Where to Find Rebates, Tax Credits and Rewards for Energy-Efficient Home Improvements


If you’re planning to make some home improvements this year, you’re probably thinking about energy-efficient options, knowing they can save you money in the long run. However, many eco-friendly home improvements that help lower your energy bills can also pay off right away in the form of rebates and tax credits.

Whether you’re considering installing an energy-efficient tankless water heater, putting solar panels on your house, or adding a skylight, chances are you can find a program that will put cash back in your pocket for improving your home’s energy efficiency. Here is where to look for rebates, tax credits and rewards for your energy-efficient home improvements: 

Qualifying Improvements

When you think of energy efficiency, insulation and appliances probably come to mind. But a number of improvements can help reduce your home’s energy consumption, and many of them qualify for tax credits, rebates and incentives from a variety of sources.

The kind of improvements that can make your home more efficient and get you some cash back typically include:

* Solar energy systems (such as solar panels)

* Tankless water heaters

* Solar-powered appliances

* Energy-efficient windows and doors

* Skylights and solar-powered blinds

* Wood or wood-pellet stoves

* Home wind turbines 

Manufacturer Rebates and Incentives

Makers of energy-efficient products and appliances often offer their own rebates to homeowners for making eco-friendly upgrades. If you’re considering an energy-efficient upgrade such as installing new windows, HVAC system or tankless water heater, be sure to ask the retailer or installer about any available manufacturer’s rebates.

For example, now through at least Feb. 15, 2017, you can get up to a $650 rebate on select tankless water heaters from Noritz. The average American household spends nearly 18 percent of its energy use on heating water, at a cost of $200-$600 per year, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Tankless water heaters are more energy-efficient because they only heat water when you need it, rather than constantly consuming fuel to keep water hot in a tank. To learn more about tankless water heaters and the rebate, visit www.noritz.com. 

Federal Tax Credits

Although many tax credits for energy-efficient home improvements expired at the end of 2016, some are still available. The federal government offers a tax credit of up to 30 percent for home solar energy systems through Dec. 31, 2019, and there’s no upper limit on the credit, according to EnergyStar.gov.

If you’ll be making energy-efficient home improvements, be sure to talk to your professional tax preparer about any credits or deductions that may be available to you from the federal government. 

State-Level Programs

In addition to federal programs, a number of states offer their own incentives to encourage homeowners to make energy-efficient improvements. For example, Alabama allows homeowners to deduct 100 percent of the purchase price and installation costs of a wood-burning heating system. In Minnesota, homeowners can borrow up to $20,000 at 4.99 percent interest to make energy-efficient improvements such as water heaters, lighting, furnaces, air conditioners, insulation, windows, tankless water heaters and more.

You can find a searchable Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency at www.dsireusa.org. 

Utility Company Incentives

Many utility companies also offer programs designed to help homeowners reduce energy consumption and save money. Typical programs include free LED or CFL bulbs to replace incandescent bulbs in a home, and rebates or discounts for installing energy-efficient HVAC equipment or programmable thermostats.

The best way to find out what programs your local utility offers is to check out their website or give them a call. You can also find state-specific lists of programs at www.dsireusa.org.

Energy-efficient home improvements pay off over the long-term by reducing your home’s energy consumption and utility bills. With a little bit of planning and legwork, you can also find rebates, tax credits and incentive programs that will also repay your eco-friendly investment right away. To learn more, visit Noritz.com, www.direusa.org, energy.gov, energystar.gov and irs.gov. (BPT)

Sackman Enterprises Inc. Reveals 70 Rainey Landscape Design

Lush Landscaping Will Give Luxury Residential Condominiums in Rainey Street District the Feel of Home

Sackman Enterprises revealed recently details of the landscape architecture design for 70 Rainey, the 34-story luxury high-rise condominium development the company is building in the heart of Austin’s historic Rainey Street Historic District.

