True Wellness Includes Detoxing Methods

If wellness is about a lifestyle of overall good health than it has to become more than just exercising and healthy eating. I have discovered that detoxification is also needed, but can be difficult or embarrassing.  I admit this is where most men stop when it comes to wellness. We might add in some herbal remedies and supplements, but what I believe we need to add in is either a daily or weekly cleanse; a quick and easy detoxing method too. Our bodies store so many toxins no matter what we eat. There are toxins in the air too! In this day and age, an apple a day doesn’t keep the doctor away. Colon cancer is a real and scary issue among men, so is liver failure. These two organs are our best way of detoxing, but when they are overloaded, we get sick or have to deal with unfortunate consequences. I’ve heard that juicing or an apple cider vinegar drink is a great way to get rid of toxins. However, juicing and apple cider vinegar drinks can taste horrible. For those that aren’t into juicing everyday here are three easy detoxing methods.

Ionic Footbaths

This has got to be the easiest and most relaxing method of removing toxins. Who doesn’t like a soothing foot bath, especially if you stand on your feet all day? What’s different about these footbaths is that the ions work with your body to pull out toxins through your feet. You can tell what type of toxins your body is full of by the color of the water. You will want to find a natural health provider to assist you because owning one of these special footbaths is expensive. Also, a natural health provider will be able to give you remedies for reducing your toxicity for a better result. I believe you need at least ten foot soaks in order to significantly decrease toxicity.

Colon Hydrotherapy
If you know what this is then I’m sure you’re tempted to pass on to the next idea. However, there are some of us guys that aren’t as regular as we should be. This causes really old toxins to sit in our colons and potentially cause cancer. Detoxing methods like this are a bit invasive and I definitely wouldn’t do it unless it was out of desperation. Colon hydrotherapy is like a massive enema. A doctor flushes out your colon with gallons of warm water to loosen up everything inside. Perhaps you’ve heard of old fecal matter being stuck on the walls of your colon and how it contributes to your weight, body toxicity, and overall health. It’s a last resort, but effective nonetheless.

Activated Charcoaldetoxing methods

Another one of my detoxing methods is activated carbon or charcoal. Yes, this is essentially like burnt toast, however, it is odorless and tasteless. Activated charcoal has the power to capture, bind, and remove poisons, heavy metals, chemicals, bacteria, toxins, and intestinal gases which have thousands of times more weight than the charcoal itself according to the article on Truth About Cancer. Doctors use activated charcoal as a cure for poison victims in hospitals. It comes in a liquid, pill, or powder form. You can even purchase activated charcoal soap for your skin.

There are many effective detoxing methods and if we are going to be healthy for real, then we have to add this to our regimen. This world is full of toxins and the government doesn’t really tell us everything we need to know to stay healthy. We can enjoy foods and drinks much more when we have a way to help our bodies stay clean.

 

Punishing American Prisoners: No Dignity Allowed

As I neared the end of my stay at the Herlong Prison Camp, I realized that I didn’t like participating in furloughs. The so-called freedom I experienced was trumped by a self-realization that I was nothing more than free labor. I didn’t mean a thing to these people and all the hard work I did was truly unappreciated. I didn’t earn more respect or validate my dignity by working for them either. I get that inmates are being punished for their crimes, but that’s why they’re locked up. That’s the punishment, being taken away from family and friends, losing your stable income and the possibility of ever finding it again, as well as forfeiting any accomplishments you may have gained beforehand. It’s belittling, to say the least. To add insult to injury, prisons encourage inside labor and menial wages; they literally pay you a couple cents per day. If your post-prison goals don’t seem logical and reasonable to their administrators, then they’ll bluntly tell you how stupid and unrealistic your dreams are. Recidivism is high most likely because American prisons go beyond punishing criminals by stripping them of their dignity.

Dignity is the state of being worthy of honor and respect. It’s something that shouldn’t be lost during disciplinary action. Everyone agrees that telling young children they’re worthless for making mistakes is detrimental to the psyche of that child. Furthermore, it doesn’t help their self-esteem or the likelihood that they’ll have the confidence to shoot for the stars. The same is true for adults, criminal or law-abiding citizen. The lost of self-worth only leads to further problems in an inmate’s life, especially when they are released. Yet, American prisons seem to reduce the dignity of prisoners when they break up families, belittle inmates and their feelings, and invade their privacy.

In my book, Subprime Felon, I mention how most white collar criminals complained about their new harsh reality. They compared it to Europe’s prison system, which apparently allows home visits on the weekends. It seems American prisons aim to disrupt families by creating broken homes and relationships. Many inmates are sent far away from their families which makes it difficult to keep in contact. When I went into camp, I lost the ability to contact my family and friends at my leisure or on social media. The Trufone (telephone), TRULINCS, and mailing letters were the only ways I could talk to them. Family members had to create phone accounts and add money to it in order to talk to their loved ones. I had to pay for every email sent to them. When funds run out, so did the conversation. Unfortunately, funds are quickly depleted with just a few conversations. Also, most of my friends didn’t feel comfortable talking to me over the phone because it was recorded, and they didn’t know if the government was keeping their numbers on file. Other friends and family didn’t answer unknown or blocked calls, and when I called them, the caller ID would say either “blocked” or “unknown.”

Traveling is expensive and visiting hours are restricted to certain days. Visiting was out of my parent’s price range, so needless to say, I didn’t receive many visits. Nearing my release, I received only ninety days in a halfway house instead of six months. When I asked why they stated that I had a strong family connection and didn’t need as much assistance as other inmates. Perhaps the reason why other inmates didn’t have a strong connection could be due to the significant limitations to keeping in contact with family.

When an American prisoner is unable to visit familiar faces or talk to those who they’ve previously created a bond with, trouble can begin. Most often depression and guilt sets in. I know I’ve experienced this. I wondered how I got myself into this situation and blamed myself for my family estrangement. It was painful because I didn’t have the choice to spend the time I wanted to with my friends and family. That choice was made for me, and I was the only person to blame for it. I couldn’t help but to think of hugging and kissing and laughing with everyone at home. Not to mention, I was full of regret. I tried to focus on what I was going to do when I was released, but a counselor advised me that my dream of becoming a blogger and a writer was unrealistic. She wouldn’t even entertain the thought with me and offer suggestions. Instead, she claimed writers don’t make a lot of money. She also implied that writing wasn’t a skill that could keep me out of prison.  The meeting was a shocker, to say the least, and certainly didn’t help my self-esteem.

Dignity According to an article on Business Insider Australia, inmates in Europe’s prison system are treated like humans and not property. The correctional officers knock on cell doors before opening, have their own keys to their cells, and separate toilets. Prisoners can make their own schedules and are allowed to visit family on weekends. They are also allowed to vote while in prison and receive certain welfare benefits. They don’t throw away young adult lives by giving them life in prison if they commit a crime while underage (even if they’re 18 to 21) and solitary confinement is rarely used.

At the end of the day, an inmate still has to have some type of dignity. Dignity is the foundation of self-esteem and the fuel for confidence. Being treated with respect means that you have value in this world. Maybe dignity is the starting point of reducing recidivism. Either way, the article said it best, “there are better, more humane ways to respond to rule breaking.”

Who To Talk To When You’re Having a Depression Attack

When we are dealing with an intense issue such as depression, we don’t tend to want to vent and get out all that is causing us to feel negative. However, most know that talking during a “depression attack” is helpful and lowers the risk of suicidal thoughts and actions. However, after talking to my friends and family about it for a while, I noticed that they can become a bit tired of my depression attacks. I get it. They’ve offered all the advice that they had and have lent me their ears and hearts for as long as they could. They’ve done all they could do. Does that mean I am without anyone to console me during my depression attacks? When my family and friends need a break, where does that leave me? Well, I know that I’m not alone in my quest to get better and find relief so I have compiled a list of things to do when you finally feel up to talking through your depression attacks.

