Monday, November 11, 2013

Relationship Rescue: Get Your Head Outta the Sand!

For the four Mondays in November, we’ll be attempting a relationship rescue. Even if you aren’t in a relationship, this can help you for the next time you are.

Like the ostrich, many times it is easier to bury our heads in the sand and not confront the sometimes ugly truth. It isn’t that we don’t see the signs that a relationship is in trouble. Most often, we choose a different interpretation.

Yet, on a certain level, a deeper level, we know that something is seriously wrong. Not only is it wrong, but it is probably also complicated, messy and unpleasant to deal with. So we ignore it or make excuses for it.
Of course, I’m talking about infidelity but I’m also talking about more than that. Cheating isn’t the only problem that relationships encounter. There are a myriad of things from abuse to addiction and even indifference or feelings of overwhelm to contend with.

Whatever the issue, ignoring it won’t make it better. You have to deal with it in all its ugly, complicated and messy glory. This requires both honesty and openness. You need to be honest about what you are feeling and what you are experiencing. However, you need to be open to the other person’s feelings and experiences. My Aunt Linda told me a long time ago not to ask a question if you weren’t ready for the answer … especially because it might not be the one you want.

Yet, you have to get down and dirty if you want to get to the bottom of things … and you have to get to the bottom before you can start your rise to the top again.

Relationships, be they romantic, professional or personal, go from bad to worse when issues are allowed to fester and worsen. An wound needs to be treated and bandaged so that it can heal. It won’t get better on it’s own. The antiseptic you use to clean the wound will hurt and the bandage to protect it might be uncomfortable but in the end, it is a pain and discomfort that is necessary to cleanse the wound and let the healing begin.Re

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Finish Strong

It's November and we're in the final stretch of 2013. However, the year ain't over yet. There is still time to finish strong. Those goals you set at the beginning of the year are still within your reach. Even if it's not possible to complete your goal in two months, you can at least get a good start and gain some momentum.
  • You might not be able to lose 50 pounds but you can lose 10.
  • You can start that workout routine.
  • You can begin putting a little money aside every paycheck.
  • You can order a few college catalogs.
  • You can try again to quit smoking or stop another bad habit.
It's not to late. You can still finish strong!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Relationship Rescue: Speaking the Same Language

For the four Mondays in November, we’ll be attempting a relationship rescue. Even if you aren’t in a relationship, this can help you for the next time you are.

A relationship is always difficult. It will always be work … hopefully, mostly fun and rewarding work, but work just the same. When you think about it, it’s a miracle that two people ever come together. There are so many factors to consider: attraction, chemistry, values, location, baggage, issues, finding the person for you is hard!

But even when you have found that person, The One, the road isn’t always sunny and smooth. It’s possible, after everything, that you are The One aren’t even speaking the same language! In his best-selling book, The Five Love Languages, author Gary Chapman determines five ways people want to be loved. Of course, we give love the way we want to receive love. The problem occurs when the way we want to be loved isn’t the same way the person we love want to be loved.

For instance, for many people gifts and receiving things is a sign of love. This person will naturally give gifts. However, the spouse may not place a high value on gifts, what they want is time. So frustration ensues. The person who wants gifts gets time and the person who wants time gets a lot of stuff. See the problem?

Here are the Five Love Languages
  1. Words of Affirmation: This person wants to hear “I love you.” Thanking them for something they’ve done and telling them how you feel is what really matters.
  2. Receiving Gifts: Whether it’s wrapped in a box or given in a bouquet, this person wants to see and receiving the tokens of your affection.
  3. Acts of Service: This person wants their actions to speak for them. Cooking a meal for someone, taking the car for an oil change, these things are not just done out of necessity, they are done out of love.
  4. Physical Touch: This is more than just the sex act. A touch on the shoulder, cuddling on the couch, holding hands, these are the signs that show this person they are loved.
  5. Quality Time: This person doesn’t want things they want time spent together: on a drive, at the movies, over dinner, it’s the amount of time and quality of that time that matters.

Knowing your Love Language is only half the battle. You need to know your partner’s Love Language so that both of you can receive love in your own way.

Visit Chapman’s site at Click Discover Your Love Language across the time to find out what your Love Language is. (Mine is Acts of Service!)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

At-Work Balance: Relationships Matter

As I mentioned last week, we spend more time at work than we do with our families. It stands to reason that, just like your family, there will be people that you like and 'just click' with and then there will be others you'd rather not see sitting across from you at the Thanksgiving table. Plus, there are a boatload of people in the middle that don't elicit strong reactions of any kind.

Your Work Bestie
You eat lunch together. You exchange emails all day. You hang out after work. They know your family. Most importantly, they know all of your business. This is your friend and if one of you left the job the friendship will continue. Yet, this relationship looks different to outsiders who might see that kind of closeness as unprofessional. If one of you gets promoted, people will be looking for favoritism.

While breaks and lunches are your time, in other areas and at other times (during meetings, training sessions) try to keep the camaraderie to a minimum. These are not the time to share inside jokes and tales of your weekend escapades. Keep those between the two of you and off of the clock.

Your Work Frenemy
This person rubs you the wrong way. You dread even passing them in the hall. Yet, there will be times when you have to work with them. Keep it professional and respectful. Don't complain about them to other co-workers (including your bestie). Watch your body language in this person's presence. Other people notice the frown, the sighs and the eye-rolling.

This is work, so let's keep it about the work. This one could be difficult though depending on why this person is a frenemy. If the person is a work-avoider and constantly pushes their work on you and others, make their role clear and get their buy-in in writing (email) so their responsibilities are clearly defined. If this person is condescending or a hot-head, do not back down. State your position but do it without getting emotional or frustrated (that is often the reaction that person is looking for)

The Middlers
These people are not the Bestie or the Frenemy and these are the majority of the people you deal with everyday. They watch your relationships with your Frenemy and Bestie. They are there for small talk and chit-chat. While they might not even be a blip on your radar, these are the people who determine what your work reputation is like. They take note of your frustration with your frenemy. They overhear the personal conversations between you and your bestie. They are a silent majority.

Be courteous and professional and focus on doing your work and doing it well. Don't give them any reason to question your work ethic, your integrity or your professionalism.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Monday, October 28, 2013

Peace through The Serenity Prayer

In the month of October, each Monday, I will be writing a post on gaining peace of mind.

A cornerstone of the 12 Step program, the Serenity Prayer is simple and straight-forward; but like a lot of things that are simple to understand, it is often very difficult to apply.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

You cannot change anything but yourself. You are not responsible for or capable of changing someone else’s thought, moods, behaviors, perceptions, desires, motivations, beliefs or ideas. Yet, think about how much time we waste and how much frustration we create because we cannot accept someone else as they are. They don’t do what they think they should do so it becomes a problem.  If someone is grumpy in the morning, why get upset at their surliness? Why waste time trying to get them to change, especially if you know they’ll come around in about an hour and after they’ve had their coffee.

Most things about yourself you can change, but some things need to be accepted. You won’t be getting taller. You can’t change your race or ethnicity. You cannot change the family you were born into or the circumstances you grew up in. In fact, you can’t change the events of the past. It’s done. You can change how you perceive those events but that would take …

The courage to change the things I can

Yet, there are things you can change. Those begin with things within your control, things within yourself. You don’t have to do what you’ve always done. You can do something different. However, something different could very well mean something that opens you up to criticism or failure and that takes courage. Something different might mean stepping outside of your comfort zone and feeling awkward or making mistakes. This takes a significant level of personal bravery.

