When Blessings Wear Ugly Disguises

Chickens, Morning Sickness, and Labor Pains

Chicken (The Homeplace LBL}

A grandfather was attempting to impress upon his grandchildren that things were not always as they appeared. “When I was your age,” he began, “my daddy raised a beautiful, large vegetable garden. We would sell the produce at a small roadside stand that we built ourselves.

My parents always bought their chickens from Willy Scott.

One day, while our family was working at the vegetable stand, Willy delivered chickens to our house in a crate and left them on our doorstep. When we returned home that evening we discovered the chickens had escaped and were running all over the yard. Each of us began chasing the chickens and putting them back in the crate. Dad was upset and decided to call Willy to express his unhappiness with the situation.

I can still remember Dad telling Willy he didn’t think it was a very good idea to leave the chickens in a crate unattended while we were gone. He told Willy how the family had to round-up chickens from all over the neighborhood and we were only able to find eleven. Then Willy shocked my dad.”

“Eleven chickens isn’t too bad,” exclaimed Willy, “I only delivered six!”

The story, above, is from one of my favorite books, “Speaker’s Sourcebook II: Quotes, Stories, & Anecdotes for Every Occasion,” by Glenn Van Ekeren. Can you imagine the look on the dad’s face? – I’m sure the scowl softened into a smile pretty fast. We’ve all been in his shoes before, right? Something will come along and we’re convinced that fate has kicked us harder than it’s ever kicked anyone. Then, just as we’re in the process of getting what my grandmother always referred to as “worked up,” we realize that fate didn’t kick us.

It kissed us.

Someone once said that opportunities are like roses – they often come with thorns on them. The same is true of blessings. They’re very fond of entering our lives in disguise…. just a little game they like to play.

Pregnancy and childbirth are a couple of great examples.  When I was pregnant with my first daughter (Emily), I thought I was smack in the middle of the most unpleasant experience in the world. Morning sickness? Ha! It was ALL DAY sickness and it didn’t last for the just  first 3 months, either. Nooo, my “morning sickness” lasted each of the nine months.

All day. Every day.

Top that off with incredible back pain, swollen aching feet, heartburn, and shortness of breath and I was one miserable “preggie.”

Then the labor pains came and I just KNEW I was in an inner circle of hell!  But as soon as they handed me this unbelievably beautiful little baby girl with the biggest, bluest eyes in the world – I knew my life would never be the same. I hadn’t been kicked by life, I’b been kissed by life with a little pink angel.

By the time beautiful number 2 (Brittany) and beautiful number 3 (Stephany) came along I knew that the horrors would be completely forgotten as soon as I held my baby in my arms.

Think back over your own life. Some of the best things that ever happened to you may have made an ugly entrance. Maybe they stumbled onto the platform, but rocked your world once they got to center stage. Sometimes it’s best to remember these things, so the next time something ugly comes our way we can ask, “What kind of beauty lies beneath this beast?”

Looking for the good in every bad is, from a self help standpoint, priceless.

Spread Happiness, One Person at a Time

Beautiful Quote from Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie Quote About Happiness
 

“You have it easily in your power to increase the sum total of this world’s happiness now. How? By giving a few words of sincere appreciation to someone who is lonely or discouraged. Perhaps you will forget tomorrow the kind words you say today, but the recipient may cherish them over a lifetime.” - Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie’s beautiful words serve as a reminder to choose our words and use our words carefully. Words are powerful, powerful things and can impact people for a lifetime.

A lifetime!

Just as we can lift someone else with carefully spoken words, we can tear them down with carelessly spoken words.  I think only the worst sort of person in the world would actually want to tear someone down. More times than not, hateful, careless, and potentially damaging words come from speaking without thinking.

The next time you find yourself on the brink of speaking, ask yourself…

  • Is what I’m about to say necessary?
  • Is what I’m about to say kind?
  • Is what I’m about to say going to cause a smile?

Most importantly…

  • If my words stay with this person for the rest of their life, how will that make me feel?

