Trying to Wear too Many Hats Doesn’t Do Anything But Cause Headaches

Sometimes It Pays to Remember You Just Have One Head

Quote About Trying to Do Too Many Things

This past week, alone, I’ve witnessed the following:

  • An e-mail from a Christian newsletter publisher talking about treating joint pain.
  • A department store with a bank, clinic, and tax prep booth – all where better shoe, books, and clothing selections once were.
  • A bar-b-que restaurant serving fried fish. BAD fried fish.
  • Another e-mail newsletter (“specializing” in health) talking about relationships.

And it’s just Wednesday!

Is it just me, or are people trying to DO too many different things and BE too many different people these days?

Fast food restaurants may be the worst. There’s even one clown who seems to think he’s Starbucks.  Stick to the fries and burgers, buddy.  Oddly enough, people seem shocked that this restaurant is falling in profits and popularity. That happens when you stop trying to “perfect” what you’re supposed to be doing.

There’s a beauty salon I drive by frequently and it seems that each time something new has joined the lineup: manicures, pedis, botox, fillers, and other things I can’t even pronounce. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to drive by today and see, “Now doing open heart surgery! Get your nails done before you even come to!”

Even my own much, much beloved coffee shops are branching out further and further. Pastries, sandwiches, smoothies, candy, nuts, etc…

Trying to do everything doesn’t perfect anything.

Take the flip side. Think of  Chick-Fil-A, Cracker Barrel, NBA Players, and Waffle House.

  • Chick-Fil-A sticks with chicken. They concentrate solely on what’s on the sign out front and you will not find better chicken in any fast food restaurant.
  • Cracker Barrel doesn’t try to be anything they’re not. They serve great home-style cooking and leave the rest to… well, they leave the rest to the rest.
  • NBA and WNBA Players Defy Logic. Ever think of how incredibly difficult it would be to get a small ball into a hole that’s hanging so far away? All while there are 5 athletes, your size or bigger, giving their all to defeat your purpose?! But these men and women commit themselves to the game and they are just mind-boggling to watch. They specialize in perfecting their game and their conditioning. They do things we can’t even begin to imagine doing because they work at that one thing – basketball.
  • Waffle House? Breakfast food all day, all night. Can you imagine how ludicrous it’d be to see “Now serving lasagna” on the sign out front? A lot of the scenarios we see everyday are just as ludicrous, we’ve just gotten used to them.

Now let’s bring it home to where we live. Do we ever fall into the same traps to the ones above? Of course we do. It’s human nature, I suppose to think, “More = Better.”  Wal-Mart’s reasoning is that if they create essentially a “small city” inside each store, more people will shop there. They think, “Let’s give them a bank, a clinic, a beauty salon, a pharmacy, an Optometrist, a place to do their taxes…”

None of which, of course, makes them a better department store. Ironically, it makes them LESS valuable as a department store because all the other clicks and whistles are squeezing out the LAST things they should be squeezing out. I can remember when Wal-Mart had the cutest, most affordable shoes in town. This was about 10 years ago and their selections have gone downhill since. I guess they just don’t have room for things like that anymore.

Mark my words, Sam Walton would not be a happy man.  Can you imagine what he’d said the first time someone said, “Hey, Mr. Walton, I have a great idea. Let’s put a clinic inside each store!

Don’t get me wrong, I applaud ambition but, like they say, “Ambition without knowledge is like a boat on dry land.”  And since NO ONE knows everything, that stands to reason that a lot of people are treading water they never should have jumped into in the first place.

What happens when an individual tries to do too many things, wear too many hats, and tries to walk on too many different paths? Well, for one thing, they look like a darn fool.

On a more serious level, though, he or she suffers in three key areas:

  1. The MORE they do and try to do, the LESS happy they will be. They find themselves so BUSY trying to do all things and be all things that they’re left with no time to simply enjoy life. Life is passing them by and they never actually even look up long enough to see it. Stress is a particularly ugly monster and he prefers people who have too many hats. They’re like some kind of signal to him – he thinks, “Easy prey!”  How can you tell if stress is sneaking up on you or already has you in his clutches? I think the easiest way is to ask yourself how your RESPOND to situations and people. Do relatively small things set you off? Do things that once wouldn’t even measure a blip on your radar now cause your heart rate to speed up, your neck muscles to tense up, and an angry disposition to show up. Sure signs of stress…. and since stress leads NOWHERE good, deal with it today.
  2. The GO! GO! GO! mentality creates physical problems that can be deadly. Heart disease, hypertension, and even gastrointestinal problems can, and are, directly linked to this type of hyper lifestyle and mindset.  Have you ever seem someone in the throes of thinking they had to do a million and one different things? I swear, sometimes they even forget to breath.
  3. Relationships Suffer. While this is the last one in the list, it certainly is not the least. Moms and dads who think they HAVE to work extra long hours at the expense of actually spending time with their children are making one of the biggest mistakes known to man or womankind. It’s also one of the mistakes they’ll, one day, regret the most.  The same can be said for husbands and wives who become so wrapped up in “making money,” “having more,” and “getting caught up…” when every topic of conversation revolves around these subjects, the stage is set for misery.

Life isn’t something we’re going to be able to get out and enjoy for hundreds of years, you know. If you’ve become so busy that work or money are all you ever think or talk about and you’re forever looking for your next hat – do yourself (and everyone in your life) a favor…

  • slow down
  • breath
  • live in the moment
  • enjoy life

Your level of happiness will rise with each hat you cast aside.  Life is to be enjoyed, not rushed through.

~ Joi

Top Ten Things You Should Stop Doing

If You Want to Be Happier, Drop These Habits NOW!

Top Ten Things You Should Stop Doing

We are a generation of to do lists, multi-tasking, smart phones, and appointment calendars.  We’re convince that the MORE we DO, the happier we’ll be.  We think, “If we want happiness, we have to do do do and get get get…”

We proudly wave our “git ‘er done” mentality and vow to do just that.  And, of course we want our lunch to go – after all there are places to go, people to see, and plenty of ‘er to get done.

