Tuesday, August 16, 2016

My Week Off Of Work

Today's blog is called My Week Off Of Work, or as I'm calling it in my head How the Heck Did My Vacation Turn Into A Trainwreck?


I worked 11 hour a day for over a month so that I could finally pay off my car (2 1/2 years early!) and have a nice vacation complete with a mani/pedi, couples massage, beach day, and trip to the springs. First, my dog gave herself a hematoma from a yeast infection in her ear. I didn't know dogs with pointy ears could get yeast infections in their ears. Spoiler alert: They can! She also needed her full yearly checkup, and I finally decided to get her chipped since we may be moving next year. In the same week two of my headlights went out (I have two daytime running lights, and two regular headlights). Then, on Saturday, my car decided not to start. Every dime I had made in OT and then some has been taken up by these events.

Back to Now:

My car is at the shop right now, as I'm writing this. Fortunately, they were able to give me a ride home and are going to be able to send someone to pick me up since none of my people are even awake yet.

Still, though, I'm using today as a Thankful Tuesday, because if it were not for all the crazy amounts of OT, this all would have sunk me financially. I'm at home, on a week off from work before the Fall Semester starts on Monday. My puppy is healthy, if not a little miserable from her cone. I'm propped up on my couch watching Cowspiracy in my pajamas, and I'm about to go make an awesome green smoothie. I could choose to be stressed out, and let this turn of events make me sad and miserable, but I'm not.

Has anything like this ever happened to you? What are you thankful for today?

Monday, August 15, 2016

Two Week Shopping Ban Fail

Not only am I a terrible blogger, I'm also apparently terrible at not spending money. My two week spending ban was an absolute fail. It started with school supplies, and just spiraled from there. To be honest, I can't actually even remember what all I bought.

Here are the top three lessons I took away from this experience:

1 - If you're going to succeed at a challenge like this, you have to announce it. You have to be accountable to someone besides yourself. While I have a public space, it isn't very well circulated, and I didn't really tell any of my friends and family. That led to lunches and dinner out, a terrible lack of meal planning, and activities that weren't remotely free.

2 - You have to plan! Just like with everything else, if you want to succeed, you have to plan. The old adage is true - fail to plan, plan to fail. Once you've decided to put yourself on a spending ban, you have to plan out your meals and your activities. Grocery shop for your dry, canned, and freezable items all at once. Things like produce, greens, and some dairy items do have to be bought within a few days of use, but limiting these midweek trips also cuts down on the possibility of splurges and impulse buys. Planning out your activities is also a wise idea. Whether you plan to stay in and watch Netflix, go for some exercise at a local park, or go to the pool at your apartment complex, planning something fun and free will keep you from spending.

3 - Don't think of it as restriction. This seems contradictory, I know. It's called a spending ban. If you think of it as something you can't do, then you'll be more likely to resent it. It will feel like a chore, instead of something that you're doing to help your future self.

In spite of having failed so epically, I will try another ban in the near future, and I will prepare myself much better!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Two Week Shopping Ban

Have you ever had a crazy idea? One that makes you wonder if maybe you've lost your mind, just a little bit? That's me, this morning.

I'm sure it's no surprise that I like shopping. I wouldn't say it soothes me or anything, but I do love the way my little plastic card sounds sliding through a card reader. Going out, hunting for a product, sliding my card, and taking my new possession home with me does give me a thrill. I think I read somewhere that it triggers the pleasure center of the human brain, and I believe it!

It's no wonder, though, that I enjoy shopping. Advertising is a billion dollar a year industry. Everyday I get ads thrown at me, telling me what I need to buy to be better, thinner, prettier, happier, healthier. Here's the thing - it's all lies. I don't need new clothes to be happy. I don't need a new dishwasher to be clean. I absolutely do not need multiple pairs of sneakers that match perfectly coordinated gym clothes to be healthy. We get caught up in this spend, spend, spend mindset, and before we know it, we're left with nothing left to save.

