Lay Back and Claim Defeat

Image Courtesy of Dos Equis, Jonathan Goldsmith, and Imgur

Today’s somewhat amusing, but totally understandable, popular New Year’s resolution is:   Have better sleep.  I dunno whether the people making this resolution are wanting more sleep, more restful sleep, fewer nightmares, less being woken up by screaming children, or fewer hangovers, but I think we can all relate to wanting better sleep in one way or another.

So, we kicked off this particular resolution by following it and not getting up to write when we woke up, decided we were still sleepy, and recommitted to bed.  It’s perfect sleeping weather in Colorado.  Supposed to snow so nice and overcast and QUIET, and may I just say thank you for quiet Sunday mornings.  No neighbors slamming car doors, no neighbor kids outside yelling, just me and the kitties alone in a dark house is a good time to sleep off whatever cold bug I’ve picked up that’s trying to turn into bronchitis.  But I digress.

Better sleep.  To sleep better, you’re going to want to do several things.  Make your bedroom a comfortable sleep haven, make a before bed ritual, and make a sleep schedule, and commit to sticking with it every day. Even on weekends, even on holidays… it can’t always be done, but when it can be done, it should be done, and “I don’t wanna” is not a can’t.  So pick yourself a bedtime and hold yourself to it.  When picking your bedtime also consider what time you need to be awake, and give yourself some time to transition in the morning rather than having to rush through your morning routine to get to work or get everyone to school on time.  Your body and your brain both deserve to be treated more gently than that.

I recommend starting the day with some AM Yoga

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1st Month, 250 lbs, Upward Facing Dog Yoga Pose

which will add half an hour to your morning routine (plus any time spent getting into yoga clothes and pulling back hair and the like, which should be minimal), but is totally worth it to let your mind and body get used to the idea of being awake and being in use and feels amazing when your muscles are nice and relaxed from sleep.  After that you can get everyone fed including yourself a nice healthy breakfast,  then hop in the shower and go about your grooming and dressing routine and go about your day.

Don’t skip lunch.  You don’t have to go overboard, but do make sure to eat something healthy.  It keeps your metabolism going, but also makes sure you aren’t starved come dinner time and will help you minimize your calorie intake overall through portion control.  Did you know lunch used to be the big meal of the day where everyone sat around the table and ate a big healthy meal together before resuming their daily work?  I personally think that schedule is healthier for us, but modern life has made it far less convenient, so I won’t ask you to make that happen, it’s hard to have your big family meal when the family isn’t home.  But still, make sure you eat something, and not something fast food.

Think about what you’re doing with your body throughout the day, particularly as you get closer to transitioning to sleep, but all day.  Don’t take naps during the day.  If you’re hungry or overly full at bedtime, you’re going to be uncomfortable and it’s going to keep you laying there staring at the ceiling, so make dinner time regular too, and don’t over indulge.  Keep light snacks (like fruit or yogurt or peanut butter and whole grain bread or celery to put it on) around if you need a little something to not be hungry before bed.  Give yourself a cut off time for stimulants too.  Nicotine and caffeine take hours to wear off and will make quality sleep unobtainable.  If you like an after dinner coffee or tea, that’s totally okay, but reach for decaf coffee and herbal tea.  Save caffeine for the morning, or for lunch if you really have to have that soda.  If you are a dedicated soda drinker (you shouldn’t be, that’s bad for every part of you with no health benefits, but if you are) start switching to those caffeine free sodas with dinner.  If you’re a tea drinker, hold off on dumping sugar in it especially in the evening hours.  Try some citrus slices if plain tea is too bland for you. Also watch your alcohol intake (though we HOPE you’re still with us on the alcohol free January challenge), alcohol can make you feel nice and relaxed and sleepy and then wake you up at night when the effects start wearing off, or give you an awful morning when the after effects have kicked in.

Know your bladder habits.  We still want you drinking all that water we talked about, but you don’t want to look at the clock and realize you haven’t met your goal and try to cram it all in right before bed. Make it happen throughout the day so you don’t find yourself having to wake up for bathroom trips in the middle of the night.  Interrupted sleep is rarely restful sleep.

When it’s time to start transitioning to sleep, I recommend making your bedtime ritual no less than an hour, but I’d give it at least an hour and a half because, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, I think you should be fitting in half an hour of PM Yoga.

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1st Month, 250 lbs, Child’s Pose

We seem to have one of two lifestyles and not a lot in between, but our body either works hard all day and deserves some love and stretching and unstressing before getting into bed, or we’re sedentary all day at a desk job and then the couch and our body still deserves some love and to know that we care about it and still want to be able to use it even if we don’t as often as we’d like to and sitting all day is going to give you stiff tense muscles that need their own stretching and relaxing.  It is easier to fall asleep with relaxed muscles and a quiet mind.  Yoga will help accomplish that.

After yoga, take a nice hot relaxing bath or shower.  Don’t hesitate to give yourself the indulgence of some aromatherapy when you bathe.  We underutilize our sense of smell, and it has a huge impact on our mood and what our brain is doing in reaction to it.  For bedtime showers or baths look for shower gels or bath salts or bubble baths that smell like lavender, vanilla, chamomile, jasmine, sage, ylang ylang, or bergamot.  Men, don’t worry about any of those scents being too feminine, one because it’s 2017 and who cares anymore, but even more because if anyone does care don’t forget that you’ll be showering again in the morning and putting on all your manly products so no one will know what you smell like while you sleep except you and your partner, who has already deemed your level of manliness acceptable.  There are some REALLY awesome bath products at Bath and Body Works that combine lavender and vanilla that I highly recommend spoiling yourself with at least once if you can’t afford to make it a regular habit.  If you’ve ever shopped at Bath and Bodyworks you know it’s impossible to ever find the same scent two years in a row, but I first got some of these bath salts as a gift from my mother, no joke, when I was 14 years old. Which means they’re successful enough they’ve been making them for 20 years.  You deserve to try that.  If you are sensitive to bath products (they can encourage yeast infections and UTIs in some people), you can also purchase essential oils in the scent of your choice and gently rub a few drops onto acupressure points on your body after your nightly bathing, or you can dilute them with water and use a diffuser to scent the entire room and not just yourself.

After bathing then do your before bed activity of choice. Rub on lotion, exchange massages with your partner, write in that journal you should still be keeping daily, or get cozy with a good book (not SO good that you won’t be able to put it down and sleep.)  If you’re someone who routinely has trouble sleeping try some chamomile or sleepy time tea while you read or relax in the bath.  If tea isn’t your thing try some melatonin.  It’s a natural substance already in your body and won’t hurt you.  If you sleep better cold, turn down the thermostat.  If you have a hard time quieting your brain run a fan or a white noise machine.  Don’t have extra unneeded light, buy new shades or curtains if you need to.  Your brain needs dark sometimes, so don’t sleep with the TV on. Really if you want to have good sleep you won’t even have a TV in your bedroom. Your bedroom should be used for sleeping, your sex life, and any pre-bed activities, and that’s it.

Do remember to do that journaling.  Remember back at the beginning of the post when we mentioned avoiding nightmares?  Dreams are your brain’s way of trying to work things out.  Help it to not do it in freak out mode by taking some of the load off while you’re awake.  It’s one of the reasons we teach children to say prayers before they go to sleep.  Or why some cultures teach children to use Worry Dolls to tell all of their fears and worries and sadness to and then put under their pillow for the dolls to take away their worries in the night.  We need to let things out or we do lay there ruminating and let our brain turn around in circles all night.

Once you hit your bedtime, and this may be important the first few nights, but if you lay there tossing and turning and ruminating more than 15 minutes, get up.  Go to another room and do something quiet until you feel drowsy again.  Then make another go at it.  Don’t let bed become the place you quietly agonize over everything wrong.  Get up as many times as you need to, eventually one time will be the right one and the more you follow the routine the easier it will get and the less you’ll have to get up and the better it will work.  If you’re dealing with another issue like restless leg syndrome symptoms, then go see your doctor about that, but for the mean time my friends who have been diagnosed with it (I was too but declined treatment, cause meh, it doesn’t bother me often so I forget how much it sucks when it does) have suggested to get up and go drink a big glass of water, and to put a bar of soap under your fitted sheet. I have NO idea where anyone got that idea or why it works, but have verified it with multiple sources. Still go get yourself checked out though.

Don’t let your kids sleep with you, put them in their own beds.  You deserve sleep, they deserve sleep, you’re a parent, they’re a child, don’t blur lines.  Set expectations and boundaries and stick to them.

Pets can sleep with you though.  That’s allowed. You’re heartless if it’s not.

As for today’s list of tasks:
Do some laundry.  You may have a mountain of laundry stashed somewhere, like everyone I seem to know, but commit to doing a load of lights, a load of darks, and a load of delicates today.  Washed and dried and put away neatly.  If that means a trip to the laundromat, so be it, you’ll have the bonus of getting use multiple machines at once 😉

Clean your Master Bathroom.  Same routine you should be getting used to. Start at the top and work your way down. Dust your light fixtures, get the finger smudges and dirt off the switchplate, windex your mirrors, clean out your medicine cabinets and dispose of anything expired or empty.  Get your vanity or counter tops cleaned off and de-cluttered and organized.  Clean out your cabinets and any closets you might have.  Dust any shelves, wash any towels.  Scrub out your sink(s), clean out your drains, scrub the toilet both inside and out.  Scrub down the shower and/or bath, clean any windows and their fixtures.  Clean out that drain too. Polish up all your faucets and other metal fixtures.  Sweep and mop the floor and you’re done!

Use the Rowing Machine at that gym I’m sure you’ve joined by now.  Get in at least a good 15 minutes on it at a steady, brisk pace.

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1st Month, 250lbs, Rowing Machine.

Adjust the resistance as necessary to be a little challenge but not be killing yourself to where you can’t make it the whole 15 minutes.  If you still haven’t gotten into a gym, then do some cardio at home.  The rowing machine works both your legs and your arms, so find something that will do both, even if it’s jogging in place while making rowing motions with your arms while holding a couple of tin cans or something for weight.

Give yourself a Body Acne treatment.  No one wants to think about it but we all get blemishes on our backs, our buts, our inner joints, all sorts of unfun places.  They’re usually indicative of stress or an external irritant, but they can just pop up for no good reason to make your life a little more obnoxious. Back acne is so common it’s gotten it’s own trendy little name… Bacne.  There are a million ways to treat it, drinking an appropriate amount of water is one of them, but since we all hate them, let’s pay some special attention to them today. Even if you don’t have anything currently it’s good preventatively as well.   So we’re gonna take an Epsom Salt bath.

Super easy. All you need to do is poor 1-2 cups of Epsom Salts into the bathtub while you fill it with warm water (1 for small baths, 2 for large, 1.5 for normal), then soak in the bath 15-30 minutes, or more, it won’t hurt you. Don’t use anything else in the bath with you, no bubble bath or shower gels or anything, just use and the salt, though you may use a loofah if you want to for blood circulation and opening up your pores to maximize the benefits. After the bath drink at least 8 oz. of water, and that’s all there is too it 🙂

Since we’re already into the afternoon I’ll see y’all on Facebook shortly for the Question of the Day 🙂

A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on Amazon.com:
MP3: Who Needs Sleep?
Album: Stunt

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If There Is Any Work For Me

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, James Baldwin, and Alan Warren

The popular New Year’s resolution we’re focusing on today is “Get a New Job.”  That can mean 3 different things depending on how we slice it.  It could mean you’re unemployed and need a job, it could be you’re employed but unhappy at your job or in your position and want a new job or new position, or it could mean you want a second or third job.   They all have something major in common:  convincing an employer that you are the person they want to pick for the job.  So before we delve any further, let’s start with a Guided Meditation for being confident and calm during an interview to get into the right mindset.

The reason we’re starting with that meditation before you even have the interview is because you also need to be confident and calm in your process to acquire a job.  Whatever level job you’re applying for, be prepared with a resume.  When I was in school I had taken a vocational class all about finding jobs and they taught us how to compose a resume including things like hobbies and objectives and all manner of things that at least at any level of employment or job I’ve ever had, no employer has cared about.  Following that format I kept wondering why I wasn’t getting any call backs.  Turns out employers don’t really care if you like to go horseback riding and your objective is to pay your rent and you have a gorgeous duck-face selfie attached.

When I started getting calls for interviews is when I threw out the traditional resume template and went with telling employers what they care about.  I started my resume with a centered header including my name, address, phone number, and email address.  Use an email address that is professional and work appropriate.  Don’t be SnuggleKitten4UPurr@email.host.  Be FirstNameLastName@reputableemailservice.com. I was FirstNameLastName@yahoo.com… I’m pretty sure all my former employers have probably been sent porn claiming to be from my email address over the past three years since Yahoo’s huge data breach that they only recently decided to tell us about despite the fact that if you were affected by it you’ve known for those entire 3 years. I am going to suggest not using yahoo and going with gmail (my preference) or a windows live email address.  If you’re applying for any job that requires you to be tech savvy I’m going to advise not using an aol email address, cause really, you’ll be laughed at.  Regardless, set up an email address that you use only for work or job finding communication.

