10 Surefire And Super Easy Hacks To Save Money Grocery Shopping

It’s that time of the week again: grocery shopping day. You’re dreaming of cooking up a Chef’s Table-inspired week’s worth of dishes but your bank account says more instant noodles and less delicious aged cheese, organic veggies, and grass-fed beef.  But we all deserve to eat like queens of our kitchens, so how do we curb spending our whole paycheck at the supermarket or grocery store? Thankfully we rounded up a number of proven tips and tricks on how to save money on groceries.

1) Have a Budget

Including your grocery shopping into your weekly and/or monthly budget is crucial. To figure out your grocery shopping budget, track your current spending and then consider using a grocery shopping calculator to determine how much of your income you should set aside for grocery shopping.

2) Shop on a Full Stomach

It’s an oldie but a goodie of a rule. When you’re starving, you’re going to stock up on…well, anything. You’ll buy less snacks and take-out food, which tend to be pricey. According to a survey, shoppers spend an average of 64 percent more when hungry. Also, try to shop when you’re not feeling tired and stressed. You’ll be more likely to make better choices when you’re satiated and feeling calm.

3) Make a Grocery List and Stick to it

According to research from the University of Pennsylvania,  supermarkets are places of high impulse buying with 60 to 70 percent of purchases being unplanned. The solution? People make a grocery list are least likely to avoid impulse spending, and can save up to 23 percent on their grocery bills. So make a list and stick to it!

4) Plan Your Meals a Week Ahead

How do you make an effective grocery list? By meal prepping and planning. Plan your meals for the week before you shop and then buy strictly what’s on the menu.

5) Save Money on Groceries App

There are a number of groceries app out there that can help you save major money on your shopping. No more clipping coupons! Just clicking on these frugal-friendly and time-saving apps. Some top favorites include: FlippCoupon Sherpa, MealBoard, and GroceryPal.

 

Related: 20+ Easy Weeknight Trader Joe’s Recipes For Exhausted And Hungry Moms

 

6) Be Careful With In-store Sales and Coupons

While you certainly want to be aware of in-store sales and coupons, you also don’t want to buy something just because it’s on sale. For example, maybe your grocery store is selling mustard for 50 percent off but what good is that if you don’t really eat mustard? If the food item isn’t on your grocery list, then your best bet is to skip it. Same goes for those “2-4-1” deals. It’s only a good deal if you’ll actually use two.

7) Shop With a Calculator

As you shop, add up your grocery bill to help you stay on your grocery shopping budget. Have kids? Make them a part of it and they might even like going grocery shopping with you.

8) Buy in Bulk

For major staples that you use on a regular basis, you might want to consider buying in bulk. Pantry staples like grains, beans, rice, tofu, lentils, seeds, and flour are cheaper in bulk. Not only are they budget-friendly but they’re also filling and healthy, and are easy staples to add to any meal.

9) Buy Fewer Pre-Packaged Meals and More Fruits and Veggies

Pre-packaged foods, like a bag of pre-cut broccoli and grated cheese, tend to be more expensive than buying a whole broccoli and a block of cheese. Adding more fruits and veggies are a great idea too — you can decrease your grocery budget by up to 25 percent when you opt for fresh produce — and keep your eating habits healthier too.

10) Buy Store or No-Name Brands

Not only are many made by the brand name companies, just with a different label, but they also taste basically the same and cost less!

Related: Every New Trader Joe’s Item You’ll Want To Salivate Over

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The Way You Text Can Have A Huge Impact On Your Relationship

As much as I hate to admit this, texting is important to me. I mean, who likes sending a text to someone knowing damn well they are glued to their phone, only to hear back from them in five hours or get a lackluster response?

It hurts, man. It hurts real good.

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I’m going to take this opportunity to vent and let you know I am dating someone who isn’t a texter, and it fucking drives me bananas. As in, it’s caused more than a few fights. While I feel a bit ashamed to admit I feel this way, texting literally takes a few seconds and it’s a damn good way to let someone know you are thinking about them. I mean, taking a piss is a bigger process than sending someone a one-liner letting them know you are thinking of them.

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My guy is the type who likes to text later in the day when he’s home and settled. And, let’s just say, I am not that type. I want to send pictures of my lunch. I want to hear a “good morning, lover,” and for the love of Pete, there’s nothing that makes me feel more invisible than a short, “have a nice day.”

To me, that means, “Check, got that off the list. Don’t bother me today I’m super busy and too important for you.”

I realize this is possibly because the realtionsip is new, but if this is the way the man plays the texting game, I’m not sure it’s going to work out. I need more communication — not a text every hour, but maybe two throughout the day? Two would be good. Okay, three. I need three.

His response is that he’s “just not a texter” and the amount he texts me isn’t a reflection of how he feels about me.

I say he’s wrong. It feels like a reflection of how he feels about me. Although I consider myself a confident woman who is perfectly happy being single, and I don’t need a constant stream of communication (a few check-ins a day make me feel more connected to my partner I don’t care how long we’ve been together), the lack of texting drives me bat-shit.

But maybe I’m the problem?

Only no I’m not because my morning radio show proved the other day different styles of texting is a thing between couples.

