28. January 2010 · Comments Off on Louis Vuitton Damier Canvas – Passing Down Style and Taste · Categories: Shopping And Product Reviews · Tags: , ,

Looking for a great new bag to carry around town? Do you like it when everyone turns their head as you walk by? Then you’ll love carrying Louis Vuitton Damier Canvas bags. You’ll feel like a million bucks and be the center of fashion as you walk down the street. When you carry a LV bag, there’s just something that changes inside of you. From the second you pick it up, your entire outlook and attitude change.

You’ll get more compliments than you’ve ever gotten before when you carry your LV bag wherever you go. No matter if it’s the grocery store or a night out on the town, you will be turning heads. When you carry one of these bags, it seems like you walk taller, feel prouder, strut a little bit more. No wonder all of the hottest babes in Hollywood are carrying these bags, they make you feel like you’re the most important woman in the world.

It’s almost like the folks at Louis Vuitton knew they were giving birth to an icon, a fashion legend that would never die. The Louis Vuitton name has always symbolized good taste. When you buy yourself a piece of Louis Vuitton merchandise, you are giving yourself a gift that will last you for years to come. Put it away in a safe place and wait, it will come back in style. There are very few things in the world that have continued to have value and return to their place of promise in the fashion world.

Louis Vuitton bags, shoes and accessories have kept their value and desirability, making them an investment in the future of your coolness. The wonderful thing about Louis Vuitton is that if you’re a Mom, your daughter will drool over your bag. You spend tons of money each year on your kids; you rarely do anything for yourself. Don’t you think that it’s time to have something nice?

You’ll be just as cool as the girls walking through the halls of your local high schools, only difference is that most of them aren’t carrying authentic Louis Vuitton bags.

When you want something a little different but full of style, classic lines and genuine good taste in style, carry Louis Vuitton Damier Canvas handbags. Go ahead; let the girls turn their heads in the grocery store. You’ve done your time and paid your dues. You deserve a little something for yourself.

Take pride in knowing that you are among a small society, a bonded sisterhood of women who know how incredible it feels to carry a genuine LV bag on their arm or shoulder. There is nothing in the world quite like the pride you feel, the spring in your step, the confidence that suddenly abounds when you carry your LV bag.

No matter what you wear, you’ll look great with your Louis Vuitton Damier Canvas on your arm. Don’t forget to give your daughter your bag when she’s old enough to appreciate the finer things in life.

23. January 2010 · Comments Off on Libra – 7th Holy Day of Christmas – January 1 · Categories: Mysticism · Tags: , ,

Libra is the 7th holy day of the 12 holy days of Christmas. The 12 holy days start on December 26-January 6th. Each day is assigned to a Disciple, sign of the Zodiac, spiritual attainment, spiritual part of the physical body, and a thought meditation from the Bible.

My book “Christmas Meditations on the Twelve Holy Days December 26-January 6”

by Merry C. Battles is a compilation of my 26 year dedication to the 12 holy days of Christmas.

The Disciple for Libra is St. Jude, the spiritual center is the adrenals, the attainment is “To express the divine attributes as a devotee and to see beauty in all things.” The thought meditation for the 7th holy day and as the earth travels through the sign of Libra is, “Ye shall know the truth and shall make you free.” (John 8:32)

The Cosmic pattern for the Hierarchy of Libra is the World Beautiful. This beauty can be seen on every “landscape, every tree, shrub, plant, and every form in the various forms of nature.” Harmony and beauty are Libra’s signature. When humanity can reach these divine attributes, poverty, disease, discord, and pain will be abolished. When the adrenals are functioning properly our bodies create absolute physical and psychological balance through every organ and its processes. (From the book Mystery of the Christos by Corinne Heline)

St. Jude Thaddeus is a powerful intercessor and close friend of the Divine Master Jesus. St. Judes father, Cleophas, was the brother of St. Joseph. St. Judes mother, Mary of Cleophas, was a cousin of the blessed Virgin Mary; their mothers were sisters.

St. Jude has drawn many devotional followers down through the centuries for his help in desperate situations. His New Testament letter stresses that the faithful should “persevere in the environment of harsh, difficult circumstances as their forefathers had done before them.” He was a tireless worker and dared to try and do the impossible. Thaddeus means sweetness and gentleness of character. St. Jerome called him a “zealot.”

St. Jude is the patron St. of desperate situations, forgotten and impossible causes, hospital workers, and hospitals. Libra’s spiritual center is the adrenals. They give us the power to do the impossible, like lifting a car when someone is in dire need.

According to the book “The Twelve Powers of Man,” (by founder of Unity Church, Charles Filmore) St. Jude is the Disciple relating to renunciation, elimination, change of heart, and conversion.

A change of mind sets up a corresponding change in the physical body. If one lifts up their thoughts the whole life can be transformed. The whole vibration is lifted up and now one can do the “impossible.” Our universe originated in the mind of God. The universe is sustained by that mind power. Ideas become projected into form.

It is possible to overload the mind as well as overloading the stomach. Thoughts must be digested in a similar manner to the food we eat. Living old and discordant thoughts can jam up our mind and our bowels. Living old thoughts can keep the new thoughts from coming in. St. Jude Thaddeus directs the emptying of the intestines in the work of elimination. This center is very sensitive to thoughts about substance and materiality. A tense mental attitude on material life will cause constipation and other ills of the abdominal region. A relaxation of the mental attitude will bring release in bowel action and better digestion.

The will operating in the front brain controls the circulation of the life force to every function of the body. A tense will can restrict the life force from assisting in the success and functioning of every action of our body and our lives.

A set determination to succeed in a profession, study or personal ambition can call most of this energy to the head and starve out the other processes of the body. (“The Twelve Powers of Man”)

A week ago I saw a bumper sticker twice, “Let go or be dragged.” How appropriate in our days of confusion and great changes happening each moment.

Let the powers of the infinite adrenals and the promise of our World Beautiful teach us to live in the divine flow and help to give us the power to create peace and goodwill on our Great Mother Earth.

Excerpts from my book “Christmas Meditations on the Twelve Holy Days December 26-January 6” by Merry C. Battles

1982 God favors all creation equally. His love knows no limits or boundaries. He cares for His spirit man/woman equally and with no judgment. He delivers His will through every individual and every living creation on this planet and in our universe. His word becomes our word through thought and speech. We become co – creators. Energy lives forever, to be used again in different forms. God loves us and wants only the perfection in which He created us. There is only One Will. Maybe our “free will” is demonstrated in how we react to what’s happening. (“Is God’s Will What’s Happening?”) Do we accept the hand of Spirit in every action of our lives, or do we fight “the flow” at every turn, sometimes fighting for a whole lifetime?

