Mission Statement – Life On Purpose

When companies want to define their direction – define their values – they write a mission statement. I find it useful to write mission statements for personal projects, like my blogs… but then I thought,

Why don’t I have Mission Statement for my Life?

After all… its the biggest project of all!

But…what is a Mission Statement anyway?

A Mission Statement is simply a formal declaration of aims, direction, core values, and beliefs. Now that we have our personal Core Values in front of us, a Mission Statement is easier to prepare.

A Mission Statement keeps me focused – a decision either fits or doesn’t fit my Mission.

A Mission Statement isn’t complicated, it isn’t fancy –  its a simple statement – one or two sentences tops. Think of it like those header topics on an old-fashioned outline  – it keeps you on track, like a map when you zoom out and see the line from one and to the other.  A Mission Statement isn’t about the details, its not about plans or timelines – its a theme for how we want to live.

I tend to update my Mission Statement every year, just as I modify and update goals – it keeps me focused, it keeps me Living on Purpose.  

What does your Mission Statement Say?

Determining Your Core Values

Today we start to define our Core Values…narrow down 4 or 5 values that underpin our life…the ideas and beliefs that influence and inform the decisions we make and the actions we take. Our Core Values influence – or should influence – everything we do. When we work against our Core Values, we feel unsettled, unsatisfied, not right, not on purpose.

But how do I figure out what my Core Values are?

One way we can determine our Core Values is to examine certain aspects of our life so far. Try answering these questions and see where it leads you. A word of warning – you don’t want to get to caught up in reliving these moments – just observe them and appreciate what they brought to your life – and then put them back to bed.

What were the happiest moments in my life?

Our happiest moments can tell us a great deal about what we value  – examine these moments for common threads:What was I doing? Who was I with? Where was I? Was there a specific need that this moment fulfilled?

What were the proudest moments in my life?

Our proudest moments can also tell us a great deal. Again, examine these moments for common threads: What was I doing? Who was I with? Where was I? What did I accomplish? How?

What makes me – right now – feel the most peaceful and content with my life?

The moments we feel peace, contentment – the moments we feel like “ah, this is just right” are the moments we are living in our purpose. Even if we don;t know it. Even if what we are doing isn’t big and important. What does this for you? Close your eyes and imagine one of these moments – ask yourself: What am I doing? Who am I with? Where am I? How do I feel?

What were the moments in my life when I felt shame?

Those time when we felt shame can help us to identify the “un-priorities” – the people or activities that we want to be sure to avoid in future. Sometimes we can identify self-destructive tendencies by looking at these moments – but remember that this is not the time to get caught up in the past – just observe these moments and let them go again. Look for common threads:What was I doing? Who was I with? Where was I? What about this made me feel so bad?

Now, take all of this and look for the themes, the beliefs, the values that lie underneath.

This isn’t a pop quiz, its an exercise that should take some thought – perhaps a bit of pondering. Some values may pop right out – others may be more subtle. This is your life, so take the time to really think about what is important to you.

Not sure? Feeling stumped? Need a nudge? There lists of common values all over the web – a not very comprehensive list would maybe include:

Acceptance, Achievement, Adaptability, Adventure, Balance, Beauty, Boldness, Cheerfulness, Cleverness, Compassion, Curiosity, Dependability, Discipline, Elegance, Empathy, Faith, Family, Fidelity, Freedom, Generosity, Grace, Honesty, Honor, Independence, Intelligence, Intuition, Justice, Leadership, Love, Loyalty, Originality, Optimism, Patriotism, Perfection, Practicality, Professionalism, Prudence, Reliability, Resourcefulness, Security, Selflessness, Service, Simplicity, Strength, Teamwork, Thankfulness, Thoughtfulness, Tolerance, Trustworthiness, Uniqueness, Usefulness, Vision.

So select 4 or 5 words that seem to fit your patterns…

I know – all the words look good, they all look like values I want to have. And choosing 4 or 5 seems so…like I’m not choosing others, right? but not choosing, say, patriotism doesn’t mean you aren’t patriotic – it just means that it isn’t one of your most important values. We want to identify the most important – because those values are the keys to our purpose, to how we tick, And – surprise! – they will change over time. My younger self would have made some different choices…and that’s ok – its normal. We grow, we change, life around us changes – so why would we not shift the importance of certain values?

