Category Archives: My Thoughts & Opinions

Gut Health is Everything!

GUT HEALTH is Everything!!

The Gut/Brain connection is undeniable. The gut is literally like our second brain. Gut health is tremendously important when dealing with brain function. About 90% of your serotonin (happy hormone) is produced in your gut, melatonin (which helps you sleep) is produced in your gut, and about 70% of your immune system is in your gut.

Understanding gut health, along with infections, food allergies and intolerances, the gluten issue, bacterial overgrowth, yeast, heavy metal and chemical toxicity, hormone imbalance, high cortisol levels due to chronic stress, etc. is the key to living a life of good brain and body health.

I’ve learned that our SAD diet (Standard American Diet) promotes chronic disease by producing chronic inflammation in our bodies. Our food is literally making us sick in the brain resulting in a myriad of symptoms… what are yours?

Brain fog? Problems with memory? Forgetfulness?
Depression? Trouble sleeping?
Anxiety? Stress? Gastrointestinal issues?
Emotional, Psychological or Behavioral symptoms?

The simple system of nutrition that Isagenix offers works as a foundation for overall wellness and addresses these issues by delivering efficient and convenient nutrition, tackling toxicity and managing stress in the body. Along with our probiotics and digestive enzymes, it is no wonder that thousands upon thousands of people report feeling better than they ever thought possible. What may have started as a weight loss journey for some, has become a celebration of health and wellness that goes way beyond a number on the scale.

This article offers ideas to improve your gut health. Check it out! I would love to discuss this further … let me know when is the best time for us to talk.

Coldest Chicago Temp -27 on 1-20-85

ICYMI ~ It’s COLD in Chicago!!

I’m from Chicago, born & raised. I never left (ok, technically I moved to the suburbs), but I still consider myself a Chicagoan. I’ve lived through some tough winters in my lifetime. I was around for the Blizzard of ’67 (kindergartner), and lots of snow storms during my high school years in the late ’70s. I made a lot of cash shoveling people out and setting up lawn chairs with brooms laying across them … It’s a Chicago thing – DIBS, you can Google it 🙂 I also remember Christmas week in 1983, it was so cold that my pet fish, Oscar, (he was a giant, you guessed it, Oscar) died because the power was out for several days and the tank nearly froze. However, my most prominent, vivid memory is January 20, 1985.

Ice Crystal Bird by Lorra Rudman - llinois Birding Network FB 1-30-19
Photo Credit: Lorra Rudman

Ironically, January 20, 1985, the coldest day in Chicago history, was the first day at my new job … as a ramp agent working at O’Hare airport. I remember coming in from running bags (as a trainee, I had to shadow each type of job position) from our incoming flight to the baggage claim … when we got back to the ready room, I had actual frost on my eyelashes (similar to my feathered friend above)! I was never so cold in my life. I kept asking myself why the heck I quit my job as a travel agent at a Michigan Avenue travel agency. I honestly have no idea why I didn’t quit then and there (I stayed close to 15 years), but I’m glad I didn’t because I have so many wonderful memories of my years there and met so many great people.

Delicate Frost Bubble

Which brings me to our current Polar Vortex. This time I was blessed to be able to stay indoors for the duration. I was blessed with a nice warm home to stay cozy and safe. My husband’s employer closed down for the extreme cold. We didn’t have any major emergencies, no broken pipes or furnace mishaps. My furnace was able to keep the temperature a reasonable 60 degrees, I wore layers and snuggled under a blanket to watch movies with my family 🙂 I also spent way too much time on social media. Everyone was posting about the temperature. Many braved the elements to throw boiling water into the air to watch it freeze, and some people recorded these beautiful frost bubbles. I am fascinated by them, they are so beautifully intricate and fragile … amazing! Sadly, they were also posting about some of the struggles they were having trying to cope with this extreme cold … frozen pipes, broken furnaces, etc. We had only one problem because of the weather, one (of 3) vehicles wouldn’t start. That’s OK, we had no place we needed to be yesterday. Late this afternoon, in a balmy -5 degrees, we replaced the battery and it started right up. They are predicting a high of 13 tomorrow … that’s practically a heatwave 🙂

holidays on typewriter

Happy Holidays ~ Looking Forward to 2019


I hope all of you had a wonderful Holiday season. My Holidays were nice, but somehow a little different, even though Christmas is generally one of my favorite times of the year.

Somehow this Christmas seemed very rushed, more like work. The whole month of December seemed to fly by for me. I felt like I was always trying to play catch up to get everything done. For some reason, I don’t think I ever really got into the Christmas Spirit.

