Why Lease to Own to Millennials

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Originally ghost written for the Road Runner newsletter published Fall 2018.

When it comes to selling to the Millennial audience, many businesses are discovering they are unable to provide them with the right lending option for myriad reasons. Millennials are walking away from larger purchases and many brick and mortar stores are seeing a decline in business especially when it comes to this demographic. Understanding this audience and what they need to purchase large ticket items will increase sales and improve revenue.

Who are Millennials?

Millennials make up the largest portion of the population in U.S. history. Millennials are those born between 1982 and 2004. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, they now number 75.4 million, surpassing the 74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69). 1 Millennials are often divided into two groups, young Millennials (20-23) and older Millennials (32-35). Since they make up such a large portion of the population, it is imperative that retailers understand this demographic and cater to their needs.

Roadblocks to a Millennial Purchase

Millennials have several roadblocks when it comes to making larger purchases. Their average salary is 20% less than the previous generation, and their median net worth is 56% less. 2 Sadly, at the same time, college costs have increased dramatically, and the average student loan debt is $29,400. 3 This creates a generation saddled with debt and an inability to purchase larger ticket items.

In 2009, the Credit Card Accountability and Disclosure (CARD) Act was passed making it more difficult for younger Millennials to obtain credit cards. It restricted credit card companies from marketing to college students on campus and prevented them from giving incentives for signing up if they were under the age of 21. The change in marketing as well as other restrictions created under the same act, make qualifying for a credit card problematic at best. 4

As a result, the percentage of Americans under 35 with one or more credit cards is at the lowest since 1989, according to the Federal Reserve. The financial crisis also affected how Millennials view credit and many refrain from having credit cards altogether to avoid overspending. 5 The outcome is a generation that often has little to no credit history or poor credit.

One study shows that “two-thirds of consumers under 30 have subprime or non-prime credit scores and one-third of Millennials don’t have any credit history.” 6 If they need to purchase a large ticket item, many Millennials won’t qualify for traditional lending options that rely heavily on FICO scores. Retailers have felt the effects and watched as sales decline on larger ticket items. Few Options Available Millennials are left with few valid options when it comes to lending. Most companies haven’t kept up with their changing needs, and as a result, Millennials end up using less than optimal solutions, such as cash advance options, which only furthers their debt cycle. Many leasing companies have popped up over the years, but lack the stability or technology to cater to the needs of this demographic.

Why Lease-to-Own is the Perfect Solution for Millennials

An ideal solution to the difficulties posed by the Millennial generation is a lease-to-own option that allows those with less-than perfect credit greater purchasing power with an approval process designed to address their needs and concerns. Lease-to-own offers an alternative to traditional lending or finance, while offering Millennials flexibility

An ideal solution should provide the following:

• Mobile friendly

• No debt cycle

• An underwriting process that doesn’t solely rely on consumer credit

• Fixed term

• Flexible payments

• Ability to terminate

• Technology-based

• Early buyout options available

• Instant decisions

Progressive Leasing is at the forefront of understanding the Millennials and addressing their needs when it comes to making larger purchases.

To learn more about Progressive Leasing’s services, visit …

Research:

1. Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation | Pew Research Center, Millennials overtake Baby Boomers as America’s largest generation, http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/04/25/millennials-overtake-babyboomers/.

2. Millennials earn 20% less than Boomers did at same stage of life https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2017/01/13/millennials-falling-behindboomer-parents/96530338/. 3. Survey: More Millennials Say No to Credit Cards | Bankrate.com, More millennials say ‘no’ to credit cards, http://www.bankrate.com/ finance/credit-cards/more-millennials-say-no-to-credit-cards-1.aspx.

4. Student card survey: Offers fewer but more generous, Student card survey: Offers fewer but more generous, http://www.creditcards.com/credit-card-news/student-card-survey. php, CreditCards.com.

5. How Millennials Became Spooked by Credit Cards, https:// www.nytimes.com/2016/08/15/business/dealbook/why-millennials-are-in-no-hurryto-take-on-debt.html, NATHANIEL POPPER, AUG. 14, 2016.

6. Why millennials are often denied credit, Why millennials are often denied credit, http://www.cnbc. com/2016/10/24/why-millennials-are-often-denied-credit.html, Jessica Dickler

8 Must Read Books for your Summer Beach Bag

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Blog post originally published for the Spoonful of Comfort blog.

Summer time means spending copious amounts of time at the beach or the pool. It’s the pretty much the perfect way to entertain your kids, but how do you entertain yourself? Easy peasy. Sit back, sip a mojito and grab one of these amazing books!

“Reading a good book is like taking a journey.” - Emma Gulliford

  1. Circe by Madeline Miller

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Epic journeys. Greek gods. Just, yes. If you love Greek mythology, you’ll absolutely love this book. Classic Greek mythology mixed with a fantastic story line and wonderful characters. In this story, you’ll follow Circe, daughter of Titan Helios, as she embarks on an epic journey. Miller does an amazing job showing her human frailties and fears despite being a goddess. Circe tells her story full of perils and romance and grand adventure. Get lost in another world while you soak in some Vitamin D.



2. When Life Gives You Lululemons by Lauren Weisberger

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A follow-up to The Devil Wears Prada, this fun, quirky, hilarious novel takes you to the suburbs of Connecticut. Emily is now in her 30’s and finds herself in the midst of rich people behaving badly. Her floundering career as an image consultant is challenged further when the senator’s wife and former Victoria Secret model needs a makeover and her old friend Miriam’s pal is all over the media with a bogus drunk driving charge. This summer read will have you laughing out loud.




3. We Begin Our Ascent by Joe Mungo Reed

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Tragic and funny, this story follows a married couple, Sol and Liz, as they navigate personal and professional struggles. Liz is a geneticist on the brink of a major discovery and Sol is a professional cyclist in the Tour de France. The story begins as they welcome their first child into their home.

As the drama unfolds, the importance of the theme “What are we really striving for?” comes into focus. They will be faced with difficult decisions that could impact their lives and call into question their moral compass and the strength of their relationship.


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4. Tangerine by Christine Mangan

Reminiscent of the dark twists from Gone Girl, Tangerine is a gripping story set in Morocco that unravels as Alice Shipley and her husband settle into their new home. As she struggles to adjust, an old friend comes for a visit and then her husband disappears a short time later. You’ll be wondering along with Alice if their friend is to blame. Trust us, this thriller about girlfriends is a page turner perfect for summer pool time.


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5. The Female Persuasion by Meg Wolitzer

Explore the importance of female friendship and mentorship as the story of Greer Kadetsky unfolds. An incredible coming of age story that explores how she finds inspiration in a feminist icon, Faith Frank, and discovers how potent female support can be in today’s world. Meanwhile, her high school sweetheart Cory, pursues an Ivy League degree in international finance, a notoriously difficult pursuit for a woman. This story will leave you feeling like you can take on the world and accomplish anything! That’s pretty much the best way to feel.   



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6. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

There’s nothing that says summer like teenage angst. Follow four teenage siblings who ask a fortune teller to reveal the dates of their death. Discover how this knowledge, real or imagined, shapes each teenager as they grow into adulthood. Is the fortune teller correct? Only time will tell.




