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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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Winds of Change Are Blowing Wild and Free

Image Courtesy of Orion Pictures, Alex Winter, and Keanu Reeves

If you’ve been following daily you may have noticed a couple of changes in the layout and functionality of the page.  I did my best to make it seamless but fix some things that weren’t working properly and make it more user friendly.  From what I’ve seen it accomplished what I set out for, but if anyone notices anything that looks odd or isn’t working right please do let us know.

The other change I’m implementing is I’m not holding myself to a midnight deadline anymore.  It’s always midnight somewhere, right?  The deadline was adding up to me either not sleeping or not making articles what I wanted them to be (as evidenced by the still not finished hobby article.)  So I’m opting for quality over punctuality, which is a wild change in priorities for me ^_^  I want anyone who’s getting something out of this to really get everything beneficial I can offer though. So. Quality it is.

All of that said, today’s popular New Year’s Resolution and therefore project of the day is:  Improve a Relationship!  We all think about romance when we hear relationship, but there are scads of different kinds of relationships, and today it’s up to you which one you want to put effort into improving.   I’m going to give some ideas of relationships that you may want to improve, but it’s up to you which one you think most deserves your attention for today.  They’re all important, though not all may apply to you. Improve whatever relationship is going to be most beneficial to your life.

One family relationship you might want to consider improving is your relationship with your child(ren).  Regardless of age, kids are trying to figure out the world, and a big source of how they’re doing that is by watching you, but as they get older they also start looking at dynamics with others and start questioning whether you are doing things the right way, and how much of their personal life they want to share with you.  Are you making that easier for them, or is there a good possibility that they may be worrying about disappointing you or being judged by you? Do you respect their boundaries and privacy, or do you treat them like they’re your property and that you have the right to know everything that they do and every thought that they have?  Can they bring friends or romantic partners home to meet you or are they worried about being embarrassed or judged? Do they have the freedom to grow as a person and transition to the independence of being an adult, or are they under thumb and under watch all day every day and then faced with being 18 and not knowing how to interact with the world on their own?  Do you have a shared hobby or interest that you can bond over, and continue enjoying with you into adulthood, or do they feel smothered and resent spending time with you?

One recommended parenting approach to a good relationship with your child is to have a physical connection with them.  Not excessive, and not inappropriate contact, but little moments of contact everyday where you give them a hug or a kiss on the forehead or a shoulder or foot massage or handholding with a little one.  It’s also important to play with your kids.  Play can mean different things for different ages, but it’s important to laugh and have fun and be silly and enjoy spending time together.  Depending on your children’s age that may be playing pretend, or playing with Fisher Price Little People, or reading a story with fun voices, or playing on the swings together, or playing a board game, or a video game, or go for a bike ride together, or if they’re grown and long distance maybe an app or Facebook game or a shared experience that you can do things simultaneously and compare notes.

I spent a lot of time playing with friends as a little kid, but I also remember lots of times that my parents played with me throughout my life and it was always special and fun.  Some memorable examples for me are things like when I was quite little, maybe 5, my dad set up a little scavenger hunt (we called it a “treasure hunt”) around the house and back yard where my sister and I followed little written clues around the house and outside to where we eventually found a little canister in the backyard (I believe it was an old fish food canister, lol) and there was some kind of little treat inside though I have absolutely no idea what it was, I just remember the fun of playing a special game my dad made for us.  He was also good about watching my cartoons with me so if I was pretending to be a My Little Pony he could be the Smooze, or if I was playing Thundercats he could be Liono.  My mom has been really good about continuing to play with me as an adult.  We have played Mario Kart together on the Wii and she got hooked enough to buy her own and sends me screen shots every time she unlocks a new feature, so even though we live two states apart we still have that little thing that we can share.  We’ve also done Just Dance and The Michael Jackson experience on the Wii and had a good time.  There’s not a lot that beats watching your mother dance to Thriller, or the two of you being Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney in the living room.  We also do board games and poker quite a bit when we see each other.  Pictionary and Scrabble tend to be favorites.

Spend some special one on one time with your kids.  Even if you have more than one kid, one on one means one on one. Each kid needs some individual time, and they need some individual time with each parent.  Try to make it a regular weekly or monthly event that the two of you spend a few hours together.  Sometimes do what you want, sometimes do what they want.  Make it something special even if it’s something simple.  From time to time take some day trips with your kids. Just little trips to a nearby tourist attraction or a town with lots of cute downtown shops or a special event somewhere, or a park, just spend some time together.  One of the great things about spending some time in the car in a relaxed mood is that when people don’t have to make eye contact they are more likely to open up and share what’s on their mind and what’s going on in their lives.

When your child does open up, let them.  Listen to them, let them have their emotions without telling them they’re wrong, empathize with them without telling them their perceived problem doesn’t matter, celebrate their accomplishes or general happy events. Don’t let yourself be distracted from the time you’re spending with them.  When your child is open to spending time with you or talking with you, nurture that and give it your full attention.  Kids remember the times they needed you and your support and didn’t get it.  There are times you may think you’re protecting your child from your own emotions and that they shouldn’t see you when you’re upset, but the plain fact is that if something big happens that affects you both or the whole family, they need to be able to share those emotions with you, it’s good to let them see how you deal with it so they know how to deal with it themselves.

You may want to consider improving a relationship with someone in your extended family.  Extended family can consist of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins.. really anyone that isn’t your parent, child, or spouse that you have a blood relationship with.  A lot of people build those relationships when they are young, and then lose them as they move on to starting their own immediate families and have less time and different priorities.  As a military kid, I never lived close enough to any of my extended family to build real bonds and relationships, and that’s something that I have always felt is missing.  I love my grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins, but it’s a rare exception that I can say I really feel like I know them.  There are members of my extended family that just downright don’t like me, and I feel that the reasons they don’t are because of misunderstandings and misconceptions, so that is probably as much my fault as theirs for not giving them the opportunity to truly know me.  Ways you can improve relationships with extended family members might consist of getting your children together to play, hosting a family dinner, or attending religious services together if you are within the same vicinity.  If you’re long distance you could consider writing regular letter or emails, starting a family newsletter that requires you as the person leading it to reach out to family members on a regular basis so you know what’s going on with them and their lives, connecting on social media in a meaningful way, or starting a family Facebook group where everyone from that bloodline joins and can post about whatever topics are on their mind that day.  If you have nearby elderly relatives, pay them some extra special attention.  They won’t be there forever and will appreciate your love and care when you go to visit them.  Bring them some special food or help them with their cleaning or play cards with them. Sit and talk and if they want to reminisce let them do it. No matter how many times you might have heard that same old family story, they’re telling it because it mean something special to them, and someday you may want to share it with other family members and then you’ll know it by heart 🙂

Think about whether or not you could or should build better relationships with your in-laws, or even just one of them.  In-Laws can be tricky.  Either you or they or both of you may feel like you’re in competition for the love and attention of your spouse.  You might have a passive aggressive (or not so passive) blame toward them for all of your spouses flaws.  They may have resentment toward you if your spouse was married before you. You might resent that they still consider that first marital partner family and still have pictures of them or still see them regularly.  Remember that your in-laws are at least partially responsible for having shaped your spouse into the person you fell in love with and committed your life to.  You probably even have quite a bit in common, because people do tend to look for spouses that are similar to their parents.  Sometimes it can be really hard getting along with someone who is a lot like you are, and even if you’re a lot alike you may still have some huge differences.

Keys to improving and maintaining good relationships with your family-in-law include treating them with respect. You may be thinking “but I don’t respect them”, and that’s okay, you don’t have to, but treat them with the form of respect and common courtesy that is owed to every human being. Treat them like real family.  You don’t get to choose the family you’re born into, and neither did your spouse.  Treat them the way that you would treat blood relatives with hopefully unconditional love, but at the very least a sense of inclusion.  Part of that involves truly being who you are.  Don’t put on pretenses and airs to try to be the person you think they want you to be. Just be you. Your spouse grew up with these people and they chose you, so you must have qualities that match with this family’s values. Another part of it is not treating the family as separate entities.  It’s not “Your family” vs “My family”, it is “our family.”

Don’t complain to them about your spouse, they’ll end up in a position of defensive and it will add to the possible perception that you broke up their family instead of adding to it.  It will also increase how much complaining they do about you to your spouse and potentially create a rift when someone feels like they have to pick sides between people they love, and that’s not a position anyone should be forced into.  If you have a complaint and truly want the feedback of your in-laws about your spouse, or your spouse about your in-laws, approach it from a stance of asking for advice, not from issuing a complaint.  “I feel like ____ thinks ____.  You know them best. What do you think I can/should do to make this situation better?” Keep communication open and honest (while tactful and respectful) to avoid festering misunderstandings and hurt feelings, and above all remember that love is infinite and that there are all different kinds of it.  Your spouse can love their relatives devotedly without loving you any less.  It’s not a competition.

You are also responsible for contributing to the quality of your relationship with your own parents and may consider if you should be doing more to improve and maintain it. In the modern age of broken and mixed families it can feel like a lot of work to keep up a good connection with everyone, but your parents deserve a special effort.  They made you.  They raised you.  They played a big role in making you the person that you are. They’re human, they aren’t perfect, they give us all baggage, but they don’t need to be punished for things they can’t undo.  You’ve got a great foundation to start from with having shared memories, shared people you’ve known throughout your lives, and hopefully shared love.  Add on to that foundation with finding a shared interest.  Maybe you and your dad don’t see eye to eye on anything in the world, but you can always have a good conversation about baseball.  Maybe your mom is intrusive and overly involved in your personal life, but you can have quality time bonding over family recipes.  You can spend pleasant time with your parents working on projects together… woodworking or crafting or tinkering with a car, or baking something special.

If you’re grown, there is a point where you have to transition from a stage of parent/child to mutual adults.  Of course they’ll always be mom and dad, and you’ll always be their child, but communicating and acting as adults is vital to not feeling demeaned and belittled in your interactions with them. As an adult, interacting with your parents becomes more of a relationship between close friends who love each other very much, but still have boundaries to respect.  Your parents are real people, and deserve to be treated as such.  They too deserve your respect and common courtesies, but should also be subject to open and honest, if gentle, communication.  Don’t ask for advice you don’t want.  It’s not your job to seek approval anymore, you’re your own person now and the things that you do that don’t directly affect them really don’t need their stamp of approval.  On that same token, don’t expect them to fix your problems for you either. It’s okay to ask for advice if you truly want it, and to expect mutual emotional support, but don’t expect them to be able to solve your personal problems, or to come out of retirement to fix your financial problems.  Don’t abuse the privilege of built in babysitters or someone to vent all your frustrations to daily or assuming you’re always welcome and there’s always time for you.  You’ve grown up to have your own life, and your parents have got their own lives too.

