Life Lived Well

Have You Outgrown Your Circle Of Friends?

Have you outgrown your circle of friends?  Is it time to “move on” from certain people?

We all have friends we’ve known for years.  Some of them we’ve known for decades.  You probably follow them on social media and send them Christmas cards.  But, how many of those friends do you actually see on a regular basis?  Do you talk to them regularly?

Here’s the million dollar question – do you WANT to talk to them regularly?

There are phases of our lives where certain friends are invaluable to us.  But, that doesn’t mean they will always be our “go to” friend.

We have people in our lives during stages or events that we can’t imagine going thru with anyone else. Those people will undoubtedly be special to us forever.  They supported us, lifted us up or even cried with us. But, is it possible we’ve outgrown some of those same friends?

Then, there are people we become very close to because quite simply they are very close.  Like your college roommate.  You can’t imagine how you survived your Freshman year without her.   Would you have been friends had they not “assigned” her to your room?  What about that awful job you had a few years ago?  You probably had a co-worker you could commiserate with about the work conditions and your old boss.   You may never have started up a friendship with them had they not been sitting at the desk next to yours.

Life changes are inevitable.  When those changes come, you will have new people near you.  A move to a different house, the start a new job or hobby or attending a new church.  Some of those people will become great friends, life-long friends, and some won’t.

Those same life changes also mean you will no longer be close to people you once saw or spoke to every day.

Sometimes friends move away from each other and only get to talk once in a while.  When they do talk it’s as if nothing has changed.  You pick up right where you left off.  No matter how long it’s been between phone calls or visits, you jump right back in step with each other.

But, there are others with whom you’ve shared experiences (college, work, your old neighbors, etc) that you’d rather just keep the memories and not really stay in close contact with them. Not because you don’t like them or don’t care about them.  It’s just that you’ve matured or your life has changed in such a way that you don’t see eye to eye like you did in the past.

Give yourself permission today to move on.  Let go of the guilt. 

I talked to someone recently who met up with an old college friend for dinner.  After she met with her friend, her comment to me was “It was so nice to see her.  She looked great and I’m really glad I went. But, we really don’t have anything in common except old memories.”

There’s nothing wrong with feeling this way.  Part of getting older and maturing is realizing that while we need good friends (read more about that here), not all of the old friends are going to be a comfortable fit in our current lives.  That doesn’t mean we don’t want the best for them or wouldn’t give them the shirt off our backs if they needed it.  It just means we’re going in different directions now.  By all means, keep them on the Christmas card list!!

Life brings changes, sometimes those changes show us that we’ve outgrown our circle of friends.  Maybe now is the time to surround ourselves with new people that will make us better versions of our current selves.

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Have you outgrown your circle of friends?  Is it time to move on from some relationships?

Have you outgrown your circle of friends? Is it time to move on from some relationships?

Marriage/Love

Making Intimacy AH-Mazing after 40

The rumor is; intimacy after 40 is either boring or nonexistent.  That’s simply not the case.  You can make intimacy AH-Mazing after 40!!

I think the overall belief is that you’re going to have the best sex of your life when you’re in your 20’s and 30’s.  Then, in your 40’s and 50’s your intimate life will come to a screeching halt!!  Don’t believe the hype.

The truth is when you’re over 40 you’re more mature.  You know what you want. And, you’re not afraid to ask for it!!

But, intimacy is more than sex.  Intimacy is being close to a person with whom you’ve built a great connection.  Someone you can talk to and confide in.  They love all of you.

Real intimacy comes from looking into someone’s eyes and knowing you can trust them with your soul. When you have that someone in your life, intimacy is more than just what happens in the bedroom.

Having said that, even when you have that person, intimacy (sex) can occasionally take a back seat.  It can be put on the back burner because well…… “life happens”.  Life gets so busy with jobs, kids, etc., that you both are just too tired to give more of yourselves to anything or anyone else.  Even your partner.

They say (no, I don’t know who “they” is) “when your intimate life is good it’s 20% of your marriage when it’s bad, it’s 80%”.

Here are a few ways you can make intimacy AH-Mazing after 40

Intimacy after 40 can be AH-Mazing after 40. Great tips for making intimacy a priority in any marriage.

Talk.  Speak up.  Use your voice.

