This is about a LOT more than coupons… here is my story, what’s yours?

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My husband and I owned a mortgage company when the real estate market crashed.  Our mission for many years was to “Inspire and Help Families in our community to own their own home”.  We kept our business small and worked directly with our local community rather than reaching out to other markets because that is where our heart has always been.

In our area, a large percentage of employment was directly related to the real estate industry, most people were either in the construction field or some form of real estate since we were just coming out of a period of rapid growth in our area.   Many of us (including me and my family) went from working long hours with regular paychecks to having absolutely no work and no income coming in.  Since I was self employed, I did not have the option of unemployment, but even for those that did, it wasn’t anywhere near what they were making prior to the market crashing.  Families were REALLY struggling to make ends meet and keep food on the table.  It was the worst that I have ever seen the economy and for a time it appeared that there was no light at the end of the tunnel.

My step daughter and her husband had just adopted two little girls and both had recently taken a substantial pay cut, my best friend who worked for a local developer took a major cut in her pay as well.   We were all struggling BIG TIME.  I had heard of this lady that bought $200 in groceries and only paid $20 after coupons and although it seemed impossible to be real, we decided to investigate this and figure out HOW to do this!

We dug deep into the resources online, called corporate offices of the local grocery stores to totally familiarize ourselves with their coupon policies and how to use coupons effectively to maximize our savings.  Together we researched how to coupon extensively and had our deals carefully planned.  We were BEYOND nervous to try it out since we were all flat broke at the time and if the coupons weren’t accepted it would be extremely embarrassing.   On our first shopping trip with coupons my step daughter Erica was able to buy $236 worth of groceries for $12.36 out of pocket and I purchased $210 worth of groceries for a little over $20.00!   We could NOT believe it!  Very quickly we were able to fill our pantries and freezers and it became very clear that we could also help others at the same time.  We went from feeling like we didn’t have enough to having more than enough and even enough to share with others that were struggling too.   We had a renewed hop to our step and a feeling of hope and excitement which we hadn’t felt for months.   At the time, we knew of NO ONE in our area that was couponing on this level.

I felt inspired to show others how to save money for their families and starting telling anyone who would listen.  Since this was so new and the coupon craze hadn’t hit the nation in full force yet, people had no idea what I was talking about.  After encouragement from a close friend to hold a class, we set up a makeshift meeting room in a vacant building using lawn chairs for seating and put out word that I would be teaching people how to coupon.   We had 21 people show up at the first class and mid way through the class two ladies began crying when it “clicked” and they realized that it WAS possible to do this and that they felt that  they would be able to afford groceries to feed their families.   It was at that moment that I realized that this was about A LOT MORE than coupons, it was about inspiring hope, encouraging others to persevere and also to create a community of those that can then reach out and help others once they were in a position to do so.

Our original meeting place could only hold 25 people, we were holding classes three times per week at our small little meeting place and couldn’t keep up with the number of people wanting to learn.   I was approached by a local church to hold a class for their congregation to help them learn to coupon for their families but also to fill their church pantries so that they could help families in need as well.   We expected a crowd of approximately 50 and had over 100 show up!  Within three days two grocery carts full of groceries were brought to their church pantry by those that had taken the class and were donating to stock the pantry!  That class led me to teaching at other Churches and schools in the area in an effort to fill up the local pantries and teach others how to help families that were struggling.

Left and right people jumped on board to walk along side of me, a teacher wanted a class for her friends, a weight watchers coach wanted to spread the word to those at her meetings,  a mommy group leader wanted to teach new mothers how to save on baby items, a local home for unwed teen mothers wanted to teach the young ladies skills to succeed and things began to flow.  Before I knew it, we had crowds of over 200 at our classes held at churches, I was traveling throughout Florida and people were pumped up, getting deals for their families and GENEROUSLY sharing with those in need, it was incredible and inspiring!

