Monthly Archives: February 2015

Poor Boundaries in Fifty Shades of Grey

Click here to purchase Fifty Shades of Grey

So, like many other women, (and probably men too!) I read Fifty Shades of Grey. I can absolutely see why it might seem sexy and romantic. Who doesn’t want a hot billionaire? But, I was reading it from the point of view of someone who wants to build boundaries for successful, equal relationships, so I found Anastasia Steele’s poor boundaries very frustrating! For those who aren’t familiar, Ana and Christian are the female and male leads. She’s a naive virgin, (well, that is she *was* a virgin,) and he’s a sexy, controlling billionaire. She wants a relationship with him, but he wants to dominate her entire life and practice BDSM without a standard relationship. A lot of people think the situation is abusive–not because of the BDSM, but because of many other issues which include his stalking her, getting jealous of her male friends and invading her space when she tries to take a break to think things over.

What struck me is that throughout this entire book Ana wants Christian to be a different man for her, but because he cannot and will not change, she accepts a lot of things she doesn’t like just to be with him in hopes that he will become the romantic man she really wants and give her a real relationship. How many of us have done that? Stuck with someone that can’t give us what we want because they are so attractive or sexy that we hope they will come around to our points of view? Frankly, that’s a waste of time. It isn’t fair to try to change someone and it’s not fair to ourselves to give up what we want and need for all the wrong reasons. You just can’t love someone enough to turn them into a different person!

Over and over, Ana thinks to herself that Christian is arrogant, controlling, crazy, freaky, abusive, psycho and more. She says he scares her, that she should run from him, and she admits that he is not good for her…but then says she is going to go along with his demands anyway because she’s in love with him. Argghhhh!!! Ladies, if you have been this woman…don’t! Don’t do a bunch of things you don’t want to do with someone you think is crazy just because there’s sexual chemistry. And honestly, that’s about all they have in common in the book. That’s just not enough for a relationship. And who wants a confusing relationship where you are always on the verge of leaving anyway? If you are spending most of your time worrying that your “boyfriend” is a weirdo who doesn’t even want to be your boyfriend, it might be time to find a real boyfriend!

Several times in the book, Ana feels sorry for Christian and feels angry that he was introduced to sex and BDSM as a teenager with an older woman. Ana sees him as a sad, broken victim. Yet another red flag. Relationships shouldn’t be about pitying the other person, trying to fix them or trying to love their inner demons away. That’s more like codependency.

I’ve hung on to people who didn’t want the same things I wanted or who made me miserable with hopes that I could change them or get them to see the light. It doesn’t happen. It’s just wasting your time when you could move along to find the person who does want what you want. (And doesn’t stalk you or sell your car against your wishes!)

All through the book, (even the steamy sex scenes,) I kept wanting to yell “Ana, go find a guy who isn’t broken and wants what you want instead of giving up your emotional needs to fix someone!” Helping people is fine, but relationships should not be fixer-upper situations.

Discipline Without Shouting or Spanking–book review

Discipline without Shouting or Spanking: Practical Solutions to the Most Common Preschool Behavior Problems by Jerry L. Wyckoff Ph.D.and Barbara C. Undell

Click here to purchase Discipline without Shouting or Spanking: Practical Solutions to the Most Common Preschool Behavior Problems

This is a really helpful and insightful book for stressed-out parents of pre-schoolers! It begins with introductions about parenting, why shouting and spanking don’t work, and how to change yourself to be a better parent, among other ideas. I like that they offer scientific studies and research to explain the consequences of spanking, but also research that emphasizes the benefits of more empathetic parenting. They don’t get too far into detail, but they give the basics that a normal person needs to know, and they name where they got the information.

Beyond the introductions, they have a series of chapters on problem issues such as dawdling, talking back, getting out of bed at night, etc…. Each chapter is short and easy to follow, so you can reference it for specific problems. For each issue, they explain ways to prevent the problem and solve the problem, as well as telling what you shouldn’t do. Many of the chapters also end with examples of how other parents solved the same problems. You could read this book all the way through, or if you just want to review certain areas, it doesn’t take long to read a chapter. Personally, I would recommend at least reading all of the introductions that explain the authors’ reasoning, then using the single “problem” chapters as needed, although it wouldn’t hurt to read all the way through just to get more ideas.

