Sunday, December 24, 2017

Looking Forward to 2018

I spent some time today decluttering baby/toddler clothes. I was able to put together two medium sized boxes and a trash bag full of clothes to donate or sell. I decided to weigh the boxes/bag -- 17 pounds of clothes. It felt great to go through some of the extras and find things I can let go of, but I still need to organize what is left so that I can actually find the clothes when I need them.

This reminded me of my decluttering efforts from earlier this year. I began to follow the KonMari decluttering method. I started but I don't think I ever completely finished the second category: non-sentimental papers. I promised myself I would continue the process when we moved this summer, but I have not gotten back into it.

Then I began thinking about my goals for 2018. I tend to set many goals in a wide variety of categories. I usually make strides on all or most of them but rarely seem to be able to actually accomplish them. However, as I continue to grow up and mature, I am finding what works for me. I seem to make a little more progress every year. I have been able to be at peace with not finishing my goals but simply making strides.

But this year, I want to be a finisher.

In 2017, I spent nine months pregnant and then gave birth. I completed 12 college classes (36 hours). My husband and I completed a God-centered marriage program to help strengthen our relationship with each other and God. We had some big expenses but paid cash for all of them, avoiding any new debt. I blogged for 100 consecutive days. I went on my first real vacation (which was basically our honeymoon... two years later). We said good-bye to our first home as a married couple (a teeny tiny little apartment) and moved on to an amazing town home. All in all, a pretty exciting year mixed in to all the mundane of the day to day.

What I am looking forward to accomplishing/making progress toward in 2018:

  • Losing 100+ pounds. I started this goal almost two weeks ago (why not get a head start?). I look forward to crushing it with healthy food as well as trying my hand at strength training (something I haven't really ever done). I am going to try to lose as much weight as possible (and is healthy) while I am on maternity leave so that I have a jump-start for when I go back to work. Working means less time to cook and do dishes. It also means stress and temptations. Getting this head start is super helpful for me in accomplishing this goal.
  • Finish my BA degree. I need 4 classes (12 hours). I would love to finish by May as long as it does not distract me too much from family. If I need to take it slower, I will, and I will still finish before the end of 2018.
  • Continue to work on business ventures that could potentially turn into passive income for my family.
  • Get back to decluttering my home.
  • Possibly finish and publish an ebook I started this year. Still not 100% committed to this one, but I want to at least take some time to review what I have already written on the book and make a decision.

I have a ton of other little goals that I would like to accomplish as well. However, the most important thing is being present with my family. I feel like my daughter's first year went by in a flash. I remember it, but at the same time I sometimes feel like I don't. I would hate for it to feel that same way with my son's first year. Although my goals are meant to help make my family better, I do not want to lose sight of them as I work to accomplish these goals.

What do you plan to accomplish in 2018? 

How do you plan to get there?

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Quick thoughts...

My computer is running an update that has been taking all morning to complete. Two hours later it is at like 20%. So, I bring you a few super quick thoughts I am having this morning, written from my cell phone:

-Day 4 of teaching my child to use the potty chair. I would have given up by now if my husband had not been helping me. It seriously is a job for two when your child is this stubborn.

-I wonder if I'm spending too much time on my cell phone instead of enjoying this time off with my kids...

-And with that, I will sign off, put the phone away, and get on the floor to play with my children

Friday, December 22, 2017

Long Shot (Netflix Original review)

As you may be able to tell, I enjoy crime documentaries. Netflix has been excellent at releasing documentaries that expose the holes in our investigative and justice systems. I recently watched "Long Shot", a 40 minute documentary about a man possibly facing death row simply because he could not prove his alibi.

Juan Catalan had an older brother who was involved in gangs and violence. However, Juan did not follow in his brother's footsteps. When an eyewitness supposedly matches Juan to a violent crime, he is suddenly facing the possibility of death row.

All this time, Juan denies he committed the crime and realizes he had an alibi: he was at a Dodgers game. But providing a ticket stub was not enough. He had to prove he was there.

His lawyer works hard to try to provide this evidence. It is a nail-biting process.

The documentary leaves us with thinking about the "What ifs". There were so many things that happened that if the stars had not aligned, Juan's outcome may have been much less pleasant. The film asks us to try to not live in paranoia of the what ifs, but you have to wonder...

My husband and I agreed that if the documentary accurately portrays the case, the evidence against Juan was weak. If he had been convicted on the "evidence" presented and sent to death row, then that is most certainly an injustice. This felt like a case where he was guilty until he could prove himself innocent which is the opposite of what I like to think our justice system is about. Maybe I'm wrong.

Did you watch this documentary? What did you take away from it?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Why I started Whole30 two weeks postpartum

The Whole30 is a strict elimination program that lasts 30 days (plus 15 days of re-introduction) to help heal your body (especially your gut), tame the sugar dragon, and help participants know what makes their body feel less than optimal. The vast majority of participants also lose weight and/or see body composition improve.

I did two rounds of Whole30 after I gave birth to my daughter. It helped me to lose the weight I had gained during pregnancy and cut cravings. I did these rounds in the spring and summer of 2016.

Unfortunately, I started incorporating the foods that made me feel bloated and sluggish back into my diet in late 2016. I did not get back on track for the entirety of 2017. Granted, I was pregnant for most of 2017, but that didn't mean I had to eat whatever I wanted and gain 50lb (a "healthy" weight gain for a pregnant woman my size would have been about 20lb).

Between the weight gain, already being heavy to begin with, and eating less-than-healthy foods, I felt pretty terrible the last trimester. My energy was super low. I was getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night but as soon as I started maternity leave I started napping in the afternoon as well. I just felt blah.

I had been thinking about wanting to get down to a weight that would be more optimal for my size for the entire duration of my pregnancy. Obviously pregnancy is not a time to lose weight, so I had to wait.

I started Whole30 two weeks postpartum because I knew that I could 1) eat plenty of food to still produce breastmilk for my baby while 2) helping tame my sugar cravings, start feeling better, and lose weight.

Some people may think that I'm crazy to do such an extreme program so soon after having a baby. The truth is: this is actually a great time! Since I normally work outside the home, being off work means having a lot more time to cook and do dishes. Plus, I don't have all of the office treats (think: breakfast tacos, cookies, cakes, and pizza parties) constantly being thrown at me in addition to vending machines in the break room and fast food places on my drive to work.

