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.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

1 in 7 of American Households are Infiltrated

I have blogged briefly about this epidemic that is sweeping the nation. It is affecting our women in particular with 3 out of 4 involved being female. It is a cult-like machine that makes big promises but only delivers to about 1% of its followers.

I'm talking about multi-level marketing companies.

If you know anyone at all, if you have a Facebook, and especially if you are a woman or a mother, you have likely been solicited to join. They are hard to avoid, with one in seven American households involved. It also makes them hard to speak out against given the broad based participation -- you will offend someone you know.

I've bought the products, I've even hosted a couple of parties. And of course my mother grew three different MLM businesses in her lifetime. But I'm over it (and I'm pretty sure my mom is over it too). The odds are stacked against the reps. MLM companies have two customers: the people who buy the products and the representatives who not only buy the products but buy the business opportunity, the national conventions, etc). And the second customer is a lot more profitable than the first.

It's time we stopped the madness. There is no product that a network marketing company is selling that I cannot get on the market at probably a more affordable price. We don't need representatives who go into debt, spend their spouse's money, and annoy all of their friends and family to burn out within a year or two and give up, dejected.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Stand for Something, or Not at All

When writing a book (or heck, even a blog post) or starting a business or taking an opinion, often we concern ourselves with trying to appeal to as many people as possible. We don't want to get too specific, step on toes, make anyone feel left out, or forget to mention the exceptions.

However, if you don't take a stand for something, you might as well not take a stand at all.

People want to feel heard. They want to believe that there is someone out there who gets them.

Making people feel heard will bring in your core group of followers -- your tribe.

Trying to please everyone will often mean pleasing the lowest common denominator. It will ultimately mean pleasing no one.

Take a stand. Make people feel heard. Those people will help you be successful.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Learning about my Body through Testing my Blood Sugar

During this pregnancy, I am opting out of the nasty orange sugar drink to test for gestational diabetes. Instead, I will be testing my blood sugar four times daily (once fasting and once after each meal) for two weeks. I will also be logging my daily food intake -- everything that I eat must be written down with the corresponding time.

Now, it would be a lot easier to just drink that orange drink and have my midwife test how my body handles that sugar dump. However, that test is often not super accurate with 24 out of 100 women who do not have gestational diabetes falsely testing positive resulting in more test required. Plus, that drink is just gross and bad for your body. I went with that method last time, but this time I wanted to take the opportunity to learn a bit more about my body and hopefully get a more accurate result.

By testing my blood sugar four times daily for two weeks I will learn a lot about how my body handles certain foods and how effectively my body handles sugar. Since I love eating bread, pasta, and desserts, this should be an eye opener. In addition, having to diligently write down everything I eat for two weeks should also be a wake up call in and of itself. I definitely plan to blog about the results.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Think You're Cut Out For Entrepreneurship? Take This Quiz

Answer yes or no to the following questions and tally up your results.

Are you willing and able to devote 110% of your passion and effort to your startup?

Is staying up at night to worry about logistics and money and advertising and hiring something you can live with?

Would you be able to survive on a diet of frozen meals, coffee, and ramen noodles for months on end?

Are you willing to lose friends and family because they don't see you for weeks at a time? And when they do see you all you can talk about is your business.

Would you do whatever it takes to be your own boss so that you don't have to answer to anyone else (except your customers, of course)?

Do you have something that you are passionate enough about that you are willing to pursue it at all costs?

Are you ready to get started right now?

If you answered yes to most or all of these questions, great. But what really matters are your actions.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Paying with Cash

For the month of August, my husband and I decided to pay cash for our eating out. We thought this might help make the spending feel more real and painful and help us stick to our budget. We allocated a certain dollar amount for each of us to spend separately on snacks or lunches plus a dollar amount to when we eat out together.
Collectively, we are still eating out about the same, maybe slightly less. But actually taking out cash makes me realize just how expensive it is for two adults to go out to eat, leave a tip, etc.