Taking Care of the Outside to Take Care of the Inside

Taking Care of the Outside, to Take Care of the Inside

Back in the 1980s, comedian Billy Crystal had a character named Fernando whose catch phrase was “It’s better to look good than to feel good.” Well, that’s not exactly true. Just ask someone with a serious illness — given the choice between rock-hard abs and not being sick, most would choose the latter. However, while looking good might not be an alternative to feeling good, it can help you feel better.

Looking Good and Feeling Good

Taking care of your appearance might seem superficial, but issues with appearance can deal a serious blow to someone’s confidence and self-esteem.

Several illnesses can often have effects that can change a person’s appearance and there are several organizations, like Look Good Feel Better and Locks of Love, that have devoted years to improving the appearance of adults and children alike. These appearance-boosting sessions don’t just improve self-esteem, they also help patients cope better with their treatments and the challenges of managing their illnesses.

The poor, the unemployed, and other economically disadvantaged have also benefited from little improvements. There are dry cleaners who offer free services to the unemployed, so they can look their best on job interviews; there are clothing banks where women can find nice clothing for job interviews; and there are dentists who offer free cleanings and checkups, for health and brighter smiles.

Taking Care of Your Appearance

You don’t have to be seriously ill, unemployed, or poor to reap the benefits of taking care of your appearance. In fact, there are little things that you can do today that can make a big difference tomorrow.

Clothing

We all have those clothes that no longer fit, or seemed like a good idea when we bought them. Not only are these clothes taking up space in our lives, they’re cluttering up our hearts. Take an afternoon to go through your closet; remove anything that doesn’t fit, or that you never wear, and either give it away, take it to a consignment shop, or throw it out.

If you have clothes that fit but don’t fit well, consider getting them tailored. A lot of clothing manufacturers design based on how they think bodies should look, which leaves a lot of people out in the cold. Simple alterations from a tailor or seamstress can correct the designer’s mistakes and make you look wonderful.

You should also take your measurements before you go clothing shopping. Women’s size labels are notoriously unreliable – one manufacturer’s size 10 is another’s eight – but measurements are straightforward. And don’t be afraid to enlist the aid of the store clerk in finding the best fit, color, and style.

Makeup and Cosmetics

Just as with your clothing, you should periodically go through your makeup box and get rid of anything that has expired, or that you no longer wear. You should also consider having your colors done to determine which hues work best with your skin tone.

If you have any skin conditions, like eczema or skin tags, although many of these skin conditions aren’t life-threatening, they can affect your self-esteem. There are several natural products that can reduce their appearance or treat your symptoms. Some products, like those at Amoils.com, are homeopathic or contain essential oils; others might use vitamins, minerals, and fruit acids. However, if you are under treatment, you should always consult with your physician or dermatologist before adding anything to your treatment routine.

Hair and Nails

A regular cut and style can keep your hair looking its best, even if you’re trying to grow your hair out. Even a simple trim can make the difference between a glorious mane and an Einstein fright wig. Between trips to the salon you can use deep-conditioning treatments to maintain your hair’s luster and vitality.

Gray hair can be a badge of honor, a symbol of a life well-lived. But if you are unhappy with your gray, then there’s no shame in doing something about it. There are products that can cover the gray, but there are also things that can brighten it and make it even more striking.

Beyond Skin Deep

Clothing, cosmetics, and hair treatments all work on the surface to make you look good, but there are also things you can do for your health that will help you look better and feel better:

·  Quit smoking. Cigarette smoke damages your skin, and it can also damage your organs;

·  Eat a healthful diet, the vitamins and minerals will feed your skin and hair, and keep you healthy;

·  Drink plenty of water to hydrate your skin and hair, and keep your organs functioning well;

·  Exercise regularly to relieve stress, and for cardiovascular conditioning. As an added bonus, upbeat exercise music can also improve your mood.

Getting “Couch Tots” Up Off Their Perch

Couch Tots Grow Into Couch Potatoes...

