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March 3, 2014 in Life

What’s your end result?

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An inspiring word for today….Happy MLK Day!

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. more…

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As you get settled into your busy school routine, you may feel the pull to add more things to your already full plate….joining the parent association, chairing the fundraiser, adding soccer to John’s extracurricular activities (when he already participates in basketball and baseball) and this would require more carpooling, etc!

And, I know…sometimes we have a hard time saying “No”, especially if the things that people are asking of you are all things that you truly have an interest in doing. Unfortunately, not saying, “No”,  can come at your own expense. You lose the time to do the things you really want (or need) to do and you can even feel resentful towards the other person and yourself.

Get Your Balance Score to find out what areas of your life you should be focusing on.

Saying, “No”,  doesn’t have to be difficult.  If you struggle with this concept of saying, “No”, it does require some practice.  So, here are some ideas you can begin to use immediately.

  1. Explain that your other commitments are taking up all your time right now. Everyone is too busy at times; the other person will understand that you have a heavy load of other responsibilities. It might help to go into a little detail about the other things you have going on; it will increase their level of understanding.
  2. Say that you’re in the middle of something and that you’ll get back to them. It’s not uncommon to get hit with requests for immediate help. You can let them know that you can’t help right now but that you might be able to help soon. If it really is urgent, they’ll find someone else and shouldn’t feel resentful towards you.
  3. Tell them that you’ll think about it. This is more of a “maybe” than an absolute “no.” Avoid using this option if you really do want to say “no.” Take the time you need to consider it and remember to get back to them. You can suggest your own deadline or an alternative that works for better for you if you can’t comply fully with their first request.
  4. If someone is trying to sell something to you, tell them that their offering doesn’t meet your needs but you’ll get back to them if your needs change. This puts an end to the matter quickly without the other person feeling insulted. After all, you’re rejecting their product or service; you’re not rejecting them personally.
  5. Refer them to someone who would be a better help. In this case, you’re not refusing to help them. In fact, you are helping them by suggesting someone more capable of satisfying their needs.
  6. Tell them that you’d like to help, but…. This lets the other party know that you would like their offer or would like to provide assistance to them, but you that you are either too busy or their offer doesn’t meet your needs. It’s similar to #1 and #4, but is more supportive and encouraging.

If you’ll learn to say “no” to the things that you really don’t want to do, don’t have the time to do, or don’t fit your needs, you will be able to say “YES” to more of the things that are important to you!  Now, go practice saying…”No”!

If you are beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed, sign up to receive the “Balancing Act Ezine”  and receive tips on living a balanced life!

Be Balanced and Blessed!

Deona, Your Balance Partner

 

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Summer is Over and School is In!
Here are 12 Tips to Help Ease You Into Your School Year Routine
1.    Schedule Your Me-Time Moments.  When we get busy the first person we neglect is ourselves.  Schedule your Me Time Moments right now.  Identify those things that rejuvenate and renew you…is it getting a massage, spending time with your friends, going to dinner with your husband, laughing with your kids, reading a good book, walking the dog, watching a movie by yourself, taking a dance class…whatever it is…put it on your calendar NOW!
2.    Create a healthier lifestyle…whatever that means for you.  Whether it means exercising or eating right, just take the necessary steps to have a better body.  Pick a new exercise or healthy eating habit and stick with it for 21 days….try it and let me know how it goes.  What new healthy lifestyle habit can you do for 21 days?
3.    Have everyone set goals for the year.  At the beginning of the school year I ask my kids what their goals are for the school year. We talk about friendships that they want to encourage/discourage, coursework, teachers, extra-curricular activities, their schedules, target grades for each class and any obstacles or challenges they foresee.  We discuss the previous year and how this year can be better than the last.  We identify ways for them to relax and de-stress.  Basically, we use their goals to help them develop a plan to finish the year strong!
4.    Keep the “give away” bag handy.  As the weather changes and you begin to transition into your fall wardrobe, keep the “give away” bag near so you can give away all the items that are too small, can’t be handed down or haven’t and won’t be worn by anyone.
5.    Re-establish the daily routine. 
       Morning
  • If you have multiple kids, establish a bathroom schedule to limit bathroom bickerings
  •  Make bed, put away clothes
  • Eat breakfast
  • Load dishes in dishwasher
  • Finish preparing lunches

