5 Years of GFE and Lots of Thoughts on the New Year


gfe is five!

Is anyone else having trouble getting into the post-holiday groove? Or perhaps I should say out of the relaxed holiday groove? I’m fairly far behind where I “should” be with my blogging. I can’t say that’s too unusual for me though. My fifth blogiversary (birthday/anniversary) here on gfe just passed (on New Year’s Eve) and over the years I’ve found that blogging works best for me personally when I share what I like when I feel like it.

Five years. Like most passages of time in life, it feels like it’s flown by and yet been a long time as well. I won’t deliberate on that point or offer any “wise” thoughts on blogging at this time, but I am extremely grateful for all my kind readers and all my incredible blogging friends who I’ve met here on gfe and via my other site, All Gluten-Free Desserts (my one-year old “baby”). Thank you so much for being here and for all your amazing support! I’ll admit that it’s really hard to remember the time when my life did not include you all. I don’t think I want to remember that time. I’m way too used to having you hanging around here! :-)

I plan to continue blogging at both sites for sure, but I’ll admit that I’ve enjoyed being “offline” more recently. I’ve really treasured spending relaxed time with family and friends during these last couple of weeks. And with Mr. GFE. Because even bigger news than my 5-year blogiversary is that Mr. GFE has retired! “Retired” seems like such an odd word now. Both of us are too young to be “retired” and we both plan on working/”contributing to society” in some capacity for, well, forever, but the alarm clock is no longer going off at 5:10 am and we’re loving that! I feel like I’m catching up on years’ worth of not getting enough sleep. Honestly, we both think that part is pure heaven!

Plus, we’re making lots of plans for travel—“near” and far, to known areas and very much unknown areas (to us anyway), to see old friends and to make new friends. We’re purging stuff here at the house left and right, and when we’re not being productive, we’re just sort of really enjoying “being” for the moment, without very many parameters. My last job “outside the house” ended almost a year ago now, so I’ve been embracing blogging as primary activity ever since. It doesn’t look like that will change in the near future and, with Mr. GFE home, I’m more fine with that than ever. However, I will have to find my own new routine for blogging with him being at home or re-establish my old rather non-routine routine!

With the new year comes the inevitable discussion on resolutions. I feel almost the same way about resolutions as I do routines. They’re meant to be helpful and encouraging, but not “set in concrete” and not restrictive. I don’t make true resolutions at the start of each year for myself personally or for my blogs. I do make plans/goals, but in a semi-loose fashion. I have created a vision board for a good number of years. If you’re not familiar with vision boards, in simple terms, they’re a collage of all the things you want in your life. The vision board shown below is one I did for 2012. I decided to take a photo of this particular one because it’s a smaller one and photographs well. (Some of my vision boards are large and not easily photographed so that you can read them.) I don’t keep all of my vision boards, but the ones I’ve created the last few years I’ve enjoyed looking at from time to time, so I’ve kept them. They all have a pretty common theme of celebration and joy, too, so looking at any of them reinforces those ongoing goals for me.

vision board

My 2012 Vision Board

The idea of a vision board is that if you decide on what you want in your life and focus on it (even by just looking at your board daily), you’ll “attract” and bring those things into your life. I was totally skeptical about vision boards when I first learned about them. I was so skeptical that I only put one thing on my very first vision board. I cut out the logo from the brochure for our local Women’s Forum and pasted that on my board because I decided I wanted to be one of the presenters. I planned to add other things to that first board, but I never got around to it. That pretty small logo was the only thing I had on my vision board. Because it was the only thing on a pretty huge board (one of those tri-fold boards that the kids use for science fairs), even though I didn’t look at my board all that often, that goal was the sole focus when I did.

