Mindful Eating World Summit 2015

Standard

Dear friends,

I cannot recommend this enough! Last year, I subscribed out of casual curiosity. Dr Kellee at the time was a new friend and business partner with my very good friend Renee. The title at first wasn’t a big draw since I wasn’t looking to lose weight. I already had that under control with a healthier diet and all the running I was doing right? Well, guess what?!

First of all, I learned that I could still eat in an even more healthy – MINDFUL way that has brought me to a place now, at 50, when I am seriously more vibrant and healthy than at any other time in my life! My doctor looked at my blood test results last month (all perfect!) and said “WHAT are you DOING?!”

(For old time readers, you might recall that five years ago I had high cholesterol and *really* high triglycerides.)

I take no medications at all. I just eat really, really well and run a little bit 😉

That extra leap was inspired by the Mindful Eating Summit last year. BUT….this is NOT just about eating and diet and weight loss. Dr. Kellee rounds up some of the most diverse coaches, doctors, healers. There is something there for everyone. What makes it so useful though is how well she conducts her interviews. They aren’t interviews really – she has conversations with everyone. Her questions start it off, but then it just rolls along like friends having a deep talk over an afternoon tea or coffee.

Many of the experts offer some really awesome free gifts too. Many of these folks will touch something in you. You’ll be inspired, your curiosity piqued, and you will learn about possibilities you didn’t know were out there.

It’s free – which will boggle your mind just 2-3 interviews in, I promise you!

http://mindfuleatingworldsummit.com/

Granny Scam warning – don’t let this happen to anyone you know!

Standard

First, a quick link to a great resource at least here locally on the topic: Safe Seniors – and then an exceedingly rare up front plea: – PLEASE SHARE THIS! The more people who are aware, the better chance we have to prevent these scammers from succeeding.

A quick excerpt from that link that will tie in the real life story I am going to share:

Imposters, often from foreign countries, target the elderly by posing as a grandchild in trouble and in need of cash. The caller often says that he or she has been arrested, was in a car accident or has some type of medical emergency. The caller always insists that the grandparent not tell anyone about the money transfer, which is one of the red flags. The scam is often effective because it catches seniors off guard and tugs at their heartstrings.

I decided to share the tale here since a quick post to the August moms email group and then on Facebook apparently helped some other friends of mine warn off their own family & elderly neighbors so that they didn’t fall for this ploy – which is VERY effective!

A bit before the holidays, my mom received a phone call which started like this “Hi grandma, it’s me – your grandson!” When she said “Oh hi!” the follow up was “Do you know who this is?” and she responded with my older son’s name and the Game was On.

With a blend of throwing darts at the dartboard guesses and exceptionally leading questions or statements, the caller convinced my mom he was my son, that he was in trouble for crashing a car and that he needed money wired. She was to tell NO ONE and especially not ME. Part of the leading conversation gained the information that son #1 has had some DUI issues and would be a boatload of trouble if that ever came up again so the caller deftly played on those heartstrings.

Now, the scammer instructed my mom that there would be a follow up phone call from the attorney who would give her wiring instructions and then they hung up. In between, she did try to call my son – who just happened to not have his phone ON at that moment – and then she tried to call me and vaguely asking me if he was home and OK. Since I had not yet seen him that morning, but I did see his car in the driveway (I was out prepping the yard for holiday lights) I said he was home and had been home all night as far as I knew, but I know I was also impatient since I didn’t know why she wasn’t just calling him directly and well, my hands were full of dirt & weeds!

All of which converged to help her still believe the scammer so that when they called back – by then my dad was home – they were really quite convinced they needed to wire this money. So much so that they left their house to go to a convenience store and initiate the transaction! THANKFULLY – you can credit intuition or your deity of choice – something triggered in their heads “scam!”

Still wary though, they now called my ex who my dad works with and who is an attorney. Of course he immediately confirmed that it smelled rotten to the core, and they promptly went home and this time when my mom called she laid out the whole sordid tale to me, and I just about peed my pants, first in HUGE relief that they didn’t send any money, and then with laughter because well…it was pretty funny how well all those events lined up to string them that far along. I alerted my son, who then saw the missed calls and so HE talked to her, and they laughed and well…we were all mostly relieved as I say.