I won’t even lecture (well, not today anyway) about what this does to our health, psyche, and relationships. You get a free pass, I’ll go all mother hen on you about your well-being another day.

What we fail to realize, however, amongst all of our busyness, is that we can have an admirable “To Do” list, but if we keep doing certain negative, destructive things – we’re just shooting ourselves in our ever moving feet.

Think of these 10 self-destructive thoughts or actions as your To Don’t list.

  1. Don’t put things off.  If you’ve been wanting to build a tree house… go buy your lumber today! If you’ve always wanted an herb garden Martha Stewart would be impressed with, start planning it right now. If the thought of something makes you smile, imagine how much you’ll smile when it’s out of your brain and in your reality.
  2. Don’t let others determine how you feel about yourself.  Never look to other people to see your own reflection – you’ll never get the same one twice.  Taking a good, hard look at yourself is the first step in the self improvement journey.  But YOU are the one that has to take inventory.  Don’t let others build you up too high, but certainly don’t allow them to tear you down.  When someone else determines your highs and lows, don’t they pretty much have control over you?
  3. Don’t allow toxic thoughts to rent space in your mind. Here’s the dangerous thing about thoughts – they don’t remain thoughts. They become actions, they become attitudes, and they become words. Actions and words CANNOT be undone. They can be apologized for, agonized for, and can serve as huge weights on your conscience – but they can never be erased. If you entertain negative thoughts about an individual and keep feeding these thoughts with MORE negativity and hatred, it will come out – make no mistake about it. Think of negative thoughts as toxic waste. NOW, how long do you want them sticking around?
  4. Never “bad mouth” your loved ones to others.  I once read a woman’s quote that said something to the effect of how thankful she was that her name was always safe in her sweetheart’s mouth. I thought that was beautiful. She knew that if he ever spoke of her to his friends and/or family, it would be with kindness and love. When we speak of our loved ones, should they not be able to say the EXACT same thing? Are your loved one’s names safe in your mouth? Don’t run people down – especially those you love. Build them up… brag on them! People will make judgments about your loved ones by your own words – they’ll also judge just how much you love and pride you have for them from these same words.
  5. Don’t make excuses.  If you mess up, and come on, who doesn’t – own up to it.  Don’t try to laugh it off if it isn’t funny, don’t try to re-size it (up-size or downsize), and most of all, don’t try to put the blame on someone else.  Finger pointing is a big pet peeve of mine. Don’t. Do. It. It’s ugly.
  6. Don’t underestimate karma.  Seriously, never ever fail to give karma her due – you’ll be sorry.  I’ve been telling my daughters about her (and her keen memory and even keener sense of justice) as long as I’ve been telling them to say please and thank you.  Karma can be a rewarding, kind, beautiful seeker of justice, but she can also seem like a cruel, vindictive something or another. Either way, she has an impossibly long memory. You can’t outrun her, you can’t hide from her.  The only thing you can hope to do is to stay on her good side.  You know the old adage that says the mother is the “heart” of the home, and that if she’s happy, everyone’s happy – but if she’s miserable, everyone’s miserable?  Meet Karma… the heart of life’s home.  When you make a point of doing the right thing (whether anyone’s watching or not), Karma keeps score and your world will be more harmonious.  But when you dodge what’s right in favor of what’s wrong, you’re instantly on her ‘ish list.  And make no mistake about it, she’ll get to you.
  7. Stop doing what you hate. If you’re working in a job that makes you miserable, find another one.  Life’s too short to spend it being miserable.
  8. Stop thinking so much about money.  That’s another thing that sort of defines our generation. We never seem to think we have enough money.  Think about it this way – if we had more, we’d just spend more.  When my husband and I were first married, we didn’t have a heckuva lot of money.  When our beautiful daughters started arriving, we had even less.  More love, more happiness, more laughter – but most definitely less money.  Today, we’ve been blessed to have enough money, but guess what?  We still spend it.  We simply pay a little more for what we wear, where we live, what we eat, and what we drive.  We were as warm, as comfortable, as full, and as mobile then as we are now.  I’ll let you in on a little secret too, we were just as happy then as we are now.  We’re the same people now as we were then.  We laugh out loud at Andy Griffith reruns, get far too wrapped up in UK Basketball and St. Louis Cardinals baseball, spoil our daughters and cats, and so on.  Money buys stuff but it doesn’t buy happiness, it doesn’t buy relationships, and it doesn’t buy memories.  If you’re sacrificing any of the three in its pursuit, you’ll be more than sorry in the end – you’ll be devastated.
  9. Don’t nitpick other people!  Sorry for the exclamation mark – I just felt compelled to yell this one out loud.  How this guy wears his hair, how that woman dresses, what this person eats, how that person talks – none of your concern.  Not your problem. In the new testament, at the point where Jesus has risen and is addressing his apostles, one of them sees fit to ask Him about another apostle.  Jesus’ response was, “What is that to you?” A very loving and long-suffering way of saying, “Now remind me how that’s any of your business sir….”  We get SO off track by looking at what others are or are not doing.  They are responsible for their own lives – how they dress, where they work, how they live… Unless it is directly… directly, now… affecting you or one of your loved ones, let it go. Why bother finding MORE things to worry about or be unsettled by? Wouldn’t life be better if one looked for things to be happy about? Also, keep this in mind – if you overly criticize people, they will eventually stop trying to please you. They’ll figure, “I can’t do anything right with this so and so… so…. I quit even trying.”  If you kill someone’s creativity and confidence, how does that benefit you OR them?
  10. Finally, stop doing what isn’t working. If you’ve been working toward a particular goal and don’t seem to be gaining on it whatsoever, it’s time for Plan B because Plan A is belly up.  You can either keep wasting time and hope it suddenly flips over and miraculously starts working, or you can abandon what doesn’t work and find something that does.

BONUS: This one is my absolute favorite one… so I set her aside from the rest. A chosen, favored one to be sure.  Once years ago, I read a quote that – if there were such a thing – would be my ‘Spirit Animal Quote.’  It said, “All I’m after is a world filled with laughter.”  I’m all about laughter and had MUCH rather be accused of finding too many things funny than of finding too few things funny.

