Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Tips to Set Strong Boundaries

By Samantha Peters, Freelance Writer & HR Blogger

Navigating through life and relationships is by no means an easy task, and it often forces you to learn along the way.  However, you don't necessarily have to navigate through life blindly in order to obtain and maintain the life and relationships that you want.  Simply setting personal boundaries can make your journey much more easy and directed.

What Are Boundaries?
When someone mentions personal boundaries, they are referencing to the emotional honesty in which they live their lives.  Boundaries are what we achieve when we live with our authentic selves and communicate directly and honestly.  They allow us to walk through life without having to worry about the outcomes of everyday interactions whether in your personal or professional life. 

Why Are They Important?
Establishing boundaries is important as it is a way to protect yourself from negative feelings and emotions. It is also the only way to keep and maintain healthy relationships.  Without personal boundaries, a relationship can become imbalanced, leading to resentment and other negative feelings.   A person living without boundaries is also more likely to hurt others, or allow themselves to become victimized.

How to I Create Boundaries?
While it may seem strange or out of the norm for your personal behavior, setting boundaries means stating your feelings aloud. The following list provides you with guidelines for setting and establishing proper boundaries for your personal self:

  1. Consider how you need to be treated for your own well-being: When you are establishing boundaries for yourself, you need to be as honest as possible. What types of behaviors will you not tolerate from both yourself and others? Are their specific words or treatments that you feel like prohibit you from your goals? Take the time to actually determine which behaviors you will accept from both yourself and others in your life, and how you can provide yourself with the best emotional life possible.
  2. Assert your decisions: Once you have created boundaries for yourself, start living them. Don't simply create your boundaries and then set them on a shelf. They are there to provide you with better emotional health, and should be practiced from the start. So if one of your personal boundaries is maintaining personal responsibility, letting yourself skip a few advanced coursework classes or becoming apathetic during that large work project is no longer acceptable.
  3. Stand Up for Yourself:When others cross your boundaries, such as an inappropriate comment or intruding on your personal space or time, let them know politely and firmly that their behavior is not okay. That being said, should you catch yourself crossing your own boundaries, be willing to tell yourself “no.” If you aren't used to having boundaries, they will take some time to get used to, so be prepared to be accountable to yourself.
If you are looking for a better way to involve yourself in personal relationships, consider setting boundaries. Overall, boundaries should keep you emotionally honest and emotionally responsible. They not only provide you with a set of rules in which people should treat you, but also you with guidelines for how you should treat others.

About the Author:
This is a guest post written by Samantha Peters, who enjoys blogging on career and HR, covering topics of particular interest to women in the workplace.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

How to Meet Your Mother

 By E.

The bond between a mother and child is very unique. There can be visible similarities between the two – mannerisms, looks, or facial expressions – but mothers and daughters have much more in common than the eye can see. In honor of Mother’s Day, take a look at some likenesses you may share with your mother and/or child that you haven’t yet considered and the bonds you can forge through them.

Teenagers can relate to what their mothers are going through in menopause since their hormones fluctuate by measures of 180 degrees in puberty. Things can get crazy when puberty and menopause are under one roof! It’s something I like to call dueling hormones. But there is a real opportunity to take these challenges and turn them into a time of growth and connection. Working on your own personal growth, knowing your body and being prepared for perimenopause and menopause will help ease the super tense dynamics that can develop between you and your kids. Often, communication becomes a challenge when puberty and perimenopause occupy the same household. It’s important to keep talking. Let your children know that you are here for them if they need you and that you care, while respecting their journey towards independence. Try not to personalize the silence treatment or outbursts. Remind yourself that you two are on parallel roller coasters and wave to each other every now and then.

