Getting Started

I decided that I wanted to get free stuff. So I looked online and found several sites that will send you free stuff in exchange for feedback. These sites are much easier to join than the sites that offer to pay you for your feedback, and since I was just interested in getting free stuff I did not mind not getting paid in cash to write reviews.

Once of my friends actually introduced me to this concept so I started looking into it. I found several sites that outline how to do this kind of thing.The Penny Hoarder.com is one of the places that I found very useful. I was also recommended by a friend to join Smiley360. Here you do a series of surveys to find the kinds of products you would like to try and they will start finding products that fit your interests. They send you these products for free and you simply write a review of your experiences with the product. Simple as that. There are several more sites you can join and I will keep you updated as I try several more out.

If you want to look into any product testing sites I found quite a few of them on a page called Money Pantry. I have not looked into most of them by I have joined Smiley360 and BZZAgent.

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To Diet or not to Diet

It has come to my attention that I  have a serious problem on my hands. Do you know the phenomenon that occurs when you see someone everyday and therefor do not notice that they have gained or lost weight? This has recently happened with someone close to me. I’ve spent so much time with them recently that I did not notice they were getting a little “chunky.” It was only after spending a four day weekend away that I came home to the startling discovery… (Pause for dramatic effect)… My dog was getting fat.

I know, I know! But please… try stay calm. I will put her on a diet immediately! I know this is most likely my fault. It was a combination of not measuring her food out as carefully as I should and a lack of outdoor exercise, due to the extreme cold, that has caused this problem. But I have a solution. I will cut her food intake until she goes back to her ideal weight.

I have come to find a problem with this plan though. I taught my dog that she does not eat people food (except for the crust off of my pbnj’s because lets face it… I’m not going to eat it). She knows better than to beg for food (but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t still do it). Lastly she certainly knows better than to steal food off from someones plate (this I have actually been strict on). But tonight she stole a bread stick…. Don Don Dooon!! I know… I was horrified as well.

So now what? Do I continue her diet knowing she is miserable enough to steal food to survive?! Although despite what she may think I am not starving her to death. I simply cut back on the amount of food I give her at each meal. She is obviously a drama queen and not at all like her mother (Stop Laughing Mom!). But I cannot allow her to continue to steal because she thinks she is that hungry. There are young kids in the house that are easy targets and are too easily horrified by spilt milk, let alone a stolen pizza.  I think a simple compromise is the best option. I will only cut her food by a small amount, start measuring it, and find ways for her to exercise in the house (hopefully without breaking anything).

There I go making lists again… But this one is important, my dog’s weight and happiness are at stake. I know she still won’t like getting less food, if anything she would ask for more, but I am hoping this compromise works for both of us. After all, who can say no to this face?

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The Psychology of Myself

I have always loved psychology. In fact I love it so much that if I was not an English major I would have been a psychology major. I like learning about how the human mind works, how it thinks, how it processes information, and most importantly how it reacts. The process of this reaction is why I studied communication. When we react we communicate through verbal and body language. I try to figure out what everything means. And I’m usually fairly good at it, or so I think. There are some cases where I don’t know what’s actually going on, I can only make educated guesses based on my own reactions to similar situations.

I actually spend a large amount of time analyzing myself. What I am thinking, why I am thinking that, how I should react, how I shouldn’t react, how my reaction will affect others, how their reaction will then translate back to me. It is a never ending cycle that I find somewhat fun. It is a great way for me to entertain myself when I’m bored. In fact, the majority of the time I spend crocheting and knitting I am really analyzing my brain and just keeping my hands busy on something else.

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Now I know what you’re thinking and, yes. sometimes this does get me into trouble. I tend to over think simple situations. Then the actions I end up choosing do not produce the reaction I expected, which throws me off. Then I spend time trying to figure out why it didn’t go the way I saw it going in my head. I forget the majority of the time there is someone else in the picture and not just the way I think.

Sometimes when I have a subject in my head I think so fast that my body will physically start shaking because I’m trying to keep up with how fast I’m thinking. This is the point in time where I am obsessed with making lists. I even make lists of lists I want to write. I feel sorry for the people who have to listen to me on days where all I want to do is read my lists. I jump from one subject to another without any real connection. Then I start to panic because I realize there was a list I forgot to make. I have notebooks full of lists. I have what I call my sticky note wall next to my bed. This wall is full of sticky notes and the majority of them are lists or things that I want to remember. Currently on my sticky note wall there is a list of all the jobs I have applied for in the past month, businesses that I am looking into to apply for more jobs, people I have made projects for and the materials that I chose for these projects, and a list of my bills for the past two months.

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Here is where I will use psychology to try to figure out what my OCD habits mean. I write lists because I am a visual person. I want to see what I still have to do and I want to cross off what I have done. I want other people to know about these lists because I don’t want them to think that I’m not accomplishing anything. I work on several crochet and knitting projects at one time so when I finish one I feel accomplished, and then I can quickly move onto the next one. All of these habits and behaviors have grown exponentially since I got out of school. After some analyzing I have decided it is because I feel like I’m not accomplishing anything by sitting here. My lists and my projects are to keep me busy while I wait for something else to stimulate me.