You cannot change others but you can speak up for yourself and you can offer solutions to situations that are within your control. However, your suggestions and your outspokenness might be met with hostility or even ridicule. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t say anything. It does mean that you’ll have to summon the courage to do so.

The wisdom to know the difference

This is the hard part. This is the part that makes something simple in explanation, difficult in practice. What is within your control to change and what isn’t? When do you need to accept or let go and when do you need to be brave and show the determination necessary to change?

I think some of this comes with age. Because we’ve grown in different areas and in different ways, I have lost some friendships over the years. When I was younger, I tried in vain to hold on to those friendships, eventually, I had to let them go.

A lot of this wisdom comes from being open to learning from your mistakes and the events in your life. I don’t believe that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger or wiser or better than you were before. For some, what doesn’t kill you just doesn’t kill you. However, for someone who is willing to learn and grow from there experiences, struggle can bring those qualities of strength, wisdom and betterment.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

At-Work Balance

We hear a lot about work-life balance. However, there is another form of balance that is just as important though hardly ever mentioned. I call it At Work Balance.

There are 168 hours in a week. If we only get six hours of sleep a night, we lose 42 hours. We spend about 50 hours at work (time spent at work plus time commuting to and from work and time preparing for work). And that’s not factoring in any overtime!

We spend more time working than we spend with our families. So how we conduct that time is critical.
Until androids take over the world, humans are the ones that go to work and humans are not machines (a fact often lost on those in management). Humans are social animals. We interact with coworkers, clients, vendors and customers. We make small talk. We will react positively and negatively to the personalities of others. 

At-Work Balance seeks to navigate that minefield by setting some parameters for work behavior and, more importantly, work behaviors.

Over the next few weeks I want to explore this concept from a variety of angles:
  • Workplace Relationships: You don’t want to be everyone’s best friend but at the same time you don’t want to close yourself off to the point where you alienate your co-workers.
  • Time: Using break time and lunch time wisely and taking time required to just be human.
  • Expectations: Realistic expectations for workloads and results should be shared by management and coworkers.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Realistic Expectations

In the month of October, each Monday, I will be writing a post on gaining peace of mind.

Your goals should always be slightly out of your reach … offering something for you to stress and strive for. However, they shouldn’t be so far out of your reach that you cannot possibly attain them. Unachievable goals set you up for failure and discouragement. In fact, it makes achieving any goals that much harder and having these kinds of goals wreaks havoc on your peace of mind.

I call it, The Biggest Loser Effect. On The Biggest Loser, it isn’t uncommon for people to lose five and even ten pounds in a week. So when we diet and exercise for that same week and only manage to lose just a pound (which is a healthy rate of weight loss), instead of feeling happy, we often agonize!

These people have devoted their entire days to losing weight. They work out for hours, they aren’t working, they are away from their families. Even the ones who get sent home, still have the powerful motivator of cameras chronicling their progress and the possibility of returning to the show in front of a national audience.

This is NOT the situation for you and me. We have jobs. We have lives that include cakes and cookies at work, dinners out with friends, church pot lucks and a host of social engagements, not to mention family and friends that aren’t into diet or exercise. We have busy schedules that don’t normally allow for hours of exercise every day.

Yet, we compare our success to this small, group of people who are going an extraordinary transformation with extraordinary circumstances.

You can apply The Biggest Loser Effect to any situation where you are looking at completely unrealistic expectations and wanting those kinds of results for yourself. Real life couples argue and go through rough patches. All office drama isn’t funny and inconsequential as it appears on a sitcom.

There is a quote from one of my favorite talk show host, Dennis Prager, and he is quoting a friend’s mom. She said, “The only happy people I know are people I don’t know very well.” Does this mean there are no happy people? Of course not. What it means is that truly happy people have a realistic happiness, there are still obstacles. There are still struggles but they have happiness in spite of those things. They aren’t living in paradise. They live in real life.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Me Time!

In the month of October, each Monday, I will be writing a post on gaining peace of mind.

To paraphrase a common slogan. There is an 'I' in the word time and there is also a 'ME'! So it makes sense that we can be a little selfish with our time. We make time for everything and everyone else, we need to make time for ourselves. It can be as simple as a half-hour reading a book, taking a short walk or a warm bath, having a power nap or treating yourself to a good movie. We need to make time at least once a week (and that is minimum) to do something for ourselves.

The quanitity of time isn't as important as the quality of time. To do this though, we need to stop thinking of not having time for ourselves as some sort of badge of honor. In too many case, we look at doing too much or making too many sacrifices as a good thing; it shows our dedication. Yet, not taking time to rest and rejuvenate can make you fray around the edges. Your patience is short and if this goes on for too long you become resentful of the life you want so much.

You can make some time for yourself but it involves letting go of control and the desire for perfection - delegation. Spouses, family members, friends and even older children can be given some of your responsibilities. But you need to be able to let go. Here are three suggestions to make delegation easier.

1. Communicate your expectations but give some leeway. Let your son know that a clean kitchen means a swept floor, clean counter tops, no dishes in the sink and the garbage emptied. Let him know the time frame for completing that task (every night, after dinner before bedtime).Then allow him to do those things in his own way. Don't criticize because they do things differently or in another order than you. Focus on the end result and not the means for getting there.

2. Set a realistic bar. If you look for perfection both you (the delegator) and the one doing the work (the delegatee) will just be frustrated. Have a standard that they can meet and you can be happy with.

3. Don't just delegate boring and tedious tasks. Cleaning the kitchen is never fun, but maybe planning and cooking a meal or two a week is. Give a variety of assignments.

4. Show gratitude. Let them know that you appreciate what they are doing. You don't need to gush about it or put a bumper sticker on the car that says "My daughter does her chores." But a kind and thoughful word can go a long way.

5. Make your needs known. Let family members know that you need their help so that you can carve out a little bit of time for yourself. The only way people will know what you need is if you tell them!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Learning to Let Go

In the month of October, each Monday, I will be writing a post on gaining peace of mind.

I said goodbye to my best friend less than a month ago. I also celebrated a birthday. Despite the Halle Berrys and Nace Graces of the world. At my age, it is probably time to move away from the dream of having my own kids. There are a ton of wonderful single mothers but I could never see myself choosing that route. Letting go is never easy but it is some times necessary.

No matter what I do, I cannot bring Marty back. Seeing as I'm not even dating, the chance of me having a kid are slim-to-none. So what to do now. How do I let go and move on?

I did some research and found these tips for letting go:

Accept the Truth and Be Thankful
With Marty, it's about being grateful. When it comes to kids, for me, it's more about acceptance. I am grateful for the almost 13 years of memories that I shared with Marty. He made me laugh on a daily basis! We were a good team. He added so much to my life and for that I will always be thankful. As far as kids go, I have had a wealth of incredible experiences and have been able to take advantage of a lot of amazing opportunities. I'm not sure I would have been able to do half of those things with a kid. The truth is now that I have to accept the fact that the choices I have made have led me to this point. There are other options but having my own baby, and family, the old-fashioned way isn't one of them.

Claim Ownership and Full Control Over Your Life
What happens now is up to me. It's not about anyone else. It's not about handing the reins over to someone else. If I need to let a dream die or find another one, those choices are mine and mine alone. There is no one else to blame and there is no one who can make my decisions for me.