The solutions in this book focus on showing and modeling responsible behavior for kids, and explaining why and how they should behave in life. The tips are reasonable, and the authors describe them in ways that make sense and are very convincing. The authors want to develop emotionally intelligent kids and they state that “children who believe they are the masters of their fate, who feel they belong, and who feel competent are more likely to become strong, resilient children and adults.” I like that idea! They aren’t about forcing a child into submission; they are teaching us how to mold a child into a productive, healthy adult. I think they have an excellent point with this quote as well: “In the hierarchy of moral development, as defined by Lawrence Kohlberg, the lowest level is โ€œfollowing rules only to avoid punishment.โ€ The highest level is โ€œfollowing rules because they are right and good.โ€ When parents spank their children for misbehavior, they stop their children at the lowest level of moral development. The children are interested in avoiding the punishment, not in doing what is good or right. ”

Here is the partial list of chapters:

  • Parenthood Is Naturally Problematic
  • The ABCs of Disciplined Parenting
  • Shouting and Spanking Are Counterproductive
  • The Role of Self-Talk
  • The Differences between Boys and Girls
  • The Transition to Elementary School for You and Your Child
  • Milestones of Development
  • Discipline Dictionary
  • Using This Book

After this is an alphabetical list of all the parenting topics–including: messiness, “hyper” activity, name-calling, not wanting to eat and temper tantrums.

The authors emphasize ideas such as: praising your child’s good behavior so it encourages them to repeat it, making clear rules and enforcing the rules consistently. For example, if you don’t set consequences for breaking rules, your kids will learn that they can break the rules, so it is important to follow through. The authors also offer some creative ideas for dealing with power struggles. There is a lot of good, emotionally healthy information in this book! It has me excited and motivated to try some of the ideas with my toddlers ๐Ÿ™‚

Download 1000s of free books–no Kindle needed!

Did you know that Amazon has thousands of free or cheap books that you can download? They are Kindle eBooks, but you do not need to have a Kindle! I tell book lovers this all the time because it’s such a great resource for readers. Amazon lets you download their Kindle reader for free on your computer and you can access all the same books as someone with a Kindle. It’s not a trial. It is an actual program that you get for free and can use as much as you want.

Amazon has thousands of classic books for free. There are also thousands of newer free books on all kinds of topics. Authors who are trying to get exposure will often give away books for free or for very low prices. I have downloaded kids books, science books, math books, self-help books, biographies, novels, cookbooks, home-improvement books and more. I go through every few days and look at the top “sellers” on the free book list to see if any sound good. Here’s a link to the top 100 Free Kindle Books. I have discovered some really enjoyable books this way. I also put normally-priced books on my wish list so I can watch to see if they go cheaper or free, (which is not unusual.)

Of course, even if you aren’t waiting for a bargain, or you want to read a book immediately, you can pay full price and read it right away. I love that feature! Last night I decided to download Fifty Shades of Gray to see what all the fuss was about. I paid $2.99 and had it in under a minute.

So if one night you decide you want to read a book immediately and your library doesn’t have it or the book store is closed, remember you can download the Kindle program for free and get the book you want right away!

Make sure your actions match your words and thoughts

365 Ways to Become a Millionaire: (Without Being Born One) by Brian Koslow
Click here to purchase 365 Ways to Become a Millionaire: (Without Being Born One)
I have this book by my bed and I read a little of it some nights before I go to sleep. It’s not a get rich quick scheme or anything like that. It just offers key qualities that you need to develop to become successful. Even if you don’t want or expect to become a millionaire, they are good characteristics to have. There are 365 short paragraphs with key ideas, so it’s a really good book for reading just a little at a time. I was flipping through the book tonight and just skipping around and realized I really like this quote: “Integrity requires consistency between your public statements and your private thoughts.” (From day 2.)

I like this quote and I’ve seen similar quotes before. But it’s true! Yes, we have to adapt to different situations–I wouldn’t talk to my boss like I’d talk to my best friend, but we should always be the same person through and through. If our thoughts don’t match our public behavior, something is wrong. Do we not really hold the values we think we do? If so, maybe we need to re-evaluate and realize what we really believe. Or perhaps we aren’t living up to the values we do hold. In that case, we need to work on being more true to ourselves.

