Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How to stay relevant in writing

Stats for My Abience Life.
On this day, it is not wordless Wednesday, it is Writing tip Wednesday.  I am starting to become less sporadic in my topics, trying to stay on topic, and trying not to write about the current and sometimes stupidity of topics of today.  Yes, I have had my moments (Black Lives Matter, the current new administration, and so on).  I have not written about Ms. Abby Lee Miller either. I can tell you this, unless you enjoy current topics, writing and arguing about your opinions to others, and other things like this, stay away.
When did I notice that I needed to change the writing of this blog?  There were two things that that alerted me to the problems I was having with this blog. Actually, three, but I will tackle the third on a later date. 
The first was a physical notice.  I was feeling more stressful when I wrote on certain topics.  My body would tense up and I would start to get uncomfortable.  I have often said to write outside your comfort zone, but Black Lives Matter and other topics like that made me so militant, and I am not that type of person.  Yes, I am concerned, and I want what is best for my race of people, but there are other ways of doing this topic without yelling protest and marching (which the next march in my downtown area I plan on going), but not on my writing blog.  If I choose to start a blog on these topics, this is where the platform will lie, and as of this date, I have not plan on starting a blog with that in mind.  (Too stressful)
I was more relaxed when I did topics such as telling a couple that their wedding day is their day and do not listen to anyone else, being a Dutiful Daughter, the fun aunt, or my opinion on a writing prompt from BlogHer. 
Tip #1:  Write on topics that relax you, not stress you out.
Individual blog post
Numbers.
 
The second thing I noticed it is something that I will go more into depth, later on, is a topic called “By the Numbers”.  Blogger is not the best judge with this, nor do I recommend it, but if you are a blogger and you use Blogger as your platform, you can still see the numbers.  There are better programs out there, including Google Analytics, which can track your pageviews better.  If you care about them.  In a later post, I will get into the numbers, and why you should care about them. 
Tip #2:  These numbers will help you monetarize your blog, get sponsorships, and more traffic.
Tip #3:  Reading your favorite blogs and finding out how they make money on their blog will also help inspire you to try their methods, but only try one or two.  All monetarizing techniques do not work for everyone.  Find what works best for you and your situation.
The last thing that I noticed and it goes along with the numbers game is to find out what the trends are for your niche (topic or subject of choice).
I want to pick on my own blog for the moment.  This time it is P. Lynne Designs the blog.  I have not written in it for a while because I am trying to transfer it over to the WordPress platform and make it part of my e-commerce site, which I am in the process of creating, through the teaching of Renae Christine. 
In case you are new to me and my blog/website, P. Lynne Designs is a stationery website, and I also have an Etsy store which I will attach to as well.  In the store, itself, I create greeting and note cards, scrapbook albums and pages, Notebooks and journals, and freelance writing.  Among this is also the wedding, graduation, and birthday invites and party favors.  On the blog, I talk about the subjects that back these products.
With the blog (as well as the website), I need to be on top of what is trending, questions being asked, and address them head on.  Yes, that question has been asked some zillion times on the internet, but a client may like my answer, or they may like a better answer. It is just my opinion, but I may have also answered for my readers, who may not use the search engine for that answer.  They could be thinking about it as they are reading.  I may never know.
This is how you can bring people to your website/blog.  Well, at least one way.  There is still the marketing aspect of bringing people to your blog. It is also another topic to cover soon.
Before I close, I want to point out two websites that will help you answer life’s burning topics for your blog/video/social media platforms.
Answer the Public
The first one is called Answer the Public.  This is geared towards the answers people have when searching on search engine websites like Google.  I am trying it for the first time, and already I love it.  (This is not a sponsored site).  When you go on Answer the Public, you want to type a Keyword.  For this example, I typed in the word, Mini Book, which I am starting to replenish on my Etsy site.
The results look like this:
As you see, it looks pretty much like a brainstorming session.   So, I am sold on it.  You can use this for when you are stuck, need more views, or want to get to the top of a search engine page (#1).

Keyword tool.IO
The next one is called Keyword tool.IO.  If you are familiar with keyword apps, you know that this type of app is also used for getting your post or video top ranking, but if you want to know how to gear your post or video towards a specific problem they are having, click on the tab, Questions, instead of keyword suggestions, and you will know which direction to point your post.   
I will go into more depth on these two at a later time.  There are many more websites that do this sort of work, and you do not need to pay for it too.  In fact, if they want payment or some sort of registration and this is a one-time search, leave.  But so far, there isn’t a charge for these two or two others that I use for my handmade business.  Marmalade, which you can sign up without being charged, a one other keyword tool, which I cannot think of right now.
The bottom line is that these are helpful IF you want to make money off your blogs, writings, videos, and handmade goods.  This is for your information.  I am not an expert on this and I give out information on things that have been helpful to me and what I like. 