Values help us identify what our priorities should be!

What did you discover?

When to Say No

Living Life on Purpose means I have to define my priorities – I have to decide what is important and what is not. I also have to learn what sidetracks me, what distracts me, and eliminate those distractions that can be eliminated…or at least reduce them! I need to know when to say “No” … I need to learn how to say “No” … 

Saying “No” to non-priorities sets me free. (Tweet this)

Saying “No” was difficult for me – I’m a people-pleaser by nature, and setting boundaries was always my challenge. I hate to disappoint, I hate to feel like I’m not doing my share… so I always over-committed – I would say Yes even when No was the only sane option! Needless to say, this was a recipe for burn-out…

Saying “No” is an act of Love…

Learning to say “No” when I needed to is an act of Love – Love for myself, and Love for my family(who suffer when I burn-out). Learning to say “No” is also an act of respect – Respect for my time, yes – but also Respect for the person who was asking for my time. How disrespectful to say “Yes” when I can’t commit 100%!

Saying “No” frees me to say “Yes”…

Learning to say “No” freed me to say “Yes’ when “Yes” was the right choice. Saying “No” to time-wasters, saying “No” to projects that don’t bring me closer to my goals, saying “No” to distractions, saying “No” to activities or people that take me away from my purpose… saying “No” to all of this gives me space to breathe, time to think, options for “Yeses”.

But HOW do I say No?

Learning to say “No” was hard for me. Oh, it was easy when my son or husband wanted something and I was frazzled and snapped, “NO!: in frustration – but saying “No” to others? Saying “No” in a loving manner? That was hard. Remember, I’m a people-pleaser at heart – and saying “No” doesn’t give me that reward of having pleased someone.

I had to practice saying “No”.  I had to think about it, I had to rehearse it, I had to anticipate when I would be asked to do something I would have to say “No” to. It felt fake – like I was a child playing a game – but after some time it became real.

Today, take a little time out to see what you should say “No” to in your life – where have you over-committed? where are you shortchanging yourself or your family? where are you being pulled away from your priorities? your goals?

What can you say “No” to in your life?

Living Life on Purpose

Life happens to me and to you whether we pay attention to it or not – so why not choose to live our lives on purpose?
(Tweet this)


Welcome to 31 Days of Living Life on Purpose! 

But … what is Living Life on Purpose, you ask?

Well…what is purpose? Oxford Dictionaries defines purpose as “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists” …

The Online Etymology Dictionary tells me that on purpose, meaning “by design“, dates from the early 1400s… and that the roots of purpose mean “intention, aim, goal“.

So…Living Life on Purpose is living life by design – with intention – with aim – with goals.

Easy, right? or maybe not so easy…

I know how easy it is to become sidetracked, to be caught up in life’s busyness and then suddenly realize “WOW – another year gone by…” 

That would be me living my life without a defined purpose, without direction – without the results I desire. In fact, that would be a lot of my life – time spent working really, really hard with not an awful lot to show for it, time spent running around in circles…too many moments of wondering where all the time went…too many regrets… 

and then I realized…

the time didn’t go anywhere, I just didn’t always choose where to spend it, where to aim, I far too often let my time – my life – slip away!

Now – I am certainly not perfect, and I am not promising a miracle cure – not for you and not for me. But I have learned and I have developed skills and created new habits that I want to share with anyone else who sometimes wonders where the days have gone.

My goal for the month of October is to explore Living Life with Purpose… Living Life Deliberately… Living Life with Considered Choices… 

Will you join me for this series?

Making Your Home Your Haven

Does your home pamper you? Maybe its time for a change!

 My home is my castle, my fortress, my haven. It is a peaceful abode where I am free to be myself, where I can unload my troubles at the end of the day and find peace.

In our busy, busy world, many of us overlook one of the more important functions of a home: to provide a haven from the outside world.  We get the food and shelter part down pat, but overlook the little touches that say “this is home”. We claim we are too busy, but are we truly too busy to care for ourselves in this way? After all, we can sleep or eat just about anywhere, but a home that is also one’s haven provides priceless stress relief!

What do we have here?