We can’t shine and become our best selves if we aren’t being true to ourselves!


Building your confidence to sell to yourself and others as well

Click here to purchase Napoleon Hill’s A Year of Growing Rich: 52 Steps to Achieving Life’s Rewards

I have been slowly re-reading Napoleon Hill’s “A Year of Growing Rich.” I try to read a chapter each night before bed to inspire myself to be more successful. Each chapter is short, (and there are 52 chapters that are meant to be read and practiced one per week.) Napoleon Hill is considered a classic author for helping people inspire themselves. His better known book is “Think and Grow Rich.” I have read so many people swear that the book helped them get rich and I know that positive thinking can change one’s life, so I am reading it and telling myself that I WILL grow more successful in life–be it in my career, my relationships or any other area. This book is all about personal power, motivation and finding success!

Tonight’s chapter gave me a good idea and it reminds me of at least one other article I’ve read. It is Week 26–Sell to Yourself.

In this chapter, Hill has two main points. One, if you appear to be successful already, clients will be more likely to trust you and two, if you do something to boost your ego and feel more important, you will project that feeling to people around you. Now, he specifically warns that this idea isn’t about being fake or manipulative, but to quote him, it is to help people “deceive their own egos in order to relieve them of the fear and poverty complexes by which so many people are bound.” (I underlined that section in my book!)

In Hill’s example, one very successful salesman keeps a top-quality set of golf clubs in his car so that his clients see it and think he must really being doing well in life…and must really be good at his job, thus trustworthy. In another example, a salesman wears a very expensive diamond ring that helps him feel more powerful and to project that image. As Hill points out, not everyone will need the same “boost.” Some men might feel silly with a giant diamond ring, but the point is, the illusion of success gives them the ego boost to feel more successful and BE more successful. I guess it’s no different from a woman getting a nice manicure or putting on her sexiest shoes. When we feel good, we project that to the world around us.

Here’s that article I mentioned earlier, (the one that this book chapter made me think of:) “Why Do Poor People ‘Waste’ Money on Luxury Goods?”

I don’t want to open a huge debate about that entire article, but there is one important thing that I really took away from it. I’ll quote the line “there was a price we had to pay to signal to gatekeepers that we were worthy of engaging. It meant dressing well and speaking well.”

I admit, I’m very frugal and usually buy cheaper clothes and shoes, but this article made me think about the image I’m projecting. I’m neat and clean, but do I look like a success? Not really. We might think it’s unfair that this matters, and it is. Why should we have to look richer than we are to be considered for a job? Uggh. But the reality is, even if it’s not reasonable or fair, it does matter. It might be worth the investment to get one really good suit and one designer purse. After reading this article, I went to a thrift store and found a suit jacket from an expensive boutique…with the tags still on it! So you don’t have to go out and spend a lot of money, but do be a smart shopper and dress above “your level” to boost your own ego and to show your potential clients or bosses that you are a star!

The Napoleon Hill book is a great way to end the day ๐Ÿ™‚

Learning about resilience, class and determination from…Legally Blonde

Click here to purchase Legally Blonde

This one is another non-book review. I am in the middle of reading a bunch of interesting books right now, so I’ve been slacking on the reviews; however, it hit me today that I wanted to blog about the merits of this movie!

I discovered this movie on accident a few years ago when it was on TV and I was flipping through the channels. It starts out so silly that I sat there mesmerized and wondering what the heck this was! It is true that on the surface, this initially appears to be a very silly movie about a silly rich girl. I think that’s why I had never bothered to pay attention to it when it was new. But for whatever reason, I caught it on TV one day and kept watching it.

This is actually a really good movie! It’s not a classic or anything, but as I watched it, I was very impressed with the character of Elle Woods. Yes, she seems to be a shallow girl with shallow interests, but if you keep watching, you see that she is loving and loyal and she cares about the people around her. She’s cheerful and upbeat and, she just happens to be blessed with good looks and a great figure, too. But it’s her character qualities that stood out to me. She is the kind of person that we should aim to be more like.