Do spend time talking with your parents just to talk.  Look at old pictures, learn about older relatives you may have never known but your parents may have loved dearly. Learn the story of your family.  Reminisce. Mutually share the accomplishments or regrets of your lives.  Don’t guilt them for their mistakes and don’t let them guilt you for anything they might have wanted or expected that didn’t happen.  It’s okay to talk about the hurts of your lives past and present, but don’t make it a matter of blame. Try and figure out each other’s perspectives and learn why things were the way they were.

A relationship that may be taken for granted but is absolutely worth your effort is the relationship you have with your pet.  How you interact with your pet does, of course, depend on what kind of pet you have, but every pet has a loving side, a playful side, and a need for attention and exercise.  There are lots of articles and books that exist on how to have the best relationship with your pet, and a lot of them seem to focus on letting your animal know that you’re in charge, and making sure they know that they rely on you to meet your needs.  I, frankly, think that’s crap.  You shouldn’t be spoiling your pets and treating them like children that need to come everywhere you go and need a bite of every food you eat. Pets are pets, they aren’t children.  Foods that you eat can often do horrible things to your pet, and they don’t need to go into environments that aren’t designed for pets, or be left sitting in a car waiting for you.  Your pet will have less separation anxiety at home in their familiar environment than in a car that IS either too hot or too cold for them no matter what it feels like to you in a parking lot being worried about every person that walks by.  Don’t make your pet live in the backyard.  It defeats the purpose of having a pet, and is a boring life for them that, again, is either too hot or too cold.  Feed your pet healthy food, make time to play with them daily, even if only for a few minutes, exercise them in the manner that’s appropriate for their species, and make time to pet and love and snuggle with them.  Your pet should view you as a source of love and their best friend, not as their leader, their provider, or punisher.  Gentle behavioral corrections are appropriate.  Hits or kicks or flicks or any sort of physical strike is not okay.  The only time your hands should contact your pet for correction is if they’re actively doing something dangerous and you need to physically remove them from the situation.

One more family member that may need improvement is your sibling(s).  To improve sibling relationships one of the most important things you can do is keep their confidences.  They were likely your co-conspirator growing up, you’ve probably gotten into and out of trouble together your whole lives, and at any age one of the quickest ways to destroy that closeness and confidence is to gossip about their problems or activities to the rest of the family or mutual friends and acquaintances.  Your sibling’s personal life isn’t yours to share.  If they get into a fight with a family member or their significant other the best thing you can do is to stay neutral.  Be supportive, but don’t take sides.  You don’t want to become their enemy either by making them feel worse than they already do, or when they make up with the person they were fighting with but still remember all the bad things you said when you thought you were being supportive by taking their side.

Be open and honest with your sibling. If you feel like your relationship needs improvement, tell them you want to have a better or closer relationship with them so you can both put in mutual effort.   Talk more often and spend time together enjoying mutual interests. If you weren’t close in your youth you may have to forgive some past hurts or traumas.  Small things may be better to forget and move past, but if there’s something big that you need to patch up to move on from then talk to them about it. Find out their side and their feelings and their perspectives.  Chances are they either didn’t know it was a big issue for you or if they did it was a big issue for them too and clearing the air will be better for everyone involved. It will help them to learn that they can turn to you for emotional support when they need it, and to provide support to you as well if they already have experience communicating openly with you.  Just like your parents, as you and your sibling(s) have transitioned into adulthood your roles should be changing to mutual adults who are very close friends.  You lose the roles of protector and protectee or plotter and scapegoat.  Now you’re peers and should be able to share good times together and offer mutual support through the ups and downs.

Lastly on the subject of family you may want to improve your relationships with is stepfamily.  This one may be the most challenging of all, depending on how your stepfamily came to be, and whether or not you share any values or interests with your new family you may not have had any choice about acquiring.  The most important things that can be done to successfully build a stepfamily are done before they become stepfamily, but presumably at this stage you’re already connected by law and may have a hard road ahead of you that you may or may not have any interest in participating with.  Likely, if you’re going to make the effort, it is because you love your family member that has remarried and given you new family members to contend with.  Or you may be the new family member who has to contend with the premade family that came with your spouse and you’re making the effort because you love them and want them to be happy.  If you’re going to make the effort, make it sincere and genuine.  Don’t fake happiness and affection, and don’t force it or force it on someone who is not comfortable or receptive to it.

Get to know each other on a personal one on one basis as individuals.  Find out who this person or these people are and what makes them tick. What do they enjoy? What do they value? Do you share spiritual beliefs?  Are there any activities you can share bonding with each other?  Practice open and honest communication as you would in all close personal relationships.  You may never love each other. You may never like each other. But you all share someone you do love in common, so strive to treat each other with respect and courtesy, while being respectful of each other’s boundaries.

Those are only examples of family relationships to consider working on improving.  There are many many more to consider, but if I write tips about all of them this entry will never end. So in addition to those I’m going to give some more ideas for you to consider for today, and save in-depth discussion of them for future articles.  Those other relationships to consider working on include:

  • Romantic Relationships, whether they be your current significant other or an ex that you may still need to have contact with for things like shared children.
  • Your Relationship with Yourself.  Are you as kind to yourself as you deserve?  Do you hold yourself as accountable as you should?
  • Someone Who Has Passed Away.  Just because they’re gone, doesn’t mean your relationship with them is.  Are there things you need to work on forgiving or understanding or letting go?
  • Acquaintances.  Is there someone you interact with or encounter regularly online or in a social group or a place of worship or any daily setting that you would like to have a nicer relationship with?
  • Caregivers. Do you have someone that comes to help you on a regular basis?  How does that make you feel?  Are you resentful of needing help instead of grateful for having the help you need?
  • Classmates.  If you’re living the student life or taking any kind of classes is there someone in your class that you’d like to get to know better?  Anyone that you really just don’t like and would tolerate or even enjoy more if you got to know and understand them?
  • Friendships.  Do you have any friends you’ve grown apart from that you’d like to be closer with?  Any friends that you’re silently resenting that you’d have a healthier relationship with if you cleared the air? Anyone that’s taking up energy as a friend that you really could use some distance from?
  • Neighbors. Do you know your neighbors names?  Do you have any neighbors that you trust are looking out for you and would tell either you or the police if anything odd, suspicious, or dangerous were happening around you home?
  • Teachers.  If you’re in any form of classes do you feel like you have an appropriately cordial relationship with your teachers or professors?  Do you feel like you have mutual respect for each other?
  • God(s)/Goddess(es).  Whatever deities or higher power you believe in, do you feel like you have a good relationship with them?  Do you think they are pleased with the path you’re walking?  Are you angry with them for things that have gone wrong in your life?
  • Ministers.  Or whatever religious authority figures exist within your belief system.  Do you feel comfortable with them?  Do you trust their guidance?  Should you get to know them better?  Do they know you and your family by name?
  • Religious Practitioners.  Do you get along with the people who worship or practice your spirituality with you?  Do you have peaceful communion?  Is there someone whose behavior doesn’t reflect what you believe your spirituality to represent that you would benefit from understanding or reaching out to?
  • Boss.  How’s your relationship with your direct superior?  Do you have mutual respect?  Do they recognize your accomplishments and dedication and efforts?  Do you recognize theirs?
  • Co-Workers. Do you have a co-worker that you want to get to know better and be able to consider a friend?  Do you have a co-worker that you think of as a rival or an enemy?  Would clearing up a misunderstanding between the two of you repair that?  Would knowing them better give you empathy towards them as a person?
  • Customers.  Do you have a customer that you really just hate doing business with?  Are there adjustments in the way you communicate that could make it more bearable?  Do you have a customer that you especially appreciate? Have you told them so?
  • Employees.  Do your employees find you approachable?  Do you show them enough appreciation on an individual basis?  Is there a problem with someone you’ve been avoiding dealing with while it continues to escalate?
  • Patients.  Do you recognize that anyone you are providing care to is an individual and has come to you because they need help, and that things aren’t routine for them? Are you attentive and empathetic toward them?  Do you have a patient that is a challenge to communicate with?
  • Students.  Teaching anyone anything can always be a challenge.  Do you feel like you’re offering and receiving mutual respect?  Are you approachable?  Do you give appropriately detailed feedback?  Do you have any students that you feel like could benefit from a little extra attention and guidance?

We chose to focus the most on family, because that is something that applies to everyone in some regard.  But as you can see there are many non-family relationships that are vitally important to your health, wellbeing, and peace of mind.  Choose whichever one has been the biggest struggle for you and make an action plan on what you can do to fix that relationship, even just a little. To make it a little better today that what it was yesterday. Then get to work on it.

Otherwise, here’s your list of daily tasks:

Give your hands some love. They do a lot of work and need some extra attention from time to time.  Schedule yourself a manicure. Again, guys, you can do this too and it’s totally normal.  The nail salons have men in them literally all the time.  No one’s going to be laughing at you.  You can choose to go without polish if you don’t want it, or with clear polish if you don’t want color.  Or you can go all out as fancy as you feel like.  My boyfriend currently has red and green toenails leftover from Christmas.  I haven’t bothered offering him any nail polish remover and he hasn’t complained 🙂  If you don’t want or can’t afford a professional manicure, do the job yourself or exchange with a friend.  Trim and file your nails, put on some cuticle lotion and push them back or trim them.  Soak your hands in some warm clean water.  Pumice any callouses and lotion up.  Check out how hairy your hands or knuckles are.  Does it look pretty okay or is it time to break out some wax or Veet?  Polish as desired and let them dry thoroughly before you go touching anything and undoing all that pampering.