Yes, I’m one of those who laugh out loud at commercials with talking animals, and can be found doubled over with tears in her eyes while watching funny cat videos online.

I love to laugh and the sound of other people laughing is music to my ears.  Never fail to look for the humor in situations.

Here’s an example that happened to my family recently.  I was sitting beside my daughter Brittany in a “surgery waiting room.” She was waiting to be taken back for kidney stone surgery.  She was in quite a bit of pain and was almost as worried and anxious as me. Almost. There, surrounded by about 10 other people who were awaiting surgeries, we found ourselves in a totally somber setting.

Then she pointed out something to me and we both had to laugh – a “biker” came strolling through, slowly, and took a seat. On the back of his leather jacket were the words GRIM REAPER.  Brittany said, “Oh, great. What’s he doing here?”  I told her, “I thought he’d be taller.

I don’t know, there was just something about the moment that made us laugh. She even reached for her camera phone to take a picture but the Grim Reaper sat down and his chair hid his identity.

We both decided that, yet again, we had proof of one thing – God has a terrific sense of  humor.

Just because we aren’t kids anymore doesn’t mean we have to stop looking for the fun in life. It’s there. You’ll find it if you look. Try to find the humor in as many situations as possible.

Laughing beats grumbling any day.

Sometimes we have to STOP doing things in order to START doing things.  The negatives just weigh the positives down, so ditch them on the now.

Now, I’m off to plan my epic herb garden,
~ Joi

Quote About Humor

The Mt. Baldy Lesson of Life: Pause. Reflect. Keep Going.

A Shaky Step is Still a Step

Keep Going

Ever heard of Indiana’s Mt. Baldy? This is how Wikipedia describes Mt. Baldy:

Mount Baldy is a sand dune located in the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. It is the tallest sand dune on the southern shore of Lake Michigan and is 123 feet tall.

This is how I describe Mt. Baldy:

Darn near killed me.

About twenty years ago, my husband and our three beautiful little girls (Emily, Brittany, and Stephany) visited friends in northern Indiana. Someone thought it’d be a great idea to climb Mt. Baldy. After suffering much abuse from this endless sand dune, no one wanted to own up to WHO’s idea it was. Even if they wanted to own up to it – they couldn’t. No breath = no voice.

Along the relentless, steep, upward climb, we paused a few times – probably more than a few, but who’s counting? There were three or four times when I came to a complete stop and actually looked behind me – gauging whether going back down was an option.

Each time, however, I saw how far I’d come and decided to keep going.  The steps I’d accomplished (and lived to tell about) gave me confidence to continue my journey.

When we reached the top, there were just a few little shade trees to be found. Other climbers, gasping for breath were crowded around most of the shade (some were even laid out, like they were making snow angels… but without moving.  My  sweaty, unable to speak, and exhausted little group huddled around the nearest little tree.  There was an incredible sense of accomplishment, in spite of the physical exhaustion.

We’d made it!

It felt pretty darn cool to have completed such a grueling, physical task.  Seriously, you can’t imagine how STEEP that climb was – and in sand, no less! Each step seemed like you were taking about 10 because you kept sinking with each step.

And did I mention it was August? H-O-T!

When I remembered how to activate my senses, I stood up and, with three little girls who I’m pretty sure were laughing at me, looked around at the view. If I’d had any breath, it would have taken it away.


The view was spectacular.  It’s something I’ve never forgotten – even after 20 years.  I remember how proud I was of the accomplishment and I remember how beautiful everything was –  just like it was yesterday.

Over the years, a lot has changed. Our friends no longer live in northern Indiana…  I believe Mt. Baldy is now closed to the public….  Our girls are still beautiful, but only their father could still consider them “little girls.”

No matter how many things have changed, one thing remains the same: The “Mt. Baldy Lesson” still holds true.

Life, like Mt. Baldy, can sometimes be a steep climb. There are times when we kind of stall in our steps – emotionally wrung out and spiritually exhausted – and wonder how we can possibly take another step.  It’s times like this when we should just pause and look at the progress we’ve made.

The steps we made and  lived to tell about.

A few things we need to keep in mind during the climb:

  • There’s a difference between pausing and stopping. Pausing says, “OK. Let me regroup, then I’ll  continue.” Stopping says, “Done.”
  • No one ever said it was going to be easy.
  • If we stop, we’ll just have to start all over again. Then, any progress will have been wasted.
  • When you pause, look back at how far you’ve come. Use that as motivation to go a little further.  Then, pause again. Look back again. Keep using the steps you’ve taken to fuel the ones you have left.
  • No matter which one of life’s steep journeys you’re on, remember that stopping isn’t an option. The only way you’re going to get there is to keep going.
  • Don’t beat yourself up when you feel tired or “wrung out.”  Just keep going – even a shaky step is still a step.
  • No one else can understand your journey unless they’ve walked in your steps.  If I were to mention “Mt. Baldy” to my husband and daughters, they’d grimace. They walked the walk so they know the talk. If I mentioned “Mt. Baldy” to my favorite cashier at Kroger, she wouldn’t have a clue what I was talking about. She might even say something like, “Oh, it couldn’t have been that bad.”   Then she wouldn’t be my favorite cashier anymore.
  • The view from the top is something you’ll never forget.

Again, twenty years later, the experience is still something I remember vividly – just like it was yesterday.

Find your strength. Keep going.  You will make it.
~ Joi

The Benefits of Like-Mindedness

Why Birds of a Feather Really Should Flock Together (What's in it for the Birds!)

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

All for one and one for all.”  ― Alexandre DumasThe Three Musketeers

Fraternity. Community. Brethren.  Allies. Team. League. Group. Alliance.  Tribe. Flock. …

These words –  and many more – all describe the same basic premise and the same basic truth: Comfort, and even strength, are often found amongst like-minded individuals.

This isn’t groundbreaking  information, of course. Since the beginning of time, people have realized that there’s strength in numbers. They’ve also known that hanging out with people who have similar interests, goals, and situations to your own provides you with a comforting feeling of normalcy.

