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

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

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

‘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