How to Use Charm to Benefit You at Your Next Party

Be a master of the social game.

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #21

You will always possess a charm and sense of humor that attracts others.

Do charming people have more carefree times in social settings? Thinking about this question gets me thinking how I socialize in specific environments. For the most part, I feel that I am warm and comfortable to communicate with and don’t see myself struggling in this area. I was a personal trainer for nine years and gave seminars where I needed to speak to an audience, and when I first started I was shy and many times would get the butterfly feeling in the pit of my gut before I was to speak. As the years gone by and I kept giving seminars, teaching classes, and working with new people these insecurities disappeared. The one talent I do wish I had more of was that of being charming. What is so wonderful about being charming? I feel that being lovely with those around us can benefit us much especially when it comes to critical social settings such as business meetings. Being charming can bring positive attention to you. This behavior can help make connections that may not have been made otherwise, and will even build one’s self-confidence. Sometimes when I try, I can be a bit socially awkward, and this is something that I know I could benefit from doing in social settings. Here are four ways that I plan on becoming more charming to those around me.

1. Stepping Outside the Comfort Zone

Why must we always step out of the comfort zone to get anything done? If we are comfortable, we won’t try as hard to get what we want. People like to associate with others who think outside the box. Think about the times you have conversations and who you like to talk with, are they boring or are they interesting to you? What makes them that way? Being creative in your discussions brings a little spice of life to the party, and you will get more people interested. Think of fun and creative ways that you can communicate with those around you. If you are at an office party, don’t start the conversation off about work instead find some common interest outside of work to discuss. Talking about hiking on the weekends will be far more interesting than the spreadsheets you look at every day.

2. Listen

Please be a good listener. Listening to those around us can be a hard one to follow and if you are like me and always thinking about what to say next. I have had to practice this one in the last few years and can say that I am grasping at this concept. I never knew how annoying this could be to be in a conversation and not listen till I started catching myself in this dangerous behavior. You will make more friends by lending an ear instead of a mouth. People love those that listen and pay attention to what they are talking about. Many times people don’t listen, and it is scarce to find a good listener. Remember when in a conversation don’t keep thinking about what you are going to say next, you won’t be listening, and that can get you into trouble. Recieve their message in full so that you can give a response that is meaningful to another person.

3. Focus on the Emotions

Make sure to check those emotions at the door. Making sure my feelings didn’t get the best of me was the lesson I learned when I was a trainer. It doesn’t matter what people think of me I can’t be shy and nervous when I needed to be confident and motivating. I would have never kept a client being shy and timid. I had to suck it up buttercup and put on that confident face to get through many of my seminars and sessions. After they were done and I had positive feedback it gave me the confidence to do the next one and pretty soon I no longer needed to check my emotions at the door. Give yourself a break and relax. Being able to relax and not worry about what and how you are going to start a conversation makes communication with others so much more comfortable. Don’t be hard on yourself and have fun in whatever setting you are involved with. If you are fumbling for your words and awkward, this will be a no-win situation for you, and you will inevitably crash and burn.

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4. Body Language Says More than you Think

Body language says a lot in a conversation and how you hold yourself will tell others quite a bit about you, and you want to make a good impression. If you stand tall, you are showing confidence. When we stand slouched and hunched over, we may give off the idea there is a weakness. Giving eye contact shows that you are listening and interested in what the other person is saying. Often matching the way others in the conversation are holding their body language will make you and them comfortable.

Everyone can have a certain amount of charm, and it takes a little practice to master the skill. Make sure to get outside of your box and be creative when engaging in a social conversation. Listening to those around us and paying attention to what is being said will make us valuable to those that are telling the story. Make sure to keep those emotions where they need to be and that it is better to be relaxed and confident then it is to be awkward and nervous. Take your body language and make it work for any social situation. Practicing these qualities will bring us closer to being the charming individuals we have always wanted to be.

How to be Tolerant in an Intolerant World

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #20

Tolerance is a virtue few have.

I will be honest when I picked up this one I had to chuckle a little. Like I said when I started this project that these fortune cookie papers had significant meaning to them and I knew I would be learning valuable lessons from these little phrases. How can we be more tolerant around others and in situations that we may not agree with and be able to keep things healthy? Tolerance is something that we all have to work on at some point in our lives and the more we can grasp understanding the better we can be as human beings. Here are six ways we can work on being a more tolerant world.