My job at fast food is not stimulating enough to keep my mind busy. So I will literally write lists while I’m at work in between customers. I usually just throw the lists away when I’m done with them. Sometimes I even make a list of things I already did that day. Other times I write lists of things that I plan on doing when I get out. Or I will make a fake budget plan for the month, or a fake dinner menu. I’m literally driving myself crazy because there is nothing to challenge my mind. When we’re extremely busy at work and I am running around at 1,000,000 miles an hour my mind is still going about other subjects. I successfully turn myself on autopilot and get my job done but my mind is thinking about the future, the past, and the present, and the lists that I still need to make.

I hope that I find a job soon that will stimulate my mind, because I am driving myself crazy, so I know I must be driving other people crazy as well.

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Subtle Surprises

Working fast food over the holidays can be a big challenge. First all the employees want the time off and second all the customers, who have days off from their own job’s, come in. This can make things very busy for the night crew. The majority of the time we are short staffed around 9 o’clock at night when the “after dinner” rush comes through.

On this particular night, which happened to be the night before Christmas Eve, I was upfront working the counter by myself. There was one person running front drive-through by herself. One person making the sandwiches, one person putting meat down in the grill area, and lastly one order taker in back drive.

I had several customers to take care of at once. I would take 2 to 3 orders at a time, gathering their food, and moving onto the next group. A women came in with her two daughters and waited at my register. I had seen this woman before, although I wouldn’t exactly call her regular. They each ordered three identical chicken sandwiches, fries, and a drink. At the same time that they ordered on counter, a large 12 sandwich order went through drive-through. This 12 sandwich order was placed before the customer on counter. Which unfortunately meant she had to wait.

Well, I was waiting for the 12 sandwiches to be made so that they can move onto my order. The women called me back to the counter. She asked for the drink cups for her and her daughters. I retrieved them and handed them to her. Then I was informed that we had to wait on the chicken to be cooked for her sandwiches. So I went and told her it was going to be about a three minute wait. She said “okay” looking slightly annoyed.

I could feel her eyes staring down the back of my neck as I watched the grill team prepare drive-through’s order. I would be waiting on the chicken for three minutes no matter what. I heard the counter lady call me once more, this time she wanted me to put extra ketchup packets on her tray. I obliged and put a handful of ketchup on her tray next to her cups. I then walked back and waited for her sandwiches to be finished. I heard her call for me again, this time she asked if she could have a pen. She looked more than slightly annoyed by this point. I looked all over upfront and could not find a pen. So I went and found my manager who is working in the grill area and asked her to borrow her pen.

I returned upfront and handed the pen to the woman. By this time she looked extremely annoyed that her food was taking so long. I figured she was going to write a complaint down on a piece of paper. I started to imagine what it was going to say. That our service sucked, that we were very slow, that we should have more people to handle the amount of customers… She called me back to the counter and handed me the note she had written on her receipt. She commented that she wanted the manager to read it and that I could read it as well. She still had an annoyed look in her eyes.

I turned and walked back to my manager quickly so that I can get her judgmental eyes off my back. Once I was out of the customer’s sight I looked at the note. What I read almost made me stop in my tracks. The note said:

“I hope you have a great holiday season and thank you for all that you do.”

After I handed it to my manager and returned back upfront her sandwiches are ready almost immediately. So I put her sandwiches on her tray and finally finished her order for her. We both smiled at each other and her annoyance seemed to melt away as we thanked one another.

At that moment I felt slightly guilty because I judged the reaction of this woman wrongly. She may have been annoyed by her slow service because we were shorthanded, and she may have wanted to write something terrible on that receipt, but the fact is she didn’t. She chose to give us words of encouragement and thanks. Sometimes I wonder if that is what the Christmas season is really supposed to be about.

My challenge for everyone reading this is to find a subtle way to surprise someone who is expecting a totally different reaction from you. Like the woman did with the note for me, and how people in drive-through pay for each others orders asking others to pay if forward. The Christmas season is the best time to pay it forward. Make sure you take advantage of making someone else’s day better. When it comes to those of us who work fast food, it makes my day watching you make someone else’s day. Pay it forward.

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Traffic Ramblings

I live in a small town in the countryside where you can drive just a few miles out of town and come across dirt roads. There are 3 houses that raise horses and several farmers fields on my stretch of road alone.

Needless to say I do not encounter traffic on a regular basis and when I do it’s just a slow down from those who want to “rubber neck” at an accident scene. But I encountered big city Detroit traffic for the first time the other day.

It was the (I’m sure typical for Detroit) stop and go style traffic. This means my mind is left on idle and it will begin to write stories to entertain itself. This particular instance I found myself driving through the beginning of a zombie invasion. I began to imagine what objects I would need to take with me if abandoning my car became my only option. This requires a whole new mind set to figure out what type of objects become valuable. For example that half empty water bottle has just become more valuable then your cell phone.

It is amazing to think about what situations would cause priorities to change. It doesn’t matter how strongly you feel about a situation happening a certain way because once things change you have to adapt and overcome.