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7. An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

This one gets Oprah’s stamp of approval! The drama begins when Roy and Celestial’s lives are torn apart when Roy is suddenly arrested for sexual assault after a short first year of marriage. The future they had been building for themselves collapses after Roy is convicted despite his innocence. This riveting look into marriage, the justice system and racism is a good reminder that no marriage takes place in a vacuum. Roy and Celestial struggle to maintain a relationship through love letters and distance. Will they stay together? Read on and find out.


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8. Florida by Lauren Groff

If you’ve never lived in Florida and always wondered what it’s like, you’ll feel like you know every inch of the state after reading this amazing collection of short stories. Perfect for the poolside, you’ll be carried away as you follow one young woman who leaves graduate school to live in her car. Another character flies off to France with her two children. Each story is a work of art crafted brilliantly.

Can’t decide which one to read first? That’s ok, neither could we. Pro tip: Buy them all and have books to read well into the fall!







3 Negative Effects of the Financial Crisis

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Copy created for the Progressive Leasing website published as part of a B2B marketing initiative. 

The year 2008 marked the beginning of a financial crisis that still affects Young Millennials today. It began when the housing bubble began its steep decline in 2006-2007. Shortly after, default rates on adjustable-rate mortgages and subprime mortgages began to increase drastically. These changes in the housing market affected retailers across the U.S. as well. They saw a decline in purchases of larger ticket items and fewer qualified for traditional financing options. 

The financial crisis that began in 2008 changed the opinions of many Young Millennials. They experienced the negative fallout themselves or by watching their parents and are hesitant to use credit and often fear debt. Bankrate's survey suggests this fear is not unfounded. 

1. Credit issues

  • Only 40 percent pay off their balances each month.  

  • They are more likely to miss payments completely.

  • A recent survey conducted by Bankrate suggests 63% of millennials don't have a credit card at all. 1

  • They defer major purchasing milestones like buying a home or a car.2

The recession caused many Americans born roughly between 1981 and 1996 to defer major adult milestones like purchasing a home or car purchases and delaying marriage.3 This also affects merchants selling larger ticket items often purchased by homeowners such as home furnishings and appliances. 

2. Weak job market

Lingering weakness in the millennial job market is not just a transient problem. The fact that millennials entered the job market at the worst time in modern history, not to mention the fact that employment opportunities continue to be below pre-recession levels, mean the financial crisis has left an indelible mark.4 Young millennials have less disposable income as a result and continue to struggle financially. 

3. Lower Income

The Federal Reserve’s 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances found that the median incomes of households headed by 18- to 33-year-olds fell 19% between 2007 and 2013, compared with the same age cohort in 2007. Across all age brackets, median incomes fell a more modest 12%. This comes despite the fact the millennial generation is the best-educated in American history.5

What does this mean for retailers?

Recently, Experian conducted a study that shows that 47% of YM will most likely use alternative lenders over traditional lending. They also discovered that 57% are also willing to use alternative and innovative companies and/or services. This data is crucial in understanding how to meet the needs of Young Millennials who often don't pursue traditional lending options due to credit problems but still want to purchase more expensive items.6

They may feel as though their hands are tied and may even avoid purchasing items they need but feel they can't afford. Retailers that provide alternate solutions may be able to drastically increase their revenue by tapping into this market. One alternate solution a retailer might consider is a lease-to-own option that allows a consumer with bad credit or no credit history to qualify for a larger ticket item. 

To learn more about how your retail store can solve lending problems for Young Millennials, download the full white paper here. 


Research

  1. Why millennials are often denied credit, Having little or no credit history often stands in their way., https://www.cnbc.com/2016/10/24/why-millennials-are-often-denied-credit.html, Jessica Dickler, Tuesday, 25 Oct 2016 | 9:30 AM ET

  2. This Is What the Recession Did to Millennials, This Is What the Recession Did to Millennials, http://www.cheatsheet.com/politics/this-is-what-the-recession-did-to-millennials.html/?a=viewall

  3. This Is What the Recession Did to Millennials, This Is What the Recession Did to Millennials, http://www.cheatsheet.com/politics/this-is-what-the-recession-did-to-millennials.html/?a=viewall

  4. This Is What the Recession Did to Millennials, This Is What the Recession Did to Millennials, http://www.cheatsheet.com/politics/this-is-what-the-recession-did-to-millennials.html/?a=viewall

  5. This Is What the Recession Did to Millennials, This Is What the Recession Did to Millennials, http://www.cheatsheet.com/politics/this-is-what-the-recession-did-to-millennials.html/?a=viewall

  6. Millennials and Credit: Survey Results, http://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/millennials-and-credit-survey-results/

Product Information webPage

Copy created for a product page information for King Fisher Media.

Details

High T Black is a natural testosterone booster scientifically formulated with a select combination of nutrients to help men build muscle mass, increase testosterone naturally, and recover more quickly from strenuous workouts. It was developed by experienced professionals to benefit men.

It is known as our “Hardcore Formulation” as it helps you rebound faster after a hard day. Since testosterone production begins to slow after the age of 30, it was developed with the intent of boosting your health in areas where age naturally takes its toll.

With a healthy diet and exercise, High T Black is scientifically formulated to benefit your overall well-being by increasing the following:

  • Testosterone

  • Sexual drive and libido

  • Strength and stamina

  • Energy and vitality

  • Muscle mass

How Does High T Black Work?

High T Black offers a unique combination of natural, high quality ingredients. These ingredients are shown to help with endurance and reduce your recovery period. High T Black contains high quality ingredients such as NO3X Nitric Oxide Booster and Raspberry Ketones.

Increased Testosterone Levels

Beginning at age 30, testosterone production rapidly begins to decrease, leading to a natural decline in a man’s testosterone levels, often leaving him with less energy, lower sex drive, and reduced strength and stamina. High T Black is formulated with the herb Fenugreek. This well-known, versatile herb is known to naturally aid in testosterone production and increases a person’s overall sexual drive and/or desire. It also supports the immune system and muscle mass.

Increased Sex Drive and Libido

High T Black contains a proprietary blend of high quality ingredients meant to increase testosterone production, including Fenugreek, Trigonella Foenum-graecum, and Rhodiola Rosea. As your testosterone levels increase, you’ll start to notice a change in your libido after taking High T Black for at least eight weeks.

You will have much more energy after a long day, allowing you to continue to enjoy the remainder of your day. Your sexual desires will not only increase, but you’ll also find it easier to act on those desires once you have incorporated this supplement into your diet.

Increased Strength and Stamina

As you age, it becomes more difficult to maintain the strength you once had in your prime. With High T Black, you’ll bounce back faster after a hard workout, as well as maximize your strength during exercise.

High T Black features NO3X, a specialized blend of nutrients that work together to boost the body’s production of nitric oxide. This increases blood flow to the skeletal muscles, speeding the delivery of nutrients and oxygen to muscles during and after a workout. When used in correlation with resistance training, the hardcore formulation in High T Black will help improve endurance and strength, and increase exercise capacity.

