Single lady

11 Benefits of Finding Purpose at Work

Dishwasher. Teacher. Secretary. Interpreter. Grantwriter. Food service worker.

I’ve had a lot of jobs—more than even mentioned above—but I think it’s fair to say I’ve learned a few things about the workplace. It can be a blessing in your life to have a job that you love, and it can be hell on earth if it makes you miserable.

I’m thinking more about my current job, where I work as an office specialist. I enjoy the work, my coworkers are lovely people, and I find real meaning in my work. I also think about the previous job I had until 2016—an office position I’d held for four years. By the end, I knew my work wasn’t contributing anything toward the organization and the environment had become toxic.

Being unhappy at work is no way to live your life. I’ve realized how much more healthy I am mentally and how much more I love my work. I see the purpose and meaning in what I do, and I have noticed some fabulous benefits I never would have expected:

  1. The day goes by faster. When I have so many different things going on, I am definitely not staring at the clock. Yes, I get hungry by noon and am ready to leave at closing, but hours can pass where I don’t look at my watch.
  2. You open yourself up to new possibilities. I’ve learned new skills in my current job that I tried to learn elsewhere and failed. It’s amazing what intrinsic motivation—the desire to do my work better—can do.
  3. No “case of the Mondays.” Yes, it is hard to get caffeinated on Mondays, but I actually enjoy going to work. I don’t dread Sunday nights like I used to.
  4. You foster deeper relationships with coworkers, clients, vendors, etc. While I’ve learned (the hard way) not to over-share with coworkers, I feel like I’ve gotten to know the people I work with a lot better this time around. I love interacting with them, talking to them about their day, the projects they are working on, and what is going on in their lives.
  5. Your suggestions carry more weight. I tried to suggest so many different things at my last job—offering to start a blog, social media post ideas, or ways to streamline tasks. But I was shot down every single time. How does that give me motivation to do my job any better? People actually listen to what I have to say in my current job. They may say “no,” but at least I am heard and I feel like my ideas are considered.
  6. You enhance your company’s mission. Depending on the culture of where you work, your company’s mission or mission statement can be very important. Our mission is that we put the fun in fun It’s hard not to have fun when you work with purpose.
  7. You derive a greater sense of accomplishment. My job is not sexy. I answer phones, do paperwork, file, take minutes at meetings, and greet customers. But I see my work as important, so I feel like I actually make a difference every day.
  8. You might be given more responsibility. The woman who held my job before I did really checked out at the end. It is a source of pride that I have been given extra tasks my predecessor would never have been asked to do.
  9. An increase in contentment spills over into other areas of your life. Because I see my work as meaningful, I’ve noticed I am more content with regards to my family and friends. There are still areas of my life I need to work on, but I am much more content and grateful than I ever was in my last position.
  10. You are less likely to invite bullies, gossip, and workplace toxicity into your life. No workplace is perfect. But because I work with a purpose, I tune out the negativity, bullies, and gossip much more easily. Because the last place I was in was so toxic, I was at the mercy of my work bullies.
  11. You become the happy, fulfilled woman that you are meant to be. Look, we’ve only got so many years in the workplace. We deserve to enjoy what we do, work with nice people, and get paid a good wage. If any of those are missing from your life, what can you do to change that?

The difference between my current job and previous one is night and day. I can’t begin to tell you how much my life has improved now that I find meaning in my work—however mundane the task. I am much happier and ready to tackle any challenge the workday brings.

You deserve that, too.

What did you learn from the most difficult work environment you’ve ever had? Comment below!

An OK Cupid Review by a Plus-Size Woman

Let’s give this another whirl.

After being out of the online dating scene for the better part of a year, I decided to give it yet another try.

This time, I decided to go with OK Cupid. It’s a site that’s been around for quite a long time (since 2004), and a good friend of mine found his current boyfriend on there. What do I have to lose? I downloaded the app and am now ready to give you the low-down.

Basic features:

  • Iphone and Android app, also desktop version available
  • Tinder-like feature of swiping right and left
  • There is an exhaustive questionnaire to help determine personality traits (more/less playful, more/less political, more/less adventurous, more/less outgoing, etc.) and it gives you a compatibility percentage with matches
  • You can only message people who like you back
  • As of December 2017, you have to enter your real name and not a pseudonym
  • Price = $20/1 month, $45/3 months, $60/6 months, $70/12 months

What I did: I created an account and wrote some things in the following sections:

  • Self-summary
  • What I’m doing with my life
  • I’m really good at
  • The first thing people notice about me
  • Favorite books/movies/TV/food
  • Six things I can’t live without
  • I spend a lot of time thinking about
  • On a typical Friday night I am
  • The most private thing I am willing to admit
  • You should message me if…

I then started answering questions multiple-choice or true/false questions about my personality, outlook on life, religious/political beliefs, dating experiences, etc. I uploaded four photos from my phone and bada-boom bada-bing, I was ready to roll.

Pros:

  • The app is super easy to use. Just like Tinder, you swipe right if you want a match, left if you don’t.
  • I don’t know what their algorithms are, but it is interesting to see what percentage compatible I am with potential matches. A lot of the matches OK Cupid gave me were well above 60%. Many were 80% and higher.
  • The personality test is genuinely interesting. I even learned a few things about myself, like I am less adventurous than I thought I was, but more playful than I give myself credit for.

Cons:

  • There seems to be a limited number of matches.
  • You can’t message guys unless they like your profile, which is difficult to deal with. I like to take the initiative sometimes!
  • Some of the personality questions I found to be really intrusive. And if you don’t hit the “mark private” box, potential matches can see all your answers.
  • I complain about this all the time, but there were guys who had profile pictures with their exes, kids, of their pet or car, bathroom selfies, or a group shot where I couldn’t tell who was the guy in the profile. Why do people do that???

Overall impression: If I am honest, I still think Match.com is still the best overall value, but OK Cupid comes in second place. The app isn’t bad at all. The interface was super intuitive and simple. I never met anyone on a date for the two months I was on it, but I found the guys I chatted with to be nice. So why not take out a three-month trial and see what it has to offer? If nothing else, the personality test is well worth the price of admission. And if you are a quiz junkie like I am, have fun with it!

Interested in OK Cupid? Do you want a website to tell you who they think you are compatible with? Comment below!

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!

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