Focusing On Me For Me

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It sounds funny but at the age of 28, I’m finally realizing what it means to focus on me for me. I don’t necessarily have it figured out quite yet but deciding to take this journey is a step in the right direction.

I’m from a small town and opportunities and options weren’t always available or advertised. I always knew I wanted an education and after getting my AA degree, my plan was to move on to a university and receive my bachelors. My mom ended up passing away when I was 15 and after a lot of moving back and forth between relatives, I finally took matters into my own hands and moved to Las Vegas when I was 21. Not only did I move to a city where I didn’t know anyone, I didn’t know how to let others treat me or who I really was. Let’s just say, I had low expectations for myself in all areas of my life. Not good, right?

After living in Vegas for a year, I happened to become friends with a really good group of people on accident. My coworkers were really friendly and social and began invited me to hang out and we easily became inseparable like peas and carrots. As the years went by, I ended up having tons of ups and downs as I navigated my early to late twenties. But one thing that stuck by me were my friends and the wise advice they gave to know that I am awesome and to not let myself be treated badly. By anyone. Ever.

As I turned 28, I took a serious look at myself and what I wanted for my future. Right now I have a great job and I’m making the most money I’ve ever made in my life which is great, career wise. I’m living in a great city and have a boyfriend who doesn’t make me want to strangle him on a regular basis despite the random times I want to stab him w/ a fork, which is a plus. I have a ton of friends and endless places to go visit, which is way more than I ever could have imagined. But, is something missing?

Am I living my healthiest lifestyle now? No, I’m not. Am I doing everything I’ve always wanted to do, hobby wise? No, I’m not. Do I really want to get married and have kids? Well, I want to get married but I’m not entirely sure on the kids part. But, am I being proactive to get there? No, I’m not. Sure, having a bf is half the battle but there is still so much more than that to getting married.

Am I doing everything I can be, to move forward in my career? No. Am I giving it all I got, in so many aspects of my life? No, I’m not.

What would happen, if I focused on myself in all areas of my life, as the opportunity arose? What if I was mindful to each activity as I was doing them and gave them all my best. I’m not sure, but I’m ready to find out.

Sincerely,

Athena

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Using Gratitude to Increase Happiness

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Sometimes it seem like life is one huge rollercoaster of emotions and circumstances. It is so easy to become overwhelmed with everything that may be going on. Everyone has their own set of problems and complications that can easily send you into a tailspin if you are not careful. I know from personal experience about this and I wanted to share a little secret to keep you happy and light.

Being Thankful for What You Have

Taking time out to be grateful for what you have is so important. This is certainly not a new concept by any means but this doesn’t minimize the advice in any case. When I am feeling anxious, I like to go over a list of things in my head over the many reasons I have to be thankful. I may go over the people in my life that care about me or how much I love certain things in my life. An example of this would be how much I love writing and running. It helps me clear my mind and stay calm. It also gives me motivation to do the things I want when I am feeling stuck. Exercise is very important.

Letting Go of What You Can’t Control

We all want to be able to control the things and people around us. Wouldn’t that be great? The truth of the matter is that there is only so much we can control, and we need to admit that. Being appreciative of that can also be good to remember. Focus on what you can control like your thoughts and your actions. Accept the fact that you may not be able to deal with everything at once. Take time to do thing that can help you feel happier and more alive. Laugh at the little things. If you can’t laugh by yourself, go watch a funny movie or some stand-up comedy. Bring that feeling of gratitude within yourself to achieve something else.

Reminding yourself that you always have things to be grateful for in your life is important. This can really help when you are feeling stresses out. Writing things down in a journal can also be helpful to reinforce those feelings. Make sure to always take care of yourself so that you can the best you can be. This will lead to a happier life for yourself and your family.

Take Care,

Natalie

Photo by eschipul

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A Diary Entry for A Good Cause

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Good morning Loves. Today’s guest post is from a woman named Susan who contacted me and asked if I would share her story. She lost her husband to cancer a few years ago and her life has never been the same. She is now an activist for cancer patients who are victims of asbestos. Please read her story and support the cause by signing her petition. Thank you.

Dear Chairman Bachus and Ranking Member Cohen:

My name is Susan Vento, and I’m writing to express my strong opposition to H.R. 982 called the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act (FACT Act). My husband was the late Congressman Bruce F. Vento who served for more than 24 years in the House of Representatives representing Minnesota’s Fourth Congressional District. He died from mesothelioma in 2000 within eight months of being diagnosed.

Know the facts about cancer

Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Bruce was exposed through his work as a laborer years before we met or became involved in public life. He told his constituency about his diagnosis in early February 2000 when he announced why he would not run for re-election. On February 14, he had his lung surgically removed and then began an aggressive regimen of chemotherapy and radiation at the Mayo Clinic.

