Archive for September, 2013

26 sep

A Home Buyer’s Guide to the Lingo of Real Estate

RobertCordrayShopping for a house is like moving to a foreign country. You find yourself in strange and unfamiliar places expected to understand new and confusing customs and formalities. Worst of all, as soon as you find a realtor, you discover that there’s an entirely new home-buyers language being spoken, and if you want to be able to locate the right house for you, you’re going to need to learn how to speak it too. So, in the hopes of saving you a little time and a lot of embarrassment, here are 22 terms that you should study up on if you want to know how to buy a home.


  1. #B/#B: This indicates the number of bedrooms and bathrooms in the home (where # would be replaced with an actual number). “Bedroom” generally refers to a room with a window and a closet, but there’s no set definition, so be mindful.

  2. Amortization: The process of decreasing a loan over time by dividing the loan payments between reducing the the principal balance and paying off the interest.

  3. APR: Annual Percentage Rate. The interest rate charged on a loan.

  4. Appraisal: An estimate on the market value of a property.

  5. ARM: Adjustable-Rate Mortgage. A mortgage with an unfixed interest rate—usually adjusted annually—used to bring it inline with current market rates.

  6. As-is: When used to describe a home, this usually means that the seller is unwilling to pay for any additional repairs or upgrades. Basically, what you see is what you get.

  7. Assumable mortgage: An alternative to traditional mortgage in which the buyer is able to take over the existing mortgage of the seller—assuming that the mortgage lender approves.

  8. Blended payment: A mortgage payment that includes both principal and interest.

  9. CC&Rs: Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions. A document that details restrictions placed on homes in a certain area.

  10. Closing costs: Any fees that you will be asked to pay “upfront” when the mortgage loan transaction is complete and the property sale finalized.

  11. Closing day: The date on which the sale of a property becomes final.

  12. CMA :Comparative market analysis or competitive market analysis. An evaluation of similar, nearby, recently sold homes used to establish a price estimate.

  13. Contingency: A provision in an agreement that postpones the agreement from taking effect until after a specific condition is met.

  14. Counteroffer: An offer made, either by a buyer or a seller, in response to an unaccepted offer.

  15. Deposit: A small amount of money that a prospective buyer will sometimes give a seller to convince them that they are serious in their intent to purchase the property. Deposits prevent the home from being sold to other interested parties until the first party has made a decision.

  16. Down Payment: The portion of the price of the property that is not covered by the mortgage loan. The down payment is paid by the buyer before the mortgage can be secured.

  17. Equity: The difference between the price of the property and the amount still owed to the lender.

  18. Fixture:Anything of value that is permanently attached to or a part of the property, such as carpeting, built in appliances, landscaping, etc.

  19. Full bathroom: A room with a toilet, sink, and a bathtub.

  20. Half bathroom: Also called a “powder room,” a room with a toilet and a sink.

  21. HOA: Home Owner’s Association. A legally designated group that has the authority to enforce deed restrictions with membership being mandatory for all property owners within the development. HOAs often charge fees.

  22. Listing :an agreement between a homeowner and a real estate broker that allows the broker to market and arrange for the sale of the home.

  23. MLS: Multiple Listing Service. A database service that collects, compiles and distributes information about homes listed for sale and accessible by real estate agents.

  24. Mortgage Broker: The person who acts as the intermediary between the buyer and the bank in regards to mortgages.

  25. Origination Fee: A fee charged by lenders to help cover the cost of preparing and processing a loan.

  26. Three-quarter bathroom: A room with a toilet, sink, and shower.

  27. Title insurance: An insurance policy that protects the interest of either the lender or the owner in real property from assorted types of fraudulent claims of ownership.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Robert Cordray on September 26th, 2013 in House and Home | No comments

26 sep

Stressed Out? What’s in Your Coping Toolbox?

MaricleMariclePost25SeptHow Do You Cope with Stress?

