101 Changes: Change 20 – Healthy Eating Made Easy

If we try to make huge changes, it is often difficult sustaining it and we have sense of  failure but small changes made slowly becomes habits if done over and over for 21 days. I am writing a series of posts about small changes we can make it our life to make our daily living and health improve tenfold.

These are changes I have made or working on it. Would you like to join with me in this journey?

Check out previous 101 Changes Article: 101 Changes: 101 Changes: Change 19- Do More With Beauty Products

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Image source Happy Heart and Mind  Cooking at home

One thing I have learned as I am getting older is to take care of my health properly. As a mom of 2 kids, I want to make sure I am healthy enough to keep up with their energy when doing homework with them or taking them to music and sports classes, playing with them.

I am vegetarian so I eat mostly plant and grain based diet but I sure have my moments when I am not eating healthier. Being vegetarian one would think it is healthy, not so. As I have said before, one can be vegetarian eating pizza, potato chips and drink coke or sugar laden drinks; it is vegetarian but it is NOT healthy for sure.

As I am getting older (past 20s and in late 30’s) I am learning how to take care of my health by eating more plant based food and cooking at home. Since I love cooking, it comes easier but there are days, when I simply fall off the health band wagon but I am getting better by buying right groceries and snacks to keep myself motivated to eat healthier.

Here are my top choices for healthy eating:

Green Vegetables: I buy green bell peppers, Kale, Baby spinach, Collard greens, mustard green, Green beans, Thai/Indian long beans, Green squash (Asian groceries store), Dark leafy Salad greens, Broccoli, and use Green herbs such as cilantro for flavors.

Rainbow Veggies: Other than green vegetables, I am focusing on rainbow colors veggies such as carrots, red and yellow bell peppers, Tomatoes, Purple red cabbage, eggplants, radishes (red and large white from Asian store), cauliflower, red onions, sweet potatoes, Olives and so on.

Whole Grains: Being an Indian, I use lot of rice and wheat based grain and flour for cooking. I try to use whole grain as much as possible. Living close to whole foods and trader Joe’s, I have found many new grains (whole, split and flour) such as amarnth, kamut, millet, farro, barley, quinoa and spelt. One can make salad, bread, naan or rotis, savory biscuits from grain or flour. If you can not eat gluten, there are still other choices to eat healthier and still be gluten free.

Eat Fresh Fruits: Eating fresh and in-season fruits is best. In California, there are many farmer’s market that sells fresh fruits from local farmers that are organic. Bananas, Apples, Oranges, Pears, watermelon, Mango, Papaya, Peaches, Apricots make great snacks for kids and adults. I sometimes make dessert, cookies or bread with fresh fruits by looking at online recipes blogs.

Avoid fat free and sugar free: Earlier when I was younger, I thought sugar free and fat free is good and I ate that way. Now, I know better and try to eat good fat, real sugar in moderation. Regular coke always taste better compared to sugar free cola and we know why. Do not be afraid of fat, sugar but eat those food in small quantity, is that simple.

Drink Water: It is okay if you like Wine, juice, Smoothies, shakes or beer. Drinking in moderation is always best practice for any diet. However, drink more water whenever possible as nothing quenches thirst more then cold, fresh water.

Vegetarian Protein: As a vegetarian, I often gets asked about protein in my diet, there is plenty of choices for vegetarian to get required daily protein intake. One of the best vegetarian source for protein is lentils, dried nuts, beans and tofu. There are many soups, stir fries can be made with lentils and tofu. Many think tofu is bland but if you marinate it and cook it right it will be tasty for kids as well.

Take Vitamins: It is always best to take nutrients from fresh and cooked food but sometimes when it is not possible taking daily vitamins may help. Vitamin B12 is hard to find in many vegetables so I try to take vitamins with B12, iron and folic acid to make sure my body’s optimum health.

What To avoid or eat less of:

As I said above, being healthy is not difficult but requires little discipline and planning. Eating or avoiding a few things may improve our health and energy.

  • Avoid meat products, this is more true even if you are meat lover, if you reduce or give up meat products for health or ethical reasons, it may help with your health.
  • Avoid cheesy, fatty food at home or when eating out
  • Avoid fried food such as french fries, dumplings or eat in moderation
  • Avoid or reduce eating refined flour
  • Artificial flavoring, diet food staple from grocery store.
  • Do not eat old food sitting in fridge for more than a few days
  • Do not use plastic to heat up food, use glass container instead
  • Avoid trans fats
  • Do not deprive yourself of any food, just eat less of instead
  • avoid or reduce sugary drinks or alcohols
  • Reduce eating out or take outs
  • Do not read or watch Television when eating, this is one of my worst habit that I am working on fixing it

If you want more plant base food diet, check out these following books;

Product Details

 Forks Over Knives – The Cookbook: Over 300 Recipes for Plant-Based Eating All Through the Year

This is one of the best book with over 300 healthy plant based recipes. The secret is out: If you want to lose weight, lower your cholesterol, and prevent (or even reverse!) chronic conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, the right food is your best medicine. Thousands of people have cut out meat, dairy, and oils and seen amazing results. If you’re among them—or you’d like to be—you need this cookbook.

