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Summer Vacation

As the school bells ring their final chime, it’s time to decide on the family summer vacation plans.  Coming up with a trip that provides “fun” for everyone (and all ages) requires thoughtful planning. Here’s a guide to help you plan the perfect summer getaway for your family this summer.

Your Family’s Vacation Goals

Begin by gathering your family for a discussion on vacation goals. Identify shared interests and preferences to create an itinerary that resonates with everyone. Whether it’s sandy beaches, a mountain adventure, or cultural exploration, understanding your family’s vision sets the tone for your vacation.

Realistic Budget

Establish a realistic budget that aligns with your family’s financial comfort. Consider factors such as accommodation, transportation, meals, and activities. Research cost-effective options and explore discounts or package deals to maximize your budget. Without compromising on the quality of your vacation, you will enjoy savings and fun for the family.

Family-Friendly Destinations

Select a destination that offers diverse interests for all ages within your family.  Look for destinations offering a variety of activities, attractions, and amenities suitable for children and adults. Whether it’s a theme park, a national park, or beach resort, choose a location that’s a well-rounded experience for your family.

Age-Appropriate Activities

Tailor your itinerary with age-appropriate activities to ensure everyone has a good time. Consider the interests of your younger children, teenagers, and all the adults. Be sure to incorporate a mix of adventure, relaxation, and educational experiences for all tastes.  Strike a balance between planned activities and free time for spur-of-the-moment exploration or relaxation.

Create a Flexible Itinerary

While planning is essential, allow room for flexibility in your itinerary. Unexpected discoveries and adventures often become the most cherished memories. Leave space for downtime and unplanned activities, ensuring your family can embrace the joy of exploration without feeling rushed.

Pack Thoughtfully

Encourage each family member to contribute to the packing process. Create a checklist to ensure essentials like clothing, toiletries, and any specific items related to planned activities are not forgotten. Pack snacks, entertainment, and comfort items for the journey, especially if traveling with younger kids.

Planning a family summer vacation involves a delicate balance of organization and flexibility. By defining goals, setting a budget, and choosing a family-friendly destination you set the stage for a memorable vacation experience. Embrace the chance to create lasting memories, strengthen your family bonds, and enjoy shared adventures under the summer sun.

For more travel inspiration check out: KathyHusserTempe.com

 

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Power of Habits

 

Starting on a journey of positive change often centers on forming and sticking to habits. Habits, ingrained routines of behavior, have a profound impact on our daily lives. They influence everything from our productivity to our physical and overall mental well-being. Understanding the science behind habits and implementing effective strategies can be the key to transforming harmful patterns into positive behaviors.

The Science Behind Habits

Habits are deeply rooted in neurological patterns. As we repeat a behavior, our brain forms neural pathways that make the action more automatic over time. This inherent ability of our brains to create habits can be harnessed for positive change. Rather than viewing habits as obstacles, we can leverage the brain’s ability to establish routines that align with our goals.

Identify the Trigger

To change a bad habit, start by identifying the trigger that begins the behavior. Whether it’s stress, boredom, or a specific environment, recognizing the cue that prompts the habit is crucial. Understanding the trigger allows you to implement strategies to interrupt the automatic response and replace it with a positive alternative.

Set Clear and Achievable Goals

Define clear and achievable goals that align with the positive change you want to make. Break down larger objectives into smaller, manageable steps. This not only makes the process less overwhelming but also provides a sense of accomplishment with each milestone. You are reinforcing the formation of a new, positive habit!

Replace with a Positive Behavior

Rather than focusing solely on eliminating a bad habit, redirect your energy toward replacing it with a positive behavior. If your goal is to reduce screen time, replace the habit of scrolling through your phone with a positive behavior. Activities like reading a book or practicing relaxation techniques fit the bill better just before bedtime. The key is to substitute the undesirable action with a healthier alternative.

Utilize the Power of Consistency

Consistency is the bedrock of habit formation. Repetition is what reinforces neural pathways, making a behavior more automatic. Commit to practicing the positive behavior consistently, even when faced with setbacks. Over time, this repetition strengthens the new habit, making it a natural part of your routine.

Accountability and Support

Share your goals with a friend, family member, or a mentor who can provide encouragement and hold you accountable. Having a support system enhances motivation and increases the likelihood of successfully transforming a bad habit. Celebrate achievements together and learn from challenges as a team.

The power of habits lies in their ability to shape our lives. By understanding the science behind habits and implementing strategic approaches, you can change harmful behaviors into positive, life-affirming habits.

