The first week of August is National Simplify Your Life week. This is the time to clear out the clutter, both physically and otherwise. It's a good time to do a little late “spring” cleaning, but also to clear out some of the things in our lives that keep us from truly enjoying ourselves. Today's world is so fast-paced, so chaotic at times that most of us can't even consider just taking some time out for ourselves. During this first week of August, let's think of ways to simplify the things in our lives so we can slow down and live a little.

First and foremost, we've got to learn to say “no” sometimes. Have you ever heard the phrase, “If you don’t plan your life, someone else will”? It's a great thing if you are always trying to help others, but sometimes, people take advantage. While your friends and family are important, you may have to set some limits and allow them the opportunity to solve their own problems. Your mental and physical health will thank you for dropping some of the load.

Another way to simplify is to stop wasting time on useless endeavors. We all like to scroll around on social media, but how often do you just get absolutely lost in it? Put down your phone and do something that brings you true joy.

And lastly, learn to prepare in advance and prioritize. Starting your day in a rush because you're out of clean laundry or realizing you have nothing for lunch so you need to run by the store will increase your stress. Begin a checklist in the evenings to be sure you're completely ready for the morning to cut back on stress. Do laundry ahead of time and organize your grocery shopping so you don’t have to add those last-minute stops. You'll start your day more calmly which may improve your entire day.

Prioritize everything in your life. Remember if you put your life in order with God first, family second and everything else third, you’ll be well on your way to the simplification process.

It's hard to take that first step to simplify, but once you do, you'll be so glad. Having more time to enjoy yourself is an admirable goal and a great way to celebrate National Simplify Your Life Week.

We are so proud of Miss Alabama’s Outstanding Teen Zoe’ Champion who competed in the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Pageant last weekend. Zoe’ finished in the top 15. She also won the Preliminary Evening Wear competition and the on-stage question. Her talent was a jazz dance, Lone Ranger. Zoe’ is a Leeds resident, a former Miss Leeds Area’s Outstanding Teen and the younger sister of Miss Alabama 2013, Chandler Champion. Congratulations, Zoe’, we love you!

Our Miss Leeds Area Charity Bowden and Miss Leeds Area’s Outstanding Teen Emma Terry participated in the Children’s Miracle Network Patient Party last week on Miracle Treat Day at the Homewood Dairy Queen. This was a fundraiser with $1 or more of each Blizzard going to Children’s Miracle Network.

The City of Leeds and the Leeds Area Chamber of Commerce will conduct a ribbon cutting at 10 a.m. Aug. 1 at Southeastern Equipment Rentals located at 9014 Weaver Avenue NE, Leeds. Come out and join the excitement.

Leeds has scheduled the next First Thursday Street Fest, Aug. 1 from 5 p.m. until 8 p.m. hosted by the Leeds Area Chamber of Commerce, the City of Leeds and Leeds Redevelopment Authority. Cody Howell, Paul Sisson and Mandi Rae, local singers and songwriters, will be on the gazebo stage. Food trucks, street vendors, kid’s activities and the car cruise-in will begin at 8th Street on the Parkway at the library and extend to 9th Street and possibly beyond. The Porsche Club sponsored by Eurasian Auto Services will participate in the cruise-in and include a number of vintage cars. Plan to bring your family and enjoy street vendors, food trucks, entertainers, car cruise-in, downtown shopping on the Parkway and more. This is a free event so don’t miss it and bring you lawn chairs to stay a while! For info, visit www.LeedsAreaChamber.com.

Leeds Jane Culbreath Library will be closed on Friday, Aug. 2 for a Library Staff Day.

The Leeds Arts Center will be hosting Lee Banks and The Sea of Names Band, Mystery Mixtape Show on Saturday Aug. 3 at 7 p.m. The band will be playing a mix of cover songs at the Leeds Theater and Arts Center. Tickets are $5.

Crossroads Christian School will host a Used Book Sale at Community Presbyterian Church on Saturday, Aug. 3. Set up for the sale is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 2 from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 3 from 8 a.m. until 9 a.m. The sale will begin at 9 a.m. and close at 1 p.m. Volunteers are needed and non-Crossroads families are allowed to sell at this event for a nominal fee of $5 per family. For more information, please call 205-640-2174.

The Leeds Arts Center will host the Scott Harvey art exhibit on Sunday, Aug. 4 from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. to view his beautiful artwork. Admission is free. Harvey works in acrylics, watercolors, ink and graphite to create animal illustrations, pastoral scenes and layered abstracts. Harvey serves on the board of the Leeds Arts Council.

The Leeds Redevelopment Authority Meeting is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 5 at 5 p.m. in the Leeds Civic Center Meeting Room.

The Leeds City Council will meet on Monday, Aug. 5 at 6 p.m. in the Leeds Civic Center Meeting Room.

The Board of Directors of the Governmental Utility Services Corporation of Moody will hold a meeting at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, Aug. 5 at Moody City Hall. Prior to the meeting, a Work Session will be held at 4 p.m. Both meetings are open to the public.

On Tuesday, Aug. 6 at 10 a.m., the Leeds Jane Culbreath Library will host Tot Time with Mrs. Ramona. Children from ages 0 – 5 are invited to come enjoy songs, dancing, stories and crafts. There are many other activities scheduled with the library so visit their Facebook page often so you will not miss anything.

The world today has so many distractions, that our families may often lose their priority. So how do we fight to keep our families strong in a society that seems to diminish their importance? Fighting for Your Family Bible Conference led by guest speaker, Dr. Chris Crain, will help you do just that! This family conference is scheduled for each Wednesday night at the Leeds River Campus of Eden Westside Baptist Church beginning Wednesday, Aug. 7 with activities for the entire family and free pizza for the kids. Visit www.EdenWestside.org for more information.

The Doris Stanley Memorial Library will host a special guest, Marvin Clemmons, at 1 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 9 at Moody Civic Center. Mr. Clemmons will share the history of the Birmingham Terminal Station. His book about the history of the station called “Great Temple of Travel” will be on sale at this event.

Thought for the week: “Prioritize your life: God first, family second and everything else third.”

I truly appreciate each of you who read my column and I really love sharing news so please send your Leeds and Moody news to me at leedsmoodynews@gmail.com. See you next week!

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