkler


  • 1 green tea bag, or the equivalent in loose tea
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 dropper FOCL Orange Cream CBD Drops
  • 1 orange wedge for serving
  • Sparkling water


  • Boil a kettle of water and put the tea bag in a mug. Pour 8 ounces of boiling water over the tea and stir in the honey.
  • Taste and add more honey if you like, but remember you’ll be adding orange juice later.
  • Allow the tea to steep at room temperature until cool.
  • Fill an 8-ounce glass with ice and add 1/2 cup of the tea, the orange juice and an orange wedge. Add CBD Drops.
  • Top up with sparkling water, stir gently, and serve.


Remember: FOCL’s premium hemp is grown in the U.S., using organic farming practices. This means all products are made with organic ingredients, have no GMO, pesticides or herbicides, and all products are third-party tested.

Shop the FOCL goods and use code JEN20 to save 20%!

How our dad’s unconditional love made us bulletproof

Happy Dad’s Day to all the fathers and father figures out there.

Our Dad, with his signature brand of enthusiasm, has always provided us with what lasted: love, security, and confidence, the kind that settles down deep in your bones and insulates you from fear. We were bulletproof, not because we felt entitled to special treatment, but because we knew positively we could not mess up bad enough to ever lose Dad’s ridiculous joy in us. Thus, we were free to take risks, to try and fail.

I wrote this a few years ago, but it bears resurfacing again — in honor of my Dad.

Me, as a grown adult subject to book reviews as a matter of my profession:

“Dad, I got a bad review from some mean guy on the internet.”

“Well he is obviously just a jackass who couldn’t find his behind with two hands.”

Did that reviewer have a point? Was his assessment of my work partially credible? Didn’t matter. Irrelevant. My dad deemed him an idiot sight unseen. This matter-of-fact pronouncement on my enemies is simply the way I was raised (by a pastor mind you, albeit a rogue one).

I am the oldest of four kids born in the ’70s and ’80s, and you’ve never met a dad more into his kids. All of us sincerely believed we were special children, that the universe blessed us with talent and charm, intelligence and wit. We bought all our Dad’s hype. He believed in us irrationally, which made us accidentally confident.

We were solidly in our twenties before discovering we were just sort of medium, but by that point, it was too late; we missed the window of insecurity and entered adulthood like, Here we are! (And the world was like, So? Which did not deter us in the slightest.)

ca428990c8affcbf4c12fcb31ffc6100f6a3572c.jpgDad is also a cattle rancher who won’t suffer fools (unless it is one of his spawn).

e6627d76439d4c988f652e177c870e0f3511634e.jpgMom and Dad with my oldest at Senior Night when I was out of town and I had a nervous breakdown about MISSING SENIOR NIGHT. Parenting, man.

Dad was overly generous and still is. On an absolutely working class salary, he and mom paid for four kids to go to college and not one of us emerged with a penny of debt. I have no idea how they did it.

To be sure, I had no idea money was ever an issue growing up, even though hindsight has given me the understanding that my parents scrimped and scraped and suffered many sleepless nights. We didn’t take fancy vacations or have a lot of extras. We were an ordinary family whose parents worked hard to make ends meet; our life wasn’t cushioned by privilege or luxuries. None of this ever occurred to me as a kid. Our life never felt scarce because it was full of so much love and laughter. Still today, we all think we’re incredibly funny, which must be as annoying as it is FANTASTICALLY ENTERTAINING. We’ll be here all night!

In fact, we’ve made fun of Dad for years at Christmas because he fusses and watches the bank account like a hawk in the preceding weeks, but every single year around December 23rd, he looks under the tree and tells Mom: “Go buy some more. We don’t have enough here for everyone.” Mom confided that one year in the early ’80s, she and Dad were so zeroed out during the Christmas season, they pawned almost all their precious jewelry and valuables to put presents under the tree. I could sob my eyes out just thinking of it.

As a member of a generation convinced we must provide stimulating, elite, expensive opportunities for our children, let me tell you as someone who experienced none of that: Not only did we not miss a thing, we were the luckiest kids on earth. Our dad, with his signature brand of enthusiasm, provided us with what lasted: love, security, and confidence, the kind that settles down deep in your bones and insulates you from fear. It communicated to us rowdy, dirty kids that we would never go alone a day in this life. We were bulletproof, not because we felt entitled to special treatment, but because we knew positively we could not mess up bad enough to ever lose Dad’s ridiculous joy in us. Thus, we were free to take risks, to try and fail, to come home with our tails between our knees as kids are wont to do.

