Single lady

101 Free or Cheap Date Ideas

1. Attend a county fair.
2. Attend a festival of a culture different from yours.
3. Attend a free home improvement class at a big box store.
4. Attend a high school sporting event.
5. Attend a lecture about a lecture you know nothing about.
6. Attend a political rally.
7. Attend a sporting event that isn’t baseball, basketball, football, or hockey.
8. Attend church services at a different denomination.
9. Babysit a friend or family member’s kid.
10. Binge watch a TV series you’ve never seen.
11. Borrow a croquet set and play in the backyard after a few beers.
12. Buy sidewalk chalk and play hopscotch.
13. Camp out in a pup tent in the backyard.
14. Check out a local observatory.
15. Check out free music at local bars or coffeehouses.
16. Do a free/low-cost fitness class.
17. Do as the Europeans: grab a baguette, cheese, fruit, & wine. Enjoy a sunset.
18. Dust off your belt buckle and go to a rodeo.
19. Enjoy some really bad karaoke.
20. Examine cool vintage vehicles at an auto show.
21. Experience a sunrise or sunset together.
22. Explore a new neighborhood or nearby town.
23. Feed geese at the nearest lake.
24. Find a bad movie on Netflix.
25. Find a free movie outside.
26. Find a free music festival.
27. Find bargains at estate sales.
28. Find the most useless kitchen utensil at the culinary store.
29. Fly a kite.
30. Get caught up in the excitement of roller derby.
31. Get free paint samples and then create a collage with them.
32. Get your picture taken with as many statues as you can find in town.
33. Go fishing.
34. Go for a long drive with no particular destination.
35. Go for a picnic.
36. Go mini-golfing.
37. Go on a hike.
38. Go on a photographic excursion. Take pictures of alphabet “letters.”
39. Go to a matinee.
40. Go to a poetry slam at a coffeehouse.
41. Go to open houses for expensive properties.
42. Go to Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods for free samples.

43. Go to Walmart and take a picture to submit to “People of Walmart.”
44. Grab your bowling shoes and hit the lanes.
45. Have a pillow fight.
46. Have a wine tasting at a local vineyard.
47. Hit the batting cages (not literally!).
48. Hit the local farmers’ market.
49. Hit the open mic night at a comedy club.
50. Hit the steepest hill and go sledding. Bonus points for an improvised sled.
51. Hit up some garage sales for a bargain.
52. If you can, find and old-fashioned drive-in movie theatre.
53. If you still have an arcade, play all the two-player games you can.
54. Learn a card trick on YouTube to impress your friends and family.
55. Learn a new board game.
56. Make a board game a strip version of whatever it is.
57. Make a dessert with a fruit you’ve never tried.
58. Make a high schoolers’ day – see a high school drama production.
59. Make a movie with nothing but an iPhone.
60. Make each other brunch.
61. Make scavenger hunts for each other.
62. Make up new constellations with names and backstories.
63. Make your own soap and blow bubbles outside.
64. March in a demonstration for a topic you’re passionate about.
65. Marvel at the beauty of a local butterfly garden.
66. ..Organize a game night with friends.
67. Organize a potluck with friends.
68. Participate in a First Friday celebration.
69. Patronize your local roller rink.
70. People-watch at the mall or airport.
71. Pick up a game of hoops at the park.
72. Play on the swings on the playground,
73. Play tennis in a local park.
74. Play trivia at a bar.
75. Put a jigsaw puzzle together.
76. Rake leaves for an older friend. Jump & play in them, then rake them up.
77. Roast marshmallows on the stove to make s’mores. (Please don’t set a fire!)
78. Run in the sprinkler in the backyard.
79. See all the creepy crawlies at the zoo.
80. See how long you can make $10 at your nearest casino.
81. See the smashy-smashy at a monster truck rally.
82. Shop for Halloween costumes at the thrift store.
83. Take a day and see how much crap you can sell on Craigslist.
84. Take a hike at a local state park.
85. Take a low-cost adult learning class in something you both suck at.
86. Take each others’ boudoir shots.
87. Take in a local art gallery.
88. Take in an arthouse movie.
89. Take your bikes out for a ride in the country.
90. Take your clubs to the driving range.
91. Test drive expensive cars.
92. Try a new sport like pickleball.
93. Turn a bad movie into a drinking game of your own rules.
94. Turn Scrabble in to drinking game with the rules of your choice.
95. Visit a pumpkin patch.
96. Visit a small museum.
97. Visit an organic farm.
98. Visit local haunted places at night – if you dare.
99. Volunteer together to walk dogs at the humane society.
100. Watch a movie in a pillow fort.
101. Write really bad poetry for each other.