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As I was driving my kiddos to school in the morning, the DJ started complaining about the new man she’s seeing. Apparently she sent him a few texts wishing him a lovely day followed up with questions about his life goals and such. This dude wasn’t into answering them, nor did he feel like writing paragraphs through texts. Texting was her way of getting to know him, but he let her know he didn’t have time for that and wanted to save those kinds of conversations for when they saw each other. She took his silence personally.

 

Her male co-host told her she was being ridiculous and reminded her he probably had a job and other shit to do.

This started an uproar and the calls came in hot with people complaining about how lazy their partners are with texting. Most of the comments were from couples who’d been together longer than two years and were still annoyed by each other’s mismatched texting styles. One woman said her husband of 10 years never answers her texts unless they are about food and it pissed her off all the damn time.

Cue huge sigh of relief.  At least I’m not the only one who feels this on a visceral level.

Another couple called in together and said they only text each other if it’s necessary, and they were both comfortable with that arrangement.

Sorry, NOPE. I like to talk to my honey during the day. I need more than a “sweetie, we need toilet paper because I have diarrhea.”

The majority of couples who called in said they send each other texts all throughout the day, but they don’t keep score about who texts first, more, or answers the fastest. Most of these unicorn couples who had a healthy attitude about texting had been married eight years or more, which is telling.

Then there was the guy who said that whenever he sends his girlfriend a text asking if she wants to have dinner at their favorite restaurant, she just shoots back a “yes” and doesn’t expand at all.

Come on! Chime in and chat him up! Tell him you want a steak with a side of 69.

Can I tell you I’m so glad this is a thing and I’m not the only one who can feel like someone is throwing me shade when they don’t share the same text practices I do?

 

It’s important to consider our attachment styles can be exacerbated by our phones. If you are already someone who needs lots of reassurance, you may look to your phone as a way of constantly checking in on your partner which can be a big turn off. Not to mention it’s super annoying for someone who doesn’t need that kind of communication to feel secure in a relationship.

According to The New York Post, “New research suggests that having the same texting habits as your partner can actually increase your happiness with each other.” The evidence is based on a survey conducted by American Psychological Association Convention after talking with 205 adults in romantic relationships who were asked questions about security level, their texting habits, and how fulfilled they felt in their relationship.

When you step back and think about it, the way you text is just another example of the many differences you can experience in a relationship. You have to work it out between the two of you and try and meet somewhere in the middle. Obviously, if you are someone who loves to text a lot and your partner never knows where the hell their phone is, this could be a problem.

If this is the case, perhaps the solution is to just accept you might only get a ping from your partner if you are out of coffee or they are craving brownies, and you shouldn’t take it too personally. And maybe you should vent to your friend who likes to text as much as you do. 

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Parents Of Little Kids Get A Free Pass When It Comes To Skipping Events

This past weekend, my husband and I attended a family wedding without our kids in tow. Even now that our kids are older, this sort of thing is a rare occurrence for us. Our oldest, a middle schooler, would be fine if he stayed home alone without us. But our youngest still requires babysitting, and to arrange that — plus juggle our busy AF schedule — can be a real headache.

Yet it’s so much easier than when my kids were younger. Back then, even if we found a babysitter, having someone other than us do the bedtime routine would usually result in a total shitshow. Our kids would usually stay up way too late (if they even fell asleep without us), and then they’d be be cranky beasts for the next few days after that. Not to mention, sometimes our budget just did not allow for us to pay a sitter.

And forget about when they were breastfeeding babies, literally attached to my body 24/7. Getting away for the evening was usually a total non-option for me. Even if I could, I wouldn’t want to task someone else with their care because I knew they would be clingy, difficult to console and would refuse a bottle.

I was reminded of how much things have changed for me about an hour into the wedding when I bumped into my husband’s cousin. I’d noticed that his sister — who has a toddler — wasn’t at the wedding. This cousin and his sister are at almost all family events, and although I knew how hard it was to get away when you have a little one, her absence was notable.

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“Tell your sister I send love,” I said.

Then her brother said, sort of apologetically. “You know, it’s so hard to get away with the baby and everything.”

I immediately went on a little rant about how no one needs to apologize and how I totally understand and would have done the same. I don’t think he really felt he needed to explain it further to me. He was just exchanging pleasantries, to be honest. And I think he knew how very accepting I would be about something like this.

But the exchange got me a little worked up, because why is it a societal norm that these sorts of things have to be explained at all?

NO ONE SHOULD EVER, EVER HAVE TO EXPLAIN WHY A PARENT OF YOUNG KIDS CAN’T ATTEND AN EVENT. I’m serious. Like ever.

Basically, from birth to about age 5 (or later, honestly, because all kids are different and because babysitting can be hard as hell to secure), there should be literally no assumptions about whether a parent can attend a big event like a wedding or anything where kids aren’t welcome, or that might be difficult to attend.

And even if kids are invited, if the event is at night and will mess up bedtime, or if the event is far away and it would be a nightmare to travel to, you still shouldn’t assume that a parent should be able to make it.

Look, I understand that sometimes these things are important, but I think you can trust that if it’s a really important thing — a birth/death type thing, or whatnot — the parent is going to use their judgment and do their very best to get there. No parent is trying to be an asshole here.

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And I agree that we sometimes have to step out of our comfort zones and do things like take the cranky kids out at bedtime. But honestly, it’s only a parent’s place to decide when those times are.