We did discuss what to do in the future though. Questions and ways to validate the identity of any future callers and my sons (both of them) swearing that they would NEVER call them for anything like that and that under ALL circumstances they should call ME and confirm everything too.

Toward the bottom of that article is this other little tidbit:

When people have been scammed once, their phone numbers and information are sold to other tricksters.

Even though the first folks DIDN’T get any money, my parents’ number was probably still identified as one with potential. So a little after the holidays they tried again. My mom listened for a bit and then said she just didn’t believe them and even when the caller pleaded “Grandma! Don’t you care about me?!” Thankfully she didn’t fall for that, and the call ended. Of course, then she calls both me and my son again to make doubly SURE it was a scam, and we all had another laugh at it.

Then yesterday – AGAIN – this time the caller weaved a fantastic tale about traveling to Santiago, Chile and a friend who had a time share and all this wonderful stuff and how his voice might sound difference since he had a cold and…..oh hey, by the way, I got into a little trouble though….(red alert!) so my mom asked him what his last name is, and when he said “But grandma, you know it’s me, you said my name!” she insisted on him stating his full name and wouldn’t you know it, the caller hung up.

So we are hoping that the third failure is the charm and that they will trash the phone number. If not, we will take some small entertainment value at seeing what stories they come up with next.

In all seriousness – please, if you know any seniors, warn them about this scam. Have them setup some confirming questions to pose to the caller that only family would know. Better yet, just have them hang up! They target numbers in known retirement communities (such as my parents), and they are counting on their victims to not have caller ID and to have grandkids. Since it’s a cold calling outfit essentially, if they miss the mark on the first call, they will most likely ditch the number.

If you got this far – thank you – and please don’t forget to share to protect your own family + friends!

Consumer Report – At Home Nail and Hand Care

Standard

I’ve been battling problems with extremely dry, cracking skin around my nails ever since I stopped going to get my nails done regularly back in 2009. Even if I took proper care of my cuticles (hah!), my fingertips were still chapped like a lumberjacks or mechanics, or…well..name any career that would eat up your hands..you get my drift – they were rough and, frankly, painful.

I stopped getting my nails done because I was a little bit tired of it, wanted them to recover form having had acrylics on them for 20 years, and also needed to save that money so that I could go to regular cross fit sessions. Seemed a better use of my time and money to get in shape – and it was!

However, my hands were a mess so when I came into some money this summer I thought I could treat myself again to getting regular manicures, and that would solve the problem. After three months of visits, my nails were prettier – I was getting the gels this time instead of acrylics because I erroneously thought that would be easier on my nail beds – but my skin was still dry, cracked & bleeding (sorry about that imagery) as much as ever. After my last visit I had the shellac/gel removed & just had a regular manicure done with nothing put on them but regular polish. It seemed my idea of getting them done didn’t work so why waste the time & money. Back to the drawing board 😦

That was about two weeks before Christmas.

Then I went shopping at Bath & Body Works to get the hand soap that my mom likes for one of her gifts and I remembered the True Blue hand lotion that I had loved before.

Oh, I should mention that on my own I looked up some things to do like soak my fingers in olive oil, or use other lotions to apply every night & then wear gloves. All sorts of things, but no one thing seemed to work for any amount of time. Winter, of course is the worst even in mild San Diego as the air gets drier & colder. My other “problem” which isn’t really one is that I wash my hands a lot which successfully keeps away most every cold/flu bug, but is obviously sucking moisture away from the spots I need it most.

