Archives for : Lifestyle Secrets

How Emotionally Healthy Are You?

How Emotionally Healthy Are You?

By Sharon Sheppard

A family friend, Dr. Tom Lowry, who was both a reverend and a psychologist, once commented that my dad was one of the most emotionally healthy people he knew.

I’m not an authority in this field, but since we are emphasizing this aspect of health on thewisejourney (as well as Father’s Day) during the month of June, I’ve been pondering what that label might mean. What makes a person emotionally healthy? How do you know whether you are? Or how do you get that way if you aren’t?

I surveyed a few lists to see what the experts are saying.

Personality Buzz mentioned a few traits that are characteristic of people who are emotionally strong:

  1. Tough people don’t bog down feeling sorry for themselves.
  2. Strong people stay in the present.
  3. Mentally strong people have no trouble being themselves.
  4. Mentally and emotionally strong people have patience/persistence.
  5. Mentally strong people have a strong support network behind them.
  6. Strong-minded people welcome change.
  7. Tough people stop wasting energy on things that are out of their control.
  8. Tough people don’t repeat their mistakes.
  9. Strong-minded people have no time for jealousy or negativity.
  10. Tough people know that the world doesn’t owe them anything.

Except for number 6, I’d say my dad scored high on 9 out of these 10.

Familydoctor.org gave a few suggestions for keeping your emotional health:

  1. Think before you act.
  2. Manage stress.
  3. Strive for balance.
  4. Take care of your physical health.
  5. Find purpose and meaning.
  6. Stay positive.

Again, I think my dad scored well on all of these. How about you?

If you need some help, Psychology Today gave these tips for reenergizing your emotional wellbeing:

  1. Hang out with people who love you.
  2. Take a break.
  3. Try something different.
  4. Write down your worries.
  5. Write down what’s working for you in your life.

OR, as Garrison Keillor used to say, “Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.”

And if you would like to keep in touch with us here at thewisejourney, drop us an email at mzigan2442@gmail.com

Free to Be Fit

Free to Be Fit by Mary Zigan

Spring is in the air! Hot weather is on the horizon! That thought can strike terror in the hearts and minds of many woman who don’t want to give up “the cover up.” I know. I have been there. The chill of winter makes it a safer time to cover our fat with layers of clothes. But, if we are honest, we really want to be free of the fat and the delusion and denial that goes with the cover up. Do you like me, look ahead to what feeling thin would be like, and get discouraged before you start. There’s the wedding, the concert, the family reunion all coming up, and they ALL involve food. When we look ahead and project, analyze, scrutinize, nurse and rehearse, we borrow trouble with a capital T.

There is a solution: Today is a good day to ask God for recovery.  Why not believe that today a new life is possible? It takes willingness and belief to turn our lives over to the One who has the power to rescue us from this place of defeat and discouragement. Yes, by God’s grace willingness and belief are the way out of the darkness and a road map to be free and fit. We can open ourselves to accept this gift with gratitude and do our part to stay the course by choosing to walk in His faithfulness just for today.

Lord, I am grateful for the opportunity to be on the journey of recovery from emotional eating and food obsessions.

Mary Z.

What’s in a Name?

What’s in a Name?    by Sharon Sheppard

When City Cousin Mary Zigan and Country Cousin, aka, yours truly, first put our heads together to talk about co-authoring a blog, we considered a number of possible blog names. Some were clever but already taken, some were copyrighted and thus out of the running, some were original but lame, and the others—well, you don’t want to know about those.

When we finally opted for thewisejourney, we knew that it could possibly be misconstrued to give readers the mistaken idea that we think we have all the answers to life, and we want to pass along our vast wisdom to you, our readers.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Each one of us is on an individual journey. And as flawed humans, all of us face thousands of decisions throughout a lifetime. All of us bungle badly at times. But sometimes we make choices we feel really good about. And all of us learn from many other people along the way.

In keeping with our blog name, we glean wisdom to share with you from many sources: things we’ve read or studied; life experiences—our own and those of lots of other people; experiences of our wise and wonderful guest bloggers; and insights from a host of other resources.

