Pure Via & Giveaway

Thanks to Pure Via and Fitfluential I had the opportunity to receive and review a complimentary kit via Pure Via.  All thoughts and opinions on the products are my own.

I had a fun opportunity to try out the Pure Via Summer Fit Kit and test out the different Pure Via products.  What comes in the Summer Fit Kit?

  • Box of Pure Via® non-GMO packets
  • Bottle of Pure Via® stevia liquid
  • Bottle of Pure Via® vanilla stevia liquid
  • Container of instant iced tea
  • Pure Via mason jar & straw
  • Pure Via pedometer
  • Pure Via SPF 15 lip balm

  • The Pure Via all natural zero calorie sweeteners.  Most people think of sweeteners as something they put in their tea or other drinks.  However, when I was researching Pure Via I noticed on their website a different way to use this ZERO calorie sweetener.
    They have a Fudgy Saucepan Brownie recipe - Which I would list out for you, but since it is easier to find on their website, I'll give you the link you can visit. CLICK HERE FOR FUDGY SAUCEPAN BROWNIE RECIPE.
    It's true, I don't each chocolate myself, but my family does, and since the recipe required only 30 of these zero calorie packets, I figured why not give them a healthier much lower calorie version of a chocolate brownie, they never knew the difference!


    They also make a liquid version (Sweetened with Stevia & Vanilla Natural Flavor).
    They are great for both hot or cold tea and they are also zero calorie.
    You can also get creative with these as I did.  After all it is summer and camping season, which for me, means hot chocolate.
    Normally I don't like to add much chocolate to my hot chocolate drinks (yes you can call me weird) but normally I add a lot of creamer to mine.
    However, I thought I wonder how it would taste to add these sweeteners to my hot chocolate instead.
    I followed the same instruction and I gave one squeeze to my hot coco and loved it.  I actually enjoyed both the Stevia & Vanilla in this drink.


    In the kit the chapstick which has a yummy tropical taste to it, and a fun mason jar & straw to mix some of your favorite drinks in.  A pedometer to track your steps and help you have fun and motivate you to be more active.  Plus the lipton sweetened ice tea, so you can immediately start mixing with Pure Via and enjoying the zero caloro NON  GMO sweeteners.

    Want to learn more about Pure Via?  Visit their Website.

    Pure Via has generously offered to allow one of my readers a chance to try their own summer fit kit as pictured I above.
    All you have to do is enter to win in the Rafflecopter form below.

    RULES: Must have a U.S. shipping address if you are the winner.  Shipping of prize may take up to 4 weeks from the date winner responds to their email.  Only 1 winner per household, so if you win one of these kits on another blog giveaway, you will not be able to win twice.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Ups & Downs and An Ego Crusher

    A little recap on the previous week.  So I had a "weak moment."  I ended up having to visit yet another Dr. and I'll skip the details for now and maybe share them another time when I've had time to think on it.  But in short I am being sent back to a specialist, because of what they think may be going on with now (both) of my feet.  A specialist who's soonest appointment for me to take was in 1 month.
    So yes, after "the news" I took a drive and had a good scream (thankfully no one actually heard me)!  Then took a deep breath and told myself it's okay, I'll get past this too!  I have been okay since then, but anytime I think about it too much I have to take a deep breath and concentrate on something else.  Thank goodness for busy weeks and weddings for that!


    I did run Monday & Tuesday, I have been doing a 4 mile run/walk combo - running 1 to 1 1/2 miles only.

    I did not run Wednesday, Thursday or Friday by choice and so that I could make some decisions while I get things figured out.

    Saturday I walked 5 miles, but that was because I had a wedding and it was sort of the minimum required amount.

    I have made a few decisions, with careful thought and consideration over the injuries and I am going to start run/walking again today and plan to each day this week.

    However, with a few changes.  I am going to go buy a new pair or two of running shoes which I am excited about.  I am going to stick to softer outdoor track surfaces for at least the next two weeks, maybe more.

    I will continue to run/walk IF and ONLY if the pain stays in the same range (or better) as it is, and only if it does not show any signs of getting worse.
    I'm also becoming an online research junkie again and for the next few days I am going to try a taping method that seems to take the pressure off the pain.  So we shall see...


    Speaking of weddings, I had one on Saturday.  Just a small one, we set up this cute country backdrop that you see in the picture below.
    Well, I had another evening of bad luck (of course, I am getting used to this now.)  See each one of the panels you see below weight several hundred pounds.  You'd think I would design lighter backdrops, but nah, LOL
    Anyhow, we had a perfect day it set up so easy and fast.  

    This is my Outdoor Country Backdrop
    When we were taking it down, things were also going so smoothly, it was great I was sure we'd be done and out of there in the time planned.
    Panel 1, dismantled and we put it into the trailer with ease.
    Panel 2, I was coming around a corner, walking backwards carrying my end, and I didn't realize there was a lift of pavement from the grass.  My injured foot went to roll on it, and I am so protective of my feet I wasn't going to allow that to happen.
    So I decided to let my entire body take a dive, I did it if you would call falling in the right way.  I let things happen naturally, didn't try to stop it, and allowed my body to be thrown several feet up in the air backward instead of twisting or hurting a foot.
    The result was, I landed on my back, and shoulder and hip, not very pretty either:)  Oh ya, it hurt pretty bad, and in more ways than just my ego.

