Archives for January 2017

Finding the Hole in YOUR Pocket! Part 2

My daughter-in-law, Heather, continues today with Part 2 of her very practical, inspiring and empowering message on mastering your money. (Find Part 1 on yesterday’s blog) Enjoy!

As I shared in Part 1  it’s the small foxes that spoil the vine. Those seemingly insignificant amounts we spend or don’t spend on a regular basis can change our LIFE landscape drastically. Question: Do you want a fancy pants latte and a Big Mac every day, or do you want to lay on the beaches of Hawaii for 10 days every year?!? Umm…duh, that’s an easy one for me! Mai Tai, please!

 Now I’m not saying live like a poor victim, but choose your splurges wisely. If you like a designer coffee, get one every once in a while, have your glass of wine at home, budget your Nordstrom money, etc. Walking around like a cash machine impresses no one and usually leaves you with years of debt and you will be paying off things you no longer have!
OK time to be honest…
If you are just bad at money, and know you’ll never quite get it right, I suggest you start doing these 2 things:

  • 1 – Get rid of all credit cards.
  • 2 – Set up a savings account at a different bank than your normal checking and have an auto-deposit from your paycheck go there every payday.This simple adjustment accomplishes two things: 1. you stop accruing debt, and, 2. you’re actively saving and must go out of your way to access those savings.

If you are ok/good with money, but just got a little carried away, and find yourself in a not-so-good condition financially, I’d suggest:

  • 1 – Transfer any credit card debt to a zero % interest credit card, then immediately cut up the card and pay it off asap.
  • 2 – Sell and/or cancel anything else you spend frivolous interest on, then save and pay cash for everything in the future.

Once you have #1 and #2 done and are in a good place with your money and have SELF-control in place, here’s what’s next:

  • 3 – Open a credit card with PERKS and use it for your automatic bills monthly. Things like insurance, medical, cell phone, internet etc. and over time you will get cash back or a few flights to the beach of your choice, for FREE! Make the creditors WORK for YOU!
    My husband and I have flown cross-country for free thanks to credit card miles and we’re headed to another sunny vacation on free miles soon. Other family members will be flying for free as well due to good habits and having the credit cards work for us! Finances are meant to be a blessing to us and others if we handle them correctly and with diligence. But when we don’t, they are the very thing that can DESTROY lives and marriages.
    Don’t be like Sally… she’s stressed out every single day just to have a closet full of things that go outta style, a fru-fru hot drink in her hand, and a car that will be worth a measly $500 in a matter of years. Set yourself a budget that covers your bills, a YOU fund for the month for your special treats, money for giving and blessing others, and then send THE REST to that far-away savings account. Don’t look at it for a few months, then when you do, you’ll see how much you have SAVED and you’ll feel so proud of yourself, you’ll wanna dance a jig! When that raise is realized, send half of it to the savings as well and enjoy the rest! Your future self will thank you and take you out for a steak dinner and a new set of heels 🙂

Heather Mira is the adoring wife of her hubby, Jared, devoted mommy to their first child, Reuben Amos, and dog-whisperer to their furry French Bulldog, Frankie. She resides in the Pacific Northwest enjoying her life of frugal abundance while setting up their new nest in beautiful Washington State.

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Finding the Hole in YOUR Pocket! Part 1

One of my life passions is to empower my readers in their daily lives with practical insights and inspiration. In January after giving you my Best Advice for the New Year, I touched on Re-Framing Your World, Forgetting Your Smart Phone, Attitude, Gratitude, Never Playing the Victim, making room for Exercise in the cracks of living life, Clean Eating and Gut Health, living the ‘Glad-game’ daily, Natural Remedies, Joy Robbers, and Mourning Mondays, to name a few. One key area I believe will change everything for you in 2017 is a topic I’ve asked my daughter-in-law Heather to share about. 