Product Details

 The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition

If you are vegetarian, vegan or thinking about eating more plant based diet but wondered what about nutrition?, Where to get nutrients that others get from meat and dairy?, How to spot hidden animal ingredients in packaged foods?, Howto avoid the vegan pitfall of overfed but undernourished?, How to order at restaurants? if you asked these questions, this is right book for you. I have it and I still refer to it when I am in doubt.

101 Changes: Change 17 – Help Someone Even In Bad Economy

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I am starting a series of posts about small changes we can make it our life to make our daily living and health improve tenfold. If we try to make huge changes, it is often difficult sustaining it and we have sense of  failure but small changes made slowly becomes habits if done over and over for 21 days.

These are changes I have made or working on it. Would you like to join with me in this journey?

Check out my last 101 Changes Article here: 101 Changes: Change 16 – Declutter For Better Life

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When economy is down, most people stops giving to many worthy charities. Often people will help with food, money and time during Christmas time, but come January and most of us are busy with our lives and our new year resolutions.

As there are more people and charities that need help during this down economy now, how can we help, when we are strapped with money woes ourselves? There are a few ways, let’s explore.

1. Give your unused items to homeless shelter, or pet shelter. They are always looking for blankets, stuffed toys, coats and other clothing items. There are low-income pregnancy organizations can take your unwanted maternity clothes, baby clothes and baby items. A few organization may take your business clothes, for getting low-income people ready for new job interviews. Many charities take car donations too.

2. Give your time, many places can use volunteers to help out, specially shelters, temples, churches, or local community centers. Many places you can help out with answering phone such as PBS or crisis hot line center for abuse and suicide.

3. Bring hot cooked meals to community centers, senior citizens, your neighbours who might be sick or just had a baby, or homeless person near by your area.

4. Give unused toys to hospital, or community preschool for low-income family.

5. Help not only your close friends, family, but also strangers, animals, birds and insects. Compassion for all lives. For example, put up bird seeds for you local area birds and water bath near by for them.

6. Trust family and friends when they ask for small loan. Give amount you can afford as a gift and tell them it is not a loan. Many times good relations goes bad when loan comes into a picture.

7. Give blood donation to someone who needs it.

8. Volunteer in your local library, local free tax helper, deliver meals or groceries to people who can not drive themselves. Volunteer to watch your family or friends, kids sometimes giving much-needed break to their parents.

9. Did you know you can donate unused miles, credit card points to worthy causes? Find out and pick the one you choose.

10. Little help goes long ways too. For example, pay some one’s parking meter, when they run out of the time, pick up trash and put in trash bin, help someone while waiting in line at post office, doctors offices and other long lines. Smile and say hello to strangers.

I am sure there many other creative ways to help others without big money. Would you like to add other suggestions? How do you help during bad times?

Also see: 12 Ways to do Random act of Kindness

Thank you:  Power Of Gratitude

101 Changes: Change 16: Declutter For Better Life

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I am starting a series of posts about small changes we can make it our life to make our daily living and health improve tenfold. If we try to make huge changes, it is often difficult sustaining it and we have sense of  failure but small changes made slowly becomes habits if done over and over again for 21 days.

These are changes I have made or working on it. Would you like to join with me in this journey?

Check out last 101 changes article here: 101 Changes: change 15: Get Beautiful With Nature’s Bounty –Avoid Chemical Laden Creams and Make Up

Having clutter around not only cost us our money but also our piece of mind and happiness with it. Your house might be filled with piles of books and magazines you mean to read it, the smaller size clothes in your closet when you get back to your college weight, every toys that kids got from family and friends, many bills are just a few of example of clutter that most of us go through in our lives. Kitchen, bathrooms and office are worst places in a house for clutter to pile up easily. Instead of you owning the stuff, your stuff ends up owning/controlling you. Here are few ways, clutter cost us more than we bargained for;