You want to set your kids up for success? Be their biggest fan. Not because they are prodigies (they’re not) or destined for the NFL (they’re not) or the smartest children ever born (they’re not), but just in their ordinary, regular lives, where they are testing the waters and occasionally succeeding and often failing and watching the eyes of their parents to decide their worth in it all. Some of my dad’s best work was after we’d made an enormous mess of something, ruined beyond words. He helped us find a path forward, he noticed any redemptive thread we spun trying to fight our way to the surface. Failure wasn’t a deal breaker in our house; it was just rewoven into our development as healthy adults who knew what to do with mistakes.

Parents, be generous. Go way overboard with your words, your presence. These are unquestionably more valuable than what you can or cannot provide financially or experientially. I swear to you. Build a home generous in spirit and you’ll set your kids up for life. There is no such thing as too much love spoken into your children’s lives. You know who will be there to knock them down? Everyone else. The whole world. That isn’t our job. We occupy the tiny, minuscule portion in their life scripts labeled “parents”; every other character exists outside that relationship. I promise, they’ll have no shortage of adults prepared to take them down a notch, burst their bubbles, and crush a dream or two; no emerging adult is exempt from humiliation. Your kids will have plenty of bosses, teachers, coworkers, critics, authority figures, professors, reviewers, analyzers, judges, and maybe perhaps as in our case, arresting officers. They’ll all be there to keep it real, knock it down, level the playing field, toe the line.

There is a vast array of jackasses who cannot find their behinds with two hands.

But maybe we can take a page from my dad’s notes: there is absolutely no reason for our kids to ever doubt that we are their biggest fans, their loudest cheerleaders, their stanchest defenders, their truest believers. When they have nowhere else to look, they should know the path home will always be paved with loyalty. We’re their people. Now. Forever. When everything is coming up roses and when it is in a heap of ashes; our belief in them is unwavering. It isn’t excessive to have two people to count on in this hard, mean world. We teach them what to do with failure, we celebrate their successes, and we heartily, vocally condemn their enemies who obviously don’t know how to properly review a book.

Thanks, Dad.

Dear Teachers Everywhere.

Happy May(hem), darlings! Nestled among the bazillion other moving parts this month is something I refuse to let get lost in the shuffle: Teacher Appreciation. THEY JUST MEAN TOO MUCH TO US.

Having sent five kids all the way through with only one more year left with the baby, I consider teachers my coparents, support group, and personal heroes.

I wrote a love letter to teachers a few years ago when I had five kids from Buda Elementary to Hays High School, and I’d love to post it again because every solitary word is still true. I got teary reading it. Teachers, you’ve meant the world to us. And you deserve to be celebrated every single week of the year. Enjoy this tribute.

Before I had any books or blogs or conferences or speaking engagements, I used to be a teacher. I know. Petrifying. I taught 4th grade for three years and 1st grade for one. And then I had a bunch of babies and can’t remember the next six years.

I was a very average elementary teacher who totally loved my students. And also? Sincerely sorry about all that homework, 4th grade parents. I wasn’t a mother yet. I figured you had nothing to do but complete my exhaustive weekly social studies packets utilizing your children’s higher level thinking skills and research techniques, because what every 10-year-old needs is five hours a week of additional geography work.

I’m certain now you wished me dead. Bless it. (Several students have contacted me and they are all I’m an accountant now and I’m like um, do you mean an accountant for your high school math team? and they’re like I’m almost 30 and I’m all these are lies.)

Though I’ve switched to the job I currently have, I will never forget my classroom years, and I have a few things I want to tell you, Teachers Everywhere.

First of all, I’ve calculated your earnings by adding your classroom hours, pre- and post-school hours, conferences and phone calls, weekend work, after-hours grading, professional development requirements, lesson planning, team meetings, extracurricular clubs and teams, parent correspondence, district level seminars, and material preparation, and I believe you make approximately 19 cents an hour.