After School

  • Snack
  • Homework
  • Dinner Preparation

Evening

  • Check the next days weather forecast and lay out clothes
  • Prepare lunches
  • Review homework
  • Identify what’s for breakfast for the next day
  • Set alarm clock
  • Back pack should be “ready to go”
  • Bath and bedtime
  • 15 Minute De-Clutter Plan
6.    15 Minute De-Clutter Plan.  Start the year with the Motto, “Everything has a place…so put everything in it’s place”.  Make sure to identify a place for everything and spend 15 minutes before bed putting everything in it’s place.  Set a timer for 15 minutes and make it a fun activity to end the day.
7.    Meal Planning.  Pick a day to go grocery shopping…let’s say it’s Monday.  On Sunday, write out a weekly menu plan and grocery list.  Having a list of possible meals and the ingredients will eliminate the inevitable, “what am I cooking for dinner” question.
8.    Post the Extra-Curricular Family Calendar.  Write down everyone’s extra-curriculars on one calendar so you know where everyone is supposed to be and when.  I also keep their schedules on my phone calendar.  Review each kids after school activities to point out when homework and household chores can get done.
9.    Keep a Homework Calendar.  I have the girls post the due dates for all their homework assignments and tests on 1 calendar so I can help them monitor their time and projects.
10.    Make Time for Your Partner.  You are about to get busy again…so make sure to do something special with your partner.  It may be time to schedule, “Date Night” again!
11.    Family Time.  Pick a night for Family Night and have the kids decide on the agenda for the evening, could be games, movies or dinner.
12.    Create a Vision for your year.  What do you want to accomplish this year?  What are your goals?  What are your dreams?  Find out where you are.  Get Your Balance Score Now!.  This will give you an idea of where you are so you know where you want to go.  What area of your life are you most “out of balance” in?  “Out of balance” is defined as anything less than an 8.

Go on over to  The Balanced Blog and leave YOUR tips to easing into the school year.  And don’t forget to make sure you sign up to receive my blogposts automatically.

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Happy New Year!  Can you believe 2010 is just about over?  The start of the New Year is a great time to implement change and personal growth by setting goals that you want to achieve throughout the upcoming year. Take a moment to take the Is Your Life In Balance Assessment.  This is a great tool to find out what areas of your life need improving.  Many people make resolutions on Jan 1st, only to break them on Jan 3rd….so be careful about making general “resolutions”.  My goal for you is to set goals that:
a) can contribute greatly toward helping you live the life you desire and
b) are attainable without any unrealistic expectations

Decide to make these changes in 2011 for a happy new year:

1. Health improvements. When your body thrives, you have more energy, enthusiasm, and vitality to do everything you want to do. Focus on setting goals for the specific actions that will provide the results you’d like to see.

* For example, rather than stating that you want to lose 25 pounds next year, try to find achievable goals that will help you lose weight. Make a plan to enroll in a yoga class, try three new types of aerobics exercises, or join a walking group.
* Resolve to bring new experiences into your life. Set goals about new foods that you want to try, eating 3 more vegetable servings each day, or even getting more sleep!
* These goals are more fun to reach, but they’ll contribute to the same end result.

2. Financial improvements. Following the same advice as above, try to avoid setting unrealistic resolutions like “pay off all my debt next year” or “Put $10,000 away in savings.” Instead, choose goals for specific actions that will get you where you want to be financially.

