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Choose Positive

October 21, 2014

Sometimes life is unfair. Sometimes temporary low times seem like permanent and sometimes it’s good to sit with a dog and just enjoy *this moment*. Dogs get it. They don’t think about what if the check doesn’t come or what if this situation doesn’t work out or what if next month isn’t better.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust be. What if we choose positive. That’s not rose colored glasses that say “lalalala I’m not listening to that lalalala”. It’s saying ok sometimes life sucks…but sometimes it’s pretty awesome too.

It seems like the internet brings out the biggest freak show sometimes like there’s a race to crazy. But it also makes possible good things. There’s a lot of fake but there’s a lot of cool too.

Last night I looked on Facebook and found a few people I haven’t seen in years. Good times, good memories but sometimes life changes, paths don’t cross and it takes a shot of luck to reconnect. Doing so is good!

Then I get on this morning and see…a friend who has people putting sexual content on his page, despite being asked repeatedly to not do such things as his wife and family is on his page. Respect. There’s the Craigslist car seller who was found after someone decided they wanted the car and the money. Respect. There’s the situations that are just outright wrong, unfair and we can’t do anything about it…except choose positive.

There’s enough negativity in the world. Helping friends through low times goes on whether in person or online, and we all need someone to listen sometimes! Wasn’t that long ago in a time of not thinking straight some kind words made all the difference. What if he’d been too busy to say he’d pray for me? What if he’d said “don’t bug me now! Get over it!”. Meh. Could have been having a bad day too…but that didn’t happen, cost him nothing but helped.

We too often think it must be expensive grand gestures and it’s not. More often it’s a few words of support, listening, just being nice. There are some that *have* cut contact…some I didn’t think would. Life goes on y’know.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf someone isn’t going to keep their word, isn’t interested in sharing life on any level, is it a friend? We pass many people each days without being connected and might open a door or say something in passing and that, too, costs nothing.

Make a difference for someone. It might be your turn to give today and receive tomorrow. That’s what friends do.

Take the high road, focus on the positive, help people up and empower them in low times. The bickering, fights, negativity and drama that is too often connected just doesn’t need to happen. Boundaries, respect and expectations – if those aren’t there, it says much.

Life is too short folks. Maybe it’s just the realization that there’s more days behind me than ahead but make ‘em count. Help someone in your circle, or the ripples of your circle. That’s what it’s about.

Life After Toxic People

October 20, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt seems today’s world is surrounded with drama, and if it’s not there’s someone wanting to add some. Recently I posted about the serious issue of domestic violence, and the month is declared Domestic Violence month to bring awareness to the issue. Is it by accident that it’s also Family Health month and Mental Illness Awareness month? How often do those get linked together?

Why is it that if you degrade, criticize and belittle a child, a woman, or the elderly and there is specific laws against it but a man…well control away? As mentioned in the previous post, it’s often the man who is the target, and it seems an unwillingness exists to look at the situation rather than the age or gender of the people involved.

If I were to be verbally abusing Diva – who does not understand context as a human – there would likely be multiple people come forth to head the situation off, some to remove her from the situation. Yet a man is supposed to just take it, because – well men are men. What?!

If it’s illegal to belittle and degrade someone why does it matter if they’re between 18 and 70? Why is it allowed to continue until he retaliates, then he’s wrong for doing so?

I think of someone I knew many years ago – nice guy, imperfect, but aren’t we all? A friend…the kind of friend to sit and talk with and not have to explain. Sometimes cool sometimes kind of unnerving. This was not someone I was involved with beyond a friend, but it was a front row seat to emotional abuse that was undeserved, unprovoked and inexcusable.

A girlfriend with typical indecision of youth explored life away from him with a trip to California. Personal issues kept him busy at the time, and in the midst of it I gave him a key so he’d at least have somewhere to go if things got rocky where he was. There was no more to it but that didn’t stop a 2 a.m. phone call tirade after a few too many and “friends” filling her head with more insecurity. When he walked into the room with her and realized who was on the phone it was stopped, or redirected.