Tell your partner what you want.  Do you want more time alone together (like a night out)?  Do you want more time in the bedroom?  Do you simply want some quiet time with your spouse?  Sometimes all I want is a little face to face time with my husband with no distractions.  Not necessarily in the bedroom.  It could be as simple as a walk in the neighborhood while we hold hands.  Remember, even that one-on-one time can lead to great bedroom time.  But, it has to start somewhere.  So, call your spouse, text him, or leave him a love note, but make your requests known.

Spice things up.  

If it’s time in the bedroom you’re looking for, find a way to spice it up.  As long as you both agree and it’s just the two of you, try something new.  Use your imagination, but make sure you’re both on the same page.

Change your surroundings.

Go away for the night or even a weekend.  Rent a hotel room or just “make use” of another room in the house.  New surroundings with none of the usual distractions (aka kids) can be just the boost you both need.

Read a book together.  

You could, of course, get a “spicy” book, but what I really mean is sitting next to each other and reading a novel. There have been several times my husband and I have gone to the bookstore and picked up a mystery or a book on growing our marriage.  When our daughter goes to bed we snuggle up and one of us reads to the other.  We enjoy just sitting next to each other.  My husband will say that reading some of these books has made all the difference in our marriage.

Need a libido boost?  

maca-finder-banner-3

You may have seen me mention this before, but I love love love this* for helping give my libido a kick in the pants. There are times when your hormones change as you reach 40 or 50 and your interest level isn’t what it used to be.  I have had excellent results with this product*.  Truly, I can’t say enough good about it.

 

Making intimacy AH-Mazing after 40 (or even 50) doesn’t have to be difficult.  It just takes the two of you connecting and making it a focus.

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*This article does contain an affiliate link.  I love this product and wouldn’t recommend it otherwise.

 I may receive some compensation from this link.  Thank  you for your support.

Life Lived Well

Is This REALLY my body after 40?

I didn’t appreciate being thin in my 20’s.  I didn’t know how lucky I was to be able to eat anything I wanted and not gain weight. There were a lot of things about my body I didn’t appreciate in my 20’s.

Then a few years ago, not long after my 40th birthday, I stepped out of the shower and caught of glimpse of myself naked.  I gasped!!  (I would have screamed but I would probably pee.)  I was shocked seeing myself in the mirror.  My initial reaction was “WHO LET MY MOTHER IN HERE?”  Once I realized I was alone and naked, (thank God) I said to myself “is this really my body after 40?”

Is this really my body after 40? When you're headed toward menopause, you have to laugh otherwise you'll cry.

In my 30’s, I can remember noticing women in their 40’s and 50’s and most of them seemed to have a little “pooch” or menopause belly.  I used to think, “how did they let that happen?”  Well, now I know.  They were crazy enough to have 40 or more birthdays and one day it’s just there!  Like an unwanted present from a relative.  It just shows up and it won’t go away.

You can actually get rid of the pooch.  All you have to do is eat less and exercise more.  (Tired of hearing that yet? ) The exercise part is no problem when you’re racing toward menopause because you have all the time in the world for it.  Since you’re not sleeping, you can exercise in the middle of the night.  These days, I’m exhausted at 830.  Sound asleep between 930 and 10 and wide awake at 230am.  Yeah me!!!  See, exercise problem solved!!

Overall, I have to say I’m pretty happy with the way I look at least 6 days of the month.  The other days, I’m either bloated waiting for my cycle or bloated during my cycle.  And, I never know when it’s coming, so I can usually “plan” on being surprised just as I’m going out to dinner or leaving for vacation.

Not everything is “thicker” though.  My lips and hair are thinning.  That’s a plus, right?

Don’t believe the rumor that intimacy is a problem over 40.  It doesn’t have to be.  I love this* for keeping my hormones balanced and giving my libido a kick in the pants.  My husband says he’s noticed a big difference since I have been using it.  So much so, he has it waiting for me on the kitchen counter every morning.  He’s so thoughtful!!

I have heard that for some women intimacy can be painful during menopause.  There may be times when something you used to be able to do in the bedroom, doesn’t quite do it for you now. I have to say my husband is pretty agreeable to “changing things up a bit” or trying something new.  That’s probably because my emotions are so up and down, he’s not sure from one minute to the next if I’ll bite his head off or cry.  So, he’ll agree to just about anything to keep the peace.

You do have great “accessories” to look forward to when you’re over 40.  I’m rocking the readers now.  You can get them in every color and they are really handy for plucking those chin hairs.  I usually do my plucking in the carpool line.  The way I see it, I’m giving those 20-year-old moms a glimpse into the future.  When they stare, I just want to stick my head out of the car window and say “go ahead and laugh.  This is your future.”

