I lost one of my jobs 6 weeks ago. I’ve been a nail tech for 29 years. At first felt sorry for myself, did nothing for the first week. I binge watched The Tiger King, painted the bathroom and refreshed the grout. I truly was mourning the loss of my “old life”. Being a wife, mom, nail tech and health coach I feel a sense of purpose every day. So when quarantine began I no longer felt like I had a purpose. All my clients were going through the transition as well and we are all having to pivot to this “new normal”. It’s scary but necessary.

Many people immediately saw a need for our frontline/essential workers mask needs and started sewing. I have my grandmother’s sewing machine but I certainly don’t have her sewing skills, but what she DID give me was a lesson in crocheting. A nurse friend posted about a need for “ear savers” or mask extenders that take the pressure off the ears from the elastic from masks. She shared a crochet pattern with buttons and I thought, “I can do that!” So I dug in the basement, found my (embarrassing amount) of yarn and got to work! It took me about 4-5 minutes to crochet each strip and my amazing neighbors volunteered to sew buttons on. I was amazed at the outpouring of donation of buttons I received and they were all put to great use. Most of them didn’t match but I think it made the ear savers have some serious character!

Fast forward two weeks, my hands began to ache. I would crochet for 8 hours a day and make about 80-90. My button sewers were getting tired and I just couldn’t keep up with the demand. That’s when I saw a pattern for ear savers cut with a Cricut machine! Don’t know what a Cricut is? It’s a die cutting machine but SO much more. It cuts over 300 materials including cardstock, vinyl, wood, leather and fabric. It also draws, engraves, embosses, perforates, scores etc. I purchased a Cricut Maker in January with my Christmas tips and I have been obsessed with it since. It’s been so fun to create things with it like t-shirts, home decor items, cards and custom gifts.

When I saw that I could cut ear savers with my Cricut machine it was a saving grace. No more achy hands! I could make 18-25 of them in about 20 minutes. Some materials used to make these are plastic poly school folders, plastic placemats and chopping mats (dollar tree). I had to do some experimenting to get the exact settings down for the materials I was using but finally got it down. I won’t bore you with all the settings and things that didn’t work. I will share all the final materials and settings that worked for me with my Maker.

I found the SVG file from here https://www.minordiy.com/medical-mask-ear-saver-svg/

She gives specific instructions, but this is what I found that works for me and my machine.

Poly School Folders

I began with the school folders because that’s what I had on hand. I found them at Office Depot for about 60 cents each so I bought all they had via curbside pick up. I will say that they are a bit flimsy and are considered more of a disposable item. They are cheapest material wise but more easily torn. I could get about 25 on each folder including the pockets.

Settings: Standard Green Mat, Premium Fine Point Blade, 350 pressure, cut 3x. ALWAYS DO A TEST CUT!

Dollar Tree Placemats

I found these placemats were a great value and much stronger material that will last a lot longer. They cut great and come in a bunch of different fun patterns and are basically reversible because they are printed on one side and white on the other. You could customize the white side with a cute decal if you really wanted to!

Settings: Standard Green Mat, Deep Point Blade (the black one), 310 pressure, cut 3x. ALWAYS DO A TEST CUT!

Dollar Tree Cutting Mats (2pk)

I have a love hate relationship with these mats. At first I got them to cut fine but quickly wore my deep point blade out and they got harder to cut all the way through. I purchased new blades and now can’t get them to cut all the way through at all. You can try to use the following settings and hope for the best: Standard Green Mat, Deep Point Blade, 350 (highest pressure), More pressure setting, cut 5x. ALWAYS DO A TEST CUT!

I settled on the placemats for my mass production and have made over 4,000 of them and donated them to hospitals, doctors offices, grocery stores, nursing homes, rehabs, retirement facilities and beyond. One of my favorite things to do is drive past curbside pickup spots and hand a stack of ear savers over. They are always so appreciative!

If you have a Cricut and are looking to add to the ever growing need for these ear savers I say bust it out and start cuttin’!


Don’t stumble over something behind you.

We endure so many challenges throughout our lives. Tough decisions, toxic people, waves of emotions, stiff competition, time constraints… but so many of us succumb to an illusive and impotent monster that kills our potential and strangles our progress. Simply called… the past.

Imagine carrying around a backpack full of rocks and each stone represents a past injustice or setback. As that backpack get heavier, being your best, most productive and happiest self becomes impossible. That is, until you’re able to let it go and set yourself free.

Regret is one the hardest human emotions to overcome, since there is nothing we can do to change our past. Dwelling on the past can crush your ambition and is a quick way to deter you from reaching your goals in life.

