money

Track Your Spending Habits

Have you ever wondered where all of your money goes?  Why don’t you have enough money to pay a certain bill?  Is money tight and the end of the month is a stretch?

One of the best ways to determine where you money is going is by tracking your spending habits.  This is a technique that I have to turn back to time and time again to keep myself in check.

I like to do mine for a month at a time, but you could also do this for one week at a time.     expenses

First I choose a notebook to record everything I purchase for that month.  {You can also do this in Excel or on your iPhone}.  I record all of my transactions, whether cash, debit card or credit card.  In my register I record who the transaction was to, the date, the amount, the type of payment {cash, debit, or credit} and what the transaction was for.

At the end of that period I go through and tally up my expenditures for that month.   I look at how much I spent on food, gas, utilities, rent and other expenses.

Next I access the necessity of these expenditures.  Am I eating out too much?  How much did I spend on a latte out?  Did I really need that item?   Could this transaction have waited?

Follow the Money
Follow the Money

These are all questions that I ask myself, as I comb through my expenses.  By tracking these expenditures, I am able to be honest with myself about my finances and how I’m really doing.  I can also find the fat in my expenses and trim that away in order to save money each month.

Sometimes life gets in the way and I am not able to track my expenditures on a monthly basis.  By making a plan to do this on a quarterly or semi-annual basis, I am able to continue to monitor myself and see the areas in which I’ve grown and the areas that still need some work.

Would you commit to tracking your expenses for the next month?

Dance

10 Different Ways to Pray

Prayer often scares people.  They feel that they have to use lofty words and long sentences.  This is not true.  God wants us to talk with him the way we would talk to a friend.  We are all unique and created in God’s own image.  What works for one person may not work for another.  I decided to list ten ways in which we can lift our hearts up in prayer to God.

  1. Short prayers throughout the day—often instead of one big long prayer; God would like short prayers from us throughout the day.  He wants to be with us always, not just at a certain appointed time and then we forget Him the rest of the day.  Ask for God to be with or help people that you see or come to mind throughout the day.    art journaling
  2. Journaling—writing out our feelings to God is a great way to share our heart with Him.  Often I have trouble verbalizing my heart to Him, but once I begin to write it out, my feelings pour forth.   These are for His eyes only.
  3. Art Journaling—I was recently introduced to this technique and loved it.  You could put on some praise music or do this in silence.  Draw your feelings or the people on your heart {God even accepts my stick figures} and use this time to just worship Him and share your heart.  Your pictures can be as simple or intricate as you choose, He knows your heart.
  4. Music—I love to sing.  I find that just crying out to God in song or praising His name; can lift both my heart and my mood.   God wants us to praise Him, as well as tell Him how we feel.  He loves music and King David praised Him through the use of music.
  5. Dance—speaking of King David, he also danced for the Lord.  If you enjoy dancing, this is another way of expressing yourself before God.      Dance
  6. Walking—I love to talk with God while I walk.  Even if others are around, it’s just the two of us together in the spirit.  I’m working my body and worshiping with Him at the same time.
  7. Getting out in nature—nature is full of the reminder of God’s goodness and love for us.  All around is the beauty of the things that He made with His own hands.  Whether you are on the top of the mountain or sitting by the river’s edge, you can spend time worshiping with Him.
  8. Tears—tears cleanse the soul.   We’re even told that “Jesus Wept”.  Sometimes we just need to have a good cry and let it all out.
  9. Own our Bible—at a conference I met a wonderful lady who is such a prayer warrior.  I often saw her own her knees in prayer throughout the day.  However, on a couple of occasions I saw her pray in a way that I had never thought of before.  She had her Bible open to a passage that spoke to her and was laid out across the Bible with her arms stretched out.  I quickly passed by not wanting to interrupt her time of worship.  However that sight has stayed with me.
  10. Joyful exclamations—we can also joyful exclaim God’s name and promises and at the same time to tell the devil to go back to whence he came.  What better way to worship then to lift God up and proclaim His name?