Drumroll….Mastering Money. N-n-n-n-n-n-n—NO!!!! Don’t leave yet! Heather has a lot of insights and humor about gaining traction and realizing victory in your piggy bank and not only does she know it, she does it – hers is a voice I trust. Enjoy Part 1 of Finding the Hole in Your Pocket! by Heather Mira.

We all have that ‘friend’ (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) who lives paycheck-to-paycheck. She always looks like a million dollars but is constantly stressed and seemingly scraping by, which makes no sense because she has an amazing job and a generous salary. Am I right?! Then…when she finally gets that long-awaited and well-deserved, menial raise she’s been dying for, it still isn’t enough money to make it through the month. What the heck is she doing with her money?! She keeps hoping this is like a bad joke and Ashton Kutcher is going to jump out at any minute and say “You’ve been ‘PUNK’d’!” But no, it’s real and something’s gotta give…

Working in finance, accounting and payroll for over 12 years, I’ve seen it all. Millionaires who are literally cash/penny poor and people who make 3 times as much as I did complaining about paychecks…it never ended. It seemed like there was never enough money no matter how big their salaries were that year.

I’ve never made a lot of money, just your average middle class wage as someone with experience and an Associate’s degree, but somehow I’ve always had what I needed along with some of my ‘wants’ and the pleasure of traveling occasionally. My financial condition always baffled those highly-paid co-workers of mine because we both knew who made more money – and it was never ME! So when “Sally” asked me for help to see where she’s going wrong with her money, I obliged, knowing it’s pretty much the same for everybody. I can find the hole in their pocket in minutes!

Humans – we all like to think we are unique and original, but in reality, we are all VERY similar, with common habitual struggles and feelings about life.

Here are what I see as the top 3 ways Sally, or pretty much anyone, wastes money:

  • #1  You pay interest to multiple places. Maybe you haven’t even considered this category of your ‘spending’ but it’s very likely you are making regular interest payments in many forms: Car loans, credit cards, department store cards, furniture, Home Depot, college loans, etc.  It is impossible to get ahead doing this!
  • #2 Daily splurges…when ’treat yo’ self’ has become habitual. Buying your favorite morning beverage and lunch out is no less than $15 a day = $75 week = $4000 a year and that’s just counting Mon- Fri spending! If you exceed that outgo on a daily basis, just do the math. Cray cray.
  • #3- The Sexes.
  • Women: That ‘hole in our pocket’ is most often clothing, shoes, makeup, accessories, spa services – basically anything that makes us look good.
  • Men: Look no further than takeout food and convenience items or ‘pimping’ out your car with sound, tinted windows, etc. (Rewind to ‘car’ and consider that perhaps your sporty little car payment is killing you.) How about turning that money-sucker in for something used and dependable that you can actually pay off on day 1 even though it’s not nearly so ‘impressive’?! Count the hours it’s sitting in parking lots all week while you pay the high payment and insurance and you might be persuaded.
    **basically #3 is all about attracting the opposite sex – am I right?

Just by reducing spending in these 3 areas in 2-3 years you’ll have a down payment for a home – THATS CRAZINESS! A HOME? In 3 years, you could have $15,000 in the bank by simply cutting out a few purchases and packing coffee and a lunch from home. How easy is that?!  (Come back for Part 2 tomorrow!)

Friends, we’re almost one whole month in on this new year called 2017. Doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a difference outcome is insanity. I encourage you to position yourself beginning tomorrow morning, to tackle Just. These. Three. Points. for the next 30 days, taking you to the end of February. (Not exactly hitting the nail on the head for you? Hungry for more? Stay tuned as tomorrow Heather will touch on a few more very practical helps to see you through to victory in your piggy bank.)

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I Choose Life.

Click on this precious pic for facts and figures on the history of Roe vs. Wade.

Yesterday marked the 43rd March for Life in our nation’s capital, when multitudes of passionate people gather to peacefully show their support for the unborn as they proclaim their belief in the sanctity of life and oppose the practice of abortion. Our newly-elected Vice President, Mike Pence, addressed the crowd. Pence was the first Vice President or President ever to speak at the March for Life.