I feel like society seems to put so much pressure on have a perfect holiday. You’re supposed to take the perfect family photo for the annual Christmas card, complete with a letter updating everyone of the happenings in your life during the past year. The holiday parties start early in the month. It’s stressful trying to get together with all your friends who have busy schedules as well.

Don’t even get me started on my Christmas tree lights … ugh … just don’t

Holiday baking didn’t go as planned either. On the plus side, I did get all my gift shopping and wrapping done before Christmas Eve 😊

I received numerous wonderful gifts, I enjoyed delicious holiday meals, I enjoyed the company of family and friends. Yet, for whatever reason, I missed the happiness & joy that the Christmas season is about. I’m sure next year will be better. I won’t let the stress and business rob me of the true meaning and spirit of Christmas!

I’m truly looking forward to a wonderful 2019 for each and every one of us!

Book Review & Giveaway ~ Nutcracker Sweets at Moonglow by Deborah Garner

My Thoughts & Review A personal and/or virtual assistant can help you check items off your to-do list. Delegate some tasks to us today.

I always enjoy my annual visit to the Timberton Hotel, I enjoy catching up with old friends (that I met in the previous books). Reading these short novellas always helps me get in the Christmas spirit. I also love that she includes recipes that are mentioned in the story. This year I plan to make, Glazed Cinnamon Nuts, Peanut Butter Fudge & Lemon Crinkles 😊 You can read my reviews of the previous books in the series here.

This year Betty and Mist are expecting more than the guests actually in the reservation book … they will have guests from the local theater group as well. After a tragic fire burned down the theater, the a few of the dancers performing “The Nutcracker” need to find a place to stay. In addition to the actors and their regulars, we meet a young family whose daughter, Maria, is in a wheelchair, and an elderly woman, Olga, who has a bit of a mysterious air about her.

As usual, Mist has a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner planned, along with a special surprise …

If you love feel good, happy endings kind of stories, do yourself a favor and read this one … you’ll be glad you did!

5 Stars and 2 Thumbs Up 😊

 

NEW RELEASE….

The small Montana town of Timberton has a way of bringing magic to the holidays, especially for guests of the local hotel. Resident artist and chef Mist has a way of touching people’s lives with exquisite cuisine, imaginative art, and her own ethereal nature.

When a nearby theatre burns down just before Christmas, cast members of The Nutcracker arrive at the Timberton Hotel with only a sliver of holiday joy. Camaraderie, compassion, and shared inspiration combine to help at least one hidden dream come true. As with every Christmas season in Timberton, this year’s guests will face the New Year with a renewed sense of hope.

*Cookie and candy recipes included!



The Moonglow Series…
Each book may be read as a stand-alone novel, or as part of the series.
Mistletoe at Moonglow, Book 1
Silver Bells at Moonglow, Book 2
Gingerbread at Moonglow, Book 3
Nutcracker Sweets at Moonglow, Book 4

Available to buy from……
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Paperback

 

Also available in The Moonglow Series

Each book may be read as a stand-alone novel, or as part of the series.

Mistletoe at Moonglow, The Moonglow Series, Book 1

The Timberton Hotel has always provided a perfect Christmas retreat for regular guests, as well as newcomers. But the small town of Timberton, Montana, hasn’t been the same since resident chef and artist, Mist, arrived, bringing a unique new age flavor to the old western town.

When guests check in for the holidays, they bring along worries, fears and broken hearts, unaware that Mist has a way of working magic in people’s lives. Old-fashioned time spent together, exquisite food, conversation and a snowball or two offer guests a chance to trade sadness for hope. One thing is certain: no matter how cold winter’s grip is on each guest, no one leaves Timberton without a warmer heart.

 

Available to buy from….
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Nook iBooks Paperback

Silver Bells at Moonglow by [Garner, Deborah]

Silver Bells at Moonglow, The Moonglow Series, Book 2

Christmas at the Timberton Hotel arrives each year with a unique set of guests, some returning, some new. When this holiday brings a celebrity seeking reprieve, sisters who are distant yet closer to each other than they think, a widow approaching a new horizon, and an eclectic smattering of local townsfolk and visiting relatives, the season is certain to be eventful. Add in a hint of romance and there’s more than snow in the air around the small Montana town.

Elegant decor and exquisite cuisine from resident artist and chef, Mist, form a backdrop to much needed camaraderie, bringing strangers and friends together. When the last note of Christmas carols has faded away, the soft whisper of silver bells from the front door’s wreath will usher guests and townsfolk alike back into the world with hope for the coming year.