Following my header I gave a bulleted list titled “Summary of Qualifications” where I listed my experience and skills that were relevant to the jobs I was applying for.  Following that I listed my work experience, in reverse chronological order, meaning that my newest jobs were at the top of the list.  Don’t list any jobs you were at less than a month (or I would say even 3 months), you can talk about those in the interview, but you don’t want to be tossed out before you’re in the door for looking flakey and unreliable.  Don’t go back more than ten years unless you have only had extremely long term jobs and don’t have much to list and the 10+ years ago job is really relevant to the position you’re applying for.  I listed dates for when I worked for a company, followed by the company’s name, address, and phone number, and then a bulleted list of my duties at that company.  Do feel free to include volunteer work if your resume is otherwise looking underwhelming.  After that I listed the details of my education. Dates, name of educational institution, what my study focuses were.  If you’ve been to college, don’t list your high school.  If High School is as far as you’ve made it so far but you have something to brag about like Student Body President or something go ahead and throw it on in there. Don’t attach a picture. Unless you’re looking for work as a model or actor there’s not any reason in the world for your employers to care what you look like before you show up in person.  Have personal references ready, but don’t put them on your resume.  I do not ever account for time spent unemployed on my resume, but every now and again you may have an employer who requires it. Be prepared with an honest but well worded answer.  March-June 2015 I was unemployed due to medical recovery.  April-September 2011 I was unemployed because I was traveling abroad.  August-June 2016 I was unemployed because I had a full course-load at university and needed to make it my priority.

Keep your resume within 2 pages or less.  Don’t make it excessively fancy.  It needs to be easy to read (no fancy fonts!), printable, and it needs to be readable if it’s opened electronically, because most job applications do take place online these days.  Use spell check on your resume.  Grammar check your resume. Proofread your resume and if writing isn’t your thing then ask someone else to proofread it to to make sure you’re using correct English and that there’s nothing spellcheck missed because it’s correctly spelled but isn’t the word you meant.  When you save your resume, don’t title it “MyResume.doc”, title it FirstNameLastNameResume and save it as file type .rtf (rich text format) to make sure your employer can open it.  There are a million MyResume’s for any job position.  If your name stands out as someone the employer wants to consider, make it easy for them to find you again.

According to Entrepreneur, hiring managers are also scanning your resume for specific keywords, including: problem solving, leadership, oral/written communication, team building, and performance & productivity improvement.  77% of job screeners are looking for relevant experience, 48% are looking for specific accomplishments, and 41% are looking for whether or not your resume was customized to their open position.  Employers don’t care that you’re applying to a million jobs and it’s time consuming. They care about the effort you put forth toward THEIR job. So, yes it’s obnoxiously inconvenient, but if you really want that job, revise your resume to match their needs when you’re sending it to them.  Also, strongly consider writing a cover letter to show your specific interest in this job and why you’re the best person for it.

If you do decide to write a cover letter, do not interpret letter as handwritten, it should still be typed.  It should not include a lot of personal information.  Don’t tell employers things they aren’t even allowed to ask about in an interview, if you do tell them things like your age, marital status, how many kids you have, etc. you will likely end up in the recycle bin because no potential employer wants to take a chance or landing themselves in court over allegations of bias.  Do not do what my vocational training class said and address cover letters “Dear Sir or Madame” or “To Whom It May Concern.”  Those phrases no longer indicate respect, they indicate lack of knowledge about the company, that you’re sending a generic form letter to everyone and not prioritizing them, or that you lack respect for them and their title.  If you know the first and last name of the hiring manager or HR manager that will be fielding your resume then absolutely use it.  If you know their preferred title then use that too.  Dear Dr. Smith, Dear Chairwoman Johnson, Dear Martha Washington, are all great starters.  If you don’t know that information and can’t find it, then address it to the name of the company:  Dear Stark Industries.  After deciding who and how you’re addressing then open your cover letter with something humble, to the point, and enthusiastic.  Don’t act like you already have the job.  Don’t go overboard on the enthusiasm, just use a word to indicate it “I would enjoy an opportunity to meet with you about your opening for a Professor of the Dark Arts.”  “I would like an opportunity to join The Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory as your new Oompa Loompa.”

The cover letter is now the appropriate place to discuss your goals and objectives as well as your background.  Be sure to tailor your cover letter to the position you’re applying for and what that employer has said they’re seeking, even if you didn’t tweak your resume much, or even if you tweaked your resume a lot. If you’re applying for a position as an expert whatever, then identify yourself as an expert whatever, using the exact term they used, because there are a lot of employers who search for keywords instead of taking the time to read all 100 individual letters and resumes they received for a job.  If you’re applying for a position that will be face to face with customer providing customer service, you want the tone of your letter to be very warm and friendly and can talk about how much you love to work with people.  If they’re seeking a professional, experienced, organized something, then be professional and organized and mention that you have that experience.  Whatever that employer listed in their post seeking applicants, focus on why you’re a good match for that and what skills you have that apply to it. You may have all the skills of headlining a successful reality show but they want someone who has political experience.  Drop the reality show skills out of the letter and only mention what skills qualify you to be their new top Political Social Media Correspondent.  Match your tone not only to the position, but to the company itself.  If you’re applying for a job with Google, they’re known for fun and creativity, while you still want to present all of your technical qualifications you still want to keep your tone very light.  If you’re applying for a job at a funeral home you want to be very cordial but down to earth and solemn.

This is the part where what you’re seeking may change up your next action a little: Actually sending out those resumes.  Depending on what your goal for a new job is you may be sending a lot of resumes, or you may be only sending  a handful.  Wherever you’re sending your resumes, if they *require* a degree and you haven’t got one, don’t send it. Finish that degree first and then see about finding an opening in that position or with that company.  If you send resumes or applications for jobs you don’t meet the requirements for you will either hear nothing, which is discouraging, or you’ll get back a very nice form letter telling you that they’ve decided to go with applicants who are better suited for the job, which is also a little disheartening.

If you’ll be applying to lots of jobs then break it down into categories and by day so you’re not having to respond to every invitation for an interview with “Oh, I’m sorry, I’ve got another interview at the same time.” Employers want to feel like they’re your top priority.  Remember to account for weekends and holidays.  If you send your resume on Friday, there’s a good possibility it might not be read until Monday.  So, I recommend matching days you send resumes to regular business work days, and I recommend breaking down how you send them out.  Day 1 send them to all of the places you would most like to work, that are your ideal pie in the sky matches.  Day 2 send them out to every place you are most qualified to work, that you are their ideal pie in the sky match.  Day 3 send them to the places you’d be pretty okay working for a year or two even if you don’t see yourself there in 5 years.  Day 4 send them to places that may be a little bit of a longshot but you’d be really interested in. Day 5 send them to every place that’s hiring that you meet the minimum requirements for.

If you get an interview at any of these stages then that’s awesome and you go in with a printed resume (that matches the one you sent them) in hand and ready to discuss. Be well groomed and put together, dressed professionally, with a smile on your face and a friendly handshake and don’t be playing with your phone while you wait, focus on the job and what you’re there for.  Don’t yell at anyone if you have to wait. If you’re in enough demand that waiting is too much of a hassle and makes the job not worth your while, then leave.  If you yell at the receptionist who has informed your interviewer that you’re waiting and has no control over the fact that their employer is busy, that receptionist will be communicating that to your interviewer, and they’re not going to hire you.  No one wants to work with someone who’s rude before they’re even securely in place.  Waiting sucks and is no good for the nerves, but plan on it happening.  People get busy when they’re trying to both run a workplace and hire people to keep that workplace running.

Be prepared to sell yourself.  Don’t trash your previous employers, but sing your praises on what good things you did for them and the good reasons you decided it was time to move on.  If that wasn’t your decision, then what lessons did you learn from it and how are you ready to implement them.  How have you grown as a person.  Most interviews these days are behavioral interviews, where your interviewer (or interviewers) will ask you questions about your previous experience looking for specific situations and not hypothetical answers.  “Tell me about a time that you had a conflict with a coworker.”  “Tell me about a time that you went above and beyond to help ____.”  Google lists of behavioral interview questions and practice answering them as positively and accurately as possible.  It’s okay for employers to know you have flaws, but they also want to know that you acknowledge those flaws and are open and willing to bettering them.   Try to be prepared with a good question or two about the position or the company.  I’m not a very inquisitive person and that part is always hard for me, but employers like it. They want to know you took the time to learn about the job and about their company and that there are things about it that interest you.

Be prepared for any testing that you may have to take for the position.  Practice some typing tests online to get a respectable level of Accurate Words Per Minute.  I have been responsible for administering testing to applicants before.  We did not hire the woman who typed 3 words per minute because her nails were ridiculously long and she was doing hunting and pecking searching for keys.  If you need help learning how to type, because you will be using a computer in virtually any job environment, check out what resources your library offers.  Most do offer classes on both basic computer navigation and also on typing.  These are basic skills you should come prepared with for any job.  You may also answer a basic personality test. Don’t take too long thinking about it. Answer the questions honestly with your initial gut reaction.  These tests are designed to know that you’re a liar if you’re too perfect.

Be prepared to drug test, on the spot if necessary.  Recreational marijuana may have been legalized in your state, but it’s still federally illegal, and may be illegal in the state where your prospective company has their headquarters.  Chances are you will be screened for it, and even if you have a medicinal card it will probably still be a deal breaker.  I know all the various ways you can cheat a urine test, but don’t count on getting away with them if it’s a job you really care about, and don’t necessarily count on being given a urine test. I’ve had a job where we had on the spot saliva testing where you hold this little device in your mouth for half an hour and it tells them what you tested positive for.  Mine didn’t work and gave no results at all so I took a second one. Which still didn’t work and they finally just said “eh, if you were doing drugs you would’ve left and come back tomorrow when we offered instead of staying here to try to make it work.” and considered it a pass, but not all companies or all screeners would look at it that way.  Most companies will know directly after the interview if they want to offer you a job.  If they don’t they’ll thank you for your time and say they’ll be in touch and you’ll get something via mail or email saying they appreciate your interest but decided to go with better qualified candidates.  If they do they’re still going to need to run background checks and drug tests and employment verification and education verification and possibly check your references.  Expect to encounter all of that.  For some reason, my having an out of state GED has made it impossible for any background check company to verify my education, so I am prepared to email a scan of it to my new employer when they ask for it.  If you know that you’ll have any hiccups, don’t try to cheat your way through anything, just be honest and prepared.

If you just want a job, any job, as soon as you can get a job, you need income, then be prepared to register with your local workforce center, attend job fairs with a folder full of resumes in hand, and sign up with employment agencies who will place you as quickly as they can because they get a commission on getting people hired.  If you want a better job that doesn’t make you hate getting up every day but don’t know what that is yet, be prepared to put some work into that too.  Take some aptitude tests and interest tests and maybe also take a trip over to that workforce center to see if they have any kind of career guidance counseling available.  If you’re interested in staying with your current company but moving up or laterally, then talk to your HR representative and your direct supervisor about your goals so they can provide you direct feedback on if there’s anything they feel they would need to see change or growth in for that to happen, and so they know you’re interested when an opportunity becomes available.  Expect to be watched closely after you let that interest be known Still do your very best at your current job in your current position, and as they say, dress for the job you want, not the one you have.  That applies to behaviour as well.

If you do land yourself a brand new job, remember that you’re still not secure in that position until you’ve been well established in it as a reliable hard working employee.  Plan to show up your first day dressed similarly to how you would for the interview, and bring a professional folder with notepad and pen along so that you can show that you’re driven and ready to take note of everything important, even if you end up getting it all handed to you in print outs or links to websites.

Today’s list of tasks include:

Give yourself a facial. Men, this applies to you too, you have skin, you have pores, take care of them.
Start by cleansing your skin, with a good quality cleanser.  That doesn’t mean an expensive cleanser. There are quality cleansers at the drugstore, not just at the salon and spa.  I personally have the best results with Biore Charcoal Cleansing Products.  Follow the directions on your cleanser’s package, but be sure to massage it into your skin for at least a full minute and pay extra attention around your nose and chin, and don’t forget your neck.
Follow your cleanser with a gentle exfoliator.  You can use one of the homemade ones we’ve discussed previously, or a pre-made exfoliating scrub.  You can apply with your fingers in a circular motion, or you can use it with an exfoliating brush as they would at the spa.  Again, follow the directions on your exfoliating scrub of choice, but be sure to focus on any areas of your face that tend to get greasy like your forehead.  When you rinse make sure you use a soft washcloth and don’t scrub at your skin with it, be gentle.
You’ll then want to steam your face.  You can use a specially designed facial steamer, or you can pour some boiling water into a basin and then hold your face over it to get the steam, draping your head with a towel to trap the steam in for the best effect, forming a kind of a tent.  Close your eyes and hold your face in the steam for 10 minutes.
After steaming you’ll want to apply a face mask.  If you have oily skin you should choose a clay-based face mask; if you have dry skin you’ll want a hydrating mask.  If you use a make-at-home facial mask keep it on approximately 15-20 minutes. If you use one ready made, use as described on the packaging.
The lastly you’ll want to apply a soothing moisturizer to both your face and neck.  For a do it yourself moisturizer consider extra virgin coconut oil.

Clean your Living Room furniture.   What kind of shape your furniture is in is going to dictate how you might want to go about this.  Probably most of us can get away with windexing any glass, polishing any wood, vacuuming under any couch or seat cushions, and possibly using a pet hair remover and maybe some Febreeze.  If your pets have left more on the furniture than fur, then it may be time to call in a professional upholstery cleaner.  Often they’re the same people who clean carpets that have those big noisy vans with hoses coming out of them, but a google search or jaunt through the yellow pages will find them for you.  Even if you’ve had a family member who spent a lot of time on the couch with a sweaty fever or the flu it may be the right time to get some professional upholstery cleaning done.  My diabetic cat wasn’t always able to make it to the litterbox with the need to urinate called, as I’m sure any diabetic pet owners have encountered.  When I moved into a new house I decided it was time to do something about the stains beyond continuing to scrub at them with cleaners designed for cleaning pet stains that seemed to get things clean but not get rid of the odor. The upholstery cleaner I called did a fantastic job, got the stains out, left everything as clean as it’s been since it was brand new, and did it at a very reasonable rate.  And did it all without making me feel like I was being judged.

