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Tag Archive | "New Year’s resolution"

Meaningful New Year’s resolution


Ranger Steve Mueller

Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

When making a New Year’s Resolution, make it fun and emotionally meaningful for you and family members.

I have been reading research studies on how informal learning spaces like your yard provide the opportunity to make life experience connections. They have long-term impact for family understanding about the environment that support a healthy and sustainable future. Create a pesticide free butterfly garden with native plants to entice insects, birds, neighbors, and friends. Let’s get everyone outside.

Creating a pesticide-free butterfly garden helps children learn about nature, while helping the insects and birds in your own backyard.

Creating a pesticide-free butterfly garden helps children learn about nature, while helping the insects and birds in your own backyard.

To develop an interest in nature and natural history research suggests a need for frequent and recurring experiences over many years. Last week’s nature niche was about our family’s Christmas tree experiences that continued throughout the kids’ entire growing up adventure.

Involvement with local fauna and flora instill emotional feelings that create responsibility for the local natural and human community. It is an experiential place-based education. When local plants and animals like insects are discovered and valued, conservation and re-wilding our neighborhoods becomes feasible. One research paper focused on the ecological importance of insects for our own healthy living.

When considering a New Year’s Resolution, select activities where the family explores outdoors on trails at county parks, nature centers, or has excursions in the yard. I recall one family experience when Jenny Jo saw dots high in the sky when she was about three. She asked what birds were flying. I looked and said I missed them. She asked again and I looked more intently. I was looking too close. The birds were very high in the sky.

We went outside and saw about 250 Broad-wing Hawks soaring in a heat thermal as they migrated south one October. It was an amazing experience that took about five minutes. It provided an emotional connection with the natural world. Reading and showing pictures of hawks riding thermals in books or on the Internet does not create an emotional connection that effectively builds appreciation for the natural world.

Perhaps your childhood experiences did not include similar events but it is I time to create new meaningful family traditions with emotional nature connections. Walking in natural areas, exploring wild things in your yard, or growing a butterfly garden will persist in the mind and heart of child for a lifetime.

Outdoor experiences help organize knowledge in the brain by what I call “hook” placement. It provides a hook in the mind to place experience knowledge in your own mental file cabinet. Once sorted and stored in a meaningful manner, book knowledge has a good place to be combined for rapid recall. It prevents searching unsuccessfully for things that get misplaced somewhere deep in memory recesses. Classroom book knowledge becomes more effective when connected with real world experiences like field trips to nature centers.

We learn best when we connect emotional outdoor experiences with new knowledge gained from what we hear, read, or see when surfing the Internet. We can compare a multitude of misinformation we are bombarded with from other people or see on the Internet. Nature exposure helps us make better sense of our surroundings.

Make the best New Year’s resolution ever. Explore outdoors with the family to build connections with each other and with the nature world during the coming year. It is more fun than resolving to lose weight.

The research paper concluded that intellectual messages detached from direct real world experiences in the outdoors are often impotent.

My friend Bob Pyle, a nature writer and butterfly field guide author, states that the butterfly net is perhaps the cheapest, simplest and most effective environmental tool ever invented.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at odybrook@chartermi.net – Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary, 13010 Northland Dr. Cedar Springs, MI 49319 or call 616-696-1753.

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Five tips for better financial health


Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

(Family Features) As the calendar turns over a new year, it’s a good time to take stock of your finances. Evaluating what missteps you made with your money in the past year, determining how you can correct those errors and setting a realistic budget will put you on your way to better financial health in 2016.

A top New Year’s resolution is putting money into a savings account each month, according to a recent survey of working adults by the Principal Financial Group. Leading money management priorities include paying down debt (28 percent), saving for retirement (25 percent) and building a savings account for emergencies (15 percent).

Achieving those goals starts with setting a budget that you can reasonably follow, said Kevin Morris, vice president of retirement and income solutions at The Principal. However, the group’s recent survey shows many Americans have plenty of room for improvement.

In 2015, workers reported that they blew their budget on dining out (24 percent), food/groceries (19 percent), entertainment (15 percent) and other consumer goods (15 percent), among other things. On top of that, employees’ top financial blunders included not saving enough (20 percent), accumulating credit card debt (11 percent) and spending outside their means (9 percent).

“It’s not surprising to see that American workers continue to blow their budget dining out,” Morris said. “It’s easy to spend $30 here and $40 there on a meal and not think twice about it. But what if they put that money toward something more long-term, like retirement? Or building up their savings? Over time, those pizza deliveries and nights on the town add up and can make a huge difference in your budget.”

Getting your financial house in order doesn’t have to be a burden. Follow these tips to establish a budget and begin building healthier money habits:

Account for incidentals. When listing all the people and places you owe money, it can be easy to overlook other expenses that really add up. Things like a work wardrobe, toiletries and personal hygiene items are necessary purchases that should be reflected in your budget.

Expect the unexpected. Even the best planned budget can fall apart when unexpected expenses arise. Ensure that you’re not only directing a sum of money to your savings account each month, but that you’re earmarking some of that money for emergency car repairs, an unplanned visit to the veterinarian or a critical home repair.

Don’t treat your budget like a bad diet. Like a crash diet, being too restrictive with your budget will leave you discouraged and exhausted. And maybe hungry. The key is to be honest with yourself about your spending. Look at your spending history – you might be surprised to see where your money goes. Be sure to set a reasonable budget that allows you manage your finances without falling off the wagon.

Leverage rewards. It may seem counter-intuitive to use a credit card for expenses you don’t need to buy on credit. But if you use a cash back rewards credit card for your regular essential purchases and even bills, you’ll have some extra income each month. Deposit those rewards in a savings plan or allocate them to help pay down debt each month. Just remember that this approach only works to your advantage if you pay the balance each month.

Research all your money management options. A solid budget is the foundation of a good money management plan, but the type of accounts you use can also influence your financial situation. A financial advisor can help you understand the benefits and limitations of various types of checking, saving and investment accounts, as well as other products to help maximize your savings and minimize debt.

Find more information to help guide your budget planning as well as the full Principal Financial Well-Being Index: American Workers study at
principle.com.

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Resolve to eat better in 2012


Get tips while shopping

From the Kent County Health Department

The holidays seem to catch up with us quickly. Eating, drinking and being merry can sometimes lead you to pack on the pounds. Statistics show nearly half of Americans will make a New Year’s resolution, but a third of those resolutions will be broken by the end of January!
The Kent County Health Department can help you with one of the top New Year’s Resolutions: developing healthy eating habits, through Individualized Nutrition Counseling and Grocery Store Tours. Our registered dietician, Sarah VanEerden, offers nutrition services to individuals, schools, community groups, and worksites. Sarah will take your concerns to the store–literally! She offers grocery store tours to teach healthy buying habits. The tour is free, lasts 90 minutes to two hours, and can be tailored to fit the specific dietary needs of you and your family.
For more information, call her at (616) 632-7286.

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New Year’s walk a winner


Over 300 people enjoyed the New Year’s Resolution Walk on the White Pine Trail on New Year’s Day. Photo courtesy of the Friends of the White Pine Trail

The 10th annual White Pine Trail New Year’s Resolution Walk on January 1 was an overwhelming success, according to Dave Heyboer, chairman of the Friends of the White Pine Trail.
“We had our biggest turnout ever, with 325 participants and 21 dogs!” remarked Heyboer. He said that it was more people than they had anticipated.
The group met at the Rotary Pavilion in Rockford, and trekked north on the trail to 13 Mile Road about 10 a.m. and then headed back, where they enjoyed hot dogs, snacks and hot coffee.
Although the forecasts for the day were less than stellar, Heyboer said the weather was great for the event. “I was concerned the weather and trail conditions would be lousy, but at 10 am when we gathered for the picture and the group start, we had blue sky and about 45 degrees,” he commented.
Heyboer is grateful to those who made the event a success, and also thanked those who participated. He also had a message for those that didn’t make it. “If you missed it, you really missed it! Plan on being there next year!” he said.

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Want to achieve your New Year’s resolution? Make it a “must”


(ARA) – Peak performance coach and human behavior expert Tony Robbins says that when someone isn’t achieving their goal, it’s often because they haven’t made it a must.
“People give up on achieving their goals because they are ‘shoulds’ and not ‘musts,’” says Robbins. “But when something becomes an absolute must for you, when you cut off any other possibility in your mind, then you will do whatever it takes to achieve your goal.”
Too often, people set unrealistic ways to reach their goals, feel disappointed when they have a setback and give up too soon. If you need to lose 50 pounds but haven’t exercised in three years, going out for a 10-mile run isn’t a good way to get started – you’ll only be discouraged. Instead, start with goals that are achievable. You’ll enjoy consistent successes that add up to create the momentum needed to get you to your goal.
Waiting for the calendar to turn to begin on your goals shouldn’t be part of your plan, get a head start now. If you’re starting out with questions, don’t worry – you’re not alone.  Tony Robbins is scheduled to appear on QVC Friday, Jan. 14 and Saturday, Jan. 15 to offer the Ultimate Edge program. During the broadcast, Robbins will give you his inside tips and tricks to success. For more information go to www.QVC.com.

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Start living debt free in the new year


online financing(ARA) – Jan. 1 arrives every year with the hope and promise of losing pounds, improving relationships and paying off those bills from the holiday spending season.
Unfortunately, at some point most every American has made a New Year’s resolution only to have that new gym membership go unused, the scale ignored and credit card debt continue to pile up. But according to New York Times best-selling author and personal finance coach David Bach, getting out of debt this year can actually be fairly simple.
“Getting out of debt is a pretty straightforward process,” says Bach, whose latest book, Debt Free for Life: The Finish Rich Plan for Financial Freedom, outlines a plan for getting out of debt. “The issue people have is getting started – the average American family is carrying roughly $49,000 worth of consumer and mortgage debt and that can be daunting.”
To overcome the fear of getting started Bach recommends changing your frame of mind when it comes to paying off debt – don’t focus on what you’re giving up, but rather think about what debt is holding you back from – family vacations, buying a new home, or even starting your own business. Focusing on what living debt-free will enable to you to do helps keep you focused and motivated.
Bach recommends by starting the process with an honest self-assessment, asking questions like “Why are you in debt?” “How much debt do you have?” and most importantly “Why do you want to be debt-free for life?”
“Being honest about your debt, for a lot of people, means overcoming a major obstacle-getting started,” he says. “The sooner you get honest with yourself about your debt, the better positioned you’ll be to start taking real action to get out of debt.”
After you’ve answered those questions, the next step is to stop spending on non-essentials.
Bach’s “latte factor” is an example of how eliminating a store-bought cup of coffee can quickly add up and be applied to paying off your debt. Beyond cutting spending, Bach suggests taking a methodical approach to eliminating debt by charting your debts and determining your “done on last payment” date, or DOLP, for each account. Factoring in the interest rate and pay off amount you can easily determine which debts to pay off first in order to maximize your savings on interest.
“If you’re still overwhelmed by charting out a debt repayment plan then try an automated system,” says Bach. “I personally like Debt Wise from credit reporting agency Equifax – they use the information they already have from your credit card companies and other lenders to automatically prioritize your debts into a personalized plan that will help you save money in interest and get out of debt faster. The tool even updates you as you make progress on your plan.” For more information about Debt Wise, go to www.debtwise.com.

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