Hotlines
Whenever family and friends are unavailable or unable to understand my depression attack, I know that I can turn to a hotline. Hotlines have trained staff and trained volunteers who are able to offer helpful advice or just lend a listening ear. When you’re experiencing an attack, don’t rely on just anyone, you want to make sure that you survive this depression attack. Give yourself a fighting chance and make a free call. It cost me nothing and it won’t cost you anything either. In fact, you’ll gain more from calling and asking for help than if you just sat at home trying to process your own feelings.

Here are some national numbers to call if you need to connect with someone during a depression attack.

Group Therapy
What better way to discuss all that is going on internally than to talk to a group of people who understand where you’re coming from. The people in the groups relate to my emotions about family and friends, my problems, and my depression attack symptoms. Most have been where I’ve been and even have some remedies. They can offer the best help as well as innovative and creative ideas for dealing with depression attacks. There is also the possibility of making a friend or two. If that happens then I’m sure they’ll never get tired of hearing about my depression attacks and I won’t get tired of hearing about theirs. We could work together to get through each attack.

Online Chat & Text
For me, writing is easier than talking. I have an easier time explaining myself thoroughly when I can write my feelings down. It makes it easier for me to connect to someone trying to help me. It also makes it easier for me sift through my problems and get to the bottom of it. If writing is better for you than try online chatting or texting from your phone. If you want to try texting, just text CONNECT to 741741 in the United States and your text will be sent to a professional at Crisis Text Line.

The key here is to never give up when trying to voice your feelings about your depression attack symptoms. Although it may never feel like it, I believe that one day there will be a breakthrough and each depression attack won’t last as long as the previous one. In order to get there, I just have to keep fighting, even when I don’t feel like it.

Describing Herlong Prison Camp

Are you on your way to federal prison camp? This video will help. I explain detail what you will find when you go to Herlong  Prison Camp.

At the camp, you’ll have most of your basic needs.  You’ll have a living area in a large dorm similar to the military. You’ll have a locker, a chair, and a bed.  The quarters are very tight with little privacy. It took me about six months to get used to it all.

Within the dorm, you’ll have access to your email, laundry,  televisions, a bookshelf, and a ton of tables to play games or write on.  You’ll also have microwaves for cooking food.

Outside the dorm, you’ll see the food service area.  The food service area is where inmates get breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Attached to the food service area are the barbershop, leisure library, commissary, exercise and equipment room, and prison laundry. If inmates walk when the building, they will find a craft room, two classrooms, and a multi-purpose room.

The last thing inmates will find in this building are the administration offices, the nurses and dentist rooms, and the visiting room.

Behind the dorm, there is a soccer field, which doubles as a small track, a baseball diamond, and part of a larger running track that circles the camp. Between the dorm and the food service area, are a set of basketball courts and a handball wall.

Surrounding the camp borders are out of bound signs, crossing these lines would give an inmate a shot.  The parking lots for CO’s and visitors are right outside the “out of bound” area.

There isn’t much at the prison.  However, most inmates make it work. I recommend you have a steady amount of books coming to you. Resources at this camp can be low at times.

Best Credit Builder Loans

It is so difficult to come home and have to worry about rebuild your life and build for the future. I’ve learned that you need credit to do to make these things happen, which adds additional frustration.  However, Andrew Rombach of https://lendedu.com wrote an excellent article on  credit builder loans. These loans are a great way to start building and repairing credit. With permission, I’ve reposted several of the key points he discusses.  For Andrew’s full article please click here.

What Are Credit Builder Loans?

A credit builder loan helps you to build or restore your credit via a personal loan. These types of loans are sometimes offered by online lenders, or large banks, but are more likely to be found through credit unions and small community banks. There are a few different types of credit builder loans, but the most common allows you to apply for and take out a relatively small loan of typically between $100 and $1,000 which you repay over a period of six months to a year. The catch is that, to protect the credit union or lender from risk, you don’t get access to the money they’re lending to you until you fully pay off the loan. Because the risk is lessened, the interest rates that you are likely to pay on a credit builder loan are much less than you would pay on a normal unsecured personal loan.

How Credit Builder Loans Build Credit

Credit builder loans help you build your credit because, as you pay them off, you establish a credit history of on-time payments. For those who don’t have a credit history at all, it takes six months of credit activity in order to get a FICO score so a credit builder loan can help you get a score. If you have bad credit, a credit building loan can help you improve your score. Some studies show that your credit score could go out as much as 35 points over a six-month period with a credit builder loan.

If your credit is on the cusp of fair or good, then a credit builder loan can help move you into a different credit tier and that could mean that you will qualify for better interest rates, larger borrowing amounts, and the ability to borrow from better lenders on more attractive terms.

Want to know which are the best credit builder loans? Please click here to read the full article.

How Your Mind Can Affect Your Body

Whenever the idea of a mind and body connection is discussed in relation to our health, people often think about more alternative types of practices. Often classified as a complementary and alternative medicine, activities like yoga or meditation are the most common ways for individuals to tap into this mind-body element.

While many types of practices can help us to tune into our physical well being, scientists have found that our thoughts can impact our health from a more direct standpoint. Not only does our mental health play a role in our overall level of health, but the way we think about our own physical activity can actually shape our outcomes.

The Mind Body Connection

While it’s not entirely surprising, the aspect of mental health and its link to physical health isn’t as widely discussed as you might think. However, according to the Merriam-Webster definition of the word “health,” elements of mind, body, and spirit are all encompassed within this one word. Examining your own mental health can often shine a light on how your emotional state is affecting your body.

Mental illness is becoming an increasingly common condition, as nearly 44 million people are affected by a mental health concern in any given year. These diagnoses can range from mild depression to paranoia or schizophrenia, and the ways in which symptoms manifest themselves can vary dramatically. The common thread, however, is that whatever may be affecting us mentally also shows up in our bodies.

Let’s examine depression, a well-known issue that plagues many people around the world. Physical symptoms of this condition can include insomnia, chronic fatigue, and even aches and pains throughout your body. On a wider scale, those with mental health concerns can be subject to obesity, asthma, heart disease, and high blood pressure.

Beyond Just Mental Health 

This connection between how we think and how we feel is even further proven with the study of psychosomatic pain, a condition where the body and mind are intimately linked to a particular set of emotions and symptoms. Many who struggle with this disorder are often sent from doctor to doctor, as it’s difficult for Western medical practitioners to diagnose and treat it. However, as more research develops, it’s becoming clear that a true mind-body link can be attributed to these conditions.

Chronic pain has been linked to psychosomatic causes, as the mind can produce or exacerbate physical symptoms. John Sarno, a leading expert in psychosomatic medicine, developed a theory that many symptoms are an unconscious distraction to aid in repression of deep emotional issues. In layman terms, people start to feel physical pain rather than experience emotional pain. There have been hundreds of cases of different health issues, ranging from temporary blindness, muscle pain, inability to walk, etc, that have been tied back to psychosomatic reasons.

Case Study About Exercise

While the mind-body link is fascinating, you may be wondering how it relates to your specific health challenges. Perhaps you are conscious of your mental health and take measures to create balance in your life. You might even exercise a few times per week but find that losing weight or lowering your blood pressure seems to be out of reach. Once again, how you think about your health may actually be contributing to the effects you’re seeing.

Scientists at Stanford University embarked upon a 21-year project which examined 61,000 adults and their patterns of thought around exercise. The data collected included how often the participants engaged in physical activity as well as how they felt about their own efforts compared to their peers.

Some of the individuals died during the study from a wide range of health issues, but the overall trend that was discovered is quite surprising. Those who thought they were not engaging in as much activity as their peers actually died younger than others, despite implementing the exact same amount of exercise as others.

What caused this pattern to emerge? Researchers attribute it to a number of possible factors, all of which continue to support the strong notion of the mind-body connection:

  • Comparing ourselves to others may encourage a demotivation, where if we believe we are less fit than our friends and family, we may not even bother trying to exercise in the first place.
  • Placing strict expectations on ourselves can create undue stress and may lead to negative health conditions. This outcome is also supported by the data examining how our mental health and emotions can dictate our physical health.
  • The final reason for early death in those who thought they were less active might be attributed to what is being called the “nocebo effect.” The simple act of a negative thought can be enough to lessen the amount of benefit, so if you believe you aren’t exercising enough, then your body will not reap the same amount of benefit compared to those who have a positive outlook.

