Inspiration From Jane Seymour

“You have to count on living every single day in a way you believe will make you feel good about your life — so that even if it were over tomorrow, you’d be content with yourself.” ~Jane Seymour

I love this concept, but it’s definitely easier said than done. Bills get in the way, obligations pop up, and it’s easy to put off the things we want or are meant to do. Dreams get brushed aside. Life becomes more about what we have to do, even if it holds no real meaning for us.

That’s why it’s so important to take charge of your life now, instead of waiting. No one knows how much time they have. And even if you did, wouldn’t it be better to enjoy your life? I’d like to think that when my team has come, I had reached my potential. That I had led a fulfilling, satisfying life. Heck, at the end of each day I’d like to think I had a day I could be proud of.

Now I’m not saying to ignore those things that have to get done. I certainly can’t. But if we can somehow find a balance, so that we can be happy with the results of each day and each week and each month, then perhaps we can really start to feel good about our lives. And that’s what it’s really all about.

Making a Difference: Foster Parenting

Not everyone is cut out to be a parent. And even among those who are, many will go through a difficult time that makes them incapable of caring for their children. As such, there are a lot of kids out there in need of loving homes. Not all will be a permanent need — some will be temporary. If you think you’d like to open your heart and home to one or more of these children, you may want to look into foster parenting.

Requirements to qualify to be a foster parent vary from state to state. Contact your local Department of Children and Families to get more information. You’ll need to apply to be considered and go through a screening process to verify that you’re a responsible adult capable of caring for a child. If you would like to adopt a child through the foster care program, notify the department so they can pair you with children who are more likely to require adoption rather than temporary care.

Some locations offer a monetary stipend to help care for the children you’re responsible for, but don’t let that be the deciding factor. Though not permanent, foster parenting is very demanding and is not a task to be undertaken lightly. The children going through the system often have emotional scarring and will need patience and understanding as well as love. Be sure you’re capable of providing this before taking that step. Also, it can be emotionally trying to have to give the children back at the end of their designated time — especially if you question the parents’ ability to care for their children. It’s one more thing to consider before deciding to apply.

Foster can be very rewarding, and it’s a very personal way to make a difference in the lives of others. Children have unique needs, and having a caring role model and caregiver can truly have an impact. If you think you’re capable of being that caring role model and caregiver, then foster parenting may be for you.

Your Health: Coming Up With a Game Plan

It may seem a little late in the game for this post. After all, shouldn’t you have had a game plan before you even started? But when it comes to taking charge of your health — and determining ways to address your concerns — there is a lot of trial and error. It can be hard to determine in the beginning what will work for you. You may start with the best of intentions, and decide to stick with a strict diet and exercise routine, only to find that you’re constantly “cheating” and not sticking with it. What good does that do?

So by now you should have some idea as to your style: what will work for you and what won’t. It’s time to gather up all that knowledge and figure out where to go from here:

  • Are you working on getting a disease or disorder under control? Are there specific steps that must be taken?
  • Is there something your doctor has indicated you must do to get healthy? (i.e. cut out sweets to lower your chance of getting diabetes)
  • What are your ultimate goals? What steps must reasonably be taken to get there?
  • What kind of diet restrictions do you have? How healthy can you make your diet over the long-term?
  • What kind of fitness regimen works best for you? What will you be able to stick with over the long-term?

The key to this is longevity – both in game plan and in life! The reason so many diets fail is because they’re not sustainable. It’s not likely you’ll be able to give up all your favorite foods for the rest of your life. But finding a diet that works for your personality and lifestyle can help you make better choices and stay healthy in the long-term. And the same applies to most health choices: exercise, getting professional help, relieving stress, etc. Unless something is truly a matter of life and death, you have flexibility in determining what you’ll do to improve, and what lifestyle changes you’ll make.

So what works? Upon evaluating your trials and errors over the past several months (or years!), what have you found that works for you? Are there changes you can live with and stick with for the foreseeable future? Determine what these changes are and how you’ll incorporate them into your life.

Remember: nothing is set in stone. If you find something doesn’t work, or you want to try something different, you can make adjustments accordingly. Just keep in mind that if the ultimate goal here is to get healthy and live longer, you want to be able to tolerate the choices that you’ll be living with — because you’ll be living with them for a while!

Your Relationships: Pet Adoption

Humans aren’t the only ones we can have relationships with. Sometimes our four-legged friends can be prove to be just as valuable. Before you run out to the pet store, however, and dish out hundreds — even thousands — of dollars to purchase that precious pooch or kitty, considering opening your heart and home to a rescue.