As far as my own personal food budget, I find that I am spending less at the vending machine or out to breakfast on my way to work. I am making sure I pack snacks for work and eat before I leave because I don't want to spend my cash and I want to make sure I can make it last the whole month.

If you're struggling to cut back in a certain budget expenditure, try switching to cash and see if you cut back. Having to hand over cash and watch your reserve go down helps make the spending much more real.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Why choosing a baby name is so difficult

Why is choosing a name for your child so difficult?

If one spouse does not have much opinion on the subject, it can be quite easy. But if both partners have strong feelings about the name of their child, this simple task of choosing a name becomes nearly impossible.

Working together is probably what makes picking out a baby name so hard. Two people have to agree on one or two names for their child out of the tens of thousands of options.

But maybe the act of mutually deciding on a name is just an exercise in working together since raising a child is definitely a two person job. Of course there are single parents who do an incredible job raising their child(ren) primarily on their own, but I am sure they would agree that an extra set of hands could help them out sometimes.

Two people working together to narrow down a name for their child. It really is just the start of many difficult decisions they will have to make as parents. But the satisfaction of coming to a conclusion on this one subject also makes the couple happy -- they found something they both love and think will be a great gift to their baby.

And so it begins...

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Why I continue to blog daily

Today is my 81st consecutive day to blog. My goal is to make it to 100 days.

However, the page views on my posts are not as high as they used to be. I find myself not writing as high-quality of a post as I used to. I feel like my posts have been like a bell curve. I started out rusty so they weren't that great, then they got better for a stretch and hit my stride and pumped out some awesome posts, and now I am on this downward slope where my inspiration and "freshness" has started to grow thin.

But I continue to blog every day anyway for two main reasons.

The first is because I'm stubborn and I want to make it to 100 days, simple as that.

The other is because I am still finding it to be a valuable exercise. Daily blogging forces me to practice discipline and creativity in the same breath every single day.

I have a few major goals I want to accomplish in the next year. These require discipline and daily work if I am going to make progress. I feel like blogging daily has been a great way to push myself and prove to myself that I can do something every single day that requires at least a little bit of work.

I started out 81 days ago with my first blog post in over a year. I wasn't sure I was even going to blog again the next day, much less the day after that. Here I am, 80 days later, still writing.

Here's to 19+ more days.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

What would your reacation be to a pink slip?

As I've blogged about in the past, most Americans would not survive more than 3 weeks without their income. They would be forced to take on debt in order to pay bills or just let them pile up.

I would be almost in that boat. I would last a bit longer than 3 weeks, but not much.

Wow. That's hard to admit.

What does that do to people's morale? We show up to work day after day knowing that if we don't or if something happens to us or our job, we're in deep water.

If you were to be handed a pink slip, would you go home with a drink and stare blankly into your unknown future?

Or would you have a side-gig that you've been working on for a year or two and were considering taking full time anyway?

Would you curse your employer on the way out the door?

Or would you thank them for nudging you into that other project you were working on?

Having a job gives us a false sense of security. Nothing is secure -- nothing is guaranteed -- nothing is handed to us.

I'm not where I want to be as it relates to income earning and "job security", but at least I am awake to the reality of my situation.

What about you?

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Big Frog or Little Frog First?

When I was in seventh grade, my mom took my older sister and me to a leadership conference where I learned an important concept: swallow the big frog first. This simply means that when you write out your list of priorities and tasks, start with the most time-consuming and/or the one you are dreading the most. The idea is that if you get the biggest, most dreadful thing done ("swallowed") first, the rest will be easy. If you start by eating the little frog first and move to progressively larger frogs, you get worn out.

This concept has saved me many times over the years. If there was a research paper I was dreading or a particular project I didn't want to get started, I knew that was the exact thing I needed to work on.

Recently, though, I began thinking about how sometimes there is also value in starting with the little frogs -- the low hanging fruit. Starting with a bunch of little frogs can sometimes get you in the zone and motivate you to keep moving. For example, when trying to pay off debts, it can be exciting to pay off a few little debts quickly and then start putting that money toward larger debts.