Conversations with your teenagers about sex can be awkward. Some parents avoid it all together. Most parents avoid discussion about what to expect when the period packs up and leaves, too, and it seems to have been omitted from health class as well. Why? Anyone who has a shmirshky or knows someone who does is going to go through perimenopause and menopause some day. Carving out time to sit down with your teenager to discuss perimenopause and menopause can help both of you. Share your own challenges openly so they know what you’re going through, and give them an opportunity to relate to you even if they don’t want to show it. In Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness, there’s a Menopause Symptoms Chart on pages 168-69 to help women track the menopause symptoms they are experiencing. Many women have found that going through the chart with their teens can open up the discussion about what they’re both experiencing. Your teen may be experiencing sleepless nights, mood swings, anxiety, trouble concentrating, exhaustion, pimples galore, heart palpitations, weight gain, headaches, or become overwhelmed and unusually tense. Any of these ring a bell?

Hormonal changes are common throughout life. In puberty, pregnancy, perimenopause and menopause, your levels rise and fall, and the side effects can be quite difficult. Take some time to break open the conversation with your own mom about her experience. After you get past your mom telling you that she breezed through menopause with no problems, ask her if she ever experienced sleepless nights, hot flashes, mood swings, uncontrollable irritability, a disappearing libido or memory loss when she was in her 40s or early 50s. This is usually quite the ice breaker!

Celebrate Mother’s Day by sharing your experiences with your children and encouraging them to share with you. Sit down with your own mother and chat about her life’s journey.

How well do your children know you? How well do you know your mother?

Happy Mother’s Day! Remember: Reaching out is IN. Suffering in silence is OUT!

Ellen Dolgen is the author of Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness, a cut-to-the-chase, purse-sized guide to perimenopause and menopause.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

4 Ways to Create Happy & Healthy Relationships

Gabrielle Loomis, Certified Coach

For most women, healthy relationships are an essential component to living a happy and contented life.  They bring us a sense of joy, purpose and connectedness.  And while healthy relationships can add so much to our lives, it can often seem like they are more chance, than choice, and illusive, rather than purposeful.  But the reality is that we have much influence over how we experience relationships and ourselves in them. 

Creating happy and healthy relationships begins with energetically setting the foundation of the relationship so that the relationship can express the fullest potential of what we desire - whether that be love, recognition, support, etc.   Are you aware of the foundation you are creating in your relationships?  When you become conscious of the foundation, you then have choices, tools and the ability to create a foundation which supports what you want to experience as you connect with others.

Our energetic foundation begins with our personal beliefs, perceptions and past experiences which creates a dominant vibration or signal which then translates into direct and indirect communication.  Our dominant vibration directly turns into our words, actions and behaviors.  Indirectly, our dominant vibration is the essence of us which others feel, interpret and experience on many different levels.  Since over 80% of communication is nonverbal, we all are communicating with energy long before words are spoken or actions are taken. 

If you want to experience healthy, supportive and loving relationships, here are four ways to consciously create a foundation which will allow this to unfold in the best possible way. 

1) Be open to receiving
Many women feel that they are the givers in their relationships and they don’t have anyone who is giving to them.  If your dominant energy pattern is something along the lines of “I’m fine.  I got it.  I’m good.  I can do it on my own”, then there is an unconscious pattern blocking your receptivity to support, help, love, etc. 

As women, we have been taught that our worth is tied up in what we do for others - in our giving - so we limit or block our receiving because that doesn’t give us a sense of inherent value or worth.  We often confuse giving as a one way process.  We forget that if there was no one to receive, we would have nothing to give.  This holds true in that we can give others the pleasure in giving to us. 
So play with allowing others to give to you and responding with a smile and a thank you.  This could be on the spectrum of letting someone hold the door open for you to letting a loved one help you in some significant way.

2) Stay yourself
Another common experience women have is they lose their sense of self or identify when in relationships.  We mistakenly believe that if we put our own wants/needs/desires aside that somehow that will strengthen our relationships or at least keep us connected to others. 
We think if we make it all about them, the relationship with flourish.  And often it does feel good at first, but the longer we discount ourselves, including our intuition, our needs, wants and desires, the more we open the door to feelings such as bitterness and resentment and beliefs such as being taken advantage of or we don’t matter. 

So take a risk and play with being transparent in your relationships.  Maybe you reveal something about yourself or are completely honest in asking for what you want.