Focus on Today
This is a big one for me. I can often get overwhelmed looking at the big picture. However, I have to remind myself that I can slow things down if I look at it one day, some times one hour at a time! I can't change what has happened and I cannot predict what will happen, all I can do is the best I can do right now!

The blog I 'borrowed' this from is a lot longer. If you'd like to read it in its entirety, click here.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Marty Beach: A Life Well Lived

It's been almost three weeks since my partner of 13 years passed away. He outlasted every relationship I've ever had and he was there for me. There have been many tears over the past few weeks. He was a 9-pound dog but he had such personality and zest for life. He left a positive impact on everyone he met. He even made friends at the vet. When I'd pick him up the doctors and vet assistants would come out to say goodbye.

As I grieve his passing, I keep remembering how much he hated to see me cry. He'd watch me like a hawk because he could sense I was upset. At the first sign of a tear, he'd jump into my lap and lick the tears away! If I was writing a painful entry in my journal, he could tell. He would come over to me and put his paw on top of my right hand as if to say, "Stop writing, it's making you sad."

I think of those moments often now. I know he wouldn't want to see me sad and crying. So I remember the two of us curled up on the sofa or taking a little drive. I remember all of the silly songs I'd make up and sing to him.

The end came quickly and unexpectedly. I don't want to talk more about it because I'll start crying again. People that don't get dogs probably think I'm being silly to miss a four-legged 9-pound canine. However, I've lost my constant companion and soul mate.

They say diamonds are a girl's best friend. Forget that. I'd gladly trade the world's biggest diamond for just another hour with my Marty.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Mistakes will be Made

For the month of September, every Monday I'll be sharing some reflections of forty something years of living!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

So Far, So Good

Tonight will mark my fourth show on Get It Together Girl Radio. After a rocky start, I can see an improvement with every episode. I've realized that I really love doing a radio show. I love the actual show. I love recording promos. I love working with guests. I have found my passion.

But passion is nothing without commitment. And I am committed to growing my show, making it the best that it can be. What does this mean? It means that when I come home from my day job, I am working on my show in the evenings and on the weekends. It means that I am willing to invest what cash I have into promotion, advertising and what is needed to make my show better.

Commitment means seeking out the opinions of others and really listening to them, even if it means hearing something I don't like or agree with. Commitment means getting out of my comfort zone for the sake of my dream.

So ask yourself, what are you passionate about? Are you committed to doing what it takes to transform that passion from a nice idea to a tangible reality?

Monday, September 23, 2013

Put Yourself First

For the month of September, every Monday I'll be sharing some reflections of forty something years of living!

Last week, I spoke about my people-pleasing nature and how important it was for everyone to like me. I usually put other people first. I didn't want people to dislike me and I didn't like a lot of drama or friction, so I would sacrifice my happiness to make sure everything was running smoothly.

Over ten years ago, I was up late, working on a freelance project. I had accepted a ridiculous deadline and charged way below what the project was worth. I was tired. No, I was beyond tired. It was at this point that I had an epiphany. I realized that the only person struggling right now was me. The person who had hired me was probably fast asleep knowing that she was getting high-quality work for a fraction of the cost.

That brief, fleeting concept changed a lot of things. It was the beginning of me developing a backbone. I completed the assignment but when I turned it in I explained that the next time, with a deadline so close I would have to charge more ... or just say no. To my surprise, I wasn't met with anger or hostility. I actually got an apology.

I realized that when people ask for something, they realize that the answer might be 'no' and normally, that is okay with them. Denying a request wasn't a relationship ender. No one would hate me. I wasn't burning bridges. However, I was taking care of myself. People said no to me and I didn't have such extreme reactions.

So now when people ask me for something and I cannot accommodate their request, I can say no or counter with an offer that I can accomplish.

I've realized the importance of putting myself first. I know now that if I don't no one else will.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Everyone Doesn't Have to Like Me

For the month of September, every Monday I'll be sharing some reflections of forty something years of living!

I half-jokingly tell people that I am 'naturally popular'. I am an extrovert and have never had a problem meeting people and making friends. It's always been this way. Yet when I was younger, I'd say until my early 30's, I needed everyone to like me. When someone didn't, I'd wreck my brain trying to figure out why.

This also made me a people pleaser. I didn't want to have anyone upset with me. I became the girl who couldn't say no. If a friend was in a bind or needed something, I would be there ... even if it set me back. As a freelance writer, I would undercharge and accept unrealistic deadlines.

Then, one night when I was up late working on a project where I had agreed to do too much work for too little money and with not enough time that I came to a realization, actually two.

  1. The only person suffering with these unrealistic expectations was me. Everyone else was getting what they wanted.
  2. The world wouldn't end if I pushed back a little. Other people said no, so why couldn't I?
So I started doing a better job of setting boundaries. I was shocked to realize that I didn't lose friends and people didn't hate me if I said I couldn't do something. I also realized the power of the counter-offer. I can't do what you asked but this is what I can do. 

Because people pleasing is in my nature, I occasionally find myself doing too much for the people in my life but it doesn't happen as frequently (i.e. all the time).

I also realized that it is okay if people don't like me. Maybe it is me and maybe it's them. Either way, it is nothing to lose sleep over.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Relationships End

For the month of September, every Monday I'll be sharing some reflections of forty something years of living!

In high school, I thought I'd have the same friends for life. I had four girlfriends and I imagined us growing old together a la The Golden Girls. Today, I am only good friends with one of them. The rest of us just grew apart. It used to make me sad. Now I just accept it as a part of life.

Even with my best friend, the only relationship from that gang of four that lasted, things have changed. I've moved a bajillion times and haven't lived in my hometown for decades now. She's gotten married and had kids. Things have changed. Yet, at the same time, we've grown and matured along a similar path. This has allowed us to remain close as zip codes, careers and marital statuses have changed.

Over the years, people have come into my life and left just as quickly. Others have forged a strong bond with me similar to that I'd had back in my high school days. I've realized that there is a lot of truth to that saying that some people are only in your life for a reason and some for a season.

Another thing I've realized about relationships is that water truly does seek its own level. No matter where I've lived - Ohio, Maryland, California, Arizona or North Carolina, my friends have always shared a set of similar characteristics. It seems odd but I seem to attract the same kinds of people. And the amazing thing is that they are all good people!

Still some of us briefly crossed paths and a few of them have remained in my life. For all of them, I am grateful.

Even when a relationship runs its course, it doesn't mean that it is a bad thing. Some things just end and there is no judgement to it, it's just life.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

It's Here: Get It Together Girl Radio!

Tonight is the night.  After months of planning and preparation, I am launching my own BlogTalkRadio show with Get It Together Girl Radio! Like the workbooks, the show will focus on the little things you can do and changes you can make that will make a major difference in your life.

We'll talk about organization and time management (but I promise you it won't be boring!). We'll talk about relationships (not just romantic ones but family, friends and workplace relationships too). We'll talk about health and wealth. We'll talk about setting and achieving goals and living your dreams!

This is sort of like coming full circle for me. My degree is in broadcast journalism and I worked in radio for several years after college. However, eating shouldn't be optional and cars run better on gas than fumes so I made a career change. People who know me know that this project makes sense for me and the person that I am. A radio show is definitely within my wheelhouse. For me, it is living a dream.