Mary and I cherish the one true Source of Wisdom: God’s Word, which is the ultimate guideline for the journey all of us travel. Over the next three months, as we develop the theme of Living Wisely, we begin by exploring the problem of pain. (See next week’s double whammy essay: which deals with such issues as Why Did Jesus Have to Suffer and Die? and Why Does God Allow Us to Suffer?)

During the month of May we will include tips for physical fitness and healthy eating, and in June we will be looking at emotional health.

Stay tuned . . .

And, as always, if you would like to comment on anything you read in our blog, or would like to read here, please email us at  

Getting a Jumpstart on Next Christmas

Getting a Jumpstart on Next Christmas . . . By Mary Zigan

            I love getting a jumpstart on Christmas. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, Christmas begins on December 1st. At least, that’s when I get out my Christmas Journal that I began in 1999. Each day of Christmas I happily journal what happens to make the season memorable. I log what I bake, the Christmas cards I send, the guests I have in, the concerts I attend, when the house gets decorated, and when our special Christmas sausage is made.

            It is so much fun planning and preparing. But all too soon, Christmas is but a memory, and then there are all the things to tear down and put away. I have a philosophy, not just at Christmas, but year-round: “Bring something in, take something out!” If you bought new things for the tree or other artifacts this year, maybe something needs to go.

            Would you like a few tips for storing and making next year’s routine less painful so you will be better prepared for the following holiday season? If so, select three areas of your home to set items out on for sorting them when you are taking them down.

  • One area is for items you are keeping and storing
  • One area is for items you are tired of and will repurpose
  • One area is for broken, shabby-looking items to be tossed

               Here are a few practical tips for storing some of those once-a-year Christmas items:

  • For extension cords…use cardboard toilet paper rolls
  • For individual ornaments…use clear plastic cups stored in beer or wine cases
  • For Christmas bulbs…egg cartons
  • Wreath…hang it on a hook and place a large trash bag over it
  • Small beads…keep in an empty water bottle
  • Wrapping paper…use a clear garment bag with hanger

           I promise, you will feel happy you took the time to carefully store your Christmas trimmings.  Might I suggest, however, Please do not stow Christ. Keep Christ not only in Christmas, but out where He can be seen through your life all year long.

Listen to the Nigglings

Listen to the Nigglings  – By Mary Zigan

Do you ever have that persistent, annoying, nagging, unsettled feeling like, “What am I supposed to be paying attention to?”

It is so easy to ignore the still, small voice of God among the loud, persistent voices of this world. Living in the 21st century is filled with busyness, wouldn’t you say? Headlines and news stories demand to be heard, electronic devices beep and ding and ring incessantly, voices in the media shout opinions, calendars are packed full, and all these events compete for our attention. Life feels crowded by electronics, by activities. by politics, and by the media. If we are not careful…we can run all day and feel exhausted, anxious, discontented, and unfulfilled, and can easily not notice the still, small voice within.

So how do we really listen to the nigglings, and what are they trying to tell us?  Because we live in flux on this earth, life ebbs and flows. The seasons of our life come and go, and we have people, places, and things to deal with and be aware of.

The Good News is that Christ has chosen you and me, and He is ever calling us to purity, and purity is far too deep for us to ever arrive at naturally. Often, the persistent annoyance within is what we would call “small, little offences that nobody else sees or knows about.”  Yet, God’s Word in (Hebrews 6:17) reminds us: He knows our hearts, and has bound himself to us with a promise and an oath that He will never give up on us or lie to us. Christ has paid the penalty for our sin and wants us to fall back into His arms and allow His pure heart to transform us.

Have you ever asked God to give you His desires, His nature, to think the way He thinks? As we adjust ourselves to His heart’s desires for us, because He is ever pursuing us, we will begin to notice the nigglings more readily–that need to be given to God to handle– and we will enjoy freedom from that unsettled feeling. And when we pray we will be asking for the very things God desires.

“This is the new covenant I will make with my people, says the Lord; I will put my laws in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people.”

(Hebrews 8:10)

Amen! 

     I will have reached the point of greatest strength once I have learned to wait for hope.

                                                                                                                           George Matheson

 

Christmas in Hawaii

You’re going to love this guest post by Nicole, who runs her blog, Door No. 2. Nicole Tombers is a Physical Therapist and writer in Palmer, Alaska. She’s an avid reader with a love of learning and a growing interest in educating others. She enjoys eating good food, traveling, and exploring Alaska with her husband, Brad (Mary Z’s grandson).