If you read my post yesterday, you'll know that I am also trying to help my daughter learn to use the potty while nursing a newborn while doing a Whole30. So yes, maybe I am a little crazy. But being a parent does not excuse me from taking care of myself. If anything, it gives me a greater sense of urgency. I need to do this -- for myself and for my family.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

It took me over an hour to write this post

Today, I am attempting to teach my older child how to use the potty.

My older child (almost two years old) is running around today without a diaper or pants on. We are going to the bathroom every 10-15 minutes for her to sit on her potty chair for a minute or two. While we sit, we're reading books, looking at pictures, and "talking".

I started making my breakfast about 8:40 and finally sat down to take a bite at 9:17. It was cold. My eating was then interrupted by a potty break.

I also have a 3 week old child who is breastfed on demand. So far I have been able to squeeze his feedings in between potty visits, but I know this will be a challenge.

I opened up my computer to write this blog post around the time I started to fix my breakfast. I am finally hitting publish at 9:54. Hint: that's why there is no stock photo. If I wasn't part of a daily blogging challenge, this post would not be happening.

I am still in my pajamas however I did manage to brush my teeth. Maybe I will have a chance to change clothes by noon.

This potty learning process is supposed to take three to four days. And that's not even including the nighttime potty needs... just the daytime.

As my dad likes to remind me: "This parenting thing isn't for the faint of heart".

So here I go, armed with my pet odor and stain remover spray, lots of picture books to look at while we sit, sticker rewards for her successes, and as much patience as I can muster.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Becoming a Mother of Two

I had a lot of people tell me this last pregnancy that going from one child to two is a lot harder than going from two to three.

Photo by Joshua Clay on Unsplash
From my current experience, I can vouch that becoming a mother of two has definitely felt different than becoming a mother to my first.

With my first, I constantly thought about my baby and being pregnant. I would say things like, "We're going to have a baby!" and "I can't wait to meet my daughter" all the time.

With my second, I would literally forget I was pregnant sometimes (sorry, son!) until I had to pee again for the 57th time that morning.

With my first, I counted down the weeks and days, read all the apps giving me updates on my growing baby, and felt like my due date was forever away.

With my second, I sometimes read from one of the apps if I remembered and had a second. My due date felt like forever away the first week or two of pregnancy and then all of a sudden it was here.

With my first, I could sit around and just watch her sleep as a newborn. I would hold her for hours on end.

With my second, I sometimes feel guilty for having to set him down for an hour or two while he sleeps in order to get my daughter dressed and fed, get myself presentable, and maybe do the dishes.

There truly is something special about your first baby that is just different. I would encourage first time moms to relish it. I absolutely love my second child -- he is amazing! But I have just not been able to dedicate the undivided attention to him as I could to my daughter. Every moment is amazing, though, and I am thankful for each and every one. The most heart-warming change with having the second child is watching the first one interact with him. She hugs, kisses, and tries to cuddle him, she talks to him, and she watches as I feed him. It's fun to have a little shadow "helping" me through these newborn days the second time around.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Old-Fashioned Thank You Notes

I'm not sure what it is about having a baby but people become extremely generous. I have been absolutely blessed and amazed by all the love (poured out to my family through diapers, clothes, other baby gear, and even gifts for my older child) that people have shown us in the past few months.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
There are times I become overwhelmed with all the gifts, feeling that we are not worthy of all this love and support. It is hard to express just how amazed and grateful I am.

One small way I try to express to these friends, family, and co-workers how much I appreciate their acts of kindness and generosity is through a handwritten thank you note. I ordered some customized thank you notes from VistaPrint and after someone gives me a gift I take the time to write a few sentences, address the envelope, and mail a note to whoever the gifter was. I work hard to make sure I do not forget to thank anyone through a handwritten note. It's truly not much, but to me it represents to the gifter that I sat down and thought about them, their gift, and my gratitude toward them.

I believe that in this age of impersonal internet communication, a personal and old-fashioned form of communication is a breath of fresh air for many. In addition, making sure that those who showed generosity to me know they are appreciated is super important to me. They could not possibly know how much I appreciate my village coming together to make this stage of life less stressful, but maybe a handwritten note will give them an idea.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Robots: Taking our Jobs or Making us Money?

People tend to worry about robots taking their jobs. But what if robots could be used to make us money?

I decided to try out a new investing program called Heleum. According to the creators of the program, "Heleum is a savings app that uses fluctuations in world & cryptocurrency conversion rates to make money for its users".

Photo by Luca Upper on Unsplash
Basically, you throw in some money (some people start out with as little as a $5 investment), and you allow the program to invest and trade your money in currencies.

What I think is especially cool about Heleum:

  • Robots are essentially day trading for you (so if you have no skill or desire to sit and monitor world and crypto currencies and try to make trades, you don't have to!)
  • Heleum invests in both world and cryptocurrencies so you can take advantage of the major gains going on in the cryptocurrency world right now
  • Your money is split up into different "balloons" so that not all of your money is in the same investment
  • You don't have to think about or check on your money often. I've been looking at the app once a day out of curiosity. I just invested my money about five days ago and I've gone up and down, but mostly up.
I put in a couple hundred dollars for now just to experiment and see what happens. I am currently at a gain of $0.82 which doesn't sound like much. But with ten times that initial investment in my bank, I get a whopping $0.01/month. I've made 82x that in five days with Heleum.

Heleum creators advertise it as a savings accelerator. It's not a way to get rich quick, but it is a way to utilize robots to make more money.

If you want to try it, I'd appreciate if you went through my referral link so that I can get a bonus.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Breaking the Bathroom Scale Habit

After gaining 50lb this pregnancy (and still being up 25lb from the last pregnancy), I am beginning my journey "back down the scale". At this heavy of a weight, my energy is terrible and my health can't be great either. I have my age going for me, but that advantage fades a little with each passing day. I know it will catch up with me if I don't get ahold of things now.
Photo by ja ma on Unsplash

My first two weeks postpartum, I ate pretty much whatever I wanted including two or three desserts/sweets per day, lots of bread and cereal, and lots of milk (which I normally don't drink and typically causes me to gain weight). After giving myself that time of freedom as I recovered from childbirth, my husband and I committed to a change in our eating habits. I still can't really workout -- just taking short, leisurely walks for now. But I can eat in a way that is healthy and still provides me with more than enough food I need to produce milk for my son.

We are only on our sixth morning of this new routine, and I so desperately wanted to step on the scale this morning. If I could just see that I've lost a couple pounds, I could stay motivated, right?

Well I know from past experience that the number on the scale is deceiving. It can also become a roadblock. If I get to a weight that I deem "acceptable", I start to slide on my new habits. A cheat treat turns into a cheat day which turns into a cheat weekend. Sometimes I completely abandon my new habits and won't eat something green for months.

