17
Feb

The Power Of A Gratitude Journal

by Tiffany in Tidbits

Benefits of Gratitude JournalWe all want to live happier and more fulfilled lives. We want to be happy with what we have. We want to be content and at peace with where we are at in life. Alas this can be a very tall order in this day and age. Happiness seems to elude many of us as we compare our lives to those around us and find reasons why the grass is greener on the other side. Yet a simple little tool can help us to feel more happy and contented. It’s a gratitude journal and it can be a powerful way to find peace about yourself, what you do, and where you are at in this journey called life. If becoming a happier and more content person is one of your personal self-improvement goals, this is something you’re going to want to try.

The Power Of Gratitude

Why does gratitude have such a beneficial effect on our health and mental wellbeing? Study after study shows that when we spend time contemplating the things we are thankful for, we increase our level of contentment. But it goes deeper than that. Practicing gratitude has shown to lower blood pressure, and even reduce physical pain and anxiety. The end result is that we feel better allover.

In addition, practicing gratitude helps us focus on the positive. It’s nice to review the good things that are happening to us on a daily basis. Our brain tends to have a negative bias. This means that we’re more likely to remember and think about negative thoughts and events. Gratitude helps us bring balance by focusing our thoughts and attentions to the positive. The law of attraction says that like attracts like…what we choose to think about and focus on becomes what we attract more of. Focusing on positive or negative thoughts bring positive or negative experiences into your life. Which do you choose to attract more of?

Why Write In A Journal?

We’ve established that becoming more grateful is good and something that can help us increase our overall happiness. The question now is how can we make it a regular habit. That’s where the journal comes into play. It’s a physical reminder to focus your thoughts each day. Get in the habit of writing three things you’re grateful for. This could be done first thing in the morning, or as part of your evening routine. Find a time and place that works for you and make it a daily habit.

Writing it down focuses our thoughts and makes us really think about the people and things we’re grateful for. You can’t jot down a fleeting thought. You have to put some effort into formulating it. The physical act of writing it down enforces the thought and makes it stick out in our memories. You’ve experienced this fact when you’ve written down a grocery list and forgotten it at home. It’s much easier to remember the items on it when you’re at the store than if you’ve been trying to compile a mental list.

Last but not least, keeping a gratitude journal creates a lasting record of everything you have to be grateful in your life. It’s nice to go back and read some of your past entries. After a few weeks of writing in it regularly you have a powerful and lasting proof of everything good and positive. It will be a great resource to lift your mood and increase your contentment on days when it’s hard to feel happy otherwise.

Try: Instant Happy Journal: 365 Days of Inspiration, Gratitude, and Joy

16
Feb

Act Like a Local and Enjoy a More Memorable International Vacation

by Tiffany in travel

You go to Paris and, of course, you see the Eiffel Tower. You go to China and, of course, you see The Great Wall. You don’t want to miss out on the landmarks when you visit a new country, but you also don’t want to get sucked into visiting only tourist traps — if you do, you’ll end up with the same vacation stories as everyone else.

Try hanging out with the locals or doing what they do to get a real sense of a place. You’ll meet some interesting people, you’ll learn more about a culture, and you’ll enjoy unique experiences.

Here are a few ways that you can act like a local to enjoy a more memorable vacation abroad:

Play a Round of Golf

Unless you’re a traveling pro who’s visiting a renowned golf course, the only reason most people have to go to a golf course is to enjoy some leisure time with friends or to network with associates. It’s not the kind of thing that most people do on vacation. Therefore, you can expect that the majority of people you’re going to find on any given golf course in the world are Average Joes just getting away from work for a few hours or whiling away a lazy Sunday.

A company like golfscape can help you find the best courses in the country you plan to visit. You can also ask around to find out what courses are most worth your time.

Eat Some of the Local Delicacies

Sure, Italy is known for its pasta and Japan is known for its sushi. But you can get both of those dishes at home, and pretty much every person who visits these countries will eat these dishes. You don’t have to skip out on these delights, but you should expand your palette to try some of the local delicacies, as well.

For example, you might try eating insects in Bangkok or eating live octopus in Seoul. Of course, you can also get escargot in Paris or haggis in Glasgow. Eat like the locals eat, and you might even discover a new favorite dish.

