Pondering on the Days of my Youth

While my childhood, for the most part, is a bit of a blur to me, there are a few things I do remember rather fondly from the days of my youth.

I was not particularly graced with an abundance of toys, and therefore, the ones that I had become all the more special to me. There was one very treasured toy in my somewhat small collection. My beloved Mrs. Beasley Doll. I vaguely remember for years, how I carried this doll around with me and showered her with the most adoring love and affection a child can bestow on one’s most treasured toy. Aside from my beloved doll, I can remember distinctly how from a very young age until well throughout my teenage years, my next greatest love was my radio. Whether it be a small portable cassette recorder, to a small pre- “boombox” era radio. I can still remember the day I finally got my very first Sony Walkman! Boy, did I sure think I was somebody then. I had been blessed with the ability to have portable music pretty much throughout my youth, but now, with the tiny little speaker that fit just over my ears, my music was more private, it was mine, and I did not have to share it with anyone. I am not entirely sure why the idea of having my music all to myself was so appealing to me. Given that today, as an adult, I love to play songs for other people, and I enjoy sharing songs that mean a great deal to me with people that I am closest to. I suppose, in retrospect, during my childhood, there were a lot of things that were out of control and far beyond my scope of comfort, and when I could put on my personal speakers and control the music that only I listened to, it was a form of escape. Ironically, music has long been a form of escape for many people, and I am among those plenty.

I did not have the luxury of having a large group of people in my life throughout my childhood. My family was very reserved and kept a pretty tight circle. Growing up as a child, I only had a handful of cousins, and only three of them were even within my close proximity. The other family members were only present in my life once a year, during Thanksgiving, and then there was one family that I saw sporadically throughout the year, but we were never close. One of my cousins that did live next door to me became my best friend. He was a second or third cousin; we never did actually figure that out. However, it did not matter. He became closer to me than I was with my first cousins or even my brother. We went through a period, as young teenagers, in which we wanted to escape our lives. We had a lot of things in which we wanted to run away from. But we were too young and far too scared to even try running away. So, we created these imaginary fantasy lives for ourselves. I had always dreamed of being a drummer in a rock band and he loved the guitar. With a badminton racket and a few sticks carefully selected and snapped off an unsuspecting tree, we would fire up some music, normally on the portable radio outside, and instantaneously become the heroes in our own little world of rock and roll. Music videos came on the television on weekend nights late into the night. Even though, I knew we would both risk getting into more trouble than we ever wanted, I would let him slip in the front door after midnight on the weekends, and we would sit quietly in the living room, watching videos, and dreaming of one day escaping the world in which we knew and becoming famous in our own rock band. Aside from music, we actually created our own pretend identities. Looking back now, it is really funny and really sad at just how much we craved to be someone else to the extent that we began to really take on the personas of our make-believe personalities. Our alter egos even evolved with us as we grew up as teenagers. We created the identities in our youth, and as we became older teenagers, we changed our characters names and personalities to adjust to our newfound lives from childhood to teenager. The saddest part of it all, looking back, is that my alter ego was always a boy. Things had happened to me that I felt like if I had been a boy would not have happened. My pretend persona was a boy because I despised how being a girl made me feel weak.

As a child, I remember developing a strong love for reading. I suppose it was yet another means of escaping reality. I could sit for hours and read about anything or anyone. I still remember one of my most favorite books of all that I read at about the time of transitioning from a child into a teenager. I cannot remember my exact age, but I remember I was young, but still old enough to comprehend reading a young adult fiction. The book was titled, The Summer of the Sky Blue Bikini. I have long since looked for that book in my adult years, as I would love to sit and re-read one of my most favored reads every. But, alas, I have yet to find it. We had a small creek that was behind my house, it was just a small hike through some deep woods, but definitely worth the trek down to it. There was this bend in the creek that had this huge rock tucked in the curve that made a perfect place to sit and watch the water streaming by. It was deep enough in the woods that there was such a sense of peace and solace, yet it was close enough to the house that my parents never concerned with us being down there for hours on end. I would often take me a treasured book down to the creek and assemble myself comfortably on the rock in the bend. I would take in the serenity of my surroundings. The ferns, the moss, and the babbling of the water racing past me. Then, I would sink into my treasured book. During my teenaged years, it was mostly a Stephen King masterpiece. I would sit and read until the light of the sun was getting just about too dark to see to get home. Then, I would reluctantly make my way back out of the woods and back to reality.

