What’s Love Got to Do with (Politics)?

barack-and-michelle
Our last week as leaders of the free world, then…VACATION!!

First things first: This Farewell Presidential Address was amazing. But regardless of your opinions on policies and decisions made by the 44th President of the United States, I think everyone can agree on one thing: President Obama loves First Lady Michelle LeVaughn Robinson Obama! Yes he really gave her full government name.  Yes, I might have been teary-eyed.

THAT, to me, is one of the greatest facets of the legacy he will leave.  You may love him, or hate him, but no one can deny his love and commitment to his family. Of course as a family fanatic my opinion is heavily weighted, but if your timeline looked anything like mine its been filled with tear emojiis and pictures of the happy couple. Social media outlets have been flooded with images like this one, with the leaders of the free world basking in each other’s love and enjoying it to the fullest.   So where does that leave us?

It’s 2017, and a new year is an opportunity to reflect and start over.  So its time to open our eyes to what has been before us for eight years, and allow it to light a beacon of hope inside.  Many have questioned if it is possible to be truly happy and fulfilled in a relationship.  We ponder if marriage matters at all.  It’s hard to imagine coming home to a happy, loving environment each day.  “Where have all the good men gone?”, we ask with an air of disbelief. But STOP.  Did you see that twinkle in Michelle Obama’s eyes when she gazes at her man in adoration?  You can have THAT.  Because if the man with the most stressful, time-consuming responsibility-laden job in the world can have a happy marriage with regular date nights and a great relationship with his kids, what is our excuse?

There is none.  Whatever we have, wherever we are, we have within us the power, fortitude and discipline to improve our current family life or positively impact the relationship to come. Don’t believe me?  Think about the hardest thing you’ve ever accomplished.  How did you manage to do it?  Most likely, you needed a little power, a sprinkle of fortitude, and a dollop of discipline. We invest thousands of dollars and hours on education and training to prepare for a career that might not even work out. How much are we willing to sacrifice to have a happy home, or better yet prepare for one before we ever say ‘I do’?

You can start today by picking up the phone to call a loved one or significant other and say, “I love you and I need you.  How can I help us (or myself for my single folks) get to a place of peace and happiness?” Sometimes this is all it takes to get started – a Relational Call to Action (RCA)!

So in 2017 lets follow the example given to us on this presidential platform.  Yes, we CAN have it all – a happy and fulfilled family life right along with success in career, education and business ventures – as long as we’re willing to work for it just as tirelessly as we work for everything else worth having in our lives. YES WE CAN.

Who Said Money Doesn’t Grow On Trees? Part 2

Today is Freebie Friday, when we share about ways to make and save money for you and your family!

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Last week we shared about the power of receipts. Today we’ve got more in store for paper that isn’t cash…or is it? I’m talking about coupons!! Everyone knows you can get coupons in the newspaper, but now we’re going to share some less obvious spots to find them!

1. Social Media
Many of us spend HOURS every day on facebook, twitter, and instagram.  Why not make the most of that time by looking for deals in the process of liking, tweeting and posting? It’s as simple as liking every facebook page or following the accounts of products, entertainment venues and restaurants you enjoy.  That way, during your daily scrolling the deals pop up for you, and you can have it sent to your email or just click “print”! One of my favorite Facebook pages is Bonefish Grill.  Lately they have had awesome deals and coupons on their page like $10 off any purchase!

2. PassionForSavings.com
As an avid couponer (not quite extreme, at least I don’t think so…), I used to be frustrated about not finding coupons for things I had on my shopping list, like juice or baby food. Then Passion For Savings came my way, and changed my couponing life.  The site itself is much like others that gather the best couponing deals…except there is a coupon database that is SEARCHABLE.  Oh, and did I mention it’s FREE?!! I use it by making my grocery list, then based on that list search the database for coupons I don’t already have. Which leads me to my last fave…

3. Coupons.com app
You know that wonderful device you’re holding or have sitting within reach? Pick it up and download the coupons.com app! This app lets you scroll through coupons like you do facebook statuses, and save the ones you want to clip as you go along.  Then you either print wirelessly, or send it to your email so their ready to quickly print before you head out to buy groceries!! Super easy!  Couponing may not be your thing, but just by putting these easy strategies to work you’ll be saving money in no time!!