3) Shift your focus. 
Often, women believe that they don’t have any control in their relationships. This can express as thoughts such as “if only he loved me, he would...” or “if only my boss would recognize me, than...” It’s as if we are at the whim and mercy of others and do not have the ability to influence our own experience.  

Often what is happening is that we are mistakenly trying to control what is out of our control and neglect what is actually in our control. We have control over our own thoughts, feelings, beliefs and choices.  We do not have control over what others are experiencing including their thoughts, feelings, beliefs and choices.  When we can let go of exhausting ourselves and our energies by trying to control others, this opens the door for us to take 100% responsibility for how we experience others and therefore create transformation. 

Shift your focus from trying to make another person feel something to connecting to how you feel.  Explore your own feelings through writing, playing or speaking them directly to another. 

4) Shine your light. 
Many women hold themselves back in relationships, perhaps to stay inside comfort zones or to not threaten others.  We think “who am I to do all that? Who am I to play so big in the world? Who am I to shine so bright? Others are certainly more capable, experienced, talented or thinner.”  These thoughts, beliefs and feelings are what prevent us from experiencing what we are truly capable of. 
When we play small, we create an void inside of us that we look to others to fill. We seek for others to give us a sense of self esteem, value and worth which can lead to an exhaustible external search.  The self esteem we desire truly comes from within. 

Notice what is already inside of you, just waiting for your permission to burst forth and shine. What natural talents, abilities and gifts are ready be unleashed in the world?

When we become aware of how we have energetically set up relationships, we can see that we have many choices for change and transformation.  When you  open yourself up to receive, stay yourself, shift your focus and shine your light, you build a strong foundation for creating happy and healthy relationships. 

For more ways to create happy and healthy relationships, visit  On the homepage, enter your name and email and receive a free audio gift 2012: Your Best Year Yet!  It’s filled with all kinds of tools and suggestions for how you can practically step into the fullest expression of you in 2012.  Ready to make it your best year yet?!

About the Author: Named after the great archangel, Gabrielle Marie Loomis is a Messenger for our modern day world. Through her work, she has helped hundreds of women connect with their own power to heal, love and shine brightly in the world.  With over fifteen years of training in energy psychology, manifestation techniques, metaphysics and holistic healing modalities, she has been described as a master coach, healer, medical intuitive, shaman, psychic, counselor and spiritual adviser. Her credentials include Certified Clinical Trauma Professional, Certified LifeLine Practitioner and Certified Life Coach.  Gabrielle offers a variety of transformational programs, products and services which can be found at

Friday, May 18, 2012

3 Tips to a Faster Career Change

By Sherri Thomas, Career Coach & Author

It’s a tight job market right now, and if you’re looking for your next career opportunity then I have three (3) strategies to help you change into a new career faster…

1. Keep yourself marketable.

If you’re looking for a new job, then use your “in-between” time to get any training or education you may need. Job requirements can change over the years. Industries can change. So make sure you stay current with the demands of the market by assessing your skills and qualifications with what the market is demanding. Most industries have a kind of license or certification that’s highly valued – such as the PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP) certification, or the American Marketing Association’s Certified Marketing Professional (CMP) program. Investing in a certification or education will not only help you stand out from your competition, but it will also show hiring managers that you’re committed to your profession.
Another way to keep yourself marketable when you’re not working is to start freelancing or consulting. This shows hiring managers that you take initiative and that you’re considered an expert in your field by others. Also, join an association’s Board of Directors, or at minimum, a committee. These strategies will help keep you visible, expand your network, and boost your resume.

2. Fish where the fish are.

In other words, know where your potential employers are. Find out by reading trade magazines, industry publications, company websites and websites that advertise job openings like, or to learn which industries are hiring, which companies are hiring, and what the hot jobs are.

You can also learn about companies that are hiring by attending industry conferences, trade shows, business networking events and association meetings. Another good idea is to join professional networking sites such as to get connected to industry leaders and company decision makers. Make it a priority to get connected, and stay connected, to people who can inspire you, hire you, or introduce you to others who could potentially hire you.

3. Be a resource to others.

When you’re in the market for a new job, you never want to give the impression that you need a job. Instead, you want to be seen as someone who’s a leader, a driver, a mentor to others, and someone who’s resourceful – who knows how to get things done and get results. This is one reason why you want to consult, freelance, or volunteer while you’re in between jobs.

So here’s a tip – instead of sending the message, “I need a job”, you should send the message, “I’m someone who is resourceful, insightful and has a specific area of expertise.” In other words, you are someone that they should get to know! This is a major shift in the way others perceive you.
One way you can do that is to send out personal notes with links to cool videos, reports, press releases, or websites that you think might interest them. Another tip is to invite them to business networking events, and introduce them to other movers and shakers in the industry.

The bottom line is that successful professionals are drawn to other successful professionals and those who are resourceful. So get personal with your professional network and show them how you can help them be more successful.

There you have it – three great strategies to help you make an EASIER career change including: keeping yourself marketable, fish where the fish are, and be a resource to others.

About the Author:
Sherri Thomas is author of Career Smart - 5 Steps to a Powerful Personal Brand - on AMAZON's TOP 10 LIST for personal branding books. She is also founder of Career Coaching 360 which provides resume help, interviewing support, and personal career coaching packages to help professionals change careers quickly and easily.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

What I Learned From the Strongest Woman I Know

By Diane McLleland

Mother’s Day has come and gone yet again.  It reminds me that really anyone can serve as a mother and that mothers come in all forms – a sister, a grandmother, an aunt – any of these amazing woman can serve as that rock, that support, that source of courage that children need.  I am blessed to say that not only did I have a wonderful mother but I also had a wonderful  aunt who provided me with love and support also.
I cannot help but think back on my aunt’s many lessons; lessons learned the hard way in her case, and lessons from her strong faith. She grew up essentially motherless, after losing her mother at the age of two. She, without an example of her own, had been the most amazing mother and auntie that one could ever imagine. Years later, a stepmother entered the her picture, but during the difficult years, her older sister served as her mother figure, and was such a positive influence in her life. They were not only sisters, but the best of friends!
Growing up, I spent a lot of time with her, and one such lesson she imparted to me was “don’t sweat the small stuff”. We’ve all heard this mantra, but in this day and age, it seems few actually follow this sage advice. Things always looked better in the morning, according to her. The glass was always ‘half full’. I sometimes have difficulty with this one as a parent.  When it involves your child, nothing seems small or insignificant. Yet, whenever I had gone to her for advice and words of wisdom, she invariably had a way of making me realize that yes- it could be worse- much worse!   She wouldn’t throw the ‘someone always has it worse than you’ example out, but you still understood that to be true. As kids, she didn’t patronize us with quirky sayings, but rather we witnessed her quiet example of remaining calm under pressure and praying for us in times of need. She would cut us that slack we were seeking, yet impose punishment if warranted. Her punishments were always seasoned with lessons of love and forgiveness.

We have always referred to my Mom and aunt as our spiritual rocks. They both would read daily, and cut out clippings with little signature asterisks beside the paragraphs that especially applied to me, my sister, or a cousin. I do that now, and enjoy passing on timely articles to my own family. Both of these strong women of faith truly know where their priorities stood. Common sense dictated many of their decisions.

So, without question, my amazingly strong Mom and aunt have led (Mom continues to) by example all of their lives. When I grow up, I want to be just like them!

About the Author:
Diane has been called fashionista from a young age, acquiring her love of fashion after enrolling in Sears Charm School as a young girl. After earning her degree in fashion merchandising & business she gained experience by appearing in movies, commercials and magazine layouts. She also worked as a flight attendant for 15 years and wrote for a well-known travel publication. Diane currently works with students to provide career advisement and loves to act as a personal shopper on the weekends for her friends and family.

Monday, May 14, 2012

You Deserve Good Things: Believe It!

By Dr. Ellen Diana, Psychologist & Co-Author of the Charge Up Your Life Book Series

 A big part of searching for the perfect job, asking for a raise, or applying for a promotion is feeling that you deserve to have it. Deservingness is the hallmark of healthy self-esteem. Feeling deserving means you have an expectation that what you need and ask for will be provided. This is harder than it seems since it involves several elements:

First, do you believe that there are enough good things to go around and are you entitled to your share? If so then you can set aside envy and jealousy because there is no need to feel either. Rather than looking enviously at others, instead, you would notice what others have and decide if you’d like it too. Would having whatever you desire – that great job, the corner office, a higher expense account, a raise - enhance your life and, if so, in what ways? For example, if you desire success, you could discover what leads to success and try it out yourself, using your own unique blend of traits and skills. Trying to be like someone else would not be necessary. Finding success your own way would be the key.

Next, can you accept good things? The January issue of Yoga Journal includes a “wisdom” article by Sally Kempton which encourages being a “wide receiver,” someone who can open their arms and heart to the gifts that life offers.  Giving to others is often easier than taking for ourselves, since no one wants to be labeled selfish. Sometimes even accepting a compliment is difficult because it means you feel deserving of the kind words. But giving to self is not selfish. It’s actually your number one job in life – to appreciate the gifts you’ve been given and to use them to gather good things to you, just because you want them, just because you deserve them. That’s not selfish. It’s being proud and grateful.

Finally, practice feeling deserving. Start with simple things like:
•    Accept compliments graciously;
•    Ask for help when necessary;
•    Speak up when appropriate;
•    Offer your opinion; and
•    Notice what you envy and ask yourself what holds you back from having it.

Remember, there’s enough good things to go around in the world and you’re entitled to your share!

About the Author:
Ellen Diana is a licensed psychologist, co-author of the Charge up Your Life Book Series and certified school psychologist with 30 years’ experience working with children, adults, couples, and families in schools and in private practice in Phoenix, Arizona. She has published a number of articles in scholarly journals on psychology and education, and co-authored five self-help books in the Charge Up Your Life series. Helping women to evolve into their best selves through personal growth and self-awareness is a passion of hers. Ellen raised three successful children as a single parent and so has special interests in mentoring other women in transition and helping parents to raise resilient children. Contact Ellen at or through her website

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Discover Your Value From the Inside Out

By Peg McQuarrie, Certified Professional Coach

I often am witness to a client’s deep feelings of unworthiness as they explore possibilities in their lives.  Feelings of unworthiness take the joy out of life, zap our energy, and create barriers to happiness and success.  Unworthiness takes many forms.  Do any of the following sound familiar to you?

•    Considering your needs last when making small and big decisions
•    Experiencing anxiety or discomfort when being complimented or recognized
•    Not thinking to care for yourself in times of stress
•    Comparing yourself negatively to others 
•    Freezing up when it’s time to take action
•    Basing happiness on others’ approval

Unworthiness is a limiting belief that can have its roots in our upbringing or from past experiences that we interpret as “failure.”  I think of unworthiness as a “ghost” from the past that can haunt our present. 

Unworthiness can cause shame, but since it appears to be a part of our humanity, there is nothing to be ashamed about.  If you notice that you feel “less than” the people around you or feel undeserving of happiness or success, congratulations!  Noticing is the first step to seeing unworthiness for what it is.  The second step is to take necessary actions to recognize, feel, and live out of your real worth as a human being.

There are simple, daily practices that can help you appreciate who you are and what you contribute to your world.  They can also build your confidence to step into your best, deserving self.  Here are just a few:

Noticing Practices
•    Pay attention to what you feel unworthy about – get clear about it. 
•    Pay attention to what triggers feelings of unworthiness.  Do they come from others’ words, your own thoughts, or external events?  How do these triggers impact your moods, feelings, attitudes, body, and actions? 

Journaling Practices
Spend some time with the following questions:
•    Who am I when I feel unworthy?
•    What am I holding back?
•    What am I resisting?
•    What can I let go of?
•    Who do I want to be?  Am I ready to claim that for my life?