Have you thought of praying in any of these ways?  Would you be willing to try one new area of prayer this week?  Are there other ways in which you pray?  What are they?

worship in nature

gratitude

Writing a Gratitude Journal

I’ve struggled at times with being grateful for things in my life.  This has been especially true when things were not going my way.  I had a friend suggest that I start a gratitude journal.  Each morning I would list three things for which I am grateful.  I decided that I would not list anything on my list more than once a month.   greatful

I discovered that the more I wrote in my gratitude journal the better my outlook and attitude became.  I’m more grateful for the small things around me.   When my outlook begins to look bleak, I’ll ask myself if I wrote in my gratitude journal that morning.  Often I’ll discover that I did not and will take the time to sit down and write in my journal.

I’ve also discovered that I will write in anticipation of something for that day.  Regardless of the outcome of that event, my attitude is much more positive.

Have you ever thought about keeping a gratitude journal?  What positive insights did you find?

gratitude

artists

10 Ways Creativity Can Reduce Stress

I’ve discovered that when I work on my craft, I notice my stress level go down.   After some probing, I want to share the reasons that I came up with.

  1. We allow our minds to focus on something else then our current troubles.
  2. We are doing something that we enjoy.                pottery
  3. We are doing something that relaxes us.
  4. We are doing something that feels productive.
  5. We are creating something that expresses our hearts and feelings.
  6. We are using our craft as a way to vent or work through our thoughts and emotions.
  7. We are allowing ourselves the freedom to be who we are.
  8. We use our art as a form of meditation or worship.
  9. We have the freedom to mold our craft any way we desire.  We can add to, take away or start over.
  10. We can lift others up with the use of our craft.

In what ways do you use your craft to reduce stress?

writer

creative space

10 Ways to Carve Out Time to Practice Your Craft

I find it very easy to procrastinate and allow everything else use up my time.  I then become frustrated because I’d planned that time for my craft and never got around to it.   I decided to come up with ten ways to help me carve out time for my craft and stop the procrastination.

  1. Turn the TV off—sometimes we just have to shut out the distractions in our life.  The TV is a big distraction and we have to recognize that we just need to shut it off and do the work.
  2. Carve out a space for my craft—this has been a struggle for me at times to find a good place to work.  Often I’ve had to make do with what was available, but wherever works for you and you are most comfortable set up your own space.  creative space
  3. Recognize when I am at my best—we all have a time of day when we are at our best.  That could be first thing in the morning, mid-day or late at night.  If you’re not sure, pay attention to your body and mindset or experiment with various times to find out when you are most creative.
  4. Exercise always helps—I’ve discovered that after exercising that not only do I feel better but I am also more focused and creative.
  5. Make my craft my first priority of the day—often I find that I feel I have accomplished more for the day when I dedicate time first thing in the morning to my craft.
  6. Recognize when I need a break—I discover that once started it’s easy to work through to the point of exhaustion.  Sometimes I just need to take a break for 10-30 minutes.  By stepping away and returning to my craft I am refreshed and have a new take on things.    exercise
  7. Recognize what inspires me—I’ve discovered that there are some things that inspire me.  When I can be around these items or people, I am much more creative.
  8. Collaborate with others—often we just need someone with the same interest to bounce ideas with or offer critiques of our work.   This should be a time of lifting one another up and offering constructive advice.
  9. Get away—there are times when I just need to get away from everything and the day to day distractions.  I then have the ability to dedicate to my craft and make a huge dent in the project or wrap it up.
  10. Just do it—often it’s so easy to put things off and continuously procrastinate.  There are times when I just have to say, “just sit down and do it.” Once I get started I discover that I’m in the rhythm of my craft.

What are some ways that you carve out time to practice your craft?

pets

10 Activities to Engage an Alzheimer’s Patient

Alzheimer’s is a terrible disease that slowly steals our loved one away from us.  By the time the disease has run its course, our loved one can become completely incapacitated.  By engaging the patient and allowing them to participate in activities, we are attempting offsetting the movement of this disease.

When endeavoring to engage the patient in these activities, make sure that the exercise is within the capability of the patient.  You want this to be something that is as fail proof as possible.