  1.  You misplace bills to pay or check to deposit in your huge piles of paper. By the time, you find anything, bill is past due and check is no longer cash-able (after 90 days). You have just lost money and added interest or fees on bills too.
  2. You buy item, only to realize months later, that you had that same item in your storage pile somewhere in the house. It was hard to find and hence forgotten. Sometimes, you may buy same items a few times over the years, not remembering, costing you more money.
  3. You panic when someone called for unannounced to visit, as it will be overwhelming to clean up clutter in such a short time. Either you are embarrassed when company comes or choose to do less social inviting on purpose, either way you are losing social life with friends and family because of your clutter.
  4.  You do not want to come home as cluttered and messy home does not make you feel better. So you tend to eat out more often and do more outside shopping to make yourself feel good, adding clutter to your already cluttered house.
  5. You may think it is wise to put all extra storage in storage place, leaving your house cleaner. However, you may pay $50 a month for your junk and your house slowly begins to be cluttered again.
  6.  You may lose your valuable time finding things in the house. You may search every morning your car keys under the stuff pile, or you may find that food in your fridge has gone bad, wasting food and money both. Your self-esteem may take hit.
  7.  You are not living your true potential life, due to all clutter. You are waiting for some miracle to make it all better, clutter robs you from happiness. A happiness you get when your sink is empty and kitchen is clean and your bills are paid on time. You will get so much joy once work is done and you can truly relax and enjoy your home.

Is clutter costing you in some ways? In future we will look at a few ways to get started on path to simplifying and de-cluttering.

Finding Inner Peace Within You

 

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“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world … as in being able to remake ourselves. “— Mohandas K. Gandhi

There is a lot of information about how to “do something”, or how to make “more” money or how to get “ahead” in career in internet. While, I think it is important aspect of life, many of us forget how important it is for us to be peace within ourselves.  There is no happiness that comes from finding peace. Lot of people in past have tried to find enlightenment or being content and finding peace within themselves. I admit, I am nowhere expert, but I am working striving to achieve peace within myself. In new year resolution or goal, you should do that too. Because it is like satisfaction like no other in our life. Imagine, you’re thirsty and have not had any liquid for 6 hours, you will get that thirst quench satisfaction from cold simple water than any other liquid drinks, be it soda, milk or juice. Water is simple enough but it quenches thirst more, same way peace within us gives us happiness glow that no other things in life can provide.

Finding peace is simple but not easy in modern world as we are constantly striving to be better, constantly trying out-do our own past performances.  While there is certainly an advantage to better yourself, but doing it constantly may leave some people tired and worn out.

Ways to Find Inner Peace Within You

Here are 4 simple ways that I think peace can be attained by anyone who truly wants it. How?

1. Let go of expectations:

“Let go of expectations and live the life you’re destined for. Peace comes only when we are true to our soul’s nature.” unknown

One of the biggest thing that I have to work on is to letting it go of our expectation of others. We as people have an expectations from our family, friends, co-workers or people we may not even know. For example, in past I have expected that if I invite someone for dinner or pay for someone’s lunch, they should be returning the favor by doing same for us. It seems simple and may be reasonable enough expectation but that have led for me to disappointed a few times. Not because people I know are rude or thoughtless, it is because other people are busy in their and may not think they have to follow-up favor or anything might be a matter.

Same things go for making time for calling people, thanking people for hard work and effort, we as society are so busy and bogged down sometimes we may forget to appreciate what is good around us. By letting go of expectation, we can certainly let go of the hurt feeling, resentment and bad vibes that can ruin a good family bond and break away years of friendship. It is easier said then done but I am working on everyday to let go my expectation of people, so I can choose to have peace for myself.

2. Declutter Stuff, Data:

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” — Hans Hoffman

And the cost of a thing it will be remembered as the amount of life it requires to be exchanged for it’. – Unknown

I can speak from my example, as we have kids so we often get so much stuff piled at home, mostly kids toys and art work. We also had some gifts from friends and family that we would never use, but could not give it away, because it was given by loved ones with effort. Our house size grew smaller as our stuff increased and living and maintaining became harder in a few years.

Our computer, and paperwork filing also piled up. Once we decided we needed to simplify and declutter our stuff and data life. It was hard start, but once me and Zenguy started decluttering and letting go of stuff, some brand new also gave us so much mental relief which is hard to describe. Once we simplified and let go of stuff, we had more space in our house, kids were actually able to play and enjoy with a few toys that we kept, we were able to find things quickly. This is ongoing process as stuff have strange ways of keep coming back.

Having more stuff means more to maintain, so letting go of stuff we did not use and keeping only things we use daily gave us so much space and mental freedom and mental peace. Try it yourself and see how it changes your stress level to lowest level.