Do some Yoga focusing on Flexibility.  

All Rights Reserved.
1st Month, 250 lbs, Fire Log Yoga Pose

Yoga serves lots of different purposes, and not least among them is flexibility.  You may never have a need to put your feet behind your ears or bend yourself in half backwards or do the splits, but flexibility is more than that, it’s mobility.  Depending on your starting level, if you’re not very mobile and very flexible already, or if you’re dedicated to learning yoga and increasing levels of difficulty, you may want to acquire some yoga props like a mat, blocks, a strap, or a bolster.  I linked to a DVD you can get that promises to help all levels with balance, flexibility, mobility, relaxation and stretching, but if you can’t run to a store to get it today and don’t want to miss out while waiting for the mail to come, then take a look at some YouTube videos that will guide you through various levels of yoga for flexibility as well.

Listen to a guided meditation or subliminal audio recording for achieving a healthy weight.

A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on Amazon.com:
MP3: Get a Job
Album: American Graffiti

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Sweet Dreams Till Sunbeams Find You

Image Courtesy of QuotesGram

Today’s popular New Year’s resolution, is that many people make the broad sweeping resolution to “Enjoy life to the fullest” or “Live life to the fullest.”  Of course what that actually means is subject to interpretation and hardly quantifiable as a resolution that can be determined as having been achieved.  I’m gonna talk about it anyway.

Today, in my Facebook newsfeed I came across this:

Image Courtesy of Rantings of a Beautiful Mind

Now that we all feel warm and fuzzy, let me explain why it’s crap.  No, it’s not a race and you don’t have to do things because everyone else is doing them when you aren’t ready to do them or don’t want to do them. But life is finite and there are some things you do have to accomplish by a certain age or resign yourself to the fact that they aren’t going to happen.

Married with kids by 25 is pretty reasonable if getting married and having kids is something you want to do.  You’ve had a quarter of a  century of doing your own thing, if you want to start doing a family thing then make it happen. If it’s not something you want then don’t sweat it, but if it is then get married and have some freaking kids while you’re young enough to keep up with them and definitely before 35 when the “high risk” label is slapped on every possible pregnancy you might have.  That’s a race against biology and your ovaries. It sucks, but it’s a fact of life.

16 and never been kissed?  Well, I don’t have an answer for that one. On my 16th birthday my grandmother called me and said “Sweet 16 and never been kissed, right?” and I had never heard that expression before in my life and was trying to wrap my brain around it and said “I guess.”  and got back a very upset “What do you mean you guess? You better not have been kissed!!!”  -_-  Kissing is a normal part of relationships. Even young ones. Don’t feel like you have to kiss someone you don’t want to, but don’t feel like you have to hold yourself to this standard of purity either.  If there’s somebody you want to kiss and you’re 13 or 14 and you like each other then freaking do it.  Waiting till you’re old enough to start over thinking and worrying about what if I don’t do it right is a crap situation to put yourself in, and having your first kiss with someone you don’t like is a crappier situation.

Graduating from college by 22 is a pretty good expectation.  It pretty much means you don’t have to spend the rest of your life living on minimum wage and if you decide you want to go back to school for something else then you can do that and still have that degree and all those credits in your back pocket and still be working a higher paying job that you’ve been saving money from while you figured out what you wanted to do, and aren’t just starting school as a full fledged adult lost in a world populated by kids fresh out of high school and feeling both superior in knowledge and inferior in fitting into the environment and just kind of lost.  If you needed a year between high school and college to figure things out then that’s just fine, but that gives you to 23.  Don’t be the 34 year old blog writer with 2 community college classes under her belt and a long line of underpaying retail and call center jobs.

Are you a failure if you don’t have your dream job by 30? No.  If you know what your dream job is and aren’t doing anything towards acquiring it by 30 and have no action plan, then you’re a failure and you need to figure out that situation and change it.  You don’t have to stay a failure.

You don’t have to be a phenomenal success at every aspect of your life.  If you’re working your daily grind job to get by and support your family, then go home to that family and love every second with them, you’re living life to its fullest.  If you don’t want kids and want that amazing job working at NASA or owning your own restaurant or climbing the corporate ladder and making your way to the top then you’re living life to its fullest.  Unless you already had kids before deciding you didn’t want them and wanted to put in all that time at work and status and title.  Then you’re just kind of a jerk.  You don’t have to be a phenomenal success at that dream you poured yourself into either.  Not every actor is going to make it big in Hollywood.  We have local theaters and productions for a reason and you’re still getting to do what you love and be a performing artist.

If you want to ENJOY life to the fullest, then you have a bigger task ahead of you than living it to the fullest. You’ll want to have that family you love, or group of friends you love if family isn’t for you, and that job doing what you love, and still be able to find a way to experience variety and luxury every day in some regard.  That means turning off the tv and figuring out what it is that you would enjoy experiencing and getting out there and doing it.  That’s where we’re stepping in to say “Us too! Let’s do this!”  and that is the overall point of this blog. We want to enjoy life to its fullest, and we want you to enjoy life to it’s fullest too, so we’re gonna do it together incase anyone doesn’t have those ideas of what it is they would enjoy experiencing, or needs motivation to turn off the TV, or doesn’t have that loving family or loving group of friends to share those experiences with. You’ve got them here, we want to share them and we want to know that you’re enjoying life as much as we are.

Tricked you, didn’t I?  Normally a song means the end of the post, but today there were two that I needed to put in for my own reasons, and this one is relevant to this paragraph.  We’re not going to do any research for today’s blog, because this is one that truly does mean something different to everyone so we’re just speaking from the heart.  But what we want you to take away above all else today is that to live life to the fullest or enjoy life to the fullest, the thing you need to focus on is loving to the fullest.  Find love, give love, get love.  It doesn’t matter what kind of love that is or where it’s coming from.  It can be romantic, it can be family, it can be friendships, it can be pets, it can be spiritual or religious, it can be through charity and volunteer work.  It doesn’t matter.  Whatever you’re doing, do it with love.  Whoever or whatever you love, find time to just love them every day.  You don’t have to do anything more than that. Just make time to love them. It’s not about going skydiving or riding bulls or climbing mountains or anything else but experiencing love.  And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.

Today’s little list of tasks:

Put that lotion to more good use and give your hands a thorough lotioning.  It’s winter, they get dry.  Give ’em some love.  If your nails need cutting or filing or any of that take care of them too, but make sure your hands get some moisture, and give them a chance to let it soak in.  We don’t let our hands rest and be still enough. Give them a break for a few minutes.

Wash your dishes. All of them.  Find every glass and every mug and every plate that you’ve accumulated around the house and get em into the dishwasher, along with everything that’s been sitting in your sink or stacked up on your counters.  Every single dirty dish you have, get it clean.

If you got access to a pool like we’ve talked about go for a swim, and treat yourself to a sit in the hot tub or whirlpool.  If you haven’t been able to get any such access then do another form of cardio, like go for a light jog or brisk walk, and get into a hot bathtub to let your muscles relax.

Then today we’ve got a guided meditation and a subliminal audio for motivation, specifically to stop procrastination.

Lastly, it’s Friday the 13th, and a full moon.  If you have a lucky anything, carry it with you today, and stay in tonight if you can.  Friday the 13th by itself doesn’t phase me much. Combine it with the craziness of a full moon, look out.

A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.

You may not understand the significance of the second/closing song on today’s post, and that’s okay.  I know we always try to tie everything together with a relevant song, and hopefully that Beatles medley accomplished that with The End, but both Golden Slumbers and Dream a Little Dream mean something very personal to me about love and enjoying every moment of life, and today they would have been here regardless of topic, because every now and again I’m going to allow myself some little emotional indulgences.  That’s all you need to know, is that while life is finite, love isn’t, but bask in its glory while you have the opportunity.

Today’s music can be found on Amazon.com:
MP3:
Golden Slumbers

Dream A Little Dream Of Me – Remastered (Album Version With Introduction)

Album:
Abbey Road

Gold [2 CD]

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Through a Storybook of Places

Original Source Unknown

Another, and perhaps lighter, resolution that is popular for New Years is to Travel More.  What that means to you depends on what kind of travel you’ve already done and how often.  Some people might’ve seen the whole world but not been to any of the tourist attractions in their own town, some people may have spent their whole life in one town and want to see the rest of their state, some people might want to see the rest of the country, or some people may want to see all the wonders of the world.  Or, like me, you may want to see all of the above.  So, decide what your goal is for traveling this year. Do you have one international destination to cross off the list? Backpacking through Europe?  A trip to the mountains?  Never seen the ocean before? Want to make some day trips to learn your own state better?  Collecting post cards from your own town?  Checking out all of the National Parks within the country? Want to go practice that language you’ve been learning in a country where it’s spoken natively?

Once you’ve got an idea of what you want to do the big issue will be deciding a budget for it.  Maybe that’ll be your savings goal we talked about yesterday.  Unless you have a hospitable relative where you’re headed you’re going to be looking at having to finance hotels and restaurants in addition to travel and entertainment.  If a big trip is an important goal for you this year you may have to give up some things you’re used to having beyond the cutting expenses we already talked about.  Maybe it’ll mean spending Valentine’s Day or your birthday with a quiet night in instead of hitting the town.   Maybe you’re going to have to do your nails and hair at home instead of hitting the salon. Maybe you’ll be doing more at home movie nights and less going to the theater.  Maybe you can make a pact with all of your friends and family to put a cap on how much you’re spending on gifts for all birthdays and holidays this year or agree to homemade presents.  Or even just let friends and family know that travel is your big goal this year and see about maybe getting those birthday and other holiday presents in the form of things that can be useful in your travels. Maybe you start bringing sack lunches to work instead of buying something.  If you can cut $5 out of your daily spending, over the course of a year that adds up to a total of $1, 825.  Suddenly that daily burger and fries sounds way less appealing.

If you’ve really got your heart set on that vacation of a lifetime, you may seriously want to consider a second job.  You don’t need to do two full time jobs, 80 hours a week is a lot to hold down and still have any energy left to enjoy that vacation when you get to is, but a part time job can certainly help line your savings account and still give you a little free time to breathe in.

You can try crowdfunding your travel plans through FundAnything, GoFundMe, Indiegogog, Trevolta, or You Caring, but remember that it’s up to you to promote your campaign, get your word out, stand out from the crowd, and do it ethically.  Don’t claim it’s your dying spouse’s last wish to see the world.

Budget a percentage of your monthly income specifically for travel and have it automatically transferred into a savings account before you even have a chance to be tempted by it.  Look at using credit cards that earn you cash back or frequent flyer miles (and paying off your balance before it turns into interest.)  All that loose change you’re going to be saving in a jar can include loose singles or other bills too and they can all go toward your travel fund when you deposit them.

Save up your vacation days at work and don’t waste them on days you just don’t feel like going in.  If you have a hard time making yourself get out of bed remind yourself what you’re working towards and why it’s important to you and get yourself on up.  When it’s time to schedule those vacation days look at backing them up around days you normally have off anyway for weekends or holidays so you can get the most travel time possible to make the most of your trip.  If you ever go on business trips then consider taking off a couple days before or after your scheduled trip so you can enjoy seeing your travel destination instead of spending it all on work.  Even if you don’t normally do any business traveling, could you?  Many companies have conferences that their employees can attend, see if you might be able to attend yours if it’s in a place you’re interested in seeing.  The bonus in traveling for business is that they’re going to pay for at least part of your expenses for the trip.

Watch for deals.  You can sign up for email alerts notifying you of sales through specific airlines, or if you know specifically when and where you want to travel then both Google Flights and Hopper will notify you when fares have dropped.  There are also European-based budget airlines like Norwegian and WOW Air that consistently offer cheaper rates,  According to travelandleisure.com, Norwegian Air will be offering some $69 flights from the U.S. to Europe this year.

There are different options available as far as lodging goes.  I’m a hotel kind of girl myself, but one of our members has been gifted stays at time shares by relatives for his European trips, and while I personally don’t enjoy it I know some people who prefer to rent out someone else’s home for a trip.  Inside the country there are sites like HomeAway where you can look for a place to rent at your destination.  Internationally you may look at sites like HomeExchange where you and your international counterparts can actually swap stays at each others homes.  Of course both domestic and abroad there’s also always the option for Airbnb.  If you do have friends or family you can stay with at your travel destination, that’s awesome, but don’t stay in their house more than 3 nights.  Even the best relationships hit a strain level where people just want their space back, and you’re likely not going to be as free to explore as you’d like to be unless you’re okay with your host feeling left out and used as a result.  If you’re like me and like the convenience of a hotel then the good news for us is that many hotels give discounts when you stay more than 3 nights.  There are also memberships you can join at most hotel chains or booking sites that will allow you to accumulate points to get discounts and perks.  If you want a little luxury in your hotel stay then take a look at flash sale sites like Jetsetter.

For entertainment, look at free walking tours, free landmark tours, local events like street fairs, and parks and public places.  Look for the hole in the wall hidden gem of local culture that won’t be as expensive as the big tourist attractions, and see about providing your own food as often as possible instead of eating at a lot of restaurants.

If you’re set on the Great American Road Trip as your vacation then it might be worth seeing if you can take a temporary leave of absence from your job, rather than having to line up enough vacation days to cover all of the driving.  Make a list of all of the attractions that are must sees for you, take note of their pricing, note how long drive time is between them all, and consider whether it might be worth packing a tent instead of paying for hotels or renting an RV, which will cost more in gas but save you on lodging and on time for bathroom breaks.  Plan some drive time entertainment and try to change it up frequently or you’re likely to find yourself with a National Lampoon style vacation, and probably no matter what you do, if you have kids, expect that there’s going to be fighting with everyone cramped into the car together that long.  So, maybe consider lots of smaller road trips than one big one.  It all depends on what you need to have the time off to accomplish them.

