Feeling inspired to find success and be anything you want to be

Dreaming big and living well!

Dreaming big and living well!

As a former co-dependent people-pleasing doormat, I was always afraid to take risks and apply for better jobs. Even though I knew there were things I was really good at, I always felt like I wasn’t good enough. At the same time, I saw other people advancing quickly in their careers, and I’d realize that I was just as educated, smart, or talented as they were. The only difference was, they had faith in their abilities and they were not afraid to think they could be more. I never had that level of self-esteem. But since I escaped an abuser, I’ve decided that lots of things are going to change! So while I’m working on my boundaries and self-esteem to find better relationships, I’m also looking at the big picture to find success in my career as well. No longer am I going to feel like I’m not good enough–in love or life!


Think and Grow Rich!: The Original Version, Restored and Revised (TM)
I’ve posted quite a bit about Napoleon Hill’s books and advice for finding success and promoting our abilities. His books have been well-loved for years, and I can see why! One of his chapters is about building our image so people see us as successful…which gives them more faith in our ability to do the job. I’ve been working on that in my own career, but tonight, I see it in “real life.”

I’m doing some research on companies for a friend. All kinds of companies–from health care to massage to interior design to water pumps. And one thing that stands out to me is this: when I go through their websites, they all seem very successful and elite–almost intimidating. They make me feel pretty unsuccessful in comparison…but then I got to thinking. I have no idea how much money these companies and their employees make. I have no idea how well their business is growing. All I know is that the way they portray themselves, the photos they have, their descriptions of their business, etc…make them seem very professional and pretty impressive. They seem like they know what they are doing, and they are good at it. They make the business seem desirable. They SELL themselves. The faith they have in their abilities gives me faith in them as well. (To be clear, Napoleon Hill does not endorse lying, or putting on a false front. This is more about giving a good impression of yourself as someone who can do a good job.)

It reminds that we can be who we want to be and do what we want to do…but we have to have faith in ourselves and show our confidence. I don’t want to be the meek mousy girl who is too shy or too humble or too afraid to let others know that I can do a great job. I don’t want to hide my abilities anymore. I want to share them with confidence and feel good about my talents! And that’s what these companies I’m researching are doing. It’s a good example for the rest of us.

Turning Post-Traumatic Stress into Post-Traumatic Growth

laymileaf1
I learned about a new idea tonight–the theory of Post Traumatic Growth. After going through an extremely abusive relationship, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome. I think my case is “mild,” but it sometimes comes back to me and ruins a day or two with flashbacks and bad dreams. I hate what happened to me, but sometimes I can see that it changed me for the better. I wish I could have changed for the better without being abused, but the events definitely pushed me into realizing I needed to learn to protect myself from predatory people and it inspired me to put more value on myself…and to better take care of myself.

In abuse recovery groups, we often hear cliches telling us that things will become better than before and that we will learn to be stronger and happier after trauma. It sometimes seems very hard to believe, but on good days, I know it’s true. My life, and my treatment of myself has changed dramatically for the better since I escaped from an abuser and said “no more!”


The article I read tonight was based on the book Upside: The New Science of Post-Traumatic Growth
When I read this article, I could relate. The idea of growing stronger after trauma is not a new idea, but I’m excited and inspired that there are researchers studying it and learning about it. The article notes that, it isn’t the trauma that helps us grow, but instead we grow from our reactions and our thoughts about it.

In that study, participants who went through a period of deliberate rumination, in which they thought deeply about their experience and how best to find a way forward, were more likely to rebound to a better place.

 

 

 

The article mentions that it is important not to get stuck, though. That is something that is hard to avoid for those of us who continue to deal with abusive people. It’s really hard not to focus on how bad things are, when it seems like no change is in sight. I know for me, my head understood how to “get over it” a lot sooner than my heart did. I finally had to make the jump from just understanding how to feel better to actually, actively getting better!

 

Here’s another quote that especially spoke to me:

…in another report, those who felt more depressed after their diagnoses were more likely to say they had made positive changes up to two years later compared with those who found the ordeal less trying.