    Bride's colors: Pinks and Turquoises
     The good things were, I saved my feet from new injury and no one in the wedding party saw me, only my crew on the other end of the panel witnessed my not so lady like fall:)  The other good thing, other than a bit of a sore bruised shoulder and hip, so far I don't seem to be experiencing anything worse.  Just a little crush to the ego, haha which is okay if that will stay the worst of it.


    The winner of the Heat it Up Health & Fitness Giveaway Hop - 1st winner will be announced HERE and contacted later today.  2nd winner will be selected as soon as the first chooses which prize they would like.

    So if any of my readers today were bloggers participating in the hop, I have a question if you don't mind.  
    First, did you notice a different type of audience/followers acquired from this hop?
    The reason I ask, I spent a lot of time and branched out, away from the normal health/fitness blogs websites and get the hop listed on some new sites to bring in new traffic.  
    I hope it was fun and a lot of success for everyone, I'm just curious if you noticed a difference and if you did, are your thoughts a positive difference?  Or other?

    Also, I want to remind you there is only a few days left if you want to join the July Blog hop. This will be my LAST giveaway hop that I will run until sometime this fall.

    Right now we have a fewer number participating than normal, so we would love to have you join up if you are interested.

    Additionally, as the host, I will have this hop listed in several more ways, than even the last.  Because I am learning and getting better at promoting these to the general public with each one.  So no promises, but it will have a very high potential to bring in the largest amount of new traffic to your blog than any previous hop before.

    If you'd like to join us we would love to have you.  Please just make sure you read and can agree to all of the rules LISTED HERE and then if you do, join us by linking up your blog on the list below.


    So that is my week, I hope you all had an even better week!  Have you ever misstepped and had an embarrassing fall?

    Learning the art of the compliment

    Learning the art of the compliment, it sounds easy doesn't it?
    But as easy as it is to compliment someone, it's also even easier to criticize.
    Its a fact, if you are having a bad day its so much easier to find fault in everything and everyone around you. Which is actually the likely reason, your one bad moment of the day has turned into a series of bad moments. When in reality if you could harness the power to look toward the positive and look for ways to share compliments instead of criticism your days are likely to go much better even if you have a few bad things happen during them.  Not only that, but people are going to want to be around you and want to try to be more like you.

    The term "misery loves company" it does ring true.  But the same goes in reverse, positive people want to be around other positive people.
    If your complimenting your best friend on one thing.  Then a minute later sharing a bit of gossip of criticism with them about another.  Think about what that says about you, that you pick and choose who you accept. That friend you just complimented and then gossiped with about another will walk away wondering what you say about them when you are with someone else.

    So the questions are. Who do you want to be around?  What type of people do you want to surround yourself with?  What type of person do you want others to view you as?

    If you spend your days looking for things to compliment others on, you will radiate positivity.  People will want to be around you, you'll be looked up to.  You will make the day of others.
    You never know what one simple compliment could mean to someone.  We never know what is going on in other's lives, which is why it is so important to focus on sharing compliments instead of criticism!

    If you find yourself in conversations with others who are gossiping or criticising, you can be the force that stops it.  You can change the subject or point them toward the positive instead.  Eventually people will notice it and possibly you'll even change their way of thinking towards others.

    If you are on the lookout for ways to compliment others, and reminding yourself not to criticize.  You will elude happiness and inner beauty.  You will motivate and inspire others to do the same just by following your own actions.

    I challenge you to try this each day this week.  Find a way to compliment as many people as possible that you come in contact with.  Then see how it makes you feel, see if you notice new positive differences in your life because of it.  See if you can learn the art of the compliment.

    Keeping skin youthful

    Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

    I received the opportunity to try out Valentia's Even Glow Serum.  I was excited because I spend a lot of time outdoors, running and playing.  If you are like me, you try to wear sunscreen on your face and neck whenever possible, but when you are outdoors for hours at a time, the rays still get through a little.
    So, I am always on the lookout for new products that will help repair and of course reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.

    Why I chose this product to try.
    I really liked how it had Vitamin C in it, I have heard many good reports that this is an excellent ingredient to put on your skin.  You also hear that a lot of aging celebrities use this ingredient to retain their youthfulness.

    I also liked that it had a lot of natural ingredients that I could actually pronounce and have heard of: Vitamin C, Rosehip Seed Oil, Sea Buckthorn Oil, Organic Aloe Barbadensis Leaf just to name a few.

    The product claims that the oils work together to increase skin hydration and lock in moisture.
    The antioxidant's in it state they promote healing of damaged skin to produce a more even glow and youthful looking skin.

    The product states the following:
    * Evens skin tone
    * Increases Glow & Radiance
    * Absorbs Rapidly
    * Boost Collagen Production
    * Reduces wrinkles & fine lines


    Next it was time to put it to the test with my own skin type.
    I have an oily skin type, that generally goes along with olive skin tones.  Most importantly, I like things that hydrate without causing excess oil or making me feel like I have greasy skin.
    **  This product passes that test.  You apply it before you put your normal moisturizer on, and it does soak into the skin quickly.  I have not noticed any additional oily skin appearance.