The first step is to evaluate what you already have.  You may want to create a little journal for this process, as it may help you to organize your thoughts. Try to enter your home as if you were a visitor: what do you notice first?  Write it down! Do not judge or justify your impressions, just record them.  This isn’t a punishment, but rather a gentle exercise. You are recording where you are right now, not where you will always be!

How does your home smell when you first walk through the door? Is it a pleasant scent? Is it welcoming? Do you smell your favorite scent, whether it be a perfume or flowers or potpourri or cooking? Does you smell stale smoke or closed up stale air? or pets odors? Again, record your observations.  This is important, because we may not even notice the scents of our home any longer, we become to accustom to them – but the signature scent of your home should be something dear to you.

Now, just as you recorded what you smelled, take a moment to notice what sounds you hear.  Is there soft music? Or the ticking of a great clock? Children playing? Noisy neighbors? Construction or traffic sounds from outside?

What is before you? What do you see? Is the entryway well lit and welcoming? Are you stumbling over jackets and boots? Is there something beautiful to greet you and your guests? What do you love about your entryway? What do you wish you could change?

Now slowly walk through your home, room to room, and record your observations.  Again, no judgment! This is the time to pretend you are a detective who is trying to learn more about the occupants of the house. What does each room tell you? What do these people love? What do they value?

Once you have gone through each room, take a few minutes in your favorite reading place and review your notes for each room. Ponder upon how you would like your home to greet you after a long day.


When I did this exercise in my own home, after being away for ten days, I learned that my entryway smelled like the former tenant’s cat! I had become so accustomed to this that I no longer noticed it! I immediately scheduled a deodorizing shampoo for the entry carpet.  I also committed to simmering spices in the mornings during the cold weather (I prefer spices and citrus) to scent our home before I left for work. This left a soft scent to greet me in the evening when I returned.  In the warmer weather I switch over to a homemade “airspray” with lavender and gentle green scents. I also noticed that my backdoor entry, which leads directly into my kitchen, was far more welcoming than my front entry.

Learn about the possibilities…

It is very easy to look into a beautiful shelter magazine and say “Wow, that is a beautiful room!  I’ll copy it”.  But if a room doesn’t truly reflect your lifestyle, your comfort, and your loves it will not work. It may be beautiful, but it will not make your heart sing. So instead of looking at the glossy books, look at areas of your own home that make you feel the most relaxed and at ease. Examine them and try to figure out what makes you happy in those rooms. Is it a color scheme? A combination of favorite textures?  A collection of precious (to you) items?

What are your favorite colors? Are they reflected in your home decor? Is there a place to cuddle up and read? Do you have plants or flowers? Do your dishes and glasses make you smile or do you cringe when you serve up dinner? Do you use your good china or do you store it away for “some day”? Do your bedclothes soothe you to sleep? Are you surrounded by items you love? Or by clutter and meaningless knick-knacks? Ignore what fashion (or your mother or best friend) says and think truly about what sort of furniture you enjoy! Do you prefer simple Mission style? Or intricately carved pieces? Is mid-century modern to your taste? What about elegant Chippendale? This exercise is about learning your own tastes, so let you imagination fly free. Perhaps you can look through a few books on furnishings from your local library, or browse through new and antique furniture stores to see what calls to you! Do not buy anything, just look and learn.

Now its time to engage with your home…

By now your journal may be filled with notes on what you love (and don’t love). You may have had epiphanies as you discover your own style. You may be full of energy and raring to go! Or, you may be looking at your little notebooks and saying “Wow! So much to do! How will this ever get done?”  Fear not! Home style is developed over time, as time and budgets and other resources allow. The key is this: now that you know when you like, only purchase what you will love for your home. Life is too short to not be surrounded with beauty.  And beauty is not just expensive stuff! Beauty is a handful of wildflowers tucked into a glass jar.  It is your favorite seashells lovingly displayed.  It is a laundry room painted your favorite bright color – just to make you smile! It is the rooms you share with your loved ones in peace and comfort.

So we begin to bring beauty and comfort back into our home.  For one person this may mean an old-fashioned top-to-bottom cleaning, followed by reorganizing what you already have on hand.  For another, it may be slowly trading up cheap “beginner” furniture for pieces of quality. And for a third person it may mean addressing more serious issues. All changes begin with baby steps, and step number one will almost always involve cleaning!

