Friday

Rule 19: Do Fun Stuff

Lisa Plummer is a single mother of four children and one grandchild. She has degrees in Theology and Christina Leadership and is working on a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy. She is a Medical Instructor at Western Career College.

As a single working mom, money and time are both scarce. It is easy to get so caught up in the daily essentials so that we miss the little things… if we are not careful. Yes, we are with our children all the time. But do we really enjoy them? Do we remember to do fun stuff?

Sure, when they were little we pointed out every new milestone and marked it in the baby books. We called our mom or mother-in-law to let them know what new and amazing feat they had accomplished. What about now when they are older? Sometimes it feels like all of our interactions are instructions, directions and reminders (with the exception of the required, “How was school today?” to which most kids say “Fine.” End of discussion.) I’ve found that I enjoy my children more when I give myself time to be with them and do things that we all like to do.

Any holiday is a great excuse to get creative and spend time doing things that are just a little bit our of the ordinary. My oldest daughter, now a mother herself, has great memories of spending time with me preparing goodies for her classmates. My son who is nine years old still likes to take treats to his class. You can stuff goody bags with inexpensive treats like holiday themed pencils, erasers, stickers and candy from your local Dollar Store. Purchase plain sack lunch bags and let your kids be creative and decorate the bags. Baking goodies is a wonderful activity to enjoy with your children. Make cupcakes, cookies and even ornaments (not only for Christmas) and pick colors that fit the holiday and allow your children do the frosting and decorating.

In our family, one of our favorite fun things is movie night. Ours is always on Friday, and the kids and I really look forward to this time together. They get to pick the movie and our dinner. We call it our “munchie” dinner and it can be anything…homemade chicken strips, taquitos, pizza or nachos. Of course, we always have popcorn!

Although we may not always be able to afford to take vacations with our children, we can still afford weekend get- aways. A simple camping trip even as close as an hour drive from your home is a fun, affordable and wonderful way for you to unwind and relax from a busy week. The kids can run, yell, swim, climb trees and get dirty (not much better than that if you’re a nine-year-old boy.) It is wonderful to be able to watch them enjoy themselves with a sense of freedom they don’t always have at home. Invite some friends to join you, and it’s a portable party.

Tradition is a word that is over used but cannot be over emphasized. All of these activities are great opportunities to create tradition in a world that seems to be losing touch with traditions. These special family times we spend together give my kids (and me), as well as ourselves, something to look forward to and plan on.

The years with our children go by so quickly. I’m not only talking about the years when they are small. Remind yourself what great kids they are. Spend time doing creative things, make up games, go camping. We only have them for a little while…. so remember to do fun stuff.

As excerpted from "42 Rules (tm) for Working Moms" Super Star Press 2008.

About the Author
Laura Lowell is the executive editor and author of "42 Rules for Working Moms." She has gathered practical advice and information from working moms all over the world to share with others. She lives and works in Silicon Valley with her husband and two girls. http://www.42rules.com/working_moms/index

Wednesday

How Do I Find Myself? What Will You Have to Risk, Change to Be Happy with You?

When you have allowed circumstances, events, and relationships to dominate who you are, it is very easy to forget where you have come from, what interests you, and why you do the things you do. Why do we, as women, allow ourselves to lose ourselves in life? Why don't we protect and enhance our identity as we go through trials and celebrations in our journey? Instead, we hide behind secret obsessions with our clothes, shoes, hair, nails, food, household, education, career, children, and most of all our mates (ie. their last names for starters). Who are you really? Some of us know about the biblical text that talks about a man and woman becoming one once they are married, but does the text say to forget who you are in the process? So this article was created to do two things: ask the question who are you really and if you don't know anymore how do you get there?

You may have been a child lost and confused, or found and focused. Whichever describes the child you were, how has your childhood affected who you are as a woman today? I remember a time when life wasn't so complicated, when the biggest part of my day was playing with dolls. I would change their clothes, comb and brush their hair, sit them down for a make-believe meal, stand them up to perform, or lay them down for rest. Then one day, my mother came into my room and told me that I was too old to be playing with dolls (I was 13 at the time) and that is when I realized my world had changed. Every time I got the impulse to want to play with my dolls I would try to fill the void with something else like reading a book or writing in my diary.