“70 Rainey is inspired by the character of its surroundings,” said C.J. Sackman, managing director for 70 Rainey. “Set at the front door of the Waller Creek redevelopment, steps away from the hike-and-bike trail, with breathtaking views down Lady Bird Lake, our amenity deck is the urban reflection of the outdoor lifestyle Austinites hold dear. This will truly be a park in the sky.”

With 20,000 square feet of outdoor amenity space, Sackman knew the project demanded an ambitious, leading-edge design. To accomplish their vision, they hired the internationally renowned landscape architecture, planning and urban design firm Design Workshop, whose global operations include offices in Houston and Austin.

“Designing landscape space in the air is complicated, logistically, especially when you’re addressing such a large area,” said Philip Koske, Design Workshop associate. “We went through a lot of iterations. C.J. wants the space to feel garden-like and immersive, and he is committed to an astounding array of amenities. That means the gardens and plant materials have to change as you walk through the space, based on varying wind and sun conditions. Our goal is to make 70 Rainey’s outdoor spaces a pleasurable journey, rather than merely a destination.”

Sackman has curated numerous experiences into the approximately 20,000 square feet of outdoor amenity space. One hundred feet above ground level, atop the building’s landscaped garage podium, 70 Rainey’s expansive outdoor amenity deck will feature a vanishing-edge infinity pool, secluded plunge pool and waterfall; experiential sundeck; yoga deck; fire pit; outdoor lounge with kitchen; spacious herb garden; 600 square-foot dog park with washing/grooming station; meandering walkways; and multiple seating areas.

The design and varied scale of the amenities and landscaping will give the space a feeling of privacy and breathing room. All of the amenities are thoughtfully embedded in the design, which includes garden alcoves, private nooks and meandering walkways nestled among the lush greenery. Design Workshop’s intricate, variable design calls for real landscaping, not just potted plants, giving owners and their guests the feel of a backyard in which to relax and recharge. It incorporates evergreens, flowering areas, perennial spaces, cactus and other xeriscape plants, a bamboo run on the east side of the building, an herb garden, and the opulence of many climbing vines.

Koske said the outdoor spaces will be reminiscent of New Orleans, constantly growing and changing with the seasons and blending the building’s architecture with its gardens.

“We were not interested in haphazardly packing the deck with as many amenities as possible,” said Sackman. “This deck was not designed simply to check boxes. We sought to create settings that inspired unique experiences.”

Developed by Sackman Enterprises, 70 Rainey was designed by Page Architects, with interior design by renowned architect Mark Zeff. Sackman Enterprises is currently accepting reservations for the 164 residences at 70 Rainey. For more information, visit http://www.70rainey.com/.

As originally published by Claire Cavendar, The PR Boutique.

Simply Sleek: How to Create Today’s Top Shower Design

Love the look of sleek, elegant shower spaces featured in popular home-improvement magazines and TV shows? You don’t need to be a design expert to update your favorite bathroom with touches of modern luxury and influences of European simplicity. To create a fashionable, functional and fabulous shower, follow these three rules. 

Rule 1: Create clean lines

A design aesthetic that embraces clean lines is at the heart of sleek shower designs. Skip complicated patterns and ornate details in favor of polished designs that produce a beautiful, finished look.

In shower spaces, consider the surround and flooring transition. Explore joint systems and find one that is seamless and low-maintenance. Consider flat walls rather than traditional curved varieties. Be aware of the visual impact a shower has when viewed both internally and externally.

Clean lines, simple transitions and smart design are keys to creating a timeless sleek shower that you’ll enjoy for years to come. 

Rule 2: Think beyond tile

More homeowners are looking for tile alternatives to create sleek shower designs, and Kohler’s Choreograph collection is a popular solution. The collection features Serica material, a proprietary composite material that precisely combines crushed stone and fiber reinforcement to create unparalleled durability and beauty.

The Serica walls are available in a variety of decorative options – from simple solid colors to fresh textures, as well as stone-like decorative natural options – all with a matte finish to provide a honed look and textured element. Optional accent panels add visual emphasis or contrast to the overall shower design.

