December 1, 2016

Published December 01, 2016 by with 0 comment

How to Prepare Your Child for When You Go Away on Business

Going out of town for business can be a challenge. Business meetings, conferences, and training sessions are pretty much the norm for a lot of careers nowadays. You not only have to book your travel plans and reserve a place to stay, you also have to temporarily learn a new area. As tough as this can be, it gets even more difficult when you add children to the mix. Although many parents would publicly say they welcome a break from family, there are also those that hate spending time away from their kids.
The stress isn't only about parents. For many children, there is confusion over why Mom or Dad has to go away for work. With each day that passes, a child's emotions can get out of control. If handled the wrong way, a business trip can be a nightmare for both parents and children.

Thankfully, there are some simple ways to prepare your child for your time away from home. By explaining why you must leave, communicating while you are gone, and setting up expectations, you can assure that going away on business doesn't end up torturing the family.

1. Explain Why You Are Leaving

One of the easiest things you can do in preparation of your trip is to make sure your child knows why you have to leave. As crazy as it sounds, there seem to be a ton of kids out there that have no clue what type of work their parents do. By taking the time to explain what your job is and why it is important, you can make sure your child understands why the business trip is necessary.

2. Explain Where You Will Be and For How Long

So you may be leaving on business, but that doesn't mean you can't have fun telling your child where you will be. Take the time to pull out a map or globe and show them exactly where you are traveling. If you'll be flying, show the route that you'll be taking to get there. Go over your itinerary so your kids can have a better idea of where you are during your travel day.

At the same time, let your child know how long your trip is supposed to last. Come up with a fun way to count down the time so each passing day brings more excitement than sadness.

3. Set Up a Way to Communicate

At this point in time, there is no excuse for not being able to communicate with your child while you are away. Whether it be cell phone, email, Skype, or snail mail, there is always a way to let your kid know how you are doing. If you choose to call or video chat, try to arrange a designated time so you don't accidentally miss each other and have to skip a day.

4. Leave Surprises While You Are Gone

Although you may not be home, you can still find ways to leave bits of your personality around the house. Leave notes or small presents in special places throughout your home. Write messages of encouragement to help your children get through the time you are away from home. You can also make it a game to see if they find them all before you get back from your trip.

5. Bring Something Home as a Reward

Once your trip has come to an end, find a way to reward your child for surviving your time apart. If you travel frequently, you can come up with a theme on the types of presents you bring back (ex. hats, t-shirts, or teddy bears from each city). Over time your child will look over their collection with pride and look forward to your next trip.

Most of all, be sure to spend plenty of quality time with your kids when you get back home. Time spent together after a business trip is the best present you can possibly give!

Do you have children? Do you travel on business often? How would you prepare your kids if you had to leave home for a business trip?
Read More

November 28, 2016

Published November 28, 2016 by with 0 comment

What Should You Do If You Hate Your Occupation?

Do you hate your job? Do you sit and daydream about what it would be like to do anything other than what you do right now? Do you start getting a sick feeling in your stomach as the weekend comes to an end? If your answer to any of these questions is "yes", then you should stop and do something about it.
Hating your job is not out of the ordinary. I would venture to guess that at some stage the majority, if not all of us, have hated our 9-5 gig. The thing that should be viewed as unusual is willingly sitting back and being miserable with your current position.

If you do not like what you are doing, then you should get up and do something about it. If you are not sure what that something should be, here are some tips that may help. You may be surprised that quitting your job may not be the only answer. Ultimately, life is way too short to feel trapped in a job that does not bring you any personal or professional fulfillment.

Evaluate Your Current Position

Before you can make a plan on getting a new job or hating your current job less, you need to know exactly what it is about the job you have right now that you do not like. Without taking the time to evaluate your current position, it is very likely that you will find yourself in another job that you cannot stand.

As you sit back and think about your current job, ask yourself the following questions and be very honest with your responses:
  • Are you bored with what you do? Was your current job ever exciting? If yes, what parts of the job excited you?
  • What kind of relationship do you have with your supervisor and co-workers? Do they make your job more difficult?
  • Do you work in a field that interests you?
  • Are you being paid fairly for what you do? Is there another place that would pay you more for what you do?
  • What would you if you were allowed to choose your own job?

