Category: Just me rambling on

5 Years – Thank you!!!

Today is 5 years of the official first post of Project Refined Life! I want to thank you for allowing me to share my project of how I have been refining, growing and healing my life with you!

Over the years, I have changed and so has this this site. With the help of many teachers and the beautiful souls that have surrounded me, supported me and wiped tears from my face at times; I have shifted from a place of just trying to manage my hurt into a place of peace.

This blog started as a way for me to bringing awareness to drunk driving while offering information, product reviews and events for families. With my growth, this blog has now become a landing spot to contact me for more information about yoga and methods for healing.

I been very busy these last couple of years and it’s now time for me to share what I have learned. Over the next couple of weeks, you will see changes to the site as well as new offerings.

Although my journey into learning and refining the body, mind and soul is far from over, I am anxious to share what I have learned with you.

From the very essence of my being, Thank you, thank you, thank you for the support during my growth and healing. May these first 5 years be just the start of many years and healing to come.








You’ve Changed

When someone makes a comment to that effect, I am thankful! Let me clarify that I make an ongoing effort to assure that I do change! WE are supposed to change, to evolve, to always better ourselves.

I don’t want to be the same person I was last year, last month even last week. I must continue to expand my mind and soul. Even if it displeases others.

I am fully into my “project” of refining who I am, my purpose and my place. When I started this blog/website (just a few days away from 5 years ago) I never thought it would lead to this. I simply wanted to let others see my journey into a space of healing. Over the years my blog has shifted and changed into what it is today.

This journey has brought me to a place where I am able to help others heal and refine themselves as well. This is my path! I have been busy with classes, workshops, reading, researching and putting into practice all of these things. I can not sit and wait for life to happen, day after day.

I am on an endless path to seek and receive knowledge and wisdom – without it, I would be stuck. My energy would be stagnant and that would be a waste!

Do not ever allow anyone and definitely do not yourself to put a limit on yourself. Don’t allow yourself to hit a plateau without continuing to the next level. Never stop learning, exploring and healing yourself.

The change within you will displease some but it will greatly impact most! So my friends, take it as a complement when others say to “You’ve changed” you may even want to say thank you.



A Ritual for Wisdom

photo courtesy of

This morning’s ritual included a mantra for wisdom, 108 times to be exact.  Later in the day I went in search of some new sandlas…it’s hot here in Arizona. While trying on some sandals at my local Marshalls, I saw a bird fly into the store. I immediately thought “oh poor bird”. I knew that in addition to him becoming scared, some of the people in the store would also become sacred. Sure enough, he flew around the store, people began to scream, the bird become nervous which made him fly faster and made more people scream.  The staff came out and grabbed clothes off the rack with the hangers attached, attempting to catch this bird. I was standing there praying that the staff would open the doors and that he would just fly out. Finally, the staff did open the doors but he just kept flying around the store.

I so desperately wanted to help this bird, I stood there sending out unspoken words, asking that he calm down and relax for a few seconds so he could observe the situation and find his way. This went on for a good 4 to 5 minutes. The next thing I knew he landed within 1 foot of me. I was shocked, this wasn’t a bird – it was a Burrowing Owl!

He looked tired, he almost slouched and looked right at me. I felt so blessed that he landed in front of me, all I could do at the moment was begin talking to him. So there I was, standing in the shoe aisle at my local Marshall’s talking to the owl and everyone in the store was standing there – looking at me talking to this owl. I told him how beautiful he was and that he would be safe but he needed to be calm. I told him he needed to fly out on his own or allow them to help him. He tilted his head a little, as if  he acknowledged our conversation. He straightened up and took flight again. It was seriously such an awesome moment. He flew towards the dressing room, I prayed for him again and somehow within a few minutes the staff was able to catch him and put him outside. He was safe and he took flight.

I don’t believe in coincidence, so having an owl land right in front of me inside of Marshall’s in the shoe department has me paying attention and ready to receive the message. Owl’s represent wisdom, intuition & change. The ability to see what others take for granted or do not see. 