Additionally, the walls can be trimmed in-field to allow installers to cut to the exact dimension of the shower space. Installation is much simpler than with tile, meaning the job can be completed in less time while providing homeowners with an equally beautiful space. 

Rule 3: Use functional design

Today’s shower spaces are too often cluttered, which isn’t just uncomfortable – it’s also unsafe. A sleek shower space is enhanced by thoughtful details that make it easy to stay organized.

Start by thinking through your daily routines to help shape the vision of an ultra-functional bathroom space. Keep in mind, sleek design doesn’t necessarily mean minimalist design. The right storage solutions and built-in features will adapt to your routine without overwhelming the space.

The Choreograph collection is ideal for creating a sleek, functional space. The collection includes a variety of decorative walls, a joint system, in-wall storage, on-wall storage and seating in different styles, colors and finishes to create traditional, transitional and contemporary spaces that fit both the functionality and aesthetic needs of homeowners.

Sleek shower designs may be hot, but experts predict this is one trend that is here to stay. By following these three guidelines, you’ll create a stunning shower space you’ll enjoy every day. (BPT)

5 Ways to Find Inspiration

Masha Gordon

Masha Gordon

When a significant goal or challenge stands before you, it may be tough to envision the finish line. Finding and drawing on what motivates and inspires you will make the journey toward that successful finish line more pleasant, and your ultimate victory that much sweeter.

Dig deep and find the fortitude you need to achieve ambitions big and small with these sensible tips.

  1. Reflect on past experience. While it may seem contradictory to look into the past as you seek to arm yourself with inspiration for the future, the truth is, you can learn a lot from your personal history. Think about the situations throughout your life when you’ve felt most empowered and most inspired to be your very best. Consider what you can take from those circumstances and apply it to your current position.
  1. Find what inspires you. Once you pinpoint what motivates you most, consider how to integrate it into the task or goal you’re striving toward. For example, you could follow the lead of mountaineer Masha Gordon, who recently scaled Denali National Park in Alaska, her last climb of the Explorer’s Grand Slam, which is an endurance challenge that requires climbing the highest peak on each of the seven continents and trekking to the North and South poles on skis.

“My children are my greatest inspiration, yet I couldn’t bring them with me on my climbs,” Gordon said. “I searched for a way to ensure that their inspirational words would always be with me. For my trek on Denali, I asked them to write motivational messages on my gear with Sharpie Extreme Permanent Markers, which have high-contrast ink that resists fading even when exposed to the most challenging conditions like harsh UV rays, snow, rain and mud. When I had moments where I struggled during the summit, I was able to gather strength from their words written on my gear.”

  1. Take a detour. If you’re struggling to identify the right motivator for your situation, simply take a break and direct your energy elsewhere. Sometimes forcing your mind and heart to focus too strongly can prevent the most genuine feelings and emotions from surfacing. Taking a step back to gain perspective will allow time for the most authentic forms of inspiration to arise.
  1. Surround yourself with inspiration. Put yourself on a better path by creating a lifestyle that lifts your spirits. Forge relationships with people who inspire you, and fill your physical space with idea boards including pictures and inspirational quotes that drive you to be your best.
  1. Keep it simple. There are times when the end goal is prize enough, and that’s perfectly OK. If the reward itself is the motivator, seize it and push forward with all of your might.

Find more ideas for expressing your inspiration at Facebook.com/Sharpie.

(Family Features)

Jennie Garth’s Best Tips for Savoring the Holiday Season

The festive season can be stressful, but that doesn’t stop mom-of-three Jennie Garth from slowing down to enjoy it. Garth is making it a season to savor by partnering with Marie Callender’s to show others how to add special touches during this time of year. “Spending time with family and friends, and of course indulging in holiday treats, is what the holidays are all about for me,” says Garth. Read on to learn more about Garth’s holiday traditions and how you can slow down and savor the season.

