Look To the Western Sky

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

Author: luvboxerdogs (page 2 of 10)

Writing and Editing Packages from Editor 911

Besides blogging on here about parenting, writing, and whatever else comes up, I also run my Editor 911 business. I have a site for Editor 911 right here. In honor of Cyber Monday, the holiday season, and designing my new site, I am presenting a few packages and sale items–the prices are good through January 31, 2018. Here they are: 

These sales and packages are good through January 31, 2018. Email Margo at margolynndill (at) gmail.com to request your package and receive an invoice. Payments can be made through Paypal or with a check/money order.

20 percent off any editing/proofreading service

Check out the regular editing prices by clicking here to visit the Services page. Through the end of January, you will receive 20 percent off these prices. Email Margo at margolynndill (at) gmail.com to receive a quote for your project and find out how much you can save.

 NaNoWriMo Package

Did you spend November writing a 50,000-word manuscript, which may be the beginning of a novel? Did you get halfway done and think–this is a mess–what am I going to do with it? Are you lost on how to turn your draft into a novel? Are you too close to it? Margo can help! In this package, she will

  • Read through your draft (up to 55,000 words). (Printed pages snail-mailed are preferred.) (Value $200)
  • Create a bullet point list of what works in the draft and what doesn’t. (Value $25.00)
  • Write a one-page letter on suggestions for revision and what to do next. (Value $25.00)
  • Schedule a 30-min Skype, in-person (depending on your location), or phone call meeting to discuss suggestions and answer questions. (Value $30.00)
  • 25 percent off on future services on this manuscript only (no expiration date). (Value= hundreds of dollars in savings depending on your future needs)
Cost: $199.00

Writing Coach Package

Writing coach sessions can be used to discuss writing career goals, hold yourself to a specific deadline, figure out where (and how) to submit your work, talk about your brand and marketing platform, create a marketing plan, or brainstorm plot ideas. For example, writers have used writing coach sessions to discuss a novel and stay on track with word count, to figure out how to market a book and follow through on these ideas, to discuss where to go next in a writing career, and more. These sessions currently cost $30 for a 30-min phone or Skype conversation and $50 for 60 minutes. If you purchase a writing-coach package, you receive a discount on the regular rate, and you can use the sessions at any time, where Margo’s schedule and yours coordinate. Margo will meet people in person if you live within 25-miles of her and are purchasing at least an hour at a time, and you would prefer in-person sessions. (She lives in St. Louis, MO). Sessions DO NOT have to be used before January 31, 2018, only purchased before that date–packages do not expire.

Package 1: THREE 30-minute (90 min total) sessions  for $75.00  (Value $90.00)
Package 2: THREE 60-minute (180 min total) sessions for $125 (Value $150.00)
Package 3: FIVE 60-min (300 min total) sessions for  $200 (Value $250.00)

Blogging/Website Help Package

If you need help setting up or maintaining a website, Margo can help with this! She uses WordPress and GoDaddy for this site and margoldill.com. She also uses Blogger to blog for WOW! At one time, she was the MO-SCBWI webmaster, and she also updates some pages on the Missouri Writers Guild website, as a member of the board. Websites are a necessity for today’s writer. She can also help you come up with content for your blog/website and write it. She is NOT a website designer, so these would be websites/blogs using the tools provided by WordPress or Blogger.

Regular cost is $50 an hour. Through 1/31/2018, you can save 20 percent–cost is $40 an hour. You can purchase hours ahead of time to save and use later at the sale rate.
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Improving Your Finances at the End of the Week

Raising a kid is expensive. Being a single parent can also be challenging, even when both parents are working together to pay for kids’ doctors bills, child care, and activities. I’ll admit it–my strong suit is NOT budgeting, and I like to provide fun experiences for Katie and myself. I also want her involved in sports and other activities, so I have been trying hard to stop eating out so much and THINK before we spend money. When this contributed article came in to me, I thought it had some good tips, especially during the holiday season and when personal property tax is due in Missouri! Here you go: 

Finances are a big part of our lives: they dictate what we can and can’t do; and despite plenty of people declaring that “money isn’t happiness,” it is stability! Everyone can understand how good a little bit of leftover cash at the end of the week can feel.

It can often feel like you’re spiraling out of control when it comes to keeping your money in line, but it doesn’t have to. We could all do with a helping hand from time to time, so here’s some tips for you to consider when it comes to making ends meet.