Something my clients talk about a lot is how to cope with stress and anxiety. What does “coping” really mean? Coping is simply what we do, think, or feel that helps us deal with our feelings, without getting too overwhelmed. You already have a number of these skills that you use all the time, whether you think about it or not.

People who cope well with stress and change have a large “toolbox” of skills. Examples of skills might include:

• Telling yourself, “It’s not worth it,” instead of getting into an argument
• Seeking the positive in difficult situations (See a more detailed post here)
• Journaling
• Talking to a friend about your troubles
• Taking a walk to “cool off”

I like to think about having a coping toolbox. My toolbox is comprised of skills in two overlapping categories: self-care and coping skills.

Self-Care: Self-care is the time I dedicate to myself daily, whether alone or with someone else, in order to meet my basic needs, relax and have fun, or enrich or benefit myself in some way. I like to think about self-care as “useful selfishness.” Without taking care of myself, I have nothing to give.

Coping Skills: Coping skills are the techniques I use in the moment to relieve stress, anger, fear, or anxiety.

Taking Care of Myself

When I let my own self-care fall down on my priority list, it shows. I feel grumpy, snappy, and not my usual happy self. Self-care for me includes: running and exercise, talking with my husband, social time with friends and family, being goofy with my kids, making art or music, spending time with my dogs, cooking, and getting enough sleep.

Adequate coping skills also help me stay on an even-keel. Talking directly with someone about what is bothering me, looking for solutions to my problem, reframing a difficult situation in terms of the benefits it brings, running, making art, and journaling all help me deal with very difficult feelings.

Usually though, coping well with stress requires more than just good self-care or one good coping skill. We are complex and dynamic beings, and so our responses to our problems need to be too. Any one skill will probably help me feel a minimum of about 10% better, so I need to use a combination of good self-care and coping skills to cope effectively.

What’s in your toolbox?
Which tools work the best for you? Do you take a shower, go for a drive, dance, build things, or vent? What’s a sure sign that you are letting go of your self-care? Share your insights in the comments section. Thanks for reading and be well.

DISCLAIMER: This information is not a substitute for professional psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content provided by Maricle Counseling and Amy Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is intended for general information purposes only. Never disregard professional medical or psychological advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you read here.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Amy Maricle on September 26th, 2013 in Uncategorized | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

21 sep

Technology vs. Instinct and Common Sense: Are Smart Phones Making Us Stupid?

Kerrigan2I live in New York–one of the most fast-paced and exciting places in the world. It can also be one of the most dangerous places too. You need to be on your toes here, and aware of your surroundings. Otherwise, the consequences could be severe, even fatal.

However, one thing I’m noticing more and more lately is the rising addiction to smart phones, and people looking down, when they should be looking up. Smart phones are called that because of their technical capabilities. But are they harming our human capabilities? Our instinct and common sense?

I realized that, in the last month alone, I’ve seen 5 people almost get hit by bikes, cars, or taxis as they cross the streets in midtown, oblivious to the world around them.  And, recently, I read that the number of teens who are dying or being injured as a result of texting while driving is skyrocketing. In fact, texting is now surpassing drinking and driving as the prime hazard among that age group. And from what I see on the road, I can imagine the numbers are rising in adult accidents and fatalities too.

Then there’s another, less life-threatening , more career-threatening habit: Employees texting and tweeting while their bosses or company CEOs are speaking.  Or commenting on facebook when they should be working.

There are also the people dining out and gathering at bars everywhere, glued to their tiny screens and unaware of the life-sized action around them.  And, how many of us are so busy focusing on capturing a photo for facebook instead of actually experiencing and enjoying the moment? Just think of the last concert or public event you attended—did your smart phone make a guest appearance?

All this has led me to wonder:

Is all this reliance on technology endangering our lives?

Are we losing our ability to read a room and read the street? To hold a face-to-face conversation?  To listen and comprehend? Are our natural instincts, common sense and early warning devices being jeopardized by our handheld devices? Are we letting social media replace social grace, and distraction replace engagement, costing us our jobs, our friends, our experiences and our lives?