See a Local Band

You can learn a lot about a culture from its music. But don’t limit yourself to the breakthrough acts that you can hear on the radio (even if it is satellite radio). Go see a local band play at a local venue. You’ll learn about up-and-coming acts before anyone else back home, and you’ll get to rub elbows with the locals.

While you’re there, try out some of the local drinks or eats and talk to some of the residents about what other things you should try. You might learn about a great location off the beaten path.

Attend a Local Festival

Technically, any festival that takes place is a local festival. But we’re talking about the smaller festivals that celebrate local traditions, religious beliefs, or holidays that are not big draws for a wider crowd. Attend a flower festival in a small village in China, a music festival on the beach in Prague, or a wine festival in Barcelona. You can find out about such events by checking out the listings at the local welcome or visitor’s center.

chinese dragon festival in china

Go to the Library

The library is the information center of almost any community. You might find some events actually taking place at the library, but you are more likely to learn about other great events helping in and around the community. You can learn about resources in the community, potential discounts or free days, and more. Of course, if you hang out long enough and are chatty, you can also meet some locals and maybe even make a new friend for your trip.

Getting to travel overseas is such a gift. How often will you actually get to visit Paris or Venice? Instead of just taking a gondola ride and eating a lot of pizza, make sure you also go to that little shop in the alley that makes the most amazing ravioli and that you watch that cobbler demonstration at the shop the locals use. Act like the locals and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you discover.

15
Feb

How You Can Set a Good Example for Your Children by Doing Voluntary Work

by Tiffany in Social Good

Children are special; they need lots the attention from the adults in their lives. Only if they receive proper education they will become independent adults with self-esteem and who believe in their capacities. Parents for Purpose can be a good example for children in every domain. If school should educate their skills and knowledge, family should educate their attitude, common sense, respect, and the idea of caring and other values important to the family unit.

What would be the best way to teach your child to care for others and get involved in charity actions if not by setting that example on your own? It is hard to dedicate your precious little time to other members of your community, but if you do volunteer work with your child, he/she will learn the values that a human being should have.

A good example is always the starting point for educating your child’s attitude towards caring and supporting those in need, because it is a proven fact that children imitate a behavior they see around. The easiest way to teach your child to be more people-oriented can be by volunteering together.

Volunteering is a positive example

If your child sees you involved in volunteering activities, he will be very excited to try this on his own. The idea that his mom or dad is a caring person, willing to give something to others without waiting for anything in return is very inspiring for a child. If you take your kid with you to charity work sites, you will notice that the youngster will consider this a time for connection with you and it will mean a lot to their self worth to see that he or she did something good. Even if you don’t have time to do much, the most important part is that your child saw you doing something good and you had the chance to share all that. Growing up, your child will reflect upon that lesson and realize that helping others is important and can become a way of life.

How to start and what activities are suitable

It is important to be constant; set up a daily schedule and include volunteering as a weekly activity. Try to find pleasant activities, suitable for a child’s power and personality: visiting an orphanage and doing some fun games and activities with the kids from there, visit in a seniors’ retreat house and others. There are NGOs and cultural institutions that can give you some good possibilities.

When you choose a volunteering activity for your child, always think about the difficulty level; it has to be something that your child can do and get a good result. In this way, his sense of achievement is stimulated and he will want to continue with this activity. Creativity and an open-mind are important, so always go over your limits while you do a volunteering activity with your child. Remember that children need to have fun and see you do the same.

14
Feb

Black Panther is Fueled by Strong Women

by Tiffany in Tidbits

I went to see Black Panther last night and it was amazing for all sorts of reasons. It is the latest installment in the Marvel superhero franchise, which pretty much automatically means it will be amazing but I liked it even more than I thought I would. Why? Because it has some of the most empowered, accomplished, smart, witty, and exciting female characters I have ever seen in ANY film, superhero or otherwise. The Black Panther and ruler of Wakanda may be a man but the women of Wakanda are the best things about this movie.

Our first introduction to the title character, Black Panther, is in another of the Marvel movies…Captain America Civil War. That particular movie is my least favorite in the franchise…the whole infighting thing bothers me, and thus the intro of T’Challa, king of Wakanda, suffered to some degree. This is a shame because the character is rich, fascinating, and very likeable…which we discover in Black Panther. This movie really brought him to life and the fact that he is a ruler that has intentionally surrounded himself with strong, accomplished, kick ass women makes me love him all the more. I LOVE me some Thor but he may just have to move aside and make way for T’Challa.