Ironically, as I’m typing these words, there are 6 doves on my windowsill.  (I keep birdseed and black sunflower seeds on the windowsill beside my computer desk. This, combined with bird and squirrel feeders in our yard provide me with endless little cuties to distract me throughout the day. Jury’s still out on whether that’s actually a good thing or a bad thing.)   While there are exceptions, generally speaking, doves will show up to dine together.  I’ve never had, say, a cardinal and dove show up together.

Birds of a feather, literally, flock together.  Even nature knows the strength and safety that comes from community.

As I said in a recent post about Finding Silver Linings, my body has decided that it can no longer tolerate gluten (a protein found in… well… many things) in any way what-so-ev-er. It calls the shots, so I’ve had to change my relationship with food entirely – the way I eat, cook, and even think about food is now completely different from the way I had for my entire life.  Suffice to say that “entire” encompasses a healthy number of birthday candles over the years.  And, no, I don’t want to think about the bonfire they could combine to build.

Early on in my Gluten Free world, I found a wonderful key to sanity and happiness:  Surrounding myself with others who trudging along the gluten free trail.

Moving hundreds of these people into our home seemed extreme, so I simply found other ways to build my own private little support group:

  • On Twitter and Pinterest, I searched out Gluten Free Magazines, Gluten Free Food Manufacturers,  authors, and website accounts and followed them.  Then I looked at different accounts that interacted with them and chose certain ones to follow as well.  Soon my Twitter timeline and Pinterest feed were filled with recipes, tips, encouragement, ideas, food reviews, etc.
  • I signed up for different e-newsletters from these same experts – now my inbox is also a wealth of information and inspiration.
  • There are several Gluten Free magazines I want to subscribe to and I’ve started a cool collection of Gluten Free cookbooks.

Doing all of the above had several benefits:

  1. I was able to see scads of smiling people who weren’t only living with their dietary limitations but seemed to love it.
  2. I’ve lost count of the number of great ideas I’ve come across that I would NO WAY have come up with on my own.
  3. There’s a lot to be said for feeling like you’re part of a community.
  4. It’s exhausting to always have to check products and recipes for gluten – when I see e-mails, tweets, and pins from these “safe havens,” it takes the guess work out of it and I feel almost normal. Okay, normal for me.

Naturally  “gluten free”  birds aren’t the only kind of birds available for flocking. Any area of interest, conviction, employment, aspiration, hobbies, dreams, causes, or needs you have can be supported and strengthened by finding like-minded people. Simply replace “gluten free” in the 3 examples above with your own personal subject….

  • parenting
  • cats
  • Christianity
  • dogs
  • self help
  • sales and marketing
  • adoption
  • blogging
  • writing
  • photography
  • empty nest syndrome
  • weight loss
  • vegetarianism
  • loneliness
  • leadership
  • yoga
  • pilates
  • meditation
  • paleo diet
  • wildlife preservation
  • tea reviews
  • bird watching
  • college tips
  • etc. etc. etc…

This is one of those things in life that, while it seems so obvious and  even simple,can make a big difference in your life.

Tip: “Hacks” is a GREAT search term (Google or Twitter) to use behind your area of interest – for example “college hacks,” “weight loss hacks,” “saving money hacks,” etc.

~ Joi

Good…. Better…. Best

As Your Choices Move Up the Scale, your Results Will Follow

Good Better and Best

Have you ever wrestled with something that was kind of in a gray (or grey for our British readers) area?  Maybe it was a habit that you couldn’t really call “bad” – but, at the same time, you certainly couldn’t call it “good.”

Years ago, a friend and I were having one of those deep conversations that can only take place over pizza. In fact, it was just me, her, two tall glasses of Coca-Cola and an extra large pizza with mushrooms, onions, and green olives.  That’s what I loved about her – she liked the same pizza toppings I did.

The girl had such good taste.

Although, like a fairy tale, it was a long long ago, I distinctly remember our conversation. We were both young mothers at the time, with lots of little girls between us – and the prospect of raising daughters, in what seemed at the time the toughest time period to do so led to many heart-to-heart “mommy conversations.” Little did we realize that late 1990’s and 2000’s would make our particular time period look like Little House on the Prairie. Even then, however, things kids were exposed to in music, television, and movies was reprehensible. We may have been pizza drunk, and we may have been incredibly young – but even we knew that life choices and decisions should be broken down into three categories:  Good. Better. Best.

Sure, watching this television show (compared to the rest) is good… but is there a better option… and, then, is that the BEST option?

Over the years, a lot of things have changed. After frequent moving on both of our parts, I’ve totally lost contact with my pizza buddy. Thanks to gluten intolerance, I no longer sit in restaurant booths shoveling pizza in my mouth and, thanks to a metabolism that IN NO WAY got better with age, I no longer drink Cocoa Colas. What is it with metabolisms, anyway? Why do they turn on us?

What hasn’t changed, though, is the fact that we should all periodically take stock of how we spend our time, the choices we make, and the the way we’re playing this game called life.

First thing we need to do is to own the fact that everything we willfully do throughout the day is because we made a choice.  If someone buys a Big Mac and large fries, they chose to eat something profoundly unhealthy.  It didn’t just happen.

If we squander our time and, at the end of the day, realize that we didn’t get a darn thing done – we chose that path. Unless someone tied us to a chair, the choice was made by only one person – and that’s the person we see in the mirror.

Every action we make or inaction we take, we choose to do so.  That’s why, whenever it comes time to talk about self improvement, self growth, or self help, the first thing we have to hold accountable are our choices.

They lead the way – everything else just follows.

One of the fastest and most efficient ways to get the most out of these choices is to give honest answers to these questions:

  • Does anything GOOD come from this?
  • If not, why am I doing it?
  • If something GOOD does come from this choice, is there a choice I could make that would bring about an even BETTER payoff?
  • If there is a BETTER choice… is it the BEST choice?

Let’s look at a quick example, because if you’re anything like me, that’s where things really begin to take shape.

