Monday, December 31, 2012

10 Ways to Ensure You Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

1.       Make the right kind of resolutions. You have to make sure your goals are valid meetable goals. Try to follow the 5 categories of attainable goals: Your goals should…

a.       Be Specific – Don’t just say “I will be happy,” or “I will be a better person.”  Such broad and generic goals will never be met because you have no definite target at which to aim. Instead think about what kinds of things will truly make you happy. What changes in your life do you need to make to be “happy.” Or in what specific ways could you be a better person? What actions would the person you want to be do? What would they not do? Once you have your specific goals in mind, go on to the next step.
b.      Be Measureable – If one of your goals is that you will stop being so negative, how will you ever know if you’ve met that goal? If you make one negative remark, does that mean you failed? What about if your goal is to lose weight. Have you succeeded if you lose 1 pound in two months? If you really want to take your resolutions seriously, you need to be able to know if you’ve kept them or not. So, you need to write up your goals in such a way that at the end of each day, you can say either “yes, I met that goal today,” or “no, I didn’t. I’ll have to try again tomorrow.”
c.       Be Realistic – Don’t set resolutions that you know you can never keep. For example, don’t resolve to lose 10 pounds every week. I don’t know of any diet that can accomplish that, and if you find one, I can almost guarantee that it will be very bad for you, and it won’t last. Instead, think of the big picture and break it down into manageable chunks.
d.      Be Challenging – On the opposite side of this, don’t make resolutions that require absolutely no effort to accomplish. For example, don’t resolve to wake up 1 minute earlier every day. Yes, it’s good to break goals into manageable chunks, but you’ll never get anywhere if you make the chunks too small.
e.      Have a Completion Date – This one is important. You need a date that you can reach and ask yourself “Did I meet my goal?” Make this date specific. For example, by December 31, 2013, I’ll have… But don’t use the end of the year as your only completion date. As we talked about before, break the year into manageable chunks. You should have a final goal for the end of the year. A smaller goal for each month, a smaller one yet for each week and a little goal for each day. That way, you continue working on your goals day by day. Otherwise, if you’re like me, you may forget about them.

2.       Make a schedule. It’s best to do this in writing. Plan out your day and write in time for your resolution each day. Plan when you will exercise, or look for new recipes, or talk to someone whom you’ve always had difficulty staying positive around. (It’s good to practice.) It’s also good to have a back-up time planned in case something comes up. And if your goal is to stop doing something, think about the time that you usually do it, and schedule in something different at that time every day.

3.       Find a partner. It’s always easier to do something if you have someone else doing it with you. Find someone with the same resolution and work together. If you have a weak moment, call them for encouragement. Help each other to succeed.   

4.       Beat Temptation. Think of the most common excuses you’ve used in the past that have caused you to break your resolution. Find ways to overcome these when they come up again because they will. Also, you need to recognize temptation when you meet it. Many times we feel that craving and just give in to it without thinking. You need to pause, step back for a moment and recognize temptation for what it is. Name it. And then consider the battle you’re in. Only then can you make a conscious decision to lose the battle and give in to temptation or to fight and win.

5.       Study your resolution. Research your specific goal and find out how others have reached it. Just make sure you don’t fall for the instant-result gimmicks that are always out there. If your resolution was so easy to keep, everyone would have already done it by now. Be smart and be prepared to work.

6.       Find motivational pictures that will help you. If your goal is to lose weight, find a picture of someone who is the weight you want to be. It might also help to find a picture of someone who is larger than you are currently. That way, you could see what you could become if you give up. If your goal is to stop smoking, put up pictures of items that you could buy with all of the money you spend on cigarettes. Put these pictures in places where you are most likely to see them when you are tempted to give up.

7.       Don’t forget. One of the biggest reasons that I break my New Year’s resolutions is simply that I forget about them. Life gets in the way, and I put them off for a day, then another, until I don’t even think about them anymore. Put reminders up everywhere, and continually look at them.

8.       Keep them new. Find ways to change up your routine so that you don’t get bored with it. Also, be realistic about how you’re doing as the days progress. If you just can’t seem to make yourself exercise for an hour every day, then change it up to two exercise periods of 30 minutes each or 4 times for 15 minutes each. If you still have a hard time not gossiping about your boss to your colleagues or friends, try to start a PRIVATE journal where you can still say everything you want to say on paper. See if that makes it easier to keep your mouth closed. The important thing is that you don’t give up if something doesn’t work. Stay determined! Keep changing your routine until you find something that works. Also, change the location of your reminders. Change your motivational pictures, etc. Don’t get so used to things that they don’t have any impact anymore.