How to Deal with Toxic People in the Workplace When You Hate Conflict

I hate conflict at work.

God, I hate conflict. It is so much easier to bury my head in the sand just do my own thing rather than have those “I feel…” conversations when dealing with difficult people.

I am writing this blog post as much for you as me. We all have toxic people we deal with in the workplace, and most women avoid direct conflict. If you don’t have a significant other to bounce ideas off of, it can be particularly difficult.

I have identified four toxic personality types you may encounter in the workplace, and how you can work with them without all-out conflict and without sacrificing all your sanity.

Keep in mind that these are a general overview, and what works for one Debbie Downer may not work for another. Every office has its own different culture and vibe, but the following advice comes from 15+ years of being in the adult workforce. Just remember: You have the right to a sane work environment. Here are a few tips for navigating the professional jungle.

The Debbie Downer. The Negative Nancy. The No-Matter-How-Good-Things-Are-It’s-All-Doom-And-Gloom.

Ugh.

The first line of defense is to minimize contact with these folks. I find myself just sticking to work topics with negative people for my own sanity. It’s not being passive-aggressive; I only have a finite amount of positive energy, and I am not going to let toxic vampires suck it away.

It takes a lot of practice, but I’ve learned that taking everything with a massive grain of salt and with a twist of humor also helps. I never validate Debbie’s negativity, and I take my stand, letting Debbie know I will not stoop to the level of whining about everything. I am work to do a job, not whine about every little thing.

The Micromanager. Me oh my…this is a toughie. These bosses are emotionally taxing, yet there isn’t much you can do if you aren’t the boss. Here, the best advice I can give is to be as trustworthy as possible. Show your boss you are capable of doing your job without a lot of direction. And if you ask for more work, they are more apt to see you as a go-getter than a slacker.

Another tactic is to keep positive lines of communication open. Let them know what you are doing in a project. Report good news as you get it. Ask them if you need help. That is another way to get your boss to buy into trusting you. And bosses who trust you are far less likely to micromanage.

The Busybody. The Gossip. The Snoop. Pretty much everyone has one of these. Gossips should be treated much like the Debbie Downer. I stick to work topics as much as possible, offer no extra details to any story, or play dumb when it comes to giving them the latest “scoop” (if they come to me looking for deets, I either remain vague or just say, “I don’t know”).

I understand that some people see gossip as a way to make friends or bond. And I’d be a liar if I said I never gossiped about a coworker. But the older I get, the less drama I want, and the more I keep my mouth shut. If I don’t engage them, the worst they can say about me behind my back is that I’m not chatty.

The Bully. This toxic personality is the worst. Literally the worst. I’m not going to spend much time on it because I actually wrote an entire blog post about this earlier this year.

I will give two pieces of advice, which served me well (and, believe me, my last workplace bully was absolutely savage): Treat them better than they treat you, and don’t take their behavior personally. Bullying always reflects on the bully, not the victim. So don’t let their crappy self-esteem make you wallow. Keep your conscience clear.

Of course there are times when you do need to deal head on with emotional leeches, but hopefully this post will give you a few ideas how to treat your crazy coworkers without sacrificing your dignity. Or mental well-being. Because you are strong. You are kind. You are special. Your job needs you!

Without naming names to protect the guilty, who was the absolute worst person you worked with or for? Comment below!

Day Trips for the Single Girl

Picture this: You’re a single girl. You are going bonkers because you want to leave town, but have neither the time to take off work, nor the funds to go very far.

Wow, that sounds familiar.

I want to highlight two recent road trips I took, and each was done within three hours. With just the littlest bit of planning and a great travel companion, you can take a memorable day trip without the time or financial commitment of a regular vacation.

TRIP #1: DODGE, NEBRASKA, POPULATION 612

OK, so this trip was actually four or five months ago. But my BFF Angie suggested going to a new restaurant, simply called “Eat”, to sample their 100% locally source menu.

I’m a foodie. It didn’t take much convincing.

This is Angie. You wish your bestie was as awesome as she is.

Cranking the tunes, we drove off into the prairie sunset. We remarked on all the pretty farms, enjoying the way the light played off the snow.

About halfway to our stop, Angie cried, “Look!”

She popped a U-turn right on the highway and made a beeline to Czechland Lake Recreation Area. Though the sun was almost down, the light danced on the water. The new moon hung in a silvery crest in the east as geese made their way to the half-frozen lake in their perfect V-formation. There was no limit to the horizon as the twilight colors crept onto the plains.