When it comes to your mindset around physical activity and your overall health, it’s important to remember that you get to determine what elements encompass an active lifestyle. Working with your primary care physician to develop a diet and exercise plan that meets your needs is your best bet to seeing results, as long as you keep your thought process positive!

by Courtney Elder
Reposted with permission. Original article: https://www.singlecare.com/blog/how-your-mind-can-affect-your-body/

How to Raise Money for Self-Employment After Your Release

The statistics on post-incarceration employment are nothing short of devastating. One study estimates that “almost half of ex-prisoners have no reported earnings in the first several years after leaving prison.” For those who do end up finding work, half of these individuals earn less than $10,090 per year. In addition to the emotional, psychological, and social challenges faced by those who have just been released from prison, financial hardship is almost certain. Because many employers will not hire individuals with a criminal record, it can be next to impossible to secure a job through traditional channels.

One way to overcome financial and post-incarceration employment challenges is by creating a self-employment opportunity. An individual can be self-employed despite his or her past record, and can make far more money than any other available job opportunity. If you or someone you know is facing financial obstacles after being released,
explore three ways to raise money for self-employment.

Sell any unneeded possessions

Start overcoming your financial challenges by selling any unwanted possessions online (or to local stores that buy used items). Even if you don’t have much, there are creative ways to earn a decent amount of money to put toward your new business. In addition to selling your own possessions, you can offer to sell unneeded items for friends and family who are willing to provide items. Although it likely won’t make you a fortune, selling online and to used item stores is a great way to start your savings.

Start an online fundraiser

If you have a strong social circle that has offered to help provide support during this time in your life, consider the use of an online fundraiser website. In your fundraiser description, you can provide the details of your journey, as well as your efforts to become self-employed. A well-written, meaningful fundraiser description will help give people a specific reason to contribute to your fundraiser, since they know exactly what you plan to use the money for.

Use the resources currently available to you

Many self-employment opportunities require little to no cash to begin. Want to start freelancing as an artist? Begin working with the supplies that you already have, or that you can reasonably afford. Want to start landscaping? Ask around to see if you can rent tools and supplies until you have earned enough to buy your own.

Finding employment and financial stability post-incarceration is no easy task. That’s why self-employment can be an excellent way to get back into working, and earning a decent paycheck. Selling items online or to used item stores, starting an online fundraiser, and leveraging the resources currently available to you is a great way to begin raising money for this new chapter in your life.

-Cassie Stelle
cassie.steele@hickorymail.net

Routine Writing Habits For Every Writer

They say it takes at least twenty-one days to start a new habit and the same is true for getting into a routine writing habit. I know it’s not going to happen overnight and I also know it won’t stick if I’m only doing it for a week. However, in order to make sure it happens, I’m going to have to take some initiative. My previous post explained how to write everyday, but this post explains how to make sure it sticks and stays as a habit.

routine writing habits

Planning

In order to start developing routine writing habits, you have to plan. If you read my previous post on planning, you will understand how easy it is to write quickly when you have a one. The prior post will help you plan for the month. Once you have a plan you are able to write more effectively, more focus, and write better quality information. Planning is an important part of writing as well as research. In order to research you have to know what you are hoping to write about.

Timing

Ever heard someone say that timing is everything? Well, it is the same thing for writing, especially if you’re creating routine writing habits.  If you’ve ever taken medicine you’ll notice that the doctor tells you to take it every day at the same time. This is because it allows the medicine to stay in your system at a similar dosage. It’s more effective to have a consistent dosage of medicine in your body while trying to fight off an infection or whatever else the medicine needs to do. Writing is similar. If you choose a time everyday to write, you will get your brain into the habit of oozing creative juices that will flow at the same time everyday. When you’re writing at the same time everyday and you’re used to coming up with good information at the same time daily, you will find that it is easier for you to focus and easier for you to write.

Preparation

My last tip for routine writing habits is preparation. Never end your day of writing at the end of your blog post. Always right at least the first paragraph of the next day’s article. Some advice suggest writing the first paragraph, however I believe that you can write any part of your article and then the next day pick up where you left off. This allows you to pick up on the train of thought from the day before and makes it easier to write. The idea is that you are already writing a post and you have already taken the time to get into a creative flow, so writing the next part of your blog post should be easier than having to start all over the next day.

That’s it. Those are my three suggestions for getting into the routine of writing daily.  This should allow you and me to start our twenty-one day journey to developing routine writing habits. I’m sure this will supply me with the greatest content since I’ll become more organized and focused. I can’t wait until I merge both of my posts together and become the ultimate content machine. Let me know if you’ve decided to take the 21 routine writing habits challenge.

Party Solo for Your Birthday

Party Solo? Uh, that isn’t what any thirty-something or even forty-something really wants to do for their birthday, but as I get older I’ve noticed that most of my friends have kids, are in serious relationships, or are stuck in jobs and are unable to party with me. It always seems like a chore to gather everyone to hang out now that we are older. I’ve seen memes about people getting into their 30’s and their highlight of the weekend was binge-watching Netflix. That’s not me. I want adventure and fun. If you want the same then read on for my top ten ways to party solo.

My Party Solo Tips

Solo Travel

There are probably a billion websites dedicated to traveling in groups with people you don’t know. If your friends are too busy or too broke to party with you, try one of the groups online. They have groups dedicated to age groups, gender, religion, and more. You can find groups that travel in hostels or all inclusive resorts. Even if you just want to get away for the weekend, there are hiking trips, surfing, and skiing trips that you could join. The sky’s the limit to what type of group you want to join. Most of the time, people meet up in private groups on Facebook so they can get to know each other before traveling.

Train Travels

Another solo travel idea worth mentioning all by itself are train ride vacations. I’m sure you’ve heard about the train ride where you can travel across the country (East to West) in 2 ½ days, but did you know there are other cross-country travel routes and destinations? Visiting the website called Vacations By Rail will show you step by step how to ride the rails cross country. With their guide for beginners, you will be comfortable as a first timer. Think it’s a boring ride from place to place, think again. According to their site, “the lounge cars feature floor-to-ceiling windows, which curve up onto the roof, so sky panoramas are available, as well as a great opportunity to socialize with your fellow travelers. Snacks, light fare, wine, beer, water, and soft drinks are all offered in the lounge during certain times of the day. Entertaining and informational speakers are also brought onboard the train during certain times of the year to enthrall the lounge car’s passengers.”

Party soloThrow Your Own Birthday Party

If you build it, they will come…well maybe just for an hour or two. Throwing yourself a party lightens the burden of having to party all night at the club or go out of town for the weekend. If your friend has children or a spouse, then those options really aren’t options for them. Having a party will allow them to bring their spouse or even their kids with them so they won’t have to choose. They can decide to have a little fun instead of no fun. You could make it even more special by throwing an elegant sit down dinner, a themed dinner (African, Sports, Superhero, Movie), or a murder mystery dinner.

Enhance Your Hobbies

Turn your passions into a vacation! There are conventions and conferences for everything nowadays. Type in your favorite hobby online and add the keywords, “seminar”, “workshop”, “conference”, or “convention” and you’ll find a plethora of events going on. Whether you love paintball, fishing, or writing, there’s a place for you to visit. These places often assist you in enhancing your crafting skills. You’ll meet people who love the hobby and have a passion for the same thing you do. Sometimes, finding people like that is hard at home. Many people that meet at seminars and conventions have lasting relationships.

Travel Volunteer

I love being a role model for children. Helping them to avoid the mistakes I made when I was their age brings value to my life. One day, I would love to gather a bunch of them and take them on a trip. I especially want to travel with children who may never see another city, let alone country. Of course, I’d have to fundraise to help afford the airfare and hotel. Actually, I found that there are many organizations dedicated to helping underserved community children travel, all I’d have to do is join one and become a chaperone. However, my goal is to be able to do it for my hometown youth.