* For example, you may resolve to save all of your spare change and deposit it into your savings account every month.
* Maybe you’d like to pick up 3 extra hours at work each week and dedicate those earned funds to your savings account or debt repayment.
* Or make a list of specific money-saving actions like the above that you’d like to incorporate into your daily life and add a new action to your routine each week. By the end of the year, you’ll be an automatic money-saving machine!

3. Spirituality. Spiritual goals can absolutely lead to a sense of peace and fulfillment. Deepening your relationship with God can only lead to living a life of positivity.
* Set a goal to attend church on a more consistent basis.
* Identify a class to take at a local church about a subject you want to learn more about….how to pray, faith, healing, etc.
* Identify what time during your day you can set aside for prayer.
* Read a book on a spiritual subject of interest to you.

4. Personal Growth and Development. Personal Growth goals can benefit you in so many different ways because it leads to personal enrichment and development. What interests you?  Elect to take a course or seminar on a topic that interests you, such as photography, healthy eating, finding your purpose, or entrepreneurship.

* Set goals to try new things, experience new places, challenge your comfort zone, and learn about yourself all at the same time.
* Challenge yourself to read ten non-fiction books about subjects that interest you.
* Create a goal to try a new healthy recipe for your family at least once a month.

The start of the New Year is a great time to find new ways to challenge yourself.

Above all else, choose New Year’s resolution goals that actually interest you and that are achievable for you. Resolve to do things that will be enjoyable, while also improving your life as a whole.

Again, have  a Happy New Year!!  Wishing you all the success, health and abundance in 2011!
Your Balance Coach,
Deona

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School is almost out.  What are you going to do with the kids? Here are 14 ways to keep your kids from complaining about being bored over the winter break:

1-Plan a Family Game Night
2-Plan the Holiday Family Photo…and make it a fun production. I have 3 girls so they enjoy getting their hair done, getting manicures and pedicures and selecting just the right outfits…all things required to get ready for our private photo shoot! We even make a special grooming appointment for our dog, Mylo so he’s picture perfect on photo day!
3-Pick a day to select a whole new slew of books. Plan a few hours at your favorite bookstore or library. My girls are avid readers so this is high on the fun list for us!
4-Organize the family photos from the summer and create an online photo book that you can share with your other family members.
5-Have your kids invite their friends over for an afternoon of holiday cookie baking and decorating.
6-Try out some new recipes that you can cook once school is in. This will come in handy when you want something different once school is in and you don’t have the time to experiment.  You can  have the kids select the menus and even make the grocery list.
7-Bake homemade pizzas and enjoy “Pizza Night”!
8-Have the kids help you in gift selection and holiday gift shopping.
9-Declutter your kids bedrooms.  Do this one before Dec 25th…out with the old and in with the new!
10-Have a “Movie Marathon”.
11-Make a day of gift wrapping.
12-Learn how to make your own bows.
13-Plan the summer vacation.  If you live in a frigid winter wonderland right now, this activity will be a welcome escape from the cold!
14-Go visit family/friends that you haven’t seen in awhile…don’t wait for Christmas!!

Grab your calendar, sit down with the kids and pick which of these activities you will do over the holidays.  The key is to involve the kids in the planning.  Daughter #3, age 10 suggests that whatever the plan is, just keep it fun and easy going so you can always go with the flow!  Please share your unique ideas in the comments.

Enjoy Your Holidays!

Your Balance Partner, Deona

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During the holiday season, our attempts to create and maintain a healthier lifestyle often takes a back seat. We’re so busy with family and friends that we neglect our normal routine. This can leave you feeling run down, lethargic, and uninspired. The holidays are a time of family, food, fun and celebration. The good news is you can enjoy the holidays and still manage to create and maintain a healthier lifestyle.

Choose to make your healthy lifestyle a priority during the holidays. Take the initiative because you’re worth it, and your enjoyment of the holidays depends on it. A commitment to your health will lead you to find the time, and the time spent will provide enough energy and self-confidence to get you through the stressful parts of your holiday season.