Early on I knew that it was necessary to create some form of support for everyone once they learned how to coupon so I created MyCouponExpert.com.  The site was a place that I could post easy to understand breakdowns on how to do each deal, where to find the coupons and exactly what to do to make it super easy.  Once that was up and running we needed an area that we could communicate with one another, ask questions, cheer for each others deals and inspire each other to make a difference in our community where so many were hurting financially.    That is how our facebook page and chat page started.  It grew rapidly as a place that we could all unite and work together!  As people gained knowledge and experience they would then help those coming up behind them who were just learning and this AMAZING community of giving people emerged!   Time and time again, people whom I had never met in person would step up and offer to help, jump in when someone needed help or to explain a deal, together we were making a difference and it was FUN!  Since we were all in the same boat financially, we all felt the same inspiration to help others that needed help too and united together to make a difference.  It has been nothing short of one of the most surreal experiences of my life, I am still in awe at the incredible giving spirits of so many and have seen that in ALL OF US, we have the deep rooted desire to help each other.   I have seen people come to the page with very little food in their homes and depressed who are uplifted by others and encouraged that it will get better, taught little by little how to save with coupons and before I know it, that same person is on the page pumped up and helping someone else.  It is amazing to watch and an honor to be a part of.

So here we are nearly seven years later and MyCouponExpert.com has grown by leaps and bounds.  We have people from many others states in our group and the excitement level each day on our facebook chat page is off the chain!  Our page is one of the most positive and uplifting coupon pages on the internet and I am approached regularly by large bloggers asking me how I keep the page so positive and drama free.  I have found that when people unite with a similar goal in mind and are encouraged to then share that knowledge with others and make a difference in their corner of the world people will naturally step up and do it without hesitation!   I am SO thankful for each and every one of you, together we CAN make a difference!

It truly is about a LOT more than just coupons.  Thank you all for being a part of it :)

Come on over to our facebook chat page or check out our facebook fan page and join in on the fun if you haven’t already.  I would love to hear about your story and when you started couponing.  How did you find MyCouponExpert?  Let’s talk!

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Monday Inspiration: How to Declutter Your Mind

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Now that the New Year is here, you might be working like Cinderella to get your home and office more organized. While living in an organized space can help you be more productive, so can living with a more organized mind. Just like our closets tend to get cluttered, often times our minds to do. It is important to take time and “clean them out” so to speak, so you can think more clearly and make room for more positive thoughts. Not sure how? Let’s take a look at some ideas to get you started! This Monday, we are examining how to declutter your mind for a healthier and happier new year! Won’t you join me?

How to Declutter Your Mind:

1. Invest in a journal.
Now normally I would say head to the dollar store and grab a notebook to jot your thoughts in. But this year, invest in something that you will use and adore. Find a pretty journal, something durable, something that reflects you and speaks to you. When you do, you will find it a more appealing place to resort to each day to jot your thoughts.

2. Make a list before bed.
Keep your journal or a notebook next to your bed to jot nightly notes down in. Jot down the top 10 tasks you are concerned about for the next day. By putting these tasks on paper where you can see them, you are less likely to spend the entire night going over them in your head. Put them on paper instead, then close your eyes and head off to dream land.

3. Choose a negative banishing thought.
Let me explain this one. When a negative thought creeps into your brain, don’t allow it to take up space. Instead, think of a negative banishing thought. For example, there is a field by my house that grows the most amazing flowers each spring. When a negative thought creeps in, I push it out with thoughts of that field. I can see it, smell it, and I feel refreshed. It does a wonderful job pushing bad thoughts out.

4. Practice daily clean out sessions.
Sit in silence for 2-3 minutes a day and picture all of the negative thoughts and worries “floating” away. I also like to take a relaxing shower and envision the negativity washing down my back and down the drain. Buh bye! Such clean out sessions can be quite therapeutic!

Let this be the year that your mind becomes clean and clutter free. Give these tips for decluttering your brain a try and see how free you feel.

So, which tip do you think will be your favorite? Share with us on the Facebook or Community Chat page!

Happy Monday my friends!