So, back to Bath & Body works – I spied in the Spa lotion section the C.O. Bigelow chapped hands remedy lotion and the True Blue manicure hand scrub. Since they were having their usual pre-holiday sale I got all three items below for $10. Then I bought some good old Sally Hansen nail treatment. For the past three weeks I have been using all four items diligently. I bought a second regular True Blue lotion to have at work, and I make sure to apply it after every hand washing. I use the chapped hands lotion morning and night and any time a new cracked spot might pop up. Those have all now healed and nothing new has developed in the last two weeks. I use the manicure scrub about every other time in the shower. I have also started buffing that dry skin away just as you would buff/file away at callouses on your feet. Because let’s be real, that’s what these patches of dry skin were – finger callouses. Of course I am more gentle in those spots, but a quick buff, then a spot of the chapped hands lotion and they are all gradually smoothing away. Meanwhile, my nails are also slowly recovering from the shellac abuse.

All in all, this was a much cheaper option and more importantly – it works! The chapped hands lotion is completely grease free – I can go right back to swiping on my tablet or phone without leaving a smudge. The True Blue lotion is a little more greasy, but still so much less than most other lotions.

One of those annoying little things that I’ve been irritated by for years now is finally solved with $25 (total with the Sally Hansen) and just a few minutes of attention every day. I call that a WIN!20140109-191558.jpg

20140109-191622.jpg

The Dog Pound Rocks

Standard

LinkedIn

 

Check out the new addition to my LinkedIn profile!

Yes, I managed to earn enough writing points (by essentially selling enough posts) to get up to Level 5. Wahoo! I originally hoped to make it there in June, but I’ve continually surpassed my writing goals these first 3 months. This will come to a crashing HALT in June thanks to a weekend flag football passing league tournament and then a trip to San Jose – but I still think I should reach Level 7 by the end of the year.

Why does Blogmutt work so well for me?

First of all, because there’s NO *requirements*. I can write as little or as much as I want. I’m averaging out to a little more than a post a day (89 days since I started and I’ve written 95 posts). The only person it impacts if I don’t write for several days is me since I am paid by the post and nothing else.

Secondly, there are SO MANY customers to choose from that there is no way you will get bored. I write about VIN reports, whey protein, CPAs, Bookkeeping, interviewing, web design, outdoor kitchens, area rugs, skin care treatments, fitness coaching, and many more topics. It is so interesting to do research on things I’ve never heard of before, but are actually quite useful!

Thirdly, I love the format. 300-400 words on a topic chosen by the client. Go to their website to get a feel for their product and the overall vibe. Check out prior accepted posts and comments they have made and also check out the rejects to see what I should avoid. Find some recent, relevant articles on the topic to learn more and use as a launching off spot for my own post. I tend to match up well with customers looking for something pretty simple and organized and clear. I’m not a terribly fluffy or imaginative writer. Some of the other mutts are! Oh man, are they creative and fantastic! But, I know my skills and my weaknesses so I have spent my time matching myself up with clients who want my style.

The best part? It’s all anonymous! We have no direct contact with the customers at all. Sure, when the posts are purchased, they get published on the web without our names attached (no official byline), but I really don’t care about that! This arms length system means that a rejection has minimal impact other than to be annoying. I take nothing personally at all. Of those 95 posts, 7 have been rejected. The really cool thing is that once a post is rejected it reverts back to being the writer’s property, and I can repurpose it for another client with similar keywords.

OK, I lied, anonymity is not THE best part – nope, that would be the Dog Pound aka, The Writer’s Forum. That is where all of the writers can post questions and advice and encouragement to each other. Tips and tricks are shared constantly as are challenges to fill up customer’s queues each week. Those writers are just a fantastically supportive bunch.  It’s awesome because it COULD be competitive as there is a bit of an aspect to the process that means we are sometimes writing for the same client at the same time, and one writer’s post could be bumped down in favor of another. But honestly I have never felt a bit of that! There are so many opportunities with so many customers that you just move on to the next one that catches your eye.

I credit the BlogMutt owner’s for that. They have made it rewarding (with the points levels) and fun. They respond to questions and requests quickly and really stick up for the writer’s when needed. They also keep a good balance between an available customer pool and the total number of writers. In fact, if anything right now we need MORE writers because they have been going gangbusters at signing on new customers!