    Another thing I liked was that the product smells quite nice.  It has a bit of a citrus scent to it, nothing to heavy pretty light.  I don't notice the scent after it dries only when I am applying.

    It's easy to apply and it doesn't take much.  I personally have just been putting it around my eye area, and on my neck.

    I don't have wrinkles yet, I am purely using products at this time that will help prevent future wrinkles and fine lines from setting in.

    To answer if the product does everything it says it does, I cannot tell you that yet, as I have only been using it for a few weeks. However, it does have a refreshing feeling after applying and I have not had any weird reactions to it, it hasn't caused any redness.  I consider this great signs that it is compatible with my skin type.
    In other words, I am liking the product so far so I have every intention to continue use of it.

    If you'd like more information or would like to purchase your Vitamin C Serum to try visit Amazon HERE.

    What are your favorite products you use on your face & neck?
    Have you ever tried Even Glow Serum before?

    I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.
    I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

    Into The Still Blue by Veronica Rossi a Book Review

    Into The Still Blue is the 3rd book in this YA trilogy that I have very much enjoyed.  Its a different kind of spin on our world, when aether storms are controlling and burning up the land and different groups of people have been surviving in various ways.  By the third book Aria and Perry are determined to figure out a way to save their people and get them across into the Still Blue.  That is after they first figure out how to find the Still Blue.

    Dwellers and outsiders are forced to live together and now work together and this has not been an easy transition for any of them.  Aria and Perry reconcile their differences and join up right from the start to find the answers they need.
    This third book is filled with a lot of action right from the beginning, which is nice.  It had been a while since I read the other two books, so I'll be honest it took me a few chapters to fully remember it all.

    What I really liked about this book was it drew us back into the memories and things we liked about the first book when it comes to Aria's and Perry's love.  Although it was a nice conclusion, the author did an excellent job reminding us why in the first book we fell in love with the characters.
    There are a few twists and turns, and a few things I had guessed would happen.

    On one hand we knew from the beginning not everyone would live, but who lives well you'll have to read it to find out.  I found it to be a pretty fast read, and I really enjoyed how Veronica Rossi created a conclusion for each of the characters.  Although I will not spoil the ending, I will say I really enjoyed it and when I finished I just thought, well done!

    If you enjoy YA and are looking for a fun action filled trilogy to read this summer I recommend the Under the Never Sky series, you'll love it!  The best part is all three books are now out so you won't have to wait years like I did to find out how it was all going to end.

    Five Things About Me

    Thanks to EatPrayRunDC, YouSignedUpForWhat? & MarontheRun for hosting the link-up. Today I am linking up again with The DC Trifecta Friday Five.

    The topic they chose for today's link up is Five Things About Me.  For those who read my blog you know that occasionally on Monday's I give random facts about me.  So for this post, I thought long and hard about a few things about me that you may or may not know.  It occurred to me the biggest part of who I am is my sense of adventure and love of the outdoors.  So, I might as well jump right into my five list:

    1.  Kayaking in the Bermuda Triangle: Although I am pretty experienced at guiding river rafts down class 1-3 river rapids.  My first time kayaking was in the actual Bermuda Triangle.  We kayaked from one island a few miles across to another island, but when you look on a map it was in the actual Bermuda Triangle and I thought that was pretty cool.  Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it, nothing mysterious happened to me, well unless I was abducted and brought back without knowing it, haha.

    2.  Rock Climbing: My first few times going rock climbing and rappelling I lied to the group of guys inviting me and told them I was an experienced climber who just hadn't done it in a while.  (They were cute and I wanted to go.)   I ended up having to do a 150 foot chimney free climb at night (no ropes) and had a 200 foot night rappel with no belay and no idea if the rope actually touched the ground at the bottom.  I am not sure how I did it, but I faked it well enough by copying them and proved myself to them and was always invited to climb with them on their weekly climbing nights. (At the time I lived in a red rock desert, so nights were the only time to climb because the temps would cool off to upper 90's)  To this day, none of them know the truth:)  On a side not, I'm surprised I am not dead.

    3.  Trail Running: My first 3 trail runs ever, were full marathon's I signed up for (Alaska, Colorado, West Virginia).  I never or rarely look at a course map ahead of time and at first I just thought all marathon's were ran on the road (even though one race actually had the word "trail" in the title and I still didn't catch on until the race started), haha.  With no training on trails, lets just say my hips and ankles were sure quite a bit more sore than normal.  But I loved every minute, rock, path, river, plank bridge, deep mud and hidden holes that broke me in during those races and turned me into a lover of trail running.  