Your past is your story

It’s like reading the same chapter again and again while wishing you could read the next chapter. If you keep reading that same chapter, slowly the suspense, the thrill and the exhilaration dies. The same story becomes boring after a time. So why does our past keep haunting us so much?

As soon as there’s a trigger, we start fantasizing about what could have been and a domino effect begins inside our mind, that starts building up all those past memories. It’s all voluntary. You are forcefully doing that to yourself. A fleeting memory is not your doing but how you react and think beyond that, certainly is.

You clearly can’t totally eliminate your past. No one can. Unless… you somehow come across those memory eraser flashy thingies from Men in Black. Flashbacks will be there. But whether you give up or have a good cry over that or just shrug it off – makes all the difference.

Easier said than done, right?!

Our past is also a teacher!

We all carry lessons from our past which is an amazing thing. It’s how we learn and grow and move forward. Our past weighs us down by shaping our reality. For example, if you tried to ride a bike once and fell off, then tried it again and skinned your knee, it might be easy to say, “I can’t ride a bike.” Which might be true at the moment, and will be true if you give up right then and there. But if you say, “Perhaps I’m just doing it wrong, I need to keep trying” then eventually you will learn how to ride a bike. As long as you don’t trip up on the fact you fell off the bike in the first place, you’ll be fine!

The human mind can feed on negativity (we have actually trained it over the years to do so). Some of us humans love the feeling of having been victimized. We consistently and actively seek out that feeling of sadness and loneliness and failure.

Learn to appreciate what you have before time makes you appreciate what you had.

So the question you’re probably asking is – how to we get rid of those negative emotions and move forward?

Obviously, forgetting is not an option, but forgiving is. When you keep anger bottled up inside you, it is like trying to give someone else poison but slowly killing yourself. You’re filling up your own backpack with rocks! Whether you are forgiving a person or more importantly yourself, there is grief. This grief that can lead to a mountain of guilt. Living with guilt is like driving on an empty highway with your foot on the brake. Think about that for a minute. You’re at a TOTAL STAND STILL.

It’s tough to remember just the good things so remember both – the good and the bad.

So that when you have to shift your mood, you can use the good things you learned to make you feel better. You can bask in the glory of your triumphs over unpleasant situations. And you can use the bad memories as a lesson, in case you ever have the urge to commit the same mistake again.

Life is meant to be understood backwards but lived forward. And know – that you are not alone. Everyone has a past.

And by all means CRY. But decide that every grief gets only one teary moment. Save your tears. Maybe for onions, fresh wounds and beautiful moments when you see magic in life. When you feel loved, and when you succeed.

It’s time to focus on what’s in front of you and commit to moving forward. Stop dwelling in a pit of despair, whining over lost time and missed opportunities. Release the burden of the past and seize today’s opportunity. It’s time for a transformation and to create your best life!

Health, Weight Loss

No Rain, No Flowers 🌻

Seems appropriate for this rainy Michigan morning to share the quote “No rain, no flowers.” Call me crazy but I actually adore the rain. The smell, the sound… I don’t however enjoy being wet so I prefer to enjoy it from inside. I remember as a little girl sitting on our avocado green sleeper sofa staring out the window at the rain. The harder the better.

I know it’s an inconvenience to many. This morning I had to drive my daughter Violet to the bus stop because it was raining so hard and the sidewalks were flooded. I also noticed that our gutter was overflowing and washing out our flowerbed. In the grand scheme of things it’s just water. I can fix the flowerbed. Violet will dry. I mean, her name IS a flower so some rain might have done her some good right? Ha!

There are seasons of life that it may rain a lot, and even seem like the storm is relentless. Honestly, I’m in one of those storms right now. I’ve fought with depression and an anxiety disorder for much of my life. I get panic attacks out of the blue and thankfully I can manage it pretty well. I can’t pinpoint what the exact cause is but I know that stress is a big part of it. This time of year is crazy busy with end of the school year, camping season beginning, company coming and going and our kitchen remodel has been a huge source of stress as well. When it rains it pours right?!

Sometimes the uncomfortable things in life are there to teach us lessons because to go through a change of habit, we need to feel uncomfortable.

— Mo Seetubtim

A life without discomfort, inconvenience or struggles would teach us nothing. Use that discomfort to motivate yourself; to become more determined, work harder, and succeed. Frederick Douglas said, “If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are men who want crops without plowing up the ground; they want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters.” Would you want a life that went 100% as planned and perfect all the time? It’s my belief that you cannot achieve success without hard work, mistakes, plateaus or failure. Or all of the above.