Not all that seems to be IS. Everyone needs friends, social time, space to do what they want to do that maybe their partner doesn’t. We all had a life before getting married and nowhere in the vows does it say there’s a promise to give up feelings, friends and loved ones as part of the package.

At that time, dealing with issues myself there was little tolerance for accepting seeing someone else controlled and belittled. As long as he did what she wanted things were great, and he learned. It wasn’t enough to include her in activities, but to include only her in his activities. Loving? Give up your life except for me isn’t loving – it’s toxic. It hurts, and it hurts to watch.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASeveral years ago when we got Bella, as a young pup of 4 months she was a submissive sort. Missy bullied her badly, and although we corrected Missy, it got worse. At six or seven months old Missy would growl and Bella would lay on the ground in order to appease her tormentor. Missy is twenty pounds soaking wet – no match for a young German Shepherd. In her mind, she had to prove she wasn’t a threat. All she had to do was stand up. One day she did…and Missy needed help then as self defense from a dog three times her size who was fed up being bullied there was no more negotiating.

Sometimes we need to reach that point to just stand up. Toxic people don’t have our interests at heart, and it can be a long path back to healthy. It doesn’t always wrap up nicely in “5 easy tips to…” articles on newsstands. It can be a lot of tears, relying on supportive friends and finding those things that make you happy. Be patient with yourself – a hard one for some.

Regular readers might think they don’t know anyone these things apply to, but statistically it’s in rural areas as well as urban ones. There’s life after toxic people.

Chances are you know someone who has found it. Stand up for a healthy, happy you. You deserve it.

 

Mark Wills Second Time Around Benefits USACares – Country Music Archives

October 17, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFrom the Archives during Country Music month!

 

Mark Wills has been at the top of the charts and in the awards shows. He’s been a long time supporter of our troops, with several trips to entertain the troops around the world including to Iraq. USA Cares is a non-profit organization that helps our military families and is operated with donations from Americans as well as corporate and foundation supporters. USA Cares has assisted thousands of veterans with more than $5.5 million in assistance.

With the release of “2nd Time Around” it’s a musical trip through some fan favorites as well as a chance to help soldiers through the combat injured program, housing and critical needs too often overlooked. Because not all injuries are visible, and because music is such a healing thing this is a win-win chance to help someone and get some great music.

This isn’t just re-recording songs that are in a different order onto a new cd – this is a totally redone project. As his single “Entertaining Angels” offers new material from the “Familiar Stranger” cd, The old favorites are done with a present day presentation.

Kicking off the CD is “Jacob’s Ladder” followed by “Back At One” and “I Do (Cherish You)” – all hits that have reached many who listen to country music. “Loving Every Minute” and “Back On Earth” both offer new perspectives as well as “High, Low and In Between” with the same integrity of the music but a slightly different presentation. Is it possible for the songs to sound even better than before? The answer is an unreserved yes, but the selection and presentation gets even better from here if you consider the personal nature of the music as well as that it does benefit our soldiers who have given so much that, in some ways, they’ll never get back.

With the beginning of “Wish You Were Here” it’s simple in presentation yet powerful without altering the song. How many get that card or letter after a loss and the memories don’t just go away. “In My Arms” is a personal song for Mark Wills about his daughter as a baby…an image repeated and a lyric felt by so many military families away from their loved ones. The perspective takes the song to new levels. “Places I’ve Never Been” continues that thought – even when not face to face the images of common places are what pulls many military families through the long deployments.

“19 Something”, “Time Machine” and “When You Think of Me” get a slightly new sound without losing a thing to time. Perhaps the most reflective and powerful is a ringside listen to “Don’t Laugh At Me” which is an anthem for many in tough times. It’s at the end to hear it was recorded in Balad Iraq and the crowd cheering are our soldiers serving there.

All in all if it was just for the music or just for the benefit of the troops I’d say this was a can’t miss cd – but having both together just makes it better. Do yourself and a soldier a favor – get this cd. If you can check the insert in it for another way to give to help those who have done so much for us. It’s the least we can do. As the 4th of July approaches it’s a perfect time to give a gift to those who insure our freedom and protection around the world and great music from a talented artist removes the risk. You can even get some extra treats at the website.