Next you will decide what you want your personal “eau de home” to smell like. While some do prefer the smell of chemical air fresheners, most of us prefer something a little more personal – a combination of scents that uniquely reflect out own personality. My house “aroma” in winter is a combination of simmering spices with orange peel, whatever is cooking for dinner, and wood smoke (from the crackling fire in the fireplace). In the summer my home smells of fresh air, lavender (I tend to use it a lot in cleaning), lemon (also used in cleaning), a various potted herbs. Those are my loves – what are yours? As long as you maintain a light touch (you want to inspire feelings of peace and comfort, not headaches!) you can experiment with just about any scent you can imagine!

The sounds of our home are sometimes not entirely within our control – I certainly have had days where I could cheerfully throttle my neighbor’s landscapers, with their outrageously loud, droning (and stinky!) leaf blowers! But review your notes and consider which aspects of your home’s aural presentation can be tuned to a more pleasing note. I enjoy leaving a radio tuned to a non-commercial classical music station, and at a very low volume, so that I am greeted with a just-barely-perceptible but gracious welcome note upon my arrival home. Perhaps your preference is for jazz? Or complete silence with the simple ticking of a grandfather clock to mark the peaceful silence?

Now you have a clean home, filled with pleasing scents and sounds. What next? Go back to your entryway and look again. Is there clutter? Deal with it. Anything need a good scrubbing? Deal with it. Once it is clean and shining, review your notes.  Is there too much furniture? Too little? Does the paint need refreshing? Do you need art? Are there a bunch of mis-matched prints and photos hanging all over? Well, you guessed it…deal with it! (Do be sure to “shop your home” before looking further abroad – we often have wonderful treasures right under our noses!)

Once the entryway is completed, stop! Plan your next step, but be sure to give yourself ample time. Your house isn’t going anywhere (or if it is, that is beyond the scope of this article!) You are creating a haven, and havens take time. We often stumble and fall in our plans because we try to do too much at once.  Remember that each room should reflect your loves, your needs, your family, your tastes.

A little inspiration…

You and your family deserve a home that surrounds you in peace and joy when you are within. A place where you are happy to welcome friends and family. Be sure to plan ample light and soft places to land, colors that bring you peace in the bedroom and energy in the kitchen, soft sheets and warm blankets and fluffy towels.

Don’t forget that your home, your haven, will continue to develop over time, just as families do! Your home should reflect changes in your lifestyle, it is a constantly evolving work. Remember, home is more than a house – it is love and family and commitment and the memories that bind you all together.

“My home…it is my retreat and resting place…I try to keep this corner as a haven against the tempest outside, as I do another corner in my soul.” – Michel de Montaigne

Originally published on Yahoo.

Put a Little Magick into Your Spring Cleaning

Spring cleaning can be a tiresome and tedious chore, or it can be a ritual of appreciation. It’s your choice!

Many of us embark on cleaning sprees when the sunny weather returns in early spring, throwing open the windows and sweeping the dust and drear of winter away. In “olden days”, a major spasm of cleaning was necessary to remove the accumulated soot of fires and candles and oil lamps – nowadays spring cleaning seems to be more about de-cluttering and transitioning seasonal clothes and home accessories. Here are a few little rituals to add a little magick to your spring cleaning!

Swept Away

First, open all the windows and doors, allowing the crisp spring breezes to blow away the stale, closed in air. Sprinkle some lavender buds on the carpets (you may want to test this in an inconspicuous spot if you have a pricy or rare carpet) and spray some homemade airspray throughout your rooms. Take a few moments to breathe the fresh air and pretty scents. Then vacuum the carpets and sweep the floors, imagining the negative energies filling your vacuum bag or your dustpan, ready to be tossed into the trash!

How do you make airspray? Simple! Fill a mister bottle ¾ full with white vinegar, add 1 teaspoon baking soda and 5-20 drops of your favorite essential oils. Once it has stopped bubbling, cap the bottle and spray away. My favorite at springtime is a mix of lavender and rosemary oils, and in fall or winter I adore combining sweet orange with a touch of clove and cinnamon oils…mmmm. Experiment until you find your favorite!

Beautiful, Inside and Out

Many of us tend to focus on external appearances, ignoring underpinnings to our detriment. And just as healthy diet and exercise are the keys to a fabulous figure and complexion, having organized closets and drawers are the keys to peace of mind. How? Well, you may not realize it consciously, but messy and cluttered closets are actually a drain on your energy every day! In feng shui, cluttered “insides” are considered to block energy flows and harbor negative energy. We don’t want that – so perhaps it is time for an intervention?