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I love this graphic that shows what a true weight loss journey looks like. My journey to lose half myself (165lbs) was not a straight line. I still have the ups and downs. The emotions are a crazy roller coaster and in my experience with helping others in their health journeys I’m not alone on this ride. I love that I have an amazing community of like-hearted people that share in the struggles on the path to optimal health. We support each other like it’s our job (well it IS my job LOL) in both rain and sunshine.

Flowers don’t grow without rain. It’s no surprise that we need rain to survive and thrive. Flowers see rain as a life-breathing opportunity. They can’t control how little or how much rain comes; they can’t change their roots. They don’t stress about the unknown. They just do their thing and bloom right where they are planted. Why aren’t us humans the same way?

When it rains, let it pour into you as an opportunity for growth. When your sky of life opens up absorb as much as possible and let it cleanse and heal you. Allow it to hydrate your soul, wash away all your fears of failure and help you to flourish.

Since my surgery I have struggled with my own personal health. I don’t weigh myself often but I can feel the heaviness in my body, my clothes are tighter and I just don’t feel good. I know what I need to do. I have all the tools I need to snap out of this funk. I have amazing support with my health coach, husband, friends, and family. Today is the day that I stop letting the rain relinquish life and take back my health!

When rainfall hits your life this week, how can you use it to your advantage? What is your personal action plan for growth, regardless of any unexpected interferences? I challenge you to look for the opportunity to make positive changes in your life to bloom.


Surgery, Uncategorized, Weight Loss

The Surgery

I realized about a week prior to surgery that our kids, who are 10 and 12, had been hearing us talk about “the surgery” for months. They’d watched me food prep for weeks but I wasn’t even sure if they knew WHAT I was having done. We sat them down one evening and just asked, “Do you know what surgery I’m having done?” Our son Nolan thought long and hard about it and said, “Your wrist?” It made me chuckle a little because I hadn’t ever complained of wrist problems but made sense considering I’ve done nails for 26 years. Nail technicians are prone to wrist issues.
I gave it to them straight. Giving them all the details but in ways that they could comprehend and not scare them at the same time. I explained that when you carry excess weight for a lifetime and have big babies (Nolan was 10lbs 1oz and Violet was 9lbs 5oz) that the stomach muscles stretch out and don’t return, it’s very uncomfortable and the only way to fix it was surgery. I never wanted them to think it was their fault so I took most of the blame for mistreating my body for so many years. They remember me at my heaviest and have seen me shrink to half my size and their father lose over 100lbs too. I ensured them that it was a safe procedure and prepared them for the pain I would be in. They understood I would need help standing up at first but it would get easier with time and I’d be better in time for camping season!
My husband Darren had a total knee replacement 8 weeks prior so they were already familiar with the drill. They were so amazing during that time. They were so patient, helpful and understanding. We did a household bootcamp of sorts training them to do their own laundry, empty and load the dishwasher, clean the litter boxes etc… I know, I know, all things they should have been doing anyway. We are less than perfect parents.



Our kiddos have been great through the last 2 weeks and have been super helpful once again and they’ve let me rest. I think our pups have taken it harder actually since they can’t be in our bed until I’ve healed a bit more. “The surgery” has been a roller coaster so far, but so far it’s worth the pain and frustration. I look forward to feeling more comfortable in my own skin and certainly don’t miss the skin infections under my mommy flap!


I Should Sue…

When I began my journey to lose 165lbs (that’s HALF of myself!) no one ever discussed the ramifications. My health coach Salina never once mentioned the fact that I would be replacing every stitch of clothing I own, yes even my socks (I wore plus size socks). She also never told me that I’d have all this hanging skin that would cause all kinds of issues like infections and all the extra effort and garments it takes to shove it all into pants. If you didn’t know already, I’ve scheduled an abdominoplasty (tummy tuck) for exactly a month from today. I’ll have about 2 weeks of hard recovery that I will need around the clock assistance.

When I had my two Carotid Artery Dissections (2 years apart) it was easier to accept help because it was a very sudden and serious medical emergency and obviously had zero time to plan for the 19 days and 6 days I was in the hospital. We gladly accepted the meal train to feed our family, go fund me (which helped supplement all the time off that we both had), housekeeping, laundry etc… but this time feels much different because it’s an elective surgery.

It’s something I’ve been really struggling with and stressing about the past few weeks. We have such little family in the area (mine is out of state) and I am just uncomfortable asking for help in general. People are busy with their own life stuff and I can’t imagine I’ll be the most fun person to hang out with while I’m recovering.