As vitamin D deprived Minnesotans turned Alaskans, it was strange to spend the Christmas holiday on an island where it is 75 degrees and sunny nearly every day. I had the distinct feeling that people on the islands shouldn’t even bother with Christmas when there is no snow on the trees or cozy fireplaces around which to gather with cocoa and eggnog. But that is an important purpose for traveling – to see something different, experience something new, do something outside of your normal, and share in a different kind of life. And so we soldiered on through the warm sunshine… *sigh*.

For our first few days on Kauai (including Christmas Eve and Christmas Day), we stayed at the Palmwood Guesthouse – a beautiful bed and breakfast tucked in the hills of Moloa’a which is private, charming, and loaded with zen. We were greeted by Ina, our host and chef during our stay, who was most gracious and provided positively delicious, locally sourced meals for us each morning, including a lovely bit of fruit and croissants left at our door on the day we had to be up early for our helicopter tour. Each morning was different, but somehow just exactly what we needed to start the day.

As we took a walk around the grounds, the attention to detail was clearly visible – the house beautiful and modern, the landscaping pristine, and the amenities seriously on point! We stayed in the West Suite, one of three rooms at the Palmwood, each with its own private outdoor space and each unique in some way. Our piece of paradise offered a large outdoor lanai with an outdoor shower, small jacuzzi hot tub, hammock under the palms, and a bubbling water feature that softly sang us to sleep each night. And then there was a pool. (OMG you guys, the pool. It was basically made for Instagram.) When we were not out exploring, it was morning yoga by the pool and afternoons in the hammock with a beer and good book. Every moment at this place was peace and serenity. It was paradise on a whole island full of paradise. If you are visiting Kauai and it is available, I recommend The Palmwood with the highest of praise.

While every day at the Palmwood was fabulous, Christmas Day was a special one. But not in the way you might expect. While our families back in Minnesota played games and opened gifts with a fire blazing in the hearth and lights twinkling on the tree, we shared dinner with strangers. And it was amazing. On most days we simply crossed paths with the other guests who we shared the house with, but on Christmas we all came together for a wonderful multi-course dinner carefully prepared by Chef Ina. We shared the table with Mario & Christine, honeymooners from Toronto, and Shawn & Katie, fellow Midwesterners now living in Seattle. Three couples, of similar age, taking a break from their busy professional lives, who had come from different places to spend Christmas at the Palmwood.

Maybe it was because we’re millennials, maybe because we had good food and wine, or maybe because we were strangers with no preconceived notions about who we should be or how others knew us to be, but we had such great conversation with these people over dinner and late into the night. We talked about everything from work & family, to politics & religion, to excess of choice & the search for happiness. We found that when you begin to dip deep and get meaningful with others, we’re often fighting all the same battles within ourselves. In a world where we so easily get bogged down in image and “success” and meeting expectations, it was one of the most refreshing evenings we have spent in a while. We are lucky enough that we do not have to struggle through each day, each month, each year, to have securely conquered the lower levels of Maslow’s hierarchy in a way that many have not. We are lucky enough to have choices in abundance. I fully recognize that there are many who do not have this freedom, whether due to poverty or poor health or discrimination or lack of access to resources. What WE have are truly “first world problems” and, though I am sure we often fail, we make a conscious effort to recognize our privilege. We have a deep desire to do great and wonderful things – to be profoundly generous, kind, joyful, and honest. To live our best life, and use our privilege to do what we can to give others the chance to do the same. On Christmas, it was reassuring to know that we are not alone in our struggle to figure out what that looks like.

As I was telling one of my patients about this recently, she said, “If you tell parents that you had a great trip or you really enjoyed yourselves, that’s just whatever, BUT if you tell them you learned a lot then they’ll think it was worthwhile.” We were sorry to have missed out on time with our family at Christmas, but we really did learn a lot on this trip and are better people for it.

Here’s to meaningful time spent with friends and strangers alike, and to living your very best life.

