Your Logo

When we bought our blueberry farm we knew we wanted the name to reference 1 Cor 9:22, where the Apostle Paul says something about having Common Ground with all people, because it cast a vision on what we wanted for the Farm. The logo designer we hired gave us one of the best pieces of business advice I’ve ever gotten: people don’t really care what your name is, they care what you do. So we named the farm Common Ground Farms Blueberries, not just Common Ground Farms, or Common Ground. Feel the difference?

I’m so aware of that now as I drive around and notice other logos. It’s strange how much it annoys me when business owners have the audacity to just throw a word and a picture out there without telling me what they do. I read, and think: am I supposed to know what you do? How are you going to grow your business if I don’t even know what you do? Are you thinking you’re so damn important that I want to spend time looking it up? In fact, because of your arrogance, I’m pretty sure I won’t ever patronize you. These are things that go through my head. And I appreciate business names that are very clear and unambiguous about what they do.

I guess it’s another reason why I am uptight when people call my business Next Level Fitness because it isn’t Next Level Fitness. It is Next Level Fitness Training. Because that’s what I do: fitness training. It’s a very important distinction.

Which brings me to my point about the honesty with which we portray ourselves, and the justifiable reasons why we don’t.

I read a post today from an exercise instructor who wanted advice from her peers (other instructors in leadership positions) about how to reprimand a man via email for not wearing a shirt to her exercise class. She thought it was inappropriate in a gym that mostly caters to women. That’s the gist of it, anyway.

One of the reasons why I want my own gym is because I want a space where everyone can just be who they are. If you want to show up in stilettos and a mini skirt then, My goodness! show up and stilettos in a miniskirt! Why should a grown-up be told what she should wear to a gym?

A place I used to go to, had a giant sign taking up a whole wall numbering the rules of the gym. About 10 things regarding voices, clothing, cleaning up after yourself, moving equipment around. And the last rule was: If you don’t like these rules, we’ll gladly show you the way to the YMCA.

I loved this because in the town I was in, it was exactly why this gym would never compete with mine. In my gym, we have one rule, well, two:

  1. Show love and respect to others
  2. Show love and respect to yourself

That’s it. If you respect others, you wipe up the equipment and put it away. If you love yourself, you pay your dues and you show up, etc. To me Love/Respect + Autonomy is always best.

It also means, if you show up in stilettos and a mini skirt, or shirtless to a place like my gym where it completely acceptable, and someone else asks you kindly to change because it’s a distraction, you say “By all means! I do not want to distract.” Because there is not judgement. Only love. And respect.

So, I guess this is where I make my point. I think we all want autonomy for ourselves, but we forget about showing love or being love. We want love for ourselves, but we forget about others’ need for autonomy. I think people are afraid to express their authenticity; afraid to use distinct, transparent language about who they are and what they represent because they fear others will be unhappy with them, or show disapproval toward them. If the default was love, there is no fear. When the default is love, we accept in love and we offer in love.

Best Deadlift Tip

The best way to get a great deadlift, protect the back, and feel the purpose for the deadlift is to keep you back in extension. If you’re rounding through the spine, you’re in danger of hurting your back, and you’re missing the point. Don’t pull the bar off the ground until you get shoulders back, your back extended and a “tug” on the bar. Be safe ya’ll!

Tattoo You

I’m attracted to memes because I love words. Words are more than letters in sequence. They transform lives. I hope I’m not telling you anything new.

My favorite conversation starter is to ask people to come up with at least three individual words that describe how they want to feel. Another is to ask what their theme is for the year. These are words, when meditated upon regularly, can shape who we become.

I have a friend who does not have any tattoos. And I wondered if she’d ever get one. She asked me what my favorite band was 20 years ago. Or what my favorite picture was 20 years ago. Or my favorite anything was 20 years ago. And then said something like, “There is nothing I loved 20 years ago, that I love so much now.” Point taken.

We all change. What I thought was beautiful or funny or entertaining 20 years ago, may seem even repulsive to me now. (I can think of more than a few!)  So embedding even the most eloquent words and images on my skin could be detrimental to my life. I mean that literally.

On the other hand. We have potential to change in any direction. My mind has seen some very, very dark times. My heart has been crushed. But by the grace of God, I have chosen to overcome. And, oddly enough, one of the key reasons I stand tall is because of the tattoo on my left shoulder that reads “Relentless Forward Progress”  woven inside a tree, with the scripture address 2 Tim 1:7 at the root. I tease that I’ll never give up because I can’t see a day when chopping off my arm is the better option.

