Hello long lost friends……

Hi everyone!

I haven’t written on here in a long time so I thought I would check in!

I’ve been taking a writing class and have a new blog that I’ve created for the class.  You can check it out if you’re interested.

www.alifewellpenned.com

It’s focus is on planning and creating an intentional life for the Lord.

Today’s post is 6 Reasons Why An Affair Will Help Your Marriage

I hope to be back in the flow here real soon!

 

 

Challenges in the midst of blessings

What are your favorite childhood memories?  Are there reoccurring times you remember fondly?  Did you have a fort in your backyard?  Did you go to camp each summer?  Did you go skiing each winter?

Photo Credit: caribb via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: caribb via Compfight cc

Yesterday morning we were blanketed in 11 inches of white.  The entire day was spent living in a beautiful snow globe.  This morning we woke to another 12 inches on top.  It’s truly beautiful.  Even more so because I no longer have to leave the house on days like this now that I’m a stay-at-home mom/grandma/trophy wife.  (I like the trophy wife the best, except when my son reminds me that everyone gets a “thanks for playing” trophy these days.)

Where was I?  Ah, yes, snow!

These multiplying inches bring back great memories of playing outside when I was a kid.  Growing up in Michigan usually meant snow in late November/early December that remained through February.

We lived on a dead end road and the snow plow would push a glorious mound of white playground and leave it three feet past our driveway.  We spent hours as kids digging holes in that mountain, climbing to the peak, and sliding back down on our bellies.

Having fibromyalgia has changed winters in Michigan for me.  By this evening the temperature will be -40 with the wind chill factor.  (That is extremely cold, even for these parts, and we haven’t seen this much snow at one time in quite a few years.)  It hurts down deep in my bones.

Saturday my daughter and I shared the shoveling duties.  I was having a pretty good pain day and my husband was helping friends move and my son was battling the flu.  That left all the scooping to us girls.  My wrists and shoulders are still sore today but the job had to be done.

Despite the aches and pains, I really enjoyed getting outside in the snow.  I bundled up more than usual and shoveled a few scoops into a pile and then stood to watch my breath leave me like a cloud of smoke in the midst of falling flakes.  Trying to remember to P.A.C.E. myself!

The best part of being out there was the memories replaying in my mind.  As kids we played outside until we were called in to thaw.  We’d drink some hot cocoa while our gloves and boots dried over every heating vent in the house.  Once our noses had turned from bright red back to their normal color we’d venture out again!

I think sometimes in the midst of our illness and the pain it can bring we need to stop and remember life before.  Not to make us sad or angry at our current state; but to be thankful for what we once had.  Each phase of life has its blessings and its challenges, its comfort and its pain.

I always try to remember there are so many that are so much worse off than me.  Not to sound pious but I’m thankful I have fibro when it is compared to a number of other illness or diseases.  I’m thankful for the strength to shovel some days when there are so many that cannot leave their bed, home, wheelchair, etc.  I’m thankful for the warm house that was waiting for me when so many are out in the cold this winter.

So today as I’m hoping this flare caused by the shoveling is on its way out, I’m trying to remember that it was caused by something I’m able to do that so many others are not.  The challenges in the midst of blessings.

Stay Well! ~ Live Joyfully!

S.M.A.R.T. people reach their goals!

So it’s the New Year and it’s the time we’re all thinking about resolutions and goals.

The most popular goal we set each January – lose weight. Of course, the health and fitness industry knows this as well. You’ll find aisles at the store packed with workout equipment, protein bars and meal substitute shakes. Gym memberships go on sale or at least they offer some great reward for joining this month.

The momentum for the first few weeks of the year is great! We keep us the strict diet, we purchase our gym membership and we tell everyone to watch as we finally lose the weight this year.

So how come we’re not a nation filled with healthy people living healthy lives at a healthy weight? How come 25% will drop their New Year’s resolution by next Wednesday? 60% will stick with it through June and then fall off the bandwagon. 5% will actually succeed and lose some pounds but 95% of those will gain it back. Why?? What’s the big mystery to keeping a goal or resolution?

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Alan Cleaver via Compfight cc

We don’t plan to succeed. We have the best of intentions but you can’t lose weight just because it was a good idea to do so. You don’t actually reach any goal based on hopes and dreams.

The key is to be S.M.A.R.T.  Each goal needs to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.  Using this principle can help us reach any goal, not just goals concerning our health.

Here we go; I’ll use my health goal as an example.  I have joined the masses this year and have decided to take off some weight.  When I was going through the weeks of information classes for the clinical study I’m in (I also talked about this fibromyalgia study here and here) we talked about our different medications.  All three of the meds I take have weight gain listed as a common side effect.  Great, huh??  It kind of left me feeling defeated but I decided just to accept the hand I’ve been dealt and even though it may be a bit harder struggle I’m going to make it happen.