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Ten Years From Now

Ten years from now…

Ten years from now, I will be about sixty years old. Ten years from now, my first granddaughter will be old enough to start driving. Ten years from now, my car will be long paid off and likely ready to fall apart. Ten years from now, there will be a lot of changes that take place in my life.

But I choose to think about the types of changes that I can affect taking place in my life. Where I want to be ten years from now, and the things I would like to accomplish ten years from now. I have always believed in and maintained a five-year plan, and now, I am giving consideration to my ten-year plan.

Ten years from now, I would like to be an accomplished author. I would ideally like to have written forty books by then. At the very least, I would like to have at least half that much. Twenty books written and published would be adequate for me ten years from now. As long as the books are of good quality and will sell. I could be ambitious and set a goal of writing one hundred books within the next ten years, but if every one of those books are rushed and of low quality, every single one of them would be a waste of my time. I would prefer to have only written two books of high-quality work that people will want to read because they feel as though they have something to gain from them. However, for the sake of my ten-year plan, I will simply say that I would like to have written and published forty books ten years from now.

In addition to writing and selling books, ten years from now, I would like to have generated other streams of income. I would like to become a life coach and help other people set their sails on the right direction for the stormy seas they face. Ideally, I would like to become a successful life coach only after creating my own successful life free of the self-doubt, anxiety, insecurity, and lack of self-confidence that I currently have.  I would like to create a bonafide system for overcoming the mental and physical obstacles that prevent me from living a truly happy and free life, in which I have defined the ability to shed mental and physical clutter that prevent the clarity and freedom of living life fully. Ten years from now, I would like to share my own life success story with the world. I would also like to host a successful podcast in which I share my own life story, a memoir of such, and give others the courage to face and overcome their own demons and battles.

Ten years from now, I would like to have my ideal body and achieve optimal health. I have a significant amount of weight to lose currently and have been battling depression and high blood pressure for years. I would like to see myself overcoming both of those hurdles. My blood pressure can easily be managed by reducing my body weight and maintaining a healthy diet. Reducing my body weight can be quite a challenge, due to the fact that it will require a great deal of work on my part. The work will not be easy, nor will it always be fun. However, I owe it to myself and to my family to do the work necessary to gain better health and have a healthier and more active lifestyle for years to come. There is evidence of a direct correlation between depression and obesity. However, it is a vicious cycle and a catch 22 of sorts. Depression tends to lead to overeating “comfort foods” or binge eating and being overweight tends to lead to depression. They go hand in hand and one can create the other. Therefore, ten years from now, I would like to have gotten a handle on my weight and reversed the damaging effects of high blood pressure and lowering my risk of heart disease. As well, I would like to have overcome depression by living an active life that includes hiking and participation in many family events.

Ten years from now, I would like to have achieved obtaining my master’s degree in psychology. I would like to take the things that I learn and understand about the human psyche and human behavior and apply them to my writing as well as the topics discussed in my podcast. I have always had a great fascination with what makes people do the things that they do. I would love to develop a great understanding of that and develop the ability to put it in ways that can help others understand human behaviors as well.

Ten years from now, I would mostly love to have the ability to live my life as a reflection of the success and achievement of accomplishing all of the things that I have set forth in my ten-year plan. I would love to own a quaint little farmhouse in north Georgia, the place I call home. I would like to have small parcel of land to accompany the home, in which I would have space for gardening. I would love to have a large rocking chair front porch with a white porch swing. I would love to be able to spend morning sitting in the swing with my morning coffee and watching the world come to life with the morning sunrise. I would love to have family over and enjoy holidays and meals with the people I love most. In addition, I would love to own a nice little codo in the Gulf of Mexico, the place I call the home of my heart. Going back to the multiple streams of income, I would love to have the ability to use the condo for a rental place when we are not there. I would love to spend time sitting on the balcony overlooking the teal blue water and watching some of the most incredible sunsets my eyes have ever had the pleasure to behold. I would love to have the ability to walk down to the beach and just sit watching the waves and birds, while contemplating what an incredible life I have and gaining inspiration and insight for new writing material.