Get the exercise that your body is used to and that it craves, so you can stay feeling alive and energized. In the midst of all the holiday shopping, get-togethers with friends, and obligations, your workout must be a priority for you to succeed. Look at your calendar on a weekly basis and schedule your exercise in.  With everything else on your schedule during the holidays, you will have to be flexible about the days and times of your workouts, but remain firm that you will get your workout in.

Make Time for Your Needs
Even when the holidays are in full swing, family and friends are around one another for only part of every day. You’ll have some time to yourself. Use that time wisely and plan carefully to get the most out of your holidays. If you do, you’ll surely be able to find time for your workout.

Remind yourself that you’ll feel sluggish if you miss your workout. Constantly visualize yourself enjoying the success that awaits you for attaining your physical goals. Take care of your body, and your body will thank you with the energy to take care of everything else over the holidays.

Family and Friends May Follow Your Lead
If you stay consistent in your workouts and enjoy taking care of your physical health, others in your family may follow suit. You can help them get healthy by showing them your goals and how you’re working toward them. Consider working with them on:

* Eating better so they can maintain optimal weight for their height and activity levels
* Getting some exercise each day so they remain energetic
* Seeing that exercise can be fun and enjoyable so they’ll keep doing it in the long-term
* Finding activities they like so that they’re more likely to keep exercising in the future

After all, you probably had to do all of those things when you first started working out. You might have had someone to encourage you, or you may have been required to figure it out on your own. Either way, you have the opportunity to set a good example for others while still keeping yourself healthy over the holidays. Take advantage of that chance to help other people.

If you’re focused and dedicated to creating a healthier lifestyle, you’ll find ways to work out during quiet times and schedule your exercise around family activities so that everyone wins.

Your body will thank you, your mind will be more alert, and the holidays will seem far less stressful when you take care of yourself first. Invest the time in your workouts to make the most of all the holidays have to offer you.

Be Balanced,
Your Balance Partner, Deona

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The holiday season is all about good will, fun, good friends, family, and love. Unfortunately, we’ve been conditioned to believe that the best way to show these feelings is through elaborate gifts. If you don’t have a holiday shopping budget yet, check out my blogpost, “Do You Have A Holiday Shopping Budget?”.

If you’re strapped for cash this year or if you are trying to be a good steward of the cash you have, but don’t want to give up the giving aspect of the season, look no further!

Here are some great gift ideas for when you’re trying to stay within your budget this holiday season:

1. Gourmet tea and coffee. Create a gourmet tea or coffee basket combining a hand-picked mug with a favorite flavor or two of coffee or tea. Add in other items as desired, such as honey, sweetener sticks, specialty creamers and marshmallows to suit the gift recipient.

2. Homemade cocoa mix. Create a homemade cocoa mix by combining powdered sugar, cocoa, powdered milk, and other desired ingredients. Layer the mix in a jar to create a unique gift and include instructions for making the hot cocoa on the gift tag.

3. Homemade baking mix. Follow the same idea as the homemade cocoa mix, but this time with cookie or brownie mix. Layer the individual ingredients like flour, sugar, and chocolate chips in the jar to create a unique gift. Include clear instructions so the recipient can recreate your favorite cookie recipes.

4. Gourmet gift baskets. Combine gourmet cheeses, meats, crackers, mustards, jams, and other ingredients to create your own gourmet gift baskets. Buy the individual items yourself and save a great deal of cash in comparison to buying pre-built gift baskets from specialty stores.

5. Gardening gift basket. Combine flower seeds, vegetable seeds, and other gardening goodies – like trowels and hand shovels – to create a gift basket for someone who enjoys gardening. Add other goodies as desired, like plant markers, pretty containers, and homemade soil mix.

6. Home movie basket. Combine a gift card for movie rentals with popcorn and butter spray or seasoning and a box of movie theater style candy to create a gift basket for enjoying movies at home with the family.