Last night, I got tired of it. Just in the last 24 hours I have scaled back my Netflix subscription, canceled my Birchbox subscription (I still have Ipsy), and redeemed my Bing reward points for a Hulu gift card. I'm all set to save around $11.00 this month, and as long as I can remember to visit Bing everyday and earn my 25 points, I should save $21 next month. Not much, but it's a start.

This morning, I sat down and found inspiration from Blonde on a Budget. She implemented a year long spending ban, using some very solid guidelines. A year is a long time, though, so I'm going to start with two weeks.

Here's the sweet and lowdown:

Things I Can Buy:

Home stuff such as paper products and basic cleaning supplies
School supplies if necessary, but only basics
Clothing basics, but only if something breaks or tears and can't be repaired
Gifts for others
Basic cosmetics, only if something breaks or runs out

Things I Can't Buy:

Food out, including coffee and alcohol
Clothing that is not essential
Magazines and books
Movies, either digital, DVD, or theater
Fun makeup
Household items like pillows and candles
Electronics and appliances

I pretty much borrowed the list directly from Blonde on a Budget, because it's a good list. I wish I could take credit for it, but that would take more creativity than I have at the moment. I tweaked it just a little bit to fit better into my life, and shortened the time period.

The goal is to have every dollar that I put into my spending money account left over at the end of two weeks. Will I make it? Come back and see!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tripping Over Your Tongue, or Why Was I So Worried?

The title of my speech ended up being Tripping Over Your Tongue. According to my professor, most speech titles have a verb in them. I don't know that I've seen many speech titles, so I can't verify from experience whether or not this is true. Considering it was part of the grade, I didn't want to take a chance.

Tuesday, I did everything I knew how to do to boost my confidence. I wore my hair in a soft side pony. I wore a new green, chiffon, belted dress that I got multiple compliments on before class even started. I would have worn heels, but I have about a quarter mile walk from my car to my classroom. I even distracted myself with the USA soccer game (the classmate from the coffee shop and I watched the last quarter of it together in the hallway before class). Once class started, though, I went back to a trembling puddle of nerves. It didn't help that I had to move my seat so the professor could sit right directly in the middle of the classroom. I guess everyone else needed a distraction at that moment, too, so everyone watched me walk all the way around the room to switch seats. I was already afraid of falling down that I ran into a chair.

Fortunately, even though my name is always first on the roster, I did not have to speak first. I had a few minutes to watch other people fumble through, play with the podium, and a couple who knocked it out of the park. I decided to go after I got some pressure from my friend and my professor asked me if I was ready. I wasn't ready. I was NOWHERE near ready, but this was one of those do-or-die moments. So I agreed. I very slowly and politely handed in my formal outline, took a deep breath, and slid out of my chair. I think the funeral dirge was playing as I was walking up to the front of the class, but I can't be sure. That may have just been my heart in my throat. Coffee shop classmate smiled at me. Classmate friend smiled at me. Professor smiled at me. I took a deep breath, and the next five minutes flew by. I stumbled a couple of times, but luckily had anchor points all the way across the classroom. One on my right. One dead center. One to my left. When I felt like I was going to faint, I made eye contact with my people. I'm not sure I would have done as well without them, and OH did I do well!

My voice, while feeling disconnected from my body, was strong. My hands were still. I smiled when appropriate, emoted my "Get Excited!" so loud it rang across the room, and my closing was delivered with the perfect beat. I took my notes and walked back to my seat. My teacher whispered "Very well done, Amy", classmate friend patted me on the shoulder, and coffee shop classmate was smiling at me. I got more compliments at the break. My professor even pulled me aside after class (the first time I've been asked to stay after a class IN MY LIFE) to tell me she couldn't believe that I was so nervous because I had done so well.