Angie and I posed for some goofball pictures and selfies. Neither one of us is a lake person per se, but we had fun doing what two best friends do in a beautiful sunset with their cameras.

Back on the road.

When we arrived in the bustling metropolis of Dodge, Nebraska, it was, well…a typical Nebraska town. One police officer, one bar, one tiny grocery store, two Catholic churches, two funeral homes (side-by-side on Main Street, oddly enough).

And Eat.

Eclectically decorated and great service. Angie and I fell in love with it instantly.

Lightly tempura-fried green beans, onion rings and (blech!) mushroom.

Pasta with beef tips from 50 miles away. With local carrots and broccolini.

Homemade German chocolate cake and coffee ice cream.

The pictures speak for themselves. Angie and I wined and dined our way to Eat, and it was with happy tummies we drove home in the dark, sated from our gastronomic voyage.

TRIP #1: ELMWOOD, NEBRASKA, POPULATION 634

This trip was planned by my mommy.

That’s Joann.

Mom wanted to go to this tiny town about 30 minutes away from where we lived so we could visit the home of one of her favorite authors, Bess Streeter Aldrich.

I’m more of a diehard Laura Ingalls Wilder fan myself, but mom loves the turn-of-the-(last) century, homespun tales of love, family, and sometimes heartache.

Three churches, one convenience store, and one teeny library only open 17 hours a week make up the village. But with its charming downtown district, manicured lawns, and well-maintained parks make this a great stop.

Built right at the beginning of the last century, the house we visited is only open a few hours a week. But it has period furniture and some of the author’s possessions. The house looks quite similar to when Aldrich last lived there in 1946.

As a writer, I loved Aldrich’s desk. It had a flat writing surface, but there was a wheel on the side you turned, and the desktop flipped over to reveal a typewriter underneath! I loved how clever it was, and it was a beautiful piece of furniture.

My mom was over the moon to see the beloved home of her favorite writer, and I was happy to be her companion on this little road trip!

Both of these little excursions may not seem like a big deal, but I got to visit two places I normally would not have visited. One of them was with my bestie, and the other was with my madre. I ate spectacular food and got a wonderful dose of Nebraska history, both of which always inspire me.

So grab a friend, an aunt, a sister, a niece, or whoever is laying around. Find a cool destination about an hour from where you are and just go!

What was the last day trip you took? Comment below!

 

How to Rock a Phone Interview

I like job interviews over the phone.

There, I said it.

I know some people liken it to jury duty or getting a tooth extracted, but I actually like doing job interviews over the phone because it is something I am genuinely good at.

With the exception of two phone interviews, I have aced ten out of the dozen I have ever done, and landed me face-to-face interviews. With the exception of Garmin and that other company. You know who you are.

It can be hard being a singleton and not having someone to bounce feedback off of, but the reality is companies are relying increasingly on phone interviews to get a feel for job applicants and weeding out the weirdos. And with 250 résumés for every corporate job out there, phone interviews are a crucial step in the job-hunting process.

The following are my tried-and-true tips for rocking job interviews to get you past that first hurdle and closer to your dream job:

  • Research commonly asked questions. Write the answers down. That’s the best part of the interview—you can write everything down! Research 10 common phone interview questions. Write your best answers out. How are they going to know you are reading from a script?
  • Do all the research you can about the company. If you don’t Google the hell out of the company you are applying to, why bother interviewing with them at all?
  • If possible, do all the research you can about the interviewer. I have managed to find most of my interviewers on LinkedIn and Facebook. And I manage to drop in things I know they are passionate about into the conversation. *cue evil laughter*
  • Read the job description carefully. Link all your strengths to what the job entails. What job are you applying for? Make sure you know exactly how to present yourself as the candidate for the job. Leave them wanting more.
  • Practice with a friend or family member. Tape yourself if you have to. Where are you stumbling or “uh”ing? Get those glitches ironed out.
  • Go to a quiet place for your phone interview. I have been in my car. In a bathroom. My bedroom. Whatever fits the bill.
  • Be five or ten minutes early for the interview. If nothing else, use that time to calm yourself, envision success, and inject confidence into your performance. Even if you’re really not feeling it.
  • Take deep breaths.
  • I know how cheesy it sounds, but the enthusiasm you put in your voice can only play in your favor.
  • Have a list of questions ready at the end of the interview. There are tons of blogs and websites with good questions. Asking about corporate culture, why the interviewer likes their job, and/or a question along the lines of, “Are there any doubts you have about my applying for this position?” have stimulated good conversation.
  • Make sure you are very clear about the timeline for the next steps in the hiring process. If the HR person gives you a clear timeline, that is usually a pretty damn good sign.
  • Send a thank-you letter as soon as the interview is over. I don’t care if it is 2017. Write a damn card thanking the HR person for their time. It works—believe me.

