Changes, Nothing But Changes

Seven months ago I came to the realization that if I didn’t make massive changes to my life, my family and I were going to end up in deep trouble.

Aging parents thousands of miles away … a housing market that never truly recovered from the 2008 housing crash … an anemic employment market … a school system starting to unravel … etc etc etc.

So when it became clear back in March 2016 that the housing market in my neighborhood finally had a pulse, I knew we had to sell ASAP and move closer to parents while the chance to seize this opportunity existed.

Better to to take action before a crisis hit.

So I just spent six months doing a 2,000-mile relocation of our family on short notice. For most of that time I worked non-stop from 6am to 10pm, seven days a week.

The writing (obviously) slowed down to a trickle. It’s my only regret in doing this relocation so fast. But it was worth the price, because the worst of the move is over.

Now I’m rolling up my sleeves and tackling the writing side of things. So after months of quiet from me, things are about to get noisy.

A Few Pictures of Cats in Israel

I saw a lot of cats while traveling through Israel . I thought this week I’d share a few of the pictures I took. (There were very few dogs I met or could take pictures of. Sorry dog lovers.)

Enjoy! Lynn

Photo 1: Cat at the Church of the Primacy of St. Peter, near the Sea of Galilee.

Cat photo near Church of Primacy of St. Peter by Lynn Kilmore

Photo 2: Cat in the Golan Heights.

Cat photo in Golan Heights by Lynn Kilmore

Photo 3: Kitten in the courtyard outside the Church of St. Anne, Jerusalem.

Kitten photo at Church of St. Anne by Lynn Kilmore

Photo 4 (my favorite): Cat hanging out in the plaza next to the Western Wall in Jerusalem. As far as this cat is concerned, the Western Wall belongs to cats.

Cat photo at Western Wall by Lynn Kilmore

Photo 5: Cat walking along the paths on top of the Damascus Gate, Jerusalem. From the ramparts of this gate the Old City looked so peaceful … but on the ground there was so much heartbreak for everyone who lives there. (Heard earlier today about the deaths at this gate :() … It’s tricky to see the cat in this photo due to its fur blending in with the stones so well.

Cat photo at Damascus Gate by Lynn Kilmore

 

A Few Pictures from Israel and Palestine

I spent about half of November 2015 traveling through Israel and Palestine, and I thought I’d take a moment this week to share a few of the many photos I took.

Picture of Roman ruins at Beit She'an The first photo was taken at Beit She’an in Israel. This is a terrific site to visit in order to find Roman ruins in good shape (especially the Roman baths).

 

 

Photo of Jericho

The second photo is near the archaeological dig in Jericho.

View of Dome of the Rock from the Mount of Olives

The third photo was taken from the top of the Mount of Olives, gazing across to the Old City of Jerusalem. The Dome of the Rock and the walls of the Old City can be seen.

And lastly, in the fourth photo can be seen the Western Wall in Jerusalem. If you look closely, you can see the golden dome of the Dome of the Rock peeking over the Wall.View of the Western Wall Jerusalem

As for why I went–despite the cost, the significant time investment, and the travel alerts for Americans in Israel & Palestine–one of the main reasons I went anyway was because I had research that I needed to do for future stories.

I’m happy to report that I got the life experiences I needed to be able to write those stories (imagine me with a huge grin and eagerly rubbing my hands together as I say this)….

Tips for New Year’s Resolutions to Get Organized

Welcome back!

So, to pay it forward to those who helped me out over the years, I decided to do two blog posts about two common New Year’s goals: 1) Losing weight, and 2) Getting organized.

Last week we covered the weight loss tips that I found actually worked–i.e. I can vouch for the tips since I lost and kept off 25 lbs. (per doctor’s orders) over the last 18 months by using them. No diets. No extreme workouts.

Also, like I wrote last week, I’m not a professional expert on weight loss or organizing.  I encourage anyone with questions to talk to an expert. There are professionals out there who can be of great help.

Goal 2 – Getting Organized

  1. Every object we own has a yearly cost in time, space, and money. Pay attention to what those costs are. It’s crucial to become aware of these costs–if one gathers stuff long enough, one ends up running out of room in one’s residence. It’s a lot cheaper to get rid of stuff than to pay to move to a bigger place or pay the monthly rent on a storage unit.
  2. Shopaholic and/or hoarding symptoms are warning signs that the help of an expert is needed. Don’t go it alone if you or someone you care about shows signs of either. An experienced therapist is needed to help tackle the underlying problems.
  3. Organization is a learned habit. Learn how to do it. Read a great book on organization, such as Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. I stumbled across her book in an airport bookstore while on my journey back from Tel Aviv, and read it on the plane. She does an excellent job of summarizing the key techniques needed to get organized.
  4. Keep what you love, get rid of the rest.  Marie Kondo’s book does a terrific job describing the sorting & discarding process in detail, and the emotions involved.
  5. File folders are your friend. Whether it’s file folders for an actual filing cabinet, or on your computer, create a filing system and use it. I have saved countless hours searching for tax records and other documents by doing so.
  6. Organize and store medical records in a portable binder … or scan them into pdf files that you can store in a specific folder on a portable device such as an iPad. This is especially critical if someone has a serious medical condition. Bring that binder or iPad to every meeting with a new health professional. It can speed up the diagnosis and treatment journey when you’re able to swiftly provide copies of laboratory and medical reports. **I’m writing from personal experience on this–getting the medical records organized and easily accessible can literally save someone’s life. Do it ASAP.**
  7. Once the place you live in is cleared out and organized, there’s a high chance a relative, neighbor, or friend will ask to store some of their stuff there. It’s important to be emotionally prepared for this, or stuff will accumulate again … only this time, it’ll be other people’s stuff. Figure out what to say when it happens–will you say “No”; set a specific time limit; or charge them money for the storage?
  8. Celebrate that you’re making room in your life for The New.

Good luck to everyone with their resolutions for the New Year and I wish everyone much success in accomplishing them.

Cheers, Lynn

Tips for New Year’s Resolutions to Lose Weight

Welcome to 2016! I hope you are all well. It’s great to be back and doing a blog post. It’s been so quiet blog-wise because I went on overseas travel to Israel and Palestine to do research for future stories.

Mid-January is a good moment for me to pass on some learned wisdom about two common New Year’s Resolutions (at least here in the United States). By around now the excitement of possible change is fading away, to be replaced by the daily slog of reality. The two common resolutions I will cover are:

Goal 1 – Losing Weight

Goal 2 – Getting Organized

I’m not a professional expert on these two issues. I have, however, by trial and error stumbled onto advice from others that actually works and I want to pass that advice on as a way to pay it forward.

For this week’s blog post I’ll cover the goal of losing weight.

Goal 1 – Losing Weight

  1. Make peace with your body as it is today. Ditch the self-hate, because it gets in the way of feeling joy. Find outfits to wear that make you happy and confident now. Self-care needs to be a priority.
  2. Treat obesity as a disease, not a moral failing. It’s better to be dispassionate about this medical situation. Negative self-talk only increases the odds that stress eating and failure will occur.
  3. Schedule an appointment with your family doctor and talk about getting tested for diabetes, high cholesterol, thyroid problems, and other conditions. Also, you need a health assessment of how much weight you actually need to lose, if any. Eating disorders and unrealistic body goals are a genuine hazard.
  4. Before your body can permanently change, your mind must change. I strongly recommend reading a book on the psychology of weight loss before starting any diet and exercise program. Dr. Martha Beck’s The Four Day Win does a good job covering the behavioral and emotional issues involved with permanent weight loss.
  5. Food is fuel. Log the actual calories you’re consuming. Buy a food scale so you can measure anything you’re eating that doesn’t come with the exact calorie count. No self-shaming allowed. Watch yourself the way a scientist would and log the results each day.
  6. After an eating binge, pay attention to what was happening before and during the binge. Was there an emotional trigger? Log that information.
  7. Build a support team. If you need expert advice and guidance, get it. It’s a lot cheaper to hire a nutritionist and personal trainer for a few months than to pay the long-term medical bills involved with severe obesity.
  8. Aim for 1 tiny permanent healthy change in your life each week. One tiny change a week means that there will be 52 changes made in your life by the end of the year. They add up, fast. Really.  Also, a tiny change is easy to manage, even during a life crisis, and so going off track is unlikely to happen.

Next week I’ll be back with tips on getting organized.