First Thing Ever on My Vision Board

Well, the next year I was invited to present at the Women’s Forum and I’ve been invited back every year since—woohoo! This spring will be my 6th year presenting two back-to-back sessions—the first on symptoms and conditions related to celiac/non-celiac gluten sensitivity and the second on how to eat gluten free easily. (Note:  If you’re a woman who lives in the greater Fredericksburg, Virginia area, this event is a really terrific one to attend. You get to choose four workshops to attend and there are usually about 100 terrific selections.)

I’m telling you that vision boards can be very powerful! A small group of friends of mine have a video chat each year to share our vision boards with each other. Verbalizing and sharing your goals with others you care about helps reinforce the importance of these goals in your life, and we all know the value of the support of our friends!

The best “resolutions” are the ones that make you feel good and the things Mr. GFE and I are doing/planning for our future all make us feel good. Isn’t that what life should be about? So I’ll keep setting those types of goals. A couple of posts on resolutions have really grabbed my attention lately, so I thought I’d share.

new year's resolutions, new year's goals, weight loss reality, how to get healthy, how to lose weight, Johnna Perry, In Johnna's Kitchen

First, there’s Johnna’s (In Johnna’s Kitchen) Seven Things I Wish I’d Known When I Weighed Over 300 Pounds and Decided to Lose Weight. (It’s part of her really awesome Soften Saturday series.) Without a doubt, losing weight, getting in shape, eating better, etc. is the #1 resolution according to polls and I think you’ll find that it bears true when you discuss goals with friends, too.

Johnna has been somewhat “private” about her weight loss/health story and I completely understand that. I always appreciate it when she and others “put themselves out there” to benefit others in their journeys. I recommend taking a few minutes to read her post and find out what worked (and didn’t work) for her when she lost a lot of weight, and what works for her today in maintaining a healthy weight. Healthy is a key word there and it’s not a single point in time. It’s not all about the weight as she shares in her post; it’s also about moving to that healthier place on an ongoing basis. There is no true homeostasis when it comes to one’s health. We always have to be “works in progress.”

new year's resolutions, new year's goals, how to lose weight, how to get healthy, Johnna Perry, In Johnna's Kitchen

Beautiful Johnna Perry (Beautiful “Before” and “After”)

I’ve read Johnna’s post twice already and I am certain that I will read it many more times. Most of us know logically that “lose weight fast” and “get the perfect body in 6 weeks” gimmicks don’t work, but let’s face it, it’s easy to emotionally get caught up in all the hype or the lure of a perfect face and perfect body in an ad. After a discussion between a few us on Facebook on this topic, Cheryl (Gluten Free Goodness) also shared an excellent post, which includes her own personal experience.

Probably one of the best New Year resolutions ever was shared in this post from Sarah Jenks, on having more fun—as your ONLY resolution. And Linda of Free Range Cookies made flourless Resolution Brownies because her resolution is to eat more chocolate. Lisa of Gluten-Free Canteen seconded that resolution when she shared her Chocolate Almond Doughnuts.

The point that Sarah Jenks made was that if you are focusing on having more fun, a lot of other good things are probably also going to come into your life. I firmly believe that. And in regard to Linda and Lisa’s resolutions, I’ll also tell you that when I’m eating good chocolate, I’m not eating a bunch of other stuff that doesn’t satisfy my cravings, but does make me feel bad about myself.

Cheryl Richardson, life coach and author, came up with a resolution last year, another single and powerful resolution. “What if your only resolution was to love yourself more?” This particular resolution is timeless, don’t you think? So it was no surprise that it was shared again this year on Heal Your Life’s Facebook page. As one reader said if you did that one resolution alone, chances are that everything else would fall into place. But if you need a reminder on what loving one’s self more really means, Richardson shares more details in her post. Another person commented that sticking to that resolution would be more difficult than sticking to any other resolution she’d made in the past. I nodded my head in agreement.

