Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Little End of the Year Wisdom...

This hasn't been the best year for me, but I have learned a few things in the last twelve months that have actually turned out to be useful tidbits of knowledge.  I'd like to take a break from the animals and share some of my amazing wisdom here to wrap up the end of the year.

Not to worry, my amazing wisdom is still trumped by the fact that Tess is smarter than me, Puckett is definitely smarter than me, Percy pretends he's not, but really he is, and Willow, well, we keep her around because she's so damn cute.  Who knows, by this time next year, there may be a ridiculously smart bird in our midst too, because while I like to put on an air of being a rational human being, my closest friends all know I'm full of it.

The following are just things I've learned that work for me, not tips that I demand everyone should utilize because they are the only way to go.  Go out and have your own experiences and create a list of your own.  And please feel free to try mine to see if they work for you as well.

Health
  • 20 minutes of Pilates Perfect Stretch performed everyday is almost as beneficial and way cheaper than going to the chiropractor or the massage therapist.
Recommendation:Ten Minute Solution: Pilates Perfect Body with Suzanne Bowen.
  • Stay flexible.  The older one gets, the harder it is.  This is where Pilates come in handy.
  • Consuming a shake consisting of water, spinach, avocado, cocoa powder, bananas, and berries at least three times a week is one of the easiest ways to get nutrients and feel better.
  • Butter is not bad unless one is lactose intolerant (or one eats the whole stick at once).
  • Everything in moderation and balance is the key to health and weight loss.  Fancy diets and exercise manuals are just some health guru's way of making money.  
  • Yes, chocolate is acceptable in a healthy diet (but REAL chocolate, not "chocolate-flavored").
Recommendation: Ghiradelli chocolate caramel squares.
  • Free range and organic is not just a racket, but it depends on where one shops.  Read labels.
  • Sometimes you  need help and that is not admitting defeat.  Set up an appointment with that mental health professional.
  • Wine is good.  Just not too much wine.
Recommendation:  Rioja Bordon.

Beauty:
  • Drink lots of water.  Lots of it.
  • One of the best things you can do for your health is to cut out soda.  I know that's not what anyone wants to hear, but there it is.
  • Coconut oil makes the best moisturizer.
  • A mask of avocado, crystalized honey, and lemon juice is better than any beauty product you'll buy from a makeup line. Avocado moisturizes, the honey scrubs, and lemon juice brightens. Seriously, save your money.
  • Olive oil and sugar make a great body scrub.  If you have itchy skin I recommend you try it.
  • Cream highlighters and illuminators cover blemishes better than concealer.
Recommendations: Urban Decay Naked Illuminated Shimmering Powder for Face and Body; Laura Mercier Face Illuminator Powder (both available at Sephora).
  • Wear sunscreen.  Lots of it.
Social:
  • Men will say anything to get a woman into bed, even those claiming to be friends.  This is not a criticism, it's just an observation.
  • You really do find out who your friends are in your darkest hour.  The others come back when the drama has passed.
  • Soul mates do exist, just maybe not the way you envision them.  Expanse of time and distance does not sever that connection once it's established.  Sometimes they have fur and four legs.
  • Social media is not a substitute for face-to-face interaction with good friends, good wine, and good food.  Make time for that (and I don't care how addictive Pinterest is).
  • Very few women will stand by their insistence that they will never drop their girlfriends for a man.  Don't be that woman.  Hold on to your girlfriends.
  • If he causes you to drop your girlfriends, then he's not worth it.
  • If you're embarrassed to tell your friends about him, he's not the right one.
  • Make sure one of your good friends is a handyman type.  They are so handy to have around. Be nice to him.  Make him cookies.
  • It is possible to meet the perfect guy at the absolute worst time.
Recommendation:  It's Not You: 27 (Wrong) Reasons You're Single by Sara Eckel.

Spiritual:
  • God has a wicked sense of humor.  Be specific or you'll look back and think "Well played, God.  Well played."
  • God really does answer prayers.  You don't see it while it's being done and it may take longer than you'd like, but keep a record of your prayers and look back periodically. 
  • We are not alone.
  • What you believe is no one's business but your own and getting upset with each other for their private spiritual beliefs wastes time and energy because it will never be resolved.
  • Don't use your beliefs or religions as an excuse to be an asshole.  That goes for everyone.
Recommendation: For the Love by Jen Hatmaker

Emotional:
  • First and foremost, always try to show compassion.  It's hard and generally when people are at their worst is when they need compassion the most.
  • We all have different perceptions in every situation.  Your point of view is not the same as someone else's.  Respect that.
  • It's not all about you.  Narcissism may be fashionable, but it is not attractive.
  • Self awareness of your emotional situation is a powerful tool.  I learned I'm an empath. It's answered a lot of questions.
  • The best self-help books out there are F*ck Feelings by Michael Bennett MD and Sarah Bennett; and Talking to Crazy by Mark Goulston.
Recommendations:  See above.

Educational:
  • Always be open to learning something new.  If you feel stagnant maybe you just need a new challenge.
  • Coding is a great skill to learn in today's day and age.
Recommendation: Codecademy.com
  • Writing well begins with passion.  If you hate writing, you won't write well.  If you hate it, then don't torture yourself with it.  Find something else to do that you like.
  • Learn to garden.  Even if all you have to show at the end of the season is a few tomatoes and one giant zucchini, there really is something satisfying and fulfilling about eating something you've grown yourself.
  • Read nonfiction as well as fiction.
  • America is not full of morons and idiots.  Unfortunately we just can't seem to keep the most ignorant of us off the television and out of reality TV.
Financial:
  • Don't live outside your means.  Struggling to catch up is miserable.
  • Debt sucks.  If you can, pay your credit card off every month.
  • Not having a monthly car payment is a wonderful feeling.
  • Create a monthly budget.  And STICK TO IT.
  • Always keep some emergency coffee cash on hand.  Stash it somewhere in your house where it can be easily accessed when needed but not tempting to be spent on something useless.
  • Invest in stocks.  But invest in GOOD stocks so do your research.  Or just talk to my dad.
  • Treat yourself occasionally but don't spend money on a lot of useless material things.
  • If there is something your really really want you will find a way to pay for it.
  • Invest in your future.
Recommendation: The Leap: Launching Your Full-Time Career in Our Part-Time Economy by Robert Dickie; The Total Money Makeover: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey; Fidelity.com

And finally, a little quote from William Ritter's The Beastly Bones, the second novel in his Jackaby series (a series I consider extremely clever and deeply underrated): "...the greatest figures in history are never the ones who avoid failure, but those who march chin-up through countless failures, one after the next, until they come upon the occasional victory...Failure is not the opposite of success - it's part of it."






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