I don’t have to tell you how important it is to eat healthy. You don’t look like a perfect idiot to me, so I know you get that.  We tend to kind of “misplace” this bit of common sense as soon as we drive past a fast food restaurant, don’t we? We’ll see a sign that says something like Free Drink When you Buy Two Juicy Cheeseburgers and Large Fries, and automatically say through a smile, “Don’t mind if I do.”

While the convenience of this choice might appear GOOD, I’m pretty sure we can do better.

How about ordering just one burger and an unsweet tea? That’s BETTER…. but, can we do even better than that? Is there a BEST option available?


The BEST decision would be to either go home and have a wholesome, cheaper, lower calorie lunch or find a Subway and “eat fresh.”

Let me guess, it seems like a small thing, right?  But that’s kind of what choices are  – they’re the small brush strokes that paint the big picture.  Now, which is going to make the best picture – the best strokes, of course.

Same thing with self improvement – if you want the BEST you, you have to practice making the BEST choices.  Unless, of course, you just want to settle for a “good” you…

I didn’t think so.

If you want the BEST from yourself and the BEST from life, it all starts with making the BEST decisions.  Like a single unit, they will all move in the same direction.  May as well swing for the fences!

~ Joi

Why Being Busy Isn’t Always Such a Bad Thing

Mental and Even Physical Benefits to "Busyness"

Quote About Being Busy
What. A. Week.

Fellow cat lovers, have you ever noticed how gleefully busy your cat gets immediately after you’ve cleaned her sandbox and given her fresh litter? It’s as though she can’t do enough or do it fast enough.

I’m so there.

And, frankly, I love it. I love busy-ness. I don’t know why, but I kind of get a charge from it. It makes you feel alive – as though every one of your senses has to stay on guard because something’s about to come around the corner like Vin Diesel – guns blazing.


That, and the fact that it’s justification for keeping chocolate and coffee in front of me. My greatest riddle in life is, “Which makes my engine hum along better, chocolate and coffee?”

I think I’ll need more work in the lab to arrive at the answer.

One of my favorite quotes is by Satchel Paige: “Sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.” This week has been one that – on several occasions – I actually went out of my way to carve out a few chunks of time in the evening for think-free sitting. It was such an uncommonly busy week that I felt like I owed it to my psyche.  While I believe that being busy is actually a darn good thing for us body and soul, it is imperative that we make quality time for our loved ones – which, of course, includes our family, pets, and even ourselves.

My extra business has been more than just this week, actually. The past few months have been kind of crazy. It’s all good, though, because I like crazy – quite a bit, actually. It’s normal that gives me the heebie jeebies… at least I think it did. Let’s see, that would have been 1980…

I’ve been swamped with online work. Again, that’s a good thing, but I don’t have a to do list anymore. I have to do lists – they start on one page then continue on the next. Then the next. Then the next. When I hear someone complain about their to do list (emphasis on singular), I want to throw all of mine at them.

But I just smile – sometimes I wink.

Here’s one of the beautiful things about being busy… ironically, it’s THEN when you actually get the most done. It’s as though the mind says, “Well, I’m already running at a frantic pace, I might as well do THIS too.. and THIS… and why not THAT?!” We went to a particular church in Madisonville, Kentucky for years and our Pastor always said that if he needed something done, he’d look for the busiest person and assign the task to them.

Why? Busy people get stuff done.

Another benefit of busyness is the fact that it keeps you sharp. Your brain cells crave activity – in fact, I’m convinced that every cell craves activity. We weren’t designed to sit and do nothing day after day. We were designed by the Creator to get busy and stay busy.

On a mental level, staying busy forces your brain to come up with new solutions. Your brain is also challenged to become more creative and to, often, think outside of the box.  All of this may seem like chaos to us, but to our brains, it’s like a mental gym. Inactive, unchallenged brains are the ones headed for the most trouble. Never, ever resent extra activity for your brain – it’ll reward you for it today, tomorrow, and in years to come.

Emotionally, busyness is also a blessing dressed in work clothes.  When we’re busy, we don’t have time to worry, grieve, or cave in to feelings of loneliness, sadness, envy… or any of the long list of negative emotions that can drag us down. Staying busy is actually the best remedy for just about every negative emotion on the list.

The next time you find yourself having “one of those days,” don’t recoil… rejoice!  Then listen really close – you’ll hear every cell in your body buzzing.

Going Further…

What if you simply don’t have enough TO keep you busy?!  I’ve heard about this from quite a few individuals and, frankly, I’d never really stopped to consider it! Being a mother of three as well as running a web publishing business and writing leaves me wondering what that must be like.

I have a lot of days when I’d LOVE to find out!

In all seriousness, though, when your life simply doesn’t have “an awful lot going on,” it’s up to you to create the busyness.   The options are pretty amazing and once you start thinking of things to do, you’ll be amazed at just how many things there are just waiting to be done. Below are just a few…

  • Redecorate a room in your house.
  • Redecorate every room in your house!
  • Plant a flower garden (or vegetable garden or herb bed).
  • Adopt a cat or dog from you local shelter and make your life (and their life) something special!
  • Write the next great novel.
  • Learn to cook.
  • Learn a new hobby.
  • Get a full or part-time job doing something new and exciting.
  • Write a cookbook.
  • Learn to sew, quilt, or do woodworking.
  • Clean/organize your closets.
  • Volunteer your time to a worthy cause.
  • Clean/organize your kitchen drawers.
  • Start a blog.
  • Take up painting.
  • Take a college class or two.
  • Take up yoga.
  • Take online classes.
  • Choose three from this list and never wonder what busy feels like again!

~ Joi

One Small Step Can Open a Whole New World

Don't Let Life Slip Away from You!

No Line Bifocals
I know, better than anyone, that my advice isn’t worth pure gold. Even on my best day, I’d never suggest that anything I have to say is worth a $20 bill. Someone once suggested that I charge people to read certain articles on Self Help Daily. I was relieved that he suggested it in e-mail, so he didn’t have to see me throw my head back and laugh as I said, “Oh, that’s a good one!