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Monday Inspiration: Tips for Making 2015 YOUR Year

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New Year’s eve is just days away, so, how can you REALLY make 2015 YOUR year? How can you make this year different from all others? How can you make it a successful one? Well I don’t have all of the answers, but I do have a few helpful tips to get you started. Below you will find some helpful tips on how to make 2015 YOUR year, one that is full of purpose and promise. Here is how you can get started!

1. Make it purposeful.
Before setting a zillion resolutions, decide to resolve with purpose. Cut out the fluff and focus on purposeful actions…ones that make a difference to your life and the lives of those around you. Examples could be volunteering more, learning a new skill, or spending times bonding with others. When you live with purpose, life suddenly feels more rewarding.

2. Live without fear.
Now is the time to live without fear. That cooking class you were thinking about taking? Sign up! That friend you have wanted to apologize to? Do it! That paint color you wanted to try or hair cut you have been thinking about it? Now is the time! Live without fear and make 2015 the year you come to life.

3. Try one new thing a week.
Each week, try something new. It doesn’t have to be anything major, you can always start small. Try a new food, a new restaurant, a new lipstick color, etc. Then, work your way up to bigger steps. Try learning a new language, a new skill, or even a new place to visit.

4. Take time for yourself each day.
Devote one hour a day to just yourself and making yourself healthy. Drink water, sip healthy tea, have a healthy snack, do yoga, write, or just chat with a friend. Devote this time to yourself and see how it makes you feel, and thrive!

5. Forgive YOURSELF.
I have a secret to tell you…we all make mistakes! This is the year you get back on the horse and forgive yourself. You will never find people to be kind to you if you can’t be kind to yourself.

So, are you ready to make 2015 your year? Give these tips a try and let’s kick it off together! How will you make 2015 yours? Tell us on the Facebook page or Community Chat page.

Happy New Year, friends!

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Monday Inspiration: 5 Things You Must Do This Holiday Season

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The holiday season is wrapping up, and you are most likely double checking your to do list as we speak. You may have read this title and thought, “Oh great, MORE things that I need to do!” Well don’t worry, this list doesn’t include wrapping gifts, hanging lights, or spending one more penny. Instead, read the Monday Inspiration version of 5 Things You Must Do This Holiday season. You will find that once you give these 5 tasks a try, your holiday season may just in fact be complete.

1. Say I am sorry.
Who have you wronged this year? Even the most perfect of people are sometimes found in fault. If you have wronged anyone and owe them an apology, now is the time. Seek the person out via in person, a letter, or even social media if that is the best way for you. You don’t have to give excuses or reasoning, just say it has weighed on your heart to apologize. Then, do it. You will be amazed at the burden this action will list.

2. Forgive someone who has hurt you.
Whether the person comes to you for forgiveness or not, there is something quite cleansing and powerful about giving your forgiveness to someone else. Grant forgiveness for someone and their faults and see how it makes you feel. After all, if you can ask for forgiveness, you can give it.

3. Love.
Take a few days this holiday season to love, and really love someone. Tell someone you love them, show them through kind actions, and be present in their lives. Really think about what love means to you, and then do all you can to put it in action. And by all means, love those who seem to deserve it the least.

4. Laugh.
Crabby shoppers, a lack of parking, cold weather, and empty bank accounts can make quite stern during the holiday season. Don’t forget to take time for laughs. Laugh out loud, tell a joke, watch a funny movie, and let your family and friends see you SMILE! You will be amazed at the effect this has on those around you.

5. Dream.
While you are at it, don’t forget to dream. Dream about big plans in the new year, dream about the money you want to save, dream about the changes you want to make. Day dreaming can actually be quite productive, so dream away.

There you have it, the Monday Inspiration edition of 5 things you must do this holiday season! Which ones are you excited to try? Tell us on the Facebook page or Community Chat page.

Be inspired today, friends!

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Monday Inspiration: How to Help the Hurting

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How often have you found yourself face to face with someone who is hurting? Life can be difficult at times, and for some, the pain can keep them from being able to complete day to day tasks. You might have offered your help to someone in a rough spot with the usual, “Let me know if you need anything,” line. But how do you really help someone who is hurting? That is what we are going to explore today.