The Day is About You Anyway

Just because no one is available to do things with you doesn’t mean that you can’t do it all. Use your day to do things that make you smile. I love going to the movies, sometimes it’s better with friends, but honestly, I enjoy it just as much alone as I do with a group. Getting pampered at a spa isn’t just for females, it’s actually relaxing and makes you feel fantastic. There are male spas and male massages available, try this place and all its locations are listed here. Lastly, buy yourself something. I’m sure you deserve it. This is the day to splurge on that one thing you’ve wanted. If you absolutely have to be frugal, remember splurging doesn’t have cost hundreds of dollars.

Fun Photoshoots

Why should females have all the fun? I’ve seen women do glamour shoots and boudoir sessions and have so much fun exploring themselves and making themselves feel good. We can do the same! Get a photographer to do a male model photoshoot with you and be the sexy you always wanted to be. Don’t hold back – it’s your birthday! These make great gifts for that special lady, but it looks even better framed in your home. Watch this photoshoot on YouTube for pose ideas. Lastly, you choose a theme like sexy, classy, superhero, or dandy like Michael B. Jordan.

Birthday Fundraiser – Not for Charity

Have you ever seen someone with a couple dollars safety pinned to their shirt? It’s usually done on people’s birthday and actually brings awareness to your birthday without you having to say a thing. This year aim higher. Do a birthday fundraiser online. You can join websites like Plumfund and Payit2 to start a campaign. If you don’t want to use them try Cashapp or Paypal. You may not have the funds to go on a lavish vacation, but I’m sure if you were able to raise a couple hundred dollars, it would make your day just as special.

Freebie & Dessert Deals

Companies are always using their customer’s birthdays as promotional opportunities. Find businesses and restaurants that offer free items on your birthday and hop around your city for each freebie. Many places have loyalty programs so start with the companies that you frequently patron or have signed up for their email newsletters. Try searching and signing up for the businesses on this list.

Charity Parties

Most of these examples have been about where YOU can go or what YOU can do for yourself – and that’s fine, but sometimes we need to give back, pay it forward, or just be a blessing to someone less fortunate than ourselves. You may not have heard, but there’s a story about a man who invited friends to a special dinner and laid out his best for them, but they all gave him excuses as to why they couldn’t or wouldn’t attend. This made him furious. He decided to go out into the street and bring in all those who were considered castaways and/or devalued and have them as his guests instead. I’m not saying throw a party and then go out and find homeless men and women to attend – but I’m not saying not to either. However, there are also children in orphanages that probably don’t get the opportunity to have a real party. Bring them some cake, ice cream, and a pinata. There’s often a shortage of food so a birthday party is really like heaven to them. Research some places in your hometown and give back, it will make you feel 100 times better than that luxurious vacation you can’t afford.

I believe we’ve all entered into this world for some reason, despite the fact that most people never truly find out what it is they were “created” to do.  In honor of my belief, I also believe that the day I entered into the world should be celebrated or joyfully acknowledged. I know some people and religions decide not to celebrate birthdays, however, those who have no objection to it shouldn’t spend their big day alone and feeling sorry for themselves when others cannot help celebrate them. I hope this post inspired you to make a change for your next birthday. You’re definitely not a loser if you party solo!

Prison Pen Pal: Rules of Engagement

Do you know someone who has ever thought about becoming prison pen pals with an inmate? Depression and loneliness are serious matters for inmates, especially for those that don’t have supportive families. They may have repeated a plethora of criminal activities and their families have shunned them. They may have strict families that despise their criminal activities, even if it was nonviolent. They may have a neglectful family or just never been close to their family members. For those that don’t have a family to go home to, the risk of returning to prison is greater. Having a prison pen pal may be the only support they ever receive, and although a prison pen pal is good for a number of reasons and it is bad for so many more. 

There have been countless stories of prison pen pals who have taken advantage of their writing partners. There are even more stories about people who fall in love with prisoners based on their writing skills. Some even marry them! Most of the time it doesn’t end well – as in they are killed and sometimes even their family members are murdered too.

According to Psychology today,

Although many offenders do benefit from a kind word and a helping hand, those people who wish to assist (or acquire a more serious friend) should learn the behavioral red flags. Past violence is among the best indicators of future violence. So is a lack of remorse for harming others, a history of deception, a lack of respect for others, and a tendency to blame others for one’s own behavioral issues. Convictions for murder, sexual or physical assault, home invasion and crimes involving deadly weapons all foreshadow a dim future with such offenders. Often, they have poor skills for inhibiting impulses and for negotiating in relationships.”

prison pen pal

 

So if you know someone who has decided on this venture, give them my suggestions for becoming a prison pen pal. 

 

 

Be Careful
Many people believe becoming a prison pen pal is extremely dangerous. They are right, some people don’t want to change and will still try to prey on weak minds. There are stories of inmates selling pen pal information and running scams. There are stories of pen pals inviting felons to their homes and dying because of it. However, there some people who have done it and found good people to mentor. A guy says that he found a young adult who was convicted of vehicular manslaughter, He was a passenger of a friend who had almost done the same to him, but he survived. He sought someone to encourage and this is his advice.

“You need to be careful, some of these men/women are extremely smart and will try to exploit you so you need to background check on their crime before you decide to go into something like this. You also need to be committed to keeping in touch as these people have barely any or no contact with the outside world so they can be in a bad place so someone who writes [and] then stops can have a huge impact on their mental health.”

Never Give Personal Details or Send Money or Pictures
The point of a prison pen pal is to make a connection and provide outside social interaction for someone who is devoid of it. Although getting to know someone is obviously done by sharing information, your home address, the names of your children and family members, and where you live/work/worship should be off limits. You also shouldn’t do them favors such as researching or contacting people. Instead talk about aspirations, inspiring people, goals and dreams, and maybe even politics. Use a P.O Box when mailing letters as some inmates have ruthless bunkies that would love to take advantage if your prison pen pal doesn’t try it themselves. If you are feeling like you want to share personal information, write it on your social media page instead. In fact, if you are feeling like you need to share personal information, stop reading and writing for a few weeks and get yourself together. If your prison pen pal asks you personal information, don’t feel pressured to answer it. It’s a letter for goodness sake! It’s not a face to face conversation, so it’s much easier to either ignore it or set boundaries.

A Real Human Connection
You want to find someone who is in need of emotional support, but not someone who is needy. Change prison pen pals if you receive letters with sob stories over and over again. After you have offered them sound advice on how to acknowledge their wrongs and suggest ways to move on and better themselves, there isn’t much you can do unless you’re a licensed psychologist. Someone who is truly remorseful will bring up their wrongdoing every now and then, but they will not play the victim or make you pity them. The objective of exchanging letters is to communicate with someone who needs a normal human connection to the outside world. I previously mentioned that some don’t have families that care or visit them anymore. There really are inmates in need of human connection, but sometimes it can be a needle in a haystack. I read on the New York Post’s website about a woman who befriended a murderer and here’s what the killer said, “makes me feel like not everyone has given up on me. In a world so quick to shun people over a bad decision, I’ve found a one-of-a-kind connection with a woman who lives nearly 8,000 miles away”. The difference here is that his crime was drug-induced, however, who is to say that once he gets out, he will continue on a good path and never do drugs again?

If you ask me, there are better ways to help inmates that want change. Here are a few of the resources I found that actually have proven aid for prisoners.

Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop

This organization is dedicated to changing the lives of inmates through reading and writing. I don’t mean teaching inmates to read and write, but they encourage emotional expression through writing and reading poetry. They offer feedback on written works and have sessions where their interns write back to inmates. If you need someone to write to, this organization may be the best place for you because you will have accountability to write good things and not become romantically involved.

Support Wrongful Conviction Cases

Northwestern Pritzker School of Law has a clinic in which they help those who have been wrongfully accused. If you ever wanted to find someone to write to, these people may be a better choice than a random person on one of the sites below.

Send Books Through Amazon

The Chicago Books to Women in Prison has an Amazon wishlist full of books that inmates have requested but are rarely donated. This nonprofit organization sends books nationwide to women in jail and only ask for your name and email address.

