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Archive for July, 2011

I never thought much about role models and their importance. But, the idea seems to make sense. Role models are people who can guide us with our life experiences and inspire us to be the people we want to be.

When looking for role models, start with this process:

  • Have a clear vision of what you are looking for? What do you need right now? Where do you want to go?
  • Think of people you admire professionally and personally. To find someone, you can talk to friends, co-workers, boss, and HR department for suggestions. Moreover, you can contact people you have read about and see if they are able to be a role model or look for retired professionals in the field you are interested in.
  • Meet the potential role models and see if there is a good fit.
  • Setup times to meet regularly. It is important to set clear expectations regarding time commitment, confidentiality, expectations, and how to meet i.e. in person or via phone.

If the person you admire is someone famous that you will not have access to. You can still learn about their success, backgrounds, and motivations through articles and books. Some people I’m interested in reading about include: Anita Roddick, Paul Hawken, Diane Sawyer, and JK Rowlings. Who do you admire? I’d love to add to my list!

I wish you luck in finding a role model. Have a great day.

 

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With everything going on in life, I realize that is too easy for me to be “negative” about things. It’s easier to be annoyed by leaking windows, annoying traffic jam, or disorganized cupboards than to mindfully focus on feelings of gratitude. According to Wikipedia, gratitude, is thankfulness, gratefulness, or appreciation. It is a positive emotion or attitude in acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive.

In order to feel grateful, it is good to focus on the positive things in life. There are many ways to incorporate into your life. Some ideas include having a notebook filled with positive quotes, creating a photobook of a fun trip to remind of happy memories, or identifying positive role models and friends. 

Here are some quotes that I wrote down last year.

  • “An attitude of gratitude is the secret weapon of the truly wealthy.”
  • “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to drawback, always ineffectiveness.”
  • “Stop wasting time and energy imagining problems that haven’t occurred yet.”
  • “Stay focused on ultimate goal.”
  • “Read something everyday that no one else is reading.”
  • “Support the industry that you intend to be a part of.”
  • “Guard your time and be certain that you aren’t spending it in ways that are counterproductive.”
  • “Dreams have to be watered and fertilized and nurtured and protected with faith before you can see visible evidence.”

Here is a small list of my gratitudes. Here goes: my relative good health, my ability to play sports, my good friends who support me even though I’m sometimes not the easiest to get along with, my mom who tries to help when she can, ability to enjoy good food, sunshine, internet so I can keep in touch with the world and google about things I’m interested in, music that fills my soul, the library so I can borrow tons of books and magazines and be filled with creative ideas, fresh flowers and flowers in the garden, beautiful home where I feel safe and happy, my child who teaches me everyday the joy of living, my desk area where I have a permanent place to write, pay bills, and just be. 

my haven, my desk with my books, notebook, fresh flowers, and vision board

 Love to hear how you  incorporate gratitude in your daily living. Have a wonderful day!

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In talking with some friends, I realized there was many type of insurance policies one can get.  Did you know? I’m sure I haven’t capture them all. So, if you have more, please send them my way!

  • Car – legally required to get
  • Homeowner’s or Renter’s – this includes fire but not earthquake and covers theft and third-party injuries
  • Earthquake– get seismic inspection to help you decide if you are on the fence. some states have this coverage so look into before buying
  • Flood – depends on whether you live in flood zone
  • Health, Dental, Vision – buy through company or look at ehealthinsurance.com for best rates
  • Life , Long-term disability – buy through company which you can take over when you leave job or look for privately i.e. New York Life
  • Umbrella – provides extra coverage when your insurance coverage is maxed out i.e.  if you are at fault for an auto accident and the other party sues you for more than your auto coverage allows for (which is not much at all) then they can sue your personal assets. Umbrella covers the ‘extra’. Usually, up to $2M
  • Legal – companies like Prepaid legal provides legal assistance when you need it but there are restrictions  

When looking at insurance, ask about bundling and education discounts. Sometimes, they can give discounts for things like car insurance if you take a driving education class or do not drive very often.

Hope this helps! I’m going to review some of these and see if I need to supplement my current coverage. Lots to think about.

