Living the Dream

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How to improve your communication skills: be an effective listener March 8, 2009

Listening seems easy enough, but actually it’s an art that requires much time and practice to master. We’ve all encountered situations in which we’ve misinterpreted or made assumptions about what somebody said, only to lead to massive misunderstanding and possibly arguments! This is why it’s critical to be an active listener. When you are in the listener role, your job is to support the person who is speaking. You are not going to get very far if you just sit there and let their words go in one ear and out the other. If you care about the speaker, let them know through active listening.

Ways to respond while your partner is speaking:

  1. Show that you understand your partner’s statements and accept his/her right to have those thoughts and feelings, even if you disagree with their content. Let him/her speak for some time before interjecting with your own speech. When you do pipe up, reflect and summarize your partner’s most important feelings, desires, conflicts, and thoughts. Especially focus on feelings, as this is often what can deepen the conversation and lead to a deeper level of understanding. This means you’ll be doing some guesswork regarding what your partner is really trying to say- it’s trial and error. Sometimes you’ll get it wrong, sometimes you’ll be right on target. With practice, you’re going to improve.
  2. Demonstrate this acceptance through your tone of voice, facial expressions, and posture.
  3. Try to put yourself in your partner’s shoes and look at the situation from his/her perspective, in order to determine how s/he feels and thinks about the issue. If there’s a problem at stake, your partner already has the solution. Thing is, s/he may not be aware of it due to confusion or emotional overload. That’s where your critical role as the listener comes in. The listener’s job is to do some detective work and help the speaker come to peace with the topic at hand. As mentioned in #1, you must try to peel back the layers of what your partner has said and figure out what is going on underneath. Focus on feelings, try to guess what is at stake for your partner. Use your partner’s words– there’s no better way to make a person feel validated than by using their language.

While you are the listener, DO NOT:

  1. Express your own opinion or perspective.
  2. Think about how your partner’s words affect you– your job is to be helping them when you are in the listener role. You will get your turn as the speaker.
  3. Offer solutions or attempt to solve a problem without being asked.
  4. Make judgments or evaluate what your partner said.

 

With these skills, we hope you will become a better, more active listener!

 

How to make a long distance relationship work

Filed under: How to...,Relationships — mammyflop @ 9:06 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

In today’s world of dating, we often find ourselves living away from our partners. Whether it’s 2 hours or 2,000 miles, being apart can really take itstoll on yourrelationsihp. As if being in a relationship isn’t difficult enough! Here are some tips to keep the love alive in your long-distance relationship!

The main dish is communication: you aren’t around each other so there are no nonverbal signals to pick up on, no cuddling, no hugging, no passionate kisses to communicate how much you care. You have to use your words and other creative gestures. Talk every day. This is a MUST.

Skype!! It’s free and there’s something qualitatively different about seeing your honey in addition to just hearing their voice. At least just give it a shot.

Send pacakges. Let your partner know you’re thinking of them and thoughtful enough to put some effort into it. Some ideas…send a “candlelight dinner”…a couple of tea lights or votives, a box of mac ‘n cheese, chocolates, rose petals or a beautiful dried flower, include a movie if you like. Make sure you have the same items, and you can have a candlelight dinner date with your love! Another idea…get a bag of hershey’s kisses and/or hugs. Remove the paper strips, and make your own. Write down reasons you love your partner or things you love about her/him, and slip them inside the foil wrapper to replace the original strip.

Make a photo calendar on shutterlfy.com or a on similar photo website. If you have a good memory, search through your photos and assign pics  to the calendar months based on the month in which it was taken (for example, if you have a picture of you and your partner from his birthday in june last year, assign that picture to the june month in the calendar you’re creating). It will be fun for both of you to remember the events!

Keep reminders of your partner. I’m talking about pictures, gifts, and other tokens of that person. Placing them strategically allows you to incorporate your partner into your life when s/he’s not physically present. Wear jewelry, the watch, the clothes that s/he gave you. Remember this when you put the item on, and be grateful for it. Place tokens around your world. For example, place a pic of you and your partner in different rooms of your home, in your car, in your planner. If it sounds obsessive, then don’t go overboard- do what you’re comfortable with. Just remember, when you can’t be together, you have to find ways to make the person a presence in your life.

