Sunday, January 26, 2014

Manners over Money

I think it’s fair to say that the topic of Money is a rather touchy subject for most people. Unless, of course you are one of the lucky few that are born into an endless pool of wealth.
Regardless of our age, education or career path, we all work hard for the money we make. The value of a dollar doesn’t always seem to be 100 cents. Meaning, we work our tails off just to earn a few dollars to buy groceries or pay a bill, but the value behind those expenses is far more important. We work to provide shelter, clothing and food to put on the table for ourselves and our families. To me, that’s worth a lot more than 100 cents. Survival is priceless.
However, earning the salary doesn’t always come easy. A small task to earn $20 for you may be an arduous task for me, but only to earn the same $20. A project that one person has to complete to earn $100 may be difficult to commute to, involve challenging people to work with, little to no recognition, or could entail 10-12 hours of labor. That same $100 another person earns can fall into their lap in minutes with little to no hassle.
My point is that no matter how we earn our wages we all have to be cognizant of others around us. People work extremely hard and overcome difficult obstacles to achieve a level of comfort with their finances. The path to “Financial success” is not an easy road, and people can feel rather defensive speaking about it. (Click: Personal Finance Cheat Sheet)
When you are in a setting with a person or group of people, try to watch what you say about how you personally spend your money. Not that we need to babysit other people’s feelings, but by speaking about all the money you spent on a shopping spree or the amazing 7 course dinner you had at a Fine Dining Restaurant could potentially offend someone around you. We love hearing your stories, and happy that you are enjoying the finer things in life but the level of detail isn’t always necessary to share.
Yes, you worked hard to earn the $200 you just spent on your new wardrobe and the mouthwatering meal you had, but did it ever occur to you that some people cover up their expenses by their physical interactions? John Doe could be wearing new shoes and a nice sweater from Armani Exchange (little do you know he scored them on clearance), but aside from taking pride in his appearance he could be putting on a “show” to not allow others to see his financial hardship.
However, that same $200 you spent at the mall may have been the most crucial $200 John Doe had to spend that week, on numerous things. He may have had to decide between paying his cell phone bill before it got shut off and putting gas into his car to meet you for coffee or to spend that $200 on his mother’s monthly prescription who is battling cancer. Extreme examples these may be, but I know people that have been in these situations.
We most certainly can’t make assumptions about the size of a person’s wallet based on the lifestyle they live. Even celebrities, top executives or successful individuals in the work force have their own financial battles. Now to be realistic, when we see someone decked out in high-end labels who drives a nice car or goes on lavish vacations we clearly see and can ponder that they are financially “healthy.” However, since when did it become ok to comment on their spending decisions? We can’t assume that person “has it made” just by the lifestyle they live.
How we spend our money these days is a very personal and selective decision for many people. Let’s bring it a little closer to home. We can’t assume that someone who drives a new car or who dresses properly or someone who buys a daily Starbucks Coffee has a “healthy” bank account. We all work hard for the money we make, but the expenses we endure and how we spend our earnings can be even more difficult to accept.
Work hard and Play hard:
·         Be proud of the work you put in to earn your money
·         Be humble when you speak of your spending and the level of detail
·         Consider other’s before making assumptions on their situation
·         Earn & Spend as you wish

Whether they are single or married, no dependents to support or family of 5, if they are healthy or battling an illness, work a corporate job or if they have 2-3 jobs we cannot assume that a person is or is not in a position to spend their money the way you do. Staying cooped up in the house because you’re in over your ears in debt is not easy or fun to deal with. People need human interaction, support from others and we all deserve to enjoy the little and big things in life. 
Next time you offer to meet a friend for lunch, or suggest a group outing to Six Flags with the neighbors and their kids, or even to meet for a Sunday cup of coffee try to remember that the idea seems appealing to most everyone, but the reality behind how to fund those expenses may be a little more difficult for some to execute.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Aretha Franklin sang it best, "RESPECT"

The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, sang it best "R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Find out what it means to me" It’s all we’re asking for, just a little bit…
Each of us deserves respect. Equally we need to show respect.We deserve respect from and need to respect our family members, children, pets, friends, co-workers, classmates, neighbors, and even strangers around us. Just as important, we deserve respect from the person we care about and want to spend most of our time with. 

Name calling is downright childish, so don’t do it. But I’m not only talking about actual words we exchange, rather the non-verbal’s, face time, and how we genuinely care about people are just a few examples of how to Respect others. You don’t know what a person does on their own time, and their daily challenges, so where do people think it’s ok to be disrespectful, judge and make assumptions?

So let’s break it down, what does respect mean to YOU? Define it for yourself, and be sure to communicate it to others in your circle. Tone of voice, language and vocabulary are the simple elements. Respect goes much further than the verbal communication.

Respect yourself and the other person to pick up the phone occasionally rather than text all the time. Respect others by arriving on time to engagements. Respect the other person by spending time with their friends and family while also inviting/expecting the same with your friends and family. If you’re in a relationship, this could be a rather simple yet important gesture. Why does that have to be “too much too soon?”

Respect yourself and the other person physically. Don’t rush into intimacy when you’re trying to get to know the other person on a more intellectual, emotional and personal level. However, we are all adults and intimacy is important, so this should be a mutual decision made by both parties. If/when you take that step, communicate your expectations before and after.

Respect someone's space. While we all enjoy interacting with those closest to us, we all need a little space to ourselves. Respect someone's environment. Whether you are at their home, in their car, with their family/friends or out in public with them, be respectful of that person's actions and interactions.  

Respect is the most important expectation to have and to deliver. Hand-in-hand with respect should be honesty. Why are people so afraid to speak the truth and share information and thoughts? You don’t have to “protect” the other person by refraining from speaking the truth. We are all adults, and can protect ourselves.

