imconfident

I sincerely believe that it is far more beneficial and far less costly to help a child build confidence than it is to fix an adult who has little or none.

Simplify your life

Many of us live very complicated lives today.  We are always in a hurry, but where exactly are we going?  Every day we rush to work, rush home, rush to eat, rush to meetings, rush to take our kids somewhere – rush, rush, rush!  We try to accomplish way more in a day than we possibly can and it just results in stress and frustration.

Until a few years ago, I lived my life on the fast track.  Every minute of every day had to be full of activity or I felt like I wasn’t doing enough.  I was the typical ‘superwoman’, trying to fit 60 hours into 24 hours and I was never successful.  After working a full day, cooking meals, cleaning the house, doing laundry, chauffeuring the kids, looking after pets, going to meetings and so on, I didn’t have any time left for myself.  My own health was neglected because I was so busy looking after everyone else.

I now realize that my to-do lists were way too long and not even realistic.  Nobody could have possibly accomplished the tasks that I expected to do in just one day.   After burning out a few times, I started to take a closer look at my lists and really began thinking about each item.  What really needed to be done that day?  What could I do another day?  What could I just not do at all?

Taking the time to think helped me realize that a lot of those “important’ tasks were not really important at all.  I had just convinced myself that they were all necessary or I wasn’t doing my job as a wife and mother.  Of course, society is a big culprit by pressuring us to do more and do it as quickly as possible.

Now I simplify my life by making shorter to-do lists, reviewing them and crossing off anything that isn’t important for that day.   If it needs to be done, it gets done.  If it can wait until another pencil and paperday, I write it down on the next day’s list.  If it is something that isn’t even important, I cross it right off.  Now my life is a lot less stressful and I can actually enjoy some quiet, alone time every day.  It’s a good idea to include some personal time on your daily to-do list.

What is on your to-do list?

What can you put off until another day?

What can you totally avoid doing?

Do you have some personal time on your to-do list?

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More favourite quotes

Slide15Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American philosopher, essayist and poet who wrote some famous quotes.  Here are some of my favourites:

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.

Five great enemies to peace inhabit us: avarice, ambition, envy, anger and pride. If those enemies were to be banished, we should infallibly enjoy perpetual peace.

Make yourself necessary to somebody.

The only way to have a friend is to be one.

As a man thinketh, so is he, and as a man chooseth, so is he.

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.

The wise man in the storm prays God not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear.

What is success? To laugh often and much; To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; To appreciate beauty; To find the best in others; To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; That is to have succeeded.

 

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Be a positive role model

mel nick and landonChildren learn by what they see and hear.  They see how you treat them and also how you treat other people.  They listen to how you speak to them and also how you speak to other people.  This forms their idea of what life is like.

If you are passing on positive messages to your children, they will develop a positive self-concept.  If you are passing on negative messages to your children, they will develop a negative self-concept.

It is the responsibility of every adult to be a positive role model so their children will learn how to be a responsible adult who can influence others in a positive way.

When I became a grandmother, I realized that I had not always been a positive role model for my children and I started doing research on positive parenting.    While writing down some notes, I discovered there were a few basic guidelines that really made sense and ones that I should have used when I was a parent.    I decided to put my thoughts together and wrote a book called, Grandma’s Notes on Parenting.

You can preview this book at http://www.blurb.ca/books/4113149-grandma-s-notes-on-parenting.  (softcover $7.19 CAD – PDF instant download $4.99 CAD – Ebook, Apple iPad format $2.99 CAD)

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A story for anyone who’s not quite perfect

cracked pot flowersNone of us are perfect and never will be.   The world tries to convince us otherwise and many people spend their lives trying to find perfection, but we can’t become perfect in an imperfect world.  We need to realize this and just try to be the best imperfect person we can be.

In my self-esteem workshops, I talk a lot about the quest for perfection and how it negatively affects people of all ages.    Often I use stories or articles that demonstrate a good lesson.  Here is one of the stories that I use – it is called The Cracked Pot:  A Story for Anyone Who’s Not Quite Perfect. 