Now let’s see if it’s a S.M.A.R.T. goal.

Specific – I plan to lose 50 pounds
Measurable – I own a scale, and I’m not afraid to use it
Attainable – A pound a week is a pretty realistic goal
Relevant – The loss of extra weight decreases so many risks of diseases, let alone the fact that less weight and better muscle tone will make it easier on my body for my overall pain – so it’s very relevant to my life
Time-bound – I will reach this goal by Dec. 31, 2014

Well, I guess it meets the S.M.A.R.T. test but I also think there is one more step after that. You have to get the tools in place. I signed up for sparkpeople.com as a way to track my dietary intake.

What goals do you want to make for 2014? Whatever they are for – health, finances, career; anything at all – make sure they’re S.M.A.R.T.!
I wish you all a wonderful 2014!

Stay well! ~ Live Joyfully!

POST CHRISTMAS MESS

Here we are.  Monday again.  Not just any Monday, the Monday after Christmas.  Our family had our last Christmas gathering over the weekend.  My sister and her husband will head back south tomorrow morning.

I look through the house I’ve been wanting – no, needing – to get organized and I find it a disheveled mess.  The holidays are so hectic we normally aren’t able to keep up.  Then throw fibro/chronic fatigue in there and you find yourself doing just enough to survive.

My fake pre-lit tree did get put up but remained undecorated.  Yes, we had a bare tree this year – call the North Pole on me.  That has to be a huge tradition violation.

But with a 17 month old in the house it wouldn’t have been decorated for long anyway – at least the lower half.

We concentrated on the birth of the Savior and time together as a family – watched some movies and ate too much.

Next year will be better!  I’m adapting fly lady’s holiday control journal to work for those of us with FM/CFS.  But for now I’m left with this year’s mess.

So we go back to keeping the P.A.C.E.Keep up theP.A.C.E.

I think the most important thing to remember is to get back to healthy eating and staying hydrated.  Try to keep up with the daily chores and when energy and pain levels allow spend a few minutes on the mess.  If you let the daily chores go so you can do the Christmas undecorating your daily routine will suffer and you’ll get all out of sorts.  It will add to the stress and thereby increase your pain.

So turn the Christmas music on if you need it and watch a few more classic movies.  Whatever you need to extend the holidays until you can get the undecorating finished!

Stay Well! ~ Live Joyfully

Let’s go back to the grocery store, but this time we’ll take coupons!

Last Monday I shared my secret tool for making grocery shopping easier: my list according to aisle, etc. You can go grab it if you haven’t yet.
Today I thought I’d share my tools for saving money with groceries.

coupons
When you have FM/CFS don’t have the time or energy to clip a ton of coupons and get them all nice and neat in a huge organizer.

To make it easier, but still save money; simply take the packet of coupons when you receive them and write the date on the top of the front page. Packets come from smartsource and red plum. Scan through the coupons to see when they expire and write the expiration date that is the furthest away on the front of the packet. You can then keep these packets in a pile or use a binder with page protector sheets and slide them in there until needed.

Now the good part! If you haven’t heard of the website www.couponmom.com, you really need to check it out. It’s free!  Here’s how it works; you click on the grocery store that you normally shop at and they’ve already compiled a list of the sale items and the coupons that correspond with the sale. The site tells you the coupon packet where you’ll find your needed coupon. There is a good introduction video on the site that gives you the low down

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So now you have your list and you have your corresponding coupon book and now you just cut the coupons you need. Periodically go through your binder or pile (whichever you decided to use) and once you get to the expiration date that was written on the front of the coupon packet you simply throw the packet away.

No huge binder to carry to the store. No clipping coupons you’ll never use.

It saves a lot of time and work!

I also use an app called CouponKeeper. It uses your phone to scan the barcode on the coupon and then stores it. If you’re in need of something that isn’t for sale or listed at couponmom you can look it up on this app and it will tell you which coupon packet has a coupon for your needed item. It stores the coupons with the information of the packet the same way couponmom does. It lists if the packet is smartsource or red plum and what date you received the coupon in the mail.

So there you have it! A very simple way to save some money!

Stay Well! ~ Live Joyfully!

When mama ain’t happy ain’t nobody happy!

Well that’s a lot of responsibility now isn’t it?  Can the same be said for joy?  If mama ain’t full of joy, ain’t nobody full of joy.

We’ve all heard this analogy before; when you’re on an airplane the flight attendant lets you know that in case of an emergency you’re to put your own air mask on before you help children, elderly or anyone else needing assistance.  The whole point is if you stop breathing you’re not going to be any good to those around you.

