The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying… and the Living

When life was still easy!

When life was still easy!


By now, most people have heard of this article.

Palliative care worker, Bronnie Ware, wrote these “Top 5 Regrets of the Dying” as a blog post and it went viral. Millions around the world read it within a year. It hit a nerve… tugged the heart strings. She ended up writing a book about these 5 regrets.

It’s not all that surprising to see what made the list. We’ve heard some variation of these our entire lives, I think. (We just don’t always choose to pay attention!)

I had seen this list awhile ago. Then it re-surfaced when my dad was in assisted living, then in “hospice” care for those final weeks. I didn’t have the gumption to read it then.

I finally re-read it a few days ago and started thinking more and more about it. My mom and dad both had long, slow deaths. I’m sure they both knew what was happening… although we didn’t talk about it 100% directly… we kind of danced around it somewhat… which I can’t really explain. Nor do I care to try.

Nevertheless, seeing this list again made me think about my parents’ experiences with dying, and whether these things on the list were true for them. Were there more regrets? Less? Were there really even regrets at all… or had they accepted and embraced the events and choices of their past? Maybe they just saw some things as “it was the best we could do at the time.”

Regret doesn’t get us very far. It’s right up there with guilt. It doesn’t serve us well – it’s negative and toxic. Not something I would look forward to on my “death bed”. It’s not something I like NOW. And I DO already have regrets. When I hear all the “young” people talking about how they live with no regrets, I’m sometimes impressed, sometimes skeptical, and sometimes I just call flat-out bull poop wondering how on earth you could live this life and not wish you had made a different choice at some point in your history!

Yeah, yeah… I know what you just said. “If we didn’t make the choices of our past, we wouldn’t be living THIS life with these people and these circumstances right now!” Honestly, sometimes I’m OK with that idea!

C’mon. I don’t think that wishing you had done something differently makes you a horrible, weak, or”un-spiritual” person.

However, seeing that there are such commonly expressed regrets of the dying is all the more reason to take a look at life NOW… and see how these common regrets can possibly be ‘corrected’ or avoided.

Here’s the list that Bronnie presented, along with an excerpt from her book.


1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

“This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.”

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

“This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret, but as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence.”

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

“Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.”

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

“Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying.”

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

”This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.”


moms hospital room

I know for my mom, she probably wished she had expressed herself a bit more. I think she had a pretty thick scar on that tongue of hers from biting it so often!

The day before she passed, she really wanted to share 2 things:

1) She really urged me to “just enjoy my children… truly enjoy them.”

2) If you want to “be happy”, you have to “choose” to be happy… over and over, no matter what.

In hindsight, I’m sure the advice on children had to do with her losing her son, my brother, at an early age. And maybe from her perspective, she didn’t spend enough time with me because she worked so much… BUT, it’s interesting, I don’t see it that way. My mom was always there, or I was (almost) always with her at work.

The choosing happiness part, again, resulted from her losses in life. She told me that this was how she eventually recovered from the loss of her child.  She consciously decided to “choose happiness because it just felt better to live that way.”

I don’t know about regrets with my mom. She never mentioned them. She seemed to be happy for the 39 years I knew her, although I know she was so sad to be “leaving”… and missing Dad, me, and those cherished grandchildren of hers.


mom with grandkids

I also recently discovered that there may have been another child before my mom met my dad. Maybe she had some regrets there. I don’t know because she never spoke of giving a child up for adoption.


mom dad wedding


With my dad, I know he regretted working so much. He worked his entire life up ’til a year before he passed. In the final years, though, he “had to”. Which leads to something else I think he regretted – some of the financial decisions he made. Even in his final weeks, when his mind was ‘failing’ (?), he would express stress over finances… and work.

With both of my parents, I’m sure they regretted not being there with my brother the day he drowned. But, really… what on earth are you going to do with that?! Accidents happen. I’m not sure where they stood with that on their ‘death beds’. I’m just glad they’re all together again.

Dad regretted not traveling more. It was one of his great passions. When Mom got sick, they had to put plans on hold. After Mom died, and his health was getting worse, he really wanted to see a few of the places that topped his list. Unfortunately, by then, his funds were drying up from all the medical expenses… and then he just couldn’t get around as easily. I hope he has the perfect view of Alaska now. And Europe. And the Wellington Canal! (Really.)

I’m sure he had some regrets about his (lack of) relationship with his siblings. I know he regretted not being “nicer” to my mom at times… although he loved her passionately, sometimes we’re tough on those we love the most. Or so I’ve heard.

I don’t know if either of my parents had any regrets regarding their health. I mean, I’m sure they “wished” they didn’t have cancer. But I don’t know if either regretted certain treatment choices they made or didn’t make. They never mentioned it.


dad in hospital

I already have regrets. Maybe that’s not even the right word, after all. Maybe it’s just… “I already have a list of things I wish had gone differently or wish I had made different choices about.” It’s just a word. The feelings are probably quite similar. Part of me thinks that, the longer you live, the more “stuff” happens… and you might not always have the most pleasant feelings about it!

I regret that I “have to” work so much at this stage of the kids’ lives. I regret that we haven’t traveled as much as I’d like while the kids were/are young. I regret that I didn’t spend more time relaxing with and talking with my dad this past summer. I regret that I’ve lost touch with some people over the years. I regret that I’m not more independent in some areas. I regret that I’ve taken the path of being a “pleaser” and putting other people’s feelings before my own. I regret allowing the circumstances to develop that lead me to feel unappreciated. I regret feeling afraid to speak my mind. I regret some of the big financial decisions we’ve made. I sometimes regret that I trusted some people that should not have been trusted and looked the other way when I shouldn’t have… but I’m working on that one. Forgiveness is a tough pill sometimes!

(Mind you, my list of GREAT things is much, much longer!)

So what can we do to live a life that brings us to the end of the road with no regrets?

Clearly, I don’t have the answer! Although, I think part of the solution is to cut ourselves some slack.

I feel that, right here, right now, there ARE some things that just have to get done. There ARE some things that have to be put off. It’s not always “settling” or “living in tomorrow”. Sometimes, it just is what it is. I think what’s most important is who we ARE given our current circumstances. Are we being the best version of our highest selves? Are we loving God and loving others? Are we simply just trying to be a good person and be good to others? Are we consistently painting the vivid picture in our mind’s eye of what we truly desire… and doing our best to feel good and stay positive, grateful, and optimistic? Are we at least getting it “right” most of the time? Some of the time?

I’m working on forgiving myself for poor choices of the past and embracing the moment now, as best I can… even when the “now” doesn’t feel all that great sometimes. When I can change it, I will. If I can ‘control’ it, I do. Either way, I choose to have faith… and I choose to be happy. Thankfully, I’ve become better and better at creating “moments” with my kids – realizing that will all go away too quickly. I’m doing what I can to make NOW as good as it can be.

Why wait until we’re “dying” to intentionally create a life that avoids the most common regrets?


mom dad me walkathon



Dr. Colleen Trombley-VanHoogstraat (“Dr Mom Online”) is a popular personality in Natural Health & Wellness. She is a Doctor of Chiropractic with 20 years of hands-on clinical experience in the Wellness Practice she shares with her husband, Dr. Marc VanHoogstraat, in Michigan. She is also the proud home schooling mom of two rather fabulous youngsters.

Her unique perspective of the science of Wellness  provides predictable solutions and transformational results for those struggling with chronic health issues, as well as those seeking lifelong health. To discover her simple strategies for creating better health through nutrition, movement and mindset, regularly visit http://DrMomOnline.com and

Also, check out her available books at .