A waterbearer in India had two large pots, one hung on each end of a pole, which she carried across her neck.  One of the pots had a crack in it. While the other pot was perfect, and always delivered a full portion of water at the end of the long walk from the stream to the mistress’s house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.

For a full two years this went on daily, with the bearer delivering only one and a half pots full of water to her master’s house.

The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments, perfect to the end for which it was made. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it was able to accomplish only half of what it had been made to do.

After two years of what it perceived to be a bitter failure, it spoke to the water bearer one day by the stream: “I am ashamed of myself, and I want to apologize to you.”

Why?” asked the bearer. “What are you ashamed of?”

“I have been able, for these past two years, to deliver only half my load because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your mistress’s house. Because of my flaws, you have to do all of this work, and you don’t get full value from your efforts,” the pot said.

The water bearer felt sorry for the old cracked pot, and in her compassion she said, “As we return to the mistress’s house, I want you to notice the beautiful flowers along the path.”

Indeed, as they went up the hill, the old cracked pot took notice of the sun warming the beautiful wild flowers on the side of the path, and this cheered it some.   But at the end of the trail, it still felt bad because it had leaked out half its load, and so again it apologized to the bearer for its failure.

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side?  That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I took advantage of it. I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back from the stream, you’ve watered them.  For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate my mistress’s table. Without you being just the way you are, she would not have this beauty to grace her house.”

Moral: Each of us has our own unique flaws. We’re all cracked pots.   But it’s the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding. We’ve just got to take each person for what they are, and look for the good in them.

 

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Do men and women express their emotions differently?

brainstormI came across a short essay that I wrote for a communications class last year and it reminded me about how men and women express their emotions in a different way.   Many people aren’t even aware of the differences between men and women and this creates problems in communication.   I understand the differences but very often I forget that my husband doesn’t feel the same way as I do and this causes frustration for me.   In this essay, I will try to explain the differences.

HOW MEN AND WOMEN DIFFER IN THEIR EMOTIONAL EXPRESSION

It is very obvious that men and women differ in expressing their emotions.   Both men and women do actually do feel the same emotions, however they often react differently in the same situation.   This is partly due to how they are socialized and their individual personalities, but also because men’s and women’s brains process things differently.

Research shows that men tend to use the left side (reasoning) of their brain more and women use both the right (emotional) and left sides of their brain.  This gives women more ability to understand people and express their emotions more effectively.

In an article I read by Dr Srini Pillay, Clinical assistant professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, he states that “Underlying brain differences may explain why men and women process their emotions so differently”.   And even though both may feel the same about something, they show it differently.   He explains that a woman may express feelings of sadness as depression, while a man may show anger when he is sad.   “On the surface it may seem like they have very different takes on the situation,” he says. “But they are really feeling quite similarly.”

Women are generally more emotional and expressive than men.   They are actively interested in people and build more relationships.   Women also use more facial expressions and body language to show their emotions than men do.

Men have difficulty expressing their feelings and tend to hide them inside.  They are uncomfortable showing their emotions openly and often will share only with those who are close to them.   Men also seem to have a better control over their emotions than women who display their emotions with greater intensity.

When women feel angry, they will likely express their anger through words and become sad, hurt or depressed.  Men, on the other hand, will likely express their anger through actions and become bitter and resentful.

When faced with tragedy, women are able to empathize and will be sympathetic.    Men will keep their emotions under control and appear to be uncaring and unresponsive.

Of course, all men and women are not the same.  Some men are very expressive and open in showing their feelings and some women tend to hold their feelings inside.  There are also differences in the way other cultures show their emotions.  In some countries, it is socially acceptable for men and women to show strong emotions and in other countries it is not acceptable.

An excellent book that discusses the differences between men and women is called, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.  In this book, it states that, “Men and women generally are unaware that they have different emotional needs”.  Women want their feelings to be recognized.  They want to feel loved and appreciated every day.  Their primary emotional needs are caring, understanding, respect, devotion, validation and reassurance.   On the other hand, men want their talents and achievements to be recognized.  They want to receive approval for their achievements.  Their primary emotional needs are trust, acceptance, appreciation, admiration, approval and encouragement.