How does that relate to joy?  If we don’t grasp ahold of true joy (not happiness or pleasure) we aren’t going to be able to pass that along to our kids or share it with those around us.

In the last part of Nehemiah 8:10; Nehemiah was telling the Israelites to stop their weeping because the joy of the Lord would be their strength.  You see, the nation had been celebrating the Feast of the Trumpets.  It was supposed to be a party atmosphere, kind of like our upcoming New Year’s Celebration.  It marked the clean slate and fresh start for a new year.  So why were the people weeping?  The priest had been reading to them from God’s word and they were upset because they knew they had fallen short when it came to following God’s law.  Don’t we all?

Nehemiah noticed the weeping and told the people to stop crying and celebrate.  There’s a time to evaluate where you are in life and make necessary changes, but this was not the time.  This was a celebration!  It was a time to remember all the Lord had done for them.  It was time to jump for joy!

Photo Credit: rAmmoRRison via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: rAmmoRRison via Compfight cc

So where do we get our strength; same place, it’s the joy of the Lord.  It’s sitting and remembering times, people, places and events in our lives where we could see God’s hand.  The joy in knowing He’s been there through it all and will continue to be.  The knowledge that He wants a relationship with us and isn’t turning His back on us.

As women I know sometimes we feel selfish taking time for ourselves.  After all, if we take a break who is going to do all the work that needs done?  Well guess what mama; there’s always going to be work that needs done.   Taking a few moments to remember what the Lord has done in your life could mean the difference between you having a lousy day, working in your own strength, or a great day, because you are relying on the Lord the way you have in the past.  Remembering what He’s brought us through builds our joy in current difficult situations because we have a history with Him.  He’s carried us before and yes, He’ll do it again!

While we’re approaching the end of a year and looking ahead to 2014, it’s a good time to celebrate!  Take a few minutes and write down a list of things the Lord has done for you.  Better yet; start a gratitude journal that you can look through this time next year and remind yourself of a year worth of God’s blessings.  Then share it!  Tell your kids and your spouse.  Let them read the journal; pass on the goodness of God to those around you.

Don’t keep it all to yourself!  Spread the joy mama!

Let’s Go Grocery Shopping!

Come on! Let’s go grocery shopping together!
Believe it or not – that phrase no longer blankets me with dreadful anticipation.
I mentioned how my husband came up with the acronym P.A.C.E. (Prioritize Activities to Conserve Energy). I decided it was time to conserve some energy in one of my most required, but hated, chores. Grocery Shopping.

Photo Credit: TheeErin via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: TheeErin via Compfight cc

It’s one of those necessary evils; but to someone with FM/CFS it can seem like an insurmountable challenge. By the time you’ve gathered your thoughts, decided what you want or need to buy, made a list, and cut any coupons, you’re way too tired to go to the store. Then once you get there you have to keep scanning your chicken scratch of a list that isn’t in any sort of order. The noise and activity happening around you can send your thoughts spinning; making you forget the two things you didn’t write down because you just knew you’d remember them.
I’ve tried different things throughout the past few years; switching up the routine by planning one day shopping the next. I’ve even purchased the preprinted shopping lists, but they didn’t have all the things I like to keep on hand.
I finally decided to break the whole food gathering process down into parts and see how I could make this reoccurring nightmare a bit easier.
A few weeks ago I made a spread sheet on excel; listing the items we purchase most often under the aisle number I believed they were in at the grocery store. Each time I went to the store I’d revise my list. I moved items around until I had them all under the right aisle. Then I arranged the list in the order I walk through the store. I normally start at the back in the dairy department and end the trip with produce in the front.
I printed a stack of these lists and have them hanging on a clipboard in my pantry. It works great when I’m in the haze of fibro fog; serving as an easy check off guide for things we need. I take the list, scan the pantry and check off anything needed there; then the bathroom supplies, laundry supplies and kitchen supplies. It takes the memory work out of the process on the days when my brain has decided to take a vacation.
I have a small coupon organizer that’s also arranged by aisle number. That way I can just grab the few coupons for that aisle as I walk down. (Next week I’ll share my easy couponing method.)
There are items on this list that assure we can make a few quick meals on days I have no energy or time. Things like spaghetti, grilled cheese, chicken stir fry, soups, etc.; also a number of spaces to add things that might be on sale that week or we need for a special meal.
I’m sharing this spread sheet with you because it’s helped me so much. Grab it and change it up to match your store and the items you like to have on hand! I hope it takes some stress off your shoulders as you handle your shopping!

Here it is!  shopping list
What are your shopping secrets? I’d love to hear them. Sharing our best ideas with each other is what helps our FM/CFS community grow stronger and lead our best lives possible!
Stay Well ~ Live Joyfully