We live to understand the workings of the Lord and to accept and cherish every breath we are permitted to take. Freedom comes when we accept all. God’s will is always working through us.

IS GOD’S WILL WHAT’S HAPPENING?

God’s will is what’s happening,

Happening at every moment.

Only One Will, as Father Mother God

Uses us for heavenly work.

All in divine order,

Our lives unfold.

Free will is our reaction to the Lord’s plan.

Do we choose to love it, or hate it?

Is it my will or Thy Will? Truly only One Will.

Surrendering means accepting all

As sent from above.

1983 When the adrenal glands are fully active, they provide the necessary power for any physical feat. They are symbolic of the greatest strength and courage that any person can have. They are the helpers, promoting enough energy to accomplish what is needed. They transform the idea into powerful action. If we had faith and knew the truth, then all things would be possible. God wants to give us the Kingdom and use us to cleanse the world. He wants us to be set free in love.

1997 Our lives are interwoven with those who need our words and deeds. We are placed exactly where our highest learning is, right where it is needed. The truth is that God’s law of love is always working through us, no matter the appearance. Our egos take on “power plays” that are needed for our evolution. A seeming cruel, harsh decision becomes a blessing in disguise. On ego levels, people are hurt and lives shattered, to only later be born again in a newness not dreamed of. In the midst of this hurt, hearts and emotions are all working together for the good.

1998 Our lives are unfolding at rapid rate. Our lessons are manifesting faster and faster. The law of karma is speeding up, and the payback is much faster. No longer can man be able to get away with injuring others without the truth surfacing much faster. Lies cannot be told; truth will prevail. Truth will be unleashed. No more dark corners of deception. The “information highway” is symbolic and a literal expression of this reality. No one can hide from the truth. When we hurt each other or the planet, we will have the payback much sooner. All karma is being evened out, as the Libra balance of scales comes into justice.

Each cell of Mother Earth and each cell of our bodies are being transformed and awakened to the divine light that is inherent within. All the upheaval that we see in our world is indicative of what is going on in each one of us. We are here to face our maker, our mistakes, darkness, selfishness, and egotism. We are here to balance good and evil and to look at these dualistic ideas as all necessary for our higher learning. When our lives are in harmony, we will learn through love and joy. Our suffering will be finished for a time, as we express the universal attributes of Spirit. Our planet will once again be the shining globe of light spinning through space.

The arrogant, greedy, power hungry people of the world will also have to face their Creator. Those who destroy will be destroyed. Those who hate will feel that same hate. Those who deliberately take food away and try to kill this earth will be punished.

Our words will become all powerful, and in an instant the harm wished on someone else will boomerang right back onto the sender. The love will come back in that same instant. Which will you choose?

Our brothers and sisters are truly us. The human family is a family of One Spirit. Choose where your minds will be, and there your hearts will follow. Look for the unity of head and heart: masculine logic and reason coupled with feminine compassion and love. Woman will take her rightful place next to man. The qualities of love and compassion will come to the forefront to save this planet.

The world is literally in our hands. What will we do now? Pollute and poison her or nurture and clean up what we have done? The greed has to stop! The fast buck will be buried in the trembling cities. Be watchful of what you do, how you think, where your hands are working. Are they working for the good, or do they participate in the destruction?

Are you destroying yourself with a long held anger, a desire for revenge, or a hurt buried deep in your soul? Are you punishing yourself for your own actions, or for belief systems placed on you from someone else that have translated into an unloving attitude toward self? Forgive the attacker. Forgive yourself. Feel the anger, feel the pain, and then LET IT GO! If you do not know how to forgive, hand this over to the Great Spirit and ask to be filled with divine forgiveness. It eventually comes.

The time is now. The hour is upon us. Have compassion, as all of us are in the same boat. Find peace within and the whole planet will be that peace. Ask for help from your angels, unseen guides, Spirit, your mighty “I AM” presence. “Ask and Ye shall receive.” Spirit moves when we ask. The “still small voice” speaks in the silence. Now is the moment to listen.

2002 The dream of peace is within. It is carried to those around you. The ripple becomes the mighty wave. The droplet becomes the ocean. The tiniest seed transforms into the tree of life. This tree is within us, waiting to grow. The clouds are seeded, and water drops as rain. The rain brings the mysterious rainbow. The colors reflect the greatness of each ray of light. We are truly blessed at every moment. God Goddess watches all!

RAINBOWS

Each ray of sunlight shows us the rainbow.

When our Lord promised us a rainbow,

He left hidden that all light from our sun

Comes to us in all colors of the spectrum.

Making it certain

That all places on earth

Are the ends of rainbows.

“All know that the drop merges into the ocean, but few know that the ocean merges into the drop.” (Kabir 1450-1518)

2003 “We have our plans, and then there’s God.” (Margie Battles, my mother). We have all that is necessary for faith to enliven. We plan, we search, we prepare. Then all of our plans go awry. It is our planning that sometimes shows us ego and not the divine will. Timing is everything. If it is right for us, it happens. If it doesn’t happen, it might come along in a better form, when we are ready for its completion. Do your work. Then the Will of Heaven will transform and all will be for the good.

©2009 Merry C. Battles

23. January 2010 · Comments Off on The Cage Keeper and Other Stories (Book Review) · Categories: Book Reviews · Tags: , ,

“The Cage Keeper and Other Stories” is a collection of seven short stories by Andre Dubus III. The originality of this collection lies in the potency of the characters and the author’s microscopic viewpoint of the human condition.

Externally, the stories in this collection focus on characters from the rougher roads of life with some link to captivity. Most of the characters–main or secondary–are either workers in a prison, or have done some prison time, or are going to prison in a short time. Internally, however, the true imprisonment of the characters comes from their insides and their vulnerability concerning an unfinished business or an unsolved life problem. In all the stories, conflicting emotions intermingle while the characters seek acceptance from themselves and from others.

The first story, “The Cage Keeper,” is the one with the most fully developed plot. Even so, the reader is more impressed with the characters in the story than the plot, which involves an escaped convict and his hostage, a young prison guard.

The second story, “The Duckling Girl,” is about an incest victim who willingly takes more abuse from cruel teen-age boys.

The third story, “Wolves in the Marsh” is about a young boy’s coming of age as he goes hunting alone.

The fourth story, “Forky,” is about an ex-convict who has done seven years of time. As he relates to a woman he has picked up in a bar, he remembers a fellow prisoner who has reminded him of his brother.

Fifth Story, “Mountains,” is told from the viewpoint of Sally, a waitress, loving a Vietnam vet with posttraumatic stress syndrome.