1. Empathy Please

Empathy is the way that we can understand feelings and share them with each other. If we are empathetic with those around us, we have the awareness to care. One way to be more empathetic is to look at the perspective of the other person. A good example is siblings. Unfortunately, my siblings and I are not very close. I remember as a child having the hardest time getting along with my siblings. We would fight regularly, and usually, there was a consequence for our fighting behavior. I often wonder if our parents would have sat us down as children and had talked about what we thought was right and take time to listen to the other, I think we could have put a stop to the constant fighting and would have been able to build better relationships with one another. We each would have been taught to empathize with the other and learn to communicate with one another in a manner that would have built our relationships rather than each one of us continually attacking the other. Empathy causes us to be compassionate, and it takes away the “I am always right, and you are still in the wrong mentality.

2. Ask the Opposition For an Explanation

Let the other party explain their point of view. It is okay to have your viewpoint but taking time to listen to the one you don’t agree with gives a sense of respect and can make a tense situation and lighten it up a bit. I think as a whole many of us are taught to be right, and we need to understand this is a big world with tons of different perspectives and even though we don’t agree doesn’t mean that everyone else is wrong. When giving the other person a chance to answer don’t be aggressive when you hear something that you may not like and don’t dismiss their side of the story. Take this opportunity to learn from them and gain some understanding of why they believe the way they do and embrace the difference that you both have with one another.

3. Ignore the Differences

I think that if you can ignore the differences that you may have with one another and embrace the relationship you share that is a fantastic experience. Many individuals are in my life that share different opinions and views, and that’s okay with me because we are different. I value my relationships more than I appreciate the differences I have with them. Many of these things that we have differences on will come and go, and as long as we can get through the conflicting opinions, we get to keep the people that we love and appreciate.

4. Don’t Accuse or Assume

Anyone ever heard the phrase “Assuming makes an ass out of you and me.” In my life, I have found this out many times, and every word of it is valid. Accusing people is something that should not be done especially if you are valuing that relationship. No one likes to be accused of being something that they are not. The same thing goes for assuming. Assuming someone is just going to jump on board with whatever you expect is not only dangerous but pretty unrealistic. We are independent people with independent thoughts, and we can’t force people to think and act the same way we do it is just not going to happen. When dealing with different opinions, it is better to keep the accusations and assumptions out of the conversation.

5. Address the Problem and Try to Solve

Compromise is excellent when it comes to addressing a problem. By making sure to understand all points of view and showing acknowledgment of someone else’s viewpoints will get you further than if you just shut them down. Use negotiation to your advantage and keep calm so that the environment doesn’t get uncomfortable. Something to do when addressing an issue is using the “I” statements. Instead of saying you think this or you believe that state them as your viewpoint. Using comments that start with you can lead to people feeling like they are being accused of something especially if the conversation you are having has anything to do with disagreements.

6. Remember the Value of Difference

The difference is what makes our world great. It gives us an opportunity to grow and learn. We can still have our beliefs and opinions but understand that there is more than one belief or idea out there in this world. Even though you may not agree you can always agree to disagree and keep the clam before it becomes a storm. Take time to learn about the other points of view.

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We may not all think alike, and that’s okay. If we can try to remember to be empathetic with those we don’t see eye to eye with it will get us a lot further along in this world. When in a conversation that is getting heated take time to ask the other party for their explanation and gain understanding into why they think the way they do. Sometimes we can get past the differences by just ignoring them and focusing only on our relationships. Make sure not to accuse or assume something of someone else. Doing this never ends well and will leave you both unhappy. You can always address a problem and try to come up with an adequate solution by learning to make compromises. Remeber that difference is great and that we can learn something we may not have known about that other person before. Next time you come across someone or something that needs tolerance take a look at the situation and ask yourself is this argument worth this relationship?

How to Make The Best Out of a Bad Situation

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #19

Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.

Wouldn’t it be nice if we all had a magic wand that we could instantly change the bad things that happen in our lives? We would be able to flip the switch in an instant with no pain or fear. Unfortunately, that is not how life works, and bad things do happen. We can get a handle on these unexpected circumstances if we can work with the harder times in life. Here are five ways to take not so pleasant situation and make it better in the end.

1. Perspective is Everything

Take a look at the problem as a whole. Ask yourself if this is going to affect the rest of your life? If your answer is yes, then take a look at how to improve the circumstance and make it better so that it will work for you in the future. Look at ways to make this work and then start fixing the problem the best way you can. Perspective gives you the freedom to decide how you feel about the outcome. You can hate the result and feel miserable, or you can keep your head high and see what you can do to change the situation. If the situation is not going to affect you for the rest of your life acknowledge the problem and move on and don’t look back, you don’t have time to waste reminiscing on things that did not work out.

