Lasting Through Lunch

What’s In My…Lunchbox for the “Resident Four Year Old”

Now that school is starting back for the year and the reality of actually having to wake up at a certain time and get dressed, get my “resident four year old” dressed, make sack lunches every single day, and so forth is starting its cycle all over again…I thought that I would do a series of posts on “What’s In My”…

This series of posts will highlight the things that are in certain places that I have tried or am trying to organize at this stage of my quest for minimalism and organization.

My last post covered what is in the backpack of our “resident four year old”…So I thought that a good post to follow that would be a “What In My…Lunchbodx of Our Resident Four Year Old,”…or at least should be…

 

My goal this year is to pack lunches that are…

  • Inexpensive
  • Neat and appetizing
  • Quick and easy to prepare
  • Reasonably healthy and nutritionally balanced
  • Tasty

 

So let’s start with the actual lunchbox itself.

Your lunchbox should match not only your needs, but also your personality.

Things to consider when choosing a new lunch box include it being easy to clean, material, microwavablity, number of containers, price, and size.

A few great options for lunchboxes would include…..

1.  Bentgo All-in-One Stackable Lunch/Bento Box, Green

  • Contribution…5% of the sales price of this lunchbox will be donated to Feed the Children
  • Easy to clean…dishwasher safe
  • Material…BPA-free plastic
  • Microwavable…yes
  • Number of compartments…two
  • Price…$14.99
  • Size…
  • Top Container…6.8″ x 4.3″ x 1.7″ (2 sections with divider, each section 3.4″ x 4.3″ x 1.7″)
  • Bottom Container…7″ x 4.5″ x 2.5
  • Review…The Kitchn

2.  EasyLunchboxes 3-Compartment Bento Lunch Box Containers

  • Easy to clean…safe for dishwasher
  • Material…FDA-approved, high-quality polypropylene #5 plastic; No BPA, PVC, or phthalates
  • Microwavable…safe for microwave
  • Number of compartments…three
  • Price… $13.95
  • Size…9.4″ x 6.1″ x 2″
  • Review…A Merry Life

3.  Happy Lunchboxes 4-compartment Bento Lunch Box Containers

  • Easy to clean…safe for dishwasher
  • Material…FDA-approved, BPA-free high-quality polypropylene
  • Microwavable…safe for microwave
  • Number of compartments…one large and three small sections
  • Price… $13.95
  • Size…8.5″ x 2″ x 8.5″
  • Review…Wendolonia

4.  YUMBOX TAPAS Larger Size (Antibes Blue) 4 compartment Leakproof Bento lunch box for Pre-teens, Teens & Adults

  • Easy to clean…safe for dishwasher, top rack only…hand washing the outer shell and/or removing it before the heat dry cycle is highly recommend to preserve the seal.
  • Material…All food-safe materials, BPA-free and phthalates-free. Sturdy ABS (outer box), Tritan(tray) and Silicone (seal).
  • Microwavable…safe for microwave
  • Number of compartments…four
  • Price…$28.00
  • Size… 9.5 x 6.9 x 1.8
  • Review…Kidgredients

 

 

Now for the best way to keep the daily nuisance of making lunches less of dreadful —plan and prepare…

Have a general idea or an actual specific meal plan as you think about your meals for the upcoming week.

Planning ahead always helps save time and money, regardless what you are doing…and packing school/work lunches is no different. Your lunch plan should be based on…

  • what ingredients you will need from grocery stores…
  • what meals you will be cooking throughout the week
  • what you already have in the refrigerator

 

You should plan your lunch around four different components…

  • 1. The Carbohydrates…Half of the lunch should consist of carbs….such as bread, brown or white rice mixed with frozen peas and a splash of soy sauce, couscous mixed with olive oil and Parmesan, pasta with pesto or peanut sauce, roasted or boiled baby potatoes tossed with olive oil and herbs, sandwiches, and wraps.
  • The Proteins…Then half as much space as the carb, should consist of a protein…such as boiled eggs, cottage cheese, edamame, tuna salad, beef, chicken, pork, tofu, and beans.
  • The Vegetable…Then the remaining half of the lunch should consist of an equal amount of vegetables and fruits. A few good options as far as vegetables would include  cooked and cooled vegetables, or raw vegetables that won’t wilt—such as salad greens, lettuce, steamed asparagus, cherry tomatoes, and carrot sticks.
  • The Fruit...As far as fruit, fruits with bold colors that provide visual impact will probably mean that they are actually eaten. A few good options would include apples, grapes, strawberries, plum, raspberries, nectarines, oranges, lemons, bananas, and kiwi.

 

Next figure out how much time you are willing to put into prepping your foods on your lunch plan and what needs to be done based on the plan that you have come up with. Come up with a timeline that will allow you to get these things done as fast as possible.