Take on New Projects/Responsibilities

If your main problem with your job is boredom, you may be able to repair that without leaving your current employer. Many times people start to get bored with what they do because the tasks become too routine. After a while, it may start to feel as if you are working on auto-pilot and you lose the excitement that the job used to bring.

Rather than quitting your job, the answer may be to take on additional responsibilities. The best thing to do in a situation where everything seems routine is to add some different to it. Ask your boss if there are any special projects or committees that you can work on. Maybe you can cross-train and add new skills to the ones you already possess.

Ultimately, you not only add something new to your daily routine, but you also show some initiative in the process. Both of which could actually help your career in the long run.

Move to a Different Department

Maybe you are in a situation where you work for a large company, but hate the job that you perform within that company. One benefit of large businesses is that they usually have tons of departments within them. Each of these departments is made up of roles with very different job descriptions.

So maybe your job is not so appealing anymore. It is possible that making a shift over to another position within a different department (ex. from Customer Service to Human Resources) may be the best decision for you. Some of the benefits of staying within the same company in a different role:
  • You expose yourself to new tasks in your new department.
  • You are still familiar with the overall organizational structure of the company.
  • You will likely hang on to any established benefits (vacation days, 401k, etc.) that you had when you came into the company.

Merge Your Hobbies with Your Skills

Another solution for people that hate their jobs is to find a way to take some emphasis off of their job. Most people start to identify with their full-time jobs as a large part of who they are. What if you incorporated a part-time job that merged your work skills with your hobbies and/or passions? Perhaps over time, you could identify more with this job while still using the full-time job for the benefits and salary.

For example, a person with only one job could find himself in a miserable state if he suddenly woke up and no longer enjoyed his job. However, if this person also had a small part-time job or business doing something he truly enjoyed, he may not mind the monotony of his full-time job as much because he would still have something to look forward to at the end of the day.

In addition to this, the part-time job could end up turning into something bigger allowing the person to finally step away from the full-time job he hated.

Find a Way to Break Up the Day

Sometimes not enjoying work stems from the lack of freedom we sometimes feel at our desks or work areas. In order to alleviate the feeling of being trapped, it is important to take some time throughout the day to break up the monotony.

For many people, the best way to do this is to go for short walks as time permits throughout the work day. Some businesses allow for morning and afternoon breaks in addition to regular lunch breaks. These are the perfect times to stretch your legs, get some fresh air, and regroup. You may find that your stress level goes down and your relationships with your co-workers gets stronger as well.

Taking an actual lunch break is also a simple thing that can greatly improve your mood at work. Nowadays there are tons of people that take their lunch back to their desks with them. However, this action tends to make people feel as if they are always on duty, even when eating lunch. There really is no feeling of taking a break throughout the day and that can lead to burnout over time.

Look for a New Job Opportunity

At the end of the day, sometimes the only answer left is to just look for another job that is more fulfilling. Whether it be because of relationships with co-workers, not making enough money, or the need to try something different at a different company, there are times when we may need to pack it in and move on to another place of employment.

Before taking this step, I highly encourage you to think if this will really make you happier in the long run, or if it will just provide a temporary feeling of happiness. It is possible that the feeling of hating your job is more inside yourself and you could end up feeling it regardless of where you work.

Ultimately, make sure that you have a new job in hand before quitting your present job, no matter how much you may hate it. Try not to burn any bridges on the way out of the door, and remain professional. You never know when you may need help from some of the people you are leaving behind.

Read More

November 24, 2016

Published November 24, 2016 by with 0 comment

6 Helpful Items to Have in Your Car After an Accident

Each year thousands of new drivers are introduced to our roadways. Unfortunately, there are also a large number of drivers, new and old, that are having car accidents.

Despite testing and training on how to operate a vehicle, there are still some operators that do not have a clue what to do in case of an accident. While some people believe that the moments following a car wreck are the most important from an injury and insurance standpoint, it is also important to prepare yourself for the possibility of an accident before they even occur.

The following items are all important parts of being a prepared driver. Each one of them can potentially come into play in the course of an accident. By having the items in your glove compartment or trunk, you can help to minimize the frustration and confusion that often accompany a car wreck.

Proof of Insurance

In most states, it is already a requirement for a driver to have a copy of his proof of insurance in the automobile. Even for those areas that do not require the document, it is a good idea to keep it in your glove compartment because it contains information you may need in case of an accident.

