Look To the Western Sky

A blog about single life as a parent & the dreams of a writer by Margo L. Dill

3 Reasons Why You Should Make Sleep a Top Priority

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If you’re an ambitious, go-getting, proactive, dream-chasing kind of a person, it’s likely that you have at some point in your life — or are currently — falling into the devastatingly bad habit of sacrificing sleep in order to win some extra hours from the day. This is a common tactic of hard-nosed business tycoons and creative artists and entrepreneurs alike, but also of people who don’t really enjoy their day jobs very much at all, and who want a bit of extra time each evening to watch TV, listen to music, surf the web, relax, and just do things that aren’t in any way related to work.

But no matter how much you may need or want those extra few hours in the day, you’d be better off doing without them, or with getting them by cutting out virtually anything else other than sleep. Here are some reasons why a chronic lack of sleep will ruin your life, and why you need to make sleep a top priority.

Lack of sleep could completely change your personality

In the 1950’s, radio host Peter Tripp decided to attempt a record-breaking 201-hour-wakeathon. He was observed by medical professionals who warned him adamantly against the experiment, but he went ahead with it anyway for the benefit of a charity he had selected. What happened to Peter Tripp is a terrifying insight into the tremendous importance of sleep, and the degree to which sleep deprivation can destroy a human mind.

Tripp’s personality radically changed, and he even ended up developing split-personality disorder during the experiment. When the experiment was over and he had slept, he thought he was back to normal. The people who knew him didn’t agree and declared that his personality was forever changed for the worse.

Get enough sleep, or you can become a completely different person. 

Lack of sleep can devastate your health

Recent research has found evidence that lack of sleep can cause systematic, multi-organ damage, chronic inflammation, and can lead to any number of diseases and conditions developing in the body. This isn’t too surprising considering that prolonged sleep deprivation is fatal, and that the body appears to do much of its repair and brain-management during sleep.

If you’re cutting hours out of your nightly sleep cycle to work, you’re not just sacrificing luxury time. You’re sacrificing your health and lifespan. Needless to say, not even the best personal injury lawyer can help you when you inflict the damage on yourself with a lack of sleep.

Lack of sleep can make you worse at everything

When people are sleep-deprived, their mental performance drops dramatically; they are less perceptive and less adept at reading social cues, and worse at regulating their emotions.

It’s a darkly ironic twist, considering that many people skip sleep in order to be more productive during the day; but the evidence suggests that not getting enough sleep makes you less efficient and robs the hours you’ve freed up of their vitality.

It would seem reasonable to conclude that you’d be far better off having fewer hours in your day at work and performing at your peak during those hours, than having more hours, during which you’re an under-performing, error-prone wreck.

 

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Ideas for Generating Self-Love and Why It’s Crucial

Self-care and emotional health are two subjects that readers of this blog said they’re interested in reading more about. It’s not always easy to love ourselves, but it’s important to work on it. The need to practice self-love has never been more necessary.  Today, we live in a world, where so many people suffer from low self-esteem that we’re in the middle of an emotional epidemic. This is evident by the amount of people we hear about committing suicide or suffering from depression. 

Interestingly, a lot of people struggle with this area of their lives because they feel they should naturally have high self-esteem by default, as if having high self-esteem is a human’s default state.  When, in fact it isn’t.

Self-esteem and self-love must be generated from within.  Just like how we teach our children to love, respect, and value themselves, we need to do the same for ourselves, and it’s a never-ending process.  Perhaps your parents did a great job at helping you generate self-esteem, or perhaps they were deficient in this area themselves, and couldn’t teach you what they simply didn’t know. Now that you are an adult or a parent yourself, it’s up to you to figure this out for yourself and your kids. 

Self-love as a Practice: See, self-love is a practice, just like yoga is a practice – you don’t do it once, and then you’re suddenly flexible.  You must practice. Yet, not everyone knows how to practice self-love. It’s not as tangible as doing a few yoga poses with an instructor. 

Positive thinking: Self-love, self-worth, and a high self-esteem are feelings and beliefs we must generate for ourselves… yet, have you noticed how the majority of people don’t tend to practice self-love? Instead they practice self-loathing, where they focus much more on their mistakes and faults than their achievements and qualities. When you find your inner critic being incredibly harsh on yourself, tell him or her to go away, and think of at least one positive thing about yourself–right then and there. 