On the bright side, I’m perimenopausal and my tween is about to start her journey into “womanhood”.  Soon, I’ll be able to hand over to her all those lovely, delicately wrapped items filling up my bathroom drawers.  And then, God Bless my husband.  With her starting and me finishing, he won’t know whether to wind his butt or scratch his watch.

If you’re asking yourself “is this really my body after 40?”  The answer is “yes” and you’re normal.  So, grab your tweezers and your readers and enjoy the ride.  You are among friends!!

For more thoughts on turning 40 (or more), please check out this article here.

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*This post does contain an affiliate link.  I may receive some compensation from this link.  I would never recommend a product I haven’t used or don’t love.  Thank you for your support.

Health and Beautiful Living

The Most Effective Essentials Oils You Are Not Using

Essentials oils are a great way to support your overall health naturally.  They have been used for centuries, even in the bible, to help with everything from arthritis and boils to bruises and lice.

Whether you’re just getting started with oils or you’ve been using them for quite a while, I’ll bet there are some super effective essential oils you are not using.  We all tend to have our “go-to” oils and then there are always some we’ve never even heard of before.

I’m always discovering new oils either by way of my own research or the recommendation of friends.

I put a short list together of some of the most effective essential oils you are probably not using.  If you are using them, you might find a new way to use them.  Plus, I’m sharing my favorite diffuser.

Lemongrass – This is one of my favorites for flea and tick repellent on my dogs.  I put a few drops in my hands, rub my hands together and rub it down the back, legs and tail of my dogs.  Since good quality oils can be very concentrated, I don’t apply them directly to the animals skin.  I usually apply the oils once a week.  It’s cheaper, works great and less toxic than what I had been using.

Several studies have shown lemongrass inhibits the growth of MRSA.  Here is just one study.

Lemongrass essential oil has also been shown to help with circulation.

Rosemary – Highly antibacterial.  A great way to reduce bacteria and viruses in the home is to diffuse rosemary.  It can be pretty strong so I usually diffuse rosemary with lemon.  It’s very refreshing and makes the air in the house clean.

We have used rosemary to help with poison ivy.  My husband gets poison ivy every year.  When we have used rosemary, we were pleasantly shocked at the results.

Lemon Myrtle -According to the Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine Lemon Myrtle can help with sinus infections, bronchitis, fatigue, depression, the common cold, and flu.  It has been shown to be highly antiseptic and helps wounds from being infected with sepsis and tetanus.  Read more here.

Tangerine – A little sweeter and fruitier than one of my other favorites, lemon oil.  Orange and tangerine can tend to contain more of the active constituent limonene.  Limonene has shown great promise in studies to help slow the growth of cancer.  It also boosts immunity and helps reduce depression.  I love to diffuse lemon/tangerine/lime together.  It smells so fresh and clean.

Black Pepper – Great for digestion because it stimulates the whole digestive system and can help with gas relief and clean out the intestines like castor oil.  It’s antispasmodic and can help with cramps and muscle pulls.

Black pepper oil has analgesic properties and can be very helpful for rheumatism, and arthritis.

This is one of the favorites at our house for my husband’s sore muscles and back after work.  Read my article on Black Pepper Oil here.

Manuka – In studies, Manuka has shown to be more powerful than Tea Tree oil for it’s antibacterial and antifungal properties.  It’s shown to bring down fevers, be effective in eliminating fungal infections like ringworm and athlete’s foot, give relief to coughs, give relief to allergy symptoms and repel insects.  This is just one article about Manuka here.

Manuka oil has been used therapeutically for years for arthritis, muscle aches, and joint pain.  It’s also believed to help with foot and body odor.  There are also some studies showing Manuka may be effective against MRSA.

Diffusing oils is a great way help eliminate smells, bacteria, and toxins from your home.  My favorite diffuser is this one.

This is where I get my oils.  Did you now it’s uncommon (not impossible, just uncommon) to have an allergic reaction to essential oils?  I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it bears repeating, not every oil company is created equal.  Do your research!!  This is where I get my oils.  I get them here because they grow their own plants, own their own facilities and farms, and do their own quality control.

Leave me a comment below and tell me about your favorite oil.  I’d love to hear from you.