I re-shared resolution and accompanying image on my gfe page. One reader said “How about love yourself less and love others more?” Admittedly, I was disappointed to see that comment. But in a world that’s filled with narcissists who hog the media’s eye and, therefore, fill our “screens,” I did understand where that reader was coming from. However, while there are certainly some folks who do love themselves way too much, most of us love others much more than ourselves and we take care of them versus ourselves, almost always to our own detriment.


Cheryl of Gluten Free Goodness hosts a semi-annual self-care retreat/blogging event (in July and December) for that very reason. The December Sanity Retreat just concluded and she’ll be posting her wrap-up soon, but if this topic is one that interests you, you can find all the posts to date here in Cheryl’s last gratitude post in the series. I’ve participated as one of the hosts in the July session of the event and it always helps me do a much better job of my own self care.

Here’s another great resolution for 2014, one that continues along the same line of thought shared by Johnna, Cheryl, Sarah, Linda, and Lisa … wear the good stuff, use the good stuff, eat the good stuff, and do the good stuff! I mean why on earth are we saving the good stuff versus enjoying it? Who are we saving it for? As the old saying goes, you never see a hearse pulling a U-Haul.

Erma Bombeck wrote about her regrets on this topic long ago in this thought-provoking essay. One example from Erma’s essay … use the lovely candle that the friend gave you. Don’t store it away in the attic and find out later that it melted on its own without you ever getting to enjoy it.

It was Lillian (Lillian’s Test Kitchen) terrific post from her gratitude series on this very topic that reminded me of what a great goal using the good stuff is for life, not just for one year. Read her post to learn the story of her white cowboy boots.

new year's resolutions, new year's goals, gratitude,

Lillian’s Message: Don’t Save the Good Stuff … Enjoy It!

Maybe it’s time for us all to look at resolutions and goals a little differently this year. One of the commenters on Sarah Jenks’ post said she was done with “guilt cycle resolutions.” Hear, hear!

Let’s go forward and make this a year of having the most fun possible, loving ourselves and all that goes with that, not buying into the quick fixes, not choosing options that we know from experience are going to leave us feeling guilty and unhappy, and using all our best stuff all the time. After all, we totally deserve it!

Next up, I will share the Top 10 Recipe Posts for 2013 and the Top 10 Discussion Posts for 2013 as well as the Top 10 Posts of All Time on gfe!

Not just gf, but gfe!

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36 Responses to “5 Years of GFE and Lots of Thoughts on the New Year”

  1. Jenn on January 8th, 2014 3:49 am

    Congrats on 5 years, and on All GF Desserts! I can’t believe we’ve all been doing this so long… I’ve also enjoyed being offline a bit more, but still definitely keeping up the blog :) Wishing you a wonderful New Years and a happy and healthy 2014!

    • Shirley on January 9th, 2014 4:44 pm

      Hi Jenn–Thank you! It’s true … there’s a large core group of us who have been blogging for almost exactly the same amount of time, and then a few who have been blogging even longer. And, of course, there are lots more folks who are “new to the fold.” ;-) In general, I think we’re driven to post much more in the beginning of our blogs, but then we eventually find a rhythm that works for us. Holidays and life events can change even that “schedule,” but I’m so glad that so many of us will continue on. :-) Thanks for the lovely New Year wishes, dear. I’m hoping all the same for you! :-)


  2. SherriS. on January 8th, 2014 9:01 am

    Happy New Year to you! These are very uplifting ideas, Shirley. Thanks for sharing them with us. I’m glad that you and your hubs get to sleep in and I can’t wait to hear about your adventures.

    • Shirley on January 9th, 2014 4:47 pm

      Thanks so much on all, Sherri! I’m telling you sleeping in on a regular basis makes me kind of feel like I’m back in my 20s (pre-child and pets, of course). I am sure we’ll come up with a more regular schedule eventually and perhaps not feel the need to sleep in as much or as long, but for now it’s a fabulous experience. ;-) We’re having fun planning all our adventures and waiting for the cold to let up to start actually doing some of them!