Looking back, I can't tell why I was so nervous. I did the necessary research, I practiced relentlessly, I hi-lighted my speaker's outline, and I was confident. I was ready, I was just afraid. I took my nervous energy and channeled it into that excitement that Alison Wood Brooks was talking about. We have another speech due in two weeks, and this time I'm ready. I'm not afraid. Well, I'm a little afraid, but some fear and anxiety are normal. This time, I might even go second or third!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Glossophobia, or Why I Have Problems Speaking in Front of People

I am terrified of speaking in front of people. Coincidentally, I also HAVE to take a public speaking class for my degree. It's not optional. I literally HAVE to take and pass this class. So far, we've given a 45-second introduction on another classmate, and a two-minute speech on what we would take with us off of a sinking ship if we knew we were going to be stranded on a deserted island. I bluffed my way through the first one, and stuttered through the second, forgetting half of my explanations for why I would bring what I would bring.

This week is my first graded speech, so obviously I am not breathing. I spent the whole weekend researching and writing, only stopping long enough to go have coffee with a classmate. Instead of summarizing the whole thing, I'm just going to post it here for you. Keep in mind I only had one week to complete it. Everything is put into my own words and I've tried to cite any necessary sources verbally. It had to be five minutes long, but if you have any interest in the subject of glossophobia or speech anxiety, you might find it interesting.

Without further ado . . .

When I was in 7th grade I was given an assignment by my favorite English teacher – to give a speech about racism. Growing up in a small town, racism was everywhere from my school cafeteria to my church on Sundays. The number one thing I heard was the debate over why we had Martin Luther King Day off. I formulated an idea that I called “Great American Men in History Day”, wrote a riveting 3 minute speech on the topic, printed out pictures of who I felt were great American men in history, and practiced my speech instead of my music. Finally the day of the speech came. I curled my hair, wore an outfit that my modeling instructor had praised me for, and thought I was ready to go. That is, until I got to the podium. My hands were shaking, my voice refused to project and instead came out raspy and crackling, and I completely forgot my visual aids. I even got points taken off of my speech because of my physical reaction. To this day I am still terrified to speak in front of people, a condition known as glossophobia. I have now spent over 14 hours researching this phobia, and today I am going to tell you what glossophobia is, how it affects us physically, and give you some steps to overcome it.

Let’s start with the definition of glossophobia. Put in its simplest terms, it is the fear of public speaking. The name comes from the Greek word “glossa” meaning tongue, and “phobos” meaning phobia. It is also commonly referred to as speech anxiety. According to Dr. Dan J. Stein, the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Cape Town, in his 2011 paper titled “Subtyping Social Anxiety Disorder in Developed and Developing Countries”, about 22% of the world population suffers from a fear of speaking or performing in front of other people. After thoroughly searching through every journal, article, and blog post I could find one thing is for certain – no one yet understands the underlying cause of glossophobia. It is thought to come from traumatic childhood speaking experiences like the one I’ve shared with you. Other possible causes are low self-esteem, expectation of failure, an illusion of transparency – where a speaker feels that their audience can see exactly how he or she is feeling, and the spotlight effect – where the speaker feels like everyone in the audience is paying more attention to their shortcomings or even a spot on her tshirt than they actually are.

Now let’s take a look at how glossophobia affects you. We all know the outward symptoms – your hands are shaky, your breathing is shallow, you feel like your heart is going to beat right out of your chest, and your throat feels like there’s a golf ball lodged in it. You may even become dizzy. These are all physiological responses to your sympathetic nervous system dumping adrenaline into your bloodstream. The sympathetic nervous system – what you might know as your fight-or-flight response – is programmed to detect danger in our everyday lives. In public speaking, there is no real danger – at least not the type that we are biologically hardwired to avoid, such as the threat of injury or death – but there is the threat of embarrassment and failure. Your brain subconsciously detects this threat and prepares your body to run away from the threat. This results in the outward symptoms that plague so many of us when we walk up to the podium. A second theory exists, championed by Dr Jeffrey Gray of the Institute for Psychology in London, that a feature of the human brain called the comparator quote “detects conflict between an organisms goals and current environmental conditions” end quote. In other words, this feature detects if there are likely to be negative consequences to our actions. If the possibility exists, then the comparator switches on what Dr Gray refers to as the behavior inhibition system which will then shut down motor function. This is why we sometimes become tongue tied, have a feeling of being frozen on the spot, or even unable to speak. In both cases, continued exposure to the threat without negative repercussions does cause the physiological response to lessen – basically, the more you speak in front of people the more your brain calms down.