So how do you help someone who is hurting? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

1. Be present.
Let the person know you are present. You are there. Make a point to send a text or make a phone call to the person. Make a point to drop by and check in on them. Let them know that even though you are busy, you want to make time for them.

2. Help with small tasks.
When someone is going through a rough time, helping with small tasks can make a big impact. Take a load of laundry to wash, empty their dishwasher, or bring over a meal so they don’t have to cook. These small tasks may seem exactly that, small, but to them it will mean the world.

3. Don’t try to compare.
Don’t try to make the person feeling better by comparing their circumstance to something that happened to you. That rarely helps and can actually make them feel worse. Instead, let them know you are listening to their troubles and offer helpful solutions.

4. Don’t judge.
When someone feels judged, they will shut down and turn away from you. Instead of judging, let the person know you are listening with an open mind and that you are not there to render judgement.

5. Follow up.
Even if the person tells you everything is better, always be sure to follow up. Let them know you are present and there to talk to if they need it.

Watching someone you love go through something painful can be trying. Give these helpful hints a try and see how you can help make that time a bit easier for them. Who knows, one day you may need the same from them.

How will you help someone who is hurting this week? Share your ideas with us on the Facebook or Community Chat page.

Be inspired today, friends!

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Monday Inspiration: Finding Happiness During the Holidays

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We are just days away from Thanksgiving, which is the kick off to two back to back holiday celebrations. And while holidays are a time for family and friends, food and festivities, you might feel yourself getting a little blue. This is normal, as the holidays are a time also of stress, ill behaved family members, and added expenses. If you find yourself suffering from a mild case of the holiday blues, give these tips for finding happiness during the holidays a try. The holidays can be stressful, but with just a little help you can find the happiness you deserve.

Here is how you can started:

1. Take away the money element.
Don’t let the lack of expenses keep you from feeling happy during the holiday season. Remind yourself that “things” and “stuff” will never make the season complete or better for you. When you keep this in mind, you will find that you can feel more peaceful and happy.

2. Surround yourself with family.
Now is the time to make amends with family and enjoy the season next to them. Put aside differences and instead take the higher road. Enjoy a meal together, exchange small gifts, or attend a holiday function together. Remember, you never know when your last holiday season will be. Live each one as it is the last and cherish each moment.

3. See the season through a child’s eyes.
Remind yourself what it is that you liked about the holiday season. Try to bring those elements back into the holiday. Bake cookies, make crafts, sing carols, and do some of the other activities that you loved so much as a child.

4. Slow down.
Don’t make a whole list of holiday activities you NEED to do. Instead, think of a few you really want to focus on and make them happen. Slow down and look at the activities as something to enjoy, not something you NEED to check off a list.

5. Be hands on.
Don’t let the commercialism of the season take over. Try crafting a few gifts and decor pieces of your own. You can even make your own greeting cards if you wish. Enjoy the season in a hands on way and see how much happier it can be.

When you give these tips a try, you can enjoy a holiday season that is slower, more peaceful, and an overall more happy one. See how they can make a difference for you.

How will you find happiness in the holiday season? Tell us on the Facebook page or Community Chat page!

Happy Monday, friends.

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Monday Inspiration: Why You Should Love Mondays

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The jokes about Mondays being the worst day of the week have been told since the beginning of time. It seems as though Mondays have always had a bad reputation, being associated with another week of hitting the grind. Well today, I am challenging you to look at Mondays in a whole new way. Today, let’s chat about why you should love Mondays, and how it can be your most powerful day of the week. Don’t believe me? Keep reading.

5 Reasons Why You Should Love Mondays:

1. You can enjoy a fresh start. Don’t dwell on what happened last week, today is your day to start new. Mondays are a great day to start over and reach for those goals again. If you enjoy regular goal setting, Mondays signal a fresh week and thus a fresh start. So hey it’s Monday, go for it!

2. Monday announces the arrival of a WHOLE WEEK in front of you. While typically this would seem like a burden, think of it as a positive. You have a WHOLE WEEK to spend with your family, to cross off items on your to do list, to plan fun meals, to meet your goals at work, and to make the most of your life. Wow! Doesn’t that seem like a gift? Hello Monday!

3. Mondays can keep us in a routine. Most of us love having a routine, and Mondays can help us establish one. Mondays are the perfect day to do those start of the week tasks like meal planning, coupon cutting, goal setting, etc. Make Monday the day that you revisit your routines that you enjoy.

4. Allow it to become a day of gratitude. Did you wake up this Monday with air in your lungs and a roof over your head? If so, you are already starting the week ahead of the game. Use Mondays as a day to reflect on what you are thankful for and count those blessings. You have made it to the start of another new week. How amazing is that?

5. Designate Mondays as family fun days. Give yourself something to look forward to on Mondays, such as game night with the family, pizza night, or craft night. When you associate it with something positive and fun, you might actually look forward to the weekend ending.

Monday can be a pretty sweet day of the week, worth looking forward to and celebrating. Give these five tips for why you should love Monday a try. We would love to hear how they change your idea of what Mondays are, so share your feedback with us on the Facebook page or Community Chat page.

Happy MONDAY friends!

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Monday Inspiration: 5 Ways to Avoid Toxic Stress

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We all encounter a certain level of toxic stress in our life. Toxic stress if different than your day to day stress, it is the kind that makes either physically ill or cause you to respond or act in a way not typical of yourself. We all know when we have encountered toxic stress, as we feel physically weak and maybe even ill, or we find ourselves acting out in a way where we feel as though we have no control. So how can we avoid this toxic stress? After all, it can be the cause of so many aches and pains you are experiencing, as well as mental anguish and anxiety. Take a look below at 5 ways to avoid toxic stress on a daily basis so you can enjoy a peaceful and healthier life.

1. Avoid toxic people.
This is the first tip because it is the most important. Toxic people are all around us. You know the ones…they complain about everything. Every situation becomes a dramatic one. They are always upset about something, needing something, or angry about someone who did them wrong. These types of people are toxic, and their stresses can have a serious effect on you. While you may want to be a friend and give a listening ear, avoid it. This negative influence and energy can transfer to you and affect you more than you know. Cut these people from your life and instead fill your space with positive friendships.

2. Be conscious about your social media usage.
Social media is full of negative images and stories. It can be easy to get sucked into them while browsing your Facebook or Twitter feed. Try to avoid these stories and images. Block or unlike friends and pages who consistently post negative news stories and images. This can help you spend less time and stress dwelling on such things and leave room for more positive things instead.

3. Have a quiet place to retreat to.
Everyone needs a quiet place they can enjoy when things seem stressful. This can be your car, a quiet office, or even your bathroom. Have a place that you know you can go to and get a few minutes of quiet. When you feel stress taking over your body and mind, retreat to your quiet place to refocus and breathe.

4. Use visualization.
When you find yourself encountering toxic stress (at a grocery store, the bank, even in your own home) find some alone time where you can visualize a positive and more healthy situation. Think about a favorite beach, imagine yourself running on a wide open road, or even think about a happy time you have enjoyed with your family. Your body will respond to the visual cues and relax.

5. Try the Golden Rule.
You know the rule about if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all? Avoid toxic stress by sticking to this rule. Think about how you feel when you talk about or put down others. Your body will literally tense up and your heart beat quickens. Instead, try talking positively about others and see how it feels.

Avoiding toxic stress doesn’t need to be hard work. Give these tips a try and see how you can enjoy a stress free life that is more peaceful and healthy.

Be inspired today, friends!

Make sure you check in on our facebook fan page or our facebook chat page to say hi and hang out with all of your coupon friends! We are having a blast over there!
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Monday Inspiration: Finding What Matters

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Have you ever found yourself deeply involved in a task only to step back and say, “Why does this even matter?” It seems as though we all come to that point in our lives from time to time. The truth is, we often find ourselves so deeply involved in routines that we carry out tasks that in the long run, really aren’t that important. These tasks can rob us from time with family and friends, and in the end even take a piece of our happiness. So what is the solution? Well that is what we are exploring today. Today, let’s talk about finding what matters.

First, take a look at your day. I mean REALLY take a look at your day. Journal for a day if you need to, writing down your tasks as you complete them. Take special note of any task that takes you more than a few minutes. When you find those “hot spots” re-evaluate them. How important are these tasks? How do they benefit you and your family? How do they make you feel? At the end of this questioning, you should be able to see how much the task matters.

Let’s look at an example: Suppose after breakfast each day you load the dishwasher. It takes about 5 minutes and you can do it while the kids get dressed. It helps you keep the area prepped from dinner later, and you feel more organized. Is it worth taking the time to do this each day? I would venture and say yes. Example two. After dinner you fill the sink and prepare to wash dishes. It will take about 10 -15 minutes. Your child on the other hand wants to read a book with you. Sure you could read the book, but then your dishwater goes cold and you still have a mess on your hands. So what do you do? These are the situations where you need to ask yourself what matters. Your children are only young once. Reading with your child is valuable. Bonding with your child through books is important. Final ruling? Set the dish towel down and walk away. Now is a great time to see that reading with your child matters more than making sure the dishes get washed.

When you are in the process of finding what matters, you may find out a few things. You may find that eating dinner as a family matters more than what is being served on the plate. Letting your kids have fun in the mud on a rainy day matters more than the stains they are setting into their clothing and you will need to scrub clean. See how this works? When we find what matters, we learn to re-evaluate our choices from day to day. We learn to make the most of our time and the relationships of those around us.

So how will you find what matters this weekend? Tell us on the Facebook page or our Facebook Chat page.

Be inspired today, friends!

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Monday Inspiration: 5 Tips for Dealing With Jealousy

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No one wants to admit it, but we have all been the green eyed monster from time to time. Jealousy is a natural human instinct that most of us will experience at some point in our lives whether we want to or not. Perhaps a co-worker got a raise and we didn’t, or a neighbor scored great deals at a sale that you missed. Whatever the case may be, you might be wondering how to deal with these feelings. Take a look below at 5 tips for dealing with jealousy that you can try. Jealousy is natural, but when you utilize these tips you can keep it from taking over.

5 Tips for Dealing with Jealousy:

1. Don’t take the situation personal.
Let’s say a neighbor pulls into the driveway in a brand new car. You on the other hand have been driving around a 15 year old car that is on it’s last leg. Well here is the deal: don’t take it personal. The neighbor buying the car is not a shot against you. They aren’t doing it to make you feel bad or inadequate. Remind yourself of this when you feel jealous of someone. Very seldom does the person you are feeling jealousy towards do something in order to make you feel bad about yourself.

2. Count your blessings.
When you feel jealous about something another person has or has earned, count your own blessings. Write them down on paper if you have to. Sometimes we need to take a step back and realize that we have plenty to be thankful for and not be so worried about what we don’t.

3. Don’t forget, sometimes others will be jealous of you.
When you accomplish something, you may notice others shying away from you or holding hard feelings. Remember that often times it is their own insecurities that causes this behavior (just as you have experienced as noted above) and try to be sympathetic to that. Allow others and invite others to share in your joy so they can feel part of it. This helps break down the jealousy quickly.

4. Use jealousy to set your goals higher.
Did someone score a deal you really wanted? Did a friend get the job you wish you had? Use these moments to set higher goals for yourself. Don’t feel envy, feel  motivated! It is a great way to be reminded to go after your dreams, not sulk about what you don’t have.

5. Jealousy is negativity. Period.
Don’t let negativity into your life. You simply don’t need it. When jealousy sneaks up on you, remind yourself that negativity isn’t welcome to take up space in your heart, mind, thoughts, etc. Push it away.

Feeling jealous from time to time happens, but when you give these tips a try you can better curb it! So, how will you curb your own jealousy this week and think more positive? Let us know on the Facebook page or Community Chat!

Happy Monday!

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