Category Archives: Lifestyle

Give To Yourself

Give to yourself, your best friend should love you!

Okay, full disclosure here: I have an unhealthy attachment and find an insane amount of joy in random memes. A teen in my life tells me this is a sure sign that I’m a middle-aged mom. So be it. It delights me to surf the web for trite inspirational quotes, sarcastic jokes and other random silliness. Yesterday I came across one that sparked an entire conversation in my head. This meme, a quote from Harvey Specter (main character in the show Suits), read as follows:

“Ever loved someone so much you would do anything for them? Yeah, well, make that someone yourself and do whatever the hell you want.”

Yeah. That. That’s it – the key to happiness in one little meme.

Seriously. Think about it. How many days do you spend all day at work and all-night doing things for other people? If you’re a parent, that’s pretty much your life. Someone asked me recently what I do for me – to take care of myself. My answer, I’m somewhat ashamed to admit, was, “I sleep a few hours a night, I get calories of some sort in my body each day and I drink coffee.” Eek. Hard stop, people. If your answer to that question is anything like mine, it’s time to heed Harvey Spector’s memewords!

Think back to the last time you did something for yourself. Maybe it was a day at the spa or a decadent bubble bath. Or cramming the last piece of cake in your mouth when the kids weren’t looking. (What? Am I the only one?) How did you feel after that? Don’t say guilty. Think about your joy receptors – did you feel good? C’mon – some part of you was happy in that moment. And I bet you were a little nicer to your family or a little more compassionate toward your coworkers afterwards. If your self-indulgence was on a grand enough scale, it might have even spilled over into other things – made you more productive for a little while or gave you the pep in your step to go the extra mile with a project.

It’s like this: If you take care of you, you’re better at life and better for those around you. All too often we forget this little factoid.

Whenever I’m facing a tough decision, I have a friend who will ask me, “What would your best friend tell you to do?”. The underlying message being, my best friend wants me to be happy and wants what’s best for me. As a working mom, I’m usually too busy thinking about my son or my work to think about me. So I have to trick myself into doing it. Wrap your brain around that. I have to role play to figure out what will make me happy. (I’ll pause while you laugh.) But I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who can use this. That’s why I’m writing today.

Love yourself enough to make yourself happy. Be your own best friend. Block out time on your schedule to spend time with that friend doing what they want to do. I promise – the rest of it – your family, work, whatever – it will follow. And it will be better for having a happier you involved in it.

 

~Cassandra

You Have a Friend In Me

As I rapidly approach my 50th year I am watching my circle of close friends shrink and my circle of acquaintances grow.

I think there’s a couple things at play here. First and foremost the internet good, bad, or otherwise has made it possible for you to “connect” with people you’ve never met.

It also I think makes you feel like the effort that comes with a friendship doesn’t necessarily have to be nurtured. I checked on you on Facebook… we’re good..

Are we?

Before I get too into this, know I am not a friendship nurturer. I’m horrible at it. I suck. SUCK. It’s not that I don’t love and adore my friends I do. I really do. I have some fantastic people in my life…but…

I work in a job where I have to be “on” all day, I have an eleven year old, a side gig… I am the person who needs to recharge. Me declining an invite doesn’t mean I don’t care, I just might need to shut my head off. Thankfully, I’ve gotten much better at telling my friends this. Also, my time with my daughter comes first. Lastly and probably the things that have held me back … being with a group of friends and being completely decimated by a mutual friend. Over a decision that was pretty personal to me at the time. Or having another friend in the heat of my divorce tell me to get over it. Being made to feel like my problems were small by another. This may seem petty but when you’re in it with people you trust you make a decision. Maybe the wrong one. You start keeping yourself so busy you’re not a burden. You don’t share. You hide.

Lucky for me, my current small circle doesn’t give me that pass and will call me out or even on occasion just show up on my doorstep telling me to get dressed we’re going out.

Over the course of the few days they’ve needed me and as the resident insomniac of the group I’m usually up. I also don’t shut my phone off. I know.

I guess where I am going with all of this is you need people, and that is ok. One of my circle remarked friends shouldn’t make you cry unless you’re laughing.

Another has told me I need to live.