3. Avoid Power Struggle and Control in Relationship:

“Life is to be lived, not controlled; and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat.”
― Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man

Often time, we want to be in control of our life, our house, our career and our destiny. Having perfect and harmonious life the way we want sounds good but that may not be someone else’s idea for harmonious life, which can lead to power struggle and frustration. For example, a friend of mine likes clean house like most people do, however she goes through mini heart attack whenever there even a little mess by her family in the house, so people in the house have learned not to do anything or play with messy things to avoid melt down. That may make be her happy temporarily, but for rest of family or visitor is like walking on egg-shell if they mess up.. That can NOT be good for other people in her life but she often times does not see it.

If your own mental peace comes at cost of other people’s peace, it will not be truly satisfying. Because making others happy and peaceful is more sustainable peace in my mind. Letting go of control and power struggle in any relationship and making others happy will not only give others mental peace but it will make you content feeling and inner peace that will glow in everyone around you. I was and up to some point control freak so I know what I am talking about, I have learned how to let go of control from Zenguy and slowly improving to improve my life and for those around me.

4. Forgive Others:

“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.

It would be truly Utopia, if we lived in a world where no one hurt other person and lived happily ever after. However, even I feel people are generally nice, sometimes we get hurt by them. Often times it is UN-intentional and other times lack of awareness on their part, as given a chance no one truly want to be a bad person who hurts others. At least that what I hope for.

Keeping resentment and hurt in our mind, we expect people to change their ways to apologize and we would say “No Problem” and back to being normal as before. However, it is worse when some people may not even realize that they have done something wrong or have hurt you and that is hard for person who is hurt.

One should forgive a person not because the person may deserve it, you should do it for YOU deserve it. You owe a chance to yourself to be happy and peaceful. So, let go and forgive and forget the situation so you can move on and live the life you meant to live.

Hope you achieve and find inner peace within you!

50 Way To Increase Your Income & Earn Money

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Pic Credit: Zengirl

Many of us are working at a job for pay bills and save money for the retirement. However, after paying bills, insurance and daily spending very little is left for many people. Right now with economy being down, many people are laid off, or getting paid less in their current job.

Many of us are looking for ways to make money on side to boost our income a little or a lot. There are a few ways which are relatively easy for any of us to make extra money. Now, none of us will be able to retire with these ideas or be a millionaire, but it will sure increase a nice boost to your income. Check it out, many are easy to do for any of us.
Ways to Make Money In Hurry

50 Ways to Make Money

Here are 50 ways to make money and boost your earning income to comfortable level.

1 Do online surveys. Many online surveys pays as little as 10 cents to 5 dollars. There are many surveys are out there to try it out. Beware of the one that asks for fee, try only free surveys sites. You can do surveys online or via email.

2. Sell sometimes from home which are not using. You can sell your stuff on craigslist, ebay or amazon. One person’s trash is another person’s treasure. You can make good amount depending on type of stuff you have. If you have any collectibles items, you can make good money. A friend of mine sold his baseball cards to make $950, not bad for something sitting in his closet. Sell only things you do not care for or not interested in.
Offer to drive someone around for little pay. Sometimes you can drop off people to airport, or pick up groceries for them and some of them will pay you $5-$20 for it.
3. Go around in neighborhood and ask them if the need lawn mowing done. You can go with a buddy and clean up yard for $20-$50 per yard.

4. Clean houses, sure it is not glamorous but cleaning house for a couple hours can make you $70-$150. Most of the area people need cleaned are bathroom and kitchen. If the house is super messy, you can ask for more money for it.

5. Give Blood, many blood banks are always looking for blood donation. It can be helpful to someone and you can make some money out of it. Check out everything before you donate your blood.

6. Write for online places such as hubpages or squidoo. You can make some money while writing about things you know. You do not need to be a great writer, good enough writer will do. Click here to join HubPages and Squidoo here. It is free to join.
7. Baby sit your neighbor or relative’s kids. If you like kids that is the great job to do. If you get a babysitter license, you can watch kids at your home and make a good full time income from watching 2-5 kids at home at once. Not bad.

8. Pick up children from school service is great as many parents are still at work when kids gets off the school. Parents need someone to pick up kids from school, and drive them home and spend couple of hours with them until they get home. These kids are usually older and can take care of themselves so it is good potential of making extra money.
9. Start blogging, you will not make money right away as it takes sometimes but blogging can be a good income source for many if done right.

10. Rent a room in your house, if you have an extra room that you are not using. That is great way to have income coming in without doing much work. You can set some rules as you see fit for your lifestyle such as no smoking inside the house, no late parties and so on. You can rent room for $200 to $700 per month, depending on where you live.