Identify triggers, set achievable goals, replace negative behaviors with positive ones, embrace consistency, and seek support. Through this approach, you will create lasting, positive changes that contribute to a healthier, happier, and more fulfilling life.

For more living well, inspiration check out my website: KathyHusserTempe.com

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Caring for Parents

Caring for aging parents is a journey that many of us take on expectedly. As our loved ones enter the later stages of their lives our own lives change. While it is an opportunity to give back and express our gratitude, it is not without its share of challenges. As I navigate through caregiving, I have come to realize the emotional toll it takes. I also discovered the profound rewards that come with caring for aging parents.

Life Balance

One of the most significant challenges I encountered is balancing my life and responsibilities with the needs of my parents. The demands of work, raising a family, and managing personal affairs can sometimes clash. With the time and energy required to ensure the well-being of my parents it’s hard to think of yourself.

It often feels like a juggling act, constantly trying to find a delicate balance. The give and take of caregiving and maintaining “normalcy” in my own life is tough. It is a delicate dance of making sacrifices, setting boundaries, and seeking support. Whether that support is from other family members or external resources to share the load, every bit helps.

Emotional Challenges

Photo by JD Mason on Unsplash

Emotionally, caring for aging parents can be a rollercoaster ride. Witnessing the physical and mental decline of the ones who once cared for you can be heart-wrenching. It is a reminder of their mortality and our own vulnerability. Feelings of guilt, frustration, and helplessness may come up.

As you grapple with the reality of their changing needs and our own limitations, you get sad. Yet, in the midst of these challenging emotions, there is also an opportunity for profound growth, empathy, and connection. It is a time to cherish the precious moments, celebrate small victories, and deepen your bonds with them every day.

Healthcare Frustrations

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Navigating the healthcare system and ensuring the best possible care for your parents is yet another hurdle. The maze of medical appointments, medications, and complex decisions can be overwhelming. Advocating for their needs, understanding medical jargon, and coordinating with various healthcare professionals can feel like another full-time job. It requires patience, perseverance, and the willingness to become an informed advocate for your loved ones.

However, being an active participant in their healthcare journey allows us to be their voice. You must ensure their needs are met and advocate for the quality of life they deserve. Because no one else will.

Rewards

Photo by Ekaterina Shakharova on Unsplash

Despite the challenges, caring for aging parents also brings immeasurable rewards. It is an opportunity to give back and show gratitude for the love and care provided us throughout our lives. It deepens our understanding of the value of family, love, and the fragility of time. It teaches us resilience, patience, and compassion.

Witnessing the small victories, the moments of joy, and the strength and resilience of people is amazing. It is a testament to the human spirit and the power of love for family and friends.

Caring for aging parents is a journey that tests our limits, challenges our emotions, and stretches our capacity for compassion. It is not an easy path. It is one filled with profound growth and moments of immeasurable grace. As I continue on this journey, I am reminded of this privilege of caring for my parents. It is a gift that I will forever cherish.

Find more inspiration at KathyHusserTempe.com

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Growing Happier Lives

I just finished a book by Harvard professor Arthur Brooks with insights by Oprah Winfrey. Here are useful nuggets you can use to create a happier life.  See if any of them surprises you.

3 Basic Pillars

The three basic pillars of happiness are enjoyment, satisfaction, and purpose. According to Brooks these “macronutrients” of happiness are scientifically proven by studies and our own life experiences.  Case studies and Brooks’ own family are examples of this principle. Some perceptions from Oprah’s own life also illustrate the importance of each one. The book reveals types of career paths you might have chosen due to one of these areas being out of balance. Whether it’s a job or relationship, you need these three “macronutrients” to feel complete joy.

Your Outlook

Another aspect to being happier, (or less unhappy) is having hope. We all have bad things happen in our lives, even tragic. Your reaction and how you deal with those experiences also play into your happiness.

Brooks explains it like this. “There’s a word for believing you can make things better without distorting reality; not optimism, but hope.” Again, illustrated with life and death examples of crisis and how individuals respond to those events determines levels of happiness. Brooks himself explains, he was not a happy person when starting out in his initial career. I won’t spoil anything for you, but his journey is inspiring.

Spirituality

Call it what you will, but believing in a higher power other than focusing on yourself makes a huge difference. Explained as “meditation” or simple connecting on a transcendental level for peace, this is the third area to explore.

Within you lies the power to create happiness and a happier life, but you must live in love and service. Several other spiritual writings assert what Brooks and Winfrey explain, ways they’ve been able to reach this level of contentment.

Living in love is the key along with these main factors. Healthy and happy relationships with the people we are close too, help us understand the feeling of joy and contentment. Living in gratitude, makes us appreciate the good and bad times in our lives.  So, remember, simple joyful experiences are the best kind and keeps us mindful of the love and happiness in our lives.

Think about the last time you were truly happy and joyful. What were you doing?

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Why Love Taylor and Travis

 

In the vast landscape of popular culture, certain figures captivate our attention and hold our fascination. Two who seem to effortlessly command the spotlight are Taylor Swift, the iconic singer-songwriter, and Travis Kelce, the NFL player. What is it about these two seemingly contrasting personalities that ignites our collective obsession?

Taylor Swift: The Evolution of Empowerment

Taylor Swift’s journey from country sweetheart to pop sensation has been nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. Swift’s ability to authentically narrate her personal experiences through music has created an intimate connection with her audience. From teenage love anthems to mature reflections on heartbreak and self-discovery, Swift’s discography resonates across generations.

Her openness about relationships, friendships, and the challenges of fame endears her to fans. She makes them feel like they’re on a journey of self-discovery alongside her.

Additionally, Swift’s skilled use of social media invites fans into her world, fostering a sense of community. Her engagement with fans, candid posts, and witty interactions contribute to the perception that she is not just a megastar.  She is also a relatable individual navigating life’s ups and downs.

Travis Kelce: Beyond the Gridiron

Travis Kelce, known for his exceptional skills on the football field, has transcended the confines of his profession. Beyond his athletic expertise, Kelce’s magnetic personality has made him a favorite in and out of the sports arena. The tight end’s charisma, evident in his touchdown celebrations and post-game interviews, sets him apart. Kelce’s authenticity shines through, showcasing a genuine and approachable side of professional athletes often overlooked by the public.

Kelce’s involvement in philanthropy and community outreach further cements his status as a well-rounded and socially conscious figure. Fans are drawn to his genuine passion for making a positive impact off the field. He creates a deeper connection beyond his achievements in football.

Art Meets Athletics

The convergence of Taylor Swift’s musical prowess and Travis Kelce’s athletic excellence may seem unexpected. However, it underscores a broader truth: our fascination often lies at the crossroads of diverse talents. Swift and Kelce represent more than their respective crafts; they embody resilience, authenticity, and the pursuit of excellence in their chosen fields.

In essence, our obsession with Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce is not merely about their talent; it’s a celebration of their humanity. Through vulnerability, relatability, and a commitment to authenticity, these icons become mirrors reflecting our own desires, struggles, and triumphs. In a social media age of curated personas, the genuine nature of Swift and Kelce becomes our beacon. They are guiding our fascination and deepening our connection to their stories with our own.

 

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Gardening Is Like Life

Gardening is like life in many ways. What I’ve learned about life, I learned from my gardening experience outdoors and here’s why.

Time Will Tell 

A garden, a really solid variety of flowers (vegetables are a different story) takes about 2 years to establish. Like life, any new relationship, job, or new subject you’re trying to learn takes about 2 years to master. It’s two years before Gerbera Daisies take hold and bloom. The blanket flowers and periwinkles need a few years to take root and really blossom…just like in life.

Having two years of experience in a new job or with a new partner shows you different situations and effects. These “seasons” show you the good, the bad and ugly of that job or person. After about two years, patterns repeat themselves and habits are formed.  Just like your garden where seeds germinate and come back season after season. Time will tell you what you need to know and what direction to take, so listen.

Believe What You See

Flowers especially some bulb varieties are difficult to take root and thrive. Some flowers bloom easily with a little water and care. Others, take so much time to nurture, even “baby along,” until you’ve done very your best and can’t be successful.

Believe what you see, and know that some people, like flowers, will never bloom (like you expect them too.) People’s actions, just like flowers, are who they really are…don’t believe words, believe their actions. Actions tell you someone’s true character, if they’re honest, and trust worthy…just like a hearty garden that grows with care and love.

Can’t Change Mother Nature

In a garden some flowers and plants will only grow in a certain environment, think zone gardening. I live in the desert, zone 9b. The climate is dry and very hot in the summer months. Like some people in your life, some relationships won’t last or thrive. It all comes down to what you want in your life and who you let into your circle. You can’t change someone like you can’t change Mother Nature.

Work especially exposes you to different personalities. Some of these folks will help you grow in your career and support your goals. Others won’t, whether it’s their motivation, the environment, or your personal boundaries. Some people (like plants in your garden) are not meant for you.  Find your peace and people and live like your garden…in abundance.

 

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Desert Gardening

I garden to relax and unwind, but I also live in Arizona. Planting a vegetable garden in a desert zone 9B can be intimidating. The hot, dry climate can present unique challenges for growing vegetables. With some planning and preparation, a bountiful harvest is possible in a few months.

Garden Location

The first step in planting a desert vegetable garden is to choose the right location. Look for a spot that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. The soil must be well-draining and not too clay-like. If your soil is heavy or clay-like, consider adding compost or other organic matter to improve drainage and fertility.

Best Vegetable Type

Next, choose vegetables that are well-suited to the dry climate. Some good plating options include tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, beans, and okra. These vegetables thrive in hot, dry weather and are relatively low-maintenance.

When planting your vegetables, be sure to space them out properly to allow for adequate air flow and sunlight. This can help prevent disease and promote healthy growth. Additionally, consider using mulch to help retain moisture in the soil and prevent weed growth.

Watering

Watering is one of the biggest challenges when it comes to gardening in a desert climate. To conserve water and promote healthy growth, consider using a drip irrigation system. This will allow you to water your plants directly at the root zone, minimizing evaporation and runoff. You can also try using a soaker hose or watering by hand. However, be sure to water deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root growth.

Fertilize

In addition to watering, it’s important to fertilize your plants regularly. In a dry climate, nutrients can be quickly depleted from the soil. Consider using organic fertilizers or compost to provide a slow-release source of nutrients. I use Arizona’s Best which is a solid multi-purpose fertilizer available at garden centers.

Pests

Finally, be prepared to deal with pests and diseases. Common pests in a desert garden include aphids, whiteflies, and spider mites. Consider using natural pest control methods. These include ways to naturally deter common pests, like companion planting or insecticidal soap, to keep these pests at bay. If you do notice signs of disease or infestation, be sure to act quickly to prevent the problem from spreading.

Planting a vegetable garden in zone 9B can be challenging. Be sure to check climate charts, against your seeds so they root during your season. Or you might need to use a green house or inside germination for your sprouts.

With the right planning and preparation, it can be a very rewarding experience. Choose the right location, select well-suited vegetables, space them out properly, conserve water, fertilize regularly, and deal with pests regularly. With a little patience and persistence, you’ll be enjoying a bountiful harvest of fresh, delicious vegetables all season long.

Happy gardening!  And be sure to check for more tips at: KathyHusserTempe.com

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Picking A Puppy

 

Picking the right puppy is a big decision for any family, as the choice you make will be with you for many years. When selecting a puppy, it’s important to consider a variety of factors. Here are few tips to get you started on your puppy research.

Right Age?

First and foremost, it’s important to choose a puppy that is the right age for your family. Puppies require a lot of attention and training. Very young children may not be equipped to handle the responsibilities of caring for a young puppy. It’s generally recommended that children be at least 6-8 years old before bringing a puppy into the home.

Dog Breed

When it comes to selecting a dog breed, there are many factors to consider. Some breeds are better suited to families with children than others. Dogs have different temperaments, sizes, and energy levels. For example, breeds such as Labrador Retrievers and Beagles are known for being friendly, loyal, and good with children.

On the other hand, breeds such as Chihuahuas and Dalmatians may not be as well-suited for families with young children.  These breeds high energy might not be a good fit for young family members.

It’s also important to consider the energy level of the breed. Some breeds, such as Border Collies and Australian Shepherds, require a lot of exercise and mental stimulation. While others, such as Bulldogs and Basset Hounds, are more laid-back and don’t need as much activity.

Another important consideration is the size of the dog. Larger breeds may not be suitable for families with small children. These dogs may accidentally knock kids over or be too rough playing. Smaller breeds, on the other hand, may be more fragile and may not be as well-suited for active families.

Allergies

When selecting a puppy, it’s also important to consider any allergies or sensitivities that family members may have. Breeds that shed less, such as Poodles and Bichon Frises, may be better suited for families with allergies.  There are many versions of “doodle” dog breeds that have poodle DNA to help with the shedding too.

Plus, don’t forget about checking with your local dog shelter, for your next furry friend either. All great companions can come from many different places. You save a life when you rescue any animal.

Ultimately, the most important factor when selecting a puppy is to choose a dog that is a good match for your family. Your lifestyle and other factors play into keeping and caring for a pet for many years.

Take the time to research different breeds. Also visit with potential puppies to get a sense of their temperament and energy level. With careful consideration and planning, you can find the perfect puppy to become a beloved member of your family.

