Living the Dream

This is how you get what you want…

How to be prepared for an Earthquake (Earthquake Survival Kit) July 29, 2008

Filed under: Archives,How to... — mammyflop @ 5:56 pm
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If you live in Southern California, you probably felt the earthquake this morning. Even though you learn to DROP, COVER and HOLD ON, when the walls start to rattle and the floor starts to roll –those 3 steps go out the window. If this morning’s earthquake had been a drill I would have failed. I did not drop, I did not cover, and I did NOT hold on. Instead, I looked around, screamed and started running down the stairs and outside. After the earthquake had calmed down, I realized that I need to brush up on my earthquake readiness plan and kit.

Although there isn’t a sure way of detecting an earthquake pre- rumble, you can be prepared for mother nature’s roar. By following the below steps, you and your loved ones will prepared and alert when the quake hits.

1 – Make sure everyone is on the same page. Pick an retreat location in each room. Although running to a doorway / door frame is a popular spot, the safest spot is to hide under a sturdy table.

2-After the shaking, retreat outside and make sure you have everyone. Watching the news coverage regarding this morning’s earthquake said that land lines have a better chance of working than your cell phone. So, if you need to make a phone call try to use a land line, or send a text message. Text messages use less bandwidth than phone calls so you are more likely to get a hold of the person. Try not to make phone calls unless they are an emergency!

3- Locate your emergency earthquake kit. This should have the essential items to aide in your survival – should you experience a bad shake.

Emergency Earthquake Kit:

– Flashlight ( Battery operated )

– Radio (Battery operated)

-Extra batteries

– Water – lots of water

-First Aid Kit


-Canned Food ( and can opener)

4- After the quake and the coast is clear, do a quick walk around the house to make sure there isn’t structural damage and / or gas leaks. Fires are easily started after earthquakes so make sure you don’t smell any gas leaking… If you do, turn off the gas.

Hopefully every one will be okay and there won’t be any major damages. If you do experience an earthquake don’t put the emergency kit away because you never know when an aftershock may hit. Hope you will be well prepared but won’t have to use your earthquake kit! If you have any other earthquake or natural disaster readiness tips, please feel free to comment!


How to find happiness within your everyday life

Filed under: Archives,How to...,life — mammyflop @ 11:01 am
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I feel a bit hypocritical writing a blog on how to find happiness within your life, because often times I fail to do this myself. However, it’s important for us (myself included) to see the beauty in each experience and find that moment of happiness. I think it’s important for people to realize that trials and tribulations are a part of life and with out such obstacles we can’t say we are truly living life.

Ever notice that when you are having a bad day, it seems as if life has the odds stacked against you? We are so quick to calculate and assess the negative but rarely the positive. Why is that? I guess it depends on the person – glass half empty or glass half full? But overall, I think it’s easier to dwell on the things that don’t go as planned because you can always say ”I tried” and move on. Perhaps that nonchalant attitude of ”oh well” is getting you into a funk. Maybe it’s time for start focusing on the action, effort and not so much the outcome. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important to attain goals and reach for the stars, but it’s also important to learn from the process. Speaking from personal experience, I know that I seek validation and satisfaction from the end result of my venture, and fail to see the doors I have opened along the way. When you open those doors, you may be surprised with what you find!

For example, let’s say you are trying to find a new job. You spend countless hours online, visiting job websites, temp agencies, asking for personal referrals, and so on. You find yourself dreaming about your resume revisions. Finally, you set up an interview with a company who is offering a not so ”ideal” position. Out of desperation and some form of change you go to the interview. After the interview you convince yourself that ”this isn’t really the job I’m looking for but I guess I’ll just take it”… Only to find out that you did not get the position. HOW DISCOURAGING!!!! Right? Most people, myself included would feel somewhat rejected, “I couldn’t even land a job that I didn’t really want” or twist it around to thinking ”Whatever, I didn’t want that job anyways”… both trains of thought being less than positive. Yes, at the end of the day you need to get a job … but maybe you need to look at each step along the way. Look at it this way, you were able to familiarize yourself with the job market, you cleaned up your resume and now you have interview experience. Not getting the job allows you to find the job of your dreams! So, when you are feeling down about your situation, try to dissect it a bit more and look at each individual step.

I’m sure this sounds impossible for many people. I know I fail to look at the process over the outcome. However, when you are in a moment of depression, dismay, or plain old frustration, this method of analysis really helps. So we can’t all be living fairy tale lives, but at least we are living a life separate from anyone else. You are in control of your life and you are the only person who can control your emotions. Maybe it’s time to put the Kleenex away because you lost a job, or you broke up with your significant other. Don’t let those outside factors dictate your life. Yes, obstacles suck and we would rather live problem free, but that isn’t something we can control. However, we can control how we think and how we want to live our lives.