Sixth Story, “White Trees, Hammer Moon,” is about a man named Rory, a loser in life and a father figure who is about to go to prison. In the story, Rory botches up a camping trip with two children in the mountains of New Hampshire.

Seventh story, “Last Dance,” is about a turtle hunt where the young character Reilly reminisces of a woman while the turtle hunt is described in detail.

“The Cage Keeper and Other Stories” is in paperback with 224 pages and ISBN: 9780375727740.

The most outstanding features of the book are the hauntingly real characters in the stories and the author’s eloquence and mastery with the use of the English language.

The author, Andre Dubus III, after getting a sociology degree, decided to write and then worked as a bounty hunter, private investigator, carpenter, bartender, actor, and teacher. Andre Dubus III has won numerous literary awards and prizes from a Pushcart Prize to being a finalist for 1999 national Book Award. He lives in Massachusetts with his family and teaches in Emerson College’s MFA in writing program and at Tufts University. Besides “The Cage Keeper and Other Stories,” he has novels such as “Bluesman” and “House of Sand and Fog.”

I am deeply impressed with the insight and empathy of the writer into the spirits of his characters. Any aspiring fiction writer will learn a lot about character development by reading Andre Dubus III, especially “The Cage Keeper and Other Stories.”

21. January 2010 · Comments Off on Movie Review: Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants 2 · Categories: Movies · Tags: , ,

Now, I am probably about 15 years older than the girls in this movie, and I am a man. Fortunately, I had no trouble empathizing with the four young women who are bound to friendship through their magical bifurcated nether garment(fancy word for pants) — more so than I did with the Sex and the City gang, who are much closer to my age, but still, 180 Degrees different from my gender.

Like Sex and the City, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 works better if you know the characters already through their previous appearances, because you’re already emotionally invested in them. I hadn’t read the young-adult novels by Ann Brashares, but my sister, who is a big fan, filled me in and we determined that this movie is based mostly on the fourth book in the series, with a few changes, so even if you’ve read the books you get some surprises. Don’t think that you are at a loss if you have not read any of the novels, as you are still able to get a good understanding of each character, and the story lines are easy to follow.

The chief problem is the four-part storyline, which, like the first film, finds the main characters separated for the summer and keeping in touch by sending back and forth the “magical pants” remember bifurcated nether garments? that fits all four of them. Be prepared to follow this movie along the four different storylines. This time it’s the summer after freshman year of college for the girls, and while Carmen (America Ferrera) plans to spend the break at home with her pals, the others have bigger plans. Tibby (Amber Tamblyn) sticks around NYU to work at a video store and work on her screenplay, Bridget (Blake Lively) treks off to an archaeological dig in Turkey, and Lena (Alexis Bledel) takes a figure drawing class in Rhode Island.

A pair of secondhand jeans inset with rhinestones plays a major role in “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2.” Anyone who saw the first movie or read the novels that inspired the films will be familiar with these well-worn bottoms. They serve as a bond among four girlfriends. Each can magically squeeze into them, although the pals are different sizes and shapes.

Their lives, already starting to pull apart in the first “Pants,” rip apart further in this thoroughly engaging sequel, which has some gems of wisdom to impart but does so gently. With one year of college now over, the girls are on the cusp of becoming full blown grown ups. Holding on to the past is difficult when the future keeps intruding. To remind themselves of what they had together as best friends, they mail the gritty jeans to one another at various summer ports of call.

During their summers, the four women deal with issues of trust, love, guilt, and value. Partially due to their separate adventures, and partially due to their increased independence and individuality, the girls primarily go through their journeys of discovery on their own, and develop their own independence. At times, the increased separation between them is obviously apparent. At others, it becomes an opening for a strong cast of supporting characters/mentors to shine. But at the end of the day, the girls prove that while there are certain things they must discover on their own, they will always be there for each other and to provide that kind of guidance and support that a tight bond can only do.

Most impressing was that these women seemed to come away from their challenges stronger, wiser, and, for the most part, in places better than where they were before. At the end, you get the sense that they actually are in healthy relationships, that they have learned from their mistakes, and that love and friendship have in fact triumphed over selfishness and isolation.

And while there’s an element of fantasy to much of the movie, serious issues, including teen pregnancy and mental illness, lurk beneath the cinematic sheen.

Like its predecessor, “Sisterhood 2” is based on two radical ideas: namely, that young women’s stories are about more than the pursuit of men, and that happiness isn’t something that you are given, or is something that is external. It is inside you, and you need to find it for yourself.

This is a great teen movie, or even a great mother daughter movie to wind up the Summer with. With a strong cast and engaging story line, “Sisterhood 2” is a wonderful second spin around the block.

About the Author:

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19. January 2010 · Comments Off on Interview With Sherry Brantley, Author of "Best of Friends" · Categories: Book Reviews

Tyler R. Tichelaar of Reader Views is happy to be joined today by Sherry Brantley. Sherry is here to talk to us about her new book “Best of Friends,” ISBN 9781411645455, reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (4/07)

Sherry Brantley is an inspirational author and a public speaker. Sherry’s purpose in life is to assist others in their own empowerment process by sharing with them tools, skills, and techniques that can be used immediately. Her workshops, seminars, and retreats are fun, lively, entertaining, and interactive, as she takes you on the “never-ending journey of power.” In 1994, she was sworn in by President Bill Clinton as an inductee in his Americorps initiative program. Her powerful poem “What Americorps Means To Me” was a national favorite among her Americorps Team. In 1995, she was given recognition as an Outstanding Americorps Member by the Michigan Community Service Commission, headed by Gubernatorial First Lady Michelle Engler.

Tyler: Welcome, Sherry. I’m happy you could join me today. Obviously, your book’s title tells us what the book is about. Will you tell us a little bit about the “Fabulous Five” characters who compose the group of friends in the book?

Sherry: Certainly Tyler. The book tells the tale of the personal crises that a group of female friends face on a daily basis, and details how they support one another through it all, individually and collectively. In short, they’ve got each other’s back! The characters are dealing with: A family death, being out of the workforce so long that one character wonders if the proverbial glass ceiling will be a challenge, divorce, dating challenges women and men face today, struggling between doing what is legally right and what is morally right, and going to meet your prospective in-laws. Although serious issues, the characters handle them with aplomb and humor and it’s just fun to see their perspectives and how they come to have the views they have. If readers aren’t careful, they just may learn something about themselves in the process!

Tyler: Sherry, where did you come up with the idea for “Best of Friends”?

Sherry: Actually, the story is based on many actual events that occurred with me in my own life. Exciting, melancholy, and with a few unique twists, it has characters that are easy to relate to, and is just a fun read. Readers have written to say it’s a true page-turner, and readers have told me they didn’t put it down until they had completed it. It’s really exciting to see the personal growth that the women experience overall. The comments from readers can be found on the site where the books can be purchased directly, at: http://www.lulu.com

Tyler: Sherry, there have been many books and films that focus on female friendships. What sets “Best of Friends” apart from others, such as “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” and many other female friendship books?