Clean Your Kitchen Counters. That’s it. Just the counters and whatever may be on them.  That may involve cleaning out your microwave and wiping off finger smudges on the front of it.  It may involve looking at your fruit bowl and deciding if the fruit in it is past it’s edible stage and time to be composted or garbage disposaled or if its past the point where you’ll eat it but not dangerous, left outside somewhere some wild life can find it.  If you’ve let dishes gather up get them washed.  If you have wrappers or food containers toss em out.  Get the crumbs out of the toaster. If there are utensils strewn about that belong in a drawer or utensil holder get them put away.  Sweep all the crumbs and crud off the counters into a waste bin or dust pan.  Scrub down the counters with some 409 or disinfectant wipes or whatever your multipurpose cleanser of choice is.  Make sure you get underneath all of your countertop items too. Crud collects in the strangest places.  And that’s it for today’s cleaning!  Don’t even have to do the rest of the kitchen today unless once you’ve got the momentum going you feel like it. But start with your counters.

Swim.

All Rights Reserved.
My gym’s pool. I had no practical way to photograph myself swimming.

If you have a pool at home that it’s warm enough to use then that’s awesome and I’m envious.  If you don’t, then take another look at those New Year’s gym specials I mentioned.  See which ones have a pool.  If you live on a military base you’ve probably got access to one, don’t be shy about taking advantage of it. Consider joining The Y. I’ve never been, but I hear they have pools and are cheap. Swimming is great for you. It’s one of the most effective cardio exercises you can do, strengthens and tones muscles, and you can do it in pretty much any shape at all. I have trouble with much long-term exercise that involves standing or walking or jogging or any of that due to ankle reconstructive surgery, and when I talk to doctors about my difficulties the universal answer is always swim.  If you happen to join a gym that has one spend a few minutes in the sauna too and get a good sweat going.  Helps to clear those toxins out of the body and get crud out of your pores.  Just be sure to shower afterwards and drink plenty of water.

Lastly, today’s guided meditation and subliminal audio focus on motivation.  Take a listen when you have some free time or need something to help you relax, or as you’re falling asleep at night.

And that’s it! See you all on Facebook later 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: The Ultimate Hits
(I could not find an MP3 of only the song actually sung by Garth Brooks, so you’re getting a link to an entire digital album today instead. But it’s a wildly popular album with all amazing songs (there’s only one I don’t like, but other people love it, so, meh.) So, while I prefer to just link to the song, I’m comfortable with this one.
Album: Fresh Horses

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Build the World a Home

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This entry has been brought to you later than usual, sponsored by the author oversleeping, and Comcast’s inability to fix their internet.  But without further ado:

Another of the most popular New Year’s resolutions is to start a new hobby.  So that’s your big project for today.  Decide on a hobby you wish to pursue, and find out how to start making it happen (and if you can start making it happen today, do it!)  You may need to buy some supplies, you may need to sign up for a community college course, you may find that there are teaching classes available at your local library or even local craft shops.  You can learn to do a lot of things by watching instructional YouTube videos,  some things are best learned from a book, and some things you can just pick up and tinker with until you gradually develop more skill.

My apologies again for another link heavy article. I originally posted just a list and then decided that that was ineffective and that if something on it grabbed your interest you should have information on both how and why to pursue it.  So, my posts may not be the prettiest blog posts out there, but they’re thorough and informative 🙂

Ultimately what new hobby interests you is up to you, but here’s a list of ideas for inspiration:

  • Attend Auctions. I’ve only ever been to one auction in my life and I was 7. I still love the piece of wall art my parents bought, so while it was pretty boring for a 7 year old, something good came from it.  I imagine as an adult with potential money to spend or just an interest in seeing the curiosities of what people have owned would make it much more interesting.  Finding Home Farms has a handy 10 Step Guide to walk you through the auction process from finding an auction to going home with your purchase.
  • Build a Go-Kart. Whether you’re looking for a parent/child bonding project or you’re just a kid at heart, Go-Karts seem to appeal to those who like a little bit of adventure and sense of accomplishment with their fun.  Personally the closest I’ll ever get is playing Mario Kart on the Wii because I’m sure real races frown on throwing turtle shells at your opponents, but you can buy kits that have everything you need to make a Kart, buy parts individually, or even buy one ready made if you’re not interested in building and just want to get straight to using it.
  • Build Things Out of Legos.  Lego sells a whole line of really fun building kits, and if you’re really good with visualizing things and putting them together it has become all the rage to make elaborate projects out of legos.  This is another one of those fun hobbies you can either take up for the child within you or share bonding with your own kids.  And may I just say that the Lego Millennium Falcon is amazing!
  • Do Crossword Puzzles. When I was working graveyard shifts at a call center I did the Denver Post crossword puzzle every day and got really good at them.  They’re a fun challenge, convenient to do anywhere, an inexpensive hobby, and can keep your brain occupied for hours. Even doing one a week can help keep your mind sharp, and they have a slew of benefits to both health and personal development, including preventing Dementia and Alzheimer’s, improving your verbal skills, sharpening your problem solving skills, improving your pattern recognition, and even lowering your stress levels like a form of meditation.
  • Do Jigsaw Puzzles. They’re great for your brain.  Benefits of doing jigsaws include reduced chance of Alzheimer’s and even longer life-span. They help prevent dementia and memory loss, produce dopamine, increase your concentration, alertness, and creativity.  They even have physical benefits like lowering your heart rate, blood pressure, and breath rate.  Also, like crossword puzzles, they put you into a mental state very similar to meditation and are great for reducing stress.  There are lots of really pretty ones out there too, and there are puzzles appropriate for all ages no matter how young.
  • Do Sudoku.  Yet another puzzle hobby that has great health benefits, except with numbers instead of words or pictures.  Sudoku is a great brain exercise that improves your memory, sharpens your logical thinking, stimulates your minds, reduces the possibility of Alzheimer’s, helps you adapt to doing things quickly and improves your concentration. It’s another great option for a hobby that can be done anywhere.
  • Enter Billiards/Pool Tournaments. Or just learn to play for fun.  Playing pool can be a great way to meet people.  It also improves hand/eye coordination, and is fun enough to not realize you’re having to use geometry to play.  If you’re someone who enjoys going out for an occasional drink, or has friends that do, it can also give you something to do at a bar other that drinking so you can have fun and moderate your drinking, moderate your spending, or be the designated driver.
  • Enter Darts Tournaments. Or just learn to play for fun, or even at home.  Like pool, playing darts can be an awesome way to meet people, improves hand/eye coordination, and gives you something to do at a bar besides drinking so that you can either moderate your drinking (and moderate your spending) or be the designated driver, and still have a good time.
  • Get an Amateur (Ham) Radio License.  The original internet, Ham radio lets you talk to people all over the world, but you need a license to operate one legally.  Ham radio is a great hobby for tech fans and science buffs.  You can run Ham radios on battery or generator power so they are extremely handy in weather emergencies, most operators take it very seriously so you will be interacting with skilled people, operators exchange postcards with each other from all around the world, and you can even do awesome things like bounce your signal off of the moon.  You may also get the opportunity to chat with some celebrities that are amateur radio loyalists.  Remember Art Bell?  Yeah, I’ve talked to him on Ham Radio.  It felt more personal and special than talking on the air.
  • Get an Aquarium. Fish are living creatures too, so only do this if you’re going to be dedicated to maintaining it, but fish make great pets for smaller homes and rentals. They don’t need to be walked or brushed or have their litter boxes scooped.  They won’t throw up on your rug or bed.  They aren’t going to make your neighbors complain about the noise of a barking dog in the backyard. They don’t have fur to be allergic to or have to vacuum up.  They don’t have separation anxiety from being left home alone and can be set up with an automatic feeder when you have to travel. Watching fish is well known to be a calming and tranquil experience that will lower your stress.  The aquarium can be a beautiful decoration piece in your home.  And there are types of fish that will interact with you and can be trained to do tricks.
  • Get a Penpal.  We’ve lost the art of personal correspondence.  With all of this internet and all these different sites out there that advertise themselves as ways to make new friends we really just end up with a lot of disguised sites that people use to sell drugs, have casual sex, or offer prostitution. Through all this social networking what we really end up with is a way to like our real friends less when they say things behind a screen that they’d never say in person, or a bunch of pseudo interactions that don’t actually offer any real meaningful connection as people are just hitting like buttons or devising the best way to get likes ourselves.  It’s a lot of containing yourself in a little world of narcissism of trying to see what everyone thinks of you and how everything they do or don’t do affects you, and that’s not what it’s supposed to be about .  I support getting back to basics and developing a friendship with someone based entirely on your conversations and the things that are important to the two of you that you actually sit down and write letters about them and feel a true connection when you get back a response specifically for you that’s more than 140 characters.
  • Get Your Pilot’s License.  Who knew there were so many things to fly?  Not me, I like it on the ground.  But you can choose to become a pilot of airplanes, gyroplanes, helicopters, gliders, balloon, or airships.  I can understand the appeal of having so much freedom, and if the air is for you this is one hobby that could eventually turn lucrative.
  • Go Antiquing.  There are lots of reasons to enjoy antiquing.  Maybe you just like old fashioned styles and will enjoy shopping and window shopping. Maybe you’re great at fixing things up and can refinish or reupholster or rewire something you find cheap and enjoy the project, then either keep it if you love the piece, or resell it so you can make a profit and also still have room to keep working on additional finds.  Maybe you just watch a lot of Antiques Roadshow and are really good at spotting a bargain that you can turn a profit on or that might even belong in a museum.
  • Go Geocaching.  Geocaching was all the rage among active, healthy people for a good while.  It was like a more exclusive, less intrusive version of Pokemon Go. Geocaching advertises itself as the world’s largest treasure hunt.  You can play for free, or get a paid membership that gives you extra features I know nothing about cause I don’t pay for stuff.  You use either the website or the app (available on both iPhone and Android) to pick a geocache and go find it. Once you do you sign and date a logbook and then rehide the geocache where you found it, and tell people about your experience with it online.  So. Sort of a choose your own mini adventure.
  • Go People Watching.  Can be done anytime, anywhere.  You just go somewhere public and watch strangers. See what they do, listen to their interactions, and try to come up with a story about their life that fits what you learn about them from your observances.  Can be done alone or with a friend.
  • Go To Car Shows.  I am NOT a car enthusiast, so I don’t have much of a grasp of what happens at these things, but if cars are your jam there are all kinds of car shows and clubs and rallies and auto shows where you can socialize with other car buffs and checkout vintage models, exotic cars, hot rods, or new up and coming models.
  • Go To Poetry Readings.  Read or listen to poetry.  Drink some coffee, be artsy.  The idea is that poetry takes on different life and different meaning according to who is reading it and how the emphasize things or the emotion they put into it based on their own experiences.
  • Have a Weekly Family Night.
  • Host Regularly Scheduled Dinner Parties.
  • Host Regularly Scheduled Game Nights. (Board, Card, or Video.)
  • Host Regularly Scheduled Movie Nights.
  • Join a Bible Study Group.
  • Join a Bingo Club.
  • Join a Book Club.
  • Join a Bowling League.
  • Join a Choir
  • Join a Church Group
  • Join an Exercise Class (Aerobics, Pilates, Silver Sneakers, Step, Water Aerobics, Yoga, Zumba)
  • Join a Roller Derby
  • Join a Sports League (They do have them for adults too!)
  • Learn About Your Cultural Heritage and how to make Arts and Food Representing It
  • Learn Another Language
  • Learn Archery
  • Learn Beading
  • Learn Calligraphy
  • Learn Flower Pressing
  • Learn Gymnastics
  • Learn HTML
  • Learn Jewelry Making
  • Learn Macrame
  • Learn Magic Tricks
  • Learn Metal Working
  • Learn Morse Code
  • Learn Needlepoint
  • Learn Origami
  • Learn Raku
  • Learn Rock Climbing
  • Learn To Blow Glass
  • Learn To Crochet
  • Learn To Cross-Stitch
  • Learn To Embroider
  • Learn To Figure Skate
  • Learn to Horseback Ride
  • Learn To Juggle
  • Learn To Knit
  • Learn To Latch-Hook
  • Learn To Make Balloon Animals
  • Learn To Make Candles
  • Learn To Make Flower Arrangements
  • Learn To Make Lace
  • Learn To Make Paper
  • Learn To Make Potpourri
  • Learn To Make Soap
  • Learn To Make Stained Glass
  • Learnt To Play a Card Game and Host Games On a Regular Schedule (Bridge, Euchre, Gin, Hearts, Poker, Spades)
  • Learn To Play An Instrument
  • Learn To Play Chess
  • Learn to Play Mahjong
  • Learn To Quilt
  • Learn To Sail
  • Learn To Scrapbook
  • Learn To Sculpt
  • Learn To Sew
  • Learn To Skate
  • Learn To Ski (Cross Country or Downhill)
  • Learn to Snow Board
  • Learn to Surf
  • Learn to Tie Dye
  • Learn Topiary Art
  • Learn to Weave
  • Learn Web-Design
  • Learn Wood-Carving
  • Learn Woodworking
  • Learn to Work on Cars
  • Make Model Cars (or other models, I know someone who made a Starship Enterprise)
  • Make Mosaics
  • Make Your Own Beer
  • Paint (Acrylics, Oils, Watercolor.. Paint By Number)
  • Play Disc-Golf
  • Research Your Family’s Genealogy
  • Sing Karaoke
  • Start Bicycling
  • Start a Blog
  • Star a Bucket List
  • Start Camping
  • Start a Coin Collection
  • Start a Community Garden
  • Start a Garden of Your Own (Flowers, Herbs, Succulents, Vegetables, Water)
  • Start a Vinyl Record Collection
  • Start Hiking
  • Start Jogging
  • Start a Post Card Collection
  • Start Running
  • Start a Shell Collection
  • Start a Tabletop Game, Role Playing Game, or Dungeons & Dragons Group
  • Start a Stamp Collection
  • Start a Stone Collection
  • Start Swimming
  • Take Acting Lessons
  • Take an Art Appreciation Course
  • Take a Bartending Course
  • Take a Ceramics Class
  • Take Cooking Classes
  • Take Dance Lessons (Ballet, Ballroom, Belly, Country Line, Exotic, Latin, Pole, Square, Tap)
  • Take Drawing Lessons
  • Take Improv Lessons
  • Take a Martial Arts Class
  • Take a Music Appreciation Course
  • Take a Parkour Class
  • Take a Photography Class
  • Take a Pottery Class
  • Take Up Amateur Astronomy
  • Take Up Beekeeping
  • Take Up Birding/Bird Watching
  • Take Up Cosplay
  • Take Up Ghost Hunting
  • Take Up Golfing
  • Take Up LARPing
  • Take Up Laser Tag
  • Take Up Metal Detecting
  • Take Up Paintball
  • Take Up Table Tennis/Ping-Pong
  • Take Up Tennis
  • Take Up Weight Lifting
  • Take Up Whittling
  • Take Yoga Classes
  • Volunteer Somewhere On a Regular Basis
  • Write a Memoir
  • Write Poetry
  • Write Short Stories