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Does your personal finances stress you out? Or, do you avoid thinking about them?

I hate dealing with money and am not terribly interested. But, I realized that I cannot afford not to pay attention to my finances. I need to have the courage to manage them. I’m going to share my story and hope that it inspires you to start. I’m far from where I want to be and my goal is to be financially savvy. I want Suze Orman to say to me “A+”.

About 2 years ago, I found myself not working and choose to be a stay at home mom. Suddenly, I had to rely on someone else’s money to survive and it was not a great feeling. Since I was in high school, I have always worked either part-time or fulltime and I was good about saving my money. Thus, I never worried too much about money.  I thought we were good about our money. We used my salary to pay household bills and we used his as our savings account.  But, things changed unexpectedly and I realized my bank account at one point almost reached zero. It was quite a humbling experience.

Luckily, in the midst of all the chaos, my mom was a lifesaver. She gathered all my receipts and created an excel spreadsheet and began inputting my expenses. I was luck that I had collected most of my receipts so I had a history of what we spent money on. With the information, I was able to figure out how much we were spending and how much we needed to survive. In my spreadsheet, I have 6 worksheets (Summary, Income, House, Personal, Household, Transport) and within each spreadsheet I had categories to track the expenses by month. For example, under Household, I had Groceries, Household, Utilities, Meals, Other, Babysitter). If you prefer something already created, some people use Quicken or Mint to track their personal finances. To help me track my receipts, I purchased a pretty box which I place all my receipts into and when I have a free moment, I’ll sit down and input the receipts. For some reason, this works for me. Some people like tracking everything via credit card statements but I find that sometimes I use cash or check so not everything is captured. When I first started, I noticed my grocery bill was huge but I realized that my purchases at Costco were throwing it off. To remedy the situation, another mom suggested that I separate my bill into categories and pay for them separately. i.e.  food, household, clothing. I thought this was ingenious.

After I gathered all my expenses and had a total. I did not know what to do with my expenses.  Was I on track? So, I asked two of my good friends for their monthly budgets and began to create my own budget. My budget now has these items:

  • Mortgage or Rent
  • Property Tax
  • Homeowner Insurance
  • Car Payment
  • Car Insurance
  • AAA road insurance
  • Car Registration
  • Auto Care (i.e. gas change, etc)
  • TV&Internet
  • Water
  • Cell phone
  • Trash
  • Electricity
  • Healthcare insurance and visit
  • Dental care insurance and visits
  • Life insurance
  • 529 Fund
  • Retirement
  • Gas
  • Groceries
  • Household expense
  • Child expenses
  • Childcare
  • Credit card (misc)
  • Cash (misc)
  • Gifts
  • School

It is important to have a sense of how much you can afford. Sounds silly but we need to spend less than we earn. I struggle sometimes because I want to buy things for my family. So, I’m starting to develop new habits so we can spend less and be content with what we have. I actively try to donate or sell what we do not use. We also give friends handme downs and/or homemade gifts. And, when possible we buy second-hand We love treasure hunting at flea markets and garage sales. We welcome hand-me downs so please pass them our way. The process has been empowering and I love that we are more green and at the same time saving money!

Now, what if you have lots of debt? It is important to be diligent about changing your habits and start paying down your debt. I came across 2 shows, Til Debt Do Us Part and Behold the Princess,  hosted by by GAIL VAZ-OXLADE on CNBC at 10pm on Saturday nights. Gail provides practical ways to start managing your debt.

I have started the process of owning my finances and my next step is to see if I am being financial smart. There are so many things that you can do but which ones make sense? I need to do some reading and planning so will update you guys in Part 2.  In the meantime, please share your tips for tracking  and cutting expenses!

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In the readings I’ve done and in talking to happy people, happiness seems boils down to one key ingredient which is passion. It is important to find something you love and can easily spend hours on it without it being a chore. When working on a project, ask you yourself, does time pass by too quickly? If so, you might have a winner!