Increased Energy and Vitality

High T Black also contains vitamins B12 and B6. Vitamin B12 naturally increases energy and is beneficial if you lack motivation or weakness. Vitamin B6 aids in the production of serotonin, which is essential in heightening your mood. This natural supplement also helps you rebound faster after a workout, allowing you to achieve your performance goals.  By including these ingredients regularly, energy and vitality can be increased.

Increased Muscle Mass

High T Black contains ingredients that aid in the delivery of nutrients to muscle, resulting in an increase of muscle size and strength. By increasing the amount of nutrition muscles receive, muscles grow more quickly, strength is increased, and recovery time is reduced. Taking this product for at least eight weeks while incorporating a healthy diet into your lifestyle and increasing your strength training will allow you to easily increase your muscle mass. As you become stronger, you’ll find that each workout becomes less of a challenge.

Key Ingredients Offer Proven Benefits

  • NO3X NitricOxide Booster is a specialized blend of nutrients formulated to increase nitric oxide production in the body.

  • Arginine Alpha-Ketoglutarate (AAKG) is a precursor to nitric oxide production. It improves muscle endurance, increases strength during strength training, and improves exercise capacity.

  • L-Citrulline-Malate is a non-essential amino acid that supports exercise recovery and cardiovascular health. It helps increase nitric oxide production and remove ammonia from the body, which helps increase blood flow, so nutrients and oxygen are transported more easily. It also helps reduce lactic acid production.

  • CarnoSyn Beta Alanine is a non-essential amino acid used to synthesize carnosine. Low carnosine levels can lead to more muscle fatigue during exercise. It increases physical endurance and buffers lactic acid production.

  • Caffeine Anhydrous is a dehydrated form of caffeine. This dehydrated state has greater effects on physical performance.  It increases endurance, while also enhancing muscular and neuromuscular performance. Consumption before a workout can also significantly alleviate muscle soreness.

  • Eurycoma Longifolia helps increase testosterone levels, improve sexual desire and libido, and increase overall male virility.

  • Razberi-K (Raspberry Ketone) is composed of ketones specifically found in red raspberries.  It helps improve metabolic efficiency — so the body is better able to absorb dietary fats and increase the breakdown of stored fat, making it easier to better balance weight.

  • Rhodiola Rosea strengthens resistance to mental and physical fatigue and improves sexual function. It helps moodiness and depression, and is also known to prevent an increase in appetite and weight gain that can be brought on by stress.

  • Fenugreek Extract supports libido and testosterone function—promoting healthy testosterone levels. Additionally it helps with muscle strength, energy, and well-being.

  • Tribulus Terrestris helps to reduce inflammation.  It also aids in cardiovascular function and helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels.

  • Trigonella Foenum-graecum (Fenugreek) offers anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties for improved muscle health; it also aids in decreasing post-workout recovery time.

  • Vitamin B6 helps to relieve stress and maintain healthy hormone levels. It is essential for protein metabolism and muscle health.

  • Vitamin B12 is imperative for healthy neurological function and overall health. It can help improve mood swings, decrease fatigue, and improve muscle weakness.

  • Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps blood circulation and benefits testosterone production. As an antioxidant, it lowers inflammation in the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal area, thus stabilizing testosterone and other hormone levels.

  • Zinc has been proven to help sustain healthy testosterone levels. Sufficient levels of this trace element have also been known to improve sperm count and increase sex drive.

Start Building Muscle Mass with High T Black!

Experience the benefits High T Black has to offer. Begin building muscle mass, increasing strength and energy, and boosting testosterone levels. Order yours today!

Disclaimer:

The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the FDA. The FDA only evaluates food and drugs, not supplements. These products are intended to support general wellbeing and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and should not replace any knowledge obtained from a health care professional. You should consult a physician before starting any diet, exercise, or supplement, or if you suspect you might have a health problem. As with any supplement, your results may vary based upon your body type.

 

 

5 Things I Learned About Motherhood While Running the Wasatch Back

Article written for and published on Deseret Digital Media

This June I ran my third Wasatch Back, my seventh Ragnar Relay. I trained for several months knowing the difficulty of each of my three assigned legs.

My first run of the race was seven miles down the back of Avon Pass. The road was dirt, and there were loose rocks, potholes and gravel, making it even more difficult to traverse.

As I ran down the steep hill, I had to pay close attention to where I was placing my next step so I didn't twist an ankle or go flying to the ground. Parts of the hill were quite treacherous and made me especially nervous. As I made my way down that very steep hill, at one point I took a second to look up.

What I found was breathtaking.

The view was gorgeous. There were green rolling hills down in a valley spotted with houses and farms. I could see for miles. My attention was soon needed back on the dirt hill I was running down, but I realized something in that brief moment.

Motherhood is often just like that steep hill. It is treacherous, it is fast and it is extremely difficult. However, sometimes, you need to take a moment and look up. You need to enjoy the vistas before you and appreciate that there is something amazing to see.

Here are five ways you can remember to look up when Motherhood becomes arduous.

1. Find the humor: The bowl of Cheerios that was just dumped on the kitchen floor five minutes after you mopped may be frustrating, but the toddler who did it is probably more than a little cute. Laugh at the moment, you will always be able to mop the floor again.

2. Find the beauty: Just like the gorgous vistas I saw during the race, there are gorgeous moments in motherhood. Watching your children play together or spending some quiet time with your child can be breathtaking. Take a moment to enjoy their hugs and snuggles, even if it means putting off mopping the floor.

3. Enjoy the moment: The moment when I looked up while I was running down the hill was a quick glimpse, but something I can still picture in my mind. When you find a moment like that in motherhood, enjoy every second. Then, when you are having a bad day, you have a glimpse of the good times always in your mind to draw on.

4. Remember that this too shall pass: There is no doubt that motherhood is gruelling in its requirements. While it seems to be never-ending, you will soon find yourself saying goodbye to your children and sending them out into the world. Whatever struggle you are currently having will eventually pass. If you forget to look up, you may miss out on some amazing moments in the midst of your adversity.

5. Take a break: For me, running is my break away from motherhood. It is time alone and time to just be me. Every mother needs those breaks, those moments away to remember who she is and what she loves about life. Don't forget to take a break and when you find yourself knee-deep in laundry, it won't seem so overwhelming.

The next time you find yourself traversing the dirt hill of motherhood and find it riddled with rocks and potholes, don't forget to look up. There might be something worth seeing.

Tips for Easy Back-to-School Transitions

Article written for and published on FamilyShare.com

Playing until the sun sets, then sleeping late.

Watching a movie in the middle of the day. Time spent by the pool, living in swimsuits for days on end.

There is no question that when the lazy days of summer come to an end, the transition to a new school year can be tough. Going back to a strict schedule and routine can make the first few weeks of school gruelling.

Here are some tips to make that transition go a little smoother.

1. Return to morning and bedtime routines a week before school starts

Helping children return to a normal sleep schedule at least a week before school will help ease that first day of school when they are already used to the routine.

2. Review after school rules

If you have a homework-first rule, make sure the children remember what is expected. Can they have a snack after school, or do they need to get ready for an after school extracurricular activity? Knowing what to expect can ease a great deal of frustration and stress.