I have found that the best thing since sliced bread…which we’ll all see more that we would all want to during the course of a school year…has been Instacart. Instacart saves me the interesting, but often frustrating, weekly trip to the grocery store with a “resident four year old”…allows me to spend the time that he is at school however I want and doing whatever I need…and keeps me from grabbing impulse items, or beer and wine)…or having to dash through the busy -as -heck grocery store after school or work because I have forgotten something that I’ll need.

Using Instacart keeps me more organized because I can have two windows open—one with the recipes on my meal plan and another with my Instacart account, and simply transfer from one list to the other.

By the way, no, that was not a paid endorsement for Instacart…just a praise for a service that has actually changed my total existence.

Another great app that I have been using for years is emeals. Emeals is a paid subscription that provides weekly meal plans along with the grocery lists. This saves me so much time trying to figure out what to cook. All of the recipes, or at least most of them, have been relatively easy to prepare and delicious. They not only offer dinner plans, but also breakfast, lunch, and special occasions. And finally, probably most important to me right now, they plan meals according to various diet requirements—vegan, paleo, and diabetic. This diabetic plan has become one of my best friends ever since my husband was diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes.

 

 

Finally, after having put this much effort into choosing your lunchbox, making your plan for what foods to put in that lunch box, buying the groceries that you need to prep these foods, and actually preparing as much as possible in advance…you obviously do not want to blow all this time and effort by packing your food so that come lunchtime, everything is one great big inedible mess.

So it’s important that you pack the foods tightly so that the food doesn’t shift around.

Your best plan of attack as far as packing your lunch neatly into a container is to think of packing your lunch as a three-step process…

  • 1.  First pack pre-shaped or bulky food.
  • 2.  Next, pack more flexible-shape food.
  • 3. Finally pack the smallest foods so that you fill in any gaps and help keep the food from shifting.

 

A few tools that might help you as you pack your lunches would include…

  • Reusable silicone cups to keep wet things away from dry things and hold loose items like blueberries in one place.
  • Reusable silicone or paper dividers to separate one food from the other, without mixing up the flavors. Lettuce leaves and other produce can also be an option.
  • Picks to help keep small foods, such as meatballs and berries, together.
  • Sauce Containers to store sauces separately so that food stays dry until lunch time.

A few great online sources for learning more about packing lunches and buying fun and interesting things that will make making your lunches less dreadful include…

  • Just Bento
  • Bento USA
  • BentoLand
  • Little Bento World
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Heading Off to Work

Be Purposeful

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As you set goals and decide to incorporate newer and better habits into your daily routine, it is important that you be purposeful. Questions to ask yourself what this new habit will give you or help you know, what this new habit might help prevent, and how this new habit will help you both short-term and long-term.

For example, my habit of writing has given me the opportunity to learn more about topics that I am interested in, given me a creative outlet in which to express myself, and become a part of my daily routine that I truly look forward to.

As another example, recently my husband was diagnosed with diabetes, so I want to begin this battle with an introduction of more “raw foods” into our diet. Incorporating raw and healthier foods into our diet will help me know what I am eating instead of eating mindlessly, prevent further health problems, and help us both maintain and improve our health, both short-term and long-term.

As you begin making this new habit a part of your daily routine, regardless of what that habit may be, there are a few things that you should consider…

First, is important to figure out where you can best complete this task. For example, if you are beginning a new exercise program, would you be better off working at home by yourself, at a gym with other motivated people, or at the park.

 

 

Next, it is important to block off specific times to focus on this new habit. For example, I typically write for an hour once I wake up, but before I get out of bed…plus a couple of hours each week at a local coffee shop where I am surrounded by other people drinking coffee and working on their computers…practically free from distractions, and very close to high-quality coffee.

Make the most of your writing time by have a basic idea of what you need to do, what your plans are, and what task needs to be completed next

Use a timer. Decide a minimum amount of time that you want to spend on your goal  each day. Setting a timer forces you to stay focused, get to the point, and keep the schedule you’ve set for yourself.

 

Name your destination. Know which direction you are headed.

Using a planner will help you stay on track of goals for the week, month, and any other long term goals…as well as what needs to be done and when.

Start your work day by making a ‘to do’ list and going through your planner to see what you have scheduled for the day.

Set up routines where you can. Routines enable you to complete certain tasks automatically and helps reduce stress.

 

4.  Track your time. Know how you have spent your time—what you’re doing, when, and for how long. This will help you evaluate and change habits, eliminate wasted time, and increase your productivity.

 

 

 

5. Work smart. Plan out your work sessions. Know what you’re going to get done, so you don’t waste part of your work time figuring out what you need to do.

 

5. Know who you can turn to for advice or facts. Know where to find whatever it is that you are looking for, how to get your creative juices and inner drive pumping, and how your brain works.

 

6. Group your daily ‘to do’ list and tasks. Not having to constantly switch from one type of task to another helps you knock out an entire category of work in no time. Focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking may seem like a good way to get more done in less time, but it actually slows you down because your attention is divided between two activities.

 

7.  Know your limits. Learn to say “no” to things you don’t have to do. Limit time spent on social media. Turn off social media notifications.

