Sometime in December, I came across a charitable organization called Veganuary.

Veganuary works to inspire people to try going vegan for the month of January. They provides ample information on reasons to go vegan, citing animal welfare, personal and environmental health, and nutritional benefits.

Lately, I have been listening to different podcasts about the benefits of a plant-based diet. One such podcast was from UK foodie Ella Mills of Deliciously Ella. The episode “Why a vegan diet is the single biggest positive change you can make for the planet, with Joseph Poore at Oxford University"” discussed exactly that, citing science and current world health trends as evidence, instead of only discussing animal welfare. Experts published a report in Oct of 2018 cautioning everyone that a “drastic drop in meat consumption is absolutely necessary if we expect to prevent the worst effects of global warming.”

After getting some facts, going vegan for a month seemed like a pretty cool thing to do, not only for myself but for the planet.

Pasta with butternut squash, peppers, avocado, spinach, sriracha, and crunchy peas. Baby foods on the left!

Pasta with butternut squash, peppers, avocado, spinach, sriracha, and crunchy peas. Baby foods on the left!

Last week marked the the completion of my personal Veganuary. I learned that eating a vegan diet is easy; however, I had to have the right foods available. I found myself returning to the grocery store every third day to replenish my fresh fruit and vegetable supply. Here is a list of some of my favorite fruit and veg I ate in January:

  • kale (precut and washed)

  • broccoli slaw (premade)

  • carrots (whole)

  • celery (whole)

  • onions

  • sweet potatoes

  • avocado

  • banana

  • watermelon (precut)

  • apples

  • frozen peas, corn, and spinach

  • non-dairy milk ( I used most any, except almond since I am allergic)

  • non-dairy creamer (Ripple is my favorite! No clumps!)

Pumpkin coconut pasta with walnuts

Pumpkin coconut pasta with walnuts

I also needed certain non-perishables, such as beans, nuts, seeds, oats, and specialty things like cacao powder and peanut powder (I am obsessed). I have always eaten ground flax seeds, so I still incorporated these into my diet, along with psyllium.

Since I am nursing, I made sure to have protein powder on hand: I heard somewhere that nursing mothers are supposed to have at least 60 grams of protein per day. Anyway, it’s good practice for all of us to focus on protein when perusing a vegan diet.

For other sources of protein, I made my own nut/seed-butter out of cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and walnuts. I ate beans every day. And, if there was a sale on plant-based burgers, I bought those, along with vegan cheese. I even attempted to make my own vegan cheese out of lentils, pinto beans, nutritional yeast, spices, oil, and psyllium. It looked quite disgusting, but the taste wasn’t too bad!

In general, I stocked my fridge and pantry with:

  • pumpkin seeds

  • walnuts

  • ground flaxseed

  • sunflower seeds

  • cashews

  • granola

  • oats

  • nutritional yeast

  • protein powder

  • cacao powder

  • peanut butter powder

  • various canned beans

  • coconut milk (canned)

Spinach buckwheat pancakes with bananas, chia jam, and nutseed butter

Spinach buckwheat pancakes with bananas, chia jam, and nutseed butter

For me, Veganuary became even more than a fun experiment. I am proud that I was able to incorporate plant-based food into my diet in a lot of different ways. It helped that my carnivorous husband was out of town for the first half of the month, so I could pretty much go all the way vegan, and I didn’t have to consider cooking for two.

At the same time I was vegan-ing, I was also trying out “Baby Led Weaning” with my son. I served him plant-based BLW appropriate food that I was eating, and I think he had a good time too - you can see him and his little vegan food morsels in the background of my photos below.

I have to admit, there were a few hiccups in my perfect vegan month. One Friday while my husband was away, I was invited over to a neighbors house for dinner, and I completely forgot to mention my Veganuary mission beforehand, so I politely ate whatever would be served. Also, when my husband got back from his trip, he unloaded all his “plane snacks” onto the kitchen table, one of which was a packet of turkey jerky. Without even thinking about it, I ate a piece of jerky. Woops!

I learned a few things about my eating habits. I tend to eat a lot of fiber and fat. Additionally, I am a huge sucker for desserts, and I was happy to learn that lots of commercially made sweets are vegan. Oreo’s are vegan. Dark chocolate can be vegan. Many supermarkets sell vegan baked goods. If I see an adorable vegan chocolate cupcake, I will buy it. I apparently have a huge vegan sweet tooth!

