Tips that help reduce stress

Stress, also known as the silent killer, can be defined as a state of mental or emotional pressure resulting from difficult or very challenging situations. Basically, it is life happening all around us and the seemingly insurmountable weight of it all. Life happens to everyone and everyone will (at some point) encounter stress. We all respond to stress in different ways but learning to structure our lives around it can ultimately be a matter of life and death, sickness or good health. Below are a few stress-reducing tips you can try.

Tip #1
Breathe, baby breathe
deep breathing(Photo courtesy of Google Images)
Deep breathing works. It really does. When I had my first child, the doctors and nurses told me to breathe, inhale through your nose (your diaphragm contracts and your lungs expand), and exhale slowly through pursed lips. This was my first introduction to deep breathing and over the years I have found that this technique has many amazing and powerful benefits, mainly being instrumental in reducing stress, improving sleep, optimizing your immune system and so much more. So when faced with a stressful situation, before you become unglued, take a moment to sit quietly and breathe deeply!

Tip #2
Pray, Meditate and Refocus
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There are situations that we will encounter that are beyond our human control. We are not super people with super human strength, contrary to popular belief. This life will get crazy and that’s when we need to take it to the Lord in prayer. Prayer, like deep breathing, works. It is the understanding that we cannot control or fix everything and everybody that brings us to our knees. Learning to pray sincerely, meditate honestly on God’s word and taking time to refocus on what’s really important in our lives, will reduces stress immensely.

Tip #3
Laugh
laughter(Photo courtesy of Google Images)
This one is fun. Laugh! Hard and loud and until your stomach cramps and the tears soak your cheeks. Laughter is your internal medication, its God’s natural remedy for a soul-ache. What Tylenol does for your headache, good old-fashioned laughter does for your soul’s-ache. It works!

Tip #4
Read a good book
reading a book(Photo courtesy of Google Images)

We can get so caught up in the hub-bub of life that we forget how relaxing it is to sit down with a steamy/hot romance novel or an inspirational self-help book that not only takes your mind off your problems but gives your brain the inspirational work-out that it needs. There have been studies that determine that reading is the work-out your brain needs in order to stay in its optimal health. Reading reduces stress and expands your knowledge; it’s a win-win situation!

Tip #5
Music calms the savage beast (called stress)
listening to music(Photo courtesy of Google Images)

This is another one of my favorite stress relievers. The power of music is remarkable in so many ways and has so many incredible benefits. We can actually calm that beast called stress by listening to our favorite songs, regardless of the genre. Listening to soft classical or jazz can help slow down your pulse and heart rate, lower your blood pressure, and decrease stress hormone levels, while up-beat tempo music can help boost your self-esteem, improve your mood, your concentration and so much more. So close your eyes and relax as your stress dissipates into the sounds and rhythms of melodic pleasure.

A few other stress reducers are, going on walks in the evening, riding a bike, working out, watching a sunset, singing, going to the beach, fishing, journaling, road trips, pampering yourself at a day spa, doing Yoga, sitting in a hot tub, going to the movies, volunteering, reading your bible, eating ice cream (or your favorite treat), simplifying your life and spending quality time with good friends and family. Can you think of other ways to minimize stress?
sunset(Photo courtesy of Google Images)

At whatever cost, reduce the stress and relax. YOLO (you only live once)!

Love,
Toni

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Its the little things

I decided to take a break from all my duties today and just climb up in the bed, in my pajamas and listen to smooth jazz while sipping a mocha coffee. I decided to give myself the gift of relaxation.

I told my husband that I wasn’t running any errands and that my two teenage children would have to cook for themselves, mama’s resting today!

I was engrossed in a good book around 2 o’clock this afternoon when the doorbell rang. We don’t get a lot of company so I was curious as to who it could have been.

When I opened the door, I was pleasantly surprised to get a beautiful little package, that I was not expecting. It is truly the precious, little things that make this life beautiful.
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Thank you husband. I love you too. Through it all. No matter what. For better or worse. Through sickness and health. When times are good and when times are bad. Thank you for the little things!
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My 2013 Resolve (Small Changes)

My husband and I rearranged our bedroom last weekend. Man, what a chore!