It is easy to become discouraged when decluttering, so be sure to pick one closet, or one chest of drawers to work on. And you will work on it with intention, honoring the items within, selecting some items to stay and others to move onto another place. And whether that new place is a different storage space in your home, a charity donation, a hand-me-down, or simply the trash is up to you. Only you know best what to do with your items!

So put on some soft music, something gentle and soothing. Spray a bit of your airspray. And begin. Remove each item, thank it for its service, and select where it will go next. Spend the time to truly honor your memories with items you find hard to let go – perhaps taking photographs of treasures you no longer wish to keep, but do not want to entirely let go. Hurrying this process will only lead to putting too many items back!

Once you have cleared out your closet or drawers, clean them. Decide if new shelf paper or drawer liners are in order. Ponder possible new arrangements. And then begin to put away the items that will continue to reside in this space.

The hardest part? Packing up the items for charity, hand-me-downs and trash. Pack them up right away, and put them outside of your home immediately. The car is fine for the donations, but dropping them off is even better.

Now, breathe deeply. Gaze upon your newly arranged space. Appreciate it.

No more scary chemicals!

The bathroom can be a scary place: mold and mildew and germs, oh my! To many, the solution is to blanket the room in a layer of chemicals – but the fumes and residues are not a good thing! Oh no! What to do? Ahhh…Mother Nature has it all worked out. A few simple ingredients and you too can have a safe, aromatherapeutic cleaning session in the scariest room of the house!

First, open the windows -fresh and and UV light are the sworn enemy of many smells and slimy things that lurk and grow in the corners. Next, sprinkle baking soda (yes, that’s right – baking soda!) in the tub, the sink and the toilet. Baking soda is a safe and effective scrubbing agent, with no bleach to worry about. Have a lot of grime and need a little more power? Add some white vinegar and voila! nature’s own scrubbing bubbles! I actually had a problem once with a rental property – the shower had years of grime built up. I asked a plumber for a product recommendation, expecting some chemical powercleaner, and he told me he uses baking soda and vinegar! A paste of this applied to truly stubborn grime will slowly soften it so that you can scrub it away (and I do mean scrub!).

But what about the germs, you ask? Well, the white vinegar is a very mild germicide, but my secret weapon is tea tree essential oil! I put about 10 drops of this into the toilet to soak once a week, and I make a strong but gentle spray cleaner with 2 cups white vinegar, 20 drops tea tree essential oil and 20 drops rosemary essential oil. For kicks, I sometimes add lavender until it smells like a lovely day in the fields. This spray is antimicrobial, antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antibacterial….and it will not injure the baby if it spills on her, although you will not want to drink it!

So where is the magick? Magick is about intention, about ritual. Open your windows, sprinkle, spray and scrub the dirt away. Rinse away soil and cares. Surround yourself and your loved ones with soft scents, shining surfaces and fluffy towels.

Finish with cleansing yourself! Run a bath in your clean tub, sprinkle a handful of sweet smelling herbs or a drop (or two) of scented oil, and perform the same “scrub and rinse” on yourself. Feel the cares of the day seep out of your muscles and skin and into the water. Rinse away the sorrows and the pains, allowing the light of spring to creep into your heart and soul – for what is a home but the reflection of our hearts and souls? Truly welcome the new season: the season of sunlight and gentle rains, of growing and blooming, or rebirth and renewal. Step out of the old and into the new!

Originally published on Yahoo.

Spring Cleaning Without the Scary Chemicals

It really is not very difficult to spring clean with eco-friendly products and a little smart planning. In this article, I share how I approach the annual spring cleaning with gentle, homemade cleaners.

Call me crazy, but I love Spring Cleaning! The whole concept of “out with the old and in with the new” just seems to fit perfectly with the season of new growth. And because I prefer to live a gentler, low-impact life, I look towards how our forebears approached this annual rite. Our great-grandmothers didn’t have the plethora of chemical cleaning products we do today, and yet they kept a clean house – how? Well, some of the concoctions I came across in my research seem downright dangerous (laundering with kerosene, anyone?) but many old-time tips I read were for safe, non-toxic potions – downright eco-friendly!