3. Review after school schedules

Make sure everyone is on the same page by having a calendar or schedule readily accessible. Children will feel less stressed when they know ahead of time if they are coming home, going to a sitter or other after-school care, or if they have an activity they need to attend.

4. Prepare school supplies

Spend some time making sure their school supplies are in order. Do they need new backpacks or lunch boxes? Do they need a few new clothes? Does mom need some chocolate?

5. Take advantage of back-to-school sales

After assessing your needs, take advantage of the sales. It can be difficult to find supplies at a decent price halfway through the school year. I've had to track down a backpack in January more than once, and I always end up paying too much.

6. Get back in the reading habit

Take a trip to the library and choose a few books to read. Then, have the kids spend a few minutes every day reading. When school starts, they will be ready for all the required reading.

7. Get organized

Create places for backpacks, lunch boxes and school papers to be kept. Mark important dates on the calendar and check that their school information is up to date.

8. Check on transportation

Whether they walk to school, ride the bus or carpool make sure everything is in place. Walk the route to school with them once or twice before school starts if they are feeling uncertain. Take them to the bus stop a few days before and make sure they know where to wait. Check with the carpool and make sure everyone knows what days they drive, so you are able to communicate that information to your children.

9. Talk about any concerns

Sometimes children will feel anxious over seemingly simple issues. If you are able to discover what concerns they may have ahead of time, you will be able to assuage their fears by helping them understand what to expect.

10. Fill out forms online

With all 7 of my children now in school, the more I can do online the better. Spend an afternoon — or even just 5 minutes — and fill out as many forms as you can. It will save you time and writer's cramp.

Making the transition to a new school year can be a positive experience if you spend a little time making some preparations. Before long you will be knee deep in a new school year with everything running smoothly. A little chocolate always helps, too.

Brand Ambassador Webpage

Copy created for the HighT Ambassador program. Published as part of a website rewrite which focused on simple, clear, inviting language for customers and brand fans.

High T is a brand of all-natural supplements developed by King Fisher Media, LLC and is one of the fastest growing supplement brands in the US. We’re looking for ambassadors to join our team and grow with us.

To join, you must:

  • Be active on social media.
  • Be passionate about health & fitness, our vision, and of course about our brand.
  • Be willing to represent our brand and help with promotion on social media.
  • Be willing to write a product review during the 90-day period

In exchange, you’ll get:

  • Affiliation to a leading supplement brand.
  • The chance to become a sponsored athlete if you show dedication and generate enough sales (we’re looking to offer sponsorship to our most successful ambassadors).
  • 90 days of free product and 15% Off additional purchases made during the 90 days
  • Your own unique link and a discount code to promote us.
  • 10% commission on any orders placed within 30 days of someone following your unique link or using your discount code which can be used toward future product purchase or paid via gift card.
  • A weekly email to update your statistics and track sales

To Apply:

Please email the following information to us at support@kfmbrands.com.

  1. First and last name
  2. Email address
  3. Links to your social media pages
  4. Why do you want to become an ambassador for High T Products?
  5. Why should we accept you?
  6. Why are you passionate about our brand?
  7. Which product are you most interested in? (Excluding KF Naturals and the IQ product lines.)

Why Is Content Marketing Important?

Article originally published on LinkedIn Pulse

When I began writing for the web 8 years ago, marketing was the last thing on my mind. As I developed my personal blog and eventually my brand, marketing became not only important but imperative to the growth and success of my websites. Little did I know at the time that I was beginning my journey into content marketing. 

What is considered content?

To keep it simple, content is anything that educates, entertains, or provides information. This includes Websites, podcasts, videos, books, ebooks, infographics, social media posts and blog articles, to name a few. The wide variety of media that include content is the reason the phrase "Content is King" was coined. 

Content is quite literally, everything.

Why is content marketing important?

The trend in online marketing is inbound marketing which relies heavily on content. Consumers want to be educated and entertained before making a purchase. Through social media platforms, companies are able to engage their customers in a new way that is providing higher conversion rates and loyalty among consumers.

Why is it important to have an excellent content team?

While content is often free to create, good content isn't. Every CEO is not a writer and every writer is not a CEO. 

A friend of mine who owns a chiropractor business once asked me why I write for so many companies. Why don't they create their own content? I explained it to him this way: Just because you are the best chiropractor in the city doesn't mean you know how to write about it in a way that will entice, educate or entertain customers in a meaningful way. 

Having a team that excels in content, allows companies to use content to their advantage. They create engaging, relevant, shareable content for websites, social media platforms and email campaigns. The power of content boosts conversion and improves overall engagement with the right team in place. 

Why is content king for me?

While my background as a Mom Blogger seems an unlikely beginning for a content marketer, it actually makes perfect sense. I spent years perfecting the art of niche writing and learned how to use social media platforms along the way. Education classes online helped me learn the ins and outs of content marketing and writing for a large variety of websites allowed me to hone my writing skills. 

While my journey is taking me on a more technical path, the years spent learning the art of content marketing as a blogger are invaluable.

6 Remedies for Bone and Joint Pain

Article written for the HighT Blog.

Bone and joint pain can stop you in your tracks and hinder your progress in your health and fitness goals. Although designed to handle a great deal of stress, after some wear and tear, your joints may become painful and inflamed.

There are many factors that play into joint pain. Injury, trauma, disease or even arthritis may be at the core of the problem, however, there are a few things you can do to alleviate the pain and minimize the stress.

6 REMEDIES FOR BONE AND JOINT PAIN

1. Exercise

When you are in pain, it may feel counterintuitive to exercise, which stresses your body, but it may actually reduce joint pain. With careful planning, incorporating exercises that increase strength and flexibility may reduce your pain. Sometimes, stiff or tight muscles can put increased stress on your joints. Knees and hips are often most affected. With direction from a physical or personal trainer, you might find improvement in mobility and joint pain by incorporating specific stretches as part of your workout routine.

2. Weight Loss

It’s not new information, but if you are carrying around extra pounds, you are putting increased stress on your joints. When you lose weight, you are decreasing the load which will decrease swelling and pain. Losing weight, even if slow and gradual, will ease the stress on your joints allowing you better mobility and less pain.

3. Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy may be one of the oldest forms of joint pain relief. Soaking aching joints in warm water may help support joints by decreasing the pressure. It may also reduce the swelling while increasing circulation. Be careful with temperature and be sure not to get the water too hot. Consider using some Epsom salts, which can boost magnesium levels to support bone and heart health.

4. Physical Therapy

If you are still experiencing pain, you may want to consider finding a physical therapist. They often use a variety of techniques specifically designed to help your unique injury or pain. The goal is to strengthen the joint and surrounding muscles to provide relief from pain and to avoid reinjury in the future.

5. Supplements

Certain supplements may assist in reduce pain and inflammation in the joints. Turmeric/Curcumin has been studied repeatedly and there are indications that it is helpful in reducing inflammation from joint pain. Many people suffering from arthritis find it helpful to incorporate Turmeric in their daily diet.