And then people say, yeah but teachers get three months off for summer, and then we all clutch our guts and die laughing because WHATEVER, MAN. Like teachers leave on the last day of school and just show up on the first with a miraculously prepared classroom and a month’s worth of lesson plans. But seriously, thanks for the laugh.


The amount of work and energy you pour into your work and our children is so astonishing, it is a crime that you don’t all make $150K a year minimum. Since you couldn’t possibly do it for the money, we can only assume you love your job and love our kids. Can you understand how much we appreciate you?

You are doing far more than teaching our kids the building blocks of knowledge and learning; you are helping us raise our children. You provide a second environment in which they have to practice respect, obedience, teamwork, diligence. We tell them take initiative on your work and they are like this house is a drag, and then they come home from school and say I’m starting this project early because Mrs. Pulis says to take initiative, and we wonder if you have magic powers or if our children are just willfully obtuse. The answer is…yes.


That high standard you set for our kids? We freaking love it. Thank you. Thank you for insisting on kindness and respect, excellence and persistence. Thank you for sometimes saying, “This is junky work and you can do better. See you at recess.” BOOM. All day long, teachers. We stand behind you. Thanks for requiring their best.


And let me tell you something else: I’ve always had kids who mostly eased through school, but now I have two English-as-a-Second-Language kiddos and my heart for you has grown forty sizes bigger. My littles went to school with virtually no English, and I am telling you: we wouldn’t have made it through that first year without you, and I know what it cost.

I can’t count how many papers came home with this stamp:


Don’t imagine I don’t know exactly what that means. Teachers, when you instruct our kids that struggle or have special needs, I know you have, yet again, patiently pulled up a seat next to their desks, 24 other kids still in the room, and kindly helped them toward mastery. I know you modify, adapt, adjust for their success, which takes so much time and energy. Children with emotional or physical challenges, kids with language barriers and personal turmoil, those who struggle to learn and retain, test and succeed, they require so much of you in the midst of your regular responsibilities, and your patient attentiveness cannot possibly be overcelebrated. As a mom whose children blossomed under the weight of your investment, I could throw myself at your feet and weep with gratitude.

It’s one thing to have parents who sort of have to love you; it’s another to have a teacher affirm your goodness all year long. You know our kids come home and repeat every kind word you deliver, right? I close my eyes and thank God that another safe adult is building health into my children. Your consistent presence is deeply healing for so many hurt kids. Your words are life-giving.


That is a LOT of daily affirmation. I feel exhausted just looking at this.

We know your task is incredibly difficult. Be creative and innovative…but also teach to this test, which by the way, your pay and security depends on. Challenge your gifted kids…aaaand modify for those with developmental delays. Keep all those parents happy! (<— This alone should double your salary.) Use this new model, no this new one, now this new one. Surprise! We changed the entire district database. Please forfeit your Saturday for training. Stay on top of classroom communication. Attend all ARD/IEP/ESL evaluations for your students.

And oh, you do so much more. Serve on this additional committee. Volunteer to sponsor the Junior Class. Guess what you’re doing this weekend? Prom chaperone. You lead Destination Imagination Teams; it only takes 100 hours of your life. You coach, lead, sponsor, direct. You put on plays and programs, award ceremonies and graduations. You come early and stay late for the students who couldn’t get it, didn’t finish it, need your one-on-one help. You wear bandanas and paint your faces for Field Day. You are rock stars.

Administrators, we see and love you, too. When you sat down with me holding your legal pads and pens, ready to learn how to care best for my incoming adopted kindergartener and second grader, and you wrote down every word I said and agreed to every last request, even when I asked if I could come to kinder with Remy for the FIRST TWO WEEKS OF SCHOOL ALL DAY LONG, you nodded and simply said…absolutely. I will never forget that. You are for us, for our kids, for our families, for our teachers, and we adore you.

You are amazing, Teachers and Administrators. From the bottom of my heart, I want you to hear it: Thank you.

You are so loved, so important. Your work impacts kids for the rest of their lives. You don’t get the credit you deserve, so I am standing up today, applauding you, cherishing your investment in the next generation, in my kids. I see the incredible amount of work you do, and I am forever grateful. You are heroes; there is no lesser designation.

Please remember when you are grading papers at 10:30 on Sunday night, or pinning another incredible idea to your Teacher Board, or writing our kids another encouraging note, or throwing a party because they survived the latest standardized test, we see you, we appreciate you, and we freaking love you.


