Heart Choices: November 2008

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November Giving Thanks Challenge


The "Giving Thanks Challenge" was hosted by South Breeze Farm in Iowa. This is the second year it's been done and the idea was to encourage the attitude of thankfulness.

If you turn on the TV or read the newspaper today, there's plenty of bad news and reasons to become anxious. That's the reality of our world today. But we can make the choice to take time to focus on what's good and the things for which we are thankful. I've enjoyed writing blog posts on Thankful Thursdays and I know for a fact, that it's helped me with my own attitude. So, why not a whole month? After all, God has blessed me with much to be thankful for.

As you can read from my latest posts, I had the opportunity to attend the Women of Faith Conference last weekend. A very special thanks goes to my friend Helen who made this possible. Helen is my Elizabeth. You can read what that means by reading this blog post.

I'm also very thankful for Marlene who included us in her group. We were so blessed with excellent seats on the floor level. I couldn't believe it but ...we got to sit in the 1st row!!!

I'm so thankful for: my husband Greg, family, good health, strength and stamina, turkey and the fixings, my church family, bloggy friends, Twitter, Facebook, Classmates, coffee in the morning, good books, friends, freedom of speech and the ability to worship freely and the beauty of God's creation.

Living in Phoenix, the sun does shine most days but I was thrilled with the change in weather we had over the Thanksgiving holiday. It actually rained in Phoenix.

I took this picture from my upstairs patio. Isn't the sky beautiful?

This month, I also had the opportunity to spend an afternoon with one of my favorite families; my friends from San Antonio, TX. They were visiting relatives and took an afternoon to spend with me!

Jamie and Todd introduced me to their newest arrival; little Rachel. They now have five children and I can't believe the wonderful job they're doing. Jamie is home schooling and ... the results speak for themselves. Way to go, Jamie!

I'm also thankful for all the prayers for my friend Jeanie and her new husband Duane. You can link here to read about their situation. I spoke with Jeanie yesterday and she was pleased to report that Duane is now alert and responsive. He knows his new wife and can respond to verbal commands. This is a big thing! He's still on the ventilator and will require more surgery but at least this is positive news. Jeanie said to me, "God is working a miracle." So, keep on praying and thank you.

I'm really enjoying this thankfulness thing. The focus of the Heart Choices blog is to encourage people to make healthy choices; body, mind and spirit. And remember that our day to day choices determine what our tomorrows will become.

Will you make the choice to list what you're thankful for? I'd love to hear from you.


Good Things In Small Packages

Patsy Clairmont is a petite woman but ... she packs a lot of dynamo into that small body of hers. She can bring joy and laughter to almost any situation.

As a speaker for the Women of Faith conferences, she shares stories that truly touch the heart. I was thrilled to have had the opportunity to hear her this past weekend.

Patsy spoke about her friend of 50 years named Carol who was diagnosed with cancer. Unfortunately, the cancer has spread to other organs of her body. She has undergone chemotherapy and become quite weak and depressed.

Patsy wanted to be able to say something positive to Carol to help lift her spirits. She prayed and asked God to give her a verse from the Bible but the only one that kept coming to her was Genesis 1:3 "let there be light". In her lighthearted speaking style, she shared how it's not good to argue with God. But she told Him that maybe a Psalm might be more appropriate for this situation. And yet ... she kept hearing "let there be light".

So, she called Carol and said she had a word for her and repeated "let there be light". Carol was perplexed and thanked her but wasn't sure what that meant for her. She had an appointment with the doctor after her latest bone scan. He posted the films to discuss and told her that what he hoped to see was light. Light would indicate the areas where her own antibodies were fighting the cancer! Well, who would have known that but ...God!

Patsy said that this lifted Carol's spirits, knowing that God saw her pain and knew all the details of her struggle with cancer. I encourage you to watch her YouTube video as Patsy shares this story. You can link to her page here.

Do you want to say just the right words to a friend in need to offer encouragement but don't know what to say? Sometimes, simply being there beside a friend is best. Ask God to give you the words as Patsy prayed.

Patsy Clairmont is not only a great speaker. She's also up to date on the latest internet tools. Can you believe it? She's on twitter, a micro-blogging tool!