I already had a few close friends lined up for the first few days after Darren goes back to work, but I still had a week that I planned on just winging it and hoping for the best alone. I considered hiring a care taker but it was crazy expensive.

Her words, “Want me to fly out?” warmed my heart and I just couldn’t believe that someone would do that for me. Within the hour she had booked her flight from Tucson to Detroit to stay for the entire second week of my recovery. She is a full time health coach and has the freedom work from anywhere. I am so excited to have her here with me!

Salina has been my rock for the last 21 months of my life. Helping me lose my last 75lbs, somehow managed to talk me into becoming a health coach after repeatedly saying, “No thank you”. A decision I don’t regret it for a second now that I’ve helped hundreds of people lose thousands of pounds. She saw something in me that I never did.

In the process she became one of my best friends. Not many days go by that we don’t chat. Our husbands (who we are convinced are the same person) finally got to meet this past summer and have developed a close friendship as well. It’s so amazing to have people in our lives that truly care and will do anything for you. And darn it, she did this to me in the first place so she should come and help take care of me. She’s lucky I didn’t sue. 😉

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Call Me Selfish. (I dare you!)

Let’s get something straight right up front. I am grateful for this body. This body has produced and birthed 2 amazing children. It survived 2 major life threatening injuries in 2 years and fully repaired itself. The human body is a beautiful vessel that is life giving, resilient and forgiving. I could not be happier than where I am today. There is no BUT here. Just AND.

I made the decision a long time ago that if I reached my optimal weight goal that I would reward myself with a tummy tuck. Losing half my body weight has been a journey in itself but what I didn’t anticipate was the aftermath. The mental battle of entering the maintenance portion of the ride, replacing my entire closet (necessary after going from a VERY tight size 28 to a 6) and the excess skin. Lots and lots of extra skin. Saggy and flappy skin in places I had no idea were possible.

I’ve maintained my “half my size” status for over 6 months now. I went from 321 to 156lbs. That is 165 pounds lost total. I’ve been very transparent along my journey and have not been particularly quiet about my intentions to get plastic surgery. I get a lot of messages about what an inspiration my story is on a daily basis. The most common inquiry is, “how did you do it?!” I also get lots of questions about the loose skin situation. Do I have it? Yep. Responses like, “I’m afraid to lose weight because of the loose skin.” Really?! I would rather be at a healthy weight and have the extra skin! Don’t let the negative ruin all the positive things that happen when you live a healthier life! The positives outweigh the negatives by far. When you lead a healthy life you have more energy, less inflammation, pain relief, mental clarity, less or no medications, less sickness… the list goes on and on.

No, insurance will not cover any of the procedure. Apparently there are 3 criteria for insurance coverage. You must:

  • Have lost 100 pounds or more. (CHECK!)
  • Kept it off for over 6 months. (CHECK!)
  • Had bariatric surgery. (NOPE! All natural here.)

To say I was a bit disappointed to be disqualified for insurance coverage is an understatement. Don’t get me started on the fact that the bariatric surgery itself would have cost more than my tummy tuck, let alone any complications that could arise. I saved them a ton of money for doing it myself and should be rewarded right?!?

Once I forgave the health care system I was able to move forward and begin making plans. There are many reasons for my decision to have a tummy tuck but here are my top 5:

  1. Ewwwww. I’m gross.If you’ve never been obese and lost a substantial amount of weight you aren’t aware of the problems with excess skin. A flap of skin develops in the abdomen area that I’ll call the “apron”. It hangs down and over my girly parts. Then there is the bellybutton that folds into itself. (my stomach folds inward vertically when squeezed into pants). These areas create the perfect environment for yeast growth, infection and horribly painful sores. During the summer it’s exacerbated of course and no amount of showers can solve the issue. Gross right?! I’ve had my dermatologist record all my irritations in hopes it would help my cause when it comes to insurance but unfortunately it doesn’t matter.
  2. Clothes don’t fit right.Image may contain: one or more peopleThis may be vain, but really it’s about my comfort level. The struggle is real though. I’ve got a crazy daily routine just to get into my clothes. Every day I’ve got on several layers just to contain all the skin so I can simply fit into my clothes. I range between a size 6 or 8 depending on the brand and would most likely be a 4-6 without the skin. It’s extremely difficult to find bottoms that fit right to accommodate the excess skin and fit well everywhere else. One day, if I’m brave enough I’ll do a video for my followers to show how on earth I squeeze all my saggy skin in to look semi “normal”. My secret to attempting to hide it all is smoothing camisoles and high wasted shapers (if you haven’t tried Ruby Ribbon’s braless camis and shapers they are crazy good at smoothing and shaping!).
  3. My muscles are shot.So when you’re obese and/or you have kids (I’ve had 2 BIG ones. 10Lbs 1 oz. and 9lbs 5oz.) the abdominal muscles become distended and pull apart, called diastasis. Muscles stretch to accommodate the growing baby when you’re pregnant and they stretch so far that they separate. A million crunches cannot bring them back together and it can only be corrected with surgery. This separation causes discomfort for me if I’m not wearing a support garment. I’ve spent years “sucking it in” to relieve the discomfort and I just don’t want to do it anymore. Luckily this is something that be corrected with the tummy tuck procedure!
  4. I want more self-confidence.I’m not trying to be a swimsuit model. I just want to be comfortable in my own skin. I want my outside to match what I feel on the inside. I have always had a certain amount of confidence but it’s always been overshadowed with feelings of self doubt and shame. I will never be perfect, no one is. I’m always striving for progress and not perfection.
  5. I deserve it!When I reached my 100 pound weight loss I treated myself to a pair of special earrings with 100 stones (50 on each ear) and they’re an excellent reminder of how far I’ve come. While my excess skin is also a reminder of how far I’ve come in my journey, it’s also a reminder of the years I spent abusing my body. Obesity isn’t all physical abuse. It’s mental as well. So this procedure will be for my mental and physical health. I’ve worked so hard to improve my well-being by developing healthier habits (by replacing the unhealthy ones), gaining a healthy relationship with food and adding in healthy movement whenever possible. It’s easier said that done sometimes, trust me! I believe this is the ultimate reward for my consistency and utter persistence.

Do I have fears about going under the knife? Of course I do. The biggest one being my family. We’ve all heard stories of mothers dying during plastic surgery – articles describing children left motherless because their mothers decided to have elective surgery. I did my homework, asked for referrals and visited 3 surgeons before finally choosing one that I fully trust and respect. It came down which one truly had my best interest and safety in mind.

The surgeon I chose is experienced, comes with excellent references and referrals, was the most professional out of the 3, was honest in expectations and is not the cheapest. My favorite part about him was when he personally called me the week after my second consult with him and he had been thinking a lot about my case after I left and he’d changed his mind about doing a combination of procedures we had discussed. He wasn’t comfortable having me under for that long. While I was bummed about having to recover twice, I totally respect him for speaking up and ultimately putting my safety first. I’m not sure either of the other 2 doctors I consulted with would have done the same. I also love what my dermatologist said about him, “His nurses hate working for him because he’s a perfectionist. If he isn’t 100% happy he fixes it until he is.” As a self proclaimed perfectionist I can appreciate that!

So January 15, 2019 at 8am will be this life altering event. This is the next chapter in my journey and I appreciate all the love and support that I’ve received so THANK YOU. I’ll need all the support I can get as the date gets closer!


Not As Seen on TV

It was midnight when I read an email from a friend with an opportunity for pro-bono plastic surgery from a local “celebrity” plastic surgeon. He was looking for deserving candidates for a TV show. I have been 100% transparent in my health journey and had no issues with exposing myself on TV. If I could help just 1 other person I was all in.

I had already looked into seeing this doctor when I was researching surgeons and I knew it was $500 just for a consult with this man. I couldn’t see spending that kind of money for a consult but didn’t see that I had anything to lose by submitting my HUGE weight loss story and seeing what happens.

I sent an email to the supplied address and by the next morning I had a reply from the office manager who gushed over my progress and said what an inspiration I was and she had already forwarded my email to the doctor. By 5pm that night I had a reply directly from the doctor and he was very interested in submitting my case to the show. He asked for pictures (the horror!) and a more detailed story. He wanted me to basically explain why I felt like I deserved this surgery more than someone else (the horror!!). How on earth does one do that when you don’t believe you are more deserving than anyone else? Everyone deserves to be happy and free of what’s holding them back, whether it’s excess skin, emotional baggage or a bad tattoo.

I tried to dig deep. My shovel was dull. I thought about who would be able to help me get my story written in a way that no one could refuse my plea. My long time friend Liz has seen me grow and shrink over the last 10 years and after seeing each other every 2 weeks she knows me pretty darn well. Not to mention she is a brilliant writer. I begged for her help in writing this letter to the doctor:

Dear Doctor,

One chilly February morning I walked the 6 houses back home from dropping my son off at the bus stop. I was exhausted and out of breath. My 4 year old daughter Violet could walk faster than me. I was 321 pounds and terrified. My type 2 diabetic mother and brother were both diagnosed around my age, my father had passed in 2004 from Melanoma and my current situation was grave. I was scared for my kids. I could hardly move to play with them. I avoided activities all the time because of my weight.