There are no guarantees in live, and by no means are there any guarantee that I can achieve any of the things in which I have set forth in my ten-year plan. However, nothing that I have chosen is such a massive dream that it cannot be accomplished. The reality is that nothing I want for my ten-year plan is unrealistic to me. I simply have to be willing to do the work and make the effort to take the chances on myself. Ten years from now, I would love to look around at the incredible things and people surrounding me and think back fondly on this blog post and remember when it was all just a dream. It is often said that a goal without a plan is just a dream. Dreams are good and dreams are important. However, dreaming about my ten-year plan, will never make it come to fruition. Each of these accomplishments, require a solid plan. A plan that will include hard work and possibly many late nights or early mornings. But the reality is that each of these things are worth it to me to put in that work.

Making Peace with the Past

It is often said that you cannot go back home. Although, some people try to challenge that ideology by eventually returning to their hometowns, to former lovers, or moving back in with their parents. Therefore, one is left to question, does it really work out in the end? I have myself had the occasion to return to my childhood home to live with my mother for a time, following the bitter ending of a broken relationship. At first, it was very awkward for me. But I just assumed it was the whole “I’m not supposed to be moving back into my parents’ house” pride thing. However, as the time lingered on, I began to realize that it was so much more. I found that the demons who haunted me in my past were still dwelling in that house. I found it to be a cold and unwelcoming place.

I had been in therapy several years ago and was under the impression that I had already dealt with all of the haunts of my past life, in particular my childhood. As I stood within the wall of this darkened paneled house, I figured out fairly quickly that I had not. I was taken aback by the torrential flood of emotion that befell me just being there. It did not make any sense to me. I mean, I had stopped by there to visit my mother numerous times. I had spent many a holiday with my family at her house. We had shared laughter and joy, and hugs abound there in the past few years. So, I could not understand what was happening to me. For the most part, during the evening hours, when I would arrive home from work and we would have dinner together and then sit in the living room watching various programs on the television set, I was fine being there. Even she and I had laughed and had some relatively good talks between ourselves. But, at night, when I was shut in behind the door of the bedroom, all alone, that is when every emotion I had ever felt in that house would come to pay me a visit. I could not shake that resurgence of sorrow and pain and utter heartbreak no matter how hard I tried. I began to watch television in the room until I would fall asleep at night, or I would read myself to slumber. Still, the darkness shrouded me like a heavy cloak.

My mother and I was working so hard on repairing a long-time damaged relationship, and I did not have the heart to tell her that being in her house was absolutely driving me insane and slowly crippling my soul. But I knew I could not stay there for much longer. The feelings and the memories proved to be far too hard to deal with alone in the night.

After a few months, I made the decision to move out, and got a place for myself and my daughter. It was probably, of all the choices that were available to me, not the most sensible or ideal place for us. But it was a quick move, and, at the time, I felt like anywhere had to be better than reliving my nightmare childhood night after night.

Ironically, shortly after my daughter and I had moved into our new place and were getting more settled in, I had started new classes at the college I was attending. During the semester, I had an internship placement. The internship was volunteering at an agency that did community counseling. Part of the process to be allowed to volunteer for the agency was to sit in and participate in two of the counseling classes offered. With the time frame that I had available between my full-time job and full-time course load at the college, I had one class that was on effective parenting, and one that was about making peace with the past. I believed those to be simple enough. I had, after all, already had therapy several years ago and dealt with many things from my past. Although, I had not given any particular thought to the experience that I had recently had while staying in my childhood home with my mother. Being that I had since moved out and into my little hipster cottage on the mountain, I had not given that a second thought. As it turns out, however, I should have considered it more significant that I had thought.

At first, I thought it was going to be interesting, and a little bit fun, to get an inside view of how group therapy worked. I was given my workbook to follow along. I also originally thought I would just be sitting idly by as a quiet observer, since, after all, this was my internship I had not signed up for this group therapy class. I could not have been more wrong. In order to get cleared to begin volunteering and complete my subsequent internship, I had to take an active role in the therapy sessions, and was expected to complete the exercises and journal entries in my workbook just the same as anyone else in the class. Initially I was a little shaken up about the idea of having to take group therapy. But later decided it would be the best way to learn how a group therapy session works. Plus, I would have the added benefit of free therapy for myself. With that, I was ready to embark on my path to making peace with my past.