Ultimately, no matter what size "frog" you start with, the important thing is to get started.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The hardest part is getting started

Going from 10 squats to 100 squats in 10 days

I used to love exercise. I've done basketball, swim team, and walking/jogging throughout my childhood. I went one summer where I would walk at a 3-4 mile pace for at least an hour a day. One year I did a squats challenge where I built up to doing something like 250 consecutive squats.

The last few years, however, exercise has not been my top priority.

With my current pregnancy, I am gaining weight faster than I did in my first pregnancy even though I feel like I am eating less junk food this time around. But I have only been exercising about once a week. So at my last appointment, my midwife told me I should aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise, 5 times per week.

I've started to work back up to that. And what's amazing is just how quickly I have made progress. My body remembers all those times I went walking and jogging and swimming. It really only took a few days of purposeful exercise to start to feel like it was more fun than work. I didn't realize that only exercising once a week was miserable because my body had too much time to "forget" in between. Exercising every day means my body remembers and it starts to snap into action.

I am also doing some squats every day. I started barely able to pump out 10 squats. Within 10 days, I am up to 100 consecutive squats. My legs feel a bit jelly immediately afterward, but overall it gives me energy and gets me excited about the possibilities.

The hardest part really was just getting started.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Obesity = a chronic illness?

I was YouTube browsing the other day and got on a string of TED talks. As often happens on YouTube, you start on one type of video and soon end up in a totally different area of the internet. I finally got to a TED talk that was titled How to Lose 50 Pounds and Keep Them Off. Intrigued, I clicked.

You see, I have lost 50 pounds. I've lost more than 50 pounds at least three times in my adult life. It takes me maybe 5-6 months to make such progress. But keeping those pounds off, that's a whole different story.

The talk wasn't revolutionary or anything. He did not reveal any magic way to keep weight off. But it did give me something to consider. Essentially, the speaker said the way we view obesity has to change. Instead of looking at weight as something you just lose once through diet, he says you have to treat obesity like a chronic illness. Once you have it, it never just "goes away".

If a person has a chronic illness, they are constantly going to be monitored for the rest of their life regarding that illness. Even if they are able to get their numbers stabilized or minimize the side-effects, they live their life knowing they having asthma, arthritis, hypertension, etc. Obese people should behave the same way even if they lose the weight and therefore get their obesity "under control".

It will never be under control the same way it will be for someone who never put the weight on. The sooner an obese or previously obese person can accept that, the sooner they can start to take steps to treat it that way. Labeling obesity a chronic illness does not mean the person is doomed to live a life trapped in their overweight and unhealthy body. But it does mean they have to be on their toes for the rest of their life -- treating their condition like they would if they had epilepsy or multiple sclerosis. Having a false sense of security that obesity was "conquered" could quickly mean a relapse. Obesity is "long-lasting and difficult to eradicate... persisting for a long time or constantly recurring" as the definition for chronic suggests.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Raising a Little Human

Raising a little human is amazing. You well up with pride when they reach milestones. You love hearing that most beautiful noise in the world -- a child's giggle. Your child's giggle. You get to see them trip over their own toes but get right back up. You get to hug and snuggle and kiss (and headbutt). You never knew you could love a person so much or that you could be so unconditionally loved.

Raising a little human is terrifying. You have to make sure this tiny body is fed, rested, changed, and healthy. You worry about stepping away, even for a second, when they are taking a bath or eating food (What if they DIE?). You have to try to reprimand them if they are throwing a tantrum in public but really you just totally get it because it has been a hard day.

Raising a little human is expensive. You need more space, clothes, food, diapers, car seats, bed, and sometimes childcare. Thankfully friends and family often help out with some of these expenses which is immensely helpful! But even just the medical bill to bring the tiny human into the world is no small number.