I know phone interviews can be unpleasant experiences, especially for shy people like me. But an hour prepping will make you feel a whole lot more confident. You will outshine others who are interviewing for the same position, and you will increase your odds of landing a face-to-face interview. It works for me, and please believe me when I say it will work for you!

What is the most painful part of a phone interview for you? Comment below!

101 Things I Learned While Unemployed

It has been a year now since I lost my job. Looking back, it was an awful time, but I grew as a person. I grew a lot.

To commemorate that year, here is a list of 101 things I learned in my six weeks of unemployment. Wherever you are in your career, I hope you can carry something away from the following:

1. A good night’s sleep will help you tackle any challenge.
2. Alcohol will not help you feel better. Believe me.
3. All human resource departments run on their own schedule.
4. Applying for jobs you are not remotely qualified for just to satisfy unemployment requirements becomes second nature.
5. Aunts who take you on interior decorating trips to get you out of the house are the definition of empathy.
6. Being debt-free will make it much easier to maintain finances.
7. Being unemployed is humiliating. But it is temporary.
8. Brothers taking you out for movies to cheer you up are the best brothers.
9. Count your blessings every day. Each one brings you something to be grateful for.
10. Craigslist is useless for job searches.
11. Dads give solid advice.
12. Daily exercise gets the endorphins going.
13. Do not turn down free lunches or coffee from friends cheering you up.
14. Do not wear pajamas at home. Even if it’s just shorts and a t-shirt, wear clean street clothes.
15. Do something that cheers you up before and after every job interview.
16. Doing a weekly or monthly budget will help you know exactly where your finances are at.
17. Doing mock interviews with a friend or family member is a surprising confidence-booster.
18. Don’t be afraid to reach out when you are feeling sad or anxious.
19. Don’t get sloppy/lazy on the weekends. Keep a weekend routine.
20. Don’t read articles about job prospects or unemployment statistics. They almost never pertain to your situation and will only scare you.
21. Don’t take the first job offer that comes along if it’s not right for you.
22. Don’t watch anything remotely sad or depressing.
23. Educate yourself about all your rights and benefits being unemployed. That is part of your job now.
24. Even if it seems impossible, a regular bedtime establishes a routine and will keep you rested.
25. Everyone has job-seeking advice. Use selective hearing.
26. Feeling despair is normal. You can control how you react to it.
27. Funny animal videos on YouTube are instant pick-me-ups.
28. Get out of the house. Every day.
29. Getting out of the house to coffee shops maintains sanity.
30. Getting up at the same time every day helps stave off depression.
31. Going to church helps pass the time and establishes a routine.
32. Going to your parents’ house five nights a week is comforting.
33. Have the interview suit ready to go at a minute’s notice.
34. Having a professional write you a resume is a smart investment.
35. Having an emergency fund will infinitely reduce your stress as you do your job search.
36. Hiring a professional to write a cover letter is a wise investment.
37. I don’t care where you are on the political spectrum. Obamacare is a godsend.
38. If you like to shop, know your triggers so you can avoid them.
39. If you suffer from anxiety and depression, keep on top of your meds and get enough sleep.
40. Indeed.com will become your new favorite website.
41. Inform yourself about low-cost or free medical care.
42. It doesn’t hurt to see if you qualify for food stamps or Medicaid.
43. It is essential to have an emergency fund in case you lose your job.
44. It is important to celebrate every small victory, like a phone interview or scheduling an interview.
45. It takes at least two weeks to start to see the first round of job-search results.
46. Keep a list of all the hoops you have to jump through to get unemployment.
47. Keeping a daily routine is essential for a feeling of normalcy.
48. Keeping a gratitude journal puts things in perspective and reminds you little things matter.
49. Keeping your house clean will give you a feeling of control.
50. Laughing one minute then crying the next because you feel like a worthless person becomes the new normal.
51. LinkedIn is actually a helpful website.
52. Looking for jobs is now your full-time job.
53. Losing 15 pounds in 2 weeks is entirely possible (though not advised).
54. Love on yourself. However you cheer yourself up, do it.
55. Maintaining good nutrition will keep your health and spirits up.
56. Moms are amazing listeners and cheerleaders.
57. Negative people have no place in your life right now.
58. Netflix becomes a primary source of entertainment.
59. Never, ever badmouth your former employer. Ever.
60. One day for a pity party, then you have to get into battle mode.
61. Only eating once a day is cheap, but not recommended.
62. Pets do not make good handkerchiefs.
63. Positive podcasts are great ways to stay motivated.
64. Purring cats are therapeutic.
65. Reach out online if you are feeling depressed. There are people out there who want to help you.
66. Read all the letters you get from your state’s Department of Labor.
67. Read anything positive and uplifting you can get your hands on.
68. Reducing social media consumption is not a bad idea.
69. Remember everything that went wrong in your last job. This is a new beginning.
70. Remember who is kind to you. Those are your best, truest friends.
71. Set a stopping point every day. Stick with it.
72. Shower every day. You owe it to yourself to keep your routine.
73. Sisters feeding you and watching reality TV to keep you company make you grateful for family and Bravo.
   74. Slashing your spending to the bone helps reduce budget anxiety.
75. Start the job search at a set time every day.
76. Stay hydrated. Water is important to help you feel your best.
77. Surrounding yourself with positive people is critical.
78. Take a break from job-searching during the day. It is exhausting.
79. Taking the weekends off from job searches will keep you fresh for Monday.
80. Tapping your professional network is the best way to get into the hidden job market.
81. The Food Network and HGTV are TV comfort food.
82. The library is a great place to get out of the house and job search.
83. The tedium of waiting for HR to call back is maddening. Do not give into temptation to call obsessively.
84. There are way too many “silver lining”-type clichés that people will use on you.
85. There is a difference between feeling humble and feeling desperate.
86. There is lots of good advice online for phone interviews.
87. There is nothing wrong with taking a day to have a pity party right after you lose your job.
88. Tune out every single negative thought. Repeat the positive till it becomes second nature.
89. Uncles are amazing men whose kindness can never be repaid.
90. Unemployment is ridiculously hard to get.
91. Virtual friends you have never met who take time to Skype with you are true friends.
92. Volunteering will take your mind off your situation.
93. When you call your Department of Labor, don’t forget to be patient. You will be on hold. A lot.
94. While Netflix is great, avoid binge-watching season of anything. It leads to feelings of guilt.
95. Work friends are fleeting.
96. Working side jobs to generate income is better than no income.
97. You are just a number to Department of Labor employees.
98. You are stronger than you know.
99. You truly find out who your real friends are when you lose your job.
100. YOU WILL NOT BE UNEMPLOYED FOREVER. THIS IS TEMPORARY.
101. Your pets will not understand why you are home so much now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What You Should Know About Car Care