That’s what really gets me about things like this. It’s the judgment from others. It’s the assumption that someone other than the parent should know when the appropriate time is for a parent to make the sacrifice and show up somewhere that’s hard for them to get to.

I think older folks sometimes forget how all-consuming raising young children is. They forget how literally every minute requires your attention. They forget how goddamn busy we are (and NO, we are not exaggerating).

Many of us don’t have babysitters at our beck and call. Many of us can’t afford them, even if we did. Many of us are balancing work and housework and childcare — sometimes all at the same time.

So no, Brenda, it’s not that freaking easy for us to get away for a few hours. It just isn’t. Unless you are in our lives every damn minute, you don’t get to decide what we can and cannot do. FULL STOP.

So, I hereby declare that moms of little ones get a free pass when it comes to attending events outside the home, even family events. They don’t have to go unless they are able. No one is allowed to asked them why they can’t attend, and they certainly don’t owe anyone an explanation.

Let me tell you what should happen when you find out a parent of a young kid can’t make it to a wedding, a holiday event, a family potluck, or anything else. You say: “Well, of course she can’t come. She has a little kid, after all.”

That’s it. Case closed.

See how easy that was?

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You Can Be Grateful And Still Feel Like Things Suck Sometimes

I do this very unhelpful thing when I am feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or disappointed. I argue with myself about the severity of the offense that has caused me to feel anything uncomfortable or irritating. Or worse, when I am miserable and sad I tell myself I shouldn’t feel that way. I try to analyze my way out of feeling shitty. I attempt to stop the negative thoughts by replacing them with ones that say It could be worse or I have so much to be grateful for.

Even while I try to trick myself into contentment — if not happiness — all I do is delay the inevitable emotional meltdown. It’s exhausting to procrastinate the necessary act of feeling; instead, I am learning how to embrace the fact that sometimes life just sucks.

I know we can’t navigate life by being overly negative all of the time, and I am not suggesting we do. But I don’t want to pretend or conjure up the naïve belief that there is always a silver lining. When my depression is telling my brain lies and when my anxiety is rampaging its way through every cell of my body, I get into the “shoulds.” I somehow think I should be able to control the chemicals in my brain by telling myself I should be happier. After all, I have my physical health, a job, a warm place to sleep, happy kids, and a wonderful support network. And when my anxiety is high I beat myself up for overthinking everything and for feeling agitated and short tempered. I can barely stand to be around myself so I become convinced no one else wants to be around me either. I should be better by now.

I feel guilty when I can’t come up with positive thoughts about my life or myself. And all I can think is WTF is my problem?

I know there is no such thing as “better by now” when it comes to mental health. I also know that the right answer is not the easy answer in this case. It would be easy to say I am selfish, a misery, and unappreciative. But the right answer is that I am a human being with tough stuff to deal with and for the most part I do a pretty damn good job at it, but there are days and situations that are garbage. Calling shit stinky doesn’t make me lose sight of the wonderful things in my life.

I am learning that I am better off allowing raw and natural reactions to unwanted events and feelings be what they are. Instead of telling myself it could be so much worse or that other people struggle more often or that their hard is harder, I tell myself my hard is still difficult. I need to honor the struggle and believe I have every right to work through negative feelings while kicking and screaming about it. I know I get to a better version of me when I accept being uncomfortable and trust that I am deserving of care from both myself and those who love me. When I stop fighting myself, I usually move through the muck a bit faster.

A large part of my sobriety and recovery is a sense of gratitude. I am truly thankful for where I am today compared to two years ago. I am grateful for what I have to look forward to because of a clear head and healthy body. But sometimes I take it too far. I almost will my way into feeling thankful for what makes me feel like shit as if depression and anxiety or everyday stress and bad luck are punishments for my alcoholism. I want to see them as reminders of my strength and not crosses to bear.

Complaining about the messiness of life it doesn’t take away from my gratitude. The problem comes when I am told to reframe a situation. Someone will send me an inspirational quote or meme. An acquaintance will tell me to focus on the good. Be optimistic. This too shall pass.

Fine, I can reframe something in a more positive way but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the challenges in front of me for what they are—absolute trash.

And there is so much more to the story than the inspirational and motivational words behind memes with pretty font and prettier backgrounds. Those viral posts and videos of folks smiling and triumphant after going through the absolute worst shit that was ever piled on top of shit would not be celebrated if the focus was on the miserable parts of the process. But folks love a good underdog story. We strive to rise from the ashes. It’s not that bad, right? If they can do it, so can we!

Let me remind you of something: The joy, success, and ability to walk out of fire didn’t happen without the misery of being burned.

Failure and pain—both physical and emotional—are part of life and we should be able to talk about them in the same way we talk about our moments of euphoria and pride. I don’t want to be stuck in dark cycles for too long, but I am no longer in a rush to throw on the rose-colored glasses when life is tough.

It is what it is. And sometimes it all fucking sucks.

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As A Highly Sensitive Person, It Can Be Hard To Trust My Instincts

I plop myself down on Jenn’s couch and take in the room. It’s changed since I was last here. The bookshelf is in a different corner; a desk has moved. But the clipboard and tiny, square tabletop clock are familiar.