I’ve been overweight my entire adult life. I was an overweight child, then an obese teenager with food issues. As an adult it didn’t get any better. For years I struggled with depression and anxiety over the way I looked. On the outside I seemed happy. No one knew the inner struggles I had with myself on a daily basis. I would have done anything to lose the weight. At that point it made me sick to look at myself in the mirror. Pretty ironic for a woman who works in the beauty industry.

I made the decision that day to join Weight Watchers. I immediately went inside the house, signed up and found myself in a seat at a meeting an hour later. It took me over 3 years to lose 100 pounds. It felt amazing to hit that huge milestone but I still had a long ways to go. I prayed that the skin on my belly and arms would tighten but it just hung there. My breasts deflated and I actually started to feel worse about myself.

I started to exercise thinking that healthy movement was the missing link and about 2 weeks into my membership something happened that nearly killed me. During a class (at Jazzercise mind you) I had the first symptoms of what nearly became a stroke. I wound up in the hospital for 19 days with a Carotid Artery Dissection. 2 aneurysms, blood thinners, debilitating headaches and movement restrictions knocked me right down. I was the healthiest I’d been in my entire life and this is what I was rewarded with. Feeling sorry for myself, I gained 10lbs back and had pretty much given up.

A year later I was introduced to a health coach who set me up with a nutrition plan and I quickly got my momentum back and released an additional 72lbs for a total of 162lbs! I also began helping others to get healthy, including my husband. I’ve helped over 100 people lose over 1700 pounds since May 2017. Walking along side my clients has been such an honor and has really helped me to stay on track and move forward in my own health journey. They inspire me every day.

I was feeling so amazing and this past September I received the all clear to exercise after 2 years of recovering from my CAD. I quickly joined a gym and after a week of working out it happened again. My symptoms returned and I wound up in the hospital with a second Carotid Artery Dissection on the opposite side. We weren’t sure if the first one was exercise induced but it was confirmed with this second one that I was officially unable to exercise beyond walking, biking or swimming. Ever. My hopes for toning my flabby body were crushed. I was thrilled and lucky to be alive but nonetheless I was devastated.

I was never looking for a quick fix, which is why gastric bypass wasn’t even an option. I knew that I’d have to change my eating habits regardless so I didn’t see a reason for invasive surgery. The after effects of weight loss coupled with health scares beyond my control are completely demoralizing. I have hanging skin between my legs, saggy boobs, flabby tummy and (what my kids call them) waggling arms. Pants never fit right. Bras have empty space. Shirts are too tight on the arms. I have skin issues no matter how often I shower. It makes it extremely difficult to be intimate with my husband with all the excess skin. My ultimate goal was to get healthier and happier but it seems to be the opposite of what is really happening.

Life is short and I want to be my best self. For 25 years I have dedicated my days to making other women feel beautiful when I myself felt lost within my own body. This has evolved into health and wellness for my family, my own weight loss, and giving myself to others. Even writing this is difficult because I am usually the one to give to others without asking for anything in return. In addition to my gratitude I’d love to be a resource for your patients and anyone else who wants to get healthier and feel better. We are all in this journey together. Whether we are big or small, have extra skin or winkled skin, no matter who we are we just want to feel good in our skin. Shedding my excess skin would be a dream come true and would finally help me to look how I feel on the inside!

Jill Clark  

I reluctantly had my husband take some photos with no clothes on so the doctor could see everything and pass it along to the show with my letter. I put off sending it for a week. I was ashamed and nervous. When I finally hit the send button I became even more nervous. I knew there was a big possibility they wouldn’t even consider me because of the blood thinners that I’m still taking. When I heard back from him he simply said, “Although you have a lot of skin and can benefit from a tummy tuck, my experience is that it is probably not extreme enough. I will be happy to send along though and let you know if you are chosen!”  I’ve lost 162lbs. Not extreme enough?! I was once again devastated. I never heard from him again.

So my story continues and as long as my artery heals enough in the next few months I will be cleared for surgery! My plan is to have a mommy makeover in January of 2019 during my slow time at the salon. For now, onward and upward!





I’m a Unicorn.

Yup. I’m convinced I’m a unicorn.