A third likes to send me pictures of a certain actor I like.

One gives great Mom advice. I have one who makes me laugh like crazy.

One who always calls me. One who always texts me. One who always teases me. One who loves makeup as much as I do.

Find your circle. Friends really are the family you choose and I’m incredibly disappointed in myself I let the actions of others miss out on some precious time with the circle above.

I am not making that mistake anymore. So I steal moments. One of my closest friends I’ve known since I was 13. It sounds dorky but I call her every morning. My soul sister who has the same birthday as me I make sure to send a message to,just so she knows I’m thinking of her even though I know she’s crazy busy.

Having her message me back “dang I miss you made me cry.”

I send stupid memes to my radio boos.

Lastly and this is a biggie from this guarded girl I told my best friend that he is my best friend.

Because he is.

So how about this… as always, I will be here for you but let’s make sure we let our circle know on the regular what they mean to us.

I’ll start…

I got you Mamas and I appreciate you so much.

<3 Caprise

Use The Power Of Forgiveness

The Webster’s definition of forgiveness is to give up resentment against or the desire to punish; to stop being angry with; to pardon; to give up all claim to punish.  My working definition of forgive for this chapter is to simply let go.

There are so many people out in the world that are holding onto so much yucky stuff—bad childhoods, terrible marriages/divorces, abuse of some sort, anger from some past wrong done to them, bad business deals, insults, injuries, etc.  Every person holding onto something like this feels very strongly about it and should you try to pry it away from them they get very angry.  It is their stuff and they want to keep it right where it is, what they fail to realize is that harboring those yucky feelings is sucking the life right out of them.

I have been actively working with forgiveness for several years now as I was holding onto some resentful feelings from the past.  Over the last few years as I continued to move forward in my life it became apparent to me that there was something in the way of my progress.  After some soul searching I discovered that I was still holding onto resentments and bad feelings toward people from my past.  In my speaking I had forgiven them but in my heart I was still willing them to be different and therefore had not truly let go.  I started doing some active work on forgiving these people and as a result a 25 year old impossible relationship was miraculously changed.  This turn of events was something I never conceived as possible.  The power of forgiveness is truly awe inspiring.

When we forgive (let go of) someone or something  it doesn’t mean that we are consenting to or forgetting what has transpired, it simply means that we are willing to get rid of the dead energy that the situation or relationship has placed on our lives.  Holding onto animosity over someone or something doesn’t really teach the other person anything it merely interferes with our own ability to manifest good in our lives.  Harboring resentments and wishing ill on other people actually stops our own flow of good and can make us sick.   People often hold grudges to “teach” the other person a lesson or to try and hurt the other person as they have been hurt.  This kind of thinking only ends up hurting us,  as we are the ones that actively carry around the bad energy which can cause us to be depressed, overeat, lose sleep or have anxiety.

The Choice Is Yours

In order to forgive someone we had to first decide to take offense from their words or actions.  Whenever they did what they did we had a choice to take offense or to let the incident blow over.  The choice in that moment was ours.  Most people go along in life doing the best that they possibly can for who they are in the moment and often we get angry because their best is not our idea of what the best should be.  We think that we would act very differently if we were them, however, we are not them and we don’t really know how it feels to be them.  It is very easy to be offended by others when we fail to consider what aspects of their lives effect their actions.  It is easier to think about forgiving someone when we begin to really think about what their lives are like and what circumstances may be influencing their actions.   Perhaps they don’t even mean to hurt us, perhaps they are just going along doing the best that they can and they don’t even recognize that their actions or words are hurtful.

How we react to something is always our choice.  We can choose to be contributed to, insulted or offended.  We can choose to take another’s actions personally or we can choose to just let things flow over us.  If your best friend doesn’t call you back you can choose to be angry and offended and make it mean something about your friendship or you can choose to decide that maybe they are just so self-involved that calling you hasn’t even crossed their mind.  You decide, the choice is yours.  The first choice puts a wedge in your friendship and the second allows you to let it go and go on with your life.