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*This post does contain affiliate links.  I may receive some compensation for these links.  However, I never recommend a product I don’t like or use myself.  Thanks so much for your support.

 

Some of the most effective essential oils you're not using. Plus, my favorite diffuser.

Here’s a short list of some of the most effective essential oils you’re probably not using. Plus, my favorite diffuser.

Favorite Recipes

Pumpkin Spice Chia Pudding

I love pumpkin spice anything.  I think it’s one of the best things about Fall.  Well, that and the fact that it’s not 157 degrees anymore.  Sweaters, boots and pumpkin spice.  Bring it on!!

I love pumpkin spice so much, it just made sense to me to pair it with one of my favorite healthy “add-ins”, chia seeds.

Chia seeds offer so much nutrition and a plethora of health benefits, I want to add them to everything.  And I usually do.  This time, I married them with pumpkin and wonderfully nutritious coconut milk for this super spicy, super healthy, super delicious treat.  Ta da!!  Pumpkin Spice Chia Pudding.

But, this IS NOT your ordinary pudding.  It has a bonus!  

First, here are some facts about the mighty little chia seed.  They are originally from Mexico and the name Chia actually means strength.  They are rich in antioxidants, calcium, potassium, and iron.  They can give you energy,  boost your metabolism, and since they have almost 11 grams of fiber per ounce they are terrific for your digestive health.  Chia seeds have 18% of your daily recommended dose of calcium and are one of the top plant-based sources of protein.  Read more here and here.

Unlike flax seed, chia seeds do not need to be crushed in order to be beneficial.  Just add them to your pudding, yogurt, homemade salad dressing, or your drink.  They will absorb some liquid, but you will be able to absorb all the wonderful nutrients.

In this recipe, if the chia seeds weren’t enough, I also included one of my favorite supplements, Grass Fed Collagen.  Collagen is great for gut health, bone and joint health, it’s pure protein, and helps your hair and nails grow like crazy.  Read my article about collagen here.

 

Pumpkin Spice Chia Pudding

1 can coconut milk (organic and full fat).  *I use this brand

1 cup canned pumpkin (organic)

5 Tbl chia seeds.  This is a great brand.

1 Tbl Grass Fed Collagen.  I use this brand

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp each ground ginger, ground cloves, ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg

1 Tbl local honey

When you open the can of coconut milk, if there’s any hardened coconut oil at the top, go ahead and scoop that off and discard (or save it and cook with it).  Mix all the ingredients together with a hand mixer just to incorporate.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

 

Eat and enjoy all the spices and wonderful health benefits of this Pumpkin Spice Chia Pudding.

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*This post contains some affiliate link.  I may receive some compensation from this links.  I do not promote any products I haven’t used or don’t personally recommend.  Thank you for your support.  

Pumpkin Spice Chia Pudding - clean eating recipe

This clean eating recipe is protein packed and nutrient dense. It’s perfect for fall. Pumpkin Spice Chia Pudding.

 

 

Life Lived Well

3 Secrets To Saying No So Your Friends Don’t Hate You

Some people make saying “NO” look so easy.  A friend or neighbor asks for their help and they say “no” without batting an eye.  It’s really impressive to watch.  They aren’t rude about it, but it seems as though saying no is second nature to them.

Have you ever watched those people and said to yourself “I wish I could just say no and make it stick”?

There are secrets to saying no, so your friends don’t hate you.  I don’t think it comes naturally.  I do, however, think it gets easier as you get older.  At this stage in my life, I can honestly say I know myself and I’m confident enough to say “no” and not feel a ton of guilt later.  It doesn’t bother me to tell people I can’t do something or I’m not able to help with this project or that event.

Here are 3 secrets that are important if you want to say “no” confidently and without leaving a bad taste in the other person’s mouth.

Know Your Limits –  I used to have a bad habit of “forgetting” my schedule.   A few years ago, before I started staying home full-time, my work schedule was a little slower around the holidays.  I was still working but my workload really picked up in the spring.  So, at the first of the year when people needed volunteers for something, I always said yes.  Since I wasn’t busy at the time, somehow I thought it would be like that all year. Inevitably, a few months later I would be in over my head and wishing I would have just said “no” .

You have to know your limits.  You can’t be all things to all people.  Only say “yes” to the things that speak to your heart.  You will make time for the things that matter.  If it doesn’t matter to you,  it will just make you mad or exhausted just thinking about it.   (Read more about cutting back here.)

