Sunday, February 28, 2010

20 Tips for Tough Times

From my book: Forget-Me-Not, Forget-Me-Never, Remember The Fun We Had Together.

May your joys be as deep as the ocean,
And your sorrows as light as its foam.
Your loving friend,
January 29, 1905

The photo is of the Atlantic Ocean at Rockaway Park, 1908.

We all go through bad days, bad weeks, bad years at a time. As a single gal for 20 years, I found myself many times minus a roommate, in between jobs, without a job, with three jobs (workaholic), without a boyfriend, and at 32, after being bed ridden for 2 years, I lost my Father to Emphysema.

Whether suddenly out of a job or suffering through the death of a loved one, the following are twenty tips (in no particular order) that have helped me through tough times, so hopefully will help you, dear reader.

  1. If you cannot figure out who you are, figure out who you are NOT. Figuring out who you are NOT is half the battle. Make a list of your personal strengths/weaknesses on a legal pad. Argue both sides of your case, thinking as a lawyer would think. Write down a person or people you most admire. Seek out a counselor, physiologist or minister/rabbi, if you have the need.

  2. Take care of yourself and your daily needs. Your body is your temple. Take that shower. Brush your teeth and shave. Tuck your shirt in and shine your shoes. Take pride in your appearance. If you can no longer afford that hair appointment, go to the local cosmetology school for an inexpensive haircut. If you cannot afford a new suit to look for a job, seek out a Goodwill store, local charitable organization specializing in business clothes, or vintage clothing store. Vintage is chic! You will be amazed at the fashion you can find.

  3. Everyone needs to have a night out and "blow it out" every now and again. Have one or two nights out with friends and indulge. Be always with your group or buddy. Have a nice glass of wine with a good meal and interesting conversation. Sing and dance. Enjoy yourself. Be safe. Be careful, though. Do not make an occasional indulgence a habit. We all know healthy behaviors from bad, unhealthy behaviors. It is easier and seemingly more fun for some people to hide from their own thoughts and themselves by consistently indulging in bad behaviors, thus, running away from themselves and their circumstances. Just know, if you choose this lifestyle, do not expect to drag everyone else into it with you. You may find yourself by yourself with transient friends, transient jobs, transient living situations, thus, a transient life. A chaotic life is at best, a harder life. In the long run, a lifetime is a long time. Yet, some people are addicted to chaos then, become addicted to the anger that develops from the chaos. Do not let this type of bad behavior become your habit, your life.

  4. If you cannot figure out exactly what you want to do for a living, figure out exactly what you DO NOT want to do for a living. Make a list on a legal pad of your professional strengths/weaknesses, what you want to do/do not want to do. Argue both sides of your case, again, as a lawyer would argue. Write down your dream job. Write down your natural God-given talents. If you do not know, visit a career center at a nearby community college or university and take tests/seek career counseling/educational opportunities. One will always have one's good brain to use and utilize all throughout one's life. It is NEVER too late to go back to school, learn a new trade or refine a talent you have just for your enjoyment and fun after work. Painting, carpentry, writing, cleaning, singing, tutoring, care giving, cooking, shop, sewing, travel, etc.

  5. What do YOU want out of you life? What is your purpose? What do you want to accomplish of your own? What was your favorite subject in school? Chances are, you excelled at the subjects you enjoyed. Everyone has hidden talents. Preferably, do what you love for a living, but if you cannot, do it for yourself after working hours.

  6. Make and take time out for yourself. Be selfish with your time until you get through your rough time. Tell your friends you are taking a bit of time out. Do not complain to all your friends or you will find yourself spending time and taking care of your friends instead of yourself. If you can, when you can, take a weekend or week off and go away by yourself. Go camping, go on a retreat, go to a spa. Be alone with your thoughts so you can ground yourself, gather your strength and figure out what is important to you, and what your priorities are in your life.

  7. Eleanor Roosevelt said: "You teach other people how to treat you," and it is true. Be kind and polite always, but strong.