Over the years, I have developed a bucket list of things I always wanted to do.  And, I decide that this summer, I would try a few of them out and see which ones I loved doing. I have to say that it has been a great feeling to try new things … there is excitement of learning something new and the joy of accomplishing something I’ve dreamed about.  Of course, along the way, I’ve realized that I’m not as passionate about somethings. It did  not bring me as much enjoy as I thought it would. My biggest take-away so far is that when you have an interest, the passion about it is what brings happiness. Once you start a hobby, it is just the beginning. It is something to work on and something to look forward to. And, it’s ok to keep looking for new hobbies, this is what keeps life interesting.

So, to encourage you to find your passion, I’m going to share  some what I’ve been working on this summer!

Creative Outlet:

  • alittle journal is one of the things I have discovered I love working on. The blog gives me a way to journal and reflect my thoughts. It has and is still motivating me to learn new technologies and reach out to friends to ask for help.  My friend, Rachelle, at Tinkerlab, was so kind to sit down with me and give me a few tips. She gave me some encouragement and I’m really grateful. I’m excited to see how the blog turns out and look forward to hearing everyone comments.
  • Photography is one of the skills I really wanted to learn. I took a 3 day course at the Rec center and had high hopes of taking fantastic photos. Sadly, I’m only a little better. I realized that this was going to require more commitment,  tools (equipment, camera books, more classes) and practice.  When I have more time and money, I hope to continue but for now, I’m going to take simple photos and dream about the day they look fabulous!

Physical:

  • Walking 1/2 hour everyday is a habit I recently picked up. I set 2 reminders on my phone so I would do it. It took a few days to get into it, but I now look forward to it. The walk gave me a chance to clear my mind, enjoy the outdoors, and energize my body with positive endorphins and sunshine (vitamin d). My friend Christina said walking 1/2 hour is similar to taking  one prozac. Interesting! Regardless, it aslo feels good to accomplish a goal I set out to do.  
  • Tennis is a group class I have been attending for the last 6 weeks and it has been great to learn a new sport and meet people who like the same thing. It looks like a simple game but I have been getting a great physical and mental workout. I realized that you need to be focused when you play. You need to think  about where the ball will land and how you hit it (forehand, backhand, lob, etc).  In order to stay young at heart, tennis is a great way to engage the mind and body.

Cooking:

  • Cake decorating is class my friend Dana took. She is a super talented cook and baker. I was so impressed by her cake for my son’s 4th birthday that I was inspired to take the same class. I had simple goals – learn how to decorate cookies and cupcakes.  I’m happy to say that I’ve done just this 🙂 Don’t worry, I’m not planning to be Martha Stewart, I’m not that good yet!

Yummy cupcakes

Cookies ... mmmm

 

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With my quest for happiness, I realized that good sleep was a huge factor in whether or not it was going to be a good or so so day. So, I was curious how many hours do I need and when is a good time to go to bed and wake up? I looked online and posted  on my mom’s group and the responses weren’t surprising but it was refreshing to know that I’m not alone. It seems everyone is suffering  from lack of sleep. Sleep seems to be first thing that goes when we get busy.

The experts say 7 to 8 hours is what most people need. Too little and too much can have health consequences. Who thought too much would could hurt us!

To achieve good sleep, these were tips were recommended:

  • Establish consistent sleep and wake schedules, even on weekends
  • Create a regular, relaxing bedtime routine such as soaking in a hot bath or listening to soothing music – begin an hour or more before the time you expect to fall asleep
  • Create a sleep-conducive environment that is dark, quiet, comfortable and cool
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress and pillows
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep (avoid watching TV, using a computer or reading in bed)
  • Finish eating at least 2-3 hours before your regular bedtime
  • Exercise regularly during the day or at least a few hours before bedtime
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol products close to bedtime and give up smoking

So, I’m trying to turn over a new leaf today. I’m going to choose 3  of these suggested things (slightly modified) and see if I’m able to get better sleep.

Goal 1) Go to bed by 10:30pm, wake up 6:30am.

Goal 2) No more late night snacks. Bye Bye.