The different ways that men and women show their emotions can cause a lot of confusion in communication, especially when many people don’t even know there are differences.    It is important that we learn about these differences so we are able to communicate more effectively and build great relationships with other people.

While doing research on brains – I came across this amusing video clip.   It made me laugh but it also made me think about how men used to think women were inferior in intelligence and that sadly, some men still have this opinion.   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LS37SNYjg8w

 

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You are special.

nick-closeupEveryone in this world is special.   It doesn’t matter what people have told you in the past or how they have treated you – YOU ARE SPECIAL!    Many people grow up in a negative environment where they have been treated badly, ignored or abused and they believe their lives have no value or purpose.  We have to show our families, friends and others around us how special they are by encouraging them to develop their strengths and use their abilities to the best of their potential.

One person that continually encourages me to live up to my potential is Nick Vujicic (www.lifewithoutlimbs.org).  He is an amazing man who has overcome his disability and does far more that I could ever dream of doing.  He is a very special person and he makes others feel special.  I often watch his video clips and I just watched one today called ‘The Butterfly Circus” – a short film that I’ve never seen.  It shows what happens when people encourage each other and treat us for the special people that we are.   Enjoy!   http://youtu.be/qh_gHAo-niQ

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Having a garage sale?

garage sale 2       One of the posts I follow was asking about garage sales and I decided to share my own experiences with you.

I’m not sure when I had my first garage sale but it has been many years and I’ve held over 25 garage sales of my own and also a few for charities and some of our clients who are downsizing and moving.  I’ve learned a lot about garage sales and discovered what works and what doesn’t.

Garage sales are definitely worth the effort.  I’ve made between $50 and $1900 on a sale.  The ones that didn’t do as well had fewer items or bad weather.