I’ve come to deeply trust my counselor. I know there isn’t anything I can’t say to her. It’s taken me years to get here, but I’m at a place now where I can dive right in.

That’s the thing about trust — it may take months or years to build it up, but once it’s in place, it is a haven. A refuge. A sanctuary.

I tell her the heavy things, we laugh about the light things, and we make it to the end of our session.

Jenn has this way of ushering me out of the safety of her office where she speaks courage into my being. We both know that her office is the place where I can let my guard down, but there’s a certain amount of armor that’s needed to reenter the real world. I think the idea is that we strip off the protective armor that hinders our growth when we walk in the door, and when we leave, we put on a new type of armor that protects it.

I have walked in her door wearing shame and doubt and walked out wearing forgiveness and courage.

Today as we are wrapping up, she says to me, “I think your instincts are good. They really are.”

I’ve made it 48 minutes without tearing up, but her words settle into my chest with a softness that whispers to me, “Take it in.”

So I breathe in and out. In and out. And I hold what she’s just said to me. The tears rest in the corners of my eyes, and I listen to what they’re trying to tell me.

For years, I was ashamed of my sensitivity. I tried hard to swallow my tears — to hide my body’s innate reactions to the world. But I’m learning that my body is telling me things all the time.

Today my tears acknowledge that yes, I can trust myself. I can trust my body. I can trust my gut.

I tell Jenn that her words have healed me in a way I didn’t know I needed to be healed.

As I walk out her door and inhale the outside air, I put on my new armor of self-trust.

No matter what the world has told you about yourself — that you have come to believe as true — I want you to know that you are good.

So innately GOOD, friend.

We are not our mistakes and our shortcomings. We are not the labels that we have been deemed by the world.

We. Are. Good. You are so, so good. And I am good, too.

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As A Teen, I Had A Traumatic Experience With Pot And I’m Still Scared Of It

For about a year in high school, I was a total stoner. I wasn’t stoned all the time, but I’d smoke weed almost every weekend with my friends and boyfriend, and there were a few times I even went to school stoned. In many ways, these were not my finest moments in life, but I was pretty responsible about the whole thing, and like any stoned teen, I had my fair share of blissed out revelations about life, the universe, and everything else.

Everything was seemingly fine with my life as a pothead…until it wasn’t.

It was my senior year of high school and I’d just gotten over bronchitis. I was on antibiotics and still coughing a bunch, so when my good friend came over to hang out and get stoned, we decided that my best course of action was to eat a little of the weed she’d brought over rather than inhale it into my lungs.

BIG. FUCKING. MISTAKE.

Most people know that eating pot has a very intense effect on you, and though I kind of knew that at the time, I pretty much had no idea how bad it could be. Plus, I don’t think I exactly regulated how much I was consuming…and who the hell knows how the weed mixed with the antibiotics I was on.

Within an hour of eating the pot, I was full on freaking out.

Basically what happened was that I felt like I was dreaming. But not in a good way. I felt like I was totally outside of my life, looking in. I was separate from my body. I was losing my sense of center, of self. Disassociating big time.

And the scariest thing was that I was convinced that I was “going crazy,” and would never feel normal again. Ever.

So mixed with the feeling of disassociation came a full blown anxiety/paranoia attack. My heart was racing. I was crying and shaking. I was bugging the fuck out.

I remember calling my boyfriend, who had just gone away to college. “I ate pot,” I said, “And something is very, very wrong.”

He laughed a little, which freaked me out more. Then he did his best to reassure me, but honestly, nothing helped. I was convinced that I had gone off the deep end, would need to be hospitalized, and would never come home.

The worst thing was that I could not shake the feeling; because I felt this sense of distance from myself, from the world around me, and from everyone I knew, I didn’t believe that I would ever feel like myself again.

As you can imagine, all of this disappeared when the effects of the weed wore off a few hours later. It was just the drug, and I was fine.

Courtesy of Wendy Wisner

I decided then and there that I would never, ever eat pot again, which was a wise enough decision. But I figured smoking it would still be okay.

Well, I tried smoking it a few times, and although no time was as horrible as the time I ate it, getting stoned was never quite the same. Those feelings of paranoia and disassociation were still there, and sometimes it was really bad.

It was like something had switched in my body and rather than experiencing the effects of pot as mellow, dreamy, or trippy-in-a-cool-way, it was just always a flashback to the time of my pot-eating freak-out.

Early in my college years was the last time I smoked pot. It just wasn’t for me, and although I felt a certain amount of peer pressure to try it again, it was not worth it for me to continue to “go there.” In a way, acknowledging that and taking a clear stand about it was an empowering moment in my youth.

I am definitely not knocking pot, and I don’t judge people who use it for health or mental health. I know it is invaluable to many people, and I applaud the legalization of pot as well. I also know that there are many different types of marijuana now, and it’s possible that I could find one that wouldn’t make me feel like I was losing my mind.

But I really have no interest. And I know I’m not alone.

As a mom of two boys who will likely someday dabble in pot and alcohol, I think it’s important people realize that not everyone has a positive experience with pot, and that it’s important that you take precautions when trying it.

I certainly don’t think it’s anywhere in the category of most illicit drugs, but I also think many people are quick to proclaim how great and innocuous pot is. Pot is actually known to be both an upper and a downer. It’s known to cause paranoia in some people, and although it’s not addictive in the same way alcohol or tobacco is, people most certainly can become emotionally dependent on it.