    4. Adventure Seeker: If you can't tell already by my list of five.  I love adventure and thrills and I have just enough fear to keep me alive:)  You could say I am a bit of an adrenaline junkie.  I'll try almost anything once.  Here are some of these adventures: Skydiving, Shark Diving, Glacial Landing in Alaska, Swimming with wild Stingray's, 30 foot cliff diving, White Water River Rafting, Canyoneering in beautiful slot canyons, 29 full marathons in 2 years.  Once I took five of my nieces and nephews all under the age of 10 camping without their parents, I still don't know how I survived that weekend:)

    5. Still to do: I have a long list of things I have never done but would like to do if I can get the chance.  Here are a few to share that are on the top of my list: Hangliding, Hot Air Balloon, A few specific river rafting tours, Night Diving with huge Manta Rays, Hike Kauai, Climb the highest peak in Utah, Visit Kodiak Island and see live wild Kodiak bears, Deep Sea Fishing, See real running red lava, Scuba dive certified up to 75 feet, Visit Antarctica, Open water dive with whale sharks, Ironman.  Okay I better stop there:)


    I'd also just like to quickly mention there are a few days left to enter the current giveaways going on right now for the Heat it Up Health and Fitness Giveaway.  14 bloggers and over 14 awesome health, fitness and running related giveaways.  You can visit HERE TO ENTER.

    If your interested there are a few days left to add your blog to the list, for the giveaway blog hop that starts July 7th.  Make sure you read and agree to all the rules  HERE before you add your name to the list.


    So tell me, do you have an adventurous side?  Have you done something that you think I should add to my list? 

    Fitness Jobs

    Today I am linking up this post with Jill Conyers for her Fitness Friday Linkup.  If you have your own fitness related post, make sure you stop by her blog and add yours to the link-up!

    Fitness Related Jobs

    I decided to do something a little different.  A lot of us love health, sports and fitness.  Have you ever wondered if you could turn your hobby or sport into a job you love?
    If you were to think of a job in the fitness field most would likely first think about Fitness Trainers, but their are so many other options.

    Maybe you are due for a job change, or have hopes of finding a job one day that you can relate to and enjoy much more than what you are in now.  In case this may be something you might be thinking about I thought I would share a few options that you may not know about.

    Hard Working

    Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy & Sports Medicine - Want a career helping people get back to living an active lifestyle?  One of these may be the job for you.  They will require college and certification programs.

    Supplement Companies - Maybe you've tried them and maybe not.  But their are hundreds of different sports supplement companies out there to help athletes recover faster, workout longer.  They have jobs in administration, outside sales, even work from home jobs.  Although management levels may require additional education or experience.  Most positions are entry level that you can work your way up.

    Coaches, Umpire, Referee - Although some coaching jobs especially in schools will require a college education.  Did you know that you can get jobs within your own community, working for your local county or city in these jobs?  Although some may be part time or seasonal, there are paying jobs in these fields.  Some may require certifications and a lot of them may provide the certifications for you upon hire.  If working with children, teens, adults in various sports is something that might interest you, you should look into these jobs within your area.

    Personal Trainer, Yoga, Pilate's, Zumba - It is true for these jobs they'll require some education and certifications.  But if having a job in these area's is something that interests you, you can look into community education training programs in your area.  These programs cost a fraction of what you would pay if you went to a college, and you can get the same certifications to teach these and other fitness classes.

    Fitness Directors and Gym Managers - Some of these may require a degree in management, however others are just looking for dedicated individuals who love life, health and love to share it with others.  These are usually full time jobs, that pay quite decent.  You can look for these types of jobs in your local gyms in your area's or within your city and county rec centers.

    Sports Retail Stores - Running Specialty Stores - You may think that having a job in retail store is something that would only provide you with minimum wage.  However, what you may not know, specialty stores often look for more experienced individuals who are looking for careers. The pay and benefits are likely much higher than you would assume.  Sometimes your own running and sports background can put you into the expertise these companies are looking for.

    Gyms, Cruise Ships - Their are so many jobs in these places that are everything from full-time to part-time, and most don't even require any specific higher education.  Others will even pay you to go and get your CPR and other certifications to have these jobs.  You'll find jobs from minimum wage on up, however one thing to keep in mind with these jobs.  They may also provide you with free memberships, free travel and room and board.

    Sporting Goods Distribution - Ever thought about the companies that make everything from treadmills to backpacks?  Well these companies have hundreds of various different jobs everything from entry level to management.  Some even send you out to travel to different expo's and places to present and show off their products.

    Recreation Coordinator - Most communities have different recreation facilities whether that be gyms, tennis courts, tracks, parks, etc...  These places need recreation coordinators to help promote healthy lifestyles for the residents within the community.
    Additionally, did you know most companies employ at least one or two individuals to help promote healthy lifestyles for their employees?  In most states it gives them a tax break to do it, so don't rule out the company you work for now, maybe its a change in positions you can look forward to in your future.  Maybe you can even create this job within your current company!  If you can propose a way it will benefit them cost wise, and health wise you may have a pretty good chance.

    Sports Reporter - Although it would be awesome to be a famous sports reporter like the ones you see on TV.  Did you know there are numerous other ways you can get paid to be a sports reporter?  Newspapers, Online News, Local & National.  You can sign up with different papers and news area's to be a journalist, or even a freelance reporter.  You can even get paid to write content for larger blogs, fitness sites.  Sometimes all you have to do is ask, instead of wait to see a job opening in these areas.