 

6. Neighbor your neighborhood…Each of us has something to offer each individual they come in contact with. Learn from those around you. Take time to actually meet and find people with the same interests, goals, and ambitions as you yourself. Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals will help you have a good support system, help you learn more—and more quickly, result in long-lasting friendships, help you feel like you belong to a group, and help others see your development from another perspective.

 

So who are the “right” people?!

Those people…

  • who are always ready to support you any time you need help
  • who are passionately doing creative works and great things that will inspire you
  • who can help us can gain new perspectives and information about experiences you never knew existed
  • who provide an overall support system.

These include…

  • The closest people in your life—your family and friends…
  • Children…Children are one of the best sources of inspiration. Spending time with children helps us realize how many of us have lost the “inner child within us” and prompt us to reconsider our values and priorities.
  • “Random” people  around us…Giving to those around us without expecting anything in return, but simply with the goal of showing compassion, even if only holding the door open for someone, helps us make a difference in their lives and restore a glimmer of hope in their eyes,
  • Colleagues…Attending conferences and workshops, joining different industry-related groups, and exchanging ideas with people on forums will help you understand the latest trends and let the innovative ideas of creative people become your inspiration. The “right” colleagues within your career field should share the same…Audience—should have large, active and engaged audiences…Influence—should be seen as influential or somewhat influential…Relevance—should be relevant to your niche.

Fox example, the neighborhood of blogging and writing might include…

1. Actual Blogs...The most obvious way to find other bloggers is through their own blogs. Leave comments. Start reading their blogs regularly. Send them an email asking them about a previous post. The main thing is “to see and be seen.

1.  2017 Blog Conferences…at least those held in Texas

2.  Blog Engage…Blog Engage is a blogging community where bloggers submit articles to be read and voted on by other members. As a blogger trying to meet other bloggers, it is important that you find the right Group for yourself. These Groups allow users to share articles with other members who specifically share a common interest in a topic.

3.  Blogger Meetups-–Meetup offers a database of local groups that meet together in “real life” to talk about a given topic or support a given cause.

3. Blog Engage ..Blog Engage is a blogging community where bloggers submit articles to be read and voted on by other members. As a blogger trying to meet other bloggers, it is important that you find the right Group for yourself. These Groups allow users to share articles with other members who specifically share a common interest in a topic.

4. Blogger Forums…A list of the ten best discussion forums for bloggers can be found on the Mint Blogger site. My ADHD self honestly had trouble focusing on any of these forums, but this is always an option for meeting other bloggers…

5. Blogger Meetups…Meetup offers a database of local groups that meet together in “real life” to talk about a given topic or support a given cause

6. Facebook Groups…Facebook Groups can be a great way to connect with various groups of people in the blogging world. Whether you are looking for design help, for connections to cross promote, or for Pinterest boards to collaborate on, Facebook groups are a great place to start looking. They are free and really easy to use and see right in your newsfeed.

  • Blog + Biz BFFs
  • Blog and Business: Moms Who do it All;
  • Bloggertunities
  • Blogger Perks
  • Bloggers United
  • Blogging Newbs
  • Christian Women Bloggers Network
  • Christian Women Blogs
  • Christian Bloggers Network
  • Grow Your Blog
  • Inspired Bloggers Network
  • Mommyhood Media Bloggers
  • SITS Girls
  • Social Media Network Group
  • The Blog Loft
  • The Blogger Life
  • WordPress Help for Beginners
  • WordPress Help & Share
  • Writers/Bloggers Network

7. Inbound.org…Inbound.org is a bookmarking website and learning tool that gives you a large community of active top industry influencers that can help you find inspiration for blogging.

8. Local Colleges and Universities...Local colleges and universities are another group of people that can be added to your team. Not only will these provide you with access to other bloggers, but obviously professionals and faculty. I am seriously considering this OMCA® Social Media Associate program from the University of Texas at Arlington, my alma mater…and thisSocial Media class from Tarrant Community College.

9. Triberr…Triberr is a social platform that helps bloggers work together to share each other’s content. The site is built around various “tribes” or communities of interest. Once you join a tribe, the idea is that you share the blog content of fellow tribemates to your social following and they do they same.

?. Writing for Sites such as Ezinearticles.com and Hubpages…These are both article networks that allow experts to share original, short, easy-to-read articles about basically any of a couple hundred topics in which that person feels they have knowledge, expertise, and wisdom. These articles can be informative, educational, and/or entertaining.

The goal for writing for any of these platforms is to write something sensible so that your readers keep on reading, to establish your own expertise and credibility, and to make the reader want to visit your website or blog for further information.

Potential problems with writing for one of these sites include the fact that these platforms appeal to only a particular segment of the market and may seem “unprofessional” to others, may defeat any claims that your site climbed to #1 on Google based on its own credit alone, can be an incredible waste of time—even though you may think that you’re making incremental progress by writing ten articles a day about your favorite long-tail keywords…only to discover thar your effort has only been wasted time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heading Off to Work, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Be Committed

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Be diligent about starting your new habit…Make a point of adding this new habit—whether it be exercising, eating better, or writing or whatever else it may be, for just one day at a time, even if only for a little bit of time.