Rethink Your Goals

Maybe you’ve been thinking  over your fiances over for a while, strategizing and planning in the spare minutes you have, but your money situation still doesn’t make any sense. However, setting yourself some good money goals is the first step in making sure you can improve on your current standing, as you immediately have something to work toward instead of floundering blindly.

Add up all your expenses for every week, including groceries and bills and any extraneous prices you’ll have to fork out for, just to give yourself more of a realistic view. Then, budget accordingly! Write down a budget that you think you can stick to with your finance goals included. 

Contact Your Service Providers

So your internet bill has raised again, and it’s the most useful asset in your modern household; you’re tearing your hair out. It’s time to contact the broadband man and make sure you have the best package to fit your family’s current needs and internet use. 

If your area has more than one gas or electric company, you could very well find a better rate or deal with another company; there could always be another option when it comes to your utilities! This is something people don’t often think about and just accept the bill they have to pay as is. These packages often aren’t advertised, and companies never want to lose a customer to a competitor, so they’re likely to accommodate you if you query it.  Your current provider can also give you some options on budget and consistent billing as well as ways to save on the power you use.  It doesn’t hurt to call and find out your options. 

Get Yourself a Piggy Bank

Yes, it sounds a little childish, but this is often a key component to getting a little extra cash when you need it. Save up all the pennies you have, and drop them in the slot, and then open it up at the end of the month. We’re often surprised at how much spare change can turn into real money that can go towards us and our families.

Even the idea of a piggy bank makes us unlikely to go spending money that we don’t really have. When the pennies are out of sight and thus out of mind, we’re more likely to save.

Buy Off the Bottom Shelf

We can’t always wait for deals or coupons to come for all products we need; and a lot of the time, companies get us to buy things we don’t want or need. That means it’s bottom shelf buying time. It’s not quite a well-known fact, but stores put the stuff they want us to buy at eye height, meaning the most expensive stuff goes there. That means we need to be aware of their crafty ways and work around them.

Search both the top and bottom shelves in the aisles for the best deals and the store’s own brands, as they’re so much cheaper. There really isn’t much difference between the ingredients and quality in the store’s brand than in the bigger food companies. It also means you can bulk buy and not feel guilty about it.

Look into Loan Options

So if you have some experience with having a lack of money, then you’re probably looking at this option with a quizzical eyebrow. Yet, this is an option if you really need the extra help to get yourself out of a bad financial situation in the short-term, and you think you could manage the payment at the end of the loaning period.

You’ll need to check your credit report before securing a loan and making sure any paid debts aren’t still lingering around on there, as that can pull down your score; often, they aren’t removed automatically.

You can find bad credit secured loans all over the place; you just need to know what to look and ask for. First place to start your research is the internet, as that has a lot of the information you will need for your task. Whilst it can be quicker to just find a lender and apply online after this, you don’t want to be too hasty and make sure you understand what the terms are. Take the idea to your bank if you’re looking for a more traditional loaning method; they too often have advice that’s invaluable and on a more personal level. It’s always worth a try after all!

Do you have a tip for budgeting or saving money? 

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Helping Your Dog Grow to Be Happy and Healthy Despite a Busy Schedule

So, you’ve welcomed a new puppy into your life , and now you’re committed to giving them the best life possible. You’re committed to seeing him grow into being an adult dog who is both happy and healthy. You want to do everything you can, or everything that your busy schedule will allow, to ensure that your dog grows the way he should and needs to.

But, that’s just it: you can only do what your schedule allows you to do. You can only take your dog on walks when you are not at work. You can only feed him when you are home to do so. Basically, you have to manage your schedule while also doing what is best for your dog. And it is for this reason why you should most certainly look for the easiest ways to help your dog to grow to be happy and healthy; fortunately, some ways to do this can be found below.

Keep dogs active, even indoors.

Ideally, you should be taking your dog out for regular walks every day. If this cannot be achieved because of your work commitments and being away from home during the day, then you should absolutely ensure that he is walked when you return home from work. To try to make up for the lack of exercise some dogs receive during the work day, you can work on ways to keep your dog active in your home too.