If you haven’t seen as much of your town or your state as you’d like to, then you have the easiest job of all for making the “travel more” resolution become reality.  Take some day trips to see all the amazing things around you. You can even do them on weekends so you already have the time off, pack some food so you’ve cut another expense, and if you’re not staying over night you just need to worry about gas, souvenirs, and any entry fees to where you may be going.  Go hiking. Go camping. Google “Weird Tourist Attractions” for your state.  I’ve got a whole list of odd things in Colorado that I want to go see.  There’s a town here that has an annual festival in honor of a chicken that lived long after having its head removed.  To that I say “WTF Colorado?” but I still want to go see what this festival is all about anyway.

As for today’s small list of tasks:

It’s time to give your arms some love.  Do some exfoliating with a loofah in the shower or bath.  Check out the state of your arm hair.  Are you starting to look like Robin Williams?  If so it may be time to consider giving yourself a good wax, or my preferred hair removal choice, a Veet treatment.  Then choose a good lotion and get some moisture locked in while your pores are still open.  I get the worst dry skin in the winter and my arms show it in a big way if I don’t take good care of them.  How about stretch marks?  Did you get any from a fast weight gain or quick muscle building that your skin wasn’t prepared for? There are some great products on the market for stretch mark removal.

Clean your Dining Room.  You may have done this last week, depending on how many dining areas you have, but that’s okay, if you already did it, do it again.  A week is plenty of time to get re-dirtied and it’ll just be faster and easier to stay on top of.  Start at the top and work your way down.  Dust any light fixtures, wall art, shelves, and curios.  Wipe any dirt or finger smudges off the light switchplate.  Put away any clutter that’s accumulated.  If you have a fruit bowl or vase of flowers on the table take a look and get rid of anything past its usable stage.  Organize any paperwork if your dining table is your catch-all.  Polish your table and chairs.  If you have seat cushions vacuum off any crumbs or cathair.  If you have carpeting then vacuum, if you’ve got wood or laminate then sweep and mop.  That’s it!  The dining room can be a fast clean if you don’t let things accumulate on the dining table.

Do some Body Weight exercises for your Upper Body.  Do a 1 minute plank (I was informed the minute was hard to achieve last time I said it, so I’m not increasing it, but still try, even if you don’t make it the full minute, try to go longer than last time.)  Do 1 minute (on each side) side planks. Do 5 (one on each side counts as one) reverse planks with leg lifts.  Do 5 push-ups.  Do 5 diamond push-ups.

Listen to a guided meditation or subliminal audio-track for inner peace.

A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on Amazon.com:
Album: The Chipmunk Adventure Soundtrack

I found no MP3 for this one.  This is a childhood favorite of the 80’s, but don’t forget that CDs can be ripped to iTunes or your MP3 player of choice, so if you’re a Chipmunks fan or feel nostalgia like I do buying the album is a great option to get all its awesome songs at once and then you can convert them in seconds 🙂

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Your Lovin’ Don’t Pay My Bills

Meme Creator Unknown

My apologies for the late post y’all! I know I said I wasn’t holding myself to a specific deadline anymore, but I also know a lot of you like to read first thing as you’re getting up. Yesterday was a busy day and I never managed to unwind enough to sleep until well past when I usually start writing, and I thought y’all deserved better than a half awake, mostly cranky post.

The popular New Year’s resolution we’re focusing on today is that a lot of people want to save money!  We’re with you, we need to do more of that too.  The first thing you’ll want to do, if you haven’t already got one, is to open an interest accruing savings account.  Most savings account, particularly that accrue interest, have a minimum balance.  Take a look at your savings account options and decide what kind of account is going to be best for you, and find out how much you need to have together to open your account. If you’ve got it, great, make it so.  If you need some time to scrape the cash together, don’t feel bad, we definitely can relate to living paycheck to paycheck.  If your bank doesn’t have an interest accruing savings account option that works for you, take a look into online savings accounts.  In our research we came across this great article from nerdwallet that tells you the best online savings accounts for 2017. We didn’t look through all of them yet, but notably we noticed that Capital One 360 (which we have no affiliation with) has no minimum balance, which means whatever your financial situation may be if you’ve got a few bucks to transfer into an online savings account you can start saving TODAY.

Now that you’ve got some money put away and working on growing while you sit back and watch, let’s look at how you can take some of that monthly income and put it to work growing interest too instead of going out into the world never to return.  First thing, make yourself some goals.  What is it that you want to save money for?  How much money do you want to have saved by the end of the year?  To do that how much money do you need to save every month?  Break your goal into little milestones so you can see your progress easily and not get discouraged looking at the picture, and know when you need to step up your game.  Keep your goals someplace obvious that you’ll look at them regularly and remember what you’re working for and where you stand.  Whether that’s by the door, on the refrigerator, on bathroom mirror, on the nightstand, or on your desk at work is up to you. Just wherever you’re going to see it and be motivated by it.

Dedicate a day to sitting down with your monthly bills and making sure you’re getting the best rate you can and not just sticking with something because you always have. Would you save money on your car insurance with another company or a different plan? Home or renters insurance?  Is it time to refinance your mortgage?  Do you have the best cell phone plan you can get with the best provider for you?  Do you need the biggest unlimited data plan if you’re connecting to Wi-Fi everywhere anyway?

Then take a look at your monthly and yearly budget.  What are the bills you know are requirements? Deduct those suckers from your monthly income so you know what’s leftover and how you can most effectively use it to your benefit.  Take a look at this budgeting guide from clark.  It’s a little daunting to look at, but once you start reading it it will help you to understand how to budget effectively and the hierarchy of what you should be doing with your money.

What you may have found after working your budget could be really depressing and leave you wondering how you’re ever going to save, so that’s where you want to start looking at cutting corners on your extra expenses.  You probably can’t afford to pay off all of your credit card debt in one fell swoop but can you transfer it to a lower interest card? (And cut up the higher interest cards so you don’t fall into a bigger trap?)  Consider downloading an expense tracking app to use for a month or two (or more if it’s really helpful to you) and see where it is that you’re really throwing away money on things you really don’t need.

Understand the difference between needs and wants.  You need electricity and water and heat and probably your phone, and you need to make your car payment and buy food and put gas in your car.  But do you need  to go out as often as you do?  Do you need name brand foods when there’s an equivalent store brand?  Could you be saving money in the long run on how much gas you put in your vehicle by having your tires properly maintenanced and not carrying around extra weight in your car?  Furthermore do you need your vehicle to be as big as it is or might it make sense to trade it in for a smaller vehicle that doesn’t guzzle so much gas?

Do you need your cable TV? Are you even watching it?  If you have internet and Netflix or Hulu or Amazon Prime and use Red Box all on top of cable are you being a little bit redundant?  How much do you actually watch your cable or satellite?  I actually still have rabbit ear antennas.  Even with the digital conversion if you have a newer tv (think anything flat screen or HD) all you need to do is plug in an antenna and you get your over the air channels.  If you have an older TV you just need to get a digital converter box, a one time purchase instead of a monthly expense, and you can plug in your antenna and get those same over the air channels.  You’d be surprised how much of what you’re watching is over the air anyway.  All those popular prime time shows are on network television and you’ll still be able to see them.  You get your ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, PBS, The CW, a slew of Spanish channels, and some oddballs that may vary by market but I get MeTV, which is kind of like Nick at Nite of the 80s and I get to watch all of the old sitcoms like The Donna Reed Show and Mr. Ed and I Love Lucy and Gilligan’s Island and even Saved By the Bell, and I get a channel called GRIT that seems to be all old westerns, and there’s one channel that is always news and weather.  I don’t need or want cable or satellite and am very content with my over the air channels.  If you’re thinking “But SPORTS!” I promise you that whatever I am normally watching gets overridden for the big game during every sports season, and how often do you go to see that game on your sports package and find out you’re in a blacked out area that can’t see it anyway?  There’s also still sports radio, most gyms will have their TV turned to ESPN (I was on the recumbent bike when the Cubs won the series, the whole gym exploded), and would you spend less money going to a sports bar and getting a beer or some nachos or whatever you get when you go to a bar while you watch that game than paying for a whole package that you only watch a few times a season?

I had a friend who insisted that he was poor and struggling and starving to make ends meet, but yet was going out for dinner with his 5 person family nearly every night of the week.  When I mentioned to him it would be a way to save money he said “But we need that! That’s when we spend time together and it’s just what we do!”  I’m sorry to say “It’s just what we do” is not a necessity.  No one needs to go out to eat every night.  Your family is going to have better bonding family time sitting around your dining table together than bouncing around a restaurant paying attention to what everyone else is doing and carting around strollers or carseats or arranging highchairs or booster seats.  The meals people remember having are the ones that are made for them with love, and sometimes, store brand pasta.  If you don’t know how to cook, there’s no reason you can’t learn. Cookbooks, recipes, and online cooking sites will tell you step by step what you need to do to make an amazing dish.  Those over the air channels also have some great cooking shows that will walk you through preparing things and even if you don’t cook along with them or take notes, you’ll learn technique.  Your end product probably won’t look like the picture unless you go to culinary school or are some kind of savant, but it’s going to taste just as good, and feel more satisfying than going off to a restaurant where you’re arguing with the kids about ordering healthier or cheaper menu items that they don’t end up eating anyway, and paying for not only your food but all of the restaurant’s overhead expenses, and then still tipping on top of it.  Save eating out for really special occasions and let it be special again.   When you do your cooking at home you can even start learning to cook in advance. There are lots of people that will do all of their cooking for the week on one day and then store it in the fridge or freezer as applicable until needed so they don’t have to worry about what to do for food after a long day, it’s already taken care of, and they got to use all of their ingredients before anything had a chance to spoil.

The same philosophy goes for coffee. Make your coffee at home. You can still buy all the special roasts and flavored syrups and whipped creams and whatever you want and make it at home.  Going to Starbucks or another coffee chain habitually is costing you $500-600+ per year.  There are so many better things to do with that money that to buy pre-made coffee.  Coffee makers can be set to a timer to have everything brewed and ready to go for you by the time you’re stumbling into the kitchen in the morning and you get to be awake and ready to face the day before you get into the car for that sleepy drive to your coffee shop of choice.

As a matter of fact this same philosophy goes for bottled water.  Unless you’re living in Flint, Michigan, don’t waste money on bottled water that ends up creating a bunch of garbage when you’re done with the bottles.  Buy yourself a nice reusable water bottle and fill it up.  If you’re concerned about your tap water quality, get a water filter.

Make sure your home is as energy efficient as possible.  That may involve putting in some weather stripping, or changing what kinds of light bulbs you use, turning off lights when you’re not in the room, programming your thermostat to automatically adjust to your temperature needs at different times of the day, turning down your water heater’s thermostat to a more reasonable level, dropping some rocks in the toilet tank if you don’t need as much water as you’re using with each flush, installing a lower flow shower head, having your furnace serviced, or investing in new windows. Learn to do home repair projects yourself too by watching youtube videos or reading books on what you can do yourself.  I replaced all of the heating elements in my water heater myself last year.  Guess whose a girly girl that knows nothing about mechanical things and saved herself $500?  Also, make sure you’re cleaning the lint trap on your dryer EVERY time you use it. Not doing so both makes it use more energy and is a fire hazard.

Start clipping coupons.  Or lots of stores now have the option to find them online and load them onto your store card without having to mess with physical coupons.  It’s a little bit of extra time, but that’s extra time that you’re saving money that YOU worked for instead of going out and giving it to someone else when you don’t need to.  Start changing how you shop in general.  Pay attention to what’s on sale, and what’s on clearance and stock up on non-perishables while they’re cheap.  Learn about different kinds of produce so you can work with what’s in season and consequently cheaper than going with all the same stand by’s year round.  Don’t waste your money on the pre prepared, pre cut, pre washed, pre everything produce. It’s not hard to chop up veggies and if you have any sense at all you’ll be rewashing them anyway, so just go for the whole item.  That applies to pre-made salads too.  It’s way more cost effective to make your own, you get more bang for your buck, and if you like the convenience of a little container to take it to work for lunch you can order some of those for yourself and never again have to worry that that salad came with a different dressing than you wanted or had cherry tomatoes when you like full sized ones.  If you like to buy organic, well, lots of people do and I wish I could afford to too, but be aware that there are SOME items of produce that honesty buying organic or regular makes no difference as they don’t use chemicals and pesticides to begin with.  They include: Avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.

Sales apply to more than food.  Whatever you’re buying, don’t get too committed to brands, and always look for the cheapest options first. Shop clearance, shop sales, shop the back of the store where they hide less expensive items, shop generic, shop bulk.  There’s always a way to be saving money on what you need.  If it’s something big like a new appliance or electronic or something where you expect to have it for multiple years, THEN you can start worrying about if you’re getting the one you really want and if you trust the brand to manufacture quality.  If you’re shopping for something you’re literally going to flush down the toilet look for the cheapest acceptable two-ply and get on with your day.

Keep your change.  Put in in an empty jar or cleaned out soda bottle.  When it’s full take it to one of those coin counting machines that you may either find at your bank or at your grocery store. If your bank has one it’s better cause you just get to convert it to cash and can stick it right in your savings.  If they don’t, your grocery store’s coin counter will probably offer you a gift card of some kind, but it’s still totally usable and better than letting that money go to waste. I know my grocery store’s coin counter offers giftcards to Amazon, so really, who wouldn’t be spending that money anyway?