2. Accept What You Can Not Change

We can not always control the outcome that life gives us. When life throws you into a tailspin remember to not focus on the things that are unchangeable. Focusing on these things can hold us back on repairing and moving forward in our lives. If something isn’t working, don’t focus on this instead move on to another plan. I have learned by taking those things that I can not change and grow from the experience is better than waiting for something to happen that won’t.

3. Flexibility

Just like accepting change we also have to allow for flexibility in our outcome. If something is not working, reevaluate what the problem is and see what else will work. Being flexible will also let you not to be surprised if what you initially thought did not work out. Being flexible will also lighten the blow if what you worked hard for fails. I used to believe that life was scheduled and planned for every minute of every day and this thought process quickly changed the moment I had children. Anyone who has dealt with littles will agree that the planning and organization that you work so hard for as an adult will quickly fly right out the window when children are involved. I am thankful for the opportunity to raise my children so that they could teach me to be flexible.

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4. Don’t Beat Yourself Up

Beating yourself up for something that can not be changed is a complete waste of time.  If you made a bad choice then you are human just like the rest of us and as long as you acknowledge and move forward this will be the best learning experience.  Everyone makes mistakes and sometimes we make big mistakes but it is ok and to be able to grow from your mistakes make you a stronger human being.

5. What Have You Gained From the Experience

Whether life hands you lemons or lemonade, we need to be able to take whatever experience and learn from it. Nothing is perfect and being able to take the knowledge that we gain from our failures is priceless and should be valued.

Why does life seem to be so unpredictable? If life were so predictable, it would not be so exciting. Even though there may be times when we feel like we have moved twenty steps back instead of forward taking the time to learn from the experience and make a plan to move forward to new experiences. Always take a look at the situation as if it were a glass half full instead of empty. Your perspective will affect how you deal with the situation and if your attitude is confident you will be able to handle what life throws at you a lot better. Accept that whatever is ailing you will not change and figure out how to fix it. If you live your life with more flexibility, it will prepare you for times when they are not the best. Don’t beat yourself up if you make a mistake learn from this and move forward. Always take a lesson from failure it will keep you from making the same mistakes in the future.

How to Design a House and Make it Your Own

Add a personal touch to your living space.

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #18

Keep in mind that home is where your heart is.

How important is it to make a house your own? A home should be where you feel happy and safe. A place where you can go away from all the worldly distractions and breathe. A person’s home has their memories of the life they have lived and loved. Here are ten ways to take any home and make it your own.

1. I love plants

I love plants but plants tend not to like me very well. I am not the best at being a green thumb and have had many failed attempts at keeping greenery in my home. Over the years I have come to realize I do best with plants that are low maintenance. I enjoy succulents especially as they are easy to care for and are very beautiful. Plants clean the air in the home and are aesthetically pleasing to the eyes. Putting a small herb garden in the kitchen will also help with cooking. If you are not too fond of plants putting up plant pictures can brighten up any mood.

2. Decorate in your style

Everyone has there own take on style and using yours will make a home feel more inviting to your senses if you incorporate it. If you are looking to add or replace things in the house, take a look at what you already own and decide if these things are what make you happy. Find the things you already love and work off those and discard the things that don’t connect. Take a mental picture of what you want this room to look like and work off that. It helps if you already have a few things in the space you love, and you can add more to it. Also incorporate the shapes, colors, and textures that make you happy. If you have a room that seems plain add a pop of color or add a different texture and by doing this you will give your space life.

4. Make Your Living Space Comfortable

Comfort is key when living in a house. I prefer my home to be comfortable especially after a long day. I like a place to relax and put up my feet and enjoy the remainder of my day in a peaceful setting that is warm and inviting. Add pillows to couches, chairs or beds. Pillows are always welcoming and who doesn’t love a beautiful soft pillow? Blankets are the bomb especially if you are coming home on a cold and blustery day. I am very picky when it comes to blankets and bedding and prefer softness to the touch. One of my favorite comforting blankets I own is a Berkshire Blanket. They are soft and keep you nice and toasty. You can wash them, and they stay the same just as you bought them. If you have hardwood floors, get an inviting rug that feels great on the feet, and place a lovely lamp on a side table for evening reading.

5. Clean Your Home

A clean home is a happy home. Keeping your home clean and organized will help you relax after a long day. Clutter is chaos and if you don’t get a handle on the clutter how can you have space to give you the peace you need. You don’t have to be a clean freak either to keep your home clean. Back in the day, I would slave all day to clean my house to perfection. I did chores that merely only had to be done once a week, and I found I caused more chaos for myself when that is all I would do is clean all day. I never gave myself a chance to enjoy life. Nowadays I don’t have enough hours in the day to be the cleaning freak I used to be and so I usually only spend 45 minutes to an hour doing the things I consider priorities and whatever doesn’t get done will then move to my preference the next day. It also helps to have a small cleaning crew which I have enlisted both of my children when it comes to laundry, dishes, and bedrooms.