At my daughter’s school, I always let the teachers know I’m available to bring in whatever they need on their “wish list”. I’m a good fetcher.  I have no problem running to the store for paper, crayons, cupcakes (store-bought, of course), or jump ropes.  Whatever they need.  Just don’t ask me to be Room Mom, or do crafts.  I stink at crafts.

I’m not spontaneous at all.  In order for me to be spontaneous, I need 2 weeks to prepare. If I volunteer to go on the class field trip, I can put it on my calendar. If I volunteer to bring in something for the class, I can add it to my errands and pick it up while I’m already out.  However, if I’m Room Mom, I need to be ready for whatever is needed, whenever it’s needed.  I know myself well enough to know that a last minute call from the teacher would make me anxious and I would resent doing anything at all.

Be Confident But Be Kind –  I’ve heard that “no” can be a complete sentence.  Maybe that works for some people, it still doesn’t feel good to me.  I don’t have a problem saying no, but I usually follow it up with “I’m sorry”.  I’m saying “I’m sorry” because I hate to think that someone might really need help and me saying no might leave them short-handed.  But I know my limits.   When I say “I’m sorry” what I’m really saying is “I will be absolutely no good to you if I say yes”.

I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings or leave them in a lurch, but it won’t do me or them any good if I say yes only to back out later.

To me, an entire sentence is “No, I’m sorry, I can’t”.

Stop Talking – This is the most important step.  I was in sales for years.  There are people who train on this at meetings and conferences (I was one of them).  The theory is that when you’re making a sale you can have someone just about to make a purchase and then you keep talking, and talking, and eventually you talk them right out of the sale.

If you keep talking after “No, I’m sorry, I can’t” you will start listing all the reasons why you can’t.  Then, guess what happens.  You’ve just opened the door for the other person to “counter” all of your reasons.  They will tell you how they will do all of the work and you really don’t have to do anything.  They will tell you that it won’t cost you any money.  They might even tell you that you’re able to do it whenever you want, it doesn’t have to be at a certain time.  You get the idea.

You will end up walking away from the conversation having volunteered to be PTO President, watching your neighbors 4 kids for the weekend or baking 200 cupcakes for the fundraiser.

So, do yourself a favor.  The next time someone asks you to do something you absolutely know doesn’t speak to your heart, confidently say “No, I’m sorry, I can’t”.  And then, stop talking!!  You’ll be glad you did.

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3 secrets to saying no confidently, so your friends don't hate you.

3 secrets to saying NO confidently, so your friends don’t hate you.

Marriage/Love

Prioritizing Our Marriage Pt 2 – Making My Husband My Top Button

Prioritizing our marriage is important to us.  My husband and I have both been married before and we are painfully aware how quickly things can change.  We’ve already made all the mistakes we care to when it comes to marriage.  Besides, at our age, we know that nothing good ever comes without hard work.

Marriage is hard work.  That’s not to say it’s horrible or “difficult”.  Marriage isn’t a burden or a constant uphill climb.  At least it shouldn’t be.  When I say it’s hard, I  mean it’s a conscious decision every day.  You have to stay focused and committed.

In my last article (read part 1 here), I shared a phone conversation I had with my husband.  He called me from work and asked me an odd question.  He asked, “if our marriage were a shirt, would I be your top button, middle button, or bottom button?”  He told me I was his top button.  He always buttons the top first on his shirts.  He went on to say he always thinks of me first.  He puts my needs before his own.

Wow!!  That was a wonderful thing to hear.  Needless to say, anything I said after that would pale in comparison.

How many times have you heard; “Marriage is 50/50”?  One thing age and experience have taught us is that marriage is NOT 50/50.  Think about it. How could it be 50/50?  There are times when you will give 75% and your husband will give 25%.  There will be times when your husband is giving 80% and you’re giving 20%.   Some days are better than others.  For each of you.

Think of those times when you’re at home with a sick child or one of you has a job change and the other has to pick up the slack.  What about when there’s a death in the family or one of you has to travel for work?  Each spouse has a time when they have to carry the heavier load.  It just happens. It doesn’t happen for months or years at a time (usually), but it does happen.  It’s about prioritizing.

After working for years, I started staying home full-time at age 44.  Talk about a BIG lifestyle change.  In addition to my blog, I help my husband run our small business (from home).  I handle all of the scheduling, taxes, payroll, etc. for our business, the bulk of the child care, house cleaning, bill paying and shopping for our household.  That also means my husband works a lot.  A whole lot.