One thing I would normally never suggest except that it recently payed off for me, is that I have an app on my phone, downloaded from the Google Play Store, called “Panel App” and what it does is check my gps location as I go around town and then pop up questions once a day asking me about locations I visited and things like while I was at Safeway did I consider buying this brand of cheese, or what my overall opinions of McDonald’s are in regards to branding and quality and price… takes less than 5 minutes out of my day, earns points, and I can save those up to use on either an Amazon Giftcard, or a payout to my Paypal account.  With as much as everything in our phone is already tracking where we’re going, I don’t mind telling them my opinions on vodka brands and if I’ve ever heard of them to earn some extra money by the end of the year.  Who can’t use an extra $25 for Christmas shopping?

So, take all of that into consideration, but for today set that goal of how much you want to save and by when, open up a savings account if you haven’t already, and make a date for when you’re going to sit down with your bills and make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck too.  Don’t forget those spending tracker apps either. It might make most sense to you to start using them at the beginning of a month, but get one installed and learn its ins and outs.

If you have any additional tips for saving, share them with us in the comments!

Apart from that, for today:

Make yourself a hair detangler.  Whether for you or for your kids, I dunno anyone with hair who isn’t going to benefit from a homemade detangler, which won’t JUST untangle your hair, but will make it healthier too, so even if your hair is short it’s worth your while.  If you have no hair at all then today can be one of those days that you get to just give yourself a nice stress relieving scalp massage 🙂  If you do have hair or live with people that do though, for today, let’s try an Apple Cider Vinegar detangler, since you should have some on hand from our recent facial cleanser.  This recipe comes courtesy of Mommypotamus.
Ingredients:
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup distilled water (or water that has been boiled and cooled)
1 teaspoon olive oil or jojoba oil
Up to 30 drops essential oil (optional; see their suggested list of essential oils here.  Note that while this is optional it’s probably not a bad idea if you don’t like smelling like vinegar.)
“To Make:  If you’re using essential oils, add them to the apple cider vinegar and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Add the oil and stir vigorously, then add the water.” She goes on to explain her water/vinegar ratios are due to her hard water and that if your water isn’t hard you can add water as needed to dilute your detangler.  You’ll want to pour it into a spray bottle before using.
“To Use:  This recipe works best as a leave in conditioner applied after shampoo.  Shake well before using, then spritz thoroughly onto hair.  Allow the mixture to sit for a few minutes, the comb through using a wide tooth comb.
“Shelf Life: I’ve never had a batch go bad, but because it doesn’t contain any preservatives I store mine in the fridge and use with 4-6 weeks.”
And that’s it.  I have very long hair, which if it weren’t for it’s weight and for a significant amount of brushing, would be quite wavy if not curly.  My friends are always amazed to learn that I can comb it and don’t have to default to a brush.  Combs are better for your hair, and if you can get them through your hair easily when it’s wet you’re doing your hair an enormous favor. Detangler is going to help with that, and this is both cheaper and healthier than the detanglers you might buy at a store, which often coat your hair in plastics that make it look alright, but keep it from actually being healthy.

Clean your patio. Or whatever patio equivalent you may have, whether it’s a back step, back deck, back porch, or balcony, get out there and clean it.  If you’ve got summer clutter still out there get it put away.  If you have garden tools strewn about that should be in a cabinet or nicely coiled and disconnected from the faucet in case of freezing pipes, get them taken care of.  If you have a makeshift patio like mine that’s made out of paving stones, pull up any weeds or what have you that have worked their way up through the cracks.  Sweep.  Take down any Christmas lights you might have back there.  You DO have until February 2nd to make that happen, but if you’re already back there working and aren’t really looking at them or enjoying them anymore, do yourself the favor of taking care of it and saving on your electric bill. If you’ve got bird feeders or bird houses or anything hanging up back there make sure those are clean and in good working order, and filled if it does happen to be a bird feeder, cause this is the time of year for it.

Do some cardio.  If you’ve got access to an elliptical ,that’s what we want to see happen today.  Go a little longer than the last time you were on it. If you did ten minutes last time, do 15 today, if you did 15, do 20.  Don’t over-do it, but let’s keep building and keep improving.  If you haven’t got access to an elliptical than go out for a jog or a run and get those same muscle groups working.  If you just can’t make yourself a jogger then do some speed walking and try to find an area that’s going to have you go both uphill and down so you still work all those muscle groups and get as much benefit as possible. Get the blood pumping and the oxygen flowing.  It would be okay to sweat too 🙂

Last but not least, make yourself a Detox Drink.  There are plenty you can buy ready made if that’s your thing, but it’s cheaper, more satisfying, and healthier to make your own and know what you’re putting in your body.  You might not feel like you need detoxing because you don’t drink and don’t smoke and don’t do drugs and eat all organic, but the air that we breathe is full of things that will do us plenty of harm on their own, and certain dietary habits no matter how clean they are are going to clog up our innards as well. According to “Dr. Axe”, things like achiness, bad breath, belly fat, bloating, constipation, cravings, fatigue, gas, headaches, lack of energy, mood swings, nausea, or skin problems can all be results of toxins and be a good sign we need to make a Detox Drink.  While our liver and kidneys and all of that are designed to take care of our toxins, our bodies were never designed to be exposed to the modern world and sometimes we need a little extra flushing out, and that whole system can appreciate some help.

So, for today, to make some Detox Water you can choose to either stick with the Apple Cider Vinegar theme, or maybe go for something a little sweeter. What you’re going to want to do is choose a set of ingredients, either 1 cup of sliced strawberries with 2 cups of cubed watermelon and 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary or 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar with the juice from 1/2 of a lemon and a teaspoon of cinnamon and slices from 1/2 of a red apple, and add them to a pitcher (12 oz) of water.  Let it sit 3-5 hours or overnight, and pour it over ice to enjoy.  Your body will appreciate the boost, and it’s one more enjoyable way to drink that water we all committed to drinking a few posts ago and get an enjoyable nonalcoholic beverage to sip on 🙂

That’s all you need to commit to for today!  Don’t forget to comment with those extra money savings tips and I will see you on Facebook within just a couple of hours for the Question of the Day!

A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on Amazon.com:
MP3: Money (That’s What I Want)
Album:With The Beatles

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Write the Ending Without Any Sorrow

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The popular New Year’s resolution we’re focusing on today is one that we’re making ourselves this year, and that is to read more.  If you’ve been following the blog daily, you’re already reading on a daily basis, but now let’s see if we can put it to work on reading more books!  I’ve always loved to read, but as I’ve gotten older I find myself doing less of it. Part of that was not having the time to do it while I was at work because even in my downtime I’m hyper aware of my surroundings so it was hard for me to actually focus on what I was reading with other people around, part of it is that I’ve developed chronic migraines and focusing on reading books is hard because it just seems like the words like to swim, and part of it (all ridiculousness here is real) is that I like to read in bed and I have no bedside lamp so that means having to get up and cross the room and turn off the light once I get good and cozy and sleepy from reading.  My solution to all of that has been to dedicate a corner of my living room to being able to read cozily and make a luxurious day of it when I do decide to curl up with a book.

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As you can see, it’s a  simple little corner, with a recliner, an end table, a lamp, and an afghan, it’s just a part of my living room, but I have my couch positioned as a sort of a wall dividing it from the rest of the room, and when I decide to make good use of it I make a good cup of tea, some nice toast with jam, grab a good book, and settle in for a day of reading.  It’s particularly nice on rainy or snowy days.  I actually wish I had thought to make good use of it yesterday.  I’m late writing this morning because of our hurricane force winds here in Colorado and more than 24 hours of hearing them howl driving my autistic brain into a place of way overstimulated and needing to sleep through the rest of it.  Reading would have been a really good distraction if it had occurred to me at the time.

Anyhow, my point is that making reading a luxurious experience can make it one you’ll especially enjoy and want to spend time on.  We’ll have lots of daily projects revolving around specific books in the future, but for today we want you to do two things.  The first being to set a goal of how many books you want to read this year. We’re not going to suggest a goal for you, because some people can devour a book a day, and some may be brand new to thinking of reading as a pleasant experience.  So set is as low or as high as feels appropriate for you.  We set ours at 48, and hope to shatter it, but we shall see what the year brings.  The second thing we want you to do today is pick out a book, any book, and start reading it.  Whether you make it a devoted relaxed activity like I do, or if you’re a before bed reader, or if you are the kind who can tune out everything around you and read during your downtime at work or school.

What you choose to read is entirely up to you. I wholeheartedly agree with the meme we started the post with… everyone is a reader if they find the right book.  My ex was dumb as a box of rocks, and hated reading, but I handed him Harry Potter and asked him to try it (this was back when they were still being written, I believe before Goblet of Fire came out) and he absolutely loved the series and went on to steal books I received as presents and never give me a chance to read them.  So, I think I successfully converted at least one reader 🙂  But whether you want to start with children’s books (I LOVE kids books, there’s no shame in reading them, they have a lot to teach us), or classics, or books that have been turned into movies, or novelizations of movies, or manga, or graphic novels, or cookbooks, or poetry, or short stories, or watever kind of genre appeals to you, go with it.  If you have a favorite book you’ve read before and feel like reading it again that counts too. All we’re asking is that you spend part of today reading something besides the blog.

We’ve set up a Goodreads account and group that people are welcome to join, just go to community and then groups and search for Daily Reasons to Live and we’ll be right there.  You’ll recognize us when you see us.  If you’re unfamiliar with Goodreads, it’s both a website and downloadable app where you can create virtual shelves for books you’ve read, books you want to read, books you’re currently reading, and any sort of custom shelves for genres or sorting that you want to use.  You can use it to connect with other readers, friends you already have that read, and groups of people reading the same sorts of books.  You can solicit or make book recommendations, review books, and enter book giveaways where you get a free chance at winning a book just by clicking that you’re interested in it.  We’ve used it for many years and never had issues with spam or security, you can link it with your social media account if you want to and it’s very unobtrusive.

We haven’t yet, but as soon as I’m done writing this entry we’ll start putting together some shelves of recommended books for anyone who needs help deciding what to read.  Everything will be marked unread even if we’ve already read it, because that will help us keep track of what we’ve read as a group. Don’t forget that reading can be a free hobby. Get yourself a library card.  Some of the best books I’ve read were found wandering through shelves in the library and grabbing things that looked interesting.  You can now get a lot of eBooks for Free too.

There are apps available to read them on now, but I personally use a Kindle Paperwhite. It’s easier for me to have a dedicated device that’s actually designed for reading, and is designed specifically to reduce headaches from the lighted screen, but still does provide enough light to read by at night and avoid that issue of having to get up and turn off the light I was whining about earlier.

Even if you aren’t excited about reading, give it a try.  Reading is good for you, and great for your brain.  Benefits of reading include:

  • Avoiding Alzheimer’s Disease (Reading regularly as an older adult makes you 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s.)
  • Better Writing and Communication Skills
  • Enhances Your Memory
  • Expanding Your Vocabulary
  • Feeling Less Isolated (Identifying with characters feels like a real-life relationship to your brain, and can help you find ways to connect with people in real life too.)
  • Help Process Traumas In Your Life
  • Improved Concentration and Focus
  • Increased Knowledge (Everything you read, fiction or non-fiction, gives you new information, and the more knowledge you have the better equipped you are to handle and challenges you encounter)
  • Increased Sense of Empathy
  • Inspiration to Overcome Obstacles In Your Own Life
  • Preventing Dementia
  • Prolong Your Workout (Most cardio exercise machines are equipped with book holders)
  • Reducing Stress Levels
  • Reminding You of Happy Memories
  • Save Money.  (As I mentioned, reading can be free, but even if you’re a germaphobe like me and prefer to buy new books or can’t get the book you want as a free eBook, the average novel costs between  $8 for an e-book or $13 for a paperback, and on average takes about 6 hours to read.  That’s so much cheaper than a night of food and drinks or movies or outings to keep yourself entertained.)
  • Slow Cognitive Decline In Your Brain’s Functioning by 32%
  • Stronger Analytical Thinking Skills (and, consequently, stronger problem solving skills)

Apart from reading, your daily tasks for today are:

Lotion up your feet.  We’re tough on our feet all year round.  Winter is especially hard on them between getting cold and wet and being exposed to dry air, so get yourself a good foot healing lotion and moisturize your poor feet and then slip into some cotton socks to help the lotion have time to absorb.

Clean your hallway.  Wherever it may be, upstairs or downstairs or both.  Give it a good cleaning.  Dust any light fixture or wall art or shelves or knick knacks.  Get rid of any clutter strewn about, get it put where it belongs.  If you have carpet then vacuum, if you have hardwood then sweep and mop. If you have a hallway closet then tackle cleaning it out, organize it and donate anything you can’t or won’t use. And that’s all the cleaning today 🙂  One of the easiest cleaning days you’ll ever have.

Go for a walk. Wherever you want to do it.  Walk around the block, walk around a park, walk a favorite trail, walk around the outside of the building you work in, walk around window-shopping downtown.  If it’s too cold out for a good walk then walk somewhere indoors, whether it’s the mall or you have that gym membership and want to spend some time on the treadmill or walking around the basketball court.

Spin.  I’m not talking about making you do more exercise, you don’t have to take a spin class.  But you know how when you were a little kid you liked to throw your arms out wide and spin around in a circle?

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Cleaning
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Spinning.

There’s a reason we all did it and all enjoyed it.  Spinning is a way of coping when everything feels fragmented, spinning blurs everything back together into one great big whole.  If you suffer from vertigo or balance issues or inner ear problems and can’t physically spin yourself, spend a few minutes watching a ceiling fan, an electric fan, a toy top, anything you can make spin.  It all has that same effect where the parts disappear and become a whole.  It may sound silly, but give it a try.  Sometimes the world just needs to feel a little more whole for a little while.


