Tag Archives: planning

GIVEAWAY: Look Back to Get Ahead


The end of the year always heightens my need for personal retreat time.  It is time to pause, step back, and look objectively at my work-life balance. It is useful and beneficial to get quiet and clear about what my intention is with my work.   It is imperative for me to pause, do a body scan, and make sure that I’m treating my own body well.   It is important to reflect on how I’ve used my creative talents and served my greater community.

Before you go thinking that I’m going to tell you to wander through the woods or take a spa weekend, let me be clear: a personal retreat does not have to be extravagant or expensive.

For me, personal retreat time does usually mean nature.  I have a park near my home where I like to go hiking, and it is during these quiet solo hikes that I can think clearly.  But sometimes it means simply locking myself in my bedroom in my PJs and slippers and taking some quiet time.  I think about the parts of my business that are working well and the parts that are chafing.  But most importantly I think about how I feel towards my work.  Is it still feeding me?  Am I still giving my clients my best self?  Does my family suffer because of my work?  I love to have time to free-associate and think of all the ways my work and life are flowing– and clogging.

But just as important as time for reflection is time for planning.  After all, if we don’t use the reflection for growth, it just becomes sappy nostalgia.


I know I benefit from both the mental wave-riding of free thinking about my year as well as a more structured, guided reflection.  I have used the Leonie Dawson Shining Life workbooks for several years with great enjoyment.  They never fail to challenge me, even as I’m encouraged by all that is going well in my life.

I so believe in the power of reflection and planning to help you achieve your goals that I’m giving away a 2016 SHINING LIFE WORKBOOK.  I know that it will help you take stock of where you are now and map out where you’d like to be this time next year.  It’s not just for entrepreneurs, either– anyone can benefit from Leonie’s colorful, engaging, creative, and soul-stirring prompts.


As someone who promotes balance and wellness in all that I do, I want you to experience how good it feels to know where you are right now and know that you can get where you want to be.

It may feel luxurious to indulge in navel gazing, or it may feel like a waste of time.  Either way, it will be worth it.  If you can use what you have learned this year to plot out how you want to grow in 2016, you’re already bringing balance into your life.

If you just can’t wait to get started on this work (I know am the type!), use the button on the right ————> to order your own Shining Life or Shining Biz Workbook right now.  You can buy a .pdf copy of the workbook that will be sent to your inbox for you to start TODAY!

Well done, You!



If you would like to be entered into the drawing for a Leonie Dawson 2016 SHINING LIFE WORKBOOK & WALL CALENDAR, leave me a comment that tells me one thing you learned in 2015 and one goal you have for 2016.

I’ll draw the winner at random at 10am Central time, Tuesday, 29th December, 2015.  The workbook & calendar will be mailed to the winner that day.


Marathon Prep Checklist

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Comrades Update: It’s Wednesday!

weekdays (frome crossword series)

WHOA!  What are we doing here?  It’s Wednesday!  OnBalance is a Monday/Thursday thing, right?!  What’s going on?

My friends, I’m happy to say that I’m going to be here every few Wednesdays through 2105 to update you on my plans for running Comrades Marathon in May.  I suspect that once the calendar turns 2016, I’ll be posting about Comrades even more often.  And come April and May?  It’s going to be all Comrades, all the time (well, at least on Wednesdays).  I have to have someone to talk to about my training and its associated obsessions, and I love my husband too much to make him crazy with my incessant chatter.

I like you, too.  So if you hate posts about running or travel or running and travel, give Wednesdays at OnBalance a pass.   I’ll be posting my regular family/fitness/life/balance musings on Monday and Thursday as always.

But if you’re even mildly curious about the preparations for running a 56 mile race on the other side of the world and the adventures therein, make sure you’re here!

(And if you’re curious about this whole Comrades thing or you have no idea what I’m talking about, use those tags over there ——————————————–> and click on the one that says “comrades” to find all the posts about this wacky undertaking.)

What do you have to look forward to?

I’m going to keep updating my progress toward my Comrades qualifying race, the Dallas Marathon, coming up in December.  I’m also going to let you know about our travel plans and how we’re going to make the most of our time in Africa.  There were some negotiations with Mr. Balance to honor his concerns about leaving our three kids for such a long time.  We’ve got a plan now, and everyone is excited about the adventure ahead!

All of this– and lots and lots of running talk– is coming to OnBalance on a Wednesday soon.

Thanks for your support!

Guest Post: A New Mom’s Tip for Creating Balance

Today OnBalance features a post from new mama, experienced yogi, and fitness trainer Katie Painter.  Katie is based in Richmond, Virginia.  Find Katie on Facebook for more healthy living tips.


“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Is this not the most irritating quote you’ve ever heard? No? Just me?

I think this quote grates on my nerves because it sends me right into defense mode.


As a new mom to a six-month old I like to say that parenting is easy… as long as you’re lucky enough to have a laid-back baby and you’re super organized. I am only one of those things and it’s not organized. (Though now that I’ve put it into writing I’m sure I somehow angered the Happy Baby Gods and my little one will now suddenly turn into a sleepless, teething hellion.)