In time, I began to see that my writing would change too. I went from starting diary entries like "Dear Diary, I watched t.v. today..." to "Dear Diary, I like this boy..." Somewhere along the line I began to lose sight of the simple things in life and started to look toward the more complex things like wanting a boy to like me. I know now as an adult what was lacking in my life to cause me to become almost obsessed with boys as a teen which inspired me to write an article about father and daughter relationships, Daddy's Love, Your Man's Love: What it Is, What it Isn't by Nicholl McGuire you may find some similarities in your own life.

As we grow our needs change as well as interests, but somewhere underneath it all we are still the little girl who would prefer to be at home comfortably doing what she loves the most. Yet, society walks in and tells us "you don't need to be doing...you shouldn't...you ought to..." and then we go along even if we aren't ready to give our "it" up, the rules may not apply, or societal demands just don't define who we are. How many of us have attended a college we didn't want to, marry a person we weren't completely sure of, spent money because someone encouraged us to, had children even though we didn't want them, and the list goes on. Then we wonder why we aren't happy? Some of us just couldn't say, "No!" because of fear, worry, or confusion. Others too often said yes and many of us just didn't bother to say anything at all and just went along to get along with someone else's plan while convincing ourselves that we made the decision. Oh, how we can be such liars to ourselves!

So what is happening in your life these days that causes you to question "How Do I Find Myself?" Have you met someone who inspires you? Watched programs on television that motivated you? Had a dream or vision? Accidentally clicked on this article? Read a book that charges you? Something has moved you to ask this very simple, yet complex question and whatever it (or who) it is you may want to keep it (or who) around at least for a season until you have some perspective on where the answer to this question may lead you.

When you look in the mirror what do you see and how do you feel about what you see? Examine yourself closely and find out what you like and dislike about yourself. What will you have to do to make some changes on your outer and inner appearance to be content with what you see? If you are content, then you should have no problem relating to people who may look better than you and are more successful, but if you find yourself becoming insecure even jealous in their presence then you are not happy with who you are and what you have achieved in life, and you may be unfortunately deceiving yourself. You will need to find something or do something that will make you feel at peace with what you see in the mirror. Some people will read books, join support groups, seek therapy, change their diet, visit their doctor and dentist, or change their hair, make-up and wardrobe.

People find themselves in various ways. Some may look in the mirror and tell themselves things like, "I love you. I apologize for letting life get in the way of you. It's time to do something about you." You may have to do this exercise too and study how the world presently sees you. It's like dressing up a doll, how do you want that doll to look? What function do you want her to play in the world? Which brings us to the second point; part of finding yourself is also eliminating the negative people, places, and things in your life. A simple rule to follow is while you study how to find yourself you need not connect with anyone on a daily basis that doesn't contribute to your well-being. You aren't strong enough to handle all the issues that come with trying to help a person in trouble when you are in a crisis yourself. The kind of people and places you want in your circle will have to add to your self-worth not take from it. A person who questions "how do I find myself" doesn't need people around them who do nothing more than take from them. How can anyone find themselves without a healthy balance of giving and receiving in their relationships with others?

In my life experience, I have found that people who only take from you, drain you physically, emotionally, and spiritually. When you find yourself objecting to their demands, they accuse you of being lazy, uncaring, and selfish. They are not only thieves, but liars too. They don't bother to acknowledge what you have already done and offer their support when you are in need; their concerns are only what can you do for them now and when you don't they spread gossip. I have personally put those people at a distance or eliminated them out of my life altogether, I just don't have room for them anymore. Children are enough responsibility, who needs adults in their life who act like children?

Some people have been inspired to find themselves in the most interesting ways. They may have opened a bottle of perfume that reminded them of some happy moment in their lives, ate something unique, visited an exotic place, or struck up a conversation with a stranger. Others may have found themselves doing something more common such as: taking up a new hobby, moving to a new location, breaking up with someone, obtaining new employment, or dare I say it, getting married. Although one would argue that getting married is one of the worse situations to find who you are, it may also be the best. If you connect with the right person at the right time in your life, you may discover who you really are underneath the white wedding dress. I discovered many things about myself in my past marriage; one of the most important things was I never needed him to complete me. I had been able to immediately pick up where I had left off in my life before I met him. I didn't miss him even a little bit once we divorced. If anything, I learned that all I really wanted while being married was just a companion to talk with every now and then and go out with from time to time, but I was very content with functioning in my life by myself. "Feel free to go without me..." I would say when he would invite me to this event and that. Life was often great when there was no one at home.