Sherry: Well, Tyler, it starts out with a bang, with the lead character getting a phone call that her mom, who was not sick, has suddenly passed away. The action just builds from there. I’m sure you can imagine how challenging it is to have the matriarch of a family pass away, and believe me, weddings and funerals are the two places where family members really show their true colors. I’ve been told by many of the readers that all of the characters were so down-to-earth, so graphically depicted with their personalities and physical attributes, that people told me it was as if they really knew them. Also, many of the readers have left positive comments on the book on my website, which is at: http://www.lulu.com, and they’ve said they’re waiting for the prequel because they want to know how the Best Friends became such good, loyal friends.

Tyler: Do you envision yourself writing that prequel, or possibly a sequel?

Sherry: The prequel to ‘Best of Friends,’ is almost complete, and just let me say, readers will be excited at how the then-young women of the ‘Fabulous Five,’ first meet in their youth, and the readers will really get to experience first hand, how the group becomes such a tight-knit close group of friends. They’ll be able to see who were friends first, and see the dynamics of how the group separates over time, and comes back together after a period of years. In addition, there’ll be a section when someone tries to manipulate and destroy that friendship, but they’ll be able to weather the storm. But true to the nature of my writing style, there will be a ‘secret’ that binds the group together, and the nature and the culmination of the truth coming out, will be revealed in the sequel of the book. Also, many readers are asking finally to hear the tale of the ‘Massah’s Hatchet,’ which is referred to several times in ‘Best of Friends,’ so I’m busy working on bringing that part together as well.

So yes, it’s a planned triology with the 2nd one, slated to be titled, “Before Best of Friends,” completed shortly, but in the interim, prior to the finality of the sequel, my poetry book and one of the ‘Sweet Potato Pie for the Heart,’ series of books are scheduled to be completed. But don’t despair, the finality of the much-anticipated trilogy, will be well worth the wait! Tyler, as you can tell, I’m just having SO much fun with it all! And that fun & excitement gets translated to the readers through the pages of the books.

Tyler: The characters in “Best of Friends” all have their own problems and difficulties. Would you tell us a little bit about some of those difficulties and why you chose those specific scenarios?

Sherry: Well, the scenarios were actual events from my own life. And the amazing thing is, I’ve had such a wild ride of a life, not just socially, but personally and professionally, that as people get to meet me, they go: “You’re kidding! That really happened? It’s like a scene out of a movie!” And then when they meet my family and my friends later, they can almost actually see, who’s who from the book’s standpoint. One character as I’ve said earlier, gets an unexpected phone call that her mom, who wasn’t even ill, has passed away. The family dynamics and drama surrounding that entire situation were unbelievable to behold. Had I not experienced it, I wouldn’t have believed it myself! And as I started to talk to other people, I began to hear horror stories of all kinds concerning greed, ignorance and just plain meanness. Another character marries a man and then discovers that he has O.B.P. Obsessive Behavior Pattern. The drama that unfolds the night she really discovers this full-force is rather humorous, but the way she handles it is another matter. Another character is a bit nervous as she has to have mammogram tests to see if she has breast cancer, so readers, especially those who have had those types of tests or similar ones, are truly able to connect with the different emotions that overwhelm her during that time-frame. And there’s the romance of the book. A character meets what appears to be a Southern Gentleman in the park one day, and has a climatic part in the book where she has the opportunity to ‘meet the parents,’ and as women, we all at times, have dreaded that, simply not knowing what the outcome will be. Not necessarily wanting them to love you to death, but certainly not wanting them to despise you.

Tyler: You mention that many of the events and characters are taken from your life? Do you find there is one specific character who is portrayed to be like you? As a writer myself, I find there is a little piece of me in each of my characters, and I can see myself acting just like them if placed in the same situations I create for them. Would you say that experience is true of your own writing?

Sherry: I really believe the majority of authors write a piece of themselves in each character they develop. Unbeknownst to the readers, the lead character, Elizabeth Caliente, is the character who represents me. I was the person who received a late night phone call that my mom had passed away. She wasn’t ill at the time and in fact, I was in the process of going to visit her once a month, to record her life story of growing up in Little Rock, Arkansas. Well as the events that unfold in the story shows, all hell breaks loose within my family and approximately 99.9% of what Liz endures is what actually occurred with me. Right up to the point of my redirecting my thoughts and wondering why I didn’t cling to my newfound beliefs of ‘peace within equaling to a peace with ‘out,’ instead of reverting back to my years of growing up in Detroit and it being an ‘every man for himself’ type of mentality. I must admit, there were several instances there, when I didn’t choose peace, and I still wonder, what went wrong? What could I have done, said or thought differently? But ultimately, all of our life’s experiences are for our highest good eventually, so I learn not to beat myself up about it. I poured my energies into the writing of how I felt about it all, and the result of that is the “Best of Friends,” trilogy of books. And Tyler, people may think we can’t top what occurred with the passing of my mother, but my father passed away this past February 2007, and believe it or not, the dynamics at that time, were even worse! This time, though, I remained true to my ‘self,’ and while I was about to get reeled in once again, with my family’s antics, I decided to step back and allow all things to occur without my presence. There was a major disagreement about where, when and how to bury my father, that resulted in once again, authorities being called, his body waiting for three weeks to be shipped back home, and his remaining estate has an upcoming court date for a final settlement. It is a total mess. I guess that will culminate in a different trilogy of books! : )

Tyler: Sherry, how have your own female friendships influenced the writing of “Best of Friends”?

Sherry: Quite honestly Tyler, many of the incidents that you’ll read about in “Best of Friends,” occurred with them! So as they’re reading the book, I get calls and they’re going: “I can’t believe you wrote about that. That was really funny and you described it so well!” Of course, I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent…as well as the guilty….

Tyler: Sherry, of course, writers have to be careful if they use real experiences in their books. How have you balanced between fiction and reality in your books? Has anyone you’ve known been upset with the books and how did or do you respond to that type of reaction?

