Look To the Western Sky

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

Category: Improving Your Life

18 Tips To Reduce Stress

Below you will see a really awesome infographic on reducing stress. Surely, if you are feeling stressed out, one of these tips is something you can do and is easy to fit into your life, so it doesn’t cause you more stress! I’ve posted other articles on reducing stress before, such as Stress Busting 101: How to Reduce It In Your Life and Parents: Taking Time For Yourself. If you need some stress busters, then check this out from Donna Norton at CustomWriting.org. My favorites are: 10, 12, and 16, although really, most of these resonate with me. How about you? Do you have any tried and true stress relief methods?


Infographic by Donna Norton Custom-Writing.Org

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Working Through The Comparison Trap

Recently, I was in a video/book study called The Comparison Trap. This little four-week course is life-changing. Well, I should say: it can be life changing if you put into practice what the book discusses. (Side note: There’s a spiritual element to this book. It quotes Bible verses, and the woman who wrote it is married to a preacher. EVEN IF this usually does not do it for you, I recommend fighting through this and reading the book anyway. Every place she talks about God, can you think of Higher Power or Universe instead? I’m stealing this idea from the book You are a Badass! But I think it is an excellent point to not get hung up the “G-word.” And who knows what can happen in your life if you keep an open mind? ) Onward…

Before week one, I never realized how often I compare myself to other people and how shitty it makes me feel. Sometimes, I compare myself and I don’t measure up. I don’t have a loving husband or boyfriend. I don’t live in “the best school district” (although I love mine and the location of my house). I don’t have as much money as friend A, B or C.  I’m not 25 anymore. I could go on and drive myself crazy. I also do the flip side: Well, at least, I work full time. Well, at least, I have a book published, and so on. All of that thinking and comparing is exhausting and not helpful to anyone, most of all me.

The class had anywhere from 6 to 8 women in it each week, ranging in age from mid-40s to retirement age. And it was powerful. It was so powerful that we actually met for 5 weeks, instead of the 4 that the author recommends. Let me tell you the two moments that sealed it for me:

  1. The last week, we were asked to think of a time in our lives when we couldn’t celebrate other people’s good news. When we heard good news, did we react with jealousy or did we celebrate with the person? At first, I thought: this is a no-brainer–I celebrate. When I read the daily devotionals about overcoming this “jealousy”, it didn’t fit me, until I started thinking about when I was trying to get pregnant. It was very difficult for me to get pregnant, and I thought it would never happen. During this time, whenever I found out someone was pregnant, I was not celebrating. I was saying: Why me? In class, I even shared that I skipped a few celebrations because it was so heartbreaking to attend baby showers. It was a dark time. I am not proud of myself; and even though you may be thinking, well, I can understand why–that doesn’t excuse it. I was comparing my life to theirs, and my life is nothing like theirs. It’s not healthy, and it takes an extreme amount of faith in the Universe or God or your Higher Power or whatever you believe in to get out of the darkness and move on. I am happy that I did it. I am happy that once I let go, I got pregnant (just like everyone says).  And I think I still do that “jealousy thing” a little bit today now that I am divorced. But I am stopping it! Right now! I realized as I was writing this post: Sometimes, when I’m thinking about my relationship status, I will count up the number of people I know who are also divorced and without a partner. But really, this is terrible. If my friends and family want to be in a relationship, then they should be, and it should be happy and healthy and enriching. And I should celebrate it with them and let go of this notion that makes me compare myself to find my worth. Because frankly, it is exhausting.
  2. The two big messages that are driven home in this book are everyone is unique and special with their own talents. AND if you have a heart of gratitude, you will find contentment. We discussed these philosophies at length and honestly. Because let’s be real, isn’t it hard to take sometimes when you look at your neighbor and she is beautiful, owns a fancy car, and has a successful career,and a loving husband? Why did she get all of this and you didn’t? It can be hard to take when you are looking OUT. So what I learned in this book and this class and even writing this post is–you have to look IN. What are your talents and blessings? What are you grateful for? We also discussed how being content does not mean you can’t have goals or improve your life. But you should create these goals and improvements because you looked IN and it’s what you really want–not because you are looking OUT and trying to be as good as Mrs. Jones.

If I remember nothing else in a month from this study, this phrase, which is now hanging on the bulletin board in my room, will be something I remember: There is NO win in comparison. 

 

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Ready to Be More Organic? It’s More than Just Eating Organic Food

(contributed post)

We all know that eating organic food is much better for our health and the state of the environment. But is that where organic living has to end? You’ll be pleased to hear that there is actually a lot more that can be done in your life, so that you can live a wholesome, naturall,y organic life. It’s not just about food!

Ready to be more organic? Here are some really great tips that can help you get started.

Create An Organic Garden

One of the easiest ways to ensure that all the fruit and vegetables you eat are organic is to start growing it yourself. Growing your own food can be quite difficult, especially if you are completely new to it. But don’t panic; you can start off developing your skills by beginning with the easier produce to grow, such as lettuce, cucumbers, and gherkins. You’ll be able to buy seeds from your local supermarket; but there are also some online stores that sell more exotic fruit and vegetable seeds, if you fancy challenging yourself!