For a natural carpet freshener, I combine baking powder and lavender buds in a shaker jar. For fine or antique carpets, you should test ANY cleaning product on an inconspicuous corner before using. I shake the powder onto my carpets and let stand for 20 minutes or so while I work in another room. This powder is safe if baby or pets run across it – unlike some chemical preparations!

Over time, and with a growing family, I came to adapt many of these gentle, non-toxic ideas for my own use. The number one weapons in my cleaning arsenal are white vinegar, baking soda, and my own brain. Planning and organization are the unsung heroes of spring cleaning – but one experience of cleaning the house top to bottom with no plan will taught me the value of a plan! So before I do anything, I make a master list. My master list includes tasks for each room, plus tasks for areas that might be overlooks, like hallways or the front porch windows. Then I break this down into an action plan for each room, and gather my arsenal of supplies: vinegar, baking soda, liquid castile soap, natural essential oils, spray bottle, bucket, clean rags or cloths, broom, and mop.

Vinegar and water is safe for wood floors, with the caveat that you want your cloth just barely damp, NOT wet.

I like to start each room with a de-cluttering session – removing items that don’t belong in a room, tossing any trash, and recycling unneeded items to charity. Then I start on the outsides and work my way in. Curtains come down for laundering (with bedding if I am working on a bedroom), windows and trim are washed, windows are then opened to allow in that fresh clean air, walls wiped down, floors swept and mopped (some floors do require scrubbing!), furniture pulled aside to clean underneath, furniture dusted and washed down on all sides, and then everything put back neat as a pin!

I wash windows with a white vinegar and water solution- it may smell like a chip shop for a few minutes, but that vinegar aroma fades very quickly – I promise! I apply and “scrub” with one rag, and then dry and polish the glass with a clean cloth. If you have newspapers handy, you can use them instead of cloths. If the windows are truly grimy, I might add a few drops of liquid castile soap to my solution – if you add soap, you must remember to rinse with clear water!

The kitchen is the heart of the home and should be kept fresh and clean. This is one room where I really appreciate eco-friendly cleaners! After all, who wants stinky, dangerous chemicals near their food? While I prefer to make my own cleaners, you may prefer to purchase some. There are several good brands available nationally, like Mrs. Meyers, Seventh Generation, Method and more. The kitchen has special needs – the refrigerator can hold all sorts of food messes, pantry shelves can hide crumbs, and what might be lurking in the oven? This is the room that I like to tackle in two parts. Day One would be “declutter and inventory” day – tossing expired foods and creating a list of what needs to be replenished. As I take foods off each pantry or refrigerator shelf, I wipe down the shelf with a vinegar and water solution. This way, the pantry almost seems to clean itself!

I pull out any bins from the refrigerator and wash them in a liquid castile soap and hot water and let them dry in the sunshine. I scrub refrigerator stains (or crud!) with a gentle paste made with water and baking soda – and if I’m feeling fancy I might add a few drops of a natural essential oil such as mint or orange or lavender for scent! Once the sticky stuff is gone, I wipe down the entire interior and exterior with undiluted vinegar, for its disinfecting action.

On Day Two, I tackle the big stuff: wipe down stovetop, clean the oven, wipe down walls, scrub floors, and wash windows. And that sounds a lot scarier than it really is! While I’m washing windows, I am also heating a dish of lemon water in the microwave to loosen debris so that it wipes off easily. I use a dedicated mop to wash down the walls, easy peasy!

Oven cleaners can be the scariest chemical concoction in your kitchen! Just take a look at all the warnings – it gives me the creeps! So I use a paste of baking soda and water and just scrub away. If the oven is truly a mess, I may step up to borax – in a spray bottle, combine 1-2 teaspoons of liquid castile soap and 1-2 tablespoons borax with about a quart of warm water. Spray it on and let it do its work for 20 minutes and then wipe clean. Keeping the oven clean is easier than letting it get cruddy and then trying to undo months of mess at once. If something spills, wipe it up!

The scariest germs probably lurk in the bathroom – at least in our imaginations! But I keep them at bay with my trusty green cleaners! I keep a pretty spray bottle with diluted rubbing alcohol and about 20-30 drops of natural essential oil (lavender is divine!) in the shower – I spray it after a shower to help prevent mildew.