So in an attempt to make life a little easier, I tried to get organized and started food prepping on Sunday nights. Because when I fail to plan, I fail HARD at eating well.

Food prep means different things to different people. For my family, food prep isn’t perfectly portioned containers stacked up in the fridge ready to go. That’s not necessary or practical for us, but I do like to get food cleaned and ready to go so at the end of the day cooking isn’t a time consuming challenge.

Here’s a quick peek at what food prep usually looks like for us:

  • Veggies sliced, diced and seasoned
  • Crockpot chicken (By far the greatest food prep hack! Place 4 chicken breasts in 4c water, let sit all day with some salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder then remove, shred with a fork and store.)
  • Baked chicken (We love Lowery’s seasoning)
  • Ground turkey in homemade taco seasoning
  • Mason Jar Salads

Lunches are the hardest meal for me because if the little one is being needy, I have to eat with one hand while she squirms in my other arm. That means I grab whatever is ready to go. Mason jar salads are the best thing Pinterest has ever given me.

There are really only two rules for building any kind of mason jar salad:

1) Use ALL the veggies. (The more veggies you can throw into your salad, the happier your body will be!)

2) Keep your dressing and leafy greens as far away as possible. (Harder veggies like tomatoes, peppers, etc. will soak up the dressing a bit without wilting so put those in first.)

Here’s my current favorite recipe:


  • 2 TBSP Balsamic Vinaigrette
  • Grape Tomatoes (As many as you want… go ahead and load ‘em up!)
  • 1oz Fresh Mozzarella Cheese
  • 2oz Pasta (Please don’t fall for the PROTEIN label in the picture! This is still a starchy carb and does not count as a fat loss protein source… we just like the taste of this particular kind)
  • 2c Baby Spinach

Add ingredients in the order listed above starting with the dressing on the bottom of the jar. (I add a small paper towel square to help absorb water and keep my spinach crisp.) Then seal up the jar, pop it in the fridge, and flip upside down into a bowl when you’re ready to enjoy.

Add protein later by heating up chicken before adding the salad OR add your favorite protein source right into the jar.

Have you tried mason jar salads? Share with us your favorite recipe!

Comrades Update: I’m in!


It’s official.  I’ve lost my mind.  I’ve registered for Comrades Marathon.

I’ve been talking about my idea to run Comrades with my dad and how I’m planning on training for the 90KM race through South Africa’s Valley of the Hills.  I spent the summer building my base of mileage, enjoying a few classic summer road races, and preparing for my triathlon this weekend.  Although Comrades has been on my mind regularly for the last few months, there was nothing I could do until September 1st.

Entries opened.

I entered.

I’m now committed.

I find myself an equal mix of thrilled and terrified.  I’ve read so many blogs and forums about Comrades and the powerful experience each person seems to have by participating in the event.  I’m impressed by the camaraderie of the participants, whose banter gives off a strong sense of comradeship despite the limits of online communication.  I’ve read about the tremendous crowd support, the airing of the race on national tv– all twelve hours of it, and the thrill of participating in the world’s largest and oldest ultramarathon.  I’m excited to be a part of the Comrades community.

But, hello….any race that has this as their motto:


Well, either they need a new PR firm or they aren’t joking around.

I’ve read enough about Comrades to know that it’s the latter.

Let’s review the race profile for next year’s “Down Run” course:


My quads hurt just thinking about it.

The good news is I still have more then eight months to prepare.  My training is coming along well for the Dallas Marathon in December.  I still plan to take a few weeks off at the end of the year, and then the first five months of 2016 will be All Comrades All The Time.

I’m pretty darn excited about it.  It’s a huge undertaking, but I’m ready.  I can’t wait to put in the hours of training, and I can’t wait to have it pay off.

I am certain, however, that at more than one point on the way from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, I’ll be spit-shouting “izokuthoba!”

And it will be worth it.

Comrades Marathon Update: Planning & Logistics


This is the second in an occasional series about my preparations for the 2016 Comrades Marathon in South Africa.  The first installment is here.

Eleven months from today, I hope to be among 20,000 runners pounding the 90 kilometers (56 miles) of pavement between Pietermaritzburg and Durban, South Africa in Comrades Marathon.

Lest I put the cart before the horse, I assure you there is a tremendous amount of logistics to be sorted in the coming months.  Before undertaking such an adventure, there are a million important little details that must be considered.  There are also several really big details to determine, and those are the ones I’m working on ironing out right now.

First up is the financial commitment.  While it may seem obvious that a trip from Austin, Texas, USA to South Africa is expensive (and it is!), I’ve begun plotting the expected costs.  From airline tickets– both international and within South Africa– to lodging to on-the-ground activities, the budget is coming together.  Here’s the deal: I am unlikely to go to South Africa again.  This means I’m going to take advantage of being there, visiting the sites of Cape Town and going on safari are non-negotiables.  These aren’t cheap adventures, but if I’m going to go all the way to South Africa, I’m going to enjoy myself.