 

Available to buy from….
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Nook Paperback

 

Gingerbread at Moonglow, The Moonglow Series, Book 3

The small town of Timberton, Montana, boasts an ambiance of near-magical proportions during the Christmas season, due in no small part to resident artist and chef Mist’s mysterious way of working small miracles in people’s everyday lives. Each year, return guests and new arrivals mingle with local townsfolk to enjoy companionship, exquisite decor, and exceptional cuisine at The Timberton Hotel.

As the aromas of ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg and molasses mix with heartfelt camaraderie and sweet romance, guests share reflections on family, friendship, and life. Although decorating the outside of a gingerbread house may prove easier than deciding what goes inside, no one leaves Timberton without renewed hope for the future.

 

Available to buy from……
Amazon.com Amazon.co.uk Nook GPlay Paperback



About the author

Deborah Garner is an accomplished travel writer with a passion for back roads and secret hideaways. Born and raised in California, she studied in France before returning to the U.S. to attend UCLA. After stints in graduate school and teaching, she attempted to clone herself for decades by founding and running a dance and performing arts center, designing and manufacturing clothing and accessories, and tackling both spreadsheets and display racks for corporate retail management. Her passions include photography, hiking and animal rescue. She speaks five languages, some substantially better than others. She now pides her time between California and Wyoming, dragging one human and two canines along whenever possible.

Find the author on the following sites…
Website Facebook Twitter Pinterest Google+ Goodreads Bookbub Amazon Author Page

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I have volunteered to share my review and all the opinions are 100% my own.

 

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Time Flies - Seasons Change

Time Flies ~ Seasons Change

Labor Day Weekend is upon us once again, the unofficial end of summer. I love autumn, but I’m not ready for summer to end just yet.

Time flies by too quickly … I know I say this all the time, but it’s true! I truly believe that the busier you are, the faster times goes by and this summer proves it (for me anyway).

I was so excited when the weather warmed up last May. I had so many things I wanted to do: Continue reading

Thankful for Hats For Troops

Thankful Thoughts

So today is a Sunday, and it’s a great day (actually every day is) to be thankful for all I’ve been blessed with. My day started out like pretty much every other day, with a cup of coffee and my daily devotions. On most mornings, my cat, Jack, jumps up on my lap and proceeds to try to knock my book out of my hands so that I can concentrate on petting him.

For the last few days, I haven’t been interrupted by him because he has been resting peacefully on his favorite chair. This is just one of the things I’m thankful for today. He is recovering from a surgery to have a non-cancerous (hopefully) cyst removed. The surgery went well, and he is home recuperating. The 3 hardest things in his post-surgery care have been, not letting him jump up on the furniture, not letting him lick the incision, and giving him his medicine. He is doing well, getting better every day, for which I am very thankful.

Thankful for Jacks Successful Surgery

I’m thankful that Jack’s surgery went well.

 

But I digress … Continue reading

Green Bay Wisconsin Blizzard

Girls Getaway to Green Bay, aka Blizzard Evelyn

As many of you know, I am a big fan of getaways. I really believe that a little downtime every so often is very important to our health and sanity. It doesn’t need to be a full blown vacation, just a couple days away from the every day routine 😊

I love to go on romantic weekend getaways with my husband. I also love to go on weekend camping getaways … we sort of unplug and enjoy nature, naps, board games and yummy food.

So each year, I plan a girls getaway with my friend Kari. We’ve been doing it for about 10 years now. It’s usually a 3-day weekend that usually (but not always) includes a women’s conference. Then we do some touristy things before and after ward. We look forward to it every year.

Continue reading

Happy 5th Anniversary

Tracy Helps You is Celebrating 5 Years of Business

Happy Anniversary to us !!

Today, March 21, is our anniversary 🙂  It’s hard to believe that Tracy Helps You is celebrating 5 years of being in business! I still remember all the time I spent dreaming and researching that cold winter season. I talked to many friends for their thoughts about starting a business. There were as many ideas as there were people I talked to (no surprise there). I would bounce ideas off anyone who would listen. Finally, I had the general idea of what my business would be, I wanted to help people.

Then came even more challenging decisions to make … not the least of which was the name of my business. My cousin was helping me brainstorm, I had a long list of possible names that we narrowed down to three I really liked. Of course, we then discovered that the domain name was not available for any of those 🙁   It was like 11pm, both of us beyond tired, we were at our wit’s end … We were like “how many other ways could we phrase “Tracy helps you” ?? Then a lightbulb went on … that’s it – Tracy Helps You !! I loved the sound of it, the domain was available, it was available on all the social media platforms … It was meant to be – Tracy Helps You was born on that cold night back in 2013.

Then came weeks and months of learning how to run a business (I love that learning is an ongoing process) and all things entrepreneurial. So many decisions needed to be made … so many things to learn.