This week, I managed to snag barbecue sauce for $0.20 per bottle!  What was your biggest deal?

Until next time!

With Love, Janelle

P.S. – Tuesday May 19, save 50% on any order at Papa John’s when you order online with promo code BUS50.

When Words Won’t Work

Today is Work It Out Wednesday, when we work on our relationships!!

It was Sunday night.  I found myself sitting there with my husband Tamaro and my own mind swirling with a million thoughts.  There was so much I wanted to say, needed to say…but I sat in silence.
There was a tangible discomfort in the room, but Tamaro did the hard and right thing: he studied my eyes, then sat there with me. 

In silence. 

It could have been a totally different night with unnecessary confusion, but shared silence saved us.  You see, emotions are fickle things.  They try to impose their will (“I just HAD to say something!”) when really the choice to speak or not is yours.  All it takes is a little moment of silence to think before you speak and act. Sometimes in that silence, you find all the answers and comfort you need. Sometimes, braving one’s busy brain in silence is rough going, but sharing that silence with someone you love makes it much easier to face while still avoiding having to drag them on your emotional rollercoaster.

So this week if you feel a little out of balance, sit with your spouse and share the silence.  Words may come later, or not, but the stage has been set for a more positive interaction moving forward.

With Love, Janelle

Who Said Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees? Part 1

Today is Freebie Friday, when we talk about ways to make and save money!

So here’s a riddle: what is made of paper that can have cash value but it isn’t cash or coupons?

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RECEIPTS!!

So where do you start?
First, check your receipt after every purchase!  That person ringing up your $200 in groceries is a human being who makes mistakes…mistakes you have been paying for, until now!! When I first started couponing I began checking every receipt.  That first week I saved $12, because my receipts proved I was over charged!! Using CTR (check the receipt), I realized I was saving several dollars a week that I HAD been spending needlessly.  You can too!

Next, read your receipt front and back!  Many stores and restaurants offer discounts and free stuff on every receipt. This is one of the ways I manage to spend about $3 per person for full meals on every fast food visit and get an average of $10 off for sit down meals for me and my husband. Here are just a few of my favorites spots:
Burger King
Chick-Fil-A
Wendy’s
Arbys
Popeye’s
Mimi’s Cafe
Boston Market
Arby’s
Bojangles

Lastly, turn that receipt into free cash with your smart phone!  There are multiple rebate apps thay give you money back on stuff you buy!!  Here are a few of my go-to rebate apps:
Ibotta
SavingStar
Checkout
SNAP by Groupon
Shopmium

So lets take the time to keep our receipts. Otherwise, we’re throwing away money! Stay tuned next Friday for part 2!!

With Love, Janelle

Getting REAL about Getting Married

Today is Work it Out Wednesday, when we talk about relationships!!

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This post is for my single folks out there! Have you found yourself stuck in a dating rut? Thinking, wishing, and hoping this is “the one”, only to discover this is SO not it?  Well, maybe it is time to take a different approach.

How many times have you been told “marriage is work”? Well that is because it’s true..but the type of work it will be is up to you. It can either be the best, most rewarding and fulfilling work you ever do, or the hardest and most stressful.  It is all in how you prepare. So instead of approaching this dream “job” with all heart, it’s time to use our heads a little and take it step by step!

Step 1: Figure out who you are.

Personality profiles on new dating websites are a thing for a reason. You have to know yourself to love yourself…and all of that is supposed to happen BEFORE you try loving anyone else.  You may not have yourself all figured out just yet, but know your strengths and weaknesses.  Ask God to help you see the good bad and ugly in you that He’s head over heels in love with, so you can learn to love you too.  Soon you’ll find that you enjoy your own company.  Once you have that worked out, you’ll know not only what you want, but what you NEED in a mate that will maximize your qualities and balance out your faults.

Step 2: Decide what type of person your ideal spouse should be.

There are those who take whatever job they can just to pay bills, but live in misery 8 hours or more each work day for years. Then there are those who refuse to stop searching, learning and growing until they get their ideal job.  The same can be said of relationships…which person are you?  If you don’t have expectations and desires (within reason) regarding your future spouse, you’ll settle for anyone just to escape bankrupt loneliness. Remember, this ideal spouse should match with you, balancing your strengths and weaknesses.

