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How To Stop Worrying

Wondering how to stop worrying? Fantastic, because people who walk around full of worry are consequently full of stress, which consequently increases their risk of being sicker and/or dying earlier than they would have had they not carried around the worry.

I may have already told the following story at some point on this blog, but it bears repeating.

When I was a freshman in college, a mid-term exam was coming up for my history class. The professor, a wizened elderly man, was trying to convince us that worrying over the exam wouldn’t help. Here’s what he said:

When you worry about something, you’ve got the worry in one hand, and spit in the other. After the thing you’ve been worrying about has come and gone, all you got left is a handful of spit.

How not to worry? In your mind, turn that handful of spit into lost time, strained relationships, lost money, etc.

In our house, when one of us is worried over something, I remind the offender, “You’re just gonna end up with a handful of spit.” (Yes, sometimes I’m reminding myself.)

Take my husband’s recent out-of-state trip to a funeral for an aunt. He went by himself because our son would have been bored out of his mind, he wouldn’t have been able to sit through the service, and he’d never met the aunt. I had only met her once before.

My husband worried so badly over the trip two days before leaving that he had trouble finishing his meals. He walked around bloated most of the day. He worried about getting lost. He worried about the awkwardness of seeing his semi-estranged brother and sister-in-law (long story that I’m not going to share; let’s just say they judged us harshly for leaving the institutional church a few years back).

He worried about people asking about our son’s education (he would be labeled as “A.D.H.D.” and “developmentally delayed” if he were in school, and J didn’t want to have to answer about B’s academic abilities and explain all that).

I kept telling him not to worry. Reminded him about the spit. But he despises facing awkward situations alone (another future blog post idea!), so telling him how not to worry didn’t do any good.

My husband found his way to the funeral – five and a half hours away – and back just fine. His brother didn’t make it to the visitation the night before, and J had a pleasant visit there with “younger” relatives. Nobody asked about B. Or me, for that matter, but J wasn’t worried about that. For some reason, explaining to people that I have nine novels published, a YouTube channel with close to three thousand subscribers, two blogs, and more novels coming isn’t uncomfortable for him. 😉

When J got home, I tried to keep quiet. I did. But it wasn’t long before the words forced themselves out of my mouth: “So, how much spit do you have in your hand?”

How not to worry? Imagine the worst-case scenario and prepare yourself mentally for it. All the while, keep reminding yourself that statistically speaking, the chances of the worst-case scenario happening is small. Believe in yourself that you can handle whatever comes your way.

Because, as Christopher Robin once told Pooh, you are stronger than you seem.

Most of all, remember that there is nothing pleasant about walking around with a handful of spit.

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Why Suze Orman Hates The F.I.R.E. Movement

Suze Orman has come out and declared that she hates the F.I.R.E. movement. The acronym stands for “financial independence, retire early,” and the “early” there refers to an age somewhere between thirty and forty-five years. What I refer to as “super” early retirement.

When my husband and I declared financial independence in our early forties, we had no idea we were a part of a movement. When I wrote my book Hatching The Nest Egg, I didn’t realize I was promoting the movement.

But we are, and I was. I do.

So I take issue with Suze Orman’s strong feelings against it. Her implication is that people who retire before the age of sixty are either idiots – because they can’t do basic math – irresponsible, or a combination of both.

Retiring super-early has its risks and pitfalls, which I will get into at a later date. However, Hatching The Nest Egg explains how to reduce the risk of super-early retirement down to nothing. Then there is this page on the blog of the guy who came up with the F.I.R.E. acronym.

In this post, I want to address each of Orman’s implications, one at a time, and show how her extreme view is not relevant to most people who believe in “financial independence, retire early.”

People in the F.I.R.E movement are idiots

The people who have either achieved, or are working on achieving, super-early retirement have done their homework. They’ve researched the different modes of investing to discover the ones that will be both relatively safe from the movement of the stock market (NOT mutual funds!). They’ve figured out the minimum amount of money they need per year to live the desired lifestyle. They’ve used a calculator to figure out how big their nest egg needs to be in order to be able to pull out that amount every year without seeing the value go down.

If they’re really on top of things, they’ve figured out the amount they can pull out every year that will allow their investments to grow in order to account for future inflation.

They’ve also provided for a cushion for large unexpected expenses, which seems to be the biggest fear that Suze Orman has regarding the F.I.R.E. movement.

People in the F.I.R.E. movement are irresponsible

Suze Orman’s big fear about financial independence, retire early is that people will end up with large, unexpected expenses that they won’t be able to handle.

Hello?! That’s what insurance is for.

In addition, any health expert worth their salt will tell you that cancer, heart disease, most autoimmune diseases, and so on, result from lifestyle choices, not genetics. In other words, if you eat extremely healthy and keep toxins out of your system as much as you can, plus integrate daily movement into your life, your risk of developing chronic and terminal disease plummets.

Even if you do develop something like cancer, the treatment is unlikely to cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars. And the kinds of emergencies most people face – having to mend a broken bone via surgery (as I had to four years ago) or buy another car – won’t cost more than tens of thousands of dollars.

And the chances of a family experiencing these types of emergencies every single year are slim to none.

People who are aiming to retire early provide themselves a cushion for such occasional emergencies.

If worse came to worst, there is the Go Fund Me website.

Suze Orman is wrong

Orman needs to stop freaking out about those of us who believe in super-early financial independence. She needs to stop telling people what to do.

For more of my two cents on this subject, you can watch the video below.

For a roadmap on how you can retire super-early, read my book, Hatching The Nest Egg: Achieve Super-Early Retirement Without Side Gigs, Gambling, Or An Above-Average Income.

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Eating healthy is a goal for many people these days. If you want to live a more abundant life, it’s critical. The problem is, though healthy eating is simple, it’s not always easy.

Why? Several reasons. First, the major food manufacturers markets their unhealthy products as though they are healthy (when I was a kid, the Snickers candy bar was advertised as being “nourishing”).

Second, these processed foods are everywhere.

Third, it’s easier to “just add water” or pop a box into the microwave and have a complete meal under fifteen minutes than it is to prepare homemade food from scratch.

Fourth, you’re used to eating them, and you like them, so you don’t want to give them up.

Fifth, you’re used to eating them, and you like them, so you don’t want to give them up. (Yes, the repetition was intentional.)

Finally, conclusions of nutritional studies constantly contradict each other, causing confusion as to which foods and which diets are truly healthy.

I’m not going to get into that debate in this post. Instead, I want to provide some suggestions that will make healthy eating an easier goal for you to achieve.

#1: Create a three-week plan to transition into the whole-foods way of eating.

The first week, eat a whole-foods breakfast every day. (HINT: dried cereal is never whole-foods, not even if it’s labeled as “natural” or “organic”, or contains whole grain flour, or contains bits of twigs and dried fruit. Real European-style muesli is the only exception.)

The second week, continue eating whole-foods breakfasts (we like smoothies at our house), and add whole-foods lunches every day that week.

The third week, all three of your main meals should consist of whole foods. No frozen meals, limited (to no) flour-based products, no boxed meals, and no processed snack foods or desserts (including things like cookies, soda, candy, and potato chips).

#2: Plan whole-food meals and snacks in advance.

And write out a grocery list for only the ingredients you need.

#3: Don’t grocery-shop when you’re hungry.

You’ve heard that one a hundred times before, so I won’t bother explaining it.

#4: Every couple of days, add an extra fruit or vegetable serving to your daily fare.

Do this until you’re consuming at least nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day. (One banana or one medium apple, two cups raw lettuce, a half cup cooked carrots or asparagus are examples of serving sizes.)

#5: Make animal products condiments, not main attractions.

Despite the protests of Paleo diet and Weston A. Price bloggers, more and more nutritional studies are providing heavier and heavier evidence that the more plant-based your diet is, the healthier you will be in the long run.

Therefore, if you choose to consume dairy, eggs, and meat (this includes fish), the serving size of any of them should be no larger than the palm of your hand at any meal.

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I hope this tips will make healthy eating a no-brainer for you. If you’d like an even more detailed resource, check out my book Simple Diet, Beautiful You. It includes a section which teaches you how to eat three homemade meals per day in under thirty minutes of work!

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The Misery Of People-Pleasing

There are numerous challenges that can – and do – hinder people from living an abundant life. One that is often ignored, because it looks good on the outside, is people-pleasing.

I’m not talking about having a servant’s heart, and sacrificing your time, talent and treasure in order to help other people. A people-pleaser is someone who feels guilty unless they are doing what other people expect of them.

Even if the expected behavior goes against their own values, beliefs, or temperament.

The truth is, people-pleasers are living in fear. They fear being judged and criticized by the people in their life if they don’t live up to those people’s expectations.

Here are some examples:

  • John is an introvert with a family. The last thing he wants to do is attend the lunch following the funeral service he attends out of state. He will be miserable among all the other guests, most of whom he will not know. And he knows his wife doesn’t like being left alone with their three children for long. But he attends the lunch anyway, because if he doesn’t he know his sister-in-law will chew him out for it later.
  • Mary believes that the use of animals by humans for any purpose is wrong. But she continues to eat meat whenever her boyfriend takes her out for dinner, because she has heard him make fun of vegans.
  • Letitia is a senior in high school with an entrepreneurial spirit whose dream is to build her own business around her talent for arts and crafts. She knows by participating in online forums and groups that she doesn’t need to go to college to become successful with this. However, she’s going to set that dream aside and go to college to get a degree in teaching, because her mother insists that she will have a more secure future with that career.
  • Ed is the manager of a large supermarket. He knows he needs a day off once in a while, but he is often short-staffed because his employees call in sick a lot. So, many days he does double-duty as a manager and whatever the absent employee’s job is. He knows he should fire some of these employees and hire more responsible ones, but many of them are relatives or friends of friends and he doesn’t want to cause conflict within the extended family or circle of friends by letting them go.

People-pleasers aren’t true to themselves

The phrase “Be true to yourself” can be construed as selfish. However, the actual meaning is that each of us is to live according to how God has wired us, and according to the desires He’s placed inside each of us.

Most people, even those who aren’t people-pleasers, don’t live authentic lives. They don’t live true to themselves. Instead, they follow societal conventions and values, because that’s the path of least resistance.

Allow me to digress for a moment: My friend, if that’s the path you’re on, you cannot live an abundant life.

Back to people-pleasers. People-pleasers live by fear, not by faith. Their decisions and choices are made based on the values and desires of other people, rather than on their own values and desires.

Any kind of fear is a hindrance toward living an abundant life. The fear of man is one of the biggest, because it’s so hard to overcome. Especially for people-pleasers who have bypassed the age of thirty. By then, the fear is so ingrained that it becomes as difficult to root out as a large, old tree.

Difficult, but not impossible.

How to stop being a people-pleaser

Learning how to stop pleasing people is a two-step process.

Step #1: Develop more faith.

Faith comes by connecting with your Creator and learning to hear His voice. This comes in part by prayer, in part by reading the Bible – especially stories where God helped regular people overcome seemingly impossible circumstances – and in part by reading and listening to people who are strong in their faith.

Step #2. Establish personal boundaries.

If you never have, read the book Boundaries by Henry Cloud. If you have read it and you are still a people-pleaser, you need to read it again. And again. And again until you are actually establishing the healthy boundaries you need in order to live an authentic life.

“I tried that once, but it was scary.”

Of course it was. Everything new you try is scary. I taught elementary school for thirteen years, and for the first eight or nine, every single year, I was terrified on the first day of school. The proverbial bundle of nerves.

How do you make new things less scary? Keep working at them until they’re no longer new. When you first tell someone “no” who is used to you saying “yes” to them all the time, it will make you want to throw up. Do it anyway.

Then, as soon as you can, seek another opportunity to establish a boundary. Why as soon as you can? Because if you wait for too long, the next opportunity will feel like it’s the first one all over again, and you won’t make any progress.

However, if you don’t wait too long, you may still feel like throwing up when you endeavor to establish a boundary. Or maybe you’ll just get some butterflies in your stomach and experience sweaty armpits. But it will probably be a little easier than the first boundary-establishment.

Repeat until you are no longer people-pleasing, until whenever you decide to do a certain thing it is for only one of three reasons:

  1. God is speaking to you to do it.
  2. You want to do it out of a servant’s heart.
  3. You are doing it because it reflects your true self. 

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If you are a people-pleaser, your life is much more stressful than it’s supposed to be. A stressful life is not an abundant life. The choice is before you today: to continue on in misery, or to work on eliminating your fear of man.

My free book, Take Back Your Life!, can help you with many fear-based issues and motivate you to get your life on the right track. Click here to download it.

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