Acceptance Practices
•    Make a list of characteristics, strengths, and values you appreciate in yourself.  If you’re not sure, ask someone you trust to help you with this exercise.  
•    Write down any compliments you have received – practice saying “thank you” to anyone who recognizes your positive aspects and contributions.
•    Think about what you do well.  How have you improved over time?
•    Remember a time when you felt comfortable about yourself.  What was happening?  What were you doing?  Focus on how it felt to feel good about yourself whether the event was big or small.

Appreciation Practices
•    Take a moment to focus on your strengths and talents each morning.  Make a conscious intention to use them and to be grateful for them throughout the day.
•    Each evening, look in the mirror and tell yourself what you appreciate about yourself – “I appreciate helping my customer with that paperwork – I cared that he got it right and he seemed really grateful.”  “I appreciate my patience with mom today when she got forgetful.”  “I appreciate my ability to cook the meal I prepared for my family tonight – they raved!”  
•    Notice and appreciate others for their contributions – how we treat others impacts how we treat ourselves: “I loved your idea in the meeting and the way you presented it – it showed real creativity.”  “I appreciate the kindness you showed my family – you have a really big heart.”  “Thank you for listening – it made a big difference for me.”

Choice Practices
•    Pay attention to what you want when big and small decisions are being made.  Take a chance that it will be considered if you say it out loud.
•    Notice what pulls you away from what is good for you.  Consider what you really want and notice how that affects your choice.
•    Celebrate accomplishments, big and small.
•    Attend workshops and read books that can expand your awareness about who you are becoming. 

A few suggestions: Taming Your Gremlin by Rick Carson; Change Your Questions, Change Your Life by Marilee Adams; Charge Up Your Life Workbook by Ellen M. Diana, PhD and Connie M. Leach, EdD

With regular practice, you may notice a shift in how you feel about yourself, and you may experience a positive impact on the choices you make and your ability to act on them with courage and commitment.  Over time, with practice and patience, you can replace the limiting belief of unworthiness with a sustaining belief in your own self-worth.  

About the Author:
Peg McQuarrie is a certified professional coach and the owner of WellSprings Consulting.  Her passion is to support others as they step into the successful, meaningful, authentic lives they are meant to live!  For almost 20 years, she has helped individuals and work groups maximize their potential and achieve personal, business, and organizational success.  Her services include individual coaching, specialized coaching for facilitators, team coaching for work groups, and organizational consulting.
Peg earned her Masters in Education from Northern Arizona University and received her coach training through the Adler School of Professional Coaching.  She is certified by the International Coach Federation.   Learn more at

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

4 Elements of a Respectful Relationship

By Dr. Ellen Diana, Psychologist & Co-Author of the Charge Up Your Life Book Series

We don’t need or want to become friends with everyone we meet but knowing how to relate to others, when necessary, and when beneficial for us, is a valuable life-long talent. To build healthy relationships, consider using and teaching these four skills.

Making friends part 1: Finding similarities
Parents can help their children to make friends and relate harmoniously by understanding what makes a good relationship. Think of an ambassador, whose job it is to bridge cultures and form alliances. Ambassadors are the masters of relationships and children can learn to be mini-ambassadors in their relationships.

Consider that there are four elements required to form a good relationship, the first of which is to discover basic human similarities. This means seeing that everyone feels happiness, sadness, anger, and fear; desires love, joy, and success; and avoids pain whenever possible.

To practice this, parents can ask their children to discover one way they are like every other child they know. For example, Jack and Susan might share a love of reading, while Jack and Carey share a love of soccer. Both Jack and Leah might have two sisters while Jack and Trent might come from single-parent homes. Each of these similarities can generate a conversation, about books or sports, or what it’s like to have siblings, or live in a home with one parent. This first element is about finding something in everyone to relate to. It doesn’t mean that any of these children will necessarily become Jack’s good friend, but it allows Jack to feel comfortable in the company of any one of these children and to relate to them harmoniously.

Also, seeing similarities is important since it is the basis of conscience: if I hurt someone, they feel pain just as I would under similar circumstances. Conscience causes children to step away from their egocentric viewpoint and see situations from the perspective of another: how would I feel if this happened to me?