In a magazine, I saw a picture of a prison gang member’s face covered in tattoos. He has thick, black painted circles around each eye with drips of ink running into his cheek bones . The words “skin head” and “sinner” across is forehead. Lines running from his lips. And the rest of his face and neck covered in ink that probably has meaning to him; pictures he would use words to explain. This is a man. A human, whose image is so unsetting it was difficult for me to look at to write this paragraph..

I’m not comparing the challenges he might have faced as a young man to mine. Overcoming the cards he was dealt was obviously more than he could handle. He made the choice to hear words, and then act on those words, literally permanently implanting them in his blood… sealing his fate.

It’s the side of the story I want to talk about because there is too much at stake. I have come to know there are too many people who need what you and I have to offer: our God-given talents and gifts and wisdom. There is too much potential for our particular kind of impact on this planet. And our success is as simple as the words we choose to connect with. It is as simple as permanently embedding the kind of thoughts into our blood that bring life and love.

May you string words together that literally lift up your head, shift back your shoulders, and stretch out your arms. May your words build. May your words leave a room better than when you entered. May your words blaze light, and burn passion out into people. And may people hear you and love you into more and better.



More Curiosity About Curiosity

Aren’t you curious about what it will happen?

That’s my new favorite question to ask clients who want to make changes to their health and wellness.

  • What if you drank half your body weight in ounces of water? Aren’t you at least curious to see if the claims are true for YOU?
  • What if you decided to walk every day from now until Christmas. Aren’t you curious to see if you feel any changes to your mood?
  • If you started lifting heavy weights at least three days a week, aren’t you curious to see if you really would get giant muscles? I mean if they get too big, you can always quit! But aren’t you curious about what could happen?

I’ve been really curious about curiosity lately because you know how they say change keeps you young? (If you don’t, I’ll tell you, it’s what they say.) Well, I am hypothesizing that it’s not change, but curiosity about the change that keeps us young.

My husband and I moved for the umpteenth time, and we keep joking that although it’s damn hard, at least “it’s keeping us young. Haha.”

But I heard this word in a podcast and I began to think that it’s not the change that’s keeping us young, but our curiosity about what could happen if….

And then I thought maybe curiosity and hope have a connection. For Warren and I, we moved here with a lot of hope for a better future than where we were. So, I’m asking, do people have more hope if they have more curiosity? We know that having a life purpose is an anti-depressant, so I’m wondering, if those of us who don’t feel a life purpose would seriously commit to sharpening our curiosity about anything – or something new- I’m curious, could it help lead to healing?

Warren and I are struggling to make it work in our new city, but I think the most important function for us is to refine is our curiosity reflex. I believe, if we lose that, we’re in for a deep dive.

And so, this leads to my VERY IMPORTANT point: it’s not just the curiosity about the change keeps us young, but the fact that if we want to survive (especially if we want to survive well), we have to act on that curiosity! It’s the acting on the curiosity that keeps us alive and prospering.

We must scratch our curiosity itch. Do not let it dull. Do not kill it. It’s an active process of keeping our minds and bodies moving forward.

So, I’m curious… What are you curious about?












The Connection

Somewhere imprinted in my mind was the message that if I am not needy, I wouldn’t get attention. My neediness; my victimhood; my despondency was the way I got people to notice me. And so, inadvertently, this became my identity. Think Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh. .

As I grew up, I became afraid of asserting myself, or using my voice, or helping because I would just be laughed at: “As IF…!” I was incapable of having intelligent thoughts.

I knew I was incompetent for leadership. I knew there was no reason for me to offer encouragement, or to share my thoughts, or to maintain a stance on something important to me because whatever I had to say was utterly invalid. I had zero credibility.

I’m not intending to bog you down with my gloomy past. But I want to make a point about finding solutions to the things that cause us to be less than our potential. And quite frankly, I want to make a point about finding solutions to the symptom depression – of course from my point of view.

When someone lives a life that feels like she has no credibility, it’s depressing. When someone feels invalid and incapable of intelligent thoughts, it’s depressing. When someone doesn’t even feel worthy enough to offer encouragement, it’s depressing. It’s supposed to be! No person was created to live that way. If this is you, know that your mind and body are blaring clues that something needs to change! There is absolutely and utterly and clearly nothing wrong with you or your mind.

I hope that is freeing to you. When I read Lost Connections by Johann Hari, (a book I think everyone needs to read) I was given an entirely new perspective. When shit happens that causes us to be depressed, we’re supposed to be depressed! It’s not something wrong with us! It’s a physiological – and often body – response to something bad.