A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on Amazon.com:
MP3: Wrapped Up In Books
Album: Books

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You Know You’ll Be Alright

 

Today’s popular New Year’s resolution may not apply to everyone, but it’s a serious one.  Many people resolve to quit drinking in the new year.  Maybe that’s for health reasons, maybe that’s because you have a legitimate problem.   Regardless of the reason, we’re going to do it with you.  I know I am, and I am going to ask everyone reading to give up alcohol for the rest of this month, unless your doctor has told you to drink a glass of wine a day for heart problems or something, I won’t argue with your medical professional, but otherwise, for recreational or stress relieving drinking, we’re putting a stop to it through the end of January, and will still be here throughout the year to hear your progress and share your highs and lows.

The only other exception to this being if you are such a heavy drinker that you’re going to throw yourself into withdrawal if you go cold turkey.  You may need to talk to your doctor about your problem and the safest way for you to get sober. You may need to check yourself into rehab/detox for a little while.  Most employers understand that, as a medical need.  If you need to, see about having your doctor fill out FMLA paperwork for your job so you can take the time you need for rehab or withdrawal symptoms and take care of yourself.  Depending on your starting point you may even want to consider moving into a sober living home.  If your home life isn’t stable and alcohol-free, then a sober living home is an excellent option of a safe and supportive place to live while you’re recovering.

If you drink enough to experience withdrawal, you can expect side effects like anxiety, diarrhea, elevated heart rate, headaches, high blood pressure, insomnia, nausea or vomiting, restlessness, shaking, stomach cramps, sweating, and trouble concentrating.  If you go into severe withdrawal that causes confusion and disorientation, convulsions, extreme agitation, fever, hallucinations, seizures, and severe vomiting, have someone take you to the Emergency Room, or call 911.  Severe alcohol withdrawal can cause delirium tremens, usually 3 days into withdrawal, which causes changes in the way your brain regulates circulation and breathing.  This is considered an emergency situation and is nothing to play around with or wait to see if it passes.  It does usually only last for 2-3 days, but can cause severe hallucinations, as well as high body temperature and seizures that can result in death.  You wouldn’t expect it, but alcohol can be one of the most dangerous substances to withdrawal from.  Do not be afraid to seek help from a medical professional.

In the future we will occasionally post recipes, but anything that involves alcohol will always be accompanied by a non-alcoholic version for those who can’t drink, shouldn’t drink, don’t like to drink, or are too young to drink. But we promise none of those this month, we’re taking the first leg of the journey together.  And I truly can’t stress enough that no matter where in the timeline of things we are, whatever we may be talking about that day, if you’re going through a rough time or need support, we’ll listen, and we’ll be your sober buddy if you need one.

If you do have a serious problem with drinking, what I would like to see in the remainder of January in addition to not drinking is joining an Alcoholics Anonymous program.  We’re happy to do our part to help, but we don’t beat professional tried and true programs.  We know that the idea of joining an in person support group is a daunting prospect.  But you’re going to have the supportive of people who have been exactly where you are, and understand everything you’re going through.  You’ll also be able to have a personal sponsor. Someone who is going to help take charge of your recovery and walk through the process with you step by step, slip ups and successes.

If you’re not up for quitting cold turkey, we’re going to ask you to spend January cutting back, joining an AA group, and set yourself a quit date that you intend to be sober by. Limit yourself to no more than 1 drink per work-week day, and no more than 3 drinks on your days off as a starting point.  We would like to hope you’re willing to be done drinking today with us, but we know it’s a more complex problem than that, and we’re not going to hold you to an unrealistic expectation.  So if you’re a casual or social drinker or a serious drinker who’s up for the challenge we’re going to ask you to quit with us today and spend at least  the rest of the month sober.  If you’re a serious drinker and need a gradual decline in drinking we’re asking you to cut back every week.  Set a specific date you are willing to hold yourself accountable to in being done with alcohol.

If you’re going to drink, do it slowly, and take a break between drinks. Give yourself a few hours between drinks that instead of alcohol you’re drinking water or tea or juice, and never drink on an empty stomach.  If you’re a serious drinker, but not at a stage where you NEED to drink everyday, then instead of the suggested limits in the previous paragraph, pick a couple of days out of each week that you’re going to commit to not drinking.  As weeks add up and you get used to not drinking on those days, and another day.  Keep going until it’s every day.

To eliminate your drinking problem you may need to make some changes to your social circle.  There’s plenty to do in a bar without drinking, but don’t put yourself in that environment until you know you’re prepared to say no and stick with it.  That may never come, you may always have to stay out of drinking environments, and that’s okay.  Do your drinking buddies still care about you when you’re not drinking?  If not were they your buddies to begin with or just people who don’t like to drink alone?  Practice saying no.  You can plan ahead to avoid it as much as possible, but eventually there will be some social situation that shows up that you’re offered an alcoholic beverage.  Practice saying a polite but firm “no, thank you.”

Let people know that you’ve decided to stop drinking if they’re used to doing it with you.  You can be as open or as private about it as you want to.  You can tell people you’re quitting because you have a problem, or you can tell people you’re quitting to be healthier, or you can tell people you’re quitting to lose weight, whatever is comfortable for you.  Do make it clear drinking isn’t welcome in your home, and that you may not be attending certain events if alcohol is present or if it’s a routine part of that experience for you.  It’s okay to ask people to support you by not drinking around you.  If they can’t do that, you don’t need them.  Practice saying it to yourself until you’re ready to say it out loud. “I am an alcoholic.”  One of the most profound Facebook posts I ever read was a friend who posted that his pre-teen son had said to him “I can’t wait until I’m old enough to get buzzed.” and that that made him realize he was an alcoholic and that he wanted to change his life.  He unfortunately didn’t stick with his change of lifestyle and has bigger challenges than alcohol to address, but it was the bravest post I’ve ever seen anyone make.  Whether you choose to announce your goals on social media or not is your choice. You may benefit from the support, but there have also been studies suggesting we shouldn’t announce our goals on social media because when our friends like the status we get all the satisfaction of actually having accomplished it already and don’t feel the need to follow through.  So instead of announcing it on your own wall, maybe look at joining some online alcohol recovery groups.

You’re also going to want to get rid of temptations around the house, and whatever other environments you spend a lot of time in.  Get rid of alcohol, barware, and drinking paraphernalia, whether that’s a neon sign on your wall or a T-shirt proclaiming your favorite alcohol brand.  Get it out of sight and out of mind.

Make it a point to take care of yourself while you get sober.  Eat well, exercise, and make sure you get enough sleep.  Find yourself a network of supportive people even outside of AA.  It could be your existing friends are going to be the most supportive people in the world, or maybe your family will, but chances are if you have developed a drinking problem then you have probably been surrounding yourself with fellow drinkers.  Consider getting more involved in groups in your worship community.

Remember that post a few days ago about choosing a hobby to start in the new year? Start spending lots of time on it.  Replace your drinking time with something else enjoyable, productive, and likely to keep your mind busy so you don’t notice you miss it, or that will achieve relaxation so you don’t feel like you need it.  Also take another look at our post on managing stress.  Don’t let the stress of life without alcohol intimidate you, there are lots of ways to deal with stress, and alcohol isn’t anywhere on our list.

Keep a log of your drinking. Write down how much you think you drink, how much you want to limit that, and how much you actually ended up drinking.  Do the numbers surprise you?  Do you have a bigger problem than you realized?  That makes this all the more important to set as a goal this year.  Write down what’s triggering you to drink too, so you can avoid and eliminate those things from your life.

Be realistic about how to achieve recovery.  If you have a serious drinking problem you are going to have setbacks along the way.  That’s just the way it is, and it doesn’t mean you failed. It means you caved to temptation and can pick yourself back up and get back with the program.  Recommit yourself to it, look at what occurred to lead to you slipping up, and how can you avoid that in the future?

If you’ve acknowledged you have a problem enough to make it a resolution then you’re already well into the first step toward recovery.  It’s extraordinarily hard for most people to recognize or acknowledge that they have a drinking problem.  If you’re following the page and read the challenge to stop drinking for the month and scoffed and said “I don’t need to do that, I’m okay, I’ll drink when I feel like it” then you may need to consider you’re more reliant on alcohol than you’re aware of.

Even if you truly are just a casual drinker, or just a social drinker, let’s take a look at all the reasons why you should consider quitting:

  • Alcohol costs money.  Especially if you’re drinking regularly or in social environments.  All that money you would have drank away can be used for paying off debt, buying yourself something nice, or put into a savings account.
  • Alcohol is a depressant.  You’re going to be happier without it.
  • Alcohol prevents vitamin absorption.  When you’re not drinking your body will stop starving for nutrients and stop feeling so achy all of the time.
  • Brain fog clears up as your brain starts to heal.  Being able to think clearly and deeply is an enjoyable and admirable quality.
  • Drinking dulls your senses. All of them.  Sobriety makes things taste better, smell better, feel better, and clears your vision so you can see better.  You’ll even have a better sense of what’s going on around you and how people are legitimately reacting to you.  There’s a reason that people fight more when they’re drunk.  Fewer misunderstanding make life a friendlier experience.
  • Hangovers suck.  If you’re leading a sober life you never have to face waking up with a hangover, or having to have another drink first thing when you wake up to feel functional.  That’s no way to go through life.  You can’t have energy and enjoy your life that way.
  • If you have kids, they need you sober.  They’re learning behavior from you, and they’re receiving emotional trauma from you.
  • Love your liver.  It deserves to come up for air and do its job for you.  Your liver takes as little as two months to start repairing itself and you’re going to see improvements in your skin, your vision, your mood, and your general outlook.  It’s better to get on top of things before you  develop cirrhosis or fatty liver disease.
  • Recovery will earn you admiration and respect, especially from those closest to you. You may have to have some hard conversations first if you’ve been hiding your problem, but it will all be worth it for the pride and the bond that will have developed through your journey to sobriety.
  • You won’t have to hide anymore.  The majority of heavy drinkers don’t want the people they care about to know how serious their problem is.  If you’re not drinking anymore you can stop being dishonest, stop sneaking around, stop hiding alcohol or the evidence of its consumption, and stop feeling guilty about hiding things from people that you love who genuinely care about you.
  • Your sex life is going to be dramatically better for both parties.  Alcohol has certain effects on the body that just don’t lend themselves to love making.  Beyond that, sobriety is going to make you more passionate and more energetic.
  • You’ll miss less work.  You won’t have to lie to your boss about why you’re not going to be in, you won’t have to skip work for hangovers, or for still being drunk.  If your job is one of the stressors that makes you drink, sobriety will lend itself to how much time and energy you can spend looking for a new job and perform your best at the interview.
  • You’re going to look better. Whether through your face clearing up or losing weight or just having an overall healthier glow to you and being able to be more active giving you more muscle tone and definition.  Get used to the idea of people telling you how awesome you look. They might not ever know why, but they’ll know you look better than they’ve ever seen you.
  • When you drink you probably do things you’d be ashamed of when you’re sober.  When you’re more in control of your life and your mind you won’t be so ashamed of yourself.
  • When your body has completed withdrawal, you’re going to feel better both mentally and physically.
  • You get to be in control of your own life instead of letting a substance control it.
  • You’ll be better prepared to handle your home and family responsibilities.
  • You’ll feel more confident.  Fighting and winning a big, important battle is a big boost to the self esteem.  It’s a huge accomplishment and you’re right to feel a sense of satisfaction and self worth when you win it.
  • You’ll have less anxiety.
  • You’ll have more free time and energy to do more productive things and spend with the people you truly care about.  You can be more present for your family, and perform better at work.
  • Your job performance will improve.
  • You’re going to develop healthier, more meaningful relationships sober.

Whatever motivates you and you want to get sober for, we’re here for you.  Tell us about your journey and let us share it with you.  We genuinely care and want to know.  So, today’s big project for everyone is to either commit to being alcohol free through the start of February, to start researching your opportunities and resources for sobriety, or to set a date for when you will have had your last drink.

As for your daily list of tasks:

Exfoliate your facial and neck skin.  Yesterday we focused on blackheads, today we want to get rid of dead skin and remaining impurities.  Your facial skin is delicate.  Store bought exfoliating scrubs can be great. Or they can be full of plastics, artificial fragrances, glycerin, parabens, phthalates, and scads of other undesirable ingredients.  The one professional facial I ever had the woman who worked on my very breakout prone skin told me not to use an apricot scrub and that it would be too rough for my skin, but whatever scrub I did buy didn’t seem to be any gentler for me despite it’s great reviews. So we’re going to go with a natural ingredient homemade recipe that’s easy to make, doesn’t have a lot of ingredients, and can be stored for up to 3 months if you want to make extra ahead of time for future use.  Today’s facial scrub recipe comes from homemadeforelle.com.  Here is their 2 Ingredient Sugar Face Scrub.

Ingredients:
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp sugar

Instructions:
“Combine coconut oil and sugar in a small bowl and stir to combine.  Rub sugar face scrub into clean facial or neck skin, using gentle circular motions, for 60 seconds.  Rinse dry with warm water.”  They suggest if you make extras to store them in the refrigerator if you live in a hot climate because coconut oil has a low melting point. I say it’s best to just store it in the refrigerator regardless cause why take unneeded risks of anything going bad?