Success depends on a lot of things:garage sale1

  1. WEATHER  We can never count on the weather so you need to be ready in case of rain, hot sun or cold weather.  If you have a garage, enclosed porch or the sale is inside, the weather won’t interfere too much.  Make sure you put in your ad that your sale will be rain or shine or if you need to cancel, put in a rain date.   Putting up a tarp will help protect from the hot sun or light rain.
  2. PREPARATION  Plan the sale well – advertise – plan location, time, day – prepare items
  3. ADVERTISING  Newspaper ads are good if you have a lot to sell, if not they are costly and will eat up your profit – also if it rains, you have wasted the money.  I put up signage and advertise on free websites – in Canada we have a popular buy/sell site called Kijiji – there are probably others around the world.  Make sure you advertise a few days ahead so people will be able to plan on coming.
  4. garage sale3SIGNS   Lettering should be large,  written in black marker or paint, with arrows, your address and on stiff cardboard or a proper sign.  You can get signs at dollar stores.  I’ve seen many signs that you can’t read because the letters are too small, they are not dark enough, they are in colour, they are on paper that has curled, there is no direction marked, there is no address, or they haven’t been secured properly and have fallen to the ground.  If people don’t clearly understand where they are going, they won’t be buying your stuff.  Put lots of signs starting several blocks away at main corners and at the end of your street.  Put signs out a day or two ahead of the sale to let people know.
  5. LOCATION  Location is important but wherever you have it, make sure it can be visibly seen and don’t hide it in a back yard or inside with no signs (I’ve hunted for some of those).  A busy street will have lots of traffic that will see your signs and notice a crowd gathering.  If you aren’t in a busy area, this is where good signage can help lead people to your sale.
  6. TIME  I’ve had sales every time of year but I find the spring brings out the biggest crowds where I live.   The best sales are from mid-April to June, they slow down in the summer and pick up a bit in Sept to mid-October.  Since we have winter here, we only have the odd moving or estate sale held inside which can be profitable if done properly.   If you live where the weather is nice all year, it wouldn’t matter what time of year you have your sale.   Other days can also work, but won’t likely draw a large crowd.
  7. PREPARE YOUR ITEMS  Make sure everything is clean and in good shape.   If you have any broken or damaged item, toss them out because they won’t sell anyway and they don’t look good at your sale.  If there are parts missing to some items and they are in good condition, people may buy them for parts or you can put them in a free box.garage sale6
  8. PRICE YOUR ITEMS  People are more likely to buy if the items are priced.  Some sales don’t price anything and many people won’t bother to ask.  If I see something that isn’t priced and I don’t need it, I won’t ask, but if it is priced and reasonable, I sometimes consider buying the item.   You don’t necessarily have to price all the items, but price a lot of them so people will have an idea of what you are charging.  If you have bulk items, like books, you don’t have to price these individually, just put up a sign.  Keep your price reasonable.  Overpriced items do not sell.  Consider what you would pay for this item at someone else’s sale.  If an item cost $20 new and it is still new in the box, charge $10 – if it is in good condition, charge $5 or less.  Remember that if you don’t sell your stuff, you don’t make any money and you will have to store them again or take them to the goodwill.  The idea of a garage sale is to get rid of the items, so unless you really want to get stuck with anything, price them well.  Better to make $100 on your sale, than $20 and have to pack up the rest of the stuff.   Always be ready to make a deal with a potential buyer.
  9. ANTIQUE ITEMS   Many antiques are not worth much today.  I have a lot of beautiful glassware that used to be valuable, but I took them to an antique dealer and he couldn’t even sell them.  If you think you have something that might be valuable, try taking it to a dealer or selling it on-line.  You won’t get much at a garage sale.
  10. garage sale2DISPLAY ITEMS WELL   Put up tables and make sure you have lots of space for people to walk around.  Tarps can be put on the ground if you don’t have enough tables.  Place items neatly and so they are easy to see.  People like to rummage in boxes but you will lose sales if items can’t garage sale4be seen so try to put out as much as you can.  Some bulk items can be left in boxes with a sign stating price (for example – all items in box are 25 cents each.  Books – hardcover $2, softcover $1, children’s books 50 cents)   Clothing should be hung if possible and a sign put up (tops – $2, pants – $3, etc).  If you have lots of clothing, books or other items, consider selling them as a box lot or fill a bag for $1.-your items are well displayed and easy to see – people do rummage in boxes, but a lot of things aren’t seen, so they don’t sell (boxes are where you put the junk and just price the box)
  11. SALES TACTICS   When items sell, fill up empty spaces and keep areas tidy.  When people can see everything clearly, they will buy more items.   If you see an interest in an item and the person puts it down, try giving them a deal they can’t refuse.  When your sale has gone past its first couple of hours, put out signs saying No reasonable offer refused or Make an offer.  Review your prices and mark down items.  When you are in the last hour, tell people that everything is half price or buy 1 get one free or have a bag sale (fill a bag for $1).
  12. garage sale5CREATE A HAPPY ATMOSPHERE   Be friendly with customers, smile and say hello.  Put up balloons.  Decorate.  Play some music (not too loud or weird).  People like to hang around a sale longer when they feel good and they might buy more.
  13. OTHER WAYS TO ADD SALES   Sell coffee and doughnuts, do some baking (if you make it look good, people will buy it), have a cooler with pop, juice, water (great on hot days), have a BBQ and sell hotdogs or hamburgers.
  14. garage sale7MONEY   Make sure you have lots of change.  I’ve had sales where the first 2 customers only had $20 bills and they bought 50 cents worth of items – this can take away all your change very quickly.  Don’t be afraid to ask people if they have something smaller.  Also make sure you keep the money in a safe place (money box, pocket apron) so it won’t disappear.  People have left their money laying somewhere and it has been picked up.  A good idea is to have 1 person sitting at a cash table taking money and giving change.
  15. AFTER THE SALE   Decide what you want to do with what is left over.  Donate any good items to goodwill.   You can list the items on a free site like Freecycle and people will come and get them.   Just put the items on a table or a tarp out by your curb and put a sign on it FREE – PLEASE TAKE AWAY – most of the items will be picked up.