In order to find happiness within your life it’s important to focus on the facts. Your life is being acted out by you and only you. It is up to you to deal with the ups and downs of your life. There isn’t a manual, and there isn’t an option for ”fairytale ending” but there is a chance for you to be happy. When the big picture doesn’t pan out as planned, look at the small picture. What did you learn, what can you change and do differently? As long as you are being proactive in your life, you have a chance of finding your true happiness. Like other good things, sometimes happiness require effort. You win some and you lose some, but as long as you keep getting up when you’re down – you have a shot.

Action may not always bring happiness;
but there is no happiness without action
Benjamin Disraeli

So today and everyday, try to see the beauty in your life. Figure out what made your day so different and special. And always remember, change is constant in life. Going through the ups and downs, the cycle keeps us alive.


Top 10 things to do on girls’ nights (mostly in) October 9, 2007

Filed under: Archives,Friendship,Top Ten — mammyflop @ 12:19 am
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Planning a girls’ night in? These are some ideas to do with your girlfriends. Mix and match a few ideas into one carefree evening with your ladies!

For larger groups: 

1. Themed pot lucks

For example, everyone brings: something red, a dessert, an appetizer, some kind of food that starts with a <you pick the letter>, etc.

2. Game night

Board games, Madlibs (check out naughty variations), or nonboard interpersonal games like “psychiatrist”, “mafia”, and “murder”. Or even this: Everyone pick a *choice* word or phrase, and each get a sheet of paper. The best words are inside jokes or other words meaningful to your group in some other way. Each person writes a sentence (for best results, write about mutual friends/romantic partners) with their respective word, and passes their sheet of paper around so that everyone writes sentences with their word on each paper. Read each sheet aloud when you’re finished. Hilarious!

3. Book club

If you can organize this with a group, it’ll be good times. Foster intellectual growth in yourself and in your friend group, and have a group of people who, literally, are on the same page as you with regard to at least one area of your life!

4. Ice cream sundae party

Everyone bring their favorite topping! 

For any size group:

5. Slide show of old pictures

Warn the neighbors about possible outbursts of screeching, hooting, and laughter.

6. Jacuzzi

Nobody to judge, no insecurities. Just sit back and relaaaax.

7. Dinner and a movie

Go out, cook a meal together, order in, rent or visit a theatre – mix it up to suit your mood! 

8. Go for a brisk walk

Meander through a park if the weather permits (I’m envisioning fall leaves and a the dry, cool air of a crisp fall evening at dusk), or to a vista where you can watch the sunset.

9. Wine & cheese

Enough said.

10. Pampering spa night

Everyone brings spa treatment items such as facial masks, cooling cucumber eye patches, parrafin treatment, manicure supplies, etc.

11. Baking extravaganza

Bake a fabulous cake, or some other creation! If you’re a spaz in the kitchen, consider inviting your culinarily inclined girlfriends…and pick a recipe that seems too complicated to make by yourself! Teamwork!

Girls just wanna have fun!


How to improve your communication skills: Problem solving October 6, 2007

So you’re ticked off at your intimate partner for something….maybe it’s a familiar problem rearing its ugly head once again, or perhaps it’s a new issue that just surfaced. Regardless of what it is or how often it happens, trying to find a solution can be difficult and stressful, and sometimes can even lead to additional problems. Sometimes just the thought of broaching the issue is tough. The Dream Team is here to help. Below are some guidelines for solving problems with your romantic partner. These may extend to other types of relationships as well.

1. Define and specify

Phrase the issue in terms of behaviors that are currently occurring or not occurring, or in terms of what needs to be decided.

Break down large, complex problems into several smaller & more manageable problems. Deal with each of these one at a time.

Make certain that both you and your parter agree on the statement of the problem, and are willing to discuss it.

2. Importance

Explain why the issue is important to you, and what you perceive the issues involved to be.

Explain what your needs are and that you would like to see them taken into account in the solution. DO NOT offer speicific solutions at this time.

3. Brainstorm possible solutions

Time to get creative! Brainstorm every possible solution, no matter how extreme, that you can think of. *Write them down on a piece of paper.* Each solution should be concrete and specificy the behaviors involved.