Most proof of insurance cards have your auto insurance policy number and the contact phone number to your insurance company's claims department on them. Both of these are important because you may need to share the information with the driver of the other vehicle if they plan on making a claim through your insurance company. The responding police officer may also need the information in order to complete his police report.

Contact Phone Numbers

In the case of an accident, you want to make sure that you have your important phone numbers readily accessible to you and your passengers. In addition to 911 to contact emergency rescue personnel, you may also want to keep a contact card with phone numbers for the following people or organizations:
  • Emergency Roadside Assistance/Tow Company
  • Your Insurance Company
  • Car Rental Companies
  • Contact Info for your closest family or friends

Notepad and Pen

While it may seem like a simple set of tools, a notepad and pen can be extremely important in case an accident ever occurs. In many accidents, it is not unusual for drivers to forget exact details of what happened not long after the accident took place. In order to prevent this, use your pen and paper to jot down important notes.

Some of the information you may want to consider is as follows:
  • Name and contact info of the other driver involved
  • Driver's license number of the other driver
  • License plate number of the other vehicle
  • Insurance company and policy number of the other driver
  • Details about what happened in the accident (location, events leading up to the accident, damage both vehicles)
  • Contact info of any witnesses that saw the accident take place
The pen and paper can also come in handy if you are ever in an accident and have to leave a note behind for the owner of an unattended vehicle.

Disposable or Cell Phone Camera

After a car accident takes place, you may want to get photos of the scene of the accident and damages to the vehicles/property involved. You can do this by taking snapshots with your own cell phone, or by keeping a disposable camera in your glove compartment. Good photos can assist insurance claims representatives in getting a better idea of how the accident took place and how badly the vehicles were damaged afterwards.

Having good photos can also prevent disputes and fraud in the following situations:
  • They can verify the positions of vehicles in case the cars are moved before the police arrive at the scene of the accident.
  • They can verify license plate information in case the driver of the other car tries to drive away immediately following the accident.
  • Photos of the damages can isolate the damages due to this accident in case the other driver tries to claim past damages to his car also.
  • Photos of the damages can also protect against the auto body shop enhancing damages to the vehicle in order to make more money from your insurance company.

First Aid/Survival Kit

It is not out of the ordinary for victims of a car accident to come away with scrapes, bumps and bruises due to broken glass and deployed air bags.When you add in the fact that emergency response vehicles may not get to the scene right away, you want to be sure to have a first aid kit handy. This will enable you to manage any injuries until the ambulance arrives or you are able to get to a hospital later for a check-up.

In addition to the traditional first aid kit, you may also want to consider keeping a survival kit in the trunk of your vehicle. The contents of the kit should be items that will keep you comfortable in case you are involved in a wreck that causes you to have to survive on your own for a longer period of time. Some of the more important items of your survival kit are:

Flashlight and Road Flares

Having a car wreck at night can be scary and dangerous. If you ever have an accident after sundown, make sure you not only have a flashlight but also road flares available for use.

The flashlight is a useful tool in case you have to survey the damage to your vehicle without the benefit of having the sun overhead. Without being able to illuminate your vehicle with the flashlight, you may overlook damages and not recognize problems with your vehicle until it is too late.

The road flares are an important safety feature when it comes to nighttime accidents. The first benefit of having the flares is that they can help emergency crews and policemen find out exactly where you are located. Another positive use of flares is to put them around your disabled vehicle in order to prevent other cars from running into it and causing more damage or injury.

If you've never had to use a road flare in the past, make sure that you know what you are doing being attempting to light one. The following video will guide you on some safety tips:
Read More

November 21, 2016

Published November 21, 2016 by with 0 comment

Quick List: Random Acts of Kindness and Other Ways to Pay It Forward

Random Acts of Kindness Day (February 17) and Pay It Forward Day (last Thursday in April) are two unofficial holidays in which people are encouraged to do simple acts of kindness for their community, family, friends, and people in general. Ultimately, the thought behind each holiday is that one small good deed can leave a lasting positive effect on the rest of society, and that the good deed can in turn lead to the spread of other good deeds throughout the world.
Although there are two specific days set aside to celebrate this concept, the idea of performing random acts of kindness is something that can be done on any day throughout the year. The acts are also something that can be done to help other people or society in general. The number of ways to help others is endless, but here is a list of acts of kindness and pay it forward ideas that can get you started.