Watch Your Frame of Reference

You are not the same person that you were 5 years ago and neither is anyone else you know.  Perhaps you are still relating to some people in your life based on how they were in the past.  Your frame of reference for certain people could be based on what you knew of them 5, 10 or 15 years ago.  This means that when they show up acting differently, you miss it because your frame of reference for them is ingrained in past perceptions.  When we hold things against people they tend to remain forever trapped in our minds the way that they were when the hurt occurred.  It may be easier to forgive them if we starting looking at whom they have become instead of who they were way back when.  This happens a lot with family members, we tend to view them only as we knew them back in the day, who they are now doesn’t even show up for us.  We all have things in our pasts that we would do differently, imagine how we would feel if someone only judged us from the way we acted at 20.

It is always a good policy to investigate your frame of reference for the people in your life; perhaps some of them deserve a fresh perspective.

Nobody Wins the Blame Game

Blaming other people for circumstances in your life is never helpful nor will it take you any place you want to go.  Nobody can win at the blame game.  The only way to win in life is to take responsibility for your own destiny.  Stop blaming the past and the people in it for what doesn’t work in your life.  Start having some new thoughts about the people and situations you need to forgive (let go of).  Forgiveness doesn’t mean that the hurtful behavior is excused or forgotten; it simply means that you stop allowing those incidents to control your life.  Forgiveness can take place after you have experienced the necessary emotions associated with the incident.  Once the initial anger, sadness, outrage, disappointment, etc. has been processed there is a space for forgiveness.  You may need to express your feelings in a constructive way before you can allow the process of forgiveness (letting go) to take place.  It is healthy to experience your emotions; it is not healthy to continue to carry around bad feelings for months and years.  Process the events and then let them go.

Look For the Lesson

I am a firm believer in the statement ‘everything happens for a reason’ and I look at every uncomfortable situation in my life and try to see what it wants to teach me.  Sometimes I see the lesson right away and sometimes I just have to trust that it’s there and that I will see it eventually.  I have learned some of my most valuable lessons from the people and situations that have distressed me the most.  When you are open to the possibility of being contributed to by every event in your life the unpleasant events seem to go by faster.

I have also learned that one of the best ways to diffuse an attack is to apologize for something right in the middle of it.  For instance, “I’m sorry that you feel I’ve insulted you”, or “I’m sorry that you think I hurt you on purpose”.  People attack you because they want attention or they are unhappy with themselves.  If someone attacks you in conversation and you do not respond or you apologize this will diffuse the situation.  A person can only fight with you if you let them.  You cannot argue with someone who refuses to be engaged by you.

I have been told that what we don’t like about other people represents something that we don’t like about ourselves.  If this is true the first action would be to forgive ourselves for all the things that we find unacceptable.  If we can forgive ourselves successfully then we can move ahead to start forgiving others.  Truly, truly everyone is going along doing the best that they can for who they are—maybe it’s time we stopped being so hard on ourselves and others.

~Noelle

You Hold The Memory

Do you ever wonder, how did you get so many of ‘these’? Whatever your THESE are. More than likely it’s because you bought them, they were gifted, handed down, or you won them for doing something great. Stop and ask-

“How many do I really need?”

Then decide how many to give away and begin the choosing.

I have 15 coffee mugs & 4 to-go mugs (mind you, I live alone), so I decided to get rid of 5 mugs and 1 to-go. That’s a good place to start, right? As I was going through them & deciding which ones to keep and which ones to pass on, I was noticing how much meaning I had put on each one. The emotional connection was strong for me…. to the person who gave it to me, or the vacation location I bought it at or how pretty it was. I found it a little rough to disconnect from the emotion (did I tell you I wear my heart on my sleeve and have a LOVE tattoo on my foot) because I feel.

Deep.

I reminded myself, this is just a token.  The real sentiment is in my memory, in my mind, in my heart and it’s time to downsize and simplify and the only way to do that is to let it go.

What meaning do you place on things that you have too many of?

How can you start to purge and unclutter the “too many’s”

Too many pairs of socks, panties, boots?

Too many spoons, cereal bowls, kitchen towels?

Too many scarves, vases, tea cups?

Whatever it is,take a look and begin to release some of them.  Give them away.  Donate them.  Hand them down.  Start small and remember that YOU hold the memory in you.

And proudly, happily, say to yourself “It’s time to let it go.”

