Public Speaking for the Introvert

As a member of a business women’s group I’ve been to many conferences and monthly meetings which equates to seeing roughly about 500 public speakers in my life. Perhaps it’s more like 100-150, but still, that’s a lot! For every 20 mediocre speakers there’s one stand-out inspiring speaker who can motivate you to change the way you see things, sometimes it’s how you do business, how you see yourself, or how you relate to others, but regardless of the topic, this person CHANGES you. For the past couple of years I’ve quietly (and secretly) said in my head, I want to do that.  I want to be someone who inspires others to do more, be more, or just look at things in a new way.

Last year I ran for a position on the National Board of Directors of my business women’s association which required that I give a 3 minute speech on what sparked my interest in the group and how I planned to help the association should I be elected.  I’m not a shy person by any means (I AM an introvert, though), but giving a prepared speech still to this day makes my nerves all jittery.  I did not win that election but the experience I gained from stretching so far outside of my comfort zone was incredible. I actually networked with professional adults! Me! Talking to business-y stranger-adults! I got a little more comfortable with the public speaking thing but I knew I had to do more.

Now it’s 2016, b*tches! and one of my goals is to master public speaking.  I joined a local Toastmasters group to find my tribe of fellow personal improvement junkies and get to work on really addressing my “needs improvement” areas.  I like this group a lot – I tried one out where my old office was and every time you said “uh, um, you know” or a filler like that, they would honk a horn.  That completely throws ANYONE off, even pros.  This club just counts them and reports your numbers at the end.

Toastmasters Logo Color PNG

So far I’ve only given one prepared speech – the Icebreaker – but I’ve won RIBBONS!  A portion of the meeting is dedicated to something called Table Topics which is to help with off-the-cuff speaking skills, I’ve talked about “butt-stuffing”*, twice, and won ribbons for other table topics because, I’ll toot my own horn here and say admittedly, I can be entertaining at times.

The Toastmasters program gives you two workbooks that you can complete for some super official letters after your name within the TM world – which I LOVE.  They have the Competent Communication and Competent Leadership, so you get these checklists in each one to accomplish and mark off.  That’s so up my alley, if only they had gold stars in there too.

Why does this matter TO YOU???  When you speak publicly on a topic, you magically become perceived as an expert. Of course, you DO have to know your stuff and speak competently on your topic (while adding your own personal voice) but aside from publishing a book, public speaking is an excellent way to become an expert in the eyes of the public. You can start out small and present to local business groups in your area to build up confidence/gain feedback, then build your portfolio of public speaking and it can actually be a PAID gig kind of thing! Neat, huh?

So if you’re a self-improvement junkie like me, or your looking for more ways to reach out with your business knowledge, give Toastmasters a try.  You can find a club near you here.  I promise it’s a good way to either baby-step your way into public speaking or just jump right into the deep end and give a speech at every meeting.  Your participation level is up to you.  Even for introverts I find that the TM community is incredibly supportive.

 

*Butt-stuffing is the stuffing from Thanksgiving that is prepared in the turkey.  I’m told there’s an actual term for this, “dressing”, but I’ll always call it butt-stuffing.

Contemplating the Chemicals of the Brain

The thing about neurodiversity is that sometimes, in treating it you lose a part of yourself. With regulation comes a certain quiet that you’re not used to, having struggled for so long to create stability then finding yourself in this serene existence you can forget who you are. Your chemicals become so regulated that somewhere on the trail of finding the perfect concoction, you forget that you’re alive. You forget how it feels to feel.  You become a machine performing your daily tasks and somehow you’re grateful because you’re not on the floor crying or yelling at your partner for no reason so that’s an improvement, right?

But is it? Bipolar disorder can be life-threatening and it has been for me. It has also ruined relationships, caused me to lose a job, contributed to bad choices, caused weight fluctuations throughout my life, and made me question who I was and why I existed in a way that no one should ever experience in their life. It’s a very serious chemical imbalance that can be treated.

I’ve had several fellow creative bipolar friends who choose not to medicate because the mania of bipolar can lend itself to creative bursts (as well as very negative things like insomnia, poor decision making abilities, and suicide) and they believe medication will dampen their creativity. I’ve been regularly medicated for the past 3 years now and just in the past few months have I realized that my creativity, as it once flourished, has disappeared. The creative energy that used to so readily flow through me has been absent, save for a few occurrences here and there.  I didn’t notice this until I decided that I want to start up my Etsy shop again and live my life creatively because I quickly came to the scary conclusion that I may not have that creative ability any more (or at least the access to it).