As with most couples, we each have different ways that we work hard to put the other’s needs before our own.  Even with very busy schedules, making each other “our top button” takes thought and sometimes a little planning.

I’m not a morning person.  I’m a “middle of the day” person.  I need my sleep.  However, if you’re a mother, you know sleep is a luxury.  My husband reminds me of times when we were dating and he would call me in the morning and I was just getting out of bed at 7 or 730.  Oh, the good old days.

Now, I’m up at 545 every morning.  Not because I want to be.  That’s for sure.  I get up first so I can make us both a large cup of caffeine and we sit for a few minutes before our daughter has to be up for school.  I make sure he has what he needs for the work he has scheduled, she’s dressed, has breakfast and a lunch packed.  My husband takes our girlie to school.  This gives them a few minutes to spend together and since he works for himself, he can decide when he starts the day.  Plus, he knows if I had to drive our daughter to school, it would be in a robe and slippers.  God bless me if my car ever broke down on the way to school.

Because I’m up earlier than I want to be in the morning, my husband will often call me or send me a message during the day and remind me to take a couple minutes to sit and relax or take a 10-minute nap.  I know he’s just being thoughtful, he knows I do not function well on only a little bit of sleep.

Like most moms, I do all of the shopping for our daughter .  My husband would rather have a root canal without Novocaine than go clothes or shoe shopping with her.  But, since he knows I’d rather swim with sharks than go grocery shopping with a child he makes a compromise for me on Sundays.

Our church is right down the street from the grocery store.  We drive past it on our way home.  Unfortunately, so do 5,000 other people whose church is also on that same road.  Needless to say, grocery shopping on Sundays is painful.  He will often “take one for the team” on the way home from church and let me grocery shop while he and our daughter fill the car with gas or just entertain each other.  He absolutely hates going there on Sundays.  But, he knows this one (painful) stop makes my life so much easier.  This means I don’t have to go during the week while constantly having to say “no, I’m not buying that” or “you didn’t eat it the last time I bought it”.

Since I cook all the meals, my husband cleans the kitchen after dinner so I can finish up any last minute things I need to do on the computer.

One of my favorite calls to get from him is on the rare occasion he finishes work early, he calls me and says “I’m picking up dinner on the way home”. (Now, that I think about that, maybe he does that so he doesn’t have to do dishes.  Hmmmmm.)

Another way we focus on prioritizing our marriage is with friends and on social media.  We are not “friends” with each other’s friends on social media. I am friends with his friends’ wives, but not the men themselves (and vice versa).  We also share our passwords.  We want to make sure the other knows there is nothing to hide.

Recently, I started working with a male friend of ours on my business.  When he and I communicate we include my husband in everything.  My husband is driven crazy with all of our texts and phone calls, but he appreciates the transparency and respect I’m showing him and our friends’ wife as well.   There have been times when our friend and I have needed to get together to work.  When we meet, we do it at his house when his family was home.

Making my husband my top button is a conscious decision.  Every Day.  We have to stay focused.  The pay off is definitely worth the effort.

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Prioritizing Our Marriage Part 2

Prioritizing your marriage takes effort and daily focus. The payoff is definitely worth the effort.

 

 

 

 

Marriage/Love

Prioritizing Our Marriage Pt 1 – Making My Husband My Top Button

My husband called me from work the other day and asked me an odd question.  “If our marriage were a shirt, would I be the top button, bottom button or middle button?”  How do I answer that?  Is this a trick?  What answer is going to make me look good?  What answer is going to make me look bad?  Finally, he let me off the hook by saying “you are my top button.  When I button my shirt I always button the top first.  I always think of you before myself.”

Well now, no matter what I say, it’s not going to be as sweet as what he just said to me!!

Ultimately, I told him he was my middle button.  The middle button is what holds everything together.  He thought that was a good answer.  (But, of course, it wasn’t as good as being told he thinks of me before himself!)

Both of us have been married before.  We’ve made a lot of mistakes and had mistakes made to us as well.  We know that God brought us together at the perfect time.  We would not have been a good fit 20 years ago.  We are not a perfect couple, just a perfect fit for each other.

At this stage in our lives, we know one thing for certain.  Our marriage is a priority.  In our house, God is first.  Our marriage is second.  Our young one at home is third.  It can’t be any other way.

Our marriage has to be the blueprint for what our daughter uses for her future marriage.  She needs to see us talk and laugh together, plan for the future, and even get upset with each other.

