10 Ways to Keep Your Sanity When Moving Out of State

My husband and I are moving from Ohio to Tennessee. We built a house there on top of a small mountain. Building a house is stressful, takes longer than planned, and did I say stressful? Even so, moving from one state to another is even more stressful. Here are 10 tips I’ve figured out to keep my sanity during the move.

1. When it comes to moving companies, cheaper is not better. Find the company that specializes in interstate moves and has lots of good reviews. I learned this the hard way when I was helping my mom move. Some things to look for:

  • Price by weight not by box.
  • If they are packing you, they will charge you only for the boxes they need.
  • They will give you a couple of days to get to your destination before they arrive.
  • They give you a non-binding estimate. Stay away from companies that want to give you a binding estimate. They will make sure the estimate is high enough that they will  get the good end of the deal.
  • Make sure they use one truck per customer. Some companies try to load as many homes as they can on one truck.
  • Make sure they have employees who will unload. Some companies use transient workers at the final destination to fill in gaps.

2. Pack as much as you can before moving week. Decide what you absolutely need before the big day, and pack everything else. Moving week is a lot easier if you already have most of your stuff packed.

3. Lowes has the best prices on moving boxes and supplies. Their boxes are even cheaper than the moving company. And they have giant roles of bubble wrap. Bubble wrap is your friend when packing.

4. Declutter. Get rid of stuff you don’t need before the move. Trust me. You don’t need 3 gallon bottles of bleach or 5 sweepers. Have a garage sale, give it away, or throw it out.

5. Wrap fragiles in smaller boxes and use lots of bubble wrap. If you wrap too many breakables in a larger box, it will become too heavy. If its too heavy, it is easier to drop. If it drops, things will break. It’s worth the cost of a few extra boxes to protect that coffee cup your husband gave you on your first anniversary and the clay fingerprint paper weight your thirty year old son gave you when he was five.

6. Pace yourself. Don’t do too much at one time. Spread the moving project over weeks.

7. Get help if you need it. You’re not superman or superwoman. If you don’t have friends or family to help, pay the moving company to pack.

8. Decide what will go in each room and pack accordingly. Label boxes well. Also use a red magic marker for the boxes you’ll open first. When unpacking, you’ll be so happy to not have 50 boxes marked miscellaneous when you’re trying to find the toilet paper.

9. Don’t pack away things you’ll need as soon as you get to your new home (like toilet paper, paper towel, medicine, and underwear. Keep a suitcase or laundry basket out for items like this, and don’t let the moving company touch them. These are items you’ll want to take with you in the car.

10. Take time to relax. Moving is an exhausting activity. Free your schedule so your not overloaded, and take some time to visit friends and family before you pack up and leave.

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10 Ways to Find Time to Write Your Novel

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Writers have a difficult time finding time to write sometimes. With the burdens of family obligations, daytime jobs, marriage, and church or other activities, it sometimes seems impossible. It’s easy to make excuses and give up, but if you really want to find the time to write your novel, here a ten things you can do to carve out some writing time.

1. Get up an hour early. When you get up early, nobody is awake. This is prime writing time.

2. Stay up an hour late. This is the same principle. After everyone else has gone to bed, you’ll have the time you need. But be careful. Don’t get so lost in the story that you stay up all night. Set a timer if you have to.

3. Spend your lunch hour writing. If your work won’t let you use their computers for personal use, bring a small laptop or tablet to work and write while you’re eating.

4. Assign a certain time every day that you write. Let your family know that this is your “Do Not Disturb” time. Scientists have proven this will also bolster your creativity. You are training your brain to be creative during your writing time.

5. Get a maid. No, I’m not kidding. Don’t feel like you have to do it all. Hire a maid or someone to do your laundry. This will give you added time to write. Isn’t it worth the money?

6. Hire a babysitter. You could hire someone to take the kids to the park or to McDonalds Playland a couple of times a week. The kids will love it, and you’ll enjoy the writing time.

7. Stop time wasters. Organize your schedule and see where you are wasting time you could be writing. If you can’t figure it out where you’re wasting time, try keeping an activity diary for a couple of weeks.

8. Turn off the TV. Enough said. There isn’t anything good to watch anyway.

9. Take a tablet or small laptop with you  when you go to doctor’s appointments or kids’ soccer practices or everywhere else you go. You can write during waiting time.

10. Quit playing Facebook Games. Facebook and Twitter are great tools for writers, but don’t let them monopolize your time. Writers need to be on social media for advertising, but plan your time there, and set a timer to make sure you don’t get distracted while online.

So quit putting it off and making excuses. Find the time you need to write your novel, and get busy.