Just be open and honest with the other person about the things you like, things that you don’t like, things that inspire and motivate you to be a better partner, and the things that frustrate you or that you struggle with. Be honest about where you go and who you associate with. We certainly are not here on this earth to follow your life itinerary because we have better things to do and our own life to live. If we wanted a GPS tracker on you, then we’d use the “Find Friends” App, or hire a personal spy. #Creeper

But because we are genuinely interested in each other and your hobbies, we would love to learn more about the things you participate in and integrate ourselves somehow. You don’t need to over share or willingly tell us BS stories, but you also don’t need to twist the truth either. Most importantly about being honest is to share how you think/feel about the other person. Do you see this going anywhere? Do you like him/her? Did you start out on an interested mindset, but somewhere along the line it shifted? TELL them. We would rather hear it directly if he/she is interested in us than to see the communication/texting trickle off slowly or to just see an abrupt end to spending time with one another. 

Sometimes we all need to revert back to the basic fundamentals of Life. Like Aretha sang, "R-E-S-P-E-C-T find out what it means to me." Respect yourself and those around you if you expect Respect from others. Define it for YOU, and remember to stand by what you preach.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Constant Juggle and Staying Motivated

I often get asked, “how do you do everything you do?” and “how do you stay motivated?”

Between work, school, dance, PR projects and making time for family and friends….oh and “me time” it is definitely a constant juggle. Though, I make the time and I make it work.

I will be honest. It’s not always easy, and it can be exhausting at times.
However, I am motivated by the plans I have for my future, and my passion behind what I do. I am excited for what is yet to come, and I see myself doing big things! I may have several interests, but ultimately I have a couple of key goals that I strive to reach. Some people believe, “less is more,” and while I do believe everything is good in moderation there are times we have to kick it into high gear.

(Photo credit: In2theMystic) 

Staying organized is essential to one’s success, particularly the busier we get. In order to accomplish my short term and long term goals, I set expectations for myself. I create tasks and goals on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis. For example, my resolutions for 2014 consist of several goals that are attainable to achieve throughout the year, each one leading to the next. These tasks are a constant reminder to keep working hard for what I want. I even have them written down on a whiteboard on my fridge. Managing my time and balancing my priorities is something I will always continue to work on. Once I commit to a project, I expect nothing less of myself than to follow through.

However, juggling too many things can easily spiral out of control. Be sure to not over commit yourself. Remember, it is ok to politely say no to people and projects. If you sign up to do something, then do the best you can to execute flawlessly. If you begin a task, but come across a road block remember it is ok to ask for help.

Some of my own goals intimidate me, but I can’t let that stop me from working towards them. Sometimes I think to myself “is this even realistic?” or “how am I going to get there?” Having a positive mentality and open mind has allowed me to try new things, leading me to open more doors. I take on as many opportunities as I can. I try to meet new people as often as possible. Not everything has a positive outcome, but I learn lessons in everything that I do and carry it forward to the next task.

I stay motivated by surrounding myself with encouraging people. I can be my own worst critic at times, and come down on myself pretty hard. I need people in my life that can help reassure me of my accomplishments and my efforts. In return, I like to be the kind of person that can help and inspire others. The world is competitive as it is, so the last thing we need is to compete with ourselves.

Many of us are in the same boat trying to sail into the future. I find it rather healthy and beneficial to listen to other’s experiences to help us move forward. Hearing people’s stories helps me relate their journey and struggles to mine.

Not all people that enter my life will be a positive influence. I have learned that some people will enter my life to help boost me up, while others enter my life to teach me a lesson. This has not been a concept I have been able to grasp lightly. I genuinely get attached to people, and always find a way to connect with them…even the most stubborn people. It’s who I am, and it’s in my nature.

I constantly have to remind myself that the negative energy in some people only brings me down, and at some point I have to decide to cut the cord. I don’t feel the need to answer to anyone or impress anyone other than myself. It’s good to be challenged, but in a healthy way. I take feedback rather well, and I try to learn from others as often as possible, but if an individual is distracting me from my path to success then it is not worth dedicating the extra time.

PEOPLE in general inspire me. I observe everyone that I cross paths with. Their posture, their tone of voice, and their non-verbals speak measures. I learn a lot from people by watching their behaviors, but most importantly engaging in conversations. It’s fair to say I’m quite the extrovert, but even the most introverted person can learn from others by simply observing them.

There is definite truth behind the phrase, “never judge a book by its cover.” The story a person far surpasses what we see or assume from the outside. I am a rather curious person. I like to ask questions, I like to know the HOW and WHY behind something, and I like to learn from people.

Getting to know different types of people is what motivates me to be a better person, stronger woman, and happier individual. While I usually preach for people to not compare themselves to others, there is a slight exception I make to this rule. The only time I compare myself to others is when I see something I like and want it for myself. I don’t like to judge people, but let’s be real we all do it. Judging doesn’t have to be a negative connotation, and as a matter of fact I try to see the good in people and apply what I like about them to myself and where I want to go. Simultaneously, learning from the elements I can't relate to or find harmful to my overall well-being.

We all have our own ways of staying motivated, but I’m a firm believer in keeping an all-around positive attitude. I seldom post negative comments on social media because I feel that the slightest notion of negativity will put a kink in my progress. I’m certainly not a fake person, and I’m only human so yes I have days where all I want to do is vent. I leave those moments to when I’m alone, or occasionally with a close friend.

Staying organized, asking for help and continuing to learn from others has allowed me to juggle my projects and activities. I have learned that it is ok to say no, and to also take time out for myself. My passion for what I do is what drives and motivates me to do better. 

I try to keep my eyes on the prize as I step forward, one foot at a time.