9.       Make yourself accountable. Now, this only works if your accountable to someone you would actually care to tell that you failed. If your accountability partner is someone that you are very close to, you might not care if they know you broke your resolution. After all, they probably already know that you messed up many times in your life. We all have. Instead, make yourself accountable to someone, or to many someones, to whom you would not want to admit that you failed. (Maybe blog about your progress or share it with your Facebook friends.)

10.   BE SERIOUS! You have to really want it! If you don’t, then nothing you can do will make you keep your resolutions. It all comes down to one thing. Which do you want more, to keep your resolution or to eat that piece of chocolate, or say that mean thing, or plop down on the couch, or smoke that cigarette, etc. You have to be at a point where you really want to change.

If you follow these guidelines, I mean really seriously follow them, then you can conquer temptation and fulfill your resolutions! You can do it! Don’t give up! Good luck. :)

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Day After the Winter Solstice

Today is one of my favorite days of the year, the day after the Winter Solstice. Even though I’m a night person, I thrive in sunlight, and these short days and early nights can really get me down. But today, is the day of change! Today, it all starts getting better! From now on (at least until the Summer Solstice), we can sit back and watch as the days stretch little by little. So this winter, look at the clock when the sun sets every day. Or glance at the sky at 4:30 p.m. as the days pass and watch as it stays brighter and brighter.  

Don’t let the cold weather get you down. Instead, enjoy the shortening of the nighttime and the lengthening of the lighttime. Feel the excitement!

“Yule, is when the dark half of the year relinquishes to the light half.   Starting the next morning at sunrise, the sun climbs just a little higher and stays a little longer in the sky each day.  Known as Solstice Night, or the longest night of the year, much celebration was to be had…Bonfires were lit in the fields, and crops and trees were "wassailed" with toasts of spiced cider."
-   Yule Lore 

As John Donne says, the winter solstice “tis the year's midnight.” Now we can watch for the dawn.

Monday, December 17, 2012

REALITY Blog Award

I'd like to give special thanks to TSWALKING for nominating me for the REALITY Blog Award. Her blog is a wonderful source of inspiration and wisdom.
This is my first award, and since I'm pretty new at blogging, I'm especially thankful to all of those who read my blog and support my work. Thanks everyone!
Below are the answers to the questions we’re supposed to answer, and following are some blogs I recommend you check out. Hope you enjoy!
If you could change something what would you change?
I’d change the physical and mental atmosphere on the poorer Indian reservations. The Native Americans have always had a special place in my heart, and the way some of them have to live today is absolutely inexcusable. Obviously, we can't go back and undo the past, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't work on a better future. 
If you could relive one day when would it be?
I would relive that day so many years ago when I gave my heart to Christ.
What dream haven’t you completed yet, and do you think you will be able to complete it?
My dream is to see my books in print on a bookstore shelf. I currently have a contract with a publisher to publish one of them. It should be out in April 2013. 
If you could be someone else for a day, who would you be?
I would be Bill Gates, and I would spend all day writing checks to organizations that make a difference by helping the many needy people in this world.
What’s one thing that really scares you?
Dying without having made an impact or a difference in anyone’s life. I don’t want to leave this world thinking that my life here didn’t do any good.
My Nominees and Suggested Bloggers are:
A Song of Salvation (
Shekinah Today (
From the Brainpan (
This Whole “Mom” Thing (
The rules of the award are:
1  Visit and thank the blogger who nominated you.
2  Acknowledge that blogger on your blog and link back.
3  Answer the same 5  questions presented.
4  Nominate 5-10 blogs for the award and notify them on their blogs.
5  Copy and paste the award on your blog somewhere.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Reset Your Life!

With Christmas and New Year’s Day fast approaching, now is the perfect time to reset your life! Get rid of all the stressful, messy clutter, both mental and physical and begin the year with a clean, fresh, orderly existence.

Just like with computers, sometimes we have so much stuff in our lives that mere existence becomes slow and sluggish. When that happens, we need to reset everything. Get rid of the extra unused apps and restore ourselves to factory settings.

I began this process myself about a week ago, and I can already tell a great difference in every area of my life. It’s much easier now to decide what to prepare for dinner, to make out a grocery list, to choose what to wear, and to just find what I’m looking for without having to tear the house apart. I've even managed to discover great Christmas presents for family and friends without having to spend a penny. And on top of that, I've made extra money to use for other Christmas presents by selling some of my things that, quite frankly, haven’t seen the light of day in years. (Christmas time is definitely the best time to employ this system.) But best of all is the incredible feeling of freedom and relief that came from removing the unnecessary mess that other people didn't notice, but that I knew was there.

Naturally, there are varying degrees of involvement in a plan like this, so I’m going to list the steps I took, and you can decide which of them will work best for you. If you can, you may even want to get everyone else out of the house for a day and just tackle it all at once. If you can’t do that, try one area a day. If you can’t do that, take 5 minutes out of every 30 for a day. If you can’t do that, remove one thing from every area every time you enter that space. See, no excuses. Just remember: stay strong, keep your goal in mind, and don’t be wishy-washy! You CAN do this!