You may want to try to find yourself by being by yourself. Spending many hours in meditation questioning your likes and dislikes, what you will stand for and what you won't, where you see yourself in the future and what type of man or woman would you welcome into your life should you ever want to start all over again? The T.V., radio, Internet, phone, movies, books and guests in your home can serve as a constant distraction. You will have to cut it all off if you are having a hard time trying to get some time alone to just think.

Sometimes people find themselves through resolving past issues. The thing that makes you cringe from your past and doesn't seem to go away may be the key to finding yourself. It may also be the cause for why you are questioning who you are today as well. Professional counseling even medication can help you get through some of those difficult moments.

Children are significant in helping people find character traits within themselves such as patience, perseverance, honesty, etc. but they are no help in finding who you are outside of motherhood. Some will disagree and say, "If it wasn't for the children...," but my question to them right back is "If it wasn't for the children (if they should die, grow up and move far away) who are you? If you never had any children, who are you? What makes you feel the way you do? Who are you when there is no one to care for, but you? Most of all, when you are all alone, do you like yourself? What are you doing when no is watching? Thinking about the kids or probably doing something for the kids which wouldn't be about you, but about them.

Finding yourself doesn't have to be complex. Interview yourself each day for a few minutes. "What will I have to do to make myself feel complete? What do I hope to accomplish before I die? What will I have to resolve in my past so that I may enter a new relationship with less baggage? How do I go about making a difference in the world around me?" These are only a few of the many questions others like you ask themselves and there are those who are doing something about it. Get out, enjoy the world! Pray and meditate on wisdom that will usher you into your destiny. Make mistakes and learn from them. These are keys to helping you find yourself. Be blessed!

Nicholl

Five Things You Must Do Before You Relocate to a New State

A better opportunity has come for you. You are ready to embark on a new journey in your life and you may be excited, nervous, anxious and sad all at the same time. You don't want to leave any stone unturned in your preparations; therefore, you will need to check and double check your "to do" list. The following information may not be on your list or you may have overlooked some things you still have to do.

Be sure to have all finances managed.

Before you said yes to any offer in another state or overseas, did the company agree to pay for your move? If they did, good for you; however, if they didn't, then you will need to be sure that money is available at your fingertips before you go anywhere. Do you know how much money you will be receiving from your previous job? How much will you need to live on before you get paid at your next job? How much will you have left in savings after you pay for transportation, delivery of your goods, food for travel, clothing (in case there is a change of climate,) reference materials such as a foreign language or culture book, maps, etc.? Think about what you would ask a relative or friend if they were relocating. Do you know for sure that you will be receiving a tax refund this year? If you have neglected to pay your taxes in previous years, owe money or have outstanding government loans, this may be the season that they will come to collect. Don't solely count on that money. Do you have any credit cards with an open line of credit? This will definitely come in handy for future unexpected expenses. Is anyone willing to help you if you should be in a bind? Everyone needs at least one person they can count on in a financial crisis. Do you have anything that you can sell that will make you some additional money such as a baseball card or stamp collection? Do you know the monetary value of your collectibles?

Paperwork for employment offer and new residence has been finalized.

You may have been in contact via phone with the Human Resources department, but did anyone send you a formal letter that states you have the job? Have you signed any paperwork that acknowledges this fact? Don't travel on promises. What about your new residence? Have you seen it in person or are you relying on someone else's opinion? How much money do you still owe for the security deposit and the rent? Has someone from the office sent you a grand total on your rent? You may have to make the sacrifice to visit the area you will be living and the environment you will be working at least one more time before you pack up the family. Companies have been known to withdraw employment offers and property management offices have been known to lie. Don't get the surprise of your life by not researching enough, getting all offers in writing and most of all knowing when and how you will be paid.

Budget with your keepsakes in mind.

Don't let these items be the last to be packed. Since these items can't be replaced, have them packed well, insured and mailed first. These items you will refer back to when nostalgia sets in while living at your new place. Nostalgia will come whether you like it or not and sometimes you will want to reflect on your life and how much better you are doing now, what you miss about your past and why you needed change.