Your dog can be kept active inside the comfort of your own home. But, they can only be kept active if the activity they participate in stimulates them enough to do so. This means getting to know your dog and his likes and dislikes and then working from there. If you know your dog to be one that refuses to give in until he gets what he wants, for instance, then play a game, such as tug-a-rope, with him. If you tug at a rope with him, you will keep him active for the length of the game because he won’t give in easily and will continue to fight for the alpha dog position for as long as it takes. Or if you’d prefer an easier game to play, then you can play fetch. By doing this, you can actually be slumped in front of the TV while you throw the ball to one side of the room, wait for your dog to retrieve it and return it to you before throwing it again. Something else you could do is hide different parts of his food around the house and let him sniff it out and find it on his own; this is a great way to force your dog into burning some calories.

Don’t make mealtimes hard

If you have limited time in the morning before work to get your pet to eat, then you want the process to be as quick as possible. Dog owners know that some of them can be somewhat picky eaters. Specifically, this means that it is in your best interest to ensure that they eat whatever is on their plate (or in their bowl) when you are providing them with their meals and treats.

Fortunately, today this means that you can provide them with nice-tasting foods that are still healthy for them to consume. One dog’s food that falls into this category is the Betsy Farms duck jerky dog treats. These treats are sure to make your dog’s mouth water, which means he is sure to eat them, and this equates to a quicker routine in the morning, especially if you are trying to get your dog to go outside to go potty, too, before you go to work. What’s more, these treats, and treats of the like, are made from wholesome ingredients that go a long way in improving and maintaining good doggy health, and you can use them as a reward also when your dog is being obedient, especially during busy times. 

Let them go if that is best for them

One of the best things that you can do to truly ensure that your dog grows to be happy and healthy, if your schedule just won’t allow you to do it, is to give it up. As hard as that may be, for both you and your dog, it simply must be done sometimes. No dog can grow to be all he can be if he is not tended to by his owner. What’s more, no dog deserves to not be tended to by his owner as often and as well as can be. So, if you truly can’t bend your schedule enough to meet the demands of looking after your dog, then simply do not have a dog.

When it comes to doing this, the most important thing to check is that you are leaving him in a safe place that will nurture him and find him a far more ideal home in the future. You must not sell him to somebody you do not know or really trust. And you must certainly not just leave him on the streets to fend for himself; in fact, it is a crime to do this in many countries! You should take your dog to properly licensed dog rescues or general animal sanctuaries or shelters. But, when you do take your dog to any of these kinds of places, make sure you inquire as to whether or not it is in fact a no-kill facility.

Something else you could do is ask family members or friends if they could keep your dog for a while until your schedule calms down; or if you don’t think it ever will, ask your loved ones if they would consider adopting your dog. 

The best thing you can do when it comes to tending to a dog while living by a tight and busy schedule, however, is to assess your circumstances in the first place. Simply, if you know you’re going to be out of the house for long periods of the day, and subsequently won’t be able to provide a dog with attention it needs, then don’t let a dog into your home in the first place or make sure you have the means to hire a good dog sitter who can help you out during the day. 

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8 Things to Do if Your Dog Has Fleas

I don’t write much about my dear old dog on here, although here’s a photo with he and KT that I’ve posted before. But he’s an important part of my family too. When someone asked if I would consider posting this article, I said: YES! Pets are family members, too, and they need to be taken care of. Here is one of the battles you face when you have a dog (or cat): 

Flea treatments need to be kept up with every two to four weeks, depending on what you are using. Fleas can be picked up from a number of different places, including pet groomers, pet hotels, contact with other animals, and even the grass your dog runs through. It’s actually very easy for a few fleas to jump onto your pet, make themselves at home, and spread the infestation. So your dog may not stand a chance while unprotected. Here’s what you can do if you spot a flea on your dog.

Flea Shampoo

The first thing you need to do is go to the heart of the problem; your dog. Your furry friend needs to be treated before you can hope to get rid of every flea. You can start by giving your dog a bath  with flea shampoo and following the directions on the bottle carefully. Make sure you buy a shampoo that comes highly recommended, rather than one that pretends to be something it’s not. After the bath, brush your dog through with a flea comb and immediately dispose of any fleas. Don’t allow your dog to return to its bed after having the bath.

Clean Bedding

You’ll be surprised how quickly fleas can make themselves at home in your dog’s bedding. You’ll need to either thoroughly wash blankets and beds in hot water or throw them away and buy new ones. Without doing so, you’ll have a never-ending problem. Fleas will be able to jump to and from your dog’s bedding back onto your dog. The same goes for your dog’s toys. If your dog frequently plays with cuddly toys that could easily be a home for fleas, the toys will either have to be washed or replaced.