So, this is my recommendation and an appeal – if you have ever thought about doing any kind of freelance writing to make a little extra $, then this is the place: https://www.blogmutt.com/pages/writer

You will have fun, learn a TON, become a better writer and have some gas money. When I send my invoice this weekend that will put me at an even $600 since I started. Do the math – that’s a tank of gas a week.

Or, in this case, the invoice I will send out will end up paying for the football cleats that I ordered for my son this week.

Yup – mama’s buying him a new pair of shoes with her BlogMutt earnings!

 

Happify really *does* happify your daily life

Standard


smiley_face_flower-02

A few weeks ago I shared that, on a whim, I had responded to an email invite and joined this new site called Happify. Yes, there was some skepticism and I wasn’t sure how long I would stick with it. But I have honestly found that it has ever so gently changed a few things in my already pretty positively leaning mindset.

When you join, you take a little quiz to rate your relative level of happiness. I started out at 75. Like I said, I’m rather skilled already at looking at silver linings. Then, you pick a track to join. The tracks focus on different aspects of how your mind works to engage in a happier way of thinking. Topics include ‘Coping Better With Stress’, ‘Appreciate What I Have’ and ‘Nurture My Body and Soul’. There are many others as well. Once you enter a track, there are tasks to complete over the course of a week. Some are simple little quizzes to take, some are soothing puzzles to do, and every one makes you stop and just THINK for a moment about things happening in your life. They mostly focus on small things, but a few get a bit bigger in scope, though nearly all take no more than a few minutes to document. You might need to read a set of instructions and ponder them for a day or two. That’s pretty cool though because over those days you cannot help but view the day’s events through the lens of the assignment.

Rather miraculously, this different perspective helped me out at work in a big way. I’ve had this ONE co-worker (not in my department) who is HE biggest thorn in my side. Now, my opinion of her has been validated frequently when other employees have experienced her frustrating way of communication (demanding!). She never makes an effort on her own to figure anything out, even when all the information is at her fingertips. Every month when I provide her a schedule for her department, the email barrage begins, I grit my teeth and at least a day and a half of pissy emails are exchanged until she is finally satisfied. This month, I just happened to have a task on my track regarding empathy & disagreement. It encouraged me to try to view a negative situation from an entirely different perspective – hers. I know, that’s basic right? We all KNOW we should put ourselves in other people’s shoes especially when mired in disagreement. But…it’s not so easy. The ego is strong and it is SO MUCH easier to get defensive and stand our ground and push back and be RIGHT because we know we ARE.

Hah 🙂

I challenged myself to complete the empathy task and hey, whaddya know? Oh, she started off as usual, but rather than letting my blood pressure rise and letting her queries annoy me, I pretended I was in her role and feeling helpless about not quite understanding how I could complete my task without help and I imagined what she expected in return for a response. You know, the also classic “treat others as you would want to be treated” – another basic life lesson that is easily forgotten in our busy lives. It’s so much easier to toss off a quick response than to take an extra five minutes and craft a decently respectful and complete reply, especially when we have let ourselves get wound up.

Other tasks have really helped while 16 had his knee surgery and as I took on the final volunteer job. I’ve managed to juggle these things along with the new writing job and keep up with running and yes, relaxing, as necessary to recharge. I LOVE the Savor and Aspire skill tasks.

I also LOVE that we are strongly encouraged to support the other Happify members. Even if I don’t have time to check into my own tasks on a particular day, I just like browsing other member’s posts and sharing a smile or getting inspired by the ways they are bringing more joy into their lives.

I took an update quiz tonight (you do that every 2 weeks) and my score is now 83! Happify has so far been a surprisingly beneficial part of my days. I try to keep the S.T.A.G.Es in mind all the time, especially when faced with a less than positive task or person.

Savor, Thank, Aspire, Give, Empathize.

We can ALL benefit from bringing more of those qualities into our daily life.