If you do find this post helpful, please share, like or comment on this post.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Story Time or Storyteller: Your worst vacation

Illustration photo by P. Lynne
Designs.  (c) 2017
Hello and welcome to Storytime. In this segment, to be determined when is the next time this will appear and depending on the response I get, I want to talk about my worst vacation.
Actually, it was not all bad, there were some pretty good and funny moments (read to the end), but the beginning and the end were bad.
I want to take you back to 2004, April, and my trip to Disney with my family.  I mentioned in the last post that at that time, I was a Disney Vacation Club member.  This was, and still is Disney’s way of owning a timeshare, based on in the point system.  I had gotten my first 150 points, and 2002’s points (150), and 2003’s (150) points as a way to say thank you for becoming a member.  For a family of 5 (me, my parents, my sister (age 15 at the time), and my nephew (age 8 at the time)), that was a very generous vacation week.  I had set the vacation for Easter week, which for Columbus, Ohio, USA Public Schools, this was the time when the children (and some college students) took a spring break (I still like the European system of vacation and hope one day we would adopt that system). The dates were for April 9-14, 2004.
After I book the stay at Disney’s Boardwalk Villas, I got dizzy one day after choir rehearsal, and I scheduled a doctor’s appointment.  My doctor sent me straight to the hospital, and I found out I had high blood pressure.  Not good for me, and I wondered if I had to cancel this vacation.  They put me on some medication, and it is under control today.  On with the trip.
They scheduled a follow-up for April 8, one day before the trip, which I was not happy about, but, OK.  That was not the only thing that was about to happen.
I was at my home, packing for our trip, and my sister called me.  She wanted me to pick her up from the church that was around the corner from my parents.  I refused, telling her that she can walk herself home.  My mother was packing, my nephew was playing with some friends, and dad was at work.  I also told her that I needed to get some sleep for my appointment the next day, so she got mad at me and hung up.
She got home, got into an argument with mom about staying out late, and stormed into her room.   She lit a candle for a minute.  Apparently, it was longer than a minute because she fell asleep and had knocked the candle, which was still burning.  She smelt the comforter burning and ran out the room to get something to put the fire out.  That woke up mom and my nephew, who tried to open the door to the room, but the door was stuck.  The alarm sounded, and the people from the alarm place called to see if everything was alright.  This company does a double calling.  They also called my aunt who lived on the next street over, and he called my dad to come home from work. 
In the meantime, no one called me.  I was still up, trying to pack some of the clothes I had washed for the trip. I was told later that had they called my house, I would have panicked, which I would have.  Thank God no one was hurt.
The next day, as I prepared to go to the doctor’s appointment, something told me that something was wrong, but I did not know what.  So, I got dressed, got in the car and started driving towards my parent’s house, which was on the way to my doctor’s appointment.  As I drove down the street, I noticed something strange about the house, but I could not put my finger on it.  I was pretty early for the appointment, so, I decided to stop in to see if everything was alright.
As I got closer, I noticed a big black hole where the windows of my sister and nephew’s rooms used to be, and on the side of the house on the right side was a burnt mattress.  I sped around the corner on in the driveway, got out, and ran to the front door.  There were people taking clothes out the front door and dad talking to an insurance person.  I went to the kitchen and asked mom what happened and she told me.  I am trying to make sense of everything and mom told me not to worry about it and go to my appointment. 
I got a clean bill of health to go on the trip and stopped by the house after the appointment.  Me and my parents were talking, and I had to address the elephant in the room, “were we still going on this trip?”  It would be a waste if we did not. 
So, that night, I packed my luggage in my car, locked up my house, and headed towards my parent’s house.  The plan was to pack up my car, stay the night at a hotel, which was the plan before the fire, then the next day, we drove down to the airport, parked my car, and got on the plane to go towards Disney World.
Getting lost and bad food…
We got off the plane and dad had rented a Jeep Grand Cherokee (do they make those anymore?).  Nice car for 5 people.  Roomy, I had the whole back seat to myself.  Score.  Now it is time for us to find Disney.  One of the things I like about Disney now is if you fly into Orlando Metropolitan airport and you are staying at a Disney Resort, they do have the magic Express Bus.  Not the case if you are flying from Rickenbacker Airport to Tampa International airport.  If that was the case, then three adults, a child, and a teen would not have been seen wondering through the streets of Tampa and Orlando, before reaching their destination.  The kids fell asleep, I fell asleep, and mom and dad were talking.  Nothing like a quick stop to Burger King to put us all in the mood of La-La Land. 
When I woke up, dad was trying to find the entrance.  There are 50 ways to get into Disney, and we had to pick the one that was the less noticeable.  Well, we turned around in a parking lot of a church and went back in the other direction.  Soon, my nephew, who was the only one that was alert asked, “are we looking for the entrance back there?”  We had passed it again, so we turned around once more, this time in a parking lot for all things Disney souvenir.
We pulled in and started looking for the resort.  At Disney, there are plenty of signs, and it took a minute, but we found it.  Since the reservations were in my name, I had to check us in.  Once in the suite of three bedrooms, a kitchen, two bathrooms, and our own private viewing of the pool with a clown for a waterslide, we began to rest for a moment, then prepared for our first dinner reservation of the trip, Boma.
Boma, which is located in the Animal Kingdom, is an African Buffet Restaurant.  I liked the food, the parents and kids did not.  I am the only one who is adventurous in my family, except now I can add my nephew to the mix (at least he will eat sushi with me).  When he was 8, he only ate hamburgers and French fries (now I see where my other nephew, his brother gets it from).  When that happens, I consider that a bad meal.  I cannot enjoy a meal when your family is sitting there complaining about it.  So, for future trips, we will not be going to this place.
The Rest of the Trip…
I realized this is a long story so I will tell you later.   I thought I had a copy of the posts from my Traveling to The Mouse’s House, which was a trip report (also another form of storytelling) of this trip, but when my computer had to be decluttered by Geek Squad last October), the blog file was not part of the files restored.
A couple of things to note about this trip of mine:
The last day at Disney (we had two more days before catching the flight home, which you can read about in the last post), we went to a restaurant called Ohana, which means “family” Polynesian, and if you have watched Lilo and Stitch, it also means “everyone is family and no one gets left behind”.  I do want to warn you, if you are vegan or vegetarian, this is not the place for you, although I think they have since added those options to the menu.
Anyway, we ran late (which was no surprise when you have a stubborn teen in the mix.  Our reservations were for 7 pm, and we got there at 7:15.  So we waited.  While waiting, the child and teen got into it, and dad had to issue a “no talking zone”, and to sit away from each other.  Mom got restless and started looking at the drink menu.  (Insert comic moment- things you don’t do when bored and not a drinker): Ask about the drinks.  She wanted to know what was a Backscratcher.  We told her that it would put her under the table.  Then she asked about what was in the other drinks.  Thank God, the hostess rescued us before we got into THAT conversation, LOL.
Next dad started calling everyone “cousin”, which is the proper way to greet family.  So, we had a cousin waiter, a cousin hostess, and so on.  My family is really humorous.
The other thing was once you leave Disney, it is best to go home.  We did not leave for the flight home until Friday.  Between the Wednesday, we checked out of Boardwalk Villas to our new home, a dilapidated hotel (or should I say motel, because you enter the rooms from the outside, not a lobby), and it was "Boring City" after that.  Me and my sister did not want to go visit one of Dad’s friends with them (nephew had to go because his friend was there), and I spent most of the day trying to find a place within walking distance to file my taxes, and she was in the pool. We had Domino’s pizza, and my parents came back after that.  We sleep a couple of hours before headed towards the airport. That was Thursday.  
Friday…
We dealt with a string of plane issues.  One pilot was sick so another one had to be called in.  Then, he forgot that he was called, so we had to wait on him to arrive.  Once we got up in the air, we were 5 mins from home, and the plane turned around.  Something fell off the plane while in the air, and then we had to get a replacement, so, back to Tampa, we go.   We sat a couple more hours in the terminal, then we switched planes.   Finally, we got home for my parents to deal with a home with two burnt rooms.