That’s pretty comforting. Of course we hate going through really rough recovery after domestic abuse, but those of us who have it harder are more likely to make the bigger, better changes. There is light at the end of this tunnel! Sometimes we struggle to believe that we will rebound better than ever, but now there are experts and studies to back us up and gives us information on who recovers better.
Here’s another article on the subject that lists some characteristics of people who grow instead of “breaking.” One of the things that can help you recover better is a good social support system, but here’s an interesting quote:
Support from those who have had your experience can be just as helpful – even if those people are strangers. Back in the day, this takes the form of bereavement groups. Today, it can be a Facebook group or an online community.
This is good to know! Especially for those of us who are estranged from abusive families, or who have watched our abusers fool and take all our friends away from us.
Another thing that can help is “emotional” disclosure. Talking to others is good, but so is writing in a journal or sharing what happened to you. There are more helpful points and ideas, but it all comes down to: we have the power to view our traumas in a productive way and choose the mindset to thrive. Our thoughts control our emotions, and it’s important that WE take our thoughts where we want to go!

Here are a couple other books about Post-Traumatic Growth that sound promising:

 

An overview of my favorite money-making survey sites!

Legitimate ways to make money online!

Legitimate ways to make money online!

I found that working full-time with two little kids and doing everything on my own was leaving me little time to actually live, so in the past couple years, I’ve found ways to survive on part-time hours and still pay my bills…and even have some fun!

I have a number of things I do to earn extra money, including product testing and using survey sites. Depending on how much time I devote, it is not unrealistic to make $5 a day doing the bare minimum in surveys that are mailed to me. If I have an emergency, I do more. (For example, a couple weeks ago, I had a pipe burst under my kitchen, and I didn’t have enough money to cover the repair. I got online and started taking surveys!) It’s not a lot, but it helps. I can’t count the times that cashing out on a survey site has rescued me from a financial bind or helped me make the last few dollars to pay a bill.

People often ask me about what sites I use, and I’m glad to tell! But, I’ve been doing this for over a year now, so I’m really familiar with the sites and the ways to optimize my earnings. For a newbie, it’s probably completely overwhelming. So, I decided to post a basic overview of the sites I use, how they pay, and how much you can earn. I would recommend starting with a small number of sites at first, then adding more when you get used to them. When you first start doing surveys, you will earn a lot faster at first, because all of the surveys will be new. After a while, the old surveys are all done, and you just get the new ones in your e-mail. At that point, it’s easier to start adding other sites. These days, I just try every survey that comes in my e-mail, because sites usually only send you the best options. If I need to make money more quickly, I can always go to my favorites sites and look for more surveys.

Some sites will allow you to put in a bit of time and earn more quickly, while other sites take just a few minutes a day to earn slowly. Still, I take the couple minutes it takes on the slower sites, because they do add up–especially if you use a bunch of sites at once.


Soo…..here’s part of my list:

Inbox Dollars: This was the first site I joined, and I still use it, (and cash out,) regularly. I would suggest starting here, because Inbox Dollars pays you for using their links to join other survey sites. (Hint: That’s a very easy way to hit your first pay out. Many times, you will earn $1 or more just for signing up for another survey site through Inbox Dollars. Plus, you can then make money on those sites, too!) Their rewards are paid in dollar amounts instead of points, so it’s easy to keep track of your balance. You have to earn at least $30 to cash out, then when you try to cash out, you get a prompt to earn to $40 and save on the processing fee…so I do that. I cashed out my first $40 after two weeks! This site has more than just surveys. There are plenty of free offers, as well as offers to earn points on purchases, and more. Plus, for every survey you attempt, you get a spin on the Spin and Win wheel which often awards prizes like a bonus 5 cents, a bonus dollar or a bonus five dollars.  Once you’ve used all the initial offers, it is still easy to maintain about $20 a month in earnings just by taking the surveys they send to your e-mail. If you work harder to do more surveys, $40 a month or more is possible. (I just did that to help pay for my broken pipe.)

Global Test Market: This site is currently my favorite. You have to earn 1000 points to cash out–and it’s possible to do that in a month or less. I usually save up a bit more because the payout options don’t add up to exactly 1000 points. For example, at 240 points, you can get $10 in a Paypal payment. For 220 points, you can $10 in a gift card, (I always choose Amazon!) The average survey pays 30 points and takes 5-10 minutes. The surveys are plentiful, and it’s easy to surf through and finish several surveys a night. It is not hard to reach your first 1000+ points in a month and get $40-$50 in rewards.
Also, some of GTM’s surveys are screeners to find people to test products at home. I have tested a bunch of different products–things I would actually buy–which has saved me quite a bit of money on home goods and toiletries. Plus, some of these products are really good, so I enjoy them!