It was not enough. My husband died three days after his 60th birthday in October. With his death, our country lost a dedicated and humble public servant years before his time. I lost so much more.

Bruce dedicated himself as a tireless and effective advocate for the environment, for working people and for the disadvantaged. During his time in Congress, he was well respected by members of all parties. He served as chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands and also served on the House Banking Committee.

Do your part to support a good cause – every signature helps

The FACT Act directly contracts the decades of work my husband invested in helping those who could not help themselves. If this bill passed, it would be a serious step back for the important work he achieved as your colleague. As the FACT Act is currently written, it is one-sided, unfair and unnecessary. It touts “transparency” yet will delay and in some cases deny justice to people suffering from debilitating asbestos-related diseases like mesothelioma.

Please sign our petition and say NO to the FACT Act. I thank you for your consideration and hope you will stand with me in support of Bruce’s memory and in opposition of this bill.

Sincerely,

Susan Vento

Photo by flowerslover

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A Healthier Table: Low Fat Banana Bread

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Merry Christmas Eve everyone.  If you are setting your holiday table and you are looking for a light snack or dessert that you can enjoy for several days may I suggest that you try my recipe (which I borrowed from the Joy of Baking ) for Low Fat Banana Bread.

This recipe is part of The American Cancer Society’s A Healthier Table series which allows bloggers and bakers from around the globe to share their favourite healthy recipes.  I originally posted the recipe a few weeks ago with tips on why healthy living is so important and how healthy eating can help prevent several long term and fatal diseases.  Be sure to check it out.

Today I am sharing the original recipe for Low Fat Banana Bread and I am also going to share some slight moderations that you can whip up to make this low fat recipe even healthier.

Enjoy and if you do make this Low Fat Banana Bread a part of your Christmas table I would love to see the pics on Facebook and Twitter.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Ingredients You Will Need:

1 cup (240 ml)   mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large bananas)

1 teaspoon baking   soda

1/2 cup (120 ml)   low-fat plain yogurt

1/4 cup (60 ml) canola,   vegetable, or corn oil

3/4 cup (165   grams) light brown sugar

1 large egg or 2   large (60 grams) egg whites

1 teaspoon pure   vanilla extract

1 cup (130 grams)   all-purpose flour

1/2 cup (65   grams) whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon   ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon baking   powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

Baking Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the rack in   the center of the oven. Spray an 8 x 4 inch (20 x 10 cm) loaf pan with a   non-stick vegetable cooking spray.

In a large bowl,   mix the mashed bananas with the baking soda and yogurt. Allow to sit while   you prepare the rest of the batter.

Meanwhile, in a   separate bowl, whisk together the oil, sugar, egg or egg whites, and vanilla.

In another large   bowl, whisk together the flours, baking powder, ground cinnamon and salt.

Then combine the   banana mixture with the oil mixture and then add to the flour mixture. Stir   just until all the ingredients are moistened. Pour into the prepared pan and   smooth the top. Bake for about 45 – 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted   in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a   wire rack to cool.

Make It Even Healthier:

Substitute the all   purpose flour for whole wheat flour

Add some more   cinnamon (it’s very good for the digestive system)

Add another banana   (for even more flavor and potassium)

Substitute the low   fat plain yogurt for low fat strawberry yogurt (Yum!)

Add some crushed   nuts or oatmeal (many nuts are high in vitamins, protein and fiber)

Merry Christmas and   Happy Baking! Don’t forget to share your pics.

Love Always,

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I support The Montreal Children’s Hospital

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On Saturday November 3 I volunteered for the 3rd time at the Splash n Dash event in Montreal.   Splash n Dash is a run-swim-run relay where teams race to raise money in support of The Cedars Cancer Center and the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation.

I am very pleased to say that this year we raised over $149,500.

I love volunteering for this event because it has a little bit of everything. It is a fun-filled day of activities for kids, good food fromgenerous sponsors and fundraising for a good cause. The relay teams can be made up of family and friends, schools, corporations or celebrities and heroes.  This year the celebrities and heroes included members of the Canadian Olympic team as well as local firefighters. All I can say is hot, hot, hot.

If you would like to participate in or volunteer for Splash n Dash please visit their website.

Love Always,

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Buy Pink…October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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In honour of October being breast cancer awareness month I am dedicating this post to everyone whose life has been touched by breast cancer in one way or another.  I have been fortunate enough to be cancer free for the first 32 years of my life, but I know that some other people have not had this same fortune.