Panda444 Phoenix says thank you!!! I so enjoyed W of F. You're a pint sized dynamo. Hugs and God bless you all. 11:16 AM Nov 23rd
patsyclairmont Thanks. Phoenix was a hospitable place to close out our year. Thank-you for being there. 8:36 AM Nov 24th

She even responded to my twitter to her!!!! A big hug and thanks to Patsy Clairmont!


Weight Loss Perspective

Let's keep weight loss in perspective. Yes, we all know how hard it can be to lose weight but there are plenty of things in life that are worse.

That was Luci Swindoll's perspective when she spoke at the Women of Faith Conference this past weekend in Glendale, Arizona.

Luci shared a story of how she made an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon to see if surgery might be indicated for her painful knee. The surgeon told her that before he would operate she needed to lose 80 pounds! And her response? I CAN DO THAT! (I like that attitude.)

Luci continued to say how she picked up a diet book that her surgeon suggested and she began to follow it. One day she looked in the mirror and thought something about her looked different. She's a master story teller and squealed with delight to discover that she had lost TWO POUNDS! (I have to say that I might not have been so excited myself.)

But not Luci. She realized it was a start and that she was on her way. And do you know what? She's lost 40 pounds so far. Way to go, Luci! (Note to self: learn from this)

Luci said that she thought about how many people leave the doctor's office after receiving bad news that they have cancer or some other disease. And she was so grateful that all she had to do was to lose 80 pounds. What a great perspective!

Weight loss can be hard ... but it helps when you have a Luci Swindoll attitude!

So, let's quit complaining and start moving and eating healthier. After all, there could be worse things in life. Let's keep our perspective!

A Woman After My Own Heart

Nicole C. Mullen is so much fun! Not only is she a talented singer, dancer and speaker but she's also a great motivator. Let me tell you, after seeing her well developed arm muscles for myself, I am definitely motivated to increase my free weight exercises for sure.

I had the opportunity to see Nicole this weekend at the Women of Faith Conference held in Glendale, AZ. And let me tell you, she is high energy! No wonder she was the main attraction after lunch. When everyone returned to the arena a bit sluggish .. she had us on our feet dancing and singing.
I love women who are influencing the next generation. Nicole has an organization that mentors young women called Baby Girls Club. She also takes a group of very talented young dancers along with her when she performs. Her daughter Jasmine is a part of this group and she sang a song with her mother called "Black, white and tan". As a Christian, Nicole teaches that skin color makes no difference.

I first became aware of Nicole C. Mullen's music when Direct TV started airing musical holiday concert specials during Christmas, Easter and the 4th of July on channel 101. She is the winner of eight Gospel music Dove awards and I can see why.

If you need some good, fun music to work out to ...I think any of her CD's will get you moving and quickly. And at the same time, you might just have some fun.

Fast Food and Kids

Childhood obesity has become much more common in the US. But should fast food ads be banned?

A new study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research and funded by the National Institutes of Health claims that a ban on fast food advertising to children would cut the national obesity rate by as much as 18%. They measured the number of fast food ads that children watched. And their data showed that there was a greater impact on boys than girls.

This was the largest study to directly tie childhood obesity to fast food advertising on television.

So, what do you think? Should the government be able to regulate the fast food ads shown on TV? Or are parents the ones who choose what their children eat? Do you really know what your children are eating at all meals?

Give Quick Feedback

I could use your feedback. Although I love to blog, my day job is helping my entrepreneur hubby. His latest venture involves a new way to easily gather feedback. It's called Quick Comments. I thought I'd post a question on my blog from time to time so you could try it for yourself.

Quick Comments is a cross between a poll and a survey. You get instant results but it takes very little time. You simply select or add your own keywords or phrases and then rate the significance on a one to five scale. The rating range is adjusted depending on the question. You can add an optional comment. We are using it in widget form so it can be easily embedded on a blog or website.

Why not give it a try right now? Your feedback on the widget is anonymous ...but I'd love to read any comments you might have. Thank you for taking the time.


Asking For Prayer

I am sending out a prayer request to my fellow bloggers. I just received a phone call from the hospital and my friend Jeanie's new husband has taken a turn for the worst. You can read my previous post by clicking here. I am so thankful for the many bloggers who have been praying for Duane, even though you've never met him.

Jeanie has been a leader in my church in the women's ministry and she chaired the leadership committee for the annual Woman to Woman Conference that is held in Phoenix. She's worked tirelessly for so many years on this conference. This picture is of Jeanie with Lysa TerKeurst, who was our excellent keynote speaker this year.