Michael
If you’re in the vicinity of my age, then… like me… you probably marvel at the lack of outdoor activity kids get these days.

Seriously, we practically LIVED outdoors when we were kids, didn’t we?!  I don’t think I could have told you ANY television shows that were on during the day… not counting Saturday morning cartoons, of course.

Of course, parents have the extra hurdle of getting their kids away from, not just television, but also computers, iPads, iPhones, etc.

Experts recommend that kids get no more than two hours per day of “screen time” (tv, computer, and/or video games).  Most kids, however, average more than 4 hours a day.

Below are tips from the American Heart Association to get your kid(s) up and moving.  Couch tots grow up to be couch potatoes, and neither are particularly healthy as a result.

  1. Suggest and Offer alternative activities.  Have a “Family Game Night,” shoot some hoops, go for walks, or visit a nearby park.
  2. Become active with your kids.  Play with them rather than just watch them!
  3. Don’t position your furniture so that the TV is the main focus of the room.
  4. Remove TVs from bedrooms.
  5. Plan TV watching in advance. Go through the TV guide ahead of time and pick the shows you’ll watch. When the show’s off, turn the TV off.

I love the one about playing with your kids.  I’ve had some of my best times in trees, on swings, and inside blanket tents with my girls. You haven’t lived until you’ve played Barbies or paper dolls beneath a tent that spans the entire space of your living room or den.  My daughter Brittany was a MASTER tent builder!

One thing I would suggest is this:  If your child already has a certain number of shows that he/she watches faithfully – it may not be what the experts suggest, but I’d suggest not rocking the boat. Instead, how about buying a stationary bike or treadmill and tell them that (in an effort to make the family healthier) you want everyone to exercise at least 30 minutes everyday. Place it right in front of the television!  Then you can suggest that they do it during a favorite show.  Before you know it, they’ll be hopping on and working out throughout the day – and getting more and more all important exercise.

If you try to take a show away from someone who watches it and enjoys it, I think you’d just be asking for a battle.  Tensions will arise and what you’re trying to suggest (exercise/activity) will suddenly become the enemy.

You want the activity to be fun and positive, you don’t want it (or yourself!) to be the enemy.  Just think how you’d feel if someone told you, even if it were for your own good, that you couldn’t watch your favorite television shows or sports again.

I believe if anyone told me I had to give up watching Animal Planet, the History Channel, or baseball I’d throw a pillow at them.

Probably two pillows.

If a treadmill or stationary bike is out of reach (I understand the whole out of reach thing as much as anyone.) – an exercise mat, a few dumbbells, and/or an exercise ball can also do wonders.

Zoos are another fun way to get your kids, and yourself, out and about.  If you’re lucky enough to live near one, you should become a familiar face to the monkeys, tigers, lions, bears, and even the reptiles.

The best way to get your kids to become more active is to lead by example. If they see your life revolving around “screen time,” they’ll assume that’s the cool thing to do. Get moving and get grooving – your entire family will be better off.

Infographic: Habits of Successful People vs Unsuccessful People

Each Point is a Self Improvement Lesson!

Habits of Successful People Infographic
Click the infographic above to see the larger version.

I think my favorite part of this “Habits of Successful People vs Unsuccessful People” infographic is the part about learning. Anyone who knows that I also have a mental fitness blog (Out of Bounds) won’t be surprised by this.  One of my biggest platforms is this: A day spent without learning something is a day wasted!  My daughters heard these words every single day of their lives while they were growing up.

Never, ever, ever become content with what you know today.

I hope you’ll read through the infographic above carefully. Each point is a self help lesson in itself.

Infographic Designed by: SuccessStory.com

Are Your Past Behaviors Affecting Your Health?

Are Your Past Behaviors Affecting Your Health
When it comes to health and wellness, the choices we make today are extremely important. From starting an exercise regimen to eating healthier foods, making the effort to improve health and quality of life is both noble and critical. However, our past behaviors and lifestyle choices are significant, as well. Keep reading to discover how your past is affecting your present and future health.