So, it is finally your turn:  What was your worst vacation, and write about it?  It does not have to be as long as mine, but it sometimes it may help.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Lesson 2: How to be a Time share owner or not.

(c) 2016 Walt Disney Company DVC Logo
I know, I know, I have not been writing a lot lately. I have, however, been busy doing other business things. But it’s no excuse to not write in this blog. This post is not sponsored in any way.  These are only my experiences and the experience of others.  This post should not persuade you to think one way or another.

 Today’s lesson is all about cold calling. More specifically when you are trying to find customers in the vacation home market, otherwise known as timesharing. In case you’re not familiar with the term of time sharing, it specifically means a vacation home, you spend some time at, like a vacation spot, such as Disney, or the Florida Keys, or some villa off the coast in France.  You own a piece of the property. (correction: you own the right to stay at the property). This is how I saw it over 10 years ago when I bought into The Disney Vacation Club or DVC for the rest of the post.

Now, there is no surprise here that I like Disney. I have mentioned it on several occasions. In this situation, I became a DVC member in 2003. I have heard about DVC sometime before that but thought that I would never be able to afford to be a member of DVC, not to mention to be part of the thousands of people who would become timeshare owners.  It seemed so impossible to do such a thing but I was determined to see what this was all about.

 Before I go into what happened today, let me take you back to 2003 for a moment. Like most people, I wanted to find a way to go to Disney every year, without trying to save a whole bunch of money to stay at a resort. Like most vacation spots in Florida, Disney does offer a solution. I did my usual research and looked into it. I found out that it was indeed possible for me, my current single situation and my future family to go to Disney at least once a year, and still be able to do everything money-wise.    It is that simple, or is it? 

So, Randy, my sales rep, made it sound so simple, and next thing you know, I am using my credit card for a down payment.  It was that simple.  A few days later, my paperwork arrived. Oh, there was one little catch, they do check your credit and I passed with flying colors. Anyway, I got my paperwork, which seemed like a gazillion pages long, and you have to either sign or initial your name on the line.  Once done, you take your paperwork to a place to get it notarized. Even though the property was in Florida and I was in Ohio, it still needed that little thing to approve it.  Once notarized, place your stuff, I mean, paperwork in the envelope provided, and send it on its merry little way. If this sounds familiar, yes, it is like buying a home, and if you ever have gone through the process of buying a home, this is it- vacation style.  