Others that suffer from joint pain have found that including MSM in their diet may offer some benefits for joint support and pain management. Products that contain a high-quality MSM may assist in producing sulfur in the body, which in turn helps to maintain healthy joints, tendons, and ligaments.

If you decide to try supplementation as a means to cope with joint pain, be sure to discuss your options with your doctor.

6. Rest

Your body needs time between exercise and activity to recuperate and heal. Making certain you are allowing yourself the time needed for recovery by getting plenty of rest and relaxation, may be exactly what you need to cope with joint pain and the daily demands you are placing on it.

If you are struggling with joint pain, it is important to speak to your doctor to properly assess and alleviate your pain.

5 Reasons You Should be Taking Vitamin B12

Article written for the HighT Blog

Vitamin B12 is one of eight members of the B vitamin family. It is also water-soluble, which means it is carried to the body’s tissues and not stored in the fat. B12 is found in many foods including fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk and milk products. However, consuming enough B12 in diet alone may not be enough to prevent deficiency.

ARE YOU DEFICIENT?

It may be difficult to determine if you are experiencing a deficiency in Vitamin B12 due to the wide-reaching effect it can have on the body. If you are experiencing the following symptoms, you may need more Vitamin B12 in your diet.

  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Poor memory
  • Mood changes such as depression or anxiety
  • Muscle weakness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Shakiness
  • A serious deficiency may cause long-term dementia, memory loss, pernicious anemia or megaloblastic anemia.

5 REASONS YOU SHOULD BE TAKING A VITAMIN B12 SUPPLEMENT

Most people aren’t severely deficient but would experience many benefits from taking a supplement to increase B12 levels. Check out these 5 reasons you should be taking a B12 supplement.

Boosts Mood

Vitamin B12 has been studied extensively and seems to reduce mood disorders, such as depression. People suffering from depression are often low in VitaminB12 and folate.  B12 assists with the production of neurotransmitters in conjunction with a compound called SAMe (S-Adenosylmethionine). This allows the body to breakdown several mood chemicals such as serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine. Without enough Vitamin B12, mental health conditions may arise.

Improves Memory and Neurological function

Vitamin B12 is also used to improve memory and neurological function. Often those suffering from Alzheimer’s are treated with a B12 supplement. Deficiency can also make focusing difficult and increase the risk for attention disorders.

Healthy Skin and Hair

B12 is also well-known for its ability to strengthen hair and nails. It improves skin by reducing redness, dryness, inflammation and acne. It is often used as a treatment for psoriasis by applying it directly to the skin. Vitamin B12 also reduces hair breakage.

Improves Energy Levels

Vitamin B12 helps convert carbohydrates into glucose the body can use. This benefits your metabolism because glucose is a form of energy. If you are experiencing fatigue, it may be due to a Vitamin B12 deficiency.

Helps With Heart Health

B Vitamins in combination with fish oil, if used daily, helps to reduce cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Some studies suggest that it also helps reduce the risk of strokes in some people.

Many supplements, both men’s and women’s, contain Vitamin B12 and you should always consult your physician before starting a supplementation regimen.

The Long Walk Home

Fiction Short, created for & published on Our Write Side.

She wiped snot on the bottom of her torn silk tank top. Sweat dripped down her dust-caked face, creating rivers for the moisture to flow freely in the heat. She meandered along the dusty road, running through possible scenarios she would face upon returning home. She clutched the gun in her hand, the weight of it increasing with each step. There was a gas station a mile or two ahead. She tried to swallow but dust clung to her teeth like bugs to a windshield. She spat into the dirt. Several cars had slowed and kind strangers asked if she needed help. Each time, she continued to trudge forward and stare into the distance. Lost in thought, she shook her head no. Once they noticed the sun glinting off the weapon, they sped away, content to leave her to her own devices.

Punishment would be severe, as it always was when she dared defy him. Once, he kept her locked in her room for a week like a prisoner, only allowing her a liquid diet. Her sin was gaining five pounds and indulging in too much cake at a friend’s party. He’d told her she looked like a pig and wouldn’t tolerate that sort of behavior. During her time in solitude she figured out how to adjust the scale so it would never put her over-weight again.

She would need to hide the gun and retrieve it later. If it was still in her possession when she walked in the door, she was as good as dead. It had taken tremendous effort to obtain and she refused to leave herself defenseless, even if she couldn’t actually pull the trigger. She thought she’d had it in her to fight back, to stand up for herself, but in the end she had chickened out.

She would have to practice more, become sure of handling the thing. Next time he threatened her, she wouldn’t be bluffing.

Another car sped by, kicking up dust. It caused her to cough, her entire body convulsing. Her small frame trembled when the fit was over. She ran the back of her hand over her forehead, smearing dirt and sweat like a two-year-old. Adrenaline from the rage she felt still coursed through her body.

As she trudged on, she could hear what her best friend would say when she told her about today’s drama. “Why don’t you just leave?” she would ask.

A simple question with a complicated answer.

She couldn’t leave. There was no way she would leave her precocious five-year-old daughter with her sadistic husband. Her friend had begged her for years, even offered her home as sanctuary, however she knew she could never put her friend in that much danger.

Her feet ached from walking the road in her Gucci’s. There was a blister forming on the back of her left heel that caused her to wince in pain with each step. The shoes looked amazing, but were definitely not meant for walking on a dirt road. Ridiculous heels always reminded her of life before him.

She met her husband many years ago, long before his prestigious career. She had been prostituting herself to pay a gambling debt when he pulled her off the streets and cleaned her up. He would often remind her where she’d be without him. He was a powerful man and had essentially erased her past. He even had her name changed before they married. The girl from the streets was gone, no trace left behind, of that he had made certain. Sometimes, especially when she was drinking, her language would slip from the sophisticated vernacular she had tediously learned. That would warrant a slap in the privacy of their lush bedroom, a reminder to keep herself in check. It had been hours since her last drink. She blamed her alcoholism on him. He drove her to it, but it would be easy enough for him to find witnesses to her problem. His best manipulations consisted of blackmail.

So she stayed. She tolerated him. She decorated his arm at public functions. She was an expert at putting on a pretty face and saying all the right things to all the right people. That’s why he kept her, or so he said. She was well aware when her beauty and youth faded, she would be replaced. She figured she should enjoy her life of comfort while it lasted.

The gas station loomed ahead like a giant mirage, too good to be true. She stumbled into the parking lot and into the bathroom, which by some miracle didn’t require a key. She locked the door to the one-seater and turned on the faucet. She put her mouth under the cold water and gulped greedily. After satisfying her thirst, she doused her head, feeling the liquid gold trickle down her face and neck, then meander down her back. Blood ran down her arm and onto the floor. She located the scrape and stopped the flow with a wad of toilet paper.

The only freedom she would have for weeks would be the next few hours as she made her way home. She tried to decide if her attempt to stand up for herself was worth it. They were arguing when he slammed on the brakes and leaned across to grasp her door handle. He shoved the door open, screaming at her to get out and walk home. She used his distraction to retrieve the gun. When he leaned back, she pointed it squarely between his eyes, but her hands shook betraying her fear. The look on his face when she pulled the gun out from underneath the seat of the car was brief, but priceless. His eyes indicated the fact that he didn’t think she was capable of this level of defiance, and she watched as his initial shock gave way to quiet rage.