Breast cancer and other types of women’s cancers are causes dear to my heart because as a woman I could be affected by them at any time. This is why I chose to volunteer my timefor the Shoppers Drug Mart Weekend to End Women’s Cancers and during the month of October I try to buy as many Pink products as I can in support of breast cancer awareness month.

Glamour Magazine recently published an article titled “7 Things No One Ever Tells You About Breast Cancer” and after reading this month’s Glamour Magazine I felt the need to share.

Did you know?

We’re not trying hard enough to end breast cancer.  A lot of money raised for breast cancer research is allocated towards developing treatments instead of finding a potential cure.

You should be able to pick your breasts out of a lineup. Do you know what your breasts look like? Well you should because then you will know if something looks wrong.

Your paycheck could determine whether you live or die. Women and families who have access to good health care have their tumors diagnosed at a much earlier stage (and size) than women who may not have access to good health care.

Your lifestyle can help prevent breast cancer. Women who exercise on a regular basis, women who maintain a healthy weight, women who limit their alcohol intake and women who give birth before their mid-30s have a lower risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer.

Breast cancer might be caused by a virus. It is said that 5 different viruses (one of which is HPV) can potentially cause breast cancer, but this is still being studied in research labs.

Beating it makes you badass. Not everyone who is diagnosed with breast cancer dies from the disease.  Being diagnosed at an early stage, seeing your doctor on a regular basis, keeping a positive attitude and finding treatment can all help you beat breast cancer.

If you get breast cancer you might hear these lies. Not very breast cancer diagnostic is the same and not every breast cancer patient is the same; therefore not all treatments will be the same. Not all patients have to have an operation as soon as possible and not all patients have to have a mastectomy.  Check with your doctor and get a second opinion to make sure that you find the best breast cancer treatment for you.

Many companies and corporations such as the NFL, Revlon, Essie and Nestle all have products that support breast cancer research.  Before you buy something in October check to see if a portion of the proceeds will be donated to breast cancer research.

Did you buy anything Pink this month?

Love Always,

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Helping Children in Need with Shot @ Life

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Two weeks ago I was in New York City to attend the BlogHer conference.  While attending the conference I learned some tips on how to turn my blog into a business, how to value myself as a freelance writer, and how to build my own business.  I listened to some great speakers, I tried some new products (lots of giveaways to come), and I discovered some amazing causes; one of those great causes is Shot @ Life.

What is Shot @ Life?

Shot @ Life is a United Nations Foundation whose mission is to protect children worldwide by providing life-saving vaccines where they are most needed. I know that I don’t have kids, and it is very rare that I blog about anything kid-related on My Diary Entry; but this is a great cause, and I am always ready to support a great cause.

One in Five kids around the world does not have access to life-saving vaccines, and this is a major problem.  It is important that children get vaccinated at a young age because their immune systems are not strong enough to fight life-threatening diseases.  As responsible adults it is within our power to fight for children who aren’t yet strong enough to fight for themselves.

There are several ways that you can get involved with Shot @ Life from making donations to rallying in support of the cause.  If you want to learn more about Shot @ Life or to get involved in this great cause please visit their website.

Shot @ Life and Anne Geddes Giveaway

The first 3 people to Tweet about or Share this post will win one of these precious Anne Geddes photo cards (see above).  You can frame it or give it to a new or expecting parent.

Help spread the word about Shot @ Life because every child deserves a chance at life.

Love Always,

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Splash n Dash 2011

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Thank You to The Sponsors

This year’s Splash n Dash event to benefit The Sarah Cook Fund at the Cedars Cancer Institute and The Montreal Children’s Hospital was a huge success.  Every year Johnson & Johnson sponsors this full day event which is held at the McGill University Sports Complex.

Splash n Dash is a Run-Swim-Run relay that allows Corporations, Families, Friends, and Schoolmates to raise funds for Cancer Research while spending a day having fun and being active.  This was my third year volunteering at Splash n Dash and each year the event just gets bigger and better.

Next year I signed up to be on the planning committee for Splash n Dash 2012.  I hope that you will consider getting your friends, family, or coworkers together to participate as a team and raise funds for The Cedars Cancer Institute at Splash n Dash 2012.  If running or swimming is not your thing then please volunteer your time.  We are always looking for dedicated volunteers to help us plan and pull off the Splash n Dash event.  There are a variety of volunteer activities available from registration to the cleanup crew. Please visit the Splash n Dash Homepage to register as a volunteer.

Splash n Dash is definitely a day full of fun in support of a really good cause.

Check out my pics from Splash n Dash 2011:

Volunteers are All Smiles

Two Dancing Machines

Teams are Friendly for a Good Cause

The Cedars Cancer Institute

Friends, Teammates, and Schoolmates

Fun Activities All Day Long

All Exercise is Good Exercise!