I waited like a month before I received a package from DVC, and when I opened it, the first thing I saw was “Welcome Home”. I have arrived, and I was the newest member of DVC.  They sent me a backpack (still got it), a picture of my new “home” away from home, and my first points. Also in the package, it explained what the points allow you to do, which is to make a reservation to spend time at Disney and your lovely vacation home.  You pay dues once a month, annual fees once a year. I planned out my first trip to the mouse’s house as a new member.  As I was saying, I became a member in mid-2003, and our first vacation was Easter week 2004.  My family and I had a blast. We stayed five nights and the sixth night, stayed one night in the shoddiest hotel near the airport the day before we left to come home.  I think dad wanted to teach us all a lesson in don’t forget where you came from. Compare to the Boardwalk villa at Walt Disney World, it was bad. You had to carry your suitcase up a flight of stairs (Because there was no elevator), and the rooms were not much to look at. But enough about the last day in Florida, let me continue with the days before. On second thought, I will save that for another post.  I owned a piece of Disney until 2006, and sadly, I had to give it up.

Since that time, I have received every phone call known to mankind, of sales people who own these companies who buy back timeshares, and there are plenty of timeshares other than Disney.  Oh, you have heard the same spiel before. They call you by name, and they introduce themselves. Yesterday, I heard from Rachel, today, I heard from some guy who had a workshop in Reynoldsburg that will teach you how to sell your property.   My answer is always the same, “I sold my timeshare property in 2006.” Their response, “I’m sorry to have bothered you, we will update our records. Have a nice day”.  My question is “why are you operating on 10-year-old records in the first place?” I understand that business is slow, but if I still had the property, why would I want to sell when I love the thought of going to Disney once a year?  These people are a trip. 
Another name for the so-called sales people is called the resale market. They are looking for anyone and everyone who has the slightest problem with their timeshare property and try to buy back your property, to sell to someone else. This could also be a scammer who could be putting out feelers for a gullible person to be tricked into accidentally giving out their information.  In either case, do not be fooled by these people. After all, if you are a timeshare owner, the first reason why you bought into your particular property, even if it’s not by Disney, is so you can get away for at least a week, and have a place to go to on a yearly basis.
Now there are other ways to do it, such as buying a piece a vacation property, where you can go anytime you feel like it, but the problem with that is you own a second home.  With second homes, it sometimes looks like it is abandoned, and you do have to schedule upkeep for the property.  
You are probably wondering why would people want to buy a vacation home or even invest in a timeshare if it brings up so many problems.  It is like anything in life.  It is a matter of preference.  You like an area, but you want a place to escape to.  Mines happen to be Disney World.  Some people like the beach, while still others want either Europe, the Mediterranean, South Pacific, or the family farm. Again, it is a matter of preference.  Some people find this sort of thing ridiculous and meaningless. 
Do I miss it?  Of course, I do.  Some of the benefits of having the DVC are
·         10% off of Disney Merchandise
·         Ticket discounts, including Annual passes
·         Discounts on your dining
·         Events exclusively for DVC members
·         A discount (or exchange of points, can’t remember which one) for places such as
o   The Disney Cruise Line
o   Other timeshare companies who will exchange Disney Vacation Club points for their point system
o   And the Adventures by Disney program to name a few.
The whole concept of missing a program is to have the ability to sign up again.  This time, I have learned a few lessons about being a timeshare owner. I am preparing to own again with this program.  Disney has graciously erased the last one from my credit report, so it is like I never owned before.  That is between me and my new sales person.  I have already checked a year ago, but I was not quite in the position to go through the process. Could I go through one of these resale programs who annoyingly call my phone each morning to see if I want to sell my old one?  I could, but I will not get the benefits part of the ownership.  Disney stopped people who buy from a reseller rather than through them, from benefiting from their gracious offer to people who do buy DVC through Disney as of April 2016.  Now, I can buy from a reseller, then turn around and then buy an additional 25 or more points through Disney.  This is called an add-on, and I would get the benefits package that way. 
Keep in mind, I am not an expert in all things timesharing or DVC.  I am a person who is very interested in the program and in timesharing.  My aunt has a similar timesharing program with another company, and we benefited staying in one of the cabins at Pigeon Forge, TN, November 2015.  The cabin was very roomy, enough for 5 families to stay there.  In addition to renting the cabin, we also had an additional smaller cabin for one more family to stay in (they housed all the teens).  She frequently takes trips with her daughter and anyone else who wants to come along.  Getting back to my old DVC membership…. I was able to allow a complete stranger use my points in 2005.  A member does not have to be present in order for someone to use their points.   I did have to claim the family, which I did.  The woman and her family had a wonderful time while at Disney, and I was happy to do it.  She did pay me for the stay.  

So, this is lesson 2 for me.  It was not really a lesson in learning new things but it is a way of learning, period.  It is also a lesson in be careful who you talk to. 