I don’t have an over-inflated sense of myself or anything about me… well, I take that back. I’m beyond cocky about my cooking. I’m pretty sure that if anyone ever told me something I cooked or baked was less than a 10 on a scale of 1-10, I’d grab them by their collar and throw them out of my kitchen, all the while asking them how they managed to live to this point with absolutely no taste buds.

I’d offer to set up a fund and solicit money to buy them a new tongue – one with taste buds that actually function. I’m just charitable like that.

In all seriousness (an area I seldom visit), the advice I’m about to lay on you is golden. It’s the best advice you will get all year.

I’m not being cocky.

I’m not being grandiose.

I’m simply being honest.

If you have anything in the world that stands between you and  being able to enjoy life to its absolute fullest, I plead with you to take the one small step to navigate around it.

I have been needing new glasses for years. YEARS. But, like most people, I kept seeing other things that I’d rather spend time and money on. Looking back, I know just how ridiculous I was. I’d even go as far to say that I was foolish.

Since I’d last gotten a pair of glasses, my vision has changed a great deal. I could tell when driving or riding in a car, for example, that I couldn’t read signs I was pretty sure I once read. When reading a book or the back of a cereal box, for that matter, I always had to take my glasses off or peek over the top in what I always termed my “annoyed librarian look.” The kind of look a librarian throws to a kid who isn’t talking with his/her “indoor voice.”

The vision change happened so gradually I wasn’t fully aware of just how much I was missing.

I knew I needed stronger glasses and I knew I needed bifocal lenses. But I kept putting it off – for years. And years. It wasn’t vanity because thanks to AMAZING technology, today’s bifocals look exactly like all other glasses. “No Line Bifocals” look the same as all other glasses. It boggles the mind, but NO ONE knows you’re wearing bifocals except you. You know it when you can actually read without taking off your glasses, you know when the text on your phone is clearer than ever, and you know when you don’t whip out your annoyed librarian look while reading small print.

More than anything, I think I was afraid of being able to adjust to bifocal lenses. I envisioned myself getting seasick just walking through the room. I pictured myself floundering in a distorted world that suddenly seemed like a house of mirrors.

I got my beautiful new No Line Bifocal glasses this weekend and am relieved to say I’m neither seasick or floundering. What I am is amazed.  Absolutely amazed.  A whole new world has, literally, been opened up for me and I realize, now, that I didn’t even realize, then, just how much I was missing.

As soon as we left Lenscrafters, I found myself reading billboards and restaurant names from FAR away.  Because my vision had deteriorated slowly, the world had, in a sense, slowly slipped away from me.  But the story has such a happy ending, I can’t even feel sad for the time lost – I’m too excited for the time saved!

If you need glasses, bifocal lenses, hearing aids, or anything else that will help open a whole new world for you, again, I’m pleading with you to simply take the small step needed to walk through the door.  The world may be slowly slipping away from you and, because it’s been so gradual, you may not even completely realize it.

My mother experienced gradual hearing loss beginning at a very young age. Although everyone needed to repeat things to her several times, she always seemed to think that people were mumbling.  Everyone, thinking of what all she was missing, kept telling her to get her hearing checked because she needed hearing aids.  No one did it in an ugly manner, of course – only jerks do that.

Personally, I never even minded repeating myself.  If someone actually cares enough about what I say to ask me to repeat it… I’m flattered.

However, my mom (who was such a character, I can’t even tell you – she was the very definition of a PILL!) did what just about everyone with hearing loss did. If she’d already asked someone to repeat themselves several times – she didn’t want to keep on asking, “What?” or “Excuse me?”  She’d simply kind of guess at what they’d said and either laugh or or answer with something she hoped would fit the situation.

Sometimes she’d be so off base I’d have to laugh.  She’d answer my dad at times with completely off the wall responses and I can still see the befuddled expression on his face.  One time he told her that the heat needed to be turned up “a couple of notches” and she said, “I’m going to the store later.”  He said, “Okay. Let’s go with that.”

To which she replied, “Of course you can go with me.”

He then looked at me and whispered, “Help.”

While we sometimes laugh at moments that surround vision and hearing – at ourselves as well as others – let’s be honest. It’s not all that funny, is it?  While we may tell ourselves, “I’m as blind as a bat!” or while someone may tell us, “You can’t hear a lick!” – I don’t think anything that stands between someone and enjoying the world around them as much as they possibly can is anything to laugh at.

My mom, to her credit, did make an appointment for a hearing test. She got a couple of hearing aids and, honestly, tears kind of come to my eyes when I remember the look on her face when she heard birds singing for the first time in what must have been 20 or more years.  We were in front of her house and she said, “Listen!  The birds are singing!”

I didn’t say it out loud, but I thought, Momma, they’ve been singing all along.

So often, she’d ask us, “Have you always been able to hear that?”

She started calling her hearing aids her “ears” and would often say something like, “We can go in a minute… just let me put my ears on.”

The world had slowly slipped away from her and she didn’t even know it.   You, while reading these words, may be in the same boat as my mom (hearing loss) or with me (vision problems).  The world could be slipping slowly away from you.

If the only thing standing between you and hearing aids, glasses, reading glasses, or bifocal lenses is vanity – let me give you a wake up call.  No one cares. They really don’t.  I think a lot of people are afraid of looking “old” or of being perceived as “old” when it comes to glasses and hearing aids.

Duh!  There are grade school kids who require glasses and hearing aids.  Besides, I’ll give you another little wake up call.  If you’re in your fifties, you aren’t keeping that a secret from anyone, no matter what you may think.  The world will know you’re there and, guess what… again, they don’t care! Fifties and sixties, today are like the yesterday’s forties.

Never be ashamed of your age… be proud.

Besides, let’s be honest, who will be perceived as older, the one who has to do the “annoyed librarian” maneuver or the one who simply sees what they want to see.  Who’ll be perceived as older, the one who says, “What?” or the one who gives a perfect answer every time, right on cue?

Today’s glasses and hearing aids are made so stylish, anyway.  With people living longer, companies are making sure that these products are as fashionable and discreet as ever. Trust me, you’ll be blown away.

