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Biking, Culture, Food, Hiking, Leadership, Running

Joy and Meaning List

June 23, 2012

One of my favorite exercises from Brene Brown’s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection” was creating a “Joy and Meaning List.” It really helped me align what I was doing with my life with what brought the most meaning and happiness.  As my good friend Carole tells me, it is important to focus on activities that raise your energy. This list was especially helpful as I debated what to do with downsizing and making a big leap with my career path. I have had this list below since last fall and then decided to add a few more tonight.

  1. Connecting with others
  2. Enjoying wine with friends
  3. A nice cooked meal
  4. Inspiring someone with a new perspective
  5. Learning something new
  6. Traveling to Europe
  7. Beautiful mountain scenic views
  8. Davidson athletics
  9. Coffee shops
  10. A casual walk
  11. A mid-afternoon nap
  12. Running with friends
  13. Being with my family
  14. Taking Brooks swimming
  15. Any activity with Brooks…
  16. Helping kids and young people
  17. Music…especially making a new mix
  18. Sharing ideas and being inspired
  19. Creating space for other people to embrace their authenticity
  20. Feeling loved and appreciated
  21. Writing my blog
  22. Living a life full of purpose
  23. Dancing…usually in a “unique” way
  24. Question games at dinner or Catch Phrase
  25. Getting to know someone at a very personal level
  26. Making an impact
  27. Being outside in the sun
  28. Hiking
  29. A healthy meal
  30. Eating at a nice restaurant
  31. Working out especially at an exercise class
  32. Making homemade pizzas
  33. Making someone laugh or smile
  34. A long bike ride
  35. Being a positive example for my younger brother
  36. Reading a great book
  37. TED videos
  38. Being around my Let Me Run boys at Nations Ford Elementary
  39. Protecting people’s access to information…a Library
  40. Laughing at my own jokes
  41. Tailgates and sporting events
  42. Live music
  43. Being there for a good friend
  44. Trying a new recipe
  45. Being present with others
  46. Encouraging people to do what they love
  47. Cultivating a sense of wonder and being in the moment
  48. Having a larger perspective with my life
  49. Intentionally trying to make someone’s day with my words or actions
  50. Being grateful for what I have

Well those are the ones that came to mind, and I am sure there are many more.  I would love to hear what some of yours are!  I invite you to share at least three that would be on your list in the comments section. Have a great week.

Food, Leadership, Uncategorized

A Food Love Story

April 29, 2012

This week I am kicking off a new blog series called “Follow Your Passion.” I am going to profile people who really embrace their own authenticity in their career or in other facets of their lives. My goal is to inspire others to spend more time doing work they love. I think our world could be an amazing place if more people spent time listening to their own voice about what they wanted to do in life.

When I thought about doing this blog series, the first person that came to mind was my good friend Nikki Moore. Nikki is one of my most favorite people in the world, and she and her husband were two of the first people who really encouraged me to start this blog and follow my own passion. I just love her story about starting her own company called Food Love, and she continues to inspire me. Nikki is one of the happiest people I know, and she is an absolute joy to be around. And one reason I think this happens is she is in a career that empowers her best self to come alive and allows her to positively affect all the people around her. And she does all of this just by being herself. Isn’t that amazing? So let’s hear Nikki’s story.

Nikki for Blog


Hey Nikki, thanks so much for doing my first interview on my new series called “Follow your Passion.”  So tell us all a little bit more about what you do at Food Love. How did you identify this as a potential career path?  What were you doing before you started your own company and why did you make the change?

What surprises a lot of people was that I really enjoyed the job I had before I switched career paths. As the Associate Director of Alumni Relations at Davidson College, I had a great gig with fabulous co-workers working for a place I love.  However, I couldn’t see myself doing it for the long-term and after several years at the college was at an impasse as to what I should do next.