Clean Your Home

It’s not just your dog that fleas will cling to; they’ll quickly spread throughout your home, too. They like to set up camp in rugs, sofas, and even bedroom mattresses. So, it’s important to keep your home as clean as possible while you’re dealing with fleas. You’ll need to vacuum regularly and clean out your vacuum once it’s been emptied. It’s also important to wash your floors. A strong disinfectant in water on a wooden floor will help to kill fleas quickly. If you have carpet throughout your home, you may want to think about using a carpet cleaner, specifically designed to get rid of fleas, to wash out any remaining pests.

Treat Your Home and Dog

Unfortunately, fleas are a persistent kind of pest; and it can take weeks, months even, to completely eradicate them. It’s something you must stay on top of and the best way of doing that is to regularly treat your home and dog. There are two main treatments for dogs. Take a look at Advecta flea treatment products, where you’ll find tablets and spot on treatments. When it comes to your home, you have several different options. You can buy sprays for your furniture and floors, you can fog your home and evacuate until the treatment is complete, or you can call a pest control company to take the problem off your hands and ensure the job is done properly.

Essential Oils

If you know there are fleas in a certain area of the home, but you just can’t seem to catch them, essential oils are ideal. A few drops of an essential oil, like lemon, ginger or lavender, is an attractive smell to fleas; but the oil is deadly to them. So, if they make the mistake of walking or jumping into the oil, you could be cleaning piles of them off the floor at once. The only problem is, this method is often best used in rooms where your dog won’t venture, as some essential oils can be harmful to your pet, too.

Water Bowl

They may be tiny, but fleas are certainly no fools. They’re usually most active at night time, when you aren’t around to catch them. One of the best ways to catch them at night is to place a small bowl of water  filled with warm soapy water in the center of your room. Fleas are attracted to the water and smell of the soap; but once they jump in to investigate, they’re usually killed. It’s a great way of catching them during the night and finding out how many fleas you still have around. The downside is this trick usually only works on the adults, and it’s important to kill the young fleas and eggs too.

Keep Going

If you think you can clean the home and your dog once and be rid of these pesky creatures, you may be in for a nasty surprise. Many pet owners have made the mistake of thinking one flea bath or treatment will kill all fleas, and the problem has only gotten worse because the fleas have been left to procreate. Even if you believe your flea problem has been resolved, you’ll still need to repeat all of your treatment methods regularly for at least four weeks.

Don’t Forget Your Yard

Your backyard is another place that your pet can spread fleas. Unlike the house, it’s very difficult to know where fleas are in the yard, and getting rid of them can be tricky. But, without the yard being treated, fleas have free reign to jump to and from your dog, making your flea problem impossible to deal with. The best way to get rid of fleas outside is to buy a flea treatment product for outdoors. Many of them are toxic, so it’s likely you’ll have to keep your dog away from the yard for a few hours, but they’re usually very successful.

It takes time and patience to get rid of a flea problem, and you may find yourself going around in circles many times. But to protect you and your pet, the work is worth it.

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Keeping Track of Your Natural Cycles and Their Importance

Sometimes it can seem like our lives run like clockwork. We get up at a similar time each day, head to work, take breaks, come home, meet friends, and catch up with family. Every now and then, we might have a holiday thrown in. But when it comes to our bodies, things aren’t always so reliable or written in stone. This can be relatively inconvenient. But not to worry. Here are a few simple ways to track your natural cycles, giving you peace of mind and improving your overall health, well being, and understanding of your body.

Menstrual Cycle and Ovulation

Most women will generally have a menstrual cycle that lasts around 28 days. This process sees natural changes occurring in your body to allow for the chance to procreate. However, unfortunately for us, we all have different cycles, and these can vary not only from woman to woman but for an individual from one month to another. Now, there are several reasons that you may want to keep track of your menstrual cycle. Firstly, it allows you to prepare yourself for your period. It’s always beneficial to know when you are due to start, as this allows you to keep your mooncup or other sanitary items with you around the time that you may need them. If you are trying to have children, charting your menstrual cycle can also allow you to work out which days you are most fertile. Try out the Flo app. This is a simple way to keep a record of your cycle and helps to make relatively accurate predictions regarding menstruation and ovulation through its use of machine learning (or artificial intelligence).