Mintvine: This is another site with plenty of surveys, (plus points for taking a daily poll or being rejected for a survey.) It is easy to earn points very quickly. Their point system is pretty easy–1000 points is $10 worth of credit. You can get gift cards or Paypal, but you have to have at least 1000 points first. It is not hard to get to the first payout, especially since there are several new member bonus options. I would say it is possible to earn $20 a month on this site if you take all your options. The most I’ve earned was $40 in one month.

Swagbucks: This isn’t really just a survey site, although there are survey options. I usually don’t even take many surveys there, unless I’ve used up my other ways to earn points. This site pays in gift cards based on points. You can cash out as little as $3 for 300 points. On this site, I make points by watching videos, watching ads, interacting with ads, taking short polls, and more. Each day, Swagbucks assigns you a point goal, and if you hit the goal, you get a bonus. I always try to hit the smallest goal at least. That is about 30-50 points a day to get a 10% bonus. It’s not hard to get there with very little effort. In fact, since Swagbucks randomly rewards you for using their search engine, you might get 15 points for just one search! The more you search, the more you can earn. I’ve have earned as much as 300 points in one day just by doing easy things. Typically, I hit around 50–which equals out to about $15 a month. If you do surveys, it adds up a lot faster.


In my experience, this is a good start to making some extra money online. I will continue posting some more overviews soon!

Don’t be the grump that scares people away

Surround yourself with beauty!

Surround yourself with beauty!

It’s easy to get caught up in a bad mood, a bad day, a bad life…and get grumpy about everything. It may make sense to you, but consider how it sounds to other people! There is a grump in my office who is just so grumpy, I groan and want to get away every time I see her! I’ll call her Frieda.

Frieda’s desk is close enough to mine that I can hear her very clearly throughout the day. And do you know what I hear? Her being grumpy, short, cold, and rude when she’s on the phone with our clients. Sometimes I am shocked at how rude she is! She is so grumpy, she ends up arguing with them–unnecessarily, because if she wasn’t being so mean, they wouldn’t respond defensively. I hate sitting near Frieda. I take care to always use a soft, calm, and polite tone with clients. I find that works much better than pissing them off ;) But then I hear Frieda being harsh and grumpy and sometimes I end up mumbling under my breath, “geez, stop being a jerk.”

I also hear Frieda grumping and trashing our co-workers. She’ll look at someone else’s work and nitpick everything she thinks is wrong with it. She will grumble to the person who sits next to her about how awful so-and-so is, and how they always mess things up. I’m still pretty new to the company, and I’ve had the delight of hearing her discuss ME while complaining about those idiot new people. Oh how pleasant…. NOT! Hellloooo, Frieda! I can HEAR you trashing me. How about a bit of empathy for the newbie who still has a ton to learn? Or…get this. Maybe I am not doing anything wrong and you are just a grump who thinks everyone should do things your way?

So I have to sit there listening to Frieda being mean to clients, gossiping about co-workers, oh…and grumbling about our supervisors. And I wonder, (since Frieda is married,) how really miserable her husband must be because I have never heard her say anything nice.

We recently had a day for charity fundraising that included some games to play in between doing work. Because of it, we received e-mails from our Human Resources department to help us play along. Most people thought it was fun, and a nice break from the stress…but not Frieda. She grumbled and grumped about all those annoying e-mails and how stupid the games were. She complained that the HR department was wasting time and needed to get back to work. She grouched that she was going to send a letter to the CEO about how pointless and wasteful the games were.

I had to bite my tongue after hearing a whole day of her being a grump.

I wonder if she has any clue how mean and awful she sounds? Or how all of her complaining and attacking makes other people see her? She must have *some* good qualities, (since her husband hasn’t run away from home!) But…all we hear is the negative all day. It’s so depressing, I’ve considered asking to move to another spot in the office. I don’t want to hear her being mean all day. I want to be in a positive mood at work, and I want to do a good job, and be fair to everyone else! But Frieda is quite frankly…a drag.