Reduce Your Energy Consumption

Leading a more eco-friendly life is part of living more organically, too. So, it’s important that you try and reduce your household’s energy consumption as much as possible. There are various ways you can do this. First of all, make sure that every electronic device and appliance is turned completely off when it isn’t in use. Next, you should consider switching to a renewable energy source. There are now quite a few energy companies that will install solar panels onto your home’s roof, so that you can use greener energy from a nature-friendly source!

Go Natural With Skincare

You can also improve your skin care so that it’s a lot more organic. First of all, it’s worth finding some natural skin care products. Lots of beauty companies now have a very good range of natural products, as there is such a high demand for them. These are all made from organic ingredients and are completely cruelty-free, meaning they haven’t been tested on animals. If you want, you might also like the idea of trying to make your own skin care products. There are lots of recipes online that use plenty of ingredients you will already have in the house.

Eat Seasonally

There are some people who complain about the price of organic food. Sure, it can sometimes be expensive, but that is usually the case for ingredients and produce that are on sale when they are out of season. So, as you can probably tell, it’s much better to try and eat seasonally whenever you can. There are a few guides that can help you work out your diet, so that it is more in keeping with the season. But one of the best ways to figure out what is in season is to buy from farmers markets, as they will only be able to sell what they are able to grow at the time.

Enjoy your new organic life!

Do you have anything to add?

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You Don’t Lose Until You Quit Trying

Today I have this lovely guest post from B. Lynn Goodwin, who wrote the book, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62. A little more about the book and the author is at the bottom of this post!

 

You Don’t Lose Until You Quit Trying

My husband introduced me to his favorite phrase, “You don’t lose until you quit trying” from the driver’s seat of his Mazda back when we were first dating. He used it to tackle business problems, used it when he was dating a woman before me, and still uses it as a reminder that bolsters my confidence.

The only time it didn’t work was when he was dating a woman who loved him but wasn’t “in love” with him. Come to think of it, maybe he did win, because he wouldn’t have found me if she said, “Yes.” We met each other after I met my husband, and she’s glad we’re together.

How does this philosophy work?

If you can’t open the lid on a glass jar, try again. Try harder.

o Put on more pressure as the left hand goes one way and the right another
o Run the lid under hot water
o Look for a tool to help
o If necessary, ask a neighbor with stronger hands to help.
o Eventually the lid will open, and maybe you’ll make a new friend in the process.

If you can’t turn the key that you’ve put in the lock, try again. Still no luck?

o Move your fingers so the pressure on the key is redistributed.
o Take the key out and spray the lock with WD-40.
o Push in against the door and try again.
o Maybe even ask for help?

Both are real-life scenarios. I’ve used my husband’s hands and my next-door neighbor’s screw-top opener to get a lid off a jar of caramel sauce so I could finish making a dump cake. I’ve twisted a key in the lock of an old sticky door near the bay, and when nothing worked, I knocked on the back door. Trying differently often solves the problem.

“You don’t lose until you quit trying” is meant to inspire people. Make the philosophy work for you and let it help you examine alternate methods for getting what you want. Here’s one more example.

How does a 62-year-old woman who’s never been married use this philosophy with a two-time widower seeking his third wife on . . . Craigslist?

You’ll know if you read Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62. It’s available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and in Indie Bookstores, who can order the book through Ingram.

Our best advertisement is word of mouth. If you like the story, please tell your friends and colleagues. Want to do more? One or two sentences on Amazon, telling people why you recommend the book, would be fabulous.

And why am I promoting my book here? Because you don’t lose until you quit trying.
+++

B. Lynn Goodwin owns Writer Advice, www.writeradvice.com. Her memoir, Never Too Late: From Wannabe to Wife at 62, was just released by Koehler Press.

She’s written You Want Me to Do WHAT? Journaling for Caregivers and Talent, which was short-listed for a Literary Lightbox Award, won a bronze medal in the Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards and was a finalist for a Sarton Women’s Book Award.

Goodwin’s work has appeared in Voices of Caregivers, Hip Mama, Dramatics Magazine, Inspire Me Today, The Sun, Good Housekeeping.com, Purple Clover.com and many other places. She is a reviewer and teacher at Story Circle Network, and she is an editor, writer and manuscript coach at Writer Advice.

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Gambling On Granola: An Inspiring Memoir About Being a Single Mom and Starting a Business

I am happy to tell you about a great book that WOW! Women On Writing is currently hosting as a blog tour. I am a stop on the blog tour, and so below you will find out some information about the memoir, Gambling on Granola. But before you read this info below, I want to highlight a couple points that will be important to many of my practical parent and single parent readers out there.

Everyone of us who is a parent has this desire to make our children’s lives better than our own. We want to give them opportunities and experiences that we didn’t have. We want to love them fiercely and teach them to be great people. This desire led Fiona to create a company called Fiona’s Natural Foods, and her story shows us that determination, perseverance, love, and a fighting spirit can make anything possible.