~ Nicole Tombers

 

Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning…Spring Culling – Mary Zigan

 

Since the end of February I have been clothes culling. Spring is the time of year to take a critical look at our wardrobe, be honestly brutal and admit: “If we don’t love the item, or it doesn’t fit, or is outdated, it needs to go!” Gathering, sorting and disposing of items that are taking up precious space in the closet is freeing. Capsule wardrobes are the “in” thing. Less has always been more!

 

So let’s get started:

 

  1. Take everything out of your closet. Yes…everything. Look at your closet completely empty. Does it need a fresh coat of paint, the mop boards dusted, or more racks for shoes or clothes to make better use of the space?
  2. Go through your pile of clothes one by one, that you have removed from the closet. Do you have orphan pieces that don’t work with anything else? Are you really ever going to ever wear these item? Be brutal. Aim to get rid of half the things you own and only put back in, what you absolutely love and feel great wearing.
  3. Purchase all matching slim-line hangers for an organized look that makes you feel happy when you open the closet door.

 

Happy Spring Cleaning! It is the oxygen for our soul!

Bursting With Pride

An important announcement from City Cousin, Mary Zigan:

I am bursting with pride and joy to introduce Adalynn Jane Griffin to our blog friends. It is so fun being a great grandma again, aka GG. And what an honor to receive this text from the proud parents: “We named her Jane [my middle name] to honor her wonderful Great Grandma.”

Thank you, Jenna & Jamie!
Baby girl Adalynn Jane Griffin was born March 2nd. She weighed in at 9.06 and is 21 inches long. Jamie Griffin, our frequent guest blogger on financial issues, and his wife Jenna are the proud parents.

Congratulations one and all!

We’re Having a Baby

We’re Having a Baby!

What we’re doing to prepare (and who knows what we’re doing wrong!)

By Jamie Griffin, who runs a personal finance blog www.mrjamiegriffin.com to help families get out of debt.

 

The title says it all, We’re having a Baby!!!! I can’t even describe how excited I am to be a Dad. My wife and I get giddy just thinking about being parents, and learning about all the amazing ways our tiny baby is growing. In case you’re wondering, at 19 weeks, the baby is the size of a tomato and weighs half a pound!

For the most part, we don’t feel too freaked out or terrified that we’ll soon be responsible for an entire human life. I mean, there’s a good healthy fear, but we’re not anxious or overwhelmed.

We Want to Be as Prepared as Possible

It’s our first, and so as you’d expect (especially if you have kids), we have no idea what we’re really getting into! We’d like to think “we’ve got this” and we’ll be amazing parents and our kid will always listen to us. I can almost hear all of the parents out there laughing and rolling their eyes, haha.

We’re also pretty realistic and know there’s no way we’ll ever be fully prepared. We’ve definitely got a plan of attack, but I’m sure there’s so many things we have no clue about.

What We Are Doing to Plan for Baby #1: Saving for Medical Expenses

It’s a no brainer that babies are expensive. That’s why we’ve waited so long to have kids. We started trying to have kids after about two and a half years of marriage, instead of right away like we wanted. Having $90,000 of student loan debt was a big deterrent.

Based off our income to debt ratio, it seemed irresponsible to have kids with that much debt. Of course we could’ve figured it out, but we didn’t want to be in over our heads. Now that we’re debt free though, we can plan and save the way we want to.

Related Posts: Goodbye Student Loans: We Are 10 Days From Being Debt FreeHow We Paid Off $29,500 of Debt in 2016

Our first big priority was to stash some money away to cover medical costs. In September, we were lucky enough to have an extra paycheck month. First off, extra paycheck months rock! Secondly, all of our monthly bills are covered with the typical two paychecks, we put the entire 3rd paycheck toward future baby costs.

Going forward, we plan to add $100 a month to our baby fund. When baby comes, we don’t want to worry about paying for unexpected costs. Also, if we need to buy stuff for baby, like a stroller, or diapers, or a car seat, it doesn’t need to affect our monthly budget.

Still need a stroller. So excited to push our little soybean around!

We Have Free Baby Stuff

Now that I’m pretty immersed in the world of all things Baby, I’m learning that I went into the wrong career. It’s like the wedding industry. If you attach the word “wedding” or “baby” to the name of something, the price increases by roughly 8,000%. I might be exaggerating, but baby stuff is crazy expensive and I really don’t want to pay full price for anything in general, especially when it’s hyper inflated.