Smoking Cigarettes

With risks that include the development of lung cancer, heart disease, emphysema and a host of other illnesses, smoking is a bad habit with life-threatening effects. What’s more, the longer you smoke, the greater risk. And while these complications can be devastating, quitting now will significantly reduce risks to physical health. If you have trouble quitting, talk to a doctor about medications and other therapies that may help.

Substance Abuse

The effects of heavy drug use can be both immediate and delayed. The use of illicit substances can result in complications like overdose and reckless behaviors, as well as long-term effects like organ damage and the transmission of infectious disease. For example, individuals who used addictive substances for long periods of time are more likely to experience complications like cirrhosis of the liver, kidney failure, heart disease and even certain types of cancer. If you have a history with drug or alcohol abuse, talk to your doctor about the ways it may be affecting your health.

Work History

You work history can play a very important role in your health, both now and in the future. In fact, due to unsafe working conditions, exposure to harmful substances and other factors, some occupations can be extremely hazardous and, in some cases, life-threatening. For example, jobs that involve exposure to asbestos are often linked with the development of mesothelioma and other serious illnesses. Common questions surrounding mesothelioma and asbestos include the following:

  • Who is at risk? Individuals who have worked in construction, shipbuilding, the automotive industry, the military and firefighting may have been exposed to asbestos. What’s more, since asbestos is easily transferred and inhaled, the family members and loved ones of these individuals are at risk, as well.
  • What are the symptoms? Coughing, shortness of breath, pain and swelling in the chest or abdomen, and unexplained weight loss are common symptoms of mesothelioma.
  • How is it treated? Like other cancers, mesothelioma is typically addressed through surgery, radiation and chemotherapy.
  • Who is at fault? In cases of workplace exposure, employers can be held accountable for the development of mesothelioma among employers. When this happens, employers can be sued for damages, including the cost of medical bills, pain and suffering, lost wages, and more.
  • I was exposed to asbestos; what should I do? If you were exposed to asbestos at any point in your past, ask your doctor about tests that diagnose mesothelioma and other diseases. Early detection is imperative, so even if you aren’t experiencing symptoms, making an appointment as soon as possible is highly recommended.

Inactive Lifestyles

Sedentary lifestyles can lead to lifelong complications to health and wellness. Illnesses like heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and obesity often occur as a result of long-term inactivity. The good news is, that while some complications may need to be addressed with medications and other therapies, getting active now can significantly enhance health and quality of life. To treat and prevent the effects of an inactive lifestyle, speak to a doctor today to find out how regular exercise can help.

If your past behaviors and lifestyle choices are affecting your health, remember that hope is not lost. By taking the proper steps toward a healthier lifestyle, you can repair some of the damage, and prevent future complications to health and wellness.

The Stigma of a Bad Driving Record

Some people have the worst luck when it comes to driving. Their cars are dent magnets, and their licenses have more points than the reigning king of Donkey Kong. If you are one of these people, you could feel like the deck is stacked against you. You are constantly saddled with repair bills, or else your car looks like something out of a demolition derby. Worse yet, your reputation as a bad driver not only causes you embarrassment, it makes it very difficult for you to get insurance. In many states you might not be able to drive without a SR22, even if you have car insurance.

What is an SR22?

SR22 insurance is a document that verifies that the bearer can take financial responsibility in the event of an accident. The SR22 is usually required of people caught driving uninsured, or with multiple traffic offenses within a very short timeframe.

If your state requires you to have this coverage, you would need to get it in addition to whatever insurance coverage you already have, which you may be able to take care of through a site like AcceptanceInsurance.com.

A bad driving record won’t just cost you more in insurance; it can also interfere with your life. For example, if you have a job where you might need to drive a company car, a bad driving record could prevent you from getting hired.

So how do you overcome the financial stigma and emotional shame of a bad driving record?