To apply this, parents can encourage their children to adopt social perspective to understand how other children feel. For example, how would they feel if they were left out of the games at recess, or if they didn’t feel welcome at the table eating lunch, or if they were laughed at when they gave a wrong answer in class? Parents can discuss with their children how to respond in ways that show this understanding.

Children feel safer and less anxious when they see other children as being similar to them. They are more inclined to interact with empathy and compassion and are less inclined to be contentious and unkind. Finding similarities is a way to generate harmony, one skill of a mini-ambassador.

Making friends part 2: Recognizing differences
Each person is unique in their own way. This means that, although people have much in common, everything that a person thinks, feels, and does is interpreted by their own personal filter, which is different from anyone else’s filter. Each person sees the world in their own special way.

Differences in physical characteristics, race, religion, culture, family background, age, gender, opinions, traits, likes and dislikes have the potential of creating conflict and defensiveness if a person feels threatened or criticized by these differences. But differences can also invite curiosity when the person is intrigued by them and wants to know more about the other person. Either reaction, conflict or curiosity, is entirely the choice of the individuals involved.

Making room for differences starts at the level of the family. For example, people are often surprised when siblings raised in the same home develop as distinct individuals. Some children are like their parents and others are different. This is because each child is unique, and healthy parenting involves nurturing each child’s differences as well as their similarities to other family members.

What children learn about making room for differences in their families extends out into society in their social relationships with friends and classmates. The more children are able to recognize and appreciate differences in others the more they will be able to forge new relationships. When children recognize similarities as well as differences, they view individuals as whole people, and their lives and their social skills are enriched by the relationships that they form.

Making friends part 3: Interacting diplomatically
Diplomacy involves making mental, physical, and emotional contact. The easiest way to teach children about making physical contact is to encourage eye contact when speaking. Eye contact communicates that the listener is paying attention to the speaker. When there is no eye contact, the speaker doesn’t feel heard and doesn’t feel valued. Mental contact means truly being curious about what the other person is saying. To teach this type of contact, practice asking questions, back and forth, when family members are speaking to one another, perhaps during meals when conversation is about each family member’s day and perhaps even about events that one member or the other has heard about and wants to share. It’s part of the art of conversation – listening, and questioning, in order to understand more fully what the speaker is sharing. Once again, it communicates that the listener really values the speaker and what is being said.  Finally, emotional contact is about trying to feel what the speaker is feeling. There’s no place for sarcasm, criticism, or ridicule when a listener is trying to make emotional contact. When any of these three are used, someone is being victimized and identified as the loser. Remember, that diplomacy means each person, speaker and listener, are winners and being diplomatic puts each person in a win-win, not a win-lose, situation. Practice with children by asking about feelings and what they imagine people feel when they speak and share stories about themselves or their day. This skill fosters empathy which is an important skill in building friendships and relating to all types of people.

Practicing these simple communication skills: making physical, mental, and emotional contact, helps children to develop social skills, an important ingredient of success in life.

Making friends part 4: Establishing trust in relationships
Relationships that are deep, long-lasting, and meaningful have trust at their foundation. Trust is firmly established in a relationships when children: 1) avoid mind reading by checking out what they think: 2) accept people as they are, and don’t judge or criticize; 3) make everybody in the group a winner by recognizing everyone’s contribution;  and 4) avoid keeping score, such as who selected the game to play more often. By following these tips, children will establish more meaningful and long-lasting relationships.

Questions about trust come up when children share information about themselves or their lives. When  children decide whether to speak truthfully, they ask, “Will this person accept me as I am?” and “Can I trust this person, if I make my authentic self visible, and if I let myself feel vulnerable?” For instance, if a friend only wants your child to agree with her, how authentic and real can their interactions be? Also, if your child feels criticized how much will your child enjoy being with this friend?  Children censor their words when they don’t feel comfortable being with the other person. They are on guard.