 

Your God Girl,

Tracy xoxo

What Is My Worth?

My  worth….

I’ve taken the last 5 weeks or so to really gather my thoughts and try to evaluate who I am and who I want to be. I have achieved very many of my life goals this year and yet still have to get out of my head with so many things.

The one goal I have not achieved is personal wellness. It’s not to be physically perfect or have the best diet 100% of the time. The goal is to feel good about myself and the decisions I am making. I felt like I lost myself at some point. There was a plan and then that plan went away. I didn’t know how to truly pivot and find a different course. I covered it up with life goals and making changes, none of those which truly ran deep and helped fill my soul.

There was a time when I thought I had a chance at having it all. I’m not traditional by any sense of the word and don’t need the white dress and wedding and regalia. Just a person to truly love me and that being all of me. I don’t know that I have ever really had that in my life, and I want to believe that I am worth it.

So I’m taking the rest of 2018, all of 2019 and devoting this time to myself. I need to live the life I want my son to model. I’m hoping that while being ruthlessly devoted to myself, I will end up finding the person who will honestly love all of me. I’ve decided to share my life and my process and my progress and my shortcomings on Instagram. Not for anyone but myself. It will be real and raw and hopefully amusing. I’d invite you to find me @getatit62 and try to get at your own goals this coming year.

I hope that all of you take some time this holiday season to love yourself, love others and look at what this past year has brought you and what you want next year to bring. Happy Holidays!

~Leslie

Change Is Hard But If There Is A Will There Is A Way

Change is always hard but if there is a will there is always a way.

When I was in class for my real estate license I became extremely sick. Severe bronchitis, and it wasn’t being made better by my 18 year cigarette smoking habit. One exhausting morning of coughing, hacking and not being able to breath I caught myself trying to smoke!  Then a first happened to me, I got angry at my habit/ dependance on cigarettes. I threw my pack away, and swore I would never touch one again.

This is not the first time I have tried to quit. I have attempted and failed many times. I knew I should quit and why I should quit, but there was always something holding me back. I would cling to the idea that it was a stress relief, or that I enjoyed it.  I’ve come to realize that’s all rationalization for what i truly had-an addiction and a pretty bad one, at that. I was smoking up to a  pack and a half to two packs a day and not slowing down.

It has been six months and counting since I have quit cold turkey. I currently live with a smoker and I do not miss it, one bit! I cannot stand the smell and I feel better. All it took was not allowing excuses to give up. Change is hard, especially a change like this but anything worth doing is going to be difficult. No more excuses, if there is a will there is away and I have found my will.

Always be unapologetically yourself,

-Ali

A Dream With No Direction Or Work Is Just A Wish

A dream with no direction or work is just a wish.. All my life I’ve been a dreamer, but at the age of 29 single with three kids I couldn’t just dream anymore, It was time for action. I decided a while ago I wanted to be a realtor. So I put my nose to the grindstone and did research on how to become licensed in my state. Being on a fixed income I had to find the most affordable without taking away from the educational experience. Real estate board are extremely difficult to pass so if I was going to invest in myself I needed to do it right.

After a couple of months of research and saving I found a small local school where the classes were only 250 a peice. Three classes span over three weeks, A lot of information in a short amount of time for a price I could kinda afford. I got this I would tell myself every morning before class to quell the fear and self doubt. You see This was a big step a big process for me. I was making one of my dreams real and tangible. Which ment it was no longer protected and safe in my dream world… It could fail, I could fail. Reading myself affirmations every morning and simply telling myself I could do helped me push through all the obstacles I faced over the three weeks; I became extremely sick my second week, I refused to miss a day. the third and final week my car broke down, so I took the money I saved for my start up costs and repair my vehicle and then door dashed while I finished my classes to make up the money.

After all of that hard work I passed both of my exams, on my first try! I was so proud of myself. I quickly Joined a Brokerage, possibly too quickly. I became frustrated and felt uncomfortable in the office that I choose. After almost of two months of what felt like beating against a brick wall I switched brokers. I switched to a Team with Remax results and I am just starting to get back into the swing of things. I feel more comfortable here and I am excited to continue my journey as a Realtor.

Until next time..