In Garth’s home: 

* The holidays are a family affair. Garth loves the holidays in part because they present so many opportunities for the family to spend time together. Instead of tackling all the holiday activities herself, Garth says her family makes it a team affair. Husband Dave and their three girls all play an integral role in decorating, baking and prepping. Even their four dogs get in on the holiday fun! 

* Always make room for pie. Garth is a self-proclaimed “pie junkie,” and even served pie in lieu of cake at her wedding. “The holiday season is all about indulging in your favorite seasonal dishes,” says Garth. “Pie is my go-to dessert, and I always have a frozen Marie Callender’s Pumpkin Pie on-hand. It’s simple to prep and super tasty. And I love to add a personal touch by adding cutout cookies or a sprinkling of cinnamon.” 

* Christmas comes early, but not too early. While Christmas decor seams to appear in department stores earlier and earlier each year, Garth’s family tradition is to deck the halls the day after Thanksgiving. “We nosh on Thanksgiving leftovers, crank up the holiday music and go to town. It’s the best,” she says. 

* The movies start early. Garth admits she’s a fan of holiday movies, so much so she can’t pick a single favorite. But that’s OK because the family takes the time to watch them all. In fact, once the decorations are up, the movie marathon begins. “We start watching on Nov. 25 and don’t stop until New Year’s,” she says. 

* Share the recipes you love. Cooking is one of Garth’s favorite holiday activities and while her table spread is always loaded with the traditional favorites, she has a few unique recipes she likes to showcase as well. Here she shares one of her favorite seasonal recipes that repurposes a holiday classic in a fun, new way. Check out the recipe for Pumpkin Pie Broiler S’mores! 

Pumpkin Pie Broiler S’mores

Hands On: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Makes: 8 servings (1 s’more each) 


8 whole cinnamon graham crackers, broken in half to make 16 squares

4 (.45oz each) snack size milk chocolate bars, cut in half

2 slices (1/8th each) cooked Marie Callender’s Pumpkin Pie

PAM Original No Stick Cooking Spray

8 large marshmallows 


  1. Preheat broiler on HIGH. Place 8 graham cracker squares on a serving plate; top each with chocolate bar half and 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie filling; discard crust.
  1. Line baking sheet with parchment paper; spray with cooking spray. Place marshmallows on baking sheet. Broil 30 seconds to 1 minute or until tops are browned. Carefully, place 1 marshmallow over each chocolate bar half; top with remaining graham cracker squares. Serve immediately.


Better Bus Safety

For millions of school-age children, each day begins and ends with a bus ride. While parents entrust their children’s safety to the capable hands of bus drivers, these tips from the National Association for Pupil Transportation provide some measures parents can take and lessons they can teach to increase safety going to and from the bus, and even during the ride.

Before the Bus Arrives

  • Ensure backpacks are packed securely so papers and other items don’t scatter as the bus approaches.
  • Create a morning routine that puts kids at the bus stop five minutes before the scheduled pickup time. This helps avoid a last-minute rush, when safety lessons are easily forgotten, and ensures kids are safely in place for boarding.
  • Encourage children to wear bright, contrasting colors so they can be seen easier by drivers.
  • Instruct children to walk on the sidewalk. If there is no sidewalk, advise them to stay out of the street, walk single-file, face traffic and stay as close to the edge of the road as possible.
  • If kids must cross a street, driveway or alley, remind them to stop and look both ways before crossing.
  • Verify that the bus stop location offers good visibility for the bus driver; if changes are needed, talk with nearby homeowners or school district officials to implement changes. Never let kids wait in a house or car, where the driver may miss seeing them approach the bus.
  • Remind children that the bus stop is not a playground. Balls or other toys could roll into the street and horseplay can result in someone falling into the path of oncoming traffic.

On the Bus Ride

  • Instruct children to allow the bus to come to a complete stop before approaching it.
  • When boarding the bus, items can get bumped and dropped. Caution children that before picking anything up, they should talk to the driver and follow instructions to safely retrieve their possessions.
  • Teach safe riding habits: stay seated with head, hands and feet inside at all times; use a seatbelt (if available); keep bags and books out of the aisle and remain seated until the bus stops moving.
  • Remind kids that just like when riding in your car, loud noises are off limits so they don’t distract the driver.