These are just some suggestions that might help you with your own garage sale.  Have a good one!

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It’s not what you have, it’s what you do with what you have

thinking happy faceMost of us would like to leave a mark on the world and be remembered for something when we are gone.  But what will people remember us for?

Will they remember us for things that we worked long hours to buy – the house, the car, all our possessions?

Will they remember us because we wore designer clothing, had shiny hair and expensive accessories?

Will they remember us for all those expensive gifts that we bought for them?

Will they remember us because we had a university degree with initials after our name or a nice job title?

Will they remember us because we had lots of money, power or fame?

I’m not trying to say that these things don’t have some importance.  Of course we should work hard to make money so we can support our families and pay our bills.   We should always try to look nice and its great to give expensive gifts to other people if we can afford it.  Getting an education is also important and you should be proud if you hold a position or authority.  But these things probably won’t be something that people will remember you for.  Nobody will really care if you had money, power or fame if you weren’t a nice person.

It’s not what you have in life that counts, it’s what you do with what you have that counts.

What do you do with your money, possessions, time and talents?

Do you contribute money to a charity that helps people live a better life?

Do you give away things you don’t need anymore to an organization who provides things for people who have little or nothing?

Do you spend time volunteering or spreading love and kindness to others?

We will be remembered for the things we did to help others, our acts of kindness, our encouraging words, being supportive and showing our love.   Many of the people who have made the biggest impact on the world were not rich, powerful or famous – they didn’t have a lot, but they did good things with what they had.   Some of these were Anne Frank (holocaust survivor), Rosa Parks (American Civil Rights Movement) and Mother Teresa (missionary serving the poor).  You can read about more great people who will be remembered by clicking this link…..http://www.biographyonline.net/people/people-who-made-a-difference.html

What will people remember you for?  Anything?  Nothing?  If your answer is nothing, don’t be discouraged, you can still make a difference in the world.  Start writing your memories today!writing on paper

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You can only change yourself

Did you know that  you can’t change anyone but yourself?   We think we can, but we can’t.

This a hard lesson that most of us have to learn the hard way.   We spend a large part of our life trying to change other people.  We try to change our husband, our wife, our children, our friends.

“When my husband/wife changes, I will be happy”.  

“When my children change,  things will be easier”. 

“When my boss changes, my life will be better”.

Wrong!  When YOU change, your life will be better.  In reality, changes need to be made within ourselves.   If we make positive changes ourselves, we can then have a positive influence on Retiredother people, but we can’t change them.  This is something that they have to want to do themselves.

Instead of frustrating yourself trying to change someone in your life, work on making some positive changes yourself and you will likely have a happier and more peaceful life.

If you don’t like something change it; if you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.  ~Mary Engelbreit

When you are through changing, you are through.  ~Bruce Barton

If nothing ever changed, there’d be no butterflies.  ~Author Unknown

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Educate your children about advertising

adsAdvertising has a huge effect on people, there is not doubt about it and the effect is not usually a positive effect.  Companies try almost anything to sell their products even if it has the power to destroy our esteem.  Money is the ultimate goal and the result is the ever-growing problems of alcohol and drug use, eating disorders, excessive dieting, poor esteem and suicides.

Every day we see thousands of ads on TV and in magazines that can be harmful to our physical, mental and emotional health.    We need to educate our children about the reality of advertising and try to protect them as much as possible from any negative effects.

Following is an article from the America Academy of Pediatrics that describes in detail what effects advertising can have on our children and teens.  http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/118/6/2563.full

In the Netherlands, there was a study done that shows how kids values are being shaped by their exposure to advertising.  http://www.psmag.com/blogs/news-blog/tv-commercials-linked-to-materialist-values-in-kids-55116/

If you have children, please help them develop strong esteem and educate them about advertising so they will be better prepared to deal with the pressures put on them.   If you don’t have children, consider volunteering some time to an organization that helps children and become a mentor to someone in our younger generation.

Our children are valuable and they need our love and support!

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