Why? Well, I already mentioned she is loyal and caring, but she’s also determined. She comes up with a goal and she works and works until she succeeds. She doesn’t give up despite the roadblocks. This is a great quality to have! Imagine how much we could all achieve if we pushed and didn’t give up? Good for her!

Next, not only is she cheerful, but she remains even-mannered and polite to the people who hurt her. In the first movie, there is a group of girls that has decided she is just too stupid and blonde to be part of their circle. They treat her poorly and make sure to exclude her and embarrass her. What does she do? She doesn’t sink to their level. She feels hurt, but she puts on her smile and carries on. Again, a great attitude! By refusing to be mean back and by maintaining her thoughtful behavior, she wins their friendship, but more importantly, she shows that she is the bigger person.

Throughout both movies, she continues as a cheerful, determined woman who hits setbacks, but doesn’t let them drag her down, who meets enemies but doesn’t retaliate against them, who refuses to expose her friends’ secrets, and who remembers who her friends are. Hiding underneath this chick flick are some really good life lessons.
I enjoy watching this movie, because I think in many ways Elle Woods is a great role model. (Yes, I did say that!) I always come away smiling, and feeling good and empowered about my future. While I wouldn’t want to be exactly like her, I think we can learn something from her character’s kindness and her determination to succeed–not just how to act, but how to treat others.

Also, I didn’t know this, but there are books too! I found it while I was getting a link for the movie. I have no idea if they are good or not, but they sound fun! I even found a Barbie! Too cute ๐Ÿ™‚

Choose your friends wisely–make sure they build you up!


Your friends are a big influence on you. Choose them wisely!

Your friends are a big influence on you.
Choose them wisely!

I’ve always heard sayings like “choose your friends wisely” or “your friends are a reflection of you.” For the most part, I never really thought about them, but the other day, I saw a situation that helped me realize how important it is to choose friends who help you become a better person rather than friends who drag you down or get you into trouble.

I remember when I was in high-school, I was a goody two-shoes–very quiet and a hard worker, and I never got into trouble. My best friend was a bit of the opposite. At times, when she would get in trouble at school or work, people who didn’t know me would assume maybe I was like her. It almost ruined an after school job for me when she got fired and I was still working for the same company. Our boss assumed I might be a trouble maker as well and started treating me like I was.

Recently, I was friendly with a group of people who shared a common interest in one area, but were very different people in other areas. A couple of them I was really starting to like and was becoming friends with. A couple of them I did not like at all because I found them to be mean. I had a pretty good opinion of one woman in particular because she seemed smart, tactful, and reasonable. Over time, I saw her behaving more and more like one of the meanies in the group as she started joining in their increasing bullying of other members of the group. My opinion of her plummeted and I decided this was not the type of person I wanted to be friends with. I want my life to improve and I don’t think that can happen if I’m hanging out with an adult bully!

Now this lady is probably normally a very nice lady just as I had originally thought, but she was taking on the mean behaviors of another person and sliding backwards in life. As I watched this, (and heard others express similar disappointment in her change,) I realized just how much it matters who you choose as your friends. Not only might you look bad when people associate you with them, but you might starting following their bad influence. These weren’t kids–they were middle-aged adults! Let’s strive to be better people and beware of those who would drag us down. Positive influences only!

The keys to confident and successful public speaking

Let your confidence shine!

Let your confidence shine!

Today I was debating with someone and someone sarcastically commented that I was sooo self-assured about what I was saying. Well, I was. I truly was. I wasn’t just throwing out theories, I was stating something that I know without a doubt is true and could easily be proven. It’s really easy to be self-assured in that case! I was confident about that situation and it’s easier to speak without fear when you are confident that you are right. It reminded me of something I learned in college and how I mastered my intense fear of public speaking.

When I was a kid, I used to hate giving presentations in school. Hated it. I was painfully shy and I would have rather failed a class than give a presentation. I couldn’t sleep and I worried for days, and dreaded the moment my turn came. I’d speak in a terrified, shaky voice and rush through what I had to say. I was normally so quiet at school, those forced presentations might have been the only time anyone heard me speak in class!