For more information about working privately with Dr. Colleen and Dr. Marc in an Investigative & Functional Health Recovery Program for any number of metabolic and health issues, such as thyroid imbalance, weight loss resistance, hormonal imbalance, food sensitivity & gut permeability, autoimmune conditions, cellular detoxification, mercury detoxification, and more, please contact Dr. Colleen directly at or Personalized distance programs are available.








Life Lessons: How To Become Successful

success, career choice, education, healthcare, motivation

Recently, our daughter has been asking questions about higher education, career choices, and what it takes to be “successful” in life. She’s 11. On the one hand, I think, “Just enjoy being a kid… don’t worry about it!” On the other hand, it’s never too early to start co-creating your ideal life, right?

Her questions have gotten me thinking about all the great advice I’ve received in one way, shape, or form from mentors over the years. It’s been a good review for me.


success, career choice, education, healthcare, motivation

“What’s Your Target? What Are You Passionate About?”


The first thing we needed to get straight was what she considered to be “successful” – what did that target look like to her? Were we just talking about financial abundance (because 11 year old kids are all over that!)? Or did she recognize that there must be more?

Her basic tenets regarding a successful future included her overall happiness and peace, as well as financial abundance, freedom, and success. She talked about feeling “content” in the world and giving back as much as she can. She talked about raising a happy, healthy family, and having lots of fun… enjoying it all as much as she can.

Cool beans – that’s a nice target to aim for, I’d say.


One of the most important keys to happiness & success:

We talked about how, for now, many of her “life decisions” are being made for her by her father and me… but not all. I explained how critical it is to understand that only YOU are in charge of your emotions, your reactions, and your attitude. Only YOU can decide to be happy. Nobody can take that away. Happiness is internally motivated… and shouldn’t be dependent upon external factors.

I also explained that, once she’s and adult, that level of responsibility shifts into an even higher gear. Again, only YOU are responsible for where you are. It’s not someone else’s fault when something doesn’t go your way, and it’s not someone else’s job to solve your problems – not your boss, not your employee’s, not your spouse, not your friends, not the government, not even mom & dad (although we will always support her, of course!).

Her future is her responsibility.

My future is my responsibility.

While this may sound harsh to some, I actually think of it as a gift. The more discipline we have in this area, the more freedom we feel in return. The sooner we get that WE are responsible for our happiness and success, the sooner things really start to kick into gear.

Next, she wanted to know about choosing a career path and how to ensure it’s a successful path.

Well, crystal ball aside, there are some core points that are likely to lead us toward a successful working life.


“When you do right enough, long enough, the end results become predictable.”


Here’s what I’ve learned from mentors over the years on this topic of choosing a career path:

1) What are you interested in? Better yet, what are you passionate about?

2) Is it essentially “right” and “good”? Does it add value? Does it help the world &/or the people in it in some way? Does it solve a problem? Does it NOT cause harm or break your moral code (or the law!) in any way?

3) Is it a viable field? Can you actually be financially secure in this field… enough to take care of yourself, save, and help others?

If these 3 initial questions check out fine, then TAKE ACTION!

It’s time to study your craft. Learn everything you can about it. Learn from “masters” in the field. Develop your skill. Hone it. Practice. Train. Continue to learn. Set benchmarks to work toward. Then set the next level of benchmarks once you’ve achieved the first. Sharpen your sword. Seek opportunities and take (calculated) risks in order to get better and give better.

So, now you’re in an expanding field that you (hopefully) love and are excited about, and you’re developing valuable skills and contributing to the overall dynamic of that field. That’s how you begin earning your rewards – it’s for adding value. You have a plan and you’re working that plan.

Pretty simple, when you put in those terms.


The plan may need to be tweaked here and there when roadblocks appear. I’ve found that faith, optimism, intuition, ingenuity and creativity play enormous roles over the long haul and when the goin’ gets tough!

However, if we’re doing “good” and “right”, with a high level of skill that we’ve worked for, in a viable field that helps the bigger picture in some way, it’s virtually impossible to not find success. When you get knocked down, get back up and resume. If you’re on target, it’ll work. If you’re slightly off target, make the necessary tweaks, and get back to it.


Sometimes it’s a straight line, choosing your path…

For example, I always loved the areas of health, sports, helping others, and teaching. I wasn’t 100% clear on the exact career or profession I’d like to be in (medicine, physical therapy, athletic training, etc.), but I went ahead and chose my general area of interest to study in university anyhow.


“Ready, Fire, Aim!”

health, nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, weight loss, detoxification

Healthy Living through Nutrition, Exercise, Stress Reduction, Weight Loss, & Detoxification

I chose an undergraduate program in Applied Kinesiology & Exercise Physiology that was science and health based, very much interested me, and offered many options for launching-off points in the end.

Along the way, I was introduced to Chiropractic… and I knew. I immediately fell in love with the investigative process… digging for the cause of the problem, rather than treating the symptom with drugs and surgery.

I enrolled in the next level of school to become a Doctor of Chiropractic. I studied and did what I needed to do to earn the degree and open our practice.

That’s when the REAL learning began!

Since beginning practice, we have studied and trained more than we could have ever imagined back in school, and I wouldn’t have it any other way! “Studying” for real life application is far more rewarding than studying to simply pass the next test!


So, there’s and real-life example of the overall formula for success at play:

  • I love natural health
  • Natural, drug-less healthcare is a viable field
  • I took action and moved forward in the field
  • What I do (and this field in general) adds value to the world
  • Chiropractic, specifically, is based upon principles that are very important to me and are “right” and “good”
  • Countless people benefit as a result
  • I study, train, and continue to sharpen the sword
  • I take chances and calculated risks in order to get better, provide better service, and reach more people.
  • I learn from Masters ahead of me
  • I have mentors
  • I give my focused best in the moment, and am genuine and sincere when connecting with people.


“Right enough… long enough…”


Even when it seems like a straight shot like this, we still need to stay on our toes and stay sharp. The game can change… and you’ve got to be ready to adapt!

That’s why the ongoing study and training are so critical. We can always get better… provide better service, skill, and performance… become a better person… treat others better.

As I told our daughter, sometimes, choosing a career path won’t be so obvious. That’s OK. It might take a few careers to find the right one. Or, life can be made up of many careers that all serve a purpose and add tremendous value to the world.

(Of course, there’s another “career” choice all together… the one centered on raising a family and running an entire household. Arguably, the most important career we could ever possibly choose. The “paycheck” is of a different sort, in this case!)

There’s more than one way to do this dance!

The key is in adding value and being rewarded for your time and skill… as well as reaping the rewards of feeling fulfilled, happy, and grateful at the end of the day, knowing you’ve delivered your best, been the best person in the process, and sharing it all with people you love and who love you.

That’s success.


What would you add to the equation? What do you feel is important to know, or do, in order to become successful?



Dr. Colleen Trombley-VanHoogstraat (“Dr Mom Online”) is a leading authority figure in Natural Health & Wellness. She is a Doctor of Chiropractic with 18 years of hands-on clinical experience in the Wellness Practice she shares with her husband, Dr. Marc VanHoogstraat, in Michigan. She is also the proud (home schooling) mom of two rather fabulous youngsters.

Her unique perspective of the science of Wellness  provides predictable solutions and transformational results for those struggling with chronic health issues, as well as those seeking lifelong health. To discover her simple strategies for creating better health through nutrition, movement and mindset, regularly visit http://DrMomOnline.com and

Also, check out her available books at .

For more information about working privately with Dr. Colleen and Dr. Marc in an Investigative & Functional Health Recovery Program for any number of metabolic and health issues, such as thyroid imbalance, weight loss resistance, hormonal imbalance, food sensitivity & gut permeability, cellular detoxification, and more, please contact Dr. Colleen directly at or Distance programs are available.