Our dog was found in a vacated apartment, locked inside a bathroom with nothing to eat or drink except water from the toilet. If that doesn’t break your heart, his little face will. He is the most affectionate, loving dog I think I’ve ever met. All he wants is to curl up next to you and get tummy rubs. and yet he had been abandoned, starved, and was desperately in need of a loving home.

He was rescued by an organization in Canton, Connecticut known as Bully Breed Rescue. We found him through Petfinder.com, but that’s certainly not the only way to locate a pet in need of love and care. Check out your local animal shelter or Humane Society. Some pet supply stores will host pet adoption events. Browse your local newspaper for ads listing pets in need of homes. Even radio and television stations will at times host events for pet adoptions.

There are still costs associated with adoptions, which usually go toward the initial care of the animal  before you took over. The animal was likely treated by a vet, perhaps spayed or neutered, and vaccinated, plus there were boarding and feeding costs. Be prepared to dish out a couple hundred dollars to cover these expenses. And, of course, you will need supplies for the ongoing care of your pet.

Ready to open your heart and home to a rescue? Before you take that step, there a few things to keep in mind:

  • Our home was inspected before we were approved to adopt Oliver. His foster mommy visited us with him to make sure the home was suitable and appropriate. Check out your home from the viewpoint of a four-legged creature to make sure everything is as it should be.
  • There are costs associated with owning a pet, including food, vet bills, medications, and supplies. Be prepared to support that animal for as long as it may live.
  • In addition to material goods, animals need love. Don’t adopt a pet if you won’t be able to give it the attention it needs.
  • Understand that just as with human children, our furry friends can have problems. They can have health concerns, behavioral issues, and psychological scars — especially if they’re rescues. Make sure you an be patient and understanding enough to take on these issues.

And last but not least, understand that your new pet will come complete with his or her own personality. Be prepared to surrender your heart when you look into those little eyes.

 

Your Money: Get What’s Coming to You

There is a lot of unclaimed money out there, whether it’s bank accounts that people forgot about or insurance claims that were never made or money not taken advantage of for a number of other reasons. The amounts are staggering. And if you think about it, there may be money that’s owed to you that you’ve forgotten about or never thought about claiming. Whether you’re struggling with money or not, don’t let those unclaimed funds slip through your fingers. You deserve that money!

A number of years ago I had a health savings account. Time passed, and I stopped making deposits. Eventually the bank I had the account with closed the account due to inactivity. The money that was in there (about $100) ended up getting sent to my stat’s unclaimed funds division. I eventually remembered about it and claimed the money that was rightfully mine, though the state took a cut for the trouble I put them through. If you have any accounts that may have slipped into inactivity, check with your bank or your state to see if there are funds that are owed you.

Another personal example: I had pet insurance for our dog, Oliver. The way the insurance works, I had to submit claims to get money owed me. If I didn’t make the claims, the insurance didn’t know about the expenses, and I would have paid 100% out of pocket unnecessarily. The same can be said for some health insurances. If you paid for something out of pocket that should have been covered by your insurance, submit a claim form and get that money back. Even if you have to pay a deductible or copay, getting something back is better than nothing. Just think how happy you’ll be to get that check in the mail!

Sometimes a little research can reap huge benefits. Spend some time thinking about what you should be paying and what you’ve already paid. Check out your state’s unclaimed funds division to see if your name happens to be on there (be sure to check for your spouse’s name, too!). If necessary, review your insurance policies to make sure you’ve taken advantage of everything the policies offer. There may be things that are covered that you didn’t think were. Why  miss out?

A few other ideas:

  • Check with your employer’s human resources department to see if there are any benefits you’re not taking advantage of. (For example: employer match and profit sharing on 401(k) accounts, continuing education funds, etc.)
  • Hire an accountant to do your income taxes to make sure you’re taking advantage of all the deductions you qualify for. Along the same lines, if you make any donations, make sure you get receipts so you can deduct them at the end of the year.
  • Download apps such as ibotta and Checkout 51 that offer rebates on groceries and other purchases, and you can get cash back for purchases you’re making anyway!

Your Career: Not a 9-5

Many people are content with a corporate job — punching in and out every day, getting a paycheck from “the man.” But if you’re one of the many who want something different in a career, you may be wondering what to do, where to start, and how to advance. Rest assured you’re not alone, and there are plenty of people and resources out there to help you.

