What is Love?

Does it really exist?

We see many ways love is expressed and explained. There is love for your child or parent. There is love of animals and nature. There can be two adults having intimate relations. The list is long. We even say we love ice cream or a dress and any number of things. But is this love?

I believe love goes much deeper than the above explanations. Love was within us and around us even before we were born. God loved even the thought of us being born. He planned each part of us with much compassion and care. He gave us eyes to see the wonders of nature and ears to hear the laughter of children. He gave us legs so we could walk and so many parts. The part which I want to focus on is the heart. He placed His own love is our heart. The depth of this love is eternal. It goes beyond all understanding or words. Yet this love is what urges us turn to those who need our care. It even pushes us to help others in miraculous ways. We look back and say, how did I do that? But I am going even deeper than the heart. God wanted us to be with Him forever so He placed our soul within us with so much gentleness. This is the part of us who knows God. Yes- knows God! Can you believe that! Our soul knows our true home is heaven. We are only here for a short while.

You might ask, what this has to do with love. Everything! Love comes from knowing Jesus and listening to our heart. It comes from realizing each person was also created with love and with a heart and soul. Every person is sacred. That is where real love comes. Yes, it will mean loving our family, being in awe of nature and feeling the love for another human in an intimate way. But only after we feel deeply connected to their holiness.

So love is our relationship with God and all our brothers and sisters which God created. Love is realizing all people are sacred. Nature shows the wonder of God and all we can do is stand in awe. This Valentines Day why don’t we reflect on true love.

5 Quick and Easy Tips to Stay on Your Dieting Path

I’m not going to argue about the different diets out there, or what really matter: carbs, fats or protein. Instead, I am going to give you five simple tips that will help you stay on your weight loss target, no matter what diet or physical fitness plan you are following. These are very simple tips that don’t require a lot of extra time to implement, and they have been extremely successful in my own diet progress.

1. Keep a list of what you CAN eat

Everyone knows that the worst part about almost any diet is the restrictions that are suddenly placed on what you can and can not eat. Instead of focusing on the negatives and getting depressed over that hamburger you can’t eat, why not create a list of all the wonderful things that you can enjoy on your new diet. Even better, make multiple copies of this list and place it in prominent spots that you see when you are hungry; refrigerator doors, on walls on the way to the kitchen, on exercise equipment, etc. This way, when a hunger pain hits you out the blue, instead of not knowing what to eat and instinctively reaching for the unhealthy, you will have a quick reference guide staring you in the face, reminding you of all the great food you can still enjoy!

2. Tally your days

One of the common problems that hurts diet-goers is that they get too focused on very specific results and get disappointed when they don’t see them immediately; a certain amount of pounds they want to shed; a new percentage of body fat to reach, thicker muscles, etc. The problem with focusing on these specifics is that they take different times to reach for different people, so it may become very discouraging when you see others reach your goals much faster than you can yourself. The super simple solution is instead of focusing on your results, focus on your efforts. Put up a whiteboard, or just a plain piece of paper, and every day that you successfully stick to your diet and/or physical fitness plan, make a tally. Then, when you are feeling unmotivated, just take a look at your marks and see the visualization of your efforts. For me, this has really helped me, as I like to think “OK, if I stick to my plan today, this will be the longest I have ever stuck with a diet” and then repeat that mantra to myself day after day.

3. Focus on steps, rather than goals

Some so-called “experts” will tell you to focus on your goals. They will encourage people to make lists of goals, and even to print out pictures of their goals and post them around their living space. This might be fine and dandy if you are saving up for something and you are printing a picture of the item you want to remind yourself to save for, but for a dieter, seeing a picture of a thin fit person, the person they want to be, tends to just make them depressed and feel as if their goal is unattainable. Especially when someone is just starting out on a diet, the last thing they want to think about is how far away their goals are. The solution? Instead of focusing on what may take a year or more to achieve, focus on the more immediate. Set small stepping stones to your goal, such as “reduce caloric intake by 100 calories per day this week,” or “lose two pounds,” and rewards along the way, such as enjoying a new episode of your favorite TV show. By focusing on something that is actually within reach, you will be able to maintain your internal motivation and not become discouraged.