Clean Your Master Bedroom
If you’ve been following daily this is probably a routine description and hopefully a routine process by now.  But start at the top and work your way down.  Dust any light fixtures and wall art, shelves and knick knacks.  Wipe off any fingerprints or smudges on the light switchplate.  Get all your books put on shelves. If you eat or drink in bed get all your dishes into the dishwasher and out of the bedroom.  Windex any mirrors or windows.  Don’t forget to give your blinds a good dusting and your windowsill a good scrubbing while you’re at it. Straighten up and organize any desks. Polish any wood.  Organize any dressers or bureaus.  If you find clothes in them that can’t or won’t be worn anymore, donate them appropriately.  Get any clutter taken care of, straightened out, and put away.  Get any kicked off shoes into closets or on racks or wherever they belong.  Clean out your bedroom closet if you haven’t already.  Vacuum if you have carpet, sweep and mop if you have wood.  Wash and change the linens on your bed. All done 🙂  One more clean and happy and comfortable room in your house!

Do some Core exercises.  If you’ve joined a gym as suggested, see about using some of those machines and free-weights that are going to work your core.  If not, I still recommend joining a gym, but if it’s not feasible, improvise around the house with whatever objects will make a safe but suitable weight for the exercises.  Grab that trusty broom or mop handle again in place of a barbell and go through the motions to get some muscle toning in and increase your mobility.  Today we want to do 10 Cable Crunches (If you’re unable to join a gym, don’t improvise this one, we don’t want you getting hurt, add an extra set of 10 crunches onto the 10 already listed), 10 Barbell Side Bends (1 on each side counts as 1), 10 Seated Barbell Twists (again, 1 on each side counts as 1), 10 Crunches, and 5 reverse crunches.

And lastly, today we’re gonna mix things up a little and try an allergy relief drink.  Everybody’s allergic to something, and this time of year it can be hard to tell whether we’re suffering from allergies or a cold. If you’re allergic to dustmites like so many of us, all this cleaning we’ve been doing might have stirred things up in the process of getting rid of them.  This recipe came from food.com and gets a five star average rating.  They give it a prep time of 5 minutes and a cook time of 0.  The recipe makes 1 serving.

Ingredients:
1 tablespoon local honey
1 tablespoon raw organic apple cider vinegar
Warm Water

Their Directions:
“Place honey and raw organic apple cider vinegar in a tall glass and fill it with warm water. Stir to dissolve honey” and drink it.  Pammyowl, the recipe submitter, says she drinks it twice a day and can feel when it starts to wear off and knows to make another one.  She recommends adding a squeeze of lemon for extra enjoyment, and notes never to give raw honey to a child under 12 months old.

That’s it for today 🙂 I will see you all later on Facebook for the Question of the Day!

A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on Amazon.com:
MP3: Amazing
Album: Big Ones

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You Have Seen Too Much In Too Few Years

One of the top New Year’s resolutions, and the one we’re going to focus on today, is to manage stress better.  I think 2016 showed clearly we all need more of that.  Hopefully you’re nightly journaling (that I trust you’re all still doing) is helping with some of that.  Either way we’re going to discuss some ways to further take the edge off.

  • Avoid or limit alcohol. In smaller quantities alcohol is a stimulant, in larger quantities alcohol is a depressant. Neither of these things is doing you any favors when it comes to stress.  A certain amount of certain alcohols does have it’s health benefits, so we aren’t saying give it up if you don’t a dependency on it (if you do, then yes, give it up.  No one should be dependent on a substance and you will thank yourself for getting help getting sober) but don’t make alcohol your go to move when you’re stressed out.
  • Avoid or limit caffeine.  Caffeine is a stimulant, and increases your level of stress.  If you’re a coffee hound, we’re not saying you have to eliminate all caffeine (though that would really be best for you) but we do want you to limit yourself to no more than 2 cups a day.  Normal cups, not thermoses with handles on them.  If you really like the comfort of warm beverages look at switching over to herbal teas, hot cider, or even decaf. I personally occasionally heat up a mug of milk and add a little imitation rum extract and a little vanilla extract and it’s quite cozy. Energy drink drinkers and soda pounders, we’re looking at you too. Energy drinks are too much, cut them out of your life. The only time they might be acceptable is on a long road trips, and they should be few and far between.  Soda we’d like to see you join us in our year of taking soda out of the daily habit, but if you’re going to do it go for the caffeine free options…  most clear sodas fit in this category. Sprite, 7-up, ginger ale, squirt.  Mountain Dew does NOT.  Root Beer might, depending on the brand. Barq’s has caffeine, that’s why it has “bite.”
  • Avoid or limit nicotine.  There are so many reasons to quit smoking. We know you’ve heard them all before, and we’re not going to use this entry to preach at you about it.  However, nicotine is a stimulant, and while it gives you that quick little buzz and can be a relaxing habit through familiarity, it IS raising your body’s sense of stress.  Start looking at ways to quit that will be right for you.  At the very very least start cutting back on how much you smoke.
  • Avoid or limit refined sugars.  Did you know vegans can’t eat refined sugar?  I’ll let you  ponder that one.  But there’s a reason vegans are doing so much cooking and taking food with them wherever they go.  Manufactured food almost always has refined sugar in it (even if it isn’t a sweet food.)  When it comes to stress the biggest reason you want to avoid refined sugars is that in too high a consumption rate they will cause energy crashes and leave you feeling fatigued and irritable.
  • Celebrate your achievements.  So, you screwed up and indulged in a third cup of coffee.  Is it less than your usual 5?  You won that battle on the way to winning the war.  Don’t berate yourself for not being perfect, none of us are no matter how much some of us look it 😉  You didn’t enjoy your work day, but you did everything you had to do to get through it and now it’s over.  Awesome job making it through the tough days!  Reward yourself with a little walk or hike to burn off some steam and tune in to nature.  Your kids screamed at each other all day and made a horrible mess and didn’t like dinner.  But they got all their homework done.   You get a gold star on that chore chart too.
  • Do yoga.  I believe I sang all the praises of yoga yesterday. They still stand today.  Yoga is a HUGE stress reliever.
  • Eat well.  Don’t skip meals, don’t eat food that came out of a window.  Keep yourself stocked with healthy snacks you can grab for convenience, and take the time to get your three balanced meals a day.  You can’t run the world until you can run your life, and you need the energy found in healthy food to make that happen.  Learn to love veggies, and learn the value of fresh foods.
  • Exercise.  When you get that fight or flight instinct triggered your body is dealing with high levels of adrenaline and cortisol… stress hormones.  If you’re in a situation where you genuinely need immediate protection from bodily harm then that system is doing everything it’s designed to do, but the modern world has a lot of stress that has nothing to do with physical danger that still triggers the same reaction.  It needs an outlet.  When you feel too stressed or tense, go take a walk. Around the block if you’re at home, around the building if you’re at work.  Don’t think people will judge you, I’ve worked in a lot of high stress environments and it was routine practice for people to either walk around the building on breaks or lunches or if things got particularly bad indoors sometimes a manager would just send you out to walk it off.  It’s normal behavior, and if anything people will admire your dedication to health.  Make sure you’re doing exercise and physical activity daily, even when you don’t know or think that you’re stressed.
  • Get a massage.  Maybe you can afford a professional one, maybe you have a partner you can exchange massages with, maybe you’re going to respond best to your own touch and can learn the art of self-massage.  Touch is important, and massage is an excellent way to reduce stress. Work it into your regular routine. Always drink a glass of water when you’re done.
  • Get better sleep.  When we’re tired, our stress level is up.  Conversely, when our stress level is high, it’s hard to fall asleep.  Have a nightly routine that helps you to relax.  Commit to a routine bedtime.  Kids aren’t the only ones who need enough sleep, and if your body has a routine to go with then it will work with you to make it happen.  Before bed give yourself enough time to take a hot bath or shower, do your journaling, and read a few pages or a chapter of a book.  Your body and mind will both appreciate the unwinding and the tradition to know what to prepare for.  Don’t do other things in bed besides sleep and your nightly routine. Don’t watch TV in bed without the intent of sleep. Don’t work in bed, ever. Don’t eat in bed. If you can’t sleep, get up and stretch and have a glass of water rather than stay there tossing and turning.  It’s healthier to avoid having to go on medication to aid your sleep, but if all else fails, try melatonin.  It’s healthy and it’s a substance that naturally occurs in your body.  If you’re doing all of your part right then the melatonin will do the rest.  Don’t forget those subliminal audio tracks either, you can listen to those in bed, and they’ll help get you in a relaxed state of mind.
  • Give back.  I know when you’re stressed about time the last thing you want to do is add in one more thing that has to be done. But people that volunteer are happier people. They have something they’re doing because they want to do it, not because they have to do it, and it feels good to help others.  When you’re volunteering regularly you’re creating a support network that’s there for you on those truly awful days too.  It may also help to give a little bit of perspective when you see people whose problems are truly worse than yours.  I don’t respond well to “this other hypothetical person has things worse” or “if this other thing happened it would be worse”, but when I see an active reminder to count my blessings I do feel like I have a whole lot to be thankful for and the bad things don’t feel so big anymore.
  • Go to therapy.  There are no rules about what you need to be suffering from to go get some professional help.  Maybe all you really need is someone to talk to that isn’t part of your personal life.  Therapists are there to help you. Let them do it.  You don’t even have to physical go if you don’t want to. There are a lot of online therapy resources these days where you can chat from the anonymity of your computer screen.
  • Laugh.  Whoever said laughter is the best medicine knew what they were talking about.  Don’t ever feel guilty about laughing, you’re not obligated to feel sad and miserable, no matter what’s going on.  Anyone else remember that episode of Mary Tyler Moore where she just couldn’t stop laughing at Chuckles the clown’s funeral?

    Did anyone think it made Mary a bad person?  We need laughter, it helps us cope, and floods us with hormones that will help us feel better.  Find something you know gets a guaranteed laugh from you and save it away for those days that you especially need a good strong laugh.  I, personally, cannot help laughing at Garfield Minus Garfield.  It’s entirely ridiculous, but it gives me fits of the giggles. I save it for when I’m feeling really bleak so that I never get tired of it and never stop giggling at it.
  • Learn abdominal breathing.  You know how whenever you’re stressed out or upset there’s always that obnoxious person telling you to take a deep breath?  That obnoxious person is right.  Focus on your breath.  Visualize it in colors if you need to.  You should be breathing with your diaphragm, so your chest and shoulders shouldn’t be falling and rising, your abdomen should.  Visualize an inhale through the nose of golden air full of healing energy and light.  Exhale slowly, taking longer than your inhale, and visualizing it as whatever color is representing your stress of the moment whether it’s black or red or whatever color matches the emotion you’re feeling.  If you’re feeling jealous, maybe it’s even green.  Let that exhale push out all of the negativity.  If someone says or does something that gives you a negative reaction, give yourself the moment it takes for a deep inhale and exhale before responding.
  • Learn better problem solving strategies.  Stressful situations are less stressful if you know you’re equipped to handle any situation that comes along.  If you had to act on your problem situation immediately without time to analyze it then, still remember it for when you do have time and then write it out. What was the problem and how did you respond?  How else could you have responded?  Was the path you chose the best one or did you find a better solution you can implement next time?  Start doing puzzles and mind games. Get those problem solving skills and logical techniques back in the habit of being used.
  • Learn how to say “no”, without feeling guilty about it.  We don’t like to say no, we all want to make people happy, and by extension make them like us. We also just don’t want to miss opportunities or feel like we’re creating a conflict. Unfortunately, there’s just not enough time in the day to say yes to everything, and there are absolutely people who will take advantage of you and abuse the privilege if you never say no.  If you don’t have the time, resources, or energy to do whatever’s being requested, be honest about that.  Honest with yourself.  You don’t owe anyone else any explanations for your no.  Maybe you just don’t feel like it. That’s okay too.  Be confident enough to say an assertive and definitive no.  If you feel better using a gentler phrase, then that’s okay, you can add in all the “I’m sorry, but…”, or “I’d like to, but…” that you need to. The important thing is to get the message across clearly. No means no.
  • Let yourself be sick.  Don’t feel like the world is going to fall apart without you if you take a sick day.  It’s better to let yourself go to the doctor and rest and recover at the beginning of a sickness than it is after you’ve gotten much sicker and infected half the people you’ve encountered so it takes longer to recover and puts people in a bigger crunch without you because they’re without a lot of other people now too.
  • Listen to music.  What relaxes you may vary from other people.  My biggest relaxation music is Celtic. Yours might be classical, or it might be death metal, or anything in between.  This is part of why we share a song every day. Taking some time out to listen to some music and just focus on it and what it’s saying can really give your mind a nice break and relieve tension all over.  Most people I know hate to admit they listen to pop music, but it got the name “popular” for a reason.  Studies have shown our brain lights up all the happy zones if we’re listening to pop music while getting a brain scan.  Our brain really likes being able to predict the pattern of what the music is going to do next.  It’s okay to like pop music, scientifically you’re supposed to.
  • Log your sources of stress for a month or two.  Write down all of your stressful events.  What were you doing, who were you with, what time of day was it, what did you feel like, if you’re female where were you in your menstrual cycle? Rate how stressful each situation was from 1-5, 1 being a little stress and 5 being so much stress you didn’t think you could handle it. Did you do anything that helped with your stress when it happened? If not what could you have done? As you’re logging start looking for patterns.  Are you getting more stressed when you’re hungry?  When you’re coming down from that daily caffeine or sugar fix?  Are you always getting stressed out around the same person and might need some distance?  Are you using coping methods when things are happening or not thinking of them until you’re logging?  Start training yourself to be in-tune with those stressful feelings and automatically knowing that if you feel stress you can and should do something to address it.
  • Manage Your Time.  Sometimes your to do list is quite simply too large and that can cause a lot of stress.   Acknowledge that not everything might be accomplished and prioritize what NEEDS to be done and the level of importance of every item on your plate, then get to work on it.  You might not get everything done that you want to. But the important things will be done and you’ll feel better about it.
  • Meditate.  How and where and when you do this are up to you.  There are those guided meditations we share daily and they can be done anywhere but in the car.  For me, if I meditate I put myself to sleep, so it’s an at home activity.  The meditation I personally find most effective is to envision myself and everyone that I love and care about most in a beautiful place that I’ve created in my brain and doesn’t exist in this reality.  We’re all touching in some way to be able to share energy with each other.  And what happens next varies with my needs.  Sometimes it starts to sprinkle, and then starts to pour, and we let the rain wash over us and cleanse away all of our problems and negativities with it.  Sometimes it starts to snow, and we lie on the ground enjoying the warmth of the earth against the juxtaposition of the snowflakes that eventually build up to having covered us entirely in a drift of snow.  Sometimes we get covered in falling leaves or petals or the wind whips around us and takes everything awful away with it.  Sometimes there’s a light (the color also varies depending on my needs) that starts at one end of my body, pushing all of the negative energy and toxins and unhealthiness ahead of it and goes through each and every single individual body part until it has eventually pushed all of that toxicity out through the ends of my hair or the tips of my toe nails.  You don’t have to include other people in your visualization like I do, maybe you need to visualize some alone time, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s not selfish to spend a little time everyday on just yourself.
  • Relax. Easier said than done, right?  But not unachievable. There are lots of techniques to help reduce stress and encourage relaxation.  Is there a word or phrase that has a special positive meaning for you?  “Blessed,” “Calm,” “Faith,” “Hope,” “Love,” “Joy,””Peace,” “Serenity,” “Strength.” Whatever word means something positive to you, repeat it in your mind.  Visualize the word appearing, and then being decorated by all of the things you feel represent it.  Flowers, or doves, or water, or rainbows, or religious symbols and figures, or pets, or family.  Whatever makes that word meaningful to you. Keep it in your mind and keep repeating it and adding to it until you feel more relaxed.  What smells remind you of that word? What tastes and feeling and sounds?  Add them all in to your mental dreamscape that you’re focusing in on, and keep repeating that word.
  • Stay hydrated.  A hydrated body is a healthier body and is better able to deal with whatever else comes at it.  Drink the correct amount of water for a person your size.  If you get sick of water you can alternate with herbal teas, and a small amount of fruit juice (which does have health benefits, but is high in sugar.  You’d be better off eating the fruit the juice was made from.  Fruits generally contain a lot of water and will help in the hydration process.
  • Talk it out.  Talk to someone about how you feel to release some of the tension.  Or talk to someone about something entirely unrelated for distraction.  Make it a point and an effort to have a good laugh somewhere in that conversation.  Both for you and for the other person.  If your talking buddy starts to think of you as always complaining they’ll stop wanting to listen, but adding in a good laugh to the conversation makes it less negative for both parties. Stress needs an outlet or the pressure just continues to build until it’s explosive, so if talking is the right outlet for you, do it regularly, before it gets to that stage.