Cooking had increasingly become a passion of mine and I spent a lot of time thinking about what was for dinner, trying new recipes, and shopping for meals.  It was a source of relaxation and I loved the feeling of satisfaction that came from creating something from scratch.  The idea of attending culinary school had bounced around in my head for a while, but it was for all purposes a dream that would take place in a very, very distant future.  Or so I thought.  As I wrestled with the idea of what to do next, I kept thinking how incredible it would be to go to culinary school.  I’ve got a wonderful husband who encouraged me to explore the idea and before I knew it I was enrolled at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte.

The rest is history.  During and immediately after culinary school, I did jobs in the culinary industry that weren’t my dream job, but taught me skills and techniques that would be crucial when I struck out on my own.  I did my homework so to speak and worked hard.   I think the biggest hurdle for me in starting my own business was the fear that I didn’t know enough yet, but at a certain point you need to jump in.  There’s always going to be more to learn (that’s why it’s fun), but you’ve got to start somewhere.

I always hear people talking about the importance of not being afraid to fail.  The idea that sometimes when you follow your passion or make a big change, there is no way of knowing how it will turn out when you start.  How did you handle those thoughts?  Did you have to take some risks along the way and was it hard to make the change knowing you were leaving a secure job?

As I mentioned earlier, I think my biggest fear was concern that I wasn’t an expert yet.  It gnawed at my confidence and I worried that I wouldn’t be able to deliver the best to clients.  I think my fear could have been paralyzing, but I used it to motivate me to work harder.  Before I taught a cooking class or catered a dinner, I made sure that I had done my research, had tested my recipes, and that I had prepared for every possible question or occurrence.  It’s funny, but I still apply the same intensity to preparing for a class or event three years later.  I still get nervous before every class and I still do everything in my power to make sure I’m fully prepared.  Doing the work and research necessary to deliver a really outstanding class or dinner is tough, but the satisfaction that comes from delivering an awesome experience is definitely my favorite part of the job.

nikki berry for blog

Yes, please!


How have you felt both personally and professionally about doing something you love since you started Food Love?How did it all turn out for you now that you have been in business for almost three years?

This September will mark 3 years for FOOD LOVE.  The past couple of years have flown by and I’m proud of what I’ve built, the new things I’ve tried, and all the little things I learned along the way.  Starting your own business or pursuing a totally different career path forces you to do things that you would never have dreamed of doing before.  It was terrifying at times,  but I also think it’s given me a confidence and a skill set that I would never have developed if I hadn’t taken the leap.

While I love my job, I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t say that I spend a lot of time thinking about what’s next and how I’m going to grow from here.  I’ve got some ideas that make me feel excited about what lays ahead.  It’s a feeling that can probably best be described as empowered.  I’m steering my ship and that feels good.

Any advice to readers out there contemplating a career change?

Find your passion and then have faith in it.   It’s easy to talk yourself out of making a big change, but I think if you are lucky enough to have something in your life that makes you come alive then you should pursue it with all you’ve got.  Work as hard as you can and things will fall into place.

Well, thanks for sharing with us Nikki.  Your words and actions are incredibly refreshing and thanks for being the person you are. You continue to be such an influence on my life and many others. And I am ALWAYS available as a guinea pig recipe tester. Amazing how my schedule is always free when it comes to food.  Ha.  Have a great week everyone!

Breakfast, Food, Uncategorized

Being Present with Food

April 14, 2012

I always hear about the importance of how we need to avoid “mindless eating.” But what does that really mean? While eating breakfast a few days ago, I think I figured out what it means to me.

Before I get to what happened during breakfast, lets talk about mindless eating. Does anyone else ever get home from work and snack like crazy? I get out the crackers and hummus, try some leftovers, etc. and then get to dinner. I am not even paying attention to what I am eating. Then if I am reading or doing something while I have dinner, I feel like dinner wasn’t enough so I might make something else. To me this is mindless eating so maybe HOW I eat is really the problem.

So, on this particular morning I sat down to a bowl of Overnight Oats. It is my favorite new breakfast from the Oh She Glows blog. Essentially you mix a few ingredients together the night before which takes less than a minute. Then your breakfast is ready right out of the fridge when you wake up. Amazing. And so tasty.

