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Reduce Stress with These 6 Tips for Home, Work Balance

October 23, 2014


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALife can get out of hand sometimes and it’s easy to get caught up in the vicious cycle of doing too much both at work and home. Before long both get overwhelming and neither are happy. Here are three tips each to helping keep home and work balanced.


1.Learn to designate. Are there children in the home? Unless they’re not yet crawling they can help around the home…designate! Having chores to do builds responsibility. Be sure to make it age appropriate. Even a 5 or 6 year old can help match socks (“what ones look alike/different?”) and there’s no reason a 10 year old can’t wash dishes by hand or unload the dishwasher. Many of us did – and lived! If the only other one in the home has a tail – minimize the chores!

2.Organize. What can you do to make things ‘flow’ better? Be it laundry, cleaning or whatever make it your goal to make it better. Consider it a management issue! Give it just 15 minutes per day working on it.

3.Have an “off duty” area or room. This might be a bath escape or a place to read or a room to do a craft. This is the “do not disturb unless there’s flames” area. Go there at least a half hour per day.

4. Take a walk – it doesn’t have to be an ordeal. Park at the end of the row and walk further to get in the store. Take a walk around the building or take a five minute time out to just *be* during a busy day.


5. Take five to ten minutes at the end of the day to prioritize for the next day. What has to be done when, and what non emergency but needs done things fill in the day? Try to leave your area, day, schedule ready to pick up in the morning and go.

6. Clearly communicate. Communicate what you need, what you need someone else to do, limit what you fit in the day. Overwhelm and unfinished tasks add to stress, not eliminate it! If you need more communication tips there are many resources online as well as entire books on the topic.

Keeping a balance is important. Not only does your mental health depend on it but physical health does too. Reducing stress makes a better and healthier YOU.


12 Country Wedding Songs That Weren’t Singles

October 22, 2014

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s country music month and we’re not letting it go by without sharing some favorite music! I don’t get to concerts like I used to as the farm is taking time and money.

You look through stacks of songs that have been singles and you know they’ve been played at many weddings or receptions…and they’re good songs that fit the occasion. Or perhaps a new song such as Darryl Worley’s “Tequila On Ice” or Montgomery Gentry’s “Roll With Me” catches your ear but it’s surely going to catch on and be played often and you would like something few others have played. While it’s hard to have a full library of songs that fit the occasion there is a way to narrow the field and these are a few songs that can add to a ceremony or reception – and that many probably have not heard.

1. “One Thing” – Jeff Bates off his current self titled cd is a devotion that sets the tone for such occasions. “I’m only here for one love you and keep you from ever getting lonely…” is a message that makes it worth finding this cd.

2. “What She Sees In Me” – also from Mark Wills’ “And The Crowd Goes Wild” cd is a balance ideal for the reception for the groom to dance with his mom as well as speaking to seeing the good even in less than ideal situations. This is sometimes a difficult thing to find – the bride and dad creates a tradition but this makes for a nice touch also!

3. “Is It Just Us” – Darryl Worley recorded this on his “Hard Rain Don’t Last” and not only the line of “…is the whole world in love or is it just us?” makes this suitable as a choice song. This is a song that reflects on “seeing things I never noticed until my eyes met yours.” Well worth consideration!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA4. “She’s A Woman” – Mark Wills from “And the Crowd Goes Wild” cd is ideally suited for being pressed to use in honoring brides everywhere. With highlighting the everyday moments and the sacrifice of a relationship there’s little more solemn than a tribute such as this.

5. “Hucklelberry” – Toby Keith from the “Unleashed” cd tells of a young love that grew with a little different kind of story.

6. “I Would For You” from Chris LeDoux’s “After The Storm” cd speaks to someone who – at last – is settling down. “…I swore up and down that I would never say, ‘I do.’ But I would for you…” Although better known for songs like “Bareback Jack” and “Whatcha Gonna Do With A Cowboy” this was a different side of a man lost far too soon.

7. “If I Didn’t Have You In My World” – Vince Gill recorded this on his “Pocket Full of Gold” cd pays tribute with a lyric well suited for the occasion.

8. “That Was a River” becomes a metephor in Collin Ray’s “In This Life” cd cut. “That was a river, this is the ocean; that never carried this much emotion…”

9. “A Friend To Me” highlights the basis of a relationship – a solid friendship. From Garth Brooks’ “Sevens” cd, there isn’t many Garth released that wasn’t a hit but this one speaks to the core truth many of Garth’s bigger hits are known for.

10. Toby Keith’s “Unleashed” cd holds another possibility in “Rock You Baby” – an ode to a casual meeting that turns into the real thing.

11. Montgomery Gentry – “If You Wanna Keep An Angel” from the “Some People Change” cd offers lines like “‘I’m no angel, justs lucky that I found one…” and “…if you wanna keep an angel you gotta learn to fly right.” While better known for the uptempo songs, This can fit some situations.

12. Looking for a meaning with a more uptempo sound? “This Can’t Be Love” might be a way to capture the exceeding of expectations. From Mark Wills’ “Permanently” cd.

While usually it’s the singles that get noticed it pays to listen to the entire cd – the song that captures the moment may be there!

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


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!


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