Her website states that “Fiona took her mother’s recipe from the 1960’s, updated it, and created new flavors and ingredient combinations.  She hoped her new concoctions would be just the solution she had been seeking. “

​”The eponymous Fiona’s Natural Foods became a burgeoning regional natural foods brand, selling granola, quinoa cereal and energy bars to dozens of natural grocers — including Whole Foods and Natural Grocers By Vitamin Cottage — throughout Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico and Utah.” –Daily Camera, Boulder, Colorado

I was lucky enough to receive a free copy of Gambling On Granola. For those of you who have read some of my personal posts over the last two years, you know that I am also a single mom with a full-time job, a desire to be a successful writer with a part-time freelance editing business. I understand Fiona’s drive and fight, and I hope if you check out her book, you will be inspired by her also.

  About the Book:

In Gambling on Granola: Unexpected Gifts on the Path of Entrepreneurship by Fiona Simon, Simon shares a tale that is uplifting and inspiring but also raw and honest. This is a business memoir but also a love story―the love for her daughter, of a journey in uncharted waters, of the products and company she created, and of the continued challenge to follow her dream.

We see her growth and healing over fifteen years, as mistakes, weaknesses, and naiveté, evolve into resilience, resolve, and inspiration. For Fiona, it started out as all new businesses do―with an idea. But her world quickly became more complex as she established her company, developed new product lines, forged personal relationships in a competitive environment, grew her business, and held onto her deepest values―all while raising her daughter, Natalie, as a single mom.

Praise:

“Fiona’s story is both personal and transformative. She lays bare the hopes and anxieties, challenges, betrayals and lessons learned in creating her own business. From the mountaintops of a solar observatory where she was raised, to the struggles and triumphs, her story is like a path of granola crumbs leading the reader to understand how to succeed at any enterprise.”
– Jeff Kline, M.A. Ed., Chairman, Hispanic Communications Network, Washington, DC.

“Fiona Simon is an engaging storyteller and her narrative moves right along. It should inspire and motivate anyone who needs to remember the importance of persistence, belief in oneself, and vision in pursuing a goal. Her granola is good and so is her book.”
– Bob McCormick, Publisher, Editor, Author

Paperback: 200 pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Terra Nova Books (January 1, 2018)
ISBN-10: 1938288920
ISBN-13: 978-1938288920

About the Author:

Fiona Maria Simon is a former journalist, travel writer, editor, and communications director of the Boulder, Colorado, Chamber of Commerce. She is passionate about developing healthy food products, writing, traveling the world, and inspiring and empowering others with her story. Lured by the adventures of entrepreneurship, she launched her own organic granola company and led it to success despite having no business background and simultaneously juggling the demands of being a single mom. Her book is a story of challenges, hardships, and triumphs, both personal and professional.

Find Fiona Online:

Website: http://www.fionamariasimon.com 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Gambling-Granola-Unexpected-Gifts-Entrepreneurship/dp/1938288920/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1494595882&sr=1-1&keywords=books+about+entrepreneurship

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34552773-gamblingon-granola?from_search=true 

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FionaMSimon

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Three Ways You Can Improve Your Life This Year

(contributed article)

The start of the new year means endless possibilities and opportunities- the chance to reflect on the past and then make a change for the better. Often life is “fine”; there’s nothing that’s bad about it, but we can find ourselves in a bit of a rut. If you’re determined to make a change and make 2018 your year, here are just three ways you can achieve that.

Travel

The world is a colossal, beautiful place- and when you stay in one spot you miss out on so much. If you get the opportunity, it’s always worth travelling; perhaps you have a bucket list of places you want to go or maybe you’re flexible and happy to go just about anywhere. Travel can be expensive, so it’s worth getting your finances in order before you go. If you have adverse credit, you could look into debt consolidation loans for bad credit and put the money you save each month into an account for your travels. Otherwise you could always look into budget options, such as backpacking and road trips. It might be in your budget to rent an RV, and you get transport and accommodation in one then. Fill a cooler with food from the grocery store, and you save when it comes to eating as well. There are loads of great road trip routes out there, so decide what you want to see on your trip and do what you can to make it happen.

Learn Something New

Maybe you’ve always wanted to go back to school; if you fancy an entire career change, why not go back and study full time? Otherwise you could study part-time evenings and weekends around your job and work towards a degree or diploma. Choose a subject that really interests you or will help you to improve your career; it’s hard work but very fulfilling. However, learning something new doesn’t necessarily have to be formal education like this. You could go to a dance or cooking class, buy some paints and follow painting tutorials on Youtube, or learn a musical instrument. It will keep you productive in your spare time while keeping your brain sharp, plus you will meet like-minded people, too.

Volunteer

It’s easy to take all we have for granted. We have a home, somewhere to sleep, food in our pantries, and luxuries like smartphones, computers and TVs. We have our good health, and our friends and family. Others aren’t so lucky. By volunteering, you get a new perspective on life and have the opportunity to genuinely help those less fortunate. You could volunteer in a soup kitchen, at a hospital, hospice, children’s home, animal shelter, women’s refuge- have a look at what’s local to you. Whether it’s two hours a month, or a whole summer spent building orphanages in a third world country, your time is valuable and you can make a difference.

What will you be doing to make 2018 your year?

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