When I sat down with my bowl of oats, I decided not to read anything while I was eating. I wasn’t checking email, on the phone nor did I have the newspaper. Essentially I was present with my food. I actually enjoyed every bite and when I watched every bite, I really felt like I ate plenty of food. When I was done eating my mind and body noticed that I was full, so I didn’t run to find something else to eat. I felt a lot more satisfied than when I ate the same breakfast the day before while checking email.

So maybe this idea of actually being present with my food has some real merit. My mind needs to see and notice all the food I eat or it will tell me I need more. I just need to outsmart my mind!

This reminded me of some eating action mantras I learned from a food and nutrition expert named Dawn Jackson Blatner. She talked about an action mantra about food related to only eating meals with TABLE – PLATE – CHAIR. So no eating from the pantry or straight from the fridge. Just sit down with a plate and enjoy your food. I am adding something to that mantra and mine now reads TABLE – PLATE – CHAIR – PRESENCE. If I am present with my food during a meal and noticing each bite, I will enjoy my food more, eat less and probably save a little money. Try being more present with your food and let me what you think! Have a good one!

Breakfast, Food

Egg White Happy Hour

December 22, 2011

I heard something the other day that breakfast is the new “happy hour” because it really impacts our well-being for the rest of the day. This resonates with me because I am always in a better mood after a good breakfast.  It also could be my favorite meal of the day!  I try to stay on the healthy side, and my all time favorite is the incredible egg white omelet.


There is still nothing wrong with eating regular eggs, but you will cut calories and fat by using just the egg white. I also feel just as full eating egg whites only and really enjoy the fact that I feel lighter and have more energy going this route. Sometimes eating healthier also gives me a sense of accomplishment because I did something positive for myself. I also save some calories for cheese since I have an unhealthy love affair with feta.

The Basic Egg White Omelet

-3-4 egg whites scrambled

-cheese of your choice (cheddar, feta, goat, brie, whatever you like)

I crack the egg on the edge of the sink and then move the yolk back and forth and let just the egg white fall into the pan. If you haven’t had just egg whites before then try one regular egg and a few egg whites to ease into the new flavor. Cook your eggs in a pan and use some spray pam or olive oil in a misto to keep it from sticking.  Got the latter idea from KathEats blog!

The key to omelet making is pulling back the edges of the egg that is cooked and then tilting the pan so the uncooked egg falls directly on to the cooking surface of the pan.

I do most of this on medium heat so you don’t brown the bottom too much.  Throw in all your favorite toppings on one half of the egg and then the fold the other side over top.

Cook it on low heat for a couple more minutes to let the cheese melt or flavors set in.  And voila! You have an amazing start to your day in the form of an egg white omelet.

How about some other quick variations to keep your omelet eating fresh:

-Have left over mexican food?  Make an egg white wrap with salsa, cheddar, black beans and sour cream (I substitute greek yogurt).

-Like something spicy? Try it with a buffalo chicken sausage or ground turkey meat and some jalapenos or onions.

-Feeling a little Provencal? Throw in some fresh herbs, diced tomatoes and goat cheese.

One thing I do hear about making eggs or an omelet is that it takes too much time.  If you crack them directly in the pan, you can do all of this in 5-6 minutes.  Not much longer than eating a bowl of cereal!

So could you spend a few more minutes in the morning starting your day off right with your own breakfast “happy hour?” A healthy breakfast in the morning makes me happier and allows me to connect better with others. Which makes me wonder…could something as simple as an egg white omelet really be another element that makes us better leaders? I guess it is all in your perspective :).


Breakfast, Dogs, Exercise, Food, Running

Why Should I Run?

November 13, 2011

So I just got back from a short run and feel great. I always kick myself because the hardest part about running seems to be getting out there. This morning I had all kinds of excuses and they usually go something like this below. I decided to respond to my own excuses as well.

morning runner

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