So pick a hobby that appeals to you and start learning how to make it happen! Other than that, today’s small list of tasks are:

Give Yourself a Facial Cleanse.  I’m gonna keep saying it. When we look better, we feel better. But also, when we’re cleaner we feel better, and our face collects a ton of crud.  It’s the body part we never cover up so it gets all of the dirt and sweat and elements that we’re exposed to and can get clogged pores or dry skin or oily skin or acne or rashes or any number of things that just make your skin unhappy.  You can of course buy yourself a pre-made facial cleanser, there are many out there for all different skin types, but we’re also going to encourage one that you probably already have everything you need to accomplish, that’s natural and will benefit your skin regardless of type.
This Olive Oil Face Cleanser recipe comes courtesy of Reader’s Digest, where they explain that Olive oil is a great natural moisturizer, but also that its antioxidants and healthy fats reduce free radicals, which can relieve irritated or sunburnt skin.  It lightens dark spots, kills bacteria, and makes your skin smooth and clear.  Our previous reading has told us using olive oil as a cleanser dates back into ancient history where it was widely used by Egyptians and presumably the Greeks and Romans who would have brought the practice to them.  This cleanser is good for both genders and is used as a night cream. You just mix 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/4 cup vinegar, and 1/4 cup water.  Rub it on your face and leave it there over night.  It’s probably a safe idea to put a towel over your pillow tonight 🙂

Clean Out Your Car! Car’s can easily collect a lot of junk between fast food containers and junk mail and receipts and gym bags and kids spilling goldfish crackers.  Give your car some love today and clean it out.  If it’s trash or recyclable dispose of it properly. If it belongs in the house get it in there (and put where it belongs so you don’t have to worry about it a second time.)  Don’t forget to clean out the trunk, center console, glove box, drink holders, ash trays, side or seat pockets, and any other secret nooks and crannies that may be hiding junk.  Vacuum out the interior, if it’s warm enough you won’t have to worry about the hot water and cold air shattering your glass take it to the car wash, and make sure it’s ready for winter elements.  Are the tires in good shape and safe for slick roads?  Do they have enough air in them? Do you have windshield deicer in your washer fluid? Do you have emergency supplies ready in your trunk for the event of a break down or getting stuck in snow?  Do you have your registration and current proof of insurance put away in the glove box where they’re easy to find if you need them?  When’s the last time you replaced your windshield wipers?  Do you need to top off your coolant? Is your spare tire in travel worthy shape?  Roadside emergencies are the worst, but they’re not nearly as bad if you’re prepared for them.

Do some lower-body bodyweight exercises. 

Do 10 lunges (one for each leg counts as one).

All Rights Reserved.
1st Month, 250lbs, Lunges

Do 10 Side Lunges (one for each leg counts as one).

Do 15 Squats.

1st Month, 250 lbs, Squat as well as I could manage post-ankle surgery

Do 5 Squat Jumps.

TRY to do 5 Single Leg Squats (one for each leg counts as one).

They’re hard to do.  Prepare to laugh at yourself and unless you’re already in pretty good shape don’t expect to be successful at all 5.  The important thing is to try, because that’s how you’ll eventually succeed.  But don’t hurt yourself either, try them next to something you can grab on to if you lose your balance.

Listen to a guided meditation or subliminal track to help you detox.  Drink some water after you do. At least a whole 8oz.   Even if you don’t buy into the idea of detoxes, the guided meditation will help you relax, and the subliminal tracks put me to sleep every single time.

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: I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony)

Album:I Love the 70’s – 1972

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Taking Only Cookies Is All Wrong!

Image Courtesy of Nutriciously

Another of the most commonly made New Year’s resolutions, and one I’ve heard from members this year, is to eat healthier.  Obviously, this bar changes a lot based on what you are already eating. I personally am going to cut way back on soda this year. I didn’t realize how used to it I had gotten, and I don’t think it’s doing me any favors with my complexion, my weight, or occasional heartburn.  So, I haven’t had any since New Year’s Eve (Two days down! Woo!) and will be reserving it for special/festive occasions and ginger ale or 7-Up if I have a stomach bug, and otherwise am cutting it out of my diet.

A couple of weeks ago, I was half watching an overnight news program that was talking about liquid diets, and how they’re a good idea, but people are doing them wrong.  They said instead of doing the diet where you ONLY consume liquids, what people should be doing is eating normally but drinking healthier liquids.  Really, we all know artificial sweeteners are bad for you, and so is all the corn syrup disgustingness that tastes so good, and even the carbonation in flavored water is still going to bloat your stomach.

So, we’re issuing a challenge to you to get off the soda train with us.  Special occasions, festivities, stomach ailments, or once we get into trying out some various recipes then those days are okay in moderation. But the day to day normalcy of soda has to go.  Water is such a healthier and under-appreciated beverage and we need it to stay healthy and to let our body clean out toxins properly. Of course, there are other options to soda.  Fruit juice in moderation has a nutritious side even if it is still high in sugar, it is at least natural sugar.  Tea is my best friend. Iced tea, hot tea, chai lattes, black tea, green tea, white tea, oolong tea, red tea… it’s pretty rare that I meet a tea I don’t like. When I do it usually involves licorice root ^_^  Or some kind of weird pyramid shaped teabags that I ended up being wildly allergic to. But I digress.  Beverages.  Milk is an important soda alternative as well. It gives us vitamin D and B12 and calcium to help keep our teeth and bones strong.  I encourage organic skim milk, but do what’s a good match for you and try not to add chocolate to it too often.