The first two group sessions, I was reluctant to speak up for the most part. I immediately began to feel emotions stirring deep within my core. But again, this was an internship setting, and I was still unsure of just how involved I was expected to be with the actual counseling of this class. The leader of the class was very good at her job, and after the second session had called me aside to let me know she could tell I was holding back and let me know matter of factly that she fully expected me to participate as much as anyone else in the group beginning the next week. I was called out. I was expected to address the emotions that I had begun feeling from the first session we had. I was still unsure about how I felt sharing anything personal with a group of strangers. Yet, at the same time, I was feeling all of these emotions coming to the surface during the first two sessions and I felt like I wanted to talk about them, to get them out, and understand what they were and why they were there, haunting me. I was beginning to get scared. If I had already felt this much emotion surfacing in only two sessions, how would I ever make it for the following ten weeks if I did not deal with what was happening to me?

For the following ten weeks, I cried, I felt, and I hugged my fellow group participants. We all learned so much about each other, and subsequently, ourselves during our twelve weeks together. A lot of what had happened to me while staying at my mother’s house began to make a tremendous amount of sense to me. I learned that while I had been in therapy in the past, I dealt with a lot of things, but I had only touched on the subject of my relationship with my parents. I had dealt more with the relationship with my mother, because she was still alive, and I still had to maintain a relationship with her. But I had not ever fully processed or dealt with the relationship with my father completely. And, while I was staying in that house, all of those repressed and unresolved feelings came flooding back, because they needed to be met head on and processed, so that I could officially and finally move forward with my life in a more  healthy and happy way. During those twelve weeks of my free therapy internship, I met every single one of those feelings head on and dealt with them. But I did not have to deal with them alone. I had one- an amazing counselor, and two- a group of five other incredible women who were at the ready to hug me, cry with me, and encourage me at any given moment. And I was ready and willing to do the same for each and every one of them.

I have often said that I believe everything happens for a reason. Often times, we may not know the reason or the how or why behind things that take place in our lives. Regardless, sometimes, things just happened that we later realize we really needed. That internship that year was actually an accident. I had originally signed up for a different internship for the semester. Somehow, the paperwork had gotten messed up, but this was not realized until the semester was beginning and the placement at the counseling office was the only placement left available. I had planned to be a silent observer and just learn how to conduct a group therapy session. Yet, I was prompted and encouraged to speak up and take an active role as a genuine participant of the class. And, something amazing had happened. Over the weeks of the class, I learned that I still had a lot of unresolved things in my past that I have never dealt with, let alone made peace with. With the help of the counselor and the other ladies in the group, I was able to put so many things to rest, to move past a lot of hurtful things that had held me captive and crippled for so much of my life. I made peace with my past, and I was able to free myself in ways that I had not realized was possible previously. I have since moved forward, and have a close relationship with my mother, and have buried the heaviness and dark feelings that had once consumed me just being in her house. I have been able to develop a close and loving romantic relationship, which I also came to realize was near to impossible in the past because of the many things that I had left unresolved kept me from allowing myself to get too close to others, or allow anyone to get too close to me. I am grateful for the opportunity that I had in getting put in the wrong internship placement and the ability to make peace with my past.

Chasing Dreams and Finding the Way Back Home

Often times in our lives, we are prompted to develop a desire. A dream. A longing that keeps us up late at night, dreaming and plotting. Whether it be figuring out a budget over and over to achieve the means with which to chase this dream or planning out the right time in life to pursue this desire. It is not uncommon for anyone to have dreams and goals that may be considered unrealistic by others around them. Or, at the very least some may say that your dreams and plans are not easily obtainable. They will chastise you for such dreams, and even try their best attempt at directing you back into a state of realism in which you will see the insanity of the dream and think more logically on how absurd it is. Then you can settle back into your little life of balance, and structure, and mediocrity.

For some of us, however, the irrationality of the dream is what drives us. The idea that someone, anyone would dare be so brave to tell us that our dream may never be ours to realize, is a mere fuel to the fire that burns within us. The more that people tend to push us in the opposite direction of our dream, the harder we fight to hold on to them. They are, after all, the only thing that is truly ours. The one thing that we hold on to, that no one else gave us, and therefore, no one can take them away from us.