For more lifestyle tips check out my website: KathyHusserTempe.com

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Ready for School

As the summer ends, it’s time for students of all ages to prepare for the new school year ahead. From the excitement of starting elementary school to the challenges of college, being prepared is key to a successful journey. Here are some useful tips to help elementary and college students get ready to start the school year off right.

For elementary school students, setting routines is important. As the transition from the relaxed days of summer to the structured school setting can be overwhelming.  It’s important to gradually reintroduce routines a few weeks before school starts. Set consistent bedtimes and wake-up times to help children adjust to the school schedule. Creating a morning routine that includes tasks like dressing, eating a healthy breakfast, and packing their backpacks. All this can be done the night before to help eliminate morning stress and ensure a smooth start.

Preparing the necessary supplies is another vital aspect of getting ready for school. For elementary school students, it’s essential to stock up on the basics such as pencils, erasers, notebooks, and crayons. Check the school’s supply list and make sure to include any specific items requested. Involve your child in the process of selecting their school supplies to help them feel excited for day one.

College students face a different set of challenges when it comes to getting ready for school. Time management and organization skills become increasingly important. Encourage college freshmen to use tools like planners or digital calendars to keep track of assignments, exams, and extracurricular activities. Establishing a study schedule and creating a designated study area at home can also help students stay focused.  Also maintain a healthy balance between academics and other commitments such as sports and clubs.

In addition to organizational skills, college students should also consider their long-term goals and aspirations. As they embark on their higher education journey, it’s important for students to start thinking about their future. Encourage them to explore interests, engage in extracurricular activities, and take advantage of any opportunities for career exploration or mentorships. Starting early on this path can help them make informed decisions about their career paths, leading to a more fulfilling and successful future.

Whether it’s the first day of elementary school or the start of college, preparing is a vital step towards success. Establishing routines, gathering the necessary supplies, and developing time management and goal-setting skills are essential for students at every level. By focusing on these areas, students can enter the school year with confidence. They will be ready to embrace new challenges and make the most of their educational journey. With the right preparation, the school year ahead holds countless opportunities for growth, learning, and personal development.

Check out more living well tips at: KathyHusserTempe.com

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Gardening Desert

The desert, with its scorching sun, arid climate, and sparse vegetation, may seem like an unlikely place to garden. However, with the right knowledge, techniques, and a touch of creativity, it is possible.  To create a flourishing garden in the midst of a dry landscape like my home in Arizona can be done. Starting a garden in the desert opens up a world of possibilities, and here’s how to start that new world.

One of the basic aspects of desert gardening is water conservation. In arid regions, water is a precious resource that needs to be used efficiently. Drip irrigation systems, which deliver water directly to the plant roots, are particularly effective in minimizing water wastage. Mulching is another essential technique that helps retain moisture in the soil, reducing the need for frequent watering. Using organic mulch such as wood chips or straw not only conserves water but also improves soil quality over time.

The choice of plants is crucial when it comes to desert gardening. Native plants that have adapted to the harsh desert conditions are often the best options. These plants have evolved to withstand extreme temperatures, limited water availability, and high levels of sunlight.

Some popular desert plants include cacti, succulents, desert marigolds, and agaves. These resilient plants not only thrive in the desert but also add a unique beauty to the landscape. Their striking shapes and vibrant colors add so much to a desert garden.

Creating microclimates within the garden can also significantly improve the chances of success. Positioning taller plants or structures strategically can provide shade and create cooler, more sheltered areas. Building raised beds can help improve drainage and prevent waterlogging in the desert’s compacted soils. Additionally, constructing windbreaks using fences or hedges can shield delicate plants from the harsh desert winds. This minimizes water loss through evaporation and reduces plant stress especially in the summer months.

Starting a garden in the desert requires patience, experimentation, and a willingness to adapt. (Kind of like life!) It is essential to monitor the garden regularly, observe how different plants respond to the environment, and adjust. Learning from your successes and failures of each gardening season will help refine your techniques. This will increase your chances of creating a thriving oasis in the desert.

Starting a garden in the desert may seem like a daunting task.  However, with careful planning and using appropriate techniques, it is possible to transform barren landscapes into vibrant havens of life. Focusing on water conservation, suitable desert-adapted plants, and creating microclimates, gardeners can overcome the challenges presented by the dry environment.

Desert gardening allows us to connect with nature. And enables us to appreciate the incredible resilience and beauty of life in even the most challenging conditions. So, roll up your sleeves, grab a shovel, and embark on the journey of creating your desert garden. This a true testament to the triumph of life in adversity!

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