**These are my own thoughts, going through my head tonight after I finished another complete track. Not an ad, no one at Happify asked me write this, this is all ME! Get it? Got it? GOOD!**

Consumer Report – graze and Happify

Standard

Fun money update: $62.78 as of last weekend

Workout update: Oh, well..not doing so well mid-week still. Only did a 20 minute weight & ab workout one night. But..I ran 4 miles of hills on Saturday and then I ran ELEVEN miles on Sunday!! Yet another PR 🙂 It was double the fun because my friend Audrey who is just getting started running joined us for the first out and back and got her OWN PR by running more than 5 miles. Renee went 16 – I hooked back up with her on the second out and we ran back together (sort of…if she slowed down enough to let me be within shouting distance!)

Anyway………..it’s time for another round of Consumer Reports!

Two new companies crossed my radar in the last month.

The first was the result of a facebook recommendation – graze – a healthy snack company that ships out perfectly proportioned snack packs each week for just $5. This was the first box I received:

graze

Those apple cinnamon flapjacks in the top right corner? AMAZING! Everything else was really good too. And, like I said, the perfect serving size for my morning snack at my desk. When you go on the site, you can immediately start pre-rating the selections meaning they will control whether they send you items or not. Since I am a skosh picky (cough)….I immediately went through the list and marked all the items with banana or coconut as “never send”. I thought it was pretty awesome that since there is a little bit of a Russian roulette game going on when they choose your next box (you CAN go in ahead of time and control things too, but yeah…I’m rarely ever going to remember to do that weekly!) it is nice that I can eliminate some.

Week two has a nice mixture as well – all different flavors and types. Today I ate the “bonnie wee oatbakes with red onion chutney” and they were surprisingly yummy together!

The bottom line is – check out their site – they are in a trial launch in the U.S. right now. I got in via an invite and I’ve already given out the one invite they allowed me. But I think if they keep getting positive feedback from those of us already enrolled and then get tons of others submitting their emails for future sign up invites, then they will commit to the US 100% a lot faster.

And honestly – what was I bringing in or eating for my morning snack before? Something that easily cost between $1-2 per day and POSSIBLY was as healthy and fulfilling but most likely NOT.

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Next up is a website called Happify. This one literally showed up in my in box last week. Despite the message that I put in my contact page here stating that I *do not* take guest posts because this is just a truly truly 100% personal diary type blog – I still get emails at least once a week.

Now, I am not rude – I don’t just delete them and leave them hanging like that.

OK – who am I kidding? I tried that tactic at first and it didn’t work because they FOLLOW UP dammit 🙂

I learned to kindly turn them down, wish them good luck and ask them to read the contact page note and send them on their way.

So when a Happify founder emailed me, I did read the message but when I saw it wasn’t a guest post request I was ABOUT to hit delete. I mean, me? On a site called Happify? Someone who makes merciless fun of people who constantly spout out puppies hearts and rainbows?

But…I had a moment of weakness/curiosity and checked it out, because – on the OTHER hand – I have been also trying to apply the Silver Lining rule to my mindset this year. There’s just so much in life every day that is out of your control, but you CAN control your reactions to those things. It turns out – this site is pretty damn in line with my way of thinking.

Check out the Science page – I love that they use Science! This is another site that is in the launch phase. I have no doubt that blogging in the category of motivation is what got me an email invite. So far, everything is free and I am not entirely sure what they are up to, but in the meantime, there is no harm to me to participate. In fact, this little site is adding to my life on a daily basis in nice little ways. Plus it asks me to do something I think I do pretty well – cheer on others. It’s always helped my own mental outlook to make sure that I pick up/cheer on/compliment people around me.

If you are at ALL curious about joining Happify – drop me a comment/email because I do  have 4 invites to this site and I think many of you would enjoy it.

That does it for this segment of Consumer Reports!

Now, I get to log off an contemplate how I *really* feel about the fact that the last person I interviewed for the temp job I have in my office started off this morning by saying “Oh, I knew it was you right away because you look JUST LIKE the photo of you on the internet I found after I Googled you!”

(!!!!)

Worst Sales Rep Ever?

Standard

Today was supposed to be round two of termite inspections. Get another quote, then another tomorrow and then pretty much pick the lowest bidder (after double checking the company ratings on Yelp and the BBB).