There was a time when I once believed that my life belonged in my tiny little hometown. That I was destined to grow old and eventually die there, without ever knowing anything of the great big world outside of that town. Little did I know that a walk on a sandy beach would one day change everything. The first time I got out of the car and stepped on to the powder soft sand of Gulfport Mississippi, I was forever changed. I quickly developed a love for the feel of the winding knots about my face, and the smell of the salty air. I had always believed myself to be a “mountain girl” and never considered that I would have a life beyond where the North Georgia mountains fell. The ridgeline of the mountains seemed to draw the proverbial line in the sand, and I never even questioned that I would have any desire or reason to cross that line. Yet, here I was, rapidly becoming fond of the beach life, and the more I was around the quaint little beach towns of the Gulf of Mexico, the more I was determined to have more and more of it.

As time went on, and I later found myself in a broken relationship. Facing the death and subsequent ending of my marriage, I longed for something different. It was not that I did not love my little hometown, or the people who dwelled there. I had family and I had friends. They meant a great deal to me. But, at the end of the day, when the world had grown silent, and it was just me alone with my thoughts, I had come to realize just how alone I really was, even in my own town amongst my family and friends. The demons of my past were all around my town. They were among the people that I knew and would encounter on a generally regular basis. I was close with my children, but my son was true and true devoted to our hometown. My daughter, however, she had begun to come of age, moving into her teenage years, and she found herself also wishing for a fresh start in life, far away from our hometown. We had made the decision that once I finished with school, with  my marriage ending, and no better time to make a fresh start, we would pack what we could fit in the car, get rid of what did not fit, and head out west toward Biloxi and Gulfport Mississippi to find us a new place to start over. A clean slate where no one knew our names seemed to be the ideal place for us to start embarking on our new lives.

But, then one day, something happened. Something that would change everything. As I was nearing the end of my degree program at school, and we were making our plans to get away, my son informed me that he and his fiancé were now expecting. My daughter and I concluded that there was no possible way that we could ever leave and miss the birth of my grandchild, and her niece or nephew. It was not even debatable; we would remain in our town and gladly welcome this incredible blessing into our lives. My granddaughter was born in the fall of that year. She was beautiful and an absolute treasure. She gave me a hope and a reason to remain in the place that I had spent so many years trying to get away from. Someone once told me that moving away was no more than running away from my ghosts of the past, and that was not going to solve any of the issues that I had. Perhaps, they were right. But, then again, just perhaps, I had already thought of that. Both my daughter and I had endured a lot of hardship and heartbreak in our hometown. It was never as much about running away from our past as it was just looking for a clean break of those memories that haunted us, and start over in a place where we could have the chance to make new memories without the continual reminders of people and things that had broken us in the past. But, Kenlee had taught us that starting over meant merely to take that first step with an open mind and open heart. We did not have to leave our hometown to get a clean story to write. I was now a grandmother, and she was an aunt. Both roles in which we accepted and leaned into with the reverence and anticipation of a child on Christmas morning.

In so many ways, Kenlee saved me from myself. There were times when I was so broken, I had all but lost my will to function. I lost all hope in ever finding true joy again, let alone, ever knowing love. But one evening, as I sat holding her, it became so apparently clear to me. I had said that I wanted to know what it was like to love again, and to feel the love of another human being felt toward me. For so long, I believed that could only mean to be loved in a romantic sense. I had lost romantic love and had lost all hope of ever feeling passionate toward anyone else again. I thought all the while that I needed to feel the love of a romantic partner to understand and experience true love again. But I could not be farther from the truth. Kenlee showed me. I understood fully what it would feel like to fully love another human being again. Because I loved her so dearly. And, as she grew in herself, with her own little personality and her attachment to others, I felt, for the first time in so long, the unconditional love of another. I had the idea that finding a true love again could only come from a romantic relationship with a man. Yet, true love is perfect and it is unconditional, and when one gets the chance to experience it, no matter the source, it is something that should be held in the  highest regard, never taken for granted, and always, above all, appreciated and valued.