Pregnancy

When you’re bringing a new life into the world, chances are that you’ll want to know exactly what is going on within your body and how this lines up to medical expectations and others’ experiences. You’re going to be experiencing some pretty big changes over the next few months, so it’s not all too surprising that you’ll want to feel in control every step of the way. Many newly pregnant women are unsure of when exactly they conceived. So they may feel a little lost when it comes to knowing when to expect their little one’s arrival into the world. Know your due date from early on by using a simple online calculator. It will use information regarding your last menstrual period (or LMP) to identify your last ovulation date. This can give you a little peace of mind until your next doctor’s appointment.

Sleep Cycle

Many of us are sleep deprived without even knowing it! We’re just so used to being tired and getting on with things. But new wearable technology means that we can get a better and more comprehensive insight into our sleep patterns from the comfort of our very own homes. Devices such as Fitbit can monitor your heart rate while you sleep, allowing you to track how many hours you get, how many times you’re disturbed or woken and how much time you spend in REM. This can help you to make changes if necessary.

As you can see, having a deeper and more thorough understanding of your body and its cycles is much more simple than ever before!

(contributed article)

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Ditch the Notebook! Get the Writer in Your Life Something Great for Christmas

If you’re a writer, chances are you’ve received dozens of notebooks and journals over the years; if you’re the friend or family member of a writer, chances are you’ve bought dozens of them too. Although there’s nothing wrong with a good notebook (in fact they’re pretty great), they aren’t exactly a surprising gift, which kind of takes the excitement away.

So, maybe it’s time to ditch the notebook and get the writer in your life (even if that’s you) one of these great gifts for writers instead:

A Subscription to Novlr

Novlr is an online writing platform created by writers for writers. It makes planning and writing a novel a whole lot easier with features like split chapters, offline backup, writing stats, and ebook publishing capabilities, which means the aspiring author in your life will love it. It’s very reasonably priced, too.

Aqua Notes

Aqua Notes is sort of like a notepad, so you’ll have to forgive me, but it deserves inclusion because it is so much more awesome than the average Moleskine. Why? Because it’s completely waterproof and you can hang it in the shower. Every writer knows that their best ideas tend to come at the most inconvenient moments, but with Aqua Notes, those shower inspirations don’t have to be lost forever!

Postcards from Penguin

Penguin Classic books are iconic, so you can bet that the writer in your life will appreciate being presented with Postcards from Penguin: One Hundred Book Covers in a Box, which showcases some of the most beautiful and most important book covers in history, and serves as a good place to write important notes and messages. Check it out here to get some idea of how fantastic a gift it really is. Simply beautiful!

A Fountain Pen

Instead of buying them the notebook, why not get them a pretty fountain pen instead. Sure, it might seem just as unoriginal as a notebook; however, writing with a fountain pen makes you feel something a bit special. Also, if you look for the best fountain pen under 50, you’ll quickly see that you can buy some beautiful pens that will impress. They’ll also last a lot longer than the average notebook, too.

A Kindle

Writers love to read, which means that their homes tend to be taken up with lots of hefty tomes, and they have trouble meeting the baggage limits when they travel. That’s why, if they aren’t adverse to technology, buying them a Kindle (or any eBook device really) is sure to be a winner. Buy a pretty cover for it and perhaps add a gift card, so they can start buying some of their ‘To Read” list in digital format for a Christmas package that they’ll be delighted with.

A Literary Tote Bag

If they have a favorite classic book and you know what it is, chances are you’ll be able to find a tote bag printed with the cover, and that will make a pretty special gift. 

If you ditch the notebook for any of these suggestions, I guarantee you’ll have one happy writer come Christmas morn.

(contributed article)

 

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What’s So Hard About Being Nice? A Guest Post by Author Mary Maurice

Today, I welcome a WOW! Women on Writing blog tour author, Mary Maurice, who is celebrating the publication of her book,  Burtrum Lee.

Synopsis of the book:

Coated with a life of lies and deceit, Burtrum Lee Conner is sick to her stomach. Dozens of times throughout her life, the feeling of not being who she is has tormented her. But she kept it to herself, believing that maybe it’s just a chemical imbalance of some kind, considering she is one of the first artificially-inseminated babies of the 1960s. Now, there’s more though, something much deeper, much more maniacal than she could have ever imagined. She’s not the first test tube baby at all, but the first….

