7 Things I Learned in 2016

The year of ups and downs, twists and turns is coming to a close. Some have had a great year, and some are calling this the worst year in recent memory. As for me, I'm thankful for another year with friends and family. Through the year I've learned a few things which have made me grow in ways I never imagined.


Setting a fitness goal and sticking to it is possible.
Half way through 2016 I went to the doctor and found out that my cholesterol was too high. The doctor told me to see a dietitian, and I was excited to go. My diet wasn't too bad, and I exercised three to five times a week already. The dietitian suggested that I become a vegan. It wasn't easy to do, but the results were amazing. When I went back for my follow-up blood work, my cholesterol came down over 100 points. I was in the normal range. I also started losing a few pounds. My original goal was to lose a ton of weight. That didn't happen for a long time. So, I shifted my focus from losing weight to lowering my cholesterol. It worked. My goal was reached! I'm sticking with the (mostly) vegan lifestyle and continuing to exercise. I'm setting a new goal for 2017.

Choosing between two evils is a real thing.
This election year was exhausting. I'm not a fan of talking politics. Once we were down to the two final candidates, I realized there is such a thing as picking the lesser of two evils. I didn't agree with either candidate, and I was dreading the selections awaiting me at the poll booth. Since I take pride in the right to vote, I let my voice be heard. Hopefully, there will be better candidates during the next election.

Build it and they will come doesn't exist.
I've been an author for a bit now, but nothing outstanding has come of it. One thing I've learned in 2016 is that if you want your work to have recognition, you have to sell it. Placing it on the buffet table among the millions of other reads will not get me closer to being a successful author. The title of marketing magician will be added to the job description of this authorprenuer. I find it easy to tell others how to market their businesses. Now those practices must apply to me as well. Watch out, 2017. I'm coming for you!

God is faithful.
God puts certain people in our lives. Thankfully, we have amazing family and friends. My husband was laid off in August. We didn't know what we were going to do. Everything was up in the air. Because of God's grace and the exceptional people he placed in our lives, we were able to make it through an extremely rough time. It was uncomfortable to receive help from family and friends. We wouldn't have made it without their generosity. As a result we never missed a meal or bill payments. Within a couple of months Kevin received a job offer. We are truly blessed.

God will use circumstances to get your attention.
While Kevin and I were looking for work, we had difficult questions that needed answers. Were we following the right path? Were we in the right careers? Was God trying to point us in a different direction? We might have gotten too comfortable in our day to day lives. I know God can use anything to get our attention. If he was trying to grab us and shake us up a bit, it was working. Being laid off is stressful. We are still searching for answers, and we know God will lead us in the right direction.

Taking a personality test explains a lot.
Have you ever taken a personality test. The Myers-Briggs personality test is eye opening. Kevin and I both took the test while job hunting. The test gives insight on your characteristics, behaviors, and personality. We have learned so mush about ourselves and each other. If you haven't taken the test, you should.

Don't chase after people who don't want to be in your life.
During the summer I did an informal friend experiment. A friend and I discussed that we should get together for play dates this past summer. With this specific friend, I was always the one calling to set up play dates. So, during the summer I waited to see if she would call me. The entire summer passed and not one call. If someone wants to be in your life they will make the time and the effort. Don't be the one who does all the chasing. There is someone out there that wants to be in your company, and you won't have to beg for it.

As a mom, I hear this saying constantly, "The days are long, and the years are short." It's true. The roller coaster ride of 2016 has flown by, and I'm looking forward to a new year. I hope each of you have joy, peace, and success in 2017!

Happy New Year!

Amanda

The Naughty T-Shirt

Would you wear one of these naughty t-shirts? Etsy is full of shirts with sayings we wish we could say out loud but don't.




I admit it. There have been times, when I wanted to let a person have a piece of my mind. The problem is that I was taught better. If you don't have anything nice to say, then don't say anything at all.

I might use these shirts as a bedtime shirt, but that would be it. When dressed for the day, I would rather speak life, love, and joy.




Sometimes, it's best to keep the negative comments to myself. However, I may send my bestie a picture of one because it's funny.

What are your thoughts? Would you wear your naughty thoughts on your chest?

Happy T-shirt Shopping,

Amanda

Short Story: Racing the Pack


Riding our bicycles a quarter mile to our grandparents' house was as far as mom would let us ride unsupervised.  Any excuse to pedal my metallic, purple bike with the white banana seat was welcome. The summer days were long and hot, and the heat from the black asphalt radiated upward. The faster we pedaled down the road, the cooler the breeze felt.

"I'll race you!" I called back to my little sister.

We turned the corner from our dirt driveway onto the sweltering country road. We didn't worry about cars. We lived on a dead end road with no houses between our house and our grandparents' house. Our little wood-frame house was the last stop on the road before the circle drive that acted as a make shift cul-de-sac. Dense forest surrounded the sides of the road. We were in the middle of nowhere, and the trees whispered a calming chant as the wind gently swayed them side to side.