Leaving the Bus

  • Remind children to look before stepping off the bus. If they must cross the street, teach them to do so in front of the bus by taking five big steps away from the front of the bus, looking up and waiting for the driver to signal that it is safe to start into the street.
  • For parents who meet their kids at the bus, remember that in their excitement kids may dart across the street. Eliminate the risk by waiting on the side of the street where kids exit the bus.
  • Make the bus ride part of your daily “how was school?” discussion. Encourage kids to talk about the things they see and hear on the bus, so you can discuss appropriate behaviors and, if necessary, report any concerns to school administrators.
  • Bullying is more prevalent than ever and buses are no exception. Ask your child to tell you about any bullying they observe, whether against another child or themselves, and talk about how to shut down bully behavior.

Another Safety Solution

Beyond teaching safety precautions around the bus, there is another option to ensure kids are transported to school and arrive home safely each day. Many school districts are moving away from noisy, pollution-inducing and expensive diesel buses in favor of buses powered by an alternate fuel, like propane, which offers numerous benefits for school districts and their students.


Jenna Bush Hager, a teacher, author, journalist and parent of two, has partnered with the Propane Education & Research Council to educate parents and school districts about the benefits of propane school buses.

School buses powered by propane offer numerous safety advantages, including being quieter than diesel buses when operating, making it easier for drivers to hear both inside and outside the bus. This can have a direct impact on student behavior, and many districts have reported fewer disciplinary issues as a result. An interactive audio quiz detailing the difference can be found at QuieterSchoolBuses.com.

“As a former teacher, I know that parents often overlook how the ride to and from school can impact a child’s performance in the classroom,” Hager said. “A child’s attitude or behavior before they arrive at school can set the tone for the whole day.”

In addition, these buses meet rigorous U.S. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards and each is equipped with an automatic shut-off feature that prevents fuel flow to the engine when not running.

Another safety consideration is the health impact of older diesel buses. The shorter height of younger students can put them face-to-face with a black cloud of diesel smoke every school day. With propane buses, however, students aren’t exposed to the harmful particulate matter in diesel exhaust, which is known to aggravate asthma and has been identified by the World Health Organization as a carcinogen.


Not only is propane consistently less expensive than diesel, the buses themselves don’t require the same expensive repairs and replacement parts that today’s modern diesel buses demand. Saving money on transportation costs puts schools in a better position to meet students’ needs in the classroom and other areas, such as fine arts and athletic programs.

Speak Up

Is your school district exploring a switch from diesel buses to cleaner alternatives? Join the discussion (or start one) by downloading resources including fact sheets, videos and more at BetterOurBuses.com.

Propane Education & Research Council

6 Car Care Tips for Cold Weather

Winter is approaching, bringing cold temperatures, salty roads, wet conditions and other challenges for drivers. To ensure your vehicle is at its best, follow these six simple tips to get your vehicle winter-ready. Whether it’s packing an emergency kit and jumper cables or preventative maintenance like getting a car wash to defend against ice, salt, sand and slush; preparation is key to keeping your vehicle going strong throughout the winter months. For additional winter car care tips, visit carwash.org/watersavers.


The Best Festive Season Gifts of 2016

(BPT) – Spending time with friends and family is a big part of what makes the festive season so special. Celebrating with loved ones and exchanging gifts is a time-honored tradition. But before the wrapping paper can be ripped away in a flurry of sparkling shreds, you first need to find the right gifts for all the people on your list.

Don’t fret about discovering the perfect present. The experts at BJ’s Wholesale Club offer their predictions for the hottest gifts of the festive season for loved ones of any age. 