I regularly clean the bathroom with homemade cleaners. Baking soda and vinegar does wonders in the toilet! Adding 10 drops of tea tree or rosemary essential oil adds anti-microbial action! My method is to sprinkle the backing powder in the tank, add the oil and then the vinegar. The solution will foam up (nature’s own scrubbing bubbles!) – I let this stand for 10 minutes, then swish and flush! I keep an 8 ounce spray bottle of white vinegar and water with 10-20 drops each tea tree, rosemary and lavender essential oils handy at all times – this is used to disinfect all surfaces. I sprinkle baking soda in the sink and tub, spray with my vinegar solution and scrub away!

So as you can see, it really is not very difficult to spring clean with eco-friendly products and a little smart planning. And you don’t have to convert all at once – take small steps and see what works for you!

Originally published on Yahoo.

Bible Verses that Walked with Me

In my deepest moments of need, I find that the Bible is my truest friend, always leading me to a path I can take. I have shared a few verses that have helped me in my walk – maybe one will speak to you?

I find inspiration in many places – in poems and plays, in sunlight dappling thru trees to dance across flowers in my garden, and in my children. In my deepest moments of need, I find that the Bible is my truest friend, always leading me to a path I can take.

All the rivers run into the sea; yet the sea [is] not full; unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again. – Ecclesiastes 1:7

This verse brought me so much solace in the aftermath of 9/11. My younger brother, Tommy, was killed on that blindingly beautiful and terrible day. The idea that he had returned from whence he came was deeply comforting to me and to my son. In my mind, we were droplets of water set to run our course thru rains and rivers ‘” some moments cold and dark, others murky, and still others sparkling brightly in the sun ‘” until we meet Him once again in the sea.

My son struggled terribly with anger and doubts – with how a loving and merciful Father could allow such a terrible event. We talked and talked. We shared our anger, our pain, our love. Finally, my dearest friend asked him, “where were you before you were born?”, which sparked a conversation about time and eternity. Finally, he came to see that he has been there more than here — that he was in the Sea and then, after a brief sojourn on Earth, he will return There.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. – Psalm 23

Several years ago, I took a short walk to the local hardware store to purchase seeds. The store was about a half a mile from my home. As I walked, I noted dark clouds blowing in and the rich scent of earth that precedes a storm. From the looks of the clouds, I figured I would be “there and back again” before the rains started. I was in the shop for a total of about 10 minutes. Seeds selected and paid for, I turned for the door and gasped as the bright midday light had been replaced by a dark green-grey gloom. Now thinking I had just enough time to jog home before the rains, I started running. I hadn’t gone 100 yards before the skies opened and a torrential downpour commenced. I slowed to down to a walk as the road gutters quickly flooded and became roaring streams. As I reach the “halfway point” between the store and my house, cars stopped in the roads, winds picked up to hurricane strength, and great jags of lightening flashed all around me. The force of the wind-driven rain was actually bruising me! I felt completely alone. I ran up the steps the tiny church on the corner, hoping to seek shelter there, but the doors were barred. Branches and entire trees started coming down from the winds, and I realized I had to make a decision. So I prayed. The words “yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me” resonated with me, creating within me the ability to walk thru my fear. When I finally made it up our driveway, I was soaked to the skin, shivering with cold and fear, but secure in the knowledge that He was watching over me. Later in the evening, I learned the storm was in fact three separate (and unpredicted) microburst storms that slammed into each other right over where I was walking.

A sound heart [is] the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones. ‘” Proverbs 14:30KJV ~ A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. NIV

A merry heart doeth good [like] a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.- Proverbs 17:22 KJV

There are several references to the state of one’s heart in Proverbs. Perhaps because we have a choice? Although I often have to be reminded of this, with Grace I do have the choice from moment to moment to respond in kindness from a merry heart ‘” or from a heart that is filled with gall. This Proverb serves as a dual reminder: that I can choose how I react to any moment given to me – and to not covet, to not give way to greed and consumerism, to perhaps walk two miles in another’s shoes before acting the judge.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Matthew 5:7

The merciful man does good to his own soul: but he that is cruel troubles his own flesh. Proverbs 11:17

Mercy. Shakespeare wrote beautifully about the quality of mercy. The Bible instructs us to be merciful not only to our loved ones, but to our enemies. What a difficult charge this is! As I grow older, I find it easier to extend mercy, knowing how often it has been extended to me. After Tommy was killed, several of the men wanted to simply eradicate entire countries in their grief and anger and outrage. Eventually, I couldn’t take hearing this, and I shouted, “enough! I don’t want another sister to feel this pain, or another mother and father to bury a child gone too soon to violence, or another child to grow up fatherless.” I think that may be the most blatant example in my life of the difference between traditional masculine and feminine values!