6. Every Item Has its Place

Practicing this method can also help keep your home nice and tidy. Make sure that you don’t fill your house with too much stuff. My family has been guilty of this, and the last couple of years I have taken a minimalist turn in the way I live, and this is by far a way better option. I make sure every item in the house has a place to go, and if it does not, I will then decide if something needs to go so that I can find a place for this item. By making sure each possession has its spot not only does it keep the clutter out but I feel it will also help you from spending extra on the things you don’t need. An excellent example of this is clothing. I will only buy new clothing when I need to replace an item. If my jeans have holes or my top is too worn to wear I will replace it and not discard the object that is no longer needed.

7. If Your Space is Bare Spruce it up

I usually have trouble with making sure my walls are not too bare. If I come across a wall or space that is bare I typically add a cool looking print or maybe add a nice shelf and fill it full of your favorite trinkets or books. It doesn’t take much to make a spot more appealing a little can go a long way.

8. Flowers are a Nice Addition

Not only do flowers make a house smell great they are gorgeous to look at and will boost any mood when walking in the door. My kitchen is pretty dull, and when I need to add some flair to it, I do it with flowers. I love orchids, and nowadays you can find them in exciting bright colors that can catch any eye. Not only are flowers an excellent piece for most any space they are pleasing to smell and can brighten our day.

9. Find an Empty Wall and Decorate It

I did this with our wall that goes to our downstairs, and I will say it is my most favorite spot. I didn’t like the space that it left and decided that I would decorate the wall with pictures in a variety of frames and also some of the artwork that my kids have done. It is by far my favorite decorating spot. Walls are blank canvases, and you can decorate them any way you want. You can also use anything to decorate a wall. Prints, shelves and even plants can be used to put some decoration on your wall. Make your walls your own.

10. All Else Fails Change Your Sheets

I do this quite frequently, and I would say I change my bedding in my house more than anything else to add something new. When my covers start to look drab, and I want to spruce up the bedroom I go new sheets. You can change the color, texture and it does make a difference. I also will add different pillows and maybe a different throw to give it a total bed makes over and who doesn’t love new bedding that is probably my most favorite thing in the world.

When trying to make a home your own remember this place will be a piece of you.  Adding plants and flowers will give you not only a wonderful aroma but adding them can help elevate how you are feeling that day.  Make the space you live about you and what you like and discard the things that you are not so fond of, and of course, try to build a home of comfort that gives you an escape from the rest of the world.  Keeping a clean and clutter free house will reduce stress levels and help keep things organized.  Decorate your walls with pictures or colorful items to add pop to a spot that has been ignored and make sure that your bed make you happy and if it doesn’t change it.  Doing small changes and adding things here and there will take an ordinary home into your extraordinary space.

6 Secrets to Bonding with Your Rabbit

Fortune Cookie Life Lesson #15

A true friend is someone who is there for you when he’d rather be anywhere else.

With Easter right around the corner, I decided to write about my daughter Emma and her adorable Lionhead Dwarf Bunny Elsa. Why on earth would I pick such an unlikely pair to talk about friendship? Elsa helped my daughter bring back the sunshine in her life around the age of 9. My daughter struggled in her 3rd grade year due to an enormous amount of bullying. As you know, my children are both homeschooled, and this was the reason for my choice. Emma was tormented non stop by a group of 4 girls, and I could not do anything about it. No one helped, and therefore we decided it was best we cut ties with our public school.

After Emma was bullied, she was more withdrawn and had a tough time socializing with other kids. My husband and I decided that we should get her a pet. We thought that the responsibility would give her purpose and the unconditional love would heal her heart. We could not have a cat or dog at the time because we did not own our home, so we had to think about a small caged animal. We had some friends with an adorable bunny and decided to inquire about how to get one.

That was one of the best decisions we ever made not only for our daughter but also for our whole family. Elsa arrived at our home at 16 weeks old, and immediately Emma fell in love. Every day after school she would hold Elsa and play with her. Even on her lunch break she would take Elsa outside and read her stories. Elsa needed Emma to give her a loving home and Emma needed Elsa to love her unconditionally with no judgments. These to unlikely friends built one of the most active friendships I have ever seen. Elsa is now four years old and is a big part of our family. Elsa and Emma could not be any closer than they are today and for that, I am incredibly grateful.

One of the biggest things that I came to realize is that our furry friends no matter what they are can bring many joys to our lives. Emma bonded with Elsa instantly and she never strayed. She helped Elsa grow into a loving and trusting rabbit because of the bonding that Emma provided for Elsa. If you have a rabbit or are thinking about getting one here are six things to consider to help build that fuzzy bond.

1. Rabbits Communicate Through Sound

Rabbits can tell you a lot about themselves through the sounds they make. They will listen to the sounds around them to make sure that they are safe and don’t have to take action. A rabbit will click its teeth together to show that it is comfortable and happy. They also make purring sounds like a cat to show it feels safe and trust the environment around them.

If a rabbit starts to snort it is letting you know it would like attention. Snorting can also mean the rabbit could be suffering from a respiratory infection. If there is more snorting than average have a veterinarian take a look to make sure they are not sick.

When a rabbit whimpers or screams that indicates there is fear or pain, and this should be evaluated. Most of the time if you are not holding the rabbit securely or they do not feel that they are safe in their environment this will happen. They may also grunt and if that is the case they more than likely do not want you to handle them.

Rabbits will also grind teeth, that is a sign of pain, illness, or anxiety. Holding a rabbit incorrectly can cause discomfort for the rabbit. Also if there is sudden grinding that occurs, you should have your rabbit looked at by a veterinarian.

2. Rabbits also Communicate Through Body Language

A rabbits body language is essential in properly communicating with your rabbit. A rabbit’s ears are an indispensable way to let you know how they are feeling. If the rabbit’s ears lie back, they are feeling the safest. Elsa loves to go outside, and we have quite a bunny sanctuary for her. She loves to lay out in the fresh air with her ears entirely down. By looking at her, I can tell this rabbit is the most relaxed in this state. When her ears are straightforward, and she is staring at something that is when she is alarmed and that there is something that could be harmful to her. It helps us understand her and we are then aware and can help her if she thinks there is a danger. Most of the time she is outside relaxing laid flat and enjoying her outside play time. That’s when we know she is happiest.

3. Bunny Behaviors

Rabbits love to be close. I would have never guessed this as this was the first time we ever owned one, but Elsa is the most content when she is glued to her bunny mama. They love human touch, and they will be more gentle with the human interaction. When a rabbit nudges someone that is a sign of attention. If Emma is outside and not hanging out with Elsa, this rabbit will immediately run over and nudge her for some love. Rabbits lick, and that is a sign of great admiration. That is the best respect from a rabbit and shows that they love and trust you. They also will flop down beside you when they feel the safest and most content. If a rabbit exposes their inner eyelid that is a sign of anxiety and you may need just to keep building trust in your relationship.

4. A Bunny Home is a Happy Home

Rabbits need to have a safe space to live. Their living should be quiet and comfortable to build the best friendship. Make sure that the rabbit will receive daily interaction and that any chaos that might upset them is limited. Temperature is key to having a happy, healthy bunny. A comfortable temperature for a rabbit is 60-70 degrees. Too hot or too cold can lead to severe problems and death. Make sure that they have adequate shade on those warmer days so that they do not overheat.

5. Playtime is the Best

Rabbits love to play. Elsa has lots of toys, and she loves to frolick. Her favorite toy is a big purple bounce ball that she pushes around with her nose. She gets excellent exercise, and we like to watch her play. Rabbits love to play with balls, cardboard, and toilet paper rolls filled with hay. Rabbits need their activity the more room, the better. Make sure that no electrical chords are lying around. Rabbits seem to attract to these, and that could be bad for you as well as bad for the bunny. If the rabbit is outdoors make sure they have a fenced enclosed area so they will not be able to escape. They can be inquisitive creatures, and that can lead to problems. Make sure to supervise the rabbit and keep them safe.

6. Healthy Diet Healthy Bunny

Make sure that your rabbit gets a healthy diet. The diet should consist of Timothy grass or hay, pellet food, fresh leafy greens, and clean water. Rabbits also like apples and carrots. The amount you feed them will depend on how big the rabbit is. Rabbits six months and over need 1/8 and 1/4 cup of pellets per five pounds of body weight. They also need 2 cups leafy greens per six pounds.

Rabbits are fun furry friends that bring joy to all that come along their way. They require lots of care and lots of love so the dedication to building that relationship should be a priority. If you are considering getting a rabbit make sure to research and learn about the care and the needs of the rabbit so that you are prepared. Many times people don’t understand what these pets need and the necessary amount of love and attention that goes into caring for a rabbit. Also, if you are wondering where to get a rabbit take a look at your local animal rescue, there will be many rabbits that need a loving home. Some of these rescues are dedicated to rabbits. Many people realize later on they are unable to care for a rabbit and will end up giving the rabbit away. Many rabbits need loving homes and adoption is a great way to become bunny parents.