I wasn't going to let my baby sister beat me to our grandparents' house. My reputation was at stake, and the audience of birds and insects cheered in unison as we zoomed past. I increased my speed and stood up on the pedals. The beads on my bicycle spokes sounded like an out of tune wind chime playing faster and faster with each turn of the wheel. I looked back over my shoulder and Rachel was closing the gap. As we drew near my grandparents' driveway, the trees gave way to the cleared field on their property. It was hotter there. The tall pines trapped the humidity but provided a little shade along the short journey.

Our destination was cut short. The gate permitting entry to their driveway was locked. That only meant one thing. My grandparents were not home. If we could not retreat to their air conditioned home, then we would return to our house. It was too hot to play outside on the road. We turned our bikes toward home, and my sister and I rode side by side.

Just past the dirt cul-de-sac the tall brush gave out a terrifying sound. Wild dogs were barking, and the sound was getting closer.

Rachel and I pedaled a little faster. Three wild dogs emerged from the thick brush onto the dirt circle. Half way between my sister and I and the dogs was our driveway. The dogs spotted us and began running straight for us. It was a race; a race we had to win. The dogs growled and barked as they ran. They were large and could easily rip us from our bicycles.

I looked at Rachel, and we instantly stood up to pedal as hard as we could. I screamed, "Mama, help!"

Rachel was smaller than me. She couldn't ride as fast. I didn't know whether to go ahead or stay behind with her. I kept looking over my shoulder and then back at the on coming pack of dogs. I pedaled harder urging my sister to go faster. I couldn't defend her against the dogs. We needed mom.

My screams became more panicked, "Mama, help! Wild dogs! Mama! Mama!"

The dogs were getting close to our driveway. We turned in without allowing our feet to stop turning the gears. Rachel was right behind me.

Mom opened the garage door. The dogs charged down the dirt driveway growling ferociously. Rachel pulled in beside me and mom slammed the garage door closed. The dogs slid to a stop just before reaching the door.

We were safe. Mom heard my cries. She knew we didn't have time to get off our bikes and run for the safety awaiting us inside the front door. Mom saved us.

That summer day two little girls out raced a pack of wild dogs.

The End

Do you think this story is based off a true story or not? I'd love to hear your thoughts on the story. Thank you for reading and sharing.

Amanda

The November Writing Marathon

October is officially the warm up for November. Every year writers from all over the world sign up to binge write a novel. National Novel Writing Month, or as it is affectionately called, NaNoWriMo is November 1-30th.


This year, I decided to sign up and join the masses. When you become a member, you can chat with other writers, receive encouragement from published authors and staff, and set writing goals. Writers who write 50,000 words of their first draft can enter a verification process to win prizes.

Basically, it's a great way for those of us that need deadlines to churn out our best work in a short amount of time. A procrastinating writer must be behind the creation of NaNoWriMo.

Some of my best work has come from short deadlines. You don't need inspiration or to channel your muse when the numbered calendar squares start flying past. You write. You write fast knowing the editing pen will mark the page from top to bottom at a later date. The fear of editing disappears when a deadline looms. Getting words on paper is the most important thing.

If you need a little encouragement to write the novel swimming in your head, sign up. We can chat about our progress and pass along tidbits of advice.

First draft, here I come.

Amanda

Using Social Media for Local Businesses

Social media is world wide. What if your business is local? What if your customers reside in your town and the surrounding areas only? Realtors, photographers, bakeries, and a million other businesses cater to those around them. Your audience isn't national or even around the world.

What social media should you use to attract the local crowd without wasting your time?


Facebook
Almost everyone is on Facebook. It's user friendly and works well with local businesses. Sign up for local groups and post useful comments. You can also start your own page or group to bolster your business. Become a part of the community within each group. Show that you are active in the group and want to help people succeed. In no time, you will have people asking you for business. 

LinkedIn
If you are a business owner, and you're not on LinkedIn; get signed up now. The beauty with this social media platform is that you connect with peers locally. Search for people in specific occupations and introduce yourself. LinkedIn also has groups to join. The more active you are in the groups the better business will be for you. Again, offer helpful information. Customers want to know that you have their best interest in mind. They want to know you are an expert in your field before doing business with you. Cultivate professional relationships in groups and forums.

MeetUp
You may not think of this as a social media platform, but it is. Sign up to join MeetUp groups in your area. If there isn't a group with your expertise, then start one. Search by keyword for the group you want to join. Ask to join the group and attend the next meeting. Bring business cards, flyers, and give-aways at the group meetings. You will walk away with business cards from potential customers. Meeting face to face is the fastest way to win new customers. Social media can give you an online presence, but meeting in person will give customers the connection they need to seal the deal. 

What social media platforms do you use to connect with local customers? 

Amanda

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