In September 2017 I had my 2 year post Carotid Artery Dissection (CAD) follow up with my interventional radiologist. He broke up with me that day. He literally said, “We can’t see each other anymore.” I cried a little out of sadness but really was mostly out of pure JOY. My body had healed itself and I was longer in need of his services. I was given the all clear to get off baby aspirin and start exercising again (with some modifications of course). After losing over 140lbs I was ready to tone my flabby bod!

I was feeling so amazing that I joined a gym (which is basically the second biggest commitment of my life next to marriage!). I went 5 times when it happened. A moment that I never saw coming. November 27th, 2017, almost 2 years to the day of my first CAD I had identical symptoms 20 minutes into my workout. First the ocular migraine, an hour later a dull headache that wouldn’t quit. I waited things out thinking there was no way this could be happening again. Carotid Artery Dissections are rare, a second one? Even more so.

The next day after a long discussion with myself about how ridiculous I was being and noticing that my Horner’s Syndrome had returned I drove myself to the ER. A few hours and a CT scan later I was diagnosed with a second CAD but this time it was on the opposite side.

You can see my left eye is droopy and swollen (Horner’s Syndrome)

I was hospitalized for 6 days. I was determined not to let it be the 19 days it was last time. This time I was better educated about blood thinners and how my diet affected the medications. Being away from my family again was tough but I knew everything was going to be OK in the end. Having a prior experience really helped me mentally get through it and stay positive. I was worried about the kids and how they’d react when they heard I was back in the hospital but they handled it well. I had lots of visitors (including #hospitalbff Amy that I met the first time this happened!).

Hospital BFF Amy and I!


Even the kids in Violet’s class made me get well cards! So sweet!

I had some issues with roommates again, rooming with a very sick older person is never easy. I felt really bad for poor Arlene! My headache was excruciating and having a roommate that is hard of hearing is never a good combo. I eventually got moved to another room with a better match. Praise God!

When I showed up in my interventional radiologist’s office the following week he was in utter disbelief (as was I!) that I had a second CAD. I was his first repeat CAD patient (lucky me!). He assured me that the exercise I had been doing was perfectly fine for a 2 year post CAD patient considering my age and health status. This is when I knew that I was special. I had done a little research about genetics playing a part in what I was experiencing and he agreed that it was time to get some answers.

I was immediately referred to a geneticist at University of Michigan. It’s not as easy as calling and getting an appointment either. You have to have a referral with pages and pages of documents, family history, medical records and test results for them to even consider you. You basically have to be something super interesting, like a unicorn.

When I received a call a week later that I had been chosen to receive genetic testing I was ecstatic. Finally, an opportunity to get the answers I had been looking for! I spent hours filling out family genetic history paperwork and bugging my mom every day for more information. I went to the appointment, we chatted a bit about the testing process and they took a vial of blood. The sample was then sent off to California and the 2-3 week wait for results began.

So yesterday was day 20 (not that I was counting!) and I got the call. 24 out of 25 of the connective tissue related genes were negative (normal. Great news!). The one that was abnormal was inconclusive. The COL5A2 gene is associated with Classical Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS). There are many different types of EDS including a vascular type (the worst case scenario) and I had been totally convinced this was what I had. It would explain both of my CADs.

All types of EDS can cause connective tissue fragility. With a badly-constructed or processed connective tissue, some or all of the tissue in the EDS-affected body can be pulled beyond normal limits which causes damage. Connective tissue can be found almost anywhere, in skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments, blood vessels, ARTERIES, organs, gums, eyes etc.

Turns out I do not have the vascular type (that’s one of the 24 that were negative) but I could have the classical type. An inconclusive result means there is something different about that gene but they aren’t really sure what it is yet. I’m headed back to U of M for a physical exam where they were check me out for physical attributes of EDS to maybe get a more definitive answer. I’m also aware that there is a skin biopsy procedure that can help diagnose EDS as well. There is no cure for EDS, just more prevention.

I’m glad to finally be getting some answers and am blessed to not had more abnormal genes but frustrated that nothing is definitive. Time will tell, whether it’s more testing or genetic research that needs to be done. I’m still convinced that I’m a unicorn though. Shiny, colorful and rare.



Health, Weight Loss

Hello Fat Pants.

I was doing some reorganizing in our basement this morning when I came across a huge unlabeled box (the horror!) and discovered it was all “before” clothes. I hate even using the word “fat” when referring to my former self. It isn’t a kind word in any context except when referring to food. I’m all about being kind to myself and others and all but when I see photos of my former self I see a fat girl. A sad girl.