For various reasons, this conference was our last but that's when Jeanie met Duane. Each of them had been single for many years. We teased Jeanie that she had been married to the conference for all those years and now the Lord provided her with a new and exciting adventure ... as Duane's wife. We were so excited for her. Their wedding was held on Friday, November 17th which is just over four weeks ago.

Duane's surgery had been scheduled following their return from the honeymoon. But little did they realize the sequence of events that would occur. After an unexpected cardiac arrest last week, Duane has hung in there despite several additional surgeries to correct problems. Jeanie's daughters flew in to sit with her and offer encouragement. But Jeanie hated to leave Duane's side.

I just received a phone call from the hospital and Rhonda asked that I send out word to anyone who is willing to pray. The situation has become worse and they don't expect Duane to live.

So, I am sending out the word and thanking you in advance for praying. Duane is a Christian and his life is in the Lord's hands right now. We are trusting for God's will and that He would provide Jeanie with His strength and comfort at this most difficult time.

I Am So Honored

I was surprised and delighted to receive an award from my new blogging friend Debra at Clothed With Scarlet.

It warms my heart to have the opportunity to "meet new friends" through blogging. Even though I've never actually seen most of them, I somehow feel I know them through their writings ...and kind hearts! Debra is definitely one of those people. Thank you so much!

And now I am to choose five bloggers and give them this award. So, here goes my list:

Oh, I almost forgot to include the rules for this award. You're supposed to post the award, link to the person giving you the award ... and then pick five bloggers and give them the award. I hope I remembered everything. I'm not always good at remembering rules. I like to color outside the lines!!!


World Diabetes Day

Today is World Diabetes Day. Heart disease and diabetes often go hand in hand. In fact, at least 65% of people with diabetes die of some form of heart or blood vessel disease. (American Heart Association facts/stats)

Diabetes involves a problem with the production and supply of insulin in the body. Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body produces no or insufficient insulin. Type 2 diabetes is when the body cannot use the insulin it produces effectively.

Type 2 diabetes is most common in people who are older than 45 years old and most often overweight. But lately, the statistics are showing that it is becoming more common in children and young adults. There are often genetic factors involved but certain lifestyle factors also increase the risk.

  • Obesity
  • Physical inactivity
  • Unhealthy diet
Each one of those factors can be changed with healthier lifestyle choices.

Maybe you or a friend or family member has been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Make sure that you follow your doctor's advice regarding your treatment. But also be aware that you have the power to make choices to improve your health in this particular area.
  • Begin an exercise program even if it's simply going out for a walk. If you've not been exercising be aware that over time, it will lower your blood sugars and so your medications may need to be decreased.
  • Eat small, frequent meals. It's important to not skip meals as this will impact your blood sugar.
  • Monitor and record your blood sugars, especially when you're making new healthier lifestyle choices.
  • Discuss any major changes with your doctor.

Remember that you may not have control over all of the circumstances you're dealing with in your life, but you do have control over how you respond to them.

On Diabetes Day 2008 let's choose to live a more healthy lifestyle; body, mind and spirit.


Thankful Thursday - LIFE

On this Thankful Thursday, our theme is life. None of us really knows how long we will live. You can look at your family history and check your risk factors for specific diseases. But in reality, there are many "accidents" that could occur that may take you by surprise.

My mind goes to my friend Jeanie who is sitting by her new husband's side in the Intensive Care Unit, uncertain about whether he will live or die. You can read my post about this by clicking here. I'm sure Jeanie and Duane knew the risks before his surgery but trusted that everything would work out as planned. Although the situation remains uncertain, many prayers are continuing to be voiced in faith and hope.

Life happens. We might not have the best genes, or the best circumstances, or the best health. But we still have the power to choose how we respond.

Life is not only about our physical life. We have a body, mind and spirit. And I believe each impacts how we live our lives. We can choose how to treat our body. We can choose what we allow into our minds by the things we look at or the things we read. We can also choose to open our spirit to the God who created us and loves us.
John 3:16 says "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life."

One day you will die. It's a fact of life and there's no escaping. But the choice you make in your spirit will impact you for eternity.

I am so thankful that I have made the choice to receive Jesus into my heart. There was nothing I could do to earn it; not good behavior or doing certain deeds.

