Category Archives: Zao of Doing

Money-Saving Tips on Grocery Shopping

We all find ourselves a little tight on funds these days, so I would like to offer some frugal tips on how to stretch your funds at the grocery store. Any grocery store will do; I happen to shop at Kroger’s.

First tip:  Only shop on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday for the double fuel points; Thursday for the 5% off your purchases if you are 60 plus.

Second tip: Use the electronic coupons through the store – most have them these days.

Third tip:  Cut out those Sunday paper coupons.  I learned the hard way that I don’t cut out a coupon or load it unless it is something I normally buy and my family uses, or it goes to waste and I waste my money.

When I shop, the goal is to get at least half off my grocery bill and a minimum of one dollar off a gallon of gas each month. Note that sometimes there are restrictions; for example, Kroger only allows 35 gallons at a discount, so I split my discount and use the 50 cent a gallon twice to get 70 gallons vs 35 at a dollar off.

Hope this helps!



I ask you to please contact your state senator if s/he is on the Senate Appropriations Committee, and ask him/her to vote “YES” for the amendment to defund the opening and inspection of horse slaughter plants on U.S. soil.  I’ve researched the pros and cons for horse slaughter, and I recommend against it.  In the past, I thought horse slaughter was a humane way of managing the huge number of neglected and abused horses in the U.S., but I was wrong.  Horse slaughter only encourages breeders to produce more horses, creating even more cases of neglect and abuse, justifying offshoot industries that would do the same.  We need to discourage indiscriminate breeding that would produce throw-away horses and destroy bloodlines.  Breeders and all horse owners are responsible for the humane treatment and euthanasia of their animals, not taxpayers.  And that is what would happen if we ignore this vote.  Every US taxpayer would be condoning and supporting horse slaughter if we fund horse slaughterhouse inspections.

The amendment It is expected to be up for a vote with the Senate Appropriations Committee in May, so quick action is necessary; please contact your senator now.

Meanwhile, we need to ensure a complete ban on domestic horse slaughter and the export of their meat to other countries to safeguard the future of our pets and our food sources.  Please call or email your Senators and Representatives and ask them to cosponsor the Safeguard American Food Exports Act, H.R. 1942/S.1214You can find additional details on the SAFE Act here.

Senate Appropriations Committee members are from these states: 

1.       Alabama

2.       Alaska

3.       Arkansas

4.       California

5.       Connecticut

6.       Delaware

7.       Hawaii

8.       Illinois

9.       Kansas

10.   Kentucky

11.   Louisiana

12.   Maine

13.   Maryland

14.   Mississippi

15.   Missouri

16.   Montana

17.   New Hampshire

18.   New Mexico

19.   North Dakota

20.   Oklahoma

21.   Oregon

22.   Rhode Island

23.   South Carolina

24.   Tennessee

25.   Vermont

26.   Washington

27.   West Virginia

28.   Wisconsin

Mary Nash’s Horse Slaughter Website

Habitat for Horses:  Slaughterhouses

Horse Fund Organization

Vets for Equine Welfare

Animal Welfare Institute

Watch the SAC calendar

Daily Practicum for the Unemployed: Life Reimagined

This is a great program provided by Life Reimagined through AARP. I strongly encourage you to consider joining AARP to access this and many other programs that can help provide direction in your life, especially if you’ve been unemployed for a long time.  If you need financial assistance, contact the AARP Foundation first.

Life Reimagined helps us make better decisions about relationships, work, purpose, and our general well-being.  You could join them directly for a fee, but your best bet is to join the AARP first to gain access to other programs and discounts.  Either way, the program takes you through a decision-making and exercise process, one step at a time. 

I recently started the program, Get an Edge in Your Job Search, and it provided access to an abbreviated version of the Strong Interest Inventory.  This tool enables a person to compare their interests (strong interests) to others who have high job satisfaction in their field.  For example, if I am someone who likes research, analyzing, and calculating, I may be a good candidate for a job in science.  If I really prefer writing, design, and helping others, I’d probably be a good candidate for a job in communications.  There are additional tools as well, so I’ll be going back to complete them soon.

Combined with new techniques in neuroscience, these are powerful tools, so please give Life Reimagined through AARP a try.

Life Reimagined Institute

Photo courtesy of Modern Farmer, Picturing Women Farmers by Audra Mulkern

Daily Practicum for the Unemployed: Acknowledging Grief

bench under treeI think it fair to say that we get angry and sometimes depressed if we are unemployed.  Maybe we get angry and not depressed, but we do experience a variety of emotions for obvious reasons.  For myself, I noticed I was angry and did nothing; I denied my anger and as a result, I was easily agitated.  This did nothing to help me focus on job hunting; and though I realized I wasn’t getting anywhere with this frame of mind, I couldn’t just stop being angry.  And then it came to me – I was grieving!  I was grieving the loss of my job.