The secondary aspect of the financial commitment is the length of the trip.  In order to take advantage of all that South Africa has to offer– and the travel time of the 9,000 mile (as the crow flies) trip– the trip is likely to be at least two weeks.  May and June are my high season for work, as my swim lessons are in full swing.  This means that not only will I be spending a lot of money on the trip, but I’ll be giving up a meaningful amount of income while I’m away.  I have this figured in to my budget as well.

And then there’s the question of whether I’m going to go on this adventure by myself or if my husband will come, too.  I’d love to have him with me to experience this unknown-to-me part of the world, but an already expensive trip times two….

While the financial hurdle is considerable, perhaps my greatest obstacle to Comrades is childcare.  I have three kids.  My three kids go to three different schools.  They participate in after-school activities.  They require things like transportation to school and events, decently nutritious regular meals, and thoughtful attention.  If my husband comes along, we now have to find someone to to watch the kids for the duration of my/our trip– without incurring tremendous additional expense– and that is highly unlikely.  One set of grandparents (my parents) will be in South Africa, as my dad is also planning to toe the line at Comrades.  The other set of grandparents (my awesome in-laws) would likely love the chance to be with their grandkids for part of the time, but two weeks is a really long time to ask.   So I’m exploring options, including time swaps with friends who are also keen to do some couple travelling and hiring a friend for a few days.  As for now, I’m going to trust it’s all going to come together.

The good news is, I have plenty of time to work these issues out.  I also have time to prepare myself emotionally for missing out on a pretty big family milestone: our final kid’s final day of preschool.  We have a kid at this beloved school on-and-off since 2007, so saying goodbye is going to be hard.  I’ll also miss the boys’ last days of school, which will likely include the big 4th grade Texas History Pageant for my middle kid.  These are the highlights of parenting young children, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t matter that I will miss them.

Of course, preparing for a 90K race also requires a fitness plan.  I’ll cover that plan in my next Comrades Marathon Update in a few weeks.  Stay tuned!

NYC Marathon Pre-Race Packing

Pre-race anxiety is a marathoner’s right, and I am experiencing it in a new and different way right now.  I have run 10 marathons before, but only once did I fly to the event.  I was flying from a cold climate (Boston in February) to a temperate climate (Austin in February), so I was fairly certain I’d be running in warmer weather than what I was used to.

This time, I am leaving Friday (tomorrow!!) morning, returning Monday night.  The weather forecast has highest highs around 55 and lowest lows around 36.  First of all, these numbers mean NOTHING to me, as I have not felt anything as cool as 50 since last spring….  I can’t even imagine what 50 feels like, much less 40 or 36.

I also need to pack regular clothes, which includes an outfit to go to a Broadway show as well as my super cozy wear-in-public-appropriate loungewear for the trip home.  I have a pair of somewhat fashionable shoes that has to get in the suitcase, too. And I’m planning on carrying on my bag, so as to avoid those nasty checked bag fees.

Of course, I also need a full compliment of running attire, given that some models show race day to be dry with temps ranging from 38-45 and some models show race day to have snow (no, dear God, no) and some models show race day to be 40 and rainy (definitely not ideal, either).  All models show Sunday to be very windy– 20-25mph winds with gusts up to 35-40mph.  My race day outfit will be my Texas flag running shorts and some combination of these running bras and tops, depending on the weather.  I’m sure I’ll wear gloves and my running hat, at least until I’m off the Verranzano-Narrows Bridge.


The race time temps aren’t so important for the race itself, but they will affect my pre-race body.  I catch the Staten Island Ferry at 7:30am, but I don’t start the race until 10:05am.  What am I doing for those hours in between?  Sitting around soggy Ft. Wadsworth in the athletes’ village, trying to cast off more nervous energy than I absorb.  I’ll also be trying to keep warm.

I went to Savers yesterday to buy a fleece jacket and sweatpants that I will wear over my racing clothes (whatever they happen to be….) and then toss at the start line.  Those will go over an old Balance Personal Fitness Training  t-shirt and a pair of capris I made myself.  I also bought long socks and cut out the toes to make arm warmers.  I have old gloves that I will wear over my running gloves. And a knit hat. And I have my running hat, should it be on the colder end of temps.  And a baseball-cap style hat in case it rains. And sunglasses.  I’m taking an old pair of running shoes and two pair of old socks to wear to the athletes’ village. Of course there will be Body Glide, too.  Consider yourself lucky if you don’t know what it’s for.  There’s also a red transparent poncho to go on top of everything and a small plastic sheet to sit on in case it’s muddy or wet around the start corrals.


This is why I have anxiety, y’all.  I run because it’s easy.  It’s simple. Straightforward.

But this race prep thing?  It involves trying to predict the future, and I’m not good at that.

In the end, though, I’ve got these things in my suitcase, and they’re really all I need.


Everything else is details!