Both kids and kids-at-heart adore unwrapping a gift to discover a neat new toy just for them. This festive season, give them something that will make them squeal with delight. For example, a Giant Keyboard Playmat is great fun for the entire family. Creativity sets let little ones’ imaginations take flight. A 70-inch Jumbo Plush Dog is absolutely snuggle-worthy as it sits next to the tree. Learn more about BJ’s exclusive Top 10 Toys at www.bjs.com. 


Technology items top festive season wish lists for people both young and old. TVs and smartphones are sure to please, but if the budget is a bit more frugal, you’re not out of luck. One of 2016′s most-wanted gifts is wireless headphones. Whether sleek in-the-ear headphones or on-the-ear options that provide an incredible audio experience, it’s a gift that will be used constantly. Look for top brands like Bose, Skullcandy and LG that give you a secure, comfortable fit without sacrificing audio quality. 

Gift baskets

The smell of cookies, the taste of freshly roasted nuts, the crunch of caramel corn – food is such a memorable part of the festive season. For the person who has everything, gift baskets are guaranteed to please. From savory baskets featuring delicious foods like pretzels, cheese and sausage to sweet baskets with chocolate, cookies and candies, you’ll find something for everyone on your gift list this year at BJ’s.


Bikes and other riding toys are always a hit as festive season gifts. Whether you get the next size bike for your growing child or purchase a rocking horse for your little one just finding her balance, it’s a great gift that continues to give long after the festive season is over. In addition to bikes, trikes, scooters, powered-riding toys and wagons all make great festive season gifts. 

Indoor play

Want to find something fun for inside the home? Get kids away from the TV screen with amazing toys that inspire indoor play. Play kitchens are fantastic choices for toddlers and elementary-aged children. Dress-up outfits let your kid be a doctor, chef, cowboy and more. Building block sets are created to suite kids of virtually every age. Finally, indoor tents and tunnels are great for kids, and even mom and dad will want to get in on the fun.

With these great gift ideas, festive season 2016 will be unforgettable. Save time and money when you find everything on your gift list at BJ’s. To locate the club nearest you, visit www.bjs.com.

‘Tis the Season for Creating Dazzling Festive Season Tables

Laughter, joy, happiness — ’tis the season for family and friends to come together around the table, celebrating all the warmth of the Festive Season. Really want to wow your guests at your next gathering? It’s as easy as mixing Christmas past with Christmas present.

Mix your everyday patterns with festive motifs to create a dazzling Festive Season table.

Mix your everyday patterns with festive motifs to create a dazzling Festive Season table.

“The Festive Season is the best time to use the patterns you love, whether that’s your everyday pattern, a family heirloom, a Christmas favorite or all of the above,” says Keith Winkler, product marketing manager for dinnerware retailer Replacements, Ltd. “Take time to pull out the platter you inherited from your grandmother, or look for a way to blend in Aunt Rose’s vintage teapot. It really doesn’t matter whether you’re planning a casual dinner or a glitzy party, using heirloom patterns is more than a great conversation starter with your guests — these pieces bring tradition and family to your table.” 

The festive art of mixing and matching 

Perhaps you’ve read the buzz about the hot tabletop trend designers refer to as “mixing and matching.” Turns out, it goes beyond trendy. It’s pretty much an art.

“Mixing and matching is a way to bring all your favorites together to create a gorgeous table,” says designer Julie Robbins. “If you’re going to create a beautiful, festive look, be brave and bold; step away from using all the same colors and patterns and dare to blend all types of designs to create sparkle and magic. One of the easiest ways to start is by taking one of your favorite patterns and giving it Festive Season flair.”

We asked Robbins to share her inspiration in creating one of Replacements’ main displays for the Festive Season.

“I really wanted to capture the spirit of the season by building on an everyday pattern I really love, so I started with Constance by Bernardaud,” Robbins says. “It’s a beautiful green, yet it’s also a cool, neutral pattern that refreshes everything you mix with it. I paired it with Grenadiers, a Festive Season favorite also by Bernardaud, which is a crisp, clean Christmas pattern but at the same time very festive and whimsical with toy soldiers around the edge. And to tie it all together, I mixed in a gold-trimmed ruby charger as the base to anchor the setting in traditional seasonal colors.”