The yo-yoing has to stop.

The number on the scale is exciting and does reflect one small portion of my progress, but how I feel and how my health has improved are the ultimate goals -- and those can't be measured on the bathroom scale.

Friday, December 15, 2017

The Confession Tapes (Netflix Series Review)

Would you confess to a crime you did not commit?

None of us want to believe that we or any other human being would be so stupid. In the Netflix Original Series called "The Confession Tapes", this phenomenon is explored through six real cases. Viewers of this docuseries find out just how much our investigative officers can fail us and our justice system allows it to slide. We see story after story showing us how reasonable doubt would have likely freed people in all of these cases... if only they had not confessed.

Who would confess to something they didn't do? most people think.

A few reasons, as explored in the series, include:

  • False promises of going home
  • Long, drawn out interrogations without a lawyer present
  • Police officers selectively taping interrogations to hide the lies they told and tactics they used early in the interrogation
  • Setting up young and vulnerable teens to give a false confession to undercover agents
  • Using hypnotic techniques during interrogation
  • Devices such as a polygraph also played into people's minds, convincing them to confess because they "failed" the test
  • Questioning parents who were still grieving the loss of their child(ren)

This series also explores the media's role in some of these cases and how that twisted the truth, sometimes even twisting it in the minds of the suspects. The media would also pit the local community against the suspects, seemingly sealing their fate.

It's definitely a disturbing thought -- that innocent people were coerced into a confession and ended up behind bars. America is said to have one of the best justice systems in the world. Unfortunately, though, if the investigators have pinned a certain person as the criminal, they can sometimes develop tunnel vision and work hard to take down that suspect, neglecting all other leads. They manipulate to get what they need. They may believe they are doing the right thing, but it has landed innocent people behind bars.

My number one take away from the series: if I am ever accused of anything and taken in for questioning, I will be asking for a lawyer and keeping my mouth shut until council arrives. Even if I am innocent, I cannot rely on the system and the evidence to clear me.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Giving birth = empowerment

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash
I gave birth to my second baby a little over two weeks ago. Like my first, I planned for a homebirth and was able to fulfill my goal due to a complication-free pregnancy, labor, and delivery as well as careful planning and having plenty of support.

Because I have been overweight for the majority of my life, I can sometimes feel pretty low about my body. Plus, I managed to gain right around 50lb with each pregnancy (when a "healthy" recommended pregnancy weight gain for a woman my size would have been less than 20lb). Sometimes I hate the way my body looks. But right now, in the wake of giving birth at home, I feel like my body is pretty badass.

I will admit that birth is an experience that can make you feel like you are on the edge of death. I never felt like I was going to actually die, but during both labors I remember coming to a point of thinking/saying "I can't do this much longer". I remember asking for help. I remember relying on the support of my doula, my husband, my mother, my sister, and my dad. I will be forever grateful for the strength and comfort that they gave me. If I had been completely alone, I think I would have survived. But with the extra hands of support and love, I am able to look back at my experiences with even more fondness.

Giving birth is an experience that a woman remembers for a lifetime. She may not remember all the details and specifics, but she will remember how she felt. How a woman is treated, comforted, supported, and spoken to during her labor and delivery will leave a lasting impact.

I hope all women feel empowered after giving birth, no matter how or where they do it. It is an amazing feat!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Cooking from the comfort of my computer

I've blogged in the past about my struggle to cook at home. Now that I have a newborn and an almost two year old to take care of, I am not too interested in sitting down at a restaurant anytime soon. So it was time to push myself. Some people like to cook, but I'm just not one of them yet. I have to make it easy.

In the past few days, I have cooked three clean and healthy crock pot meals and the majority of the work I put into these meals was done at my computer.

How to feel like you're cooking but put in minimal effort:

  • Open Google or Pinterest. Search for easy, healthy crock pot recipes. Find a few you want to try.
  • Order ingredients for recipes of interest from Wal Mart Grocery Pickup (or another store that does curbside service)
  • Pick up ingredients
  • Assemble in the crock pot/let cook
  • Eat!

This week I did a broccoli beef, chicken curry, and a butternut squash soup. I thoroughly enjoyed two out of three recipes and the third I think I can tweak to my liking. All I did was assemble the ingredients that I picked up from the store in the crock pot and let it cook. The chicken in the chicken curry I had to shred but that took less than five minutes. Other than that, these took minimal work and effort. I honestly am not sure it could get easier! If I can't make this work then I'm a lost cause ;-)

I look forward to finding more easy, healthy crock pot recipes. If you have any to share, please drop a link in the comments!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Childcare in America: Challenges and Solutions

I recently read this article which covered the history of childcare in America and government involvement in childcare from World War 2 to present day. Although I did not fact check the article, it lines up with much of what I know about the history of working women in our country and the challenges they have faced in balancing childcare with career.

As I have written about already this year regarding maternity leave, I do not believe women can have it all. It is simply impossible to have a career and be the best mom you want to be. Each week working women spend 40 hours on the job, 3-5 hours on lunch breaks, and more hours on commute time, leaving just a few hours at the beginning and end of the day to get everyone ready and to wind down.

The article I read discusses how devastating childcare costs can be, especially for single moms or lower income families. The cost is so prohibitive that mothers especially of two or more children often cannot go to work because of inconsistent and unaffordable care.

The author suggests that it is time for the government to step in like it did during World War 2 by offering subsidized childcare. The author wants workers to be paid more and for the government to make more facilities available. Yet the author wants parents to pay much less.

While this is a fantastic idea, it makes me wonder what would happen if those wishes were implemented. If childcare options are already poor, imagine how bad it might be if the government were to run it. Every government "service" I participate in is typically a hellish experience. Think about waiting in line at the DMV or filing taxes. Think about our K-12 public school system (which most people would agree needs an overhaul). The government lowers incentives for efficiency and quality. When the government pays for, subsidizes, or completely takes over an industry, the standards typically lower and the costs go up.