So, here’s my very bold and blunt point: Covering our correct feelings with things that numb us are not helpful. And will not cause us to live our best life. There is a chance some of us will always struggle with depression, but in my mind the best solution is not numbing it, but acknowledging it; validating it, and learning ways to change our circumstances.

If you know me, you know I’m a huge believer in exercise as medicine. Gym-time has probably quite literally saved my life. It is the place that has given me purpose and meaning and goals and community. It helps me connect mind, body and spirit. It gets me outside to experience what I think is ultimate freedom: running on the trails. Gym-time has taught me how to cross mental and physical barriers. It connects me to others who want to improve themselves. Gym-time challenges me beyond comfort zones. Gym time is the thing that gave me confidence to challenge my old tapes -the rehearsed damaging thoughts- and change them to winning beliefs. The metaphor of getting stronger in the gym, making me stronger in life is real to me. And the comparison of conquering obstacles in the gym to conquer them in real life is truth for me.

If it sounds like I’m suggesting you follow me, you’d be right. I’m not being dogmatic. just strongly hinting. I believe in the magic of the mind/body connection for everything that ails us. Getting intimate with your body; connecting muscles with agility and balance and strength to mind and spirit and words that elicit healing, there is no substitute.


I think I’ve narrowed down my two values. If you got two Values. What would you choose? Just two Values that you could live your life by?

Before you answer: Values guide our attitude, motivate us to do what we do, are our decision-filters.

Use a thesaurus if you need it.

Mine are, Empathy and Real. I tried to come up with a more fancy word than Real, but nothing works for me. I like Real.

Real comes from the Heart-to-Heart I once had with God. Well… I’ve had a million heart-to-hearts with God, but one in particular where I had just had it! I was angry! And frustrated! And I need it to stop! I hated my life! And who I was! I hated my past! The decisions that were forced on me as a child! The decisions I made because of that! I needed God to answer me! it wasn’t unfamiliar banter, but this time, I heard something else.

He told me He got me through my life to this point, and it is my responsibility to take it and run with it. He brought me somewhere that is not in a ditch, not in a shelter, not in a prison, not in a hospital. And it is my time to accept my past and run forward.

He handed me the pain of my past and told me it makes me who I am, and it is my turn to accept it, and run with it. He did not apologize for giving me the energy, the mind, and the personality my past created.

He said, if I would begin to develop a heart of gratitude, my eyes would be open to an utterly new world. My past plus His provision is His gift to me. It is me! And I am to share it with the world. Be Real, He said. I gave you, you! Take it and run with it!

He explicitly gave me permission to be me. I can speak and write and share energy in the way He gifted me. I am free to be Real.

It was the day I began to learn to unapologetically share me with others. Once I realized the me God created was authentically not a mistake, I could begin transforming into the person He can really use.



I’m Curious about Curiosity

What if we dissected Curiosity and divvied it up into all areas of our lives?

The word came up in the book I’m listening to by Brene Brown called Dare to Lead. And my mind scattered in a million directions about the impact it could have if we started every endeavor with: “I’m Curious about… what would happen if…”

If you were to frame decisions into a statement of Curiosity, what could happen?

In my business, I’m thinking, Curiosity could be a major motivator to success for my clients. What if everyone developed a genuine Curiosity about something they need to change? Instead of “I need to change my eating habits to include more vegetables.” Say, “I’m Curious, which vegetables would I buy if I wanted a colorful plate that is tasty and nutritious?” The Curiosity statement just causes forward motion.

Wow! What if it was even more broad, “I’m Curious about what habits I’d need to change to be in the best shape of my life by the end of 2020.” Doesn’t that just make you want to dig in?

When you’re Curious about something, you challenge yourself to find a solution. Knowledge is fed by Curiosity. And the more you know the more Curious you are.

There is a lot of fitness information out there. However, the people who are most stuck in a cycle of sickness or unable to reach goals, are the people who are still quoting articles written in 1994. “If I lift heavy weights, my muscles will get too big.” Or “Eating fat makes me fat (or raises my cholesterol).” Or “There is correlation between salt and high blood pressure.” Or “the more cardio I do, the more fat I will burn.”

If they were to gain a genuine Curiosity about why they are not getting the results they want, it could change their world! When you state that you are Curious about something, it naturally moves your brain to seeking resolution or clarification.

“I exercise two hours a week and I still have belly fat. Since I don’t like this belly fat, I’m Curious about what I could do different.” Now, isn’t your mind reeling with ideas?