Think about the worst car you ever drove.

Maybe it was so ugly that it made babies cry. Or perhaps, like mine, it was so mechanically unsound that you couldn’t even trust it out on the roads. You gripped the steering wheel so hard that your knuckles turned white and your teeth clenched until you practically had lockjaw.

Whether you drive a brand-new car or have one that is at the end of your life span, it is important to know the basics of car maintenance. As single women, we must stand on our own two feet and not be taken in by dishonest mechanics.

I’m not saying you have to know how to fix everything in a car, but I have compiled a list of basic things you should be able to do yourself. That way, if your car starts acting up, you can make very basic repairs yourself, or at least be able to identify the source of the problem:

  1. Using your carjack. I didn’t learn how to do this until I was about 28. And by then, I learned the jack that came with my repair kit was woefully inadequate. It was a hard lesson learned, but I know better now!
  1. Changing a tire. I actually learned how to change a tire in high school, but that skill wasn’t helpful at 28 because my terrible carjack didn’t work!
  1. Changing an interior light bulb or headlight. This one is a little trickier, but important to learn how to do, because the last thing you want is getting pulled over for a non-functioning headlight!
  1. Changing oil. I did this – once – many moons ago, but I would not be able to do it now. You could save hundreds of dollars over the course of your car’s life if you learn how to do this yourself!
  1. Charging a battery. Again, I had to learn how to do this the hard way in college. And grad school. And after grad school. A good pair of jumper cables in your trunk is worth its weight in gold.
  1. Changing the battery. You have to be careful when you do this one, because you want to make sure you have the right connections on the right terminal!
  1. Checking your fluids. Checking your oil is something I learned back in high school, and very important if you have a leak anywhere or you aren’t sure when you need an oil change. Learning how to check coolants as well as windshield wiper, brake, power steering, and transmission fluids.
  1. Checking your tire pressure. When I was strapped for cash and had a very slow leak in my tires, it was very important to monitor tire pressure. You can buy a gauge at a hardware or auto parts store for less than five bucks. Money well spent.
  1. Knowing the location of important car parts. If you know where the shocks, struts, alternator, and starter are, you will have a much better chance of identifying where weird sounds come from when things start to go south.
  1. Knowing the signs of when various parts are going out. Speaking of things going south, keeping an ear out for weird sounds, vibrations that shouldn’t be there, noticing a difference in how the car handles, or identifying why your car won’t start (alternator vs. battery, for example) are all great skills to cultivate. Pay attention to your car. If you notice something is off, chances are your intuition is right. 

