Monday, December 31, 2018

It’s not the first of the Year, and there is a switch off

Hello, and welcome to my last post of 2018.  Usually, I would try to do a recap of my top posts and reminisce the fun I had in writing each one of these posts.  Not this year.  Why?  Because I have stop and started a consistent schedule so many times on this blog (as well as on the other blogs) until I am driving myself crazy.
Today IS the last post of 2018, but I took this past week off to reflect on myself (and my business) and I am coming up with some ideas that not only will help me but help you as well.
First off, I am changing my schedule for Wednesday.  It is no longer going to be writing Wednesday for just journaling ideas.  That will still be there.  I am switching journaling to Thursday (I hate #TBT (Throwback Thursday)).  Instead, What I want to do is have written for everything that I represent, which includes Ghost Writing, Non-Fiction writing, and research to name a few. 
Thursday will look like this:  Journaling.  I like this non-rhyming day because I do not know what type of journaling you do.  I may have topics that allow you to do a throwback Thursday moment.
Friday is still a social media day.  I will have tips and I will have blog tips as well.
Monday will be still motivational Monday, but I am switching it to every other Monday.  On the days that I do not have a Motivational Monday, I will be working on blog posts for my other blogs, At Home with Tricia's Baskets and P. Lynne Designs. Hopefully, this is also one of the days that I will be listing something new on my Etsy, Shopify, Amazon, and soon to be completed website.
Tuesday is still Tip Tuesday, but the tips will be for only writing and anything that is written in this blog.  Other tips that I have done will take their place on At Home with Tricia's Baskets and P. Lynne Designs. Hopefully, I will be doing videos as well on my YouTube Channel.
Speaking of YouTube, the highlights of videos will be on this blog, since every time I post one it also appears on this blog.  I will share tips of my adventures with that as well.   I recently had to erase a video I was editing because the audio was not syncing with the rest of the video at all, so I tossed the whole thing.  So, I have no videos for the month of December.  Hey, it happens sometimes.  Could I have re-recorded it?  Yes, I could, but in this case, I had already put my haul into circulation, and not everything is where it should be.  If I find them by the time I create my next video, I will probably squeeze them in.  It was on my Erin Condren haul of the latest mystery surprise box and my new planner.
Saturday will be a catch all day.  This means if there is something that I forgot to mention on the blog during the week, it will be mentioned on that day.
Sunday is a day of family, church, and in the evening, tying up the loose ends.

So, this is a short post to wish you all a very blessed beginning to 2019.  My thoughts and prayers are that you make this new year something that brings you joy, peace, inspiration, new beginnings, and new relationships.
  • Joy. Find the joy inside of you.  Joy is not something that can be bought in a store for that joy is temporary.  Joy to me is something you think about and immediately a smile comes over your face.  You may give a little giggle and people ask you what’s the joke you are thinking about.  Joy may be a person you see, perhaps your children when they get excited about something they just did for the first time.
  • Peace.  Peace to me is a feeling of calmness like everything is going to be ok. Peace is needed, but you cannot ask the next person to help you find that peace.  Like joy, it has to be found inside of you, even when the world is in chaos.  You can find physical peace, such as a relaxing bath, a massage, or even in a beauty routine.  Peace helps you get started for the day.  For this is why I do not turn on the news.
  • Inspiration.  Inspiration or to Inspire is to me joy and peace put together.  Inspiration is a divine thought, word or deed.  Inspiration is creative and creation within itself, something that is of God.  So, is creating a painting, a song, a dance, or a spoken or written word inspiration?  It can be, if it makes someone happy, brings joy, and/or offers peace to all who see or hear it.  Be an inspiration to those who need it.
  • New Beginnings.  Often times we make a resolution to become better than the year before.  Why is that?  Is there something you did not like about yourself in 2018?  This is when we write out or tell someone that there are changes coming for 2019.  What I wrote for you at the beginning of this post is a resolution or goal for this blog.  When we say resolution, it is sort of a kick in the gut of something that you have been promising yourself all year.  Why not call it a goal?  Goals are nicer, and it does not have to be for a year.  Make them long-term and short-term goals with no date in sight. 
  • New Relationships.  This part is a little tricky for me because this is reserved for At Home with Tricia's Baskets.  Since that blog deals with the relationship of the family.  I am talking about relationships with strangers, the people who you do not know, and who may view your works, should you decide to become an author of a published book.  It can be possible, especially when you put your mind to it.  I never dreamed of writing on a blog almost every day, but I am.  Finding a new relationship can be as simple as a love of writing or any hobby. 
OK, I said that this was short and sweet, and it ended up over 1,150 words. (Yes, I have a word count on MS Word) and I love it.  My niece cat, Gizmo is going ham on my keys and her ball and having fun just batting on them and rolling it around. Watching her and writing this gives me something to do while I am waiting on my sister and her daughter to get here.  (The cat is actually my nephew and girlfriend’s cat).      