Childhood Injuries & Vaccinations

healty children, childhood injury, childhood illness, vaccinations

It was the dreaded phone call no parent wants to receive… ever!

(Here’s an oldie-but-goodie – a post I did on the original DrMomOnline site approximately 6 years ago. Cracked me up, so I wanted to share it again!)

healty children, childhood injury, childhood illness, vaccinations

Yesterday we got a call from our daughter’s school… actually I missed the call when it came in, but checked my message immediately. It went like this, “Hi Colleen. This is ____ from school. (Your daughter) has been in an accident, has cut open her head and is bleeding pretty badly. She needs you.”

Holy crap! There is nothing that compares to the intensity of emotions that a parent feels when their child has been hurt, or is ill.

Thank GOD my husband was home at the time… I think I would have had a heart attack, had he not been there! We woke our son up from his nap (which is always a lovely experience!), stuck him in his car seat, and drove like h-e-double-hockey-sticks to get to her school at warp speed.

A little background: this is the THIRD time in a year and a half that this kid has split her head open!!! Unbelievable! I swear, anytime I hear a scream or a cry in a room full of children, I automatically assume that it’s most likely my daughter!

Makes me wonder what on earth the adult supervisors are doing at recess while all these shenanigans are going on. Hmmm…

I digress.

Anyhow, ultimately, she’s fine. This time, they were able to “glue” her. Good thing – I’m sure I would have passed out if I had to watch the whole needle into her forehead and stitches thing again! Not my area of strength!

Some ‘funny’ things happened during this little adventure with her yesterday.

First, it was her third time at this emergency clinic… and her fourth time at any doctor’s office or clinic since birth. She’s almost 6.

(Yes, we took her to “the clinic”. This is the time we believe conventional medicine helps the most – in crisis and emergency care. Not in “health care” or in the recovery from chronic illness. Just sayin’.)

She went to see a family doc we personally know when she was one. We took her in to confirm that she had Rubella… and wanted a 2nd opinion about whether or not we should proceed with our plans to travel by air to a seminar the following day. He confirmed that it was indeed Rubella… “most likely contracted by exposure to another child who had been recently vaccinated”. He agreed with us that she was absolutely fine to travel, as the virus was already passing through her system quite efficiently. No treatment of any sort – more like a visit with a trusted friend.

Interesting, he also commented on how lucky she was to have contracted this… “Now she’s immune for life… easy! 3 days from beginning to end for the virus to pass through the body, then you’re done! I don’t know why we vaccinate for this.”

Smart man.

So, when we started this little parade of head injury trips nutrition, diet, healthy foodto the emergency clinic, we had to deal with the shock, disbelief, disdain, and disapproval of everyone involved in the process – from check in, to consultation, to examination and treatment, to check out.

We just laugh now! We’re used to it.

The dialogue usually goes something like this:

“Immunizations up to date?”
“Excuse me?”
“No. She has no vaccinations.” (The pen goes down, the head comes up. The look of confusion appears! The entire consultation comes to a screeching halt… and we’re only 15 seconds into it… this is gonna’ be interesting!)

“What, you don’t believe in immunizations?” {Insert sarcastic, sassy tone here. And we’re 21 seconds in…}
“Oh, no. We believe vaccinations are real. We choose not to give them to our children.”
“Do you care to explain?”

(Believe me, we could give you a 12 hour scientific dissertation reviewing and dissecting every shred of evidence [and lack thereof] and research pertaining to vaccines and their entire progression throughout history… but our daughter might bleed to death in the process! We’re not trying to pick a fight here … can we stop talking about this now???)

“Hmm… “ (Head goes down. Writing begins.)
“Immunizations are very, very important you know.”
“We’ve done our research and choose not to. We’re here to have her injury treated, that’s all.”
“So, I suppose you don’t want a tetanus shot for the open wound she has, either?” (not the most approving tone at this point.)
“No thank you. Just proper wound cleaning, then whatever she needs – stitches or glue.”

“OK. What about previous medical history? Any problems?”
“What medications does she take?”
“None.” (Suspicious eyes comes up from the paper again…)
“Any allergies to medications?”
“None that we know of. .. she’s never taken any.”

(They’re now certain that we have stepped right off another planet!! Guess what? We feel the same!)

We add, “She has never needed any.” (hoping to make the note-taker feel better!)

… the interrogation goes on for awhile… we’re pretty sure the note-taker has pressed a secret button under the desk to have the police and child protective services come and take us away!!!

Fast forward to dismissal instructions. “If she asks for it, or looks mopey, give her Motrin.” My daughter begins to question me… I ‘shush’ her and say “I’ll tell you later.”

Moments later, when we’ve been released, she asks, “What’s Motrin?” I tell her. She says, “Why would I give my body drugs when it’s already injured and working so hard to heal?” I say, “I’m sure there’s a time and a place for Motrin honey… I just can’t think of it off the top of my head.” She asks if we even have any. Nope.

On our way out, we walked by the vending machine in the waiting room. My daughter turns to me and asks, “Mommy, isn’t it mostly sick or injured people who come here?” I answer affirmatively. She astutely observes, “Then they shouldn’t have all that junk here for those people to eat. How can their bodies heal properly if they’re putting all that junk in?”

Well spoken, little Scar Face! I say, “Someday, when you rule the world, you can fix all that!”



By the way, have you noticed how we’ve been home schooling for over 5 years now? And, check this out… NO head injuries!!

(Well, except for ME banging my head against the wall on occasion!)


health, nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, detoxification, weight loss


Dr. Colleen Trombley-VanHoogstraat (“Dr Mom Online”) is a leading authority figure in Natural Health & Wellness. She is a Doctor of Chiropractic with 18 years of hands-on clinical experience in the Wellness Practice she shares with her husband, Dr. Marc VanHoogstraat, in Michigan. She is also the proud (home schooling) mom of two rather fabulous youngsters.

Her unique perspective of the science of Wellness  provides predictable solutions and transformational results for those struggling with chronic health issues, as well as those seeking lifelong health. To discover her simple strategies for creating better health through nutrition, movement and mindset, regularly visit http://DrMomOnline.com and

Also, check out her available books at .

For more information about working privately with Dr. Colleen and Dr. Marc in an Investigative & Functional Health Recovery Program for any number of metabolic and health issues, such as thyroid imbalance, weight loss resistance, hormonal imbalance, food sensitivity & gut permeability, cellular detoxification, and more, please contact Dr. Colleen directly at or Distance programs are available.


Motherhood ~ It’s The Best “Dirty” Job!

My Angel.


My Angel.


So, it’s Mother’s Day.

The day of the year when I never know quite what to expect of my emotions! It’s a day when my thoughts are all over the place as I remember, reflect, and refresh.

This is the sixth year without my mom here. And our last Mother’s Day together, she was in the hospital, having just been told that her cancer had spread beyond the breast, to her bones and elsewhere.

Even though I had a good solid cry this morning on my walk (completely freaking out the dog!) thinking of all the things that “might have been” if mom was still here, over time, I find more and more to appreciate as I remember my mom and our relationship.


On Mother’s Day we hear a lot about the “sacrifices” that moms make.

I guess they could either be looked at as sacrifices, or as opportunities to bless our families and honor our Creator.

Sure. Easy for me to say right now while things are calm, children are well fed and playing, and we’re in no hurry to be anywhere today! Ask me on those days I’m trying to write, home school, cook, clean, work out, go to work, and then rush home to cook and clean some more! I have been known to sing a different tune. {sigh}

‘Tis the nature of the beast, I suppose.


I heard someone say today that only ONE person has ever made a bigger sacrifice than mothers do. Whoa… never quite considered it from that perspective before.