Burtrum Lee Conner, born into a world of scientific mystery, discovers that the life she’s been leading for the past forty years, is the wrong one. Her parent’s Jed and Jane Conner, stealing her as an infant, brought Lee up as their own. Even her devoted grandmother, Clair Conner, kept this secret close to her chest until they were found out. And now, Lee Conner’s biological mother, Katie Lee, wants her back, but not before the diabolical Dr. Stone has his say.

Paperback: 219 pages

Genre: Scientific Mystery

Publisher: Silver Leaf Books LLC (August 28, 2017)

Check it out on Amazon here! 

About the Author, Mary Maurice:

When I was a child growing up in the Detroit area, I thought I wanted to be a painter; and then as a teenager, the idea of being a musician intrigued me. Then as a young adult, I realized that I’m a writer.

After attending Western Michigan University for two party-filled years, I decided to leave academia and explore the real world to learn what life is truly about. For fifteen years, I traveled the country working in restaurants, writing and doing readings wherever I was welcome.

While living in Minneapolis during my twenties, I was fortunate enough to be tutored by Dr. Jonis Agee, who was at the time head of the creative writing department at St. Catherine’s College in St. Paul. Her lessons were imprinted in me for all of these years, and have influenced my writing ever since.

My adventures landed me in San Diego, Chicago, San Francisco, and Oregon, finally leading me to the Land of Enchantment, where I’ve resided since 1994. Living in Santa Fe, and the beauty and isolation that surrounds me, has inspired my creative muse in ways that no other place has. While still working in the hospitality industry, my passion for the craft of writing has never been stronger. And I know with each sentence I write, and every paragraph I compose, my ultimate goal is to find the perfect word.

Find Mary Online:

Website: http://www.marymaurice.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/marymauriceauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MMauriceAuthor

Now, a few words from Mary: 

What’s So Hard About Being Nice?

The other day I had the TV on and an episode of Leave it to Beaver was airing. I couldn’t see the screen, but I listened to the dialogue and found myself hearing words of politeness and kindness. I thought to myself how long gone those days are. There were no vulgar words or soft porn themes, no selfish acts, no tossing a friend under the bus, no grabbing one’s crotch, or calling a woman a bitch. It was all clean cut and tension-less.

I miss those days when our world was PG, slowly and surely turning into an R rated society, and now swaying on R/X.  Sometimes, I feel like I’m living in Pottersville from the movie It’s a Wonderful Life. At what point in our existence did being nice not matter any more? When the cool thing to do is to be rude and insensitive to the troubles of others. Where did compassion go or empathy disappear to? Or just doing the right thing, not because you want to, but because it’s the right thing to do.

Is it too hard to open a door, pick an item up that somebody dropped, tell a random person a silly joke just to make them laugh, buy a donut for someone just because they’re having a hard day? What is so hard about being nice? It’s very contagious, and I believe more people should be stricken with it. To me, there’s nothing better than making somebody feel good.

Don’t forget to check out her book, Burtrum Lee! 

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Stress Busting 101: How To Reduce It In Your Life

We are coming upon one of the most stressful times of the year for people–the holidays. This contributed article has some good tips to consider to focus on reducing your stress:

We all lead busy lives and can find ourselves feeling stressed from time to time. Heck, not even time to time for many of us; more like all of the time! It could be family, work, health, or other issues that can lead to the stress, if not a combination of them all. But whatever your source of stress is, it is a good idea to take control of it now, so that you can deal with it and find ways to eliminate it. After all, stress can make many aspects of your life worse, such as your health (both mental and physical).

Professor Cary Cooper, from robertsoncooper.com, has stated that in our lives, there is always a solution to the problems that we face, even if it doesn’t feel like it or that it feels impossible. But when we just let things carry on as they are, it can make things much worse. The keys to dealing with and managing stress tend to be building up some emotional strength and having less of a “woe is me” kind of attitude. When you do have a victim attitude, you are justifying the situation rather than doing anything about it. Taking control of the situation can help, as well as being positive and having a good group of people around you. Being able to share the load, so to speak, can help massively. Even if it is just someone to talk to over the phone.

What else can you do to address and then eliminate the stress that you have in your life? Here are some stress-busting suggestions.

Be Active

Being active and exercising isn’t going to make your stress disappear. But what it does do is help you to manage it. Exercise can lead to a bit of an escape, as well as reducing the intensity of it all for you. Exercise can lead to a production of happy hormones that can lift your mood. So when you have to go back to a stressful situation, you are likely to deal with it in a better way.