Many people will also think they are hungry when they are actually thirsty.   As an everyday rule of thumb, you can use your bodyweight to determine how much water you should be drinking in a day.  It IS possible to drink too much water and get water intoxication, which can lead to death, so we’re not saying carry around milk jugs full of water to chug daily.  What you should do is take your weight, (for the sake of example 200lbs), divide it in half (in this case 100) and then that number is how many ounces of water you should be drinking daily.  It helps us when we’re being especially health conscious to have a measured liquid container that holds the water that we need to drink for the day and to fill from that so we make sure we hit our mark.  It takes a lot of water to achieve water intoxication, several gallons, or if you’re younger several liters, and all rather quickly.  So don’t be scared that you’re overdoing it, unless you’re really chugging it down to where you’re virtually drowning, you’re going to be okay. Tea does count toward your daily goal of how much water you should be drinking.  If you’re not a water fan and need help transitioning to it, or even if you are a fan and just want some extra luxury, feel free to add fresh citrus slices to your water. Or cucumber even.

Of course. you can do your three meals a day at regular intervals (properly portioned), but for any in-between meal snacking and grazing and indulging, drink a glass of water first.  Put a sticky note or magnetic dry erase board on your refrigerator door reminding you “Drink water first!” It takes your brain 20 minutes to recognize that you feel “full”.  So, if you drink a glass of water, wait 20 minutes, and are still hungry, then absolutely grab a healthy snack.  The 20 minute wait will not kill you 🙂  Because of that 20 minute interval before your brain acknowledges fullness, you’re also going to do yourself a huge favor if you slow down the pace of how quickly you eat, and give yourself that buffer before you go for a second helping of anything.

Most of us put a lot more into our bodies than it wants or needs.  I personally am 5’4″, and I weigh very close to 250lbs.  When I am in good shape I weigh 117 lbs.  I am doing the equivalent of giving a full-grown adult a piggyback ride everywhere I go all day, every day.  My body doesn’t need that kind of stress.  If anyone else tried to do that to me I’d tell them where they can stick it, so it’s not acceptable that I’m doing it to myself.  We do recognize that not everyone is starting from a place of overweight, or even a place or average weight, some people need to gain weight to achieve healthy, and we’re here for you to help with that process too.  We are absolutely all in this together.

Suffice to say today’s big project is to eat healthier than you normally do.  The whole day.  If you’re used to toast in the morning make it with wheat or whole grain bread.  It’s a great time of year for starting the morning with some oatmeal, which is heart healthy, gluten-freen, whole grain, and full of fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants, and it can be sweetened up with some fruit.  We wouldn’t dream of asking anyone to give up their coffee (yet), but watch what you put in it, and try to keep it down to no more than 2 cups a day.  If you feel like switching it up from coffee to tea, there are great breakfast teas to start your morning with.  Other healthy breakfast components can include eggs (prepared pretty much any way but fried), bran muffins, cottage cheese, fresh fruit, yogurt, Cream of Wheat, high fiber cold cereal, or substituting some Canadian bacon instead of regular bacon or sausage.

For lunch we recommend considering a salad.  Whatever you do today fit salad into the plan somewhere, whether it’s lunch or if it’s with dinner.  Don’t go for heavy dressings (unless you’re in the needing to gain weight category, then feel free to go all out with some ranch or thousand island), choose a vinaigrette that speaks to you (my very favorite is red bell pepper vinaigrette, my mother’s favorite is strawberry vinaigrette, Balsamic vinaigrette is amazing too, just choose something that pairs well with your salad’s contents), or if you’re feeling really gung-ho, skip dressing and use a little bit of olive oil and squeezed lemon.  Apart from salad for lunch consider a sandwich made with lean meat (like oven roasted turkey or chicken) on whole grain bread, or maybe some tuna salad.  Soups can be wonderful and convenient, but be careful about which ones you choose. Lots of premade soups are high in sodium. Look for low sodium options or make it yourself so you know what you’re putting in. If you’re used to a side of fries or chips, substitute them out with some baby carrots or some hummus and pita chips or crudités.

Dinner has so many options we don’t even know what to tell you other than if you got it out of a window in your car it’s wrong.  Cook yourself something special but healthy. Make that salad now if you didn’t for lunch.  Braise a nice piece of fish or cook a lean steak or a broil a chicken breast.  If you usually have white rice with dinners change it up today and have brown rice or quinoa.  Make a stir-fry with lots of veggies and chicken or lean pork or firm tofu in some sesame oil.

If you’re someone who is used to having dessert and don’t feel like the day is complete without it, go with fruit.  Fruit is sweet and satisfying while staying healthy.  To make it extra special or if you’re on the end of the spectrum where you need to gain some weight dip it in some Greek yogurt.  Tastes great, feels nice and light, and still satisfies that sweet craving.

If you find yourself needing a snack throughout the day, be prepared with healthy convenient options to reach for.  Some Cheerios or fiber cereal in a plastic baggy, a handful of trail mix or GORP, a few almonds, or some cleaned and sliced celery sticks that you can top with peanut butter or laughing cow light cheese.  Keep portions small and only reach for them when you’re truly hungry. Remember to go for water first!

That’s your big mission for today, but here’s your small list of tasks:
Deep Condition your hair: When’s the last time your hair really got some love from you?  Whenever it was, make it happen today.  Hair affects how a person looks so much, and when we look better we feel better, so treat it kindly. Heavy, weighty hair can also just drag you down and make your head feel heavy and achy, so give it some love to up its volume so it doesn’t pull on you the same way.  Deep conditioning isn’t just for hair that’s been damaged by over coloring, it’s also for hair that’s gone too long without a cut, or has been exposed to too much heat, or that you just want to be healthy and look nice, so guys it includes you too (entirely bald people are off the hook on this one and can settle for just giving themselves a nice scalp massage.)  After you choose a deep conditioner or a hair mask (a step up from a deep conditioner) it should be used twice a week, applied over all of your hair, tucked under a shower cap, and allowed to stay there for ten minutes before rinsing.

Clean Out Your Closets:  You might’ve gotten a jump start on this yesterday if the do something for charity you chose involved donating clothes and shoes, but really go after your closets today.  All of them. Your front coat closet, your broom closet, your linen closet, your bedroom closets.  Any closet you’ve got, get in there and find out what’s in it, if it’s where it belongs, if it’s folded or hung properly, if it should be organized better, and if it would serve a better purpose somewhere else.  For all the different ways you can donate clothing, shoes, accessories, and household goods (even the clothes and shoes you think are beyond use to anyone anymore), check out yesterday’s post. Do go into your closets armed with trash bags and boxes if you’ve got them so that donatable items can be sorted out and recyclable or trash worthy items can be tossed.  Be prepared to tackle any laundry that has made it to your closet floor.  If the closet you’re in is home to your holiday decorations think about whether today might be the right time to take them down and put them away nicely.  Technically you have until February 2nd before it really HAS to come down, but if you’re feeling motivated and in the right place and don’t feel a need to keep it up anymore, go ahead and get things down so you don’t have to worry about it later.

Put on a Dance Video and start moving.  That can be anything from a Wii or Xbox Kinect dance game to a fun music video from your youth or a dance aerobics video.  Just get some music going and have fun getting your groove for at least the duration of a song.  As many songs as you want if you’re really having a good time 🙂

Listen to a Guided Meditation or Subliminal Track to calm your stress levels.  I personally am autistic and can get overwhelmed easily by routine change, or by too much sensory input, and while I HATE when people say “Everyone’s a little autistic” the less demeaning, less invalidating, more accurate version of that is “Everyone has some symptoms of autism.”  It’s the combination and severity of them that make the diagnosis, but for the fun of it today I linked to audios designed to help autistic people cope, because I do think that they may have benefits for the rest of the world too, and would be interested in any feedback on that.

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: Healthy Food

Album: Sesame Road

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Just a Penny Shy

Original Source Unknown

One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions every year is “Do something for charity.”  Because Thanksgiving and Christmas remind us to be kinder and more generous, and we like it, it feels good to help others, so we decide we’re going to do it throughout the year instead of just at the holidays, but then we get back to the daily grind and we forget.

So, this year we’re not going to forget, and our big project for the day is to do something for charity.  The charity is up to you, and what you do for them is up to you, but we’re going to throw some ideas out here to emphasize that everyone can do something. I’m going to apologize in advance for making this entry link heavy, because I know it doesn’t look pretty, but I want to make this a convenient process for you so that you don’t have to think “I’ll look it up later” and find that later never comes.  When you find a cause that you feel enthusiastic about, run with it.  I’m not getting any kickbacks or commission off of any links to charity, anything you do with them goes to them exclusively.