The other issue with government subsidized childcare (or government subsidized anything) is that someone will be paying for the subsidized childcare. The money will come from one of three places:
  1. Higher taxes (which typically trickles down and hurts the people it was supposed to help)
  2. Debt (which will have to be paid by future generations)
  3. Inflation (which is basically a tax on everyone as it raises the cost of goods)

When I got pregnant with my daughter, I made $15/hour. But I was a contractor and had to pay all my own taxes so it was really more like $12/hour. But, my hours were not consistent and I worked a lot of night shifts. So I left that position for one that only paid $10/hour but had consistent, daytime hours and commission opportunity. So, I typically made between $400-$550/week. On a bad week where I did not commission, my paycheck would be less than $400 because of taxes. This job offered no sick days or paid time off so if I did not work my full 40 hours, I was out of luck. I called in sick one day (I had a cold) the whole six months I worked there and took on overtime when it was available since I was trying to pay for my midwife and save for an unpaid maternity leave.

Thankfully, once I gave birth to my daughter, I got another job which paid significantly better plus offered vacation, sick days, and reasonably priced benefits. In addition, my parents and little sister have flexible enough schedules and big enough hearts that they were willing to watch my child.

If I had not gotten a better paying job or if I had not had childcare through my family, I do not think I would have returned to work as more than half of my smaller paychecks would have gone to childcare expenses. Not to mention, I know that the quality of childcare can be spotty and I do not easily trust people around my child. I am not sure what I would have done to bring in income for my family, but it would have had to have been something I could do at home while caring for a child.

I can only imagine how difficult this situation is for many women who do not have a spouse, do not have family support, and do not have a decent salary.

Like with the dilemma of maternity leave, I do not have an easy answer to this challenge. I think the best thing the government could do for moms, however, is to get out of the way. If income taxes were actually lower, women would have more of their paycheck to go toward childcare. In addition, the government has many regulations on childcare facilities which cost them time and money to comply with. While the regulations and standards were implemented to keep kids safe, they raise the cost of care. I would recommend the government lift the regulations and allow parents to make the best decision they can regarding their child's care. With online reviews, childcare centers which do not offer quality care will soon run out of customers. They will be forced to self-regulate in order to keep their customers. By creating barriers to entry through regulations, though, the government may be keeping potential daycare centers from ever getting started in the industry because they cannot afford to get through all the red tape. Less competition means higher prices for parents.

Like many issues facing our society, there is no one size solution or easy answer. My personal belief is that the more freedom people have to open up businesses (like childcare facilities) and the more money that is in the hands of the parents (through lower taxes), the more choices parents will have to get quality care for their child at a price that they can afford.

For my family, I can only express how thankful I am that my parents are in a position to watch my child which puts me at much greater ease while at work and in a better position financially (compared to other moms who pay for expensive care).

What solutions can you think of?

Monday, September 11, 2017

My Cruise Experience: Tips, Tricks, & Ideas

I love to travel. However, going on a cruise was not travelling. It was a vacation.

travel (v) - make a journey, typically of some length or abroad

vacation (n) - an extended period of recreation, especially one spent away from home

Going on vacation may involve travel, but travel does not always equal vacation.

In high school and college, I spent several months working and living in a different place (once in Hungary and once in South Dakota). Both locations offered plenty of tourist attractions, but in both instances I spent a good amount of time building a community and making friends (not just sightseeing). I had a job and a purpose in my presence. I did not just receive but I was able to give to the community. This is how I prefer to travel.

Last week, my husband and I went on our first true vacation. We went on a 5-day cruise stopping in Cozumel and Progreso, Mexico. The whole purpose of the cruise was to relax, have fun, and enjoy ourselves -- to escape reality. This is a pretty foreign concept to us. We have gone on trips "just for fun", but never one where we were waited on hand and foot. A few times a year I will get a pedicure or a massage or try to find a way to treat myself, but those instances are always short and few and far between. Our past travels have always involved family and were not nearly so "luxurious" as a cruise. This was definitely a new experience for us!

I wanted to take some time to write out my thoughts and top tips for any other newbie cruisers.

Tip #1: If you are going to cruise, work to get into relaxation mode before you get to the boat! Prepare ahead of time, do breathing exercises on your way down, and get in the right mindset.

It probably took me 24 hours after stepping on the ship to feel relaxed. After all the stress of whether or not we were even going to have a cruise and get to the ship due to hurricane issues in addition to just not being used to being on vacation mode, I struggled to unwind and relax. I was also leaving behind my daughter overnight for the first time which made me feel guilty.

A cruise involves nightclubs, bars, pools, hot tubs, comedy clubs, casinos, music shows, being waited on, not having to pick up after yourself, having photographers constantly trying to snap your photo, and food (lots and lots of food!). And that's just what is on the ship! Once you get to port, excursions can include day passes at resorts (which means more food, alcohol, and pools) or more adventurous excursions such as horseback riding, ATVs, or other tours. Nothing about a cruise is "normal" (at least not in my life). So getting in the right mindset before you begin can help you take advantage of every minute of the cruise.

Tip #2: Even if it is not your usual scene, try some alcoholic beverages and study up on casino games and etiquette. Those two activities are how a lot of people spend their time on the cruise. I did feel like I was "missing out" a bit by not being a part of that scene.

I'm pregnant so alcoholic drinks were out for me. Drinking by the pool is a big part of a cruise so if that's what you like, a cruise is probably a good choice for you! In addition, people who love to gamble were having a great time. We have never been to a casino so we tried a few slot machines but were honestly so confused and had no idea what we were doing so we did not spend much time there. I wish we had studied up a bit more regarding casino games before getting on-board.

Tip #3: To reduce spending, look for deals, ask for discounts, or just wait till you get to your port of call. Going on a cruise does not have to break the bank, but you need to be prepared to shop around a little.

The two things we spent the most money on was a couple's massage and on photos. (If we were into gambling and drinking, those probably would have made up most of our on-cruise spending.) As it turns out, there were several places in port to get a great massage at a fraction of the price we paid on the boat. In addition, we probably did not need every single photo we purchased. So if you do not want to get caught in the trap of over-purchasing photos, I would suggest just not getting so many of them taken. Once you see them, you feel an attachment because those are your photos. If you decide you do not want the photo, they have you put it in a recycle bin. So you are literally throwing away perfectly good photos of yourself. The cruise line has a monopoly on everything so services like spa treatments and professional photos are not cheap.

Tip #4: Take advantage of the food and order as much as you want. There was more than one day where my husband had steak at both breakfast and dinner. I also ordered multiple appetizers at dinner more than one night. If it sounds good, try it. If you don't like it, don't eat it, but a cruise is a fun way to try new foods. The food is part of the price of admission so enjoy!

Tip #5: Try something new on-board. The gambling was not the only new activity we tried out. One of the things we enjoyed the most as far as on-board entertainment was the comedy club. We have never been to a comedy club so we went to multiple shows and laughed until our bellies hurt! Now that we know how much we enjoyed it, we will be looking at comedy clubs in town for us to visit for date night.