The picture I posted above of my unborn and infant grandchildren, clearly speaks my heart on this issue. Life is an undeniable gift from God. An unspeakable joy. A priceless miracle. Multiplied millions of people across the earth long for a child to love and nurture, as infertility seems to be widespread in our day.

Although I read about crowds of women who shout their support for their right to have an abortion, I don’t see women lining up to tell you their happy story of the abortions they’ve already had, nor have I personally met one single woman who had an abortion and were glad they did; the ones I’ve heard from count their abortion as a huge regret and continue to suffer a myriad of painful ramifications both physical, emotional and spiritual.

Also, with abortion being the biggest killer of African Americans in this nation, I keep wondering if the same people supporting Black Lives Matter also support the overturn of Roe vs. Wade? And if women’s rights are the priority of feminists across the nation, are not the rights of unborn women also a priority? When you consider that almost 60 million abortions have taken place since Roe vs. Wade in 1973 (ponder that number for a moment) and estimating that around 50% of those abortions annihilated 30 million American females, is that not a crime of epic proportions against women?

I’m no expert on this theory, but sometimes I wonder if a good portion of the women out there shouting for their ‘reproductive rights’ are simply trying to drown out their inner voice of regret, or mask their pain, re-framing their unthinkable experience as their stubborn right and hoping others join them in their misery, helping to rationalize the choice they so very much regret. I don’t look down upon women who have had an abortion; I feel great empathy for them. I grieve for our nation’s loss these past 44 years and I pray this holocaust against innocent life in the United States of America will cease.


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Baby steps count.

Did you start yet? (referring to yesterday’s blog)

Did you take the first wobbly, scary, imperfect baby step? Baby steps count, you know. I was thinking more about this last night because in a couple of different areas I’m taking that ‘first step’ and as I do, I find confirmations abound, which give me momentum to keep going. It’s bizarre as I reflect on the unusual repercussions caused by my first steps! Which reminded me of the following quote by W.H. Murray which has impacted my life since the day I heard it.

“The moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help that would never otherwise have occurred. A stream of events issues from the decision, raising unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: ‘What you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.’”

One resolute and unbending decision is a powerful force. A single-minded commitment to take the first step, will topple one circumstantial domino after another, finally bringing you to the fulfillment of the vision in your heart.

How many times have you decided on an end result you desired; perhaps…becoming a foster parent, getting out of debt, homeschooling your kids, selling that extra gas guzzling car, going back to school to get a degree, taking a dream trip, helping the poor, losing that weight, fixing your marriage, giving away more money, starting a home business…and once you’ve taken that awkward and uncertain first step it’s as if the whole universe comes out to meet you with uncanny coincidences sent to assist you toward your goal?!?! Can I get an “amen”?! Even as I sit here typing this, I’m reminded of time and time again when I experienced this phenomenon!

I’ll be taking ‘first steps’ as long as I have breath in my body! I hope you will, too. It’s really the only way to live life to the full.  #noexcuses #neversettle #chooselife

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Take the first step.

Paralyzed by fear?

Daunted by previous disappointment?

Crushed by the haters?

Timid by temperament?

Poor as a church mouse?

Desperate for change?

Just take the first step. That’s all. It’s seems insignificant in your thinking. How can a tiny little step make a difference in the scheme of things? But there is more power than you can imagine in your choice to throw that timid toe out in front of you! You know in your heart what that first step should be…or at least you’ve got a really good guess, so just…GO!

Forward momentum has occurred. Possibilities are now kicked into gear. You are no longer stuck because you have decided and initiated and you have a start. The engine is no longer idling. The car is moooooving….