He laughed and shoved her out the door, “Yeah right. You don’t have the balls.”

He laughed. The jackass laughed with a gun pointed at his head. And then he drove off, leaving her bruised in the dirt.

But he was right. She didn’t have the balls. Maybe a gun wasn’t her style. She needed something more subtle if she was going to be serious. Something he would never suspect. Something she could actually get away with.

She used a paper towel to dry herself off and pulled her hair back into a ponytail, a small attempt at making herself look presentable. The phone in her pocket began to ring, startling her. She pulled it out and tried to see through the shattered screen. It must have cracked when he shoved her out of the car.

It was him.

“Hey honey! Kate wants to say hi!” His soothing, melancholy voice purred on the other end of the phone. It was one of the things she fell in love with first. Now, she loathed the sound.

A small voice on the other end said, “Hey Mom! How’s the spa?”

“The spa is wonderful! I just had a facial.” The happiness in her voice sounded genuine, a skill perfected years before.

“Oh good. I was worried you and Dad were fighting again,” Kate said in a hushed voice. She heard her husband clear his throat in the background. “Well alright! I’ll see you later, Mom! Dad

is going to take me to Emily’s birthday party, so I gotta go! Love you!”

“I love you too, baby.” Silence.

“The dinner is in three hours. I’m coming to get you after I drop off Kate.” The line went dead.

He was tracking her phone and knew exactly where to find her, which she learned accidentally a few months earlier. She would be sure to leave it somewhere safe while she hid her precious weapon, then look pleased as punch when he arrived, like nothing ever happened. She was always learning new tricks.

Someone pounded on the bathroom door.

“Hey lady! You comin’ out? My kid’s gotta pee!”

“One minute! Relax already!” Anger mixed with fear seeped through her, a common feeling.

She gazed at herself in the mirror and practiced smiling, trying to see the woman she was expected to be beneath the dirt and sweat. In three hours, she would be the gorgeous, sophisticated, engaging Mrs. Stapely.

Devoted wife of the Great Senator.

Sound

Article written for StaceysMotheringMoments.com

The keyboard under my fingers feels foreign, yet familiar. I’ve neglected this part of my life for far too long, the yearning to come back to center is great.

I’m ignoring my children, allowing them to feed themselves, though I check in from time to time. Often people ask how I have time for my extracurriculars and the last few months the answer has been, “I don’t.”

But I must. I need to. It’s who I am.

Little Man sings a song he made up just now while his sister reprimands him for being too loud. A sibling-imposed restriction.

The clang of dishes, the rattle of chairs. I can picture the scene, though I have removed myself from it.

Other children join in with Little Man’s made-up song, adding lyrics of their own. I love that they sing. Though I have neglected teaching any of them piano, they still have my love for music. My penchant for belting out a song at any moment. Something I learned from my mother.

A drawer opens, a utensil retrieved.

“Mom, can I have more chips?”

“Not until you eat your burrito!” I cry. Hoping they will actually adhere to my rule, though I don’t care enough to wander in and enforce it.

Water running, dishwasher opening.

“Mom, are there any more tortillas?”

A door opens and shuts. It is time for my husband and Miss E to arrive home for the night.

Rustling of papers. Clapping. Beating a rhythm on the table with a fork.

Mine is not a house with much quiet time. Noise abounds, big and small. The sounds of my home are familiar, welcome.

Loud.

Sometimes uninvited.

Sometimes too much for any sane human being to handle.

More dishes moving around. Humming and singing. Admonitions to sit and be still from siblings and spouse.

I know they are rocking on their chairs. They always do. I hear chair legs bang against the floor and holler a warning to be careful, though I know they won’t. It is a warning that falls on deaf ears now.

I know they are nearing the end of dinner and as much as I don’t want to tear myself away from the computer, I know my presence will be required soon. Needed.

I hear my son’s voice, deeper every day, telling his father something of import. He bangs on the wall as he wanders back into the den.

“Dad, can I measure myself?” One of the littles requests.

I fear what that means. I must drag myself away.

Away from role of observer and into the role of Mom, forever present.

PB & J

Essay written for StaceysMotheringMoments.com

Lunch.

1 Grilled Cheese
3 Grilled Peanut Butter and Jelly
1 Grilled Nutella

I’m not a short-order cook, but I’m willing to acquiesce to minor recommendations by the small people that seem to run my life.

Dinner.

“Miss E! Use your fingers! DON’T use your fingers. I meant don’t!!”

A chorus cries out with laughter and mocking. “Haha! Mom said to eat with your fingers Miss E!” Grins all around.

I’m outnumbered.

I sigh and watch her adorable little face smirk at me while continuing to eat her peas with her fingers.

“What? You said to eat with my fingers.” She laughs.

Bedtime.

I wipe down countertops smeared with breakfastlunchdinner. I holler at small people to return to their beds for the one millionth time. But only succeed after a band-aid is applied to the miniscule sleep-preventing scratch on the smallest of hands.

My teenagers are badgering me for cereal at this late hour. A treat I cave to on occasion because there is so much joy in it.

They squeal, as only teenagers can, and pour heaping bowls of cereal to feed their growing bodies, or at least that seems to be their justification. Their attempt at cleverly tricking their mother. I am on to them.

I go to wipe the table down, absently running a hand through my hair. I discover a sticky substance now clinging to my tired locks. Peanut butter. I’m not sure how it got there or when the transfer happened. I could have been prancing across my life with peanut butter in my hair all day.

Finally. Grownup bedtime.

I snuggle down into my bed, exhausted and wait for the steady stream of teenagers coming to tell me goodnight. They linger. We talk. They are fun, amazing humans, but I eventually scoot each one off to bed.

Sleep.

Holding On Tight

Fiction Short, created for StaceysMotheringMoments.com

I grew up anyway.

When I close my eyes though, I can still picture it. I’m 17 and working the booth at the county fair. It’s the middle of the day and it’s a virtual desert. I lean my head back, feeling my hair against my neck and turn my face to the breeze of a fan. I’m leaning against the counter and all I can hear are flies buzzing and the occasional horse whinny.

Candlebox is playing quietly on the stereo in the background. It’s a little heavier than what I usually listen to, but the boy listens to them and now, so do I. I turn my attention back to my book. If anybody asks, I’m not reading, just acting bored and cool. But on the sly, I’m really intrigued by the book.

I look up to see him walking towards the booth. I shove my book haphazardly under a bag of bread, but I don’t notice that half of the book is still sticking out. The boy is a fine specimen of maleness. Plus he’s in college and he has a really great car. And that smile. That smile melts me every time. What more can a 17 year old girl ask for? And today he’s hanging out with his friends so he’s not in our ugly green work uniforms. He takes my breath away.

I recover as he draws near and try to regain my coolness. I’m sure he knows I have nerd status at school, but he doesn’t seem to take it to heart.

“Hey beautiful. How’s it going out here today?” I feel the butterflies.