I considered my options and decided that I could try going off of my medication when my three month supply got to the end (in a month and a half) because I figured I’d be going to the gym regularly at that point so that should stave off potential depression. I think this sent the signal to my subconscious that taking my medications wasn’t that important because I forgot to take them more often than usual. I have three different pills I take twice a day and I would forget an AM or PM dosage of some combo of them. That brought upon a meltdown that came out of nowhere and for no reason – it felt so uncomfortably like “the old days”, before medication. I was back where I had taken 3 years to crawl away from. I DETESTED it. The boo was kind and patient even though he had no idea what was going on and eventually it passed but holy hot damn, it sucked. If there is one feeling in the world I think every human can agree is one of the worst, it’s not feeling in control – especially of YOURSELF.

So, I will not be going off of my medications any time soon. I miss my creativity dearly, I do not miss my instability and depression – if one wins here it’s the feeling of control unfortunately. I’ll be looking for a new doctor closer to my new place and maybe they can help me find a different mix of medication that doesn’t make me feel quite as serene, because you know, I like a little quiet disruption every once in a while.

Podcasts for Your Brain

Ever since a fellow former-roller derby entrepreneur friend introduced me to the world of podcasts as a form of not only entertainment but a potential way to share an idea I’ve been kicking around, I have been an avid listener of them on any commute.  Now, I know I’m way late to this podcast party, so I’ve been catching up on podcasts that are YEARS old but that doesn’t make the information in them any less useful.  Below I share with you some of my favorite

Fun learnings: Stuff You Missed in History Class, Stuff You Should Know, Serial

Business learnings: Introvert Entrepreneur, Design Matters, The Accidental Creative

Money learnings: So Money  (I’ve tried a few other podcasts for finance but they’ve bored me to tears, so if you have a good one you like, comment below!)

A neat tip I learned on some podcast or business blog I can’t remember, by increasing the playback speed of the podcast, your brain actually does good things (yeah, there were more scientific things said to back this up but I don’t recall what they were).  They suggested listening to them at 2x speed – I’ve gotten up to 1.5x speed because it’s still enjoyable at that increase – I found 2.0 too much for my liking.

So definitely check those out, and comment below if you’ve got favorites of your own!

Your Credit Score – Friend or Foe?

Oh boy. . . Here goes more of my open book philosophy.

Here’s a little story about a girl who wasn’t really taught about money (even though her mom’s an accountant, go figure!) so she fell into the debt trap when the credit card companies handed out Mastercards like candy in the Student Union and she took out a student loan to finish her bonus half year of college.  (I went for four and a half years, I say it was to get a BS rather than a BA, but really, I was chosen to be my sorority’s Social Chair which ran Spring to Fall and they gave me thousands of dollars to plan formals – so yeah, I stayed another semester and took out a loan to cover it!)

So I graduated college about $10,000 in the hole, moved back home for a year which you think would have had me paying off that debt, but NO!  I just spent the money and deferred the loan – I had no concept of what debt was, how interest accrued, and I didn’t even bother with my company’s 401K.

Fast forward TEN FREAKING YEARS (that makes me feel old, and even more old for saying it makes me feel old) and I’m FINALLY getting my poop in a group with my finances.  I paid off that first credit card a while ago – then swore off all credit cards so as not to fall into the debt trap again – MISTAKE NUMBER ONE!  Our credit economy DEMANDS that you use credit – if you want to buy a house you have to prove you’re a viable candidate who can use multiple lines of credit responsibly.  So you MUST have several forms of debt – or at least credit.  Right now I have a student loan, car loan, and one $300 limit credit card (I JUST got it, in order to appease the credit gods).  As you’ll see in my screen shots from CreditKarma.com further down, this is not enough for the credit gods.

Another big mistake – although using your credit card is important – OVER-UTILIZING it is a no-no.  You’ll see in the screen shots that in December I left a balance of $202 on my $300 limit card, and even though I paid that off right away, it still hurt my credit score.  So now, I put stuff on my credit card, and then I go home and pay it off almost immediately.  Take that, credit gods!