Starting Your Own Business

If your dream is to have your own business, welcome to the club! While there is a lot to consider, many have gone before you, and succeeded. Here are some questions to ask yourself to get you started:

  • What will you do? Is it sustainable long-term?
  • Will you work by yourself, or will you need partners or employees?
  • How will you get paid?
  • Where will start-up money come from? Will you need a loan?
  • Will you work out of your home, or will you need a physical location? How will you pay for the associated expenses?
  • How will you let the world know about your business? Who is your clientele?
  • How will you deal with customer/ client concerns?

Once you’ve answered these questions, you may be ready to get going. The Small Business Administration and SCORE can help you along the way, especially if you need to create a business plan and get a loan. They can answer many of your questions, and you can even arrange to meet with someone to go over your specific plans and goals.

Independent Representatives – Multi-Level Marketing

While in many ways being an independent representative is owning your own business, there are some different differences. For one, you’ll be affiliated with an existing, established business – a business that may supplement or completely fund your salary. There will also be a set structure in place that determines how much you make, how you can progress and advance, and what you will sell or promote. The good part is that you control your success. You can go as far as you want, and you determine your own schedule. Keep in mind, however, that these arrangements usually involve a start-up cost.

You’re likely familiar with many companies that involve independent representatives: Avon, Mary Kay, Pampered Chef, Tupperware, etc. You can ask others you know who are involved with these companies or visit the companies’ websites to get more information on how to join. As with starting a business from scratch, consider what kind of company you would want to stay with long-term, and what products or services align with your interests.

Work From Home

Working from home is becoming increasingly popular, and there are several different formats that can fall under this category. You may own your own business, work for someone else but determine your own schedule, or work for someone else on a set schedule. Some jobs from home will require conference calls or regular reports in, while other jobs will just require the completed project. You may even get a job working from home that requires a separate phone line and computer system for the job — and you answer customer calls and act as someone in an office would.

If you’d like to work at home as an independent contractor with your own business, you can post your services online at sites such as Upwork or create a profile on LinkedIn. To find a position with a particular company, you can do an online search through job search sites or general search sites, or you can contact companies directly and ask if they hire work-at-home employees.

Creative Jobs

Actors, dancers, artists, photographers, writers — if you’re creative, your talents may not lead to a  “normal” job. You may be hired for particular projects or jobs rather than ongoing employment. You may choose to be associated with an organization or agent that can get you jobs, or you can go out on your own and make a mark. It’s not an easy path, but if you’ve got the passion and discipline, you can certainly succeed. The toughest part will be getting your name out there so you can get clients and jobs. Be sure to advertise and, if appropriate, join professional organizations that can help you on your path. Networking can be your friend! You can also look into sites such as the previously-mentioned Upwork, or search online for job boards specific to your industry.

Inspiration From Rollo May

“The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt but in spite of doubt.” ~Rollo May

I’d like to think this quote is true — simply because it means there’s still hope for me when I doubt myself!

If you have doubts but still feel strongly enough to continue, you must have some kind of commitment to what you’re hoping to accomplish. You acknowledge that even if you aren’t sure you’ll succeed, it’s important for you to continue on your path. You hope you can succeed, but it is by no means certain.

Proceeding without doubts may even means that you aren’t committed. Perhaps you’re proceeding simply because you know you can. It doesn’t mean you feel strongly about what you’re trying to accomplish; it simply means you are capable of proceeding and succeeding.

Having doubts doesn’t mean you aren’t committed to your goals or your dreams. Your actions determine your commitment. If you can proceed despite having doubts about your success, you can even consider yourself stronger for having done so.

Making a Difference: Donating

Money is necessary for just about everything these days. And not having money can put you at a serious disadvantage — just ask people without homes, without proper medical care, without food or clean water. Or, looking beyond basic needs, ask researchers trying to make breakthroughs in medicine, students without money for college, or organizations trying to bring relief to areas hit by natural disasters.

If you happen to have extra money, and you want to help others with it, there are plenty of people and organizations who would be more than happy to take it off your hands. Donating money can make you feel good, give you a tax break (get a receipt!), and, most importantly, help those in need.

Money isn’t the only thing you can donate, however. Products and services are also welcomed by many groups and organizations. You can donate food to a local food bank, for example, or prizes to be raffled off by fundraising groups. Care packages can be sent to those in the military or students away at college. You can donate used clothing, cell phones, even furniture.