When a Home Isn’t Safe

October 17, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s a disease of hate that comes wrapped in an appearance of love. It’s around us, it infects our communities, it damages those who often have no history of discord. It’s a horrid nightmare when you’re in it, it’s a hopeless feeling to see someone in it and not be able to help.  Domestic violence has made appearances in the news the last few months, as well as conversations on social media and ‘in real life.’

Real life. Real life is when the child knocks desperately on the door of a neighbor saying her dad is hitting her mom and they need help. Real life is when a child dials 911 for help, an argument in the background is heard and the line goes dead. It’s a horrifying feeling to imagine what is happening, to fill in blanks that may or may not be accurate.

October is Domestic Violence month and it’s something we don’t like to talk about. It’s foolish to think it doesn’t happen in rural areas – I know it does. It destroys lives. It ends lives. It forever scars in ways that the person isn’t quite the same. Ever.

A rural town had a domestic violence issue – the victim had a skull fracture but was too embarrassed to admit how it happened. Accidents happen you know. Falls. Being hit with inanimate objects that you can’t talk about. Shame.

It’s easy to feel sorry for someone with physical injuries. Horrific injuries too often make the news – and if this entry gets just one person to get help before then, it’s worth the time to write.

It’s often thought it’s just men beating women, but that’s not the case. The above rural town victim was a man, battered by the women who promised to love him. It never made the papers because it wasn’t reported. Shame. He shouldn’t have let it happen. He couldn’t have stopped it. The tirade against him in his home, behind closed doors, he couldn’t report and couldn’t defend himself, lest he be accused. Who believes the man is the target not the aggressor? It’s not a joke, save the snickers and snide comments.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt is easy to believe women are victims of domestic violence. It’s easy to see bruises, but not all domestic violence leaves bruises. Some leaves scars – deep scars. Mistrust. Doubt. Women can be abusers too. While 1 out of 4 women will be in a domestic violence situation in their lifetime, 40% of severe physical violence victims are men. Inexcusable.

How does someone handle hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of animals daily, repairing fragile legs, dealing with fractious horses and yet when asked what she wants to do or what she wants to eat says “I don’t know” because making a decision is too much of an argument? How does controlling, isolation, insulting eat at self esteem? How does that progress to self hatred and suicide looks like an option? How do children learn hitting is acceptable and bullying is the way to survive? If you think survival of the fittest is for animals remember humans are animals.

Domestic violence can leave fear that manifests in nightmares. Screaming in sleep memories. Tears for ‘no reason’. Hidden bruises. It’s past time to stop blaming the victim. She, or he, did nothing wrong except trusting someone that betrays that trust. Some stay because there’s nowhere to go, or they think others won’t understand or maybe this time will be different.

Make a plan…remove yourself from the situation. Don’t go back. The cycle is hard to break – the controlling becomes threats. The threats become action. Sometimes jealousy takes an edge. Then there’s the makeups…it won’t happen again, apologies. Until it happens again.

Then there’s the trip down the stairs that most know was a push. There’s the bruises in places that don’t come from a fall. There’s unspeakable things done by those we love, who promised to love us.

It’s hard to admit perceived failure at not being able to make a marriage work. Get help, work through it. There is life beyond domestic violence. There are people who love you. There are people who care without manipulation, lies, fists or threats.

These snippets of stories are all true. Some were urban location, many were rural. All were wrong. The only thing, perhaps, worse than going through it is watching someone you care about go through it and not be able to help in a meaningful way.

If you’re in a bad situation that’s spiraling, get help. There are resources, people that you can call. Don’t be a statistic – be a survivor.

 

10 Time Saving HouseCleaning Tips

October 16, 2014

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There are few people that I know who list house cleaning as their favorite jobs. While most like the results of a clean home the actual cleaning is not a joy for many but a necessity.