Step 1
Disposal of Items – Decide on the methods of disposal you will wish to employ. For me, I divided mine into: donate to family/friends, donate to resale stores/charities, sell on eBay (you need a backup plan for items that don’t sell. Otherwise, you run the risk of them ending back up in your closets), sell at consignment shops, put in keepsake box. (For me, this keepsake box is a cedar chest. I’ve allowed myself to keep as many memories as I can fit in that chest. Once the chest is full, I have to take something out before I can add anything new.)

Step 2
Clothes – (This was a two-step process for me.)
1.       Go through and pull out everything that you haven’t worn in a while or that you don’t like. Remember, you’re trying to lighten your load, so be brutal! Be decisive! Keep your goal in mind!
2.       After you do that, turn all of your clothes hanger hooks the opposite way. (If this is done correctly, you’ll have to remove the hanger from the bar towards the back instead of the front.) When you wear something and rehang it (after washing, of course), hang it back the right way. Now, next year, when you do this again, you can get rid of anything that is on a backwards hanging hanger because you’ll know that you haven’t worn it in a year. (I did this with my shoes as well. I turned the toes to face the wall, and when I wear them, I turn the toes out.)

Step 3
Jewelry – Don’t forget these items. You can go through them the same way you did your clothes, and if you have room, hang or place all of them you want to keep in a separate location, so that you can move the ones you use and know, next year, which ones you can get eliminate from your space. If you have nice jewelry that you don’t wear, but you don’t want to get rid of because they’re nice, either give them away as Christmas presents or take them to a jewelry store that does consignment. Or, if you’re an EBayer, sell them that way.

Step 4
Toys – repeat the previous steps. If after you get rid of all of the toys that your children don’t play with, you still have too many for the space, try putting half of them in a plastic container and storing them in an attic or basement. In six months, bring those back out and store the other half. Your kids will enjoy seeing their old toys again. They’ll almost seem new.

Step 5
Food – This one was very enlightening. I never realized just how long I've been holding on to some food items that “last forever.” I discovered the truth one day when I opened a pouch of cheese to make shells and cheese for supper. It didn't take much to realize that the cheese packet had expired. One look at the greasy, gooey mess told me all I needed to know. That led to an examination of my pantry. I went through and began throwing away expired boxes and cans left and right. From there, I tackled the condiment shelf in my refrigerator. (Apparently ketchup isn't immortal either.) From the refrigerator, I progressed to the spice cabinet. About an hour and two full trash bags later, I paused to lament over the amount of food I’d wasted by “having something else to eat instead” so often.

Step 6
Recipes – Surely, I’m not the only one who has a drawer, box, cabinet, or bookshelf full of cookbooks and/or recipes that I can’t get rid of because “I might want to try them someday.” I decided to tackle those as well. After all, I don’t think I've gotten more than 5 new recipes in as many years. (Not counting the Pinterest ones on my computer, of course.) That means that all of the ones I currently possess have been sitting there for longer than that. If I haven’t prepared them by now, most likely, I wouldn't  Soooo, the unused ones had to go. (If you aren't sure about some that you really do want to try someday, consider putting them on your computer, so they don’t take up room in the house. This also works when you have a few recipes you like in a cookbook. Put them on the computer and get rid of the big cookbook.) I must admit that I was a little surprised at just how old some of my recipes were. I've copied my favorite below. (It must have been from my old high school home ec. days.)

2 pieces of white bread
2 tsp. of table fat

Toast bread on both sides. Spread table fat evenly on both sides. Serves 2.

Yummm!!! Table fat. ;)

Finally, Step 7
The Junk Drawer – Admit it; you have one. Don’t we all? That drawer in the kitchen where you throw everything that doesn't have a specific place of its own: twisty ties, stray tacks, pencils, the odd bendy straw, “to do” notepads,  clothes pins for potato chip bags, and bunches and bunches of random stray papers with everything from phone numbers to reminder notes jotted down on them. Clean it out! Put the important phone numbers, notes, etc. in your smart phone or on your computer, get an organizing tray to put in the drawer and separate the twisty ties, pencils, etc. that you actually use. Throw everything else away.

Some other areas you might want to tackle: desk and paperwork, cookware and dinnerware, bathroom make-up drawer/spa-like indulgences,

When you finish, and this is very important to the process, get a glass of your favorite drink, hot chocolate is good this time of year, and sip on it slowly as you walk through your house admiring the clean and organized new space.  Don’t worry if you feel an upwelling of satisfaction surge through you. This is normal, as is the huge grin that will appear on your face. Just enjoy the sensation. You deserve it!