If you’re not able to donate yourself, you can also try fundraising for a cause. Some organizations will sponsor walk-a-thons or other fundraising events where people can sponsor you to raise money for that organization. Or you can raise funds on a smaller scale with a group or organization you already belong to. Bake sales, fairs, can drives, and more can help bring in money that you can then donate to a cause that’s near and dear to your heart. You can also help an organization raise money by organizing fundraising events or gathering donations.

Check out the Online Help post to get some guidance on where to donate or do some research on your own to find an organization that’s meaningful to you. Don’t forget local groups such as schools, churches, scouts, social services departments, nursing homes, homeless shelters, and more.

Your Health: Diets

When you think about diets, chances are the first thing that comes to mind is losing weight. Atkins, South Beach, Slim Fast — specific diets designed to make you lose weight fast. But diets are about so much more than shedding pounds.

The food you consume plays a huge role in your life. It can affect not only your weight, but also your energy levels, your risks of getting certain diseases, and your overall well-being. Having a well-balanced diet can help you lower your weight, true, but it can also just plain make you feel good.

When you’re evaluating your diet, keep in mind that even something that’s nutritious won’t offer everything you need. You have to balance: proteins, carbs, fruits and vegetables. Start with meals that offer lean protein in the form of meat, eggs, tofu, or beans. Add whole grains. Finish off with a salad and/or other vegetables — the brighter and bolder the colors, the better. When it comes to snacks, look for treats that offer nutritional value. If possible, get snacks that offer protein, as well, to keep you feeling full longer. Some suggestions: apple slices or celery sticks with peanut butter, veggies dipped in hummus, plain yogurt with fruit or granola mixed in.

A little planning ahead can revamp your diet and fill your body with wholesome meals and snacks. Try making as many of your own meals as possible. This will help you avoid preservatives and processing that may negate some of the nutritional qualities present in your food. Plan your menu in advance so you have all the necessary ingredients to put together a balanced meal. Prepare snacks ahead of time so you’re not scurrying to the vending machine when a craving strikes.

Be on the lookout for empty calories. Sweets, salty snacks, and processed foods are all high in not-so-good-for-you ingredients. They may fill you up, but they won’t give your body the nutrients it needs. And your body responds to sugar and artificial sweeteners like a drug — it craves more, leaving you feeling hungry, cranky, and reaching for more empty calories. And don’t forget what you drink. Sometimes that can play just as big a role as food. Reach for water whenever possible, forgoing sugary soft drinks.

Your Relationships: Forgiving

All relationships, whether they be between friends, family members, coworkers, or significant others, will encounter times of conflict. It’s simply human nature: two different people will not be in agreement 100 percent of the time. Some issues will, of course, be bigger than others, but the root of it all lies in the same realm. As such, you will find yourself faced with opportunities — opportunities to deal with this conflict and determine how you’d like to proceed.

A lot of conflict is easily dealt with. Slight differences in opinion, minor disagreements — easily let go, easily forgiven and forgotten. But you will definitely encounter more intense conflict, made all the more heated because it’s a matter of right and wrong – and of course you’re right.

At times like those, you have to decide: can the “wrongdoing” be forgiven? If not, can you move past it and keep your relationships intact?

The decision is ultimately yours. Depending on the severity of the wrongdoing, you may find it difficult to accept or forgive. You need to decide at that point if the relationship means more than the wrong.

If the relationship is strong, and means a great deal to you, attempting to move past it may be your preferred course of action. Perhaps having an honest conversation and trying to see things from the other person’s point of view can help. Knowing the other person’s reasoning and feelings can make it easier to forgive.

If the relationship was weak to begin with, or the severity of the wrong is very high, you need to decide if you want to put forth the effort required to salvage that relationship. With enough determination, chances are high that you can move past the conflict — as long as both parties are able to come to an agreement. But it won’t be easy.

A suggestion as you determine your course of action: don’t wait too long. The more time that passes, the harder it will be to put the past behind you. Time can leave a scar — and the effort required to salvage the relationship grows as time passes by. A hiccup in the course of a relationship — no matter how big a hiccup — is easier to move past than a days-, weeks-, months-, or even years-long span of time that ruptures the relationship completely.

And if you can’t forgive? Well, perhaps that relationship has run its course. Just make sure you’re moving on for the right reasons. Don’t let your pride interfere with a relationship worth saving. A bit of swallowed pride is easier to accept than the regrets that are sure to come.