That’s your big goal for today.  Find one thing you’re willing to try to help cope with stress, and put it into action.  Other than that, your little list of daily tasks are:

Dress extra nice today.  That may mean different things to different people.  Maybe you’re used to wearing your pajamas all day everyday. Get out of them and into some clothes you could wear out in a casual environment.  Maybe it means trading jeans for slacks.  Maybe it only means ironing your clothes today instead of just throwing them on.  Maybe it means picking out the top of the line designer outfit from your closet. Maybe it means buying an entirely new ensemble.  Maybe it just means doing a load of laundry.  Maybe it’s polishing your shoes.  Whatever it is that makes it a step up from your normal daily attire, put in that little extra effort today.

Clean a Bathroom.  If you have a half bathroom, then today that’s the one to focus your energy on.  If you don’t pick another bathroom that needs the attention. As always, start up at the top of the room and work your way down.  Dust those light fixtures, windex that mirror, organize any medicine cabinets, scrub down the sink and the vanity.  Wipe any finger prints or dirt off the light switchplate.  Organize any cabinets. Dust any shelves or knick knacks or wall art.  Organize those shelves too.  Toss out burned out candles or dusty past it’s prime potpourri or spent air fresheners.  Scrub the toilet, both inside and out.  Sweep and mop or swiffer the floor.  Half baths can be tricky so be sure to get all those little nooks and crannies.  Toss out or recycle any empty soap containers or toilet paper rolls.  Wash and replace any linens. And that’s it! You’re done with the cleaning!

Do some cardio. If you’ve got access to one, hop on a stationary or recumbent bike, or even take a ride on your regular bicycle.  If you have none of the above then go for a jog or even jog in place in your living room.  Whatever you need to do to get up and get some blood pumping.

Give your face a blackhead treatment.  Or more than your face if you’re up for it.  Blackheads are those clogged pores that are a kind of mild but unattractive form of acne.  Most people (of both genders) get them on their face, particularly on and around the nose, but you can get them on virtually any part of the body.  They can do a number on your confidence.  For today we’re going with one easy idea provided by naturallivingideas.com.

They tell us that Baking Soda is a great warrior in the fight against blackheads, and that with regular use of this treatment you can kiss them goodbye for good.  They also tell us it’s an excellent exfoliant for getting rid of dead skin cells, which leaves your skin soft and smooth, and people buy all manner of expensive products to accomplish.

Their instructions for using baking soda to treat blackheads is:
“In a glass or ceramic bowl, mix about a tablespoon of baking soda with just a small amount of water to form a paste.
Apply the paste to blackheads and allow it to dry for about 10 minutes.
Rinse with lukewarm water.
Repeat the remedy once or twice a week to remove debris from pores that can cause them to clog, resulting in blackheads.”

Pretty simple.  Exactly two ingredients, both of which you very likely already have, and if not you can purchase baking soda from any nearby store.

And you’re done!  Whatever you do with the rest of the day is up to you. I will see you all later on Facebook for the Question of the Day!

A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on Amazon.com:
MP3: 19th Nervous Breakdown
Album: Hot Rocks 1964-1971

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Hast Du etwas Zeit für mich

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Today’s popular new year’s resolution and therefore project is a pretty straight forward one.  Many people resolve to learn a new language in the new year.  So today, pick a language you don’t know, or don’t know fluently, and start learning it!  Popular choices are things we can use to understand people within our own communities, so many people choose Spanish or American Sign Language.  Japanese culture is also very popular right now which makes it a popular choice as well.  Some people opt for Cantonese or Mandarin Chinese with the thought in mind that as we’re becoming a more global culture learning languages that are used by a large population could be extremely helpful.  Other people choose to focus on the languages spoken in countries they would most like to visit and learn French or Italian or Greek.  One really interesting approach may be to choose the language your ancestors spoke.  For me that would leave me choosing between German, Irish, and Lithuanian.  How many Americans can say they speak Lithuanian?  That gives it a little extra appeal to me.  My parents both spoke Korean excellently and spent time stationed there in the Army.  If you’re enlisted it may be beneficial to learn the language of countries that we have active and continuing involvement with, such as Arabic or potentially Russian.  Is there a language that could be helpful to you in your career?  Many jobs in communications or customer service oriented fields pay more if you’re bilingual, which may be one extra reason to choose Spanish.  I also know people that like to learn dead languages like Latin, which while it’s not spoken anymore is a foundation for many other languages and can provide a broad understanding of them.  If you really like to get your geek on, consider learning Klingon or perhaps Dothraki. Just for fun.

There are many ways to learn a new language.  Some of the most popular include:

Babbel: Focuses on comprehensive knowledge of vocabulary, with a limited amount of grammar instruction.  Through Babbel you can learn Danish, Dutch, French, German, Indonesian, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, and Turkish.  Babbel offers mobile apps and focuses on learning vocabulary that’s relevant to you, starts off directly with working on your pronunciation, and lets you learn at your own pace while making retention a point.   In addition to a variety of learning exercises, Babbel also offers chat-rooms in the language you are learning, letting users learn through interaction.
BBC Languages: Which includes courses in Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish, as well as a guide to Essential Phrases in 40 languages.  This site is aimed at travelers and largely focuses on basic useful phrases, but the courses offered are 12 weeks of learning that language via audio, video, and even common errors.
Busuu: Which advertises that it will teach you to learn a new language in ten minutes a day. Beginners start out with flashcards, and advance to writing and answering questions that native speakers will review.  They offer to help you learn Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, and Turkish.
duoLingo: A free website that offers to teach you Danish, Dutch, English, Esperanto, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese, or Welsh
Living Language:  For those committed to learning a new language you can sign up for online courses.  You get not only vocabulary, but grammar, audio conversations, and notes about culture.  Learning is supplemented by games and puzzles as well as e-tutoring from native speakers.  There is also a free section if you’re not ready to spend money on it yet, which largely consists of PDFs that will build vocabulary in a language you already have a basic knowledge of. Languages offered include American Sign Language, Arabic, Dutch, Dothraki, English, Farsi, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hindi, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Mandarin Chinese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.
Memrise: Which has apps available for both Android and iPhone, and is a great option for visual learners. They offer courses in more than 200 languages, registration is free, and they pride themselves on a three pronged approach to learning: Science, Fun, and Community.  They teach you via use of “mems”, which are mnemonic flashcards that use visuals, imagination, and humor to help you remember vocabulary.  You can even create your own “mems” for other users to learn from.
Rosetta Stone: Software that will teach you the language of your choice at increasing levels of difficulty.  They now also have an option to learn online, as well as mobile apps.
Last but not least: enroll in a class in person.  If you’re already in school, add it in as an elective.  If not, take a look at what your local Community College offers, or see about getting a tutor for a language you are self-learning or  have a basic grasp of.

So. Pick a language you’re interested in learning, and learn at least ten new words for today.  If you’re feeling super motivated, leave a comment written entirely in the language you chose 🙂

Today’s little list of daily tasks are:

Give Yourself a Body Mask:
You can buy one ready-made, like The Body Shop’s Himalayan Charcoal Body Clay, or you can make your own.  The option I chose to share today was the one I found that went the least crazy with ingredients and will hopefully be an easy and affordable option for you. The entire recipe comes from Delicious Living.  They advertise it as a way to nourish, moisturize, exfoliate, and invigorate your skin to a gorgeous glow. Men, this applies to you too. Being male doesn’t mean you can’t have gorgeous skin.
The recipe makes 1-2 body masks, depending on the size of the body being masked.  To make it you’ll need the petals of 2 organic roses, 1/2 cup of honey, 3/4 cup heavy cream or coconut cream, and 1 cup almond meal.  Here are their instructions:

  1. To make: place rose petals, honey, and cream into a blender; mix on low until uniform. Transfer to a bowl, using a rubber spatula to remove as much as possible from blender. Add almond meal and stir with a fork. Add more cream or almond meal a little at a time as necessary to achieve a spreadable paste.
  2. To use: For best results, take a warm shower or bath to open your pores and lock in the mask’s moisture. Towel dry and apply mask to skin in small, upward motions. Once your body is covered, massage mask in small circular motions, starting with your legs and arms, making your way up to your torso, ending at your heart. Then move to your face, avoiding the eye area. Massage your face lightly, using circular motions. Allow to set on your body for up to 30 minutes and on your face for up to 15 minutes. Shower and rinse well. For maximum benefit, do not use soap to wash off residual oils. Towel dry; mist your face with rose water to close pores.
  3. To store: Prepare this recipe just before using. Refrigerate leftovers in a sealed container and use within a day or two.

Clean Your Living Room Floor.  That’s it, just the floor.  If you have clutter piled anywhere tackle it and get it put away.  If you have shoes kicked in a corner get them put where they belong on a shoe rack or in a closet or wherever your shoes go when your house is straightened up.  Move your furniture out of the way, and give the floor a good vacuuming or sweeping and mopping, and once everything is clean, put your furniture back, or consider rearranging it if you need a fresh change.  And that’s all you had to do for cleaning today! If you’re feeling energetic and motivated and want to tackle the rest of the living room go for it, but all you have to do today is the floor.  🙂

Do Some Yoga.  If you’ve joined a gym like I keep suggesting, see if they offer Yoga classes and attend one.  If not, see about an independent Yoga studio, or if finances don’t allow for that then do some Yoga at home.  There are a million ways to accomplish it.  There’s an early morning PBS program that does Yoga instruction, at least where I live.  You can also follow along with an instructional Yoga video, do Yoga with the Wii Fit Plus, watch some instructional YouTube videos, or if you’re not very mobile there are even videos available for Seated Yoga or Bed Top Yoga.  I firmly believe EVERYONE should be doing Yoga, that it should be taught from birth, and that it should be prescribed for all illnesses and injuries. It isn’t a magical cure, but there’s nothing in the world that Yoga doesn’t improve.

Today’s Guided Meditation and Subliminal Track are for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.  If you’re on the end of the spectrum that needs to gain weight instead of losing or maintaining then you’ll want to use this Guided Meditation and Subliminal Track instead.

And that’s all you need to do for today!  I will see you all later on Facebook for the Question of the Day! Namaste!

A word about music:  We include songs for a reason.  Music helps us deal with the world, helps to soothe the soul, and gives us something else we can focus on when everything is too much.  Listen to the songs we post. Even if you already know them. Listen to them like you don’t. Pay attention to the lyrics. Pay attention to what the instruments are telling you. They all have a message, they all have a purpose, they’re all chosen for a reason.  If you like the song, please support the artist by purchasing the MP3 or Album that features it.
Today’s music can be found on Amazon.com:
MP3: 99 Luftballons
Album: Definitive Collection

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Blog Comments Have Been Fixed

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My apologies to everyone who tried to comment and got told they were spam!  Something I set up that was supposed to make it easier to comment via social media jacked up all the comments that were direct to the blog, but I’ve taken that feature back out and all seems to be well 🙂  Let me know if any other bugs show up, I did mess with quite a few things last night!

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