Here’s a list of free items we’ve gotten so far:

  • Crib: our friends don’t need it anymore and our payment is, “please never give it back”
  • Baby Gate: we’re a long way from needing it, but we can dual use it for our dogs
  • Baby Rockers/Swings: our friend got them for free and is paying it forward
  • Baby Outfits: I’m convinced everything tiny is adorable, especially shoes.

Seriously. Baby shoes are the cutest thing ever!

We’ve already saved so much money by not needing to pay for these necessities. New cribs are hundreds of dollars, a baby rocker is $100, a baby gate is $35, and new baby clothes are way overpriced for how short a time the kid actually fits into it! Long story longer, we are really stoked we got a few freebies.

Of course, we are nowhere near done preparing our house and getting all the necessities. But it sure feels good to take a few off the list.

Planning Ahead for Day Care Costs

In our city, finding a good day care is ridiculous! We started calling at 10 weeks and one day care center had a wait list until 2019. 2019!!!! That means families who aren’t even close to pregnant are getting in line and taking all the good spots!

When my wife heard that, she put down the phone and immediately freaked out! Safe to say we didn’t call anyone else that day.

Luckily we found a family day care a few blocks from our house run by the parent of one of our students. It fits our price range, we trust her, and it’s on our way to work. No waiting until 2019 for the Griffins!

Day care costs are basically the same amount as our student loans were. So sadly, our debt free lifestyle will only last for about 10 more months. Thank goodness we paid those buggers off!

Maternity Leave Will Force My Wife to Take a Pay Cut

The perfect timing for a teacher to have a baby is in the spring. If it happens just right, maternity leave will end right as summer vacation starts. Unfortunately we missed by a few weeks, so Jenna will need to go back to finish off the school year. During her maternity leave, she will get six weeks off, but it’s at 70% pay.

Part of our growing baby fund will got to offset the difference in pay. Like I said before, we want to avoid tampering with our regular budget.

What We Don’t Know: We Still Don’t Have “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”

I think we’ve done a lot right in preparing for our little soybean. One thing we haven’t done is, be prepared for shock and awe, read “What to Expect When You’re Expecting”. It’s basically a right of passage for all new parents, but we just haven’t gotten around to buying it. I’m sure there’s 10 copies sitting on the shelf at Goodwill, so I’m not sure why we haven’t grabbed one yet.

Last week we browsed a few pages at Barnes & Noble, a favorite date night spot. It was really interesting, and would be an awesome resource. For some strange reason though, we still didn’t buy it. We’re only halfway through so there’s still time for us to come around. We’ll see what happens.

What the Heck is an HSA Account and When Should I Start One

Confession, I know an HSA is a Health Savings Account, and I mostly know how they work. A bunch of my coworkers have HSAs and they love them. What I don’t know is when we should open one, or how much to contribute to it.

We’ll also need to research and talk with our HR director to see what benefits an HSA provides. When the time gets a little closer, we’ll need to elect new health benefits, and this is a top priority.

How Do We Introduce Our Baby to Our Dogs

We have two wonderful dogs that we love. Since we don’t have a baby in the house yet, our dogs don’t have much exposure to little kids. They definitely seem to be more protective over my wife and are extra affectionate lately. We hope this means they will lovingly accept our new baby into the house.

Look at these snuggle bugs! All loving, most of the time!

The advice varies depending on which article you read, but we’re doing everything we can to learn how to do this safely and smartly. Is smartly a word? I’m going with it anyway. We don’t plan on leaving our baby alone with the pups under any circumstance, or let the baby sit on the floor without direct supervision. Our dogs are good, but we don’t want to take any chances.

Wrapping It Up

We’re having a baby! We’re prepared for some things and clueless about others. In the end, we’ll figure it out and hopefully be really awesome parents!

Let Me Know in the Comments

What did you do to prepare for your first baby? Any tips or suggestions of big things we’re missing?

Want more advice on achieving financial freedom and getting your family out of debt? Subscribe to be the first to get new posts and get a Free Budget Spreadsheet and Debt Log!