Don’t be a Frieda!

Change Your Words, Change Your Life: Understanding the Power of Every Word You Speak

Recently, I read a book that was filled with wisdom about the power of our words to make or break our reputations, make or break our moods, and to make or break our relationships. Maybe I should silently donate a copy to Frieda ;)

She might be a fun and interesting person, but all I know is that she sounds like a meanie. It’s something to consider for all of us. When we think we are venting, (not that there’s anything wrong with that,) are we going overboard? Are we making our entire world gray and dreary? Are we scaring people and opportunities away from us? Are we destroying workplace morale? Do our moods spiral downward as we focus more and more and more on negativity all day? Who knows what damage is done by a big mouth and a bad attitude!

I know from time to time, I get into these modes, and now I realize with horror…I hope I don’t sound like Frieda! Like the title of the book tells us, your words can change your life. I enjoyed the book a lot, and have been making an effort to remember the good advice in it. Listening to Frieda has inspired me to be even more careful about how I talk because I don’t want to make people feel the way Frieda makes me feel.

Seeing the signs and avoiding a potential predator

Gaining the confidence and skills to discourage predators

Gaining the confidence and skills to discourage predators

As a former doormat with terrible boundaries and a fear of saying “no,” I have often found that predators and creepers like to push boundaries with me. I have been bad at saying no because I try to be polite and avoid their yucky comments instead of being bold and stopping them. I’ve been a magnet for predatory people because I was an easy target.

Recently, someone that I believe is going to prove to be bad news has been trying some typical narcissistic games/predatory moves on me. In the past, I might have fallen for some of them, but this time, my red flag detectors are working! I wanted to share my observations of warning signs because what I’m seeing is pretty typical of the way a narcissist will cozy up to a vulnerable person. Although I have come a long way, I still have a lot of weak spots that probably look fun and inviting to toxic people.

First of all, this person tried to find common ground with me based on the fact that we are both estranged from our mothers. He kept complimenting me on my strength. Well, as someone who has struggled with a narcissist mother all my life, this tactic has almost always worked on me. I’ve always been glad to hear from others in the same situation. Sometimes they are sincere, and sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes it’s a creeper trying to connect on a more personal and intimate level. At first, I responded to this person eagerly because I love to connect and discuss. But, he barely responded. When he did, he started complimenting me again. Uh oh. He brought up the toxic mother commonality, but didn’t really have anything to say about it. Does he really have a narc mom?

This isn’t a sign on its own, but it is not unusual for a predator/narcissist to play victim and try to relate to a real victim/survivor. We want to trust others who share our stories, but unfortunately, our desire to find others who can relate also opens us to more narcissists. I am aware that this person is married, and has been for a long time. So…I put up my warning boundaries and kept the conversation pretty neutral. I will discuss narcissistic parents, but we don’t need to discuss how smart, strong, or cute I am. Uggh.

Second sign: This person continued to compliment me. Compliments are nice! But when overdone, they get a bit uncomfortable. Why is this person bombing me with praise? And how come every time I divert to a conversation, it comes back to these superficial compliments? Hmmm…. I feel like this person wants something from me…but it’s not a good chat! I don’t want a married man being so friendly with me.

Although I am not pursuing a relationship with this person, it is still common for narcissists and predatory types to “love bomb” a new target with all kinds of admiration. We all like to be praised, and it’s easy to be blinded by praise from someone with not-so-good intentions.

The third sign was the clincher. He started trying to triangulate between myself and another single woman who has a lot in common with me. He started telling me she seemed very jealous of the fact that he talked to me and “liked” my comments on Facebook. Oh no. I am not interested in this person, and he’s not going to get me interested by trying to make me jealous of another woman. I am not competing for him! He persisted in telling me that the woman was very jealous and that she was starting to act crazy. This is quite bizarre, because he and I are not heading anywhere near a relationship. I’m barely talking to him and I’m trying to keep things light and neutral. There isn’t anything for anyone to be jealous of!

It is common for a narcissist to try to make a potential target jealous by pretending they are in high demand. It’s human nature to want what others want, and it makes the predator seem more special and valuable. Subconsciously, it makes us more likely to want them.