The other factor on your credit score that was news to me is the inquiries.  I had been trying to get a credit card, to you know, establish credit.  But the damn credit gods and their catch 22, I didn’t have enough credit established to merit a credit card!!!!!  What in the what???  Thus, I have a little baby $300 limit credit card that, if I’m lucky and the credit gods shine down upon me (or really, I pay on time for the first 5 months) the limit will increase to $500.  Whoa, that’s huge.  (sarcasm)  Inquiries are things like if you apply for a new apartment and they run a credit check, or a car loan, etc.  Or if you’re applying for credit cards left and right – each one pings your credit score!

Those are the few big things I’ve learned so far.  Now for some real-life examples – AKA my actual finances as shown through CreditKarma.com.  This site is great, I love how easy it is to use, they send me updates, it’s COMPLETELY FREE (I assume because they have deals with credit card companies because they’ll show you cards that you could apply for and likely get – if you NEED to build credit, this is great, if you’re getting out of debt – DO NOT FALL FOR THIS TRICK!!!!), and they update my score weekly so I can keep a  super close eye on my credit.

Now, my friends, here is my taboo truths of my credit score and all that comes with it.  (I think this means we’re pretty much best friends now – sharing secrets and stuff)

 

December 9th I checked my credit score and it was woefully low.  Below you’ll see why!

DecScoreSo this is my overall score according to TransUnion and Equifax – they differ slightly because they get their information a little differently.  When you look at the image below of what impacted my score, you’ll see that Equifax got word of what my Credit Card Utilization was and was not having any of it – so they marked me down 71 points from my last report date.

 

DecImpact
This shows all of the factors that impact my score and how heavily they’re weighted in that impact. Like I said, apparently have 4-5 lines of credit does not appease the credit gods.  But I’m weary of getting another credit card because then that inquiry will hit and lower that score – fortunately, both of these things are considered “low impact.”  The age of my credit is also hurting my overall score, so if you’re considering whether or not to take the leap and get a credit card (RESPONSIBLY!!!), do it sooner rather than later!

 

DecCreditCardUtilization
Here’s the big Debbie Downer on my score, my Credit Card Utilization.  On my card with a limit of $300, when this was run I had a balance of $202 which CreditKarma kindly maths for me to tell me is 67% utilization.  This is BAD.  You should be utilizing only 0-9% to keep your score really awesome.  Fine, whatever, I’ll pay off every time I use it!

 

 

January 20th I checked back in!

JanScore
Look, ma!  I’m fair!  Not the best score, hell, it’s not even in the green, but it’s better than poor!

 

JanImpact
Now, so far as I can tell, the age of my history is hurting me the most.  I can’t do anything to change this, other than wait and continue using credit.  I’ve been thinking about getting yet another credit card (I won’t be getting another car or buying a house any time soon so it’s down to credit cards as the viable option) but I’ll be waiting until I get to the $500 card limit, just so I don’t mess with the inquiries number too much.  Sometimes about seeing that blood red on this report makes my heart sad.

JanCreditCardUtilization
And look!  I mastered the Credit Card Utilization!

 

 

Lengthy post, I know, but I hope it was helpful for anyone who’s got their head in the sand about this whole credit score thing.  I promise it’s not that scary once you actually look it in the face and figure out where yours might need some work.

 

One of my favorite motivational quotes is about how you eat an elephant.  ONE BITE AT A TIME!

Finances are FUN 01 – Mint.com – DO IT!

Hey everyone, I’m here today to talk about a very sensitive subject. Some might say it’s the last of the taboo topics since so many people avoid it – when’s the last time you asked your BFF about their finances? But I bet you can remember when you last asked how their love life is doing!

This year I’m focusing on money management because I have the goal of getting out of debt in mind as well as working on my credit score. Today’s post is an introduction to a website (I get zero kickback from this, they are not a sponsor, I just really dig how helpful their site is) called Mint.com.

I’m gonna give you a super personal glimpse into my financial jazz because I’ll be an open book as I go on my journey to debt-free living to hopefully show others that this is something anyone can do – and there are tools out there that make it a lot easier on you. So without further ado, I present to you the very basics of Mint.com and what it can do for you!

