A New Year, A New You With SPICES

The Christmas and New Year holidays are traditionally the most celebrated annual events worldwide. As the new year begins to unfold  a large majority of us seek ways to find a more balanced and fulfilled life.

A friend recently shared with me the acronym S-P-I-C-E-S which is a stress balanced-stones-blogmanagement and overall wellness concept in filling your life with a balance in the six areas of Social, Physical, Intellectual, Career, Emotional, and Spiritual.  Each element plays an important role in leading and successful living a well-rounded life and being genuinely happy with your life and the decisions/choices made.

As many know in a balanced life, “being well/wellness” is much more than being free from illnesses and/or a sick body.  It encompasses a positive attitude which incorporate a person’s sense of responsibility and uniqueness.


Being socially active allows one to build and maintain relationships, both personally and professionally.


This is just as it states…being physical, exercising and maintaining the physical movement for balanced wellness (physically and emotionally.)


Being involved in mental activities which are stimulating and creative.


Never underestimate the power of having goals and/or a direction in your life.


Being aware of your emotions and feelings and express or respond in a positive manner.  You’ll be happy you did.


What describes you?  What are your personal beliefs, values, and ethics? These things have an impact on your “balance.”

Let’s strive to add balance to all areas of our life this new year.  Learn to be a little more patient with others, choose our words so they correctly express our true feelings without breaking down others.  Make it a goal to genuinely convey our gratitude to others and build them UP with encouragement.

Make 2015 your best year yet.  Try something new, make life an adventure, make a new friend or two and make memories!  Get out there…you’ve got a life to live!


Julie T. Lusk, M.Ed., R/CYT, Stress Solutions Now

25 Days of Christmas: Day 12 ~ Christmas Traditions, Part II

Stars and Wise Men

ThreeWiseMenThe Star of Bethlehem, often found at the top of a Christmas tree or on a plate of Christmas cookies, is strictly Christian in origin, from the Gospel of Matthew. The nature of the star mentioned in the gospel remains a mystery; however, the science of astronomy has provided some possible explanations for accounts of a magical star at the time of Jesus’ birth.

Some have argued that it must have been a comet, but records of that time mark the only comets near this period at 17 B.C. (too early), and A.D. 66 (too late). Chinese astronomers, the best in history, observed a nova in 4 B.C., but there is no way to know whether this is the star mentioned in the story.

Another explanation comes from the fields of astronomy and astrology. In the year 6 or 7 B.C., there was an alignment of the planets Jupiter and Saturn in the constellation of Pisces, a fact confirmed by the School of Astronomy at Sippar in Babylon and by the world-renowned astronomer Johannes Kepler. Ancient astrological legend, moreover, asserts that the meeting of the planets would signify the Messiah’s birth. The sign for Pisces is two fish joined by their tails; this is also the sign of the Messiah. However, it’s possible that 6-7 B.C. is too early to be the year of Jesus’ birth.

Careful reading of Matthew shows that it gives no specific number for the Wise Men who were following the star and never refers to them as kings. Over the years, popular culture settled on the number three, presumably because of the three gifts that Matthew mentions; gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Their status as kings is believed to come from a passage in Psalms that refers to kings bearing gifts, though they are also referred to as Magi.

Nativity Scenes

Nativity SceneThe first Nativity scene was created at the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in tenth-century Rome. The custom was soon popular at other churches, each one constructing ornate mangers with gold, silver, jewels, and precious stones. Though popular among high society, such opulence was far removed from the original circumstances of Christ’s birth, as well as being inaccessible to the poorer masses.

The more accurate crèche scene is due to St. Francis of Assisi, who in 1224 sought to remedy these problems with creating the first manger scene that was true to the Biblical account of Christ’s birth.

Christmas Spirit

Called a crèche, the scene that St. Francis set up for the village of Greccio was made up of hay, carved figures, and live animals, capturing for the town’s unlettered people more of the spirit and the story of Christ’s birth than any splendid art treasure could convey.

The popularity of St. Francis’ crèche spread throughout the world. In Italy it is called a presepio; and in Germany, a Krippe. It is a nacimiento in Spain and Latin America, and called a jeslicky in the Czech Republic, a presebre in Brazil, and a portal and in Costa Rica.


In the time of darkness surrounding the winter solstice, candles were important as a source of light and heat. During the Saturnalia, Romans lit candles to convince the sun to shine again and to ward off evil. From this pagan start, the candle has gone on to become an essential part of Christmas lighting, both in church ceremonies and at home.

ChristmasTreeCandlesFor Christians it symbolizes Christ himself, the light of the world; candles are used during Advent to mark the days before the coming of Christmas. The Candlemas services that celebrate the purification of Mary forty days after Christ’s birth take their name from the candles that are blessed during the ceremony.

In Victorian times, candles came to represent concern and goodwill for the poor and unfortunate during the holiday season. Candles were placed in windows during the twelve days of Christmas as a sign to needy passersby that shelter and warmth could be found within.

Star Bright

The first string of electric Christmas-tree lights was not sold until 1903. Only the wealthy could afford them however, and only those with indoor electric outlets could use them. Most people continued to follow the earlier (and dangerous) tradition of affixing small lighted candles to the boughs of the tree. Larger trees bore hundreds of candles.


The idea of hanging stocking out on Christmas Eve is believed to have come from Amsterdam, where children leave out their shoes on St. Nicholas’ Eve in hopes that he will fill them with goodies. But where did the people of Amsterdam get the idea? Perhaps from St. Nicholas himself.