I am truly excited about this. I'm lining up great guest, covering amazing topics and looking forward to calls from listeners and chatting with them.

The live show airs Thursday nights at 8:00 p.m. (EST). If you miss the live show, you can always visit the archive and replay the show when it is convenient by going to

I hope you share even a little bit of the my enthusiasm. I would love to hear your voices on the show. Call in! Chat with me!

Also if you or anyone you know would be interested in being a guest, email me at karyn

Monday, August 26, 2013

What Our Parents Taught Us

Eventually most parents have that moment when they realize that they said something to their kids that their parents had said to them. I don't even have kids but I know I have had those moments with kids in my family.

My mom died when I was fifteen. At that time, she'd try to talk to me and impart some wisdom and life lessons. I would often roll my eyes or think to myself, "What could you possibly know about anything?!?" It took a few years but I realized as I got older that she did know what she was talking about most of the time. Since then, barely a day has passed when I haven't heard her words in my head. I've even found myself sharing some of her advice with friends and co-workers.

I think it is a sign of maturity when we begin to see our parents as real humans and not superheroes. It's also a sign when we can learn from them, both what they got right and what they got wrong.

Learning from your parents involves working what they did right into your own life; taking their advice and their lessons as your own. However, it also involves looking at what they did wrong and making the decision to do things differently. You do not have to make the mistakes of your parents your mistakes and, ultimately, your children's mistakes.

The cycle of abuse is a cycle because we feel powerless to do anything different. Our parents dysfunction becomes our dysfunction because it is what we know. We know what we know and the unknown always looks scary and difficult - even if what we know isn't very good.  Yet, it doesn't have to be. We can choose to do something different, to have something different and to be something different. This doesn't mean it will be an easy path to take or a quick solution to your problems.

Breaking the cycle could involve confronting your accusers, seeking professional help or just being aware of your actions and the decisions you are making. If you need to so something, whatever it is, do it. Just remember that you have to do through the rain to get to the rainbow. Your hard work will pay off for you, your children and your children's children. It is worth the effort.

Thursday, August 22, 2013


It's not just a tasty seafood dish (especially when it is fried!). The phenomenon of 'catfishing' is something that could only happen to the extent and frequency it does in our 21st century cyber-society. A catfish is someone who lures someone into a relationship by pretending to be someone they are not. They use other people's photos, make up elaborate lives and lies and actually develop relationships with people using these fake identities.

The MTV show Catfish is all about getting the catfish to fess up and meet the person they have been stringing along. We are well into the second season and so far there has only been one couple who were who they said they were. Everyone else is found out to be a fake. Some of them are purposely being deceptive but most tell a similar story. They were unhappy with themselves and created this fake persona to feel better about themselves. They fell into a relationship and didn't know how to get out of it once they were so far in.

It is scary that so many young people feel this badly about themselves that they would go to this extreme. Honestly I don't understand how pretending to be someone else - someone "better-looking" or thinner or "more interesting" can help you feel better about yourself. I certainly don't understand how stringing some unwitting and unknowing person along could be seen as a positive move for the 'catfish'.

On the other hand, the person being duped often ignores flagrant signs and continues in this 'relationship' often for years. Yes, these people enter into exclusive relationships with people they have never met.

The need for acceptance and love is so strong among these people that they are willing to live a lie or accept the lies they are being told.

It's sad really and I don't know what to tell these people. Maybe I'd tell them that - only real life is real. To the catfish I'd say that life isn't not always happy or fun or what we want it to be. Being someone else isn't an option. To the person being catfished I'd say that avoiding the truth isn't an option either. Believing lies will never make them the truth no matter how hard you believe them.

I watch the show because it is as fascinating as it is sad.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Role Reversal

 For the Mondays in August we'll be looking at being adult children.

They were there for us all of our lives. They raised us and guided us from infancy to independence. As we get older, so do they. Age advances and many parents move from independence to dependence.  When they age, they need us just like we needed them.

Often, parents need their children just as their children are hitting their stride: raising their own children (and some times grandchildren), experiencing more responsibility at work and dealing with the realities that adulthood brings. It is at this time that our parents need us most.

There are several things to consider:

Living arrangements
 Should they stay at home, live with you or go to a skilled facility? A lot of this depends on the health of your parents. Healthy parents could get by with just a little more contact, a few more calls or visits. If they are suffering from an illness that isn't debilitating, maybe an assisted living facility or someone to come by and help them out once or twice a week would do.

If they need more help and can't stay on their own, living with you could be an option, but you have to consider your lifestyle and whether you can offer them the care they need. Caring for an aging and ailing parent is a full-time and draining tasks. Make sure you have a strong support system in place so that you can care for yourself while you are caring for them.

A nursing home could be a final alternative. If you choose to go this route, make sure to do your homework. Cost is a factor but it isn't the only one. Cleanliness, quality of care, number and type of activities are all considerations.

Money Matters
Regardless of the living arrangements, money is a factor. Do they have enough to live on? Can they afford their care? Can you? If you are in your fifties, consider a Long Term Health Care plan. A friend's mom spent over a decade with a debilitating disease. Because she had had the foresight to invest in long term care insurance, she was able to have a high level of care without bankrupting her children.

Also take some time to get familiar with Medicaid, Medicare and any pensions or retirement they might have. If you have siblings, consider pooling your money together. Any way you slice it, money will be an issue.

Mending Fences
As your parents get older, the inevitable becomes more of a reality. Taking the time to mend relationships and heal past hurts (if possible) is essential. Once it is too late, it really is too late and there are no do overs. Saying what you need to say while your parent is still here and able to hear you can make all of the difference and this is true if your parents are ailing or healthy. Don't run the risk of leaving things unsaid.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A Lesson from Marty

Marty and I have been together for 12 years. He was two-years on when I got him. We started our journey together when I lived in Maryland. We drove cross-country and lived in California for two years. We packed up again and headed back East. We've been in Charlotte for seven years now.

Marty still does the happy dance when I come home and he struts around the block for our evening walk without a problem. Yet, he's no spring puppy. Nothing illustrates this more than his run-ins with the chihuahua puppy next door, Beyonce (yes, my neighbor's named their dog Beyonce).

Beyonce is never on a leash, so when she sees us out for our walk, she darts past Marty, barking (actually yipping). Marty offers a little bark but not and starts to give chase yet he never quite follows though. What can I say, my dog knows his limits.

I wish I could say the same. I think a lot of the time we either ignore our limits totally or we use them as an excuse for not doing anything.

My cousin, at age 40, tore his Achilles tendon. He thought he could just run out onto the basketball court without stretching. He was wrong. After a long healing process, he still hadn't learned his lesson. This time he tore his other Achilles.

On the other hand, I remember back in college when I could take back-to-back aerobics classes and then work out! I work out pretty regularly now but not at that length or intensity. It took me a while to get started again because I was so hung up on what I used to be able to do. Since I couldn't do that, I opted to do nothing. My limitations didn't just limit me; they stopped me.

Eventually I realized that I too wasn't a spring puppy. However, this old (well older) dog still had some fight left in her! I might not be able to do what I used to do but I could do something!

Age, and life in general, brings changes but change is rarely an ending, it just means a different way of doing things. A lesson that Marty has learned well.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Pain from the Past

For the Mondays in August we'll be looking at being adult children.