Post Bail for the Holidays

The Brooklyn Community Bail Fund is a project that seeks to intervene on behalf of those that are too poor to post even the smallest amounts of bail. The work with other organizations nationwide to bring awareness to this issue. You may have heard of them when they posted bail for a large group of mothers on Mother’s Day. If you’re concerned about them making their court dates, rest well knowing that 95% of their clients make it back to court.

 

Just One Vitamin Deficiency Can Affect Prison Health

We all know that prisoner don’t eat the best meals or have the best nutrition. This can result in a vitamin deficiency. They are often given small portions and are sometimes forced to steal food. The food is sometimes marked “unfit for human consumption” and inmates get sick from it. I actually wrote about it in my book called Subprime Felon. On top of getting sick, inmates are living in close quarters and are contracting illnesses that other inmates have acquired. It seems that something should be done to combat these issues. Although a lot would need to happen, like a lawsuit, for serving food unfit for humans, there are still other things that can be done. The easiest thing I can think of is to offer inmates vitamin supplements for free as part of the healthcare program. Improving prison healthcare by providing free vitamin supplements will be a step in the right direction.

vitamin deficiency

Based on the top ten health issues that men face (heart issues, respiratory issues, and depression/suicide), here are the most common vitamin deficiencies in men.

Impaired Brain or Cognitive Function

  • Iron – According to amazingwellness.com, Iron deficiency is also associated with impaired brain function, including decreased attentiveness, a narrower attention span, decreased persistence, and decreased voluntary activity.”
  • Vitamin D – A deficiency results in poor cognition, neurological function, increased risk of Dementia and of Alzheimer’s. A decline in brain health was three times more likely due to vitamin D deficiency than that of healthy adults.
  • Vitamin B-12 – A deficiency can result in memory loss, Dementia, difficult balancing, difficulty walking, and depression.

Asthma

  • Magnesium – A low level can result in impaired lung function, overactive bronchial activity, and an increase in wheezing.
  • Zinc – A zinc vitamin deficiency has been found in patients that are experiencing wheezing, attacks, and airway inflammation. It has been known to alter airway reactivity by reducing the inflammatory response.
  • Vitamin E – Assists in reducing airway constriction due to its anti-inflammatory properties. According to verywellhealth.com, “low levels are associated with increased asthma symptoms, increased airway hyperreactivity, and poorer asthma control.

Cardiovascular Issues

  • Magnesium – A deficiency can increase the risk of a heart attack and is associated with high blood pressure.
  • Potassium – Be careful with this nutrient because too much and too little can cause the same effects. This nutrient can cause heart rhythm irregularities because it controls the electrical pulse within the heart.
  • Calcium – A calcium vitamin deficiency is also related to heartbeat irregularities, lack of blood pressure control, and improper blood vessel activity.

Impotence & the Heart

  • Zinc – A zinc vitamin deficiency can result in lower testosterone levels, unhealthy prostate, decreased sperm count/motility, and erectile dysfunction.
  • Vitamin D – A low level of vitamin D can result in restricted blood flow.  
  • Folic Acid – A significantly lower level can result in heart dysfunction and decreased erectile strength.  

Vitamins supply added or missing nutrients to people that want an extra boost or are deficient. Inmates are most certainly deficient in vitamins considering the food they’re served and the environment they are in. Even if you’re not in prison, having a poor diet can result in deficiencies too. Even a slight deficiency can result in symptoms because your body cannot make certain minerals or vitamins. Furthermore, if the vegetables you buy are grown in nutrient poor soil, you will miss out on a lot of essential nutrients too.

Food Contamination & Depression

Would you ever think, food contamination and depression could be linked? I definitely didn’t think they were until I read a post about a cook in a prison kitchen who encountered packaged chicken that was labeled “unfit for human consumption”. I’ve also written about it in my book, Subprime Felon: Inside Federal Prison Camp.

It’s incredible that prison institutions would allow that type of food into the prison system and never notify the inmates. Foods with that label are full of contamination and are injurious to health. Those types of foods are derived from animals that are unborn, stillborn, heavily contaminated with bacteria. According to Dr. Mercola,

“Contamination of meat by heavy metals, veterinary drugs and pesticides is a problem which the U.S. government has for the most part ignored.  And while bacterial contaminants can be killed by cooking, chemical residues stay in the meat.”

This type of meat is considered unsafe and usually isn’t placed on the market for human purchase. In fact, because of that, there is a class action lawsuit at four prisons in Oregon regarding this matter. This issue creates more problems within the prison population. Heavy metals and pesticides have a lethal effect on the mind and body. It’s no wonder why so many inmates fight depression. Even after their release, depression can linger since metals and chemicals are stored within the body.

“The metals most commonly associated with depression are lead, mercury, and cadmium. These are commonly found in our environment. We can trace the origins of these particular toxins to industrial factories, dental amalgam, welding equipment, cigarette smoke, and old galvanized water pipes. Even natural medicines, such as Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine herbs, have been implicated as sources“ (Naturopathic Doctor News & Review {NDNR}).

food contamination and depressionPesticides are known to lower brain, immune, and endocrine functions. Heavy metal toxins also affect brain functions as well as gastrointestinal and joint issues. If you’re a health nut like me, then you are concerned about the food you ate while in prison camp. Even if you didn’t go to prison, you’ll never know if your food was unfit for human consumption. However, research has found that there are some things we can do to combat this.

Heavy Metal Testing

We can get tested for heavy metals and see how much of a particular metal we are storing within our bodies. Hair most likely the best way to test since it can tell if you’ve had prior exposure to heavy metals. The longer your hair is, the better the test will be. However, if you have short hair or no hair, you can still get a blood or urine test. This test will only indicate heavy metal levels if you are currently in contact with heavy metals. If metals are found, there is a process called chelation that you can go through to remove the toxins.

Nutrition

The NDNR reports that certain minerals are effective in reducing chemicals in the body. These minerals include magnesium, selenium, zinc, calcium, and manganese. They are known to prohibit toxins from being absorbed into the cells and stop toxins from being used within the body. If you have any vitamin deficiencies, now is the time to start taking your vitamins and developing a healthier meal plan.

Proper Food Habits

If you are cooking often, make sure you follow proper protocol in the kitchen. Don’t allow your meats to stay unfrozen for more than two hours at room temperature. Don’t let uncooked poultry to stay in the fridge where its juices could drip onto other food items. Also, make sure to thoroughly cook meat to the correct temperature. Many times, prison cooking personnel are unable to follow these simple rules – if you were sick in prison, this could be the reason, if not, then maybe you should have been a germaphobe like these men I met in prison.

Supplements

If you suspect that you have trouble with depression that may be linked to unfit food, try taking vitamin C and vitamin E as they are known to help eliminate toxins rapidly. This is probably the easiest thing you could do to combat depression linked to toxins.

Remember, this world is growing larger and larger populations in every city. There aren’t enough people to properly check food contamination. There are companies worldwide that are fighting the necessary research needed to find treatments for food contamination and depression. Agricultural companies aren’t able to keep up with the demand of humans eating three times a day and prisons say they aren’t able to afford adequate food supplies, so as a human being it is up to you to make sure you are eating the best, safe food.

Writing Every Day

Every blog writer has a goal of writing every day, but it’s challenging. Writing every day can be difficult when you’re not focused, but even when you are focused it still can be frustrating. It is my goal to start writing every day, but in order to do so, I had to take some initiative to make sure that I would achieve my goal. As I thought about how I’ve been writing every day, I found that I have advice to share. Here are the tips I discovered for writing every day.

Figure Out Your Topic

The best way to start writing daily is to decide on a topic and stick to it. You can’t plan your ideas or your writing material if you are all over the place in thought. Figuring out your topic will help you to focus on what you’re writing. Not only will it help you focus on what you’re writing, but it will also help you focus on your audience. The key to writing daily is to figure out what your audience wants to read and give it to them. Overall, when you know your topic you are better focused to write. You can even divide your topic into subtopics. This will give you more to plan, but also give you a wider, yet more organized range of information to pull from.

writing every dayPlan Your Writing Material

Once you have figure out your topic and/or your subtopics, now you can plan on what to write. This part of the process is all about what you actually want to write about. I imagine the topic you chose interests you, in fact, if it doesn’t then you should start over. Once you have a topic that you like, then you can start with ideas that interest you or ideas that led you to choose the topic. Then you can choose popular ideas or things that most people write about. I know most people don’t want to be like the crowd, but just because you’re writing on the latest fitness craze doesn’t mean you have to take the same stance as everyone else.