According to Kubler-Ross (in her later years) and others in her field, we can experience grief in response to any great loss and uncertain situations, and that grief is a very personal process.  I believe unemployment, especially long-term unemployment fits the situation.  And I think the key to moving forward is to acknowledge and permit oneself to grieve.    

Once I allowed myself time to grieve, I wanted to take the next step – outside my grief; just one step.  For me, the next step was to share my experiences and read about others in similar situations.  Following that, I started this blog.   With every step I took, I felt more confident in myself and my abilities to take the next step, to define my future.  What is your next step? 

If you are stuck, consider career counseling or psychological counseling even.  Sometimes, we need a new perspective to be able to see the path ahead.   

Have a great day, and please feel free to share!

Setting Boundaries

Setting boundariesThis week, I received several articles about setting boundaries, and I remembered I started a similar piece about a month ago in response to a post on LinkedIn about the erosion of the 9-5 workday, so I guess that is today’s blog – setting boundaries. 

To get started, I recommend watching the video, Boundaries, by Brene Brown.  It helps to put perspective on the importance of setting boundaries.

Next, learn to set boundaries at work.  If work rejuvenates us without sacrificing other areas in our lives, we are lucky, but that rarely happens.  So here are a few tips for setting boundaries at work, and they may help at home as well.  Exercises on how to apply these tips follows for those who like the step-by-step approach.

  1. You are priority number 1, so take care of yourself first
  2. Prioritize time appropriate to the task
  3. Learn to say ‘No’
  4. Be dependable so you can depend on others
  5. Learn something new everyday

I suggest to complete these steps one at a time over a period of a few months.  In my experience, setting boundaries takes time and practice, and tackling them all at once defeats the purpose.  You might say this is the first lesson; don’t take on more than you can handle WELL.

You can stop here or move on to the practical application of these steps, or jump to the bottom for links to related reading and music.

Step 1:  I am priority number 1 – repeat to yourself, “I am priority number 1”.  Take care of yourself first, so you can take care of the rest.  We need to generate energy in our lives to spend it on the things we really care about.  How do you re-energize?  I re-energize through a couple of daily rituals.  They don’t take much time, but they force me to disconnect from the busy-ness and reconnect with what I love most.  These include meditation, dog walks, reading, gardening, and moving.  When a great beat comes on the radio, I get up and dancercise to it; wow that makes me feel re-energized! 

Step 2:  Learn how to prioritize tasks and time.  Our attention span is limited, and to do a good job, we need to be focused.  Studies show that multi-tasking complex activities or too many activities at the same time can strain and dilute our efforts, resulting in poor results.  Making up for this by working harder longer is not the answer if our wellbeing and family suffer.  So, we need to become good managers of our time and learn to prioritize. 

Here is a good method for learning to prioritize time and tasks at work.  I used this technique as an instructor to help employees with time management.

  1. Start by keeping a journal for at least one month. Write down everything you do during the work day and how long it takes you to complete. 
  2. At the end of the month, create a chart, totaling the hours for each activity.
  3. Next, prioritize the tasks, A, B, C, or D; A being a critical task that needs immediate attention, B an important task that needs attention within 8 hours; C task that requires attention within 24 hours, and a D task that requires our attention whenever we schedule time for it. Here is an example based on my work:
    • Reading email – B – 1.5 hours a day, 30 hours a month
    • Metrics report – B – 2 hours one day a month
    • Customer service – A – 2 hours a day, 40 hours a month
    • And so on
  4. Finally, review the tasks and see if the amount of time you actually spend on an activity reflects the priority. Are you spending too much time on low priority tasks and too little time on high priority needs? Or could it be you just don’t have enough time in the day to get it all done?  If you can reprioritize, great, but if you don’t have enough time in the day, you may need to learn to engage your team to help or just learn to say ‘No’.  Which brings us to …

Step 3:  Learn to say ‘No’.  Saying ‘no’ is not a bad thing, it is being honest and caring.  You care enough to do a job right, and if you don’t have enough time in the day to get it done right, don’t do it.  A smart boss will appreciate this.  Sometimes you may need to negotiate projects or compromise by starting a task and handing it off to someone else to complete, but that is what team work is all about.  And this leads to …

Step 4:  Be dependable for your team, so you can depend on your team.  If you work alone, this is a moot point – go to Step 4.  Most of us, however, have coworkers who make up the team.  Helping each other has many positive effects.  Teamwork builds trust, makes the workload easier to manage and produces great results, especially as a byproduct of the diversity the team represents.  We can learn from our team mates as well.  Does your schedule include team building activities?  Ok, maybe that is asking too much for now.  Let’s move on to …

Step 5:  Learn something new every day.  Make it a daily ritual.  Learning is an adventure, and it doesn’t matter what you learn or relearn.  Knowledge and the skills we build to apply that knowledge is the joy of accomplishment, and we are re-energized.  Don’t limit yourself; all learning sets us on a path to be able to SEE if not create new opportunities we couldn’t before.  Learning can lead us to new adventures, one step at a time.