10 Steps to Declutter Your Home.

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Clutter is an epidemic in the US. Many of us have way to much stuff to enjoy what we have, but we worry about parting with some of it for sentimental reasons or because we spent a lot of money on it. How much money we wasted is in the past. If we want a peaceful environment, room to stay organized, and a place for everything so we don’t have to spend precious time looking for it, we need to get rid of our stuff. Trust me. It will feel so good when your done.

Start at the front door of your house. Many people are paralysis when they consider where to start. I’ll make it easy for you. Start at the front door. Are there any shoes there you don’t wear? Do you have too many coats? If you have more than three winter coats, you have too many.

Go in a clockwise circle around the room and organize. Next circle the room. As you get to each place in your room, decide what you need to keep and what needs to go. Then go to the next room.

Keep four boxes and trashcan with you.

The first box is labeled “Put Away”. This is for stuff that you need to put away or find a place for. Resist the temptation to put it away now. You might have a lot more room when you’re done.

The second box is labeled “Give Away” or “Sell”. These are items that have some value but you don’t need. It’s difficult to part with something you spent money on, but if you give it to the poor or sell it, you’ll feel better about freeing up that space. After you’re done decluttering, sell this stuff on e-bay or at a garage sale and make some money, or take it to the Salvation Army or AmVets. There also might be some items family members would cherish. Consider giving some of your stuff to them.

The third box is for storage. These are items you need, but you don’t need them all the time. Christmas and Fall decorations would fall in this category. Label each storage box with what is in that box for easy reference later.

The fourth box is for keepsakes and memorials that mean a great deal to you. This box is not for the pencil your nine year old took to school his first day of Kindergarten. These keepsakes should be important and irreplaceable. Things like your wedding certificate and your children’s first teeth might go here. After you’re finished organizing, you can go back to this box and decide how to display some of these items. If you don’t have room to display them, it might be better to get rid of them. Keeping a keepsake packed away in the garage for years doesn’t help you feel any fond memories about it.

The trashcan is for everything else. Be merciless about this. You don’t need 20 pieces of string just in case. You don’t need a cleaning product you never used but bought because it looked good on QVC. You don’t need a 20 gallon drum of Spic and Span. Get rid of it and free up your space and your life. You might also want to have a recycle bag for items you can take to the recycle plant later. See, you are helping the environment by decluttering.

Evaluate your stuff. Have you used it in the last year? Do you intend to use it within a month? Does it have great sentimental value? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you can keep it. Otherwise get rid of it. You will be amazed at how much stress you can get rid of by getting rid of your stuff.

Repeat in every room.

Go through the keepsakes again. After you’re finished organizing, you can go back to this box and decide how to display some of these items. Keeping a keepsake packed away in the garage for years doesn’t help you feel any fond memories about it. One idea is to start a scrapbook or memory box for each of your children. If you have too many keepsakes to fill one memory box for each child or to display your treasures, go through them again, and try to cut them down by half.

Organize Puzzle Shows Arranging Or OrganizingFind a place for all your put away items. At this point, you may have to get rid of some of them. You don’t need 53 pens and 7 pairs of scissors. The first time I went through this process, I found out I had seven 99 cent turkey basters. My husband convinced me to keep two so I had a back-up, but nobody needs seven turkey basters. Get rid of excess items.

Find a place for your storage boxes. They should be easily accessible but not take up prime space in your home. A storage closet, shelves in the garage, the attic, or the basement work well for storage boxes.

Find a place for your garage sale or e-bay items and label the boxes with the date. If you don’t sell them within a year, take them to the Salvation Army. You never will get to selling them if your haven’t within a year. Do not open the boxes to look through them at this point. You’ve gone without them for this long. It’s time to let go.

Repeat decluttering process at least once a year. Enjoy the peace that comes from a decluttered house.

10 Things to Do When Life Overwhelms You

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Everyone is busy these days, but there are times in our lives a major event happens that completely overwhelms and swallows our lives for a season. Whether it be an injury or illness, a major family event, a emotional crisis, a move or major life change, or a crisis at work, these changes can swallow up our lives and leave us feeling drained.

I am currently going through one of these seasons. My elderly mom has moved to another state, and I’m helping with the move. At the same time, my husband and I are building a new house in that state. My daughter is going through a major life event. If that’s not enough, I also have a summer children’s revival schedule going on and have a deadline with my publisher. My next book is due October 1st. So, I understand what you are going through.

Here are ten things to help you, and me, when life becomes overwhelming.

Remember this is a season. Sometimes taking a breath and regaining our perspective can help immensely. This major crisis is not the new normal for your life. You will get through it.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. Peter was walking on water when he kept his eyes on Jesus, but when he focused on the waves and the storm, he sank. The larger the waves, the greater our focus needs to be on the One who commands the wind and the waves. One way to do this is to print out copies of a verse you’re holding onto and put in visible places everywhere.