This is definitely going to be part of my conversation with my kids as they get older and we talk about drugs and alcohol and experimentation and all that. I’m not stupid; I know they will likely try these things. So I’m going to be honest with them about what to expect, and I will share my experiences with them, the good and the bad.

Basically, pot does different things to different people and different bodies, and it’s okay if you are one of those people who really can’t handle it. I know a lot of people for whom this is the case. I think we don’t really talk enough about the negative effects pot can have on people. And we should.

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FYI: A Life Coach Is NOT A Therapist

Adulting is hard. Varying circumstances mean some people have it harder than others, but there is no way to get through this life without difficulty. Family members, friends, and even social media personalities can offer us guidance, comfort, and support. Sometimes just talking to another human makes the hard parts feel more manageable. Problems may not be solved, but transforming thoughts into words can make them feel less big and scary.

When I was 19, I needed someone more unbiased and better equipped than a friend to help me manage my struggles so I went to an on-campus therapist. If I would have had access back then to social media as it is now, I would have seen sponsored posts on my news feeds for a life coach. There is a good chance I would have consulted one.

I have worked with coaches and mentors my whole life, and because of the shame I felt around the need to see a therapist, I probably would have been tempted to try anything but a mental health professional. I didn’t see therapy as a healthy way to feel better so I could have stronger and more meaningful relationships. I focused instead on the fact that I thought I was broken and couldn’t fix myself. I was never actually broken, but I needed a lot of help, and I am so glad I got it from doctors.

A life coach can be beneficial, but do not confuse their position: A life coach is not a therapist.

I have been in therapy for 21 years, and nearly 15 of those years have been with the same psychotherapist. My time spent in therapy has been supported by a psychiatrist too. I have a mental health team that supports me, pushes me, and cares for me in a way that helps me reach my goals and live my best life while learning how to make my day-to-day existence make sense based on past experiences. I trust and respect my therapists, and I highly recommend everyone see a therapist at least once in their lifetime. I expect mine to help me, even cheer me on at times, but I do not consider them coaches.

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Before a therapist can be of service to a patient or client, they must complete years of education and training. They become licensed professionals with standards and a code of ethics they are required to maintain. Therapists are mental health providers who are held accountable through federal and state regulations.

Some coaches may be a part of the International Coach Federation (ICF), but a life coach does not need to meet any of the above requirements to start advertising themselves as a professional. Other than their own code of ethics, a life coach does not have to adhere to any set of rules. Nor do they have to have formal training or several degrees.

Now, I am not saying that life coaches are frauds. I don’t think they are. In fact, depending on what you need or want to achieve, a life coach can be a great fit for helping you reach your personal and professional growth goals. Some coaches, like some therapists, can help reduce stress, trouble-shoot issues in your life, and give you the confidence to make changes to be a happier and more productive person. A life coach can be therapeutic, but their services are not therapy.

A therapist digs deeper and helps you understand the reasons behind your fear, panic, depression, anxiety, and relationship problems. A life coach may be able to use different tools to ease some of the discomfort, but for intensive self-care and growth to happen, you need someone more qualified to break down the different connections being made in your brain. Therapists understand how a person’s past influences their present and future. They also know when to call a spade a spade and are able to give a proper diagnosis that could be used to prescribe psychiatric drugs—which should not be taboo either.

There is nothing wrong with you if you need help finding clarity. I have been on both sides of this. I was a high school rugby coach for several years, and while this is not the same as a life coach, I did offer life lessons to my players. I was their biggest fan. I was their teacher, disciplinarian, and their safe place. I was a mentor, friend, stand-in parent, and trusted confidant. But I never felt comfortable giving advice that was outside of my empathy wheelhouse. It wasn’t my place to act as anyone’s therapist, and it would have been irresponsible for me to attempt to do so.

A therapist, however, can also be a life coach. The relationship I have with my therapist has always been professional, but I want to make her proud too. And when she gets passionate about something I am breaking through, I feel seen and cared for. She knows the 20 years of bullshit from my childhood and early adulthood. She has the ability to not only listen, but to understand how that bullshit frames my decisions. She gives tangible and researched solutions and suggestions. She also sees through my attempts to not do the work and will adjust the game plan accordingly so I can still be successful on my journey to mental wellness.

I have no doubt that a life coach can get a person to a place of peace, organization, and focus. But there are limitations to what they can do, depending on the needs of the person who requests their services. When seeking help, the goal is to find a person you trust and feel safe to be vulnerable with.

It’s important to be honest with yourself too. A life coach may be able to improve your life, but a therapist might be what you need to save it.

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My Intuition Is So Spot-On It’s Freaky Sometimes

For whatever reason unbeknownst to me, I’ve always had strong gut feelings that are rarely wrong, as well as vivid dreams that often come true. To put it plainly, my intuition is freaking on point. And although some might believe that to be a gift, as do I at times, please believe me when I say it can also feel like a bit of an uncontrollable curse too.

These gut feelings and premonition dreams aren’t always something I can grab by the reins and steer to meet my needs. And they don’t consistently come to me so I can make a difference in what’s meant to play out in another’s life or my own. This intuition is just that — intuition.

