Saturday, December 28, 2013

Because Being A Goddess Is Not About Being Perfect . . .

Have you ever read Greek mythology?  Athena, Artemis and Aphrodite were just some of the goddesses. They were incredibly powerful, beautiful and often petty and mistake prone.  They were still goddesses.

I have long believed that being a woman means you have the potential to be a force of nature. You are beautiful. You are strong in ways that most men do not even understand. You are a goddess in training.

Embrace your inner goddess.   You don't need to spend so much time focusing on your flaws.  Learn to focus on what is good about you. Maybe you have great eyes or beautiful legs. Maybe you have a great memory for trivia or movie quotes.  If you can not list at least three good things about yourself right off the top of your head, then I have some homework for you.

Sit down with a piece of paper and a pen--old school I know but it helps stir your creative juices--and write down 10 wonderful things about yourself.  I do not care what they are but you do not get to leave your chair until you do it.

Learn to appreciate yourself as you would a friend. Embrace your inner beauty as well as your outer and we will have you wearing that toga in no time.

"Things Every Goddess Should Know" is now available as an ebook on The paperback version will be out on January 7th for those who prefer the feel of an actual book in their hands.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

It's Christmas Time

It's Christmas time. A holiday that has the distinction of being both a religious festival and a secular one.   For many people, it is about celebrating the birth of Jesus. For many, it is about seeing family and friends.  For others, it is a stressful time full of demands and loneliness.   I hope for you, whomever you are, it is a time of peace and relaxation.   I wish you a Merry Christmas. A children laughing, people singing, families hugging Christmas.

If Christmas this year is not all you are hoping, do not despair.  Try to find something good about the day.  Focus on feeling happy and relaxed; on enjoying what you can.  Try to ignore if your mother complains about the meal or if your uncle gets drunk again.   Give yourself permission to walk away for a minute and take a deep breath if you need to keep your cool. Do your best to just silently roll your eyes and let it all roll right off your back.  Mentally shake it off like a dog shaking off water.

Feel free to sit down and have a hot drink (or a cool one) and spend time with family and friends and let the dishes sit until later.  You don't have to spend all of your time in the kitchen (but if your family is driving you crazy, feel free to escape to there).  

If you have no one to buy you a present, buy yourself one. If money is tight, make one or give yourself the gift of a few quiet hours by yourself. You deserve to be happy and peaceful.

Merry Christmas and Blessings on you in the coming year.  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The Desiderata

The Desiderata is a poem by Max Ehrmann that is believed to have come out in the 1920s. Desiderata means "things that are desired".  It is a list of life lessons condensed into one place.  I have a small version of it on my desk at work. I leave it out where the customers can see it while they wait.   I have a larger one at home.   I find something beautiful in it every time I look.   If you have not already read it, I think every one should. 

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story.
Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Dealing With Inappropriate Touching

Some people have no boundaries. Others are just trying to push those boundaries. The result is often the same. You end up with some one's hand somewhere you do not want it to be; somewhere that makes you uncomfortable.

This is a common problem for pregnant women. Strangers come up and put their hands on the baby bump oohing and ahhing over how wonderful it is. It becomes as though any baby is public property; even before they leave your womb.

Where you are and what the circumstances are do have a lot to do with how you can or should react.  First, you do not have to put up with any one putting their hands on you.  If possible, you can simply step back.  You could smile politely and say, "I am sorry. Have we met?". Should that not work, give them a dirty look or a regal one down your nose and say something along the lines of "I have not given you permission to touch me" or "Would you like it if a complete stranger walked up and started rubbing your belly?"

People also experience this in clubs. Let me paint a scenario for you. You are a young woman hanging out at the club and a man comes up and cozies up against you and puts his hand on your hip or butt. Maybe you are completely against this. Maybe you find the guy interesting but are not comfortable with that level of intimacy yet.

If you are interested but just not quite to that level, you can pick up his hand and hold it in your own.  This indicates that he should not put his hand there but it also says that you are interested.  You should smile as you do this.

If you are not interested, simply remove his hand with a pointed look or step back away from it.

Always try the quiet option first. This lets you avoid escalating things but if that does not work, I would feel free to glare and demand that they release you.  You are not required to allow anyone to touch you no matter how innocuous it seems.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How To Build A Fire--Things Every Goddess Should Know

Building a fire is one of those life experiences that you generally get to pick. You can choose to go camping. You can choose to have a fireplace.  It is also one of those things that can come in handy when you least expect it.  There have been a lot of bad storms these past few years--hurricanes, snow storms, tornadoes. You may find yourself without power and needing to start a fire to keep warm or cook food. You may never find yourself in this position but a little knowledge is not a bad thing.