It can certainly feel like we have to make sacrifices with our time, our careers, our money, our attention, our sleep, our hobbies, our free time (ha!), even our health and appearance sometimes, in order to put our children first.

We can end up feeling like unappreciated maids, nurses, chauffeurs, cooks, tutors, and even doormats!

And then I remember… I was given these people as a gift to care for, to nurture, to guide, to comfort, and even to serve and do the “mundane” things for that make a nice home for raising a nice family.

It’s because of these things that I appreciate my mom more and more with each passing year as I fumble with my own motherhood.


So, we all know the “lofty” things that moms sacrifice for the sake of our families. Sometimes, they’re not always so lofty, though… they may be things that aren’t such a big deal to us, or just things that need to get done and somebody’s gotta’ do, so why not mom?!

I started thinking about what kids might see through their perspective.

My daughter recently had a gag attack when she saw me cleaning out the drain trap in the kitchen sink! It’s a daily event… but I guess she had never seen it done. “Ewwww… Why do you have to do that?? That is so totally GROSS!!”

I remember thinking the same thing when I was a kid… and a teenager… and, OK, a twenty-something, too! I remember my mom cleaning out the kitchen drain trap in THIS house that I’ve lived in as a grown-up! Embarrassing.


When I commented on all the gross jobs she does around the house, I clearly recall her telling me, “Oh, it’s not gross. You’ll do these things too once you’re a mom… something just changes!”

(I had temporarily decided not to have children, if that was what I could anticipate!)


When I became a mom, suddenly a whole new world opened up. It was the world of “all the gross things that need to be done and cleaned now because I am raising children in this home!” Mom was right.

I am a Mom.

Therefore, I am:

  • the bug squisher or chaser away-er
  • the toilet (and surrounding area!) scrubber
  • the vomit cleaner-upper (and sheet changer, if necessary)
  • the nose and ear cleaner outer
  • the toe nail cleaner and trimmer
  • the teeth flosser
  • the shower floor scrubber
  • the back of the closet cleaner
  • the bee sting reliever
  • the bloody nose stopper
  • the sliver puller outer
  • the dog drool and vomit cleaner upper
  • the stain and spill scrubber
  • the dog poop in the treads of shoes cleaner upper
  • the under the couch and couch cushions cleaner
  • the eater of the burnt piece of food so that her family can have the ‘good’ pieces… or the one who takes the smallest piece so there are ‘good’ sizes for everyone else

And on… and on!

The moms I know would put their lives on the line for their kids. It’s not all about throw up and bathroom grossness!

My mom made her own kind of sacrifice when she didn’t tell anyone she had found a large lump in her breast in March or April of 2005.  I’m sure she must have been frightened… terrified.

But, she didn’t want to upset ME! Can you believe that?!

If you’re a mom, I’m sure you can.

I was in my final weeks of pregnancy with our son, and she didn’t want to rock my boat. Unbelievable. She didn’t even go to a doctor (or tell anyone) for another 4 months.

She was right. It did rock my boat like nothing else when I found out.

Moms know their kids. The bonds between mothers and their children are like no other. The love of a mother is fierce, and so are her protective instincts.

(Dads are incredible in their own right, there’s no doubt)


The day before she passed, when I asked my mom what she wanted me to do (in my future), said two things:

“I want you to choose to be happy… be truly happy. And, I want you to enjoy your children. I mean really enjoy your children.”

At the time, I didn’t fully grasp the “enjoy your children” part. The kids were young and we hadn’t had many struggles yet.


In the years since, I’m beginning to understand why she emphasized that! It’s not always easy. It’s not the most glamorous job on earth, and the paycheck is nowhere to be found. There is frustration, and hurt, and regret, and guilt, and tears.

But, there is a love unlike any other. There are bear hugs and belly laughs. There are accomplishments, growth, independence, and proud moments. There is immense gratitude.

I wouldn’t trade it for anything… ever.

It is THE highest compliment to be called “Mom”.

Happy Mother’s Day!



Dr. Colleen Trombley-VanHoogstraat (“Dr Mom Online”) is a leading expert in Natural Health & Wellness. She is a Doctor of Chiropractic with 18 years of hands-on clinical experience in the Wellness Practice she shares with her husband, Dr. Marc VanHoogstraat, in Michigan. She is also the proud (home schooling) mom of two rather fabulous youngsters.

Her unique perspective of the science of Wellness  provides predictable solutions and transformational results for those struggling with chronic health issues, as well as those seeking lifelong health. To discover her simple strategies for creating better health through nutrition, movement and mindset, regularly visit http://DrMomOnline.com and

Also, check out her available books at .

For more information about working privately with Dr. Colleen and Dr. Marc in an Integrative Health Recovery Program for any number of metabolic and health issues, such as thyroid imbalance, weight loss resistance, hormonal imbalance, food sensitivity & gut permeability, cellular detoxification, and more, please contact Dr. Colleen directly at Distance programs are available.











14 Simple Things That Make a Big Difference




Each year around this time, I like to take a look at how I’m doing with plans and commitments once the brew-ha-ha over the New Year has settled down.

I’ve been reflecting upon recent months to see what’s working for me, and what makes my life better.

I’ve come up with a list of simple choices I make that keep me healthy, happy, productive, and (somewhat) sane. Some of these are more recent changes or improvements. Some have been there for awhile.

Either way, these are the 14 Simple Things That Make a Big Difference in my time & productivity, health, and family life.

Time & Productivity:

I recently wrote this post about Getting More Done in Limited Time. You might want to check that out, too.

1. One of the most significant changes I made in my schedule in the past few months was to increase the length of my “Power Hours”. This is my dedicated, focused time I spend working on me and my various projects for a few hours every morning before anyone else is up. I can’t tell you the difference this has made in my productivity and stress reduction. I cherish this time.

2. I’m big on writing things down and having a plan. For the past few years, I’ve been playing around with online planners, a planner on my phone, and smaller planners to save money and space. This year I’m back to my favorite “2 pages per day” planner and am happy once again! Having a system that really works for me helps on so many levels – I’m able to clearly keep track of all the “stuff” in my life and the various roles I need to play each day. My brain is more at ease this year. : )

3. Speaking of planning and productivity, one ritual I have that really works for me is to use my planner to plan ahead (duh!), as well as look back. In addition to big plans on an annual and quarterly basis, at the beginning of each month I like to get very specific with what my major focus is, and what my major action steps will be each week in order to accomplish this.

I also look back at the previous month to see what’s still hanging out there, incomplete. I bump it into the current month, providing it’s still relevant. For me, the magic has been in looking at things a month and a week at a time. (I go into more detail about the beauty of the plan in one of my books, “Create a Fulfilling Life by Nourishing Your Relationships and Priorities”.)

4. Since my head is constantly spinning with ideas for topics I’d like to write about or teach about, I carry my planner and/or digital recorder with all the time. I’ve “written” several books while out for a run and speaking my thoughts into my recorder, then uploading it later. I also recently (finally) began using Dragon Naturally Speaking to help me streamline the process of writing.

5. Maybe not the most profound thing you’ll read in this list, but a major time saver for me is to “cook once, eat twice”. I won’t go as far as to say I’m a master meal planner, by any means. But I do depend on this simple practice of cooking a healthy meal once, then saving portions of it for upcoming breakfasts or lunches. This saves me tremendous time and makes it easier to offer healthy options at those meals, too.



6. I made a commitment to myself over a year ago to intentionally move every day. Most of the time I do an “official” workout, either resistance training or some form of cardio training, or a combination of the two. I also throw in “lighter” days where I’ll just do stretching and spinal hygiene exercises, or walking, or jumping on the trampoline with the kids, or yoga, etc. Motion is Life.

