It’s my birthday! My 40th – eeeeek! {or as a very dear friend likes to remind me… I’m starting my 41st year. The jury is out whether or not he remains a very dear friend at this point}

I haven’t been dreading today like I thought I would. {that was a lie right there}

I’ve taken the last six months to reevaluate a lot of things. I made some promises to myself – some intentions – that I wanted to keep. The honest truth is this… I’ve been successful in a few of them and failed miserably at others.  I’m super proud of the fact that I have taken better care of myself physically. I was not in good standing with my body six months ago… I had let the busyness of life get in the way and I was in terrible shape. I knew that I did not want to face 40 feeling that way so I made some significant changes that allowed me to lose about 20 pounds and 3 sizes so far. (slow clap for myself) I feel better at 40 than I did at 20! My best advice about that is find a community of people who know more than you do and let them coach/encourage/fuss/challenge/push you into doing things that you are too much of a pansy to do on your own. {as my 7 year old likes to say these days, “BOOM… SCIENCE!”}

{that’s good preaching right there!}

I have also invested in some friendships that have proven to be life-savers for me. THIS IS BIG, loves. If there is anything I could say to you that will bring the most change in your life it is this… Stop being afraid to open your heart to people. Invest Invest Invest in the lives of your friends and family. Be intentional in how you relate/create moments with them and I promise you will not regret it.

I also invested in some relationships that did not end so well… and you know what? That’s ok, too. I don’t regret it one bit. You love and you learn and you move on when necessary. I love hard and so when relationships come to an end, I fall hard. But on my list of things to keep doing as I move into this new phase of life is to keep loving, to keep trusting and believing that people are GOOD and they are WORTH investing in even when the outcome is not assured. Love is worth the risk every damn time.

There are SO many things I want to accomplish in this next half of my life. I’ve got some big ass dreams, people. I may not know how to fully accomplish them just yet but I’m making moves in that direction. One of them is to get over my irrational fear of public dancing. I don’t know if it is because I grew up in a crazy conservative home and was never allowed to dance or because I’m just that bad at it – but it’s something I need to conquer. I need to not look like this ever again…

I was so uncomfortable. Too many sweaty bodies. Too much beer being sloshed out of cups and onto my dress. Too much of a chance that I would humiliate myself. I’ve made promises to my friends about my intention to dance at my birthday party this weekend. I regret those promises like WOAH but I know they were necessary. We’ll see how it goes – my friends better be prepared to buy me lots of Bourbon in preparation for the dance floor Friday night. {I realize the dream to dance well in public should not be considered a “big ass dream” – let me assure you there are other things on my dream list that are indeed in that category that I am not willing to blurt out just yet}

Of course I want to do all kinds of things this year… I want to be better with money, I want to see some things accomplished that I know are right for THIS TIME, I want to go on adventures and love on more people, I want to forgive more and care more and cuss less…

The bottom line is, today is a big deal only because birthdays like this have a way of making you think about your life… about the successes and failures… about the challenges you have overcome and the ones you are yet to face… about how many wrinkles are going to spontaneously erupt around your eyes or all over your neck… the list is long, people, but let’s just stop riiiiiiight there.

Before I get to the recipe… {I almost forgot about the food!}… a few more thoughts:

1. Gosh this is so important! Don’t let yourself settle for any friendship/romance/career move/location change/restaurant choice for dinner/what color socks to wear today…  that doesn’t make you feel like your heart may burst wide open. Life is TOO DAMN SHORT to waste it on things that don’t remind you how fantastic you are or how beautiful the world is.

2. One of the things I am most proud of is that I have figured out how to swallow my pride and find help when I need it. That has meant a lot of things… finding a good therapist and TRUSTING him with all the shit… calling my best friend for the 147th time to get her opinion on what I just did AGAIN… allowing my family to help me when I need it but don’t want to need it… running to God because NO ONE knows better what I need than my creator. Pride is a bitch, loves. Don’t let it stand in the way of progress, ok? Ok.

3. Take better care of yourself. {this is my segue into the recipe part of this post!}

I don’t eat right all the time. I’m about a 75%-er. Part of that is the hazard of this job and part of that is simply because I just love the hell out of food. But I have come to understand that the biggest obstacle between me and ripped abs is my diet. More than the gym, more than supplements, more than sleep… abs are created in the kitchen. That’s tough for me. I have almost equal love for food and toned muscles. {sigh} So I have been trying to incorporate more whole/clean foods into my diet so that I can keep inching in the direction of defined abdominals.

But even if you have NO CARES WHATSOEVER for more muscle definition, we all need to take better care of ourselves. We only have one body and it’s much more fun to go through life with one that feels amazing, yes?

This recipe is not rocket science. There is no cooking involved so it’s easy enough for anyone to add to their regular food rotation. I discovered Acai bowls through a friend of mine at a little shack on my way towards the beach. My favorite one has always been the Peanut Butter Acai Bowl – YOU GUYS IT’S SO GOOD. However, my budget and my schedule have not allowed me to visit said quaint shack as often as my stomach would like. So I figured out how to recreate it at home. Acai berries are crazy high in antioxidants as well as essential amino acids, electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, fiber and omega 3-6 & 9! The addition of banana, organic no sugar peanut butter and some other magic makes this smoothie bowl a to-die-for treat with zero guilt!

*Ingredient list in the recipe card section at the bottom of this post!

Throw the acai puree, peanut butter, 1 banana broken up into chunks, frozen berries, juice or almond milk into a blender and puree until smooth.

You want it to be thick, but you can add more liquid if the mixture is too thick and won’t blend.

Top with sliced banana, chopped dark chocolate and some fresh berries and the granola. Drizzle with some local honey if you have it and enjoy!

I sure do love you all! (especially YOU!)

All photos by Matthew Ray

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