Step 3: Network!
Any career counselor will tell you that the majority of jobs are filled by referrals…meaning most of the time getting jobs depends on who you know.  This can also apply to getting married! Forget the taboo of telling people about your desire for marriage.  How is it helping you to keep that a secret?? Tell the people you know and trust that this is something on your mind and in your prayers!  That doesn’t make you desperate, it makes you smart!!  Also, check your inner circle of friends.  Are there some HAPPILY married people in it? Spending time around folks who have what you want is one of the easiest ways to glean knowledge and insight on what your future life will be like, and how to get there.

Well, I have more steps but I’ll have to save those for another post when it’s not almost 1:30am! In the meantime, know that I’m praying for you to find peace and joy now while single, and to cross paths with your mate at the right time.

With Love, Janelle

3 Ways to Destroy Your Ultron

Wake up! It’s Mental Shift Monday, when we expand our minds with open discussion on topics YOU choose!

Today’s topic: Communication 101

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Have you seen Avengers 2: Age of Ultron?  This weekend my husband and I went to see it, like several million other folks across the globe.  It was awesome…full of exciting action scenes and gorgeous CG.  It was also loaded with examples of chaos resulting from poor communication between people with varying types of relationships.  So I’m a total therapist nerd for thinking about communication skills while watching a Marvel flick, but it is what it is (spoiler alert- mild spoilers below)! Here are 3 key things we can learn from this blokbuster:

1. Our personal issues are one of the central causes of our communication problems. We must fix “me” to fix “we”.

Notice how every Avenger besides Hawkeye was toyed with by Scarlet Witch, resulting first in the creation of evil Ultron and second a huge rift in the team? Scarlet Witch took each person’s past and fears to drive a wedge in their communication.  The same thing happens in our relationships.  We unknowingly give our past and our fears power to manipulate our thoughts and behavior, inhibiting our ability to communicate in a healthy manner. The healthier we are (mentally, spiritually, and physically), the healthier our communication habits will be with others.

2. It is very difficult to communicate openly with someone when we are unsure of their agenda. Share feelings to build trust.

When Captain America found out what Tony Stark was really up to while working with the scepter, he was livid! And rightly so – trust was broken, and trust is a key ingredient to healthy communication. Without it, fear and/or anger can take control. Make trust easier to establish by saying what you feel instead of saying what you think. Seems easy right? Well, saying: “I felt hurt when you said that.”, is easier than arguing with a friend or significant other for 30 minutes when they say something mean. But it is also MUCH harder. We share our thoughts with others all the time, but sharing our hearts is the challenge that must be met and conquered to have healthy communication.

3. When communication breakdowns happen, take a break and regroup.

When everything fell apart during the first attempt to destroy Ultron, the Avengers bunkered down at Hawkeye’s house. Some argued. Some went off on their own to sort their thoughts then returned. Some shared their feelings with another person. All of these are good tactics to use when taking time to regroup. Yes, even arguing can be done in a way that is healthy and productive (think ‘debate’ with willingness to listen and be open to the opposing argument). If you take a step back, eventually a compromise or plan of attack for the problem can be reached.

What are some communication issues you have faced? Lets talk! In the meantime, try the tips we talked about today!

With Love, Janelle

Free Lunch is a Real Thing

It’s Freebie Friday, when you learn a quick tip about making or saving money!!

So I just got back from an awesome date night with my husband Tamaro. (We went to see Avengers 2.  Yes, it was chock full of awesomeness.) The grandparents kept the baby overnight for the first time too.  But even before my sweet face chunky legs came along, date nights were very rare at the Johnson’s.

That’s not to say we don’t go out…we just tend to do so during the DAY. Why? Because food and movies (two of our most favorite things) are much cheaper then.  So here is how you make the most of your date night or day dollars at mealtime:

1. Eat early.  Usually if you order before 4 pm you are good to go. No need to pay more money for the same food!

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2. Sign up for customer reward programs! Start with wonderful spots like Mimi’s Cafe and Macaroni Grill where you can almost always find BOGO deals! That’s right, a free meal folks.

3. Drink water.  Otherwise, you might be spending your tip money just to get two glasses of sprite that are full of mostly ice anyway.

All right, you are ready! Next week, we’ll talk about another hot freebie idea to bundle with this strategy.  In the meantime, let me know how much more enjoyable lunch is when you save all that money!

With Love, Janelle