Act casual, I think. “Boring and slow. You workin’ later?” I lean slightly forward, teasingly.

“Yeah, I’m on at 6.”

I already knew that, of course, but I act surprised. “Oh, I’ll just miss you then. That’s when I’m off.”

“Maybe I’ll see you before you leave then.”

“Maybe.”

He turns to go, then something catches his eye. “Whatcha readin’?”

I look down at my half concealed book and blush. I’ve been caught.

“Anything good?”

“Not really. I’m just behind on a book we are supposed to read for school.” I lie. I’m never behind on reading and it’s not a book for school, but I’m acting cool, remember.

He winks at me and walks back to his group of friends. I’m sure he knows my secret.

If I hadn’t seen him act like this with piles of girls, I might be even more tingly than I already am. My interest in him is solely physical. He’s damaged goods. He’s been around the block once or twice or twenty times. But that doesn’t mean a girl can’t lust a little. I’ll flirt my little heart out, just for the thrill of it with that one.

I sigh as I recount all the time we spend flirting with each other, and I’m suddenly anxious for 6 o’clock to arrive. But I have hours. And once again all I hear are the flies buzzing in the background.

“Moooom! I need help wiping!” I’m wrenched back into the present. I’m no longer 17 and single, but married and 33 with six kids in tow.

“I’m coming,” is my reply as I whistle some nearly forgotten tune.

Just the Way It Is

dishes.jpeg

This fictional short story was inspired by the prompt for the Master Class at Sinistral Scriblings and was the last line of this post. While the entire contents described above are a figment of my imagination, I know some amazing women that have left abusive relationships and are the strongest people I know. If you would like more information on how to heal from abuse please visit The Treasured Life and find strength from one amazing woman who found her way out.

His hand hung in the air, palm open and rage consumed his face. She watched her world move in slow motion as his hand came towards her face and sent her head turning violently in the opposite direction. The second slap she didn’t see coming.

Her cheeks stung and tears rolled down her face as she begged and pleaded with him to stop yelling.

But she could feel the defiance and knew he saw it in her eyes. They continued their argument over the division of labor and who should be responsible for cleaning up after dinner. She didn’t think she was being unreasonable, but maybe she was. She wasn’t really sure anymore.

“Would you maybe just be willing to clear over the dishes?” She asked, her voice diminished to almost a whisper. His large hands hung at his side, but his eyes betrayed his ability to escalate if she said the wrong thing.

“I think you are perfectly capable of walking your sorry self and four measly plates over to the sink.” He spat.

She glanced up at him and for a moment saw her father and mother arguing. Her mother always cowered and she always hated her for it. But now she understood.

“Ok. You’re right. Just keep it down. I don’t want to wake the children.”

“You keep it down! You are the one who started all this!” He was yelling again, his hands curled into fists now.

Her makeup was running down her face in rivers and her cheeks were bright red as though she had spent too many hours soaking in the sun. She stifled a sob as she heard a tiny voice from the hallway.

“Mama? Mama? Are you ok?” Tiny feet made their way to her and she bent over to hug her daughter. She threw a dirty look in his direction, but was relieved to find that he had his back turned to her. If looks could kill, she thought.

“Yes, honey. Mama’s fine. You scurry back to bed.” Her little girl looked at her doubtfully, but obeyed.

When she turned around, she saw tears in his eyes. The “I’m so sorry’s” would begin now, followed by promises not to get so mad. She always melted when he cried. She told him she would forgive him, but her heart was saying otherwise.

He made her sit next to him on the couch and cuddle while they watched their favorite show. She felt stiff and unnatural, but she smiled up at him every time he laughed so she wouldn’t set him off again.

She thought maybe she should get out. Maybe there was something better. A better life somehow. Maybe she should do what her Mama never did. Maybe…

But it wasn’t always bad. Sometimes she even loved him a little. Never a lot. A lot was too dangerous.

Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

Sunlight

Fiction Short, created for StaceysMotheringMoments.com

I sat in the kitchen chair with my knees pressed against the sliding glass door. The rays of the sunshine streaming through the window danced on the floor, belying the freezing temperatures outside. I leaned forward resting my head against the glass and closed my eyes. The sunshine was refreshing, warm even. I glanced down at the dirty track where the door slid back and forth and watched while a spider spun a web, the tiny gossamer strands sparkling in the light.

I closed my eyes once more and pretended the world around me was silent. The spider and I were all that was left in the world. Most importantly, there was no school.

I counted my breaths, my small undeveloped chest heaving gently. Junior high was no laughing matter and today I didn’t want to go. I didn’t measure up to all of those pretty girls the guys were always ogling. I was plain and odd and clumsy. Oh so clumsy. Just yesterday, I tripped as I walked over to the tray return in the lunch room and sent my food flying all over the most popular girl in school.

She yelled, “What is WRONG with you?!?” I think there was cursing that followed, but the blood pounding in my ears drowned her out. I stood stock still as she ran off, then quickly gathered the contents of my tray and put it in the tray return.

I found the nearest bathroom and cried my poorly applied eye-liner off. The bell rung and I tried to pull myself together, my consolation being that English was next and also my favorite class. My teacher seemed to have an affinity for me and I used that to my advantage as I wandered in five minutes late.

He glanced up at me, looking through the glasses on the tip of his nose. The gray hair at his temples made me think he was easily as old as my Dad. I never wanted to be that old, but I also didn’t want to be in 7th grade anymore.

“Sorry, I’m late,” I mumbled. He raised an eyebrow, but said nothing as I took my seat. I doodled on my notebook through his lecture, then slipped out quietly. I was easy to ignore when I wasn’t dumping a tray full of food on the popular girl.

I decided to just survive the day and kept my head down as I made my way through the hallway to my locker. Just as I rounded the corner, I ran head-on into Miss Popular surrounded by her posse.

I gasped, then mumbled, “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” I began backing away, but one of her friends piped up loud enough for the entire school to hear, “Is THAT the girl who dumped her tray on you?” Disdain was written all over their faces.

“It was me and I’m so, so, so sorry.” I said. And then, I put my foot right in my mouth. “At least the colors kind of match your shirt so it’s not too noticeable.” I blushed ten shades of red as the sentence left my mouth. What was WRONG with me?!?

I spun on my heel and left the gaggle of girls bewildered and promised myself that I would never open my big mouth again.

9 Freezer Meals

This time of year is always a little crazy for our family. The kids eventually go back to school (in shifts mind you), football starts, preschool is back in session and life as I know it is officially over. The most stressful part of all this fun is dinner time. It is a very rare evening that the kids are all home to sit down together for dinner, and often the boys don’t want to eat a heavy meal before practice. Add in all the driving I am doing and it gets pretty hairy.

What’s a Mom to do?

I have always used my crockpot a lot during the fall, but I have never been brave enough to try freezer meals. You know, do all the crazy prep one day and then have food for a couple of weeks. But I did it. And it has been wonderful.

1. Put all liquid ingredients in the ziploc bag first and squish together. Yes. I said squish.

2. Make sure you label your bags FIRST!

3. Freeze them flat. My son put a few in the freezer and they are frozen in some pretty strange shapes.

4. Use crockpot liners.

5. Hire help, or just make your kids pitch in. It goes much faster with a helper.

 made 18 meals. I chose 9 meals and just doubled everything.