    Race Directors & Coordinators - You run races, you volunteer.  But have you ever thought about getting paid to help put these races on?  Sure they are high stress, but they have dozens of positions that are paid, and believe it or not most medium and large races and organizations hire full-time individuals.  If it is something you love, you might not even mind the stress and just enjoy the environment.

    School's Colleges Fitness Programs - Most public schools require degree's for these positions.  But did you know that private schools do not necessarily require a degree to teach these programs?  I know crazy huh, but it is true.  This is something you'd have to look into, and each school is different.  But there are many jobs available in schools and colleges that will allow you to get hands on with involvement in the health and fitness lifestyle.

    I listed a few options above to get your mind thinking.  However, if you dig into it a little more you will discover as I have that the opportunities within the Health, Fitness & Sports industry are vast.

    Choose a Job you will love

    My advise if you are looking to change jobs, or thinking about these for the future:

    - Decide which jobs you would most like.
    - Look into what skills, education, qualifications you will need.
    - Start working on those skills and qualifications as you have time.
    - Keep your eyes open for ways to volunteer gain experience that will beef up your resume for when you are ready to apply for jobs in this field.
    - When your ready, apply and keep your mind open to looking within your community for different places and options you may not be aware of.
    - Go out and get it, don't let fear or uncertainty keep you from finding a job that will provide you with happiness.


    I'd also just like to quickly mention there are a few days left to enter the current giveaways going on right now for the Heat it Up Health and Fitness Giveaway.  14 bloggers and over 14 awesome health, fitness and running related giveaways.  You can visit HERE TO ENTER.

    Giveaway Blog Hop
    If your interested there are a few days left to add your blog to the list, for the giveaway blog hop that starts July 7th.  Make sure you read and agree to all the rules  HERE before you add your name to the list.


    So tell me, do you already have a job you love?  Do you have a job in the health and fitness industry?  Is it something you'd like to look into for your future?

    Great Way to Get Your Protein

    ProCakes Protein Pancake Mix was sent to me by ProCakes for my review.  I do not review products that I do not feel would be a good fit for my audience or are something I would not use myself.  All thoughts and opinions in this post are my own.

    Are you always looking for great tasting ways to get more protein in your diet?
    I'd like to tell you about a great product I just tried called ProCakes.  With over 20 grams of protein per serving, gluten free, no sugar added, and only 165 calories per serving.

    The products claim was that it not only provides you with a high amount of protein, but that it will satisfy your hunger cravings.  A lot of you know I have been in the process this past month changing my diet, into an even healthier lifestyle.  So I am always looking for low calorie options that make me fill full.
    One serving of pancakes (3 pancakes) is only 165 calories, and since I try to keep my breakfasts at or around 200 or less calories, this was a perfect fit for me.

    ProCakes were super easy to make, all I had to do was mix 1 egg and 1/3 cup 2% milk in a bowl and then add the pancake mixture, mix and then put them on the grill.

    Sometimes when you eat something that is healthy and good for you, you have to sacrifice a little of the taste.  But not with ProCakes they tasted pretty good.  I would definitely eat these again for breakfasts.
    I did add a little buttery syrup to mine.  If I had, blueberries on hand I would have loved to stack some of those on them too.  But overall I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed them.

    ProCakes one serving is 3 pancakes and generally when I eat pancakes 2 is my limit, but since the calories were lower I went ahead and ate all three.  I honestly did feel very full after eating them, I easily could have just ate two and likely would have had my fill.
    I love this because when dieting the worst thing is to eat and then thirty minutes later your stomach is already hungry.  Not with these, I didn't even snack again until lunch.

    I did enjoy these pancakes, they filled me up and tasted just like a pancake should.  They are quick and easy to make and I love the low calories and of course the fact that you get 20 grams of protein.  So yes, these are something I would try again, and definitely a product that I recommend you try.

    ProCakes is a fitness inspired company that provides healthy and delicious ways for active people to start their day or fuel their workouts.  Our products are mindfully macro-balanced, offering a healthy dose of carbs, fats and protein - the building blocks for a strong, lean body.
    You can also visit their website and learn more at ProCakes.com

    Fragile Spirits by Mary Lindsey - A Book Review

    Fragile Spirits by Mary Lindsey is actually the long awaited sequel to Shattered Souls.  I say long awaited because I read Shattered Souls a couple of years ago.  I loved Shattered Souls it was the perfect mix of supernatural, reincarnation mixed with ghosts, death and future lives and a great romance between the main characters Lenzi and Alden.

    I was assuming that this sequel would be a continuation of Lenzi and Alden's story.  But I was completely wrong in my assumption!  Which is why if you haven't read Shattered Souls, this review will NOT be a spoiler because Fragile Spirits is actual the story of Paul.  Paul was in Shattered Souls, but the story really wasn't about him at the time.  This time, he not only gets a chance to tell his story, but he's also the main character.  Yes, for lovers of Lenzi and Alden, they are still in this story, but they take a bit more of a backseat in Fragile Spirits.

    Paul has been training since he was a young child to be a Protector.  He is one of the best the IC has ever see, and he's been looking forward to the day he would be assigned his Speaker and together they can help all of the lost souls lingering in the world of the living.  By helping them with their unfinished business so they can move onto their next life in the world beyond death.
    Paul follows the rules, does everything by the book.  Which is why he was thrown for a real spin when he finally receives his assigned Speaker Vivienne.