Sometimes, it's hard for people to receive something they believe they don't deserve. But that's how much God loves us. He wants to impart His life in us so that when we die, we will have eternal life. What about you? Will you choose life?

I hope you will take the time to visit our host site for Thankful Thursday. You can access other bloggers' posts on this Thankful Thursday.

Pets And Your Health

Did you know that having a pet can be good for your health? Research has shown that owning a pet can benefit your health and even improve the quality of your life. Sounds good, doesn't it?

Dogs can provide companionship, love and ... maybe even a reason to go for a walk. And that is always good for your heart.

Just take a look at some of the health benefits:
  • Companionship and friendship
  • Unconditional love
  • Lowers blood pressure
  • Decreases anxiety
  • Improves your immune system
  • Increases levels of serotonin and dopamine (nerve transmitters that have calming and pleasurable properties)
  • May even get you exercising (after all, if you own a dog ...they always want to go for a walk)
And did you think of this? Owning a pet is a great way to meet people. It's a great conversation starter and people seem to be more friendly. (If you're single, this might come in handy.)

Some hospitals have pet programs where volunteers take dogs to visit the patients. They always seem to brighten up, no matter how sick they may be.

Think about it; a big lick, a wagging tail, improved health and unconditional love.
Now, who can resist that?

Thank You Veterans

Today is Veteran's Day and I'm so grateful to the men and women who serve in the military. They deserve a day of recognition for the many sacrifices they've made to keep us safe in the United States. It's a day to say thank you.

I remember the day when my brother signed up for the Navy and went off to boot camp. It was during the Vietnam War when they had a draft. His number was low so he decided to join the branch of the service that he preferred. Thankfully, he returned home safely after serving overseas.

My cousin Ken was in the Army and he spent time in Vietnam. He returned home to find that his wife left him and so he lived with my family for some time as he adjusted. I remember his first 4th of July back. When the fireworks went off ... he jumped. It reminded him of the gunfire in battle.

This is a picture of my brother Steve and his wife Barbara with cousin Kenny. These are two veterans many years later. Thank you for your service. I'm very grateful for the many men and women who serve our country.

I've Been Tagged

I've been tagged! I had to look it up because at first I didn't know what it was. But Debra from Clothed With Scarlet tagged me. So now I must compile a list of 15 things I'm not afraid to admit.

Well, here goes:
  1. I grew up in Lindenhurst which is on Long Island in New York.
  2. I introduced the rock star Pat Benatar to her previous husband Dennis Benatar on a class trip to see "2001: A Space Odessy".
  3. I was always sick as a young child because I was born with a congenital heart defect that wasn't corrected until I was 7 years old.
  4. I had to go through the clinic system at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, NY for ten years after my surgery because my family couldn't afford the private health insurance at that time. (We waited all day for one appointment to see the cardiologist or surgeon.)
  5. My favorite sandwich as a child was American cheese on plain white bread (no butter or mayo).
  6. I won four pens at Dale Carnegie when I took their public speaking class (even though my hands were shaking).
  7. I was Captain of the Twirlers for three years at my high school.
  8. I was the valedictorian of my grade school but I didn't do as well in high school because I was more interested in socializing.
  9. I love to spend time with people but need equal time alone.
  10. I'm 100% Norwegian and proud of it.
  11. My husband Greg is a serial entrepreneur.
  12. I always dreamed of having children but was unable to have them.
  13. I was interviewed for a local newspaper article about infertility because the reporter said I was the only respondent who was at peace despite my infertility.
  14. I love my nieces and nephews and have a blast being an aunt.
  15. I've been a Christian for many years but only began to seriously grow in my faith since 1994.

I guess now I'm supposed to tag someone else. I tag:

Kate from Just Another Day in Paradise
L-Jay from My Little Norway


The Prayer

I am asking for prayer for a friend in need. Jeanie and Duane were married three weeks ago. Both of them had been single for many years and we were thrilled that they finally found each other and were so happy.

Duane is fighting for his life in the hospital due to complications following surgery. He is in the Intensive Care Unit. I have posted this video of Josh Grobin and Charlotte Church singing "The Prayer". This is the song Jeanie and Duane chose for their wedding as they shared Communion together for the first time as husband and wife. It was so beautiful as John Shillington and Kathryn Ellis from my church sang it. I thought the words were perfect, even now. I invite you to watch this video and to add Jeanie and Duane to your prayers.