So here it is, the Things Every Goddess Should Know guide to making a fire that will catch and burn.

 First, you will need some kindling, some paper you can burn, some logs and either a match or a lighter. I like the long necked lighter that you just pull the little trigger. You want to make sure the wood is not wet. Wet wood smokes more than it burns and will not make much flame or heat.

Crunch some paper into a few small balls--about four should do it. Arrange the paper on the bottom of the fireplace. Put a little pile of kindling on top of this pile of paper. (Kindling is just a fancy way of saying you want a lot of twigs or tiny branches.)  Now take two or three logs. Arrange the logs so they are leaning against each other forming a little triangle or tepee over the kindling.  You want to make sure there is room for air to flow freely around the logs. Next make sure your vent is fully open. You will need the circulating air to get the fire going.

Light the paper and wait for it to catch the kindling.  The paper will light quickly. The kindling a little more slowly. The kindling will then help the logs to catch. Once the logs catch, you will start to see a decent sized fire.  Give it a little time for the fire to heat up before closing the flue.  If you close the vent and the fire starts to go right out, open it back up some and wait a few more minutes. You will get a sense of how long this takes for your fireplace once you have done it a few times. Once the fire is hot enough, you can close the vent all the way.  You will need to add another log about every hour or so to keep the fire going.

If you want, you can just let the fire burn out in the fireplace. If you want to try to save the coals to start another fire later, you will want to do something called banking the fire.

Wait until the fire has burned down to a layer of hot pieces of wood that look like coal burning. Push it together and cover it with a thick layer of ash. Keep the vent closed. In the morning, you can push the ash gently aside and you should find some coals still burning. Add some logs, open the vent and it should flare up. If necessary, throw a little more paper in there.  And voila, fire.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Finding the Gratitude

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in the United States. If you are like most of us, you will spend it with a large gathering of friends and/or family. This is a great time to catch up and spend time together.  You will probably be presented with large quantities of food; maybe watch some football.

I hope you take the time to be grateful for the things you have.

The holidays can be hectic. You may find yourself traveling around from family to family, event to event. Perhaps you are the one hosting and you have hours of cooking and cleaning to do. Do not let the stress or hectic pace make you forget to take a few minutes to be grateful for all that's good in your life.

No one's life is perfect. We all have complaints. It is easy to sit around and focus on what is wrong with our lives. This holiday is all about taking the time to be grateful for what you have.

Sit down and think about all the wonderful things in your life. Take a few minutes and be grateful.  Do you have a wonderful spouse? Beautiful children? A roof over your head and food on your table?

If you stop and appreciate what you do have, you will be happier for it. So smile, say thank you for the things in your life and eat up.

Happy Thanksgiving! 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

"No" is a complete sentence.

We women often have a hard time saying no. We feel guilty about not agreeing to everything we are asked. This is true even if we are running around crazy trying to accomplish the things already on our lists. Yet we still hesitate to say no.

No is not a swear word. It is not an insult. It is also not a negotiation.   Do not let someone try to turn your no into a maybe.  "No" or "No, Thank you" or even "We have other plans" are all you need to say.  Do not try to explain yourself. It just gives people a chance to talk you into doing what they want.

For example,  "Can you come to our picnic?"
 "No I am sorry I can not make it"  
"Why not?"
"Well I have to take Junior to the shop for school clothes."
"You can do that tomorrow after work."
"Well tomorrow I have to work on an important presentation."
"You don't need all day for that."

You get the idea.

This is true of many things.  Learn to say No and stick to it.  Do not let anyone make you feel guilty for not falling in with their plans.  They can not know what your day is like or how you are feeling. Smile, say No or No Thank you and move on.

If someone persists, you must persist as well until they have gotten used to accepting your no. After all, it is a perfectly acceptable answer.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Making Your Password More Secure Yet Easy To Remember

Welcome to the digital age. We have access to an unprecedented level of electronic conveniences. We can bank on our phones and check directions without looking at a map. We also have dozens of different sites asking us to come up with passwords.

If you use the same password for everything, you can remember it but it's not secure. All someone has to do is figure out your password for that seemingly unimportant site. Suddenly they can access all your sites. If you use different passwords for everything, you have to remember them all. You can't write them down because someone could find it.

I want to pass on some great advice I got on how to come up with a more secure password.  First, never use one of the most common passwords. These include God, password, password1, 123456, iloveyou, and welcome.

Second, you should have a password of at least eight characters. You should also include one capital letter, one lower case letter, one number and one special character.  You should have a unique password for every site you go on. I know this sounds complicated but we are going to simplify it.