My takeaway for you:  If you plan on becoming one of the thousands who enjoy taking a vacation via timeshare, I highly recommend it, but before you do, here is what you need to do:

1.      Plan.  Where do you want to vacation at?  Is it a different city or one place each year?  How much do you want to spend on a timeshare?  Keep in mind there are 3 fees:  The down payment (which is a one-time payment), an annual fee, and a monthly fee for loans (you can also pay cash to avoid a third fee and no credit check is needed).  What will you accept as a benefit?
2.      Research.  Researching several timeshares will help you know what you want in a timeshare.  I presented one timeshare, but there are several out there.  Do a search on “timeshare properties in X”.  Disney may be your destination, but there are other theme parks you may want to visit, for example, does the property you are looking at have some benefits theme park hopping as well.  If so, DVC may not be for you.  Make sure you have an out (see #3 for further details).
3.      Financial.  Make sure you are able to be financially fit to take on a timeshare.  As I said, you have 2-3 fees each year until you decide to sell it (or get out of the contract).  When I was no longer able to afford my old membership/timeshare, I contacted a resale timeshare company, not the other way around.  I had been on several DVC groups with the person, and I researched her before trusting the owner to help me sell my property.  Also, Disney had to approve the sale, which they did.  This made the transition much easier for me and the new owners, so make sure you have a financial out, should there be problems with your finances or you grow tired of going each year. All timeshares should have an “Out” clause in their contract.  Never sign anything, unless you have an “Out” clause.  Make sure there are no leans on you financially.  In other words, follow the rules of buying a home because that is the way it is treated by the company, the state where the property is physically located at, and the United States law.  (I cannot speak for the rest of the world).
On a final note:  be aware that there are people who would love to talk you out of your timeshare.  When they call (and they will) if you are not ready to sell, say, “No thank you, please take me off your list.”  Do not get mad and yell.  It is their job (or scam).  When you are ready, you look for them, not the other way around.  Research the resale company.  After all, you are in control.


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Take the Time to Invest….

Photo by http://973thedawg.com/ 
I am concerned about the economy of this country (USA), and I always have been.  There is a goldmine out there, and I do not think that over half of the people in this country is taking the time to do this sort of thing.  I will tell you in a moment what it is.  Yes, it has to with the title of this post.   Consider the following (I am paraphrasing a Facebook friend’s post from today-My comments in red Parenthesized):
·         68 of Macy’s stores are closing (Including the one ½ mile from my house)  
·         ALL of Limited stores are closed (one announcement on the news is all the everyone got)
·         108 Kmart stores are closing (the last one in the Central Ohio Area will be closed soon)
·         42 Sears stores are closing (not sure of the fate of the one ½ mile from my house, which is in the same location as the closing Macy’s store and already closed Limited store.  This Mall (Eastland Mall) will only Sears as an anchor store for now).
·         Companies are outsourcing and downsizing. (There is no surprise there.)
So, why am I telling you this?  More later….
Consider this…
1.      The largest transportation provider in the U. S. does not own a single car (Uber)
2.      The new largest hotel company in the world does not own a single hotel (Airbnb)
3.      Amazon just surpassed Wal-Mart as the nation’s largest retailer and they do not own a single store.
On this “Makeover You Monday” (Hopefully this is a new segment on my new blog, NOT on this blog), I hope that you have taken some time to think about what would happen if you lost your job due to layoffs, downsizing, outsourcing, or even something such as your boss telling you that you no longer “fit” with this company. (Was there ever such a term in the first place?)
I am not talking about if you have money in your bank, a 401(k) plan in place, a retirement plan, and so forth.  That is great once you retire or become sick, but if you are a seemingly healthy adult, and become displaced for even a moment in time, what do you have in place?  You could go back to school. There are plenty of scholarships and grants out there to use for your classes and learning materials, but there is a problem.  What if you did not get at least a GED once you turned 18 or older?  This is one of the major requirements for today’s college entrance for even a basic course.  What if you cannot afford to go to school (such as family obligations)?  Is your spouse or child going to allow you to study, or even your current employer.  More on that later….
Now for the reason behind this post….
I am talking about investing in yourself.   The backstory:  About a year or more, someone told me, “if I cannot invest in myself, who else would?”  I understood what he meant by that statement, and is true, no one else has your best interest at heart more than you do.  Other than God and maybe your parents and maybe your spouse, you are the best investor in Team You (Team Patricia, Team Phil, Team Natasha, insert your name after the word team).  This is something that money cannot buy, but it helps pay a lot of bills.  People can only help for so long until you can get on your feet.  After that, you are on your own, so why no invest into something that matters…. your career and life.
 So, what does this have to do with the stats I listed before my little talk….
It is merely a reality check.  I am reminding you that if you want a paycheck and want to continue to work for someone else, this is your reality.  Maybe you will be affected by this news and maybe you will not.  What I am about to say on this makeover you Monday can be life changing or it may not.  It is up to you but I have to ask you this question…. What are you passionate about?  If you could wave a magic wand to get you to your dream job, what will it be?  What does the future hold for Team You?
In other words, become an Entrepreneur (Work a home, own your own business, a side gig, whatever name you call it).  It can be in Direct selling, service, tech (which is part selling/ part service), anything.  Is there a service that your current employer does not offer that you wish they did?  Provide that service on the side.  Dissatisfied with the level of service you get at an establishment that you can provide for others?  Do it.  Have a skill that would be a perfect match to assist a company, but you do not want to commit to one company?  You can freelance. 
You do not have to quit your job right away.  Offer only a few hours at a time when you get home or on the weekends.  Your employer does not have to know about what you do in your spare time.  In fact, it is none of their business what you do after hours.  You are off the clock.  The only thing that it effects is the time you spend with your family, but you like everything else, there needs to be a little planning involved.  After all, they want to know when they can spend time with you, and if you have small children, it can affect them a lot. 
I will not go into what you can do to make extra money because that part has been covered (Directly Selling to You, How to Generate More Money to Live).  You can read these posts, read a few Pinterest boards, join a few Facebook groups, or do it the old-fashion way like having a few garage sales, working a second job (or 3rd, or 4th), or start a retail store. The last one requires a vender’s license and tax id, both which I have for my homemade business (P. Lynne Designs), which I got for a minimal fee according to each state ($0 for the Tax ID, $25 for the business Vender’s license, and $50 for the name registration for the state of Ohio-Check with your state or country).
Once you get started and you see profits going in your direction (should take about 6 months to 2-3 years), then take the plunge of quitting your 9-5er, but keep your options open, because you will never know what might happen.  If something happens during that trial run of earning a living with your business, you do have something to fall back on.  This is the reason why you should never let your employer know you are making extra money on the side, plus if they find out, you may get a warning to stop or be fired.  BTW it is not illegal to own a business, companies want to know who they can count on in a crisis. 