Sherry: Of course it’s true you must walk a very thin line when interspersing your actual life’s events with writings that you make publicly known. And it was difficult writing this story as it unfolded with the events getting wilder by the moment. I have a niece who was reading it as it developed and she said to me: “Auntie, you’re gonna be in trouble when your family reads this!” But ultimately, I wanted family members simply to see what we had created collectively and individually with the advent of this situation with the hope that it would allow some of us to see the light. After some reflection though, I came to realize I am not here to save the world and all its inhabitants. Some people live and learn and some people just live, and I can be okay with that. And if my siblings were to write their perspectives on how they experienced the same events, I’m sure that would be a totally different read, as we all experience life through a different set of rules, a different outlook, a different world view. My response to people being upset, offended, or taken aback by my perception of the re-telling of events for me is to understand that they have a right to feel as they do, and I certainly have a right not to allow it to affect me in a negative way. My writing allows me and many readers to heal in whatever areas we may be hurting or feel the need to be strengthened in, and there is never a need to apologize for becoming healthy and whole. My wish is that we all strive to do so, in whatever positive ways we can.

Tyler: You are yourself African-American as are your characters. Do you see yourself writing in an African-American literary tradition?

Sherry: There will be some of my literary works that will clearly be in that direction, but my first book, “Choices—The Power is Within You,” details the powerful, literal, Universal Law of Attraction, and by the way, it was out before the ever-popular “The Secret” book, and it is designed for those who are seeking personal, financial and spiritual growth. It is done in a workbook style format, so that readers can comfortably work at their own paces and challenge themselves to begin to realize their goals. By setting them, and developing steps to achieve them. With the techniques of that book, I was able to become a full-fledged published author.

Tyler: I’m interested in your answer because, while I’m aware of “The Secret,” I’m more familiar with the Law of Attraction from the Abraham-Hicks material on the subject. What influences in regards to the Law of Attraction have influenced your writing and how has it worked in your own life?

Sherry: Tyler, I’ll probably never get this type of question again, so forgive me if I’m reading more into it than you anticipated, but there is something important about my writing that needs to be said at this point. Everyone is sort of using the phrase ‘The Law of Attraction,’ but people need to know that it is a literal, Spiritual Law. It is in effect. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. And it simply states that: What we think about, we bring about—and if the truth be told, if people REALLY KNEW that, we would all be experiencing life abundantly in all areas of our lives. But we also know there is a difference between knowing a thing and doing a thing. In all of my writing, there will always be a similar thread throughout. And that is: Characters experiencing the types of situations, events and lessons that compel them, in some cases force them, to take a long, in-depth look at what they’re really creating for themselves. After reading the Abraham-Hicks materials, I got so excited that I began a MAJOR metamorphosis in ALL areas of my life, and it will continue throughout my stay here in this particular lifetime. You see, I reach a totally different reader with my “Best of Friends” books than I could ever reach with my “Choices—The Power Is Within You” books. But after struggling with that I realized it is time authors included readers who may not necessarily be familiar with the Tony Robbins, or the Esther and Jerry Hicks, or the Gary Renards and the Les Browns of the world. There are literally millions of people who simply have not been exposed to terms such as ‘aligning your chakras, going within, and meditating with your higher guides.’ They’re busy with dealing with their own everyday issues, never knowing that as they continue to focus on those issues, they continue to create them. So while my books may be witty, fun to read, and entertaining, my characters will always give my readers pause to see—really see themselves unfold in the telling of the events and allow them to redirect their thoughts either consciously or subconsciously to strive for a better ‘me’ (them). And if I can do that while tackling challenging issues such as dysfunctional families who can’t even see past the dysfunction, chaos amidst important family events, marriages that fall apart and loves that are being renewed while introducing an entire group of readers who otherwise would never hear those types of terms in that kind of format, then I’ve done what I’ve set out to do, which is: Give the readers of mainstream genre, chick-flick books, and female literature, a place not only to be able to read a great fictional novel where they’re connecting with the characters, but also give them the opportunity to be exposed to a whole set of ideas that they’re not familiar with, and wet their appetite to pursue those avenues of interest. One reader of “Best of Friends,” asked me what ‘chakras’ were, and this gave me the opportunity to share the messages of Abraham-Hicks and define what the Law of Attraction really means, and how she could incorporate that concept into her own life. There are not many books in that genre that can do that and do it as well as I’ve been able to do in “Best of Friends.” Readers are loving how those characters grow and can see themselves having the same type of growth.

Tyler: Sherry, readers have commented on the spiritual side of your writing. Would you tell us a little bit about the spirituality included in “Best of Friends”?

Sherry: I’m glad you asked about that, because many readers have said to me: “It was such a pleasure to see the women in the book grow from the places they started out from. The main character, Elizabeth Caliente, is known as the peace-maker and the person who resolves conflict, so it comes as a shock to her family, friends and certainly to readers when there’s a point when she comes to the line drawn in the sand, and instead of backing away from it, she defiantly crosses it. I won’t spoil the plot-line, but afterwards, she does some real soul-searching, asking some really tough questions about human nature, why we act and react in the various, sometimes self-defeating ways that we do, and how we can really rise above our knee-jerk reactions and create something beautiful in our lives—even amidst our personal tragedies. Readers are so able to connect with her because all of us on this planet are doing one of three things in our lives: We’re either wishing to make adjustments and improvements in our lives, or in the process of making improvements in our lives, or having made them, looking back at them and being pleased with the journeys we’ve created for ourselves. And Elizabeth goes through such an ordeal from the first page of the book to the last, that you just marvel at how she now looks at life, and how quickly and readily she’s ready to make major changes in her life. It isn’t melodramatic, it isn’t supernaturally done, it isn’t some surreal event. She literally takes readers through all of the ways she is able to view events and shows how just changing the emphasis of a word, a phrase, or by using some positive body language, how everything could’ve been different. And she’s willing to step to the plate and see where her responsibility in all of the chaos is and sees what she could’ve done differently as well. But it’s not done in a preachy, right is right and wrong is wrong sort of way. Life generally isn’t like that.

Tyler: I understand you are also a public speaker on spirituality and owning your personal power? Would you tell us how you became interested in trying to help others?

Sherry: My company is called S.T.E.P.P.—Start To Exercise Personal Power. I used to teach parenting classes for Michigan State University, as well as Conflict-Resolution at the middle & high schools in Lansing, Michigan. But prior to that, people, including total strangers, would come to talk with me about crises that were occurring in their lives personally. I always seemed to be given insight that I could share with them, to assist them to visualize something different for themselves—should they choose to do so. My parenting skills enabled me to tap into my own spiritual power, and once I saw how magnificent that was—in all areas of my life, there was no holding me back from sharing it with others. But I want to clarify. “Best of Friends” is not a book based on spirituality. It has adult women, in adult situations where sometimes, what is commonly known as adult language is used. It’s a fun book filled with situations that adults encounter and while relatively challenging, is told in a humorous and entertaining way.

Tyler: Besides, “Best of Friends” we mentioned you’ve written a non-fiction, spiritual book “Choices: The Power is Within You.” What do you find are the different challenges and rewards between writing fiction and non-fiction?