Defining Kindness and Giving

According to Wikipedia, the definitions for "random acts of kindness" and "paying it forward" are as follows:
  • Random Acts of Kindness: A selfless act performed by a person or people wishing to either assist or cheer up an individual person or people.
  • Pay It Forward: The concept of asking that a good deed be repaid by having it done to others instead.

A Small Act Can Start a Movement

  • If you live in the same area as your fellow coworkers or students, find a way to start carpooling in order to save gas and help the environment.
  • Start a recycling program at your home, business or school. Take it a step further and donate any earnings received to a charity of your choice
  • Help deliver food to people in need by joining a Meals on Wheels chapter in your area.
  • Prevent daily food waste by learning how to compost. As an added bonus, offer up some of your compost to neighbors during planting season.
  • Donate a few dollars to your alma mater (elementary school, high school, or college) as a way of showing appreciation for where you are today. Or, donate your time to help improve the campus at your alma mater.
  • Look into becoming a host family for a foreign exchange student.

  • If you enjoy raising children and can provide a stable home environment, become a foster parent/family.
  • Help keep your neighborhood safe from drugs and other crimes by starting a neighborhood watch program.
  • Tune in to Life Is Good Radio and take a moment to dance with the people you love the most.
  • Create a new journal documenting what good deeds you have done for others as well as what other people have done for you. Take it a step further by publishing the journal as a blog so others can learn from your experiences.
  • Take a class on grant-writing at your local community college, and then use this new skill to assist local service organizations in securing new grant funding.
  • Sit down and find a cause you are passionate about. Find a friend who is passionate about the same thing, and then do something to help champion that cause!

  • If you have long hair, consider donating some of it after your haircut in order to make wigs for cancer patients.
  • Host a dance marathon for your next birthday party or special event and give part of the proceeds to the charity of your choice.
  • Continue to shop in smaller, local stores and spread the word about them around town.
  • Host a potluck food day at your job in order to build community among your coworkers.
  • If you are familiar with some of your neighbors, organize a block party to celebrate your community and bring your neighborhood closer together.
  • The next time you are going out on a weekend, offer to be the designated driver or volunteer to pay for the taxi ride home for your friends. Better yet, offer to pay for the taxi ride for someone you don't know.
  • Offer your job knowledge and expertise by becoming a mentor to a younger or less experienced employee at your job.

  • Make a blog post thanking everyone who has helped you get to where you are in life today.
  • Randomly send flowers to someone on a day that is not a holiday or birthday.
  • Spend quality time with your parents or grandparents, and ask them to share stories of experiences they had while growing up. If you have a chance, find a way to record these stories in audio or writing in order to preserve them.
  • If your family has spread out over time, find a way to organize a family reunion in order to bring everyone back together.
  • Strike up a conversation every day with someone that you do not already know.
  • Take a moment out of each day to smile at someone else.

Save the Dates

Although we should be making attempts at helping each other and doing acts of kindness each day, there are a few special days and weeks of celebration set aside for doing good deeds.
  • Random Acts of Kindness Day: February 17
  • Random Acts of Kindness Week: Second full week of February
  • Pay It Forward Day: Last Thursday in April
  • World Kindness Day: November 13
Read More

November 14, 2016

Published November 14, 2016 by with 0 comment

How Being a Summer Camp Counselor Inspired My Life

Back when I was 22, I had the privilege of becoming a summer camp counselor. It was pretty random how I ended up landing the job, but it turned out to be one of the best things that has ever happened to me. The friends I made, the fun I had, and the lessons I learned will always stick with me. To this day, I would still suggest the job for anyone who enjoys the outdoors and loves bringing a smile to other people's faces.
Camp counseling is an interesting profession because you put in a ton of hours, but you are doing things that are so fun it is hard to consider it a job. My two summers were spent at the Bob Campbell Youth Campus in Hendersonville, NC. If you pass through the area or need something to do for the summer, I highly encourage you to check it out. If you are still riding the fence on whether or not being a summer camp counselor is for you, let me share a handful of the lessons I learned while living and working at camp.