7. Almost a year ago, I stopped having grains with breakfast and started having vegetables instead. There have been a few times that I’ve added a piece of sourdough bread, but not too often. I feel a difference when I keep it clean with just the veggies along with healthy protein and fats.

8. Many days, I have a liquid lunch. No, not that kind! Particularly on the days I go into the practice, I like to make a smoothie for lunch. I don’t do a lot of fruit in my smoothies to keep sugar in check, but I like to add veggies and “super foods”, as well as protein powder, probiotics, fish oil, and some other key nutrients. I feel like I’ve done something important for my overall health going into the second half of my day, while keeping the caloric intake low so that I have more energy.

9. We started doing the 3-day Suero Cleanse each month. It’s a cultured whey beverage, loaded with essential probiotics and structured water to begin a simple detoxification at a cellular level. We do a more comprehensive detox that addresses all 7 detox pathways in the body, too, but we only do that once or twice a year. This monthly Suero Cleanse is a great way to maintain a healthy “inner terrain” along the way.


10. One of the most significant health changes I made in recent months was to stop drinking alcohol. I wanted to prove a point to myself about self-discipline, so I stopped having a glass of wine with dinner &/or while I was preparing it. But, I’ve been pleasantly surprised to experience the other benefits that have accompanied this choice. My sleep has dramatically improved, as well as my focus, clarity, and energy the next day. And, it’s certainly not like I was a “lush” before! It’s amazing the big impact such a small choice has made. I know there will come a time when I choose to enjoy a nice glass of wine again. I’m fine with that. For now, I’m enjoying the benefits and feelings of not drinking far more.

11. I cut out coffee, too, for months at a time. However, in recent months, when we are drinking coffee, I’ve started drinking “Bulletproof Coffee“. My brain is happier and I feel better about that cuppa’ Joe!



12. I continue to re-commit to practicing PTC with my kids – Present Time Consciousness, or enjoying the NOW. We are together ALL the time on this little home schooling adventure of ours, so it can wear thin some days. But I do regularly give my head a good shake and re-commit to being intentional about my parenting and the time I spend with them. This is only one season of our lives, so I remind myself to fully enjoy this one while it’s here. I know it goes all-too-fast.

13. Again, nothing profound for most of you, but sometime last year, out of frustration and an acute case of “doormat-itis”, I raised the bar for my family. I pointed out that there are 4 people creating clutter, eating healthy meals that require time in the kitchen, using the bathroom, wearing clothes that need to be laundered, enjoying our pet, adding to the trash cans, and living in our home that acquires dust and debris. It is not just ME doing all these things, therefore, I no longer accepted the role of being the only one to do anything about it, dagnabbit.

I know this about myself: a clean(er) home makes me feel significantly more peaceful and relaxed. (Sheesh, you’d think they’d be all over the tidying up thing just for that reason alone, wouldn’t you?!)  : )

14. A mental shift I’ve made this school year with the kids is to focus more on “Adventure vs. Algebra”.  At this point in my life (and schedule), I can’t be that mom who sits down and provides a classical education for my kids, and has everything perfectly scheduled for the day. I choose to be OK with that. We regularly cover what I consider to be the core basics (math, reading, writing, science, history, geography, etc.), then spend the rest of our time living “real life” lessons, learning new skills, and having fun adventures together. Every few months I need to remind myself that my kids are turning out just fine!

* * *

So, there it is. Those are the basics that make up the big picture for me… and make it all work out in the end. (Sure, there are a gazillion other things that regularly come into play, especially with the family dynamic… but these are some of the biggies.)

How about YOU? What would you add to the list? What works for you?





Dr. Colleen Trombley-VanHoogstraat (“Dr Mom Online”) is a leading expert in Natural Health & Wellness. She is a Doctor of Chiropractic with 18 years of hands-on clinical experience in the Wellness Practice she shares with her husband, Dr. Marc VanHoogstraat, in Michigan. She is also the proud (home schooling) mom of two rather fabulous youngsters.

Her unique perspective of the science of Wellness  provides predictable solutions and transformational results for those struggling with chronic health issues, as well as those seeking lifelong health. To discover her simple strategies for creating better health through nutrition, movement and mindset, regularly visit http://DrMomOnline.com and

Also, check out her available books at .

For more information about working privately with Dr. Colleen in an Integrative Health Recovery Program for any number of metabolic and health issues, such as thyroid imbalance, weight loss resistance, hormonal imbalance, food sensitivity & gut permeability, cellular detoxification, and more, please contact her directly at Distance programs are available.
























9 Tips for Getting More Done In Limited Time

time in the sky
- MattW - / / CC BY-NC-ND


Like so many of us, I’m a bit busy.

I liken it to having many plates spinning and wearing several different hats.

I divide my time and focus among my family, home schooling, our practice, writing, DrMomOnline, “virtual” coaching, exercise & personal health-related stuff, social stuff, domestic stuff, kids’ activities, and the general care & feeding of my family.

I was having this conversation recently with another woman who asked, “How do you fit it all in?”

I’m always uncomfortable when someone asks me this… and somewhat embarrassed.

I DON’T fit it all in.

Partially because I don’t even attempt to… and partially because I just stink at getting certain things done!

However, I know how to accomplish what I choose to accomplish… at least most of the time.

(I often say that our house would be much cleaner and I’d have all sorts of domestic projects under my belt if I didn’t spend so much time on health-related things, outdoors-y things, and work things. Guess that goes to show where my priorities are!)

Anyhow, her question got me thinking…

We all have 24 hours each day, so the “limited time” phrase in the title can be misleading. It’s more accurate to say that the more plates you spin and hats you wear during certain seasons of your life, the more limited your time may be in each of those roles. At least that’s true for me.

What I know to be true for me is that with all the plates and hats going on, I’d better be proactive in creating a schedule that allows me to maximize my time spent in each of those roles.

This isn’t all about “accomplishing the most” and checking lots of things off a to-do list each day just for the sake of doing so. For me, it’s about creating a fulfilling life, serving God and others, being present, enjoying my family and the people around me, and “bringing home the bacon” through things I’m passionate about in the process!

So, I began reflecting on some of the tips and strategies I’ve picked up over the years that have helped me become a more productive person.

I spent over a decade of my adult life training with one of my mentors in particular. It was through him that I learned many of my most valuable lessons in living intentionally and accomplishing what I set out to accomplish.

Here are 9 of the most important time management and productivity principles he, and subsequent teachers, taught me:

1) I need to be clear on what my priorities in life are: my most important relationships and roles that need regular nurturing.

2) I need to say “no” to many things (especially time stealers) in order to be able to say “yes” to the things that are most important right now.

I have to draw certain lines in the sand when it comes to my commitments. Everyone around me suffers when I take on too much. This area is a work in progress! It can be tough when you own your own business… businesses.

3) I need “big picture” plans that are subsequently “chunked down” into short-term plans and action steps. I go to bed each night knowing what my most important objectives and tasks are the following day.

“Have a plan, then work the plan!”


4) I schedule my priorities rather than solely prioritizing my schedule. Big difference.

5) I am somewhat ‘”ruthless” with my time – I protect it. This is  especially important if you’re also trying to run a business or flex your entrepreneurial muscles.

This doesn’t always win me popularity contests, but it allows me to focus on what I feel I need to focus on at the time.

I have set times for phone calls, checking emails, Facebook, Twitter, and so on. I picked this habit up from several mentors over the years, and it annoys my friends and family to no end! (Sorry!)

Rarely, will I simply hear my phone ringing and pick it up right then and there. Shoot. I’d be on the phone all day, every day if I did that.

In fact, my phone is often tucked away in my bag or charging in another room… until it’s time for me to check messages and make calls.

