Do you have a blog or a website? Do you attend classes? Do you write anything, EVER? Well, this information is for you!

    Lately, I have seen too many grammatical and spelling errors, online especially, to count, and I feel I would be remiss if I stood idly by while people pervert and butcher the English language. Well, not really. Who ever feels remiss? What does that mean, anyway? The truth is, it annoys the crap out of me. My feeling is, if you or I have a blog or website that we hope will gain traffic and eventually make money, we want to look professional. Well, we can't do that if our spelling and grammar is all wrong! 

    My college major was English. I won the spelling bee in sixth grade. Trust me. Many of you could use a refresher, so read up!

1. Do not use an apostrophe and an "s" to express a plural noun. 
                                      Example: Dog's For Sale

   This is incorrect. It should simply read: Dogs For Sale. 
The plural form of a noun NEVER has an apostrophe in it.

   When you use an apostrophe, it implies OWNERSHIP of something.

                                  Example: Dog's House For Sale

   This time, the house is for sale, not the dog. So when applying this to every other use, we do not bake cake's, cookie's, or bread's. And we do not have car's, house's, or dishe's. (Yes, I've seen it spelled that way...) Simply spell it with an "s". 

2. There, Their, and They're

   Oh, goodness, if I had a nickel... Look, I guess I understand where this comes from. Laziness, mainly, but let's go over this just once to get it out of the way: 

There: as in, "over there"
Examples: There is the cat. Is there any jam? The book is over there.

Their: as in, this belongs to them
Examples: Their car is in the driveway. This mailbox is theirs.

They're: as in, "they are"
Examples: They're going to the park today. Those cookies? They're for you!

3. Your, You're
This one I consider an extension of #2, because it's essentially the same concept.

Your: This one is possessive of YOU. You own it.
Example: Is your mother okay? Your house is nice. Where did you get your dog?
Yours: This jacket is yours.

You're: as in, "you are"
Examples: You're so crazy! You're still going to the party, right?

4. Awe, Aww
   Now, I have no idea how this began, but I'm starting to see it everywhere! This must stop!

Awe: this expresses amazement.
Example: I was in awe when I saw the waterfall. 

Aww: usually what we say when we see something adorable.
Example: Aww! Look at that puppy!

Alright, guys, those were the first four that came to mind. Hope it helps.
Got any others? I'd love to hear it!
   Gas and food prices are going up. So are credit card and mortgage interest rates. Do you find yourself at a loss for energy and quality time, with or without your family? Join the club! We are constantly urged, by society or our conscience, to simplify. But how many of us actually take steps to do it?

   I've learned to ask myself a few questions before I buy something. Is there anything on this list you could adopt?

   1. What is the value to price ratio? Is it on sale? If not, 95% of the time, I won't buy it. Is it worth what it is being sold for? Will I absolutely use or wear it to merit spending the money on it?

   2. Can I wait? If I can wait 2-4, even 6 weeks to buy it, one of two things will have happened: I will have forgotten about it, ergo I DON'T NEED IT. OR, I will have found a way to get it cheaper or make up for the expense somewhere else.

   3. Do I really need it? Yeah, that cutlery set is gorgeous, but the forks I already have are doing their job pretty well... And that lawn mower in the back yard? The blade won't turn! Do I really need a new one, or can I get it repaired?

   4. What are my goals? If I want to pay off the credit card, it does no good to go out on a shopping spree. PAY OFF THE CREDIT CARD! Or what about that trip to Spain I want to save up for? If I buy this item, how many steps behind will I be? And how many little items will I justify buying? How much further behind will this put me on my goal? Little purchases ($20-50-$100) can add up.

Now that I've asked myself these questions, I have to look around the house. What can I get rid of? Do I have enough for a yard sale? If not, I take it to the Goodwill or Salvation Army and I get a receipt for the value of my donated stuff. That's tax-deductible! 

Here's more stuff you can do to simplify:

   1. Fix your own meals at home. It's cheaper and better for you.

   2. Decide what things you really don't need and have a garage sale. Purging the closets and drawers makes me feel mentally refreshed, and the house feels cleaner and more organized.