We are prioritizing our marriage for her and for us.  After all, when she’s out of the house, that’s all we will have.  And of course, her room to rent out!

Date night is important to us.  Life is busy, but we try to get a sitter about once a month.  When we go out together we make sure to go to a restaurant that DOES NOT  give out coloring pages or serve macaroni and cheese.   We usually find the craziest places to eat, someplace we would not take our 10-year-old.  We don’t want to hear “ew, I am not eating that” on our date!!

One fun thing we like to do on date night is what we call “reverse progressive dinner”.  We pick a favorite restaurant and eat dessert.  After dessert, we go to another restaurant for dinner.  When we are finished with dinner, we either find another place to eat appetizers, or a coffee shop that’s open late and relax with a hot cup of tea.

It’s a rare thing for us to have an overnight sitter.  When it does happen, we like to take small trips together.  A little time for us to connect and have a conversation without the Disney Channel in the background.  A few times we’ve gotten a room at a local bed and breakfast.  Nothing extravagant.  No travel expenses.  Just a change of scenery.

Recently we celebrated our anniversary.  Grandma had our girl for the weekend.  We saved our pocket change for a year and used it to eat out the entire weekend.  We did some antiquing and watched movies that weren’t animated.  Again, no travel expenses, just time to connect.

Here’s another easy way we spend a few extra minutes together every day.  (Read the article here).

Prioritizing our marriage is important to us.  It’s also important to make each other’s needs a priority.  In Part 2 I’ll share some ways we try to make each other the top button.

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Prioritizing Our Marriage Pt 1

Prioritizing your marriage, being intentional, is critical. Especially when there are children at home. See the odd question my husband asked to get me thinking about priorities in our marriage.

Life Lived Well

I Can’t Wait For The First Day Of School – It’s OK For You To Be Excited Too

I can’t wait for the first day of school.  The first day of the new school year is the best day of the year.  Better than Christmas!

At the end of May, I have the first day of the next school year marked on my calendar for August.  It’s circled AND highlighted.  I can hardly wait.  The anticipation of that day makes me giddy.  I would like to tell you that I schedule lunch with a friend on that day and we drink wine.  But, that momentous day usually starts with a dance in the driveway (in my bathrobe for extra emphasis) as my daughter leaves for school.  Then a nap and day in my pj’s.

BEST – DAY – EVER!!!

Moms usually fall into one of two categories.  First, are the moms who say “I miss my kids when they’re at school.  I can’t wait to spend the summer with them.”  Second, are the moms who say “I can’t wait for school to start and I’m not ashamed to say it.”  Guess which group I’m in.

Spoiler Alert – I’m the president of the first group.

I have one daughter.  She’s bright and fun and growing like a weed.  But, to say she needs a regular schedule is an understatement.

She can’t wait for summer break.  She has every day and every activity planned out in her little mind. Summer break will be glorious. Or, so she thinks.  But, usually about 3 days into the break, it happens. Kids in the neighborhood are gone on vacation, at camp, visiting grandma, etc.  There’s no one to hang out with, there’s no posted schedule and mom and dad can’t devote every waking moment to keeping her occupied.

Meltdown.

We usually have the same problem during Christmas break.  We have a long Christmas break here in the south.  Maybe it just seems long to me!!

The first few days are fun while the anticipation of Christmas builds.  The last few days aren’t as exciting.  Kids are not back from seeing relatives yet, and there’s “nothing to do” (despite all the Christmas presents), so again, MELTDOWN.

I’m not going to tell you that she’s an angel every day during the school year, but she’s more relaxed and comforted by knowing “what’s next”.  As are most kids.  (Read more here and here. ) My daughter likes to know that there will be school Mon-Fri, followed by her extracurricular activity, church on the weekend, etc.  It’s our routine.  Routine sets the tone for the week.

On most days, when she gets home from school, she does her homework, goes to after school activities, maybe play outside with her buddies, eats dinner or just relaxes a little.  But, we are still on a schedule because there’s only so much time before bedtime.  Then, we start all over again the next day.

One thing we joke about on Sundays is daddy’s routine.  My husband says he needs “church, sandwich, chips and a nap.”  After his Sunday “routine” we can do whatever comes our way.  Because she knows the routine, our daughter can often be heard asking a question after church that starts with “After your nap, can we…..?”