Tip #6: Consider booking excursions through a third party. The cruise line offers interesting and fun excursions for when you are in port, but so do a lot of great local companies.

For our time in Cozumel, I booked a dune buggy tour of the island which included an amazing local lunch and snorkeling. My husband and I had a tour guide all to ourselves. After tipping our amazing guide, we paid about the same as we would have paid through the cruise line for a similar excursion except ours was completely private. We talked to some other cruisers who booked third party and they agreed that their experience was wonderful and their group was very small and intimate for typically a better price than the cruise line offered. Some people get nervous about booking an excursion third party because they have to be back at the boat by a certain time. However, the third party companies know the rules and will help ensure you get back in plenty of time.

Pro-tip: don't go on a cruise when you are as far along in your pregnancy as I am! If possible, I would recommend not being pregnant at all so that you can also drink as much as you want. However, if you do go on a cruise pregnant, it can still be a blast. But as your belly gets bigger, sleep becomes less comfortable. I slept fairly well but did struggle at times. Because of weight gain, I also just felt like I had less stamina than I otherwise would have had.

On a similar note, I would not recommend bringing very small children. As much as I missed our daughter, the cruise would not have been a good experience for any of us if she had joined. She needs a lot of sleep -- she sleeps 11-12 hours/night and usually takes two naps during the day. This is awesome at home, but not conducive to a vacation. If she had come with us, we would have been confined for more than half of the cruise to our cabin due to her sleep schedule. We would have missed out on the evening entertainment (or had to take turns watching the baby while the other spouse went alone). There is on-board babysitting but that is an added expense plus you are leaving your child with a stranger (not a comfortable experience for you or the child). I would also have been constantly worried about her well-being and making sure she was entertained. It would have made the cruise the opposite of relaxing! As kids get older, there are more activities for them to do. But toddlers and babies (basically any child requiring a nap), should probably stay home.

I consider my husband and me to be very normal, down-to-earth people. A cruise is certainly an easy way to feel like you are living the life of wealth and luxury for a few days. There are not even any trash cans on board because the crew is constantly picking up after the cruisers. You didn't even have to throw away your own trash!

I am not sure if or when we will cruise again, but it was definitely a unique experience. If we do cruise again, I feel better prepared to enjoy myself even more and spend my money more wisely.

Have you cruised? What is your top tip?

Thursday, August 31, 2017

100 days of blogging -- I did it!

When I logged into my blog and wrote that post about considering daily blogging, I was honestly not even sure I would log in the next day and make it a two day streak. Before this daily blogging challenge I do not think I ever blogged two days in a row, much less 100. Not to mention, it had been over a year since I put out a blog post... where had my inspiration to write gone?

In the past month alone I have had over 1,100 page views which is pretty crazy to think about. There are plenty of posts I write that I do not feel are all that worthy of readers. Other days, I am extremely proud of my content. Every day, I am thankful that I live in a place where I am free to express myself and in an age where it is so easy to spread ideas.

Writing/blogging is 100% free. I do not pay google for space on the internet. I already own my computer and pay a monthly subscription for internet. There is no added cost, except my time, to blogging daily.

But what it has given me is incredible. I have learned to be creative every day, I have been forced to feed myself something each day to inspire me, I have learned to discipline myself daily.

Two days ago, I wrote my 100th consecutive daily blog post. Yesterday, I skipped writing on purpose. Although I could continue to write daily for an indefinite amount of time, I did not want to get glued to the number. I did not want to keep writing every day for the sake of making it one more day. Perhaps because I had the number 100 in my mind or perhaps because I have gotten lazy, I feel like some of my recent posts were not that great. But still forcing myself to write daily has been an excellent exercise for me.

I hope anyone who has read one post or all 100 posts from this challenge have gained some value. Maybe you're even inspired to come up with your own creativity challenge.

I'll continue writing, just not daily. Please know I am thankful for each and every person who takes the time to read.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

If you want to help, give cash

Link to photo source
The coast of Texas is certainly suffering in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. And the damage is not done. The Houston area is expected to have as much rain in the coming week as it did this past week. The flooding is bad and will likely continue to trap people in their homes and damage property in the coming week or two.

There are a lot of companies and individuals gathering up supplies to send to those in need. Their hearts are in the right place -- the people on the coast need help. But sending truckloads of clothes, water, flashlights, and canned food is honestly not the best move right now for a couple of reasons.

First, it is an extremely inefficient use of resources. All of those items will have to be sorted and distributed by somebody. This takes an enormous amount of man power.

Second, it does not allow for relief organizations to take advantage of economies of scale.

Instead of donating a couple cans of food, the people in need would be much better off we all of us donated a dollar or two to relief efforts. With one dollar, the food bank can purchase seven dollars worth of food because putting all those dollars together allows them to buy in bulk. That way, they can buy fresh food that is exactly what they need plus it is already sorted. This saves time, money, and man power. The same concept holds true for all of the other supplies that is needed on the coast right now.

In addition, a lot of people just need to get out of the area. Bringing them supplies will not make their house less flooded. Getting people evacuated takes resources. Bringing them some water and boxes of mac and cheese is good, but getting them to dry land is better.

In an episode of Adam Ruins Everything, he makes the case for discontinuing in-kind donations and most of our volunteering. Here is a snippet from that episode about canned goods.

The reason we continue to give in-kind donations instead of cash is because it makes us feel better. It makes us feel good to give a can of beans and think someone in need will open this can of beans and be oh-so-thankful. Or to give a package of socks and think someone in Houston who has wet socks is going to be so happy to open up this package of socks and have dry feet again.

While those in-kind donations will hopefully get to  people who need them, cash is always king. Cash always fits, it is always the right color, it is always the right flavor. Cash allows relief agencies to allocate resources efficiently and get exactly what they need to aid the people in distress.

If you want to help people in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, donate money. This New York Times article gives links to both local and national organizations you can give to. It is not guaranteed that all of your cash donations will be used for relief efforts. It is not a guarantee that none of those funds will get used for administrative needs or could possibly be mishandled. However, there is no guarantee that your in-kind donations will get to the people who need them either. Your cash donation has the best chance of helping someone who needs assistance right now.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Expectations can change attitude

Living in San Antonio, TX, we had an exciting weekend starting Thursday afternoon. Everyone rushed to the grocery stores to stock up on supplies as we were concerned Hurricane Harvey would cause us to have up to two feet of water in the city. San Antonio is prone to flash flooding. It does not take a lot of rain or time for our roads to become unsafe. In addition, we were all geared up for power outages. My family even bought some candles and matches just in case. We were all geared up for having to sit at home all weekend and possibly into Monday and Tuesday.