Seek Alternative Therapies

As well as exercise, there could be an alternative therapy that could help you to feel better about things. Regular massages, reflexology appointments or even seeing a chiropractor could help you. Again, it isn’t going to eliminate the stress in your life. But it will help you to deal with it better. The reason behind these kinds of treatments is whole-body healing. The focus, according to myauburnchiro.com, is not so much on sickness, but rather on overall wellness and healthy living. So it could be really beneficial for you to give it a try.

Connect with Others

A good support network of people around you–friends, family, or colleagues–is a good way to help to lift your mood. They can offer support and fun, as well as offering advice to help you deal with the situations that you face. As they say, a problem shared is a problem halved. It can be good to just talk about your feelings, too, even if you just want people to listen, rather than offer solutions. Sometimes, when we say things out loud, it can help us to resolve the issues that we had on our mind.

Avoid Unhealthy Habits

As we know, there are many things that can make us feel better when we are feeling stressed. But there are also some things that can make us feel worse. We may think that they are going to help us, but unhealthy habits can actually have the opposite effect. Smoking, alcohol, and too much caffeine can actually make our bodies feel more on edge and stressed. In the long-term, these are just crutches and can make things worse. This is especially true if you end up feeling like you can’t get through your day without a bottle of wine, for example. So look for healthier habits, as said above, such as exercise or an alternative therapy.

Be More Productive

You may feel stressed because you have so much on your plate that you need to do. But the key is to be more efficient with your time, rather than spending every waking minute doing things. What things could you tick off your list at the same time? What work can be prioritized and others not as much? Can you get help at home, like a cleaner, for example, so that you can focus on other tasks that have more value to you? Set aside time to be more productive and remove distractions, such as your phone. It could mean putting it in airplane mode, for instance, until you get a specific task done. It is all about working smarter and being more productive, rather than working harder.

Make a Positive List

You will be surprised at what a difference being positive can make. If you find it hard to be positive, then it can be a good idea to take some time out and write out what you are grateful for, as well as the positive things in your life. When you take the time to do just that, it can make a massive difference and, you’ll see all of the good and happy things that you do have. It can put the stressful side of your life into perspective a little bit and help you to refocus.

Help Others

Along a similar line of making a happy and positive list of things in your life, it can also be a good idea to look for ways to help other people. It can give you a different focus and again, puts things into perspective for you. It can act as escapism and does help to give you a happy and euphoric feeling. You may not think that you even have time to do something like this. But when you make an effort to do it, you will see the benefit of it in your life.

Hopefully, one of these ideas helps you handle your current stress. What works for you? 

 

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Making a Commitment to Morning Pages

I’m doing it. I’m making a commitment right here and now, to anyone reading this, that I’m writing Morning Pages every single morning!

What are Morning Pages? If you have read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron, then you’re familiar with Morning Pages. OR if you have ever been to just about any writing conference or creativity workshop, you have probably heard about them. If not, Morning Pages are:

 Three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages*– they are not high art. They are not even “writing.” They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind– and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.  (From Julia Cameron’s website/book)

I started today (and actually wound up with FOUR pages). Day one down. I’ve had a creativity block for a while now–although every once in a while I am inspired to write something like this post, “A Letter to a Narcissist” I wrote this week. So, today during Morning Pages, I came up with a first sentence for a short story. No idea where that will lead me, but since then, I’ve been thinking about this line and who could say it and what the conflict for the story could be.

I did a Google search for “morning pages”, and I happened upon Chris Winfield’s site. His tagline is “take back your life.” He has a free ebook (in exchange for your email address) titled How to Save 23.3 Hours Each Week. His site is all about working smarter, not harder. But he also has this amazing page about Morning Pages, which you can check out here. He starts the post by saying he never thought he’d have time in the morning to write three pages by hand, but he made a commitment to do it; and since then, he says that some of these amazing things have happened in his life:

  • I’ve come up with ideas that changed my businesses
  • I’ve worked through issues that were bothering me and seemed overwhelming
  • I’ve been better in tune with my intuition and listening to my heart
  • They have shown me what’s most important in my life and helped me to focus on that
  • and more….(check out the link above to see what else he says)

Pretty amazing, right?

