Your Lovin’ Don’t Pay My Bills

Meme Creator Unknown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apart from that, for today:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Write the Ending Without Any Sorrow

Original Source Unknown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Apart from reading, your daily tasks for today are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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You Know You’ll Be Alright


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As for your daily list of tasks:

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

1 tbsp coconut oil
2 tbsp sugar

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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You Have Seen Too Much In Too Few Years

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hast Du etwas Zeit für mich

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

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

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

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

Today’s little list of daily tasks are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Blog Comments Have Been Fixed

Meme Origination Unknown

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.


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
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

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

MP3: Healthy Food

Album: Sesame Road

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