4. Decide on a solution

You and your partner should independently rate each solution from 1-3 in terms of how much you favor it (1=favor very much, 2=neutral/willing to try but skeptical, 3=dislike). Cross off solutions that both of you gave a 3, since these won’t work for either of you. If there are solutions that both of you rated a “1”, focus on these. Otherwise focus on solutions that one of you rated a “1” and the other rated a “2”. The best solutions will take both partners’ needs and preferences into account, and will be focused on the present and the futue. Do not focus on solutions that meet only your needs, even if your partner is willing to accept them. This could lead to resentment and/or withdrawal by your partner down the line. Do not dwell on the past – the solution should move your relationship forward. Do not accept solutions that you do not intend to follow through with, or one that will make you angry or resentful.

Once you have selected a solution, write it in clear, specific behavioral terms (if this has not already been done). Both you and your partner should verbally restate the solution in your own words to ensure that you each understand it in the same way.

5. Trial

Select a time frame during which to implement the solution on a trial basis. Both you and your partner should mark you calendars for the date when this trial period ends. Allow for several attempts at the new solution. Review the solution at the end of the trial period. If needed, revise the solution, taking into account what you learned during the trial.

All content from:

Baucom, D. H., Epstein, N., & LaTaillade, J. J. (2002). Cognitive-Behavioral Couple Therapy. In Gurman & Jacobson (eds.). Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy. The Guilford Press: New York.


How to improve your communication skills: Speaking October 5, 2007


Interested in improving your communication skills? Most people can stand to improve in this department. The great thing about improving these skills is that they’re applicable to any relationship- friends, romantic partners, parents, kids, coworkers. Have you ever gotten caught up in the heat of the moment, and lashed out at your friend, partner, parent, or child? Maybe things even escalated into a full-blown fight. Afterwards, everyone probably felt bad… You can avoid this trap by following the guidelines for effective communication below.

The example situation that will be referenced throughout the post: You and a close friend had made plans to have dinner together last Friday. She called you an hour before you had planned to meet and cancelled because she wanted to go to a concert with a new guy she’s seeing.

  1. State your views subjectively – as your own feelings and thoughts, not as absolute truths. Use “I” statements to avoid your listener feeling as if they’re being verbally attacked (“I’m angry with you because we didn’t get to hang out last Friday like we had planned to do” vs. “It pisses me off that you flaked on me”).
  2. Speak for yourself. State what you think and feel, NOT what you think your listener thinks and feels (“I’m feeling hurt that we didn’t get to spend time together, and angry that you called me an hour before we were supposed to meet” instead of “Clearly, I’m not a priority to you”).
  3. Express your emotions and feelings, not just your ideas (“I’m feeling hurt that we didn’t get to hang out” instead of “We didn’t get to hang out”).
  4. When talking about your listener, state your feelings about her/him, not just about a certain event or situation (“I’m angry with you” instead of “I’m angry that we didn’t get to hang out”).
  5. When expressing negative emotions or concerns, also include positive feelings you have about the person or situation. (“I was really excited to see you because you’re one of my closest friends, and I got very disappointed when you called to cancel” instead of “I’m feeling angry, hurt, and disappointed”)
  6. Make your statements as specific as possible. Identify a single situation or topic that’s bothering you and prompting you to share (Your friend flaked on you last Friday when you had dinner plans , instead of Your friend flakes on you all the time). Avoid making global attributions about your listener (“You called me an hour before we were supposed to meet last Friday” instead of “You always flake on me”). Also be specific in terms of your emotions and thoughts. (“I’m feeling angry and hurt” instead of “I’m feeling bad”).
  7. Speak in “paragraphs”. Express a main idea with some elaboration and allow your listener to respond. Speaking for a long time without a break makes it difficult for your listener to listen.
  8. Use appropriate tact and timing, so that your listener can hear what you’re saying without becoming defensive. Monitor the tone of your voice so that you can have a constructive problem-solving conversation instead of one in which you and your listener tear each other down. Select a time to bring up the topic in advance, when both you and your listener have a block of time and will be able to attend fully to the conversation. Right before work, bed, or other plans is not a good time.

All content from:

Baucom, D. H., Epstein, N., LaTaillade, J. J. (2002). Cognitive-Behavioral Couple Therapy. In Gurman & Jacobson (eds.). Clinical Handbook of Couple Therapy. The Guilford Press: New York.