Good Eats after the race

The Finish Line

Other Helpful Resources:

The Cedars Cancer Institute

The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation

Splash n Dash Homepage


December Love Drop: A Family Needs Help for the Holidays

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Diomi and Nalee

Good Morning Everyone.  It’s Wednesday December 7th and that means that there are only 18 days left until Christmas.  We are in the middle of the holiday season and some of us are in the gift giving spirit.  The holidays are a time to help out those in need who may be less fortunate than us.  Over the past year Love Drop has successfully helped 10 families and given away over $70,000 to some very deserving people.

This month Love Drop is helping Diomi and her son Nalee.  They have been through some really tough times that include financial struggles, the loss of a very close family member, as well as Diomi losing her job.  Unfortunately Diomi can no longer afford  to provide the basic daily necessities for her son.  Love Drop is asking everyone to help this family, not only so they can have a great Christmas this year, but also to help them improve their lives in the future.  Diomi is currently looking for a job, so if you live in the Milwaukee area please try and help her out with a job offer.

Here are some ways you can help Diomi and Nalee:

Donate Personal Products.  Unfortunately this family doesn’t have a lot so thankfully anything that you can donate will be cherished and greatly appreciated.  Please find it in your hearts to donate any type of personal products for the bathroom, kitchen, or bedroom.

Give a Dollar.  Love Drop is working with Diomi and Nalee’s Church Pastor to raise money for their basic necessities such as clothes, food, and shelter.  You can make a onetime lump sum contribution to Love Drop or you can sign up to give a regular contribution on a monthly basis.

Share Love Drop with Others.  Please Tweet about Love Drop and Like them on Facebook to spread the word.  The more people who know about Love Drop the more families they can help.

This will be the last Love Drop for a few months because the Love Drop Team is taking a well deserved vacation.  They will be back in February so stay tuned for a New Love Drop in the New Year.  Don’t forget to check out my Love Drop category on the right hand side to see all of the families that Love Drop has helped over the past year.


Have You or Someone You Love Been Affected by Cancer?

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Marci

Good Morning Everyone.  As you may know from my previous Diary Entries I try to volunteer my time and help out Charities whenever I can.  My contributions are definitely small in the grand scheme of things but every little bit helps.

I am a member of Love Drop which is an organization that accumulates gifts, services, and financial contributions for a family in need each month.  To date Love Drop has helped 11 families and they have given over $66,000 in gifts and services.

The best part of being a member of Love Drop is that I know exactly where my money goes each month.  All donations are hand delivered to the families, that’s right they are hand delivered in person which is really cool!  The Love Drop Team posts a video each month of their surprise for each family.

This month Love Drop is helping Marci in Colorado.  She is a mother and a wife who is a two time breast cancer survivor.  Unfortunately Marci has been re-diagnosed and she is now battling a Stage IV cancer that has spread into her lungs and lymph nodes. This story really touches me because Marci has spent the better part of the last decade fundraising for cancer research.  Although I have been fortunate enough to not be diagnosed with Cancer I have met many Cancer Survivors and their stories are always touching.  Marci also spends time with people whose lives have been affected by Cancer.

If you know someone who has been affected by Cancer or if you have been affected (in some way) by Cancer yourself then please find it in yourself to join Love Drop and help out Marci and her family.  The most important thing in Marci’s life is quality time with her family, and Love Drop wants to give them an all-expense-paid vacation before she begins her latest battle with Cancer. Even though she is stressed out and worried about her difficult journey ahead all that Marci wants to do is make sure that her family is able to relax and forget about the stress of her Cancer.  Marci wants her family to enjoy their life, and Love Drop wants to help.

Here are some ways that you can help Marci and her family:

Travel - Let’s get creative – airline miles, timeshares, destination packages, money – whatever we can do! I know that we can figure out a way to help Marci and her family so let’s do whatever we can to get them on a family vacation.

Give a Dollar – Monetary Donations go towards all expenses for the family vacation.  Love Drop wants to accumulate enough money to also give Marci and her family some spending money on their family vacation.

Give a Gift or Service – If you or your business can offer a personalized service for Marci and her family, then please contact Love Drop.  Gift Cards that Marci and her family can use on their vacation would be very helpful.  Gift Cards for large restaurant chains would be much appreciated.

Share This Post With Others – If you have a Blog or a Website or if you are on Facebook, Twitter, or Linked In then Love Drop encourages you to share this post with your Fans, Friends, and Readers. The more people to know and learn about Love Drop the more money they can raise for Marci and her family.

Listen to Marci’s Story in her Love Drop video: