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Page Last Updated July 22, 2019

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Focus Posts

How to Create a Practical Work-Life Balance

By Mollie Wilson

In today's society, keeping all aspects of life balanced can feel like an impossible feat. Most of us lead very full lives. Pursuing a career, raising a family, having personal goals, socializing and traveling, prioritizing fitness or health, starting a small business, and the list goes on and on. A lot of us think that we need to choose work or life. We are being told - by society, family, friends, and by ourselves - that we have to pick a priority and that it's not possible to have both. The truth is, when we focus all our energy on one aspect and all others get very little attention, that one aspect will start to suffer with time. Balance is key to success and feeling fulfilled wholly as a person, family unit, or organization.

In reality, it is possible to pursue both a thriving career and personal life at the same time. It does not require choosing one or the other, it requires choosing both. More so, it requires being OK with the fact that things may feel more fluid and in flux. One week the focus may be on the kids, when they all get colds and strep throat. The next week, asking family members and/or babysitters for help may be necessary if preparing for a huge conference at work. The next week, maybe the balance feels right in the middle - everyone was able to have productive work and school days, some healthy dinners made it onto the table, and the grown-ups even squeezed in a date night.

Keep it real (& keep it organized)

The key to having a practical work-life balance is to think realistically. There are only 24 hours in a day. Every human on Earth has the same amount of time in a given day to accomplish tasks, for leisure, and to avoid getting caught in too much traffic. How are you going to structure your day? What can you take off your to-do list today and move to tomorrow? How do you plan ahead for things you did not anticipate, like needing an oil change or a yearly dentist appointment? Using a simple day planner to map out your day, week, and year is a great tip. You can find them at any number of stores and online.

If you have a partner or spouse, sitting down quarterly (or weekly if you can!) is a very healthy habit. Look at the upcoming quarter together. Who has two business trips to Boston? Who is going to handle shopping for the upcoming holidays and sending out cards? Are the kids signed up for soccer?

Looking at these types of details before they come up saves a lot of time and emotion. Having a clear plan will help you to look ahead and see what stressors may be coming. It also shows you the calmer weeks when focusing on self-care and relaxing time at home can be made a priority to recharge and avoid burnout.

Speaking of stressors...

Ohhh, stress. Sometimes stress can sneak up on us. Sometimes we can predict or sense that a busy period is approaching that will likely cause some issues or stressed out feelings. However, you process stress, the most important skill to acquire is figuring out what specifically triggers those feelings of stress. Knowing what stressors are most likely to throw you off balance is very helpful in avoiding that from happening. Common stressors can range from finances to big deadlines to family illness to lack of personal or free time. Stress is a normal feeling and there are many ways you can lower it's amounts in your everyday life.

Talk to someone. If you feel like the idea of meeting with a life coach, counselor, or therapist is overwhelming because it's adding to your already full schedule, consider getting support online. BetterHelp is an affordable resource with trained professionals who can help you manage these feelings, troubleshoot problems, and offer helpful ideas.

Implement a calming routine when you arrive home each night, or before bed. The routine can be quite simple. A few things that will help you transition from work to home and lower your stress is perfect. CBD oil is known to help lower anxiety and improves sleep. Herbal teas are also helpful in relaxing and prioritizing self-care. These are available from a number of sources both in brick & morter stores as well as online.

When you arrive at home, turn off notifications from your work email account(s). You can always check them later on if need be, once you have a few moments after the kids are in bed, the dog is walked, or you've connected with a friend or roommate. Unwinding from your day is very important to keep the balance of work and life in place. If work is always entangled with life, it may prove difficult to feel fully present in either space. Setting those boundaries can be tricky, but once you do and get into a rhythm, it will feel much more natural.

Be proactive!

If you are interviewing for a new job, ask about the company culture and how they view work-life balance. If having a healthy balance is something you’re looking for and willing to fight for, think proactively about what you can do to help achieve that. Maybe taking a job that pays slightly less but has a much more flexible schedule is a better choice for your family right now. If that's the case, be proactive about your financial planning and goals now. That way, when that offer comes, you are prepared ahead of time and can accept in order to obtain that work-life balance you've been desiring.

Being proactive often leads to being productive. Having a morning routine and setting a positive intention for yourself will start the day off on a good note. It's more likely that you will have a successful day if you dress up, hydrate with plenty of water, eat a healthy lunch (not at your desk!), and maintain a grateful attitude. When the balance of work and life feels overwhelming, step back and evaluate. What is going well? What could use some work or more attention? Try to get to the root of what is going on. You can then ask for support and/or redefine expectations if need be. It's always important to remember that striking a good work-life balance is a dance, and there are tools and people in our lives to help along the way.

How to Design a House that Supports Working from Home

by Amanda Turner

Work From Home

Starting your own business is a major life event that holds much promise. And if you've decided to work from home, you're no doubt anticipating all the independence and convenience that goes along with that. There will be no commuting or distracting coworkers, and you can set your own hours, and even work in your pajamas. Working at home can have its pitfalls, however, and added freedom can mean that you don't maximize your time as well as you would if you were on the clock at a job away from home. You might also have trouble ignoring distractions, such as children or housework that is building up.

All of these things are surmountable with some careful planning and some solid work up front. Here are six ways that you can transform your home into a productive place of business.

Deep Clean and Declutter

One of the biggest distractions involved with working from home is that, ironically, cleaning tasks and clutter tend to build up because you spend so much time at home and feel that you can always get to it later - but later seems to never come. Before you do anything to actually change the design and decor of your workspace, deep clean and tidy up, so that you have a clean slate, both physically and mentally.

Function First

Now that you've cleared your area for working, decide on the major elements that will provide you with the most functionality in your home office, such as a comfy desk chair, a corner desk, or another chair or two if customers will be coming to your home. Decide how best to keep up with appointments and things on your to-do list and organize accordingly.

Define Your Workspace

Although you don't want to spend all of your time at your desk, you want to avoid jumping from room to room to do your business. Things will end up getting misplaced and moving around will cause more distractions. It's also important that others in the household respect your space like it was one outside of the home. Place something on your door, such as a magnetic board, where you can post your hours for the day. Signs that say "Please Knock" or "Do Not Disturb" are also good options.

Adequate Lighting

If possible, set up your workspace in a room that gets plenty of natural light. This will give you a light source that is both soothing and invigorating. For evening lighting, make sure that the area has sufficient overhead lighting to avoid eye strain. In times when you need extra serenity, have lamps that emit warm light.

Treat It Like an Actual Business

Approach your home workspace the way you would a workplace away from home. At the end of every "shift", clear your area of clutter, set up for the next day, and close it off to visitors when you're not working. Similar to a business, keep your home functional by getting routine maintenance and stay on top of minor repairs.


In order to make the most of your work area, you'll want to create an inspiring environment that is conducive to productivity. Consider what images and colors will stir your imagination as it applies specifically to your line of work. This may include art, framed quotes, or objects found in nature.

With careful planning and some minor changes or additions, you can create a home that is just as work-friendly as an office space elsewhere. You want to enjoy this great opportunity to work from your home, so reward yourself with a productive sanctuary. Take some time at the start of your journey to set up good habits --you'll be grateful you did.

Wealth Protection and Investment Asset: The Financial Benefits of a Life Insurance Policy

by Julia Merrill


Courtesy of Pixabay.com.

A permanent life insurance policy, meaning universal or whole life, has value beyond its primary and traditional role, that of protecting your family should tragedy occur. Many people are unaware that a life insurance policy is also a valuable financial asset, providing flexibility and a resource for financial planning and even the payment of unexpected expenses. In this sense, life insurance acts as a safety net for your family's financial well-being just as it does should your partner die unexpectedly, and many of the financial benefits are tax free.

Tax-free investment

Whole and universal life insurance policies are considered exempt under provisions of the Income Tax Act, meaning premiums paid into exempt policies beyond your usual maintenance payments can accumulate in a separate cash savings. This is tax-free money that can be paid out to your beneficiaries or estate.

Protection against market instability

A whole life policy means you're sharing in the insurer's earnings via a dividend that grows within your policy and yields a consistent return, which is protected from the daily ups and downs of the financial markets. As such, your whole life policy acts as a distinct form of asset that behaves differently than a conventional investment.

Wealth protection

If you were to die with a hefty tax bill left behind, your loved ones could be in the position of having to sell off property and other assets to meet that financial obligation, which doesn't expire when you pass away. The accumulated cash value of a life insurance policy can provide the liquidity necessary to preserve your estate tax free. Debts, taxes and miscellaneous expenses can all be paid because insurance benefits go directly to your named beneficiaries, and means there's no probate.

A cash reserve

The cash value from a permanent life insurance policy can provide you a source of income to supplement income. You can access this value by using the policy as collateral for obtaining a loan from a bank or financial institution. Of course, you're responsible for paying on the loan, but the money from the policy is tax free. A policyholder can also take out a tax-free policy loan, a kind of advance taken out against your policy's death benefit as long as the borrowed amount is not in excess of the policy's cost base. Or you may simply withdraw the cash value of a policy, though this will likely reduce your death benefit because you can't repay the distributed funds. And bear in mind that any money you withdraw may be taxable. You can also sell a life insurance policy later in life to supplement retirement income or help pay for funeral or medical expenses.

A means of compensation

When an heir wishes to preserve a parent's business interests or maintain their assets, it can set off a feud among the other heirs if their intention is to benefit financially from liquidating assets left behind. A life insurance policy can be used to compensate other heirs and make each beneficiary's inheritance equal from a cash standpoint, thereby avoiding a court battle and a whole lot of ill will in the family.

Funeral expenses

Funeral expenses are on the rise. Final expense life insurance can be purchased as an alternative and affordable option for people who are on a fixed budget. This kind of policy can take care of expenses for funeral costs, comes with lower premiums, and is easy to qualify for.

A life insurance policy can be of great benefit to you and your family in ways that you may never have realized. Life insurance is more than a death benefit. It can be part of a strategy for protecting your wealth and property and providing a source of income.

Getting and Staying Sober

Daniel Wittler is a writer in recovery from New Jersey who likes to show absolutely anyone can get sober provided they are ready to take action. He has shared the following:

Being newly sober is both exciting and terrifying. We have finally escaped the grips of addiction and now we have a brand new life to build and begin living. Things can get overwhelming though, there is so much baggage sitting right in front of us and has to be dealt with, where do we start? Prioritizing is surely needed at a time like early recovery, hopefully I can sort some of that out for you.

Acknowledge That Change Is Vital

Surrender is the most important part of recovery, it's the first thing we need to do before anything else. Surrender means I am acknowledging that I do not know what I need to do in order to get and stay sober. The clear solution to not knowing is not only to reach out for help and accept guidance, but to accept that a lot of things are going to have to change. I could list what has to change but to be honest, it's probably everything. What is important is to be open to change in any area of your life. Change is very uncomfortable, but walking through uncomfortability creates major growth in life, especially in recovery.

A Support Network

An extremely common misconception for people in early recovery is that they think they can do it by themselves. I always ask people, "If you can do it yourself, don't you think you would of done it already?". Having a group of people you can turn to at any moment is absolutely life changing. Many of us lived a very isolated life the last few years of addiction, having a group of others in recovery who want nothing else but to help you can feel extremely refreshing and make you more secure about your sobriety. Many facilities offer alumni programs that allow you to connect with other people who went through the same treatment center, creating an immediate and important connection to others. You are not going to want to initially meet new people, once you do though, you will see how quickly you bond with others because you are both on the same journey. I've met my absolute best and closest friends this way.

Sit down, be HUMBLE

It's hard to be humble, especially for us thick skulled addicts and alcoholics. Humility can also become a complicated thing to talk about, many people have different interpretations. I keep it simple however, humility to me means to remain teachable in all areas of life. Find someone sober who has what you want in life and ask them what you need to do. Once you do that it is absolutely integral to not only listen, but actually go listen to what they say. There will be times where you could not disagree more with the suggestion they give you, go do it anyways. My first few times I did something that I did not want to do whatsoever were HUGE moments of growth in my life.

The Importance Of Dental Care: Oral Health Tips For Seniors

by Julia Merrill

Old Man

Dental care is one of the most important parts of staying health, but unfortunately many seniors aren't able to access it due to a lack of funds or enough information about their healthcare benefits. It's critical to maintain oral health as an older adult, since poor oral hygiene can affect everything from your heart health to your state of mind.

While most seniors take part in Medicare -- an invaluable resource -- it can be extremely complicated to understand, which often leads to lapses in coverage. To avoid this, take the time to research your healthcare coverage to find out more about your benefits. If necessary, ask a family member or friend to help you break it down. Getting to know your policy better ensures you're signed up for the right benefits at the right time, especially since Medicare has specific deadlines for signing up or making changes.

Once you know what dental coverage is available to you, look to find a nearby dentist who specializes in senior care. Getting on track with your oral health can set you up for fewer health problems later.

Keep reading for some great tips on how to make sure your dental care is everything you need it to be.

Find the right dentist

Finding the right care provider is essential. Utilize online search tools to find a dentist near you, and make some calls to find out exactly what their policies are in regards to Medicare and your specific plan. Depending on your health needs, you may need to set up an initial appointment so you can talk to the dentist about any concerns you have.

Look for an Advantage plan

A Medicare Advantage plan can help you pay for things that Original Medicare doesn't cover, such as dental and vision care, so consider making some changes to your plan when open enrollment rolls around. Do a little research on the best plan for your needs and make sure you can find doctors who are within your network so there won't be any issues when it comes to coverage. Keep in mind that these plans come with monthly premiums, whereas Original Medicare Part A does not.

Know what your oral health is all about

Because our oral health is connected to so many other aspects of our bodies, it's important to understand the links and how to keep your mind and body healthy. Depression and heart disease have been linked to poor oral health, while diabetes can lead to issues with the gums and teeth. When your mouth is in good shape, you’re better able to control many other health issues, including bone loss.

Create an oral health plan

Creating a plan for your oral health may seem like a daunting task, but it's important for seniors to have a routine that works. Start with the best tools -- such as the right toothbrush and floss -- and talk to your dentist about how to stick to a diet that will ensure strong teeth and healthy gums.

The importance of good dental care can't be overstated. Making sure your mouth is well taken care of can take some time, but by working with your dentist and making sure you have a great insurance policy, you’ll be able to keep your oral health in tip top shape for years to come.

7 Things to Try If You Can't Sleep Because of Back Pain

by Julia Merrill


According to the World Health Organization, lower back pain is the world's leading cause of disability. The reasons for back pain vary, from injury to lifestyle and even mental health problems such as stress and anxiety. However, the effect is always the same: a reduced ability to live your life as fully and freely as you would like.

Perhaps one of the biggest aspects of back pain is how it affects your sleep, depriving you of the rest your body and mind need to function well. These habits have all been shown to help with chronic back pain and can help you find the sleep you have been craving.

Know Your Healthcare Options

First of all, you should look into what treatments are covered by your healthcare insurance. This could include physiotherapy, medication for pain relief, or even sleep therapy. If you have Medicare, you should learn to use Medicare.gov effectively so you can know exactly what you’re entitled to and which plans could provide more support for your back pain.

Take a Hot Bath

There is little science out there about the effectiveness of hot baths for pain management, but many people who suffer from back pain do feel the benefits. A hot bath has a similar effect as a heat pack, heating the muscles and allowing them to relax, only much more intense and less localized (and thus more effective). It can also be relaxing, which is a double win if your back pain is linked to anxiety and stress. One word of caution: Don't make your bath too hot if you are just about to go to sleep, as it can actually keep you awake.

Switch Up Your Sleep Position

People with back pain often struggle to find a comfortable position to sleep in at night. However, it's about more than that: the position you sleep in could be making your back pain worse, or even causing it outright. This guide to sleep positions for back pain by Healthline contains some really useful advice on finding your best sleep pose.

Get a Massage

Massage can do wonders for various forms of back pain, so it's worth scheduling a regular session with a trained masseuse or physiotherapist. There is a difference between massage and physio, although they both take similar forms. The former is more focused on immediate relaxation (better if your pain is linked to stress) while the other is geared towards long-term rehabilitation (better if your pain is due to a physical joint or spine problem).

Do Yoga

According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, there is evidence to support the claim that yoga can help manage various forms of pain, including back pain. It does this by strengthening the muscles, bones, and joints while also providing stress relief. Furthermore, the meditative aspect of yoga could allow you to process pain differently.


Scientific studies have shown that regular meditation practice can reduce the amount of pain experienced by someone. Meditation alters the brain in a way that not only makes you feel less pain but also regulates your emotional response to the pain, making it seem like less of an issue. The best thing is that the research shows that this applies even to beginners. Try meditation before bed every night to reap these benefits and also prepare your mind for sleep.

Change Your Mattress

This may seem like an obvious one, but many people forget just how important their mattress is to maintain proper spine health. Tuck has a detailed buyer's guide for choosing the best mattress for your back pain, including luxury and value options.

Sleeping with back pain isn't easy, but there are ways to make it easier. Make sure you always complement any medication with healthy and productive lifestyle choices like the ones above, and focus on creating a nightly routine that relaxes and prepares you for sleep. You will soon find sleep coming much easier than it used to and find the rest you need.

Practicing Self Love

Daniel Wittler

I am in recovery from drug addiction for nearly 4 years now, it was a process but it took a long time to regain hope and to learn to love myself again. It wasn't as simple as just taking better care of myself on the surface, there were some deep internal things I had to address, it didn't happen overnight.

  1. Self Affirmations

    Start your day right and beyond just telling yourself some things you like about yourself, write it down. Our human minds can really throw some nasty stuff at us, the way we combat it is by writing down positive things we love about ourselves and what we are aspiring to be. As you go through the day, remind yourself of what you love about yourself, we are way too harsh to ourselves, this is the most simple way to fight it.

  2. Tidy Up!

    Usually if your living space is cluttered it is a representation of your mental state as well. I found that either cleaning up my place weekly or just making sure everything is tidy before I go to bed sets a great tone for my everyday living. Having dirty clothes scattered all around the bedroom and leaving dirty dishes in the sink create a bad energy. Taking care of those small tasks either daily or weekly will work wonders for your well being.

  3. Have Support!

    Who we are as people usually has a lot to do with who we surround ourselves with. If we have negative people who aren't creating much of a life around us, chances are we are going to do the same and not have a lot of support or encouragement from them. If we have proactive, positive people surrounded by us, we pretty much naturally will do the same! Find people who want the best for you and you want the best for. Lift each other up, it can make such a difference.

  4. Find Something That Gives You Joy!

    Each of us as individuals have hobbies or activities we prefer over others. For some people it's the gym and going hiking, for others it's relaxing with a good book and a cup of tea. Whatever it may be for you, set some time each week to do it and unwind, it is an absolute necessity to keep our lives balanced and positive. If you aren't sure what gives you joy that's okay! There are plenty of activities that you can try out.

Build a Wind Down Routine for Better Sleep and Mental Health

Laurie Larson

Having a good wind down routine can contribute to a better night of sleep and overall better mental health. It's important to find tools that work best for you as everyone's preferences are different. Here are a few things you can test out when picking what to include in your wind down routine to help eliminate stress and ensure a better night’s sleep.

Eliminate the blue light

Turning off your phones, computers, or tablets to eliminate the blue light that is emitted from these devices can also help you wind down and sleep better. This light causes disruption to our natural circadian rhythm, telling our brains not to sleep - affecting the amount of REM sleep and suppressing the level of melatonin released, which helps encourage sleep. Try turning your devices off at least 90 minutes before bed to encourage your body to wind down naturally.

Read a book before bed

Picking up a good book before bed is a great way to help you wind down at night. Reading not only helps by easing the body away from the day's stressors, but it can also help lower your cortisol levels which contribute to reduced anxiety and stress. It's also a great way to stay away from the blue light on your cell phones and other technology which negatively affects winding down from the day and sleep.

Reading a book can also help you fall back asleep if you wake up in the middle of the night. Try moving into another room and reading for a few minutes to combat the sleeplessness.

Include natural remedies

Including natural remedies in your wind down routine can help support a better night's sleep also. Practicing a few minutes of yoga can help fight insomnia and support a deeper sleep. The best part about it, you can practice the moves on your comfortable mattress in your PJs.

Add essential oils like lavender, chamomile, and frankincense that aid in sleep, help eliminate anxiety, promote calm and drowsiness, and help lower stress levels to your routine. Taking a warm bath a couple hours before bed using these essential oils can help promote readiness for bedtime, which is a great addition to your wind down routine as well.

Get more comfortable

The more comfortable you are, the more your body and mind can relax. Having a good night's sleep includes having a bed you can jump into that doesn't cause lack of sleep because of discomfort. It can help you sleep faster, deeper, and better, thus contributing to overall better health. Finding the right mattress includes understanding many important factors like pressure relief, spinal alignment, and responsiveness.

Your preferences could also change according to your sleeping style. What works for side sleepers is very different from the needs of stomach sleepers. Do the research you need so you can have a better relationship with understanding your sleeping comfort needs.

Once you start incorporating these steps into your evenings, you'll have any easier time falling asleep, staying asleep, and feeling well-rested every morning. What are you waiting for? Start your wind down routine today!

Laurie Larson is a freelance writer who writes on home, health, and lifestyle topics. She hopes her writing can help others live happier and healthier lives.

How to Teach Your Kids to Practice Self-Care in the Morning

By Matilda Davies

A regular self-care practice is key to maintaining mental, emotional, and physical health, and our children will need guidance when it comes to learning how to create and maintain a practice of their own.

Even toddlers can be taught healthful self-care practices that will benefit them for their whole lives. Here are a few simple ways you can establish a healthy morning self-care routine with your kids.

1. Set the example of self care for your children:

The first step in helping your child start a self-care routine is to practice one yourself.

A morning self-care routine begins the night before when a good night's sleep. Rather than pushing yourself to the brink, go to bed when the day is done.

Exercise in the morning. Try light yoga, a brisk walk with the dog, or a short jog, then talk about what you're doing with your child. You might say, I do yoga because it helps keep me healthy and feel good! Your child might even ask to join.

Creating a safe space for expression is also key for self-care. The home should be a place where your children feel safe to explore and express their emotions. If your child has had a difficult day, you might prompt the conversation with Tell me about why today was so hard. What does that make you want to do? By helping your children find healthy modes of expression, you can facilitate their taking on their own self-care practice.

2. Set a beneficial morning routine:

Routine is a great way to mitigate stress and stay organized (both beneficial for self-care). Helping your child set up a routine is a great way to help your child maintain their own self-care practice as they get older. Young children will need more assistance, of course, but simple routine will stick with them as they get older.

Get up in the morning with plenty of time to spare so you're not in a rush. Brush teeth, brush hair, practice good skincare, and help them out their clothes for the day. Help your kids make a simple and healthful breakfast and pack a lunch for the day.

3. Practice self-care together:

Spending time together is key to fostering a strong bond with your children. Though you won't have the luxury of plenty of time together in the morning, you can make sure to eat breakfast together, talk in the car or on your commute, and you can make the day more fun by playing music, being creative when making breakfast and lunches, talking about positive things the week will hold

Matilda lives in Raleigh, North Carolina, where she writes about health and wellness. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, hiking, and walking her dogs.

7 Unlikely Connections You May Not Know About Your Body

Julia Miller

Body Connections

Like a car, your body is a finely tuned, complex machine that relies on every part to work in synergy. Different parts often work in conjunction to prevent, treat or ward off diseases. What happens in one area can affect another. Here are some fascinating connections between different body parts that seem mutually exclusive, yet function together.

Heart and Gums

It may surprise you to hear that your dental health can affect your heart health. Plaque exists in two places: in your teeth and in your arteries. One can lead to gum disease; the other can lead to coronary artery disease. But besides having similar names for buildup of matter, there’s a stronger connection between your gums and your heart. You're at greater risk of heart attack or stroke if you have gum disease or gingivitis.

Make sure you practice good oral hygiene to prevent plaque buildup by brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and getting your teeth cleaned twice a year. Other dental hygiene practices that can improve oral health include oil pulling, salt-water rinses, and mouthwashes with natural ingredients. However, once gum disease advances to periodontitis, it will need to be treated by a specialist.

Brain and Gut

Sometimes when you experience mental health issues, it may be more than your brain talking. It could also be your gut or gastrointestinal tract. The Enteric Nervous System (ENS) is the part of your brain that controls your digestive system. Your brain is always in communication with other parts, so when the ENS is in disorder, so is the Central Nervous System. Scientists have also discovered a connection between Irritable Bowel Syndrome and depression, with gut health affecting mental health and vice versa.

Taking probiotics can positively affect your gut microbiome by healing your gut flora. Probiotics help with bloating and digestion issues; however, a healthy diet with sufficient fiber can do wonders for the GI tract and your brain. The most natural way to heal the organs that process your food is with food itself.

Inflammation and Everything

Inflammation shows up in different ways, especially as bloating, redness, and irritation. It can be a reaction to stress and environmental factors or a symptom of disease. It could also have an impact on anxiety and depression. Although the two may not appear to be connected, research has shown that inflammation and mental illness can contribute to each other.

Sometimes your immune system tries to fight off threats that aren't there, resulting in chronic inflammation. Reducing that inflammation can help reduce the risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. You can fight inflammation with natural remedies, which include eating anti-inflammatory foods, omega-3 fatty acids, and turmeric. Exercising regularly and avoiding alcohol and tobacco can have a positive impact too.

Sleep for Relief

Many problems can actually be solved by a healthy lifestyle that includes clean eating, exercising, and sleep. It's normal for busy people to neglect quality sleep. Some people even choose to wake up early to exercise instead of getting an extra hour of rest. Skipping sleep to keep the engine running isn't necessarily the right move, though. Without letting your body rest, your motor might not even start properly.

It's important to get enough sleep to balance your mood, keep your mind sharp, and manage chronic pain. The recommended amount is seven to nine hours per night, which means you may have to sacrifice a few things to ensure a good night's sleep. If your sleep quality doesn't improve with a tweaked routine, then the problem could be your sleep habits or your mattress. Think about when you bought your mattress, and consider getting a new one if it's been more than seven years since you bought it. If you're groggy or in pain when you wake up, sleeping restlessly, or lying on a lumpy and sunken-in mattress, it might be time for some mattress shopping.

The human body is an incredible machine, but like any complex mechanism, it requires proper maintenance. An awareness of how to feed and care for this amazing machine will ensure that it runs for years to come.

Photo Credit - Pixabay

Mind, Body, and Soul: An Undeniable Connection

Julia Miller


Few people would deny the link between physical health and emotional wellness, but there’s an even stronger bond that connects our mind, body, and soul. If any of these areas get weak, the trifecta that is you won’t be strong in any area. Fortunately, there are ways to nurture your physical and emotional health to feed your spiritual side.

Physical fitness

Author Sean Edwards experienced a disconnect between mind and body when he entered middle-age and started gaining weight. He, like many of us, turned to food for comfort. Of course, the physical effects of an unhealthy diet were only part of the problem. According to Edwards, his self-condemnation and emotional pain resulted in him using food as comfort. It’s a common problem, one physical fitness can help alleviate.

Exercise, in all its many forms, offers many mental and emotional benefits. Exercising triggers the brain to release endorphins, also known as the “happy chemicals.” Maintaining a regular fitness schedule can increase self-confidence, boost energy, and strengthen and develop our relationships. These all lead to a greater spiritual awareness.

Another connection: sleep and stress

In the many layers that make us unique, there are many aspects of our health that play upon one another. Among the most important is the sleep/stress connection. The human body was perfectly designed to expend energy during daylight hours, and recuperate and re-energize each night. If we want to have the physical and mental stamina to improve our overall well-being, we have to get enough sleep, but in today’s busy world, it’s often difficult to do that.

Unlocking inspiration

We have to be inspired to complete even the most mundane of actions. For example, you might check the mail looking for a birthday card or take a shower in preparation for work. In these cases, warm wishes and the need for a salary are your respective inspirations. You need a different kind of inspiration to keep your mind, body, and spirit whole and healthy.

You can find inspiration everywhere. Learn to look at the world with a heart as open as your eyes. Lori Deschene, founder of Tiny Buddha, recommends going for a nature walk, taking photographs of the world’s natural beauty, trying new things, and spending time with the children in your life.

Other ways to improve spiritual well-being

We can devote hundreds of pages on small actions you can take each day to improve yourself from the inside out, but the following suggestions are a good start:

  • Optimize your home for a well-balanced life. Did you know that a cluttered home can have a negative impact on your emotional health? Taking some time to cut back on belongings you no longer need or want, and then organizing those you want to hang onto will significantly reduce your stress level.
  • Slow down and search for meaning. When you take the time to study the trees, leaves, flowers, and breeze, you will realize that, like our body and soul, every aspect of nature is connected.
  • Do yoga. Yoga is an ancient technique that blends physical health and spiritual wellness. You don’t need to have experience; you can do yoga in a class or at home by watching a video online.
  • Change the way you think. It may sound cliché, but you’ll be happier if you reframe your thoughts from negative to positive. This can give you a new perspective and greater appreciation of all you have and all you are capable of.
Making small changes to your daily routine can lower your stress levels, strengthen your body, and quiet your mind. These actions can help you focus on your overall wellness, including your relationship with yourself and your higher power.

Tips to Improve Sleep for the Entire Family

Julia Merrill

A 2018 poll by the National Sleep Foundation found that 65 percent of Americans acknowledged that quality of sleep is important to their next-day effectiveness, but only 10 percent prioritize it over other things in their life. In other words, we know a good night's sleep can improve our lives, but we neglect it because we don't think we have time.

We believe that a good night's sleep is something both adults and children should focus on in their lives. Improving your sleep means enhancing your physical and mental health, creativity, focus, school and work performance and lifespan. Here are some ways to sleep better as an adult and to encourage healthy sleep patterns in your kids.

Sleeping Better As An Adult

A large proportion of adults don't sleep well or don't sleep enough. If you are one of them, you first need to figure out what is keeping you from sleeping well.

  • Baby - We'd be remiss if we didn't mention it, but if you have a newborn, we're afraid you may just have to wait until they are older for a good night's sleep.
  • Sleep Disorders - You may have a sleep disorder like insomnia that keeps you from relaxing enough to fall asleep. Check out the full list of symptoms here and talk to a doctor if they feel familiar.
  • Environment - Is your room quiet? Is it dark enough? Have you replaced your mattress in the past seven to 10 years? It's difficult to fall asleep if your body is uncomfortable, so do your best to make your bedroom a soothing environment.
  • Binge Watching - A relatively new phenomenon, binging content has been shown to have a negative effect on sleep. If you know you're prone to staying up until 1 a.m. watching TV programs streamed on Netflix, set yourself a limit and stick to it.
  • Stimulants - Drinking caffeinated beverages in the evening can lead to feeling too aware for sleep. If you know you are prone to this, avoid caffeine in the evenings entirely and switch to a calming infusion like chamomile.
Sleeping Better As A Child

As with adults, the first step to encouraging your child to sleep better is to find out exactly what is keeping them from doing so.
  • Fear - Many children struggle to sleep at night due to a fear of the dark or of being alone. Though it may be tempting to simply let them sleep with you, this isn't ideal for their development. Instead, prime them with positive thoughts and feelings by creating a soothing nighttime ritual, and then let them know you are nearby in case they need you.
  • Electronics - According to The Guardian, teenagers' sleep quality is being negatively affected by their late-night phone habits. The best way to prevent this is by implementing reasonable controls over their use of electronics from a young age, and to lead by example by leaving your own phone outside your room during the night.
  • Caffeine - Just like you should consider reducing your intake of coffee, you should look at how much caffeinated soda your child is drinking during the day, as this has been shown to impact kids' sleep.
  • Homework - Many kids stay up late finishing their homework, either due to poor time management or an overloaded schedule. This can have negative effects on both their school performance and mental health. Have an open conversation with your children about how the pressure of homework affects them and how you could help them manage their time better.
Of course, some of the reasons listed above for adults can also apply to children. In particular, check whether their bedroom environment is conducive to restful sleep, especially if they're too young to figure it out themselves. If the time has come to replace your child's mattress, a twin mattress is the ideal choice. These tend to be cheaper than larger models, while still being a good size for kids (as long as they are not taller than 5'9). If you decide to upgrade your child's mattress, it's best to do some research on the prices, upholstery and other features. Refer to this guide to learn more about selecting a proper fit for your child.

Improving your sleep habits is something you can do together as a family. Implementing rules that apply to both the kids and adults is the best way to make sure everyone sticks to their good intentions. Before you know it, you will be seeing happier faces at the breakfast table.

Achieving A Healthy Lifestyle

Jennifer McGregor feels strongly about the need to be active in defining and living a healthy lifestyle. Here is an article she wrote for us to share some important information with you. We hope it helps you learn and act.


For Year-Round Health, Make an Actual Plan

When it comes to maintaining proper fitness and healthy eating habits year-round, just saying you're going to do it and having a general idea about how you may go about it is not enough. It's time to take a page from the business playbook and develop an actionable health plan complete with specific goals, methods, and trackable results.

Saying, "I'm going to eat healthier" or "I'm going to get in shape" isn't enough. You need a focused, structured plan - one that you can put down on paper and stick to.


For decades, goal-oriented people in all types of business have thought about their plans and strategy-making in terms of a simple acronym: SMART. When thinking about your health goals, make sure that they are all specific, measurable, accountable, realistic, and time-oriented. Generality is the enemy of progress. Say, for example, you want to lose weight. That's fine and good - but it's not a plan. Instead, say "I want to lose 10 pounds this month." That goal is specific, measureable, accountable, realistic, and time-oriented.

If you spend your year making smaller, specific goals as opposed to large, unspecific, unrealistic ones, you're more likely to follow through.

For better eating, give yourself time and plan ahead

Most people are busy year-round. When you think about work, kids, social obligations, and all the other requirements of everyday life, it's hard to fit in things like "go to the grocery" and "cook a healthy meal." When we don't plan ahead we often settle for convenience, and convenience usually looks like a trip through the drive-thru.

To combat this, you must take some designated time to plan ahead. One way to do this is to practice some basic meal planning. You can utilize tools like the slow cooker to prepare easy, nutritious meals that you can eat every day for lunch or multiple nights for dinner. You can also prepare meals up to the point of actual cooking and freeze them. If you're busy in the mornings, you can pack all of the necessary nutrients for breakfast into an easy-to-travel smoothie.

Force exercise into your everyday life

Without a plan, exercise is the first thing to fall by the wayside for most busy people. When the choice is between finishing up that overdue work project, picking the kids up from soccer practice, or taking time to go for a run, the latter doesn't seem that important.

You can combat this exercise apathy by planning out how you're going to incorporate some moderate exercise into your daily routine. One of the best ways to get some exercise while performing a task you need to do daily anyway is dog walking. Fido needs his daily walk, and so do you. Find ways to plan for daily exercise. Tell yourself that you are going to perform a quick, intense 7-minute workout during your lunch break at work. Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator. Walk on a treadmill or ride an exercise bike while catching up on work or watching your favorite show on Netflix. If you plan easy, manageable workouts into your daily routine you'll be more likely to keep up with them - and it's cheaper than a fancy gym membership.

Nourish your mental health

Exercise is good for your body, but don't forget to nourish your brain too. Your mental health affects the way you feel about yourself and others, and directly impacts your ability to deal with your feelings and everyday obstacles. Rather than harmful methods, use positive methods to improve your mental health such as coming up with a powerful mantra, taking breaks, going to bed on time, or finding someone to open up to, possibly finding a workout motivator to boot.

Improving your physical and mental health takes work, but with a plan in place you'll find it's much easier to stick to your goals and knock them out. Make small changes in your diet, fitness routine, and mental health efforts to reap large benefits and set yourself up for a healthy lifestyle.

Photo Credit: Pixabay.com

Will We Ever Learn

The following post is a speech given by Robert F. Kennedy in 1968 on the occasion of the assassination of Martin Luther King. It has application to many events since then including 9/11, the continued mass shootings plaguing our country, the continued terror attacks atound the world and the rancorous dealings of the politicians of both Right and Left who seem to have lost a sense of how to responsibly govern. You may find exception with it. We ask you at least read and think about what he was trying to say about us as human beings. It was said over 50 years ago and still things need to be fixed, perhaps even more now than then.

Robert F. Kennedy Cleveland City Club April 5, 1968

This is a time of shame and sorrow. It is not a day for politics. I have saved this one opportunity to speak briefly to you about this mindless menace of violence in America which again stains our land and every one of our lives.

It is not the concern of any one race. The victims of the violence are black and white, rich and poor, young and old, famous and unknown. They are, most important of all, human beings whom other human beings loved and needed. No one - no matter where he lives or what he does - can be certain who will suffer from some senseless act of bloodshed. And yet it goes on and on.

Why? What has violence ever accomplished? What has it ever created? No martyr's cause has ever been stilled by his assassin's bullet.

No wrongs have ever been righted by riots and civil disorders. A sniper is only a coward, not a hero; and an uncontrolled, uncontrollable mob is only the voice of madness, not the voice of the people.

Whenever any American's life is taken by another American unnecessarily - whether it is done in the name of the law or in the defiance of law, by one man or a gang, in cold blood or in passion, in an attack of violence or in response to violence - whenever we tear at the fabric of life which another man has painfully and clumsily woven for himself and his children, the whole nation is degraded.

"Among free men," said Abraham Lincoln, "there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and those who take such appeal are sure to lose their cause and pay the costs."

Yet we seemingly tolerate a rising level of violence that ignores our common humanity and our claims to civilization alike. We calmly accept newspaper reports of civilian slaughter in far off lands. We glorify killing on movie and television screens and call it entertainment. We make it easy for men of all shades of sanity to acquire weapons and ammunition they desire.

Too often we honor swagger and bluster and the wielders of force; too often we excuse those who are willing to build their own lives on the shattered dreams of others. Some Americans who preach nonviolence abroad fail to practice it here at home. Some who accuse others of inciting riots have by their own conduct invited them.

Some look for scapegoats, others look for conspiracies, but this much is clear; violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleaning of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.

For there is another kind of violence, slower but just as deadly, destructive as the shot or the bomb in the night. This is the violence of institutions; indifference and inaction and slow decay. This is the violence that afflicts the poor, that poisons relations between men because their skin has different colors. This is a slow destruction of a child by hunger, and schools without books and homes without heat in the winter.

This is the breaking of a man's spirit by denying him the chance to stand as a father and as a man among other men. And this too afflicts us all. I have not come here to propose a set of specific remedies nor is there a single set. For a broad and adequate outline we know what must be done. When you teach a man to hate and fear his brother, when you teach that he is a lesser man because of his color or his beliefs or the policies he pursues, when you teach that those who differ from you threaten your freedom or your job or your family, then you also learn to confront others not as fellow citizens but as enemies - to be met not with cooperation but with conquest, to be subjugated and mastered.

We learn, at the last, to look at our brothers as aliens, men with whom we share a city, but not a community, men bound to us in common dwelling, but not in common effort. We learn to share only a common fear - only a common desire to retreat from each other - only a common impulse to meet disagreement with force. For all this there are no final answers.

Yet we know what we must do. It is to achieve true justice among our fellow citizens. The question is now what programs we should seek to enact. The question is whether we can find in our own midst and in our own hearts that leadership of human purpose that will recognize the terrible truths of our existence.

We must admit the vanity of our false distinctions among men and learn to find our own advancement in the search for the advancement of all. We must admit in ourselves that our own children's future cannot be built on the misfortunes of others. We must recognize that this short life can neither be ennobled or enriched by hatred or revenge.

Our lives on this planet are too short and the work to be done too great to let this spirit flourish any longer in our land. Of course we cannot vanish it with a program, nor with a resolution.

But we can perhaps remember - even if only for a time - that those who live with us are our brothers, that they share with us the same short movement of life, that they seek - as we do - nothing but the chance to live out their lives in purpose and happiness, winning what satisfaction and fulfillment they can.

Surely this bond of common faith, this bond of common goal, can begin to teach us something. Surely we can learn, at least, to look at those around us as fellow men and surely we can begin to work a little harder to bind up the wounds among us and to become in our hearts brothers and countrymen once again.

Buy Books to Support Worthy Causes

"Chocolate Bar, The Book"

ABC World News with Diane Sawyer featured a story on February 26, 2014 about Jonah Pournazarian who suffers from a very rare childhood disease called Glycogen Storage Disease (GSD 1B) and his very special friend, Dylan Siegel.

There currently is no cure for the disease and, because of its rareness, funding on research was going to end. Dylan had met Jonah in school and they became best friends. Dylan decided he wanted to help his friend so he wrote his book.

All proceeds go directly to funding research on finding a cure. Dylan has a goal of raising $1,000,000. To date, over $400,000 has been raised. If you want to help Dylan reach his goal and save Jonah and others suffering from this rare and fatal disorder, go to http://chocolatebarbook.com/. Oh, by the way, Dylan was 6 years old when he wrote the book. He's seven now and wise way beyond his years.

"Just One More Day In the Driver"s Seat"

Nanci R. Rainey has written "Just One More Day In the Driver"s Seat" published through Tate Publishing February 2012. "Just One More Day...". Is a personal memoir of her son, Billy's daily struggles, positive accomplishments as well as failed attempts at controlling the mutation of DSRCT cancer cells. DSRCT (Desmoplastic Small Round Cell Tumor). Is an extremely rare strain of cancer, with only about 100 (a number which may change over time) published cases in the New England Journal of Medicine. A portion of the profits from the sale of the book are marked DSRCT research. The book is for sale in both written and eBook format, available at Barnes&Noble.com, Amazon.com, through Nanci's website, www.nancirainey.tateauthor.com; and also available through Tate Publishing.com.

An Invitation








Life Comes With Many Choices. Choose Wisely and Share Love With All You Meet.

Will We Ever Learn?

Here is a message we received from a friend. It speaks to all the world if only we allow ourselves to READ CAREFULLY TO COMPREHEND!

A holy man was having a conversation with the Lord one day and said, 'Lord, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.'

The Lord led the holy man to two doors.

He opened one of the doors and the holy man looked in. In the middle of the room was a large round table. In the middle of the table was a large pot of stew, which smelled delicious and made the holy man's mouth water.

The people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles that were strapped to their arms and each found it possible to reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful. But because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths.

The holy man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. The Lord said, 'You have seen Hell.'

They went to the next room and opened the door. It was exactly the same as the first one. There was the large round table with the large pot of stew which made the holy man's mouth water. The people were equipped with the same long-handled spoons, but here the people were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.

The holy man said, 'I don't understand.'

'It is simple,' said the Lord. 'It requires but one skill You see they have learned to feed each other, while the greedy think only of themselves.'

Remember that I will always share my spoon with you.

Let Us Join Together In A Prayer For Peace

Lord make me an instrument of thy peace!
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console.
To be understood as to understand.
To be loved as to love.


It is in giving that we receive.
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
It is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
St. Francis of Assisi

Consider This

Listen to some of the words spoken by Robert F. Kennedy. Think about the meaning of what he said. You may or not agree with his political beliefs, but we think it important to consider what we can each learn from his words.

"Tragedy is a tool for living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live"

"Let us dedicate ourselves to what the Greeks said so many years ago to tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world let us dedicate ourselves to that"

"Some men see thing as they are and say why I dream things that never were and say why not"

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