Friday, December 29, 2017

What’s your story?

Or better yet, what would you like it to be? As the new year approaches, many of us reflect on where we’ve been; where we are and where we want to be. We look at the new year as a chance for a do-over; a clean slate; a blank page in a new chapter: we resolve to change.

About half of us make at least one resolution for the new year. Maybe it’s losing weight and getting healthier; getting our financial ducks in a row; starting a new career; or maybe it’s just being a better person. Six months into the year, only half of the original half will still be on track. Why?

Could be the resolution isn’t really the “right” one; it’s too vague, it’s not being done for the right reasons; it’s not measurable or realistic. Maybe expectations are too high or maybe we just give up too easily.

January 1 starts a new chapter in the book of your life. What’s your story going to be? A mystery? Action packed? A romance? A comedy? The comeback of the year? Fame and fortune? It’s yours to write, so make sure it’s a good one.

Best wishes for a happy, healthy and prosperous new year!


Posted by MJ Thomas

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Do you believe?

I do. After all these years, I still believe in the magic of Christmas. That magic is a beautiful thing. Why? Because it lies in the heart. It’s not in the gifts or material things; it can’t be bought. It doesn’t come from someone or somewhere; it comes from within. It’s patience and tolerance and forgiveness; the willingness to see the good in people. It’s caring and compassion and goodwill. It’s friends and family and loved ones near and far. It’s about being in the moment; being thankful; knowing that if there were no gifts, no decorations, no lights, no parties – you would still believe in the spirit of Christmas.

Christmas is more than a day; it’s a frame of mind. And in these times, there are a lot of things that can mess with your frame of mind. The stress, the money, illness, family and friends who are no longer with us; the holidays seem to magnify the intensity and really test our beliefs. Maybe that’s the time we need to believe the most. Believing brings with it hope; a sense that it will be okay. At least it does for me. And that keeps the magic alive.

Norman Vincent Peale said, “I truly believe that if we keep telling the Christmas story, singing the Christmas songs, and living the Christmas spirit, we can bring joy and happiness and peace to the world.”

Choose to believe in the magic and remember the true spirit lies in the heart. Wishing you happiness, health, peace and prosperity in the true spirit of Christmas now and always.



Posted by MJ Thomas

Friday, December 15, 2017

A little whimsy for the holidays

“A little nonsense every now and then, is relished by the wisest men.” Ah, the words of Willy Wonka ringing out so true in these days leading up to Christmas 2017.

Typically, this is the time when the stress that comes with the holidays rears its ugly head. There’s a lot to do and time’s ticking away – last minute shopping, baking, mailing packages, preparing to travel, crowds, lines, the endless search for a parking space that isn’t in the next city, concerts, parties and so much more.

Sometimes, you just need something to take your mind off things for a while, sit back, relax and smile. So, today’s blog focuses on something that many turn to in time of stress – CHOCOLATE! In fact, the four basic food groups are defined by some as milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate and chocolate truffles. Works for me.

And, much to my surprise, guess what tomorrow is? It is National Chocolate Covered Anything Day. Who knew? Celebrate it. Drizzle, pour, spread that chocolate on whatever suits your fancy. Indulge, binge; make an event out of it. Chocolate strawberries, marshmallows, pretzels, chips, bacon, coffee beans, bananas, raisins – go for it. Get creative. Make up your own delicacy.

Here’s the best part. Chocolate is good for you! It contains nutrients that include potassium, calcium and iron and it contains the B-vitamin riboflavin. Studies in the past have shown that people who consumed cocoa regularly had lower blood pressure than those that didn’t, were less likely to die from cardiovascular disease and had better peripheral blood flow. It’s also been noted that chocolate has an antibacterial effect on the mouth and protects against tooth decay! How about this? When it comes to coughs, chocolate is more effective that codeine; it’s a natural pain killer and it can contribute to brain health.

Okay, point made. If all this doesn’t convince you to ease the stress of holiday preparations with chocolate, consider this line of thinking. According to an article posted on mentalfloss.com, chocolate is a vegetable – sort of. Chocolate comes from the cacao bean which grows on the cacao tree, an evergreen. This makes the most important part of the sweet treat a vegetable. And we all know that eating vegetables is good for you.

That’s it for the whimsy today. Hope it makes you smile a little. The holidays are supposed to be fun. Don’t get caught up in all the “stuff.” Enjoy and have some chocolate.


Posted by MJ Thomas

Friday, December 8, 2017

‘Tis the season to be jolly…

…Fa-la-la-la-la, la-la la, la. Let the decorating begin. Pull out those tangled strands of lights and boxes of ornaments passed down through the years. Set up the tree, roll out the ribbon, light up the candles. Most of all? BE SAFE. The hidden dangers of holiday decorating can take quite a toll and that’s not jolly.

These statistics from both the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the Electrical Safety Foundation International give some food for thought. It is estimated that 76 percent of Americans decorate their homes during the holiday season. And, each year, hospital emergency rooms treat about 12,500 people for injuries such as falls, cuts, and shocks related to holiday lights, electrical decorations and Christmas trees. Hmmm.

Before you set out to replicate Clark Griswold’s display of 25,000 twinkling lights, here are some safety reminders to consider. Check everything prior to use. Check lights for frayed cords, broken bulbs and bad plugs. Indoor bulbs are for indoor use and outdoor bulbs are for outdoor use. Seems simple enough, right? Avoid electrical overload – no more than three standard-size sets of lights per extension cord. Use only lights tested by a nationally recognized testing laboratory. Before climbing up on that ladder, make sure it is on secure and level footing. Always have a buddy system; use caution. Falls do not a jolly experience make.