 

Eventually you’ll find yourself not even thinking about that new, or old, habit…and actually miss doing this on the days when you don’t.

 

 

In my attempt to include writing as part of my daily routine, it was first of all…to state the obvious…important that I actually did write!!!

 

And along my journey this year to adopt writing as a part of my daily routine, I have found the following resources that have hopefully helped me improve my writing skills, think more clearly, and be more organized altogether.

Some of these websites that have helped me along my journey this last year as a writer have included…

1. 750 Words The primary goal of this website is to get writers into the daily habit of writing.every day. This site gives writers the opportunity to write Morning Pages, three pages of writing done every day about anything and everything that pops into mind. ..a concept that originated with the book The Artist’s Way, first published in…

Writing Morning Pages helps clear your mind and gets the ideas flowing for the rest of the day.

According to the website, the standard accepted number of words per page is 250 words…making three pages about 750 words.

This site tracks your word count at all times, lets you know when you’ve passed the 750 mar, awards points based on your writing, allows you to compare your points with the other 300,000-plus members, and gives you an analysis of the feelings, themes, and mindset of your words each day.


2. The Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) was founded in 1967 as a nonprofit organization created to advance the art of writing as essential to a good education, encourage and advocate for new writing programs, and provide publishing opportunities for young writers.

Their website includes an extensive database of literary programs, grants, awards, contests, publication opportunities, and conferences throughout North America.

The AWP Conference and Bookfair is the largest literary conference in North America and features over 2,000 presenters and 550 presentations, readings, lectures, panel discussions, book signings, and receptions. Each year conference attracts more than 12,000 attendee and 800 exhibitors.

The first conference was held in 1973 at the Library of Congress, with help from the National Endowment for the Arts. The next conference will be held in Washington, D.C. from February 8–11, 2017.

The Writer’s Chronicle, a magazine published six times a year, has been an important asset to writers for the last forty years. The magazine features in-depth essays on the craft of writing; a listing of grants, awards, publication opportunities available to writers; a list of upcoming conferences for writers; exclusive interviews with accomplished authors, and news on publishing trends.

Each year AWP sponsors six contests…

  1. AWP Award Series, an annual competition for the publication of excellent new book-length works.
  2. Donald Hall Prize for Poetry is an award of $5,500 and publication.
  3. The Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction
  4. The AWP Prize for Creative Nonfiction
  5. The AWP Prize for the Novels
  6.  The AWP George Garrett Award for Outstanding Community Service in Literature


3.  The Authors’ Nook is a blog written by Ben Schmitt—a blogger, copywriter, and screenwriter—that offers great writing advice with a dose of humour.


4.  Backspace is an online writers organization with over 1,800 members, including several dozen New York Times bestselling authors,cthat seeks to help writers help other writers through discussion forums, an online guest speaker program, question and answer sessions, articles from publishing experts, and actual conferences and events. Backspace was included in Writer’s Digest Magazine’s ‘101 Best Websites for Writers’ list from 2005 to 2012.


5.  The Blog Starter is a website run by Scott Chow that shares his knowledge from twenty years of experience starting blogs and websites. his ambition is to show other people exactly how to start their own successful blogs.


6.  The Crafty Writer offers a free online, self-paced creative writing course that consists of eight sessions…

  • Releasing your Creativity
  • How to write a short story
  • Writing from a point of view (POV)
  • Bringing your writing to life
  • Writing characters
  • Writing dialogue
  • Poetry: how to write poems
  • Markets, competitions and opportunities


7.  Daily Writing Tips delivers a daily article to your inbox or RSS reader…about topics including grammar, spelling, punctuation, usage, and vocabulary..


8.  Grammarly is an online grammar and spelling checker that helps users find and correct writing mistakes.

Grammarly provides expert help and instant feedback on the accuracy, impact, and credibility of text that you copy and paste into their online text editor.
After checking for more than 250 types of spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors, Grammarly flags these errors, suggests corrections, and explains the reasoning behind each correction.

The Grammarly website also offers…

  • Access to the Grammarly Facebook community and Twitter accounts
  • Grammarly Answers, an online community for writers to ask and answer questions on English writing
  • Grammarly Handbook, an online guide explaining English grammar and style
  • Grammarly Words, an online dictionary-thesaurus hybrid
  • The Grammarly Blog full of fun grammar tips and discussions


9.  inkPageant is a database and search engine for blogs and blog posts related to writing. The site strives to help writers improve their writing skills and reach their goals…by gathering the stories of the experiences of other authors and advice given on their own blogs.

10.  Positive Writer encourages writers to stay positive during those days of writer’s block, self-doubt, rejection, waiting, and disappointment.

This award-winning, highly acclaimed website was created by Bryan Hutchinson—a writer whose work has been published in newspapers, national magazines, books, and on world famous blogs.