  • Adopt a block at your local cemetery. You’ll be responsible for general upkeep like going through picking up trash, cleaning debris (like cut grass or fallen leaves) off of headstones, and whatever other needs your cemetery’s organizer may express.  Google your local cemetery and they should have information about volunteer opportunities.
  • Become a Big Brother or Big Sister. There are lots of kids out there in bad home situations who need a mentor, role model, friend, and someone they can trust and confide in about their goals and worries and questions about life. You can be that person that encourages them to be better than their environment.
  • Check websites for your favorite charities. Many of them have lists of things they need. You may already have things around the house that you can donate or you may be able to pick them up cheap on clearance or with a coupon.  Food Banks and Pantries will have lists for their most needed items, animal shelters will have lists of their biggest needs.  Really any charitable cause you can think of will have a site telling you the best ways you can contribute to them. If you can’t find it, give them a call.  Often, they even have a Facebook page promoting their cause and their current needs.
  • Clean out a Closet. Whatever clothes and accessories or other linens you have that you can’t or don’t wear or use, donate either to a shelter or to Goodwill. If people go to Goodwill and tell them they need clothes to get a job they get hooked up with professionally appropriate clothes for free. At least they do here, but I assume it’s a company-wide policy. Any clothes that don’t sell in their stores get auctioned off by the pound, and anything left after auction gets sent to textile recyclers. If you have clothes that are so worn out and faded or stained you don’t think a charity will want them, put them (washed and dried and nicely bagged) in one of those clothes donation bins you see around town or find another clothing recycler (Goodwill won’t take them anymore according to our research.) A lot of that clothing that we consider too worn out or faded or stained to be usable is actually sent to other countries that have a large demand for second hand clothing, if it’s beyond use for them it may be recycled into wiping and polishing cloths or recycled into fiber for upholstery, insulation, or furniture stuffing. Never never never throw away clothes, and don’t let it sit in your closet knowing you will never use it again because you just don’t know what to do with it. Donate it. It WILL be used.
  • Crochet Afghans for Afghans.  The everyday citizens of Afghanistan have been victims of the conflict in their country.  They suffer from war, oppression, hunger, poverty, and sickness.  These men, women, and children aren’t our enemies.  They’re just regular people with the misfortune of being born into an unstable environment.  Afghans for Afghans provides patterns and a mailing address to provide blankets and warm clothing, including sweaters, vests, hats, mittens, and socks, to the people that need them because they’ve suffered the impact of turmoil they didn’t choose to be born into.
  • Crochet or Knit a Chemocap.  Chemocaps are made and given to chemotherapy patients to provide warmth, comfort, and a reminder that people care and they aren’t fighting alone.  Their websites provide patterns and donation instructions.
  • Crochet or Knit for Stitches From the Heart.  Parents don’t generally know their premies are coming prematurely or if so how prematurely and usually don’t have clothing to fit them when they are ready to leave the hospital, so this charity provides premature babies with blankets, booties, clothing, and hats.  Patterns for knitting and crocheting can be found on their website, as well as appropriate sizing.
  • Cut your hair and donate it to Locks of Love or Wigs for Kids.  If a New Year means a New You and includes a New ‘Do, make sure that hair doesn’t go to waste. There is a minimum length requirement of 10 inches, so if you’re wanting a cut but need a couple more inches put it off a couple months so you can do something good with it.  Once you’re ready to take off 10 or more inches get your hair cut while in a ponytail or braid and that hair will be used to make wigs or hairpieces for children who’ve lost hair for any medical treatment.  Many salons will also offer discounts if you’re donating your hair, so either check out the list of those salons on Wigs for Kids and find one that participates, or ask your salon of choice if they do.  Maybe they haven’t but will once it’s suggested to them.
  • Donate Blood or Plasma. It’s always needed, not just during blood drives, and there’s always somewhere nearby that you can donate it. Plasma can be donated even more often than blood. Especially consider this if you’re blood type O, that makes you a universal donor that can contribute to anyone, but every blood type is needed!
  • Donate Fur through Coats for Cubs.  Fur has gone out of style. People have come around to the idea that wearing fur coats is not particularly ethical and faux fur has become the standard. So, what do you do with those old fur coats inherited from your mother or grandmother or leftover from your youth?  Donate them to a wildlife rehabilitation center where they will be used to give abandoned animals a warm safe place to cuddle up for a nap.  It helps young animals by providing the comfort they are missing from their mother.   You can donate directly through the project or you can contact a local wildlife center directly.  Give them a call and see if they accept fur donations. Not everyone does.
  • Donate Cellphones to Cell Phones for Soldiers.  They’ll take cell phones, smartphones, and tablets.  They request “newer and gently-used”, but if you’re a tech-enthusiast who always has the latest model and takes good care of your phone, rather than sell it or shove it in a drawer when you get your new one, donate it to our troops around the world.  All donated devices valued at even $5 provide soldiers with 2.5 hours of free talk time.  As a military kid, I can say that talking to my dad when he was away from home was an exciting treat. And he wasn’t at war.  When we have troops around the world serving in this perpetual war on terror the ability to talk with their loved ones is invaluable.
  • Donate to a GoFundMe campaign. These are fundraising campaigns started by regular people for causes near and dear to them.  You can search keywords for titles or cities, or you can browse categories for causes listed by animals, businesses, charities, communities, competitions, creative, education, emergency, events, faith, family, medical, memorial, newlyweds, sports, Tennessee fire relief, travel, volunteer, wishes, and “other.”  It’s a great service, but be careful about who you choose to donate to.  People who genuinely NEED money with a sad story are going to be very matter of fact because it is HARD to ask for money when you genuinely need it.  There ARE scammers out there, so just make sure you keep an eye out for sincerity and verifiability if possible. Do NOT waste your money donating to things like the guy who started a campaign to send him money to go protect Betty White from the curse of 2016.  That’s throwing your money away on a joke.  Find something that actually speaks to you, whether a sad story or a happy one or a nostalgic one, make it mean something.
  • Donate to a Kickstarter campaign.  Kickstarter is similar to GoFundMe except that it is specifically for funding creative projects.  Here you can browse by categories including Art, Comics, Crafts, Dance, Design, Fashion, Film & Video, Food, Games, Journalism, Music, Photography, Publishing, Technology, and Theater.  The world needs creativity, it needs art, and it needs entertainment.  Some of these people have incredible talent but need a hand up to make it in the world and you never know whose life you might change.  Choose to help those people that NEED help starting out, not the people already in Hollywood that have their own money and can get loans and backers and investors if they have something truly worth making.
  • Donate shoes.  Gently worn shoes can be donated to Soles4Souls. To date they have distributed 26 million pairs of shoes to people that need them. They are a global charity that remind us that “1.2 billion people live on less than $1.90 per day. 400 million are children. Many don’t have access to one of life’s most basic necessities: a good pair of shoes.”  Another option is One World Running which sends new and “near-new” athletic shoes and other equipment to third world countries with a special focus on health (they also send medications and school supplies and things.)  They will even take soccer cleats and baseball equipment.  If your shoes are past that gently worn stage, clothes aren’t the only things that can still be used even when we consider them too worn out or stained or smelly to donate to Goodwill.  Nike’s Reuse-a-Shoe program breaks them down and uses the materials in making public playgrounds and tennis courts.  They can’t accept shoes with metal parts, dress shoes, or sandals, but they can absolutely make good use out of those sweaty tennis shoes that take the hardest beating of all things we put on our bodies.
  • Donate Your Old Eyeglasses.  They’re reusable.  Your Optometrist’s office may have a collection program, The Lions Club also has a program to redistribute eyeglasses to low income communities where they are needed the most.
  • Donate your Household items that you no longer use or want to Goodwill, The Salvation Army, Pickup Please, churches, schools, or local organization like ARC.
    Goodwill uses 85% of the revenue they generate from donations to help people in your community find jobs and even provide them with training.
    The Salvation Army is a Christian charity that provides food distribution, disaster relief, rehabilitation centers, anti-human trafficking efforts, and a wealth of children’s programs.  Their “About” page doesn’t say how much of their revenue is used towards charitable causes, but it does say that “Eighty-two cents of every dollar we spend supports our various missions across the country.” They have a reputation of being Anti-LGBTQA+ which they address here. I’ll leave it to donors how they feel about all of that, I mention it to address it before anyone suggests I’m supporting discriminatory entities. They are one option among many.
    Pickup Please allows you to schedule free pickup of your clothing or household goods that you leave on your porch and do not have to be home for, donations to them generate the majority of the funding to support programs of the Vietnam Veterans of America.
    ARC is a Colorado based non-profit thrift store that benefits people with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities.
  • Donate Stuffed Animals. Parents are always saying that their kids get too many stuffed animals and only sleep or play with one or two favorites. New or gently used stuffed animals can be donated to causes that will give them to children who have experienced a trauma or emergency situation such as fires, illnesses, accidents, neglect, abuse, homelessness, and weather emergencies and can use the comfort of a cuddly new friend.  Donated stuffed animals are given to fire and police departments, children’s organizations, churches, and homeless shelters among many other organizations. Donated stuffed animals may even be given to the military who will distribute them in countries like Iraq to the children from the troops so our country is making more friends than enemies  In addition to accepting donated stuffed animals currently Stuffed Animals for Emergencies is seeking volunteers  in areas where they do not currently have chapter members to respond to requests from organizations and if you’re willing to clean any gently used donations (their website gives cleaning instructions) and mail or deliver those donations to those organizations you’re considered an urgent need for them and they request you email urgentneeds@safe-inc.org
  • Get actively involved in supporting causes you care about on Change.org
  • Go to GreaterGood.com daily. This site has been around since 1999 and has given more than $40-million to charities around the world. The cause donated to on the main page varies daily, and there are also tabs on the top of the page to click for donations to The Hunger SiteThe Breast Cancer SiteThe Animal Rescue Site, The Veterans Site , The Autism Site, The Alzheimer’s Site, The Diabetes Site, The Literacy Site, and The Rain Forest Site.
  • Go to Care2. Where you can participate in their “Daily Action”, petitions, or Click to Donate which works just like GreaterGood where all you have to do is click a button and their advertisers donate money to the cause for you.  They have buttons to click for donations to Children International, The Nature Conservancy, The Wildlife Conservation Society, The Breast Cancer Fund, The International Fund for Animal Welfare, Oceana, Animal Rescue, The Jane Goodall Institute, CarbonFund, Amnesty International, and Defenders of Wildlife
  • Hold a book drive, or even just donate your own used books. There are a lot of places to donate books:
    BetterWorldBooks accepts book donations that will either be sent out in response to book requests they’ve received, or will be sold to donate the proceeds to funding literacy, funding public libraries, and to organizations such as Books for Africa, Feed the Children, Room to Read, The National Center for Families Learning, Worldfund, and many others.  They also have a policy that every time someone purchases a book from BetterWorldBooks.com they will donate a book to someone in need.
    Books for Africa sends thousands of books to Africa via freight and accepts all books 15 years old or less that may be relevant to an African reader, including fiction, nonfiction, textbooks, reference books, and school and office supplies.  They will also accept separately packaged specifically marked Bibles and religious books, but they are only sent when African recipients specifically request them.
    Books for Soldiers lets you create care packages with your used books and send them to deployed troops overseas.  Their website will even show specific book requests from soldiers, and you can add other media like CDs or DVDs to your care package.  They now also support Veterans within the US.
    Books To Prisoners collects books to distribute to inmates with the mission of fostering a love of reading and encouraging the pursuit of knowledge and self-empowerment.  Most prisons do not allow hardbound books so they seek paperbacks, and their most popular requests include “dictionaries, thesauruses, African American history and fiction, Native American studies, legal materials, GED materials, and foreign language learning materials (particularly Spanish).  Other common requests include genre fiction such as westerns and horror, vocational-technical manuals, politics, anthropology, art and drawing books (including blank notebooks), and books on paranormal phenomena.”
    Books Through Bars collects books to distribute to inmates, facilitating the ability of prisoners to achieve higher education as well as adjusting to life outside of prison when their time is served.  Most prisons do not allow hardcover books so they seek paperbacks no more than 5 years old, and generally prefer educational books, textbooks, history books, dictionaries, substance abuse recovery books, and spiritual books, however due to constantly changing needs they request you contact them prior to donating at info@booksthroughbars.org or 215-727-8170
    Also search for local options, here in Colorado we have Reach Out and Read CO. Most libraries have a “Friends of the Library” Society that will use donated books to stock library shelves or resell the books at fundraisers.
  • Knit or Crochet clothing or blankets for your local homeless shelter. Or hand them out to homeless folks on the streets. Shelters don’t have room for everyone and it gets cold.
  • Look for Facebook pages that will donate to a cause for every like that they receive. I personally follow The Arbor Day Foundation and have regularly participated in posts from companies they are working with that will plant X number of trees for every like. I’m sure there are at least a million other pages that do the same thing, look for charities that interest you and follow their pages so you can see those opportunities to donate through a like.
  • Make a blanket for Project Linus.  This charity gives security blankets to children suffering from disease, trauma, and other needs.  Children can get physical and mental comfort from warm, cuddly blankets and patterns are available on their website.  Even if you can’t sew, crochet, or knit, local chapters are usually happy to receive donations of unused blanket-making materials you may have or might pick up on clearance.
  • Make blankets for your local animal shelter. The Snuggles Project is one that will both provide patterns for crocheting, knitting, or sewing a blanket for an animal and also a list of shelters around the world that accept them as donations (and of course you can always check with your local shelter as well). If you’ve ever been to an animal shelter you know that animals waiting to be adopted, or even animals recovering from injury or illness, are often left in small cages with nothing but food and water. Your blankets give them comfort and warmth and a sense of security.
  • Make clothing, toys, or duffel bags for the Friends of Pine Ridge Reservation.  These donations go to shelters and clinics, among other groups on the reservation. They are always seeking crocheted, knitted, and sewn items, most especially for the children in foster care there. Their current urgent needs are socks and underwear for Lakota kids.
  • Make a monetary donation to a cause you care about. Check with your employer to see if they match donations. Lots of large corporations will match your donations in part or even in full. You can usually find the information on your employer’s internal company website, but if you don’t see it, ask your HR representative.
  • Make a quilt, lap quilt, or turtle pillow for The Painted Turtle.  The Painted Turtle is a camp and family care center for children with debilitating conditions and life threatening diseases.  They use these quilts and pillows to provide comfort to the kids while they’re away from home, and to keep to remember their time at the camp.  Their website provides details for blanket sizes and a pattern for the turtle pillows.
  • Play the vocabulary game, or other educational games on Free Rice. We all spend a lot of time playing online and killing time anyway, playing these games will teach you something while also donating rice to The United Nations World Food Programme for every correct answer. It costs you nothing and is totally funded by their advertisers.
  • Pledge to walk, run, or bike to raise money for a cause you care about.
  • Read public domain books out loud while recording your voice and donate the recordings to LibriVox. The recordings will be made available to the public as free audio books.
  • Shop in clearance sections or bulk stores for hygiene products that can be donated to a local shelter, nonperishable food items that can be donated to a food pantry, or pet foods and toys that can be donated to an animal shelter.
  • Shop online with Good Shop.  A percentage of your sale will be given to a charity of your choosing. They even have an app!
  • Sign up with Leggings for Life as a volunteer to knit or crochet leggings for animals that need them. They have volunteers make comfortable leggings for animals who through paralysis or deformity may acquire infections or ulcerations from dragging their hind legs or having to walk differently. They provide patterns to volunteers on a case by case basis so that the product matches the animal being helped.  Also, share their Facebook page with anyone you know in the field of animal care so that they can connect and provide more leggings to animals who need them.
  • Start a food drive and deliver the contributions to your local food pantry.
  • Support a Classroom Fundraiser at DonorsChoose.  You can search by topics, teachers, or schools.  If the project you choose fails to meet its goal you are given a credit on the site to apply toward another project of your choosing.
  • Use Amazon Smile. Amazon has a program where you sign up to donate a percentage of all of your eligible purchases to a charity of your choice (which you can change at any time.) It doesn’t cost you anything extra, you just have to remember to go to smile.amazon.com when you do your shopping. Same website, same experience, same products, but automatically donates for you.
  • Use a search engine that will donate to charity for every search you make.  Ecosia is a search engine that contributes to planting trees. GoodSearch facilitates shopping with GoodShop to donate with your purchases as mentioned above.
  • Volunteer in Person at an animal shelter, your church, Habitat for Humanity, a hospice, a hospital, a nursing home, a school, a shelter, a soup kitchen… whatever cause speaks to you.
  • Volunteer Online! Most people don’t think of this as an option but if you have skills in administration, advocacy, community organizing, content creation, copywriting, event organization graphic design, leadership, outreach, project management, research, social media, teaching, technology development, or training, those are all skills that you can donate your time helping non-profits. Check out the Give Work iPhone App to help quality control of work outsourced to refugees.
  • Volunteer your computer’s idle time. You truly don’t have to do anything but let projects use your computer’s processing power when you’re not using it. Atlas@HomeBOINC, Einstein@HomeFolding@home, LHC@home, Poem@Home, QCNSeti@Home, and the World Community Grid are among the projects that will allow you to put your computer’s idle time to use for research in the areas of curing diseases or understanding proteins and weather cycles or trying to find extraterrestrial life.