The men wanted to act, even if wrong-headedly. I wanted to nurture, to comfort my parents and to try and ease the burden from my sister-in-law. I wasn’t meaning to be merciful. But afterwards, whenever I think of that moment, I realized that I was blessed in that moment. The person I have been growing into being crystallized with that decision. To be merciful and not vengeful in that moment was when I shed one skin for another.

Am I always such a saint? Hardly! But I know that I have someone to lean upon who is far stronger than I and who can bear my burdens for me when I need a rest. And He did in that moment.

10 Ways to Become More Productive Starting Today

1 – Sleep. Make sure you get enough sleep – good quality sleep. The average person needs 7-9 hours of sleep per night to be truly rested and productive, so cut out the late nights and go to bed an hour earlier. Make sure to cut out late-in-the-day caffeine and other stimulants, and sleep in a quiet, dark room for the best rest. Oh, and leave your electronic devices in another room to recharge overnight!

2 – Eat breakfast. That’s right, eat something for breakfast – but don’t just grab a pastry or a can of something, take the time to eat something healthy. And make sure your breakfast includes protein for staying power! My go-to “I’m in a hurry” breakfasts include: mini veggie quiches (I make them ahead for a week at a time), yoghurt and fruit smoothies, or sliced apple with cheddar. A good breakfast will fuel your day and keep you clear-headed.

3 – Move your body. Spend 15 minutes every morning in gentle movement to get your heart pumping, your blood circulating, and your brain humming. What do I do? I do a few minutes of light, impromptu aerobic dancing followed by a few minutes of yoga. Then I walk a mile to the train

4 – Take 5 to Plan. Take just 5 minutes to plan your day – a simple list or a fancy schedule, as long as it covers what you need to get done. Some people like to do this the night before, some people prefer to do it in the morning – but however you prefer it, DO IT. And be sure to prioritize items that cannot be pushed off to another day. A few minutes of planning can save you hours of frustration when you missed a payment deadline – or a business opportunity deadline!

5 – Take 5 to be Grateful. Take a few moments every day to recognize what is good in your life, and to express gratitude: to God, to family, to friends, to co-workers, to clients, to anyone who has contributed something good to your life. This can be a prayer, dashing off a quick note, or a hug – whatever is appropriate. Try to always recognize the moments where a simple thank you can be said,

6 – Disconnect. That’s right – turn off your phone, your email, your internet – disconnect. Not forever, but for periods of time when you need to focus. Successful people understand the importance of keeping “hours” for email and phone. Unless one is truly have a life-or-death moment, there is no excuse for checking texts, emails and social feeds 24/7. Not to mention that this is just rude! Turn everything off at bedtime, keep everything off until needed in the daytime.

7 – Drink Enough Water. Steer clear of coffee and soda and “energy drinks” and keep hydrated – your brain will thank you! Caffeine and sugar may provide a quick jolt, but in the long run you are more productive without them. I keep a refillable water bottle on my desk.

8 – Do Not Compare. Don’t compare your results, your goals, your life to those of other folks – this only leads to dissatisfaction and is a major distraction from what you should be doing. Focus on your goals, your results, and what you can do at any given time. Can we still look to others for inspiration? Of course! But if you find your inner voice becoming discouraged, discontented or envious – it’s time to look at you and not at someone else.

9 – Use Your Commute Reading. Whether you prefer regular books, ebooks, or audio books – commute time is an ideal time to keep up to date with your reading list. (And we all have a reading list, right? A list of key non-fiction titles that will keep us current in our fields, inspire us, help us to grow…)

10 – Slow down! Take time to breath, time to plan, time to just think. Productivity isn’t about rushing around, it’s about creating results. You cannot create over the long haul if you crash and burn, so pace yourself.

From: How to Build Your Successful Life