And for most of the city, nothing really happened. No power outages or flooding. No missed work.

All of those expectations for road closures and power outages definitely affected people's attitudes. I went out to get bloodwork Saturday morning (when things were supposed to get pretty bad). The main receptionist kept asking the people coming in why we were getting out in this weather. Most had the same reply, "I really needed to get this done today" but inside we were thinking, "We've seen worse rain than today."

This morning, I drove through to get my breakfast. Although the employees were reasonable and kind, I still felt like there was a looming disappointment that the weather wasn't too bad for them to stay home.

I'll admit that I was kind of let down as well. Instead of thinking about the people who lost their homes, I was disappointed that I didn't get more "action" -- or at least enough action to warrent cancelling work for the day.

Expectations really do affect attitude. If we had gone into the weekend thinking that this was probably all for nothing but better safe than sorry, then there would be no disappointment when we did end up having to go to work as normal. But because we were all hyped up and ready to take it easy, wrapped up in blankets in the house and watching Netflix (assuming we had power), there was a change in attitude.

Hope for the best but expect the worst. In my experience, this can prevent a lot of disappointment. Instead of being disappointed, I am going to work hard on being productive today and this week. There will be time to rest during another natural disaster. I still have my family, my home, and my job. Therefore I should be thankful, instead of dissatisfied, with how things turned out for me during this hurricane.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Listening to my little one hum

My daughter is just over a year and a half old. Although she certainly understands many of the words we speak to her -- banana, cheese, water, outside, shoes, cup, yes, no, the names of certain people -- she does not ever speak very many words back to us.

Instead, she prefers to make soft, sweet little noises. Sort of a mix between humming and singing.

hum (verb) - make a low, steady continuous sound like that of a bee

I love listening to these little noises she makes. It will not be much longer before she starts speaking many words and then full sentences. She will soon learn how to yell, scream, demand, and talk back. But for now, even when she is demanding something or trying to refuse and tell us "no", it comes out in mostly soft hums and sweet noises. It is music to my mama ears.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Another case of my fragility

Hunger is a reality for most of the world. Food insecurity (waking up in the morning and not being sure of where you will get your food for the day) is prevalent in many societies and is even an issue for some Americans.

For myself, I am rarely hungry unless I just want to be because I am restricting my food intake.
This morning, I went in for bloodwork. I knew I had to arrive fasting, but I did not realize I would not be able to eat for several more hours as they conducted testing. Between being pregnant and not being prepared for the fact that I would not be allowed to eat, I was frazzled at first. I felt somewhat faint, to be honest. By the time I even started the testing I have usually eaten once and halfway through the testing I normally would have had a snack by then. Being completely unable to eat but knowing I had to get through that testing today made me feel tied down against my will.

Again, my fragility showed. So I have to wait a couple of hours before eating breakfast? Big deal. A lot of people go weeks at a time with barely enough food to keep them alive. I have to go a couple hours, and I even know that the end is in sight.

Many of us are so fragile, though, that we throw little fits when we can’t fulfill this basic need at the exact moment we want to. In addition, Americans spend a lot of money eating out. We love quick hits of energy and sugar bursts. We get upset when we don’t get to eat immediately. (Sure, this isn’t everyone… but for my fellow fragile people it’s true!) 

When these situations arise, I get stressed and upset. But I am trying to change my mindset. As soon as I can convince myself to think clearly and rationally again, I remember that this is just a test and that training myself to handle the stress now will help me handle more severe and stressful situations in the future.

Friday, August 25, 2017

What kind of provisions would you stockpile for a 48 hour emergency?

I live in San Antonio, Texas and we are supposed to experience some flooding over the weekend due to the hurricane hitting the gulf. Although the most we may get is some heavy rain, it is possible we could end up with some power outages.

Since we normally grocery shop on the weekend, I decided to at least stock up on a few things last night in case we could not get out of the house. I grabbed some water bottles, almond butter, bread, fruit, protein bars, baby food, some almond milk, a few veggies, and some frozen foods (assuming we have electricity to warm these last items up).

I was quite entertained to see what other people were stocking up on. For example, one couple was exiting the grocery store with about 10 liters of Pepsi. Most people were stocking up on cereals and milk, bread and peanut butter, and other shelf-ready food. Although the produce section was busy, there was still plenty of fruit and vegetables remaining. The bread aisle, on the other hand, looked quite bare.

As I left the store I had mixed thoughts. On one hand I felt like if there is a true emergency with power outages that lasted more than a couple days we might not have enough shelf-ready food. On the other hand I felt like this was probably a lot of scare for maybe short power outages or not being able to get out of the house for a whole day or two.

Standing in the long line at the grocery store, it reminded me that I wish I had my own stockpile already prepared at home so that I was not running around last minute in this type of situation. I googled and found a great article with some ideas for creating a two week emergency stockpile. This article pointed out not only the importance of water and food but also on reducing the need to clean. Paper plates and plastic ware are two good ways to reduce the need to clean -- plus these items never expire so you can have them on hand for years. Having sanitation wipes available can also be handy. In addition, having a light source is helpful, especially with small children as they can be scared or bored in the dark. Basic tools and a first aid kit are never a bad idea either.

What would you stock up on in case of a short-term emergency?

Thursday, August 24, 2017

What I have learned from testing my blood sugar levels

Last Monday, I began monitoring my blood sugar four times daily (once fasting and then two hours after each meal).

The first few days, I thought my numbers were decent. They were definitely within range for someone who is not diabetic. Sure, there were meals where my blood sugar would spike, but it never hit the danger zone.

Or so I thought...

Apparently there are different rules for pregnant women and the numbers for someone expecting should be lower than for a non-pregnant person. This is for the health of the mom and the baby. If the mother's blood sugar spikes too often, this means the placenta may age faster than the baby and/or it could cause the baby to gain more weight than normal (which can result in other possible complications during the birth).

The way my body responds to food may be a little different since I am pregnant. However, the blood sugar test results have not been super surprising. After meals where I eat food like chicken and vegetables, my blood sugar barely moves higher than my fasting levels. After meals heavy in carbs, starch, and sugar, my levels rise (sometimes dramatically). I knew this was probably happening to my body, but actually having the proof in the numbers has been eye opening. I have also noticed that on the days where I do not have a spike in my levels, my energy is much more consistent.