That’s all well and good, but how am I supposed to know all this stuff if I don’t have anyone to teach me?

Glad you asked. A lot of this stuff I learned from my dad. A mechanically-inclined girlfriend taught me a lot of other points. Feel out your network to see if anyone is willing to teach you how to do this, maybe in exchange for babysitting services, pizza, or another way of bartering.

Some vocational schools will offer classes on basic car care. A really good, patient mechanic may also take time out of his day to teach you. And YouTube is full of video tutorials.

Hopefully you already know how to do at least two or three items on the list, and this will give you an idea what you need to do for basic car care. Knowledge is power, and learning how to do this will give you more independence.

Is there anything I should have added but didn’t? Comment below!

How to Deal with a Workplace Bully


Does bullying end once we leave high school and go to college or enter the workforce?

Sadly, the answer is no. Almost 30% of American women reported being the victim of workplace bullying in 2014, were more likely than men to be targets of bullying, and were more likely to be bullied by a female coworker.

Today I want to talk about some of the signs you might have a workplace bully and what you can do about it. It is difficult for a single woman to cope with a bully in a professional environment, but believe me when I say you are not alone.

The definition of workplace bullying can get a little gray. Here are some signs a coworker might be bullying you:

  • Leaves you out of important workplace communications related to your job or leaves you out of important meetings related to your job function.
  • Takes credit for work you do or always wants to be the center of attention.
  • Treats you very different from other people in your office.
  • Makes you feel useless. Doesn’t give you projects or work that plays to your strengths, will subtly seek to isolate you from others.
  • Passively uses you as a scapegoat if something they do does not turn out right.
  • Fails to engage you in small talk, or does not exchange any civilities if you do.
  • Does not maintain eye contact at staff meetings, even when you are directly addressing them.
  • Sharply criticizes any mistake you may make, refuses to accept apologies.
  • Sets unrealistically high expectations of you and the amount of work you can perform.
  • Avoids having face-to-face conversations and talks about you behind your back.

Of course there are other ways not mentioned here, but in my 20 years in the workforce, I have seen many of these play out between other coworkers or have been the recipient of it myself.

So what can you do when you realize there’s a pattern and you identify a bully in your workplace? You absolutely should proceed with caution, because depending on the circumstances, your job may be in jeopardy.

While not all of these suggestions will apply to every situation – because each one is indeed unique – hopefully it will give you some ideas of resources or strategies:

  • Realize the bullying is not your fault. You must understand that while you cannot control how people treat you, you can control how you react to it.
  • Read your employee handbook. Study the chain of command of where to take your grievances.
  • If a bullying incident occurs for a first time, try to address it with the person who did it. Setting clear boundaries right from the beginning may nip the behavior in the bud. Try to be as unemotional as possible during the conversation.
  • Document everything. Save emails if you are being directly harassed, keep track of email chains you were left out of, record dates and times of unpleasant conversations, and any other things that definitively prove you are being bullied. Information is power.
  • Avoid gossiping or complaining to your equals about how you are being treated. I know this is much more easier said than done, but workplace gossip always has a habit of coming back to haunt you.
  • Try to treat your bully better than they treat you. Greet them in the morning and wish them a good evening. It is so difficult to be nice to people who are mean to you, but the high road is definitely the one to take.
  • Following your company’s policies and armed with your information, speak to your direct supervisor of HR officer (whichever is most appropriate). If they are worth their salt, they will address the issue immediately, and your identity will be kept private.
  • If that doesn’t help, take it further up the chain of command.
  • If all else fails and your bully is making you physically or mentally ill, dust off your résumé and start looking for another job. You deserve so much better than a toxic work environment.