For this reason saving time is important as well as saving money. One of the biggest time savers then comes in regular cleaning. If it’s added up do 15 minutes or a half hour per day. No one looks forward to an all day cleaning job but sometimes the jobs we dread the most are only 5-10 minutes when we actually *do* them! Get in a routine to do one thing. Flylady stresses cleaning the sink – for others it may be cleaning the stove that happens at the end of the day no matter what. This leaves it clean and ready for breakfast.

Shake out rugs outside at least once per week. This takes but a minute or so, but removes dirt and dust from the home. Sweep under the rug and put it back down. Some do a load of rugs per week in the laundry while others may do this once per month or less often.

Consider a no-shoes policy. Have a chair by the door and shoes or boots are removed when coming in the home. Some may have slippers or ‘indoor only’ shoes. This is a habit that takes time to do.

Look up! Once per week dust door trims, ceiling fan blades and cabinets with a damp rag. This need not be a detailed cleaning and takes but minutes to do. Wipe smudges from doors around the handles, wipe down appliances and look in corners for spider webs. Make note of spider webs returning as they often find themselves where a draft is present.

Get children to help in housework! There is no reason children cannot do small chores in addition to maintaining their room. Sweeping the floor daily or wiping the table off after meals can be done even at a fairly young age. Have preschoolers help sort laundry – “same” and “different” can be taught as well here as on television! A six or seven year old knows enough to pick up bottles or cans to put in the trash or recycling bin.

Don’t expect perfection. Although there may be family members that disagree, a home need not be spotless to be a home. Using all products anti-bacterial and shooting for a sterile home doesn’t work and actually prevents building immunity that can result in fewer illnesses.

Toss out “too many” – too many plastic storage containers, pans or other items that make it impossible to find what you need. Donate it to a family who needs it or have a yard sale. Keep “stuff” from accumulating around the doorway or where it’s dropped.

Consider having a few bins that are color coded for storing decorations or use a marker to label them. This allows one or two bins to be pulled down for Easter decorations or Halloween or by the season. Consolidating your decorations makes it easier to put up and take down as well as keeps them in one closet or part of the garage.

These bins can be used for seasonal clothing too. Keep what you use – discard what you don’t to someone who can use it. Wash it, put it up and it keeps what you need now easier to find and maintain. The same principle can work for bedding and curtains. This can make a fresh look a few times per year as well as washing and changing winter blankets for spring or summer months to a lighter amount needed. This, in turn, saves on heating and cooling costs as you have to change the room temperature less.

If you have carpeting forgo the expensive carpet cleaners. Sprinkle with baking soda to freshen carpets – baking soda is a major ingredient in “carpet fresheners” but at a much higher price than baking soda in boxes!

These things – again – need not be time consuming if done quickly and regularly. Find a routine that works and love your home more than ever!

Financial Priorities: You Paid How Much?

October 15, 2014

No matter what we do there will be someone we pass that doesn’t get our level of passion about some things. For some folks, what they spend their money on is ok but someone else spends money on their choices it’s not. A light hearted look today at differences as we struggle to get projects done and post about offers we have to try to finance those things – perspective!

MichaelKorsMicroStudSatchel498BelkI admit I get a shock to go to the mall, so I get that others probably don’t get the perspective. Even browsing online is amazing, sometimes even more so. I look at handbags – $498 handbags! – and think it’s a joke. Surely it’s a joke, right? No? Do you realize $500 could provide not one but four raised beds with greenhouse covers on them that feeds people? That’s one project I’m working on for the fall, and it’s looking grim. 200 ebooks seems impossible even at $3 – but those $498 handbags aren’t edible.

Alternately, $500 here could provide four uncovered raised beds and four with shelters that allow chicks to run in the 5×10 bed yet remain covered. That’s 400 square feet of vegetables that folks can eat. Alternately it could provide 150 pullet chicks and the feed to get them well towards egg laying age. Hungry yet?!

Another $500 project – two large hutches, one to house growing rabbits and the other for larger pens for the bigger does and bucks. Any of these are needed much sooner than a handbag.

MichaelKorsWallet168Another addition is the matching wallet – $168. I thought it was a misprint – surely a typo. Nope – not so. I’d sooner have a small flock of rare breed ducks and turkeys, or a season’s worth of organic and heirloom seeds! A batch of nut and fruit trees and berry bushes.