By going vegan for a month, I thought I might lose weight. I didn’t, which is a bummer, because I still have a few pounds to spare from my pregnancy weight. I also learned that I needed to more protein than I once thought in order to feel satisfied. If I felt hungry after a large meal, I drank protein powder mixed into warmed oat milk. Weird but it worked. I learned that I eat 6 times a day! And I need to eat more dark berries and fruits in general. I also found out that I really dislike cashew yogurt.

I think I will continue being mostly vegan, and I can safely say I prefer a plant-based diet. I urge you to try some vegan food, even for one meal. There are so many resources out there to help you make nutritious choices that are both healthy for you and the planet.

If you want to learn more about any of the meals below, shoot me an email at I’d love to share a recipe or two!

Be DAREful

The following is a guest post by Jen Whalen of True North Adventures, an organization designed to help women get back into alignment with their authentic selves through intentional outdoor experiences. In April of 2018, TNA will take a group of DAREful women to Costa Rica for a week-long surf, yoga, and self-care immersion.

Read more about Be DAREful Costa Rica at


"How to be DAREful" by Jen Whalen 

As I lowered down off of a recent gym climb, I smiled, feeling that familiar surge of energy… pumped forearms, rapid heartbeat.  As my swollen, chalky fingers fumbled with untying my knot, I said to my belayer, “Good thing I mock-led that one as I was falling all over the place!” She laughed in disbelief and said, “You didn’t fall once! Are you serious?!?”

I was serious. I barely believed I could climb that challenging route when I grabbed the first hold 10 minutes earlier.  Kilian and I were just “monkeying around” with the possibilities on the far edge of my climbing ability as we waited for our climbing instructor to finish up with another pair, so I went for it.  From my perspective, I thought I hacked my way up it and fell off several times along the way. However, my belayer, who was intentionally observing for feedback regarding clipping and body positioning, witnessed me sticking the whole thing.  I let myself really go for it on a climb I would usually have walked right past, and despite my efforts to sabotage it by not owning the achievement, I actually did it!!!  I thought I had a good sense of my learning edge, (what was possible and what was beyond my reach) but as I’m noticing  in other areas of life as well, perhaps that isn’t always accurate…


As I sat down to write about the experience afterward,  two strong questions came through, “What would my life look like if I let myself really fucking go for it as I did on that last climb?  AND What would it look like if I surrounded myself with a loving community that held me accountable for living in this way?” I noted areas where I was willing to take more risks and would likely see “bigger” results (as was the case with the climbing route that evening). However, the other areas on the list involved “big” inner risks like trusting my wise Inner Knowing and following her lead instead of hiding out in what is comfortable, saying NO more often, and prioritizing more time/space for excellent self-care, etc.


We have hundreds of choices throughout our day in which we can be DAREful and live in alignment with our heart.  It’s not always the big, impressive feats of obvious boldness and badassery that matter most… it’s also all the little ways we’re taking the time to show up for ourselves and live in alignment with our souls. Life definitely looks differently when I really let myself go for it.  My YESes are clear and feel like empowered choices where I’ve intentionally engaged with the adventure of my life.  And the Sacred NOs feel equally as clear.  I’m not backpedaling on what I need or want when other people’s priorities scream louder.  Instead, I’m listening deeply to the wisdom of my body and Soul and honoring that Inner Knowing instead of constantly calibrating my life by the expectations, shoulds and unsolicited, often fear-based advice of others.  


In April, we’re taking these same experiential practices of DAREful living from the mountains to the beach with our week-long surf/yoga/Self care immersion in beautiful Bahia Ballena, Costa Rica.  If you’re curious to learn more about this amazing adventure, click here. (link:   What would being DAREful look like in your life? Whether its joining us in Costa Rica or saying YES to another beautiful adventure, it’s my deepest hope you’ll experiment with making tiny changes that support you in living more DAREfully today.  This is where the magic is at, and I would be honored to join you in the rising tide of women holding each other accountable for “going for it” in this way.  