Still, somehow, over the years, I always seemed to still have this inner longing for the Gulf of Mexico. Most people thought I was crazy. I have been thought crazy for most of my life, so this was nothing that was going to deter me. I eventually become obsessed with the idea of living in the Gulf of Mexico. As life and circumstances changed over time, my daughter found herself living in Minnesota with her finance, and my son and daughter in law had talked about moving away to Utah. At this point in my life, I had two beautiful granddaughters, and was crushed at the thought of them moving all the way across the country from me. Yet, my life had changed as well. I had, several years earlier, met someone who I had fallen in love with and we eventually got married. We had talked about taking the plunge and moving to the Gulf, once all of the kids had moved away. Just to get out of this area that had haunted me for so much of my life. As luck would have it, my son and daughter in law changed their mind about moving to Utah. They, instead, moved to Southwest Florida. My husband and I decided that it was an obvious choice, I would be close to the girls, and it was, after all, the Gulf of Mexico. There was no hesitation, the plans were set in motion for us to move down to Florida with my son. Within a few months, we were living in an apartment in the same complex as my son, and with the exception of missing my daughter who was still in Minnesota tremendously, my life was coming together in the most magical way.

However, sometimes, even the best laid plans go to waste. This was one of those times. It turned out that my son and daughter in law, could not fall in love with Florida, and within six months they were packing up to return to Georgia. Only this time, they had one more plot twist to add to the equation, they were now expecting my grandson. When they left, I was devastated. I missed them terribly and thought daily about the times I had spent with the girls while they lived there, and suddenly, it was far from enough. I wanted to make the most of still living my dream come true by being in the Gulf of Mexico, finally, after almost ten years of longing for this moment. Somehow, being there without my family proved to be less than all I had dreamed of in my gulf coast life. In addition to missing my family terrible, I had one other major factor that played into my less than dreamy dream life. My husband had also failed to fall in love with Florida. He missed Georgia and our family and friends terribly, and subsequently became depressed over the whole situation. Adding to the already crushing heartbreak I was already feeling, I knew leaving Florida was the right thing to do.

We have been back in Georgia for a short time now. Everyone is happy to have us back. My heart is still feeling a space of emptiness being that my daughter is in Minnesota and my family is not quite complete without her and her fiancé here with us My husband is happy to be here. It is fall and he is loving the cold weather and is heartily anticipating the first snow we will see. While I have to admit, I do enjoy a nice little snow myself, there are some days when I would still trade snowflakes for sandy beaches. I missed my family terribly and am grateful to be back with them. But I have to admit, there are days when I do miss the spaces where the sea meets the shoreline, especially the sunsets. As it turns out, Southwest Florida has some of the most breathtaking sunsets. I likely always will miss living in the Gulf, at least a little bit. After all, it was my dream for such a long time. But, just like Kenlee had taught me five years ago, sometimes our dreams and plans may take a detour, and starting over does not always have to be in a new or foreign place. Quite the contrary. Often, it is right where you began that you realize was the place you were meant to be all along. I love Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico, of that there is no doubt or question. But Georgia is family. Georgia is home.

School’s In! Tips for Getting Organized for the New School Year.

It is with a degree of difficulty that we think about giving up that last little slice of the summer pie we have been afforded year after year. But, alas, as summer draws to a close and fall is upon the horizon, it is time to prepare for that ever daunting task of getting back to school The time doesn’t have to be stressful, however. And, I have created some tips to help get you organized and all set for the new school year with a degree of optimism and enthusiasm like never before.

Morning Routine– No matter if you are a busy mom with children heading back off to school, you are a college student, or you are a more non-traditional adult with no small children, but have a full time job and are working on college courses, either online or in a brick and mortar university, having a solid morning routine can substantially set you up for a more successful school year. Morning routines are as varied as the individual that is executing them. Perhaps, you are a stay at home mom who only needs to be mindful of the time in which the children need to be ready for the school bus or time to leave for the school drop off line; or maybe you work outside the home and have a specific time that you have to have everyone ready to leave the house in order to arrive to work on time. It is simply a matter of taking into account any times that have to be allotted for non-negotiable things, such as school times, work times, and commute times. My current morning routine consists of two components- house chores and self care. My morning house routine is to being my day with unloading the dishwasher, swish and swipe the bathrooms, make the bed, and begin a load of laundry. Likewise, my morning self care routine is brushing my teeth, applying my morning power serum, day cream with sunscreen, make up and hair. I’m both cursed and lucky in the regard that my hair is short and thin, so I do not have to allow for extra time for hair straighteners or curlers. My whole morning routine takes me less than thirty minutes to complete. I currently work from home, so I do not have to stick to a rigid time frame for completing my morning routine. However, that was not always the case. I used to work outside of the home and I knew what time I needed to leave to arrive to work on time, taking into account that I was in the heart of the rush hour commute in Atlanta traffic. I made allowances by getting up thirty to forty minutes earlier to provide the time needed to complete my morning chores and maintain my morning routine.