Your life matters so much and your legacy will go on long after you’re done teaching. You are sending out visionaries, thinkers, activists, and leaders into the world, and we owe you a debt of gratitude that we can never repay.

A legit adult person’s lunch

Okay so I mentioned Monday that part of my personal campaign to beat back the noisy chaos was carving out 30 minutes a day for a legit adult person’s lunch. Not shoving a slice of deli ham with a squeeze of mustard into my mouth hole like an animal. Something about eating good food with a fork and plate in the middle of my work day feels sane and nurturing.

Here is a banger you can have ready to go in four minutes if you prep your veggies and chicken and keep them in containers in the fridge all week.


1. Damn straight that is rotisserie chicken from HEB. Easiest time to pull it is straight from the store while it is still warm. Shred and put in tupperware for the week.

2. Chop your veggies: cucumbers, any bell peppers, jalapeños, carrots, lettuce, celery, onions, just all of them, man. Keep all your veggies in baggies or whatever and use them all week for everything (in eggs, stir fry, soup, sauces, wraps, casseroles, for noshing). Just stand there and chop for 15 minutes and be done with the veggie chopping for the week. Sing some Taylor Swift.

3. Whisk up a quick peanut dressing: 2 T peanut butter, 1 T soy, 1 tsp Thai chili sauce, juice of half a lime, squeeze of honey, bit of squeeze ginger (fave find of 2023), 1-2 T hot water to whatever consistency you like. Honestly just however much of all of this. (Double it and have more ready for tomorrow, queen. Just loosen it back up with a bit of hot water.)

Layer up your delish salad: lettuce or spinach, sliced bells, cukes, jalapeños (the WAY I love raw jalapeños), shredded carrots, that yummy shredded chicken. Drizzle your peanut sauce over the whole thing. Add some zig-zags of sriracha if you’re playing for keeps. Salt and pepper of course.

Eat it on a plate with a real fork because you are a GROWN UP. Scatter some herbs on top if you’ve got them. Big fan of chopped peanuts on here too. This is so delicious in your mouth and good for your little body. Flavorful, healthy, and gorgeous doesn’t have to be hard. Good food is not hard. We cannot be too busy and frantic to eat well. I hate that for us! Be nicer.

What are you go-to lunches that don’t make you feel like an escaped convict eating trash out of the gutter on the run from the law?

See the comments on this post for more lunch ideas — and check out my cookbook Feed These People for more recipes for all of us normals.



My version of spring cleaning


I recently told my friends: “I feel very cranky for undetermined reasons.”


I noticed myself being snappy and impatient and somehow both overstimulated and under stimulated. I decided I didn’t like people, any of them. People were out.


Obviously, my career was a catastrophic choice, and I’d clearly spent 20 years rowing in the wrong direction. I experienced active fury toward every single person who sent me a new email. Everything felt like too much and not enough which, if you are keeping score, is a tricky needle to thread.


I had a full sense of overwhelm. And why wouldn’t any of us? We have too much of too much. Too much input, too much bad news, too much noise, too much stuff, too much work, too much conflict, too much activity, too much anxiety. I cannot tell you how often I think about the generations before us who basically lived on their little block, watched the 10:00 news, read the Sunday paper with the obits and comics, and shopped at JCPenney. Can you imagine how scrambled our brains are with social media algorithms, a 24/7 news cycle, and nonstop outrage?


At this point, creating peace is a total act of defiance. So, I started a personal drip campaign of silencing some of the chaos.


Because to be fair, no one is FORCING me to scroll on Instagram for 47 minutes. Some of the crazy lives in my head because I rolled out the red carpet and invited it inside.


This is my version of spring cleaning, and it is having a profound impact on my feeling of mania.


1. Our social feeds are too crowded. Why are we following people who make us feel ragey? Or inferior? Or too _____ because we aren’t doing it like them? Seriously. Why? No, we don’t “have” to know what they are saying. We really do not. We are giving toxic people rent-free space in our heads, and no one will change this except us. I inventoried my social feed, and while most of my follows were great, a few did nothing but distract, disturb, and disorient me. And for what? What is the ROI except more brain scramble?