   3. Turn the TV off. In fact, I've cut the cable down to just the local channels, and I invested in a DVD player that has wifi access. I pay $8 a month for Hulu, and I get all the TV I need. Our family doesn't miss cable! 

   4. Coupons. I've just started on this and last time I went to the store, I saved $20 just by using coupons. Coupons are especially great for toiletries (body wash, razors, etc.) when you happen to find a "Buy One, Get One" deal. The down-side is that, for food, most coupons are for prepackaged, processed food full of chemicals, preservatives and who-knows-what. 

   5. Get a water filter or purifying system at home. Buying bottles of water can get expensive and pollutes the environment with all that plastic. Not only that, but it supports the shady business practices of big companies who are "harvesting" that water. (See the documentary Tapped.)

   6. Grow a garden, even if it's in your window sill. There's just nothing like tasting a tomato kissed by real warm sunshine.

   7. Run all your errands as a gas-saving route on one day.  You can save gas by scheduling a minimum number of stops and mileage traveled if you PLAN your work and work your plan.

   8. Drive the speed limit. First of all, any speed over 65 is only going to waste your gas. Make the most efficient use of your gas by driving the limit and keeping your tires at optimum air pressure. Second, are you really in that much of a hurry? Feeling hurried makes us anxious, increases blood pressure, and could possibly affect driving ability. Slow down. 

   9. Take ONLY the medications you need. Studies have shown that too many Americans are deficient in too many vitamins and minerals, mainly due to diet. Eat your vegetables. Put down the processed foods. Eat less. Lose weight. Do research. Are you taking medications to treat the side effects of other medications? Chances are you can find an alternative, natural or not, to treat the REAL underlying problem. Don't treat the symptom. FIX THE PROBLEM.

   10. Relax. American lives are stressed ones. We hurry from one place to another. We stress about paying the bills. Too many crimes are committed because we can't control our anger. 
   Take a break. Even if it means only taking a bath. Drink a cup of Nettle tea.
   Take a breath. Taking a few deep cleansing breaths can be very relaxing, and it's good for your circulatory system.
   Stretch. It keeps you limber and is also an excellent way to calm yourself.
   Exercise. A proven way to feel better. There is no argument for this one.
Alright guys, there's a start. For more tips, here's a link I found to a blog dedicated to simplification: http://zenhabits.net/simple-living-manifesto-72-ideas-to-simplify-your-life/

Rated PG-13... He curses a bit.

By Robin Sharma, author of the #1 bestseller “The Leader Who Had No Title”

1. Do important work vs. merely offering opinions.

2. Lift people up vs. tear others down.

3. Use the words of leadership vs. the language of victimhood.

4. Don’t worry about getting the credit for getting things done.

5. Become part of the solution rather than part of the problem.

6. Take your health to a level called superfit.

7. Commit to mastery of your craft instead of accepting mediocrity in your work.

8. Associate with people whose lives you want to be living.

9. Study for an hour a day. Double your learning and you’ll triple your success.

10. Run your own race. “No one can possibly achieve real and lasting success by being a conformist,” wrote billionaire J. Paul Getty

11. Do something small yet scary every single day.

12. Lead Without a Title.

13. Focus on people’s strengths vs. obsessing around their weaknesses.

14. Remember that potential unused turns into pain. So dedicate yourself to expressing your best.

15. Smile more.

16. Listen more.

17. Read the autobiography of Nelson Mandela.

18. Reflect on the words of Eleanor Roosevelt who said: “Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.”

19. Persist longer than the critics suggest you should.

20. Say “please” and “thank you”.

21. Love your loved ones.

22. Do work that matters.

Written by Robin Sharma

I want to shift gears from leadership to a pure focus on crafting an exceptional life for this blog post. Ultimately, life goes by in a blink. And too many people live the same year 80 times. To avoid getting to the end and feeling flooded regret over a live half-lived, read (and then apply) these tips:

1. Exercise daily.

2. Get serious about gratitude.

3. See your work as a craft.

4. Expect the best and prepare for the worst.

5. Keep a journal.

6. Read “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin”.

7. Plan a schedule for your week.

8. Know the 5 highest priorities of your life.

9. Say no to distractions.

10. Drink a lot of water.

11. Improve your work every single day.

12. Get a mentor.

13. Hire a coach.

14. Get up at 5 am each day.

15. Eat less food.

16. Find more heroes.

17. Be a hero to someone.

18. Smile at strangers.

19. Be the most ethical person you know.

20. Don’t settle for anything less than excellence.

21. Savor life’s simplest pleasures.

22. Save 10% of your income each month.

23. Spend time at art galleries.

24. Walk in the woods.

25. Write thank you letters to those who’ve helped you.

26. Forgive those who’ve wronged you.

27. Remember that leadership is about influence and impact, not title and accolades.

28. Create unforgettable moments with those you love.

29. Have 5 great friends.

30. Become stunningly polite.

31. Unplug your TV.

32. Sell your TV.

33. Read daily.

34. Avoid the news.

35. Be content with what you have.

36. Pursue your dreams.

37. Be authentic.

38. Be passionate.

39. Say sorry when you know you should.

40. Never miss a moment to celebrate another.

41. Have a vision for your life.

42. Know your strengths.

43. Focus your mind on the good versus the lack.

44. Be patient.

45. Don’t give up.

46. Clean up your messes.

47. Use impeccable words.

48. Travel more.

49. Read “As You Think”.

50. Honor your parents.

51. Tip taxi drivers well.

52. Be a great teammate.

53. Give no energy to critics.

54. Spend time in the mountains.

55. Know your top 5 values.

56. Shift from being busy to achieving results.

57. Innovate and iterate.

58. Speak less. Listen more.

59. Be the best person you know.

60. Make your life matter.

   Expectation postponed is making the heart sick, but the thing desired is a tree of life when it does come. -- Ecclesiastes 13:12

   If something anticipated arrives too late it finds us numb, wrung out from waiting, and we feel - nothing at all. The best things arrive on time. -- Dorothy Gilman

   Which way do you feel?

   I sometimes feel like someone rescued from the frying pan just to be thrown into the fire... And other times, I stop to ponder exactly how blessed I feel to know the things I know, to have the things I have.
   For some reason, maybe it's Seasonal Affective Disorder (in the past, I have felt down during the winter months), I find myself in a different frame of mind as of late. I feel tired. Numb. Wrung out. 
   Does anyone else feel this way? Maybe that's why we're all getting so irritable. Common courtesy is becoming something of an endangered species. Conversations turn into arguments because no one is patient enough to really listen. Road rage is causing more and more accidents. People are getting killed for reasons as mundane as someone wanting their shoes, or, even crazier, a simple loss of temper. Does anyone follow Bible counsel anymore to practice self-control? But I digress...
   I know that to some people it sounds strange to say that I find a bit of respite in cooking. Others talk about how they feel when they read, exercise or travel. I love doing all those things. Yet when I experiment with flavors and find that what I have created tastes, not just good, but even savory, it's actually a small ego boost! And I don't have do go anywhere to do it!
   One thing about food: you make it one meal at a time. It doesn't last. That means every time you cook, it's a re-creation of sustenance... and of self. Forgive me if a get a little philosophical. I'm just putting into words how it feels to create a piece of perishable art!
  Perishable art. Sometimes I wish there were a way to save the thing about a singular meal that makes it so exciting, so delicious! That's another thing about food: it never gets old. It never gets boring. Not if you let it, that is.
Can I tell you something? People are NOT inherently good. We were all born into sin and are inclined to do bad things. That's why the Bible urges us to transform our personalities. People (this includes YOU) will always do the thing that serves themselves first, unless they have mastered this transformation, and even then, since they are human, they will consider being selfish because it is their first inclination.

That said, here are 5 things we should all do:

1. Stop feeling sorry for yourself because someone else let you think that you are worthless. YOU are the one that tells people how to treat you, whether you give them a funny look or actually say it out loud. Things hurt our feelings because WE LET THEM. Just remember, in between stimulus and response (in the human world) is CHOICE. You feel and act the way you do because you THINK the way you do.

