5-15-2015 3-20-40 PMAs a society, we have made “Life” in itself so demanding, and when we add to it the stresses, woes, and requirements of the workplace, what an equation we have found ourselves trying to solve! Ever heard the phrase, Work, Life, Balance? Employers across the nation are recognizing that in order for employees to be successful at carrying out the tasks and responsibilities required by the job, there has to be some “give” or flexibility.

I applaud the employers who not only put this on paper in their mission statements, but really see the value in putting this into action for the betterment of their employees. Knowing that if you need to take off for an hour here or there to manage family situations, or even work from home for the day and still have a place of employment, gives one peace of mind and a sense of relief. But then there are the situations where individuals may not have an employer or a position where this is feasible. What happens then, and how does one make it work for self, family, and home life? Unfortunately, we have all heard and most likely know someone who has experienced a panic attack, stroke, mental breakdown or even a heart attack- all because of the stresses of trying to do too much around work, family, and personal obligations, and having no visible end in sight.

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Without a doubt, I truly believe that we were put on this earth by God to serve, but service requires truly being available, intentional and focused on the task. If you are not mentally and physically available, then your service is for what? Daily we get up and begin with broken down spirits, mental exhaustion, health issues, relationship problems…yes, you know what I am talking about, but we just keep on going.

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Imagine boarding a train, and after being on the train for a while, the speed picks up and then gradually starts to increase a little faster, and then even faster. There is no way to slow it down, and you see it is headed for a derailment. Do you jump, or do you derail? As you are deciding what do, realize that yes, we have to work for financial stability, but if I am not balanced and relieved of some of the stresses of work and life, I won’t be at work. I won’t “Be” at all!
Jump! Take the leap of faith for your health and sanity, otherwise you will derail.
1. Put yourself on the schedule: Build 2 Minute Gap Time into your day. Take a deep breath, Relax and Breathe
2. Establish boundaries
3. Remember “No” and “Maybe” as answers to requests, and not always “Yes”
4. Take time off. Use your vacation and personal days each year
5. Get up and don’t eat lunch at your desk- Go outside, to your car or drive around the block
Until Next Time, Be Sincere, Kind and Intentional
Jackie Warner, Community Outreach Specialist
Email: thebridge.us@gmail.com
Check out upcoming events: Website: http://thebridge-us.yolasite.com/

4-17-2015 10-11-48 AMHow often do we determine the answer before the question is even asked, or say I already know exactly what this is about? Probably more often than not, and more often than we should. We have gotten so smart and knowledgeable that many times we know more than the expert in a particular field. We pull out our cell phones or take a moment on our tablets to conduct our detailed search of the Internet and now propose to have all the answers. But wait! Some may say “I don’t use the Internet; I just go with my gut feeling when it comes to happenings in a particular situation.”

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Don’t forget those instances when we can tell you more about a person we just met two seconds ago than the very person themselves. And what do we base all of this on? Our very own developed assumptions! Yes, admit it. We assume too much! I must say that in some cases, yes our assumptions or as we claim “gut feelings, hunches and intuitions” are right; but count the number of times we have let our imaginations run wild with a vivid story we developed in our minds about a person or situation.

I will say it for all of us: too many to count! We must be careful what we commit to truth without actually knowing and understanding. So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil. Proverbs 3: 4-7

It is oh-so-easy for us to create meaning from nothing and then exert mental energy to support it and later find out that is was a total waste. The next time you decide to make an assumption, stop and think about all the times people have made assumptions about you that were not true. Then be determined to get the facts and not just a gut feeling. We assume in all facets of our lives: work, school, family, relationships, purchases. Instead, choose to get an understanding; if not you may pay the cost of some expensive “bought senses.”

“Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.” ? Isaac Asimov
Until Next Time, Be sincere, Kind and Intentional
Jackie Warner, Career Development Facilitator
The Bridge “Where Community Matters”
Email: thebridge.us@gmail.com
Checkout our events: http://thebridge-us.yolasite.com

4-17-2015 10-12-05 AM

3-20-2015 10-39-10 AMDo you know what’s in your closet? Remember those great deals you got at the end of last summer? Where did you put them? Yes, we all do it. We see a great deal and make the purchase, then forget that we bought it. Well, this year before making any purchases for the summer wardrobe or buying new clothes for the family, shop first in your own home.

Make it a family event! Start first by pulling everything out of the closets, chest of drawers, bins, attic space . . .wherever you store your clothing and take time to see what still fits and works for your family and what doesn’t. Plan to donate if still in good condition, of course. As you begin sorting through all of the items depending on your family size, there may be items that you or a sibling may be able to wear or use without having to make that dreaded new purchase. Having two girls, this is frequent in our home and really helps me when it comes to spending on a budget. Each year, we see what may work for my youngest such as jeans, t-shirts, belts and then move them to her closet.

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Over the years, I have bagged up clothing and accessories that did not fit anymore and offered them to family, friends, neighbors, and church members who wore similar sizes. It has been a great way to help others financially save and enjoy having a new wardrobe. For me, it has also been an opportunity to declutter with the purpose of serving and helping others.
I challenge you to stop looking at the sales papers and first take some time to shop at home before heading to the mall and consider all those clothing items, shoes, belts and accessories that you purchased and have only worn once or twice just sitting there in your home closets. Choose to wear or choose to share…

Until Next Time, Be sincere, Kind and Intentional
Jackie Warner, Career Development Facilitator
The Bridge “Where Community Matters”
Email: thebridge.us@gmail.com
Checkout our events: http://thebridge-us.yolasite.com

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2-20-2015 1-25-59 PMTight budgets. Utilities Costs, groceries…the list goes on and on. Finding ways for our dollars to stretch is getting more difficult every day. Many of us just don’t seem to be able to do it. The closer you get to the end of the month, the tougher it is to see yourself getting to the next payday. It’s a struggle, and especially during the winter months. I am thankful for the lower gas prices we have right now. It has been a big help to many families, including ours. Although it looks like the prices are starting to rise a little, it is still great to be able to pull up to the pump and spend less than $40.00.

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We are now working more hours than we ever have, our incomes have increased, but as Americans we save less and less. So really why is it so hard to save money? Two of the biggest reasons we as adults have such a hard time saving are because we don’t know how and we don’t know why. Numerous adults have never really been taught how to save and develop specific goals for savings. We have money, and then what do we do? We spend it! We have all heard the phrase “saving for a rainy day.” Defining what a rainy day means is just as important as saving for the rainy day. It is time for us all to become educated on true financial wealth. It starts with us taking the time to evaluate where we are and really take a serious look at our finances, or the lack thereof.
Recently my husband and I decided to take some time to evaluate our (my) spending habits. Yes, it was hard because when you like to shop as I do, you really don’t pay attention to how much you have spent. I just enjoy the items purchased until my husband is balancing the checkbook. Well I must admit, it has been a real awakening for me these last few months to truly stop and think about what it is I am purchasing, how much I am spending, and truly why do I need it? It has started with me making better decisions about the money we actually earn and what are the goals for its usage. My “Dollar Sense” has increased a little, and I am working on it so I will be able to save for the goals we as a family have for defined future purchases. I still like to shop and will continue to, but the key is with more purpose and definition.

Here a few tips to increase our Dollar Sense:

1. Mindless consumption always turns into excessive consumption.
2. Don’t get caught up in copying other people. You are not that person! Be You!
3. Stop, think and see the big picture. Income, mortgage, car payment, and your personal spending habits.
4. Realize your trigger points. Stay away from the sales racks, clearance items, and sales papers.
5. Purchases always have a hidden cost. Henry David Thoreau said it best, “The price of anything is the amount of life you exchange for it.”
6. Just because you have the money to buy something doesn’t mean you should always buy it.

Until Next Time, Be sincere, Kind and Intentional
Jackie Warner, Career Development Facilitator
The Bridge “Where Community Matters”
Email: thebridge.us@gmail.com
Checkout our events: http://thebridge-us.yolasite.com

1-16-2015 11-20-19 AMWhat will it be this year? Every year we tell ourselves what things we are going to change in our lives. We all have the best intentions and really start off strong on our mission to achievement! Day 1- Great Success, Week 1- I can do this- Victory! Weeks 2 & 3- Well maybe I should rethink this goal.

As I was preparing for this month’s article, I did some research on the top New Year’s resolutions for 2015 and here is what I discovered: become stress free, help others more, lose weight, quit smoking, travel, exercise, increase education, go green, and of course the big one- get out of debt and improve finances. Do any of these goals sound familiar? Well… there is nothing wrong with making promises to ourselves but making promises that we can’t keep- that’s a different story altogether.

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This year I really haven’t made any New Year’s resolutions but I have vowed to make a change in my way of thinking. It’s nothing new, you’ve heard this many times over, but it is something I felt this year I certainly needed to start putting into practice. So here it is: “If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep getting what you’ve always gotten.”
I have told myself to really change, I have to actually want change and embrace all that comes with it to get to the other side. Whether we are trying to lose weight, control our spending habits, or further our education, getting past the known to see what the unknown has to offer requires pushing through- and I do mean pushing. Sadly, very seldom do we break our cycle. We just keep doing it the same old way. We get comfortable, we get lazy with life, then we get the same results, and yet we dare ask the question “Why?”

When you really decide to make a transformation in your life, you definitely have to do a true self-assessment and look beyond the surface and really see the true content of the matters you seek to change. So, as I work on me this year, I will keep the quote I shared with you in my thoughts continuously to push me forward from the known to more clearly see the path I truly desire.

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” -Socrates
I challenge us this 2015 to get uncomfortable, and make some lasting change in the way we think and then we will see real goal attainment!

Until Next Time, Be sincere, Kind and Intentional
Jackie Warner, Career Development Facilitator
The Bridge “Where Community Matters”
Email: thebridge.us@gmail.com
Checkout our events: http://thebridge-us.yolasite.com

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12-19-2014 11-10-42 AM“Christmas is a season not only of rejoicing but of reflection.”-Winston Churchill

How fast this year has gone by. Like a flash, 2015 is upon us and will be here before we know it. I would like to wish everyone a blessed and Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday season. I feel truly blessed and honored to be a part of the Athens Now family. I pray and hope a bright and wonderful New Year for all of our readers.

As we get ready to start this 2015 journey, I challenge each of you to take a moment and “press pause” for some much needed self-reflection, review, and examination of life, not only for this year but for your life as a whole. Reflect on your accomplishments, blessings, betrayals, happy times, sad times, never-tell-anyone times, missed chances, and gained opportunities, as all these make up the life we have lived to date. One thing we know for sure: life stops for no one. It is the take-aways that matter!

We often start to reflect on life a little bit more closely when something happens to us to slow us down or halt us in our tracks, possibly an unavoidable scare, sickness and/or death of family and friends. Recently, I started thinking about all the things I have done in this life. Let’s say this was my “pause moment” to stop and reflect on the good, the bad, and of course the best intentions that just never made it to fruition. Yes, I’m talking about those items on our life’s “to-do list” toward which we have taken several steps, but somehow along the way we fell short of making happen. Guilty as charged!

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I have realized when you press pause, and truly start reflecting for clarity on the lessons learned in this life, you grow and gain wisdom. That is, if you allow yourself to see it (your past) for what it is worth. As we get in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I leave with you a few questions to ponder and then answer as you continue to define your life’s journey while on this earth.

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ? S Kierkegaard

1. What is my gift to the world?
2. What good and bad have I deposited into the lives of others over the years?
3. What obstacles have I overcome in my personal and career life?
4. What actions should I start, stop, and continue?
5. What things/people am I holding on to that I need to let go?
6. What can I do to make my family and/or friends a top priority?
7. What are my biggest time wasters/destroyers?
8. What legacy am I leaving for those who come after me?

“Sometimes, you have to look back in order to understand the things that lie ahead.” ? Y Woon

Until Next Time, Be sincere, Kind and Intentional
Jackie Warner, Career Development Facilitator
The Bridge “Where Community Matters”
Email: thebridge.us@gmail.com
Checkout our events: http://thebridge-us.yolasite.com

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11-21-2014 6-25-32 PMWe all go through trials in our life, and have often heard that life is our best experience teacher. I would totally agree. If you live this life long enough, you will truly be taught some hard, and many times tough, lessons. Some, because we choose not to heed others who have been down the same path. Then there are those lessons we just have to learn because it is what God intended to make us stronger. James 1:2-3 says this: My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

A number of the tribulations we must bear makes us feel as if we will never recover. We are broken and have no way of regaining or knowing the life we once knew. It is hard to accept it, but thus the intent of the lesson! What we take from these lessons is how we learn to move forward and allow what has happen to us to help others as they endure similar hardships in life. Make no mistake, I know this is difficult to do and to even think about when we are going through devastation in our lives. We say “I can’t think about others right now, I need to take care of me;” and yes of course we do at that very moment in our lives.

One must first start with self and realize that you are not “broken”- far from it but only “bent.” Being in a state of “bentness” requires you to be flexible and move beyond your comfort zone, it requires you to endure and withstand your condition for longer than one feels they are capable of doing. It takes great strength and longsuffering to realize when we are bent, twisted, turned around, up-rooted from the foundations in life, that HEALING IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE.

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You may be asking “How does one move from being bent?” Just remember as you are going through your trials to read 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 : We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed. It is ultimately what we choose to do next that will help us to move forward. I truly believe that during the times we feel broken, we have lost sight of who has really been keeping us connected the whole time while in these states of depression, bleakness, and emptiness.

In order to get back, there is some work to be done. That work involves drawing closer to the True Vine. In John 15:5 we read “I (Christ) am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” We will see ourselves become straighter and our actions much clearer when we realize, believe and trust in the one who is really sustaining us in this life.

Weathering life’s storms are more physically and mentally possible when we are bendable and willing to humble ourselves to allow Christ to be our true guide.
Until Next Time, Be sincere, Kind and Intentional
Jackie Warner, Career Development Facilitator
The Bridge “Where Community Matters”
Email: thebridge.us@gmail.com
Checkout our events: http://thebridge-us.yolasite.com

10-17-2014 2-36-03 PMThe other day, I was in the gym rushing (of course) to get finished so I could be on to the next task on my list before heading home. You know the drill. First I started with the treadmill and then was on to the leg machine. I thought to myself “I am on a roll and will soon be finished and out of here!” Well, as I was getting ready for my next piece of equipment this lady came up to me to say hello. She then made it a point that I keep working out and not stop while she was speaking to me.

She said as seriously as she could “I know you because I have been you and been where you are.“ As I listened to her, she told me to slow down and really take time for myself and my workout without harboring those mental interruptions of all the activities and tasks I needed to complete. She told me to stop running so much around in my mind because all I was doing was making myself less available mentally for when I truly needed to be.

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She then proceeded to correct me on the way I was doing my exercises. She again told me to slow down and really allow the work out to enhance me and not harm me. She said “me time” should really be used for “me.” All I could do was listen to her because everything she was telling me was so true and I needed the wisdom she was sharing.

This never-ending checklist we call life does make it almost impossible to relax wouldn’t you say? Let’s take it a step further and really be truthful-most of the items on our list were put there by us with every intent to complete them all! What are we thinking? Well of course we are thinking of others as we so often do. In this life we find ourselves always doing for others, making sure they have what is needed, planning our lives around theirs, whether that be our spouses, parents, children, co-workers, relatives, or friends. Then we hope that maybe, just maybe in all that we do for others we find a few minutes left to steal away in all the madness.

Hey! Wake up! Who are we kidding? It is great to have the drive and will to give and care so much for others, but if you don’t care for yourself then you will not be here to do any of the items on your checklist of life.

Before I left the gym that day, believe me, I felt rejuvenated and refreshed after my encounter with the lady I had been talking to. I did slow down and lived in the moment for me, if only for a little while. I finished my workout without all those mental interruptions that I so often take with me. When we fail to give to ourselves, we fail to be successful in our giving to others.

I encourage you to also take the advice of the lady I met in the gym: slow down because stress kills!

I’ll leave you with a few tips for “Me Time Success “:
1. Self-time is not being selfish—it’s necessary. Say yes to “you time” for real for a change.
2. Learn to say no. Not every task has to be completed by you.
3. Take 2 minutes first thing in the morning to stretch and breathe.
4. Put your headphones on and listen to your favorite music.
5. Pray!

Lesson Learned: You never know who is watching and waiting to impart much needed wisdom in your life so LISTEN.

Until Next Time, Be sincere, Kind and Intentional
Jackie Warner, Career Development Facilitator
The Bridge “Where Community Matters”
Email: thebridge.us@gmail.com
Checkout our events: http://thebridge-us.yolasite.com
By: Jackie Warner

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9-19-2014 12-12-47 PMThere once was a farmer who planted good, precious seeds in his field. But the enemy came while it was night and planted tares (weeds) among the wheat. As the wheat started to grow, so did the tares. It was asked of the farmer by his workers if he had sown good seeds. Of course his response was that he had, but the farmer knew that the enemy had come and tried to sabotage his crop. The key word here is “tried.”

His workers then asked if they should pull out the tares that were growing with the wheat. The farmer said no, to let them all grow together until the harvest so as not to harm the wheat. Then they would be separated. So the good wheat and the tares grew together until the harvest. Then the tares were bundled and burned, and the wheat was put in the barn.

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You may ask why I have shared this story with you, and my answer would be to share this statement: “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”-Galatians 6:9. As we view our media devices, turn on the news, read the paper, or listen to the radio, we are constantly being exposed to all that is wrong or bad with our world today. It is overwhelming, and it truly leads us to ask, “What is our world coming to?”

There is no denying it: there is negativity, destruction, and continuous chaos all around us. The world we once knew is no more. Yes, there is a lot of evil, but make no mistake- there is still a lot of good! We are living in different times, causing us open our eyes, broaden our thinking, and even expand our understanding in areas where before we never gave much thought or concern.

I challenge each of us to continue planting those good seeds of faith, knowledge, love, kindness, and understanding. Let us focus on our critical goals and personal responsibilities to family and community. As the farmer instructed his workers not to remove the tares from the wheat, we too will be faced with the tares of life all around us that want to choke us out. However, we need to remember that personal growth is still an option.

The farmer said this to his workers at the time of harvest, so I will say to the reapers: “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”-Matthew 13: 24- 30. So, stay on the path and then reap the ultimate harvest. . .

Until Next Time, Be Sincere, Kind and Intentional
Jackie Warner, Community Outreach Specialist
Email: thebridge.us@gmail.com
Check out upcoming events: Website: http://thebridge-us.yolasite.com/

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8-15-2014 4-34-18 PMAs a working or stay at home parent, keeping all those balls in the air gets very difficult. Let’s face it, it’s truly a juggling act. We as parents and grandparents have the best intentions when it comes to making sure our children have everything they need and a whole lot of what they want, but then tend to forget to include the plan of action in making in all happen smoothly.

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The start of school is finally here. Yay!-Some peace of mind for a change. Who are you kidding?! It’s off and running again to morning car line, multiple practices, phone tree reminders, school meetings and afterschool pick-ups. Not at all one school, mind you, but multiple schools; and did I add they need to be picked up at the same time?! How in the world do we make this work? And yes, the next question as your child opens the door to get in the car after you have rushed across town hoping that you are not the last parent: “I am hungry, what’s for dinner?” Or better yet, “Can we stop at McDonald’s?” Oh, the things we want to say, but instead hold our peace and ask, “Honey, how was your day?” Finally, we make it home, tackle the homework assignments, eat that take-out we picked up because we were too tired to try and cook, and prepare for bed. Then a few hours later the alarm goes off, we hit the snooze button one last time, and we are off and running again.

STOP! Let’s find some balance in the chaos before we lose our sanity.

1. Start by planning ahead and getting things prepared and ready the night before. Assist your child with picking out clothes and making lunch and snacks for the next day. Fix breakfast sandwiches on the weekend and freeze them so they are prepared and ready for the microwave each morning.
2. Organization is essential! Have a place for everything. Select a space for keeping up with your children’s school related actions, and then create a rule for your children to clean out their book bags daily. Place all of their notes, calendars and announcements in an assigned folder that you review at a designated time each day.
3. Hold your children accountable and make sure they complete their chores. This includes cleaning up after themselves, folding and washing their clothes, assisting with dinner and preparing what’s needed for their upcoming events.
4. Ask for assistance from peers and other parents you trust, and then do the same for them.
5. Remember, there is no such thing as perfect balance, so don’t set unrealistic goals. We can only do so much. Look ahead at what’s on the horizon, and make plans accordingly.
6. Be sure and put yourself on the calendar for rest and relaxation so you have the energy to handle the next juggling act.

Until Next Time, Be Sincere, Kind and Intentional
Jackie Warner, Community Outreach Specialist
Email: thebridge.us@gmail.com
Check out upcoming events: Website: http://thebridge-us.yolasite.com/

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