4. Report now, not later

If you are using a weight tracker app, a record book, or any diet that requires tracking of food intake and physical activity (basically all of them), instead of waiting till the end of the day to enter your log, do it before or immediately after eating the food or working out. Like using a credit card, when something does not have an immediate visual impact, our brains tend to minimize the way we think about it. For example, when using a credit card, it is much easier to forget tiny purchases, or negate them as being “too small to matter”. However, these can quickly add up, and later you might be sitting there wondering how you can’t afford to pay the latest bill. The same basic concept applies to dieting and exercise; the longer we wait to record something, the more likely we are to round down the amount we ate and round up the amount we exercised. By immediately recording the activity before or after, there is no guessing about amounts later, or rounding, and we are stuck being immediately accountable for our actions, an accountability you want when you are trying to stick to a diet plan.

5. Prepare ahead of time

I’m driving home, after a long and exhausting day at work, and I know there is no food ready to eat at home. Anything healthy will take me time to prepare, and after my frustrating day, I just want to snarf something down and get into bed. I would pick something healthy up, from a local restaurant, but I had to work late, and the only places open are 24/7 fast food drive-thrus. So, I momentarily give up on my diet, and pick up a 2,500+ calorie dinner consisting of burgers, fries, and a shake, a huge relapse for myself, one that might make me feel like giving up altogether. Fortunately, this whole incident is avoidable by making just a tiny change; preparing your food and snacks ahead of time. If I had taken the 10-20 minutes extra that morning and prepared myself a nice healthy dinner, in that car ride home I would have remembered that I had a delicious meal waiting for me, and stopping for fast food would have seemed a ridiculous notion. If you are going to have a lunch break at work, bring a lunchbox filled with carefully chosen foods. If you are going to have a movie night, prepare a healthy platter of snacks ahead of time, instead of defaulting to microwave popcorn and high-caloric candies.


What is so nice about these five tips is that each one takes just minutes to implement, but can make the difference between giving up on a diet plan, or sticking through to see your results. Don’t look at this list and add it to a “read later” list, or worse yet, just ignore it with a simple dismissal of “too much work”. It might be a little extra leg work, but isn’t it worth it to become a better, healthier you? The decision is yours to make, but I know which one your body will be thanking you for making.

Foods that Help You Stay Thin

Everyone hasThin-Stomach heard the old tip shop the outside perimeter of the supermarket first. This is where all the fresh food is kept. Where we really get in trouble in the market is in the middle. The middle holds all the processed foods like cookies, crackers, mayonnaise, candy, and ice cream.

We’ve also heard about eating foods like celery and salsa that actually burn more calories than they leave behind and help you feel full. A great book to get is super model Carol Alts book “Eating In The Raw.”. Now you don’t have to become a vegan or give up that juicy Friday night steak but Carol’s book brings up some great points that we learned when we were children. “You are what you eat”. When we cook food we kill vitamins, enzymes and live cultures. When you eat fresh your body is able to get more of the nutrients it needs to be very healthy and thin.


Watermelon is a food like celery full of water and it helps to fill you up. Watermelon also contains vitamins A and C and many other anti-oxidants.

Green Tea

Drink green tea to feel full between meals. The phytonutrient called EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) in green tea increases the hormone responsible for making you feel satiated. Drinking green tea daily has long-term benefits as well. It can help prevent storage of excess fat, improve your appetite-regulating hormones and change how your body handles cravings and metabolizes food.


Vinegar will slow the absorption of carbohydrates and prevents sudden surges in your blood sugar. It also slows the passage of food through your stomach, keeping you fuller for longer.

Chili Peppers

Capsaicin, the compound that gives these spicy peppers. This compound is also thought to curb your appetite while you eat. Not only that, it raises your body temperature, which may boost your metabolism.

Raspberry Ketone

Raspberry ketone is the primary aroma compound of red raspberries. This compound regulates adiponectin, a protein used by the body to regulate metabolism. Raspberry ketone causes the fat within your cells to get broken up more effectively, helping your body burn fat faster. The recommended dose is 100mg per day. To get the same benefit from the whole fruit, you’d have to consume 90 pounds of raspberries.


Trim your tummy by packing your grocery cart with monounsaturated fats. Avocados should be used in your diet as a garnish. On a sandwich, salad, or as a topper. Sitting down to a giant bowl of guacamole at your favorite Mexican restaurant can add as much as 750 calories to your diet before your entre even arrives. So the message is that avocados are great for your body but in moderation.


Apples are the perfect pre-dinner snack. Soluble fiber in apples, called pectin, reduces the amount of sugar and calories that’s absorbed into the bloodstream after a meal. That’s good news for folks who want to prevent type 2 diabetes, but it also makes apples one of the best snacks for dieters. Apple pectin prevents spikes in blood sugar that lead to increased fat storage. It will help you avoid the blood sugar “crash” that leaves you craving more food and can keep you satiated for up to two hours.