Don’t Use Retail Therapy: The antidote to many of our emotional challenges can be found in this area of self-love and positive thinking. Yet often, we reach for external solutions such as a new wardrobe, furniture, or even a fancy car.  If you need these new things, then of course, there’s nothing wrong with heading somewhere like https://auto.loan/ in order to find the best way to finance your purchase.  The bit that can make purchases unhealthy are when there’s an over reliance on material objects in order to prop up your self-esteem or you can’t afford the things you are buying.

Relationship issues: The same can be said for relationships. Indeed, when it comes to being in a relationship… it’s necessary to first love yourself before you can love another person and have a healthy relationship.  A good way to view the importance of self-love is to consider how airlines will always instruct you to put on your own oxygen mask first before helping anybody else, even your children. See, we can’t help anyone else with their oxygen mask if we are starving for air, and similarly, we can’t truly love and support someone if we are deficient in self-love and self-esteem, as then we can become desperate and starved for these emotional fuels.

The challenge, with relationships is that if we don’t have a healthy level of self-esteem and self-love in ourselves, then we end up giving love in order to receive love, almost out of desperation, and we operate from a depleted, somewhat needy state, where we are needing to be “filled up” like a car in need of gas.

Conclusion: We can expend a lot of energy looking to tackle our internal challenges with external solutions, like being in a co-dependent relationship or practicing retail therapy or overeating; yet this replacement approach is only temporary relief that can leave us feeling more hollow inside.

That said, if you were to shift your focus to pampering yourself because you deserve it, and nourishing your body, such as preparing healthy meals, along with a candlelit bath and your favorite bath bomb from https://lush.com  ,then you’re focused on tending to your emotional and physical needs. That is a tangible and healthy way to practice self-love. 

The solution, and the secret to self-love, is that you must take responsibility for generating a feeling of high self-esteem within yourself–positive thoughts, meditating, healthy eating, doing activities you enjoy and make you feel good about yourself–and fill yourself up, rather than expecting anyone or anything else to do it for you.

(contributed post)

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Getting Ready For A Camping Trip

(contributed post)

There are many great benefits to going camping for a holiday. The fresh air will be good for your health, it will be likely to be a relatively cheap getaway, and you might even find that spending time in nature helps you get back to yourself somewhat. But if you haven’t done this kind of trip for a long time, or indeed ever, you might feel a little lost as to what you should be doing to get ready. In this post, we are going to take a look at just a few of the major things you should be doing in order to make sure that you are as ready as possible for your camping holiday. Bear  these points in mind first and foremost, and you will be well on your way to a decent camping trip.

Plan The Route

It is not a good idea to head off without first knowing what route you’re going to take. Of course, if you are absolutely clear on where you will be camping, then that is fine; but if not, you might want to think about getting a map and navigating yourself properly. If you have never navigated in this way before, you should probably consider getting someone to go with you who has, or first brushing up on what you need to do before you go. The last thing you want is to get lost, so knowing what you are doing and where you are going is essential.

Be Safe

You need to ensure you are always putting your safety first as well, even though that can be easier said than done. One of the biggest ways to make sure you are being safe is by having a first aid kit with you, and in fact, that should absolutely be considered one of the most essential things to carry around with you on the journey. You can get hold of some decent medical supplies online, and create a complete first aid kit to carry with you. You should also make sure that you’re using your basic common sense skills when walking and when camping, so that you do not get severely injured.

Know The Laws

You might be surprised to discover that there are many places you can’t camp by law, so it’s a great idea to first check this out before you go. If you end up trying to camp somewhere that is not legal, you could find yourself being evicted, and that means a most unpleasant night indeed. Conversely, by ensuring that you camp somewhere sensible and legal, you won’t get into any trouble, and it will make the whole experience much more enjoyable. Also be sure to check out any local laws on where you can and can’t walk . You might be surprised.

Are you planning to go camping with your family this summer? Where do you like to go? What is a tip you can share? 