That is all for now.  I will be coming back to this subject on both this blog (only covering writing opportunities) and the new blog (for other extra money opportunities) from time to time.  I am not here to talk you out of a 9-5 job.  It is not for everyone but that is not for me to decide.  Who knows, you may find an opportunity that I need to know about (no illegals or scams please).   

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Learning new things 1: Being a Dutiful Daughter

An aid getting meds
(c) 2017 P. Lynne Designs
In December 2016, I announced that I was slightly changing the scope of this blog while creating a new one to replace my now closed Simply Organized Crafts Blog.  At first, I thought about combining it with this one, but I love the topics I cover on this blog and I would not have it any other way.  So, a new blog is underway.  It is called Home’s Little Lessons and I cannot wait to get started.  I have one other blog that needs attending to, but I think I am just going to get rid of it, and put it in with Home’s Little Lessons.   The reason is I will be an every once in a while Independent Longaberger Home Consultant after June 1st.  I will stay on to get the discount and post a sale or two every once in a while.  Now that Housekeeping is done (a word quoted by Pete Werner of Disney UnPlugged), on with today’s post.
The other thing that I announced in December was that in 2017, I wanted to learn new things about myself, my city, my state, and my country, to name a few.  I never knew it would come so quickly.  One of the reasons why there was not a post last week was the art of becoming what I like to call being a “Dutiful Daughter” and the art of, “Be careful what you wish for”.  It may come true.
What is a Dutiful Daughter?
A dutiful daughter is a woman who puts aside all the things that she wants to do for the sake of her parents.   It is sort of the same as when a woman has all the dreams and aspirations of living her dream but put it aside to become a stay at home mom only you are helping your elderly parents.  So, when a parent says “Jump”, you do not question them, except to say, “How high?” This may cause sleepiness nights, eating at odd times, and taking breaks at odd times.  You make yourself an afterthought. 
For instance, I am writing this post at 4 am, when I should be sleeping.  Why?  Let me give you the back story:
This virus/flu/whatever you may call it has taken a toll on everyone in the United States.  Experts say it is the worst strain yet.  I have not been hit by it yet, but both my parents have been hit by it, as well as my oldest nephew.  The worst that hit me is my allergies, and that is it.  The person hit the hardest was my mom.  It starts out as a simply little cold.  She went to the doctors for that.  Then a few days later, she went back, and they said it was Bronchitis.  On January 7th, she was admitted to the hospital with Pneumonia.  She was so week, until she was unable to walk.  When she recovered from that, they transferred her to rehab, so she could gain strength back in her arms and legs.  The way she is recovering, we all keep telling her that they will evict her on Friday to finally come home, and she is ready to go home.
Between going back and forth to the house to make sure both mom and dad are ok, then back and forth to the hospital, and finally back and forth to the rehab place can take a toll on a person, especially if you are the only “child” that can do it.  My brother lives out of town, and my sister does not have a car, plus I am the eldest, and usually in an African American home, after the other parent, taking care of things falls on the eldest child.
Do I complain about it?  No, and besides that, I love both my parents.  My dad has been sleeping at the hospital, and then at the rehab place with mommy, so I have to take care of things when he cannot do them.  It is the least I can do, after all the things that they have done for me since I became an adult.  They are still doing it, such as my finances while I am trying to put together my business.  They do not have to do that for me.
So, that is what I mean by being a “dutiful daughter”.  My brother is coming this weekend to come visit mommy, and to help with things around the house, such as finally taking down the Christmas tree, and other things.  Nothing matches with son, and I am most certain that if he lived here, he would also give dad a break every once in a while.
So, this is my first lesson in learning new things.   It is not like I have helped out before.  There was the time mommy had surgery, so I had to learn how to wash on a fly.  I was in my early teens, when this happened.  Of course, I have always made sure that my parents were OK.  Dad is an old-fashioned man, meaning “men take can of man’s work, and women take care of women’s work” that sort of thing.  Dad learned how to use the washer this week.  Mommy always did it.  When she gets home, I will slow cook a pork roast to stretch out the week, and I will cook other things for them.  Dad’s idea of cooking is “what do you want me to buy?”  That will only happen a few times.  They do have someone come in to clean the house, plus my eldest nephew still lives there, and he also has been helping out.
Take away lesson for you:  The lesson I want you to see out of this is tri-folded.   (1) Make sure you learn all the basic of taking care of yourself before you graduate from high school.  You never know when you may need it.  The one thing I need to learn all over again is how to wash.  The current washer I have is a two-cycle washer.  I do not have all the bells and whistles that today’s washer have.   (2) Be kind to your parents, you never know when you may need them beyond the 0-18-year-old contract, or they may need you someday.  I am blessed that my parents have been married over 50 years, never once discussed the possibility of getting a separation or a divorce (although one time when I was 10 and heard them arguing, I was sure it was grounds for one (Overactive mind of a 10-year-old at work)), and my father never laid one hand on my mother in an abusive situation.  Love pats, yes, abusive, never. (3) Take care of yourself during a time of crisis.  My mother is constantly asking me if I am eating, and when I tell her the truth of the things I am not doing to help me be the best me, she gets mad at me, and tells me that I must do it.  This includes taking care of the things for my business.  Make sure you eat, sleep, and so forth.  You are not doing yourself and that person (rather it is a parent, spouse, or child) a favor if you are sick.
Have a great week.