Just as you can choose to let a disparaging comment affect you, you can also let a truly positive comment affect you, even in a negative way. How many of us have said, "Pfft! She didn't really mean that. She was just trying to be nice." Why not take positive things at face value? Let them lift you up!

2. Your worth is not determined by what you do, how much you earn, or how much you weigh. Ask yourself, "How do I feel when I fail?" Consider: A car's worth doesn't come from the fact that the engine runs, that it's faster or prettier than other cars, or that it functions at a higher lever than a bicycle. It's worth comes from who made it. It's worth comes from the name on the bumper. A BMW costs more than an Acura (both expensive cars) primarily because of the name. 

In your case, remember that our Creator made you in HIS image. As humans, we have more worth than anything else on the planet! But no one has more worth than the other. We are all equal in His eyes. The Scriptures say we are only dust, and yet we are precious to Him! Otherwise, he would not have sent his son to die for us. 

3. Forgive others for their being unfair to you. As someone who needs to work on this, I myself am at a bit of a loss as to how to do this. What does it mean to forgive? Merriam Webster says it means "to cease to feel resentment, or to release from payment (as in, forgiving a debt)". That's interesting. The Lord's Prayer asks that God forgive our debts, as we forgive those of others. That makes sense, given this definition of forgiveness.

How about this: Has this ever crossed your mind? "I can't change. What so-and-so did to me made me the way I am. I can't change. THIS IS WHO I AM!" 

That's garbage. Remember: you CHOOSE to let things affect you for good or bad. And you can choose to change how you feel about yourself. Instead: Release these people (the ones who have mistreated you) from payment. Technically, their payment would be to apologize. Most people won't apologize anyway, so why not "release" them from this obligation and forgive them regardless?

Ceasing to feel resentment, again, is a choice. The only way one can do this completely is to chalk it up as an affirmation of who YOU are. "I feel better about myself because I know I could never do that to another person." OR  "Wow. That was sobering. I realize that I could be guilty of doing the same thing to someone else! I'll be more careful in the future."

4. Quit whining. As someone who was once diagnosed with major depression, I can tell you that whining really does no good. Misery does not love company. Not that way. On the other hand, a comforting word from a close friend or a respected older person who has been there can make all the difference in the world. Rather than isolating yourself and hibernating in your house, seek out healthy friendships. Tell them you appreciate them. And the reciprocation will make you feel good about yourself.

But what if it's one of my close friends that has hurt me, you ask? Read Number 3 again.

Think about this: if you made ten friends and all but one left you or hurt you in some way, it would still be worth all that effort to make, and keep, that one remaining friend. 

5. Be grateful. When I was suffering with depression, it was suggested to me to get a journal and, every day, write down five things I'm grateful for. I wrote down things like: candlelight, blue skies, the crackle of dead leaves on the pavement, my father, my creativity, beautiful music, the sense of touch... Why not do this for yourself? It makes you more aware of the world around you and of the fact that it was made for your enjoyment. It also helps you to realize how very precious and fragile we all are and to appreciate even the very small, simple things. It is often the simple things that bring the most joy to our hearts.

We live in difficult times, and it is not surprising that so many of you, my dear friends, are feeling down. I want you to know that I have been there, and I understand, and I love you.  The Devil is definitely working hard on all of us. But you can refuse to give up!

"Therefore we do not give up, but even if the man we are outside is wasting away, certainly the man we are inside is being renewed from day to day. For though the tribulation is momentary and light, it works out for us a glory that is of more and more surpassing weight and is everlasting; while we keep our eyes, not on the things seen, but on the things unseen. For the things seen are temporary, but the things unseen are everlasting."  -- 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

"He is giving to the tired one power; and to the one without dynamic energy he makes full might abound. Boys will both tire out and grow weary, and young men themselves will without fail stumble, but those who are hoping in Jehovah will regain power. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not tire out.”  --Isaiah 40:29-31

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