Until next time, keep moving …

Related reading and music:

Your Guide to Setting Boundaries at Work—Without Making Anyone Resent You

5 Effective Ways to Set Boundaries at Work

Coldplay – Adventure of a Lifetime

Tobymac – Move (Keep walkin’)

Daily Practicum for the Unemployed: Early Morning Odd Jobs

Start getting up earlier, at least three days a week.  Get a jump on the day and tackle those few odd jobs needing to get done.  It is an accomplishment.  Being unemployed can get us down, so we need to do whatever it takes to get us up, even if for only a short time or to generate more good mojo.  The more mojo, the better!

What odd jobs do you like to tackle in the early morning hours?

Little Epiphanies in honor of my Facebook Friends

Quotes and poems from friends, great thinkers, and anonymous sources provide inspiration to many of us.  I think of them as little epiphanies that make life fun and interesting.  They take me outside myself for a time; and bearable during ‘down’ times.  I’m sure this is why Facebook is so popular!  I AM GRATEFUL for my Facebook friends.  There are so many quotes and inspirational tidbits that pop up every day – I love it; but two of my personal favorites are:

Quote:  Do what you feel in your heart to be right – for you’ll be criticized anyway.  You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. – Eleanor Roosevelt


First Fig

My candle burns at both ends;
It will not last the night;
But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends –
It gives a lovely light.
                         – Edna St. Vincent Millay


What are your favorites?

Happy Halloween!

When we were kids (I’ve been wanting to say that for a while now) we had so much fun dressing up for Halloween as princesses and queens, cowgirls and Indians, nurses and waitresses, soldiers and Cossacks, old women and old men, girl scouts and boy scouts, hippies and dudes, Italians, Irish, and Poles, (I lived in a very diverse neighborhood), and much more, with no ill intent.  The only goal we had in mind was to have fun, get as much of our favorite candy as possible, and be anyone other than ourselves … it WAS so much fun!  And we had fun at school too.

We did presentations on our costumes in class.  It gave everyone an opportunity to experience other cultures and ideas, have fun and eat candy in the classroom!  No one thought our costumes were derogatory or degrading to another culture.  Everyone defended their make-believe persona; no one wanted to be ridiculed – at least none that I knew in school.  I’m sure there were some out there in the world whose intent was not honorable, but as long as those of us held true to our intent, they did not infiltrate our sacred circle of trick-or-treaters!

So why am I blogging about Halloween and costumes?  Because Halloween reminds me to take a step back and remember that it is a time of possibilities.  It is a time to remember I can laugh at myself and learn to forgive.  I can be silly and not so serious.  Halloween is much more than dressing up and devising clever ways to get the best candy.  It is a time to be more than I am … it is the start of a parade of holidays … Halloween, Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa to name a few.

In closing this blog, I encourage those who wish to use the holidays to elucidate and educate, to do so with good intent, respect and kindness, and to remember it comes with responsibility.  Every action we take, positively or negatively, affects all our lives.  Where intent goes, action follows.

Happy Halloween!

P.S.  See how others celebrate Halloween

10 Steps to Change Your Life: A Step-By-Step Guide

This is an oldie but goodie.  Nina Zipkin wrote this articlein September 2014.  She is an Entrepreneur staff reporter, and she compiled a great list of steps that are useful for anybody to get motivated about changing their life.  As you know, I’m all about making changes one at a time, otherwise we can become easily overwhelmed.  Check out her list of steps, pick one a day or one a week or one a month, whatever it takes, to realize positive change in your life.

I understand fully change is not easy.  I like change, a lot, but I also find myself balking at change that takes me too far from my comfort zone; everyone has their limits.  Discovering and accepting my comfort zone is an important part of change for me.  I found if I negotiate and reward myself for small changes, it smooths the path and makes it easier to accept.  If I make a change and stick with it for at least a month, I reward myself with a great book or outing with a friend.

10 Steps to Change Your Life:  A Step-By-Step Guide

How do you reward yourself for positive change?