To teach children this concept, assess their friendships by discussing how comfortable they are with each of their friends. The goal is to trust friends and understanding how this occurs is key in determining whether friendships have trust at their foundation, or not.  When children have healthy self-esteem they surround themselves with friends who value and appreciate them just as they are. Through friendships children develop social skills which they will use throughout their lives. If they feel victimized in their friendships in childhood, they will carry this into their adolescent and adult relationships. Learning how to get along with everyone as a child is a valuable, life-long skill.

Regarding relationships, parents have three jobs: one, to form healthy relationships for themselves; two, to model having healthy relationships, and; three, to directly teach how to form healthy friendships to their children. Use these four tips to build, model, and teach how to have healthy relationships.

About the Author:
Ellen Diana is a licensed psychologist, co-author of the Charge up Your Life Book Series and certified school psychologist with 30 years’ experience working with children, adults, couples, and families in schools and in private practice in Phoenix, Arizona. She has published a number of articles in scholarly journals on psychology and education, and co-authored five self-help books in the Charge Up Your Life series. Helping women to evolve into their best selves through personal growth and self-awareness is a passion of hers. Ellen raised three successful children as a single parent and so has special interests in mentoring other women in transition and helping parents to raise resilient children. Contact Ellen at or through her website

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Tips to Balance Your Personal & Professional Life

By Karilyn Van Oosten

Balancing your professional and personal life can be a challenge in today's demanding workplace. With the recession pushing many professionals to work harder than ever and technology enabling work around the clock, achieving work-life balance is more important - and elusive - than ever.

In the current economic environment, work-life balance now ranks as one of the most important workplace attributes - second only to compensation, according to a recent poll of more than 50,000 global workers. If you crave a better work-life balance, here are a few ways to balance the juggling act between a career and personal life.

Tip #1, Schedule Time
I like to schedule appointments to meet with "friends" of mine that are actually time for me to decompress. It helps to physically block out that time on my calendar to force myself away from either work or life, depending on what's overbearing at the moment. I try not to cancel these unless it's really an emergency.

Tip #2, Forget balance. Think synergy
Too much emphasis is being placed on parceling out bits of time to find the elusive balance. Examine all of your life's activities and relationships and identify those that energize you and those that deplete you. How aligned is your work-life with who you are: values, passions, strengths, personality. How are you forging meaningful relationships with like-minded individuals that will help you reach your goals? Invest your energies first on figuring this out - identifying a common thread of meaning between both work and life spheres. Then you can allocate time more meaningfully.

Tip #3, Be Realistic and Find What Works for You
Juggling work, life, family is definitely harder than I expected. I'd always been a driven person able to accomplish almost anything I set my mind to... but parenting has been humbling!! And wonderful, awe-inspiring, and the most amazing experience ever, but HARD. It took me awhile to learn that I needed to adjust my expectations to be more realistic, such as changing the # of items on my daily "To Do" list from 10 to maybe 2! Another big part of being realistic for me was changing my job situation. I started looking for jobs that would be more flexible (telecommuting, flextime, part-time) and got frustrated at how difficult it was to find anything decent. So, I ended up starting my own site,, to help people like me looking for more legitimate, online jobs. It's been hard, but I work from home, flexible hours, and I love it! It helps me to achieve a MUCH better work-life balance than if I worked outside of the house, and I love what I'm doing, which is important to me.

Tip #4. Draw a line between home and work
If you're rushed and overloaded, what can happen - and it's very common - is that while you're at work, you worry about things at home and when you're at home, you're preoccupied with work. Crazy, isn't it?

Download the things on your mind before you leave work (or home). Write a note in your diary, on your PC, on your Blackberry or on a piece of paper and list the things you need to do when you come back. Keep your mind focused on the fact that this is the end of that activity, workday or tasks at home. Shut the diary, turn off your PC, save your message and LEAVE IT!

About the Author:Karilyn is the Director of Strategic Alliances at Chamberlain College of Nursing. She has a strong background in business development with more than 10 years of experience. She has a bachelor's degree in Business Administration, as well as, Spanish, a masters in language and culture and is a candidate for her Doctorate of Psychology.