After talking about it for several months, we both agreed to get out of bed and just do it. We found things we thought we’d lost, cleaned areas that couldn’t be reached before (like behind our heavy mirrored dresser) and vacuumed and sneezed from the dust, polished the furniture and sneezed some more. I have asthma, so my husband threw open the windows to give me some relief.

The move was a 6-7 hour process but when we finished, we both stood back and admired our hard work. Pleased, is an understatement. Enlightened, is more the word for what I felt.

In addition to rearranging the furniture, I went out and purchased a few simple things to add some color and elegance to our master suite. From a store called Ross’ I bought two metallic red lamp shades and two burgundy throw pillows to add to the black, white and silver pillows we already had. I found a beautiful black and white photo at Kirkland’s of an ocean cascading over giant rock pieces which now hangs above our bed. I got a black leather bedroom bench that sits at the foot of our bed atop a contemporary area rug and my husband stumbled upon two matching pictures of an ocean beach with hues of a bronze sunset echoing off the water and sand. Breathtaking!

Now it doesn’t take much to inspire me to write.

Relaxing in my comfortable chair, I reflected not only upon my day, but upon the year ending. 2014 is right around the corner and I’ve decided to look at my new year with a new heart and a new mind. I’m not making any resolutions, (I’ve never kept them anyway) but I have been inspired with a few new revelations from this year.

What I resolved in 2013:

Things may look good on the surface, but may have decay on the inside. This applies to humans as well.
To have an exterior of beauty is simply not enough.
Resolve in your heart to make small changes.
Small changes make big differences. Like my bedroom.
Don’t try to give up all your bad habits at once, instead, give them up one at a time, successfully.
Some things only God can do. And some people, only God can change.
I/We do not have the power to change another individual. Only ourselves!
Walk in integrity, even if you have to walk alone.
As Polonius, in Shakespeare’s Hamlet once said, “To thine own self, be true.” Be brutally honest with yourself, even if the self you see, is ugly.
Do not be afraid of change.
Choose to love, at whatever cost.
Pursue peace as a priceless gem, and when you find it, don’t let anything, including death, part you from it!
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” saith the Lord. I promise to never worship any thing or any one, in this lifetime or the next. ONLY GOD, will I serve!

HAPPY NEW YEAR EVERYONE! May 2014 be our best year ever!

BEFORE
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AFTER (Small changes)
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Four unique gifts to give yourself this Christmas!

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Being the last minute Christmas shopper that I am (I work better under pressure), I decided to add one more name to my shopping list before December 25th. Mine!

I felt like Santa Claus, literally, when I made my list and checked it twice, then a few more times after that. I made sure I had everything within reason for my husband and children. I was even blessed to surprise my family in Oklahoma this year with small gifts and tokens of love. Then I decided to add my own name because, for all the right reasons, I needed a few important things.

The first gift to myself is a lifestyle change. I’m overweight (a little) but it’s a little too much. So, no more dieting and fooling myself with temporary changes that don’t last. I’m giving myself the present of a new mind and outlook on health that will result in better eating habits, consistent exercise and a positive attitude. I will not have high blood pressure or diabetes because of my inability to change!

My second gift to myself is a resolve of inner peace. I will be at peace within myself regardless of what others say or do around me. I’ve had enough stress in my life for a lifetime and I will no longer allow that silent killer to destroy me!

My third gift to myself is a determination to fulfill my destiny. I understand that we all have different paths and not everyone in my life is going in the same direction as I. So, no more distractions, I choose to remain focused so that I may reach my destination of success.

My final gift to myself is love. I will love myself, period. I love myself enough to rid my environment of toxic people, to say no when I really don’t want to do something, to spend time alone enjoying a golden sunrise, and to fulfill my own dreams and not feel guilty about doing so.

The gifts to myself cannot be purchased at Saks Fifth Avenue or Dillard’s or any expensive department store for they are priceless and eternal. So while you’re in the giving spirit this season, remember to give yourself something of perpetual value that will change you for a lifetime. Happy Holidays to all and Merry Christmas to myself!