To truly write every day, it’s probably best to think of about 30 ideas for your topic. If you have subtopics, here is where they come in handy. Instead of having to think of thirty ideas about your topic, when you split it up into, let’s say 3 subtopics, you will only have to think of 10 ideas per subtopic. For example, if your topic is nutrition, then maybe you could have subtopics about supplements, diets, and healthy lifestyles. You would then choose ten ideas. For supplements, you could choose vitamin deficiencies, FDA regulations, and popular vitamins. These ideas would become the basis for your blog title.

Summarize Your Ideas

Once you have your topic, subtopics, and ideas you can then start writing. However, it’s not time to fully write a post. In this section, what you want to do is write one to two sentences about each idea. If you’ve ever seen or written an annotated bibliography, then you know what to do. The sentences are a summary of what you’re planning on writing about. More than likely you will have forgotten what each topic was about or why you decided to write about it in the first place. This will help you later in the month to quickly remember and not waste time writing your blog post.

Stay Alert

After all that is done, go ahead and start writing, but stay alert. There are things that you are writing that will help other posts. Perhaps you need to research information about vitamin deficiencies and find out that most people are deficient in vitamin D and therefore it’s a popular vitamin. That information will help another post since one of your ideas is about popular vitamins. Stay alert when watching television or listening to the radio, there may be information that you could use when writing your blog post. When you’re reading online journals or magazines, see there is any information related to your ideas. Doing so will help you to write faster and free up your time to plan for the next month.

Hopefully, these tips will help make it easier to start writing every day.

If you have any ideas that could help you write every day, let me know. Write your suggestions in the comments below.

How Reading Makes You a Better Writer

It’s a statement recited multiple times to young children; reading is fundamental. Many writers hear something similar. It is said that reading makes you a better writer. In a previous post, I detail why reading is important and how it took me a while to figure it out. However, does it matter what you read? I could understand if you were reading academic journals or textbooks, but what about other genres? What if you’re reading comedy or horror? How does it really help you improve? These are the questions I sought after.

Originally, my thoughts were that the flow of the book would act as an example for authors when organizing their material. I also thought the authors could learn more vocabulary when reading other works. I did some research and I found out it doesn’t matter what you’re reading. As long as you’re reading, it improves your writing. Here’s how reading improves an author’s writing.

Vocabulary

I was right about one thing, reading does improve vocabulary. It exposes the reader to more words than a television show or even a conversation between peers. When you have a better vocabulary you can better explain scenarios and paint better imagery within your books. Your newfound adjectives and verbs will deepen your reader’s overall view of the setting and plots you’re writing.

Healthy Brain

In my search, I found that reading helps improve the health of the brain. This article says it’s just as good as jogging or exercising. It also improves the blood flow to the brain. Reading improves brain functions like memory and decreases the brain’s decline that comes with age. Also according to the article,

“Those who engage their brains through activities such as reading, chess, or puzzles could be 2.5 times less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those who spend their down time on less stimulating activities.”

Relating to Others

Some writers hang around people that are similar to their characters and they have a hard time relating to other people that are dissimilar to them. Reading helps writers relate to other ethnic groups and socioeconomic statuses. If you’re Black and don’t hang around present-day Native Americans, how would you know how they would respond to certain situations?

Relaxation

The article cites a scientific study that says losing yourself in a book is truly relaxing. I believe relaxation is the key to writing. When I’m relaxing, I feel at ease and my creative juices flow better than when I’m stressing over the material I plan to write. The concept is also backed by a cognitive neuropsychologist.

Where to Find Books

Although the article prefers traditional softcover or hardcover books to ebooks, as long as you’re reading, I think you’re writing will still improve. I came across a site that tailors books to your preferred genres. It sends an email with book suggestions and also has a daily list of free and discounted ebook titles. Their discounted titles are usually $0.99 to $2.99. Here’s what their website says.

“BookBub features limited-time offers for the best free books in over twenty genres, from both top-tier publishers and critically-acclaimed independent authors. These free ebooks are available on all devices, including Kindle, Nook, iPad, and Android”.

Reading Makes You a Better WriterClick here for their free ebook list and don’t forget to check them out for great titles to read. The only thing is that you have to join their mailing list. In order to view their site, you have to sign up using your email, but I don’t think that’s a bad thing. I get their daily emails and they give their customers a choice of how to purchase books (free or paid). You can purchase through Amazon or Google. Lastly, they will also send you a list of articles to read. This can give you great ideas when looking for writing ideas for blog posts.

I hope this list will motivate you to improve your writing by reading more books. I also hope that the resource given will help you to find books you love to read, therefore making it easier to improve your writing skills.

Get Inspired: 7 Everyday Writing Prompts

writing promptsInspiration can come by the simplest things in life. If we take the time to truly observe all that is around us our situations will become our own writing prompts. Instead of searching for lists of prompts and saving them to your writer’s block file, take a look around you and relax. I’m sure you will find something that will spark your imagination and get your hands to writing. If you somehow aren’t able to open your mind to see all the possibilities, try my list below for 7 writing prompts. Many of these suggestions are for novelists and storytellers, but other writers can use these too.

Artwork Stories

Have you ever looked at a piece of art and wondered what was the artist trying to convey? Maybe you’ve wondered what made them decide to draw or paint this? These simple questions can open your imagination to a world of wonder, insight, and inventiveness. Let your mind run free as you imagine the life they led or the experiences they’ve encountered that caused them to create that particular piece. Think about what was happening in their time period and how you can put a twist on it or just write a story about a fictional character that painted a similar piece of art as the one you’re looking at.

Write your Dreams

I’m sure you’ve heard of the Twilight series and how the author, Stephanie Meyer, wrote the first book based on a dream she had. I don’t have to tell you that she made millions of dollars and even had her books turned into a series of movies. Even if your dreams are weird you can still use them. If you write about romance and you had a dream about aliens, put a spin on it and write from the perspective of a loving couple that has to work together during an alien invasion. You don’t really have to focus on the aliens, but you can use what happened as the reason the couple falls in love. Another way to spin your alien dream would be to make the two lovebirds into aliens, but never tell the audience until the climax or as an end of the story twist.

People Watch

Have you watched this scene from the movie Date Night?

Some people may say it’s mean, but if you look at it from a different perspective then you would be able to turn your idle people watching moments into active writing sessions. It could make your book more personable and your dialogue more believable. Also, write down their actions and reactions. Then observe their facial expressions and gestures. Maybe she flips her hair and maybe he scrunched his nose a lot. Those types of idiosyncrasies make characters stand out. I bet all that happens in one people watching session is too hard to even write down; you’d definitely won’t be able to capture it all. In fact, I believe this would work so well, I may do a 7 day people watching challenge. Anyone care to join?

Retell Conversations

Get together with your friends and family to see what they’ve heard lately or what conversations they’ve had with others. The conversation doesn’t have to be about your writing genre. As a writer, you should be inventive and abundant in imagination that you could merge two genres and lean heavily on the genre you prefer. However, I feel like retelling conversations would be suited towards self-help or religion/spirituality genres. You could gather what you hear, hold onto it and compile a “retell list”. You don’t have to use one conversation to write one book, mix and match conversations.

Pet & Nature Watch

This will help children’s writers. Watch how a bird builds its nest or how a squirrel gathers acorns and write a story about it. Try giving the animals or insects a name. If you watch long enough, you’ll see things that go wrong and how they have to fix it. Use it as a learning lesson for children to never give up or to be patient. It’s sort of like the “Bee Movie”. The writers used the drone like actions of bees to write about a rebel bee who wanted to choose his own profession. This method could also be used for those that write poetry.

Use Your Real Life Problems

Everyone has struggles and situations in life that can be turned into a great book. All books are centered around problems the characters must overcome or solve before the book is over. It’s much easier to write about your issues and what you would like to do about them even if you aren’t able to actually do it. If you’d rather not write about your personal issues, you could try writing about your children’s issues. Do you have a kid that seems to find trouble? Perhaps you have a child that overthinks and analyzes everything; use it as the basis for a character.