Even though I have the proof in the numbers and now own a test to monitor my levels (which I can use even after my pregnancy if I would like to check them), I still want to eat the foods that make my levels spike. These are foods that I have been eating and enjoying all of my life and have grown addicted to over the years. But they definitely affect my body in a negative way.

I am hoping that owning this test and continuing to monitor my blood sugar numbers will help motivate me to make the changes I need to in my diet -- the changes that make my body and my blood sugar happy.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

(Arguably) the best education you could give your kids

There are so many things we want to teach our kids: how to be polite, proper hygiene, how to ask good questions, and let's not forget reading, writing, and arithmetic.

But I would argue that some of the best lessons you could give your kid(s) is how to be entrepreneurial. How to look for gaps and needs and learn to fill them. How to bring value to people.

Those basic concepts will help ensure that your child will have an income. They will learn to get creative, bring value to people, and get compensated for that value. Whether they pursue starting their own business or a traditional job, that entrepreneurial spirit will help them succeed.

In order to teach them to be entrepreneurial, you probably have to demonstrate it yourself. Some kids are naturally inclined, but others need some guidance and encouragement. There are many resources out there that can help guide you and your child(ren).

Some simple tips to get you started:

  • When your child sees a problem, encourage them to come up with a potential solution
  • If your child asks for money, ask them what they could offer to others in order to earn those funds they are requesting
  • Before your child is even old enough for a "real job", help them learn skills that they could monetize. Lemonade stands are okay, but what about teaching them how to create a template website so that they can offer that service to others? Think big and help your kids think big too!
One of the things my sister and I did as early as elementary school was running a bird business. We would have to hand feed the baby birds for several weeks and then we would sell them. Sometimes we found buyers, sometimes we were giving the birds away. But having to go through the process of "growing" our product and trying to find buyers was a great lesson in hard work and entrepreneurship.

How will you foster entrepreneurial ideals into your kid(s)?

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

What your doctor won't tell you about birth control

For the vast majority of human history, most women probably had many more children in their lifetime than they desired. But without a way to really control it, the only answer to avoiding pregnancy was abstinence.
Enter the sexual revolution of the 1960's along with the FDA's approval of "the pill". Within five years of its introduction in the United States, around 6.5 million women were using the pill and finding it to be quite effective in suppressing pregnancy.
I want women to be able to have the best access to healthcare and be able to make choices that are good for them, their body, and their circumstances. Women having control over how many pregnancies they have in their lifetime is an excellent thing for women. Pregnancy and childbirth is hard on the human body and has its own set of risks and then caring for and raising a child is another process which is lengthy and expensive.

However, the ability to "control" our reproductive system has not come without consequences to the health of women. Some of these consequences are more severe than others. Unfortunately, women are often not told about all the possible negative side effects of taking birth control before they begin using it. Doctors rarely mention things other than weight gain or pimples. Society accepts the pill as a normal part of people's lives and so the negative side-effects are again rarely mentioned.
Wellness Mama wrote an excellent article covering many of the possible side-effects of hormonal birth control. For example, The Breast Cancer Prevention Program put out a study that found women under 25 who have not carried a pregnancy to term and who have been on the pill for 2+ years increase their risk of developing breast cancer by 10 times. Women who have history of migraines and take the pill increase their risk of having a stroke (and for women who smoke and take the pill, the chances are heightened even further). Women on a low-dose pill increase their risk of heart attack. The pill may also be linked to long-term risk of diabetes. Women with HPV who have been on the pill for 10+ years are four times more likely to develop cervical cancer. Women with HPV who have been on the pill 5-9 years are almost three times more likely to develop cervical cancer.

IUDs aren't really any better. In fact, IUDs carry many of the same risks as the pill in additional to increasing the risk of the woman needing a hysterectomy or having a complication from an ectopic pregnancy.

There are other health risks to the pill, IUDs, and sterilization. You can click on that link to Wellness Mama to get more information from her extensive post about it and about what natural alternatives she suggests. I didn't want to just re-write her article as she already does an amazing job researching and citing all of the stats I listed above so I would definitely encourage you to check it out for more information and sources.

There is no unicorn to solving this problem. There is no perfect method of birth control that will allow women to have care-free sex. Being sexually active comes with risks -- pregnancy and disease, to name two. Hormonal birth control has health risks. Not doing anything to suppress birth also has possible negative consequences for the woman who does not want to become pregnant.

The Wellness Mama article gives some excellent ideas for women looking to stay off of hormonal contraceptives. These are options most doctors don't really mention or know much about. They aren't perfect, but neither is the pill. And it is better to get a full picture of your options than to think that a pill or an IUD are the only way to go. Like most things in life, there are options. No single one is perfect and without consequences, both good and bad. I would encourage all women to research, weigh the risks, and make an informed choice.  

Monday, August 21, 2017

I was reminded this morning that I am an extremely fragile person

I like to consider myself tough. And I definitely have my moments where I kick butt and take names.

And then I have moments like this morning at 3:30am (give or take a few minutes). Those moments where the bathroom is flooding and I am the one left holding the mop.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is where you remember how fragile you are. Those moments are where you remember just how poorly you deal with stress sometimes.

I was mad, frustrated, angry, stressed, pointing fingers, wishing I could just go to bed and ignore it, spewing some words I'm not proud of, and eventually I cried.

This was not how I wanted to start my Monday morning (or any morning, for that matter). And this was also not how I wanted to be known for handling the unexpected.

And yet, I cleaned it up. 45 minutes, six towels, and half a bucket of water later, it was decently dry. Back to sleep for an hour or so and then up to get myself ready for work. I wanted to call in, but I resisted.

In the end, I guess I could say I am tough just for showing up to work on time and not using it as an excuse to take the morning off. But in that moment at 3:30am while I was holding a mop in my hand and sobbing, I remembered how fragile I can be.

These stressful moments are just tastes of what stress we could face if we lose a job, lose a loved one, or end up in a serious accident resulting in hospitalization. Those are the moments we aren't prepared for that will truly test our stress tolerance and our fragility. I am trying to look at stressful moments like the one this morning as preparation for what could happen in the future. No one wants to go through those scary, frustrating moments but they are bound to happen. Will I be prepared to handle them? What about you?

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Why I quit coloring my hair

My wedding day -- hair colored just a week before
and styled again that morning.
"If it makes you feel good, you should do it for you!"

I have been told that many times since I quit coloring my hair. There was definitely a little high  I would get after coloring my hair at home or especially after stepping out of the beauty salon and having a professional do my hair.