Sure, it can be a blessing. Like that time when I was a teen and couldn’t shake a gut feeling screaming at me to wear my damn seatbelt mere moments before I was in a car crash. I was the passenger in the car where we rear-ended a SUV going 60 MPH. The SUV rolled over the top of us, and I lived to tell the tale with mere bumps and bruises. Yeah, that was a huge blessing.

But most of the time, I’m often at the mercy of this world and the heavens above. Sometimes, I know awful things are about to happen, but I don’t always know what that something awful will be. Even as a kid, some of the things I “just knew” were completely random and much of my intuition circled around another’s death.

Knowing something tragic might happen based off of my feelings or dreams makes it difficult to live with when my suspicions come true.

When I was seven, I told my mom that the founder of Wendy’s, Dave Thomas, had died. Well, my mom went to work and told a co-worker what I’d relayed to her. One might say I picked up on this tidbit of info from the news of his cancer diagnosis, but we were a family that didn’t watch the news. Ever. Not to mention, it wasn’t true, at least not yet. Little did my mom or I know, he hadn’t passed away when I told her he’d passed away… his death happened two weeks later, and we only found out after my mom’s co-worker called to jokingly say, “Okay, y’all are some freaks for knowing that!”

I don’t know how I know “things,” I just do. And it’s not something I have ever asked for or have ever really desired. It just is what it is. But it has its downfalls too. Knowing something tragic might happen based off of my feelings or dreams makes it difficult to live with when my suspicions come true.

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In 2016, I dreamed that one of my children passed away in our home. The dream was clear and vivid, awaking me in a sweaty state of pure panic. One week later, my four-month-old daughter died from SIDS. Let’s just say, I spent months, maybe even years, wondering if my dream was a warning. Could I have done something? Why didn’t I take my subconscious seriously? How did I subliminally know something so awful was about to happen?

Knowing something tragic might happen based off of my feelings or dreams makes it difficult to live with when my suspicions come true.

I still don’t have the answers to these questions, but I ask myself them every single day. Somehow, I knew I was going to lose a child. In the depths of me, I just knew. But I couldn’t piece it all together until after the fact, until all was said and done, and I couldn’t change what had already happened. And because of this one dream, I’ve learned not to take my intuition with a grain of salt. I can’t revolve my life around it, but I can’t help but wonder if these dreams and off-putting, gut-feelings are a way that I’m prepared for tragedy. Ya know, due to past experiences.

Just last year, a couple of my closest friends were pregnant together. And somehow, in some way that I can’t even fully comprehend, I couldn’t shake this nagging feeling that they were both going to miscarry. How horrible of me to think that way, I know. But it wasn’t a thought… not really… it was a definite feeling I could not escape. Of course, I never spoke such awful words aloud. And even though I’ve had frequent run-ins with gut feelings that are often true, I didn’t want to believe this one would come true. Yet, it did. My friends miscarried their babies within three days of one another.

In 2016, I dreamed that one of my children passed away in our home. The dream was clear and vivid, awaking me in a sweaty state of pure panic. One week later, my four-month-old daughter died from SIDS.

Cue the feelings of wondering if I could’ve made a difference, or if I would’ve sounded bonkers, for saying something.

But these gut feelings and dreams of mine aren’t magic. They aren’t psychic, and they are not a form of prophecy. I don’t know what they are, really. Perhaps gathered knowledge and expectations drawn from past experiences, hyper-awareness of the world around me, or thoughts and feelings about another person that don’t quite add up. The brain is a complex and misunderstood thing. Therefore, it’s difficult to pin-point exactly how and why I can acknowledge the possibility of what’s to come before it actually does.

These dreams and instincts aren’t solid enough ground for me to draw conclusions from. Because if I were to stop living my life every single time I had a “bad” feeling about someone or something, or every time I dreamed my life or another’s was about to go haywire, I would be scared to live. My actions would be fear-driven.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking, told The New York Times that instincts can fail us under such circumstances. “After 9/11, many Americans stopped traveling in airplanes and drove on highways instead. I looked at the data, and it turned out that in the year after the attacks, highway fatalities increased by an estimated 1,500 people,” he said. “They had listened to their fear, and so more died.”

But what about when our intuition isn’t from fear? When it’s completely random like when I was seven and believed Dave Thomas had died two weeks before his actual death? Or how do I explain a dream in which I saw my friend’s life in shambles, she and her mother wailing, and then a week later I hear the news that her brother died by suicide? What then?

If I’m being truthful, I’m still not sure. I’m still figuring it out. But what I am certain of is that I’d be a damn fool to completely dismiss my intuitions after all this time.

The post My Intuition Is So Spot-On It’s Freaky Sometimes appeared first on Scary Mommy.

Do Not Get Smug About Your Recyling

Reduce, reuse, recycle. It’s the slogan many of us attempt to live by, especially the third item on the list. We diligently separate our glass, paper, and plastics from our ordinary waste in the hopes that all that bulk will find new life in new products. It’s a noble endeavor, but for plastic in particular, our efforts at recycling are, quite literally, a waste.

Of the 8.3 billion tons of plastic waste the world produces every year, a mere 9% is recycled. 40% is dumped into our oceans, and the rest ends up in landfills.

How is it that such a low percentage is being recycled?