Sherry: Tyler, this is my FAVORITE question! You see, people will read “Choices—The Power is Within You” and get that it’s about spirituality, reaching within to hear that still small voice within you, and people are expecting me to be in some sort of an ‘inspirational box,’ and then they’d read “Best of Friends” and go…: “The same person wrote this book? But these women have sex, they have challenges, they have fights and strong language in the parking lot. Are you SURE you want to do that kind of a book?” Listen, Tyler, like all humans, I’m multi-faceted. I can be very spiritual, meditating, and aligning my chakras one day, and the next…if my car isn’t ready when I’ve been told it would be… for the third day in a row, then there’s a ‘Vicious Vicki’ that comes from outta left field. And believe me, you don’t want to be there when that happens. Of course, these days, that is few and far between, because as a result of my experiences, I’ve learned how NOT to go there. But it’s not always peaches and cream. As an author, it’s been a great ride writing both very different kinds of books, because I now have the opportunity to work with many varieties of readers. In addition, I am currently working on a book entitled: “Sweet Potato Pie for the Heart.” This will be a compilation of true, inspiring, uplifting stories that I collect from the public to inspire others. For readers interested in submitting their stories or learning more about that project, they can visit http://www.inspirationalvoice.com

Tyler: Thanks for that honest answer, Sherry. I know exactly what you’re saying. We try to be spiritual, but we all have our bad days. Sherry, which authors or other public speakers have had a major influence on you?

Sherry: That is one of my most difficult questions, Tyler, only because there are SO many: Maya Angelou, Amy Tan’s “Joy Luck Club” was a phenomenal book and a great movie! Terry McMillan, Bebe Moore Campbell, Zora Neal Hurston, Les Brown, of course Oprah Winfrey, Bill Cosby, Sidney Poitier, Tony Robbins, Zig Ziegler, Dale Carnegie, and many more.

Tyler: Sherry, would you tell our readers what your website is and what additional information they can find there about your works?

Sherry: I’d love to. My website is http://www.inspirationalvoice.com. They are able to order both my books, “Choices—The Power is Within You” and “Best of Friends.” They will also get information on the guidelines of how to submit their own inspirational, true story for my “Sweet Potato Pie for the Heart,” series of books. In addition, a book of poetry is currently being completed. This book will include all types of poetry. Love poems, Inspirational Poems and some let’s get in ‘yo face, telling you like it is,’ poetry. Again, I’m multi-faceted, so it won’t all be the pie-in-the-sky-by and by when you die, type of poetry. My life has not been like that and my writing doesn’t reflect that. And once you’ve completed “Best of Friends,” you’ll be able to see the evidence of that. Also, I’ve begun a springboard from my “Best of Friends,” book whereby I have what is called: “Best of Friends Celebration Invitations”: Here, people are able to purchase invitations that are made from the cover of the book, inviting a group of their friends who have purchased and read the book, providing them with the opportunity to have me come out to do a personal reading and book signing for their group! So I have many wonderful projects in the works!

Tyler: Thank you for joining me today, Sherry. Before we go, what advice would you give to people who are themselves going through difficult situations like those of your characters, or who are unsure how to find their personal power?

Sherry: This advice is important and inspirational, so listen carefully: Purchase as soon as you can, “Choices—The Power is Within You.” It details a time in my life when I was newly divorced, had three young daughters, and was suddenly homeless, car-less and jobless. I share that with readers so they can see this is not just another motivational speaker who hasn’t seen rough times, but talking and acting as if she had. If you’re really serious about beginning to change your life, “Choices” has the exercises contained within it and the probing questions one must ask, in order to assess really where you’re at in life, and develop a simple, easy-to-do plan to change your life in a smooth, almost effortless way. I say “almost effortless,” because there will be some struggle—there always is when we’re talking about change. But there’s a saying that goes: “If you think education is expensive—try ignorance.” And we all can use more education in our lives whether we’re focusing on health, spirituality, academics, finances, etc. People find in the long run, ignorance tends to be a lot more costly in all areas of your life, for your entire lifetime. Change starts from within, but you must first recognize that change is needed. “Choices—The Power Is Within You,” allows you to look at yourself, without judging, without condemnation, without blame. Just as a factual vehicle and way for you to make change, whether it’s miniscule or on a grand scale, that will impact your life. And while they’re developing themselves personally, they may want to purchase “Best of Friends,” for the times they want to take a break and just do some ‘fun reading.’

Tyler: Thank you, Sherry, for joining me today. You’ve given us lots to think about and make us feel inspired. Best wishes with your books and your public speaking.

17. January 2010 · Comments Off on Wedding Speech – How to Give a Successful Maid of Honor Speech · Categories: Relationships · Tags: , ,

Have you been landed with the job of Maid of Honour for your sister or best friend? If the job includes giving a maid of honour speech, the whole thing can suddenly become quite scary, especially if you are not used to public speaking. Need some help with your wedding speech?

Help, how do I give a wedding speech?

My best friend Angela was thrilled when her little sister asked her to be the maid of honour at her upcoming wedding. She did not realize that her sister would also be asking her to give a maid of honour wedding speech! When her sister casually let that news slip, Angela managed to keep her cool and say, “Sure, I can do a maid of honour wedding speech, no problem!” But then she phoned me up in a panic.

“What am I going to do?” Angela moaned. “I have never given a speech before and I am terrified!”

Once I had calmed Angela down, I shared my top wedding speech tips with her. They might help you too!

Top maid of honour wedding speech tips

DO remember that you are going to have a very friendly audience. All of the wedding guests will cheer you and be on your side, even if you are fumbling or make a mistake. So try to relax and enjoy the day. DO use either nostalgia, or humour, or both, for a successful and memorable wedding speech. DO plan the speech. Some maids of honour decide to leave the planning and think something up on the day in the mistaken belief that the speech will seem more natural and spontaneous. In fact, the most successful and natural speeches are ones that have been planned carefully in advance. DO NOT worry if you struggle with jokes or humour. You can give a nostalgic speech instead. This is really easy and can involve simply coming up with one or two stories about special times that you and the bride spent together. They do not need to be earth-shatteringly interesting, just memorable for you and for the bride. EVEN if you really are stuck and cannot come up with an original speech, do not panic! Instead, why not simply thank the bride for her friendship (or sisterhood) and then read out a poem that shows what a special girl you think she is? That is guaranteed to bring tears to the bride’s eyes and be a resounding success, and may be less stressful for you. When you finish reading, you can simply wish the bride and groom happiness and raise your glass.