Make a Plan– I cannot stress enough the value of a functional planner. I put emphasis on the word functional, because it is all too common and all too easy to start preparing for a new school year by purchasing a crisp, clean, and gorgeous new planner to keep track of all of your important dates and reminders, yet after a few weeks or so, the planner seems to fall by the way side and gets written in less and less as you find yourself forgetting more important things. The planner system that I currently use is the Happy Planner brand. I chose it for its functionality as well as customization. I have played around with a variety of planners from the generic Walmart planners to Franklin Covey and I have a set up ready for 2020 from the Agenda 52 line to go back to a binder style planner. Regardless of what brand or style of planner you choose, it should be one that is functional for all of your needs and user friendly enough to inspire you to refer to it and write in it daily. The idea is that keeping a planner is essential to tracking appointments and assignment due dates.

Prep for the Evenings– As important as a morning routine is, having an evening routine can be just as vital. Evening routines include tasks such as dinner, cleaning the kitchen, baths, and laying out clothes for the next day. A good way to prepare for the evenings, and alleviate a lot of undue stress is menu planning. By planning out your menus in advance, you can adjust day by day, according to any after work or after school appointments or errands and prep easy to fix meals on the days that you have commitments that would otherwise take away time needed to prepare a complicated recipe dish. For instance, ball practice after school? Toss an easy roast in the crock pot, set on low, and when you arrive home dinner will be ready with only a quick side dish or two. Side note, steam vegetables make a wonderful quick side dish on those busy nights! In an effort to try and have an easy and stress free evening, try to implement planning for the evening and night routines as much as you can early on in the day or on a Sunday evening, to alleviate a lot of the juggling and panic to try and decide on a dinner choice or locate the baseball mitt on the fly.

Delegate- As mothers, we tend to want to do everything for everyone. It is, in essence, in our nature to be nurturers. But, being a nurturer and being a martyr are two completely different things. While we love our families and love taking care of them, we do not have to do it all. It is possible, and essential to delegate our work to the other members of our family. Even small children can benefit from being assigned to pick up their own toys or put their clothes in the hamper for washing. Taking on everything can be stressful and limiting in the amount of quality time we spend with our families. So, take a few items off your to-do list, and graciously gift them to family members who can handle those tasks. The work will get completed much quicker, and you can enjoy a few moments of blissful silence relaxing in the bubble bath with a glass of chilled wine at the end of the evening. Oh yeah, and enjoy time spend with the family as well. Now, the important, and I do me the most important thing to remember when delegating tasks to the other members of your family is – do not expect perfection! Perfection is an illusion best saved for fools. Be grateful to them for the help they provide you. Do not go behind your children and re-make their beds or re-fold their clothes in the drawer. Just enjoy that you had the time freed up and enjoy sitting with them on the couch enjoying a movie before bed time.

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If I Could Turn Back Time, You Know I Would! 5 Skin Care Products To Help Turn Back The Clock.

Cher said it best. She capitalized on the idea that we all hold true, whether we are willing to admit to it or not. Especially, as women, the signs of time weigh heavily on us. If there were something we could get our hot little hands on to turn back time and reverse those tell-tale signs of aging, we would not hesitate. I have recently started using some products from the Avon Anew line. Yes, Avon! I am sure you have heard of them, they have been around for years. Ah, Avon, just the name drums up nostalgic images of elegantly dressed ladies with matching pillbox hats and dainty hand bags, going door to door to deliver bags of personalized goodies to friends and family. Moving along from my 1950s image of the June Clever interpretation of the classic “Avon Lady,” today the company is still going strong, and many a successful businesswoman has made a full time career from selling Avon.