Crimini Mushrooms

These mini-Portobello mushrooms have a delicious meaty flavor. Blending crimini mushrooms with ground turkey is a great way to cut half the fat without losing taste. The high-fiber mushroom mixture works well for any meat-based dish, like tacos, meat sauce, hamburgers and more.

Pine Nuts

A small 4oz handful of pine nuts every day can help suppress hunger. Pine nuts contain pinolenic acid, a naturally occurring fat that stimulates cholecystokinin (CCK) and glucagon-like peptide (GLP-1), both powerful hormones that alert the brain that the stomach is full. In one study, women who consumed pinolenic acid reported a decreased appetite. These small nuts also contain the highest protein content of any nut.


Beans are loaded with soluble fiber, which promotes good bacteria in the gut, thus lowering inflammation linked to belly fat. Ignite your body’s fat-blasting furnace with beans. They’ll keep you full, and are high in resistant starch, meaning that half the calories consumed cannot be absorbed. They also reduce blood sugar, and create the fatty acid butyrate, which may burn fat faster.

Eating small portions of good food every three hours to prevent blood sugar spikes and keep your hunger at bay is the key to success in any good diet. Try the super foods to help you regulate your blood sugar and boost your metabolism.

How to Motivate Reluctant Readers

300_2763536As a teacher, I wasn’t always thrilled with all of the reading materials available for me. After all, some phonics and basal readers are quite boring. I could see why some of my reluctant readers wouldn’t want to read these. Yet, luckily, there is an entire world full of interesting reading materials. Here are some tips on how to motivate reluctant readers.

Give them High Interest Readers

I was looking through some older ‘learn to read’ books from the 1970s and ’80s. They were painfully boring and had non-existent plots. Yet, luckily there are some more interesting books out there for beginning readers. Step into Reading is a program from Random House that has five levels of books. I Can Read is another leveled program from Harper Collins. There are levels for readers who need more help to levels with basic chapters. When my daughter was in kindergarten, we started with the basic books. These had repetitive sentence structure and vocabulary that made it easier for beginning readers.


There are plenty of inappropriate magazines out there. However, there are also some very fun and educational ones in circulation too. The shorter articles and colorful pictures can be less overwhelming than a thick novel with long paragraphs. My kids have a subscription to Highlights Magazine. High school students may enjoy Mental Floss. You can also give your child a magazine to a hobby, subject or sport they are interested in such as dirt bikes, tennis or science.

Song Lyrics

Does your child have a favorite song? I’m thinking there are plenty of kids out there who really love the song “Let it Go.” A great idea to encourage kids to read is to get them some song lyrics. This way they can sing their way to being a more fluent reader.

Give them Reading Material related to a Favorite Movie

Does your child have a movie they want to see or have seen? Giving them literature connected to a movie they are already interested in may pique their interest. However, be warned that some books made into movies might be at a sophisticated reading level (I was pleased to find “The Hobbit” was said to be at a sixth grade reading level). Thus, before giving your child a book, check its reading level with this Book Wizard tool. If you find it is above their independent reading level, you can always read it to them or download an audio of version of it.

Reaching reluctant readers doesn’t have to be a struggle.

Review: Celebriteens In The Spotlight by Joanna Philbin

Celebriteens In The Spotlight by Joanna PhilbinIn America, the Celebriteens books are published under the series name The Daughters – alluding to the fact that although its teenage lead characters aren’t famous in their own right, they’re growing up in the shadow of parents who are. The author herself is the daughter of US talk show host Regis Philbin, and while this is definitely no autobiography I suspect it may well be personal experience and observation which lend the first instalment in the series its genuine, heartfelt quality. The series has been rebranded for the UK as Celebriteens, and it lives up to its glamorous new name one hundred percent.

Book one sees unconventional-looking Lizzie Summers dealing with a fairy common teenage problem – she doesn’t measure up to those perfect-looking models in the magazines – but with the uncommon added pressure of daily life with a mother who actually is one of those models. Lizzie’s self-confidence takes a bashing every time she’s forced to accompany her mum to another A-list party, and her supermodel mother doesn’t seem to have any idea what it’s like for her. Add in some trouble with schoolwork and a crush on the cutest boy in school, and along with her best friends Hudson and Carina, Lizzie’s just a regular teenage girl… but when she messes up, the whole world knows about it.