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3 Ways To Stay On Top of Your Pet’s Health, Your Faithful Companion

The photo above is of my dog when he had been sick to his stomach in the morning. I posted it on Facebook because he just looked so pitiful (well and he has a cute face), and I know so many of my friends are dog and cat lovers. He did not want to let me out of his sight yesterday and kept moving closer and closer to me, so finally, I moved his pillow by my desk, and he laid down and went to sleep. He was fine later; he had probably gotten into something in the yard. But anyone who knows me knows how important Chester is to me, so this contributed post has a lot of great points about how pets can help us and how we should take care of them. 

Anybody that’s had a dog or cat knows the emotional connection, warmth, love and support that radiates from their soul; indeed, the love of a pet is one of the most soothing and abundant sources of love available.  Indeed, their love is unconditional. They make a great companion, particularly at this time of year, and of course, dogs offer a fantastic way to keep active due to all the walks they require. Many people recognize the healing power of pets also, as they can have a positive impact on our emotional and physical health.  It’s important we similarly look after our pet’s health, too, though, for instance as a dog ages, it’s necessary to hunt out the best dog bed for arthritis and get annual check-ups, just like we would for a human family member.

In that vein, here are three ways to stay on top of your pet’s health.

  1. EXERCISE

Just like humans, it’s vitally important your pets get the exercise they need to stay healthy.  They can, however, be over-exercised, so this is something to consider particularly if your dog or cat is a little older. Make sure to talk to your vet about the proper amount of exercise for your pet. Exercise is great for your dogs’ physical and emotional health, plus it’ll boost your own mood too.

  1.  DIET & NUTRITION

Cats have specific nutritional requirements as they are “obligate carnivores,” meaning they need animal proteins to stay healthy, while dogs are “scavenging carnivores,” meaning they are primarily meat eaters but can survive on other sources of food if necessary.  That said, feeding them with dog food that is high in animal protein and low in “fillers” is the best bet.

Equally important to food, of course, is hydration… so ensuring an adequate supply of clean drinking water is essential to your pet’s health.  This is particularly relevant during the summer.

  1.  FLEA TREATMENT

It’s wise to consult your vet on which flea treatment is most effective for your pet, as it is somewhat dependent on medical history, and some flea treatments are more effective than others.  A popular option for both dogs and cats is Frontline, yet a number of vets say this isn’t always effective, and a more reliable option is called Stronghold Flea, though this does usually need to be given on prescription.

While flea treatment is highly effective in killing the fleas and eggs on your pet, the challenge is that if your pet is then in an environment where the fleas are still at large, re-infestation will occur.  Here is a good resource on the steps to take to rid your home from fleas.

In summary, pets do have tremendous healing powers when it comes to our mental and emotional health; as their love is unconditional.  It’s pretty simple to keep on top of your pet’s health but vitally important… particularly in terms of regular check-ups with the vet and keeping up with prophylactic injections and parasite treatments.

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Let’s Be Realistic About Screen Time: We Are The Parents

Recently, one of my friends posted on Facebook that her kids think she is the absolute worst when she makes them turn off the screens this summer. She posted her frustration that it’s a constant battle and that she is tired of being the bad guy when she wants them to “play.” She received a myriad of responses, as posts like this often do, and most were in agreement with her and said they faced the same attitude at their house. She got a few funny ones–hide the chargers, throw them outside with a ball and don’t let them come back in until they kick it. And then there were a couple that I felt were a bit harsh and asked her to look at her own screen time.

Okay, okay, I just posted a contributed post about being a good role model on the roads, and I don’t disagree that parents are role models, but come on…we are the parents. If we want to binge watch Netflix shows, we can. And in the same breath, we can tell our kids to get off their screens. We. Are. The. Parents. We are in charge.

People also like to start the screen time conversation with…”Well, when we were kids, we couldn’t wait to get outside.” Everyone nods their heads and tells some unbelievable story about how they received 39 stitches on their knees and were right back on their bikes an hour later. True, but that’s because we didn’t want to watch soap operas and Dynasty with our parents.  (Love Boat was a different story.) We didn’t want to be forced to clean our room again or listen to our moms talk on the wall phone to Aunt Ida for an hour about all her ailments.  We didn’t have Netflix or 24-hour Disney shows or tablets with tons of games or the ability to chat with our friends even while our moms talked to Aunt Ida on the phone. When we say, “Well, when we were kids…”, we are comparing apples to oranges, and that never does anyone any good.