11. Teach English to adults and kids. Many times people want to learn proper English and you can teach them and it is a good way to supplement your income.

12. Paint street and house numbers: These painters have a block to paint numbers for street or house number and you can make $10 or more for painting each house on curb side. I recently paid someone $15 for my place and found out this can be done by anyone.

13. Recycle metal, cans and make extra money. If you are using lot of cans and metals, you can take it to recycle and make some money by doing it.

14. Paint houses, lot of people are looking for someone to do the work of painting the house. Painting house is relatively easy once you move the furniture and have supply at hand. It can be a great boost for additional income when money is tight.

15. If you love taking pictures, put your pictures in photo sharing sites, some of them you can earn money if someone decides to download it and use it for their website or print media.

16. Write for others: Many people are not great writers and looking to buy articles they need in specific niche subject, you can earn money by writing for demand studios or about.com.

17. You can always look for odesk, freelancer sites to see what are people looking in services, if you can provide those services that is a great way to make easy cash money.

18. Sell your hair for cash. Many people need real human for making wigs. If you have a long hair you can sell it for money, and your hair eventually will grow again in no time.

19. Take dogs for walk services. Many people are too busy to take their dogs for walk, if you have time and like being with dogs, then this is a great way to get outdoor and make some money along with it.

20. Deliver newspaper: There are still many people who are getting newspaper delivered to their homes. You can do small or large route and make money delivering newspaper as an adult too.

21. Fix computers for others: If you are computer savvy and know lot of installing and fixing minor computer problems, this has a great potential as many people are looking for ways to get help for computer related problems.

22. Invest in stocks: If you know what you are doing and know your stuff well with help for right people, tools, you can make good money in stocks. I am still learning but I know a friend who has made a good profit playing the stock market wave.

23. Sell your gold. Many of us have gold stuff that we do not use or care for, selling it to a reputable company can bring some cash to you. Do research before sending your gold anywhere.

24. Land your voice: If you have a great radio voice, you can do voice over for many companies or individuals. Good and easy way to make extra income.

25. Odd jobs as needed: One can shovel the snow, washing a car, cleaning a rain gutter, small handyman type of job will help make extra income in short amount of time on side.

26. Help people move: If you have a van or truck, you can be hired locally to move stuff for people and you can charge people by mile or amount of stuff they have.

27. Become a mystery shopper: Mystery shopping can be fun, as you can shop or dine to check out the services and file a report. Generally you do not get paid for items unless they are food in restaurant. Generally you will get paid $10-$20 per project. Look for mystery shopping opportunity near you.

28. Deliver Phone Books: You can deliver phone books to various neighborhood to supplement your income.

29. Start a small business from home: If you have some ideas for a business, start one from home, alone or with a friend. There are many business ideas to choose from, go with what you know.

30. Put your saving goals in high interest yielding account to make easy passive money.

31. Create a CD ladder: Here is a idea on how to create a CD ladder to earn more money from your interest on your savings.

32. If you use credit card, use reward cards that gives back percentage of spent amount of mileage for traveling, it is a great way to earn money from something you use anyways.

33. Tutoring kids for various subject such as math, science, reading or something you know.

34. Teach music: if you know how to play piano or how to play guitar, giving lessons from home can boost earning for you.

35. Search for bonus and freebies for signing up. Many times, banks and other companies may offer some bonus or freebie to open up an account for you, some time as high as $100, look for these deals.

36.Write an ebook on subject your know well of and sell it online.

37. Look for missing money and where is my refund sites to check if you have any money in it that you can claim.

38. Deliver Pizza; Most people order pizzas Fridays and in weekend, so if you get a part time job during that time, you can earn some money plus make some extra on tips as well.

39. Do car valet services: you can offer to park cars for popular restaurants, hotels or resort and make good money on income and tips.

40. Sell bottled water and cookies during fair and cultural event for profit

41. Sell your nicer stuff on consignment stores; Nicer clothes or nice stuff can be sold for higher prices at consignment store.

42. Use cashCrate for making some extra money.

43. Get free or cheap stuff from friends and resell it at higher price, after repairing and updating the pieces.

44. House sitting: Taking care of house related stuff while owners are short or long term vacation can be a great boost of income as well it can be free rent for you.

45. Be a guinea pig: Many times when new drug or product comes out, the pharmaceutical companies need to test the outcome, so if you are brave enough you can check out these opportunities for easy money for a few hours or long term work.

46. Sewing and alterations services: If you know how to sew and have a sewing machine at home, you can do small to big job or sewing new clothes, pillow cases, curtains and so on and you can make money doing alterations for expensive clothing for many people.

47. Be a Nanny: Nanny job is different than babysitting, as you will be watching only one family kids either at their home or yours. Many times, these nanny job comes with free rent, food and income to stay with the family.

49. Adult Daycare services: Many times elderly people or people who are sick need looking after and there are many opportunity out there for adult day care service jobs.

50. Have a garage sale for unwanted items, specially in spring and summer month. You will get rid of clutter at home and make money at the same time.

13 Ways To Be Compassionate

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Elephant Sanctuary: India  Photo Credit Zengirl

How do we feel and treat other with compassion? Maybe you see someone struggling to carry large bag, do we help him? Maybe someone is feeling dizzy and fainting, do we rush to help or move on our way hoping she will be alright? If you hear a small child crying in grocery store, do you feel annoyed or do you feel bad for mother or father and ask them if they could use help? On flip side of the coin, what if you were offered the help, and you get annoyed by them? Are we ready to offer and ready to accept help and compassion in this society without being judged? I sure hope so.

I believe most of the people are good natured and kind hearted and ready to offer help but somewhere along our hectic life, we may become annoyed at others, or we think our privacy is being invaded when someone offers the help. However, we can still live our life relatively fine and help others and accept the help from others. Here are a few ways to be compassionate and helpful.

Ways To Help Others and Be Compassionate:

  1. Trust others, most people are nice and not out there to hurt you, or con you.
  2. It is good karma, what goes around will come around.
  3. Try to think of it from their perspective, really, walk a mile on their shoes before judging them.
  4. It will make you feel good.
  5. Someone who you helped will be truly sending you best vibes/wishes your way. It may make
    your life better, somehow.
  6. The person you helped will be inspired to help others, starting a chain of “pay it forward” goodness. Can you imagine the impact of it?
  7. Truly listen to person or people asking for help, before saying no, yes or even maybe.
  8. Be open minded.
  9. Do not just help person in suit, or good looking girl/boy, help someone who needs help, regardless of religion, looks or status.
  10. Do it from heart, without any expectations.
  11. You may pass it on to your kids, spouse, or friends, being nice and kind that is.
  12. . For little time and effort the feeling of satisfaction you may get will be 10 fold.
  13. Just do it, you are helping your heart and soul at the same time.

How do you feel compassionate? Do you help others when they ask? Do you help when they do not ask but yet you see them needing help? Do you feel compassion is important? How do you feel when someone offers you help? Do you graciously accept or act like you have it under control? Some answers may not be easy, but if we think about it, it just may be easier to accept and offer help to total strangers and be happy about it.

Go out and do one random act of kindness today, if you can.

Zengirl

How To Have Less Stressed Kids

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As a parent we want our kids to have best and do best, so we sign them up for classes such as sport, art, piano, violin, Language learning, lego and robotics and so many more.  3 months break in summer will give kids some break but no, we sign them up with summer camps during summer break. When do kids get a chance be a kid and play? It seems because of extra activities and fear for safety, kids are no longer free range kids as 30 years ago. Kids are showing stress signs but acting up, health issues and other disciplinary problems which may indirectly related to being so busy and high exceptions from parents, to school. One of the kids who  is in Private school 2nd grade has 2 hours daily homework, in 2nd grade, can you believe it? May you can but it baffles me.

There are many kids who are either bored and too much stimulated by activities that surrounds them. Parents are not happy either, many parents seems to think they are busy driving kids from one activity to another. If no one is happy, why do we parent do this to ourselves? Stress  survey done by Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s health (Palo Alto) found that over 50% of 9 to 17 years old were stressed out on average to high level of stress. That can’t be good.

Tips for Less Stressed Kids and Parents:

We can not eliminate 100% stress and worries from our own life, let alone our children’s, however, we can surely try to minimize it by doing a few things. I think it may help parents and kids both relax a lot. Last semester, we followed hectic schedule our 2nd grader, and we have slowed down this month so we can get a bit breather. Here are a few things that we did that might work with other children as well.( Note I write child as he or him but this case goes for both girls and boys.)

1. Slow Down:

You might think every waking moment your child should be doing something magnificent or learning. And it might be hard to see your child laying on sofa doing nothing, telling you he is bored. Creativity strikes right after boredom happens in many cases. Unwind after school activity for a day. Let them think and soak up all they did and did not do.

If you do extra classes such as music, art, swimming and other cool things, make sure your child has only 2-3 activities per week so give him time to relax his body and mind.

2. Create Mini Goals and Solutions:

If your child has tons of home works or things to do, it can be overwhelming. Sure it is overwhelming for adults too. Breaking down things to do list or a problem in to mini section and tackling it helps see the result much faster and keeps us motivated, same thing with kids. In beginning you may need to help your child do this, until he learns how to do that on his own.

3. Create a Space:

Majority of our stress comes from not finding stuff when you need it, especially for kids. If your kids or you are always looking for book, home work or a project you worked on last minute, it will increase blood pressure for all of you. Create a space for your child’s things, school works, hobbies so he can put everything in its place and find it when necessary.

If you teach kids to clean up since they are young, it helps them when they’re older. However, there is never too late to start, even for older child or even teen. Teaching them keeping their stuff organize and helping them by getting them bookcases, boxes to store stuff.

4. Make Time For Sleep:

It has been said that minimum of 8 hours of sleep is needed to function better, but little kids to teens sometimes need more than 8 hours sleep. Do you remember when your infant was born, he was sleeping or cat napping 18 hours a day? Of course, kids do not need less sleep as they grow older, they may need 8-10 hours sleep to feel refresh and function properly. So, make sure you have routine for them and they get enough sleep to feel rested.

I have a younger kids so it is easier for me to stick to sleep routine and Zenguy has perfected sleep routine with kids so well, they know it and do it well. I am not sure yet how to enforce on teens but they can be reasoned with as well.

5. Eat Together:

With family so busy with activities and things to do, we hardly tend to eat together. I fall in this category occasionally so I know. Making time to eat together as a family does wonder to kids self esteem and share what they liked on that day and what they did not. Young kids tend be chatty so we listen a lot or should I say we try to. 🙂

Seeing family life together and what everyone has done that day, makes everyone feel in “know” and be part of something special. At least, I know I felt that when I was a kid.

6. Talk and Listen:

Being a parent can be demanding and we have things to take care of, bills to pay, dishes to clean, and so on, but taking time to talk to your child if something is wrong will help by asking direct and open questions and then listening to them. Always ask questions that can not be answered in “yes” or “no”. If you ask how was your day, you may get answer like “fine”. You should ask “What happened during X event?”

7. Let Child be a Child

Sometimes we want so much from our children and we think of them as little people. They are not, they are still kids and will make mistakes. When I teach some concept to R, and I expect him to get it, and when he does not I sometimes get frustrated. I usually do not get upset with other child making same mistake. So I came to realize that wearing mom hat makes me expect a lot from my own kids, so I tried to wear teacher hat and try to be rational when I know a parent in me want a super smart child, instead of just human child.

Conclusion:

We ll need help to lessen stress in our children’s life and our’s too. I am a work in progress and as I mentioned despite using pen name of Zengirl, I get un-Zen sometime, so I wrote this article for me to read when I need little motivation booster.

How do you keep your self or your child less stressed and more happy?

Image source:Stree Free Kids Curriculum

Giving Thanks: How Gratitude Can Improve Your Life

This article is repost and re-edited from my 2010 post, just in time for Thanksgiving day! Not really shopping Grey Thursday or Black Friday or Cyber Mondays deals here. Just pure Thanks, Gratitude and feeling of contented-ness!


We as an Indians just celebrated festival of Diwali last month, which is Major Hindu Indian festival celebrated through out India. Living in USA also means, we also celebrate other festivals such as Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Holidays makes many of us in festive, generous mood and I can feel the festivities, parties and business around that comes with holidays.

Along with generosity and Thanksgiving holidays, the point of these holiday is to remember things that we are thankful in our life for. We should thankful for not just for food, water and shelter but many more little and big moments and events and blessing that we get every day and through out the year.

Being thankful is easy to say but hard to follow sometimes, when we are going through some issues in our lives. We as people tend to remember bad memories and things much more than good deeds. I want to show you how giving thanks or gratitude can change and improve our life. We should be thankful and show gratitude not only during holidays but through out the year.

Here are a few ways we can give thanks and gratitude, through out the year.