7. Breakfast gift basket. Combine pancake or waffle mix with a bottle of real maple syrup and any other gifts that you think would suit a “breakfast in bed” theme such as a relaxing CD or a nice book.

8. Muffin baking basket. Combine muffin tins with a couple of different store-bought or homemade muffin mixes and some fresh berries or chocolate chips. Include the recipe for each muffin mix.

9. Recipe box and cards. Put together a handmade recipe box with some of your favorite recipes inside. Put the recipe cards together yourself, decorate them to suit the recipient and add in extra cards for their own recipes. Use stickers, colored pens, and calligraphy to create unique recipe cards or dividers for the recipe box.

10. Favorite candy jar. Buy and decorate a glass jar and fill it with some of the recipient’s favorite candies. Layer different colored candies to create a colorful effect. For example, separate gummy fish by color and layer them from bottom to top, then hand paint an aquarium scene on the outside of the jar.

You can customize all of these gift ideas to suit the recipient, and each gift is meaningful because you put it together yourself. To give gifts that truly matter, make them yourself and put your heart into them. You’ll be surprised at how much money you can save when you create homemade gifts yourself!

Be Balanced and Enjoy the Holidays!

Your Balance Partner, Deona

P.S. If you’ve found this helpful, please forward on to your friends.

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The holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year due to the financial pressures. Between the gift giving, holiday entertaining, and the regular monthly expenses, it all adds up to an expensive time of year!

Even though it’s already December, it’s not too late to get a handle on your holiday shopping and spending throughout the season.

Benefits of a Holiday Budget

Keeping a budget during the holiday season will benefit you in many ways. First, you’ll avoid overspending, which will keep you from playing “catch up” when the season ends. Second, you’ll reduce financial stress throughout the holiday season, which will make the experience more enjoyable for you.

Try these holiday spending budget strategies to ease financial tension during this hectic season:

  1. Create a budget. Determine how much money is available for you to spend based on your current financial situation. Be realistic with your holiday spending budget, regardless of how much or little you can play with. This is your spending limit, and your goal is to stay within it.  Remember that your expenses must be less than your income. There’s no need to get into extensive debt because of the holidays.
  2. Make a list. List everyone that you need to furnish a gift for so you can create a realistic plan to accommodate your gift-giving needs. Keep everyone in mind, including family members, friends, and anyone else you want to give a gift to, such as neighbors or other acquaintances.  Here is a Live Your Life In Balance Holiday Gift Planner to assist you in making your list.
  3. Create a budget worksheet. Create a basic budget worksheet on paper or on your computer. List every gift recipient in one column. Create a column to brainstorm ideas, a column for your planned budget for each recipient and a column for how much you actually spent on each person. Track overall budget and actual spending as well to see how you do at the end.
  4. Tweak as necessary. Make changes to your budget whenever you overspend on one person so you stay within your budget overall.  Try to set realistic budget amounts for each of the recipients on your worksheet in order to minimize the need for edits to your worksheet, but do not be afraid to make edits as necessary.
  5. Trim as necessary. Giving gifts to your neighbors, your children’s teachers, and service providers like the mailman is a nice sentiment, but not necessary. If your budget cannot support your list of recipients, trim the list!  Consider giving stocking stuffer type gifts to these recipients if you insist on giving them something for the holidays. Small gifts, inexpensive homemade gifts, or simple greeting cards are just as sentimental and memorable but will not break your budget.  You might also consider homemade gifts this year. My next blogpost will give you some really good ideas for Homemade gifts that won’t break your budget. Sign up to have my blogposts delivered to your email automatically.
  6. Start early. When working on a budget, starting early offers a definite advantage. The more time you have to get your shopping done, the more time you have to comparison shop, shop sales and look for deals. Avoid leaving your shopping until the last moment; otherwise you’ll likely pay higher prices and spend more time feeling aggravated in the lineups.
  7. Get a Handle on Your Spending. It only takes a few simple changes in your spending and budgeting habits to improve your holiday shopping experience. By following a plan, you can overcome the obstacles of holiday shopping, budgeting, and spending with ease. Enjoy your holidays!