Yes, tablets and streaming shows can be addictive. Yes, too much screen time is not good–for anyone. More studies are in agreement with that statement than in supporting screen time. I also face the battle at my house with KT’s tablet. And I have friends who claim their children only watch one TV show a day and have never touched an iPad–well, bully for them. I find it terribly hard to believe, especially when it’s 100 degrees outside, and you don’t have a pool in your backyard, and your children no longer take a nap, and you have to fix something for dinner, and your kids are tired of their toys, but…maybe you really have an iron backbone. 

What I’m saying (yes, what is she saying?)–most parents today are facing this same “screen time” dilemma. SO let’s share what we realistically do with screen time. At my house, KT is usually on her tablet two hours a day on the weekends (maybe longer if I have a freelance project to do) and she probably watches an hour of TV, along with watching Master Chef or Nailed It with me. So let’s say she averages three-four hours on the weekends. When she has school, it is lower–probably one hour on the tablet and one hour of TV.  Is that too much? Probably.

Is that all the screen time I have? Not even close, especially since I am a writer. Am I going to let Katie say to me: Well, you have 8 hours of screen time and watched 5 episodes of Frasier, so turn off the screen. Umm, no. I. Am. The. Parent.

I don’t stop drinking wine in front of her, and I’m not going to. She can’t cuss. She can’t stay up past her bedtime. She can’t eat as many snacks as she wants. Can I do all those things? YES! Can I teach her moderation and responsibility? YES!

Maybe what we should be telling each other is…hey, it’s hard. Our parents thought it was hard, too. Every generation has had their own struggles, concerns, and worries. Screen time and not being able to have unsupervised outdoor play are two of ours. You can do this. Your kids may say you are terrible, but you know you’re not. You know you’re doing the right thing. Give them a hug and a kiss and tell them life isn’t fair, and you’re not their friend. You’re their parent and you love them.

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Tips for Being a Role Model for Your Kids When You’re Behind the Wheel

(contributed post)

Parents are role models in every facet of their life. Your little ones are depending on your guidance, whether it is financial or moral. It’s easy to forget that driving falls into this category, too. Getting behind the wheel is such a regular part of life that it’s sometimes weird to think your kids are watching and imitating your behavior, especially the teenager in the passenger seat who is desperate to pass her test and gain some independence.

Instructors will get them through the practical part, but it’s you who will mold them in the long-term. With that in mind, here are some tips for setting a good example while driving.

Be Safety Conscious

Everyone has been a teenager behind the wheel of a car for the first time. The temptation is to care more about the music pumping through the stereo or their cell phones than to care about being safe. However, if safety rules are not followed, everyone knows that car and motorcycle injuries can easily happen. And, when an accident happens, we often ask ourselves, “What could we have done to avoid it?”  Teenage drivers need to know safety as a practice. A lack of safety-consciousness from you could result in them being blase. Make a point of buckling up first, as well as adjusting mirrors and wearing a helmet, if on a motorcycle. Obey the speed limit, also.

Vent Afterwards

Another motorist cuts you off, and you may let out obscenities. For plenty of drivers, this is a regular day at the office. Road rage isn’t innate though because it is controllable. Therefore, it is a habit that develops over time or from watching those around us. The worst thing about losing your cool behind the wheel with your kids in the car is that they may think it’s okay. Moms and dads don’t get angry, so when they do there must be a good reason. Teens can learn this, and so it gives them an excuse to act the same whenever they experience frustration on the road. Keep cool and carry on, especially if there is someone else in the car.

Follow The Rules

Experienced motorists often improvise because they are comfortable in the driver’s seat. While this may work for you, there’s a good chance that it will get a new driver into trouble. Think of resting your arm on the window ledge while cruising down the highway. Or casually going a couple of miles over the speed limit. Who hasn’t done 55mph in a 50mph zone? To stop kids from picking up bad habits, switch your driving style. Keep hands at eleven and one or ten and two, and never speed. Be a monk on the roads.

Explain Why

Granted, there will be times when things go wrong. In these situations, you are bound to react and lose your temper. Sometimes, the occasion gets the better of the greatest role models. Don’t make excuses. Instead, calmly explain what happened and why, and why they shouldn’t make the same error. Hopefully, detailing the incident should highlight the mistake ,and make it obvious that it shouldn’t be copied. 