You’ll want to kick yourself for not taking that first step sooner. When you’re seeing or hearing everything you’ve been missing, you will feel like a whole new world has opened up right before you.  Think of the scene in the movie Avatar when Pandora opens up for the first time.  It’s like that… only better.

You’ll find that you have more time to actually LIVE and enjoy life. You may not realize just how much effort it takes to try to do things others take for granted. I spent so much time taking glasses off, putting glasses on, walking closer to see what I needed to see, etc. I never realized how much effort I was having to put into life!  The same is true for those who have hearing loss. They have to ask others to repeat what they said (and subject themselves to some people who get annoyed when they have to repeat themselves), they have to try to read lips (my mom mastered this trick), they have to, nervously, throw out an answer and hope for the best.

That’s a lot of effort. It’s also a great big fat (and needless) barrier between yourself and life.

Please don’t live on the sidelines any longer. Make this the week you call for an appointment. There is LITERALLY a whole new world waiting for you to step into it. You just have to make that first step.  As I’m typing these words, I see my computer screen more clearly than ever. The words are sharp and clear.  Every now and then, I glance out of the window my my desk and window and see the birds and trees that I love so much. They had been slowly fading away from me and I can’t tell you how overjoyed I am to have them back.

When things fade away gradually, you never realize it fully until you have them back again.  I stopped reading the signs on the way home because it occurred to me, my husband has seen them all along. He doesn’t need me to read them to him!  So, I silently read them to myself and felt so much joy that I had trouble containing it.

The world is a joyful, beautiful thing. Please don’t let it slip away. I feel so strongly about this that it hit me this morning – if my words and our story (mine and my mom’s) can make just one person take that first step, every minute I’ve ever put into Self Help Daily will have been more than worth it.

~ Joi

 “Listen!  The birds are singing!”  (Momma, they’ve been singing all along.)

What You Allow is What Will Continue

One of the Most Powerful Quotes EVER is Always Right

What you allow is what will continue. - Unknown
As you know, I’m an avid collector and great lover of inspirational quotes. I’m not sure I ever met one I didn’t want to sit down and spend a little time with. Over the years, I find that I always have a few “favorite quotes of the moment”  at any given time. The quotes that just seem to find their way into every conversation and seem to be applicable to whatever is going on around me.

Funny thing is, the quote you see above has been a favorite quote for as long as I can remember.  What you allow is what will continue. It never goes out of style, never gets old, and (as far as I’m concerned) should never leave your side.

This past week, alone, the quote came to mind in three different instances.

  1. My husband and I were at a favorite restaurant in town that often seems to have a problem with being understaffed. We’ve heard, on several occasions, that they have a problem with servers simply calling in at the last minute. As the manager ran around like a chicken in search of its head, I wanted desperately to write the quote down and slip it to him as he flew past our table on one of his rounds. If he keeps allowing his workers to treat him, the restaurant, and their co-workers with such blatant disrespect, they will.  It’ll continue.
  2. I heard about a girl (from one of my daughters) who has a ridiculously unhealthy relationship with her boyfriend. He treats this girl in a way that makes me want to smack him in the head… with an electric eel.  And she isn’t even MY daughter – I don’t want to even think what he’d be in for if she were! The relationship (if you can even call it that) has been going on like this for a few years and, by now, this unhealthy and abnormal reality probably seems normal to this young girl.  What I wouldn’t give for 10 minutes with her.  If she continues to allow herself to be treated like a doormat, this jerk will continue to trample on her.
  3. Okay, time to rat on myself. I try to eat healthy. Like most people, these days, I try to make the right choices in the store, in my kitchen, and in restaurants.  A few times this week (alone!) I messed up big time. Let’s see, I messed up in the grocery store by buying unhealthy snacks, I messed up at home by choosing the unhealthy ones over the beautiful fruit that was sitting on the counter, and I messed up in a restaurant (Seriously, Joi? Three rolls?  With Butter? Three?) I whipped out the beloved quote on myself last night in the grocery store. I had a bag of Doritos in my hand, licking my lips as I was thisclose to throwing it into the cart.  Then I realized that if I keep allowing my inner snacker (she with the rationality of a 10 year old) to call the shots, my downward spiral will continue.  I put the bag of crunchy goodness back on the shelf and got some celery instead. It was cheaper, healthier, and is one step in breaking a cycle I want to break.

The celery over Doritos choice may seem small – and I guess, compared to gleefully eating 3 rolls… with butter… it is small. However, we’d all do well to keep in mind that every choice we make either carries us one step forward, one step backward, or sinks us further in the ground where we stand.

As I’ve mentioned before, one of the most searched things on Google is How to Be Happy. Ironically, that fact makes me pretty sad.  The thought of so many people out there who may be so removed from happiness that they’re turning to a search engine to remember where it is… well, that’s sad.

The thing is, we’re born happy. When we’re babies and toddlers, we wear our happiness on our face for the world to see.  Think of the insanely popular videos on YouTube with nothing but babies laughing.  People (including me) love these videos and spend copious amounts of time watching them… laughing with the babies the entire time.

Why? Because pure joy is a beautiful, intoxicating thing.  If we allow the wrong things to keep playing out, we’ll continue to be further and further removed from happiness and joy.

Leave behind anything that stands between you and happiness and, while you’re at it,  tuck this life-changing quote into your pocket so you never forget it again…..

What you allow is what will continue. My wish for you is that you’ll only allow positive, uplifting, joyous things in your life because… mark it down.. they’ll continue! Pure joy is what I want for YOU – the kind you just can’t keep in or hide.

~  Joi

Your Thoughts, Actions, and Words Write Your Life’s Story

Are You Victimizing or Empowering Yourself?

Define Yourself
A few days ago, I found myself thinking long and hard about baseball. Something, admittedly, I do a lot.  That’s one of the things that you should know about me… I’m completely obsessed with baseball. For me, there are two seasons: Baseball Season and Withdrawal. We’re in the latter, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still think about it.  I guess you could say I’m a “student of the game.” Not because I ever play baseball, or even have a desire to do so.  I grew up playing softball (every year from the age of 8 to 18), but I don’t even feel the call to play softball anymore – let alone baseball.