All pertinent companies have your contact information.

You may be so excited about everything that is happening that you may have forgotten about some companies you may still have some unresolved business. Check with utility companies to ensure that the lights, telephone and gas will be cut off on your desired dates. When contacting the cable company, be available to give them their equipment back to avoid future charges. Your previous employer will need your new address to send your W2 as well. Check to see that all banking and credit card information has been updated with your new address. Also, any of the businesses you may interact with online should also be informed of your new contact information. Have you discontinued magazine subscriptions or forwarded them to your new address? Don't rely on your neighbors to check your mailbox; instead visit the post office and notify them to forward your mail. If you do this in advance and not at the last minute, you will not have to worry over any important correspondence. Most of all, don't forget about family and friends who may need your address to send you something in the mail.

Meet with relatives before you leave.

You may be busy and haven't yet begun to scratch the surface in terms of getting your relocation tasks completed; however, you will need to make contact with the relatives you sincerely care about who may one day be your only support system. When holidays approach, send cards or invite relatives over for smaller gatherings such as watching a movie together, drinking some coffee and eating desserts, help with packing and cleaning house or errand running. You may not want a large gathering simply because you don't want to use your needed money to entertain. Also, you may have relatives that want to spend one-on-one time with you and may feel comfortable sharing stories, money and other assistance without the watchful eye of other family members. Making time for relatives before you leave creates memories, builds relationships and helps you mentally and physically cope with any unforeseen obstacles. However, relatives whom you have unresolved issues with you may not want them to come around. They may become negative and say things that you just can't stand to hear during this emotional time in your life. Remember to stay focus on your plans, don't feel the need to defend your actions and stay positive!

Nicholl McGuire
Blog Owner

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Saturday

Unemployed: How To Find a New Job After Being Fired

Shock, devastation, anger, confusion, depressed these are the emotions one feels when recently faced with a job dismissal. The former employee walks away questioning what went wrong? He or she may not have felt at peace with the administration's answer. They may have been vague about their reasons are extremely detailed.

All the while, he or she may be thinking what went wrong? Questioning whether his or her actions were that bad for it to come to this. Others may feel as if there was a conspiracy to get rid of them all along. Despite the reasons, it is now an unwelcoming reality that one has to face. Therefore, how does one move on past the upset and on with looking for another job?

First, find a place of solitude after you have received the bad news. Take control of every negative emotion you must be feeling, before you share it with anyone. You do not want to discuss the recent events upset, emotional and confused. Tell yourself, "Everything happens for a reason, although I may not know exactly why, somehow I am going to make the best of this."

Second, make a phone call to meet with a confidant. This will provide you with the opportunity to vent, get what is off your chest. He or she may be a good listener and advisor, consider what he or she is saying. State how you feel, but don't wallow in your anger, sadness or any other emotion for too long. You don't need your situation to dominate a good time with a friend and consider he or she may have their own frustrations they may want to talk about.

While you are venting, there will be the temptation to say something about your former employer that even your closest confidant may have to scold you for and that is the last thing you will want to hear is an admonition or what seems to be well meaning advice. The reality is they are not experiencing what you are going through and your situation is not up for debate or criticism.

Avoid people who you know have been unsupportive in the past no matter how desperate you are to make contact with someone. This is not the time to defend your thoughts, or get angry with the person whom you are confiding in that will only result in a heated argument. Later, you may feel even worse for blowing up at your confidant and will have to apologize. Remember you may need this person to help you financially, physically and/or mentally in the future; therefore watch what you say and how you say it.

Third, after you have confided in everyone you have chosen, you may be tempted to wallow in your firing. You may not start looking for a job immediately; instead, you may want to take a needed break. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that if you are doing something productive other than sitting on the couch thinking about the job, calling up former co-workers gossiping or mentioning the event every time someone makes contact with you.

Utilize this time to apply for unemployment, catch up on all doctor's appointments (before your insurance runs out), meet with family and friends you haven't seen in awhile, take a class in your career field or in one you may desire. Consider taking up a hobby such as reading books, writing, singing, dancing, painting, watching TV (if you haven't been doing much of that in the past), aerobics, hiking, running and many others. However, if you aren't ready for the intense physical activity, then browse stores, walk the beach, tour museums and other places to take your mind off of things.