Live trees should be fresh – green, with needles hard to pull for the branches and the bottom of the tree should be sticky with resin. Monitor water levels, keep out of high traffic areas and away from any heat source – fireplaces, vents, radiators. Artificial trees should be labeled “fire resistant”. Keep children and pets safe. Small pieces and parts ornaments can be choking hazards. Holly, mistletoe, poinsettias and other seasonal plants can be toxic if ingested.

Did you know that Christmas, Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day are the top three days of the year for candle fires? Never leave a burning candle unattended, keep them on stable, heat-resistant surfaces and away from items that can easily catch fire.

These are just a few tips to consider for a safer holiday. Now go deck those halls! Happy Holidays!


Posted by MJ Thomas

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Here’s the thing

Unless you’ve been hiding on a remote island, you are more than aware that the holiday shopping season has officially begun. Forget the fact that most stores had Christmas decorations on the shelves before Halloween was over. Now it’s official – Black Friday, Cyber Monday – whatever they want to label all of it – the frenzy is here.

I always thought it should be a fun experience. The truth is, it doesn’t bring out the best in everybody. Go figure. Here’s my take on things. Before you head out to experience the wonders of holiday shopping – be prepared. It’s safer that way.

Be prepared to stand in long lines, with agitated people who are holding armfuls of stuff and invading your personal space to the point where you can feel their breath on the back of your neck. For some reason, the closer they get to you makes them feel farther ahead in the line.

Be prepared for the person in front of you to have a return – without a receipt – for something they bought months ago but now need that money for the holidays.

Be prepared to get cut off numerous times in the parking lot by drivers trying to beat you to the nearest parking space. It’s not worth an accident or a confrontation. Be prepared for the noise – the yelling, the crying, the screaming, the never-ending din of the crowd and of course, the Christmas music.

Be prepared for items to be out of stock, coupons to be invalid, and that person who pushes you aside to grab the last one of something off the shelf. Be prepared for snarky people, stressed out store personnel and don’t expect any of it to make sense.

Notice I said, “Be prepared.” Will you experience all the things mentioned above? Probably – hopefully – not. But, if you prepare for it, it’s easier to handle, there are no surprises and you won’t take it personally. Ho-ho-ho.

It comes around once a year. Have fun with it and enjoy it.



Posted by MJ Thomas

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

A time to be thankful

Thursday, we celebrate Thanksgiving 2017 and the celebration for everyone will be a little different. Some look forward to family gatherings and the chance to spend time with loved ones and friends; some anticipate the holiday feast; some count the hours until the Black Friday shopping frenzy; others are “getting ready for some football.” No matter how we celebrate the one thing that’s universal about this day is that it is a time to give thanks; be grateful for what we have and for the people in our lives.

We all know that, right? So, as a little bit of a twist in direction, here's some things you may not know about the day.

Did you know that the year of the first Thanksgiving celebration was 1621, but it wasn’t until 1863 when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the day a national holiday? Or how about that Thanksgiving ranks second among America’s favorite holidays? How about this? The average number of calories consumed on Thanksgiving is a whopping 4,500 and the Butterball Turkey hotline answers more than 100 thousand questions each November and December. In 2016, 154 million people shopped over the Thanksgiving weekend. The average person’s spending was $289+.

Since 1966, the Detroit Lions and the Dallas Cowboys have played each other on Thanksgiving. The Macy’s Parade became a Thanksgiving fixture for the first time in 1924. More than three million attend the parade each year. The number one thing we are most thankful for? It’s a tie between family health and family relationships.

There you have it. Some interesting tidbits you can throw out at the Thanksgiving dinner table.

In the true spirit of the day, I leave you with this thought, “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." Have a safe, healthy and Happy Thanksgiving.


Posted by MJ Thomas

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Over the river and through the woods…

Thanksgiving. What a great holiday. Family, friends, feasting, fun and football. What’s not to like? If you want to keep this holiday a safe one for you and your family, there are some things to remember. In anticipation of next week’s festivities, I thought it would be a good time for a few gentle reminders.

Traveling? Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel days of the year; by plane, train or car, millions will travel to spend the holiday with family and friends. When you’re behind the wheel, don’t let the distractions get to you, put away the cell phone, and if you’re starting to get drowsy (especially after the big feast) pull off the road. Name a designated driver if you plan to indulge, make sure everyone is buckled up, be prepared for traffic delays and inclement weather. If you are going to be away from your house, remove tell-tale signs of your absence; mail piling up, no lights on, etc. Make sure your house is not a target for thieves.

Let’s talk turkey – literally. Every year firefighters respond to house fires caused by families deep frying the turkey. If you plan on frying the bird this year, do it safely – outside, away from the house and children and pets, and with a grease fire rated fire extinguisher on hand – just in case. Take all the safety precautions necessary to avoid mishaps. Know the do’s and don’ts of fryer operations.

That goes for the kitchen too. A fire extinguisher on hand for any emergencies is a good thing. Oh, and how about making sure the smoke alarms are in working order? Check.

Read up on food safety rules. A call to the Poison Control Center shouldn’t be part of the day’s festivities. Take extra care with children and pets.

Last but certainly not least - don’t stress. Thanksgiving is about sharing time with family, expressing gratitude and enjoying the moment. A less than perfect bird or burnt pumpkin pie doesn’t really matter.

Now, go forth and prepare the celebration – SAFELY.


Posted by MJ Thomas