Well, like I said, Happy New Year, and may God richly bless you in this coming year.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

And the Survey Says….

No, first off, I did not just finish binge-watching Family Feud with Steve Harvey.  I love that show, and when I was little, it was Richard Dawson as host, but personally, Steve is the best host Family Feud has ever seen.  Plus, Richard Dawson would get a harassment suit today, since he used to try to kiss the ladies. That was then, this is now.
No today, the survey says that taking surveys, as a form of earning extra money, can be beneficial, and earn you thousands of dollars ($$$$$$) ß Yep, Those things. Not only that, you can earn other things, such as gift cards, trips around the world, cars, boats, houses, and free products.  As a person who does surveys, I am going to ask you to read this before you fill out one application.  This is Tip Thursday, and this is my tip for today. By the time you read this, it will be Friday, Sorry for being late.

What are surveys?
Surveys, in its true definition, is basically, “What is your opinion or your review of a question we (an establishment) had on our mind.  It can be in the form of a Q&A, Essay, or a Cause and Effect.  Most times, it is a company who is trying to put out a filler on what a group of people thinks about a new or improved product.  Another name for a survey is a poll.  You may have seen a few in your lifetime.
Well, someone thought it would be a good idea to pay for other people’s opinion, and the idea spread like wildfire.  In some cases, sadly, it is not a good idea, and I will get to that further down the article.  But first, these are my views and tips on making money off Surveys

Tip # 1: Diversify your streams of income
I say this all the time.  Just like they tell you to diversify your financial and stock portfolios, if you are into investing, you should do the same for earning income.  What does this mean in terms of taking part in surveys?  Not all surveys are alike, and to depend on taking surveys as your only means of income or extra income can be dangerous. Survey taking does not always guarantee you the big prize, money and other rewards, sometimes they put you into a pool of other survey takers, draw a name, and if your name is pulled from hundreds of other names, you will get the money.  In other words, it is like pushing a button on a slot machine at a casino.  Sometimes you may get all 7s giving you the big payout, but mostly, you are feeding the piggy bank for someone else to win.
In addition to taking surveys, do affiliate marketing, write and freelance articles and graphic designs, offer your expertise on a skill (course selling), sell your best art and other handmade products, do direct selling, invent that new or improved product, babysit, walk dogs, or take on that second job or gigs.  All of these can guarantee a faster payout than just doing surveys.

Tip #2:  Not all surveys are the same
Some surveys have different rewards, and if you are looking for just the greenbacks (money), you may be out of luck there.  Most surveys pay in gift cards and/or product.  In other words, you may not be able to pay for your utilities with the earnings you get from surveys.  Really there is a way to do it, but it means to find a website where they will take the value of your gift card, and turn it into cash, but they also may be scammers out there who will do the same thing.  Best thing to do is if the card is to your favorite store, use it in good faith, and enjoy the item you bought.

Tip #3:  Do I smell a trap?
Unfortunately, scammers and hackers today use surveys to gather your information.  Do not take this as a sign of not doing a survey.  Remember, I am still doing them.  What I do before giving out my information is search the survey company. 
Today, for instance, I was sent in my notifications on my computer about a survey site called MySoapBox. Their payout is in gift cards and other rewards.  Right away I went to Google and typed, “what is MySoapBox?  The first entry is the one I always read first, which was by SurveyPolice, a website that tells you about a reviews survey sites by telling you if it was worth you going to that survey site.  It gives MySoapBox 3 stars out of 5.  Not bad, but I wanted more.  So, next, I backed out of it and went for another result called Work at Home No Scams.  This site tells you if the survey site you are about to visit is legit or not. It tells me that MySoapBox does not payout real money, but points to redeem for gift cards and vouchers, and if you do not want that, you can give those points to charity.  I have to wonder about the charity part.  They also say that in order to “cash out”, you need to earn about 1000 points, which is about $25 USD.  The person doing the review points out some of the bad points about MySoapBox, which is my problems with surveys overall, and I will get to that in a moment.  Overall, if you want to give MySoapBox a try, which is what I am going to do, follow the links provided (not sponsored).  If not, consider this a very good example on what to do when getting ready to sign up for a survey site.
Remember this:  If a site is too good to be true, it usually is, so do not give out any information that you do not want others to scam you for (Your name, address, phone, financial, children, and most certainly, your Social Security Number or TIN (if you are a business), and your birthday).