Spin-off a TV Show or Movie

In 1996, a movie called “A Time to Kill” was shown in theaters. It featured a young Mississippi lawyer representing an older Mississippi, Black man who murdered his ten year old daughter’s assailants. At the end of the trial, the lawyer, who was very new to the courtroom, ended his defense by having the jurors close their eyes and imagine the brutal beating, raping, failed hanging attempt and overall violation of the young black victim. It caused the jurors to shed tears knowing that this happened, but then, as a twist in the story, the lawyer asked them to imagine that the young girl was white. Due to the time period that was a huge statement that ultimately caused him to win the case.

You can do the same thing. Imagine your favorite show and change or expand the characters. Here’s the thing – if it’s a really good movie, chances are, a lot of other people like it too. For example, The Predator series is a popular franchise which Jeff Vandermeer took advantage of and wrote a spin-off book about it, and it flourished. He went on to write 6 more novels! Here are more authors that wrote spin-off books.

There’s inspiration all around you. Just tap into your everyday life, stop and smell the roses – and then write a book about it. Let your imagination run wild and leave the editing for another day. Don’t forget to make writing fun, if you don’t, why do it?

If these suggestions don’t get you out of writer’s block, click here to try this.

Writing Better with Lifelong Learning

There are many professions that require lifelong learning in order to maximize their skills and previous educational knowledge. As times change, their professions must stay updated on things like new laws, new policies, and new scientific discoveries. A continuous education is needed for writers too. Although writing doesn’t have aspects that change, authors can forget basics or confuse tricky grammar and punctuation. A lot of writers also suffer from writer’s block. I’ll be honest, I always get mixed up with dialogue quotes and parentheses versus period placements. It’s good to know there are books and courses that you can take or read to write better – even better these are all free! Here are my suggestions for writing better with lifelong learning.

 

FREE Online Courses

Class Central

Class Central periodically updates a variety of online classes that are aimed at all types of writers, even new ones. They are sharing course information from real colleges and universities that have programs called Mass Open Online Course or MOOC. While most MOOCs aren’t free, the list on Class Central’s website are. You can find courses from prestigious institutions like Stanford University, to universities such as the University of California or Michigan State University, to online institutions such as Skillshare. Some of the topics are applied writing, basic writing, journalistic writing, and essay writing. What I like most are the names of the courses. Of course you have your basic English Composition, but there are courses on creative writing, grammar and style, thinking like a writer, content writing, blogging, storytelling, fiction, poetry, business, and scientific writing. I’m sure you’ll be able to find a course that you NEED to take.

The Crafty Writers Creative Writing Course

This free course is taught by a prolific author who has written and sold multiple novels, children series, and magazine articles. Fiona Veitch Smith, the editor of Plain Truth magazine, has created an online course with eight fun and powerful writing modules. Although the course doesn’t give you feedback on your writing, it does push you to start writing. (She offers critiquing at paid rate). Her courses teach on releasing your creativity, writing a short story, writing from certain points of view, and more. She also gives helpful resources and other literature that will aid you in your lifelong learning journey.

DIY MFA

If you’ve ever wanted to get your MFA in writing, here’s your chance and guess what? It’s free. The owner graduated with a MFA and noticed how others were struggling to feel like they were professionals because of their lack of education. She decided to create a free course that focuses on writing, reading, and building a community of writers.

More Free Online Courses

There are lots more free online courses compiled on TCK Publishing’s website. Scroll through the site and find the free course that best fits you.

writing

FREE Books 

If you want to know why you should read books to improve your writing, follow this link and read my blog post on why it’s so important. I challenge any writer to read at least one book per month and analyze the results.

Book Marketing Guide by Smashwords

This 2018 edition written by Smashwords founder and CEO, Mark Coker, introduces authors to important tips for book marketing. I mean what’s the point of writing if no one ever buys your products? This free e-book presents 65 marketing ideas and also gives advice for social media marketing as well. He even talks about how to get free press for your material.

How to Write a Good Query Letter by Noah Lukeman

This book is ranked 29th on Amazon’s website for Publishing. Noah Lukeman is a literary agent who receives hundreds, no thousands of query letters daily. His book details why he rejects letters and why he accepts letters and how to get your letter accepted. Isn’t that the goal of writing? Don’t you want to have your book published? This book also explains how to get and keep a literary agent. All of this piqued my interest, so I downloaded the free book from Amazon.

More Free Books on Writing

Smashwords has a full list of books that are free to download as pdf’s. They are all for writers looking to enhance their skills with lifelong learning. The first book is the most downloaded book on their website. Read through the list and download what you need or just download them all, they’re free.

I hope this article helps you to believe in lifelong learning and also helps you become a better writer.

Flu Remedies That are Proven to Work

It’s Flu season and I have Flu remedies! Although most people are fearful during this time of year, I am not. Most people get the Flu shot and others don’t. Today’s post isn’t about whether or not you should get it or even where to go if you do get one. I figure there are people who get the shot and still get the Flu and there are people who don’t get the shot and get the Flu. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. What I want to talk about is what to do if you get the Flu. I personally have never had the Flu, however a close friend of mine got the Flu last year. He didn’t know he had it until maybe one week after he couldn’t get rid of the symptoms. Once he was diagnosed, I told him to get two over the counter remedies, but he ignored my advice for two days. For those two days, he was beyond miserable. When he finally gave in, he felt so much better. The crazy thing about it is that I found the remedy on Facebook.

Scrolling through my timeline I noticed a post being shared a lot and it was a popular post because I had seen it the year before but never paid any attention to it. It was a  description of what someone had done with their symptoms and there was a picture attached to it. In the picture was two over-the-counter medicines called Sambucol and Oscillococcinum. The names are weird and hard to pronounce, but after two days of taking these two medicines, you will feel so much better. On the third day of taking them, you will most likely feel normal again. I believe the Flu lasts about two weeks, but with these two products, it only lasts days! You have to buy them if you ever get sick.

The post is by Sandi Ashby Flippo and reads,

“A nurse friend taught me this. If you have the Flu go to Walgreens and get these two items. The Sambucol comes in liquid or pill. The Oscillococcinum dosage is a small vial of tiny dots that melt on your tongue and taste like sweet tarts. In 48 hours you will feel better. In 72 hours you will be almost symptom-free. The last two times I had the Flu I did not take the Tamiflu prescription I only took this”.Flu Remedies

This stuff really works wonders. My friend was feeling better in two days! He was taking tylenol and advil at first, but was back to his usual self in no time after taking these medicines. In fact, a couple weeks later, my parents got a touch of the Flu too. I told them about these products and how it helped my friend and they immediately purchased them and felt better quicker than their friends.

My suggestion this season is to purchase them ahead of time. You never know when there will be a craze and people will flock to the store to purchase it and Walgreens or Amazon will be all out or on back order. Actually, what I’ve done is purchase the gummy version of the Sambucol. Since it is a herbal supplement, I figured I would just be ahead of the game and build my immune system now. It’s so sad that the Flu kills people every year. I can’t wait for it to become an eradicated virus or disease like Polio and Smallpox. Until then, be safe my friends. Oh, if you just so happen to get sick, curl up with a great book – mine! It’s called Subprime Felon; it’s a good read too! Read this short excerpt and find out what it’s all about (click here)

Accepting Depression Can Be Hard

Accepting depression can be hard. Depression affects many people in world, but most try to hide their symptoms from family and friends. It makes people feel embarrassed knowing their feelings can bring others down. Their solution is to stay at home, curled up in a ball drowning in their depressive thoughts. According to Inscribmag.com, depression is one of the most common health conditions for men and affects millions worldwide.  The article, aimed at men with depression, gives better solutions to dealing with depression than what most men are currently doing.