Am I playing off the companies against each other? Of course!

Do they know that? Of course!

I was honest from the start with all of them that I was shopping around, that I had someone loaning me the money for my half who would have some say in the process, and that I have a duplex partner who also has a say in the decision.

Company #1 I know because I have used them over the last 8 years for rat and ant control. They never missed an appointment, billing was always smooth and the treatments worked so I was happy with them. I found out later that I could have gotten better deals, but all I cared about in the end was that the pests were gone! So, I used them as bid #1 knowing that it probably be high, but also feeling like I could trust them.

He spent 45 minutes going around the building, thoroughly inspected everything and wrote up quotes as I wanted for both the tenting and the dry rot wood replacement on my side.

He came across as not overly pushy at all, very knowledgeable and trustworthy.

Yelp and BBB ratings are bad though – especially for termites. Ouch!

Company #3 is coming tomorrow and is connected through a friend who I know and he has already out bid Company #1 just on the specs I gave him. By a pretty nice margin too! But…he did that forgetting I had another company still to consider. Ooopsie on his part….but he still comes by tomorrow to do his inspection and his company has good reviews so he has the inside track for sure.

Meanwhile company #2 was scheduled for today between 3-5. I had to lend the car to 27 so he could renew his ID at the DMV before checking in at his new job Thursday…so I asked him to pick me up at 3. We live 10 minutes from work and NO company is ever EARLY on those two hour windows, right? Even if he called at 3, I would be there in 10 minutes. TEN.

Sales rep calls at 1:30 and says he will be there at 2:45-3. I tell him I can’t leave work until 3, but I will be there NO LATER than 3:15.

His response? “If you have an appointment between 3-5, then you are supposed to BE there from 3-5!”

Oh really? I mean, yes, I agree but….did you really just lecture me? Over 10 minutes?

So, I told him that he can get there at three and start walking around the right side of the building if he wants and I explained about the duplex and that there were other companies bidding, that I wasn’t the only one making the decision yadda yadda.

He asked who company #1 one was and I told him. “Well, I can’t outbid them…but..I’ll still write something up I guess”

Gee buddy, don’t sound too excited.

So we agreed I would meet him at 3:15, but he could get started at 3 on my side.

He calls back at 2:15 “Well, I just don’t know if this is worth my time since I know I cannot outbid the other company which is frustrating since they cheat and don’t use enough gas when they bid so low and then I have to go back and fix their mistakes…not that I am trying to get them in trouble or anything…..”

Uhh….so I asked him if wanted to cancel since he was (again) sounding like he didn’t want the job.

“No, No, I’ll meet you, just wanted to put that out there since you seem more concerned about price than quality.”

WTF? Honestly if this company had not been the one that the BF had recommended and he wasn’t paying for my half I would have told this guy to shove off right then and there!!

But no – I left work at 3…and passed his truck sitting on a side street at 3:15. I figured he would come up to meet me from there. I left the garage door open so he could see I was home…I went to get the mail…I saw my next door neighbor and talked to her about the process and she was fine with him going over to her side to measure….and he didn’t roll up.

I went inside and checked my cell phone – no call. I waited until 3:45 and then I called the company to find out where he was. He finally calls me at 4 – “Oh, I was there. I checked it out and left a quote on your front door” WHAT?

So basically – I didn’t need to leave work early to meet him. He spent a grand total of MAYBE 5-10 minutes doing…what I don’t know (16 reported that the truck was at the house at 3pm when he walked home from school but he never saw the guy)…he left a quote sheet (for almost DOUBLE what company #1 left) with NO details or analysis. He clearly didn’t test the wood or do anything like what the first guy did to inspect the extent of the infestation….in other words, he wasted my time and did the bare minimum and wrote up a crap quote and bad mouthed the other company I had contacted all to what end?

And the kicker? He says to me after telling me that he dropped off the quote already: “Well, once you choose Company #1 and then have to contact me to fix their mess we can talk about pricing on the dry rot wood replacement!”

I don’t think so.