Over the past few years, I’ve added and eliminated some services that I’ve offered. Two years ago, I added Virtual Assistant services. This year, I am adding Health & Wellness Advocate services as another area that Tracy Helps You can be of service.

As many of you know, I started on my “getting healthy” journey about 2 years ago. It started out with a weight loss goal and has now expanded into a yearning to live a healthy lifestyle. I’ve lost a lot of weight (still a little more to go), I try to choose real / natural foods (whenever possible) without all the chemical & preservatives. I feel my health is more important than the convenience of pre-packaged foods. I use intermittent fasting to cleanse my body of some of the environmental toxins. I walk at least a mile every day to incorporate more activity in my day. I feel fantastic, better than I have is more than a decade. I want to “help” everyone to feel as good as I do!

As a Health & Wellness Advocate, I plan to help by coming alongside you and “help you” as an accountability partner and give encouragement. I can help you with meal planning. I can share ideas for ways to burn calories doing fun activities. Since I have experience with several well-known weight loss systems, I feel I can help guide you. I can also coach you in my nutritional system, Isagenix. It has programs geared to help with Weight Wellness, Healthy Aging and Athletic Performance.

So now, Tracy Helps You can help in three different areas:

  • as a Personal Assistant
  • as a Health & Wellness Advocate 
  • as a Virtual Assistant 😊

How can we “help” you ?? Give me a call 😊

New Year Resolutions

New Year’s Resolutions ~ Are You Smashing or Crashing Yours?

It’s the last week of January 2018 … Remember New Year’s Eve? … Remember those resolutions you made? … How’s that going?

If you are still committed to your resolutions, congratulations !! I recently read an article that said January 17th is “Ditch New Year’s Resolution Day”. If you “ditched” it, that means your resolution didn’t even last for 3 full weeks ☹ Continue reading

photo by:


geographer700

Goals ~ Not Resolutions for the New Year

Goals ~ Not Resolutions

Happy New Year’s Eve 2017!

Well, 2017 has proven to be an interesting year for me. Mostly because I decided to make my health a more important/relevant part of my daily schedule.

*********

 Please note, I am healthy, I didn’t have any major medical issues

 … I was just “sick & tired of feeling sick & tired” …

you know what I mean?

*********

For the first half of the year, we (my hubby and I) worked on making healthy food choices (for the most part). We made a meal plan and cut back on eating out so much. We cooked most of our meals at home. We “brown bagged it” (are those even a thing anymore?) for our lunches. We did have a “cheat” day on the weekend, but really tried hard to not go overboard. We both lost some weight, but not a whole lot 🙁

We tried making a concentrated effort on being more active. Exercise has never really been my thing, so I tried spending more time doing activities that I enjoyed, like camping and taking long hikes in the woods of various state parks. I also worked a lot in my yard and garden. We went for bike rides and went bowling. You know what I mean? Activities that had a purpose in additional to exercising my body.

We also joined the local gym to have a place to do a more consistent type workout.  Like many, we went 3 times a week religiously for a month or two, then it dwindled to 2 times, then once a week, then very sporadically until we are now at the point in time of saying ”why are we paying for this – we never use it”. By the middle of summer, I was off the healthy wagon more often than I was on it ☹

I ran into a friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in a very long time. I commented that she looked amazing … she of course thanked me, and responded that that the best part is that she felt great. Healthier than she ever really remembered feeling. Being a good friend, she told me all about the great health and wellness program she was following that was giving her such great results.

I started following the program and I’m feeling great … I’ve lost pounds and inches. I’ve gone down 2 sizes. At my annual physical, my bloodwork came back as being in the normal healthy range, plus I was able to stop taking meds for high blood pressure! It sounds strange, I know, but I feel younger 🙂   I don’t feel as many aches and pains as before. I’m sure my joints appreciate not have so much extra weight to support 🙂

I do have a few health goals for 2018:

  • continue losing more weight while giving my body nutrient rich foods (50 more lbs. would put me back to my high school weight)
  • get my BMI into the normal range
  • continue trying to have a healthy active lifestyle
  • use my gym membership to help build lean muscle tone

I also have a few business goals for 2018:

  • blog more consistently (sorry for being MIA a lot this past year)
  • complete training to get certified in building & maintaining WordPress websites
  • revamp my Tracy Helps You website
  • be more active in my local Chamber of Commerce and in IVAA

These are goals ~ not resolutions.

For me, the difference is this:

Resolutions seem kind of all or nothing – you achieved them or you didn’t ?

Goals can be broken down into doable steps … they are a work in process ?

What goals will you be working on in 2018 ?