In other words: are our smart phones making us stupid?

Maybe it’s time to put the phones down, look up, and find out.

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert in workplace success who helps clients develop the practical skills and confidence they need for high performance and productivity.

Based on her 25 years’ leadership experience, Michelle provides an invaluable road map for conquering fear and doubt, navigating change and solving day-to-day challenges, resulting in higher efficiency, improved leadership and teamwork, and stronger professional and revenue growth. Michelle also writes and speaks on the impact self esteem has on success, and produces a series for public TV, entitled Workplace Confidence. More at www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on September 21st, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change, Health, Personal Stories, Technology | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , , ,

17 sep

A Lesson on Not Being S.A.D.

Jope2Every year, it happens. There comes one random day in late September when it suddenly hits me the days are getting shorter. And every year, it makes me … S.A.D.

By now, most of us have heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder, a form of depression that generally shows up in the fall and winter months. It’s a legitimate condition that can wreak havoc on someone. Symptoms can include feeling especially tired, moody and hopeless, among other things. For those who cope with clinical depression, the additional onset of S.A.D. is just terrible icing on the cake. For anyone else, S.A.D. can be an unfamiliar and disturbing experience. There are ways to cope, though.

Get outside
Without a doubt, natural light is one of the best antidotes to S.A.D. Even if the sky is cloudy, you can still reap the benefits of the outdoors. For many people, it’s dark by the time they get home in the evenings. If this is the case for you, try to plan for a walk outside in the morning hours. If you leave for work in the dark and come home in the dark, getting outside at lunchtime is crucial.

Lighten up
Last November, I moved from Boston to Seattle and the first thing my doctor said was “Use light therapy.” I laughed at the thought of it … and promptly received one as a gift. It stayed packed until after many grey Seattle days, I busted it out of its box. Small in size – only 5 inches in width and 9 inches in height – it’s comically bright, as in Broadway-stage-spotlight bright. I started spending between 30 and 60 minutes in front of it each day and I truly started to feel better (and perhaps felt like singing show tunes).

Combined with regular exercise, my mind was clearer and feelings of anxiousness dissipated. A word of caution, though. The light has the power to work against you if used improperly. In one instance I accidentally left the light on for two hours while working at my laptop. It wasn’t the brightness I noticed – your eyes actually do adjust to it – but a surge of jittery feelings.

Medication
Don’t assume antidepressants are only good for treating chronic depression. Small doses of an SSRI, like Zoloft of Lexapro, can often help. My own doctor will often increase patients’ dosages of an SSRI in the fall and winter and lower it in the spring and summer. Of course, everyone is different so talk to your doctor before adjusting any medications.

It’s easy to think you just have a case of the blues, but don’t ignore feelings of extreme sadness, hopelessness and behavioral changes, especially if they last longer than a couple days.

And, here’s something to look forward to: Daylight Saving Time in March.

Jennifer Jope is the author of www.thebrainpain.wordpress.com, where she documents her own struggles with depression, including what she learned in a behavioral health program. Her health writing has appeared in Dr. Andrew Weil’s Self Healing Newsletter and Body1.com.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jen Jope on September 17th, 2013 in Health | No comments

15 sep

How to Heal Relationships: What’s Love Got to Do with It? Part Two

WEJMDWhen our relationships fail it is because we have made choices which are destructive and self-defeating. So caught up in our ego and our need to be right, we are blinded to the truth that love flourishes when we are compassionate, accepting, and forgiving. So what can we do about it?

STOP YELLING & DISENGAGE

When we are yelling at each other we are not effectively communicating. We are not listening to the other person’s point of view. There is no true dialogue. No meeting of the minds. No desire for a meeting of the minds. We are just trying to continually drive home our own point, our own grievance, our own sense of righteousness and our need for retribution.

This behavior is not merely a pointless waste of time. It is incredibly destructive to the relationship because basically all we’re doing is attacking and abusing each other. More to the point, we usually end up saying hurtful things we wish we hadn’t said, which turn into resentments, which get lodged in our partner’s heart where it can be very difficult to remove.