First of all, recycling isn’t quite the cost-effective and low-emissions activity it might first seem. Transporting our waste to China or to local recycling facilities releases its own series of emissions. The act of recycling itself produces emissions. And not every kind of plastic can be easily or cheaply recycled.

In fact, in the last few years, the drop in oil and gas prices has meant that creating new plastic — virgin plastic — is often cheaper than recycling existing plastic. So manufactures bypass recycled plastic in favor of new. What’s more, the drop in production costs have led to a surge of activity in the plastics industry, including more than 700 projects already underway, from expansions of old plastics plants to the construction of new ones. Recycled plastic simply isn’t in demand.

What happens to all that plastic that isn’t getting recycled?

Our go-to for years has been to transport millions of tons of our plastic waste to China and let them deal with it. But in 2017, China notified the world that from now on they would severely restrict the amount and types of waste they would receive. They have to deal with their own waste and no longer want to be the dumping ground for the world’s waste. And who can blame them?

Since China has refused to continue to be our if-we-don’t-see-it-it-doesn’t-exist garbage dump, the US has had to face the magnitude of our consumption. And we’re finding that we are not equipped to handle it.

What too often ends up happening are scenes like the one in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where citizens recycle diligently like they always have, unaware that half of the plastic they’re tossing in the recycling bin is being trucked to the nearby Covanta incinerator and burned.

The Covanta incinerator in Chester, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia, receives 200 tons of recycling material every day since China’s ban went into effect in 2018. It belches out a cloud of toxic emissions along with the few other industries in Chester like a paper mill, a wastewater treatment plant, and a medical waste facility. This cloud hangs over the 34,000 residents of Chester, 70% of whom are black.

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The people living in Chester already suffer much higher rates of asthma, ovarian cancer, and lung cancer than the rest of Pennsylvania, and experts worry the additional pollutants being released into the atmosphere by the incinerator will only worsen the problem. Burning trash releases an array of pollutants like nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides, and particulate matter, all of which cause health issues. The Covanta incinerator burns 3,510 tons of trash per day — the equivalent of 17 blue whales.

This is in just one city, but it’s a situation indicative of a growing problem: We produce too much trash, much of which can’t be recycled, and we don’t have the infrastructure to deal with it because we’ve been relying on China to do our dirty work. The solution, then, is generally to dump it into socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods occupied predominantly by black and brown folks. The facility in Chester receives trash from all over, from as far away as New York City and North Carolina. Only a tiny amount of the waste burned there is actually from Chester, but it’s the residents of Chester who have to suffer the consequences of the literal fallout.

What can we do to stop this?

Covanta defends its incineration practices because, they say, burying waste in a landfill would be just as harmful to the environment due to methane emissions. Covanta and its critics alike say the solution is to overhaul the recycling system in the US.

This is probably a well-intentioned suggestion, but it’s shortsighted, and frankly, a load of bullshit. Recycling isn’t going to fix our waste management problem. It was only one arm of that slogan that was supposed to save us, and it was the third item on the list, the least important:

Reduce, reuse, recycle.

It’s the first two pieces of this directive — REDUCE and REUSE — that could save us, if we were willing to do the work to make them possible. We have to stop consuming so much. PERIOD.

We need to learn to embrace a minimalist lifestyle — to find happiness living with less. Fewer toys, fewer clothes, fewer shoes, fewer home decor items. Using secondhand goods and upcycling whenever possible. Living in smaller homes. Completely foregoing the use of plastic water bottles. Valuing experiences over material possessions. And, as a country, we have to stop producing so much. The U.S. represents only 4% of the world’s population and yet we produce 12% of global waste. Our wastefulness is shameful and unforgivable.

Even personal minimalism won’t save us.

And yet, it’s still not as easy as all of us banding together and adhering to a life of minimalism. We live in a corporate state. Our economy requires consumption to be “healthy.” From our retirement accounts, to our social security, to the value of our homes, to our public services like schools, roads, healthcare, law enforcement, to the very purchasing power of our money — every aspect of our livelihood and well being depends on our constantly increasing consumption. The measure of our economy’s health is literally based on how much we produce and consume: Gross Domestic Product, Consumer Price Index, Purchasing Manager’s Index, and so on. All depend on us making more, more, more.

It’s time to redefine prosperity as a society.

If we reduce and reuse, by all these measurements, we fail. We have to think bigger than simply consuming less, though that is a good place to start. Ultimately, though, measures like GDP and CPI need to be recognized for their role in driving rampant, unnecessary consumerism. And we need to knock it off with the “keeping up with the Joneses,” bigger-better-more mentality that is ingrained in us since birth.

What does a healthy, thriving society look like? Does it look like an exponentially rising stock market punctuated by major recessions every 10 or 15 years? Does it look like a place where only the rich can have adequate healthcare? Where only the rich can afford secondary education? Where the only way to produce the tax revenue necessary to provide public services is to depend on a bull economy? Where the economy can’t thrive unless a cycle of ecologically and personally malignant materials are being endlessly circulated through a toxic cycle of industry, disposal, and incineration?