Beyond that it would provide winter clothing for the upcoming season, maybe a few Christmas gifts that otherwise isn’t going to happen. $168 is a month’s worth of groceries or fuel – so justifying a $168 wallet I just can’t do. I have a hard time wrapping my mind around roughly $670 in these two items but I freely admit fashion in such things is not a big thing on my list.

Some probably are muttering that it needs to be…but why? I get more use out of any of these other things than a wallet and a bag.

Then there’s shoes. $200 sandals and more for other name brand shoes. To me it’s obscene. That’s a year’s worth of hay, or one more payment on ‘the office’ or 20 turkeys or 100 meat birds to help others out with. We can’t eat shoes. Admittedly I see boots I’d like to have. Been eying a $90 pair for about three years now…but funds are needed elsewhere.

800pxFruits_veggiesI looked at nail salon prices online – $35-50 from what I could see. I guess for those who have the painted long nail can’t do anything look it is pretty – but wouldn’t last here. At a quarter of the length mine catch on things – short and trim at the base, no frills thanks.

I am more drawn to HolyClothing than the mall, and will pass the $359 dog pillow fashion statement for a few rolls of fencing and posts to keep other people’s dogs out of the garden area as well as other people. I’d love to have $300-400 to put up plants still on the list. While I don’t begrudge perceived fashion spending it’d be nice to have a few crumbs to get necessities!

Rather than hundreds of dollars for a wearable fragrance, I’d rather a living fragrance that perfumes the entire garden and home with lilacs, jasmine and honeysuckle. Fashion genes skipped here, I’m afraid. I like dressing up, but the critters aren’t impressed and heels would get stuck in the manure. Practical does matter.

For less than a designer wallet I can build a hoop greenhouse to get an early start on spring seeds. It allows for feeding others, but is a stress trying to cover even these small projects – and there’s many of them!

That’s a lot of priorities before fashion statements.

If It Sounds Good Is It Good?

October 14, 2014

SugarsImagine a sweet, non fat additive that not only do people like but want more of. Non fat means you can add it to everything, right? So it is – it’s added in places that people wouldn’t think to look for it, but adds a sweetness, or masks the bitterness of other ingredients. And it’s non fat. All natural. Renewable. In several forms.

Want to know what this wondrous ingredient is?

Sugar. It is non fat. It’s not calorie free but doesn’t have *fat*.

Sometimes what is described to us sounds good until the full picture comes, and in that full picture is something we may or may not choose. After all, an adult diabetic, an overweight person, a child and an athlete all have different views, potentially, of sugar.

Many products on the shelves of stores generate similar differences in views, but not all with the same amount of animosity as sugar.

Sometimes being told something that isn’t quite true is irritating. Sometimes outright true is easy to see. Sometimes true is not what you were expecting. Sometimes there’s just enough truth to get you to alter your choices.

And there’s people making a lot of money convincing people to part with theirs, while those trying to be honest struggle. When we look at rewarding people we pass it’s the hard working people that help others – but without full information that isn’t always the reality. Like the non-fat sugar, it sounds good, it’s true but it’s not what we thought.

Sometimes it takes time to slow down and consider all factors. We’re bombarded by information, we have messages from our partner, family, people we pass day to day that might hold more influence than others.

Consider your sources, trust your sources. Following a charismatic, likeable person may not be a good thing, or may take you far off the path you thought you were following. Blazing your own trail may be good – blazing it for someone else might not be what you had in mind.

Like non-fat sugar. Like BS labels. Like people who aren’t what they seem to be. When it comes to your decisions about food, about the meals that you serve your family it shouldn’t be on fear, it shouldn’t be on a rotating guess where the shell is now.

It’s why I strive to be honest, and sometimes that might be perceived as being on the ‘wrong side’ or some other divisive description. Sometimes it’s just explaining that perspective isn’t just about sounding good.

After all sugar is non-fat, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t fattening. It’s good in many things. It’s not something we want to eliminate – well, most of us don’t!

The full story is important. Make sure you get it when making your food decisions.

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