So I politely unfollowed (or hid) about 50 accounts. Just a simple tidying-up of my social input. Social media is already a largely unexamined soupcon rewiring our brains and tapping into our neuroses with sophisticated technology we can’t compete with, because we aren’t autobots with a capitalistic agenda. We are humans.

Take one week, and with every account that shows up in your feed, ask yourself: “Is this serving me in any positive way?” If the answer is ‘no’ or even ‘not sure’, hide it and see if your internal canary doesn’t quiet down in the coalmine.


2. Traditional spring cleaning has always waylaid me because it felt too big. Spring-clean my whole house? In this economy?? Look, I laid awake in bed last week thinking about my expired spices; I’m pretty sure some of them go back a decade. I can’t manage the whole damn house.

Pick one space. It can be a whole room, but it could also be your junk drawer, the front closet, your bookshelves, the office nook, your laundry space, the playroom. Just one. One space that lost the war against entropy. Don’t put it at the top of a list of ten spaces. It is the only thing on the list. Tackle it. Purge with ruthlessness. Throw garbage stuff away and donate a bunch more. Whatever you do, end up with way, way, way less in there. If it makes sense, gets containers or dividers or bins and organize the rest. The WAY this tames my sense of overwhelm. I cleaned out my garage recently, and about four times a day for a week, I’d just walk in there and look around. Order! Organization! Eff you, chaos!


3. Bob Goff famously said that he quits something every Thursday. Which always led me to wonder: How much stuff are you actively involved in, my dude? But I like the notion, because DEAR BABY MOSES we are doing too much. No joke, guys, I sent my assistant an email that asked her to start blocking off 30 minutes for lunch every day so I could eat because I was a crazed starving person by late afternoon. What in the actual eff. What kind of dumb day doesn’t even have time for a sandwich?? I am not that important; I can tell you that right damn now. That is just nonsense calendaring with no intention.

Quit something. Pick anything that has lost its joy, isn’t necessary, someone else can do, has outlived its usefulness, is crowding your week, makes you resentful, you’ve started to dread, doesn’t have value anymore. Survey your calendar and pay attention to your internal responses to each line item. It can be huge (like your whole job – go off, Janice!) or teeny tiny (like cooking on weekends). Just like that. Offload it right on out because you are grown. Clear a little room. Take a little breath. Quit something.


4. It’s no big newsflash that an author thinks words are a big deal, but I didn’t invent the concept. Ancient cultures believed words of blessing created actual blessings. Neuroscience tells us that positive words rewire our pathways and biologically change the way we interpret the world. The Bible has tons to say about speaking powerful words of life and love over each other. Beautiful, life-giving language becomes an invitation for belonging and connection and hope.

ANYHOW, when we speak total garbage, it creates the opposite. It makes our worlds small and hard. What is the least blessing-oriented language you slip into? Mean-spirited gossip? Nonstop complaining? Doomsday-ing? Catastrophizing? Criticizing? Arguing? Talking shit? What if you stopped for a week? It couldn’t hurt but it might feel amazing (I guarantee it will feel amazing to the people around you).

For one week, clear out the garbage talk in your worst category. Just bite it back. Don’t say that mean thing. Don’t pick the fight. Don’t complain about that thing again, whatever it is. (Notice I left out cursing because I enjoy a well-placed swear, but if that is your garbage category, FINE.) Clean out the self-created negative energy and just see how it feels. If you hate it, go back to daily complaints about your co-worker Jerry.


This is my version of spring cleaning.


It is mostly mental which is where my clutter resides. Some of the noise can’t be helped, but a good freaking bunch of it can be silenced. We have some agency over our input, our rhythms, our language. See if you can turn the dial to “less.”

Lower the volume and create some peace despite the world’s attempt to drown us all.

What a gorgeous act of rebellion.


P.S. I also have an e-course that explores how to calm the chaos and create simplicity in your own life.


I brought in two experts for this course, Myquillyn Smith AKA The Nester (I like to call her the Home Whisperer). She is our cozy minimalist and will help us to have the most amount of style with the least amount of stuff.

Then, Emily P. Freeman — the soul minimalist — will help us clear out the mental and emotional loads that we carry and cart around that clutter our thoughts, our actions, our wellbeing, and more. This course is simply amazing!

New life doesn’t always cooperate with the calendar.