How do you act when your impressionable teen is in the car? Are you an angel or do you need to switch tact?

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5 Tips For Getting Healthy and Active This Summer

In the Midwest, we have been having quite a heatwave. So for some of you, you may read this title and think: What? Is she crazy? There are heat advisories every day! But some of these tips can be done easily–not or hot–and I like them because they are practical, so this is definitely one of those Practical Moms Unite posts. (contributed post)

If you would like to make sure that you are getting as healthy as you can during the summer months and are looking for inspirations on planning your active summer, read on. 

Leave the Car Behind

While it is more convenient to take the car everywhere, and you can’t do the weekly shopping without it (and carry all your bags), you might want to walk or cycle to places that are less than a mile away. Make yourself a promise to do this, provided that the weather is nice and it is safe to do so. A good way of deciding whether you should take the car or not is working out if driving saves you more than 15 minutes. If it does, you might take the car; but if it doesn’t, including circling around trying to find a parking place, you could walk or cycle.

Eat More Fresh Produce

In the summer months with the heat and sun, many of us crave fresh foods and fewer carbs than we do in the winter months. Start weaning yourself off carbs gradually. Swap your pasta for cooked vegetables, your corn flakes for a fruit salad, and visit the local farmers’ market regularly to eat fresh fruits and vegetables. To stay on top of your wellbeing, you might want to reduce your intake of processed food items and opt for organic and fresh meat and fruit instead.

Raw Food Diet and Salads

With the higher availability of fruit and vegetables in the summer, you might want to go on a raw food diet for a week to help your body get rid of the toxins and improve the condition of your skin, such as acne, while also treating some digestive issues. You can cut out white rice, chips, and pasta, and switch to vegetables and fruit to improve your mood, your diet, and your overall wellbeing.

Day Trips

You can also take a couple of day trips to change your environment, see something new, and practice mindfulness. Find inspiring places and notice new things every day. Take your mind off your daily routine every now and then. Even if you are only visiting the closest nature reserve, you will return relaxed and rejuvenated, after getting close to nature.

Camping and Hiking

If you have more than a day to spend away from work and your routine, you might want to combine camping and hiking. Find a location that you haven’t visited before to set up camp, make a walking goal, and bring the right camping equipment to cook and eat fresh during your trip. You can read more about camping hacks that will make life more comfortable when away from home while maintaining a healthy diet.  

Staying active is generally easier during the summer months, as you don’t have the excuse of the cold or snowy weather. Get on your bike, go hiking, and reduce your processed carb intake to make the most out of your health.

How will you get more healthy this summer? 

 

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3 Ideas For Improving Your Emotional Health And Feeling Positive

(contributed post)

If you’ve been feeling down in the dumps lately, there is a decent chance you will benefit from some of the following advice. Caring for your emotional health is critical and can hugely impact your physical health if you don’t. Sometimes you have to think outside of the box to turn things around, but most people can use some of the ideas below. The goal is to work out which parts of your life are causing issues and then work on positive change. With that in mind, take a couple of minutes to read these suggestions and then work out which will work best for you.

Take some time out

Sometimes, you need to remove yourself from stressful situations and take some time out. That could mean booking some time off work and arranging a vacation with the people who matter to you most. Parents might ask a family member to care for their children for a few nights, so they can remove themselves from the family home and unwind for a while. The possibilities are endless, and you are the only person who can make the right arrangements. Maybe you could visit a place, where you’ve been before that always brings happy memories?

Remove the stresses from your life

For most people, modern life’s stresses revolve around the same things. If you work a stressful job and you don’t like the work, then looking for a new job might benefit you. If you’re in an unhappy relationship or marriage, maybe contacting experts, such as a therapist or marriage counselor or like those at the Vendt Law Firm can help you figure out the next steps that are right for you. Some people benefit from selling their home and relocating to a new town or city or downsizing to a smaller home or apartment. 

Make a positive change

If none of the other suggestions on this page appeal to you; it’s possible to work out the best route forward by ensuring you do something that makes a positive change. That could mean moving to an area where house prices are low, so your wages stretch further than they do right now. Maybe you feel lonely and would like to move closer to friends and family members. You could start a business, according to writers from Entrepreneur. You might also learn to play an instrument or do anything else that you’ve been putting off: running a 5K, organizing family photos, taking a class. Take the time to work out what will make you feel better, and then put one foot in front of the other until you achieve that goal.