Getting adjusted to our new life in our new home in Arizona has been both exciting and challenging. Finding our new community, schools for our daughters in the fall, new jobs, a yoga studio to teach at. Heck, just trying to find Costco requires the use of Mapquest. All of that is okay, we came here with full knowledge that being here was in essence, starting all over again. But I do get impatient for all the right answers, the right places, the right people. Yep, it’s was getting to me this morning and I was calling in wisdom to help me with some choices or clear paths for the right answers.

Talking to this owl today (yes, the owl and I talked just ask everyone in the store) brought me the preceptive, the wisdom I need in this moment. We will find the right jobs, even if it takes us a few jobs in between, our girls will be fine at their new schools and I will find a place that sells really great boba. (Seriously though…we haven’t found good boba place yet so if you know of any please let me know) So long as I am able to slow down, have faith, follow my intuition and allow change to come in it’s own time: all will be safe. All will unfold as and when it is meant to be.

So thank you Mr. Burrowing Owl, thank you for the moment of a lifetime. If he can slow down and just allow things to happen for his highest and greatest good, so can I.


My Journey Into The World Of Yoga

I’ve always loved yoga. It has always been a way for me to relax, feel refreshed, energized and alive. My vocal/piano teacher introduced the practice of breathing, mediating & some light yoga as a teenager. I remember thinking “Okay, this is cool but I’m here to sing and learn to play the piano. Why is she having me do this”. Looking back now I realize she was trying to open my mind, focus my energy and deflect the some of the negative influences and habits I had surround myself with.
As an adult, I practiced Yoga from time to time. In the mornings before heading off to work, at my local gyms, at a couple of the kick boxing gyms I belonged to. I tired out some studios here and there and with dvd’s. No matter what I was doing in life, no matter what season in life I was in, I always came back to Yoga. Last year, I made Yoga a part of my everyday life at a wonderful studio in old town Tustin called Yoga2 (Yoga Squared). This studio felt good, the energy was good and the teachers and students were friendly and kind. As soon as I started practicing on a regular basis, I knew this was something I needed to include as part of my being and on a bigger scale.
I began to feel and think differently. At this time I was already engaged in some courses and study’s which made the practice (asana), the words, the shapes and the thoughts I was experiencing during my Yoga sessions light a fire within me. This past December, I decided to take my love for yoga to whole new level and embark on a 15 week – 200 Hour Yoga Teacher Training course through Shanti Shanti Yoga School.

Mediating in the Grand Canyon

Deciding to take this training was a hard choice for me. I already had such a busy schedule, I was afraid of the commitment, scared of all of the studying that would be involved. I was older than your average yoga teacher and didn’t have as much flexibility as some of the yogi’s around me. Could I keep up with my family, my household duties and other outside commitments? I sat down and had a talk with my family to discuss how everyone’s life would be different (at least for 15 weeks) if I took this training. With the support of my family and despite all of the challenges – I decided to do it. The 15 weeks would come and go regardless of my taking this training, so why not at least try it.
Well, here I am in week #11. I must say – this has not easy but it has it been worth it! I have met some amazing human beings. I have discovered things about myself that need to change. I’ve discovered things about others around me that made me wake up. I am learning about SO many things and so many different perspectives. It’s been a humbling and an eye opening experience and I am loving every minute of it!

Quote from Winnie the Pooh.