Sometimes I take issue with the phrase dysfunctional family. Don't get me wrong, there are a lot of families who fit that definition, however, a lot of families didn't suffer 'dysfunction' as much as they suffered from 'imperfection'. None of us had a Cosby Show, or Leave It To Beaver childhood. A surreal televised version of life cannot ever be the definition of 'functional'. We were all raised by real people in real life. Mistakes were made but that alone doesn't create dysfunction.

Having said that, whether we grew up with abuse, abandonment, neglect, bullying, feelings of ostracism or feeling left out or just different, all of us made it through childhood and adolescence with some pain. Mine came from the loss of a parent and being teased about being 'dark and ugly' in middle and high school.

As adults, we have an obligation to deal with the issues we were powerless to deal with as children. This could be done in a variety of ways. It might involve confrontation, therapy, forgiveness or even terminating a relationship. Only you know the best way to handle your situation. Whatever you decide, know that it will take courage, dedication and time.

It's called pain for a reason. You felt pain when it was happening. You feel pain when you remember it. It stands to reason that you will feel pain again as you deal with it. This is where the courage comes in. You will face pain but you have got to realize that there is a sun shining for you once you make it through the storm. The only way to get through it is to go through it.

Also know that you don't have to go through it alone. Hopefully, you have friends and family that will support you on this journey. If you don't, you don't have to go any further than your computer to find support groups. Whatever happened, you are not alone. You might want just an Internet group or you can find a support group to join in your town that will help. You could visit a therapist. Whatever you need to do, there is safety in numbers, so get your group in place.

Once you begin to face your past, you have to be prepared to stick to it. If confrontation doesn't work, try something else. When those pangs of hurt, disappointment and fear come up, you have to be prepared to move through them.

All of this takes time. It isn't overnight and it is never fully addressed in one conversation or major event. When you cut yourself, you need time to heal. With time you will heal but you must be patient with yourself and those around you.

It can get better.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Childhood through Adult Eyes

 For the Mondays in August we'll be looking at being adult children.

As a little girl, my Dad could do no wrong. He was Superman. I was definitely a Daddy's Girl. When I read Greek mythology, I immediately identified with the goddess Athena, I was a smart girl and she was the goddess of reason and intellect. She also emerged fully-grown from her father Zeus's head, the ultimate Daddy's girl.

My mom was definitely a role model: strong, articulate and funny, she was someone to admire ... and I did. As an only child, these two were my world and it was a beautiful world. When my mom started suffering the effects of diabetes when I was about 13, that world shattered. As she declined in health, I was forced to grow up before I was really ready and part of growing up meant taking off the rose-colored glasses and realizing that my parents were, first and foremost, people.

Parents are people. They are fallible. They make mistakes. They make bad choices. They are just like you and I. Over the years, I have learned a lot about my parents as far as their pasts and their future.

When my mother died, I was 15 and briefly saw a therapist. In the midst of full-blown grief, there wasn't much she could do for me. However, she told me one thing that I've never forgotten. She said, "Remember your mother as the woman she was, the good and the bad. Do not make her a saint in death that she wasn't in life."

So while I remember her as the dynamic firecracker that she was. I also remember she could be moody at times and while she wanted me to live up to my potential, she might have pushed me too hard at times. My father was a great dad but he wasn't always a great husband. That's real. They did the best that they could but they weren't perfect. They couldn't raise me perfectly because they weren't perfect people.

I am blessed and fortunate that I never suffered any abuse. I cannot image what it would be like to have suffered and lived through that. I don't even know how to begin to address it. However, I will say this. I am a strong believer in therapy. I've had it in the past and I have it now. Contrary to popular belief, sometimes seeking help is the strongest thing you can do for yourself and those around you.

Your family and friends can't always help you in the way you need help ...  but a good trained professional can. I believe in prayer and faith but I also believe that God puts the people and circumstances in our lives that can help us, we just have to reach out for them.

As we become adults, and in most cases parents, we see our parents through different eyes, it's part of growing up. In healthy situations you get to know them on a different level. My father isn't just my father now. He's my friend and that couldn't have happened when I was a little girl. He's no longer Superman; he's a man ... a good man but far from a perfect man. I wish I had had the opportunity to know my mother as the complex woman I know she was.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Cling-Ons ...

For the five Mondays in July, we'll deal with dealing with one type of difficult person.

The last post in this series is about Cling-Ons ... not to be confused with the Klingons from Star Trek (for my Trekkies out there). Cling-ons are people who hang on to you, follow your decisions and agree with you on everything. These are also known as Yes Men (or women).

Some people like to be surrounded by Cling-ons. It makes them feel important. Celebrities who travel with an entourage are surrounded by this type. I once dated (briefly) a very successful athlete who was surrounded by them. The sad thing is all of these years later, after his career fizzled and he became pretty much a caricature of himself, I believe he's still surrounded by them. I can't help but think what his life would have been like if someone had stood up to him, challenged some of his very bad decisions or just had the guts to tell him 'no'.

His story is a cautionary tale of what is wrong with Cling-ons. At first glance, they seem harmless. All of us should know how to lead and to follow. Most of us are comfortable with one role over the other and Cling-ons are the followers. You can't have too many cooks in the kitchen right? To an extent, that is true. However, there are times in all of our lives when we need a reality-check.

I got one from one of my best friends the other day. I had an important decision I had to make. For this decision to work, I would have to be very strict with my finances, and although I have made progress in this area, for me, it is still my Achilles Heel. She stopped me in my tracks and said, "I love you to death but there is no way you are going to do that. Think about it. Who are we talking about here." She was right. There was no arguing about it. She gave me a cold dose of reality that I needed. It helped me make, what I believe, was the right decision.

She came from a place of love and it made all of the difference. She didn't just agree with me. She didn't just go along because she thought that was what I wanted, she told me the truth and very well saved me from some dire consequences down the line.

If there is a Cling-on or two in your circle, recognize them for what they are - just don't rely on their opinions when it comes to decision-making or when you need an honest answer. They might be a great shoulder for you to lean on but recognize their strengths and their weaknesses.

If your circle is made up of Cling-ons then your work is a little harder. You need to ask yourself why you feel the need to surround yourself with people who will follow you regardless of what you do. Sometimes there can be underlying insecurities or needs that haven't been met. Then again, maybe you just like this type of person, either way, you need to take a real look at yourself before you make that decision.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Get It Together Girl Radio

I have finally done something I'd been thinking about doing for a while now. I am launching my own BlogTalkRadio show in September.

Just as often as I thought about doing it, I would think myself out of it. I probably didn't have the equipment. I couldn't afford the advertising. It would just be one more thing on a very full plate. The thing is I never went further than thinking. I just knew it was going to take more money, more time and more effort that I could afford.

I'd been yearning to do something though. So a few weeks ago, I actually went to the BlogTalkRadio site and started investigating. I quickly realized, I already had all the equipment I needed to get started, it wasn't going to cost me a fortune to start and there were ways I could actually make money through my show. They even gave me tips on promotion and free training with a veteran host.

So I did it. And it felt good. Heck, it still feels good. Had I taken a look at the site and found that it really was expensive or time-intensive, that would have been fine too. I would have just moved on. The scary thing was that I asked all of these questions and came up with my own answers. I talked myself out of taking action without even having any real information!

How many times do we make decisions like that? We think we know and assume that our thoughts must be the reality. The only way to know is to make the effort and take the time to find out the truth. In my case, it was just checking out a website and talking to a veteran host.