Consequently, the best thing to do when we’re yelling at each other is to stop yelling and disengage. We agree that we’re not being productive, that we should table the argument for a while, go our separate ways for a while, give each other some space for a while. We agree to re-engage in the disagreement at a later time when we’ve both cooled off, have had a chance to think about all the issues involved, and are prepared to calmly discuss, mediate and negotiate a peaceful resolution of the problem where both party’s needs will be taken into consideration.

VALIDATE, SOOTHE & COUNTERPOINT

When we are engaged in an argument we oftentimes respond to what we perceive as an attack with an attack. Out partner accuses us of some wrongdoing. We feel it is unjustified and not true. But usually the first thing that comes out of our mouth is: “That’s ridiculous!”… “You’re crazy!”… “There you go again!”… “Calm down!”… “You’re being hysterical!” … “Did you forget to take your medicine?!”… “Are you having your period?!”

We engage in all sorts of name-calling, shaming and blaming. It is all extremely invalidating to the other person. And it usually leads to them being infuriated, them responding with anger, aggression and name calling of their own, and an escalation from a potentially minor issue to World War III.

So here’s what we do: When we feel someone is unfairly accusing us of something, rather than immediately going to the default mode of “the best defense is a good offense,” we take a moment to think before we speak. And then we validate their feelings. We let them know we have listened to what they said. We have heard their complaint. We understand why they perceived the situation the way in which they did.

And then we soothe them as well. We take the time to remind them that we love them. We care about them. It is not our intention to hurt them in any way. Their feelings matter to us.

And then we counterpoint. We express our position, our perspective on what happened.

Here’s an example of the three part process: When our partner accuses us of doing something unloving, we might say, “I can understand why you thought I was being inconsiderate. I want you to know that I care about you and am concerned about your needs and your feelings. In this situation, when I said ________, what you heard was ________, but what I meant was ________. “

By first taking the time to validate and soothe them, they feel respected, they feel they have been heard, and they are much more likely to not get defensive and angry when we challenge their perceptions, and they are much more likely to be in a frame of mind where they can hear our position and calmly discuss and resolve the conflict.

By using these two techniques, a great deal of time once spent in emotionally exhausting and physically draining arguments can be re-directed into enjoyable and nurturing experiences which reaffirm our love and our commitment to our partner.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Walter E Jacobson, MD on September 15th, 2013 in Relationships | No comments Read related posts in ,

15 sep

How Our Digital World Can Maximize Your Company’s Potential

RobertCordrayWhether it’s a small business, large corporation, or simply a website showcasing your resume, knowing how to market is a skill that everyone should seek to understand. With technology continuing to play a more dominant role in all our lives, knowing how to maximize your marketing potential on a digital level could be the number one factor in determining the success or failure of the product or service you are selling.

Social Media.

The popularity of Facebook and Twitter continues to rise with more followers being added every single year. To keep a particular audience engaged on these platforms you need to stay updated on both pages, posting and Tweeting at least 3-5 times a week. It also helps to keep your profile pages active on a weekly basis. If your fans or followers don’t feel like you are putting forth the effort on your pages, they can lose interest very quickly. Lastly, practice good brand management and make sure branding is consistent throughout all your social media, websites and other marketing platforms as well as on any goods you provide.

A Website That Delivers.

Along with social media, having an attractive, clean webpage can make whatever you are trying to market look that much better. You don’t necessarily need a degree in computer programming to make a great-looking website, as there are free to low cost templates online that will get your own webpage off the ground in no time and make your product or service available for the world to see. But, it’s usually fairly easy to pick out a professionally design website from a do-it-yourself. Also, keep in mind that getting your site to rank high on search engines like Google and Bing is the real key to web success. Finally, ensuring your big data security is important to protect all of your company’s information and prevent privacy breaches.

Blogging.

One of the oldest channels of social media, blogging continues to be a very effective way to maximize your product. Studies show that the more consistent and more active a company is with their blog postings, public and customer interest will increase. It can also be used as a valuable tool to drive your audience to other avenues of your corporation like your Facebook or company webpage.

High-Quality Videos.

With the way technology is becoming more simple and accessible to more people each day, a great tool that can be overlooked is having quality videos for whatever you are marketing. You don’t need to have a degree in filmmaking to do this. In fact, shooting a two-minute personalized clip on your iPhone, using simple editing software and getting it posted online can be more valuable to your company than spending thousands of dollars having a third-party film company do the same thing.

Stay Active.

It is one thing to have your hand in all of the media outlets online. It is another to manage these outlets and stay active on a consistent basis. It may take a few extra minutes each day to stay updated on your Twitter account, write a press release for your blog or upload a video to your YouTube account. But, doing that could make all the difference in your branding and public awareness.

Stay Connected.

There is the age-old phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” That can certainly be true in the field of marketing. Utilizing digital technology can be a huge factor in helping you stay connected with your target audience. Sites such as LinkedIn, Jobster and of course, Facebook can help you connect with anyone in the world who is sharing their digital profile.

The marketing world is changing with more and more people becoming technologically literate and connected every single day. Whether you are just starting out with a small company or have been in the marketing business for years, the more you know about digital marketing will make a huge difference in the number of both new and loyal customers.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Robert Cordray on September 15th, 2013 in Technology | No comments

12 sep

How to Heal Relationships – Part One

WEJMDTruly loving, nurturing and sustainable relationships are not happening for a great many of us. The reasons for this have to do with our ego getting in the way, with our unwillingness to be more thoughtful, tolerant and considerate, with our unwillingness to rise above the battlefield, to release our anger and resentments from the past, to effectively communicate, to negotiate differences and to establish, maintain and respect boundaries.

I say unwillingness because although it may be difficult to do these things, we choose not to. Loving, sustainable relationships are not the result of accidents or luck, they are the result of healthy choices.

It’s profound the degree to which most of us treat strangers, acquaintances, co-workers and friends much better than we treat our loved ones. With our loved ones, we forget about being compassionate, generous, selfless, considerate, empathetic and loving. We take them for granted. We ridicule them. We shame them. We ignore their needs and invalidate their feelings. And then we complain that we don’t have the relationship that we want.

This isn’t tricky stuff. If we want to have a loving relationship, we need to be loving. If we want to be understood, we need to understand. If we want to be appreciated, we need to appreciate. If we want to be respected, we need to respect. If we want consideration, we need to be considerate. If we don’t want to be judged and shamed, we need to not judge and shame. If we want to be forgiven, we need to forgive.

We reap what we sow. It’s the Golden Rule and it works: When we treat others as we wish to be treated we tend to receive what we give. Our world gets better. Our relationships become more loving, more nurturing, more satisfying and more enduring.

So that’s the ticket: We choose to be generous. We choose to be grateful. We choose to be gracious. We don’t assume the worst. We give our partner the benefit of the doubt. When our partner says or does something that we feel is inconsiderate or unloving we don’t immediately assume they wanted to attack us and hurt us. We don’t immediately go into an aggressive attack mode.

We remind ourselves that in the past we have said and done things that were thoughtless, inconsiderate and unloving, and at those times we wanted our partner to understand, to tolerate our mistakes, to not hold it against us and to forgive us. And so this is what we choose to do with our partner. We accept, we tolerate, we overlook, we forgive.

We don’t need to turn every thoughtless word or action from our partner into a battlefield. We can choose to not sweat the small stuff. We can choose to remind ourselves that they love us, they care about us, they’re not trying to hurt us. We can let it go. We don’t have to make a big stink about it.

This ties into the idea of “Would you rather be right or happy?” Oftentimes, when we feel wronged, we become insistent about confronting our partner, getting in their face, demanding that they feel guilty and shamed, demanding that they own their transgression, demanding an apology. And it’s oftentimes over minor stuff. And it’s oftentimes over stuff that could be open to interpretation. For example, when we’re feeling insecure we are more likely to perceive an innocuous comment from our partner as an attack. And this prompts us to go into our attack mode.