Health in Perspective

Why spend so much energy focusing on your health? After all, we're all going to die of something one day. And it can often take so much effort to do all the right things you know you're supposed to do ... like exercising, eating healthier foods, don't overeat, don't smoke, eat your vegetables.

I'm sure you've heard it many times.

But let's put our health into perspective. Learning to take care of yourself can be one of the best lessons you can learn.

After all, if you don't feel well ... it can be hard to do well. Even if you have the skills and talent to do something, what happens if you have no energy to do it?

Once you have a few health habits in place, it doesn't have to take so much of your time to keep it up.

I enjoy motivational speaker Zig Ziglar. I remember listening to him as he described the concept of priming the pump. If you think of an old fashioned pump, it takes a lot of effort to get the water flowing at first. You must pump hard and consistently. But once the pump is primed and the water is flowing, it takes so much less effort to keep it going. But, if you stop ...it goes back to the beginning and you have to start the priming process all over again.

Think of your body that way. You start doing exercise but ...it's so hard. Well, you're priming the pump. Once exercising becomes a habit, it becomes easier and you don't have to even think about doing it. As I've said before, you wouldn't leave your house without brushing your teeth. Don't leave your house without doing your exercise.

As the weekend is fast approaching, why not take the time to go for a walk or ride your bicycle? How about visiting your local farmer's market and buying some fresh fruits and vegetables. Let's start priming our pump and keep it going!

What choices will you make this weekend to stay healthy?

Thankful Thursday - November Challenge


I love Thankful Thursdays! However, I don't always wake up every Thursday feeling thankful. In fact, there have been a few Thursdays when I didn't feel like writing a Thankful Thursday post because ... I wasn't feeling especially thankful.

But then I make the intentional choice to take action and focus on what I might be thankful for. And guess what always seems to happen?

I start to FEEL thankful!

What you focus on impacts your emotions.

Action motivates!

If you focus on what's wrong in your life... you'll feel more depressed. But taking a few moments to think about what is good can often change your mood. And it might even bring a smile to your face! (If you missed my post on smiling, click here.)

I'm going to throw out a challenge to you! I discovered Leah from Iowa who has a blog called South Breeze Farm. She challenged bloggers to keep a daily list of things for which they are thankful during the whole month of November. So, I decided to accept the challenge.

Here's my start for the month of November:

November1: I'm thankful for my good health. Even though I spent most of the day cleaning and doing laundry, I had plenty of energy. Thank you, Lord!

November 2: I'm thankful on this Sunday for my church family. I'm involved in a small group Bible study of "The Truth Project" by Dr. Del Tackett. My pastor preached a great sermon and led us in prayer for our country and the elections.

November 3: I'm thankful for my husband Greg. Today we celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary. We decided not to buy gifts but he came home with my favorite lemon poppy seed muffin from Paradise Bakery. It's the little things that count.

November 4: I'm thankful that I have the freedom to vote and to voice my opinions to others.

November 5: I'm thankful that God is sovereign and in control. The Presidential election is over and we now have a new President elect. Even if my candidate wasn't elected, I'm thankful that I live in a country that holds free elections. The people have voted and have been heard. Now I'm thankful that I can pray for our President elect and that God hears my prayers.

November 6: I'm thankful for Iris who started Thankful Thursday and for the many bloggers who participate. I find myself smiling as I visit many of their blog posts today. By the end of the day, I feel like the "Little Debbie" logo with a big smile on my face. Thanks fellow bloggers.

And now my challenge to you! Will you begin your own list and actually write down at least one thing you're thankful for during the month of November? I have the feeling you may begin to feel more thankful as you focus and look for things you have to be thankful for.

Will you accept the challenge?


Smiling Is Good For Your Health

Smiling is good for you! It can actually change your mood. I have to warn you about something though ... smiling can be contagious. Have you ever seen someone enter a room with a big smile on their face? They can light up the whole room!

The reality of our day is that there are some very real challenges ahead. Turn on the TV and watch the news and it can be enough to get anybody depressed and stressed.

But remember, we may not be able to control all of the stress and circumstances in our lives but ... we have the choice as to how we will respond.

Did you know that the simple act of smiling actually helps to relax your body and can even lower your blood pressure? I'd say that's a good thing. The muscles we use to smile tend to lift our faces. At my age, I like that.