Cleaning Up Your Record

Luckily, your driving record is not set in stone. Over time the points will drop off naturally; and if you can avoid getting any more traffic violations, your record will naturally resolve itself. Of course, this method can take a long time, and in the interim you still have to deal with the stigma. There is one option that could remove the points more quickly, and can help prevent you from accruing more points.

Go Back to School

Driving school, to be exact. Many states will remove points from your driving record if you take a state-approved driver safety course. Some states might require court approval to remove the points, while others might only require you to successfully complete the course.

Although these courses cost money, it could ultimately be less than what you would pay in higher insurance rates for the duration that those points are on your license.

In addition to removing points, a driver safety course will also give you the tools you need to not only learn from past driving mistakes, but to avoid making mistakes in the future. You could even come out of the experience a better and more knowledgeable driver than your friends and family members.

The driving safety course should include classroom instruction on current traffic laws as well as general driving safety tips. Depending on your state, the classes could be held solely in physical classrooms, or you could also have the option to take them online.

Classes can last several days, to several weeks, and the number of points removed depends on the policies and procedures for your state.

Because each state has its own criteria, you need to contact your department of motor vehicles for more information on finding schools, reporting completion, and removing points.

Maintaining Your Record

Once you have successfully completed the driving course, you should check with your department of motor vehicles to make sure the course has been applied to your license. You can also view the remaining points you have left, and some places will also tell you when or if those points will fall off.

As time goes on, you should try your best to keep your record clean. This doesn’t just involve driving well, it also means disputing any tickets or violations in court, if they occur after you have completed the course.

If you do successfully dispute a ticket or violation, you should also check with your bureau of motor vehicles to ensure that those points have not been added to your license.

Kind People are the Best Kind of People

If There Were Only More of Them

Quote about Kindness and Happiness
At the risk of getting a little preachy, whatever happened to good old-fashioned kindness? Sure, it still exists, but it’s getting harder and harder to find.

Just last night, alone (in the course of ONE single evening, mind you), I encountered the following “acts of anything but kindness” –

  • A guy on Twitter making jokes about domestic abuse – like it’s a laughing matter.
  • Girls calling other girls fat.
  • People making ugly (and I mean UGLY) comments about a celebrity… right on her Instagram, ensuring that she sees it.
  • Someone making fun of a newscaster with a speech impediment.
  • Countless people arguing back and forth over things that don’t amount to half a hill of beans – and lacing their arguments with endless insults and profanity.

Fortunately all of this ugliness was witnessed online and not in my own home.

Social media is, in many ways, a wonderful thing. However, in many ways it’s also one of the worst things that ever happened. People seem to think it’s their own personal platform to spread anger, meanness, and ugliness. After all, they’re able to do so without anyone looking them in the eye.

You want to talk about an athlete being “too short with no talent” – do it online.

You want to bash a particular celebrity – calling her fat, untalented, ugly, and “the worst mother in the world” – do it through social media and… by all means… mention her in a way she’s sure to see it.  After all, hurting someone is just so much fun, right?

Knocking them down makes you a bigger person, doesn’t it?

Oooh, and what if someone in their family sees your hate-filled words and you’re able to hurt them as well?! Bonus points?

Okay. I’m getting preachy.  I’m fully aware that one animal-loving, chocoholic, baseball-obsessed blogger in Kentucky isn’t going to be able to change things. Some days I don’t have the power to open a jar of pickles, I certainly don’t have the power to make the world a kinder place.

BUT if enough people set their mind to at least make a difference in their own little corner of the world…. Then they might be able to inspire other people to also try to make a difference… and so on and so on..

Who knows? Maybe one day people will approach their daily lives – as well as Social Media – with the mindset of reaching out and touching others with kindness rather than cruelty.  Maybe they’ll think, “Who might need a lift right now?” instead of “Who can I take down a few notches?”

I don’t know if such a world is possible, this side of Heaven, but it sure is cool to think about.

Also See: You Never Know What a Few Kind Words Will Do

“Worry is a thin stream of fear that trickles through the mind, which, if encouraged, will cut a channel so wide that all other thoughts will be drained out.” – Author Unknown