Please believe me that I know what it is like to be bullied at work – it’s something I endured working in restaurants, schools, and other settings. You don’t have to stand for it, you are so much stronger than you give yourself credit for, and life is too short for you to have to worry about the bully. Hopefully this has given you an insight into symptoms and solutions to deal with your bully.

Who is the meanest person you have ever worked with? Comment below!

Why You Should Travel Solo with Airbnb

Gas. Airfare. Restaurants. Sightseeing. Hotels.

If you’re anything like me, you tend to keep an eye on your budget when you travel. There are so many costs associated with taking a vacay that it tends to boggle the mind.

I don’t know how the hotel industry can justify an average rate of $143 dollars for a night’s stay, but let me introduce you to Airbnb. Founded in San Francisco in 2008, it is an app that pairs homeowners with weary travelers. You can stay in a shared room, a private room, an entire apartment, or a whole house. Prices vary by season, accommodations, and location, but believe me when I tell you Airbnb is a fabulous alternative to expensive, cookie-cutter hotel rooms!

I first used Airbnb on the recommendation of my best friend. I spent three weeks in Spain, and I wasn’t about to fork over $200 a night for posh hotels. When she showed me what I *could* get for an average of $75 a night, I was simply stunned.

In the course of my three-week trip, I stayed at Airbnbs where:

  • I got home-cooked breakfast while my host gave me a chance to work on my Spanish and recommended some out-of-the way jewels in Bilbao.
  • Another host introduced me to her brother who owned a tapas bar in San Sebastiá Free tapas and drinks, as well as amazing interactions with the locals!
  • A wonderful couple welcomed me with maps and tons of fantastic recommendations in La Coruña.
  • A tiny, airy apartment was filled with music from the Lisbon Conservatory of Music across the street.

Because I had my best friend guiding me that first time, I took advantage of her expertise with Airbnb. Let me give you some of the tips she taught me, which all women traveling alone should adhere to:

  • Try to stay with a Superhost. These are hosts who have been vetted by Airbnb and really care about their ratings. This is not their first rodeo, and you will benefit from their experience.
  • Do your homework. Read as many reviews as you can before booking. If a particular critique keeps coming up again and again, there is probably a reason for it.
  • I had more peace of mind when I was staying somewhere with at least ten or fifteen reviews.
  • A female host is preferable. I have stayed with older and younger couples without incident. For the sake of safety, exercise caution about renting from single men.
  • Research the part of town you are staying in. Look at police reports and maps online to determine the safe parts of town.
  • To make your travel budget go even further, look for places that serve breakfast.
  • Don’t let price be your only consideration. Location, host reputation, and degree of privacy are all things to take into consideration.
  • Wifi connectivity is a very high priority on my list. Is there anything on your list that is a deal-breaker?
  • Make sure you carefully read the host’s cancellation policy and descriptions. It helps to be clear on check-out policies and if your host is a night owl or morning lark. Plus, knowledge is power. If you are allergic to animals, you won’t want to stay with someone who has pets.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your host for recommendations for places to visit and good restaurants. I love going where the locals hang out, not other tourists.

I hope you’ve found some good, practical tips for choosing an Airbnb host. With a little research, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed when staying with a local host. You certainly will get a heartier welcome than any hotel, and you will more than likely be way more comfortable there than at a nameless, faceless hotel chain.

What luck have you had booking lodging online? Comment below!

Online Dating Safety for the Single Woman

Oh, the internet. It connects you with people from all over the world, and it allows you to meet men in the comfort of your own home, in your jammies.

Never has it been easier to find a date for this weekend, and it’s also never been easier to research a blind date before you even meet him. Still, there are some spooky people out there, and in the excitement of wanting to meet someone, common sense can go out the door.

This week I want to talk about some practical tips for dating safely online, mostly through my own personal experience. I will frame this by saying probably 97% of guys out there aren’t creepers (depending where you meet them). Unfortunately, a single girl can never be too careful. So take a look at the list below – divided into the different stages of online dating – to see if there is something you have been missing.

Chatting Online

  • There is no reason to divulge your last name, exactly where you work, or any other personal information until you meet this person face-to-face.
  • Only give your phone number (or accept his) if you feel comfortable doing so.
  • Resist any pressure to give your number or reveal personal information if you’re not ready.
  • Unless you met on a fetish site, any dick pics or anything yucky like that is more than enough reason to block and report them. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
  • If your gut is telling you something is wrong, that’s probably for a very good reason. Do not ignore that intuition. The same goes for all the stages of a first date.