Articles can be found on this site that to encourage, inspire, motivate, and advise writers…such as this article,  39 Great Books on Writing.

Heading Off to Work, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Be Aggressive

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First of all, you must be aggressive…and here are a few tips how to be more aggressive regardless of your pursuit…

1.“Do IT first.” Do that one thing that you find yourself dreading to do the most first. Get it over and done with. The earlier you get it done, the less the rest of your day can interfere.

2.  Learning through experience is better than learning by watching other people do whatever it is that you yourself may want to start doing…as far as a struggling writer, that meant reading other people’s blogs and following their social media. You are your own unique person, and write what make you yourself happy. Care less about what other people who are going to see you as you start this new habit are going to think, and more about your own level and feelings.

3.  You can spend way too much time analyzing everything, thinking about getting started online, reading every article and book in sight, and never getting anything done…we could do this with anything—from cooking to running to decorating our house…but with all the available resources out there, you will probably still be trying to figure out where to start twenty years down the road.

4.  Even though you don’t have the perfect plan and are not sure exactly how it’s going to work out, the best way to learn is by doing.

As far as being an “aggressive” writer, the foremost important thing is that you simply write something…

Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or writing in complete sentences…

The important thing at this point is not how you write…but simply that you actually do write something….

Here are a few ideas to get you started…

1.Say It…As a writer you should try to write an article that “involves” the reader by…entertaining and making your readers laugh…inspiring your readers… offering advice based on your own past experience and expertise…teaching your readers how to do something or make something.

A few good prompts to now start actually writing include….

  • Few people know that…
  • Few people realize that..
  • I believe that….
  • In response to…
  • In summary…
  • It has been my experience that…
  • Let me tell you a story about…
  • This is important because…

Next decide if you can add any of the following…

  • Charts…(this shows that)…
  • Definitions…(this means that)…
  • Examples…(examples of this include)…
  • Functions…(this does what)…
  • Lists…(including the following)…
  • Parts…(this consists of)…
  • Steps…(this involves)…

Title It...Choosing a title early in the writing process will help keep you focused on both your topic and your purpose. Create a title that identifies what your post is about…

Introduce It....The first paragraph should serve as a brief and simple introduction—what topic you’ll be covering, why it’s important, how the article will help to solve a problem or to answer a question.

Finish It…End with a call to action. Offer encouragement or tips on how to reach whatever goal or challenge you have set forth.

Now that you have written your “something”—whatever it may be—simply walk away…take time for what you have written to resonate in your head for a while…

Decide if what you have written is worth keeping and editing. Trash it if you need to…it’s your piece of work…

Just keep writing!!!

Heading Off to Work

So You Want To “Be” a Writer

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Over the last year I have spent the first hour of each day writing…writing this so-called blog, writing in my journal, writing in my Happy Planner, writing in my journaling Bible, or writing on any other paper that might be within hand’s reach first thing in the morning.

Writing has now become such an ingrained habit in my daily routine that if I don’t get this opportunity to write for an hour, my whole day is shot straight to hell…well, not quite that…but does get off to a bad start.

 

But what did it take for this writing habit to become as normal a part of daily existence as closing the refrigerator door after opening it?! What does it take for almost any habit to become so habitual that you rarely have to think about it anymore at all?

 

The first step to adopting a new habit is to recognize the obstacles that are standing in your way and find ways to overcome them.

 

Obstacles are one of those things that you either love or hate…

There are so many different obstacles that each of us must overcome, regardless of who we are, what we do, how we believe, or any other regardless that we could possibly think of.

 

And you either see obstacles as challenges or view them as excuses to give up and quit.

 

 

But your reaction to these obstacles is a choice.

We could all allow our whatever-they-may-be obstacles to hinder us from achieving, or even attempting, our goals…

Or we could allow these obstacles to only slow our progress and make us try harder…still continuing forward, but not giving up.

 

So in this “Now What” series of posts, I am going to talk about how I overcame one of my hardest obstacles—the ability to wake up in the morning…and developed the new habit of writing, especially after starting all of the tools in our previous “Now What” section about ways to get the best sleep ever.

 

 

Heading Off to Work

Now What?!…Figuring Out What IS Your “Now What?!”

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Life is a journey with both valleys and mountains along the way.

Sometimes the top of the mountain seems so high that you simply want to give up altogether.

Sometimes you slip and fall, and may lose your grips.

Sometimes you may not feel like you have the strength and courage to get back up, dust yourself off, and continue on the journey.

 

But life is a always a journey, and only you can determine which direction and what distance you will travel.

 

Like any other journey, the journey of life begins with a single step…

And the first single step on your personal Pilgrim’s Progress is to establish goals…

After all…Those who fail to plan, plan to fail…and no one wants to fail, right?!