Always be unapologetically true to yourself,

Ali

Choosing The Right Education For Your Children

Education is said to be one of the greatest things we can provide for our children.  That makes finding the right education for our children one huge responsibility as single mothers but what do you do when school just doesn’t fit your child?  Between bullying and the rising threat of school shootings toped by inadequate funding for education. I was facing this reality for my oldest son Logan. Logan has a long history of being physically and emotionally bullied in school, by students, paras and a teacher in his educational career.

Logan has an IEP and I have seen him be singled out by some of his mainstream teachers, He doesn’t have a behavioral disorder he is extremely high functioning autistic, which makes socialization difficult sometimes and he can get sensory overload.  About two years ago a para assigned to my boy decided when he laid down on his time out mat for sensory reasons that it would be ok to kick my son in the back and the head. I threw a fit and when the school didn’t do anything about it I pulled him out.

Logan used to be an advanced reader, but because of his IEP he hasn’t been challenged academically, to the point now he has fallen behind. Being frustrated and quite honestly fed up I decided to try a different approach. I have pulled him out of school after another incident and instead of trying a new regular school we are trying a online school.

To be honest this is the first time in a long time I am excited for a new school, and so is Logan. He’s a little down about not hanging out with kids all day but I’ve already signed him up with a fall sport and a spring sport through the community and this school offers events where the kids in the same class can meet each other since it is a locally based school. This school also offers student free career and tech classes once they are caught up. There is live class lessons and discussions where Logan can hear and see his classmates and teacher. The best part of this school is we can make his lessons completely individualized!

So here’s to new beginnings and bright futures I’ll follow up and report how its going before the end of the school year.

Always be unapologetically true to yourself

Ali

Where Do I Start?

“I really want to have a business, but I’m not sure how to start.” That’s the most common phrase I hear from women who are considering a home business. It’s a phrase loaded with confusion, overwhelm and paralysis. 

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Starting a business is actually a simple, 6-step process that anyone can follow:

1. Convince your mind that you can do it. That you’re gonna be a great business owner. That even though your brain says otherwise, you will be able to find the time and you can succeed at this. Because believe me, the minute you tell your brain that you’re serious about making a big change in your life, it will fight back and try to convince you not to do it. It will try to tell you that it’s better to stay in the comfortable little zone you’re in right now. To beat your brain at its own game, here’s what you need to do: write down all the objections your mind is giving you. Get them out of your mind and onto paper. Then write a counter-argument for each objection. For example, if you mind is telling you, “I can’t do this because I don’t have time,” write that down. Then counter that by also writing, “I don’t have muchtime, but I can find a little bit each day to work on my business.” 

2. Evaluate your idea. You want to find out if your idea for a business will work before you invest time, energy and money into it. This means doing some research.  Conduct surveys with your social media followers. Type a relevant hashtag into Instagram and see how many times it’s being used. Join Facebook groups in your niche and see what problems people are talking about. Will your product or service solve that problem? Check out Udemy.com and see if people are teaching courses about the problem you hope to solve, and how popular those courses are. Visit farmer’s markets or swap meets and give out samples of your product. All of these things will help you know if the market actually wants and needs what you plan to sell.  

Need a little help with your market research? Click here to get a sample survey I made for you on surveymonkey.com using their Product Testing Template. SurveyMonkey.com let’s you make surveys of up to 10 questions for free, and will even post it to your Facebook account for you! 

3. Niche down. Usually people either have a bunch of good ideas and they want to do them all, or they have sort of a vague idea for a business and need to get more specific. Either way, here’s what I want you to do: doodle every word or idea associated with your main business idea on a blank sheet of paper. Then group those into themes. For example, let’s say you’re a teacher. You plan to sell lesson plans of some kind. But if you just put yourself out there selling “online lesson plans for teachers” your business will die a quick death! You will be totally drowned out in the noise of the internet because there is nothing that sets you apart. And it’s pretty unclear who you’re serving. So you do this brainstorming activity, and you write down all the grades you’ve ever taught, and all the subjects. You jot down your favorite themes that you use each school year, words that remind you of some of the unique ways that you teach, things that other teachers ask you for help with, or that students really respond to. As you’re writing all this down, you see a theme emerge around reading. You’ve had a lot of experience teaching kids to read. And you start to think about the unique way that you have handled reluctant readers to motivate them to get more reading done and to enjoy it and get better at it. So you decide that lesson plans to motivate reluctant readers will be your business. Then, because you’re smart, you narrow it down even further and focus on reluctant male readers in 2nd– 4th grade. Now you have a niche!