Plus, most of my favorite people love to t-a-l-k. If I knew that our phone calls would only last a few minutes, that would be one thing. But we’re talking 30+ minute calls here!

The last time I decided to ‘surprise’ a close relative by answering the phone right when she called, I was cooking dinner after an already-long and late day at work. I told her this, but she had a lot going on in her life and didn’t exactly register that my dinner schedule was not the same as hers! We spent almost an hour on the phone… I didn’t say much… dinner was overcooked and served to my family after 9pm!

I know what you’re thinking. “That’s what life is all about, though – our relationships!” While I agree, I can’t just do the phone thing like that on a regular basis, or whenever it fits someone else’s schedule.

I have dedicated blocks of time during the day when I return calls, or make my own. It’s OK if you don’t answer, I understand!

6) Here’s another one of my favorite time management mindset tips from my primary mentor dude:

Q: “How long should it take to do a 10 minute job?”

A: “9 minutes or less!”

It’s not about being in a frantic hurry all the time. It’s about focus and intent.

Get in. Get it done right. Quit dilly-dallying.

7) If I have small blocks of time in the schedule that are not currently taken up by a “big” job, like working with the kids on school, or a big writing project, or a consultation call, or studying, or anything else “big”, I take advantage of those moments with spurts of productive activities.

This might mean that I start preparations for an upcoming meal, or sweep the floor, or put away a load of laundry, or something that needs to get done anyway.

But, my favorite things to do in these tidbits of time throughout the day are more “entrepreneurial” in nature. I actually keep a list of “5 minute productivity boosts” that I can do when I suddenly find myself with a bit of extra time, but not enough time to dive into a big project or properly harass my children!

This keeps me productive rather than starting me down the slippery slope of ‘lounging’ on Facebook, or browsing in various forums online, or surfing the net with no direction in mind.

All too easy to do!



8 ) I’ve created “shifts” in my day that make sense for my schedule.

When you break your day into different shifts, it’s easier to stay on track, and not throw in the towel if you “blow it” early in the day. Just get back on track for your next shift.

Since I wear many hats throughout the day, these shifts help me fulfill the various roles I need to tend to each day. Mom, wife, teacher, doctor, writer, business owner, house keeper, cook, taxi driver… you know the routine.

You can make as few or as many shifts as work for you… it’s your day you’re designing!

(i) “Power Hours”:This is in the wee morning hours before anyone else is awake.

This is the time that I do my personal morning rituals, as well as my most productive work and big projects that require the most focus. I do my writing, blogging, studying, and planning for product creation at this time. I have a very clear list of priorities and tasks to focus on during these hours. This is not the time for socializing via email or any social media outlet. Those are my time stealers.

I LOVE these focused hours. It’s usually a solid 3 or more hours before my next shift begins.

I’m convinced that this is the ONLY way I’m able to get the things done that I want to get done. Crawling out of that warm bed is well worth it!

(ii) Once everyone else is up, I switch gears to family time. I spend time with my family, take our dog out, cook a healthy breakfast, and then tidy up the kitchen and house a bit.

(iii) Then, home school takes top priority for the next few hours. When the kids are doing their independent work or they’re taking a break, I’ll squeeze in some practice-related work with my husband, like educational materials, preparation for seminars, or advertising pieces.

I also take advantage of this time to do consultation calls with clients.

(iv) Then, it’s more “me” time before heading in to the practice. This is the time that I typically work out. I’d rather do it earlier in the morning, but my Power Hours are far too valuable to trade in for work outs right now.

This early afternoon shift is also the time I make another healthy meal for the kids’ lunch, as well as pack their food for the rest of the day, start dinner preparations, prepare the next day’s food for my hubby, take the dog out for a jaunt again, and tidy up a bit.

(v) Then, it’s time to head off to work.

Ha! It always cracks me up to say that! By the time I “go to work”, I’ve usually been up and working for an entire work shift already!

(vi) After work, it’s a pretty straightforward shift. Get home. Prepare dinner. Dinner & family time. Clean up. Talk to my dad many nights. Unwind together as a family. Put the kids to bed. Take the dog out.

(vii) The final “me” shift of the day: Plan for the next day. Do some small work projects. Do some reading, if I can keep my eyes open. Relax… Zonk.

Not everyday looks exactly like this due to changes in work schedules, kids’ activities, and special events. Yet, all of my days start and end in pretty much the same way – with rituals.

9) Being productive doesn’t really matter a lick if it turns me into a giant ball of stress! I need balance. I need “margins”.

Honestly, some days are much better than others.

On days that I’m called to spin ALL the plates, and there’s little-to-no “margin”… I can be a hot mess.

As long as I’ve got “margins” around my productivity, I’m good.

Margins encompass my downtime, relaxation, fun time with my kids and husband, and time spent socializing with friends, neighbors, and family. When I consistently make the time for these types of activities, I’m significantly more balanced.

That’s what makes me the happiest – being balanced AND productive. And, taking the occasional day off from spinning those all those plates!



Dr. Colleen Trombley-VanHoogstraat (“Dr Mom Online”) is a leading expert in Natural Health & Wellness. She is a Doctor of Chiropractic with 18 years of hands-on clinical experience in the Wellness Practice she shares with her husband, Dr. Marc VanHoogstraat, in Michigan. She is also the proud mom of two rather fabulous youngsters.

Her unique perspective of the science of Wellness  provides predictable solutions and transformational results for those struggling with chronic health issues, as well as those seeking lifelong health. To discover her simple strategies for creating better health through nutrition, movement and mindset, regularly visit http://DrMomOnline.com and

Also, check out her available books at .

For more information about working privately with Dr. Colleen in an Integrative Health Recovery Program for any number of metabolic and health issues, such as thyroid imbalance, weight loss resistance, hormonal imbalance, food sensitivity & gut permeability, cellular detoxification, and more, please contact her directly at Distance programs are available.

Is Reading Getting in the Way of Their… Learning?!

Kids Reading... Everywhere!

I don’t know the answer to that… I’m just asking! Thinking out loud. Wondering if it’s even possible for kids to read too much…

Every week, my wonderful little home schooled people sign out anywhere from 40-50 books from the library. And they read ‘em. All.

In fact, they’re usually done before the week is up… especially my daughter. Turbo reader.

Their reading has taken over. We have to kick them off the couch, or wherever they’re reading, to go DO something else… MOVE their bodies!

Other parents laugh when my husband and I grumble about their reading habits.

I know, I know. I’d rather have them reading than not reading. I hear ya.

However, when they start doing silly things like, walking down the stairs while reading, or crossing a parking lot while reading, or reading on every boat ride or car ride, or missing out on incredible scenery because they’re “busy reading”… it crosses some quirky, previously undefined line in the laws of teacher/student and parent/child relationships!

Since they’re both such avid readers, and they recall SO much of what they read, I’ve often said, “If I could just plant amazing literary works and encyclopedia-like material in front of their eyes all the time, I’d have this education thing locked up!”

I do have some ground rules (like no goofy comic books on school days and no “junk-food-for-the-mind” books), although I don’t want to become the “book police”. Shoot, I’m already pretty busy being the food police, the chores police, and the character police!

(That was a joke.)Home School Guitar Learning System

I also “strongly encourage” them to read at least one biography per week. It doesn’t always happen, but it sounds good in theory. They sign out several reading level-appropriate chapter books, as well as books that are just for fun. I sign out a literary “classic” for us to read together each week… or month, however it works out. We also sign out several history-related reference books and supportive literature for the current lesson in history we’re studying.

OK, so maybe I’m part of the problem!

Oh, and we also sign out a handful of fun, creative, artistic, sometimes silly books that we like to read together at bedtime. Yes, my kids are “older”, but they still love this bedtime reading ritual we began when they were toddlers. There are so many wonderful children’s authors and illustrators… I look forward to story time just as much as the kids!