“A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.” Phyllis Diller

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.” Mark Twain

Smiling tends to make you more attractive. Think about it? What attracts you more? A peson who wears a perpetual frown or someone who is often smiling? Frankly, I think there's enough pain and difficulty in this world without choosing to spend time with people who are always unhappy or at least look that way.

However, I'm not advocating living in denial. There is a time and a season for everything. In the Bible, the third chapter of Ecclesiastes says that there is "a season for every activity under heaven ...a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance...". Maybe this is a season of very real challenges for you.

I met Eileen when I was working as a cardiac nurse. Eileen had some major health issues that often required visits to the emergency room and frequent hospitalizations. But in the midst of her many life threatening issues, she always seemed to manage a smile. She told me that she didn't want to lose her sense of humor. And every time I spent time with Eileen, I found myself smiling.

My mother was another great example. She could light up an entire room with her smile. No matter how much pain she was experiencing, she always seemed to have a joke to share and would find delight in the simplest of things.

What makes you smile?

Getting totally drenched with your sister?

Cuddling a furry animal?
Getting a new haircut?
Playing with your big sister?
Riding a horse?

Holding something very special?

Playing dressup with your grandchild?
Welcoming your new baby sister?

Spending time with your grandchildren?

Spending time with your dad?

Training a new puppy named Harley?

This time in history is a very challenging time. And no matter who wins the Presidential election, there's still much work to be done. I guess with all the hand wringing and worrying going on, I wanted to ask you to take a moment and focus on something that makes you smile.

I invite you to go ahead and do it now and then add a comment telling me what makes you smile.


Tips For Reducing Holiday Stress

It's November aleady and did you know that there are only 24 days until Thanksgiving ...and only 52 days until Christmas?

I don't know about you but this year seems to be more stressful. I turn on the news and all I hear about is the mess our economy is in, the downturn in the housing market, the politics of this very important election, rising gasoline prices and rising unemployment. And that's just to name a few.

And now ... the normal stressors that often accompany the upcoming holiday season.

What should be a joyful time of year can often become quite the opposite. We may not have control over all the stressful variables in our lives, but we do have the choice about how we respond to them.

This year I really want to make the choice to enjoy this season despite the stress I may be personally experiencing. So, I decided to start with a list. Some of the items are things I've already done and others I am considering.

I invite you to add your comments and share any suggestions you might have to add to this list. How do you get ready for the holidays? Do you have any tips to get better organized?

Here's the beginning of my list:

  1. Decorate the house with some fall items such as pumpkin smelling candles and a centerpiece for the table.

  2. Unpack my book "Thanksgiving: A Time to Remember" by Barbara Rainey. Each year I reread this book about the history of our country. It's a relatively thin book so it doesn't take very long to read and I learn something new each time. This is a great book to read to your children.

  3. Plan the Thanksgiving menu in advance and enlist the help of family members. Assign dishes to others and organize recipes.

  4. Put up the Christmas tree the day after Thanksgiving. I must confess that our tree isn't real so this makes it possible to enjoy the tree for a longer time. Enlist the help of the family and make this a fun event.

  5. Write Christmas cards the day after Thanksgiving. I don't mail them immediately but at least they're written and addressed. My friend Sue told me that she prays for each person as she writes out their Christmas card. I hope to do that this year.

  6. Shop for gifts early and use a list. I also try to purchase gifts throughout the year when I find something and especially when it's on sale.

  7. Focus on people instead of things.

  8. Be flexible in my plans.

  9. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen, the Salvation Army or any of the numerous opportunities at this time of year. It's a great way to teach your children about the service of giving.

  10. Keep a thankful list and update it with at least one thing every day.

  11. Cut back on the amount of money spent on gifts. Consider making a few gifts by using your creativity or even baking a food gift.

  12. Get out the Christmas music early and listen to it. I love music but often forget to turn it on. I get focused on tasks but when I remember to play music, it always brings a smile to my face.

  13. Keep the focus of the season on the reason; the birth of Jesus Christ.

And in the midst of all of the activities, dont' forget to have fun. Keep a sense of humor and laugh; it's infectious!

I know my list isn't complete so I hope you'll add your comments and suggestions. Let's make the choice this year to not get caught up in the commercialization and stress of the holiday season, but instead enjoy and create special memories.

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