Exercise: Before you say you don’t have time, I’m not telling you to spend hours at the gym, but even some exercise, like a brisk walk around the block, is beneficial. Exercise has been proven to defeat depression, offer mental clarity, and increase your energy. These are benefits you need during overwhelming times in your life.

Make a To Do List. Write down EVERYTHING you need to do. Then decide what you have to do now and what can wait. You are in crisis mode right now. You can’t do the things that can wait. You’ll get to those things after the crisis is over. For now, do only what you have to do.

Ask for help. This is hard to do, but it is essential to survive this season of your life. Friends, adult children, and your church may be able to help you with certain tasks. Also, if you can hire some temporary extra help to do daily tasks, do so. Housekeeping, laundry services, and delivery services are well worth the cost during overwhelming seasons.

Don’t take on any new projects. Even if its a project you want to do, say no. You’re no doesn’t have to be permanent, but for now, you can’t agree to do anything.

Take time for Self Care. Self care is what you do to make yourself feel better. You might enjoy reading a book, watching a movies, or doing a fun event. Whatever makes you feel good inside is something you need to take time to do. If you don’t have self care no matter how busy you are, you will end up burning out.

Get away from the situation. Sometimes getting away from a situation, even for a couple of hours, can help you feel refreshed.

Talk to a Friend. Venting to someone who will listen is vital during these overwhelming times. A good friend will let you vent when you need to, but when you are going into self-pity, she will encourage you out of it.

Be filled with the Spirit of God. The joy of the Lord is your strength, so go to the source of your strength to help you through this. Pray constantly asking God for strength, peace, and joy and allowing Him to fill you with His Spirit. Put you hand on your head and pray for yourself. This is last on the list, but it is the most important step to take.

Getting Ready for Summer

by Carole Brown

There’s busy and then there’s busy.

If you’re anything like us, you already have your summer pretty well booked. but with a little planning, you can it a little less harassing and a lot more fun and relaxing. Here are a few tips I’ve learned through the years:

  • Plan ahead… 

for the trips and vacations you want to take. Decide on how muccheck-list freeh you will spend and set aside extra for emergencies or special things that crop up. Write down everything that needs to be done and cross these items off as you finish them. (Book flights, list items needed to be taken, schedule activities you want to do and buy tickets ahead of time, buy snacks and drinks when appropriate.) 

Have appropriate clothes planned and ready. Repairs needed? Don’t wait until the last minute, but have it done early. Shoes need to be purchased? Toiletries running low? Get these things off your list.  

 

  • Plan activities suitable for you, your family, your friends.

Needless to say, you should take into consideration what interests you’re planning for. Children who are totally into sports or activities may find it boring to go to five different museums. Save that trip for when you and your husband or friends can enjoy it. 

parachute free

  • Prepare yourself and your family/friends physically. 

If you’re headed to the beach, condition your skin to the sun; don’t wait till you arrive and end up with damaged skin. If  you’re headed to the mountains to scale the heights, begin early strengthening your body by running/walking. Higher altitudes can cause some problems for certain people so make sure you have a doctor checkup before leaving. You want to be ready for whatever you plan and not be caught unaware and in serious physical condition because you didn’t know.

physical bike free

 

  • Don’t be too stringent on keeping to the “rules.” 

Allow for unplanned things. See a spot that would be perfect for a picnic, and your child is begging to stretch her legs? Do it, and eat at that fancy restaurant another time. Don’t think you have to be on the move constantly. Take time to read a book, sit on a porch and watch the birds. Stroll, take a walk, talk, don’t talk, cook out, walk barefoot in the sand early in the morning, or stroll the beach at midnight with your friends or companion while the kids (who are old enough) are sleeping. Allow time for side trips. Do something unexpected. Suggest the children (with guidance) plan a day of fun. 

sand feet

 

  • Be safe. 

Take precautions. Make sure shots are up-to-date, medicines are ready to go, and medical kits are stocked. Don’t be paranoid, but be cautious. Keep your eyes on children. Be friendly but careful around those you don’t know well. Watch for unexpected problems on side trips: slippery, downhill paths, stinging insects, broken items that can cut, unfriendly animals who are doing what they’re wired to do. In traveling, stay alert. Get plenty of rest and never push yourself beyond limits. 

warning free

 

  • Stay relaxed, have fun, and come home rested. 

Sometimes this is hard to do. I know. But if you can carry through on the above suggestions, you’ll find that it’s much easier to control this last one. If you can pull it off, you’ll find yourself returning home, eager to plan another getaway.

reclining free

It’s time for vacation. Are you ready?

6 Steps to Making Your Bucket List Come True

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Bucket lists of what we want to do in life are fun to make, but they are rarely accomplished. Here are six steps to making a bucket list you can achieve in your lifetime.