If you need additional help finding where or how you can volunteer, there are sites and apps that will help you find a good match for your skills and interests. If you don’t already know what you are going to do, check out these sites:
Idealist
Jumo / Global Giving
VolunteerMatch

If you’re feeling a little Scroogey and need some extra incentive remember that anything you donate, whether monetary or tangible items, is all tax deductible. Get a receipt and put it someplace safe so you can include it when you file your taxes for the year.

If you have a favorite cause, charity, or idea on how to donate your time or skills let us know in the comments!

Apart from doing one (or more) of those worthy projects, today’s little list of tasks is:
Give yourself some foot love. We’re rough on our feet. They carry us around, we shove them into shoes that are sometimes quite ridiculous, we stub them on things… show them some appreciation.  Cut your toenails, use a foot file if you’re prone to rough calloused feet like I am, polish your toenails, lotion your feet and put on some cotton socks to keep the moisture in, give yourself a foot massage, or treat yourself to a pedicure. Men too, you can opt out of polish if you don’t want it and still get your feet cared for and get an awesome massage out of the deal. It won’t make you weird. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a nail salon without seeing a man getting a pedicure. Even the big tough manly men in army shirts that are watching football on the TV while their feet get worked on.
Clean a Bedroom. If you’ve got a Guest Bedroom, choose it for today, but if not then obviously go with your regular bedroom. Start from the top and work your way down. Dust any light fixtures, shelves, TVs, dressers, knick-knacks and wall art. Clean your switch plates for the lights and get rid of those dirty finger smudges that accumulate over time. Windex any mirrors or TV screens. Straighten up the contents of dressers and closets. Organize your desk if you’ve got one. Get your books put away on shelves. If you’ve accumulated dishes from eating or drinking in bed, take them out of your bedroom and put them in the dishwasher. If you’ve got clothes on the floor take them to the hamper, or the washing machine. If you’ve got clean clothes sitting in a laundry basket get them put away. Dust your blinds and Windex your windows, and give your windowsills a good scrubbing. Change and wash your bed linens. Sweep and mop if you have hard wood, vacuum if you have carpet. Empty out your waste baskets. Boom, done!
Do some body-weight exercises to engage your core.

Do a 1 minute plank.

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1st Month, 250lbs, poorly executed plank

Do side planks for 1 minute on each side.

Do ten Supermans.

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1st Month, 250lbs, Supermans

Do a T-Stabalization for 1 minute on each side.

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1st Month, 250 lbs, T-Stabalizations.

You just made yourself stronger and healthier in under 10 minutes!

Combat Allergies through a guided meditation or a subliminal message track. As always, the guided meditations are not only affective, they’re calming and soothing, and the subliminal tracks are great to fall asleep to.

Other than that, have a wonderful day and don’t forget to do your nightly journaling!

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: Shake Me I Rattle (Squeeze Me I Cry)

Album: Country Ladies

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Kissing the New Year In

Unknown Source

Okay, so the tomorrow part of that quote doesn’t apply anymore, cause now it’s today, but otherwise the sentiment is spot on and goes precisely with what we want to talk about today.

First, a quick recap of yesterday’s little list of tasks:
I didn’t go out much, so there wasn’t a lot of ability to put it to work. My only trip out of the house was to the grocery store at about 3 in the morning.  The only person I encountered was a stock worker.  But rather than my usual “find something to look at, avoid eye contact at all costs” approach to people I smiled at him, and he smiled back.  I would’ve hello’d him but he was pulling a pallet lift full of stuff and moving pretty fast and my instinct was to get out of his way and let him keep moving. But smiles exchanged is a step up in the world for me.  Happy New Year’s have been wished to everyone I’ve spoken to.  Thank you’s have been issued where appropriate.  I didn’t go out (or drink) so no designated driver required.  I did eat a couple strips of bacon, so pork accomplished although I did not find black eyed peas when I went to the grocery store. I suspect I didn’t know where to look for them or they also go by another name.

As for today, the project we want you to start if you’re not already doing it is to keep a journal, and write in it daily.  We really like Eccolo’s Journals and think that journaling is a more relaxing and luxurious bit of “me time” in a pretty journal. with a design that speaks to you, with a dedicated smooth writing pen, but if you don’t have money to throw at it just grab a notebook and a bic pen or even open up a word document on your computer and write in it daily.

I got my first diary when I was a tiny kid who could barely write and have fond memories of my first entries including things like being excited that I rode my bicycle a whole half mile followed by a million exclamation points and a badly drawn bike 🙂  I’ve moved up a little in my journaling standards since then, but really there hasn’t been any point in my life since I learned how to write that I didn’t keep some sort of diary or journal or LiveJournal or personal diary blog or something that chronicled every day of the year.  I think journals are a great gift for kids and teens (as long as you respect their privacy and don’t read them) to get them started off on learning how to get their thoughts and feelings out somewhere that they aren’t bottled up, but it’s never too late to start, and the writing process is a therapeutic one.