Fourth: After talking to this person off and on, he suddenly tells me his divorce will be final THIS week. Surprise! That’s weird. His Facebook status shows married to his wife. No separation, no fighting…just married. There’s a big smiley picture of her! I already know to be wary of men who claim they are going to get divorced some day. They aren’t divorced until they actually are, but predatory types will keep a woman on the hook by promising they are going to file any day now.

Actions speak louder than words. Predators tell us all kinds of stories, but we can only believe what they SHOW us.

Finally, this person told me that the “other” woman had blocked him on Facebook and that he was sorry he’d trusted her. He then told me he hoped I would still be a friend to him because he’s going through a rough time.

Do you see the red flags waving and the flashing lights going off!?

A narcissist will always say the other person is “crazy” when the other person places a boundary and tries to get away. They will also play victim and seek your comfort.

Now, if I’d seen just one of these signs, or even two, I might not want to jump to conclusions, but my conversations with this person are heading straight into uh uh, no no no territory. There are too many weird stories, there is too much triangulation and there is…a wife. Ahem. I will be keeping my distance.

Be careful out there and make sure to be alert when it comes to detecting creepers!

This is a mild story since I wasn’t even contemplating dating this guy, but if you are interested, I have an eBook about big red flags of narcissism in dating relationships. Been there. Done that!

A Woman’s Guide to Detecting Narcissistic Men: Thirty Tips for Recognizing a Potential Predator

Enjoying life and finding hope through daydreaming

Dreaming big and living well!

Dreaming big and living well!

I have a confession to make: I’m a 30-something adult with a big crush on someone! And, even though it’s nothing more than me daydreaming, it brings fun and hope into my life. It puts me in a good mood and makes me want to be and feel pretty. It makes me want to listen to romantic music and smile.

It’s not even a realistic crush, but the daydreaming is like a form of meditation. I sit and let my thoughts drift off so I can think about pleasant scenes and forget my daily stress for a while. It’s like a mental vacation, (with a cute guy ;)) So, today I did some searching online about the value of daydreaming. I found a lot of technical articles about how letting your mind wander can lead to big ideas and inventions, but I also found another shorter article about how daydreams give us hope. I could really relate to several of the ideas in this post:

Wishing and Hoping and Daydreaming

To quote the author, Amy Fries:

We daydream for a variety of reasons, and one reason is they give us hope and help get us through the rough and boring patches of life. This isn’t a small thing. All of us face our challenging days, and without the capacity to envision a brighter future or new goals, life would be bleak indeed.

 

That is how I feel. I like the idea that daydreams empower us even when we aren’t at the best spot in our lives. They keep us hopeful and that is important to keep going.

Another quote from the article spoke to me in particular:
While the relationship between daydreams and depression isn’t entirely clear, there are some theories that depression is marked by a lack of daydreaming–in other words, when depressed, we lose our ability to daydream in ways that boost us when feeling low or amuse us when tired or bored.

I’ve always been a dreamer. I was an avid reader as a kid, and I was always staring out windows, (and getting in trouble in school,) because my head was figuratively in the clouds. I loved making up stories and daydreaming about my future. Like many girls, I used to daydream about growing up and marrying a prince charming. I remember when I married my first abusive spouse, I was desperately in love, (or so I thought.) When he started being controlling and critical every day, my daydreaming stopped abruptly. It was like the horror of finding out all my daydreams were wrong killed my hope for the future. I remember telling my therapist that I didn’t daydream anymore. I just had a very gray and bleak vision of what life was going to be like with that man.

When I realized I no longer daydreamed, I felt sad. It was like a part of me had changed and lost my wistful positivity. It was like losing a part of my personality.

But, not forever! I am feeling much more like my old self these days. Even though nothing especially exciting is going on in my life, I feel alive, pretty, hopeful, confident…and like dreaming again. It’s a great feeling!

Daydreams at Work: Wake Up Your Creative Powers
And there is science to back up the benefits of letting your mind wander and take a break…. For example: research shows that when we give our brains a break, our brains have a chance to process things we’ve been learning and we can remember things better.

Daydreaming also correlates with better working memory.