How to be assertive without being a bitch

Have you ever been taken for a “ride” by a cab driver, been treated poorly by sales reps, had to wait for hours cuz your flight got delayed, or had your order botched at a restaurant? These are all things that we put up with that we don’t have to. Feeling like you just got screwed over sucks. Now don’t get us wrong- we’re not suggesting that you make a fuss over every little thing that’s not to your liking. Human beings make mistakes, and many times it’s a deal-able situation. For instance, if on your sandwich you get provolone cheese instead of the Swiss that you ordered, it might not be fuss-worthy. That said, if you’ve got a hankering for Swiss, and you indeed ordered it—get it! In addition, there is a class of behaviors, or lack thereof, that is just plain inexcusable. For instance, you get in a cab and the meter says $42, 309 (which is what happened to The Dream Team last weekend). WTF is that about? Unaccepts for sure! In this instance, The Dream Team asked the cab driver what was up with the meter and laughed with him about how it was clearly broken. He said he’d charge a flat rate to our destination, which was a few dollars more than what the frequently Mammy-travelled route would usually cost. The solution in this case was for us to realize that his requested fare included his tip– done. There is a way to go about these situations without being a jerk. You need to behave with a sense of calm, confidence, assertiveness, and grace. It doesn’t have to been an awkward confrontational situation, the fear of which prevents most of us from asking for what we want. The Dream Team proposes the following recommendations.

Taxi drivers who overcharge

Only challenge the fare when you’re certain that he overcharged you on a route you travel frequently. Keep in mind that gas prices increase, so if you haven’t ridden in a cab for a while, this could be the reason for an elevated fare. Getting a lower fare can be difficult because often cab drivers doggedly defend their fares when they’re clearly just trying to get a few extra bucks. When you arrive at your destination, what you need to do is stay calm, and state with confidence that you travel the route frequently and it costs $x. Tell him you’ll give him that amount. If he tries to argue with you, repeat yourself until he backs down. Mammies have successfully used this strategy countless times. Which brings up a whole other issue– Why all the shady cab drivers?!

Dealing with online order problems

Consider that if your order involved postal service delivery, the mail may be to blame, and it might be inappropriate to use the approach below. Follow these guidelines only after you’ve determined that the order company is clearly at fault.Email customer service with your complaint, and make sure you include all the relevant details (order # and such). If you don’t hear back from them within a few business days, simply forward your original email to them. If a week passes and you still haven’t gotten a response, resort to the use of threat. Email customer service again, notifying them that this is your third attempt to get in contact. Copy and paste your complaint, and let them know that you’ll be contacting the Better Business Bureau if you don’t hear back from them within a week. Usually this will result in a swift move to appease you. The key here is to use email as a way to document your attempts to contact them.

Airline delays and baggage problems

You can get a free ticket, or frequent flier miles, for certain types of delays. Delays due to weather conditions won’t get you anything, since (clearly) these are out of the airline’s control. However, mechanical failure falls under the responsibility of the airline, and you can get something out of this. For instance, due to mechanical difficulties, Mammy’s recent flight was delayed by 3 hours. She couldn’t get on any stand-by flights to the original destination, but she did manage to get on a standby flight to an airport near the original destination. Of course there was the luggage concern- Mammy’s luggage ended up at the original destination. The ticket agent at the departing gate had told her she wouldn’t be able to have the luggage sent to her house. Mammy refused to accept this and took matters into her own hands. Mammy got her bags delivered to her home that evening, free of charge. She also received frequent flier miles for the delay. Here’s how you can do it:

Getting bags delivered. At the arrival airport, calmly explain to the baggage claim agent the situation. There’s no harm in telling him or her (calmly) that you are frustrated with the situation. Just remember to be friendly, calm, and treat the agent with kindness. Use your manners – “please” and “thank you” will get you a long way.

Getting miles. Write and mail a hard copy of a letter to the CEO of the airline (contact information may be found on websites), explaining your frustration with delay situation and how it ruined your plans for the day. Keep in mind that it can take up to 6 weeks to receive a response.

Sending food back at a restaurant

Mammy is constantly asking for exclusions and substitutions in her restaurant orders, so often her orders arrive at the table messed up. Mammy’s protocol for handling this situation:

1. If it doesn’t come naturally, express the disappointment on your face.

2. Remain calm, and explain how your order differs from what you really ordered.

3. Say you’re sorry for sending it back, and acknowledge that it wasn’t the server’s fault.

4. Smile and say thank you.

5. Wait for your correct order to arrive. Possibly steal a French fry or two from your companion’s plate to hold you over.

Easy. And what’s more, many times your meal will be comped without you even having to ask. Should this occur, add to your server’s tip at least half the price of your meal. If you have to wait an excessively long time (please use your judgment here) for your meal to be delivered and perhaps go hypoglycemic, ask for the manager and calmly explain the situation. Tell him you don’t think you should have to pay for your meal. 9 times out of 10, you won’t have to.