    Vivienne is nothing but extravagant, from her hot pink hair, down to her goth like look from head to toe.  She is one of the more gifted Speakers.  The only problem is, Vivienne isn't interested in speaking to the dead.  Which is supposed to be her exact purpose.  She' also not interested in doing anything she is told, or following any set of rules.  Which sets things up for an interesting predicament since she is the Speaker matched up with Paul, who does nothing but follow the rules.

    They hate each other from the start, and only have a week to decide if the pairing will work.  If Vivienne accepts the pair, she is also accepting the fact that she will be reincarnated for an infinity of lifetimes to work with Paul.  Paul doesn't have a choice since he is just the Protector, he can't imagine two people any more opposite than he and Vivienne.

    But then spirits, even dangerous malevolent spirits that are far more stronger than the new pair are thrown into their lives.  They soon realize that sometimes fate picks you and possibly they might just be the perfect fit for each other and their lifetime upon lifetime job.
    Additionally, we get an insight into Paul's life.  Where he came from, the mystery behind his life.  Vivienne also has secrets of her past that tie into things that throw quite an interesting spin from the original Shattered Souls book.

    I enjoyed Shattered Souls a bit more than Fragile Spirits just for all the surprises and guessing with Lenzi and the fun and witty writing.  However, although that was my favorite of the two.  Fragile Spirits was also a great read.  It still had the author's witty tone and it was a really fast read.  Which I liked.  Although there is always an opening for a sequel, it is a stand alone book.  Even if you hadn't read Shattered Souls you could jump right into this one and enjoy it start to finish.  Personally, I really enjoy Mary Lindsey, so I am excited to see what she comes up with next.  She's great at writing stand alone books, as I also really enjoyed Ashes on the Waves.

    Mingus Mill, Great Smokey Mountains, NC

    One of the places I love is the Great Smokey Mountains.  Inside them are several treasures to explore and discover and see.  This week for Travel Tuesday I'd like to take you to Mingus Mill, North Carolina.  You can actually get to this Mill from about 1/2 mile North of the Oconaluftee Visitor Center

    This grist mill was built in 1886, and was powered by water turbines instead of what a lot of the old mills that were powered by waterwheels.
    If you go inside during visiting hours which when I went were between 9-5, you can watch a miller do a demonstration as they demonstrate the process of turning corn into cornmeal.
    You can actually purchase this cornmeal to take home for your own use later on as well.

    You can walk along the trail next to the Mill race, and explore it.  Everything has pretty much stood the test of time here.

    I personally found it to have quite a bit of beauty to it all.

    You can walk the Millrace, toward the mill and get the full understanding on how using water alone it is all powered.  This is I guess you can call it man made waterfall coming off of the Mill after the water came through to power it.

    So when I visited this area it was just after opening weekend in the park, and it was early April.  Which also means it was just before all the little buds on the tree's were on bloom.  So if you visit this area late spring, through summer, you can tell it is a beautiful lush forest.  I imagine visiting it in the fall, with all of the fall colors would be spectacular as well!  They are closed in the winter, I believe closed November through March each year.

    IF YOU GO:

    * Because this is a National Park, you will have to pay the park entrance fee to visit the park.
    * The mill is just one sight to stop and hike around and see.  There are plenty of other areas.
    * Great Smokey Mountains is home to lots of black bears, they will for the most part ignore you.  If you do see one, keep your distance and watch them from afar.
    * FYI: This section is in the North Carolina end, where you can find lots of interesting Indian exhibits just outside the park.

    Random Q&A & Weekly Recap

    Here is my brief weekly re-cap

    - I got back into running/walking again this week.  Not much but its a start.
    - This past week was a week of accomplishments, I got a lot of stuff done that has been sitting waiting for me to do.  I wrote myself a list and I hope to finish the rest of it this week:)
    - I was asked to be on a committee to help organize a local 5k for August and I accepted.
    - I've kept to my new diet and healthy eating plans (near) perfectly.  It's getting easier and easier each day.
    - Read two great books and started a 3rd.
    - I learned why I shouldn't be allowed to play computer video games.  When going in to delete them from a new laptop I clicked to play one to see how stupid it was only to discover countless hours later and only when I finished the last level on the game that I was addicted.  Not good, and I won't even tell you which one because that will make this sound even dumber:)

    I started a new inspirational Sunday series, here are last and this weeks posts.  I'd love it if you'd let me know if you think its a series I should keep up or not:)

    My favorite quote of the week


    I've done this a few times before and thought it would be fun to do it again.  I had found this site a while back asking over 800 random questions, so I just randomly picked numbers and here are my answers.


    *  Would you ever want to learn to fly?
    Yes, if I could afford it I would love to take flying lessons:)

    *  What is your favorite sci-fi film or show?
    I am really loving the TV show ARROW right now, I think it is mostly because he is so dang hot!

    *  Do you love or hate roller coasters?
    Love them, I can go on them over and over.