 

 

So why should establishing goals be the very first step along the journey…

  • 1. Goals allow you to see those people with common interests and dreams that are also starting along the same path as you, or are a little bit further ahead. Goals assure that everyone in your caravan is pulling in the same direction.
  • 2. Goals establish identity. Established goals allow you to decide how to distinguish yourself from other wolves in the pack and impact your positionwithin the group..
  • 3. Goals make it easier to plan ahead and start working on tasks that actually support your mission.
  • 4. Goals help you understand whether you aresuccessful or not. Having measurable goals allows you to see how far you have traveled already, how much further you have until you reach your destination, and if you are still on course.
  • 5. Goals improve productivity. Youknow what needs to be accomplished both in the present and in the future to reach these goals. You can now direct your actions and efforts toward goal-related activities…instead of unrelated, unimportant, non-strategic activities.
  • 6. Goals enable you to make smarter decisions. Having well-defined goals allows you confront the decisions you encounter along the way  with greater confidence and a greater chance of success. Goals give you a framework within which to work and eliminate uncertainty and actions that won’t contribute to achieving the goals you’ve set.
  • 7. Goals provide motivation. Looking at your endeavor from a broader perspective gives you greater confidence in what lies ahead. Goals that have already been achieved give you a reason to celebrate along the way.
  • 8.  Goals provide cohesion. Each wolf traveling along the same path towards the same destination understands the meaning behind the group’s activities. Having well-defined goals enables the wolves to be consistent and encourages communication and cooperation.
  • 9.  Goals provide direction and set the course. Carefully established goals help you clearly define and understand where you are and where you want to be…and that each activity or task works toward your established goals.
  • 10.  Goals provide focus. Goals enable you to understand how smaller decisions impact larger goals. Goals focus attention on achieving desirable big-picture outcomes and channel brain power toward finding smarter solutions to the “small fire” issues when they come your way.

 

Setting goals is simply SMART…

Many business schools and professionals use the acronym SMART as a guide to set company goals…

—S…Smart
—M…Measurable
—A…Attainable
—R…Realistic
—T…Timely

 

This acronym can be used for goals that we set individually also, so let’s take a closer look.

Specific
…Goals should always be stated in a way that can easily be understood….and should always be written down so that they become something tangible to focus on, evaluate, and refine on a regular basis. As you are establishing your “chosen frozen” goals, ask yourself…

  • What needs to be accomplished?
  • Why is reaching this goal important?
  • How can I spend my time in a way that is consistent with these goals?


Measurable…Goals should be stated in a way that can be easily measured….and shared with your support group, your significant other, or even your own mother. These people can walk along beside you on the journey, provide accountability, and encourage you to keep on going when you really feel like giving up. Ask yourself…

  • Can I track and measure at least one statistic related to this goal?
  • Can I easily evaluate my overall progress by knowing these numbers?
  • Will there be enough information to know if and/or when I should set new goals?


Attainable…”We can only climb the mountains because there’s a valley that makes the mountain a mountain.”

But if the top of the mountain is light years and light years away, then are you really being realistic…

Honestly evaluate where you currently are in order to establish a solid foundation before setting long-term and short-term goals. Ask yourself…

  • Are the goals that you set achievable, yet challenging?
  • Are you starting off with smaller targets and then challenging yourself as you have had more practice and time to get comfortable with the path?
  • Are the goals merely unattainable wishes?


Realistic…Goals must also be realistic and flexible, not carved in stone. Setting goals should not only be a one-time event done only when creating your business plan or settling on your life path. Life happens.

So take some time periodically to re-evaluate your goals, to see exactly how successful you’ve been at achieving them, and to ake any minor changes needed to redirect your efforts. Ask yourself…

  • What is the probability of ever reaching this goal?
  • Do I have the resources needed to actually reach these goals?
  • Are these goals actually goals or simply wishes?


Timely – Goals should be based on a timeline…Long-term goals should be substantially greater than short-term goals and can be charted for even five, ten, or twenty years away. Short-term goals are stepping stones towards achieving these long-term goals and should be attainable in a period of weeks to a year. Ask yourself…

  • Does your goal have a fixed time-frame?
  • When will you start working toward this goal?
  • When will you hope to have reached this goal?
  • How does this deadline influence your daily activities?

 

Another smart way to set goals and figure out “Now What” is to ask yourself the same questions that many of us learned to use back in high school English class when we were writing themes and stories, questions such as…

 

WHO

  • Who benefits the most from me achieving this goal?
  • Who can help me achieve it?
  • Who else believes in me and my ability to reach this goal?
  • Who else is or should be involved?
  • Who will support me?
  • Who won’t support me?

WHAT

  • What did I learn during this last year?
  • What do I need to learn this year?
  • What do I want to accomplish?
  • What excites me about the coming year?
  • What is hindering me from achieving my goals?
  • What is my biggest passion and dream in life?
  • What is my first step?
  • What one wildly bold goal would I like to accomplish that would truly inspire me to get up each morning?
  • What scares me about the coming year?
  • What skills do I you need to acquire and master in order to reach this goal?
  • What tools and resources do I need?
  • What will be my biggest obstacle?
  • What will success look like?