One of the most popular stories surrounding the saint concerns his generosity to the three daughters of a poor family. It seems the daughters were of marriageable age, but could not marry because they had no dowry. Nicholas heard of their plight and set out to help them. In the middle of the night (he wanted his act to be a secret), Nicholas threw bags of gold coins down the girl’s chimney. The bags landed in the girl’s stockings, which they had hung up by the chimney to dry.


Pagan people long revered evergreens for their ability to stay alive during the cold and dark winters. Often considered magical for this reason, greenery in various forms adorned the inside and outside of houses during the winter solstice festivals.

Church officials at first attempted to banish greenery, then decided it would better serve their purpose to translate the beloved custom into Christian terms. Evergreens came to symbolize Christ, who in His triumph over death gave the gift of everlasting life to the world.

Holiday Helper

The legend of the Christmas Rose tells of a young girl who wanted to worship the baby Jesus, but felt she could not because she had no present. Saddened, the girl began to cry; as her tears fell to the ground, they created a bush bearing a beautiful white rose, which she gave to the Holy infant.

Greenery generally refers to those trees and plants that remain green and flourishing all year round. Though cypress, box, yew, rosemary, and laurel are all considered greenery, they are not as common to Christmas as holly, ivy, mistletoe, and of course, the Christmas tree.

(Jeffrey, Yvonne, The Everything Family Christmas Book)


The Boy & Rhinestone Cowboy

Really y’all, this IS my life!

I’m sitting here working and singing along with the music playing in the background; I’ve got the 70s station streaming and Rhinestone Cowboy was playing. The Boy walks in and repeats the lyrics “Rhinestone Cowboy” that he just heard.

I asked “Do you know this song,” knowing it was waaay before his time. His reply “no.”

So, I continued to sing and The Boy said “carrots and lettuce?” Why is he singing about carrots and lettuce?

WHAT??? I replied. “He’s not singing about carrots and lettuce, the lyrics are “cards and letters!”

Ha ha ha. REALLY!!! You can’t make this stuff up! Bawhahah..still laughing. This IS my life…I am so very blessed with goofy kids who bring laughter to my life every day.

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus (and don’t you know it)!

9781435118645_p0_v1_s260x420My friend and I planned a girls night out for this past Wednesday night (March 26th).  We decided to see the one-man comedy show at the Aronoff Center in Cincinnati Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” which is based on the book of the same name written by John Gray.

As we sat in the auditorium waiting for time to pass and the show to start, we chatted about everything from the Salvador Dali Museum, to family and dating, as well as any musical concerts and stand up acts we’ve previous attended.  I looked around the theater as the seats were filling up and thought to myself that my friend and I might very well be the only “female” couple in the theater as many seats were occupied by male/female couples.

Its Showtime

The lights dimmed and the noise level lowered as darkness fell over the crowd.  Our entertainer of the evening “Peter Story” comes on stage doing some sort of a “I can’t really dance so I’ll just move and be funny about it” dance.  I think he may have actually thrown in a 1970s “robot” move or two.

Men are from Mars - Women are from VenusAs the evening progressed we laughed, learned a lot about Peter and Megan’s (his wife) relationship. Peter did an excellent (an quite entertaining) job in explaining the differences between men and women’s brains and how we process information.  Without giving too much away, I’ll share a little piece of info Peter shared with the audience.

Women need and want from men: Attention and Understanding

Men need and want from women: Trust and Approval

Guys, Peter gave an easy way for you to remember what a women needs; and that is done by referring to the Periodic Table of Elements where Attention and Understanding = AU which is the chemical symbol for “gold.”  Guys, treat your ladies like gold and you’ll be good to go.

Ladies, oh ladies…you already know how to be in the continual good graces of your guy.  Yes, yes you do, it is right there in their needs/wants of Trust and Approval = TA.  Girls, give your guy a little T&A and you’ll forever be treated like gold? 😉

A Little Explanation Please

I have to share with you a quick story about the elderly couple sitting to my right.  As Peter explained the AU and TA examples the audience was roaring with laughter.  Then in my peripheral vision I noticed the lady sitting on my right lean closer to her partner (who I would safely say was well into his 80s) and in a loud whisper she said “it means T-s and A-s.”  I lost it!  I laughed so hard my stomach started hurting, I had tears running down my face and found it somewhat challenging to regain my composure.  Peter’s explanation was hilarious, but hearing the old gal explaining it to her fella….that was priceless!!

Group Picture

We are somewhere in the center. Look for a blue scarf around my neck.  My friend is sitting to my left. (Photo: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/MarsVenusLIVE


Highly Recommend

I recommend that you get online and get tickets for this show, grab your partner or make it a girls night out.  You won’t regret it!  I promise!!!

TBT: Summer 1980

Summer 1980

This was a great summer when I spent a week or so with my Ft. Myers family. Although we only lived a few hours away from each other, we rarely got to spend time together, so any time together was special.  This particular summer I remember taking a bus from Tampa to Ft. Myers.  Among many other activities, my cousin Betty and I spent our days hunting coconuts (yes, coconut trees grow in Ft. Myers, FL) and after a laborious effort, were able to drink the refreshing and tasty milk from the fruit.  To this day I can/will only eat fresh coconut meat and do not like the dried stuff…ewe!

I believe it was during this trip that my cousins Steve and Scott, along with some of their friends took me with them to see the newly released Star Wars.  I LOVED that movie…classic!

Me and my favorite cousin, Summer 1980

Summer 1980