Why I hate surveys?
Remember a while ago in this article I said that you are not guaranteed in getting the money or the other rewards?  Chances are that you are not guaranteed that you will get to take the survey either.   Let me explain:  when a company sends out a survey, they are looking for one SPECIFIC group of people, and these people have to match the demographics that the company is looking to attract.  This could be a new product, moving to a new location, embarking on a new marketing concept, anything.  The problem is when you tell them “yes” to the survey, you are not aware of who they are looking for to take it in the first place. Let me give you an example.
A copy of an Outpost Survey note I got
When I clicked on it.  Note: I do surveys with Outpost.
Screenshot by P.Lynne Designs 
I am an African-American Female in her early 50s, and Kellogg is thinking about a new cereal concept that targets people over the age of 60.  They send out a bunch of emails, but they do not tell me who they are looking for to take the survey.  I get the email, click on the link and start taking the survey.  It is set up like a multiple Q&A (Question and answer).
Now, I am taking the survey, and it ask me a series of questions like, “What is the highest education you have completed?” “What is your income before taxes?” and “Do you have any children?”  For the education and income question, there should be a button that says, “Prefer not to answer”.  If not, back out, and do not go past go.  I do not care how legit it is, do not go any further.  I really do not feel comfortable in answering what is my birthday, but believe it or not, children and teens try to take surveys, and it is to weed them out.  In fact, the whole question portion is to weed out any outliners that may send the results in a wonky way, and analysts do not like wonky numbers, LOL.
Once you have answered the questions, the results may be in the form of “you qualify for this survey” or you do not qualify for this survey, do you want to take another?”  This is the survey site’s portion. Next, if you pass, you will get the survey right away.  Now, you got to answer the companies weeding answers.  Sometimes, they will let you take the survey questions, THEN you answer the weeding out questions.  If you meet the company’s approval, you get your reward (money, points, card, jewels, (maybe not the jewels-one can only dream, LOL)).
That’s it.  You are done.  If you get this far in the process, you have done good, but not so fast, darling, I hope you did not give out the information that makes the scammers and hackers happy that THEY got a payout.  Remember you need to do your homework and research this site before getting approved to take the survey.  It is up to you to keep your information safe.

Takeaway Tip (the final tip):  Remember:
-          Not all surveys and survey sites are the same
-          Diversify in your streams of income, especially if you are not working outside of the home.
-          Do your homework and research each survey website, for researching is your friend.
-          Do not give out information that you do not want to put out there
-          Scammers and hackers are out there watching and waiting for slipups.

If you like this post, please comment and share.  Have fun looking for surveys and be well. God Bless.  Peace

Monday, December 3, 2018

Motivational Monday Holiday Prep or How Not to Stress During the Holidays

(Disclosure:  This post contains links to which I may or may not be affiliated with.  With these links, it allows me to earn a commission.  This allows me to pay for things such as blog fees and other business items.  You are not obligated to make a purchase.  Please the Disclosures page for further explanation. Thank you.)

I am in awe of Black Friday.  It has never been my thing to get up at the crack of dawn, get dressed, drive with flyers in hand, and go to snag a deal.  You all seen the news:  fights and squabbles over basement bottom deals than any other time of the year seem too good to be true, yet we, as a western civilization do it every year.  I first noticed it when the Cabbage Patch Dolls first in 1982.  I wanted a Cabbage Patch Doll and begged my mom for one.  Then I watch the news.  Dolls were thrown like footballs, and women grabbing them left and right.  Some were sent to the hospital.  I finally got my doll, 6 months later.  My mom was not going in the dead of night to get a doll for me, but she and my dad promised that
I could have one.  The price was not the same, but I got my doll.
Nowadays, Black Fridays have been mostly about how to get television dirt cheap.  Computers, phones, and even the Amazon Echo Dots.  Some people have a whole ritual around Black Friday.  You do not have to stress like that.  Deals and cash backs are given every day, especially on sites like Ebates, Swagbucks, and Be Frugal. I will show you in my other blog, At Home with Tricia's Baskets.
Today, I want to talk about your mental health during the holidays.  Everyone knows that if you are not careful, the holidays can turn a happy time into a sad one, especially for those who lost loved ones before and during the year.  No one is expecting you to be cheery during this time.  They say the first year is the hardest, and it gets easier as the time goes along.  I miss my grandparents, and yes, I had a hard time of not receiving a gift from my grandmother in Alabama, who did not have to send presents to all of her grandchildren, but she did.  I miss how my grandfather was during the holidays.  As I got older, it seems easier to go on with life.  If you lost someone this year or cannot seem to go on with life after that lost from years past, talk to someone.  Also, find a person to connect to.  It may be a family member or friend, volunteer in a soup kitchen, help with a toy drive.  Find something, anyone that allows you to connect.  I am not an expert in grieving, but I have seen what it does for someone in need.
Now, let’s talk about your decorations and other things in the house.  I will talk more about it in part 3 on my At Home with Tricia's Baskets blog, but for the mental part, do not feel like you have to decorate to the nines.  If this is the way you have to decorate, that is fine.  I am not telling you how to decorate your home, but if you get to the point where it is stressful for you every year, slow down and take a pause.  Breathe, and ask yourself why are you doing this?  Maybe this is the year where you take a look at other people’s decorations.  Maybe this is the year where you get invited to enjoy family outside of your home. Maybe this is the year where you and your family give one present instead of 20.  Take a break from the annual Christmas party at your house.   
I am not saying do not decorate, give presents, or eat until you feel like a stuffed turkey. 2019 will be here, and if you are blessed to see a 2019 holiday, maybe plan in June what you are going to do for the holidays in December. Do not apologize either.  Everyone deserves and needs a break. 
Finally, let’s talk about planning.  I started a new Wednesday segment called journaling, and the holidays is the perfect time to start a little journaling.  This is what I call, Project Journaling. The holidays is a project, so why not do a planning journal on the experience.  This way, when it comes to planning next year, you can look back, so the same plans or tweak it a little.  The way I plan it I write out the even in Erin Condren life planner, then I get a journaling book (hardcover or soft, you can get one from Erin Condren or at DollarTree) and label it Holiday planning or something like that.  You can even jot down your feelings during this time.  When the holidays are over, express how you truly felt about the holidays, what you did right, and what you did wrong.  On what you did wrong part, do not beat yourself up about it, but talk about what you would have done differently and what you will do differently next year.  Not all holidays are perfect.
As I said in when I talked about grieving for a loved one, always make sure you put someone first, but also take care of yourself as well.  Destress with a bubble bath, a good book, devotions, or even volunteer.  There is always someone in need.  Give to a clothing drive, to declutter and make room for your new clothes, give away your old appliances to make room for the ones in the kitchen. Make your children part of this as well.  Any gently used toys could go in a toy drive.   Also, make plans for the new year as well.  It is always a good time to set some new goals.  Do not beat yourself up if you did not achieve the ones in 2018.  Incorporate them into 2019.
Have fun, but do not stress out.