Have “dates”. Yes! It’s possible! Go get an ice cream cone at the same time and talk on the phone while enjoying your cones. Find a recipe you both love and cook at the same time. Find a movie you both want to see, and find theatres in your respective towns that are playing the movie at roughly the same time. Or rent a movie, and begin it at the same time. Stay on the phone or on skype during the activities to feel your partner closer!

Start a project together. Read the same book, join a yoga class, train for a half marathon together, begin a home improvement project. It’s a way to stay connected on an engaging task that you’re both into.

Visit each other as much as possible. In today’s economy you may not have the funds to make as many trips as you’d like to, but you have to prioritize your relationship and yes,  that means sometimes sacrificing the new pair of heels for a plane ticket.

Make an end in sight. Relationships that carry on without a definitive endopint can seem confusing and hopeless. Partners can easily get discouraged. Make a plan with your partner, and make sure it’s a good compromise that you both can commit to.

Bottom line: Be creative, be committed, and communicate.

 

How to be smart about our money, and surviving these tough times. What do we do? March 4, 2009

(Image from icanhascheezeburger.com)

It’s no secret that we are all in an economic crunch. People are losing jobs left and right, while the price of gas keeps increasing. Stocks are definitely not the answer … and it seems like keeping your money in the bank is a bit risky as well… What are we to do?

In an attempt to be more economy / investment savvy, I have taken it upon myself to do some research. How do I save money? Where do I invest my money?

After surfing the web… I was a bit discouraged. There doesn’t seem to be a safe place for our money right now. Not only that, I’m not a finance / investment guru. I do not understand industry specific lingo – so half of the blogs / studies I read about went over my head.

THANK GOODNESS for this next website…
http://erictheanalyst.com is a great website to learn about investment and to really break down our economic status

Eric states that his goal is to explore investment ideas, discuss the current economy – in terms that even I can understand… and most of all … he will be giving out tips on how to save money, where to invest and even answer your questions! It’s a great deal for a $10 monthly subscription…. for $10 you will get access to all of Eric’s articles, a bi-weekly!! newsletter… and insight into what is really going on!

I know we are all strapped for money right now.. but just think of your $10 monthly subscription as one of your investments. I am sure that you will not be disappointed.

Check back often on our next 10 ways to save money blog … coming up in a few days 🙂

In the mean time …. check out  http://erictheanalyst.com

 

Happy New Year 2009 January 13, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — mammyflop @ 2:15 pm

Did the holiday season really just come and go ?
Although I can’t believe that it’s 2009
One thing is for certain
This is THE year for change
Thanks for your continuous support
Here’s to an amazing year.
xo

 

Black Friday Shopping @ Shopmoderne.com 40% off November 27, 2008

Filed under: Archives — mammyflop @ 1:18 am
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Recipe: Puppy Chow, Monkey Munch, Muddy Buddies- Chex Mix Snack October 14, 2008

Looking for an easy to make, delicious snack for you and your friends? Try making some Puppy Chow, Muddy Buddies, Monkey Munch. As seen on Jon and Kate Plus 8 as Monkey Munch, kids and adults alike love this snack.  It satisfies anyone’s sweet tooth, and there are so many easy ways to add your own twist – it’s great to take to a party, make for a get together or just for a snack.

Ingredients:

9 cups CHEX cereal ( can use any kind)

1 cup semis sweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter

1/4 cup butter

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar

Directions:

In a microwaveable bowl, microwave the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered for 1 minute.

Stir and microwave for another 30 seconds

Stir until mixture is smooth

Add in vanilla and stir again

Measure cereal and set aside

Pour mixture over cereal and stir until coated evenly

Pour coated cereal into resealable storage bags

Add powdered sugar , seal bag and shake shake shake.

Spread on wax paper and let sugar set

Store in refrigerator

 

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