I embarked on the journey to try some of the products for myself recently, and I have to say, I am quite pleasantly surprised by the results I have seen, thus far. About six months ago, I moved to sunny Southwest Florida. In addition, for my last birthday, I celebrated my fiftieth year. Given the fact that I have been a life-long sun worshiper and have spend many an hour from my teens forward basking in her glorious rays. Natural aging can have visible affects on the skin on its own, but in light of my years of tanning and spending every moment possible outdoors, in addition to recently moving to a place where, in essence, it is summer year round, I knew I needed a strong skin care regimen to combat the damage done and prevent any further damage.

Enter, Anew. Actually a very fitting name for the product. I have found it to be, for myself, a fresh start. A new youthful radiance, you hear everyone talk about it. Amazingly, I am seeing what that term means on a personal level. While there are many products in the Anew line, I am going to go over the main products that I have been using and the results I have found, personally, from those products. So, let’s talk about skin care-

Anew Clinical Advanced Wrinkle Corrector

The Anew Clinical Advanced Wrinkle Corrector is the first to review, because it has been the product to provide the biggest visible impact in the shortest time. I first began using this product on that ever so precious decollete area, the area from the neck down to the cleavage, that shows when you wear tank tops or sundresses. After years of sun exposure, I had visible signs of wear and tear there, while they were not deep, I had wrinkled lines that resembled a finely laced honeycomb pattern. Initially, I began using the wrinkle cream to prevent any further damage, being that in southwest Florida, pretty much tank tops and sundresses are the staple attire. However, within a few days, I noticed that my skin where I was using the cream became very soft and supple. After a couple of weeks of using this product every night, my husband even made mention of how my skin was changing. He had actually noticed that the wrinkles had diminished drastically, and my skin felt incredibly soft. Most days, I catch myself rubbing my hand around my upper chest area, still in awe of how soft and smooth the skin is. This will definitely be a staple in my skin care routine for years to come.

I started using the Anew Ultimate Multi-Purpose day and night cream when I received a travel size combo in my starter kit as a new Avon Representative. I was immediately happy with the results of the cream as well. The day cream boasts an impressive 25 SPF sunscreen, an invaluable product in the sunshine state. The night cream has a very soothing and delicate fragrance. I say that because at night, my husband always makes mention of how nice I smell, and I am always telling him that I had just completed my night time routine and it is the night cream he smells. Aside from the husband approval, I am in love with this product as well. Luckily, I do not have definitive wrinkles on my face as of yet, and this was mainly a preventative measure. But, much like the wrinkle cream, my skin has become so soft, I often catch myself rubbing my cheeks just to make sure it is real.

Anew Ultimate Cream Cleanser

After trying out the initial products that I had on hand, I had placed an order to try some of the other Anew line. I had purchased the Anew Ultimate Cream Cleanser shortly after moving to Florida. I am often apprehensive to try new face washes, as my face tends to break out or get oily with many products. I was happy to see that I had no side effects of this product. It left no heavy or greasy residue, and, as I have found with the Anew products used, left my skin feeling fresh, clean, and soft.

Anew Clinical Dual Eye Lift Pro

In my purchase, I also grabbed the Anew Clinical Dual Eye Lift Pro and I am so glad I did. I suffer from insomnia, I have for a few years. Most days I wake up looking like the bride of Frankenstein or an extra from The Walking Dead. My eyes are always so puffy and have that alluring raccoon look about them, with all the dark circles, and all. This eye serum is a two-part product with a cream that goes under the eye and a light gel that goes over the lid. Can I just say WOW? There was an instantaneous difference in my eyes the first time I tried it. After about a week of use, I had a noticeable lift to my eyes and, the dark circles? I mere memory. In an attempt to not wake up looking like something that has been dug up and warmed over, I use this serum as regimented as brushing my teeth nightly.

The Final step in my current skin care regimen is the Anew Age Transforming Foundation. This stuff is as miraculous, in my opinion, as the preceding products discussed. This foundation is infused with Anew serum to help aid in fighting against aging effects of skin. Literally, my skin looks years younger! Since this foundation is geared more toward, mature skin, it does not leave a heavy or greasy finish, and goes on seamlessly without caking or settling into lines or wrinkles. Within two weeks of use, I could see a noticeable difference in the texture and appearance of my skin. Another definite must-have staple in my skin care arsenal.

Affiliate Disclosure Statement- This blog post contains affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, I may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you.) Thank you for your support in this way.

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