  8. For at least 1/2 hour per day, or more, turn OFF the Cable TV/Cell phone/Radio/I-Pod so you may have some quiet time to think. My husband purposefully takes time out to mow the grass so he may think about grand ideas or a small angle for his company. He thinks about how other people can make money for him so he may have more time to think of more ideas for more little angles. One idea and one angle at a time.

  9. Cancel your membership at the gym. You can instead go for walks/runs around your neighborhood. You can do sit ups and other exercises in your living room. Take the gym membership money and put it into the bank. Exercise or stretch out a bit every day. Little work outs to feel a bit better.

  10. Keep any social club or country club memberships if you can. You may use social clubs for informal networking, community involvement, group support, volunteering, and other opportunities.

  11. Pretend like you are shopping and take the money you would normally spend shopping and put it in the bank. Have only one credit card and only use it for emergencies and vacations. Shop around for cheaper car insurance, life insurance, health insurance. You do not need to pay an agent. You can get better deals managing your own insurances yourself. If you do not have a checking account, open one up. Always keep your eyes out for new banks with "free checking for life" accounts. If you have a checking account, open a savings account. If you have a savings account, open a money market account. If you have all of these accounts, buy some Treasury Bonds, or invest in the stock market. Don't worry about meeting the minimums right away. Build it up a bit at a time. Put spare change in a small drawer rather than in a jar. Put spare dollar bills in your purses or pants/jacket pockets and forget about it.

  12. Donate not with a check, but donate in kind. For example, instead of giving money to your church/temple, offer to clean the chapel or do repairs or yard work around the church once a week or once a month. Volunteer for church school, or in the church nursery, or drive the shuttle bus. Volunteer for Habitat for Humanity for your vacation.

  13. When cooking, or baking, make double the recipe and take the extra half to an elderly neighbor, less fortunate neighbor, or local organization that feeds shut-ins or a homeless shelter.

  14. Clean out your garage. Bring unwanted tools and sporting equipment and vehicles to your local homeless shelter. Clean out your kitchen pantry. Bring your unwanted canned goods to the local food bank. Clean out your makeup drawer. Bring all the unused makeup and unused free samples to the local battered woman's shelter. You cannot even imagine how a bit of makeup helps a battered woman's confidence!

  15. Volunteer for one evening or one afternoon, once per week or once per month somewhere, anywhere. If time is an issue (because you have three jobs as I used to have), then volunteer to serve a holiday meal at a homeless shelter.

  16. If you are fortunate enough to have a large or supportive family lean on them, or lean on a select few friends. If you have neither family or friends, please find counsel in a local church/temple, school or civic group.

  17. Clean out your closets,cabinets, attic, bookshelves, basement, storage unit,etc. Give away clothes, shoes and things you have not worn or used in 5 years. Giving to others less fortunate than yourself will take your worry off yourself and will lift your heart up.

  18. Give away all the fussy, time taking things in your house that require too much of your time to keep up or that cause you stress. For example, old silver, old pewter or copper, or even plants that require too much effort. Keep your animals as they reduce stress unless they have become unruly. If you have an animal and have had a new baby, or have an animal that belonged to a deceased family member and the animal is or has become unruly, give the animal away to a friend, or take the animal to a "No Kill" shelter.

  19. Do NOT act like a victim. You will wear others out with your constant complaining about all your daily problems. After a certain age (25), everyone has their own problems and does not need to hear your daily complaints. You choose your own behavior thus, you must put up with the outcome. If you do not care for the outcome, change your behavior. The same behavior will result in the same outcome. Little changes. One day at a time, like putting a quarter in a cup, every day. Build on small changes every day and stick with it. Patience is a virtue!

  20. No one else can live your life for you just as you cannot live others' lives for them. No one else will take care of the personal you. It is so easy to loose your own identity, your own soul, your own energy, your own patience taking care of everyone else in this highly stressful, highly competitive, fast paced, technology driven life. Make time for yourself because no one else will.

Make time to utilize your good mind, and take care of yourself, dear reader.