Yes, I’m definitely part of the problem!

The other day, something struck me.

As I was rushing around in the morning, trying to finish my morning study time… so that I could get to my writing… so that I could squeeze in a work out… so that I could get to home schooling the kids… so that I could feed them… so that I could tidy up the kitchen real quick… so that I could finally “go to work” (HA!) in our practice, I wondered aloud,

“WHY do we never get all our school work done in any given day???”


When you read that paragraph above, it seems obvious what the problem is… ’til I tell you that the study, writing, blogging, and most work outs all take place before the kids are up and ready for school.

Although the demands on my schedule are silly and definitely cause interferences in our home school accomplishments, I realized that my kids would learn so much more of what they’re “supposed to” learn if they’d stop reading so much!!

Ha! I had to laugh out loud at myself when I thought that!

It’s kinda’ sorta’ true, though…

We’ve wasted many hours of the teacher’s time when they’ve pleaded with me to wait for them to finish a chapter (or an entire book) so that we can begin a lesson! If they’d stop reading their “leisure” books so much, they’d have more time for history lessons, and geography games, and science experiments… you know, the stuff we’re “supposed to be learning”.

I’m being a wee bit facetious in this blog, by the way.

I love that my kids read.

I strongly dislike that their reading has caused them injury because they become SO involved in the story that they run into things or miss a couple stairs! Goofballs.

I wish we’d get more “schooly” stuff done… but I’m learning to live with the fact that these kiddos are stinkin’ smart in their own ways! They blow me away on a regular basis with various factoids they’ve learned from their “leisure” reading. Pretty cool.

I just continue to encourage them to keep their reading habits in check. They need to be able to carry on a conversation with live human beings; they need to play and laugh and dance; they need to do their school work; they need to do their chores; they need to spend time outside; they need to participate in their sports and activities; and they need to practice their music.

Life is a balancing act.


So, in your mind, is there such thing as TOO much reading? Please share your thoughts!



Learn & Master Series

An Attitude of Gratitude


Thanksgiving is nice.

I like it that more folks are open about what they’re grateful for. So many Facebookies chime in throughout November, declaring their gratitude for something each day. It’s nice. Cute.

It does, however, make me wish we’d all be as expressive with their gracious sentiments throughout the rest of the year… wouldn’t that feel a lot nicer? Ahhh…

I was thinking about this last night as I was driving home from the kids’ gymnastics class… listening to them bicker with each other in the back seat.

You know that last nerve?

Well, by this time last night, after a l-o-n-g day of work and errands, following two nights of almost no sleep, with a dog that’s dealing with some nasty intestinal issue right now (ick)… listening to my little angels find everything wrong about their sibling, and being generally ‘negative’ too often lately, that last nerve of mine was edgy.

(Good thing I know a great Chiropractor!)

Sometimes, it’s just  hard for me to understand what on earth a 10 and 7-year old could possibly have to be so grouchy about! “What?! You have no job… no bills… people give you food and clothes and ‘things’… your life is like a vacation! Sheesh!”

So, we had a chat.

I talked about the only thing I know that works for ME 100% of the time when my stinkin’ thinkin’ has taken over. (No, not a glass of wine.)

I talked about Gratitude.

I told them that, if they’re really sincere about doing this ‘exercise’, it’s virtually impossible to remain in a negative mood or have a glass-half-empty attitude.

As a mom, I feel like this is one of the most important “life skills” I could possibly teach my children. How to have a grateful heart…. how to be “positive”… how to let your actions, words, and tone reflect that.

(I need to constantly work on this, too… and I do.)

We have our Thanksgiving tradition of a “Gratitude Jar” where we fill it with little slips of paper that say various things that each of us are grateful for.

It’s nice. It’s cute. But, sometimes, when I read a slip that says something like, “I’m thankful for movies” or “I’m grateful we’re not having chicken for dinner!”, I’m not too sure that the kids really get it!

(They’re funny… I’ll give ‘em that!)


So, I asked them to dig deeper.

I think part of being truly grateful is recognizing what you might be taking for granted. At least that’s what I figured out for myself several years ago, and for my kids now.

We talked about some of the biggies that maybe they overlook… and just assume it’s normal… or they’ll always be there. Things like family, neighbors they love, good friends, two parents who adore them (enough to keep them in line!) a home, power, a family business, a fridge & pantry with food, a car, our healthy & capable bodies, our unique talents, our freedom, our safety… and the fact that God has always provided for us… we’ve always made it through, no matter how bleak certain situations have seemed.

We also talked about the Law of Attraction, and how what we think about and focus on the most tends to show up the most. We agreed that it’s pretty cool how focusing on what’s good will bring more good… focusing on our blessings brings more blessings, and so on. (Whether you ‘buy into it’ or not, it sure does feel good to live this way!)

I have challenged them to spend this Thanksgiving season intentionally looking for “the good” around them AND keeping their lips zipped when they feel compelled to add negativity or sass.

The good is always there, whether we choose to see it or not. Stinkin’ thinkin’ just tends to cloud our senses. That’s why we need to be in control of our lip zipper and make sure our rose-colored lenses are in place!

This intentional seeking of the good, the positive, and the many blessings around us is what got me through the toughest period of my life a few years ago. ‘Looking for the blessings’ is a lifeline for me. Nothing brings me more peace than sincerely focusing on all that I am grateful for.

It’s why I’m determined to lead my children in this way.

Obviously, I want them to continue with this intention long past Thanksgiving 2012… I just needed to give them an attainable goal to start with!

I know that sibling squabbles happen. I know that negative stuff happens. I know that stressful events will always creep up on us.

I know how easy it is to focus on those and be swept away by overwhelming stress and negativity. It’s seemingly effortless to see the negative! It takes intention to consistently choose to see the positive… and to be grateful.

I am grateful that these kids of mine are truly good. I am grateful that, the vast majority of the time, they get along swimmingly.

I am grateful that God has granted me the privilege of being the mother of these two extraordinary little people. I’m grateful for the overwhelming, heart-wrenching, knee-buckling love I have for them. I’m grateful that I like them so much as people, as well as love them.

I am grateful for so much… too much to mention here. But I’m grateful for my healthy, strong, hard-working, and gifted husband… and I’m grateful for the gift of another Thanksgiving with my dad here.

I’m grateful that He reminds me to be grateful.

Happy Thanksgiving!



Five Years Ago Today…

My Angel.

… I lost my most favorite person in the entire world.


My Angel.


Five years ago today, my mom was leaving this world.

Tuesday November 13th, 2007.

In the five years that have passed, I’ve worked so hard to remember the good… the blessings… her grace… her faith… her spirit… her class… her humor… our love.

I’ve done a pretty good job, overall.

But this time of year, I find myself getting edgy… and, at first, I’m not sure why.

Then I remember.

… sigh…

I trust God’s plan and His timing.

(Doesn’t mean I’m always mature enough to like it, though.)

I mourn for “what could have been“… and what my kids are missing out on without this spectacular woman in their lives.

The day before she died, mom was insistent that I truly “enjoy” my children.

I try to remember that.

I try.

It’s one of the reasons I home school.

It’s one of the reasons I’ve made the career choices I’ve made in recent years.

Five years ago, when I approached my mom’s room at the hospital in the morning, a nurse stopped me before entering the room and told me, “I think this will be your mom’s last day...”

I felt the world stop. Nothing else mattered or made sense.

I’ve managed to push aside and bury many of the details of that very, very long day. I’ve tried desperately hard to remember the “good” from that day.

However, it was awful.