So instead of taking your own expert advice, take the initiative to get the information from the experts. Go on a fact-finding mission. Once you have your facts, then and only then can you really make a good decision.

Get It Together Girl Radio will be a weekly series dedicated to helping listeners get the information and take the initiative necessary to live their lives at full capacity! My motto .. Get Motivated. Get Real. Get There with Get It Together Girl Radio! When I finalize the time for the live show I will let you all know. I will also give you the link to my page, so you can listen to my show anytime!

I'm so excited that last night I recorded a short preview episode that contains information on Get It Together Girl: the history, the concept, the workbooks and now the radio show. Check it out.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Dramatic Royalty

For the five Mondays in July, we'll deal with dealing with one type of difficult person.

The King and Queen are on their thrones! Oh brother! Here we go... I am talking about the King and Queen of the kingdom of Drama. When they hold court, confusion, hurt feelings, and negative emotions abound. They will suck you in and will not let you go. You'll be a prisoner in the dungeon of Drama!

I say Drama Kings and Queens because women do not have a monopoly on drama. Many men have a flair for the dramatic too. Dramatic Royalty have a way of making everything about them. You are merely an audience member or a bit player. These people simply aren't happy unless things are emotionally in disarray.

They read into even the most innocent of behaviors and assume some sort of nefarious intent. A friend tried to make a joke when on a shopping excursion The Dramatic One tried on a pair of pants that were too tight. Now, the friend is being hateful towards them and is ultimately jealous of their great relationship (huh?).What started as a snowball (my boss wasn't thrilled with my presentation) turned into an avalanche of emotion (I'm going to lose my job, and then my relationship and finally end up homeless and alone on the street!).

There is always crying or yelling or maybe the silent treatment. They use extreme emotion to get their way and they continue to do it because usually it works. They like the attention and to hold people captive with their pendulum-swinging emotions. Those on the other side of the emotional tsunami want it to stop. We want them to feel better and be okay. We want peace. They count on us to give them the emotional enabling they need.

Three tips for dealing with Dramatic Royalty

  1. It's them, it's not you. While they will selfishly try to find a way to blame you for their problems, it's not you, it's them. And, it is not your job to make them feel better and to always be the one to solve their problems. As long as you take ownership for them, they will never take ownership for themselves.
  2. Let them go ... but don't go with them. When the tantrums start (and they will) let them go on ... and on ... and on. Don't try to stop them (unless they get physical); but don't give into them either. This is the part where they expect you to cave in to their demands. Don't do it. Do not argue or attempt to reason with them either. Once they get an emotional rise out of you, they have won.
  3. Stay calm and stand up. Say no. You are entitled to your time, your money or whatever else they are demanding. You are entitled to being treated with respect and like the adult that you are. You will be called selfish but you aren't the selfish one (see #1). If there is something you can do for them, be clear about what you can and cannot, will and will not do for them. Be willing to walk away. 
Think about their immaturity this way. Kids stop the tantrums when they realize that no one is looking at them. As a kid, I always wanted to throw something when I was angry. I stopped doing that when I realized that I was the one who had to clean up the mess I'd made. When children know what they can't get away with they stop the behavior. Notice however that the immature behavior starts again when they are with someone who tolerates it. Dramatic Royalty works the same way. When you stop the madness, the madness will stop.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Is it Time Yet?

How long is too long? I’ve often hear people say they stay in a bad relationship or job because they’ve already put X number of years in. That never made sense to me. Wouldn’t that be even more of a reason to get it over with and get on with your life?

I think people that say this are dealing with a few things. First: fear. They would rather be unhappy with what they have than face the possibility of being unhappy with something unfamiliar. Really though, isn’t the risk worth it. After a while, the possibility of happiness in the bad situation dwindles. However, the chances of your success in another situation don’t change.

Second: comfort. In the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson makes a statement about human nature that is almost always true. He said, “All experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.” People will put up nonsense and settle for far less than they deserve because the status quo is easier than change.

Third: hope. In their heart of hearts, some people believe that sheer force of will and enough endurance will change their situations. This could be true if you are in your situation alone but force of will and endurance won’t change another person’s thoughts, actions and behaviors.

When you look at how much you’ve invested in a situation, ask yourself whether it is worth it to invest anymore? Your time is more valuable than money and you would not consistently invest your hard-earned dollars in a product or stock that consistently lost your money. So why spend your invaluable time with people or situations that don’t provide a return on your investment?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Managing the Manipulator

For the five Mondays in July, we'll deal with dealing with one type of difficult person.

If you look at your relationship with someone and find that you are always the giver and they are always the taker, you’re probably dealing with a manipulator. When they are willing to take beyond what is comfortable for you to give, you’re definitely dealing with a user.

A user plays on your emotions and your good nature to get what they want. Yet, when you need something they are absent or come with a good excuse. They expect you to take no for an answer but when you try it, you better have your bags packed because you are in for quite a guilt trip!

They will take money, time, clothing or anything you have got. Some people are just manipulative. Others have learned to manipulate because it has gotten good results for them in the past. The spoiled child grows up to be an adult who uses tantrums, guilt and everything else to get the results they have always gotten.

They aren’t always easy to spot. Some will look like that pouty, bratty child. Others will be demanding and argumentative. However, a lot of them will be sweet and nice. The way to tell a manipulator is through their actions not through their attitude. They want something from you and they want it now. If you feel that sense of dread coming when they begin their latest tale of hard luck or woe, you are probably dealing with a manipulator.

So, how do you handle them?
  1. Set boundaries. Let them know what you can and can’t do. They need to see that there are limits. They need someone to babysit every evening this week. Let them know you can do two days and what two days they are. Stick to your guns when it comes to the boundaries you set.
  2. Say No and mean it. There are times when the answer is no, so say it. Often they will come up with a variety of ways to ask for the same thing. You have one thing to say and that is no. You can change it up too but at the end of the day, the translation should be the same – “No.” If you need to soften it a bit, throw in a “I’m so sorry but I can’t help you.”
  3. Don’t give them a time frame. If you say, “I don’t have $200 now but see me on Friday when I get paid,” guess who you’ll be seeing on Friday? This is not a good technique to use because you are just delaying the inevitable and making a touchy situation even more sensitive.
  4. Attach some strings. Give them a contract to sign, a date to pay you back, or something to do in exchange for the money. Hold them accountable and mean. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

I Wish You Well

Over the years, I have been lied to by people I expected to always tell me the truth. I’ve been kind and generous to people who did not deserve either kindness or generosity. I’ve even turned the other cheek on occasions where a good slap could have felt a heck of a lot better. I used to get upset. I used to wonder ”Why me?” Sometimes I still do have those responses, but inevitably, now much sooner than later, I end up feeling the same way. I say to those who have wronged me, either in person or mentally, “I wish you well.”

I don’t wish them well with sarcasm or bitterness. I sincerely wish them well. First of all, holding on to anger hurts me more than it hurts them. I read a quote once that said refusing to forgive is like taking poison and hoping the other person will get sick.

Everything that happens happens for a reason and I truly believe that our mistakes, missteps and the evil people do, teach us lessons ... some a heck of a lot harder to learn  than others. I try to find the lesson. What can I do differently next time? What should I watch out for? What are the warning signs? What shouldn’t I tolerate? What can I start doing right now to make this situation better? Once I have the lesson, I’m prepared to move on. And, I move on with the knowledge that will prevent whatever happened before from happening again.