Noticed shopping was not listed, because spending money is only a temporary fix and since you have no income coming in the last thing you need to do is have money going out. Be sure to take care of your necessities and save as much money as you can, because unemployment doesn't last forever and can be cut off before you know it.

During this time of rest and relaxation, your motivation to get back in the workforce will be challenged. Who wants to return back to work, when someone is helping you financially, the beach keeps calling your name and you have enjoyed waking up without an alarm clock? As nice as all of this sounds, it is only temporary and if you don't want your free time to come to a crashing halt, dedicate hours each day, like you would working a part-time job, applying for jobs.

However, before you begin your search you will need to know whether you would like to stay in the same career field, switch to another or just find a job that is not challenging in the least and will only provide you with a paycheck.

Find out how much others are making in your occupation, what are the latest skills in demand, create your cover letters and tailor your resume for each job that isn't in your career field. Too often people will send the same general resume to every employer and wonder why no one is calling them back. You may have too much information on your resume for what is required or not enough. Consider the following as you job search checklist:

Create different resumes for different career fields.

Join online databases that send employment classifieds directly to your email.

Sign up for a subscription to a newspaper.

Register with a temporary agency.

Check with family and friends to see what they know.

Purchase office supplies such as ink for your printer and/or fax machine, mailing labels, impressive envelopes and quality white paper, and stamps.

Create a mailing list of employers that may or may not be hiring. Print addresses on mailing labels. Send a letter along with your resume requesting that they consider including you in their database for a future job opening. Of course, you can always pick a great location nearby your neighborhood and work one or two part-time jobs. The advantage to this is you will not be stuck at one location everyday, more money can be made this way, and some stores offer great perks.

Depending on how much money you have in savings, you may think about starting a business from home. A successful business doesn't become that way if you don't have the necessary tools to make it happen. Spend the time reading about what type of business you would like to start, how to develop a business plan so that you will know what to expect in the future, where you can get additional money to get it started, and any other information that will help you make a determination on whether this is a good time to start it or not.

Lastly, while you wait for responses from employers, be sure that you can be contacted. If you have a single phone line with no call waiting, you may want to have your cell phone number and email address on every cover letter, resume and/or business card you send out. Don't become discouraged when week three passes by and you still haven't heard from anyone. Instead, you will need to change the way you have been marketing yourself. Request a person knowledgeable in cover letters and resumes to review yours.

Search the Internet, ask for comments from a job headhunter, or purchase a book that will provide you with tips on how to best edit it. Asking a family member or friend isn't the best way to get an unbiased opinion; therefore don't request their opinions unless they know about your industry. Be sure that you have tried every way to market yourself. Have you posted a classified of the services you can offer to your community? Have you sent a mass mailing out to employers rather than just two or three resumes? Did you include yourself in a variety of databases both on and offline such as visiting temporary agencies also known as headhunters? Did you send copies of your resumes to people who would be willing to help you market yourself? When did you last follow up with an employer about your resume (are you keeping record)? Are you allowing yourself to be reachable?

When you do hear from a prospective employer, be sure that you are prepared! You have the business attire picked out that you will be wearing, updated copies of your resume (error free and readable,) list of references, a social security card and an updated id or driver's license, copies of any necessary certification or medical information, samples of your work that is related to the position, and a nice briefcase or similar business accessory.

Think about the kinds of questions you may be asked during the interview, and turn every negative event you have ever had at any job into a positive one. For instance, when asked what would you consider one of your weaknesses? Your answer may be, "Not knowing when to go home, I become very engrossed in my projects and my former bosses have had to cut the lights off on me." The employer will be watching for signs of mental stability, whether you are responsible, truthful, positive, professional, goal oriented, loyal, and many other attributes that will convince them that you will be an asset to their organization. Put your best foot forward!

For more articles written by Nicholl McGuire,Click Here!
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About Me

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Over 20 years office work experience, six years completed college coursework, background in print media and communications, recognized for exceptional attendance and received merit increase for past job performance, self-published author and part-time entrepreneur, Internet marketing and social media experience. Interned for non-profit organization, women's group and community service business. Additional experience: teaching/training others, customer service and sales. Learn more at Nicholl McGuire and Nicholl McGuire Media

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