It is March. Which means in Texas wildflowers dot the side of every road, tiny green buds are emerging from our empty tree limbs, and I put my lawn care guy back into rotation because here comes the grass.


A few weeks ago, I was talking to the kids about something or other in Virginia, and Gavin goes: “Isn’t that one of those places where the leaves change colors?” Bless my Texan babies. Colorful leaves are something only children in picture books get. We don’t get an orange, red, and yellow fall. We get green most of the year then brown and dead. That is what we have.

I live on a super-old property in a super-old house. It was built in 1908 a block from the railroad which you have heard on every podcast and interview I’ve ever done. Besides transoms and original shiplap, the other common feature in this “downtown Buda” neighborhood is pecan trees. They are so majestic. All of them well over a hundred years; grand old girls. I have twelve in my yard, and I dote on them like a helicopter mom. I have them trimmed regularly, kill junk trees that might steal their nutrients, make sure their canopies are always up. I am solidly on record here as an over-involved tree enthusiast.

However, pecan trees are not only the first to lose their leaves in the fall, but they’re also the last to display fresh new buds in the spring. All around them, the live oaks are turning green, the crepe myrtles are budding, my photinia shrubs are turning red at the tips. And my pecan trees remain stubbornly barren, a spindly tangle of empty branches that belong in a Tim Burton movie. All of central Texas will be snow-pea green and my pecans are still as bleak as winter.

Sydney has told me for years she wants to get married in the backyard someday, thus we’ve tracked the annual return of the leaves to plan our future wedding calendar, and the verdict is in: We don’t have green trees until the last week of April, and if you remove our propensity for exaggerating “new growth,” more like mid-May. I have mowed my overzealous spring lawn a dozen times before a single leaf emerges.

But when pecan trees bloom, boy do they.


Just this week, I told Tyler: “I’m feeling blue,” but as I have a Ph.D. in diminishing hard feelings, I quickly added: “It’s random and nonspecific.” He doesn’t generally let me get away with half-baked missives; it is one of his worst qualities. I never get to be passive aggressive, vague, or emotionally dismissive. He forces us into deeper waters when all I really wanted to do was stir the surface tension.

Pressed into analysis, I identified the recurring feeling and traced it back to its source: it is Spring Break.

All my kids are gone doing Spring Break things, and this has historically been the week we went to the lake house – the fam, the rowdy teenage crew, our friends and family drifting in. Spring Break marked opening season for all my favorite things: the lake, the boat, the teenagers, a million hours in the kitchen, towels drying on the pier, books on the dock, Mandatory Twilight Cruise, the water that wasn’t quite warm enough yet but kids don’t care, man. It was everything good. I can feel the happiness in my bones.

I remember thinking every year: “Look at this. This is what I have. All my dreams are right here in this noisy, obnoxious house overlooking the lake with everyone I love most in the world. I will always have this. These people and this place. This is mine. Everything I’ve ever wanted.” Our last Spring Break out there was three years ago to the day.

And of course, the marriage is gone, the kids are grown, the house is sold, and this week has been quiet. I just worked alone in this house; my very first Spring Break since kindergarten that wasn’t a Spring Break. Sometimes I really miss it all, the life I had and thought I’d keep having. I didn’t know the Family Years would expire. It didn’t know it would all be over. I cherish so much about where I’m at, what I have, what is ahead, but I am also haunted by the losses I didn’t even know I would lose.

I sat on my porch swing wrapped in a blanket yesterday and looked at my stubborn pecan trees.

Why does new life sometimes take longer than we want?

Other trees are blooming already. It has been over 80 degrees for a month. That’s enough time. I should see more green shoots by now. The calendar says March, so statistically, it is time for everything to come back to life. This is the natural agreement. Away with these bleak branches. Things have been brown and brittle long enough.

Some days I am an absolute live oak blooming at the first kiss of spring. I’ve done that. Parts of my life got an A+ in recovery and wasted no time blossoming in new ways. Those early shoots were so promising, as they happened to be located on branches predisposed toward growth. They just were. I took to financial independence, embodiment practices, and career restructuring like a fresh new bloom to the sun.