Peace on Earth.

Preparing for a huge project.

Merry Christmas!!!

Yes, it is that time of the year.  Do you have your decorations in order?  Do you know what gifts you are getting your family and friends?  What about a tree?  Is it an artificial or a live tree?  Do you have your cards lists and handmade cards ready?
“Hold it one minute, The turkey has not fully digested, and you are asking me about my Christmas plans?” one might be saying.  “Wait a minute, I’m Jewish, I do not celebrate Christmas”, another person may be saying.  Still, another may be saying, “I celebrate the birth of Christ, so no Santa, elves, and mistletoe in my house”.
That’s fine, whatever, however you celebrate is fine, as long as you are not:
-    Overwhelmed
-    Fighting long lines for presents
-    Going with the status quo
You will be fine.  Trust me.  You will.  I am not an expert in this department, but I have news for you.  You do not, I repeat do not have to go through this alone. 
This Monday, December 3, 2018, I will have a 3-part guide of prep work to do for the big day.  It is a start, but I have one little catch, to view this guide, you have to read all three, and it goes like this:
•    Part 1 will be in the My Ambiance Life blog.  This is my writing blog.  Monday is usually where I motivate you in your writing and other subjects, and I have chosen to motivate the holiday you.  My purpose for you is to destress during holiday prep.  Life does not stop for the holidays.  I know because as I am writing this, I am also preparing for a craft fair at a school for next Saturday and finishing translating notes for a church meeting on this Saturday (December 1).  This is on top of everything I have to do for my business and my home life.  The holidays are just part of it.  I am sure you feel the same way.
•    Part 2 will be in the P. Lynne Designs blog.  This is my crafting blog.  I get back into the swing of things after a year of absence.  This is post will be about preparing for making cards and getting supplies together for that big day when you are making and distributing gifts.  I also have things for those of you who do not craft because everyone is not a crafter.
•    Finally, part 3 will be in the At Home with Tricia's Baskets blog.  This was my blog when I sold Longaberger products, and since they closed back in the summer, I have turned this blog into a home decoration, organizing, and family blog.  There is a little bit of travel in there too.  This post will be about prepping the house and family. Getting out a list of things to do, not only for the house but with the kids when they are out of school for the winter break.  There will be things you may want them to do to, especially if they are older.
So, your next question is, “do I have to read all three?” The answer is “no, you do not”. This is my mini gift to you as you are stressing about what to do next in your preparation for the holidays.
This is my first time doing a guide across all three of my blogs, and yes, I will be doing some follow-up starting with what I do to prepare for a craft show.  This is my first craft show with handmade products, but I have been in crafts show with Longaberger products, and I must say that I do admire the crafters and artisans that seem like they have everything together with their booths.
So, there you go, a huge project called holidays.  All I ask you is to enjoy the ride and relax.  You got this.

Peace on Earth.