Curious to learn more? Set up an exploration call with Jen at JEN@SEEKTRUENORTH.COM

Restival = Retreat + Festival

"Restival - the exclusive love child of a retreat and a festival - is held in a secret space for up to 90 people amidst the beauty of nature in the land of the Navajo" 



“Restival takes wild wellness to another level with an an exclusive annual desert gathering in Arizona where eco-luxe means going off grid deep in nature on sacred Navajo land doing yoga, meditation, sweat lodges, art, music and astronomy. Plus there’s a spa. Accommodation is luxurious individual tipis with hot showers. For an intellectually and spiritually nourishing escape.”
— Wall Street Journal, February 2017

I heard of Restival just last year. The festival/retreat hybridization appealed to me, and its founding mission spoke to me. Its secrecy piqued my interest; its focus on physical and spiritual well-being intrigued me. Naturally, I wanted to learn more, so I contacted Restival's founder, Caroline Jones, to learn more about Restival's mission. 

Restival is an immersive experience that takes place outside of Flagstaff, Arizona (secret spot!). Its mission is two-fold: to present an antidote to modern living and the fast-paced world we live in; to help indigenous wisdom stay alive through education.

I learned that Restival is a forum for non-native and native people to come together to peace, harmony, and with the desire to reconnect with themselves and nature. The Navajo are invited to stay in camp, and guests shouldn't be surprised if they learn about the Four Sacred Directions over breakfast. By the end of the weekend, guests will also have the option of learning Navajo Peacemaking, Horsemanship, Art, Storytelling, Astronomy, as well as many greetings and words from the Navajo language. In addition to immersive cultural activities, attendees can enjoy daily yoga, spa, and wellness experiences while staying in luxury accommodations to rejuvenate the spirit, disconnect from distraction, and to connect to themselves. 

The Basics: 

  • Restival takes place over two sessions: September 14-19 and September 21-26
  • Choose from several Eco Luxe accommodations - all modeled after traditional Navajo tipis  
  • Each ticket is all inclusive and priced per person; tickets range from $1,800-$2,950
  • Three nutritionally balanced meals/day; snacks, coffee, juices, water 24/7
  • Yoga and meditation are included in the price, and there are several other add-ons to choose from, such as acupuncture, Navajo healing, craniosacral and shiatsu therapy, thai mssage, reiki healing, clairvoyant readings, reflexology, life coaching, transformational Navajo sweat lodges, and flotation tank experiences. 

If you're interested in Restival, please visit And, if you book tickets, please enter the code EVERTHRIVE at check out for a discount! The first 10 to book will receive 20% off their ticket price.  

Experiences such as Restival can help us take a break from living in the moment. Choosing to attend Restival is just one of the ways we can consciously decide to "Take the Slow Way."

In our hectic lives, we seem to move very quickly. We are constantly bombarded with information, tasks, and noise. If you’re like me, most days I strive to get as much done as possible. Before I realize it, mornings turn into evenings; my alarm clock seems to wake me up right after my head hits the pillow. And, during the night, I often experience anxiety dreams where I have to reach some kind of goal and I simply cannot accomplish it.

All these are results of pursuing what I like to call a “carpe diem” sort of life, where I try to accomplish so many things by “living in the moment,” a mantra for many. However, “seizing the day,” or rather, “capturing the day,” only helps us to conquer, subdue, and even kill our days instead of actually living them. Living in the moment offers nothing to alleviate stress, over-stimulation, and noise from our lives.

Sometimes it’s necessary to take a break from living in the moment. Sometimes it’s necessary to “take the slow way.”
— "Take the Slow Way" on Everthrive

Everthrive stands behind Restival's goal in connecting guests with themselves, nature, and traditional ways of life. 






Bring Back Boredom on Break the Twitch

Hello to readers of Everthrive! 

Recently, I was offered the opportunity to write and record guest content for Anthony Ongaro of Break the Twitch, a website that focuses on minimalism, habits, and creativity. My article "Why We Should Bring Back Boredom" discusses what boredom is, why we think boredom is something to avoid, and what we can learn from boredom. It concludes with ways we can use boredom to our advantage. The goal of my post is to show that boredom is actually a good thing, and not a thing to escape from. 

This was my very first guest post, and my very first recorded Skype call!

You can read "Why We Should Bring Back Boredom" by visiting Break the Twitch. Below, you'll find the video of Anthony and I chatting about Everthrive, why I created my site, and what we can do about boredom. 