In my daily life, I am beginning to prioritize my day and my life differently. I realized almost 12 years ago that although I plan my life ultimately there is a power much greater then myself that is control. I am however in control of how I respond to what happens in life. There are certain things in my life that I am okay with letting go of (folding the laundry is one of them). In all seriousness, I feel a huge shift in my life and it is due to this inner reflection that is required in this training. This training is unlike any other training or education I have ever taken part in.
If you have ever considered taking Yoga Teacher Training – do it! A few words of advice:
  • Look for a good school –  Find a school that is registered through Yoga Alliance. You want your training to count and many yoga studios won’t hire you if your teacher training wasn’t through a Yoga Alliance registered school. Very important, make sure the teachers/trainers are in practice, knowledgeable and kind. I feel like I hit the jackpot with my Yoga school of choice. They are all very professional, well trained and caring.
  • Don’t go big – when it comes to yoga teacher training, bigger isn’t necessarily better. Smaller class sizes means more individualized attention. They’ll get to know you and what your capable of. Don’t be a number.
  • Internship Programs – it’s scary to be sitting along side the teacher, teaching segments of the class or the whole class during  your training but so worth it. The opportunity to have a mentor guide you and prepare you to teach before you’re out there on your own is priceless. I appreciate every single word of advice and the direction I receive.
  • Keep a journal of how you feel and your thoughts on a weekly basis. I feel differently every week. There have been a couple of times I felt defeated and that I wasn’t cut out for this. But I’m still here – learning, growing and facing my fears. It’ll help to look back on your changes.
  • Be prepared – your life and your perspective will change and that’s a good thing. Embrace the changes that lie ahead and remain truthful to yourself.
There is still so much to learn. I am still nervous about my journey and my future as a Yoga Teacher. I am surrounded by some awesome examples of Yoga Teachers and people. At the beginning of my training I wasn’t sure if I wanted to teach but I now I am sure that I need to share this with others. It’s bringing an awareness into so many other areas of my life. Areas that I want to explore and learn more about. It has also brought into perspective things that I have already learned and how to incorporate them into what I what I am learning and what I will be teaching. I still have a few weeks to go and finals to get through but regardless of the outcome from this journey (Yoga Teacher Training) I know that my mind, body and soul will be better, more knowledgeable, more accepting, stronger and healthier because of this. Let the project continue!

Peace and Love,

Annette – Project Refined Life



Make Your Soul Happy!

Take the Time to do what makes the soul happy

Hello there, do you remember me? I’m still here but I have been on an extended “time out” from my blog. I decided to take some time to see what the next step in my life (and this blog) would bring in order continue to “refine” my life. It had become very obvious to me that I was out of balance. I needed to take the time to make my soul happy.

I was blogging about events to come and not sharing what was helping to “refine” my life. After all – I am the project. Although I love passing along fun, family friendly, cost effective educational nature & STEM based events. I knew that my purpose with this blog was about more then that.  I had strayed away from my initial passion of what I wanted to share when I started this blog.

I have started learning new things and brought a few old things back into my life that attribute to a more balanced life. I feel so much better taking some time for me. By once again feeding my mind, body & soul – I feel refreshed and excited and yes, sometimes scared all at the same time. This journey has become a new awaking for me and a very natural next step.

I will continue to blog but with more purpose and more balance. From time to time I will continue to share upcoming events that are rooted in things that inspire you and/or your children’s growth as a person. I will also share some of my personal and family adventures. My family I have visited some really beautiful spots this past year and I have so much to share. I hope you will continue to come along with me as I continue on this project of refining my life and hopefully shed some light on yours.




Another Angel is called Home


Another angel was called home. The very sad death of Baby Liam has hopefully brought some attention to result of drinking and driving. Baby Liam was in his stroller and was hit by a drunk driver. The parents came to terms with taking him off life support on Tuesday. Earlier today – one of my family members posted Baby Liams parnets interview on Facebook. I knew immediately that although I wanted to listen to these parents, it had to be done later in the day. At a time when I would be allowed some free time, a moment that I could be left alone to cry.

As a parent you never get over the loss your child. The hurt, the pain and the yearning that exists every single day never goes away. Every single memory brings both extreme joy and pain. I find myself constantly trying to keep the memory of my son very much alive. I never let those around me forget that I have a son in haven.

Watching this interview, made me cry and then I became upset. Upset that so many people feel it’s okay to drink and drive. In the interview the father of baby Liam said ” if you can afford to drink, you can afford to get an Uber. I couldn’t have said that better myself.

I get beyond upset when I hear of someone who is out drinking and wasn’t considerate enough to have a designated driver or to call a friend or Uber for a ride. It really isn’t any of my business if you don’t care about your life but it becomes my business when you put someone else’s life at risk. At that point, it’s everyone’s business.

I grieve for these parents; as they are sitting there being interviewed, sitting there being brave in an effort to reach someone…anyone that will listen. I knew what they were thinking before the father said it “if I can reach just one person”,

So here I go again – If you have children, take just one minute to imagine what it would feel like to be to told your child is gone. Not because they don’t want to talk to you or they are mad at you but because they are no longer alive. Their precious life, removed, gone because you selfishly decided that you having a drink and getting behind the wheel is more important than the well-being of anyone else’s life.