Raising a little human changes you. You start to understand why your parents responded the way they did to certain situations. You suddenly have to think about someone other than yourself and your SO. You think a little longer-term than just a year or two out. You change your priorities and behavior in order to do the best you can for your child. Some people say having a little human limits you. In some sense, it can and it does. But you can't imagine life without them and in many ways you can't even remember life before them.

Friday, August 4, 2017


I have been asking myself for quite sometime what will make me happy. Will xyz make me happy? Or perhaps abc?
We live in a culture that has a major fear of missing out (or FOMO for short). I certainly experience this.
We ask ourselves questions like:
  • If I'm at this job, am I missing out on a better career opportunity?
  • If I am living in this city, am I missing out on better vibe somewhere else?
  • If I am at this university, am I getting everything this other university has for me?
  • If I'm with this significant other, am I missing out on what someone else could do for me?
  • If I eat at this restaurant, will I miss out on a better meal?
Consequently, our fear of missing out also sometimes paralyzes us from committing to something. I don't want to commit to these Saturday plans because what if something better comes up?

One of the reasons I am limiting my Facebook time is because I have been experiencing some fear of missing out. Seeing what other people's lives are like can sometimes make you question whether you are doing the right thing.

I don't have the answer to what will make me happy. But I know comparing myself to others who are in completely different situations is probably not a healthy thing for me to be doing on a daily basis. Of course it is good to be exposed to other possibilities and know that there are options out there. But too much exposure can force us to become bitter at our own lives instead of enjoying what is right in front of us.

How do you deal with a fear of missing out?

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Coming back to routine

As much as people love to complain about their normal day-to-day routine, we sometimes miss it when we are away. It can be wonderful to get away and take a break longer than just the weekend. But when we do that and then come back from a sick day or a vacation week we often come back with a new gratitude for our regular routine.

If you do take a break from the regular routine and come back even more bitter and upset than before you left, it may be time to find a new routine. However, if you find yourself refreshed and happy to be back, then you may just be in the right place.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Working toward a goal for the sake of the goal

I've been keeping my head down recently working toward a specific goal. I want to get this goal done, accomplished, and out of the way. But today I began to wonder why this goal is even important to me.

Sometimes we start to work so hard toward a goal that we lose sight of the end game. Why are we doing this? Why are we working so hard? Why are we putting in the hours?

It can be helpful to take a step back and remember the why(s). This can help you determine whether you will keep working toward to end game, change your method/pace, change the goal, or perhaps abandon the goal. Life changes and what we need to accomplish changes so we must reevaluate regularly.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Limiting Facebook time = less clutter in my mind

If you've been reading you know I'm all about decluttering. You also know I have a lot of goals I am working toward. In an attempt to get more stuff done, I did something some would consider drastic.

I uninstalled the Facebook app from my phone.

It's not that I am going to stay completely off of Facebook for several weeks or months at a time as I have done in the past. But I am limiting my log ins to maybe once or twice a day most days and those will be on my computer at home only. So far in this experiment I have gone several days in a row without logging in. I plan to take it day by day.

Instead of checking Facebook for 5-10 minutes a day (sometimes much longer) every hour or so, I have only be checking for maybe 5-10 minutes once a day. No specific rules -- just the goal of limiting my time on Facebook to a minute part of my day.

This definitely saves me some time. I was so used to doing quick facebook checks constantly throughout the day that those few minutes here and there add up.

But more than that, it helps to keep my mind uncluttered.

I read and see a lot of fun stuff on Facebook -- updates on friend's lives and their adventures mostly. But I also see a lot of depressing articles, not-so-funny memes, and other useless-to-me information from people I barely know or don't know at all. Sometimes I am thinking about these things long after I close the Facebook app. When I avoid exposing myself to all this useless information in the first place, my mind is more focussed on what I am trying to accomplish.

Now, when I sit down to open my Facebook app and remember it is not there, I either find something else to do that gets me closer to my goals, I focus on my family/the people around me, or I open my Bible app and read a chapter out of the Good Book.

What would you do without the Facebook app?