But eight weeks after giving birth, I got to the beauty salon with my daughter and spent over two hours getting my hair colored. It felt like an eternity. And I was about to go back to work full time.

More recent photo. Hair has not been
colored in almost 1.5 years!
I realized a couple of things. First, I didn't like spending that much time getting my hair done even before I had my baby. Sure, it felt good afterwards, but the time spent at the salon was just too long. Second, it costs money. I could get it done for about $100/visit which isn't bad but that comes out to $400/year. But honestly, the money was the smallest reason I wanted to give it up. The main reason I quit going was because of my daughter. I didn't want to have to spend time either away from her or have her go to the salon with me to wait. Since I work full time outside the home, I try to schedule very few activities where I cannot also bring my daughter. I already spend 50+ hours away from her each week so cutting out any unnecessary activities that separate me from her was and is a priority for me. Not to mention that if I was going to teach her that she is beautiful the way she is and she should love herself, I have to accept myself the way I am too.

It was not easy to break this nine year habit for me but now I am already a year and a half into the journey. In this second photo, I can clearly see "the line" where my hair has grown out. My natural hair color is a lot darker than I remember (although perhaps it has changed over time). My hair is also quite damaged from the color I have put on it. Since this second photo was taken I got a haircut which makes my hair look much healthier -- I keep clipping away at all the damaged hairs. But it is taking time to get my hair where I want it.

I don't plan to ever go back to coloring my hair, especially now that I know what a painful process it is to grow out my natural locks. There are a lot of women who color their hair and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. I totally understand the reasons why. But for me and especially for this season of motherhood, it just isn't my top priority and in fact was getting in the way of my top priority: my family.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

10 easy ideas for when you need to challenge your routine

Sometimes our routines can feel so blah. We often get so bored after awhile, am I right? But then when we get out of routine for a week we are often happy to return to it. Is there a happy medium?

Trying new things to switch up your routine doesn't have to be difficult. You can add variety to your life without completely ignoring your obligations and normal schedule.

Here are 10 ideas for switching up your routine that should be fairly easy to try out when you feel you are in a rut:

  1. Change up your physical fitness. For example, if you always go on a bike ride, try a hike. If you always go to spin class, try yoga. If you don't do any physical fitness, just take a short walk.
  2. Try a new restaurant. Get on Google Maps or Yelp and explore new eats in your area.
  3. Cook a new recipe. I tried making orange chicken last night and it turned out to be yummy and didn't make me feel sick like I often do after eating at a Chinese restaurant. I got to test my cooking skills and add variety for my pallet.
  4. Listen to new music. Put on a different Pandora station or explore what your friends are listening to on Spotify.
  5. Watch a random movie. Explore the sections of Netflix that you don't normally visit or rent a movie from RedBox that is out of your comfort zone.
  6. Listen to a new podcast. If you are like me and you listen to a specific podcast or two on the way to work, take a break from your normal show and try something new.
  7. Stop doing something you normally do. Try going a day without Facebook or maybe leave your cell phone at home one day. Not doing something you normally do can throw you off routine just enough to make things interesting.
  8. Meet someone new. Go to a local meet up, book club, or any local scene where you may meet someone new.
  9. Or hang out with someone you don't see often. Make a lunch date with a friend you don't see often. Catch up and find out what they have been up to.
  10. Rearrange your space. Move your furniture around. Hang up some art or a new picture. Change up the space in which you live to give it a fresh feeling.
Bonus idea: If you really feel like you need a full break from your routine, plan a last minute weekend getaway or start making plans for your next trip out of town. Even just having something on the calendar to look forward to might keep you motivated. 

What do you do to change up your routine when you get bored? 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Where you do have unlimited opportunity

Yesterday I wrote about how there is no such thing as unlimited opportunity when it comes to a pyramid shaped business model.

However, there is unlimited opportunity when you pursue your own business. There is no limit to the value you can bring to people. There is no one stopping you from bringing something new to the table, getting it into the right people's hands, and growing your company/product.

And guess what? You get to keep the profits instead of sharing them with several layers of upline.

Of course there is a limited number of people who may need your product. But who says you need to sell to everyone on the globe? And who says you can't make new products to sell to your following?

There is no one stopping or limited you.

This is so much easier said than done. But if you were considering doing something on the entrepreneurial side, just get started.

Sure, you could fail. You could lose money. For example, last year I published an ecourse. I believe I've made a whole $17 in revenue from the course (and it costs me $45 to buy a microphone). So technically, I have lost money on this venture. But that doesn't mean I am limited to just $17. The course is still relevant. If I wanted to revamp and update the course, advertise it, and pursue more customers, I could. And from there the sky is the limit.

I have also had the goal for years to publish an ebook. It doesn't have to be long, but yet I've never accomplished this goal. Having blogged for almost 90 days in a row now, daily writing is becoming a habit, so I have a good feeling I will be reaching this goal before long. The cost to write the ebook would be almost zero (minus the hours I put into it). I could hire someone to edit or create a cover if I wanted, or I could do those things on my own if I really wanted to keep costs low. It's a fairly inexpensive way to make a product, bring value to people, and possibly make some money. I may not get rich, but at least I could make some money (versus network marketing where I have a 99.7% chance of losing money).

What value could you bring the world? What is your niche? Build a product and try to sell it! What's stopping you?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

There is no such thing as an unlimited opportunity when it comes to pyramids

When it comes to a pyramid where your profits rely on creating more representatives under you, there is not such thing as an unlimited opportunity.

Multi-level marketing companies claim they are not pyramids. However, most of the money representatives hope to make is not really on the sale of their product but on the recruitment of their down line. They are taught that if they recruit a few people who recruit a few people who recruit a few people, they could grow their business almost infinitely.

The problem with this model is that there is a limited number of people in the world. And guess what? Not all of them want to be involved in the pyramid that is your MLM company.

Let's say your goal is to only recruit 10 people. Well, most of us could find 10 people to buy into our product and the business opportunity. If you ask each of those 10 to recruit 10 more and so on, then by the time you get to the ninth level, you would need 10 billion people. Like I said above, not everyone wants to be involved in your MLM. In addition, even if you were in one of the top few levels, eventually you would need those people at the bottom to sustain your income. There will always be the people at the bottom who are supporting the people at the top making those gangster dollars and driving their company paid-for vehicles.

This type of model is non sustainable and frankly it is immoral. If you're at the top, you make your money from those paying into the system. If you're at the bottom, you have no chance of success because this model has its limitations.