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Happy New Year and a New Month

Roasting in the New Year
(c) 2017 P. Lynne Designs
Happy New Year Everyone.

As usual, I had a different post for December 31, 2016, but got caught up in the festivities of the celebration.  So, I am turning this into something different.

2017, The Year of Making a Difference…

I mean it.  2016 had its charms, but let’s face it, for some, it was a difficult year.  There have been some surprise deaths in the celebrity world.  We lost a Prince, a Princess (Carrie Fisher), A lovely lady (Florence Henderson), and a Legion (Debbie Reynolds).  We lost singers (George Michael), a Droid (the person inside R2D2), and a whole host of others.  Some were unexpected, some were not.  All of them are not forgotten.  My lasting request is I hope they do not treat Prince’s massive music collection the way they have treated Michael Jackson’s and Elvis’s massive collection, but they will, after they get past the legal red tape, and they will say that he would want it that way. (As of this writing, Disney is trying to figure out how to deal with the Princess Leia character for the 2019 release of the last Star Wars movie-it’s complicated)

In addition to the celebrity world of surprised deaths in 2016, in the normal world (everyone else), we dealt with 5-year old’s who became president, ISIS finally admitting to the number of deaths around the world, and congress and the Republican Party having a tantrum every time President Obama wanted to pass or veto a bill.  At least Cuba is finally free of Fidel Castro. 

For some, it was a smooth year.  Everything they ever wanted worked out.  New homes, new cars, and new jobs.  Some got married or engaged.  Some opened businesses or reinvented their business.  Some people had one baby, two, or more.  Everything has been real smooth.

Most of us had a so-so year.  I am not going to recap what I have gone through, but I have lost some things, found out about some things, and some things remained the same.  For the most part, I just wanted 2016 to be over with.

What’s so good about 2017?

In case you have not noticed, 2017 is the beginning of something new, fresh, and wonderful.  It all depends on how you make it.   This is the year of change.  Change of habit, change of venue, and change of attitude.  I do not like the word resolution.  To me, resolution means I am going to do that new thing or change for only a few days, weeks, or months, then I am going to go back to the same old thing.  Resolutions are rituals.  Everyone does it, so I have to do it too.  Try the word “goal” or “change”. Don’t announce it, if you are not going to do it.  Just lose the weight, just organize, and just spend less.  You do not need the new year to do this. 




What is an Accountability Partner?

If you must announce it, announce it so you can have an accountability partner.  An accountability partner is someone who is going to hold you to a goal.  They are going to ask you if you are on target of reaching that goal.  For instance, I am going to use losing weight as a goal.  You want to lose 40 lbs., and it is December 31st.  you cannot squeeze into your favorite pants, and you scream, “THAT’S IT, MY RESOLUTION IS TO LOSE 40 LBS.”  You tell everyone at the party, and January 1, 2017, you start.   As you gaze at your leftover Christmas sweets, the leftover New Year’s Eve party food, and the dinner you so perfectly prepared, you decide that you will start…. Next week.  That food looks too good to waste.  You said you would start that day, but can’t.  Start anyway.  
Now if you had said your goal is to lose 40lbs. during the course of the year, you can tell one or two people who you trust to be your partners, and they can check on you from time to time on your goal of losing weight.  They may even suggest ways on how to do it. 