We all have feelings and thoughts that we’re scared to share with the world, because we don’t think they’re socially acceptable, or because maybe we’re dreaming “too big” and will be laughed at, or we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings but need to get out emotion and frustration about something they said or did, and a journal is a great place for all of these things.  Private thoughts and feelings can fester in your brain, but putting them down on paper can get them out so they don’t just stay there and grow and torture you, and still keep them private at the same time.  Again, I can’t stress enough how important it is to respect that privacy right of others and NOT read their diaries or journals no matter how curious you are.  Let people have their private thoughts.

It is, however, important to journal on the normal days and the happy days and not just the sad or bad days.  Make it a regular habit so it can be a relief when you need it and not just a negative association.  The happy moments deserve to be chronicled so you can look back on them when they turn out to be important happy moments in the future.  The normal daily monotony deserves to be chronicled.  There are times that you might not know about your worries or concerns or real feelings about daily events until you’re getting them down on paper and having to find words for them, and it’s so much healthier and feels so much better to be able to identify what exactly is going on in your brain and your heart.  Even those things that you know you need to talk about with someone can be easier to talk about once you’ve sorted them out in writing first so you know what matters and what needs to be said and what is driving an emotion and maybe even be able to approach the subject with them from a deescalated point so it doesn’t have to be an explosive conversation.

Studies have also shown that journaling even has positive physical effects. According to James Pennebaker of the University of Texas at Austin, journaling on a regular basis has a positive impact on the strength of immune cells.  It has also been shown to reduce the symptoms of asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, and of course, reduces your stress level.  The length of your entries is entirely up to you. You can do a few sentences, or a page, or until you’re out of things to write. But make some time to do it daily before bed.  The nightly ritual will help you transition to being ready for sleep as well, and you’ll sleep better with less worry swirling around in your brain all night.
Today’s List of Tasks:
Clean a Bathroom.  If you have more than one bathroom, for today clean the one your guests would use.  If not, then of course just clean your regular bathroom. Start at the top and work your way down. Dust any light fixtures. Clean dirty finger smudges off the switch plate for the lights. Windex the mirror(s).  Give the countertop a good wipe down and then do the same with the sink and faucet.  Straighten up any cabinets or medicine chests. Dispose of any medications or cosmetics that are past their expiration date. Give the toilet a good scrubbing, inside and out.  Scrub down the shower and bathtub and unclog drains if they need it.  Get rid of any empty shampoo and body wash bottles or toothpaste tubes that you have sitting there waiting to be taken out.  Toss out any dead air fresheners or burned out candles.  Sweep the floor. Take out the trash from the waste basket. Mop the floor. Done!  It all fit in one little paragraph and I promise you can do it!
My house has no good place for a litter-box so mine is in my “guest” bathroom, so if you have a litter-box, wherever it is I’m gonna ask you to clean that today too, because I won’t remember to bring it back up when we move on to other rooms.  And like, keep cleaning it, but do a serious thorough job to kick things off today.
Do Some Cardio. If you have access to an elliptical, hop on it for 10 minutes. Or more if you feel up to it.  If not, New Year’s is a good time to join a gym, they have specials. Planet Fitness is airing commercials for $1 to join and $10 a month.  (I have no affiliation or experience with Planet Fitness, it’s just the commercial I keep seeing, research any gym before you join it.) If gyms aren’t your thing go for a jog.  If you’re not up to that yet, jog in place in your living room for 5 minutes.  Just get up and get some blood and air flowing.
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Month 1, 250 lbs, on the Elliptical
Listen to a subliminal recording or a guided meditation designed to improve your complexion.  When we look better, we feel better, and while we can argue about why it works, it does, so we’ll save the argument of why for a later post.  Even if your skin is already great, going through the meditation is a soothing process, and you can listen to the subliminal recording as you fall asleep, and it’s all just very peaceful and soothing.
And that’s all you need to accomplish for today!  Happy New Year everyone!

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: Let’s Start The New Year Off Right

Album: Bing Sings The Irving Berlin Songbook

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A Toast to Now

Image courtesy of Turner Classic Movies

Happy New Year’s Eve everyone!  As promised the blogging starts today, so if you’ve been following our Facebook page there shall be no more daily YouTube videos with a short sentiment attached. Now there shall be daily YouTube videos inside a blog with a long sentiment attached 😉

Today’s post is going to be a little different from future posts in that we decided to launch on New Year’s Eve expressly to take today as an opportunity to introduce ourselves and what we’re about before expecting everyone to decide they’re up for changing their lives and giving up any vices on the very night that people are indulging in them with the promise of being better tomorrow.  Go ahead and indulge tonight.  As of tomorrow, though, we’re holding ourselves accountable to that doing better thing, and expecting you all to commit to it too.

Our “About” page rehashes the story of how this page came to be, but the more important thing to know is why we’re here and what we hope to accomplish. Recently we came across a quote from Neil deGrasse Tyson, saying “I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.” That one concise quote explains everything we hope to accomplish.  All of the hate, anger, fear, isolation, loneliness, misery, and negativity of the world stems from a place of fear and misunderstanding.  Our mission is to both facilitate the learning that can clear away the fear, misunderstanding, and unknown, as well as helping to facilitate the healing process.  Because no matter where you stand in the world and how good or bad things are they can always be better and there’s always something that needs healing.

We understand that everyone will be starting from different points, that there are people who feel happy and fulfilled and just recognize that they can always add more positivity to the world and their life all through the spectrum to those people who are in severe depression and don’t know what to do with themselves or their daily lives or why to get out of bed.  That is okay.  We are all allowed to share experiences from different starting points and different perspectives and still all work together towards making ourselves and the world better than they were the day before.  Knowing that we’re all starting from different places and all fighting different demons, we’ll be covering a wide range of topics and activities.  This first month as we ease into things we will be utilizing a two-step approach everyday where we have one overarching focus for the day, and a small list of simple daily tasks.

The overarching focus of the day this first month, is going to focus on the New Year’s goals and resolutions we’ve heard from our members or are the most common resolutions made every year.  We want to help you meet your goals, and we won’t ask anyone to do anything we aren’t willing to do ourselves, so I promise we’re in it with you and if we write about it we’re doing it and will chronicle it as we go.  We anticipate to be around for a very long time and have a wide variety of topics lined up to last for many ages, but for this first month of focusing on New Year’s resolutions, you can expect topics covering mental health, physical health, fitness, nutrition, bad habits, good habits, life experiences, and enrichment.

Our small lists of daily tasks may be things that some people look at and think I already do this daily, I don’t need the reminder. That’s an awesome place to be at and if it’s you we’re just going to challenge you to pay extra attention to those tasks that day and see if there’s any thing you’ve overlooked or could enhance in how you’re doing them, but the bigger purpose for that list of daily tasks will be that we know we have some members starting in a place of long term depression for whom these tasks will be monumental accomplishments, and we want to both remind you to do them if you aren’t thinking about them, but also to help you realize that taking things a day at a time and making this one thing better for this one day adds up to an immensely improved life by the end of the month, or the end of the week, or even the end of the day.

It can be so hard to get up and make things happen and find the motivation and the energy when it all feels big and daunting and overwhelming and it doesn’t feel like it matters anyway.  It matters.  Do it for you, but do it for us too.  I come from a place of long term depression, I’ll be fighting daily battles right along with you.  It’ll be easier for me if I have other people committed to doing it with me.

Whether we continue posting the list of daily tasks after the first month or not will be entirely related to your feedback.  If we see positive comments or pictures showing that those things are helping you, we will continue adding those to every post. If not, we’ll assume that you’ve turned them into a month-long calendar and let them go.  We’d rather see the positive comments and pictures 🙂

Apart from that list of daily tasks, every day will either have something to learn or something to do or both.  What we ask from you as followers (or what we consider members, because although this is a blog we do truly consider this a journey we’re all in together) is that you hang in there with us and have faith.  Do the daily tasks or the daily reading and have faith it will serve to your benefit, whether you think it applies to you or not. You can never be too healthy or too educated.  If it sounds simple, do it.  If it sounds boring, do it.  If it sounds hard, whine about it and then do it.  See if by the end of the month some part of your life hasn’t improved.  If even one thing is better than where it started we’ve met our goal.  Stick with us, as long as there’s internet to write it on and someone to do the writing, we’ll be here with you, still getting better day by day.

There will be times that you may need to pick up something you don’t already have to accomplish the day’s task. A trip to the library or the grocery store or what have you. So if you like to be prepared in advance to participate in things on the day they’re posted hop on over to link in the top menu that says “Things You’ll Need” and we will do our darndest to have that calendar filled out in advance for you to take your time to acquire any items needed to accomplish the things we have planned.  If you prefer to be surprised and run a day behind or shop day of then that’s okay too 🙂

Whenever you find us works for us, you can start here at the beginning and work through or start wherever we’re currently at and never ever feel like a post is too old to comment on. We want to hear about your triumphs, your victories big and small, your ridiculous mishaps (we’ll have them too, I promise!), and your struggles.  We want to cheer you on, but we also want to help you get back up. We want to know when something helps a lot so we know what works, and we want to know when you need more help with something so we know to double down hard on it.

If you’re finding us through the blog please feel welcome at our Facebook page, where we will also be posting a featured “Question of the Day” to get our brains engaged and to learn about each other and bond as a community.

Beyond that, we’re looking forward to a happier, healthier, more loving, more compassionate 2017.  As the great Miss Judy Garland said up there at the top of the post “We have a whole new year ahead of us and wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could all be a little more gentle with each other, and a little more loving, have a little more empathy, and maybe – next year at this time – we’d like each other a little more.”  It may not have been the popular trend for a few years, but we love the idea of liking each other more.  We hope you do too.  The world is a happier place when it isn’t populated by enemies.  So, while today is your free day to have a last hurrah with all of those vices before we start trying to change anything, we have one small list of tasks for today that we’re going to ask you all to commit to:

Smile. At everyone you see.
Say hello or good morning or give a friendly wave to strangers you walk past while you’re out in the world.
Wish people a Happy New Year.
Say please.
Say thank you.
Say you’re welcome. Not “sure”, “no problem”, or “uh-huh.”  You’re welcome.
Say excuse me or pardon me.
Use a designated driver or a cab.  Lots of places provide free rides on drinking holidays. Be safe. Even if you can’t find a free ride a cab is infinitely cheaper than a DUI, insurance claims, or funeral expenses.
Incorporate some pork or some black eyed peas into your dinner tonight, they’re both known to give you luck in the year to come!

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: Same Old Lang Syne

Album: The Very Best Of Dan Fogelberg

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