Firstly I love that his role as the ruler of the fictional world of Wakanda and successor to his father is not a forgone conclusion because he is male. In the movie it mentions is sister Shuri is also an heir to the throne but her younger years and world experience make T’Challa a better choice perhaps. I say perhaps because his sister is wicked smart, as in she could take on Tony Stark and give him a beat down. She is responsible for much of the amazing technology, weaponry, and gadgets that we see in Wakada and on the king. She is the maker of his amazing vibranium suit. She could certainly don the Black Panther suit if she chose to but it seems her role as the brains behind the empire is what makes her happy, and she leaves the diplomacy and politics to her brother, who she adores. This character made me laugh out loud on many occasions and made me wish I could be her even more times than that. As far as role models go, you just cannot beat her.

If Shuri is the brains behind the empire than Okoye is the brawn. She is a member of the Dora Milaje, a team of women who serve as special forces in Wakanda and the personal bodyguard of the king. Yes, the king has women protecting him. Okoye not only acts as his protector on diplomatic missions, she is his partner on the dangerous side missions inherent of a superhero. She is an an elite warrior and her fight scenes are truly something to behold. She is smart, strong, fierce, and loyal. She can be quite rigid in her dedication to her country and her people but unlike some of the more unreasonable male characters in the film, she will not blindly serve, as we see when a coup d’é·tat leaves her with some tough choices. She can see past her own ego and do the right thing when so many others cannot. That is the definition of true strength and leadership.

But that is not to say that men where made to look silly and foolish when tough decisions were to be made, quite the opposite is true….shout out to M’Baku. Men were not made to be weak or silly to then make the strong women in this movie into caricatures. Everyone holds their own, it’s just that the women in Wakanda are allowed to shine.

Nakia is another amazing example. She is the love interest of the king but a rather unattainable one. She is not interested in being a queen to privileged people when there are so many others outside of Wakanda that are suffering. She is a warrior and a spy who gets involved in conflict for the good of others, using her abilities to help those in need. When we are introduced to her she is on a mission helping African women (and men) who have been abducted into slavery. She is also a War Dog, the central intelligence service of Wakanda, tasked with collecting information across the globe to ensure the safety of the kingdom.

So let’s take a moment to let this sink in… in this cinematic world women are the warriors, the protectors, the scientists, the innovators, and the intelligence behind a powerful and technologically superior kingdom. Between the African setting, the hybrid of traditional and futuristic design and tech, and the many powerhouse female characters, Black Panther looks to be unlike any blockbuster in recent memory. Bravo! I highly recommend it to everyone but if you have daughters…take them. NOW!

girl power black panther

Black Panther” stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, with Angela Bassett, with Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis.

13
Feb

25+ Ways To Put Your Tax Refund Money To Work

by Tiffany in Frugal Green

Put Your Tax Refund Money To WorkGetting a refund this year? Why not make some smart decisions with it that actually make you money in the long run through cost savings or by increasing the value or your home? A new 65 inch TV may sound like an amazing investment but there are so many smarter choices you could make.

You could make one or two purchases now that will result in more money in your pocket later. Home repairs and updates are easier to stomach when you have a little extra cash on hand. Here are some ways you can put your tax refund to work…

  • Buy a tankless water heater
  • Replace old, drafty windows
  • Update all light bulbs to LEDs
  • Build raised garden beds
  • Buy a smart thermostat
  • Invest in a security system and save on homeowners insurance
  • Erect a greenhouse
  • Plant trees and perrenials
  • Reseal your driveway
  • Have your septic system cleaned
  • Have your chimney swept by a professional
  • Buy a high efficiency toilet or two
  • Buy a new garage door/opener
  • Invest in a new front door
  • Update light fixtures
  • Refinish hardwood floors
  • Have carpets steam cleaned
  • Add a tile backsplash in your kitchen
  • Have trees trimmed
  • Install  or repair fences
  • Invest in rooftop or yard solar panels
  • Build a deck or patio
  • Update rooms with a coat of paint
  • Insulate your attic space
  • Update appliances to more efficient versions
  • Update your electric panel
  • Replace kitchen counter
  • Paint existing kitchen cabinets