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Forty Days of No Shopping
By Bernadette Ulsamer

Every year for Lent I give up shopping. There is the school of thought that whatever you gave up for Lent you can indulge in on Sundays. Technically, the Sundays of Lent aren’t included in the 40 days. Personally I don’t recognize the Sunday loophole, but I do allow for the purchase of essentials like underwear, socks, and groceries, because Catholics are no longer required to fast the full 40 days as in olden times and Holy Week shouldn’t refer to the state of my work tights by the end of the season.
  The focus is to give up things like clothing, accessories, and shoes. New beauty trends are also put on the back burner for these 40 days. Let’s face it: I don’t NEED anything new in those departments. In fact, I’m well overdue for a clothing purge as things are getting a bit tight in my dresser drawers. But besides closet space, I have several reasons for this type of Lenten fast: number one being that 40 shopping-free days gives me plenty of time to catch up on post-Christmas debt. Number two, it acts as palate-cleanser for upcoming spring trends and as a precursor to spring closet cleaning. It’s important to get into the right frame of mind before you make the big switch. And lastly, regardless of your religious affinity, the season transition from dormancy to renewal is an ideal time to do some internal work. You can’t have a clear mind with a cluttered closet.
  And I’m not saying this is easy—but that’s the point. In years past I really had to white-knuckle through my self-mandated shopping ban. There were occasional falls off the wagon, tricky “gift-giving” in particular. I would find myself in the “Hey best friend/mother/sibling/spouse/coworker, let’s do Easter gifts this year: here’s what I want!” Definitely not very gracious.  But as I’ve grown older and refined my style, I feel confident that the allure of end-of-winter sales and the arrival of spring must-haves will not tempt me this year. 
  Never fear, I have a game plan! First and foremost, I’m unsubscribing from all the emails and newsletters I get from retailers. If they can’t send me notices on discounts or new arrivals, then I won’t visit their sites and make purchases. This is an important part of my plan, since I do the vast majority of my shopping online. Visiting actual stores takes planning and effort (which, for me, usually involves friends and wine). Thus, I’ve let my friends know we’ll only be doing the wine bit until after Easter. Pro tip: do not give up shopping AND wine. The year I did was HORRIBLE, and no one wants to go through that again. 
  My second stop-gap is to “shop my closet” which is a fancy way of saying that I’m going to wear the clothes I already own. Actually, it’s a bit more strategic than that. My aim is to not wear the same outfit twice during this time period, which will give me a chance to start going through my crowded wardrobe. Yet another step in the metal preparation for spring cleaning, and I’m hoping to rediscover some garments that haven’t seen the light of day in a while. The triumph of finding a dress (or pair of trousers) that fit great and look good can be way more fulfilling when you find them in your own closet, as opposed to finding them on a sale rack.
  To coincide with my 40 days of no shopping, I’ve taken this opportunity to do more internal work and am attempting to stop giving energy to needless complaining. During winter, many people have a tendency to let the weather overtake their moods. Can you say negativity blizzard? Personally, I'm tired of feeling angry and grumpy, so I figure if I can stop unnecessary complaining, I can hopefully start feeling and thinking more positively. Any sane-minded person would be thinking, "Good Luck with that!" But, I have a plan:  
1. Be aware of negative energy the moment it starts to rise.
2. Acknowledge that energy and consciously stop myself from going down that thought track.
3. Think of something positive and give life-affirming energy towards those thoughts. 
4. If #3 isn't working, make a physical change (i.e. get up and walk around, move on to a different task or project, take a tea break, etc.).
5. If #3 or #4 aren't successful, don't beat myself up about giving in to complaining.
6. Recognize that I'm in the midst of #5 and quell that noise. 
  So there's some armchair life-coaching for you! Regardless of what you’re giving up, or what changes you’re attempting to make this time of year, having a game plan makes it seem a little less daunting. Plus, “advertising” your plan with friends and family will help hold you accountable and give you a support system. It’s hard, but at least I learned my lesson about also giving up wine.

Susquehanna Trailways Promo Night:
Spotlight on San Francisco

Susquehanna Trailways invites you to attend a Promotional Night to be held on Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 to learn more about “San Francisco” in conjunction with Collette Vacations.
  This new Spotlight on “San Francisco” tour will also feature the Napa Valley and Monterey. And the best new feature of all is one hotel for the duration of the tour. Each day, the tour will set out in a different direction from the hotel. Highlights of San Fran will include dinner on Pier 39 overlooking the beautiful San Francisco Bay, with postcard views of the Golden Gate and Bay bridges, Alcatraz and the bay. In your free time, shop at Fisherman’s Wharf, Union Square or take a ride up and down the city’s thrilling hills on a classic cable car.
  Travel to the lush Napa Valley, one of the most famous wine-growing regions in the country. Also visit Monterey, the city often called the greatest meeting of land, sea and sky. Points of interest on the way to include Del Monte Forest featuring the Lone Cypress Tree, Seal Rock, and the renowned Pebble Beach Golf Course. Explore Old Monterey before returning back to the hotel.
  A promotional night to learn more about this exciting 4 night/5 day tour will be held on Tuesday, March 24th, 2015 beginning at 6:00 pm. Reservations for the meeting should be made by calling Susquehanna Trailways at 800-692-6314 or 570-322-5361. More details will be available at that time.

Handprint Rainbow Craft

This is a great St. Patrick’s Day craft, or even a Wizard of Oz craft project!
  This is a nice easy craft that works well for all ages. 
  Educational ideas to go with the craft:
  For young children, practice naming their colors. Say, "Can you glue the red handprint, can you glue the orange handprint, etc.?"
  For older children, practice the order of the rainbow colors. Ask them to glue the handprints together in the same order as the rainbow (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet).
  For an alphabet/phonics challenge, write on a white sheet where you want them to glue the handprints. Use the first letter of each color on the sheet (R O Y G B I V) and see if they can match the colors with the letters.
  When you're done, ask the child what colors mix together to make orange (red and yellow).  Point out that orange is in between red and yellow on the rainbow.  Repeat with green (in between yellow and blue).
  I bet you didn't know rainbows could be so educational!
• Rainbow colors of tempra paint, OR
• Rainbow colors of paper, OR
• Rainbow colors of craft foam.
• Have child make tempra paint handprints in rainbow colors
• Trace child's hand on rainbow colors of paper or craft foam, or
• Mix it up a bit (a few paint hands, a few traced hands)
• Let dry as necessary.
• Cut out the handprints, this step may require adult assistance.
• Glue to form a rainbow
• If you have lots of patience or lots of kids, you can glue 5 prints in each color to make a "real" looking rainbow, OR
• Just make 5 to 7 prints in different colors and glue into a rainbow shape... it isn't quite as rainbow looking, but it's quite a bit faster and still gets the point across.

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