I cannot tell you the times I’ve woken with a heavy heart, unsure and overwhelmed. Pondering life and drowning in uncertainty and sticky notes while sipping my warm lemon-cayenne water on auto-pilot. And then I do the next thing I know to do…make that phone call, post that ad, make that green smoothie, buy that book, write that card, lace up those shoes, set up that appointment, answer that email, agree to that interview and before I know what hit – the sky splits open, heaven shines down, and I know. My answer comes. My path is clear. My heart is light again. The next step toward my goal is evident. Hope carries me on…

All because I took that first step. Just do it. (And let me know how it worked out for you-I’d love to hear your story!) #neveravictim #noexcuses #conquer2017

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An Inspiring Interview With Dr. Mark Hyman: Taking Back YOUR Health and Happiness in 2017!

I think our physical health has soooooooooo much to do with every single little thing in our lives! It’s truly a gargantuan issue and relates to every other life issue such as our sleep, energy level, mood, weight, sex life, hopefulness, contentment, exercise or lack thereof, marriage relationship, love life, social life, career, spiritual life and general life success. I truly believe it. If you spend enough time around me you know how I feel about real food, raw food, organic food, GMOs, an active lifestyle….not because I need a hobby horse, but because I know in my knower that I simply cannot truly live without first taking care of my physical health.

I want YOU to find a path to greater health in 2017. If not now, when? If not you, who? Why waste another year wishing, when you have the power to bring positive change to your health and your family’s health? And yes, I said that right: YOU HAVE THE POWER and this interview will prove that truth. No matter your weight, your age, your income level…this 30-minute video knocked my socks off for so many reasons…I wanted to share it with every single person I love. I guarantee you, it’s worth every second of its 30 minute length and it’s fun. Colorful and interesting and creative and hopeful. I beg you, watch this….(and let me know how much you loved it!) And most of all, let me know how it impacted your life! #conquer2017 #neveravictim #noexcuses


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Woman in Gold

I love a good ‘people story’. The movie we watched last night, Woman in Gold, turned out to be an especially inspiring and poignant drama based on the true story of Maria Altmann, an elderly Jewish refugee living in Cheviot Hills, Los Angeles, who, together with her young lawyer, Randy Schoenberg, fought the government of Austria for almost a decade to reclaim Gustav Klimt’s iconic painting of her aunt, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I, which was stolen from her relatives by the Nazis in Vienna just prior to World War II. Altmann took her legal battle all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States, which ruled on the case Republic of Austria v. Altmann (2004).

My critique: Helen Mirren stars in the film and shines as always; the supporting cast wasn’t entirely stellar and the movie was a bit slow to unfold, but all-in-all it was worth my time, and would make an excellent addition to your homeschool curriculum as it’s a perfect springboard/addition to a unit study on World War II, the Nazis, etc. I’m inspired to know more about this feisty gal and her determined young lawyer who refused to quit.

Click on the photo of the real-life Maria Altmann to get a peek into the true story behind the film, Woman in Gold.



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Part 2: Pete the Jack Russell Terrier

[continued from yesterday’s 1-19-17 blog]

The in-between is the hardest place to live. Waiting. Wondering. Scared. Uncertain. Knowing something needs to happen that YOU cannot make happen. This is the seat I was sitting in when the jarring gong sounded loudly in my heart about our adorable purebred Jack Russell terrier, Petey. He had to go. But where? How? He was amazing, but he was a ‘used’ pup. Not even a year old and almost an orphan because of us. Ugh. Our hearts meant well, but our lives and callings weren’t allowing Petey to have the life he needed. All the boys agreed 100% due to their various commitments. We were unified. (A dog, I know. But God cares about dogs, too, check out Proverbs 12:10) We had never invested so much in an animal emotionally, physically and financially and it was a little bit of a big deal for me.

I took action. That’s what has to happen to kick things into gear. Just do it, right?! After I made the call to the extremely surprised and not-so-thrilled passionate, diligent dog-loving breeder who couldn’t imagine handing off a pup, we prayed. And waited some more. Then, she phoned with a lead. A young family whose Jack Russell had passed and who longed for another pup to love, were very interested. Long story short, Leanne, Dan and Montana Jane thoughtfully arrived as Cindy and I cried some more, and they sensitively carried Petey away while handing me tissues! The perfect…no, stop and note…really truly honest-to-goodness perfect family adopted our animal baby. And got him a sister, Wasabi. And shortened his name to Pete. And then they engaged in lessons and contests and dog vacations and play dates and sent pictures and set up ‘visitations’ with us, his original owners.