When we go into our attack mode and insist that we are right and they are wrong, we are loving and they are not, we are cool and they are cruel, and that they need to capitulate and apologize for their horrible acts, this oftentimes causes greater polarization in the relationship, greater antagonism and resentment.

If we don’t get their capitulation, everyone is upset. If we do get their capitulation, oftentimes everyone is still upset because of all the fighting that preceded it. Point being: If we insist on getting an acknowledgment that we are right, we usually end up not being happy. If we decide to stop needing to prove that we are right and instead choose our battles and choose to not make mountains out of molehills, we end up being happy. Isn’t that the whole point of having a relationship in the first place?

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Walter E Jacobson, MD on September 12th, 2013 in Relationships, Spirituality | No comments Read related posts in , , , , ,

11 sep

Staying True to Yourself after a Cancer Diagnosis

JennaSmithWhen you are diagnosed with cancer, much of your life seems out of your control. Instead of managing your own schedule, you are now subject to chemotherapy appointments and long hours spent in the hospital. Instead of maintaining your usual energy levels, you often find yourself overwhelmed with fatigue and unable to participate in favorite activities. It’s difficult to feel like yourself when everything seems to be out of your control – from your physical appearance to the way your body processes food.

However, it doesn’t have to be that way. Whether you have recently been diagnosed with cancer or are well into the fight, here are some tips to spend the next 30 days getting back to YOU.

Talk to a support group

If you haven’t already joined a cancer support group, it’s time to find one. Use this place as a safe space to be yourself: you don’t have to stay positive for the sake of the kids or pretend to feel great to impress an employer. Feel free to share all of your emotions with the support group – your fear, your anger, your frustration, and even the humorous aspects of your situation (chemo farts, anyone?).

Then, ask your support group for suggestions. If you feel isolated, for example, how do other group members plan trips outside of the house? If you feel overworked, how have other people handled talking to supervisors about reduced workloads? Your support group is there for you, so utilize them. Often, the members of your cancer support group will become lifelong friends.

Talk to a counselor

If you have emotions that feel too big for your support group, talk to a counselor or therapist with specific training in cancer issues. Your health insurance is likely to include therapy as part of your treatment plan, so take advantage of it. Here’s where you go to talk about the big fears and angers that are overwhelming your life. A cancer therapist also has positive, specific suggestions about staying true to yourself during your cancer treatment, such as how to keep up with outside interests and how to cope when you are too ill to participate in favorite activities.

Surround yourself with positivity

Although it’s important to feel your own feelings, whether you are angry, grieving, irritated, or sad, it is also important to invite as many positive sources as possible into your life. This can be as simple as using a smartphone app to read your favorite comic strips every morning, or signing up to receive tweets from cancer support organizations like the Burzynski Clinic.

It also means changing out negative or depressing situations for positive ones. If you can’t keep your house as clean as you used to, hire a housecleaner. If you can’t stand the hospital waiting room, buy an iPad or a Kindle Fire and churn through books and TV series online as you wait. Even a cheap bouquet of flowers from the supermarket helps to brighten up a room – and your mood.

Don’t let your personality disappear

Did you know you can choose to wear your own clothes instead of hospital gowns? That’s just one of the ways you can stay true to yourself even when it seems like your body is working against you. Your cancer team is perfectly happy to let you listen to your favorite music during treatment, add family photos to your hospital room, or even wear a Sponge Bob Square Pants Band-Aid instead of a regular one. Don’t feel like you have to subdue yourself during cancer treatment. Get the wig you’ve always dreamed of, introduce your cancer team to your favorite band, and go ahead and wear your favorite soft pajamas instead of those itchy hospital gowns.

Stay true to your relationships

One of the worst parts about a cancer diagnosis is suddenly feeling like everyone is treating you differently. The truth is that you may be sick, but you’re still the same spouse, parent, and friend you always were. Don’t let your treatment get in the way of your relationships – ask your partner, children, and friends about their days, talk to them about their struggles, and make time for a date night, family board game night, or girls’ night out.