 

Why I Use “We” More Than “I”

Why I Use “We” More Than “I” by Jamie Griffin. He runs the site MrJamieGriffin.com to help families achieve financial freedom and get out of debt so that they can overcome any financial challenge, and create a new family legacy for themselves and future generations.

 

If you’ve been following my blog, you might have noticed that I use the pronoun “we” a lot. And before you ask, no there isn’t a frog in my pocket! 🙂 Sorry, couldn’t resist a good “Dad Joke.” In fact, it’s pretty common for me to fluctuate back and forth between “We” and “I.” Most of the time I don’t even think about it, I just write whatever flows out, but there are times that I am very intentional about which wording I use.

 

The Transition from “I” to “We”

If you’ve ever been in a long lasting relationship, there is a point where you begin thinking in terms of both you and your partner, rather than just you. This is super important in any committed relationship. If you are constantly thinking about yourself, your partner will notice at some point and feel hurt that you don’t think about them more often or more intentionally. If you continue making plans without thinking about your partner, you might find you don’t have a partner for long.

 

It usually starts with small things. For example, if your friend asks if you’re free to grab a beer, you hesitate before responding to mentally check if you have any plans with your significant other. You might even say, “You know, I’m not sure what we are doing later. Let me check and get back to you.” Or, “We actually already have plans tonight.” Chances are, you don’t even notice the difference. Spending so much time with your significant other will change your brain to think of you as a single unit rather than two independent people. Your plans become our plans and me time becomes we time. Trust me, this is a really good thing for your relationship.

 

This is especially true if you’re married. Jenna and I have been married for three years and our brains are programmed to think of “we.” And since we have two dogs, we mentally make plans for them, do we take them with? How long will they be in their kennels? It’s automatic. I rarely make plans before checking with her, and the same goes for when she makes plans. It’s basic marriage communication and it has clearly spilled into my blog writing.

 

The Real Reason for “We”

Like I said earlier, I often fluctuate between “we” and “I” when I write. Sometimes it just flows out that way. However, there are many times I choose “we” very intentionally. As a blogger, I want to share my experiences trudging through paying off debt, financial wisdom I’ve gained over the years, and successes and failures I’ve endured. And because I am so far the sole writer on my blog, it’s easier to say “I” when writing. However, our financial success wasn’t accomplished by just me. There is no way “I” could’ve done this on my own. “We” relied on each other. “We” challenged each other. “We” encouraged each other to keep going and stick to our goals. “We” held each other accountable and believed in each other. And “We” is so much stronger than “I”.

 

Jenna and I do all of our finances together. Yes, I am the one tracking our spreadsheet and paying the bills, but Jenna is involved in every step of the process. “We” talk about our budget and financial plans all the time. I don’t make any decisions without her input. As a result, it only makes sense to use “we.”

 

What If I Don’t Have a “We”

I feel so lucky to have a partner like Jenna who is so on board with our financial journey and is just as determined as me. I can’t imagine doing life without her. If you don’t have a partner to do life and your finances with, you can still kick butt and get out of debt! It might take longer and more discipline, but you can still make it happen.

 

One way to get closer to a “we” is to find an accountability partner or two who are similarly motivated to get out of debt. Get together and talk about strategies, share your stories, and talk about your plans to get out of debt. That’s actually how Jenna and I started. We each made a separate budget and helped each other become disciplined with money. Yes, we were dating at the time, but we still shared all of our financial back story and debt. There is no reason to be ashamed of your finances, especially if you are determined to turn it around. Find someone you trust and work together to find financial freedom!

 

If you currently have a partner, but they aren’t involved in the budget and are hesitant to get on board, you might need to kick butt as an “I” for a while. Unfortunately an uninvolved financial partner might cause some setbacks if they are unwilling to stick to the budget, but I truly believe that if you stick with it long enough, they will eventually come around. Choose to make financial freedom a priority and slowly explain why it’s so important. Work hard and have faith.

 

Wrapping It Up

Moving from “I” to “We” is a huge step in any relationship, and even more so when you do your finances as a team. All financial choices should be a team decision.

 

Let Me Know in the Comments

Are you an “I” or a “We?” What has been helpful in making the transition to a “We?”

 

Related Posts: