6 Simple Strategies to Guarantee Weight Loss – Part 1

Fighting the battle of the bulge? Did you know more than one third of U.S. adults are obese? Our fast-paced gotta-get-more-done-now lifestyle has led to a deprioritization of mealtimes. We eat on the run, grab a coffee for breakfast, snack on a donut at break, and then take the kids to a fast-food joint for dinner because of jam-packed schedules.

As we age, excess weight can keep us from doing things we love. It also affects the pocketbook. Did you know medical expenses for obese people are $1429 more per year than for a normal weight person? As a gal who has lost a total of 35 pounds over my lifetime, and kept it off, this week I am sharing six simple tips I use to help maintain a healthy weight. But first, here’s what prompted me to write this post.

Last weekend, I was out with a new girlfriend who is about my age, perhaps a few years younger. If I had to guess, she’s probably about thirty pounds or more overweight which puts her into the obese category. I parked the car in the garage and we headed to the main entrance for a night of salsa dancing. As we’re walking, she says “Dinner time,” and pulls something wrapped in foil out of her purse and begins to chow down. I made a mental note that this behavior is conducive to weight gain but didn’t say a word. Yeah, Ariel!

So here we go with my six tips to help you lose that unhealthy baggage, have more energy, and feel better about yourself.

Tip #1: Eat smaller portions

Everything these days seems to be super-sized, from burgers to televisions. Unless we want our bodies to be super-sized we need to go against the tide and realize bigger is not always better, particularly when it comes to portion sizes. A serving of meat, fish, or chicken should be about the size of our palm, which is about 4 ounces. We want to feel full but not stuffed when we finish our meal.

Tip #2: Be more active

Physical activity is even more important as we age. Have done with the excuse about not liking to exercise. There are so many ways to exercise and have fun. One of the easiest and cheapest forms is to take a walk. Put on a pair of supportive shoes and head outside. A brisk 1 – 2 mile walk everyday will do wonders for you. At lunch time, get away from the desk, clear your head, and get some fresh air. If you want more, pick up the pace to a jog. If your joints can take it, jogging is a great cardiovascular exercise that gets the happy hormones, known as endorphins, circulating. You will burn more calories, stoke your metabolism, and strengthen your heart. Do something to get moving every day. Your heart will thank you, too!

Tip #3: Cut back on fats and sugars.

As an ex-aerobics instructor, I learned about nutrition, diet, and calories. Did you know a gram of fat has more than double the calories of a gram of protein or carbohydrate? Quick nutrition lesson here. Fats are found mostly in animal products such as meat, dairy, and cheese. They also are in oils, nuts, and seeds. To limit fats, avoid fried foods, fast-food, ice cream, pre-made packaged or frozen products, and creamy salad dressings and sauces such as alfredo. Check the labels and notice the number of fat grams per serving. If you’re not used to doing this, you will be in for a rude awakening. Some fats are good for you, though, so don’t eliminate them entirely. The brain is made up of 60% fat, so it needs it to stay healthy. Olive oil, coconut oil, sardines, salmon, all contain heart-healthy oils but use them sparingly. Now let’s talk about sugar.

Sugar wears many disguises so it is important to be aware of where these simple carbohydrates lurk. I overheard a woman at the pool the other day comparing lettuce and watermelon. She, too, is overweight. She was talking about how much she loves watermelon. True, lettuce and watermelon are both mostly water, however, watermelon is very high in sugar, rating 72 out of 100 on the glycemic index. So if you’re downing it in large quantities, remember the body still needs to produce insulin to digest fruit sugars the same as the sugar in cakes and cookies. Some other sources of sugar you might not be aware of are alcohol, dried fruit, dates, and some energy drinks.

Which one of these tips will you apply this week? Write and let me know how it goes for you. Stay tuned for part two of my six simple weight-loss tips next week.

Until then, keep looking up!

Ariel

Believe in What You See – How to Spot the Red Flags

Single? Lonely? Looking for Mr. Wonderful? Holding on to Mr. Right Now? Too many times when we meet someone we see them through rose-colored glasses, and ignore the red flags. Why? Because we are lonely, bored, tired of waiting, and isolated. Or we are in a relationship, and we know in our head this person is not right for us, but we stay in it anyway, because we are emotionally involved.

Recently, I spoke with two single gals who are in a predicament, shall we say. They are stuck in unhealthy relationships hoping things will change. The years are going by and nothing has changed and both these gals are making excuses to stay. Now I totally understand because I’ve done this very thing and listening to their stories reminded me of how difficult it is to extricate oneself from emotional ties.

Today’s post is dedicated to helping you:
a) spot the red flags early on so
b) you don’t get emotionally entangled with the wrong guy.

Several years ago, I met a guy online on a supposedly Christian dating site. When I read this guy’s profile, my heart was aflutter. He sounded like my perfect match – on paper that is. All the externals I was looking for seemed to be in place – good job, owned his own home, attends church, willing to learn how to dance etc etc. Well. After two years of a conflicted spirit, late night “disagreements” and much heartache, the light bulb finally went on and I put all the pieces together. The guy was lying to me about who he really was. The signs of jealousy, immaturity, and insecurity had been there all along, I simply chose to minimize them. I made excuses and rationalized his behavior. All because I was approaching a milestone birthday and I had set my mind of being engaged by that time.

Lesson #1: my timetable is not always God’s timetable.

Lesson #2: Listen to my spirit.

Anyway, fast forward several years. I was still single so decided to give online dating another try. Another guy contacts me wanting to get together for dinner.

“Here we go again. They think wining and dining me is going to do the trick.” This time I was determined to keep my eyes open and my heart protected.

Don’t ask me what I was thinking. The guy had posted photos of his red Porsche, his motorcycle, his flowers, and his dog. Nothing against any of these, but I kind of felt like there were conflicting messages being sent. Now I always give people the benefit of the doubt, so I went out with the guy. The Porsche and the motorcycle were signs that screamed one word – FAST! He wanted to move quickly in more ways than one. By the grace of God, it only took me 3 dates to figure out the truth and am so glad I did not let myself get emotionally or physically involved with the guy. I chalk the whole experience up to a re-test and I think I passed with at least a “B”. Maybe a B+.

Bottom line of these stories is this. When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time. Don’t allow the wining and dining, the flowers, the jewelry or the romance to blind you or override your good sense. If you’re not sure what to do, get counseling or talk to some wise friends who are courageous enough to give you an objective perspective. If we want to avoid unnecessary hurt and pain and stay out of wrong relationships, it would do us well to face the reality of who people are before getting physically and emotionally connected to them. Take your time evaluating the person. Three dates seems like a reasonable amount of time.

If any of my story resonates with you or if you have helpful tips you’d like to share, please leave a comment below or on Facebook. Love to hear back from you.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

When in Doubt – Pause

Decisions, decisions. Every day we are faced with hundreds of decisions. Some are as simple as what to have for breakfast and others as complex as whether to stay or leave a relationship. Some people are good at making decisions quickly. Like the pro football coaches who have to make quick decisions about the next play. They have limited information and are under a lot of pressure, but yet they are responsible for making calls that could make or break the game. I have to admit, I would never make a good football coach. On the other hand, making decisions too quickly can be just as bad or worse than taking too much time. Sometimes I’m guilty of that, too. As a single mom of two boys, I’ve had a lot of decisions to make. The problem it seems is when to wait and when to act. I flounder in a sea of doubt. Perhaps you, too, struggle with this.

The decisions we make determine the path of our lives and so it can be somewhat stressful when one is unsure of how to proceed. Here’s a situation that happened to me this week I found post-worthy. I’m sharing it for those who, like me, have a bit of difficulty knowing when to pause.

It was Wednesday. A decision about whether to contact a certain party had been looming over me like a dark grey cloud on a summer day.

“Should I call them or should I wait to hear from them?”

The sun was beaming through my window, and I sat silently cross-legged, meditating on a verse from Psalm 46 which says “Cease striving”. Another version says “Be still and know that I am God.”

Which is it, Lord?

When I thought about it, the two translations were similar. When I cease striving, I let go. I give it to God. I am still. I paused and pondered the decision hanging over me in light of this verse. Then the phone rang.

I usually don’t interrupt my quiet time to answer the phone, but I felt the need to do so on this day. “Unknown” read the caller id.

“It’s probably another one of those telemarketers calling,” as I’d been receiving a slew of calls lately. But something, or someone, told me to answer the call so I did. It was the person I had been debating about calling. I lifted up a silent prayer when I realized who it was. Now you can call it coincidence if you want but I don’t believe anything happens by chance. God is in everything.

Waiting is tough for most of us humans, I’d say. We like things to happen on our time-table. We want it NOW. Many times we take things into our own hands and make it happen. The discipline of pausing seems to have been lost in the hustle and bustle of today’s fast-paced culture. Patience is a learned skill which we only acquire by waiting. The answers don’t always come immediately as in this case. Sometimes weeks, months, or even years go by. Yet, we must learn to pause.

When we learn to pause, we give ourselves time to reflect. We give God a chance to work,to intervene, to assist. As a single mom, I have always done things myself because I felt I had to. I am learning that I don’t have to take care of every thing myself. God is there. He can make things happen I can’t. But I have to give him a chance.

So what decision are you facing today? Is there doubt in your mind about it? If so, take some time to pause. Give it to God and wait for an answer. It may be a phone call, a knock on the door, or simply that still small voice inside that speaks to each of us when we quiet ourselves enough to listen.

Please let me know your thoughts on this post. If you liked it, pass it on to a friend, leave a comment below or on Facebook. We all struggle with decisions from time to time, so I hope this post has been helpful to you.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

The Dangerous Pull of Strong Emotions

Emotions are powerful. Think of how you feel when someone cuts you off in traffic, you watch a baby being born, or your favorite team wins the game. These emotions can be very strong at times, almost overwhelming. Emotions can be our friends or our enemies. They can motivate us to climb mountains and they can drag us into the pit of despair. Emotions can motivate us to pursue relationships or leave them. What I want to talk about today is how important it is to learn to pause and reflect before acting out of emotion so we can make conscious choices.

I’ve read that when we get emotional, a different part of our brain (the right hemisphere known as the limbic system) takes over and the more logical left hemisphere stops working. Logic and emotion are two opposing forces. We’ve all heard the old adage about the head and the heart, right? Which of these do we allow to influence us in our decision-making?

A recent example of out-of-control emotions is the Baltimore riots. People expressed their long-pent-up frustrations and anger in violent and destructive ways. Emotions are contagious, especially negative emotions such as anger and hostility. Another factor is how deeply we experience our emotions.

Some people feel their emotions more strongly than others. I know, because I am one of them. I feel deeply which can be both a good and a bad thing. I have learned, however, that my emotions are something I have control over. I don’t have to allow – say allow – them to control my actions. I can take a step back and think. I had a situation recently where I had the opportunity to practice what I’m preaching here.

As you may know, I am a single lady looking for my soul mate. I recently went on a few dates with a new guy we’ll call C. We met online and corresponded a few times, then talked on the phone. I decided to give him a chance. Well, he kept trying to kiss me telling me how attracted he was to me, ya da ya da ya da. Now I appreciate the attention, but as they say, flattery will get you nowhere. So I explained to him gently that I prefer to get to know someone better before I go the physical route. I know how physical men are and that’s fine, but women are like ovens. They take a while longer to heat up. Anyway, the point of the story was, being the analytical ex-IT person I am, I was evaluating the different aspects of this person. I have to admit I was tempted to kiss the guy, but I held back. Kissing can form an intimate connection when someone feels as deeply as I do so I don’t jump into it lightly these days. After three dates, I became aware of several aspects of this gentleman that I did not think would make for a long-term match and ended the relationship. Point being, I did not allow my emotions to override my logical thinking and was able to make a conscious choice regarding whether to pursue a relationship with this person.

When we allow our strong feelings to control us, we often make decisions and choices we later regret. Emotions can cloud our judgment and cause us to make poor decisions. This applies to business situations as well as personal relationships. Our emotions can control us or we can learn to control them. The key is to recognize what is going on and stop the train before it derails. Sometimes emotions can rise up in us that have nothing to do with the situation at hand. Have you ever exploded at your kids when you got home from a frustrating day at the office? There you go.

Emotional intelligence is understanding both the source and the impact of our emotions.

1. Ask myself “What am I feeling?”
2. What is causing me to feel this way?
3. Is this what I really want to do?

The next time you feel overcome with strong emotion, take a step back. Ask yourself the above questions before taking action. What do you think of the thoughts presented here today? Love to hear your feedback so please leave a comment below, on Facebook, or Twitter @ArielPaz08.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

Charleston Shootings – Is Forgiveness the Way?

Another horrific massacre took place last week in Charleston, SC. A twenty-one year old young man opened fire in a bible study group and killed nine victims including an 87 year old woman as well as the pastor of the church. The young man was eventually apprehended and his license plate bore the emblem of the confederate flag. In a video, the tearful pained voices of the victims’ relatives expressed their hurt and forgiveness to the unemotional lad who stood between prison guards. How does one respond to such an injustice as the loss of a loved one. Is it wise to offer forgiveness to an unrepentant soul?

Now I am all for forgiving others, but I wonder if perhaps this process has been misunderstood by some so I began to do some research. When we are hurt or offended by another person, we usually experience a wide variety of emotions, so let’s explore these for a moment to see how they are to be handled.

When someone hurts us, there are many reactions we may feel; some of these are healthy and some are not. We may feel hurt, grieved, saddened, and sometimes devastated. These are all normal emotions and especially in the case of the death of a loved one. We need to allow ourselves to feel these emotions fully. To deny or forgive the other too quickly is both unhealthy and unwise. We need to take the time to feel and to grieve. Another response is the desire to want to get back at the other person. This is known as the desire for vengeance. So what about when we feel the need to “pay them back” for the hurt they’ve caused us?

The sense of injustice is reasonable. However, when we harbor thoughts of vengeance, these negative thoughts poison our mind and steal our peace. It would do us well to remember that we, too, have hurt others. When we let go of this need, and give it to God, we rid ourselves of that poison. It may be difficult, even painful, to forgive, but unforgiveness hurts us even more in the long run.

I was surprised at how quickly the relatives were to offer forgiveness to the perpetrator who showed absolutely no sign of remorse or regret. Does such a person deserve to be let off the hook, so to speak, so quickly? Is this even biblical?

There are many verses in Scripture that tell us to forgive and how many times to forgive. There is one verse however that may shed some light as to when to actually forgive someone. It is found in Luke 17:3 and reads “Take heed to yourselves: If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.”. This is from the King James Bible, perhaps the oldest and most accurate version. Notice the caveat – if he repents. In other words, we are not commanded to forgive unrepentant people. Let’s use another scenario.

Say your child tells you a lie or steals money from you and you find out about it. As a parent, you don’t stop loving your child, but would you insist the child apologize? Or would you say “I forgive you” and then let the whole issue drop? If you do, the chances of having a repeat performance is likely to occur, would you agree? The role of a parent is to develop character in their children and teach them right from wrong. When we insist on moral behavior it does not mean we do not love our child. In fact, good discipline is a necessary component of raising healthy adults. There is one more consequence of forgiving too quickly.

When we forgive someone who is unrepentant, we take away the opportunity for real change and growth. Most human beings have some sort of conscience, and without the chance to repent, the person will wallow in guilt and shame. The purpose of true guilt and shame are to bring someone to accept responsibility for what they have done and to change. Then and only then, are we to forgive them for they have shown a change of heart and a true sorrowfulness for their actions.

Now this post might be controversial. I would like to hear your thoughts on this topic. We must stem the tide of these killings and hold the perpetrators responsible. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

One Step to True Peace

If there was one thing you could do to have more peace in your life, would you do it? Think about this for a moment – one thing you could do.

Everyone has trials and troubles. That, my friends, is what we call life. Challenges will always be with us. The key is to how we deal with the challenges. People often wonder why so many things go wrong in their lives. We scratch our heads and wonder in astonishment why things have gone awry. This is when I have to take a step back and ask myself the question “What is really going on here?”

We all want to have more peace in our lives. We want things to run smoothly and to achieve our dreams and goals. We want to be happy and have a rich and abundant life.
It is possible if we are sure to do this one simple step. It’s funny, because most of what we need to do to have a good life is very simple. The very first thing we need to do is to start doing the right thing. I’m not talking about the right thing in a moral sense here, although, doing something immoral is definitely not going to bring us peace. I’m talking about doing the right thing in regards to our values and goals.

Let me give you an example. Say you are all upset about your weight. When you get up in the morning, you hate what you see in the mirror. You do not have peace about what you look like. At the office, someone brings in donuts. What action will give you peace? Eating a donut or passing on the donuts? Pass on the donuts because you want to lose weight. You will feel not only a sense of peace, but a sense of mastery and power. You resisted the temptation. Get the idea? Here’s another example. You’ve had a good dinner. It’s a nice evening outside. You can a) plop yourself down in front of the boob tube or b) go for an after dinner walk and help your system burn off some of those calories. Did you know you burn more calories the 20 minutes right after eating? These choices are in line with your values and goals i.e. to lose weight. When we act in alignment with our values and goals, we have more peace in our spirits. This applies to other areas of our lives as well.

Same thing goes with financial peace. Thousands of Americans are in debt because they can’t control their spending. They “need” to have the latest technology, electronic gadget, newest car, bigger house, etc. They feel an inner compulsion to keep up with what “other people” are doing. But they know deep down inside they really can’t afford any of them nor do they really and truly need them. So a new smart phone comes out in the market. Their smart phone works just fine. What do they do next time they are at Best Buy? They buy a new smart phone. Now is this action going to bring them peace in the long term? Their goal is to get out of debt, but their actions are not in line with their values. So no, they are not doing “the right thing” and this choice will not bring them peace.

Do you get the concept here? So much of the stress in our lives can be eliminated if we would simply do the right thing. Act in accordance with our values, dreams,and goals. Don’t allow ourselves to be swayed by others, the media, or advertising. Know what it is we value and want in our lives and then practice saying “NO” to any action, person, or activity that does not fit into the picture. Says author Anne Lamott, “No” is a complete sentence. It is also a very powerful tool in maintaining peace in our lives. Say no to the donut, no to the purchase, no to the event or activity that you really don’t have the desire or the time to attend anyway.

If we will begin to implement this one simple step – doing the right thing – we will find more peace because we will be saying “Yes” to what it is we really and truly want in our lives. We will be living more in congruence with our values and our decisions will become easier. A tip is to ask ourselves this question: “Is this the right thing for me?” If the answer is a sincere “Yes”, we are good to go.

I hope you have enjoyed this post. If you have any comments or feedback, I would love to hear from you so please post them. Until next time, just do the next right thing and keep looking up!

Ariel

How to Tell If You’ve Stopped Growing

Hard to get out of bed in the morning? Has joy all but disappeared from your life? Still battling the same problems and worries you were 5 – 10 years ago? These are all signs we have stopped growing. So how does this happen?

It’s been said that aging is inevitable but growth aka maturity is optional. Personal growth is a choice. It takes intention and action. Growth doesn’t happen on its own. It happens when we take intentional steps to learn. When we grow we feel more alive, invigorated, and motivated. We look forward to each new day with enthusiasm and passion. We’re not held back by our problems. Joy pours out of us like syrup onto pancakes. Our energy level soars.

Many times it takes a crisis, a setback, or a big mistake to push us into growing and maturing. As I say in my book, “The Power of Faith”, rather than viewing difficulties as obstacles, try to view them as opportunities to grow. Life is a huge university and the trials we encounter are vehicles designed to move us forward into our destiny. As John Maxwell says in his book “How Successful People Win”, there are two basic reasons for our trials: 1) ignorance and 2) stupidity. Either we didn’t know better or we knew better and failed to act properly.

We all go through tough times. I would venture to say without tough times, we would grow very little, if at all. The tough times show us what we are made of and what needs to change. Most people resist change because they get cozy with the status quo. Like the fruit on my counter, if we stay in the same place long enough eventually we will rot. We were made for more. Here’s an example.

We all know people who are divorced. I am one of them. Divorce is ugly and painful and leaves us with deep wounds that take time to heal. We have three choices: we can either learn and grow from the pain; we can turn angry, bitter, and resentful, or we live in denial and pretend we are the innocent victim. Only the first is a healthy response. No matter how awful the other party may have been, we always have our part to play and our lessons to learn.

I learned more about who I am and how my past and my parents influenced me. When I had serious health issues, I realized I needed to make changes in my diet and my thinking patterns. We are, after all, body mind, and spirit. When one part of us is hurting, the other parts hurt as well. As author Wayne Dyer says, there is a spiritual solution to every problem and I agree. Our souls are trying to go to the next level.

Growth and change don’t always feel good at the time. We may experience “growing pains” as we transition into a new season of life, but let me encourage you by saying this. It’s all good. Trials can build character and make us stronger. They can uncover gifts and talents we never knew we had. Growth is good for our souls.

Is it time you felt more joy and energy in your life? If so, try adding something new: a new hobby, a new job, a new relationship. Give it some thought and do post a comment what you and let me know plan to do to expand your horizons.

Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

Choose Peace and Find Favor

I hate getting lost. It doesn’t happen often but when it does, I know I’m in for a test. It seems like it happens when I’m in a hurry to get someplace. You know the feeling, I’m sure.

It was a Friday night and my son, Jon, and I were out celebrating his 30th birthday. We had just finished a lovely meal at a Spanish restaurant in Houston and were headed to a dance studio to take a salsa lesson at 9 pm. We had less than 30 minutes to get there. On the way to the car after dinner, I started to get excited about the evening. It would be the first dance lesson my son has had and perhaps I was more excited than he. I had found a coupon for free entry if we arrived before 9:30.

“This is going to be so much fun!” I exclaimed as I settled into his new Nissan with the homemade birthday cake on my lap.

Now, Houston is not exactly the easiest place to get around. The city is huge and so are the highways. Jon plugged in the address of the studio into his trusty GPS and waited. And waited. And waited. No response.

“I know where this place is,” he announced and pulled out of the parking spot.

“We’re looking for 59 north,” he said.

As we headed out of the city, it seemed we were going into nowhereland.

“I don’t see any signs for 59 north,” I said. After circling the side roads, we eventually hit a dead end. Jon’s tone was becoming firmer and the tension in the air was thickening by the minute.

“Doesn’t look like we’re going to make the lesson, so we might as well go home,” he announced. It was like someone stuck a pin in my balloon of anticipation and excitement.

“Ok, if that’s what you want to do,” I surrendered.

Then Jon says: “I think the enemy is trying to get us into a fight to ruin the evening. But he’s not going to get his way. Forget this GPS. I think I know how to get us there,” Jon stated with a renewed sense of determination. My hopes started to rise again as he found the way to a highway.

It was 9:20 when we pulled into the parking lot of the studio.

“Let’s take a few breaths,” Jon said and we both sat in silence for a few minutes collecting ourselves.

Peace must be fought for.

We knew we had avoided a close call and we both accepted that fact that we had missed the lesson.

“At least we made it in time to get in free,” I offered.

We stepped into the studio. The place was hopping with activity.

“I guess the lesson is over,” I said to the gal checking us in at the door.

“No, as a matter of fact, it is going to start in 5 minutes.”

Jon and I looked at each other in amazement. We both knew what had happened.

“That’s God’s favor,” Jon says quietly. “Because we didn’t get into an argument in the car,”.

I was grateful for both the unexpected blessing of the dance lesson and for the fact that Jon was so wise to have learned this lesson so young. It had taken me years to realize this.

So, next time you find yourself in a tense situation that is out of your control, remember to defuse it by surrendering. When we choose peace instead of conflict, we not only save our energy and our spirits, but God smiles upon us with favor.

Love to hear your feedback on this adventure and until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

One Thing You Need to See Your Dreams Come True

We all have dreams we want to see become a reality. Some dream of traveling to an exotic country. Others dream of owning the latest hot sports car. Still others dream of finding the love of their life or writing a best selling book. We can put all kinds of effort into trying to make things happen, but there is one key ingredient that we must have if we want to see our dreams come true.

Some say it is will power. I know my will power only goes so far – just show me a jar of peanut butter. We can try to use will power but sooner or later our will power will run out. It is not brute strength, intelligence, knowledge, or great wealth. All of these things are helpful but without this one key ingredient we will not be successful. The one key ingredient to seeing your dreams come true is the power of Faith. We must BELIEVE it is possible to lose that 20 pounds, run that marathon, write that book, or take that trip of a lifetime.

For example, I have wanted to go to Argentina for 10 years. Ever since I toured the Argentine Tall Ship that docked in the Baltimore Harbor one summer, I promised myself “Someday, I am going to go to Argentina.” Now traveling to South America as a single woman is not exactly an easy thing to do. There are safety issues, language issues, and travel issues. Yet, I had faith. I was going to go to Argentina.

Two years ago, I decided it was time. After a few months of planning, lots of research, and applying for a Brazilian visa, I was off to South America on American Airlines. I wound up visiting not only Argentina, but Brazil as well. It was a dream come true and all because of the seed of Faith that I planted 10 years earlier.

So, what exactly is Faith?

To put it simply, Faith is the positive belief of things not yet seen. It is the belief that our dreams can come true. It is the fuel that fires up our engines. Without faith, we idle through life, never really achieving anything great and watching our dreams go up in a puff of smoke. A life without faith is not the life we were intended to live.

Faith begins with a belief in God because God is the ultimate source of all good things as well as the power to achieve them. When I exclude God from the equation, I am setting myself up for a lot of hard work and eventual failure and disappointment. It is God who gives us the grace and the power to succeed and flourish.

I like to think of Faith as a muscle we all possess. In the same way we need to develop our physical muscles to lift stronger weights, if we want to achieve greater things in life, it is necessary to strengthen our spiritual muscle. Each goal we achieve builds our faith and our confidence. We can stand on our victories and our failures like stepping stones that help us step up to the next level.

We all fall at times. The key is to pick ourselves up and get back in the race. Proverbs 24:16 says “Though the righteous may fall 7 times, but the Lord will always raise him back up.” There is no shame in failing. In fact, failure is one of the best ways to strengthen our spiritual muscle. Look how many times Thomas Edison and Abraham Lincoln failed. Failure builds character and strengthens our spiritual muscle. If you have failed recently, I encourage you to get back in the game. If you’re still on this earth, God still has a plan and a purpose for your life, but it is up to us to do our part to make our dreams come true.

If you have a dream you want to see come true, ask yourself this question “Do I truly believe this can happen in my life?” Stretch yourself. Start saying things like “I believe I can break this habit.” “I believe I can lose this weight.” “I believe I can make it through this.” Whatever you’re going through, use it as an opportunity to strengthen your spiritual muscle and to grow your faith. You will be surprised at the results and when you look back at your life and see how many of your dreams really have come true, you will be amazed!

If you liked this post, please comment or click on the +1 Google icon. Until next time, keep looking up!

Ariel

10 Signs You’re in the Wrong Relationship – From a Woman’s Point of View

Relationships can be a dream or a nightmare and it can be very difficult to navigate the waters. This may explain why the number of single Americans continues to grow. Did you know that singles make up over half of the United States population?

Some 124.6 million Americans were single in August, 2014. Now that is quite an impressive statistic. As a long-time divorced lady, I have some experience with what can possibly go wrong in a relationship. Sometimes, we miss the obvious “red flags” because we are a) lonely b)already smitten or c)clueless. As they say, love is blind. So in an attempt to remove the blindfold, and keep my fellow single friends from going through unnecessary pain and angst, today I am going to share 10 signs that indicate you may be in the wrong relationship. I am writing from a woman’s point of view, but many of these signs can just as well apply to women for my male readers.

1. The guy never has money to pay your way.
You are a treasure, a gift, and your presence deserves to be honored. If a guy always asks you to pay your own way, he may not be able to afford you.

2. Your partner tells “little white lies”. I’m sorry, but a lie is a lie. If someone is withholding information or distorting the facts, they are lying. If the person is compelled to not tell the whole truth about small situations, what is going to happen when something big comes up?

3. The person only talks about himself. Nothing is more boring than to spend an evening listening to a guy go on and on about himself, his accolades, his children, his wealth, ya da ya da ya da. If the guy doesn’t show an equal amount of interest in you, my dear girl, right from the get go, he is not going to later on. This behavior indicates a possible narcissistic personality and is unhealthy, so run!

4. The guy wants to get you in bed early on. Ok, I admit I am a bit old school and I know times are changing. However! I still live by my mother’s old adage “Why should he buy the cow if he can get the milk for free?” Sleeping with a guy is no guarantee he is going to stay with you. In fact, if he is pestering you early on for sex, that is a clear indicator of his true motives. Move on.

5. The guy drinks a lot, smokes a lot, eats a lot, uses drugs or gambles a lot. These are all addictive behaviors and you are not going to be the one to “fix him”. If your beau displays any of these behaviors to excess, again – move on!

6. He can’t seem to hold a steady job. I once dated a guy who had a four-page resume. There was always some excuse why the job didn’t work out. You have to ask yourself “What is the common denominator?” Now I don’t mean if a poor guy loses his job, you should dump him. What I mean is if the guy has a string of jobs that only last a short time and then he is out looking again, tell him to look in the mirror first and move on!

7. He has a lot of female “friends”. Typically when a guy tells you “She’s just a friend,” that usually means she is an ex-girlfriend. And if she is still hanging around, she is still interested in him. You want a guy who only has eyes for you, a guy who has long-term relationships. You do not want a playboy, a player, or a Casanova romeo. Unless, of course, you want your heart broken.

8. The guy offers to buy you. I once was told “If we get together, you’ll never have to worry about money again,”. It was all I could do not to gag. This is a manipulative ploy wealthy men use to get a woman. Any self-respecting female can support herself and does not need to be “taken care of” by a man. Times have changed, and no longer do women look to men to provide for them. Women today are looking for deeper values such as commitment, communication, intimacy and such.

9. Your friend has a critical spirit. He makes cutting or sarcastic remarks at your expense and then brushes it off by saying “I was only joking with you,” or “Can’t you take a joke?” Sorry, buddy. No dice. Sarcasm is a sign of insecurity. A secure man will never undermine his lady in any way. It is not funny. It is petty and unacceptable. Again, gals, move on. It will only get worse as time goes by.

10. Last but not least, do not get involved with a man who is already in another relationship. I consider being separated still being married. I do not want to be the reason someone’s marriage dissolves. If a guy is seeing another woman “on the side”, you don’t want him. Love triangles only bring heartache and pain. Find someone who is unattached and available. The last thing you need in a budding romance is drama.

Ok, so there you have it. Ten signs you are in the wrong relationship. I’m speaking from personal experience on a lot of these and hope this post has opened your eyes to see if any of these could be true in your relationship. The sooner you spot these signs and get out, the quicker you will be able to move on to find Mr. Wonderful.

When we find the inner power we all possess, we will be more confident in our choices and find the courage to say no to unhealthy situations. Love to hear your thoughts on this post. Until next time, keep looking up and do click on the +1 google icon so I know you liked this post.