Which tied my thinking about advertising. I began to brainstorm what would cause a “end all/change all” crisis for a company when something happens to tarnish their brand name. I also began to to think of ways to fix it. What type of damage control should be done. It reminded me of several business scandals I learned about in communication classes. The entire company had to work together to build themselves back up. I’m sure at the time of the crisis it seemed like a hopeless situation but when you look at the companies that bounced back they seems to have come back significantly stronger and better adapted at handling future situations.

I guess the way I look at it is, if something unfortunate happens, take that opportunity to adapt, overcome, and make something good out of it. Otherwise no lesson will have been learned and no changes will have been made.

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Taking out the Wisdom

In about 12 hours, I have to go to surgery and get all four wisdom teeth taken out. It will be my first surgery and even though it’s minor, I still don’t know what to expect. But that part doesn’t really make me nervous. What makes me the most nervous is what will happen after. After the surgery is done and I’m back home.

I have suffered from chronic migraines for about four years now. I suffered with migraines two nights a week at least and I was relieved if I made it through the day with just a headache. I just recently found a few things that help. I stopped drinking alcohol completely (not that I was ever a big drinker anyway). I drink a lot more water now, I gave up sugary drinks, and sugary foods. These changes seemed to help. I was able to start counting the number of migraines by how many a month, instead of how many a week.

I want the migraines to go away completely. And the last thing that might be causing them is my wisdom teeth. So why am I nervous? I should be excited that it will all be over soon, but I’m not.

The surgery does not scare me at all. What scares me is the thought that it won’t work. What if I still have migraines? Then the last thing that I am clinging to to fix me isn’t what’s really wrong with me. Then there is something else wrong. What if I never find it? At least right now I can tell myself, “Your migraines are most likely caused by your wisdom teeth.” There is some comfort in knowing what’s wrong with you, even if it’s because you’re being naive. But if the surgery goes well and I still have migraines, then I’m back to not knowing.

I thought I had it figured out. I changed my diet, I gave up food that I loved, all in hopes that it would fix me. But it didn’t completely fix me. That left me very frustrated. Sure it reduced the number of migraines I got but it was still a disappointment when I got that first migraine after giving up all of those other things. Am I going to be left disappointed again? I’m not giving anything up this time, at least not something I would notice. But it is my last hypothetical reason for these migraines.

I’m not saying that in, now 11 hours, I’m not going to strap on my boots and walk into that surgery. I am nervous for the changes afterward. But I am more nervous that nothing will change.

It is time to go find out for sure. If I look at this through another lens, at least I’ll be able to cross one more item off my list of things that I have tried to rid myself of these migraines.

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Shovels of Inspiration

Just like a large majority of the rest of the nation, within the last two days we have gotten an unbelievable amount of snowfall. I put off shoveling for several reasons. In part because I didn’t want to have to shovel more than once in a two day period and also because I was still under the stubborn (and naive) assumption that the first snow of the season never sticks to the ground. But sadly after two days of procrastinating, I came to the conclusion that shoveling was inevitable. So I geared up and prepared to step outside.

Now our driveway is not that long, which is the main reason why we never invested in a snow blower, and up until 10 years ago there were only two cars in the driveway at one time. But in the past 10 years three drivers have been added to this household. Currently sitting in the front yard we have an impressively large number of vehicles. Seriously… we look like we own a used car lot in our front yard. There are two trucks, three cars, one full-size van, and a Traverse. This means I have more than just the driveway to shovel. I also have to shovel half of the front lawn, as it is used as a parking lot for the extra vehicles, altogether this means almost two hours worth of shoveling.

On this particular day, I overestimated how cold it was outside, or at least overestimated how many layers I would need to keep warm. Not even one fourth of the way through the drive I had stripped off my Carhart coat, and if it wasn’t for my bibs safely cradling my iPhone so that I wouldn’t miss any of my music, I would have taken those off as well. By the time the shoveling was completed, I was sweating worse than I do during the summer.

Along with being a great workout, shoveling the driveway gave me some much-needed thinking time. Not that I had anything in particular to think about. I have just been so busy the past couple of weeks that I haven’t had much time to myself. And what does my mind do when I gets time to itself…. It writes stories. And, when I say stories, that could mean anything from inspirational poems, to short stories, epic novels, award-winning speeches, oscar-winning movies…. The list goes on.

On this particular day though I was thinking about my past, and all of the “what if’s” that go along with the decisions that I have made. Not because I think any part of my life needs to change or be different in any way. I was thinking  more of the things that I would not have if I made different decisions. I would not have my amazing writing degree had I not gone to college. I would not have my dog I had chosen to participate in a random activity the day adopted her. I would not have my horse if I had decided to give up after all the little speed bumps. I would not have the personality that I have if all of the good and bad things had not happened to me because of the decisions that I have made in my life.

I decided a long time ago life is not worth living with regret. Everything that we do, everything we have done, and everything we will do, make us who we are. The mistakes we make are there to help us make better decisions the next time around. These decisions is what life is actually about.

I bet you didn’t know that shoveling your driveway would lead to the meaning of life, I know I didn’t.

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