I know I’m not stating a new concept. I’m just asking those of us who might be stuck somewhere to look toward Curiosity to move us forward.

Public Poop

I don’t think anyone has had more poop dreams than I have.

About 20 years ago, I remember someone saying “when you have poop dreams, it means you’re coming into money.” (I remember it being that long ago because home computers – i.e. searching the internet for why I’m having pooping dreams – was not a thing.)

I don’t think I ever came into money. Unless you count the times I said things like “Oh, yea, a friend bought me lunch.” Or “I got a discount on that pair of socks.”

I’m kicking myself for not journaling detailed notes about the dream, and my days before and after.

I didn’t because I thought they had only to do with the fact that I hated getting up in the middle of the night to pee, and because I had to go so urgently, my mind was trying to figure out a solution. Of course the solution never came, thank God!

What happened was I had to pee so bad, but whenever I found a bathroom there was usually a floor full of overflowing toilets that I would have to tiptoe around, and when I finally made it to a stall, the seat was so high up I’d have to climb to sit on it, which meant I couldn’t hover over it, which was the only option because it was covered in shit.

Whenever I woke up, I was always thankful for these dilemmas because maybe it kept me for wetting my bed.

These dreams happened all the time.

Whenever I’d make it to a clean toilet, there was always an audience. I remember having discussions with people while sitting there with my skirt coving my privates hoping they weren’t bothered by what I was doing.

Or I’d finally find the restroom only to discover it is completely surrounded by windows, so everyone can see me. I’d be at parties, or in restaurants surrounded by strangers and friends alike, doing my business, which was often an endless flows of urine.

Mind you, there was never an attitude of “this is ok. It’s just the way things are” like dreams can be. I’ve had way more bazaar dreams than this, and I never felt like it was something odd until I woke up. No, every time I’d have to go in front of someone it was horrifying! Embarrassing! I hated it!

Then, it evolved to actually pooping in people’s presence. No, really! You should not shut out this blog, because it gets even more interesting!

There would be shit everywhere! On me. On the toilet. On my clothes. On the floor. I’ve had dreams walking across the room with large pieces falling out of my pants, which I would bend over and pick up with my hands.

And finally, last night –the impetus for finally writing about this – I had someone helping me with the very difficult and unending task of trying to clean crap off myself.

This is the evolution of my poop dreams.

Why do I tell you this? Well, first it’s kind of funny! Second, I’ve been dying to write about my poop dreams. And Third, because I guess I’m sincerely trying to find answers.

A search on the internet gives all kinds of interpretations. Everything from coming into money to showing off my wealth. The latest one -the one I’m paying attention to- said I’m letting go of shit. It represents stuff that’s inside me that should not be there. Thoughts and feelings that need expelling. It said I should pay attention to where I am in the dream. Am I with my family? at work? with strangers? This indicates where I am defecating or with whom I need to defecate.

Since I think I’m exclusively with strangers, that’s reason number 4 for why I’m writing this. And writing at all: to get real. To be real. To authentically and openly share things many of us just don’t say, but want to find reason, or be cured of.

Maybe you don’t want to read about crap covering my skin, but you might want to read about giving yourself grace, or self-discipline, or how we are not alone in our feelings.

Many of us need encouragement to get rid of shit we don’t need. Many of us have pent up resentment and anger that really, REALLY needs to be dealt with. My blog from yesterday (it’s worth a read, and only about 75 words, was an epiphany! Way more meaningful than anything I’ve ever written. It’s the start of a brave new life for me.

Join me in self-discovery, but more than that, others’-discovery. We are not alone!




Today I am recognizing my Brave.

Today I stop ridiculing myself for being slow or stupid or scared.

Here’s my story: I AM BRAVE!

Through fear! I GO ANYWAY!

I’m terrified! I GO ANYWAY!

Nothing is normal! I MOVE ANYWAY!

Starting today, I don’t belittle myself for not knowing more, being more, performing more.

My story is: I AM BRAVE!

From today, I am no longer making excuses for my behavior.

My Behavior is BRAVE!

No more comparing. No more pity. I am not less!



A while back I read: —There are three kinds of Discipline:

WILLPOWER-to work when you don’t want to.

RESTRAINT – to cut back on training bc you’re busy or fatigued.

FORESIGHT – planning your travel around your workouts.

What is your strength? Where do you need more work?.

(I’m not sure if my new girlfriend here can gather up the willpower to move for me. But she sure is a beauty!)