music

  1. Music—music is very therapeutic for most people.  Choose music your loved one enjoys and can relate to.   This may be a specific style or specific songs that have a special meaning.   While the patient is listening to the music you could introduce movement activities such as dance, play instruments, sing or exercise.  {Depending on the patient’s capability}.
  2. Puzzle—puzzles are a great way to keep the mind engaged.   Depending on the capability of the patient will depend on the complexity of a puzzle.  Just remember that even a simple child’s puzzle is a great activity.
  3. Pictures and Memory Books—using pictures of special places, events and people in the patient’s life is a great way to help the patient to remember and connect.  You never know what memories may surface.          Memories
  4. Reading—reading is a great way to engage the patient.  If the patient is willing to read to you, this is a wonderful outlet for them.   However, don’t forget that you could also read out loud to the patient.  Stop and ask questions throughout the story make sure they understand the storyline.
  5. Crossword Puzzles—Crossword puzzles, Sudoku and other similar games are a great activity to engage the patient.  Allow them to do as much as possible and gently prod when and as necessary.
  6. Old Hobbies—did your loved one enjoy knitting, crafting, cooking, singing, gardening or another hobby?  Incorporating these activities into the patient’s day is a great way to keep them active.  Depending on their capability you may have to make adjustments to meet their current needs.  {Ex. Bring in a pot and allow your loved one to plant into the pot.}                    knitting
  7. Draw or coloring books—drawing or coloring in coloring books are great utilities to keep the patient active and engaged.  You can discuss what they are drawing or coloring and relate it to various memories.
  8. Play ball—using a balloon or soft ball you can toss the object back and forth.  Maybe with each pass of the ball ask a question {ex. What is your favorite hobby, what is your favorite color, etc.}
  9. Shuffle a prayer or poem—write out a prayer {ex. Lord’s Prayer}, favorite scripture or poem and print it out in large type.  Then cut this into pieces {ex. Our Father; who art in heaven; etc}.  Have your loved one put the verse back together.
  10. Pets—pets are very therapeutic for many people.  Spending time and playing with a family or neighbor dog is a great activity.  Remember to take into consideration how the patient reacts to animals and/or any allergies.   pets

When introducing an activity, decide the best time of day for the patient.  When is your loved one at his/her best or have the most energy?  In closing, I want to encourage you not to grow discouraged.  If one activity doesn’t work, another may.  The best way to know what is a success is through trial and error.

What activity works best with your loved one?

reading

10 Ways to Deal with Caregiver Burnout

Caregiving is a tough job.   Depending on the need of the individual, you have little time to yourself.  Your primary goal and focus is on the care of your loved one.   During this time it is very easy to suffer from burnout.   You are giving so much of yourself to others that you have little time for yourself.

Part of being a good caregiver, is also taking care of yourself.  You need time to refresh your own batteries, so that you can offer your best to your loved one.

Ten ways to care for yourself are:

  1. Go to the movies—this gives you time to just relax and allow your mind and body to rest as you escape through the characters in the story.         movie theatre
  2. Get a Mani/Pedi—take time to spoil yourself and get a mani/pedi.  This is an activity that doesn’t take a lot of time but allows you to relax and pamper yourself.
  3. Go out with friends—we all need time with other people.   Sometimes you just need someone that you can have a conversation with {regardless of the subject}.
  4. Go for a walk—this activity cost nothing and exercise is good for your heart and mindset.  You can use this time to enjoy the silence, listen to music or pray.  This is a great way to work off additional energy, frustrations and/or anger.   Exercise is also a great mood booster if you discover that you are becoming depressed.
  5. Read a book—pick up your latest author’s newest novel and delve into the story.   This is a great way to recharge your batteries when it’s difficult to leave the patient.  You can go into another room or outside to enjoy your book.   reading
  6. Take time to play—whether you have a pet or enjoy a good round of golf, take time to endeavor yourself in your favorite activity.  You will be surprised at what thirty minutes of play a day will do for your mindset.
  7. Laugh—laughter is a great way to reduce stress.  Find something that makes you laugh, whether it’s your favorite sitcom, a YouTube video, or the antics of your grandchildren.
  8. Enjoy your favorite craft—whether you enjoy knitting, embroidery, crafts, or another outlet working on your favorite craft is a great way to recharge your batteries.  Decide what craft you enjoy most, choose a project and dedicate thirty minutes each day to this endeavor.
  9. Go for a massage—this is a great way to relax and loosen your tight muscles.                  massage
  10. Garden—moving your fingers through the earth and working with the beauty of nature and flowers is a refreshing activity that many enjoy.  You have the opportunity to take in the beauty around you and allow your mind to wonder.

These are just ten suggestions of things you can do to care for yourself and refresh your batteries.  Remember, when we care for ourselves we are in much better shape to care for our loved one.

How do you refresh your batteries?