This was 12 years ago. We’re still in touch and Pete went on to his reward last year after a dream dog-life. He was a champion, such a good little man. I’m so thankful he had a loving, caring family who allowed his potential to be developed by their constant care and initiative. He shined. Leanne and I met for some fabulous tea at Mad Hat last week and hugged and caught up on all of life. I adore her. And now she’s moving into her dream house on the Puget Sound and I’ll get to go float and see more pics of Pete and visit his surviving sibling, Wasabi.

I hope this tiny little miraculous story infuses you with hope to know that 1. there are still good people in the world and 2. that every little thing really does matter and 3. that God is in the details and He cares, truly cares about what we care about. Talk to Him about the things that matter to you and yours and make 2017 a miraculous year for you and those you love! And you never know, 4. the repercussions of your positive actions may bring you 12 years of friendship you had never anticipated!

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Pete, the Jack Russell Terrier.

As I stood out back at midnight in the brisk Pacific Northwest weather waiting for the pup to pee, I marked the event with a sigh. Why was I, the mother of five healthy, hard-working school-aged boys standing all alone doing this? Seriously. At the time I was homeschooling several, running a 3000+ square-foot hectic Grand Central Station household we had recently expanded from 1800 square feet (think remodel marathon), working out college classes for my oldest 16 year-old son (think major maiden voyage for this mama), traveling the globe speaking and networking while writing a book, keeping an Italian husband of 22ish years happy and now…waiting for a dog to do his job at midnight. Really? This is nuts. Time for a family meeting. There would be change, or there would be change...

My live-in adopted daughter/assistant, Cindy, from South Africa and I sat and discussed our dilemma with heavy hearts, knowing that the writing was on the wall. The boys adored our gorgeous little robust leadership-wired-constantly-moving-purebred Jack Russell terrier, but their lives were crammed full of so many, many activities, continual travel and leadership responsibilities along with their school commitments, home life responsibilities (yes, my house cleaning brigade), church work, music development, endless relationships…Petey was simply not fitting into our lifestyle. He had already demanded so much change (think 3K worth of fencing, vet bills, dog run, kennel, yada yada yada….) along with daily exercise and play and our APB’s to search for him regularly since he constantly jetted out to find a new girlfriend, but our life goals were leaving him with the leftovers and it wasn’t fair to him or to…….ME! (loud laughter)

Cindy and I cried many tears. Our tender hearts were broken for this soon-to-be-released ahhhhmazing dog. God made animals to crawl up into our hearts and take over, and Petey had done exactly that. Hubby had picked the champion from the litter and we knew it. He was just another awesome Mira man, but he was an animal and we had to face the facts. We prayed. Yes. Even for a dog. God cares about the little things and we asked Him for a perfect home for Petey. More tears. Too many to count. I contacted the breeder. She found it odd that we could let go of him, but to us, letting go was the greatest version of love we could express.

I felt utterly helpless and somewhat desperate. I couldn’t bear to see this precious pup in the wrong hands. He was my baby after all. We met him long before we could take him home and he grew in our hearts and we nurtured and worked hard to care for him. He had to be in the right place.

(stay tuned – to be continued tomorrow…)


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Rainy days.

It’s raining sideways today in our city! Went out on errands this afternoon, and watching the tree branches sway precariously set me just a little bit on edge…worse yet were the drivers who obviously didn’t know how to drive in rain. My windshield wipers weren’t working well, either, so I headed for home short of achieving all my goals. Storms are great – even cozy – when you’re safely tucked inside.  Or…shopping in downtown Seattle with your daughters! This is them, snuggling between stops while snagging the post-Christmas sales….

P.S. If you happen to love dogs, tomorrow I’ve got a story to tell that I know you’ll enjoy.

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