Now you have some ideas to improve your emotional health and feel positive this year; it is time to create your plan of action and put the right measures in place. When all’s said and done, you are the only person in the world who can identify the best moves and make things happen. 

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3 Books I Want to Tell You About Plus One More

Looking for a book to take on vacation this summer or to read on those nights when the kids are in bed and it’s still light out? How about one of these…

Breaking Up and Bouncing Back: Moving On To Create the Love Life You Deserve

What I love about this book is how comprehensive it is. It’s divided into three parts: dealing with the breakup, learning about yourself and practicing self-love (and figuring out what kind of healthy relationship you want), and getting back out into the dating world. This is not a book that you have to sit down and read through all at one time. It has exercises. It has real-world applications. It gives practical advice and things to try. I see this as a manual for your life after a breakup. And Samantha Burns has done her research. She has an extensive bibliography in the back of the book and other books you may want to check out, depending on where you are in your life. She does use some of her own experiences, but the whole book is not based on that. She has done the work to write a book like this!

I will admit that I was skeptic–how much can a book really help someone with dating? But here’s the thing–she isn’t really telling you what to do. First she is telling you about her experience (after a bad breakup) and how she found someone. Then she is explaining what YOU deserve and this is all based on your life, your choices, your goals, and your morals. She provides plenty of examples, and the message she makes loud and clear is: If you don’t feel like someone is treating you correctly, then REALLY examine why you are settling. She also asks you to look at any hand you might have had in past breakups and ask yourself why that happened. So if anything, when you finish this book, you will love and understand yourself more and know what type of partner you are looking for. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wants to really learn from past relationships and work on finding a new one that is healthy. BONUS: I was able to interview Samantha for WOW! Women On Writing, and so if you want a taste of her writing style and advice, then check that out hereLink to buy the book on Amazon.

Murder is a Dirty Business

This is a cozy mystery book with a fantastic new amateur sleuth, Cece Cavanaugh. Besides this book being extremely well-written, it is funny and unique. How can a mystery book be unique you ask? Well, Cece is no regular heroine. She is going through a divorce from a rich, country club husband, and she has to figure out how to support herself. So, she gets a job as a crime scene cleaner, and this is how she discovers a murder with the wrong person (someone she knows!) being accused, or at least she hopes the wrong person is being accused. That’s what she is trying to prove!

The author has stated that her husband is a retired police officer, and I didn’t notice anything in the book that seemed unbelievable. There’s also a bit of a love story developing–CeCe is in her late 40s with two daughters–one still at home with her–and so she is not really looking for love, but she can’t deny the attraction she feels for one certain man that pops into her life.  This is the first book in a planned series, titled, “GCrime Pays Mystery”.  If you are looking for a new series, you must check this out on Amazon.  The second book is Death, Diamonds, and Freezer Burn and is due in November! Here is an interview with the author.

Emergence (Voodoo Butterfly Series Book 2)

If you like New Orleans, voodoo stories, intrigue, strong female leads, romance, and a bit of magic, then you will like this book! So Emergence is actually book 2 in the Voodoo Butterfly series, so you may want to start with book one. Emergence just came out this summer and is available on Amazon. People who read book one (like me) have been anxiously waiting to find out what is going to happen to Sophie, Taj, and Poppy, and if Sophie is really going to embrace her powers and her role in the New Orleans voodoo scene after inheriting her grandma’s voodoo shop in book one and narrowly escaping death! Book two starts with things going well for her and the new man, Taj, in her life, except she hasn’t told him about her secret Voodoo life, and maybe he has a few secrets of his own!

In Emergence, there is a mystical monster lurking in New Orleans, sucking blood from children (not as gross as it sounds, LOL) and a fog that is hurting her best friend and co-worker at the shop, Poppy. Blackbirds are falling dead from the sky! What can Sophie do to solve all these problems while figuring out what it is that Taj is keeping from her? This is what you will find out in this well-written, page-turning sequel to book one. You can find book one at the link above and book two here.  To read an interview with the author, go here.

 

And finally, I’m currently reading The Lemonade Year!