If you’re still uncertain how to create the look you want for Festive Season, Robbins suggests starting with a neutral colored dinner plate, then layering a Christmas-themed salad plate in a floral, plaid or graphic motif. You can even serve a different course with each pattern. And don’t feel like you have to stick with traditional Festive Season colors — pairing cool blues with silver creates a lovely icy effect you can use throughout winter. 

Add a dash of sparkle

Dare to let your Festive Season table reflect your personal style.

Dare to let your Festive Season table reflect your personal style.

While mixing and matching patterns captures seasonal spirit, sparkle adds a burst of magic and elegance. Robbins suggests incorporating metallic finishes, whether that means using platinum or gold trimmed crystal, or perhaps ornate flatware and serving pieces.

“Using both silver and gold pieces on your table not only evokes the traditional spirit of the Festive Season, these metals reflect light, creating a glamorous twist,” adds Robbins. “Vintage silver is very popular this year, but rather than polishing it shiny bright, leave some patina to keep the heirloom quality of the pattern.”

Another way to create sparkle: consider an eclectic mix of candles on your table. By combining crystal and silver votives, candlesticks or an odd candelabra, you can create a centerpiece that looks beautiful during the day and adds a warm glow to a winter night.

Still need help getting started? For a quick cheat sheet, sneak a peek at Replacements’ favorite holiday patterns on the company’s website, replacements.com.

5 Ways to Regain Confidence & Courageousness When the Going Gets Tough

Achievement Against-the-Odds: How to become bold, confident and courageous enough to break through barriers and overcome obstacles to achieve any professional and personal endeavor and live ‘the best season of your life

Written By DeLores Pressley

As a former plus-size model, I know all too well the pain and disappointment of rejection and judgements based solely on appearance, both professionally and personally. I have lived it time and time again. But, rather than allowing the numerous barrier-inducing critics of my plus-size define who I was, how I would live my life, and what measure of success and happiness I could achieve, I instead chose to face that “cold winter season” head on, turning what others had deemed as challenges into the very assets that would help me realize tremendous success in all aspects of my life.

Not only did I embrace my appearance and excel as a plus-sized model, I was emboldened enough to help others do the same by founding a plus-size modeling agency representing over 100 models who were placed with premier fashion retailers such as Nordstrom, Lane Bryant, Just My Size, Dillard’s, and Liz Claiborne. And I didn’t stop there. Through plus-size beauty pageants ad conventions that I founded, I created an opportunity for hundreds of other women to achieve dreams like those I, myself, had accomplished. As an international speaker, I’ve also had the honor of sharing platforms with A-Listers the likes of OPRAH, Zig Ziglar, Les Brown, and Retired U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. All told, I’ve had the “last laugh” amid the glut of naysayers who would otherwise have cut my extraordinary “larger than life” success story far short based merely on my appearance.

Rather than recoiling, I learned to thrive in every proverbial “season” of my life despite the trials and tribulations that presented. Unfortunately, the sad reality is that untold millions of other women and men, alike, are suffering setbacks based on their own “limitations,” whether real or perceived.

Life is best described metaphorically as continuously transitioning through each of the four seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. Truly successful people are not those who try to avoid certain seasons, but rather are those who choose to embrace, overcome, and thrive as they seamlessly flow between seasons, regardless of how long or difficult each one may be. And, successful people don’t just overcome the difficult season of winter, but actually thrive during the harsh cold; they also blossom throughout the spring; reap a lush harvest during the summer; and adequately prepare for the fall and winter that inevitably follow. Such cyclical expectations and preparations are mindsets that are key to sustained and “against the odds” success.