A cover quote from Cecily von Ziegesar states that Gossip Girl herself would love this book, and while there are some major similarities between the two series – the New York setting, the red carpet events, the super rich lead characters – there are some major differences too. Lizzie, Carina and Hudson are a couple of years younger than Blair and Serena, and the story reflects that. This is a book about the importance of friendship, staying true to yourself and the bittersweetness of first love.

Despite the glitz and glamour of Lizzie’s lifestyle, tween readers will relate to her because underneath it all, her problems are universal. I’d recommend this one to readers in the eleven to fourteen age group who would like the inside scoop on what it’s really like to be the daughter of a rich and famous parent.

Out: now.

Review: Torn by Cat Clarke

Torn - Cat Clarke

Four girls. One dead body. A whole lot of guilt.

Alice King isn’t expecting the holiday of a lifetime when she sets off with her classmates on a trip to the Scottish wilderness, but she’s not exactly prepared for an experience beyond her darkest nightmares…

Alice and her best friend Cass are stuck in a cabin with Polly, the social outcast, and Rae, the moody emo-girl. Then there’s Tara – queen of mean. Powerful, beautiful and cruel, she likes nothing better than putting people down.

Cass decides it’s time to teach Tara a lesson she’ll never forget. And so begins a series of events that will change the lives of these girls forever…

A compelling story of guilty secrets, troubled friendship and burgeoning love. (Summary from Goodreads.com).

Drawing on scenarios more usually encountered in teen horror movies, Torn is the gripping story of schoolgirl politics getting way out of hand. Cat Clarke’s follow up to bestselling debut novel Entangled takes a fresh look at what happens when a group of teenagers are given a taste of freedom on a school wilderness trip… with truly disastrous consequences. Part murder mystery, part psychological thriller, Torn is essentially a book about growing up – think coming-of-age story, but terrifying. It’s about that moment when you realise that crying to your parents or hiding behind the sofa won’t fix things – that sometimes life can spiral out of control and there’s no way back to the safety of before.

Narrator Alice King is the type of character that readers will instantly empathise with. At school, she’s neither queen bee nor outcast, instead occupying the no-man’s land between the two extremes. Like many of us, she’s accutely aware of the injustice perpetuated by the in crowd, but not quite brave – or powerful – enough to befriend those deemed Untouchable. Her own acceptance is far too tenuous to take such a risk. With insight and dark humour in equal measure, Torn really digs down into the truth about the high school social order, going beyond the simple mean-girls-vs-losers dynamic we often see perpetuated in popular culture and holding the mirror up to a reality that’s far more complex.

Cat Clarke is an edgy writer, and that’s her strength. She doesn’t write tidy stories where enemies are safely dispatched and a happy ending is guaranteed for all. She writes in shades of grey, and the result is honest and raw narratives where things get messy and hearts get broken – sometimes readers’ hearts. Even the love story that unfolds alongside Torn‘s central mystery is conflicted, brimming over with bittersweetness of the most poignant variety. Like Entangled, Torn sees its teenage protagonist forced to confront uncomfortable truths about herself, and in both cases that makes for fascinating reading. But where Torn surpasses Entangled is in the way it takes us on our own journey of self-discovery – the way Alice’s story feels as though it’s only one wrong decision away from being our own. Seriously scary stuff.

Torn is one hell of a book. It’s stomach-churningly tense, twisty in the cleverest way and completely impossible to put down. I read it straight through in one go, on the edge of my seat, only pausing every now and then to remind myself to breathe. If you like your YA fiction dangerous and authentic, Torn is a must-read.

Out: December 2011, UK


Applying my studies to my love life

Hi all. Thought I’d share another one of my assignments. We had to apply what we studied in class, the theories we’ve learned to real life experiences. I decided to write about my relationship between my husband and I. Enjoy!

Having the privilege to learn Theories of Communication for a couple of weeks now, I’m beginning to understand the development of my relationship with my husband and how it progressed from being a friend, to a boyfriend, and now my dearest husband. That was a little over a decade ago since 2001. We got married in 2008. And in 2010, we had our very first child.

Let me first narrate how it all began. We first met in an internet chat room of the university that we went to. I was attracted to his username and decided to send him a private message. If I remember correctly we started to talk endlessly about our favourite music, and discovered that we had a lot in common. This went on during the semester break. We exchanged phone numbers. From online to the telephone line we conversed for hours and hours.

The holidays were over, and we decided to hang out. Prior to the meet up, somewhere along our conversations we did bring up the kind of clothes we wore and talked about shoes. Coincidentally we had shoes of the same kind, a pair of sneakers, his were blue, and mine were red. We both decided to wear those shoes going out. The thing about these sneakers is that, the dirtier it is, the better it looks. It’s meant to look worn out. This information is crucial point that led to our relationship.