  3. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) on January 8th, 2014 9:16 am

    Congratulations on five years! It certainly seems that blogging has changed your life in profound ways and it will be fun to see what this next stage of life brings for you and your husband as you continue to chart your course.

    • Shirley on January 9th, 2014 5:10 pm

      Thanks so much, Lydia! That is very true about blogging changing my life in profound ways. Leading my gluten-free support group and then going on to blog have sort of combined to be a “1-2-punch” for lots of interesting and exciting things happening the last 9 1/2 years. ;-) I am both very grateful and excited for the next stage!


  4. Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) on January 8th, 2014 9:49 am

    Oh friend, I am so excited for you and Mr. GFE! I can’t wait to see what you two crazy kids are up to! Maybe a trip to Atlanta is in order for you two…completely for selfish reasons. :)

    Happy New Year beautiful lady! xoxo

    • Shirley on January 9th, 2014 5:14 pm

      Awww, thank you, dear! Your words mean a lot and, yep, we’re still “two crazy kids”! Love that and thank you for it! :-) Now meeting up in Atlanta would be fun. Mr. GFE has relatives not far from Atlanta and has talked about visiting them in the not too distant future. So meeting up in real life COULD happen one day! ;-)

      Happy 2014 to you and your boys! xoxo,

  5. Faith on January 8th, 2014 12:19 pm

    Congrats on 5 years Shirley! What an accomplishment. I’m so thankful I found your blog and you!!! Continued success to GFE!!

  6. Jennette on January 8th, 2014 2:34 pm

    Happy anniversary! And 5:10am? Yikes! I’d be happy to retire, too :)

    • Shirley on January 9th, 2014 5:16 pm

      Thanks, Jennette! People around here who commute to NOVA get up far earlier than that even. That’s one reason why commuting was never an option for me! LOL Getting plenty of sleep seems almost luxurious! :-)


  7. sandra on January 8th, 2014 3:11 pm

    Congrats on your great site (sites) I always love coming here… We retired several years ago & I can tell you we are more busy now than when we were employed! So we are either getting slower in our golden years or else we are putting off today what we may do tomorrow!!!!!!or the next day…. no clock to punch…….
    Traveling to new places is always a treat….we go by motorhome & love it….

    • Shirley on January 9th, 2014 5:20 pm

      Hi Sandra–It’s always wonderful to see you here on gfe and you are always so generous. Thank you for that! Congrats on your retirement and I’m pretty sure we’ll never be lacking for anything to do either. And I already am following your lead on “well, we can do that tomorrow.” Suddenly things are not as urgent and it’s nice. :-) We’re usually either tent campers or B&B folks, especially when we travel by motorcycle (those are extremes, I know!), but we love travel so we’re having fun making plans! Just waiting for it to warm up some. ;-)


  8. cheryl harris on January 8th, 2014 3:55 pm

    Happy blogniversary! I can’t believe it’s 5 years, but I also can’t believe it’s JUST 5 years. I feel like I’ve been reading your blog forever!
    Thanks so much for the shout out for my posts. I really appreciate it!

    • Shirley on January 9th, 2014 5:22 pm

      Thank you, dear! And, yes, that’s it exactly … only 5 years and forever at the same time! You’re welcome on the shout-outs, of course. I so appreciate the love and support you give to others; it’s huge!


  9. Kalyn on January 8th, 2014 8:36 pm

    Now that the hubby is retired I do hope you can have fun and enjoy yourself more. Although I am supposedly “retired” and I work as hard as ever!

    • Shirley on January 9th, 2014 5:26 pm

      Kalyn–Well, I think we always find something to do to fill the “empty” spaces of time. Most of us anyway. When folks tell me they’re bored I am always amazed. I will never run out of things to do … on the blog and in life, in general. And that makes me pretty happy actually! I’m not surprised you are the same way. You have all your readers and fans, plus friend and so much family to spend any extra time with as well. ;-)

      Thanks so much for the good wishes! :-)

  10. Anne on January 9th, 2014 12:13 pm

    Congrats on 5 years! This is one of my top blogs. I enjoyed the discussion on resolutions…. certainly some things to ponder there.