I also found articles that say daydreaming increases happiness and hope, it enhances productivity, it can help build empathy and more.

If nothing else, I know that drifting away into fantasy land gives me a welcome break and helps me think of the good things I’d like to add to my life. I’m enjoying my crush ;)

Taking care of yourself as a single mom when you have no support

“I restore myself when I’m alone.” Marilyn Monroe
Like many women, I am a single mom. Like not as many women, I have absolutely no family to back me up during emergencies, or even on a normal day when I could use a break. I can go months at a time without ever having time for myself. I go to work, then I come home to be a mom. I haven’t even been able to get to the doctor or dentist recently because there is too much going on at all times. Not that I don’t want to be a mom, but I think I’d prefer to be a mom who had a couple hours alone once a month or so! Being a mom is a 24/7 job that takes a lot of physical and emotional strength, and it’s only human–and healthy–to need a break to replenish your inner strength. But…I don’t get one. I don’t have a functional family that I feel safe around, and I don’t have spare money for a baby-sitter. So…I constantly seek ways to pamper myself a little without actually spending time alone.

I know other moms who get girls’ nights out, go to salons for a “me” day, get together with friends, go to movies, and have time to do things for themselves. I’m a little jealous in a sad way, because I know a happy and well-rested mom with a support system can be a better mom, (or at least it’s easier to be a good mom when you have back-up!) Sometimes I worry that my kids aren’t getting as good of a childhood because they don’t have the support of a bigger family, and because it’s all on ME to make sure they turn out okay. Yikes! So, I make an effort to find replenishment in little ways that help me stay peaceful and strong.

Recently I saw another parent looking for ways to get a break without actually getting away, (and that one wasn’t even single!) so I know I’m not the only one. What are some ways to get a few minutes for you when you can’t leave your home or your children?

Here are some of mine:
1. Buy a new bottle of fingernail polish, then paint my nails. I get to feel pretty at work the next day!
2. Stay up late to watch a movie or show I like after the kids go to bed. (Then daydream about the leading man ;) )
3. Take an extra few minutes to use my favorite lotion and massage my feet.
4. Eat some fattening food and enjoy it without feeling guilty.
5. Listen to my favorite music, (through my ear phones,) after the kids sleep.
6. Repeat the song I like best over and over until I have heard it as much as I want to!
7. Look through humorous websites until I’m laughing.
8. Look at happy photos from my photo albums.
9. Waste time doing nothing…without feeling guilty.
10. Chat with a friend by phone or online.

And of course…read and write blogs!

Having strong boundaries and dating deal breakers–and sticking to them!

laymitrustgiftglowinghands I was thinking earlier about dating and how some people have very strict guidelines for what they want in a relationship. Sometimes we call them deal breakers….

In my own experience, I have an ideal in mind. I know that there are certain qualities that are essential to me. BUT, in the past, I have almost always let them slide. I have dated too many people who weren’t a good match for me, and I knew it from the start. Maybe there was something they did that I found ethically unacceptable, or a belief they held that I thought was really awful, or any other personality trait. Knowing that something made me uncomfortable, I’d still date someone that I knew wasn’t a good match. Why? I always thought I was being very open-minded and I was great at compromising. How about…I wasn’t being true to the qualities that mattered to me? I’m not talking about a cute butt or nice wavy hair, but about core religious or political values, life goals…things that matter.

I’ve always been super shy, so I was just so glad that someone wanted to date me, that I never stopped to wait for someone who was more my type! On the other hand, I know people who will refuse to start a relationship when they know there is a deal breaker. I just turned fuzzy and waived what should have been deal breakers for me, but people who have stronger self-esteem, more patience, and more respect for themselves seem to be better at making choices that will enhance their lives in the long run.

There’s something to be said for giving everyone a chance, but there’s also something to be said for holding strong to the qualities that are very important to us. That’s a lesson I’ve had to learn–very painfully–in life.

I know my tendency to “over compromise” and to be very long-suffering has a lot to do with my having dated more than one abusive man. If one of them did something that would scare away a girl with more sense, I’d just ignore it and keep trying to make the relationship good. Lost cause!

I am learning to be the woman who says “that is not good for me, and it’s not what I’m looking for in a relationship” when it’s obvious that the relationship is not going to go well.

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