Be Balanced!

Your Balance Partner, Deona

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Well, it’s officially winter where I am. It actually snowed today. I’m not ready, I’m never ready but alas, the winter season is here, along with the wind chills comes the ever-dreaded winter weight gain. Why is it that it’s all too easy to unconsciously pack on the pounds during the frigid winter months?

I suppose because we’re likely to spend most of our time indoors taking part in sedentary activities and eating comfort foods. Nevertheless, there is hope. The best way to put a stop to winter weight gain is to combat its effects before it even begins.

Try these tips to stop the pounds from creeping up on you:

1. If you can’t make it to the gym have a “plan B” to work out indoors. Whether you purchase yoga DVDs or an elliptical machine, get moving each and every day throughout the winter.

  • Take 30 minutes out of your morning to exercise. Feel free to take the weekends off, but if that’s when you have less restraint with your eating habits, take two days off midweek and exercise weekend mornings.
  • Make it a couple’s event. Pop in a salsa DVD each morning and work out with your partner. It’s fun, flirty, and the perfect way for couples to spend quality time together every day.
  • Invite your best buddies over and schedule a “girl’s night in for exercising”. Spend some quality time with your friends while you burn off some calories.

2. Make meals ahead of time. Sometimes, when the weather is depressing and cold, your desire to cook will vanish. This causes you to reach for the phone and dial the pizza place or Chinese restaurant for delivery. Instead, if you have precooked meals in the fridge, you’ll naturally eat healthier and save money, too!

  • On a Sunday afternoon, take the time to prepare two or three meals and freeze them. Make chicken noodle soup, whole-wheat spaghetti and meatballs, or your favorite casserole and tuck it away in the freezer. Before work, simply let the container defrost and pop onto the stove as soon as you get home.
  • If you’re not in a cooking mood, plan several meals for the week so at the very least you won’t have to wonder what’s for dinner. While you are planning your meals, make your grocery list so that you are well organized for your trip to the grocery store.
  • Dust off the crackpot and experiment with a crockpot meal.

3. Stock healthy snacks. Snacking is inevitable, especially when you’re stuck indoors, evening after evening. You might as well prepare for your snack cravings and stock up on healthy and satisfying snacks.

  • Run for the baked goods! Though they’re often laden with calories and fat, you can often find fat-free and low calorie versions at specialty bake shops. Treat yourself to apple pie, angel food, and granola.
  • A serving of apple pie generally contains approximately 300 calories. However, this is just approximately 50 to 100 calories more than you would consume eating a Kit Kat bar, Reese’s peanut butter cups, or 6 Oreo cookies. That slice of pie should keep you full for much longer, but keep an eye out for unnecessary saturated and trans fats.

4. Eat Holiday foods in moderation. Yes, your family is consuming heaps of eggnog, turkey, and potato salad, but if you’re trying to ward off the winter weight gain, refrain from eating like it’s your last supper.

  • Have a glass of water before your big holiday meals and load your plates with vegetables, lean meats, and a small amount of fatty foods.
  • Leave space between your food. The more space the less calories will be on your plate!
  • If you’re hosting a holiday dinner, take charge and prepare calorie conscious meals. Rather than baking a ham for Christmas dinner, make lemon herb turkey. Rather than using mayonnaise in your potato salad, go for an Italian potato salad with vinaigrette as the binding agent.

In reality, all it takes to combat the winter weight gain is attention to detail and some indoor activity to keep you fit. By keeping these helpful pointers in mind, you’ll be beach-ready even before the spring season strikes!

Be Balanced,

Your Balance Partner

Deona

P.S. If you’ve found this helpful, please forward to a friend!

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