    • Shirley on January 9th, 2014 5:27 pm

      Thank you, Anne! I’ve always appreciated you being a reader and your support! I’m thinking about those new kinds of resolutions daily, and feeling so positive as a result. :-)


  11. Alisa on January 9th, 2014 1:14 pm

    Wow Shirley, 5 years! You’ve definitely accomplished so much in that time. You and Mr. GFE deserve some retirement time and travel! So glad you won’t be leaving online though :)

    • Shirley on January 9th, 2014 5:29 pm

      Alisa–You always say the nicest things–thank you! You’re just one of the veterans (including some others who have commented already) who has led the way for me. I appreciate that, too. :-) Nope, not going anywhere. ;-0

      Thanks for all your support and current good wishes, dear!

  12. Sharon on January 10th, 2014 1:10 pm

    Congrats on 5 years! You were one of the first blogs that I found when I was first diagnosed over 4 years ago and your still the first blog I go to when I’m looking for a recipe or advice! Enjoy your husbands retirement and enjoy your sleep ( I now have 4 kids ages 7 months to 9 years old, so you know im not getting any and am incredibly jealous!). Thanks for all you do!! Happy New Year!!

    • Shirley on January 10th, 2014 6:09 pm

      Hi Sharon–Thanks so much, dear! That time has gone by quickly in that regard, because I remember when you were first diagnosed and we chatted quite a bit. It seems like just yesterday really! And you have a 7-month old now?! Congrats! We all kind of covet sleep, but I’ll tell you that when the kiddos (in my case, admittedly only one) leave, the house sure gets very quiet! It’s nice to have some compensation for them leaving home. You won’t have to “worry” about that for a while though. ;-) But I do hope you can get in some naps and magical sleep sometimes. It is a wonderful thing for sure. Hugs and Happy New Year to you!!


  13. Sarah || Celiac in the City on January 10th, 2014 4:06 pm

    FIVE years, kudos — happy blogiversary! I’ve been a fan since very early on in my diagnosis, so thank you, thank you, thank you for all that you do. :)

    I have no doubt you two will stay busier than those who work out of the home and are setting the alarm for 5:10am — enJOY each new adventure, traveling journey, walk around the neighborhood and meal off the GOOD plates.

    Here’s to a year of loving ourselves more, having more fun, and meeting here when we can, when we want, when we have time to share.

    Cheers, Shirley! xoxo

    • Shirley on January 10th, 2014 7:49 pm

      Hi Sarah–Thanks as always, my friend! Such a sweet message from you and there’s so much that you said that we can all aspire to and look forward to! :-)


  14. Kate {Eat, Recycle, Repeat} on January 10th, 2014 6:00 pm

    Shirley – great post! Good for you on taking time to relax and catch up on sleep. I had 9 hours every night while on vacation and it was indeed heavenly.

    You are so spot on with the emotional draw of losing weight quickly with some gimmick. I”ve taken a long break from losing weight in order to gain health, but now I am excited to move my body in new ways (dance, Crossfit) and to really listen to my intuition and not my emotions when it comes to food. My intention is to enjoy the weight loss journey this year, not make it hard on myself.

    Finally, I think if you love yourself unconditionally, than love will only naturally overflow into other people’s lives. And acts of kindness really help.

    You’re wonderful Shirley! Keep being you. And if you want to take your travels internationally, you will always have a host and guide in Japan for as long as I am here.

