Vision Boards 101: Creatively Crafting Your Life, Part Two

Welcome back! It’s been a while since Part I, I know…the Holiday Season definitely kept me running, but now that the new year is under way I’m getting back in Vision Mode. In part one of my series, we started investigating the use of Vision or Dream Boards as a creative way to broadcast to the universe what you want to invite into your life. In this section we’re going to tackle first things first: before you can start creating your vision board, you need to get in touch with a vision of the life you want to build for yourself.

An often-referenced Harvard University study states that a group of MBA graduates was polled in 1979 and asked just one question: Have you set written goals and made a plan for their attainment? The results of the study were that 84% didn’t have goals, 13% had goals but didn’t write them down, and 3% had written goals and a specific plan to attain them.  When the Harvard pollsters checked in with these graduates 10 years down the road, they discovered that the second group that had goals was making twice as much money as the group without goals at all, and the third group that had written goals was making ten times as much as the first two groups combined. The lesson here: if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re never going to get there.

And that’s where the concept of creating a Vision Board comes in. It’s like creating a map for your life so you’ll not only know where you’re heading, you can actively plan out the route. And for you crafty people out there, you can incorporate your artsy skills in the execution of your project. That’s one of my favorite parts; it’s a great excuse to break out the poster board and colored markers (not that I need one) and create a beautiful reminder of what you plan to do with your life this year.

Before you get started, make some notes regarding the most important areas of your life: Personal Development, Family, Career, Relationships, Education, Hobbies and Creative Pursuits are some categories to get you started; you may have others you want to concentrate on instead. This is your board, so it needs to reflect you and your priorities. Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong way to approach this project. It needs to resonate with you on a deeply personal level or it won’t do what it’s intended to do, which is to help you shape a vision of your life and help you “make it so, number one.” (Sorry, I’m a Trekkie.)

Once you get your category or categories nailed down, start freestyling. Jot down your thoughts as they pertain to each area, not stopping to censor yourself (you can do that later, and Heaven knows, there are plenty of people around who will be more than happy to do that for you). What comes to your mind when you close your eyes and think about each of these items? Don’t be reasonable! This is your chance to dream the life you want for yourself. Don’t feel inhibited about what your significant other, family or friends are going to think of what your aims are, this list – and your Vision Board, when we get to that point in the process – are for you and you alone, nobody else has to see it or approve of it. Isn’t it great to feel free to create You That’s one thing that holds us back from going full speed ahead on realizing our dreams and potential….sometimes the people around us have smaller goals for us than we do, for a variety of reasons. Maybe they don’t want to see us get hurt if we don’t succeed. Maybe they are afraid of being left behind if we really succeed in a big way. Maybe they just can’t see us as anything more than their friend-wife-husband-daughter-son-mother-father-sister-brother (I didn’t want to leave anyone out. This project isn’t exclusively a feminine domain – men can use these ideas to reach their potential just as effectively as we ladies can.).

Take some alone time every day to work on sorting out your goals. Sit down with your notepad or journal for a few minutes each day and let your thoughts flow. At the end of the week, go back and review your notes and determine which ones you want to incorporate into your goals for the year and add to your board. Don’t take the easy way out and go after only the low-hanging fruit; choose goals that will make you stretch farther than you think you’re capable of reaching. Just think how much more exciting it will be when these goals actually materialize!

That’s it for this time. Start visualizing your goals and getting them on paper, and next time we’re going to start getting busy on the fun part: creating our Vision Boards! Until we meet again, Happy Visions!



Vision Boards: Creatively Crafting Your Life, part one

I love creativity. I love taking something – like a pile of yarn or a blank canvas – and making it into something else. In fact, there’s not a lot that I enjoy more. In a lot of ways, our lives are like that pile of yarn, waiting to be untangled and made into something. But frankly, it’s a lot easier to knit a sweater.

vision boards- Creatively Crafting your LifeLast week I saw a movie where one of the characters was making a trip to meet her future in-laws and was toting along something called a Vision Board – a poster resembling a scrapbook that includes a series of words and pictures that help you envision what you want to create in your life. Those goals might include a new home, relationship or career, or maybe a weight loss goal…anything you want to be, do or have. The idea of a Vision Board resonates with me, because I see it as the perfect marriage of form and function. It’s something artsy with a purpose, that purpose being to guide you to the goals you’ve always wanted for yourself. And what better way to indulge your creative side, than with a project that can ultimately help you craft a satisfying life?

Having been a student of the Law of Attraction for years, I can see where such an activity can help you determine what you want to attract to yourself and even facilitate it. An example of the law of attraction that always springs to mind when I’m trying to explain the concept, is red Volkswagens. Let’s say you’re buying a car, and that car happens to be a red Volkswagen. I can guarantee you, when you leave the house you’re going to see more red VWs than you ever saw before, because you’re thinking about them. You attract what you’re thinking about…you notice what is on your mind. That’s why it’s so important to avoid negative thinking. If you’re focusing on negative things, just like red Volkswagens, you’re going to notice more of them in your airspace. That’s just the way it works.

It doesn’t take a lot of expensive supplies to create a Vision Board; most of them can be found at your local craft or dollar store. poster board, glue, scissors and magazines are the basics you need to get started. How fancy you get with it is up to you. The scrapbooking department of any craft supply store has paper punches and other embellishments to turn a basic Vision Board into a work of art.

Once you have gathered your materials, the tough job begins: deciding what to include in the vision of life you’re creating for yourself. We’ll be investigating that part of the process in Part Two of Vision Boards: Creatively Crafting Your Life. Please subscribe to my blog so you won’t miss it! See you next time. ~ Diane

Creating your own Travel Deals

You’ve been itching to take a cruise or visit an all-inclusive resort but the right deal hasn’t come alongcropped-wp_20151002_22_29_02_pro.jpg…yet. There are always special deals available that your friendly neighborhood travel agent (like me, for example) can help you wade through. But thanks to one of my savvy travel clients who also happens to be a longtime friend, I learned about a way of creating your own awesome deal on your travel arrangements.

My friend is a member of AARP. One of the benefits of AARP membership is the opportunity to purchase gift cards for a variety of merchants at a discount. The brands vary from month-to-month, but the astute shopper can often find cards from cruise lines such as Carnival and Royal Caribbean at less than face value. My friend paid the majority of her reservation using gift cards purchased through AARP at a 10% discount – saving herself an additional $80 on the price of her cruise. TPlaceholder Imagehat one benefit paid for her membership dues several times over. Other membership organizations and retailers offer similar discount deals, so keep your eyes open for a chance to cash in and create your own travel bargain!

Another way to save on your travel arrangements is to pay for your reservation with a credit card that offers cash back on your purchases. But the only way that would be a genuine benefit would be to pay off the amount you charged immediately and avoid those deadly interest charges.


That’s your Deal of the Day – have a happy holiday weekend!

~ Diane – Cruise & Travel Experts

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Just Got My Zennis! (Eyeglasses, that is)

If you’ve been shopping for eyewear recently, you know the meaning of the term “sticker shock.” The last pair of eyeglasses I got in 2012 had all the bells and whistles…Transitions lenses, half-rim frames, non-glare coating, ultra-thin lenses, edge polishing, Candies frames. If my insurance hadn’t been picking up the tab I never would have been able to afford the $545 price tag. Those much-loved glasses were definitely showing their age with scratches, deteriorating coatings and such, but I hated to give them up, thinking I couldn’t duplicate them for a reasonable price. That is, until I heard about Zenni Optical.

Zenni Optical is the online eyewear dealer where a complete pair of glasses starts at the unheard of price of $6.95 plus shipping. What?!? That’s right, $6.95. I had prescription in hand, and decided to give them a try. After all, I gave a national chain two chances and neither pair of glasses were correct. What did I have to lose?

For my first order, I went with the $6.95 frames but upgraded the lenses to the lighter and thinner polycarbonates for an additional $9.00 because of the thickness of my prescription. Other than that, I didn’t opt for any upgrades, because I wanted to see what level of quality the basic product had to offer. I did upgrade the shipping from standard to priority ($7.45 vs $4.95) to shave a few days off the processing and shipping time. With my discount code to get 10% off my first order, my total with shipping was $21.81 – less than the price of a decent pair of non-prescription sunglasses. If you don’t know your PD (Pupillary Distance), there is a cheat sheet on the site that you can print out, which gives detailed instructions on how to do it yourself, as well as a printed ruler.  Do this carefully, and double-check it to make sure it’s correct. That little measurement will determine the placement of the lenses in the frame, which in turn will make all the difference in how good your vision will be with your new glasses. If it’s off by even a little bit, everything will look out of whack. Also, certain frames won’t work with every PD measurement, and that information is included in the frame info on the Zenni site.

My new specs arrived about a week and a half later, in a hard shell plastic case with a microfiber cleaning cloth. Initial fit was excellent and didn’t require any adjustments. But the big question…what about vision?

I couldn’t believe it, right out of the package, the vision was perfect. No scratches, distortion or edge chips (I actually got some at a major brick-and-mortar eyewear retailer that had several chips along the edge of one of the lenses.) Edges were also polished without an extra charge. Totally satisfactory!

Now that I’ve had my glasses for two weeks and worn them all day, everyday, my opinion hasn’t changed. Still comfortable, still excellent vision. Conclusion: My new glasses exceeded my expectations, and I would highly recommend Zenni Optical without reservation. Now that I know that the quality of materials and workmanship is there in the least expensive options, I’ll feel confident in spending a little extra for upgrades like Transitions and the more expensive frames. If you would like to see my first impressions video, you can check it out on YouTube here:

So if you’re looking for some new specs for every day or maybe something glitzy for a special occasion, you won’t go wrong with Zenni (

FYI – this was an unsolicited, unpaid review. I received no consideration for posting my opinion on Zenni’s product.

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Stretch those Fuel Dollar$!

If your family is like mine, we’re always going someNOTALL WHO WANDERARE LOSTplace in the summertime, and that means frequent trips to the gas station – especially when you drive a gas guzzling SUV or van. Thankfully, gas prices aren’t what they were a few years ago, but who wants to waste money by using more gas than they have to? Here are a few tips to help you keep your summer fuel costs down.

Gas up your car in the cooler, early morning hours. You’ll actually get more gas than you will later in the day! Because the liquid expands as temperatures go up, it doesn’t take as much actual gas to make a gallon.

Inflating your tires properly
will improve the fuel economy, as well as regular servicing and tune-ups, and checking for proper alignment.

Removing roof racks and other accessories when not in use will reduce the weight of the vehicle as well as cut down drag and improve the aerodynamics.

Removing heavy items from the trunk that aren’t necessary will also help. (I know some people who keep their cars loaded to the hilt all the time – their car is their storage bin on wheels!)

Plan out your trips to avoid hilly routes, minimize traffic lights, and use interstates when you can.

Avoid travel during rush hour if possible. Sometimes leaving a few minutes sooner or later will help you sail to your destination without being stuck in rush hour traffic – wasting gas – and patience.

Avoid fast starts and stops. Accelerate smoothly and maintain a constant speed whenever possible.

I hope those few tips will help you save a little gas in your travels this vacation season. Happy and safe travels! I hope you find lots of great deals while you’re out and about this summer!

Hiding a few extra pounds

Have you been enjoying those backyard barbecues a little too much? Do the jeans that fit perfectly last year, look like they’re painted on this year? Don’t despair. There are a few things you can do that will trick the eye and make those few extra pounds disappear…if not from the scale, at least in the mirror.

Have you been accused of wearing the dreaded “Mom Jeans”…high waisted, cinched in, not particularly comfortable? Toss ’em! You’re not doing your figure any favors, as the high waist will squeeze your middle and make your tummy pop, so it will appear larger than it actually is. Jeans that sit slightly below your waistline are going to minimize any extra weight – and they’re more comfortable, too.

If your wardrobe includes business attire with jackets, avoid the double breasted styles, as they accentuate body width. Single breasted jackets make you appear slimmer.

When buying pants, opt for a little longer length that skims the top of your shoes, instead of erring on the short side. That will give you the appearance of longer legs and an overall slimmer look.

What’s your favorite secret for hiding a few extra pounds? Share it here, we’d all like to know! Until next time, stay cool and keep looking for those bargains!

Goodwill Hunting – Pickups of the week

“You want to go to Goodwill again???” my mother asked. She’s always shocked when the my top 6answer is a resounding YES – partly because her memory isn’t so hot, but mostly because she just doesn’t get it. My son and I can’t get enough of it, because we’ve found some awesome deals there. The Office Chair I’m sitting in while writing this blog: $9.99. The most beautiful and comfortable Broyhill Living Room Sofa in the WORLD: $44.99. My favorite Blassport Embroidered Denim Jacket: $3.00. Not too long ago, we spotted a limited edition Clue Board Game for $12.99, which turned out to be worth over $100. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface on all the other bargains we’ve found over the years.

This past week was particularly fruitful at ol’ GW’s. I found a brand new 1 lb. skein of Caron yarn in Lilac for $2.99 ($8.99 retail), Lion Brand Speed Stix 25mm Knitting Needles for $.99 ($11.99), and another smaller skein of Annie’s Choice Yarn in a delicious variegated color called “Shades of Sugar & Spice” for $1.99, all of which I will put to good use. In the “Off to eBay” category, I found a pair of Everlast Women’s MMA Pro Style Grappling Gloves for $4.99, which I’ve seen online for $34.99,  and a Gibson Vintage Reissue Restoration Kit for Guitars (brand new) for $2.99, selling online at various musical websites for $15.99. And my son found a vintage Sega Genesis came on clearance for a cool $.25. Good hunting at Goodwill, indeed!

So that’s why we Goodwill. Not only are we able to feather our nest with some very wgood items, if you know the value of some off-the-wall items, you can really clean up. Always keep your eyes open, you never know what you’ll find! The bargains are there, you just have to look for them. Until next time, when it comes to shopping second-hand, deal me in!

PS – Just came back from a yard sale, where I was able to scoop up 21 rubber stamps for a whopping $2.00, and a genuine Sony PS2 first generation controller for $.50. Just a side note – Rubber stamps have been a particularly profitable item for me. They sell well on eBay and  you can usually resell them there for many times what you’ll pay at a yard sale or flea market. You’re welcome! :o)

No A/C? Keep Your Cool, Man!

I’m sitting here in my little corner of the world, trying to forget about the fact that it’s in the 90s out there, and even hotter in my cubby. You don’t really want to call the A/C repair guy on a Sunday afternoon, unless your independently wealthy (I’m not)…so what do you do to beat the heat on a day like today?

Thinking back to my younger years, I wonder how we ever stood the sultry Virginia summers. Like color tv, air conditioning wasn’t something everyone had back in the 1960s. Some folks had window a/c units or fans; we had a box fan that we put in front of the door. Not only did it keep things cool(er), it was a constant source of entertainment when we’d talk into it and hear our voices vibrate. Good times, good times…

Sitting here at my desk, I remembered reading about a makeshift air conditioner that someone concocted for a camping trip, using a bag of ice and a fan. I decided to try something similar, using my little desk fan, and a freezable gel pack you might find in a food delivery box to keep perishables from spoiling. I set the pack in front of the fan, not high enough to obstruct the airflow, but toward the bottom of the blades so the air was blowing across the frozen surface. Surprisingly, it did make a difference  – instead of recirculating the stale humid air in my office, there was a little cooler feel to the breeze. Or maybe I’m just delirious from the heat. I would imagine applying the same method using a 10 lb. bag of ice and a 20″ box fan would be a lot more effective, but hey, sometimes you just have to make due with what you have available! Whatever, it’s a little more comfortable in here, and I just might make it until the A/C guy shows up.

Remember, in hot weather like this the all-important rule is hydrate, Hydrate, HYDRATE! I don’t want any of you to dry up and blow away on me. Till next time, keep your cool!

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