Goal 3) At least 1/2 hour before bed, start winding down by reading book or journaling (I’m going to do in bed even though it is a no no …)

Wish me luck! Let me know what you do to get good sleep? I’d love to hear your suggestions!

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So, part of my happiness I realize comes from helping others. So, I decided to become a Block Preparedness Coordinator for my block. The goal is to be “eyes” and “ears” within the neighborhood during an emergency. During an emergency, I will help to communicate and bring in help for critical situations. To be honest, it is a little out of my comfort zone as I’m new to my neighborhood and I have never done something like this. But, I’m pushing myself to think about the bigger picture. If I can help neighbors meet and interact, the neighborhood will be safer and will be an even more wonderful place to live.

Since the training, I started collecting emergency supplies and was feeling pretty good about things until I attended the crime safety meeting last night. I realized that I was not as prepared as I thought. There was more to do. There were some things I never even thought of. I realized that I needed a list because many people I knew where not prepared. So, here go at my first attempt:

Supplies:

1) Candles

2) Waterproof matches and Fire lighter

3) Flashlight

4) Lithium batteries (these last longer than normal batteries) and/or precharged batteries

5) Gloves

6) First Aid kit – bandages, anti-bacterial ointment, rubbing alcohol, latex gloves (at least 2), sanitizer, gauze, tape, masks, tweezers

7) Sewing kit

8) Hand towel, napkins, toilet paper

9) Solar crank radio/flashlight (American Red Cross makes a good one) set to 90.1 FM or 106.9FM/740AM (I also label mine with this info)

10) Medicine (anything you might need, aspirin, anti-diarrhea, vitamins, etc)

11) Water (3 day supply I got some small bottles which I rotate for shelf life reasons and I got water purification tablets at sporting store)

12) Food: (Canned goods and Can opener, Rice/Spaghetti, Nuts, Seaweed, Peanut Butter/Jelly – basically things that could last a while)

13) Plastic Plates/Cups/Utensils 14) Foil, Plastic bags/garbage bags

15) Whistle

16) Rope

17) Pocket knife, tool kit

18) A pair of shoes, a set of clothes

19) Feminine supplies, soap, shampoo

20) Insect repellant

21) Cash – Small bills/quarters

To be honest, this is not a complete list of things everything but I think it is a good start. I have been collecting most of these items but I still need to get a few more items. It takes time. To begin, start with things around house and gather them in one place. Get some extra bags and plastic bins to put the items into. Locate where you want to put the items. I put food /first aid things in a plastic container that can be moved out but during a quick emergency leave I have bag with clothes some first aid and copies of important documents/USB with digital copies in an old diaper bag near garage. Also, I have extra booster seat and sleeping bag ready to go.

Emergency Containers (food, first aid, batteries, lighters, etc)

Emergency Bag, Extra Bag of Clothes, Sleeping bag

For your important documents (passport, birth/marriage certificate, wills/trusts, bank account and credit card numbers, etc). Make copies of everything (I made at least 3, one to keep, one for emergency bag, one for family). For my copy, I put everything in fire proof safe. I also had everything scanned onto CDs/USBs (3 copies of these). I also took digital photos of house and scanned onto CDs/USBs. This will help with homeowner’s insurance.

Under your bed, it might be good to put a flashlight, whistle, and a pair of shoes/socks (in a box). I just learned about this last night. Still need to implement. They say many disasters can happen when you are sleeping so you need to be able to get out easily and safety. At night, it can be scary to walk around if there might be glass or other debris on floor but you can’t see and are barefoot.

I know how overwhelming this can be. Trust me. I’m a bit overwhelmed too. But, it is important to start to be prepared for the next disaster. We saw how prepared Japan was and the people were still ill prepared for the devastation. It gives me piece of mind if I have 80% of these things. Please take a little bit time to get started. Like, I said, start with things around the house. We all have lots of extras stuff i.e. travel soa/lotions, extra clothes we don’t wear, supplies around the house. Take the time to collect them and put into bags/containers and most importantly in an easy area to access. And, don’t forget to tell people in your family about this! They need to know otherwise if you aren’t home, they won’t know to take the bags/containers 🙂

Be Safe and Prepared.

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