  • Account Overview – this is where Mint tells you your overall cash value. I’ve linked my bank account, the only credit card I have, my student and car loans, my 401K, and then they have this neat thing where it estimates the worth of your car if you’re paying to own it. Note: Anything in pink is something I entered over sensitive information, Mint shows the bank name, etc.

my account image

So you can see here that my net worth is a positive!  WOOHOO!  That is probably not a big deal to many people out there but for me, after being in credit card debt for a long time, as well as student loans then a car loan, this is a BIG DEAL.  This information on Mint is updated every time you log in, so if you put more on your credit card, your net worth goes down, but if you make payments on your debts, you get to see that number go UP!  It’s such a great feeling!

 

  • Account Transactions – This function is super helpful in that it forces you to LOOK at what you’re spending on.  Now, judge not lest ye be judged, dear friends!  Clearly I spent a lot on fast food during this time but by point this out, Mint is giving me the cold hard facts in a way that I can’t just avoid.  This also ties into an awesome budgeting feature where I tell Mint how much I’m allowing myself to spend that month on a certain category then it calls me out if I go over budget.

transactions image

 

  • Budgeting – This is the function that I mentioned just above. I set up this budget based on what I believed I would be spending every month in the categories below. Mint will send me a friendly email notice if I’m nearing the budget for the month, just to let me know “Hey, you’re getting awfully close to your budgeted allowance for fast food, perhaps you shouldn’t buy that cheesy bean and rice burrito on the way home!”  You can look at this information historically over several months to see if maybe you need to adjust your monthly budget on a certain category as well, for instance if you keep going over budget on groceries maybe you just set up the
    budget without actually knowing your true monthly expenses.

image00

 

  • Spending / Graphs – As a very visual person this function helps me to see where my money is going in comparison to all other categories. There are a ton of other functions that I won’t go into here but they’re really fun (no, seriously!) so take some time to try them all out.

image04

 

  • Email Updates – Every week you’ll get an email from Mint letting you know where all your money went (if you opt to). I like it because it reminds me to go back and categorize my expenses (something you’ll have to do every once in a while to increase the accuracy of the budgeting feature). And again, it’s a nice colorful graph that makes me despise the fact that it’s numbers a little less.

emailmint

 

So there you have it, a very rudimentary introduction to Mint.com and how it can help you stay on track of your spending/saving/debt destruction! I really hope that if you haven’t started using this (or another similar site) you sit down and consider it. I can’t tell you how much it’s helped me get my poop in a group (my dear friend’s way of saying “get your sh*t straight” around her kiddos) with something that has seemed so overwhelming for such a long time. Even if you just take 10 minutes a day logging into Mint and looking around to get used to it for the first week, every single baby step is a giant leap toward your financial success. I know so many people like me who have just been floating along down the river of “Meh, it’ll sort itself out” for finances and really, darlings, there is a much better way.

So do it!!!!  Sign up on Mint.com!!!!  Go and get your financial poop in a group!!!!

 

 

It’s 2016, b*tches!

Hello, all! Sorry about the strong language there, but I am REALLY excited about this new year. Really SUPER excited!

I didn’t make any resolutions this year but I did make a short list of “Things I’d Really Like to Accomplish” in the next 365 days – covering all aspects of my life. I have been paralyzed these first couple of weeks with the list of avenues of accomplishment that I want to pursue this year to the point that sitting here writing is like letting off the release valve on something that’s super not-released (yeah, I know nothing about how to make that analogy work). What I’m trying to say is that I have a lot to accomplish and it’s all over the place so I’ve got to sort out my priorities like whoa if I want to get anywhere this year.

Without further ado, I present my list of “Things I’d Really Like to Accomplish in 2016”!

Jessie’s List of Thing’s She’d Really Like to Accomplish in 2016

Financial. . . Get out of debt – pay off my student and car loan

Personal. . . 1. Go to the gym regularly  2. Change spending habits

Save the Empire (aka quit the corporate world). . .  1. Re-open my Etsy shop, AEROLOGIE  2. Create a webinar to help others open their own Etsy shops  3. Help the boo with the business aspect of his comic book goals  4.  Hone my public speaking skills through Toast Masters

Sometime in 2014 or early 2015 I found something called The Passion Planner on Kickstarter and I instantly fell in love. I wasn’t entirely sold on believing that I had goals worth organizing in a planner of that magnitude at the time so I admired from afar. Well, my friends, I got a brand new shiny planner for 2016 and I am IN LOVE with this thing. I haven’t quite mastered it yet, there are so many ways it can be used to increase efficiency but with so many directions I’m pushing myself it’s been hard to narrow my focus.