Years later, when I went to college for the second time in my mid 20’s, I gave myself a goal that I was going to leave with a 4.0. Well, in college, there are presentations. Gulp. But I wanted all A’s so bad, I knew I needed to master those presentations because they were just going to keep coming. I was still shy and quiet in class, and I remember one professor looking at me with sympathy when I got up to give a presentation on Charles de Gaulle, (fascinating hero, by the way!) Then I nailed that presentation so well that other students congratulated me and the professor told me how well I’d done. Honestly, she looked shocked and kept gushing over how good my presentation was. She looked at me differently after that and I became a favorite student. Whoa…me?!? Well, I wanted it bad enough and I knew I had to do it. That’s one thing I learned. I wanted that A so bad, I made it happen!

The next thing I learned is: Once you do it well, you realize, “hey, I can do this!” and the next time is not so scary. It just got easier and easier. I will always be a shy person, but I can say with confidence, that I can give a good presentation. Which leads to the third thing I learned….

It is easy to be confident when you know what you are talking about. I didn’t nail that presentation because I suddenly became a great public speaker. I succeeded because I went through the information over and over and over until I knew it extremely well and could have talked on and on about Charles de Gaulle. I didn’t even use note cards. I didn’t need to worry about something I’d learned so well it was second nature to me. I started using that pattern for all my presentations in college and later graduate school. Know your topic well!

If you have a fear of public speaking or even speaking your mind in front of smaller groups, just remember–if you know what you are talking about, it’s much easier to be confident. Don’t just memorize a speech. Know your subject so well that you could have a conversation about it. It comes more naturally and it’s less scary when you know that you know what you are doing. And you have to want to do it. When you speak successfully, save that feeling for the future and remind yourself you can do it again.

These days, I feel pretty good talking in front of people. ๐Ÿ™‚

Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder is finally published!

Click here to purchase Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography

This isn’t necessarily a self-help book, (although I have learned many lessons from Laura’s books,) but this is a very special book! Plus, February 7th was the 148th anniversary of Laura’s birth. (She was born in 1867 in Pepin, Wisconsin.) Millions of people have loved the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, (and the same with the show.) They are famous all over the world and I’ve been a huge fan since I was 9 years old. This new book is one I’ve waited for for nearly thirty years! Pioneer Girl was Laura’s first draft and the inspiration for her famous books. She originally wrote one book that was aimed at adults. It did not do well with publishers, so she and her daughter Rose Wilder Lane eventually re-worked into the children’s series that so many of us know and love. Die-hard fans wanted to read Pioneer Girl, though. We wanted to read everything we could! After Laura’s death, Rose donated her papers to the Herbert Hoover library in Iowa, and the only way to get a copy of Pioneer Girl or any of her other original manuscripts was to go there and photo copy each page yourself–paying for their copy machine, or to order it through the mail–paying for the copies plus an extra fee for someone at the library to copy it for you. It got pretty pricey for a pile of copied pages. Even if you did get copies of the pages, you might still long for a published book. Reading a book is so much more rewarding than a pile of papers, don’t you think?

Last year, I read the news that Pioneer Girl was set to be published. FINALLY! This book has been waiting unpublished since the 1930’s, so this is a big deal! I pre-ordered my copy last August and got it about a week ago thanks to high demand. The publishers originally printed 15,000 copies that sold out quickly. They are now on the third printing and people are still waiting for their copies. It’s faster to order one through one of the official Laura sites, but honestly Amazon’s prices are cheaper. I guess it depends on if you want it faster or cheaper. (I chose cheaper. Times are tough and I’ve already been waiting most of my life to read this book….)

It’s well worth the wait and the price! This book is completely annotated with great detail. It’s the size of a college textbook with columns to the side to explain some of the references. You can just read the book as is, or you can reference the notes if something needs more explanation. (A lot of fans are doing both.) The book has a lot of photos and background information. Considering the high price of college textbooks and the fact that this one has just as much information, I think the price is good. If you are a die-hard fan, or you grew up loving the books or the show, this might be a good investment for you. Mine is next to my bed and I pick it up every night before bed. I am so happy that I finally own a copy ๐Ÿ™‚