  15. Kathryn on January 10th, 2014 11:07 pm

    So many things to congratulate you on! Happy five years and happy one year on your wonderful blogs. Early retirement sounds awfully inviting during this crazy stage of life but I have a feeling you will fill your days and find fulfillment. If a trip to my area gets planned I’d love to share a meal sometime. I think your vision boards may be a tad bit more useful than my Pinterest boards and I’m going to give that topic some real thought. It’s exciting to see what you have done since starting your own. :-)

    • Shirley on January 13th, 2014 9:49 pm

      Hi Kathryn–Thanks so much, dear … on all! The days do fill easily and we’re just getting started. ;-) Thanks so much, too, for the invitation to get together when I’m in your area. Hard to tell when that might happen, but I’ll remember your invitation because getting together to share a gf meal would be fun! I know you’ve found a lot of great eating spots and graciously shared them on your blog.

      Please don’t overthink the vision board. You can start out by just cutting out words/pics, printing out quotes, etc. that appeal to you. Then loosely place them on a piece of cardboard or a free spot on a table or counter. Let the ideas “percolate” and see what happens. Eventually you can do more IF (or more likely WHEN) the mood and spirit strike. ;-)


  16. Ina gawne on January 11th, 2014 12:10 pm

    Congrats on 5 years Shirley…and on your husbands retirement! Wow…to sleep in! We are taking a mini vacation with lots of sleeping in..can’t wait. Hope you have lots of fun traveling and continued success with blogging! :)

    • Shirley on January 13th, 2014 9:53 pm

      Hi Ina–Thank you! Yes, sleeping in seems to appeal to everyone. It’s a glorious thing as you will soon remember on your mini vacay. ;-) Enjoy and thanks again for stopping by with the sweet wishes!


  17. Sharon Mc. on January 13th, 2014 1:52 pm

    Wow, Shirley. Five years!I found you and your support group through your blog. I think you commented I was the first to find the support group via the blog. I remember showing up at your house pregnant with Clara who will be five in May. Even though I haven’t made it to many meetings you have been such a source of support for me and I so appreciate that. My plans for 2014 include slowing down as much as possible, taking care of myself and practicing gratitude on a daily basis. My girls are growing up so quickly and I want to enjoy every bit of it. I am still struggling with digestive issues and will continue my quest for better health this year! Big hugs to you! XXXXX Sharon

    • Shirley on January 13th, 2014 10:11 pm

      Sharon–I remember that now! :-) Thanks for the super sweet memories and words, Sharon. It’s also been wonderful when you could attend our meetings or have reached out with a comment here or via email. No matter what I’ve always known you’re “out there.” ;-)

      Your plans for this year sound perfect as life does go by quickly for sure. I am sorry to hear you are still having digestive issues though. I hope that 2014 will bring you answers and good health, dear. Will be keeping you in my thoughts and prayers!


  18. Megan | Allergy Free Alaska on January 13th, 2014 4:55 pm

    Happy 5 year blogversary, Momma Shirley! I’m so happy for you, your success, and very grateful we’ve met and connected virtually. ;) You are an inspiration, a mentor, and have become a friend. Sending you lots of love!

    PS – Love the idea of the visual board! Your “smart cookies” was the first thing I zeroed in on! ;)

    • Shirley on January 13th, 2014 10:18 pm

      Hey Megan–You are very generous, my dear. Thank you so much! It’s been a true gift to meet you and become your friend via blogging!

      So cool that the smart cookies caught your eye! More proof that vision boards are not only fun to create; they work. I think I’ve been making much smarter cookies the last few years. ;-) Btw, kids can do vision boards, too. Just a fun way of presenting their goals and what’s important to them, and a great way to practice for preparing for bigger goals in the future.


  19. Maggie on January 14th, 2014 12:30 pm

    Wow!!!!! Mr GFE is retired, that’s so exciting! What a wonderful new chapter for both of you. I can’t wait to hear how it all unfolds. Congrats to both of you. I love that you can sleep a little later and enjoy a break from the structure. I also love Cheryl Richardson and have seen her speak twice. Delightful. She’s a breath of fresh air. And finally!!!! Happy 5 years to GFE. Thank goodness, you do so much for our community. xoxo

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