This blog was started as a way of me reaching out to people and to come out of the shell that I had built around myself. Why – because my son and his best friend (both just 17 years old) were killed – murdered by a drunk driver. It made me want to hide, It made me pull back out of life.

It’s been 11 years for my oldest Son and I lost Michael. We are still trying to pick up the pieces of our life. You see, like Baby Liam and most other victims of drunk drivers –  my son was healthy and strong. He wasn’t sick, there was absolutely nothing wrong. He had dreams, hopes and ambitions but someone decided none of those things mattered.

I am angry right now. I am angry for these parents who have been dealt a lifetime sentence of “what if’s. A lifetime of looking around at holidays and family gatherings and thinking “he’s not here”.

For these parents and the people around them, I pray. I pray for strength and the ability to be weak.  I pray that they don’t feel horrible when they smile or breakdown and cry because of a song. I pray that their family and friends remain close to them and the yet allow them space. I pray for forgiveness and grace not for the drunk driver but for each other. I pray for the friends and family of these parents. You see –  you will need to understand that there will be times when they get angry and that needs to be okay. There will times, days, hours that they will want to hide and not be around other people, that needs to be okay. Please give them grace and grant forgiveness and remember that breathing is hard most days.

I am still working on “refining” my life. Every event, every moment, every trip, every healthy meal….it all comes down to getting through what has become a my lifetime project.  Please watch this video. See the hurt, feel their pain – don’t disconnect! It’s uncomfortable and painful and it should be. Take it in and feel it for a just a moment. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes and help save a life. Just one life! If you don’t drink and drive, my sincere “Thank You” but now if you can please stop someone else who does. Take a stand before another angel is called to haven.

Baby Liam
Interview with tha parents of baby Liam.


Strive for Greatness

While out running errands today, I saw this sign courtesy of The Haute Room. I laughed at how ridiculously truthful and relevant this is. Why do we stop at a number? At what’s comfortable?

This is exactly why personal trainers, nutritionist and life coaches are so effective! We become complacent with being good enough. We often forget how incredibly good it felt to have the wind blowing through our hair while riding our bikes as children. How unstoppable, how invincible we felt.  We should never stop striving for the feeling.

One of my favorite songs is “Thrive” by the Casting Crows – it states “We know we were made for so much more than ordinary lives, It’s time for us to more than just survive, We were made to thrive”.

Life is short – we should always strive for more. Don’t become complacent – “Strive for Greatness” in everything you do. Thank you #thehauteroom for believing in us and for this incredible inspiration. I look forward to seeing more of your inspiring signs.

P.S. – Please, don’t burn yours ex’s house down.


Be Refined by Graciousness

Image courtesy of GL stock images
Image courtesy of GL stock images

Happy Valentines Day to all and a huge “Thank you” to Pastor Rick Warren for your message this morning which included this passage: 

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love – Ephesians 4:2 

Today, one of the people in my thoughts is focused on the person who helped me through the toughest time of my life. The 6 years spent in court, battling the killer of my son. Her son (who was also killed by a drunk driver) would have been 51 years old today. Every year on Valentine’s Day, I send her a message and let her know my heart and mind are with her.

Although the main thought today is mostly of that of a day for celebrating a couple’s love for each other, often we forget the day includes celebrating the love of those most important in your life, your children. I, just like this gracious woman who forever affected my life (whom I will always look up to) is hurting, missing a vital part of her life. So today I ask you to please be humble and gentle today. You have no idea the many hurts that may exist within the hearts and minds of those around you. Be gracious, don’t point out the faults in each other. Instead lets all focus on the greatness and strengths in those around us. Have mercy and extend graciousness to one another this week. I personally needed this reminder in my life this week.

I hope you have a beautiful and  heart filled week with your loved ones – not only today but always. Everyday is a gift, may you be refined by graciousness, hope and love in pleasure of the moments that each day brings.

Love and Peace,



Turning Lemons into Lemonades

We are a Girl Scout Family! I am the proud leader of a Girl Scout Troop made up of 1 Cadette, 8 Juniors, 2 Daisy Girl Scouts and some of the most dedicated Moms & Dads. On Sunday, we started selling Girl Scout cookies, It always amazes me at just how much people look forward to this once a year treat and at how supportive people are of this fundraiser.