Before I move on with the story, I’d like to highlight that the conversation we had about our tastes in music and clothes is only touching the surface, the introduction was just an ice breaking session. According to the social penetration theory, it is the superficial layer. And sharing the same likes in music as well as footwear, naturally it led to a connection that made us agree upon this face to face meet up.

So came the day of our ‘date’. It wasn’t really a date since I did tag along a friend, and my intentions were only to get to know basis at this point. As promised he wore his blue sneakers and I wore my red sneakers. I noticed that his shoes were squeaky clean. And couldn’t stop ridiculing him of how uncool it was to wear clean sneakers. This lead me to purposely step on his shoes to make it look dirty and of course cool, at least according to the ‘the dirtier the better’ rule. And this act of staining his shoes, sparked fireworks, and I felt butterflies flying in my tummy! I quickly stepped away and tried to laugh hoping the butterflies would fly away. I must have blushed.

Then, we moved on to our next destination, a fast food restaurant. I was famished, and I ordered my favourite onion rings. I felt really comfortable eating in front of him, perhaps it was because of the hunger that I had no shame, I gobbled the onion rings, smacking my mouth together and gulped it down and drank my soda. Not realizing that he was watching me eat. And then there was only one onion ring left, we both reached out for it, but he let me have it instead. Ate it instantly, and only then I noticed he was watching how I was eating. And I asked, with a half way eaten onion ring “Uh, is there something wrong. Do you want this?” while showing the other half of the onion ring. He shook his head while smiling, and pointed out how enthusiastic I was munching away and it made him laugh.

Talking about onions let me relate back to the theory. Coincidentally Irwin Altman and Dallas Taylor the developers of this social penetration model metaphorically use an onion to describe the theory as onions like humans have many layers and depths. So in my event of gulping down the onion ring, and having him laugh about it goes into the middle layer which has revealed both of our social attitudes.

Being comfortable of this new revelation, we both expressed how we felt, especially during the shoe stepping ceremony. I was relieved and delighted to know I wasn’t the only one seeing fireworks and having butterflies frolicking in my bowels. At this stage we have penetrated into the inner layer. We both started to share more detailed information and background information, our beliefs, hopes, and secrets as well. His secret was about this girl he had a crush on, and mine was that I already was seeing someone else. A guy I knew for almost two years. Let’s call him ‘Mr X’.

The relationship between Mr X and I wasn’t doing so good, it was really on the rocks, just on the verge of falling over the cliff, yet we held on. I personally held on, because I assumed he was the guy that I wanted to marry, and believed that he was mister perfect. But when meeting my husband, the title ‘mister perfect’ no longer belonged to Mr X.

This is when I started comparing the two, measuring who is better. I was using the comparison level of alternatives of the social exchange theory. Mr X used to be a 10/10, but meeting my husband, the alternative totally defeated Mr X with a scale of 100/10! I knew then what I had to do. Say bye-bye to Mr X. However, it took me months to officially call it off. It wasn’t easy, because Mr X was quite special to me. But 10 years later, at this moment, seeing my dearest son and beloved husband, watching them sleep every night, I do not have an ounce of regret going for the alternative.

Now that we’re married with a child, it is easy to say that we have entered the innermost layer of the onion, and have revealed our core personality, exposing ourselves to our most basic self. We both have heard various frequencies of each other’s passing of gas, and even the different types of scent. Perhaps we both had too much onion, digging in too deep that we could not hold it in any longer. It may seem disgusting to some, but that is us being our true selves, by not hiding our flatulence.

The theories mentioned in relation to the development of my relationship seem to have been applied almost quite perfectly that it is difficult to find a flaw. The social exchange theory which includes the comparison level of alternatives is something that everyone would most probably go through in a relationship. If it isn’t applicable, it’s just might be because that person does not have the alternative to compare to.

However, having that said, using this standard of assessment doesn’t necessarily mean one has to choose the better alternative. Because, as mentioned earlier, the social penetration theory states that humans are made up of many layers, sometimes what one sees in a person is only a certain breadth of that person, depending on an individual and the level of interaction it may take years for one to get to know a person entirely, at times, it just never happens.

Therefore, to choose what ones measures as the better alternative might turn out to be even worse! When they go in depth one might discover some deep dark secret of that person that is really disturbing. And unfortunately by that time, it might be too late to return to the former relationship. But, if one is lucky enough after weighing the possible outcomes, like in my case, the better turns out to be the best decision ever made.

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