In order to prepare for the new school year, we start the “back to school routine” early.  Two weeks before the start of school we start the school bedtime.  The week before, we start getting up and getting dressed at the regular time.  This really helps get her back in the school mindset

During the week (during the school year), the house is empty (more dancing) and I get more done during the day.  When she’s at school, dad’s at work and I can get my things done, we have more “quality time” as a family.

Routines and schedules are comforting especially for kids.  So, when I say “I can’t wait for the first day of school”, I’m only thinking of what’s best for my baby (wink wink).  It’s ok for you to be excited too.  Just try to keep the dancing to a minimum.

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It's fall and back to school time. As a parent, it's ok to be excited for the first day of school

It’s fall and back to school time. As a parent, it’s ok to be excited for the first day of school.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Health and Beautiful Living

Healthy Over 40 – Staying Fit When You Hate To Workout

When I joined the military immediately out of high school, I knew push-ups, running and marching would be in my future.  I tried to prepare myself by running a mile or two from time to time before I left for Basic Training.  The only thing my “preparation” did was reinforce the fact that I’d rather have a root canal without Novocaine than run.  Truly!!  Thinking back on my years in the military, I can honestly say that the worst part for me was the physical requirement.

Hate is a strong word.  But, I HATE to workout.  I am definitely not one of those women who says “sometimes I just need to go for a jog.” Or, “working out helps me clear my head.”   Not me!!  The only thing that clears my mind is nap!

Now that I’m over 40, staying fit is more than just worrying about gaining or losing weight.  I care about what I look like, but I need to get “moving” for my heart, my hormones, and my mood.  Read more here.   I need to stay in shape now even more than I did 20 years ago.  And, don’t even get me started on my metabolism.  I remember the “old days” when I could over-indulge on the weekend.  Then, on Monday, all I needed to do was drink a ton of water and eat a salad or two and POOF 5 lbs would fall right off.   Those were the days!!

So, what can you do when you know you need to stay in shape, you want to be fit, but don’t want to join a gym?  Here are a few of my favorite tips for staying fit when you hate to workout.

  • First and foremost, don’t let anyone make you feel guilty or shame you into doing a workout routine you hate.  Exercise and movement are important, especially as we age.  But, do it for you.  Your body will thank you and you’ll be glad you put in the effort.
  •  Do what you enjoy when it comes to exercise, just try to do more of it.  I hate to run.  Have I mentioned that already?  But, I enjoy a good walk.  Most of the time we make it a family event and even bring the dogs.  We actually walk more in our neighborhood in the fall and winter than in the summer.  Southern summers can be brutal and I hate to sweat.  We really enjoy getting out of the house when the weather is a bit cooler.  Especially after all the “not so healthy” holiday foods we usually eat.
  •  Find an “extra activity” to enjoy.  Our extra activity is bike riding.  Our daughter loves it when we all ride bikes together.   If that’s not an option for you, try a stationary bike. I’ve seen used bikes for sale at secondhand sporting good stores.   You can watch your DVR and ride at the same time.  Bonus!  Maybe there’s an indoor pool in your community, bowling or even skating.   You don’t have to spend a ton of money to work out or move your body.  Just make it a focus to find a different physical activity occasionally.
  •  Take extra steps.  When you go to the grocery store or the mall, park as far away from the store as possible.  It all counts, especially when the sun is out.  The vitamin D will help you stay healthy also.  (read more about the sun, SPF, and vitamin D here)
  •  Develop an easy workout you can do anywhere.  When I do work out, I do it at home.  My goal is 3 times a week.  My exercises require either small weights (5-10 lbs) or no equipment at all.  I do things that use my body strength (plank, push-ups, jumping jacks, etc.).  That makes it easier to continue no matter where I am.
  •  Fit it in when you can.  I do extra things all the time.  I’m constantly doing squats throughout the day.  Most mornings I do at least 3 sets of push-ups or the plank 3 times (60 seconds each time).  You’d be surprised at what a difference those two exercises can make for your body.

Does it all happen for me in the same week?  Nope!!  But, I try to do as much as I can, as often as I can.

The idea is to make staying fit a priority even if you’re not ready to run a marathon or try out for Olympics.  Just focus on getting moving as often as possible and do it for you and your health, not anyone else.

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Healthy After 40 Staying Fit When You Hate to Workout

Staying fit after 40 doesn’t have to be difficult. It just takes focus and small steps and easy exercises to stay healthy after 40.

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