I am a better person than I was before and I wish them well.

Now wishing someone well and being the vehicle by which they do well are two wildly different things. I wish you well. I wish you get the help you need. I wish you see what the consequences of your actions. I wish you stop hurting yourself and those around you. I wish you get some peace and some happiness.

HOWEVER, I shouldn’t and won’t be responsible for getting someone help, or showing them the consequences of their actions or getting their pain to stop or taking on their happiness and peace of mind as my personal mission.

When I wish someone well, I release them of the power that hate, resentment, bitterness and even fear gives them over me. I send them out of my live without negativity. And, most often, I am sending them out. I don’t have room in my world for people who don’t have my best interest in mind. In the case of toxic family, I might not be able to send them out but I can keep them at a distance. Self-care is about more than bubble baths and manicure; it’s about doing what is best for you physically, emotionally and mentally.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Succeeding with Saboteurs

For the five weeks in July, every Monday we'll deal with dealing with one type of difficult person.

If you have ever embarked on a diet, started an exercise regime or considered a career change, you have probably run into a saboteur. They are there with the cookies when you are trying to watch your eating, they want you to take a walk through the parking lot to happy hour instead of heading to the gym. They point out every potential risk in your new undertaking. Basically, when you need support the most, they not only refuse to give it but seek to derail you.

For the saboteur change is a bad thing. They want to maintain the status quo, change is to be avoided at all costs. Sometimes the urge to sabotage is based out of fear – fear your relationship will change, or even end, if you change. If you lose weight, maybe you’ll find someone else. Other times fear is of you wanting them to make a similar change. If you start working out, you’ll want them to start working out … and they don’t want to work out!

Maybe change would make things more difficult for them. You cutting back on your expenses would mean cutting back on shopping sprees with them. If you get another job, they will lose a valuable work ally.
Finally, your change might be holding up a mirror for them in their lives and, they might not like what they see. They want to do something different too. By you actually doing it, makes them wonder why they haven’t taken the initiative.

Regardless of why, you don’t want their efforts to derail your success.

  1. Put them at ease. If you sense they are resisting your change out of fear, then assure them that you will still want them, need them and love them, regardless of the change. Once you have eased their fears, tell them how they can help you.
  2. Let them know of the new status quo. While some things will change, others will remain the same. Maybe you won’t be buying as much, but you are still available for shopping trips with your friend. Even though your budget is changing, there are lots of fun things you can do.
  3. Have a Plan B. There will be times when you give in to the saboteur’s efforts. So have a plan for getting back on track. Remember, success isn’t flawless, there are always setbacks. When you fall, get back up!
  4. Get a team of supporters. For every saboteur, there should be at least one person you can turn to for support and encouragement. Lean on these people and allow them to bolster you when you are down, and when you can, return the favor!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Whoa there! Negative Nelly!

For the five weeks in July, every Monday we'll deal with dealing with one type of difficult person.

There are some people whom you hate to see coming. When they open their mouths, you know what's coming next. It won't be positive. It won't be encouraging. It won't be helpful. It will be negative, emotionally-draining and leave you feeling worse than you did before they showed up. This is Negative Nelly or Negative Nelson.

Nelson's glass is half-full. In fact, it's less than half-full, it's almost empty. And, if you ask Nelly, she'll tell you why. It's the waiter's fault. She never gets good service at this restaurant. In fact, service hasn't been good since the 70's. "Why, oh why, can't we go back to that time?!"

Negative Nellies/Nelsons refuse to see the bright side of anything. Usually, they aren't just looking for the dark side, they are also looking for who to blame for the clouds. As someone who has to deal with this type of person, recognize that it isn't your job to understand them and it certainly isn't your role to change them. All you can do is decide how you will interact with them.

  1. Don't encourage them. When you need someone to complain to or to commiserate with you, do not call Nelly! She'll take it and run with it. More importantly, she'll begin to see you as a kindred spirit, someone who shares her demoralizing outlook.
  2. Stop them. Once they start, change the subject or just excuse yourself. You do not have to be subjected to a long-winded diatribe. When you start feeling drained, change the subject. If that doesn't work, excuse yourself - end the conversation, stop the texting, get off the phone. 
  3. Refute them. Since Nelson and Nelly are usually looking for someone to blame, they may start looking at you, especially if you aren't taking their negativity. Have some information to counter them ... this is especially true on the job. Be armed with information to challenge them when they turn their negative eye towards you. The purpose isn't to confront or engage them. It is simply to stop them and make it clear that they need to focus their efforts elsewhere. You will not tolerate it.

Next Week: We'll be dealing with Saboteurs - the--people who actively stand between you and your success!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Choosing Your Role Models

Role Models. We hear a lot about how children need them. However, as adults we use them to. We have role models we use when parenting. We have role models on the job and just generally for different aspects of our lives. The key is not just acknowledging that we have and need role models but to select effective role models.

Role models should embody the characteristics and behaviors that we want to emulate. They will not ever be perfect people, none of us are; but they should be people who have traits we can model. I, personally don’t ever think that celebrities make good role models. A role model should be someone you see in a variety of situations. It should be someone you can talk to and interact with.

Our first role models are our parents. Sadly, for many of us, these are not effective role models. An effective parental role model should embody characteristics of love, dependability, security to name a few. An absentee parent, an abusive parent, a parent who doesn’t want to be a parent are not good role models. Tragically, we often see people with poor parental role models going on to be poor parental role models.

I work with interns on my job. These interns have to be aware of the people they work with everyday and not just let themselves be influenced just because someone sits in the cube next to them or because they report to that person. I’ve seen enthusiastic kids beaten down by the naysayer who’s negative attitude acts as a poison, slowly changing their outlook and actions for the worst. I’ve seen productive focused kids influenced by the lazy and entitled coworker who thinks that showing up and doing the bare minimum is good enough. It isn’t.

When it  comes to familial role models, we don’t have a choice. We are stuck with the hand we were dealt; but that doesn’t mean we are doomed to repeat their mistakes. We can choose to be and behave differently. Having an absentee father doesn’t mean you have to be an absentee father or choose a man to father your children who won’t be there. You can choose to look at your role model and decide to do thinks differently and consider your parental  role model of what you do not want to be.

As you progress though life, you will choose the people to model. Look at their character and the results they achieve, not just financially, but in terms of the richness of their relationships and the depth of their character and choose accordingly.

Remember when it comes to role models the choice is yours … so choose wisely.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Three from Me!

For the month of June, we'll be looking at what we can do to be financially fit!

Right now I'm working on my Fourth Get It Together Girl! workbook. This one is all about money-saving tips. It isn't about investing or budgeting, it's about little things you can do to make sure you have enough money at the end of your month. Most of these are things I do myself, so I wanted to share my three favorite tips with you.

1. The Gift that Keeps Giving
We all know that gift cards make good gifts but did you know they make good budgeting tools as well? A while back things were really tight and I would be stuck on the day before payday with an empty tank and no money to fill it up. When I tried to put aside a $20 for gas, I’d inevitably end up spending it on something else. The solution: I found agas station chain that had stations near my house and my job. When I got paid, I would fill up my tank and get a $25 gas gift card. The gas gcard can’t be spent for dinners out or movies. So it gets used for it’s intended purpose: gas.