A fact my knees (and feet, back, arms…) are grateful for.

I love to dissect aspects of the game of baseball. The pitchers, hitters, stats, ball fields, match-ups, etc.  To give you an idea of how eaten up I am with baseball, the other day I heard an announcer on the radio mention a particular team and my mind immediately pulled up the following information:

  • the city in which they play
  • the name of their stadium
  • their best starting pitcher
  • the name of their manager
  • their infield
  • where they hold spring training
  • their chances for 2013… zilch

I am, for better or worse, just as big a student of the game of life.  A philosopher without the degree, prestige, and title. I believe that’s one of the reasons I was drawn to writing in the first place.  It provides a release for all the thoughts, analogies, and conclusions my mind creates. If they all stayed inside my brain, there wouldn’t be any room for anything else.

One of the thoughts bouncing around recently was this: There are two kinds of people in the world.  There are the kind who say, “Look at everything I’ve BEEN through!” and there are those who say, “Look at what I SURVIVED!”

This occurred to me when I heard a woman ranting about 2012. She literally said the words, “God PUT me through….”  and as the words came out of her mouth, I thought, “You’re looking at it all wrong. Say, God BROUGHT me through…

Sometimes just one word makes all the difference.

Our thoughts, attitude, and even our words create the story of our lives.  We’re the author of our life’s novel and, personally, I’ve always wondered why anyone would want to portray themselves as the victim. Isn’t it much cooler to be the hero?

Words and thoughts like the following cast yourself in the victim’s role:

  • I’ve been through so much…
  • I have too much on my plate…
  • God put me through…
  • Someone hurt my feelings…
  • Someone broke my heart…
  • This is more than I can handle…

Not only do they make you the victim, the words themselves scream, “I’m weak!”

Words and thoughts like the following cast yourself in the role of the hero/heroine:

  • I’ve overcome so much…
  • My trials have made me strong…
  • I’m actually thankful for the weight I’ve carried because they built muscle and character…
  • God has brought me through a lot of tough times…
  • This made me stronger…
  • I can handle that…
  • Hey, Life… bring it!

I’m reminded of one of my daughters, Brittany, when she was around 7 or 8.  She was in the yard playing with her sisters and a couple of their friends. I was working in one of my flower beds and, like all over-protective mothers, I had two eyes on my kids and two eyes on the flowers. Only mothers are equipped with these magical extra eyes.

Brittany – who has always known one speed, TOP speed – fell while running. Smack right on the patio. Before I could even get up to see about her, she was back on her feet and running. She shot me a look that said, “THAT never happened.” I stayed put and went with her version of the story.

Basically, she fell and – in one motion – got back up again.  I guess it’s odd that this scene from life has stuck with me all these years but I just thought it was cool.  Make no mistake about it, the fall hurt. Both knees were scrapped and one hand was scuffed up.  However, acknowledging the fall would have meant that, unlike the other girls, she slipped.

THAT never happened.”

If there’d been such a thing as “Pictures with Captions” back then, I’d have labeled her reaction, “Patio….  you hit like a girl!

The next time you find yourself heaving deep sighs or rolling in complaints – and long before you pick up your violin – ask yourself if you want to be the helpless victim or the conquering hero/heroine.

Let’s face it, one’s infinitely more attractive.

~ Joi



Like It Or Not, Priorities Shape Our Actions

These Actions, Then, Go On To Shape Our Lives

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe quote

Funny, isn’t it, how oftentimes the answer to our problems is ridiculously simple. As you know, I work full-time from home as a writer and web publisher.  My husband has a full-time job, but as for my own personal income – what I make online is it.  I may never be rolling in it, but I’m wild about the whole coffee in my pjs until the mood to get dressed hits me thing and my cats consider the arrangement the deal of a lifetime.

Nine lifetimes, even.

I recently had an issue with one of my websites.  I won’t bore you with the details because my website and I aren’t what’s important here.  You are. And if you can glean anything from our hassle, then the hassle would have been worthwhile.

I was starting to get a little stressed out over this particular website and felt like our relationship was about as strained as a jar of baby food.  When I have something on my mind and want it resolved quickly, I always do one of three things:

  • I take the problem to the shower with me.
  • I take the problem for a walk.
  • I Swiffer the house as the problem rides shotgun.

It was cold outside and I didn’t want to get wet (a given in the shower), so I shot my computer an “I’m out!” look and headed for the Swiffer Wipes.  Without fail, when I concentrate on something menial, like walking or cleaning (me or floors), my mind figures things out for itself.

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen Covey

The weird thing about my mind is that when it comes up with the solution, it doesn’t speak to me in long, poetic prose.  It seldom even adds pictures to its message.  Truth be told, the answer I need is very often simply a short sentence or even just one word.

As I pushed and pulled the Swiffer across the kitchen floor, wondering how I ever lived before these things were invented, it came to me, “If you want something to be as good as it possibly can be – you have to make it a priority, not an option.”

I literally said the word, “Ouch” out loud.

priority or option
I hadn’t really been making this particular website a priority.  I guess I really hadn’t been making a lot of websites a priority if we’re being totally honest.  The holidays have this effect on me.  All I seem to want to do around November and December each year is bake, look for new recipes, shop, browse Amazon, watch Christmas movies, buy new ornaments…  You get the idea.

Basically, I was expecting everything to be sparkly and golden without putting in any elbow grease.  What can I say, sometimes I’m a very clever girl.

After finishing the floors, I sat back down at my computer and vowed to make the website a priority. I’ve done so for a while now and our relationship has improved by leaps and bounds and, wouldn’t you know it, the website is now performing exactly how I wanted it to.

“Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

This same common sense approach can solve just about any type of problem you can think of.

  • relationships
  • weight
  • health
  • work
  • school
  • housework

Taking any of these from bad to good or even from good to great may be as simple as making it a priority as opposed to an option.

“If you want something to be as good as it possibly can be – you have to make it a priority, not an option.” – This Side of the Swiffer

~ Joi