Money Does Not Always Equal Happiness

The first and probably most obvious lesson I learned as a counselor is that money is not everything in life. If you are looking for a summer job that is going to make you a ton of money, this is definitely not the profession you want to sign up for. However if you enjoy bringing smiles to people's faces, meeting new friends, and experiencing new activities on a daily basis, I would highly recommend you give it a try.

Back when I was a counselor, I can remember sitting around one night trying to figure out the exact hourly rate that we were receiving. It was hard to compute because we were technically on-duty for as long as we were at the camp. If an emergency arose during the night, we were still expected to perform our duties, and we were always in action from sunrise until the campers went to bed at night. The hourly rate that we came up with was insanely small, but it did not stop any of us from wanting to do the job. As a matter of fact, we all knew that given the choice we would do it again in a heartbeat. Some of us probably would have done it on a volunteer basis if the job were presented to us in that way.

I guess the point of it all is that the joy of the job does not come from the money that you make from it. The moments that you share with the campers and your fellow counselors are priceless, and you will remember them well after the money has been spent. Looking back at it all, I do not regret passing over higher paying summer jobs because I know that I made a positive difference in the life of a child.

Never Too Late to Expand Your Comfort Circle

The first week we met up at the camp for orientation, we got to do all of the activities that the campers would be doing for the rest of the summer. There were plenty of things that I was already familiar with like fishing, swimming, and arts and crafts. However, I also had the opportunity to try wall climbing, canoeing, and archery. Those were things that were completely new to me even though I was 22 at the time.

As we were learning about the activities and the best way to facilitate them for our campers, the camp director kept stressing to us that being a counselor and a camper in general is about expanding our comfort zones. This was evident every day when we tried new activities that we were not familiar with, but also in our everyday exchanges with our fellow counselors. Many of us were from different backgrounds, and if we had met on a college campus we might not have given each other the time of day. But since we worked together, we found ways to break down our differences and become friends. We learned from each other and built extremely tight bonds over the course of a few months. I am still close with many of the counselors I worked with over 10 years ago!

Everyone Has an Inner Child

I remember sitting with a group of counselors before our first session being worried about how the children would react to us. We finally figured that their reactions would be based on the amount of energy that we displayed when they got to camp. When the bus pulled up, we bolted out to meet them and it was amazing to see how they lit up even though they did not know us yet. During the course of the week no matter how tired we were, we always kept up our energy and positive outlook, and it worked wonders for us.

As we taught classes and lived around the camp, it became evident that none of us were being fake. We all genuinely loved being there, and it was so easy to be carefree in that environment. When we sang songs at the campfire, the counselors were just as loud as the campers. When we played games, the counselors were right there volunteering to play as well. We did not do this because we felt obligated, but rather because it was fun to be able to do these things again. It was like a bonus to be able to have a great time and be a child again, and still get paid for it at the end of the day.

Never Underestimate a Child's Experiences

The camp I worked for dealt primarily with children from underprivileged backgrounds. There were some kids who had never seen the mountains or even been away from home for more than a day or two. We even had a few campers who had never eaten pizza before they got to camp. It was an incredible experience to see each of them grow during their week at the camp. In some cases we were able to see huge differences in a child's attitude and openness during their time with us.

However, it was not just the children who grew. I felt that I learned just as much from the kids as they learned from me. Each one of them shared an important piece of their life with me, and in turn helped me to appreciate my own upbringing and where I was in my life at that point. I remember staying up late in a cabin of 14 and 15 year-olds from Jackson, Mississippi and hearing about the tough things they had to live through. It made my problems seem so small at that point, but at the same time I knew that I was providing a positive distraction for them during that week.

The Power of Leaving Behind a Legacy

The end of the summer was always a very difficult thing for us. It was sad to see the last bus full of campers go away, and to see our fellow counselors packing up to go home. We often looked at each other and wondered if we made a difference in the children's lives and if they would remember us when they got back home. We knew in our heart that even if not every child was receptive to us, that there was always going to be at least one who would never forget their week at camp. Knowing that made all the difference, and assured each of us that we had done the right thing by becoming counselors. Even today I find myself wondering where certain kids are and how their lives have turned out so far. I can only hope that they still wonder the same about me.

If I have to be remembered for something, I want it remembered that I really liked children and was a good camp counselor.  — Francis Ford Coppola
Read More