  1. Write down things in Gratitude Journal: When I started writing in one, I started writing everything in it like good and bad and ugly things, that should be your regular journal should be. However, gratitude Journal should only have positive and things that we are truly happy for.  For example, I wrote yesterday: “I am truly grateful to see sunny day in November.” It does not have to be life changing, simple thanks surely adds up.
  2. Focus on What you have: Many times we compare ourselves with other people so much that we forget many good things we already have. For example, “I am truly fortunate to simplified my life to point that we can survive with savings while we are trying to focus on our passion and compassion for life”.
  3. Thank your Spouse and Kids: Your life is going smoothly is might be because the help we get from family and friends around. Friends and family makes life worth living and more enjoyable. For example, I was feeling bit down right now and my 5 year old R came and give me a kiss and told me a joke. That totally changed my mood. I am also thankful to Zenguy, who is watching both kids so I can finish writing this article. That are many small and big things that our friends and family do, through out the year for us, let us thank them from bottom of our heart.
  4. Thank your Parents: Your parents have done so many things for you since you were born. I did not realize how blessed and hardworking parenting can be until I had my first child. Now, life has become very busy and hectic but I truly appreciate my mom and dad, who took care for me, taught me things to make a better person.
  5. Thank you In-laws: In many culture in-laws can be dreaded words as some of the in-laws tend of overly critical of you or very possessive of your spouse that may make pleasing them bit harder. There are good in-laws also who become your second sets of parents for you. Regardless of how you feel about your in-laws, I think we should thank them. I am truly thankful to my in-laws for raising a wonderful guy like Zenguy, who is good husband, best friend and greatest dad and most of all kind human being who wants me to make my life more positive.
  6. Thank your friends: Friends are family that we choose for ourselves. Many times friends have been there for us, when we were down, when we needed some lifting up. You may have one good friend or many, thank them for truly what they do everyday, just for being there for you.
  7. Thank other people you do not know: Now, this might be a alien concept, how to thank someone you do not know but it can be done. Many times people are helping you without us realizing it. For example, I am truly thankful for parents who started homeschooling and making it legal in USA so that I can choose to home school my kids today, if that is what I choose to do. I am thankful for technology advantages to I can blog today and share my thoughts to who wants to read.
  8. Think positive from bad situation: If you thought #7 was tough, this may seem even harder and tough. How can we see anything positive from a bad or worse situation. I will show you how, for example, “I am thankful to that slow driver who cut in front of me so I had to slow down and avoided getting a speeding ticket from a police who was just 200 yards from where I was.”  Do you see the difference? There is a silver lining or positive in almost all situation, so let’s try to improve out life by thinking positive.
  9. Thank Animals: Many times we only think of thanking only humans and our loved ones, when we stretch the limit to thank other living things in life that have given joy, our life truly becomes happier as it is filled with gratitude. For example, I had great fun with my brother’s dog Ruby and my room mate’s dog, when I took them walking, and playing with them, they gave me unconditional love and tremendous joy. If you have dog, cat, fish or any pet that gave you moment of joy and cheer, thank them truly. Think about the any animals that have given joy in your life: Dogs that love you as soon as they see you or  cats that think your lap is the best place to nap in the whole world, birds whose songs uplift your spirit and so on.
  10. Thanks Plants and Vegetables: Have you ever visited a tranquil garden with flowers, butterflies and bird chirping? It has so calming and soothing effect on me and I am sure many of you as well. I am thankful to all trees that have provided shade to me from sun’s heat, flowers with beautiful colors which has given me an inspiration to draw something or sing a song. And most of all, I am thankful to all vegetables and fruit plants to give me nourishment to live and eat healthier.

How to share Gratitude and give Thanks in simple ways

While some things may sound weird to a few of you, go ahead try it. there are many ways to take your part in random act of kindness and you can help during bad economy too.

  • Thank someone or something today. If friend has helped you, send him or her an email or call and just say thank you for being there.
  • Hug your spouse and kids, just because they are part of your life.
  • Tell your parents how much you appreciate them
  • Sing a song with bird in garden, even though you think you can not sing.
  • Find a positive in worse situation to lift up your mood.
  • Pick up garbage and put in trash bin, just because you want to.
  • Give thanks not only during holidays but every day.
  • Write in your Gratitude Journal for things that makes you happy and smile
  • Make someone happy today
  • Help someone at grocery store, who might be struggling with bags
  • If you see any child cry somewhere, instead of being critical, help the mom or dad to see if you can help.

This article is my contribution to Eric’s Eden Journal’s this month’s campfire. See below.

Your Turn:

How do you give thanks? Do you have gratitude Journal?  Did you share your gratitude with anyone today?

Check out other related articles:
Being enlightened
How to reuse Halloween Candies
Stress Free Thanksgiving Party


What is the Personal Development Campfire?
Imagine all your favorite personal development bloggers gathered around a campfire. Campfires are great center pieces of relaxed and free flowing conversations. Think of all the wonderful conversations and the wealth of topics that might arise. That’s the idea behind the Personal Development Campfire. Your favorite bloggers all gathered together discussing a new topic every month. (Bloggers click here for details on participating in the Personal Development Campfire.)


  1. Eden Journal
  2. Giving Thanks: Heart and Mind
  3. 5 Reasons to Give Thanks | Han of Harmony
  4. Gratitude – How to be thankful in trying times

Image: br3akthru / FreeDigitalPhotos.net