If you feel like people are treating you differently, talk to them directly. Explain that yes, you can no longer do certain things, but that doesn’t mean they should avoid you or treat you like an invalid. As with all relationships, good communication is key.

What about you? What have you done during cancer treatment to stay true to you? Do you have any advice for other people fighting cancer? Let us know in the comments.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Jenna Smith on September 11th, 2013 in Family, Health | No comments Read related posts in ,

04 sep

Problem Generating vs. Problem Solving: Choosing the Right Path to Confidence and Success

Kerrigan2Life is filled with change. It is also filled with choice. Success is largely based on the choices we make when facing change.

Many of the changes we face are not welcome and quite challenging, such as getting laid off; going through a restructuring; and doing more with less at work. And, many of us believe that if we worry enough, we can control the outcome.

Well, we can’t. No one can. The only thing we control is ourselves, and how we react to change: Our thoughts and actions. Confidence is all about self control.

When we face change, we come to a fork in the road, and choose from 2 paths: The problem generating path and the problem solving path.

The problem generating path is where we create problems by being too negative. We lose confidence on this path, and we lose our way. It’s where we:

  1. Dwell on the past
  2. Worry about the future
  3. Doubt ourselves
  4. Shut down
  5. Get stuck

“Dwell” is the operative word here. It’s natural to feel anxious and fearful at first. In fact, discomfort often drives change. But, when we dwell on the negative, we mentally go around and around and come out at the same place—nowhere.

Let’s take getting laid off and having to job hunt as an example. Dwelling on the negative may sound like this: “Eh—it’s still the summer—not a great time to look for a job. I really don’t feel like doing this. I really miss my old team. I hate interviewing. I hate networking. I’m not good at either. I’m still upset that they let me go. Is there something wrong with me? Can I really do this? What if I can’t find anything? What if I fail?”

Sound familiar? Doesn’t get us very far, does it?

Now, let’s look at the problem solving path. When we problem solve, we gain confidence. We move forward and succeed. It’s on this path that we:

  1. Acknowledge and accept our fears
  2. Take control—talk ourselves through it
  3. Begin to think positively
  4. Ask “What are our next steps?”
  5. Take action
  6. Turn fear and doubt into planning and action

This path helps us deal instead of dwell. We take control, think empowering thoughts, ask better questions and take action.

It may sound like this: “OK—I might not be thrilled with job hunting, but I’m not going to let that stop me. First, I’m going to educate myself about the companies that I like. Then, I’m going to brush up on my interview skills and reach out to my connections and ask ‘Who can help me?’”

See how it changes? Which path holds us back and which one takes us forward and closer to our goals?

Change is coming at all of us at breakneck speed, and the velocity is increasing. Who knows what the future will bring?

So, our ability to deal with change –by making better choices, and problem solving, not problem generating —will have a big impact on our confidence and success.

It’s time to take control–we are in for the ride of our lives!

Copyright 2013 Michelle Kerrigan

Michelle Kerrigan is an expert consultant and coach in workplace success who helps corporate and private clients develop the practical skills and confidence they need to improve their performance and productivity.

Based on her 25 years’ leadership experience, Michelle provides an invaluable road map for conquering fear and doubt, navigating change and solving day-to-day challenges. Michelle writes and speaks on the impact self esteem has on success, and produces a series for public TV, entitled Workplace Confidence. More at www.workplaceconfidence.com and www.michellekerriganinc.com

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Posted by Michelle Kerrigan on September 4th, 2013 in Career, Global/Social Change, New Directions | No comments Read related posts in , , , , , , ,

01 sep

3 Steps to Avoid Power Struggles

MaricleWhy Do We Power Struggle with Our Kids?