Accepting depression can be hardThere were two suggestions that really stood out to me. I think it’s great advice that I will act on. The first piece of advice was to stop punishing yourself. I do this too much and it’s time for me to take care of myself the right way. I can’t keep punishing myself for something I can’t control. I have to come to terms with the situation and accept that it’s truly a mental illness. Once I am able to accept the problem for what it is, then I can move forward and find a real solution. The next step would seek professional help. A doctor that has dealt with patients that exhibit depression symptoms can legally diagnose me with depression. After a diagnosis, I can then start treatment that will hopefully lead me to overcome my depression. However, all of this starts with me acknowledging my illness as something that isn’t going to go away on its own. I’m more committed to making sure that I stop being hard on myself and turn this negative into a positive.

The second thing that I agreed with was exercising to decrease symptoms. I normally workout and exercise to achieve this goal. I can say that this is something that works well for me. In fact, I’ve recorded a video on YouTube about it, click here to watch it or watch it below. I do cardio to help with depression. I actually do it every day. According to the article, there are “25 studies that have found that physical activity helps fight depression”. You will need to take about twenty minutes and exercise to help fight your depression. However, like me, you will need to do this every day or at least five times a week. This helps you to release the right chemicals in your brain which adds to your happiness. Try looking up cardio videos on YouTube to get ideas for routines that are easy for you to do. You can start out doing exercises for your legs one day and then the next day, try exercises for your arms. There are exercises for almost every part of the body. Choose one a day or just find a regular cardio workout. 

If you want to lift your depression, then I think you should follow the advice above. Seeing a doctor will really help you to jumpstart your treatment and help you add happier days to your life. Although it may not cure your depression, it will give you more days to spend with family and friends opposed to you laying under the covers alone. Take the steps necessary to make your life more fulfilling. I know I deserve it and I bet you do to.

 

Job Hunting Resources for Felons

resources for felons

After you’ve been convicted of a crime and serve time in jail, it’s a difficult and sometimes heartbreaking journey to becoming employed. In this article, you will find valuable job hunting resources for felons. I have compiled a list of books, websites, and videos that deal specifically with those who have re-entered society from prison. I hope you find this helpful and valuable.

Jail to Job: Seven Steps to Becoming Employed by Mark Drevno

According to Amazon reviews, this book is being used by reentry programs and prison rehabilitation programs to help inmates get ready to apply to jobs as well as help former inmates apply to jobs. Staff has noticed that the book holds inmates attention, provides basic tips and techniques, and leaves no questions unanswered. The most popular piece of advice is the “turn around packet” which details an inmate’s potential for job readiness.

Know Your Rights: Employment Laws for Convicted Felons

Knowing how to gain employment is not enough when you’re a disadvantaged job applicant. However, knowing what an employer has the right to ask you is important. Did you know that you have to give permission for an employer to pull your criminal record? Did you know that an employer must give you a copy of the record and a summary of the report before taking negative action?

Prison Entrepreneurship Program (www.pep.org)

Located in Texas, this program is geared towards creating faith-based leadership by teaching “real-world values-based business skills to inmates”.  According to their website, they have the nation’s leading results in prison rehabilitation for over 1,300 people. They help with employment, small business formation, job retention, higher than average starting wages, and low recidivism rates.

The Prison Entrepreneurship Guide 

A webpage filled with information on business and entrepreneurship programs in multiple states like Georgia, Illinois, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, and California. There’s even information for a program in Canada. Some states have multiple programs, and all programs are linked to their respective websites.

Defy Ventures

A rigorous and competitive program towards entrepreneurship that not for the faint of heart. If you are located in the Bay area of California or in New York City, then you should apply. You can fill out the application online or call their toll free number (1-800-680-0563). They specialize in working with criminals with histories of violence, gang banging, and drug rings. If you need some inspiration, read their graduate stories here

Exoffenders.net

Their job guide has a long list of things to-do in order to prepare your mind for the job hunt. It is a basic list for those who have never held a job before prison and offers sensible advice.

 

Videos For Job Readiness

Goodwill has multiple states that offer Re-entry programs.

Eric Mayo has earned the nickname “The Job Guy” because he has successfully helped thousands of felons find employment. He also has a website (www.jailtojob.com).

Clinton M. McCoy is considered the “Real Life Coach” because he teaches and gives real life answers to real life questions. He is an felon who discovered that his college wasn’t going to help him. Here is his advise.

Here’s my own video on why felons should pursue entrepreneurship opportunities. For more information on 4 easy entrepreneur ex-con business ideas, click here and check out my blog post.

Live Your Best Life Locally!

best life quoteIf you can’t live your best life, then live your best life locally until you can. Just because you can’t jet set to another state or country and turn up doesn’t mean that you can’t live your best life locally. I believe there are levels of living your best life and your local best life doesn’t have to be boring or routine. You can have an adventurous lifestyle by visiting places you’ve never been. Admit it, there’s a place you drive by and wonder what it’s like inside. There’s a place advertised on local television that you’ve always wanted to go, but haven’t. It’s time to take a step out of your comfort zone and level up. Even though it may seem like baby steps to jet setting in Paris, Japan, or Brazil, sometimes stepping stones are what’s needed to get you to make real moves.

Even if there’s nothing in your immediate city or town, there’s something to do in your state. If you live in the southern part of the state, visit a place that’s in the northern part. Do the same vice versa if you live in the northern, eastern or western part of your state. Chances are there are places that you’ll love and never knew existed. Since these places can sometimes be hidden treasures, try looking through Groupon for deals, packages, or coupons for things you like to do. You can also try to do things you’ve never done before. Living your best life shouldn’t be all about being complacent, instead, it should be about adventure and taking risks. You want to be able to look back in life and be proud of your journey and the knowledge you gained when you did the unthinkable.

Nature Adventures

If you’re more of a nature person, look for state forests, caves, botanical gardens, and trails. I bet you’ll see some great scenery and take some cool pictures. Try going the night before so that you can get up early and see the sunrise. Don’t worry if you don’t make it because you could also stick around and see the sunset. Either way, it’s a beautiful moment that you don’t want to miss. Make sure to pack the right items like bug spray, sunscreen, and snacks. Check websites for forbidden and prohibited items.

Water Fun

If land isn’t your thing, try looking for harbors, bays, and other bodies of water that allow yachts and other boats. Go sailing one day and watch the wildlife in the water. There are many places that will bring you aboard to watch for whales and dolphins. Other companies will take you out to see so you can snorkel.

Relax & Unwind

If your best life is more chill, then you definitely want to check out some spa resorts and float tanks. According to this article on www.tripsavvy.com, a destination spa isn’t all about massages, facials, and body wraps. A destination spa means you will typically spend about two to three nights at their resort. They promote healthy lifestyles and offer exercise classes and lectures on wellness. You can also get spa service there as well, but they focus on the entire body, mentally and physically. If you really want to unwind, try to search for a sensory deprivation tank or a float tank. If you’ve never floated before, then you’re going to love it. A float tank looks like a large bathtub and it’s filled with a massive amount of magnesium salts (Epsom salts). The amount of magnesium salt creates a buoyancy when you get into the float tank and you float. No seriously, you don’t have to try to keep your head or limbs above water. It’s such a freeing experience. These types of tanks deprive your body of touch so that you can de-stress and relax. Depending on the package, you can spend about 60 minutes to 90 minutes in the tank. If you find a nice float business like this one from New Jersey, then you’ll have an awesome room to float in. I used their galaxy float tank. When I was done, I felt so light and relaxed.

Party Hard

If you’re set on turning things up, then you may want to plan in advance to make your experience the best. You want to search online for places that have concerts, nightclubs that are different from your hometown clubs, or events will be playing music all night long. Instead of Google, try using these apps to search for big-time fun.

  • Discotech – Guestlist, Tickets, and Bottle Service for your favorite events.
  • Eventbrite – Find fun things to do in multiple cities.
  • Night Nomads – Find all the best upcoming parties, gigs, concerts and nightlife around the city.
  • Showwoo – Trending adventures, events, and amusement parks in various cities and countries.

Depending on your taste, there’s always something to do. You never have to wish you had the life of someone else when you could be doing the same thing in your own backyard. I promise with a little planning and saving, you’ll get to jet set if you really want to, but don’t let it keep your from living your best life locally.