15. January 2010 · Comments Off on Indian Rocks Beach: Florida’s Hidden Wonder · Categories: Travel And Leisure · Tags: , ,

Enclosed by the Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal Waterway, Indian Rocks Beach is a waterfront haven that is brimming with recreational pursuits and utter relaxation. Whether you want to soak up the splendor of this little piece of heaven or use it as a jumping off point for enjoying the attractions of the St. Petersburg/Clearwater area, Indian Rocks Beach is bound to offer a few welcome surprises during your stay.

Indian Rocks Beach is located on a three mile long barrier island that houses Belleair Beach and Belleair Shores to the North along with Indian Shores and Redington to the South. The perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of daily life, this quaint beach community offers a relaxed atmosphere that highlights the simple pleasures in life. Sit along a stunning white beach and sink your toes in the sand; take a sunset stroll along the water’s edge; or simply spread out and soak up some of that warm Florida sunshine. Breathtaking beauty is waiting around every corner to calm your nerves and alleviate any stress you brought into this island paradise, so follow its lead to pure bliss.

Although moving at a slow pace and letting the day occur naturally are perquisites for any Indian Rocks Beach getaway, there is also ample opportunity to participate in a few waterfront adventures. West of Gulf Blvd. on the Gulf of Mexico side, sugar white sand and turquoise water invite visitors out for an afternoon of swimming, beachcombing, sunning, and snorkeling. Along the Intracoastal Waterway, fishing is always a popular choice as is cruising the canals and viewing the beautiful homes. Along your travels you may also come across a couple of county parks, where hiking along the nature trails and fishing from the piers are possible options.

If you need a break from the water or want to soak in the delights of a Florida beach community, there are various shopping options in town in addition to some excellent restaurants. Guppy’s on the Beach is a favorite with locals and visitors alike for its exceptional seafood, while the Tacky Turtle offers a quick bite to eat should your stomach call out during your wanderings. Other seafood restaurants to consider include Crabby Bills and P.J.’s Oyster Bar and for those who lean towards Italian cuisine, Villa Gallace is the one to try.

Like any other small community that wants to create a welcoming feel, Indian Rocks Beach features various special events throughout the year that visitors are welcome to attend if they happen to be around. The Beauty and the Beach Festival, held in the beginning of April, is both entertaining and delicious, while Oktoberfest and the Fall Arts Festival are ideal for enjoying the pleasant October weather and the local excitement.

Since Indian Rocks Beach is only a few miles from Clearwater, many people make it their jumping off point for enjoying the many attractions of this popular Florida city. While staying away from the crowds, those in Indian Rocks Beach can take the short drive to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and learn about dolphin, otter, and sea turtle conservation, participate in the dolphin encounter, or view the sea turtle, otter, shark, and stingray exhibits. Pier 60 is another favorite Clearwater attraction with its children’s playground, street performers, local artisans, and pier fishing.

Indian Rocks Beach is more than just a quiet community located near Clearwater, it is a place where you can enjoy the waterfront wonders of the Gulf and relax to your heart’s content. Surrounded by pristine water and sparkling beaches that will take your breath away, condo rentals in Indian Rocks Beach Florida offer all of the amenities of home along with easy access to your favorite restaurants and sunning spots. Indian Rocks Beach vacation rentals make your stay as convenient and enjoyable as possible, meaning you have nothing to worry about except whether you want to swim or surf today.

10. January 2010 · Comments Off on Kill Mold on Wood · Categories: Home Improvement · Tags: , ,

Molds grow on wood very fast. Being organic product, wood and wooden products help molds obtain nutrition easily. People who have a fascination for wood products often complain that molds and mildews have grown on wood.

When molds grow on wood, they not only become health hazardous, but they damage the wood itself. The surface becomes stained and ugly.

Just imagine, molds have grown on your favorite wood furniture and now, along with mold removal, the pieces of furniture need facelift. The situation becomes real expensive when mildews and fungus attack wooden window shutters, doors, garden furniture, or, antiques.

Fact that makes the entire story more scary is that toxic black molds show greater tendency to grow on wood. Black mold on wood has become a common problem for many who live in humid tropical or subtropical region.

Initially you should try to prevent molds to attack wooden products of your home. If you fail, detect the location and reason behind the chaos and then kill mold on wood.

Prevent, Detect and Kill mold on wood:

These are the basic things you should do to avoid and get rid of mold problems. Let’s learn about them one by one.

Prevent mold on wood

The first thing you should try is to prevent mold. Once they form on wood, they would definitely damage the property and your health. It’s better to avoid them by keeping them at bay.

Molds always grow on wet wood products; moisturizer is the prime life factor for fungus. So always try to keep the wooden items dry. Use dehumidifier to keep the indoor places dry. If, somehow, wooden items get wet, make sure to dry it off quickly. Take special care of your wooden window shutters, pelmets, wooden garden chairs and tables during rainy season.

Identify the places that are humid by nature and that suffer from poor ventilation. Basement, kitchen and bathroom are very much prone to mold attack.

Sometimes waterproof coating is applied all over the surface of wood products to prevent them catching moisture. Varnish, paint or sun mica is often used as wood protractor.

Detect mold growth

They appear as spots on the surface of wooden goods. Watch closely and you would reveal velvety and discolored mold growth over the surface. However, from distance, they appear as mere spots.

Apart from the visible signals, molds are often accompanied by a musty odor. When molds grow on hidden places, the odor is the first thing people can sense. Once you are sanguine about mold infestation on wood, inspect surrounding areas and other wood products as well. Otherwise how can you decide where exactly you need to spray the mold cleaning products or dab organic mold removers!

Kill mold on wood:

Use organic mold removers or black mold killer to kill mildews and mold. Also ensure the conditions for molds to grow are removed. If the place is still humid and the wood is wet, chances are mold spores would land there and lead to mold growth again.

Do not forget to keep the surface clean and dust-free. When molds grow on wood, they do not eat the wood, but obtain nutrition from the organic particles present on the surface. So keep the wood surface clean and dry to keep it away from molds and mildews.

09. January 2010 · Comments Off on Take a Break in Siesta Key, Florida · Categories: Travel And Leisure · Tags: , ,

As its name implies, Siesta Key is a Florida vacation destination that focuses on the simple pleasures in life as it leaves behind the stress and anxiety of overwhelming attractions. While you could theoretically spend your entire getaway relaxing on its pristine sands, melting away your worries under the warm Florida sun, the countless opportunities for adventure are simply too much to pass up on this little island paradise.

Located just off the coast of mainland Florida near Sarasota, Siesta Key is surrounded by sparkling azure water that is just begging to be enjoyed. While you may want to jump right into the Gulf of Mexico the second you step foot on the island, it is usually best to begin your water-bound excursions from any of the three beautiful beaches that Siesta Key has to offer. Gently brushing the water’s edge with their stunning white sands, Siesta Key Public Beach, Crescent Beach, and Turtle Beach feature distinct environments that are sure to meet all your vacation needs.