    *  Have you ever sailed a boat?
    Not a sail boat, but I would love to!

    *  Do you know CPR?
    Yes, in fact I took this awesome college class where we learned how to save people's lives in dozens of scenario's.  Our final was a bloody triage, where actors came in and we were in the dark (the setting was a collapsed stadium) and an EMT followed us around as we had to go from person to person and decide who to save and how to save them.  They had fake blood that would spray out of fake arteries and it was messy if we didn't stop the blood correctly the victim would die and we would fail the test.  Additionally, they had fake vomit that smelled real, and if the EMT yelled "Quit Breathing" you had to turn and give CPR (not on a real person for this part only.) to a dummy that was set up to vomit in your mouth.  The smell alone was bad enough, I have never been so thankful to be at the end of the alphabet as darn, they ran out of fake vomit just before I went in for my test, LOL
    It was an awesome class I learned so much, hopefully I won't have to use it ever.  But if I ever do, I feel a bit more confident.  (FYI I passed the tests:)

    *  Have you ever cheated on a test?
    I'm not proud of it, but yes.  I had a hard time in math and my teacher in high school didn't have the patience to help me.  So he would tell me to copy off the girl behind me and at the time I figured if I had teacher permission why not.

    *  Have you ever ridden a motorcycle?
    Yes, in fact in High School when I took Driver's Ed, my friend and I took the motorcycle class at the same time for the fun of it.

    *  Do you have popcorn with a movie?
    Of course, is there any other way?

    *  If you had a year off what would you do?
    (more or less) I actually did take the years off in 2011 & 2012 and that was when I traveled and hiked all over the country and ran 29 of the different state marathons.  Depending on the state I spent 4-17 days in each state exploring.  It was also a great time of self discovery, helped me re prioritize my life and what I wanted to do in it.

    *  If you and a friend wanted the same thing, would you let them have it first?
    Depends on if we are talking about guys or something else.  If it is guys, its a pretty known fact with me that I wouldn't let them go after them first haha.  However, anything else of course!

    *  Have you ever been caught in the wrong, and knew there was no way to get out but tried to dig yourself out anyway?
    Oh so many times, LOL.  A funny one to mention.  Once years ago, one of my first jobs after college I was working in collections and I had this phone hooked up to me and if I left myself on "green light" then I could talk to callers and my bosses could hear me when we weren't on a call we were supposed to mute it.  Well I was talking to the person next to me and left my light on green not muted, and I was telling them how awful and uneducated our boss was among other things.
    He was listening the entire time, and called me over to his desk and told me he heard and asked me if I really thought he was a bad boss who didn't know what he was doing.  Realizing I had been caught I decided why lie, so I said "yup, am I fired now?" He told me no but that he thinks I should take the rest of the day off.  When I went back in the next day expecting the worst, he asked me out on a date instead. hahaha seriously!  I declined and pretended it never happened and then quit working there for other reasons a short time later.

    *  Have you ever accidentally set fire to yourself?
    Yes HAHA and I should throw in purposely.  When I was a kid we used to spray our hand in bug spray and then light a match to it and then thrown our hand in a bucket of water before it started to burn our skin.
    I don't have a logical explanation on why we actually did that.
    But then again your also looking at a girl who around the age of 10 would to jump on a trampoline with her friends and we would light up those little colorful fireworks that spin super fast and go different colors (I think they were called flower spinners) as they dance around us and flew over our heads.  Oddly we were never injured and never lost an eye, but the trampoline sure had a lot of holes burned in it.  
    I know your probably wondering how I ever lived LOL.  Sometimes I wonder that myself, but I wouldn't trade my fun memories:)

    *  Have you ever made someone cry?
    Recently anytime I tell my baby nephew "NO" he breaks out in tears as if I ruined his day, LOL and forgives me right after he's finished crying.

    So now you know even far more about me than you ever cared to:)    Pick a random question above and I'd love to hear your answer!

    Also, the Current Heat It Up Health & Fitness Giveaway Blog Hop is going on right now, if you haven't already entered them, CLICK HERE.

    Also if you are a blogger, you can join up on my last giveaway of the summer by CLICKING HERE.  It's the last time to get in on one of these fun ways to grow your blog for a while.  I won't be hosting more of them until later this fall.

    Be Your Own Kind of Beautiful

    We've all seen it without seeing it.  Sometimes it can be found in a complete stranger, and other times it may be someone we know.  Its not something that you can really take a picture of, it's not something you can hold in your hand and it's not something you can buy.  Instead it is something that comes from within, the thing that makes you look at a person and just want to be around them, spend time with them or just get to know them better.  This thing is called inner beauty.

    Finding your inner beauty is easy, but it is also just as easy to lose that beauty.  They key is not only to find your inner beauty, but keep it with you at all times.

    How do we do this?  It's fairly simple actually and asking ourselves a few questions can point us in the right direction.

    How do you treat others?  
    How do you view your life?  
    Are you positive, confident, are you happy?  
    How much time do you spend helping others?
    Have you put down anyone else today or recently?