Love,
Toni

Homeschooling, It’s a New Day!

HOMESCHOOLING JORDAN DINING ROOM Hello wordpress family, I’m back, for today, at least. I’ve been missing in action for several weeks and this is why. . .

I’m the proud new mother of a 7th grade homeschool student! Woo Hoo!

Well, in the beginning it started out, “Mom I love being home schooled, I wish we could have done this a long time ago.” But today it’s, “Aww, mom, this is too hard, I wanna go back to public school.”

Well, that’s not happening, LOL. I’ve come too far and had to fill out too much paperwork and jump through too many hoops to get here, so now we’re going to stick it out until the end! Besides, I’ve started to like this ‘learning with my child’ idea. Not only am I taking a very active part in his education as his primary instructor, but I know EXACTLY what he’s being taught, I’M THE TEACHER, YAY! The challenge may be great, but the rewards are greater!!!

So to every parent who has homeschooled their children, my hat goes off to you and for any parent who may be considering it, please research it fully and if it’s something your child will benefit from, please do it.

Now, I’m only a beginner, but I will have wonderful stories to tell you as my son and I both learn about integers (math), the Supreme Court (history), and how to say apples in French (des pommes – day pom)! What an exciting journey ahead.

Love,
Toni

Highlights from MegaFest 2013

Megafest 2013 logo
I’ve been traveling the past couple of weekends but now I’m back, ready to share some of my most memorable moments. I went to the one and only MegaFest in Dallas, TX the last weekend in August, and I would like to share a little about that experience. If you have never been to MegaFest, it is truly something you and your family should plan into your vacation time. Please enjoy my highlights!

HIGHLIGHTS FROM MEGAFEST 2013

This year’s MegaFest was BIG! Over 50,000 people from all over the world gathered in Dallas, Texas the weekend of August 29-31 at the magnificent Omni Hotel, the Dallas Convention Center and the American Airlines Center downtown, to celebrate the world’s largest family fun festival!

I had never seen anything like it before as this was my first MegaFest experience. I was in total awe of the collaboration of events, activities, seminars, movie screenings, concerts, expos, celebrity red carpet interviews, comedy shows, and kids and teenagers activities. There was literally something for everyone!

MegaFest 2013 hosted Oprah’s Lifeclass, the inaugural International Faith & Family Film Festival, the Just Churchin’ Comedy Show (with Cedric the Entertainer and Niecy Nash), the Ball Up Streetball Classic Tour Championship and empowerment sessions for men, women, young adults and children.

On Wednesday, August 28th, there was a press conference with Bishop TD Jakes, who was joined by the Mayor of Dallas, Mike Rawlings, to kick-off the three-day inspirational festival celebrating Relationships and the Restoration of Families through Faith.

I participated as Media representing Six Brown Chicks and I worked harder, and walked longer and sweated more profusely than I have with any physical workout at my neighborhood gym. I’m sure I lost several inches and pounds during this ‘five’ day event (for me). I checked in Wednesday and stayed through Sunday.

I met some of the most wonderful people and made contacts that I hope will last a lifetime. There were several ‘moments to remember’ that I want to highlight as well as a checklist for anyone wanting to attend MegaFest next year.

MOMENTS TO REMEMBER

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Oprah’s Life Class – This was definitely something I will never forget as long as I live. I watched with goose pimples how Oprah and thousands of other women (and men) responded to the words of wisdom that came from Bishop TD Jakes. Please be sure to watch the life class this month of September 2013, it’s about fatherless children.

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The Woman of Purpose Concert benefiting Autism Speaks – This concert featuring the Grammy and Oscar Winner, Jennifer Hudson, emceed by comedian and talk show host Steve Harvey was truly something to see. Performers ranged from Brandy, Mary Mary, Joe, and Kim Burrell, just to name a few. A portion of the proceeds from the concert went to benefit Autism Speaks.

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Woman Thou Art Loosed – The only thing I have to say about this is, NO MORE CHAINS, I am loosed!