The day before was better. Mom shared much wisdom that I’ll never forget and always cherish. How she “chose” joy, despite the many tragedies in her life. How she found peace. How she turned to God more than ever. What she really and truly wanted for me in this life.

Five years ago today, though, was just horrible.

So many good-byes. So much stress around us.

Thankfully, so much faith that got us through.

And, even a few hours before her final breath, there were still smiles, beauty, love and laughter. There was still my mom.

Then, things got pretty bad. The pain was intense. The coherent communication had ceased. Everyone left except my dad and me.

We waited for my husband to arrive. Mom clearly waited for him, too. She hung on, somehow. Once he was finally there, it was obvious she had something to say to him – she made many noises and reached out for him.

I’m not sure what that was about, but I know she always had such a soft spot for him… and his glass-half-full approach to life. They had a special connection.

Then she struggled more… and more.

To this day, I’m not really sure if she was struggling to stay… or struggling to go. It was just a struggle.

In the end, before the brief coma, I read her favorite prayers to her and encouraged her to anticipate the overwhelming peace, comfort and joy that would soon be hers. I asked her to say hello to my brother, and to tell him “I love you” for me… and to say “hi” to everyone else who had gone on ahead of us.

A couple hours later, in the wee morning hours of Wednesday November 14th, mom took her last breath. The struggle ended… for her.

I’ve grown exponentially since that time.

I’ve seen extremely dark times since then, especially in the first several months after mom passed… and I was oftentimes rotten to those I love the most.

Honestly, I’ve sucked at times. Many times, if you ask my family.

I’ve also filled them up with more of my love and affection than I was capable of before this time.

I’ve aged prematurely since then. When I look at the wrinkles formed over the last 7 years since her diagnosis of breast cancer, I feel I’ve really earned them through the tears and sadness. They have meaning and depth (no pun intended!).

I’ve also matured in a good way…

I’ve discovered depths of emotion I didn’t know existed before then. Unbelievably good, along with the aforementioned bad.

I’ve craved life and being “real” and connecting with people more than ever.

I tell a whole lotta’ people that I love them… and I really, deeply do.

I appreciate people even more. I see the light in people.

I don’t think I take my relationships for granted… I know that we are very clearly NOT in charge… and what we have now can be gone in an instant.

I’m a better person because of my mom.

The fabric of my life is more intricate because of my mom’s illness, her death, and my recovery.

Through it all, I know God is good. I am OK. And I will see my mom again.

In hindsight, one extremely horrific day isn’t so bad in the “big picture”. I’d say the blessings far outweigh the pain.

I’m thankful that the negative details have become more fuzzy over time.

I’m thankful that I can still remember exactly how my mom’s hands felt as I held them so many times, and how warm and deep her hugs were. I’m thankful that my most prevalent memories are of my mom’s love and her spirit and the rich life we shared together.

My most favorite person in the entire world. My mom.


Good times!




Finding the Time…

balanced rocks

Not much of a blogger these days, am I?!

Evidently, being hacked late last year must’ve struck a nerve with me… an “I-don’t-feel-like-putting-it-all-out-there-again” pouty nerve!

Nah, that’s not really the reason. Well, it’s only part of the reason.

The other reason is that the clone I ordered several months ago has failed to show up thus far. You know, that clone that could masterfully write witty blog posts while I go to the practice every day… or the clone who can keep our home relatively tidy and clean so that I have a clear (enough) mind to sit down and write… or, the clone who would so lovingly prepare ‘clean’, healthy meals and snacks for my grateful family so that I could invest more time in Dr. Mom-isms.

Yeah, that clone.

She’s nowhere to be found.

It has just been a c-r-a-z-y year.  I look back at the “master plan” I laid out for 2012 and can’t help but laugh. Or scream. Or just give in to the ultra-mature behavior of kicking my feet, pounding my fists and crying! (Not really… but it’s a good visual, yes?)

What on earth happened???

I had grand plans of the second half of the kids’ home school year being a wonderful balance of academic “book time” along with fascinating field trips, various sports & extracurricular activities, music lessons, clubs, play dates…


I had a plan for my “work” schedule. I’d go to the practice and lovingly serve our practice members two, maybe three, days per week, as well as teach all the seminars with my hubby.


Apparently, 2-3 days was a complete joke to the universe.

I think I may have sent my prayers, intentions, planning and affirmations to the wrong address!

(I know, I know. “People make plans and God laughs.” Yes. Heard that one a few times this year. Hardy har har! Good thing I have faith in His plan… otherwise, I may have thrown in the towel by now!)

The kids and I have been going in to our practice daily… for the entire year. Oy.

There is only so much you can do to keep children busy and entertained in a healthcare practice! So much for all those great field trips and extracurricular stimulation!

They are officially DONE with the current arrangement!

So WHY have we been at the practice daily for so long now? Nothing earth-shattering, really. Just a combination of things and the evolution of things.

It started with being staff-less back in January & February. Then again in May. Then training all the newbies. But, now it’s mostly because of all the new work we’re doing in the practice. The metabolic weight loss programs, other metabolic recovery programs, the neuro-structural work, the Integrative Cancer Recovery… they all take a massive amount of time and energy compared to a traditional Chiropractic practice. Rightfully so.

As a result, we just haven’t found our balance in the midst of this yet.

Better order a second and third clone while I’m at it!

The other piece of this time warp puzzle has been my dad. The very short version of the story is that: 1)  he moved (down-sized) back in late May; and, 2) he hasn’t been feeling all that great for several months now – I think the cancer is moving further into his bones now.

April, May and June involved weekly trips across the border, initially in an effort to help him find a new place to lay his head at night, and then eventually to help him sort through 48 years worth of memories and stuff… and then packing and tossing and donating and more packing, cleaning, more cleaning… and finally moving… and, of course, unpacking!

While the move, and everything it entailed, has been exhausting on this end, it has taken much more of a toll on dad. Physically, yes. But mostly emotionally. It’s tough to move when you’re not a “mover”! 48 years is a long time in one place. A lot was ‘stirred up’ as a result. {sigh}

Maybe I’ll do an update post about dad’s condition soon. Maybe not. That’s a tough one to write about. Also, it depends how soon the team of clones arrives.

Anyhooo, just wanted you to know that I’m not skipping out of my Dr. Mom Online duties and chillin’ in a hammock, looking for animal shapes in the clouds! I’ve been spinning a few too many plates for awhile… and realized that I (realistically) couldn’t/shouldn’t get back to regular posting ’til some of those other plates were placed back in the cupboard. Or tossed out the window. Whichever seemed like the more suitable choice.

We have a couple of lovely newbies in our practice now. I’m hoping, with a bit more training, and the grace of God, that I’ll be able to slowly peel myself from the daily schedule! I keep trying… but that schedule sure does fill up quickly and demand attention. It’s a blessing in many ways… but there’s definitely a sneaky curse in there, too.

My kids could use a bit more of a “traditional” summer vacation, that’s for sure!

(Lord help us if this continues for another home school year come fall! Not gonna’ happen!)

Dad’s moved in. In theory, that should be a source of relief on my schedule. However, he’d still like me there every week for a variety of reasons. I get that. Unfortunately, my work schedule – and mental health schedule – doesn’t always get that! Then there’s the guilt… trying balance time with dad, time with my hubby, time with the kids… ugh. Tough choices.

So, while the title of this post is “Finding the Time…”, that’s not really accurate. It’s always about choices. How I choose to spend my time… how I manage to make the time to do what’s important.

I’ve revised my 2012 plan… I’ve tweaked my prayer requests and continue to ‘listen’ for direction. We’ll see where this goes. At this point, my plan is to get back to Dr. Mom Online on a regular basis.

If you hear laughter coming from the direction of heaven, well, you’ll know what happened!