4. Once you have your niche, you can identify your core customer and how you will serve her. Sticking with our example, there is more than one group of people looking to motivate reluctant male readers in 2nd– 4th grade to read. After some thought, you decide that you’re going to market these lesson plans to homeschooling parents. Not that others aren’t welcome to buy and use your stuff, but you’re going to focus on marketing to homeschooling parents. It’s this focus that allows you to move past the overwhelm you’re feeling and take action. It’s overwhelming to feel like you’re trying to serve a huge audience. It’s like being a waitress with way too many tables. You’re trying to please everyone and so you end up pleasing no one.

5. Once you have the basics of who you will be serving and how figured out, get your product or service ready to go. Find your suppliers, make your goods, create your courses, get your horse-boarding stalls cleaned out!

6. Finally, figure out where your core customer is hanging out and how you can get your message in front of her so she can buy from you. There’s no one size fits all answer here. The best way for you to connect with your customers might be a website, an Etsy store, through social media, with a booth at a farmer’s market or flea market, on craigslist or a neighborhood Facebook page, or somewhere else. Take some time to figure out where your core customer is hanging out. Are there conferences or pop-up shops where you could get a booth or teach a class? Are there influential bloggers in your niche who would give your product a review or even sell it as an affiliate? Be creative!

Once you’ve followed these six steps, you will have a functioning business!! Yes, it takes work and time, but if you follow this basic formula you can start a business, and I’m rooting for you all the way!

Love ya,

Lecia

Where Did My Dreams Go?

Where did “I” go?…I started my life like most girls, with big dreams filled with what I wanted to accomplish.  Of course, my dreams included children – 2 or 3 – a career, a nice house, a husband… but it also included having fun.

I wanted a balanced life, where everything would fall into place and all the different areas of my life would complete each other. But, as I went along, I realized that “I” disappeared; me as an individual person just disappeared. “I” have been replaced by either the career woman or the mother. When I get introduced to new people, the main part of me that comes out is either being someone’s mother, where we talk about kids and everything about raising kids or my work and my career. Somewhere along the way “I” got lost.

Where did “I” disappear? Was it when I could focus on only one thing: providing for my children? Making sure they had everything they needed both on a financial and emotional level. Was it when I had to work 2 jobs to put food on the table? Or was it when I became more stable and focused on a career? Somewhere in all that,  “I” completely vanished.

No longer do ”I” think of anything not involving the kids. Even if I get a sitter, I find myself wondering if the kids are sad that I left them to go do something that does not involve them. “I” now has a companion called “guilt”. Is it a woman thing to always be thinking about our kids?

Being a mother always involves making sacrifices, but being both mom and dad is insanely demanding. I am so used to spending all my time outside of work with my kids that if for some miraculous reason I find myself alone in the house, I honestly don’t know what to do with myself. How did that happen? Why does the idea of spending an afternoon alone send me into a semi panic mode? Unable to even figure out what to eat!

Today, I am over forty, my oldest daughter is getting ready to go to college and I am here thinking how did I get here and what have I done with my life? I am proud that I managed all by myself to raise my daughter and to see her go onto her journey to becoming a successful independent woman, I am also terrified that she will see me  as someone who failed to have a life outside of being a mother.

As I ask myself: Where did my life go?  I also wonder about what I could have done differently/if I could have done things differently that would have provided some kind of balance in my life. And as I embark in the journey of raising my second daughter (that’s for another subject: having a baby at 40) I will need to take a deeper look at things.

Does being a single mother mean putting everything on hold? Always? Is the constant fear of not being able to take care of my kids causing me to let life pass me by?

Why do all my thoughts involve being a mother? How to become a free independent fun woman? My kids are my universe, that will never change, but I would like my mind to take a break from time to time and let “I” make a short apparition until we get reacquainted.

~Rosemonde