Recently I got into an online discussion with some supporters of a certain “Food” girl who is in “attack” mode against Girl Scout Cookies (conveniently just as cookie season has started). She is going on about how unhealthy the “cookies” are. This whole conversation is just mind-blowing to me. We are talking about “cookies” right? How healthy is a “cookie” to begin with. Personally, I don’t know anyone that thinks “I’m going to make a change in my lifestyle, let’s start with cookies”. Girl Scout cookies or any other treat is not intended to be your main staple in your diet. I am very careful with what my family consumes, we eat mostly vegetarian meals and I don’t buy too many sweets but I do buy some. I know how precious life is and how extremely short it can be. Yes, you could make it even shorter by making bad food choices BUT don’t go through life denying yourself some of the simple pleasures in life and certainly don’t go through life tearing down an entire group of girls or boys main “fundraiser”.

Photo courtesy of ABCBakers
Photo courtesy of ABCBakers

This whole conversation made me even more committed to my daughters success in reaching their goals for this cookie season. You see, these girls desire more, they see a much bigger picture than this “Food” girl. I have followed her blog and facebook page for some time now and admire some of the changes she’s made within the food industry but it upsets me that “SHE” a women, has failed to see what she is doing. If “SHE” would like to inspire some healthy changes to our cookies that’s great – I’m in! She knows darn well that you always start at the top. Talk to the powers that be at GSUSA, request a change! I responded to this “Food” girl by sending her GSUSA’s email and mailing address but I’ve heard nothing back from her. I’m curious, did she ever even try to contact them and let them know her concerns?


Well “Food” girl, you have inspired me to turn these lemons your throwing at us Girl Scouts into lots and lots of Lemonades. Yes, “Food” girl – it just happens to be the 10th anniversary of Lemonades, which also happen to be Vegan and my favorite Girl Scout cookie!

For those of you who would like to purchase Girl Scout cookies, contact me – my daughters would be so grateful to you for helping them reach their goals. If you don’t like Girl Scout Cookies or don’t like where you “think” the proceeds might be going – we gladly take donations! We would love it if you could encourage others to donate as well!! Donations can go directly to the girl or the troop selling these cookies. Each troop has a different goal and different organizations they plan on helping. So be sure to ask them what they plan on doing with the proceeds.

Ohhh and “Food” girl, excuse us from your site at this time. All of us Girl Scout Leaders and Moms will be rather busy as we support our girls and help build Girls of Cougar, Confidence and Character.

Woman to Woman – I’m kind of disappointed that you don’t get it, on the other hand -“Thank you” for reminding everyone it’s Girl Scout Cookie Season and for helping promote our product.

Can someone please pass the Lemonades?




Unbundle this Winter

Unbundle this Winter

We spent the Thanksgiving weekend in Big Bear Lake. It’s was an absolutely beautiful weekend. This was the first time my girls where in the snow and to make it even more perfect it snowed for two days. You can see the joy on their faces in the picture.

I love Big Bear! When my boys were young, we went snowboarding there just about every weekend during the snow seasons. Then and now I did what any responsible parent would do, we layered up in the appropriate clothing and snow jackets to endure the weather.

During our Thanksgiving weekend , we stayed at the Black Forest Lodge (which is a great place to stay), its so close to the village our car trips were short. I encouraged everyone to keep their jackets on as we were entering in and out of the car so quickly. I didn’t want the girls (or ourselves) to get cold – don’t judge, we live in Orange County.

Even this morning I drove the girls to school with our jackets on. Well, guess what…It turns out that driving around with your jackets on puts you and your kids in danger! Although you adjust the seat belt to fit snug around your jackets, the jacket just creates more room between them/you and the seat belt. You are NOT secure.

Thanks to Subaru for sharing this video from the Today Show as part of their Rossen Reports showing just how dangerous it actually is. I had to share this information with you, from now on, our jackets will come off in the car. I urge you to watch this video and make a vow to “Unbundle this Winter”. Adults are in just as much danger as kids.

Please share this post with your family and friends. Take the vow to #unbundlethiswinter