WHEN

  • When can I find the time to do whatever it takes to reach this goal?
  • When will I know that I have reached this goal?
  • When would be a realistic time for me to have reached this goal?

WHERE

  • Where are some places where I can find other people with similar goals?
  • Where do I want to be this time next year?
  • Where will I acquire the necessary knowledge?
  • Where will my goal be accomplished?
  • Where will this take place?

WHY

  • Why am I going to do this in the first place?
  • Why am I willing to invest time, energy, and money in doing this?
  • Why is achieving this goal so important to me?

HOW

  • How can achieving this goal make everything else I am doing better?
  • How will I benefit from reaching this goal?
  • How will I integrate this new goal with with everything else I have going on?
  • How will I market this idea or product?
  • How will I stay focused?
  • How will this be different one year from now?
  • How will this goal be achieved?
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Essential Oil of the Month—March 2018—Bergamot

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

When I first heard of bergamot essential oil and found out that it was a citrus fruit, my initial reaction was, “Gee, I’ve never heard of that before. Let’s go to Sprouts and go buy some bergamot oranges.”

But nestled among all the other citrus fruits, there was no sign of the bergamot orange.

Perhaps because the bergamot orange itself is inedible? Kinda like the penguin who can’t fly in the bird world, right?!

Anyway, bergamot essential oil is extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, a fragrant citrus fruit that is the size of an orange and has a taste that is much sweeter than your typical lemon.

The bergamot orange is the most delicate of the citrus plants, requiring the special climate and soil found mainly in the Mediterranean. For this reason, most of the oranges used to make bergamot essential oil will have been harvested from trees located in the Ionian Sea coastal areas of the province of Reggio di Calabria in the southern part of Italy. Considering that the production of three ounces of bergamot oil requires one hundred bergamot oranges, there must be too many trees there to count(?!)…

 

If you’re like me, you’ve been enjoying the benefits and taste of bergamot for years without even realizing it. This is because an essence from the skin of the bergamot orange is extracted and used to give Earl Grey tea its distinctively citrus aroma and flavor.

And even though the bergamot orange is supposedly inedible, the bergamot orange is still used in Italian cooking to make Turkish delight and marmalade such as this recipe from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders.

 

 

 

As far as essential oils are concerned, bergamot has a very strong, very sweet citrus-based scent with a hint of florals and a strange spiciness. It is considered to be uplifting and relaxing, and blends particularly well with sandalwood, jasmine, and rosemary.

 

As far as the best uses for bergamot essential uses, here are a few of the best reasons to open the bottle…(no, not that bottle of whiskey or gin…the bottle of essential oil that you only spent how much for(?!))…

 

1. Aches and Pains...Bergamot essential oil stimulates the secretion of certain hormones which lessen the sensitivity of nerves to pain and help reduce the feeling of pain in the body. This makes bergamot essential oil an excellent choice for using topically when you are seeking quick relief from muscle cramps and headaches.

 

2.  Anxiety…Bergamot stimulates the activity of certain hormones in the body, like dopamine and serotonin, and improves blood circulation. This makes bergamot essential oil a good choice when you are looking for an essential oil that will help the most in relieving stress and anxiety, and soothing frazzled nerves…and helping to treat stress-associated ailments such as high blood pressure, insomnia, and depression.

 

3.  Cardiovascular Disease…The iconic coast of Italy in the Calabria region, where the bergamot orange is grown, is an area where people have experienced low incidents of cardiovascular diseases for generations. The soil in the region supposedly has some secret “fountain on youth” potion that results in the fruits and vegetables having been grown there, such as the bergamot orange, positively affecting your cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL, HDL and blood glucose level.

 

4.  Deodorants…The refreshing aroma and natural cleansing/disinfectant properties of bergamot oil make this an excellent choice whenever you are considering which essential oil to be used in deodorant or household cleaners and air fresheners.

 

5.  Digestive System…According to traditional Chinese medicine, bergamot essential oil is the best treatment for keeping your your digestive system work properly. So if you’re needing anything pertaining to your digestive system and pooping mechanisms—indigestion, gas, constipation—this is probably the essential oil of choice.

 

6.  Respiratory…Bergamot essential oil is one of the best essential oils for anyone suffering from respiratory problems or asthma…

Honestly, this is the one essential oil that I made a special trip to Whole Foods to buy as soon as we completed last month’s journey to Cook’s Children’s Hospital after the “resident four year old” had an asthma attack.

Much rather breathe in bergamot and cough up that phlegm and mucus, than breathe in a deep sigh of relief when you finally leave the pediatric ward and have to cough up enough to pay for an ambulance ride and two night vacation with room service.

Might be using bergamot in my diffuser for a long, long while now…

 

7.  Skincare…Bergamot is used extensively in such cosmetic and skincare products as creams, lotions, shampoos, soaps, cleansers, and perfume. In fact, about one-third of all men’s and about half of women’s perfumes contain bergamot essential oil.