The most popular beach not only on Siesta Key but also in the greater Sarasota area, Siesta Key Public Beach is a haven for beach bums who want to sink their toes into the cool, quartz sand and kick back near the water’s edge. While walking along the shore and swimming in the Gulf are carefree ways to spend an afternoon, the amenities of this public beach, including a playground area, tennis courts, volleyball courts, and concessions, make it the perfect destination for a well-rounded day on the island.

If you tire of wading in the shallow water near the shore or want to cool off out of the sun’s reach, Siesta Key Public Beach is just a short stroll away from the quaint shops and restaurants in Siesta Village. Ocean Boulevard is the place to go for a variety of restaurants and pubs that offer outdoor seating and exceptional views to go along with your refreshing ale or beer. Losing track of time is never a problem here as the conversation and scenery are conducive to a carefree rather than itinerary-oriented day. However, when night falls, the village certainly has your entertainment needs covered with various live music and the “Drum Circle” theatrical performance on Sunday nights.

In contrast to the vibrant atmosphere that abounds on and around Siesta Key Public Beach, Crescent Beach offers seclusion and privacy for those who truly want to getaway from it all. While it would seem that its radiant white sands and stunning blue waters would draw visitors en masse, its tucked away location just south of Siesta Key Public Beach and its single public access road lead most vacationers to choose convenience over serenity. If you need more excitement off this quiet strip of sand, take advantage of the spectacular snorkeling and scuba diving that abounds on the southern tip in an area known as Point of Rocks.

When aren’t escaping on Crescent Beach or playing on Siesta Key Beach, don’t miss the water sports of the narrower Turtle Beach, which is located on the southern end of the key. Boasting a volleyball court, horseshoe pit, boat launch, and fishing in the nearby Blind Pass Lagoon, you can relax or play to heart’s content directly off of its fine white sands. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for the petrified sharks’ teeth and excellent shell collecting opportunities in its sands, particularly after storms.

As the beaches take center stage and offer endless swimming, shelling, fishing, parasailing, snorkeling, and boating opportunities, it can be easy to overlook the splendor of your surroundings. Rather than running from one activity to the next, take the time to enjoy the dolphins frolicking in the open water or the boats sailing out to sea by selecting warm and inviting Siesta Key vacation rentals for your accommodations needs. Located just a stone’s throw away from the water but offering all of the amenities and comforts of home, every moment of your vacation can be more exciting and enjoyable than you ever imagined when you stay in a Siesta Key rental.

09. January 2010 · Comments Off on Stress Relief For Stay at Home Moms · Categories: Home And Family · Tags: , ,

Once baby comes along, all you want to do is be there to hold the little one. The thought of missing even one second of the child’s precious moments makes most mothers dread leaving the house. Thus, many moms relinquish secular work outside the home to raise their children. Whether you decide to work from home as well, mothers who stay home have a greater stress load than most realize.

Staying home with children does not result in a life of leisure, as some assume. Running a household, managing daily child-related activities, and maintaining sanity are all balls in the air of a very delicate juggling act. If you include managing expenses and trying to start or run a business from home, each adds its own complex dynamic to the mix. The stress of it all begins to weigh heavy. Much is dependent on the stay at home mom and since the mother is home, she feels an even greater responsibility to be validated and prove that she is not merely sitting around watching soap operas all day.

The stress builds from both internal and external forces. Inside, moms may suffer from low self-esteem, exhaustion and perhaps feelings of inadequacy from no longer bringing income into the household. Externally, the lack of sleep, poor eating habits and lack of exercise increase the intensity of the pressure. Each situation is unique in many ways, but there are easy ways to relieve “stay at home mom” stress. Here are some proactive tips.

1. Get out of the house more! Sounds cliche, but no man is an island. Part of the stress mothers encounter comes from being fully immersed in motherhood, forgetting and neglecting womanhood and sisterhood. Friendship and socialization is specific to our nature and should never be ignored. Join or start a mom’s group. (Not just an online or virtual community, but one that meets in person.) Go to a park, the zoo, a mall or a library. Try to get out of the house with the children each day, weather permitting. Learning social skills early on is important for them too.

2. Don’t lose your previous identity. Just because you are a mother-even one that stays home-doesn’t mean that you aren’t you anymore! Children add things to your life: joy, laughter, diapers, tears, heartache, warmth, love and more. Yet you don’t have to stop being yourself entirely to commit to your new role. Perhaps there were a few bad habits you kicked before little Timmy came along, but that’s a positive improvement, not a total identity overhaul. If you used to participate in networking events, go out with girlfriends once or twice a month or play in a band, you don’t have to give those things up entirely. As long as your child is safely being cared for in your absence, feel free to explore your own interests, being careful to not lose your own essence. Since, eventually, you could end up resenting what should be the best time in your life-your being a mother and a well-rounded individual.

3. Seek balance in all areas of your life. Just because you are home doesn’t mean everything in your life has to be about the house, the kids and the hubby. Take time for you, for you and your mate, for you and your kids, for you and your mother, for you and your best friend, etc. See where I’m going with this? It’s okay to enjoy time with others outside the home AND within the home. As long as you seek to enjoy a variety of interests with a support network of close friends and family, you can’t go wrong. But by totally focusing on one aspect over another, both guilt and distress will ensue, making you a very unhappy mommy.

4. Stop neglecting your hair and make up! Stay home moms often let themselves go. Since they may not officially have to leave the house, they don’t change into outer wear, fix their hair or put on make up. (No offense to those that do, but you know who you are if this tip speaks to you.) Why is that? This type of neglect is actually counterproductive. Maybe for the first several days to a week after the new baby comes home, you can let the grooming go for a bit, but don’t give it up all together. Many moms begin to feel depressed and unattractive due to the added baby weight. Don’t make it worse. Spruce yourself up a bit each day; regardless if you have somewhere to go outside of the house or not. Think of each day as a new opportunity or adventure. Would you want to greet opportunity looking like you just rolled out of the bed? Didn’t think so. Take time in the morning for grooming. It really helps to relieve the stress that is tied to low self-esteem.

5. Get to know the stress in your life. Start journaling about circumstances, dates and times that seem to cause you the most stress. Look for patterns and then get help from a stress management professional. Together, you can review the patterns and put them into perspective to help create a plan to reduce or eliminate the extra stress in your life.

Staying home to raise your children during these critical early stages of life is a gift indeed. Don’t allow stress to rob you of the joy. Take action to get your stress under control and start truly enjoying this gift, as these moments are precious and rather fleeting.