Other days I am a pecan tree, frustrated that an old sorrow can still catch me by the throat and leave me gasping. This again? This still? Shouldn’t I have worked through this already? Aren’t I on the other side of this yet? Hasn’t this part of the winter story moved toward spring by now? Other branches are blooming. The calendar says March. I thought we had an agreement.


In some ways, new life is predictable. It will come. It always has. We can trust the process. We’ve seen it happen a lot of times, spring after spring.

Eventually, brown turns to green. But inside that mysterious alchemy, sometimes new life doesn’t show up until mid-May, hell, practically summer already. Just takes a little longer. Best not to compare it to the other trees; they have a different thing going on.

I’ve decided to be patient with the parts of me slowest to recover, and you should be with yours. What does new growth look like on those particular limbs? Well, we’re not even sure. We’re just not to it yet. Those need a bit more time. New life doesn’t always cooperate with the calendar. Some sorrows hang onto winter longer than we wish.

But when they bloom, boy do they.

Cheers to these mocktail recipes that come with a secret kick

img_8616-2I did dry-ish January and I felt so good doing it. But you know I love a good cocktail, so I put some mocktails in high rotation and I didn’t miss a thing.

But, I have been packing my mocktails with a punch — a teeny secret ingredient that is literally good for your body. FOCL CBD drops.

They are a zen-creating calming thing that’s good for anything: stress, anxiety, insomnia, inflammation, the list goes on.

CBD calms the nervous system, so it’s a healthy way to take the edge off without turning to alcohol. So all four of these drinks feature the highest quality MCT oil, mixed with premium hemp CBD, which may help you to:

  • Relax and recover
  • Calm your mind
  • Ease everyday stressors
  • Fall asleep quicker

Cheers to that! Load up on FOCL products and save 20% using code: CHEERS


focl-mocktails-5b-crop_dc3b4597-1965-4a14-91c1-c6b5ef5ca577Citrus Mule

Citrusy and ginger-y, this one is soooo damn good. It’s on repeat at my house, and I love the add zing from the Citrus CBD drops.


  • Fill your glass with ice
  • Add 3 oz pineapple juice, 2 oz orange juice, and ½ oz lime juice
  • Add 1 dropper-full of FOCL Full Spectrum Citrus CBD Drops
  • Top with 3 oz of ginger beer

Optional: Try mixing and serving in a copper mug for extra appeal – everyone loves a fun drink in a fun glass! 


Spicy Jalapeño Margarita

You know how much I love spicy — and this marg has it going on.


  • Rub a slice of lime around the rim of your glass and dip in salt
  • Fill your glass with ice
  • Add 4 slices of jalapeño
  • Pour 1/2 a cup of orange juice and ¼ cup lime juice
  • Add 1 dropper-full of FOCL Full Spectrum Natural CBD Drops

Optional: Top off with sparkling water and/or pomegranate seeds to jazz things up.

focl-mocktails-4-crop_f63a3c45-3037-432b-9ecc-d09ef440c06bCBD Sangria

This orange-cream fusion is so perfect for summer — and for entertaining. Make use of whatever fruit you have and relax.


  • Cut up fruit you would like to use (we love apples, oranges, and blueberries) and place in a pitcher
  • Fill your pitcher with ice
  • Add 1 cup sparkling water, the juice of 1 lemon, ¾ cup apple juice, 1 cup orange juice, and 3 cups cranberry-pomegranate juice
  • Add 1 dropper-full of FOCL Full Spectrum Orange Cream CBD Drops 
  • Stir and enjoy!

focl-mocktails-3b-cropCucumber Cooler

For anyone who always orders a mint julep or a mojito, this cucumber lime mint mocktail is your ticket to cool, calm, and collected.


  • Add ¼ cup of fresh sliced cucumber and 1 tablespoon of fresh mint to the bottom of your glass
  • Add 2 oz of water and muddle the cucumber and mint with the back of a spoon
  • Add 1 dropper-full of FOCL Full Spectrum Mint CBD Drops
  • Fill the glass with ice
  • Add ½ cup of limeade and top with ½ cup of sparkling water
  • Garnish with cucumber and mint!


Remember: FOCL’s premium hemp is grown in the U.S., using organic farming practices. This means all products are made with organic ingredients, have no GMO, pesticides or herbicides, and all products are third-party tested.

Shop the FOCL goods and use code CHEERS to save 20%!