Step 1: Write down everything you’ve ever wanted to do in life. Now is not the time to censor the list. Even if something is impossible, write it down. There are three types of things you’ll have on your list.

Experiences: These are things you want to experience in your lifetime. You might want to go on a safari in Africa or see the Grand Canyon. You might have always wanted to parachute out of an airplane or see a ballet.

Goals: Goals are things you want to accomplish in your life. You might want to become a published author or learn to knit. Whatever your goals are, write them down.

Milestones: Milestones are stepping stones to larger goals. A goal might be becoming a published author, and a milestone might be to finish writing a novel.

Step 2: Look through the list and cross out the things that are impossible. It’s important to understand the difference between impossible and improbable while you’re doing this.

Impossible is an out of shape eighty-year-old woman who has never been rock climbing to climb Mount Everest. Improbable is a forty-year-old woman who has never been rock climbing to climb Mount Baker in Washington State, a mountain that beginning climbers use to improve their skills.

Don’t let lack of money or resources keep you from crossing out anything. Lack of resources make something improbable, but there is always a chance the resources will come from unexpected sources.

A word of caution – if God has put in your heart to do something impossible, leave it on the list. With God, all things are possible.

Step 3: Circle anything on the list that is very important to you. It might be important for you to travel to Paris, but going to Hawaii isn’t that big of a deal. If this is the case, circle Paris.

Step 4: Narrow down your list to three items, and draw stars beside those items. These items are the things that you wouldn’t feel good about unless you accomplished them in your lifetime. Make sure you don’t only circle goals. You might want to circle one item in each category.

Step 5: This is where you brainstorm. What would you have to do to fulfill these three things on your bucket list.

One or two of them might be easy. If you want to see Paris, and you have the money, all you have to do is plan the trip. Write down everything you need to do to plan the trip.

Others might be more difficult. If Paris is on your bucket list and you have no way to afford it, brainstorm about ideas to make money or determine how much you would have to save out of each paycheck to be able to make the trip.

If you have circled a milestone, write beside it what larger goal you’re going after. That milestone will get you closer to your goal.

If you have circled a goal, it may take time to accomplish it. Write down the milestones you need to get done first.

Step 6: This is the most important part. Write down what you need to do to accomplish your goal or milestone. Break it up into small increments. Then schedule these items on your calendar or daily to do list. For instance, if you are out of shape and want to run a marathon, walking a mile every day or going to the gym three times a week might be your first step.

Before you know, you’ll be able to concentrate on three more items on your bucket list.

10 Steps to Decluttering Your Life

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Clutter can take over our lives if we let it. Clutter causes stress and makes it difficult to find things. But fear not. Here are ten easy steps to declutter you life.

1. Start at the front door of your house.

2. Go in a clockwise circle around the room and organize.

3. Keep four boxes and trashcan with you.

The first box is labeled “Put Away”. This is for stuff that you need to put away or find a place for.

The second box is labeled “Give Away” or “Sell”. These are items that have some value but that you don’t need. After you’re done decluttering, sell this stuff on e-bay or at a garage sale and make some money, or take it to the Salvation Army or AmVets.

The third box is for storage. These are items you need but not that often. Christmas decorations would fall in this category. Label each storage box with what is in that box for easy reference later.

The fourth box is for keepsakes and memorials that mean a great deal to you. This box is not for the pencil your nine year old took to school his first day of Kindergarten. These keepsakes should be important and irreplaceable. Things like your wedding certificate and your children’s first teeth might go here.

The trashcan is for everything else. You might also want to have a recycle bag for items you can take to the recycle plant later. See, you are helping the environment by decluttering.

5. Evaluate your stuff. Have you used it in the last year? Do you intend to use it within a month? Does it have great sentimental value? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you can keep it. Otherwise get rid of it. You will be amazed at how much stress you can get rid of by getting rid of your stuff.

6. Repeat in every room.

7. Go through the keepsakes again. Consider how you can display them, or start a scrapbook or memory box for each of your children. If you have too many keepsakes to fill one memory box for each child and to display your treasure, go through them again, and try to cut them down by half.

Organize Puzzle Shows Arranging Or Organizing8. Find a place for all your put away items. At this point, you may have to get rid of some of them. You don’t need 53 pens and 7 pairs of scissors. The first time I went through this process, I found out I had seven 99 cent turkey basters. My husband convinced me to keep two so I had a back-up, but nobody needs seven turkey basters. Get rid of excess items.

9. Find a place for your storage boxes. They should be easily accessible but not take up prime space in your home. A storage closet, shelves in the garage, the attic, or the basement work well for storage boxes.

10. Find a place for your garage sale or e-bay stuff and label the boxes with the date. If you don’t sell them within a year, take them to the Salvation Army. You never will get to selling them if your haven’t within a year.

Repeat process at least once a year and enjoy the peace that comes from a clutter free house.