So I’m making the commitment. I also recently made the commitment to read something for enjoyment EVERY SINGLE DAY. Now I read a lot. I read a lot of online articles, blog posts, unfinished manuscripts, emails, kids’ books (to my daughter), and articles about agriculture. But I haven’t been reading for myself. My creativity and writing have suffered because of this. So, since last Sunday, 11/12/2017, I said: “Enough is enough.” Katie and I went to the library. I found a novel written by an author my friend suggested. And I’m happy to say that I have read at least one chapter every day.

Surely, all these positive steps–reading and Morning Pages–will continue to feed my creativity and renew my spirit, and soon that first line I wrote during my Morning Pages will turn into something more.

By the way, for some people, journaling (which is what Morning Pages is) can give you results in your life. If you have never checked out Mari L. McCarthy’s Create Write Now site, then you should. Start with this post I did on her book–all the links you will need to find out her amazing story are in that post here

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Practical Parenting: Making Bedtime and Sleeping Better For Your Child at Any Age

When it comes to babies and really young children, it’s undeniable that routine is king. With the world so big and unpredictable, routines help to bring order to the chaos and are highly beneficial for establishing good sleep patterns. With night times sorted, day times tend to flow much easier – kids and parents are in a better mood and have more energy for active play and creativity. It’s never too early to start with introducing a bedtime routine that works for you, your baby and their siblings. The key is simply consistency. Here’s how to create a restful routine that works.

Where do I start?

You can get started with introducing a routine from as early as six weeks old. It may not stick right away, of course, but you’re putting in strong foundations for the future. If you think about it, we all need time to unwind before falling asleep, and babies are no different. With older children, it’s helpful to explain what you’re doing and why. So tell them: “We are having a story, and then we’re going to bed, so that we can get up in the morning and play.” Find advice from Mothers and More on the safest sleeping positions to introduce.

Make Bedtime Special

Many small children get anxious at the thought of being separated from you, and that’s perfectly natural. So spending some one on one time before bed is a great way of relaxing them. Reading a storybook, singing a bedtime song, and having plenty of cuddles before they get into bed helps to take away the fear factor. Many parents try a white noise machine – babies are used to background noise and motion from their time in the womb and often like the sound of a fan or even a washing machine or dryer to help them fall asleep!

Try a Transition Activity

Before you go straight into pre-bedtime, it’s useful to use a transition activity to move from active play into a more relaxed state. This can start with a quieter kids program centered around rest, like In The Night Garden; it can be taking a bath with bubbles; or it can be playing quietly in their room for a while. Easing gently into the routine is much better than expecting them to immediately feel sleepy the second their pjs are on.

Put Them Down Drowsy

Make sure that you put babies especially down to sleep when they are drowsy, and not fully asleep. This helps to manage “micro-wakeups” during the night. Imagine if you went to sleep in a nice, soft bed and woke up on the lawn outside. You’d be really freaked out, right? You might yell. You’d definitely want to know what had happened. And you’d probably have a hard time getting back to sleep again. The exact same is true with babies that fall asleep being rocked or cradled in your arms. When they “come to” during the night, they may realize that they are not in the situation they were when they fell asleep – and they’re likely to protest about that! Teaching them to fall asleep in their own environment is really important and helps to make sure they’re able to get themselves back to sleep if they do wake up.

Create the Right Environment for Sleep

Just as it is for adults, creating the right environment to promote sleep is very important for babies and young children. So check that you have a comfortable mattress, that the room is the right temperature, and that your baby has comfortable sleepwear, like a swaddle or a sleep sack. Lighting is also important – it doesn’t have to be pitch-black; you can add in a soft night light if your child needs it for comfort. Make sure they also go to bed without feeling hungry – so a last feed or bottle can be given around 20 minutes before you put them down to sleep, and toddlers may want a bedtime snack – although avoid giving them any sweets or fruit juice.

Never Use Bed As A Threat

Resist turning bedtime into a negative by steering away from telling your children they’ll go to bed if they’re naughty. Focus on reducing their stress and anxiety over going to bed by keeping your tone of voice positive and calm; babies are very quick to pick up on tension and anger. Taking the softly-softly approach can work wonders.

Make Daytime Naps a Priority

A lot of parents think that if their child doesn’t sleep well during the day, the sleep will get made up at night, but the reverse is usually true. Getting overtired can mean that sending children off to sleep simply doesn’t work as well and may lead to more wake-ups during the night. At least one nap each day in their crib or toddler bed helps them get more used to the same sleeping environment when it’s time for bed.

How do you establish a nighttime routine?

(contributed post)

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