Texting/Talking on the Phone

  • This is the stage you can start to snoop. If you know his name or number, it’s not a bad idea to look him up on social media. Does everything he says check out? Or does something feel “off” about the situation? If something is weird, it is completely OK to ghost at this phase.
  • I still think this is not the time to give out personal information if you’re not ready, especially where you work.
  • Only suggest going out/accept his invite if you feel comfortable doing so.

Before the Date

  • First dates are best in public settings with lots of people and lights around. Coffeehouses, bars, and restaurants are all good ideas. Lightly attended movies and evening strolls through the park are not.
  • Give a trusted friend or family member your date’s picture and contact information, as well as when and where you are meeting up. Make this person your “date buddy.”
  • There is no good reason to let him pick you up. That is what your car, public transportation, or Uber is for.

During the Date

  • Make sure you text your buddy (from the restroom, obvi) to tell them you are fine.
  • You can also have your buddy call you during the date at a predetermined time to check on you.
  • First dates are usually best if kept on the shorter side. It’s best to set an end time beforehand with an excuse (early morning, a fictitious meeting, etc.) ready to go. That gives you a graceful exit out if the date is a bomb. Feel free to ignore this if the date is going well.
  • Enjoy yourself, but be aware of your surroundings. Do you know where the exits are? Has you purse been with you the whole time? Is there someone in the bar/restaurant/coffeehouse giving you the heebie-jeebies?

After the Date

  • Unless you are sure you want to end the date in the morning, don’t let him come to your house or vice versa.
  • Text your buddy to let them know you made it home OK.

These are just a few tips to ensure your own safety and give you peace of mind when meeting men online.

Is there anything I left off this list you think should be added? Comment below!

7 Things to Do When You Don’t Get the Job

7 Things to Do

I recently applied for a job I was eminently qualified for. It would have been a good pay raise doing something I was passionate about, and I was really excited about the position.

I had all the necessary experience and degrees. I went through a phone interview, two face-to-face interviews, gave them a sample of my writing abilities, and even took a personality assessment.

I thought I aced all the interviews. I researched the company carefully, wrote prompt thank-you letters by hand, and I lined up the best references possible. I felt supremely confident. In short, I thought I had it in the bag.

I just got a phone call this week.

I didn’t get the job.

Damn. Shit.

This is now I felt:

What are you supposed to do when you think you did everything right, but you still don’t get the job?

  1. You are entitled to your feelings. Anger, sadness, grief, cheated, resignation…Whatever you feel, realize it is totally normal and you have the right to be however pissed or depressed you are. The important thing is to not let despair take hold in your heart. Remember there are people who love you and when you hurt, they hurt.
  1. Allow yourself a pity party. I bought ice cream, frozen pizza, and a bottle of wine. And they were all consumed in one evening. Did I feel guilty about it? No! I have the right to express my feelings however I see fit. The key is to make it an exception, not the rule.
  1. Ignore all the clichés you hear. “It wasn’t meant to be.” “A better job is out there.” “It’s their loss.” I heard lots of variations of these phrases. While they are rooted in some truth, don’t be mad at the people who say them. They really do mean well. But you are allowed to be upset you weren’t the one hired.
  1. Follow up with the people you interviewed with. If you interviewed with a reputable organization, you have the right to know what you can do to improve your chances of nailing the next job you apply for. Be polite and take any criticism that comes your way positively. Remember – you are an adult, and handling constructive criticism is healthy.
  1. Don’t burn any bridges. This excellent advise comes to you courtesy of my big sister. It is so hard not to snark on the people who rejected you. The HR director claimed she didn’t get back to me in the original timeframe because she was “on vacation.” If my math is right, that means she took three vacations in the six weeks I interacted with her. Yeah, right. But am I going to tell her that? No.

As hard as it is – and believe me, I know it’s nearly impossible – don’t laugh when they say you were a “top candidate” and they will “keep your résumé on file.” They’re lying and you know it. I know it. We all know it. But don’t be bitter towards them. You never know who they know. And the very last thing you want to do is be a pariah about town when it comes to looking for a job. I know taking the high road is waaaaaay easier said than done, but it is to your advantage in the long run!

  1. Don’t apply for other jobs you aren’t passionate about. It may be a reflex to go out and apply for any job willy-nilly because you want to get out of your current work situation, or you need to raise your income quickly. But don’t waste your energy applying for jobs you aren’t suited for or you don’t think you will love. That is moving in the wrong direction.
  1. REMEMBER: YOU. ARE. MORE. THAN. A. JOB.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received when looking for a job? Comment below!

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