Amazon description: 

Nina’s once-sweet life has unexpectedly turned sour. Her marriage is over, her job is in jeopardy, and her teenage daughter is slipping away from her. Then her father dies and issues with Nina’s mother come to a head; her estranged brother, Ray, comes home; and her sister, Lola, is tempted to blow a big family secret out of the water. They say the truth will set you free, but first it will make a huge mess of things.

All Nina’s got left is her final photography assignment shooting images for the book 32 Ways to Make Lemonade. Well, that and the attention of a younger man, but Oliver’s on-again-off-again romantic interest in her ebbs and flows so much she is seasick. And then Jack, her ex-husband, shows up, wanting to get back together.

As Nina struggles to find a way through her complicated relationships and to uncover her true path, she discovers just how valuable a second chance at life and happiness can be.

 

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6 Easy Tips to Stay On Top of Your Well Being

(contributed post)

Self-care has become a hot topic in the wellness industry and popular media lately – the idea that little acts of tuning into ourselves, listening to our instincts, and taking small steps to address potential problems or complications can have a big impact in our lives. And it’s true that small steps over time can have a large cumulative impact, especially when it comes to our health. Our daily routines can introduce steps that lead to great well being – and it can all start with the simplest of actions.

Start The Day With A Cup of Hot Lemon Water

Instead of turning to the caffeine the second the alarm goes off, why not start your day off with a cup of hot water with the juice of half a lemon instead? This wonderfully simple ritual has some huge health benefits. It kickstarts good digestion that will help your gut to process food better, gives your metabolism a boost, alkalizes the body, supports your liver to cleanse itself, and hydrates you. Consuming caffeine on an empty stomach has been shown to up our levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. This slows down the body’s natural ability to eliminate toxins, deal with fatigue, and burn fat efficiently. Adding raw apple cider vinegar to the mix can boost positive effects even further.

Connect With Nature

Studies have shown that immersing ourselves in the natural world has a huge impact on our sense of well being. Spending just 30 minutes a day outdoors lowers stress levels, boosts our cognitive abilities, and leads to enhanced problem solving skills and creativity. So create the opportunity to be out in nature, like using your lunch break to fit in a walk or switching your gym membership to an outdoor workout.

Book Those Tests

Good health relies on intercepting small problems before they have the chance to turn into larger ones, and that means keeping on top of routine health checks. So make sure you have that check-up at the dentist, book for an eye test, and visit your audiologist. Far from being a waste of time, you are proactively taking care of your health and identifying problems before they worsen to the point of needing major treatment. Similarly, if you have any recurrent injuries, like that bad back you ignore and just pop a pill to deal with, meet them head-on and find a decent chiropractor who can work with you to identify and solve the root cause of your discomfort and stop any further complications developing.

Eat Mindfully

Often when we eat our meals or a snack, we do so without conscious intention. We are watching TV or reading through the paper, even scrolling through our social media feeds mindlessly. This means that we consume far more calories than we need to, as we block out the natural signals the stomach sends to the brain that it’s feeling full. Make a habit of eating mindfully by banishing outside distractions. Concentrate on the sensations of eating and fully engage your senses with each bite. Not only will you feel more satisfied with what you eat, but you won’t be at risk of overeating by default. Taking the time to chew your food thoroughly also releases more digestive enzymes that help the body to break down and process your food and use the nutrients from it more efficiently.

Practice Stress Management

Stress, anxiety and unfortunate events are a part of most people’s lives, but it’s the way we deal with them that counts. Taking the time to practice a few simple techniques, made easy with a mindfulness app, can really reduce your stress levels and help you to deal with negative situations in a calm, collected manner. It introduces positive perspective and helps you to manage any negative effects in your life. Some deep breathing techniques have the potential to make a lot of difference in how you handle and react to external stress factors, such as work and family.

Balance Work, Exercise, and Relaxation

The key to taking care of yourself is to balance the different elements of your life, and schedule in enough time to get active but also to relax. Even light exercise is hugely beneficial both mentally and physically, so find the form of activity that inspires you – whether that’s running, yoga or something different like sailing or boxercise. Just 30 minutes three times a week will make a big difference to your well being. Then also create time for relaxation, like taking an aromatherapy bath with relaxing oils or just taking the time to read a really good book for some mental escapism.

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