    Inner beauty will make you shine among others.  You'll stand out, and others will want to be like you, they will want to be around you.  It won't matter if you didn't apply make up, or your clothes are wrinkled.  It won't matter if you're having the worst hair day ever, or you feel like you need to lose a few pounds.  People around you won't see any of that, your flaws will be ignored.  What they will see instead is an inner beauty of someone that inspires and makes their life better.

    I give you a challenge, a simple thing to do each day.  Every morning when you wake up, ask yourself one question.  How can I make another person's life better today?
    Then do it!

    If each day you are looking for one act, simple or great.  It won't matter which when it comes from the heart. One act you can do for someone else that will help make their day better.  I guarantee not only will you find more happiness within your own life, but your inner beauty will be begin to shine more and more.  That one act of kindness each day will become second nature and before you know it you will master the art of Inner Beauty.

    Switching Sports Bra's

    I was thrilled when I found out I was going to have the opportunity to try VSX SPORT - Incredible By Victoria's Secret Sports Bra & VSX Sport Socks.

    When I first received cute pink stripped box in the mail, I couldn't wait to open it, inside I found the bra in the size I requested, 6 pairs of fun colored sports socks and a Victoria's Secret Pink bust measuring tape.

    The Measurement Tape has the correct instructions on how to find the correct bra size.
    To be honest, I knew how to do this before, but it was a great reminder!  Just the same, I did a quick measurement to make sure I was actually the size I thought I was.

    The color is a much brighter yellow in person
    My camera didn't do the shade accurate justice in this shot.
    Next, I couldn't wait to go and test out the new sports bra and compare it to my old sports bra's.
    I love the color, yellow and gray.

    It's a sports bra you put on over your head and neck, but it actually has an adjustable back closure with 3 different hooks to fit you best.
    I love this feature because when you take it off after a sweaty workout you can loosen the clip open in the back first, so you don't feel like you are going to have to dislocate your arm to get it off.  (Girls who sweat a lot in workouts know exactly what I am talking about, when you go to take off a sweaty sports bra.)  *There is a picture of this feature below.
    The sides and back have mesh, so it allows for a cooler feeling when you are sweating.
    It's also super soft and the cups are cushioned as well as cushioned arm straps.

    Back view of bra
    At first when I noticed the under wire built in cups I wondered if having this was going to add a bounce factor when I run.   My old sports bra didn't have a wire or built in cups, it was purely made to compress and push me flat for the least amount of bounce.  Before the VSX I just assumed that is what I needed, and that was the only way to avoid the bounce factor.
    I was wrong, this bra actually holds you in place really well.  Even with the built in cups, you get form with very little bounce.  I was kind of shocked to be honest.  If you are doing lots of jumping, yes you will still bounce a little, but I didn't notice hardly much of that while running.

    Adjustable back closure
    The tag said it was a seamless technology.  But in my opinion their are seams on this bra.  However, not major, they are enforced to feel as flat and seamless-like as possible.   Which for shorter runs I don't see a chaffing problem.  However as I get into longer runs, I can see that this could cause some chaffing (time will tell).  However, one of my previous sports bra's was seamless an I still had a little chaffing with that too.  I also have an old sports bra with seems and a back hook system, and I experienced only minimal chaffing during marathons in it, so I am not really worried with my new bra.  I use Vaseline to keep from chaffing and if I end up needing it in the future with this bra, it should work just as well.

    I'd also like to mention this bra does have the moisture wicking technology, so this will definitely help reduce chaffing and actually help keep you cooler during workouts!

    As for price, the price of the VSX bra is oddly exactly the same as I was paying for my old sports bra.
    So the question is am I making the switch?  YES!
    VSX has been added as an approved for running sports bra for myself.
    Truthfully, its kind of nice to feel like a girl in a sports bra.  Honestly, in the past I always used bra's that compressed, and when I say that I mean pushed me near flat.  It's refreshing to know you don't have to look flat as a boy in a sports bra when you run!

    At the same time as testing out the new awesome sports bra, I tried out a pair of the mesh sports socks.  First I loved the colors I received; light and dark purple, orange, light pink, hot pink and a bubble gum pink.  The socks have the "Ultra-Fresh Protection" in them, to resist the growth of odor causing bacteria.  They were also perfect fitting for my size 8 foot, and I could already tell slip resistant.  Additionally they were seamless, which can help prevent blisters.  Additionally, they are non-cushioned.  I know sometimes you need a more cushioned sock but for regular workout training, you don't really need it.  Especially in the hot summer months, a cooler sock is much better!  I love these, and I love the colors!  These socks have been and are going to get a lot of use from me!


    Do I recommend VSX?  Yes, as I visited their online website I learned they actually have other workout clothing in their sports line which I am excited about.
    I have worn Victoria's Secret bra's in my daily life through the years, and I have always been impressed with their merchandise quality.  Before receiving this, I honestly didn't know they carried a sports collection, and now after trying it out, I can honestly say they make the sport collection with the same great quality that you expect from their brand.
    If you haven't tried them before, go in and visit a store location, get properly fitted for your own new VSX bra and give them a try.  FYI their Semi Annual Sale is going on right now!

    Disclaimer: "This is a sponsored blog post. Influenster provided me with complimentary Victoria's Secret products to test and review as part of a contest."