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International Faith & Family Film Festival – This was an extravagant affair. There were training sessions, movie premiers/screenings, and Q & A sessions with directors, authors, screenwriters, and actors. This was truly amazing.

If you’re wanting to attend MegaFest in 2014:
• Start planning and saving money now.
• Book flights and hotels in advance.
• Pack clothes and shoes according to Dallas, Texas weather. But also plan for surprises (like rain).
• Women may pack heels but also plan to wear flats and tennis shoes for the vigorous walking around the convention center and the hotel and outside to catch trolleys and buses for travel within the city.
• Make sure to have ‘some’ cash on you. If you’re anything like me, I don’t carry much cash in my purse but I had to go to the ATM several times because I needed CASH for parking (they didn’t take credit/debit cards!) and cash for some of the vendors at the Family Expo.
• Register online! It will save you from having to wait in those long, long lines with frustrated folks. Also take your receipts and proof of purchase/registration to MegaFest. Don’t leave home without it!
• Pack snacks and bottled water. The restaurants and food vendors were a little pricey for some. The average burger, fries and coke was right at $10.00+ (per person). A 20 0z bottle of water was $4.00. (I can get a 24 pack for $3.00 at Wal-Mart)
• Overall, plan to have a good time and to be blessed. There is so much to do, you’ll have to pick and choose because you won’t be able to do ‘everything’.

Love,
Toni

Reflections of my Soul (Healing)

Healing is an amazing thing! It is the process by which something that was once ill, sick, or deficient gets better (immediately or over time) and is restored. medicine

When we cough or sneeze or grab tissues for our runny noses, we want nothing more than to raid the medicine cabinet for Tylenol, or Advil or SOMETHING that will make us feel better. A simple headache is quickly remedied by over-the-counter aspirin, good rest, a good meal, or all of the above.

No one really likes to be sick, for real. Whether it’s a common cold, the flu, or something as serious as cancer or any incurable disease, people just want to feel better.

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I was thinking about healing the other day and couldn’t help but thank God for good health, both physical and mental. The interesting thing about sickness is that it can be either in your body or your mind. Some people may be in great shape physically but not well mentally or emotionally.
medicine three stressed out

But I have good news. I know someone who desires above all things that you and I live healthy, productive and happy lives. Just because your life AND my life may get chaotic at times, does not mean that it is supposed to be that way all the time! I heard a young lady say the other day, that her life was FULL of drama and that nothing goes right and that something crazy happens to her every day, literally.

I cringed.

There is no way on God’s green earth that I could live like that, not now, not EVER! Again, that is. There was a time in MY life that I had lots of drama and turmoil and stress and craziness until I decided I could no longer carry the weight of that type of existence. The stress of my BAD choices was trying to kill me and I decided that I was just not ready to die. So I surrendered my heart to God.

I asked the Lord to heal me. I wasn’t sick in my body, I was sick in my mind and emotions. I was terminally ill in my psyche and on the verge of death by way of suicide, when the Lord stepped in and began the amazing process of restoring my mental health. Through the ointment of his word (the Bible), positive speaking, positive music and definitely hanging around positive people, I gradually got better. I had to get away from those life-stealing, leeches and vampires that wanted to drain the very essence of my soul, those NEGATIVE TALKING AND NEGATIVE THINKING PEOPLE!!!

Today I am healed by the stripes of Jesus, physically, mentally, emotionally and yes, even spiritually.
Every area of your life can be restored. God uses several avenues by which to bring healing to our lives. He uses his word, (his son Jesus), he uses positive people, even laughter. Of course there’s medication (over-the-counter or prescribed), but most of all He wants us to experience an abundant life of peace, joy, happiness and love.

For financial, physical and mental health: “Beloved, I wish above all things that thou may prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospers.” 3 John 1:2

For mental health: ”For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (a stable mind).” 2 Timothy 1:7

For physical health: “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:3

For overall good health: “He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” Psalm 107:20

For mental/emotional health: “A merry heart (a happy heart/laughter) doeth good like a medicine” Proverbs 17:22

Love,
Toni