First pick two words you can easily remember that go well together and are at least eight letters total.  For this example, we are going to use "hot coffee".  Take your base phrase and add a capital letter. Do not make it the first letter.  For example, "hot coffee" becomes "hoTcoffee".

Now replace one of the letters with a symbol of your choice.  So "hoTcoffee" becomes "h@Tcoffee".  Now replace one digit with a number of your choice. Now "h@Tcoffee" becomes "h@Tcoff3e".   This becomes your base password for everything. This is the only thing you need to remember; just "h@Tcoff3e".

We are not quite done yet. 

Next we are going to make it unique for every website.  You decide that for every website you go on, you will always look at the second and third digit (or first and fourth etc you decide).  For this example, we will use second and third letters of  That would be "m" and "a".  Stick those two letters right in between your two word phrase. "h@Tcoff3e" becomes  "h@Tmacoff3e".  Now you go to visit and your password becomes "h@Tincoff3e" because the second and third letters of the website name are "i" and "n".

Set up your basic rule and stick to it.  If you run into a website that won't let you use a special character then just plug whatever letter the word originally called for, right back in.  Soon you will find yourself automatically entering the password just by glancing up at the website address. No password is perfect but this is a big step up from "password1".  And all from hot coffee.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Proof They Love You

As women, we often look at our significant others and try to convince ourselves, "They don't love me anymore."   The excitement and romance of those first few months or years has worn off and it's just not the same.  Before you break your own heart, take another look.

It's normal for things to cool off when you have been together awhile. The heart and mind can not exist in a perpetual state of heightened excitement. You find yourselves falling into patterns.

A pattern is not the same as a rut.

By all means, shake things up a little now and then by trying something new. You can have a date night, go for a spontaneous ride, try a new recipe together; just don't assume the romance is over.

Some people are good about saying, "I love you."  Others are not. Some times we look at the lack of grand romantic gestures and the lack of declarations of love as proof that they don't love as anymore.

Not so fast. Let's just try something before you make any decisions.

Instead of looking for proof that they don't love you--"They never say it anymore." or "They never notice when I dress up."--look for proof that they do.

My husband always puts an extra blanket on me if he gets up before I do in the morning. He does this because he knows I am always cold and because he loves me.  As I was working on this post, he brought me a water because he knows I like to drink at least eight glasses of a day and because he loves me.

Does yours kill spiders for you? Do they change the oil or clean the snow off your car? Do they rub your back when you have trouble sleeping or take the kids outside when you have a headache?  It is because they love you. Before you make any decisions or tell yourself any stories, look for the little things they do just because they love you. You might just be surprised by what you see.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Budgeting Part 2--Things Every Goddess Should Know

In part 1, we discussed figuring out where your money goes. Maybe you made a list of what you spent, or maybe you spent the past month tracking where your money went. You should now have a list in front of you of where your money is going.

Most of your fixed expenses are exactly that--fixed. You have very little control over how much you have to spend on insurance or your rent. You may be able to bring those down by shopping around. You can do some research and find out.

For things like heat or electrical, you can make an effort to turn off lights and unplug seldom used appliances when not in use. If something is plugged in, it still draws some electricity out even when not in use.  Maybe you can turn the thermostat down a couple of degrees and wear a sweater. (Never turn your heat below 55 degrees. You need to be aware that going too cold could be a danger if your water pipes are not insulated. Check with an expert.) You can take shorter showers to reduce the water bill. 

Chances are the most room for change is going to be in your other expenses. Many people have no idea how much they spend on coffee or going out for drinks.  It can be hundreds of dollars every month.  Maybe you should nurse one drink at the bar instead of having three. Maybe you should make your coffee at home a few times a week.  Do you buy lunch out every day at work?  

Try making small changes to how much you spend on these.   If your entertainment costs are high, try checking out a free show or getting passes from your local library. Many libraries have free or discounted passes to museums, aquariums and local spots.  Libraries are also a great source of free DVD and CD rentals. Do you need to see that movie in the theater or can you wait a few months and borrow it for free?   I save hundreds of dollars every year by borrowing books, magazines, movies, CDs and video games from the library.

Groceries are a non fixed expense that usually has room to decrease. Are you throwing out food because it is going bad in the fridge? Do you toss leftovers instead of saving them for the next day?  Most people throw out a lot of food because they don't eat what is in their fridge. Eat leftovers every couple of days. Check out what is for sale at the grocery store and buy what is cheap.  Look into coupons.  Check out store brands; many of them are just as good as the big names.