My kids are somewhat picky, so I scoured the internet and came up with the 9 meals I thought would work best.

Hearty Beef Stew

Chicken and dumplings minus the dumplings *I left out the dumplings because I forgot, but it was still yummy!*

Orange chicken

Colorado Beef Burritos *You do have to have some prep time to finish this one, so I always do it on a night we have fewer activities.*

Creamy Italian chicken *scroll down the page for this one*

Crockpot Fajitas *The fajita recipe is second from the bottom*

French chicken

BBQ chicken sandwiches *I can NOT figure out where I got this recipe. I know it was online…somewhere. It is one of our absolute favorites.*

6 boneless chicken breasts
1 bottle Sweet Baby Ray’s bbq sauce
1/2 Cup Italian dressing
1/4 Cup brown sugar
2 T. Worchestershire sauce

Mix all ingredients in ziploc. If frozen, crockpot on low all day. If thawed, you can do 4-6 hours on high. I usually end up forgetting, pulling it out around lunch time, defrosting in the microwave a bit and then crockpot on high for 4-6 hours. Shred chicken, then serve on buns. It’s so yummy. I’m not even kidding.

My Mama’s Chili

1 lb. ground beef
3/4 medium onion diced
1 can kidney beans
1 8 oz. can tomatoes
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
2-4 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp paprika

*I double this recipe to feed my large family.* Brown and drain meat. Rinse and drain kidney beans. I always puree the tomatoes because my kids are picky like that. Then just combine all ingredients in a ziploc. Defrost a little, then 6 hours on low in the crockpot will do the trick!

Make sure you have a kid who will photo bomb your blogging efforts.

Freezer meals have been a life saver during our busy fall season! It was definitely worth the effort!

You can find the original post here.

Health & Wellness Newsletter

Copy created for the Delta Member Services Newsletter funnel. 

Many people discount the importance of their environment when battling illness. The focus is on treating the illness and not the surroundings of the individual. However, studies show that your healing environment may have a significant impact on your recovery.

What is healing?

The stress of illness can be minimized through healing environments. The word healing means to make whole and is derived from the Anglo-Saxon word haelen. Making a body whole consists of addressing mind, body and spirit. Eliminating the environmental stress of a traditional hospital setting is often helpful for those battling illness.

In order to elevate healing, a more holistic approach is necessary. This allows a patient to move towards wholeness regardless of the disease. Often, this shift in attitude allows a patient to experience a full recovery from illness. Humans are complex and providing a cohesive healing experience is the ultimate in health restoration.

What should a successful healing environment consist of?

An optimal healing environment takes three things into consideration: the larger physical environment, the social environment, and your natural environment. Elements such as light, space, and aromas are also considered in creating a space conducive to optimal healing. When patients experience calm surroundings, their bodies are able to heal in many ways.

There is another aspect of the healing environment which is often overlooked, and that is the internal environment. This is the thoughts, emotions, and beliefs of the individual experiencing illness. The complexity of the mind can have a positive or negative outcome on the patient’s experience. By fostering a positive thought process and beliefs, much can be done to improve healing in the body.

Why is nature important?

Studies have shown that nature is a key element in an optimal healing environment. A person’s stress is reduced tremendously when in nature. It improves the cohesion of the mind, body, and spirit allowing for further health recovery. It facilitates healing through calm, restorative spaces. Interacting with the natural environment has aided many pursuing recovery from a large variety of illnesses.

Receiving support

Another important aspect of health restoration consists of supportive care from both clinicians and families alike. They help support both the emotional environment as well as the physical one. Anyone dealing with chronic disease understands how important it is to have well trained staff and loved ones available to provide empathy as well as treatment. They can also help a patient choose the appropriate environment best suited for recovery.

What options are available for an optimal healing environment?

While hospitals are beginning to understand the importance of the external environment for healing, they are often stressful and lack the ideal surroundings for true relaxation. Those suffering from chronic illness often choose to receive treatment at home and create a sanctuary, if possible. For others, they may choose options such as the Delta Member Retreat.

This type of setting is ideal for those seeking a full health recovery as it incorporates each of the important aspects of an optimal healing environment. However, no matter where you choose to receive treatment, make certain to take into consideration all of the aspects that will provide you the most success and recovery.

 

On Letting Go

Essay Written for relationship website, The Guild of Unbound Women. 

I sat on the floor of the closet sipping a second glass of wine, covered in nearly every item of clothing I owned. It was one of the first weekends alone and seemed like a good time to unpack my newly acquired space.

At first, all was calm and organized, but as wine flowed and the music got louder, I got angrier.

I started throwing pants and shirts at the wall. They no longer fit me anyway, I'd gained a few pounds. So many hours spent as a married woman, working my ass off to look just right for him. Ex wife. Ex life.

I screamed profanities, hurled words and feelings at the pile of clothes like a tornado on a warpath. Tears streamed as I allowed myself to feel all the pent up anger and frustrations I'd been pushing down for months. I'd been told all my marriage that I was too uptight. Too emotional. I should just "chill".

But now, that marriage gone, I could let it all go.

So many years I'd kept the screams in. Now, I could let them out. I could say what I wanted to say. Scream what I wanted to scream.

And so, I did.

As quickly as the anger arrived, it dissipated. Left me with heavy sadness. The sorrow was overwhelming. I sobbed and started putting it all back together, hanging the wardrobe back up, talking to no one, not caring that if someone were to walk in on me in that moment, I would look completely insane.

I told myself everything. About the guilt of calling it quits. Admitted my fears that I'd never survive as a single mom, couldn't do it without him.

I cried about what the divorce would do to my kids.

Felt the loss.

Let the grief come.

And just when I thought it would consume me, I remembered everything I had already accomplished by myself. With so little help from him.

I remembered my strength and called bullshit on the guilt.

The anger and sadness ebbed and flowed. Hit me in waves as I worked and drank. Face streaked with mascara, I wiped snot on my arm like a small child.

Eventually, I collapsed into an exhausted heap and slept like a baby--or--like my ex slept as I'd tended to our babies all those years.

I woke the next morning exhausted from my emotional outburst but feeling lighter.

I'd said all the things I'd never allowed myself to say out loud. It didn't matter that I was the only one that heard them.

Since that night nearly a year ago, I've never experienced the same level of anger. No longer having to stifle the small daily anger and frustrations means it doesn't build up and explode.

And I've learned the benefit of letting myself feel all of my feelings. It's painful and healing and cathartic and therapeutic.

I've also learned to let go.

Not to dwell.

To move on.

To create new things to look forward to.

I learned to find value in every experience, in every emotion. It means I get to experience life. I no longer have to do it the right way, or someone else's right way. I can make a mess and clean it up and it's not wrong, because there is no wrong way to live a life.

Anger management is all about balance. Sometimes you have to go for a long run. Call in the girlfriends. Call your mom. Be alone. Write. Weep. Breathe.

And sometimes, you have to get drunk and throw clothes and expletives at the wall.