Do you find yourself caught in power struggles with your kids? Most of us do, and sometimes, just making a few small changes can have a big impact. At every stage of development, having a sense of power is critical to a positive self-image. Whether your child is on the Autism spectrum and needs to feel a high level of control, or he is just feeling the usual growing pains of adolescence, all kids need to have some decision-making power.

Giving choices can help kids feel more independent, capable, and in control.

MaricleImageInterestingly enough, when your child feels this way, you will too! The next time you find yourself in a power struggle, look for a way to offer a choice. Better yet, don’t wait for a power struggle – build your child’s self-esteem and save yourself frustration by proactively looking for opportunities to offer choices. Younger children don’t have the tools to understand many things, but we can empower them with little choices: Peanut butter and jelly, or turkey? Yellow shoes or grey shoes? Would you like to brush your teeth before or after the story? Teenagers can understand more and have more input into more significant decisions.

Building decision making skills is one of our most important jobs as parents.

Making choices builds critical thinking, perspective taking, planning, and other important cognitive skills. Just think how many times a day you use these skills yourself. If you help your children practice decision making when they are with you, they are better equipped and more likely to make good decisions when they are alone.

Choice, Stick to It, Praise
This is an easy three-step approach that I teach parents. It can help empower families to avoid power struggles while teaching decision-making skills.

1. Choice:
Take the example of 3 year-old Maggie, who is at the Please Touch museum. Mommy is ready to move on, but Maggie’s not. She refuses to put down a stick. Instead of getting into a power struggle, her mom might say something like: “Maggie would you like to put the stick back here on the blue ledge, or on the red one?”

It’s amazing how giving even a small choice empowers kids and helps them to feel more in control. In this example, Maggie enjoys age appropriate independence and decision-making power. When she completes the task, she can feel proud of her accomplishment. Secondly, by giving her a choice of where to place the stick, her mom uses distraction to shift her focus away from the transition and onto something else.

Now consider an example with 14 year-old Max. He really wants to play both soccer and baseball this year. Unfortunately, there is only enough money for one sport. What if his parents gave him an appropriate amount of information and then involved him in the decision? They might say something like: “Max, we have $200 for sports for you this season. Soccer costs $150 and baseball costs $190. If you choose soccer, then you would have enough money left over to buy new cleats. If you choose baseball, there’s only $10 left over, so you will have to use your old equipment. What would you like to do?” Max has enough information to understand the rationale, and has power in prioritizing what he wants. Now instead of focusing on how it’s “not fair,” or feeling that you don’t care, he is engaged in problem solving and prioritizing together with you.

2. Stick to it:
You need to be consistent. If you tell your child that you have only $200 for sports, you can’t miraculously produce an extra $150 because he whines or begs.

Consistency and predictability make kids feel safe, let your child know that she can trust your word.

3. Praise:
Let her know she did a good job. Most of us love to get a pat on the back. Most kids do too and you will help build a positive self-concept by reinforcing their positive choices and qualities.
Make praise concrete, earnest, and focused on their innate personal qualities or effort.

Try phrases like:
“Wow, you worked so hard.”
“Great job figuring this out,” or
“You’re such a good cook.”

What’s your experience with power struggles? What are your worst or most typical power struggles with your kids about? Which struggles pull you in every time? What are some strategies that have worked for you? (Or which strategies haven’t worked?)

Amy Johnson Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is a psychotherapist and art therapist in Foxboro, MA. She loves helping teens and adults find ways to live happier, healthier, and smarter. You can find out more at: www.amyjohnsonmaricle.com

DISCLAIMER: This information is not a substitute for professional psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. All content provided by Maricle Counseling and Amy Maricle, LMHC, ATR-BC is intended for general information purposes only. Never disregard professional medical or psychological advice or delay seeking treatment because of something you read here.

If you felt moved, inspired, touched, helped, annoyed, or anything after reading this, please let us know. Our wonderful bloggers really do appreciate your comments and feedback. It’s super easy and takes a minute. Click on comments below.

Posted by Amy Maricle on September 1st, 2013 in Family, Teens | 2 comments Read related posts in , , , ,