Use the money you save to pay down debt--see my earlier post on the debt snowball--or put it in savings to work towards something better. The down payment on a house or buying a car are a couple of examples of things you should save towards.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Budgeting Part 1--Things Every Goddess Should Know

Money is a tough subject. It is a huge part of our daily lives. We need it to eat, to have a roof over our heads and to do any number of things. Yes the best things in life are free but we often need money to have the chance to enjoy the rest.

Because money is so important, it is something we need to consider in how we live our lives.   One way to do this is to keep a budget.

The first thing to do is to figure out where your money is going.   Make a list of all of your necessary expenses. For instance,

Car payment
Cell phone
Cable bill
Gas or bus pass
Student Loan

Next make a list of your other expenses. For instance,

Eating out
Coffee -takeout

If you spend a lot in the Entertainment category, you may want to break it down further. Such as movies, going to the bar/club, books, etc.

Use your credit card statements or checking account to figure out where your money is going. If it is not obvious, then it is time to do some tracking.  For the next month, write down every penny you spend. Keep your receipts in an envelope. If you don't get a receipt, write what you spend, where and what it was on, on a piece of paper and put that in the envelope. At the end of the month, add it all up and write out what you spent in each category.

Once you know where your money is going, you can figure out where you need to cut back. You will be surprised where some of your money goes. 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Things Every Goddess Should Know About Baking Soda.

Baking soda is the unsung hero of cleaning, health and beauty. Baking soda is available in large boxes for small amounts of money. (It is also available in small containers in the baking aisle but it tends to be more expensive there.)   Baking soda is a cheap thing to keep in your house and it has a myriad of uses. Do not confuse it with baking powder.

Baking soda and water mixed to make a paste has multiple uses. You can use it on insect bites to stop the itching.  You can use baking soda on your pans to get stuck on food off. With some extra water, it cleans inside the coffee cup or coffee pot. You can wipe grease off your microwave; just rinse thoroughly afterwards. You can use it to scrub crayon off the walls. You can even use it as a teeth whitener.

Baking soda mixed with a little water makes a cheap teeth whitener.  Put a pinch or two of baking soda and add a few drops of water. Mix it together to make a paste. Use it just like toothpaste.  When you are done, rinse your mouth thoroughly. Do this every other night for about two weeks and you will see the difference.

Mix up 1/2 baking soda to 1/2 water and use it as a facial scrub. Rub gently and wash thoroughly. It will cut down the oil and help prevent acne.

Stick a small box of baking soda, slightly open, in your fridge and freezer to deodorize it.

Pour baking soda liberally all over your carpet. The next day, sweep up the worst of it and then vacuum the rest up. It will deodorize your carpet and your vacuum cleaner.

If you have a grease fire in your kitchen, turn off the heat and then put baking soda on it. It will help put out the flames.  Make sure you stand back from the flames and throw the handfuls of baking soda. You don't want to get burned. (Never put water on a grease fire; it will spread the flames.)

Pour baking soda on the bottom of the tray before adding the kitty litter. It will help reduce smells from the litter box.

This is just a small lists of things you can do. Take a few minutes and search the Internet for uses of baking soda. You will be surprised by all the uses out there from putting it in shampoo, to cleaning the toilet to reducing the acidity of your tomato sauce. Of course it is also an ingredient in chocolate chip cookies. For that alone, I love it.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Debt Snowball

Are you trying to figure out how to start paying off your debt?   Looking for a place to start?   Consider the debt snowball.   The basic plan is pretty straight forward.  First make sure you save up either enough money to pay 3 to 6 months worth of bills or a $1000.

Next, make a list of all of your debts.  Be specific and list what you owe to each creditor.   Write it down so you can see it.

Figure out how much extra money you can afford to put on your debt each month. Take that amount of money and put it on your smallest debt. Continue to pay the minimums on your other debts. Never miss a payment!

When you finish paying off your smallest debt, take the money you were sending on that and roll it into the minimum you are already paying on your next smallest debt.  Now apply that full amount to this second smallest debt.  When it is paid off, roll all of that onto your third smallest debt along with the minimum you were already paying there.

It is called a snowball because it gets bigger as it rolls away.  Keep doing this and you can pay down those debts faster than you would think possible.

Many well meaning people will tell you to pay off your highest interest rate first. This is a valid point as it saves you interest charges. However, if you follow the debt snowball, you will keep increasing the amount that is going to pay down principle. This is a wonderful thing for your spirit.  Soon you can say you paid off 1 whole debt, then 2, then 3 loans gone!   Your whole outlook on life is improved by being able to say that.

Give it a try and see what I mean.