So when I rifled through the box this morning not only did I find my “fat pants” but I also found maternity clothes that I had been wearing because they stretched in every which way to accommodate my growing body. I knew other moms that continued to wear them years after birth who didn’t even have a weight issue so I didn’t see a problem. (So there!)

So when I held up said “fat pants” I first asked myself, “was I REALLY that big?!” Yup. I said, “Hello Fat Pants. We meet again.” This time we met in a totally different context. I recalled that these particular pants while they had a tag that said 26W I was indeed a 28W. I Just had refused to go up yet another size. I wasn’t even sure where I would find a size 28. That was the moment that I knew I had to make a change. A healthy change for my husband. For our children. For MYSELF.

I had fun this morning snapping photos of my now size 10 frame in my “fat pants”.

As I type this I am still on the journey for a healthy weight. I’m 20 pounds a way from a goal I never even dreamed of. Finding the “fat pants” has confirmed how far I’ve come in my own journey. I’ve lost 151lbs which is a whole person! I’ve also helped over 80 people achieve better health and release over 1300 pounds! Holy cow, that’s almost as much as an average cow! (can you tell I’ve been having fun using this cool website??)

I wish I had a photo of me in my “fat pants” but I did everything to avoid the evidence. Though, in that image I would have seen a beautiful sassy diva just screaming to get out! I’m so glad I released her. Saved her life and in turn saved myself.

Goodbye Fat Pants.


If you or someone you know are in need of a life changing health intervention please don’t hesitate to share this post and let’s connect. I am living proof that it’s possible! #h2oUw8n4


I got married today!

I got married today. For like, the 3rd time but this time it’s for REALSIES. It’s a long story but here it goes. We got engaged on one of Darren’s visits in from Michigan in 2005. We had planned a lovely wedding in my California hometown of Livermore for September 23, 2006 where I’d always dreamed of getting married. Ravenswood! I was so busy planning the wedding that I didn’t even realize that there was another plan for me for the next 9 months… Yup. I was pregnant. In November I moved to Michigan as planned but 3 months pregnant (not planned).

I had Blue Cross of California health insurance which ends 6 months after you move out of state so come spring I was going to have to purchase independent health insurance to cover me and the baby until our wedding in September. I thought, “this is silly.” We agreed that getting married now and getting me and our son on his insurance BEFORE he was born would be much smarter way to go. So there we were planning a wedding for February 24, 2006 in Darren’s mom’s living room.

1st wedding
Look at us all shiny and happy!

Darren arranged with his best friend Kurt to marry us. I bought a pretty new outfit for my 6 month pregnant belly, bought a bunch of purple tulips, bought Darren a shiny new tie and we said I do! I even had my mom and aunt on speakerphone in the room so they could “attend” from afar. After, my aunt said, “this is by far the weirdest wedding I’ve ever been to.” Indeed! We signed the all 3 marriage certificates, celebrated with champagne (sparkling cider for me!) and had some snacks. It was perfect!

2nd wedding

In September we had our second wedding in California. It was more of a renewal of our vows of sorts, some guests knew we were legally married already but many of them didn’t. It didn’t really matter to us, it was the celebration we had been planning for almost a year. Nolan was 3 months old and stole the show in his tuxedo. It was an incredible day spent with friends and family that we’ll never forget!

Fast forward 11 years when my mom asked for a copy of our marriage license for a change in the trust account that I had signed with my married name back in the summer. The original forms had been signed with my maiden name so the attorney requested our marriage license. We had no clue where it was. Somewhere in our house. We hadn’t seen it since our first wedding 11 years prior. We dug through the basement, bedroom, garage, office. Couldn’t find it. Our officient couldn’t find his copy either.

I gave up after a couple weeks and ordered a new one through the county website. 5 minutes and $15 later it was done. So I thought. 2 weeks later (and while in the hospital mind you) I received an email from the county that said, “We have no record of your marriage in Macomb County.  The note on the license said it was NEVER used.” Um. Yes it was. I have photos of us holding them!

Apparently the county never received their copy so it was never officially filed. This meant that we weren’t really married. Flashes of our lives, buying a house, cars, life insurance, filing taxes… all of it a lie! We were given an option to have 2 witnesses from that wedding to sign a letter saying we indeed got married. Before we could get those letters done and notarized I found our marriage license copy in a random box in our living room.

So today Darren made us official and submitted the license to the county so it can be officially filed. I had a 5 minute bachelorette party at the salon and we celebrated our 3rd wedding over a text message. Talk about a weird wedding! It feels good to finally be official! #truestory #nolongersingle