This was so successful that I started using it for movies, a my favorite stores. Instead of walking into a store with my debit card, I can purchase a gift card for the exact amount I want to spend. If I want to spend $100 a month on clothes, I purchase a $100 gift card from a store I want to shop in. If I budget so much for the movies, I buy a gift card once a month to cover all of those movies. This way I am never caught without.

2. Levelize
In the winter, gas bills can climb to astronomical heights and the electric can do the same thing in the summer. When you levelize, or enter an equal payment plan, you pay for your service at a consistent rate year-round. This way there are no surprises when you open your bill

3. Find Your Triggers
Money and food are often hard to manage because we overlook the emotional component. Yet, spending can be very addicting and like most addictive behaviors you need to know what your triggers are. Do you shop when stressed or unhappy? Maybe you spend to retaliate against the spouse? You could associate shopping and spending money with feeling good and hanging out with friends. Know what your triggers are and plan accordingly.

What else can you do when you are feeling those feelings. Who’s help can you enlist. Ask your girlfriends to rein you in when you start on a binger. Acknowledging the emotion behind your actions is half of the battle. As long as acknowledgment is followed by action, you’ll know you are on the right course!

Want more tips? Buy the book when it comes out! LOL!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Stop Tolerating Your Tolerations

What are you tolerating? In other words, what do you have in your environment that you can change but haven’t. In coaching school, we called these things tolerations. If you wear a size 11 shoe, you might not be happy with that, but there is nothing you can do about your shoe size. This would not be a toleration. However, if you have a lot of shoes you never wear and should be donated, you have a toleration. If you need to buy a good pair of basic black pumps but you’ve put it off, you have toleration.

The problem with tolerations is that they zap your energy. They nag at you. I’ll give you an example. When I pulled into the driveway, I would see the tall shrubs lining one side of my driveway. Every day I would think about how much I needed to trim them. When I would get out of the car, I would think about how much I needed to sweep out the garage. Finally, I’d walk into the house and see the spots over the security system panel that I needed to touch up with paint. These little things nagged at me on a daily basis.

Recently, I decided to take a look at my tolerations. I sat down one Saturday morning and made a list. Before long, I had over 20 tolerations … including the ones I just mentioned. I had nothing planned for the day so I decided to knock out a few. Before the weekend was over, I’d knocked out about 20 of the tolerations on my list! Most were minor, not time-consuming and just needed to be done. So I took some time and did them.

Now, when I pull up in the driveway, I am not besotted with nagging feelings of the things I need to do … they are done! It’s a great feeling.

Tolerations aren’t a new concept. When most people think of the ancient Chinese practice of Feng Shui, they think of moving furniture. However, students of Feng Shui know that the first steps of Feng Shui involve clearing clutter, fixing things that are broken and handling all of those nagging things that are around all of us every day. Students of Feng Shui do this to improve the flow of energy through the house. In other words, they handle their tolerations!

Make your list and begin handling them. You might not have a full day but you can tackle them one at a time. The great thing is that once you start, you’ll feel the difference and have the momentum to keep it going!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Money Management Resourses

For the month of June, we'll be looking at what we can do to be financially fit!

There are a number of resources you can use to make money management a bit easier. Here are the tools that I personally use.

Mobile Checkbook: This app is a simple checkbook register for your phone. Before Mobile Checkbook, it was difficult for me to keep track of receipts and try to remember to log everything. With Mobile Checkbook, I have my expenses entered immediately. If I am shopping or eating out then I have that expense recorded before I leave the parking lot. My checkbook is now accurate down to the penny, and that rarely happen before! I mentioned this one last week. It's great for setting up budgets and tracking expenses. It is a free site and you can link your bank account to it so it is tracking all of your debits, checks and electronic transactions. You can go in and determine what your budget categories are and which expenses go where. This sounds time-intensive but once you have it set up, it doesn't take a lot of time at all.

Credit This is another free site that monitors your credit. It doesn't use the actual credit reports (from the Big Three) but it has its own algorithm that will help you monitor your general credit rating. It also links you to offers for credit cards, online bank accounts and other financial products for people with similar Credit Karma ratings.

Annual Credit Report: This is the government sponsored site where you are entitled to one free credit report per year. Free Credit Report dot com and other sites will charge you for something. This site will not. You can get online copies of your credit report. However, be prepared to print them as it is difficult to save them!

Additionally, you should have your bank's app on your phone. I also have apps on my phone for my credit card accounts as well. This way I can always quickly get your account balances.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Where Does It Go?

For the month of June, we'll be looking at what we can do to be financially fit!

Ever wonder where your money goes? Do you know? Well, you should!  Spend some time, a week or a month, tallying all of your expenses and you'll have a realistic idea (not just vague estimates) of where your money is going.

If you use your debit card for everything, log into your account at the end of every day or week, and tally up your expenses. Use an Excel workbook or an old-fashioned notebook. Devise your most important categories: dining out, groceries, entertainment, gas, .... You might even get more specific. Instead of 'dining out' you might have coffee, lunch, dinner.

If you use the debit card, also consider signing up for You can use this free resource and link your bank account to it. This site is great for budgeting because it is designed to help you figure out exactly where your money is going. Take about 30 minutes to an hour to set it up and figure out how it works and it will show you (in pretty graphs and pie charts) where your money is going.

You can go old school, get a small pocket-sized notebook and write your expenses in it as you make them. If you don't want to go quite that old school, you can write down your expenses using the memo function on your phone. This is the best way to go if you still make a lot of cash purchases.

Finding out exactly where your money goes does take a bit of effort but this is the most accurate way of tracking your expenses. If you don't, you'll be relying on vague estimates that may or may not be correct and when it comes to money and budgeting, you need clarity and facts.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Love is a Good Friend

I was raised an only child. I don’t have any regrets. My personality and temperament were well suited for a sibling-free existence. However, although I didn’t have brothers or sisters, all of my life I have been blessed with really good friends and I do consider friendship to be a blessing.

Family is great but you are born into a family. You choose your friends. You select the people who make up your circle. The influence of your family cannot be overstated, but the content and character of your friends reflects who you are – what you value, what your outlook is live and basically who you are.

As you grow, your friendships grow as well – either they grow with you or you outgrow them. I’ve had one best friend since fourth grade. She and I are still close to this day. Although our lives have proceeded down different paths: she’s married, I’m single; she has kids, I don’t; she’s lived in Cleveland all of her life and I’ve lived in several states, we have remained close friends because we have grown together in many ways. In terms of maturity, outlook and values, we remain the same.

I had a talk with another friend about the nature of our friendship. I had commented that it seemed to me that I was always telling her things she didn’t want to hear. LOL! Yet, she told me that that trait was something that was unique among her friends and it was something that she appreciated me for. As a friend, I tell her what I think she needs to hear but I do it from a place of love, respect and concern and I think that makes all of the difference.

While I fully expect these friendships to last, others have not been so fortunate. These are people that I grew apart from in terms of distance but not as much physical distance as much as emotional distance. We simply didn’t value the same things anymore. For these relationships I am grateful. These people served a purpose for me. I guess that purpose wasn’t designed to last a lifetime.

Because I appreciate my friends, I try to show that appreciation through action. When they need me, I do my absolute best to be there … be it with a sympathetic ear or a helping hand. I hope the great women and men that I have the privilege of calling friend know that they are loved. We should all take some time to let those people who are in our lives voluntarily how very important they are to us.