A bit about the process of creating guest content...

At first, I was daunted by the task of creating content for a site other than Everthrive. However, understanding boredom - taking time to really reflect, disengage, and grow from those stagnant times in life - is a subject I am very passionate about. I was so thrilled to have the opportunity to share my ideas with Break the Twitch's community! The video element was a challenge for me, as I'm not quite used to being video recorded, especially at close-range. Despite Anthony's very helpful and reassuring coaching, I was rather nervous about the whole filming aspect of the post. But, I guess I did OK? 

Looking back, I know that the experience of being filmed was invaluable. Watching the footage helps me to develop a fuller awareness of how others may see me, gives me a chance to reflect on how I express myself physically and verbally, thereby helping me to be a better communicator. 

Thank you, Anthony, for the opportunity to grow and share with you! 



Dance in the Mud

Finding Joy Against All Odds

New Belgium's Tour de Fat 2014: Logan Square, Chicago

New Belgium's Tour de Fat 2014: Logan Square, Chicago

You're at your favorite music festival. The greatest band ever is playing, and you're so excited to be there. But, it rained last night, and there is a giant mud pit where the dance area should be. Upon realizing this, your smile fades, red flames lap at your insides, and you suddenly can't have fun. This is terrible. Everything is terrible.

Why can't we embrace the mud? Why is it so difficult to see the positive side of a situation?

It's easy to tell someone to "Be positive!" However, someone who is stuck in the alluring, stimulating land of negativity doesn't want to hear such trite things. Oftentimes, I am this someone, hanging out with my negatives, languishing in the bad, just because it feels better. For me, an important first step not just to tell myself to "be positive!" In order to journey over to the Land of the Positive, I have to acknowledge the reasons I dwell on the negative aspects of life.

Science says that we are hardwired to dwell on the negative since evolution has shaped us into alert, danger-avoiding creatures. In prehistoric cave-man days, we often had to run from life-threatening danger while gathering food or protecting our families. Detecting the negative was imperative for our survival. Even though we aren't up against this type of danger in the present, we're still programmed with something called a "negativity bias." 

The negativity bias can be explained as the tendency of people to focus on the negative, since the bad ignites our minds more than the good. Negativity is like a drug. It stimulates us. Our minds are very sensitive to negative thoughts, emotions, traumatic interactions, difficult events, and tough social interactions. Negativity makes lasting impressions, outweighing the positive in many ways. 

Everyone knows that focusing on the bad can bring us down, and spread negative energy to others. Negativity can stimulate specific glands in our bodies that ignite a "fight of flight" response, raising our stress hormones (cortisol), and lowering the body's natural immunity. We can actually become sick from negativity. 

What can we do about this?

First of all, to focus on the good, we should realize that the Land of the Positive isn't so far away. And, we should be open to reaching this destination, just as long as we really appreciate it. Science also tells us that it takes much longer for our minds to "emotionally absorb" good events. Next time something great happens, take some time to really experience and appreciate the awesomeness. Soak it up. Take a mental picture. Conjure it up later when you're feeling blue. 

It's OK to take a break from the difficult realities of the world. Shift your focus from your super-charged Facebook feeds, CNN headlines, FOX news, Drudge Report, and all of that. Political and social realities are important, and need our attention, but sometimes it's good to come up for air. Recharge. Tune in to your immediate surroundings. Your home. Your partner. Your children, family and friends. Your unconditionally loving dog or cat. These aspects of your life deserve your love, your time, and your gratitude. 

Focus on creating something new. Creating a new recipe for the family dinner, write a letter to an old friend, create space between yourself and negative feelings by experiencing nature. Start volunteering for organizations that will be able to make a difference on the realities of many. Creating helps us grow with each experience so we can contribute to the world around us; contributing naturally infuses our lives with meaning and positive vibes. 

In order to save ourselves from the negative, we have to find joy despite the odds. We have to listen to our desire to succeed, to live, and to be happy. We have to embrace our metaphorical mud pits, understanding that dirt is harmless, and allow ourselves those incredibly meaningful experiences where positivity floods into our minds, bodies, and souls. 

Get out of the negative. Find joy against the odds. Dance in the mud.