Anyway, lest I not ramble, I wanted to get my goals out in public to hold myself accountable to the internets at-large, because maybe that will help me keep focus!

What is your planning for 2016 looking like?

Inspiring Words from Martin Luther King Jr.

I wanted to pop in for a hot second and share my favorite quote from MLK. He has TONS of incredibly thought-provoking quotes, having been a great man who wanted to affect great change, but this one keeps my head on straight when things are bringing me down.

He’s also a fellow INFJ (blog coming up on that soon)!

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

In December of 2014 the boo and I visited Washington DC and MLK’s memorial was one of my top 2 amongst the many in the city (the other being the mini memorial for Eleanor Roosevelt that was part of FDR’s).  The quotes etched on the walls there are so inspirational – this man wanted equality for people so badly in a society that was in such turmoil that he put his life on the line numerous times (which lead to his unwarranted assassination).

I wish civil rights and the fight for equality were united again under a leader of such inspiring wisdom, we clearly could use it still to this day.

The Paradox of Choice

If I’m to believe the internet, famous actress, Mae West said, at two different times, the following quotes:

“Too much of a good thing can be wonderful”

and

“Too much of a good thing can be taxing”

Preach it, Mae!

I recently re-took the Myers-Briggs personality test through the 16 Personalities website (a fantastic resource where you can read about your type in-depth, they do also sell further in-depth analyses – I didn’t opt for that) and came up again as INFJ.  As a psychology major in undergrad I strongly believe in the principals of this personality measurement tool so I fully “buy in” to it – judge if you will, but take a minute to complete the test and see if your results speak truth to you!

“INFJs are likely to find that most corporate career paths are not designed for them, but for those focused on status and material gain. This doesn’t mean that people with the INFJ personality type struggle to see viable options though. In fact, they are likely to face the opposite problem – many INFJs struggle to begin a career early on because they see ten wildly different paths forward, each with its own intrinsic rewards, alluring but also heartbreaking, because each means abandoning so much else.”

For so long I’ve given into the paradox of choice where I’m stunted by the sheer limitlessness of possibilities. Too much freedom (a good thing) can be both wonderful and taxing, all at the same time.

I do see these wildly different paths and I’ve no idea how to narrow them down so this year I’m going to take them all on and try to prioritize my time to fit them in. We’ll see if I can turn myself into an Etsy-selling, author-speaker, crystal healer, who-knows-what-else.

The trick now is to avoid that burnout that I’ve pretty much mastered falling into almost monthly. . .

Only time will tell!

The Horrors of Hoarding and the Happiness of Clearing Out

Hello everyone and Happy New Year!

It’s been a hot minute since my last post thanks to the exciting endeavor of moving to St. Petersburg, FL with my boo!  We’re now residing in a very modest 625 square foot apartment with surprisingly roomy closets and minimal traditional furniture (you know, in order to fit my crafting space).  We don’t have a TV (Netflix and Amazon on his computer) or a dining room table (the rolly bench-thing made coffee table works just fine) but he’s got a big desk for his comic book writing and I’ve got a sprawling craft mecca so we’re happy.

Late in 2015 I read a blog post about The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up which my childhood friend-turned roommate bought on Audible and shared with me.  The book, with very simple concepts (I honestly gleaned enough from the blog post to put the concepts into action), brought me to the realization that I had been a hoarder of craft supplies for my entire adult life.  I had amassed an entire 5×3 storage space of nothing but random craft supplies. This wasn’t just a few buttons here or there, I mean crafts that I had never even attempted (or really truly wanted to, I think) – leather working?  Really? Yeah!  I had supplies for that!  In addition to craft supplies I had a bizarrely cherished collection of clothes that I hadn’t worn in years, and likely never would wear again.

I think a lot of us in first-world countries are guilty of this.  We have disposable income so we collect THINGS.  Then this STUFF becomes what we define ourselves by – or it becomes some strange comfort once we’ve surrounded ourselves with it.  It’s almost a compulsion to buy the newest and greatest thing, or to buy that shiny random object we’ve already got 5 of because, HEY!  It’s on sale!

Daily Quotes (1)

 

So for the new year, and this new modest lifestyle with my boo, I cleaned out those overabundant craft supplies and pared down my wardrobe in an effort to find the more authentic version of how I want to live.  My goal is to get out of debt this year (student and car loan) and once and for all kick my first-world spending habits.

I’ll be keeping you posted on my triumphs and tribulations!