Today I’ve dedicated myself to helping others become bold, confident and courageous—no matter what “season” they themselves are in. With this in mind, here are five tips on how to overcome obstacles and excel through every season of your own life:

  1. Fuel future successes with past achievements. It’s easy to feel like a failure after a particularly harsh setback and even the most empowered of us can, at times, doubt ourselves. However, no matter where you are in your career or life, you have undoubtedly done something that has made an impact. For instance, I had a client who was having suicidal thoughts and I talked her out of being suicidal. This had a tremendous ripple effect as everyone positively impacted by her is a result of the conversation we had to keep her alive. If I’m not proud of anything else, I can be proud of that and realize if I’ve had one success I can have others. You need to take the same mentality.Notevery past achievement needs to be as profound as saving a life but find those times you made a difference in the world and know that you can do it again.
  1. Regularly invest in “The Power of You.” Do you ever get to the end of the day, week, month or even year and feel like you haven’t accomplished anything? Chances are you’ve accomplished much more than you realize but without any tangible, physical evidence it can be difficult to bring those accomplishments to mind. A great way to create a visual bank of your accomplishments is to make deposits in what I call, “The Power of You Jar.” Every time you accomplish something or do something good, write it down on a slip of paper and put it in a jar.Watching that jar fill up is empowering. Then any time you’re feeling bad or doubting yourself, just reach into the jar and get that reminder of what you’ve already accomplished.
  1. Channel your inner prize fighter. You can learn a lot from boxers. They spend three minutes fighting each round and 60 to 90 seconds resting. During that time in between rounds they are getting refueled, receiving advice, and getting encouragement. They have a whole training team that is supporting them and speaking life into them. Could you imagine how disastrous it would be if their trainer said, “You’re going to lose” or, “You should quit”? Any doubt during a fight could lead to a knock out. Yet we allow negative people in our corners all the time – people who are not encouraging and people who don’t help us. Is it any wonder we are getting knocked down? When channeling your inner prize fighter, it’s important to not only come out of your corner swinging but when you’re resting and rebuilding in between rounds, make sure the people with you are truly in your corner.
  1. Cease self-doubt with an actual “Stop” sign. If there’s one piece of self-help advice you’ve heard ad nauseam, it’s probably, “Don’t speak or think negatively.” Wonderful advice but for many, it can be next to impossible to follow. Even if you’ve attended the most incredible motivational seminar or are pumped up from a motivational book or video, the principles you’ve learned and the changes you want to make often quickly fade in following weeks or months. An effective way to keep that motivational level up and to make those changes stick is to use visual cues. For instance, if you want to stop thinking negatively, get an actual stop sign – it doesn’t have to be full sized, just big enough to be a reminder. Put it in your office, your bedroom, or wherever it needs to be visible. Then any time you are doubting yourself, you can SEE the stop sign and this will be the reminder to hit the brakes and get back on track.
  2. Don’t outsource your success. In an era where outsourcing is very popular, everything from manufacturing jobs to administrative duties are being outsourced. One thing you must not outsource is your success. If you have achieved something, surmounted an obstacle, or had any sort of triumph, take credit for it. If you find yourself saying, “It was nothing,” or “I didn’t really do much,” people will believe it. This doesn’t mean suddenly become a glory hog but it does mean take credit where credit is due. Allow yourself to be seen as successful and you will feel successful, too.


Some “winter seasons” in your life will be more challenging than others. The best way to get through those inevitable cold, harsh days is to take stock and give yourself credit for what you’ve already accomplished, surround yourself with people who support you, stop negative thinking at its onset, and allow yourself to acknowledge and enjoy present, in-the-moment pleasures. Doing so will give you the motivation and fire you need to be confident and courageous to work through any difficult season.

Delores Pressley (Photo Credit:  Kim Honora of Kims Photography(

DeLores Pressley (Photo Credit: Kim Honora of Kim’s Photography)

International Keynote Motivational Speaker, Executive Life Coach and Author DeLores Pressley is dedicated to helping people take action to launch bold, confident and courageous lives. She is the CEO of DeLores Pressley Worldwide and Founder of the Global Up Woman™ Network—a movement to empower and elevate women in business. She may be reached online at www.delorespressley.com. Those interested in her Speaker Success Summits specifically may reach her at www.launchlivesummit.com.