Conclusion:

2016 is gone.  Do not try to figure out what went wrong.  Sometimes things happen to teach you something that you never knew.  My health has taught me that, just like my car accident taught me things in 2015.  The point is to move forward with your life.  Make a difference in someone else’s year, and yours will feel brighter.  My overall goal and I have said it in many of my past posts are to try something new this year.  Not just one thing, but many things.  Try a new cuisine, a new culture, a new adventure, a new hobby, and help somebody.  Notice I did not say or in that statement. 
I am going on a cruise this year.  My first one ever.  My parents have been on two.  I have tried and eaten the following cuisines (outside the American norm):  Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese.  I have never been too keen on Indian, but I am willing to try again, as well as trying other cuisines.  I know many have been Americanized, but maybe the cruise will allow me to try much more.  For the rest, you will have to stay tuned, because I have lots to write about.  Many of the reviews and other stuff will be noted on an unnamed blog.  I will be finalizing and start in the next couple of week, and it will not be on Blogger.  It will piggyback from this blog, but I urge you to subscribe to it as well.

Well, all I can say from this point is Happy New Year.  Stay warm, especially in the states that receive the most frigid temps this side of the North Pole.  (Does anything ever happen in the South Pole?) I heard that it is supposed to be 18°F tomorrow in Columbus, so I guess I will not be going anywhere. (Oops, there is matter of the laundry, darn).  This year is just beginning, make it a good one.

Friday, December 30, 2016

The art of being Organized-Gift placement



(C) 2016 P. Lynne Designs
Well, well, well, look at all of those gifts.  You sure got a lot, now didn’t you? 
It is a wonderful thing to get gifts for Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza, Festivus, or even your birthday.  (10 points of you had a combo month - you know the drill-Birthday + any two holidays, 20 if you throw in Thanksgiving = Thanksbirthanuzafestmas*).  Let the food coma begin.  Nothing like the coming of the new year to throw it into overdrive.
Fact: this is the worst time of the year for anyone with food allergies, Gluten intolerance, or diabetics.
Once New Year’s Day is over with, it is time for normalcy to kick in.  Kids go back to school, parents go back to work, and the daily routine schedule commences.  My question is, “where did you put all those presents from December 2016”?  If you do not know, perhaps you are not as organized as you think you are.  Have you even used them yet?  If the answer is yes, good job.  If not, why?
What to do with the gifts?
I know, silly question but I am here to help you out.  You can do several things with gifts.  You can use it, re-gift it (it is not rude to do so). You can return it. Make sure you get a gift receipt, know the store from where the gift was purchased AND their policy, and a good excuse to the gifter on why you are returning it in the first place. (Saying that it is ugly is NOT a good excuse).  You could also sell it.
Have a gift card to a store you do not shop at?  You could try the store out, after all, you may like it, or there are several online places that will exchange the gift card for the one you like, or get a Visa, American Express, or MasterCard gift card. (I have not seen a Discover Card gift card as of yet.)
If you decide to keep said gift…
Please use it.  Nothing is more embarrassing than the gifter standing in long lines just to get you the perfect gift and you do not look at it.  Do not use it out of pity either.  Store the gift in its proper place.  If you do not have a place for it, create one.  Find a like item (something you already have that is in common with the gift).  For instance, my father got me a purse for Christmas.  I am not crazy about the color combination, but I love that I can put my mini Ipad in the main compartment of the purse.  My phone fits up front, and my wallet fits inside with the Ipad.  I do not carry tons of makeup, so when I do, it will fit as well.  I will carry the purse until it is time for the season to change, then I will store it with my other purses.  Now it has a home.  I store my purses in my bedroom closet.
There is another place…
To put an unwanted gift.  You do not need any monitory value for it at all.  Donate the item.  Most places like consignment shops, thrift stores, and shelters take gently used items to give to those without a whole lot of money.  Some places will pay you money for your unwanted gift, like consignment shops and shops like New Uses, but do not expect a lot of money for the precious item.
Back in the summer, I needed some money, so I decided to try New Uses.  I had some retired Longaberger baskets to unload (8), so I decided to give New Uses a try.  Longaberger baskets are worth a lot of money, but the total I would have received from New Uses was a whopping $27.72, had I taken the money.  I was expecting around $200.00 tops.  The buyer explained to me that they go by the size and shape of the baskets, NOT what it is worth. In other words, the value.  She held up the smallest basket and said that it is was worth $2 by itself.  I was so heated, until I grabbed all the baskets, and got out of there. 
Thrift stores do not pay, at least in Columbus, Ohio.  Your best option is to simply donate the gift.  While you are at it, clean out your closets, so your gift would not be lonely.  The donation alone makes a great tax write-off for the end of the year.  My church’s denomination, The United Methodist Church has a free store on the south end of the city.  Those who are in need go there to get gently used items, and it is like a store, where products are set up on shelves or hanging on racks.  The only difference is the people pay nothing for the product, eliminating the stigma of not having any money to pay for a new doll or a new pair of pants.  All you, the donator needs to do, is drop off the products for the people to “purchase”.  Of course, you get a receipt for the items you donate, and you present that receipt to your tax preparer.
Conclusion…

You have received so much in one day, make the most out of it.  Maybe you have not, and this holiday season was such a struggle for you. Perhaps you do not celebrate any holidays or birthdays for whatever reason you choose to, or it was something you were taught.  Whatever the reason, whatever the thought process to the gift you received, and whatever the gift is or was (remember Hanukah and Kwanza are still being celebrated as I type this), always remember that it is the thought that counts, and it is better to give than receive.  Give to others and receive the present of family and friends, for those are lasting memories.  Time is very precious.  Make good use of it.