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Or could a healthy, thriving society look like a place where we agree that if we’re going to make it past the next five or six generations, we’re going to have to live with less? Where we measure our society’s level of prosperity by things like health and well-being of our citizens, education accessibility, healthcare availability? Can we ask ourselves what a service-driven economy (rather than material goods) might look like? Are there other, more radical ways to ensure everyone gets what they need without destroying the planet? I don’t have all the answers. I just know that if we are going to survive ourselves, part of that will require us to evaluate the standards by which we as a nation measure our economic health.

That seems impossible when we have an administration that takes pot shots at brilliant young environmentalists like Greta Thunberg and a county filled with willfully ignorant citizens claiming she is a left-wing puppet. Thunberg has been a fiercely dedicated environmentalist of her own making long before any media outlet noticed her. Not only that, but she happens to be right. 97% of scientists agree that climate change is a serious problem we must address.

We have to put pressure on our political leaders to make fixing our growing waste problem a priority. We have to demand a shift in how we measure societal well-being. Yes, recycling is a sham. Yes, we must reduce and reuse. But in order for those individual efforts to have a positive impact, we’re going to have to take a critical look at the impact of how we’ve been defining prosperity as a nation. Because it won’t matter how little we consume if the end result of that decrease in consumption is labeled a “failing economy.”

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I’m Finally Putting Myself First And IDGAF What Anyone Else Says

I don’t think I could have ever anticipated how hard it would be to “play pleasant” as a wife and mother. You know, the way we pretend that everything is okay, when in reality, it isn’t.

Motherhood is constant work. Since taking on the new role of wife and mother five years ago, I’ve learned that the hard way. Sure, there are a handful of folks who watched their parents and have a firm understanding of the labor imbalance that exists in most families. I wasn’t one of them.

Making the transition from a carefree college student to an under-supported wife and mother caused a part of me to die on the inside. I lost myself a bit.

In the years following that loss of self, I learned to prioritize pleasantness over happiness. I don’t complain as much as I used to and I’m more likely to “go with the flow” around the house. My loved ones have likely seen these changes as positive. But deep down, I know I’m just one member of the latest generation of women to be indoctrinated into the culture of sacrifice.

And then one day a few weeks ago, I made the decision that I was done. I am done playing pleasant. I am done pretending. I am done suppressing my life’s joys for my family.

From here forward, I’m going to learn to put myself first — and I don’t care what anyone else thinks about it.

It’s hard to say the exact moment that I realized I wasn’t as concerned with my own wants and needs as I should be. This is probably because the change occurred gradually instead of all at once.

Naturally, I don’t expect my life with two children and a partner to look exactly the same as it did ten or even six years ago. Still, I believe we should evolve and adjust to new life responsibilities, not transform into a new person. My old self wasn’t perfect. But it was authentic and understood the importance of prioritizing one’s own needs.

I intend to create a hybrid between these two versions of self — my pre-mom self and my mothering self — who knows how to love and nurture myself without neglecting others.

None of this is easy for me. It’s a huge challenge when everyone in your life has either been overly sacrificial or completely neglectful. There are very few personal or celebrity examples whose lives are similar enough to mine for me to copy their method of self-prioritization. However, I know in the long run, my entire family will benefit from my decision to invest in myself.

With that in mind, I’m starting my “me first” plan by focusing on my health, social life, and me time in three key ways:

1. Eating more.

I spend so much time running after the children that I often forget to eat. Today was a great example. By the time I had a chance to have my first meal it was after 1 p.m. Not only is that unhealthy, it makes it hard for me to produce the milk I need as a nursing mother. Of course, this has negative consequences for my infant.

It also means that my brain is foggy and my temper is short, which leaves me mentally unavailable in work and home tasks. My physical and spiritual selves require food to thrive.  And when I wake up early and make sure I eat, my day goes so much smoother.

2. Dancing more.

Before rolling your eyes on this one, let me tell you something. I’m rarely as happy as I am when I’m dancing. The music literally transports me to another place. More often than not, I’m supported by people who love me with a similar spiritual relationship to the beat.

I love dancing, but it’s so much deeper than moving to the beat. My commitment to dancing is reflective of my decision to put myself in more situations where I feel joy. Being surrounded by folks with similar interests who support me in my quest for joy is transformative for me.

More dancing means I’ll have more girls’ nights outs, travel, and celebration. It includes a commitment to the things that bring me joy. On the dance floor surrounded by a circle of friends in unity and mutual enjoyment is the best model for myself. I look forward to seeing how it spills into other areas of my life.

3. Going solo more.

You probably get the theme by now.

On one hand, taking myself out to a restaurant or to the movies is about having access to silence. I mean, who couldn’t benefit from more time away from kid tantrums? It’s an opportunity to spend my hard-earned dollars on myself instead of wasting $5-10 on a kid’s meal my son is just gonna smash into his car seat.

But the benefits extend far past saving money and being able to hear myself think for the first time in forever. Taking myself out gives me the chance to recharge my creative energy and reevaluate myself without pressures from the rest of my family around me. It’s a chance for assessment and self-reflection, which is necessary to know whether your actions align with your dreams. I’m determined not to let motherhood be the end of my goals. A key part of that is not losing track of where I am.

There are people who believe mothers should live for their children. I’m here to say that I have no interest in that sort of life. I know these small changes can lead to a big outcome. If I’m lucky, I might even inspire a few of the other women in my friend group to put themselves first.

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