One main reason that bergamot is used in these products is its ability to help more evenly distribute pigments and melanin when used to help heal marks on the skin, such as wounds and scars and acne. Using bergamot topically to treat such marks allows these marks to gradually fade away into a more even, attractive skin tone instead of leaving noticeable scars on the affected areas for many years.

Also, bergamot acts as an antiseptic agent that allows for fast healing of not only wounds as previously mentioned, but also helps heal cracked heels, ulcers, and eczema.

 

Bergamot Rollerball Stress Mess…Combine 3 drops grapefruit essential oil, 2 drops frankincense essential oil, and 2 drops bergamot essential oil in a dark rollerball bottle. Fill remainder of bottle with a light carrier oil, such as fractionated coconut oil. Apply to pulse points as needed. Store in a cool, dark place.

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Now What?!

My initial goal when starting this blog was to take you on my journey to establishing a bed and breakfast in Oxford, Mississippi…but this dream has taken a sudden backseat as we now find ourselves raising our grandson…becoming a “new mother” at the age of fifty.

So my goal now is to take each aspect of my daily life and learn how to make it better…even if I never attract a single new follower or earn a single dollar.

I welcome you to join this journey with me…

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Previously, I talked about my decision to switch to a cruelty free lifestyle, starting with taking a shower. In the near future, I plan on talking about starting a raw foods diet, eating more “superfoods,” and anything else that I might do during the course of day. Join me for the journey.

Since taking a shower is the last thing I do every night before going to bed, then the next topic that I am going to “research” is one of my favorite things to do—SLEEP…

But so many nights, like many other Americans, some nights sleep just doesn’t happen…

So I have been learning to incorporate new habits and techniques into my nightly routine that will hopefully help me sleep better each night, such as going to bed and getting up at the same time each day.

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Sleep is as important to your health as a healthy diet and regular physical activity. How well you sleep each night can impact nearly every aspect of your life.

Lack of sleep can sap not only your energy level and mood but also your health, work performance and quality of life.

 

1.  Energy Level and Mood…Lack of sleep can make you have less energy to tackle the day ahead. You will find yourself getting sleepy during the day and feeling lethargic. Lack of sleep can cause many different mood disturbances, including depression, anxiety disorders, and substance abuse.

 

2.  Health…Lack of sleep can increase both your risk and the severity of long-term diseases or conditions, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Lack of sleep can do this because it causes your immune system to function poorly.

You may also find yourself having countless headaches and can even blame this sleeplessness on how much you weigh, because people with poor sleep habits are more likely to be obese.

 

3. School/Work Performance…Lack of sleep can affect your performance on the job or at school in many ways including…

 

Lack of Decision-Making Ability...Lack of sleep can slow the ability of the nervous system to process information and translate visual cues into conscious thought. This slowed reaction times can make such activities, especially driving, dangerous for both ourselves and people around us. According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 20 percent of non-alcohol related car crash injuries are caused by driver sleepiness.

 

—Lack of Focus…Lack of sleep hinders your ability to stay focused for long periods of time and makes getting started on even the easiest work or school assignments even harder than normal.

Often your thoughts seem to rush off in a million different directions and start thinking about something completely different without even realizing when you stray from your intended train of thought. Often after not being able to sleep, you find it harder to finish whatever you may start.

 

4.  Overall Quality of Life...Lack of sleep gives you a general feeling of being unwell, both mentally and physically….and even worse can damage relationships.

Irritability…One major impact that our lack of sleep can have on relationships is the increased irritability of the person who has had trouble sleeping…lack of sleep always makes us grumpy, (lmost like being hungry, right?!)

While we are sleeping, our brains produce the chemical serotonin, a chemical that helps us to feel calm. So when we are unable to sleep adequately, this serotonin does not get produced, causing us to become more irritable, short-tempered, and impatient during the day.

 

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Most of us have times when we have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep once we do finally go to sleep, but does that mean that we actually suffer from full-blown insomnia and need to go get a sleep study done?

Actually for sleeplessness to be actually diagnosed as chronic insomnia, the disrupted sleep must occur at least three nights per week and lasts at least three months. It must also negatively impact the patient’s wellbeing, either through the causing distress or disturbing mood or performance..

About 10 percent of people suffer from such chronic insomnia.

Anyone who experiences sleeplessness for longer than four weeks or finds that your lack of sleep extremely interferes with daily activities and ability to function, should seriously consider speaking with a doctor.

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My goal in these next few posts is to give tips on creating a relaxing ritual that you do each and every night that will help you fall asleep faster and more consistently.

I will be focusing on healthy bedtime habits—such as meditation, soothing music, essential oils—that will help program your mind to get ready for bed..

I will be talking about several different options, so pick the ones that make you personally feel sleepy, comfortable, and relaxed.

I have personally found that having such a “nightly routine” of soothing transitional activity between my being awake and actually falling asleep helps your sleep quality and overall wellness….just like it probably did when my kids were little, and does for my “resident four year old.”