Now that you know what glossophobia is, and how it affects you physically, let’s look at some ways to overcome it. In an article titled “How Can I Overcome My Fear of Public Speaking?” Dr. Daniel Hall-Flavin, a psychiatrist from Rochester Minnesota, suggests that knowing your topic inside and out, being organized, practicing until you’re tired of hearing your own voice, visualizing success for yourself, and doing some deep breathing exercises can help abate your speech anxiety. A study produced by Alison Wood Brooks, assistant professor of Business Administration at Harvard University, suggests that channeling your anxiety into excitement can help improve your performance. Telling yourself out loud “I am excited!” or even writing “get excited” on the top of your speaker’s outline can trigger an excited physiological reaction.

In conclusion, glossophobia – also known as speech anxiety - affects about 22% of the world’s population. The exact causes of the phobia are unknown, but are thought to be a traumatic childhood experience, low self-esteem, or illusions of transparency and the spotlight effect. Our nervous reactions are caused by our sympathetic nervous system, and possibly a feature in our brain called the comparator, both of which can halt our physical actions in the case of a perceived threat. Ways to overcome glossophobia are by knowing our material, practicing, visualizing ourselves succeeding, deep breathing exercises, and channeling our anxiety into excitement. Anyone can become a great public speaker, and while anxiety is a normal and healthy part of our everyday lives, it does not have to rule them.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday's Blog is Full of Thanks

Once again I am consistently inconsistent. At least some things never change! This week I am thankful for:

1) Pinterest - as always. What did we do before Pinterest? How much time did we spend pouring through articles and crappy websites looking for the one recipe or piece of information we were looking for? Better question though - is Pinterest making us lazy?

2) Coffee/Tea - always. Always always always. The time of year for Pumpkin Spice creamer has come to a close and I admit I'm more sad than anyone should be. There's always creme brulee creamer, and that makes me happy, too.

3) Refocusing - Last week my sister called me screaming. I mean, screaming - I was holding the phone 5 inches away from my head and I could still hear her clear as day. She messed up her tax form when she started at her new job and now has to pay in over $500. As she ranted and raved like a woman possessed, something she said struck home with me. She said she didn't understand why no one had ever taught her this. She can pythagorean the hell out of that theorum, but ask her to fill out a tax document or balance a checkbook and she's lost. That's why I started doing this, though. This little blog was not supposed to be filled with beauty products and reviews, it was supposed to be filled with those most basic life skills that no one ever teaches us girls when we're younger. Because of my sister and her financial tragedy, I am now refocused and ready to take on the world.

4) Remembering I am a writer - I downloaded an ebook from NoiseTrade.com (go check it out, seriously), who have recently started doing books. The first page made me take a hard look at myself. When I was in middle school, I wrote children's books for my little sister (notice she's a central player in my life). When I was in high school I started writing chapter books, usually about girls living on horse farms because that was my interest, but my friends always loved my latest installments. Then I graduated. I journaled, of course, to vent my frustrations. Then each of my boyfriends took it upon themselves to read my journals, so I stopped. Since then I write papers. I write proposals. I write emails, text messages, and a few blog posts. Somewhere along the line, I forgot that I AM A WRITER. Just because I don't get paid for it doesn't mean I'm not one. This book reminded me of that (I'll review when I'm done with it).

5) Remembering to write in my own voice - I responded to a peer's discussion post last week and realize that I sound like a textbook when I write. How boring is that? I'm committing myself to writing in my own voice from now on. Facts can still be conveyed by a quirky blonde, and they probably sound more interesting.

We all know I hate New Year's Resolutions, but I think if I had to say something about mine in a meet and greet it would probably be either #3, 4, or 5. I prefer to call them goals and opportunities for growth, but these are the things I want to work on in the next 12 months. Or 10 - whatever. For 2014. We'll go with that.