Thursday, December 30, 2010

LordSong - Hand Medley

I am not going to say much today. I am very sad and could use some real prayer support.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

What are you searching for?

Today was a smack in the face. It started out fine. I had Christmas money to spend and I was determined to do so. I packed Dylan up into the car. We drove to the mall. I got to walking around looking at potential purchases. I started feeling buyers remorse. I hadn't even purchased anything. How could I? Dylan comes first. My family's needs come before mine. This money gifted to me should go to them. It was then I happened upon a friendly face. It was an acquaintance of mine. We got to chatting. She was asking about my work situation, the family, and my plans for the day. She reminded me it is okay to buy myself nice things once in awhile. I left her little pep talk thinking about her suggestion. I WAS going to do something nice for me. I checked my phone. Seeing I had a couple missed calls I went to find a spot with the highest reception. A conversation and a poopie diaper later, I left the mall with as much money as I came with. Feeling dejected for not being able to justify being nice to me, I drove home.

This season of adjustment with my husband has been extremely difficult for me. Dylan has been a game changer for us. In an effort to not turn this into a gripe fest about personal matters, I will say nothing more, except I thank those people who have helped me be more like taffy. I went searching for someone to understand tonight and found it in the words you wrote me. I am ever thankful for you. You've have given me direction. I think I'll share...

What hopes do you have? My consistent hope is to have a fulfilled life with Andy and Dylan. Ultimately I'd like to have my family serving Jesus with me. This yoke can get heavy at times.
What goals do you have? For years now, I've surrendered my goal of finishing my two-year degree for the good of my family. I want to finish. I've been working for this goal for so long, its like the air I breathe. 
What dreams do you have? I've always wanted to learn to dance. Always.When I was a wee thing, my mom, for religious reasons thought it inappropriate and too expensive. Now that I'm older, it's still too expensive.
When do you most feel fulfilled? I feel the most fulfilled when I am signing, doing genealogy research, or alone taking pictures.
What are you searching for? I am looking for a peaceful secure life. I'd like a little adventure to keep things interesting. I'd like to have a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day. I want to know I've done something to better my environment. Knowing I can't control others, I'd like to just find joy in my daily activities. I long for that ever elusive peace. I don't recall a time in my life where I wasn't walking a tight rope. I want to just fall. I fear that if I do that tight rope will hang me. I soooo exhausted in every way. I want to run again. I want to know who I am. I want to give up. I am tired of trying to please people. I don't know how to live without having to attain approval. I've done it for as long as I can recall. I think it'd be so freeing to not care for just a few hours. I hear my mom in my head often saying, "Dana- you are not an island unto yourself. Your choices WILL effect others." I want my soul to say I am free...

Monday, December 27, 2010

Missing Identity

Have you ever felt like you were missing in action or on auto pilot? I've tried to follow the advice of an old friend who told me a few years ago, " Dana, the best thing you can do for yourself is to always be present in the right now. Just be present."  I've thought about that statement often. How do I bring ALL of myself into this moment in time?

It is a challenge. Being present means being honest with yourself always, however you may not always be okay with you 100% of the time. I'll admit while I've done an just below apt job at following this advice. I still feel rather out of place. I'm never 100% comfortable. I feel like a visitor to my life most of the time.

Its like I keep searching for the one place I can truly call home. I'm not sure if the totally-present-in-the-here-and-now feeling comes with being contented in your own skin or if you find it else where. I have certainly had my centered moments. They stand up tall to be noticed amongst the other happenings over my life. I look to those moments like old sailors looked to the North Star or the pioneers looked at Chimney Rock.

Chimney Rock from National Geographic
Get The Complete National Geographic - Every Issue since 1888
Those are the moments when I dived in head first, I took a risk, or I tried something new. I know I will have my off days in the future, but I'm ready to find my at home feeling. I'd like to be completely relaxed. Being at peace when my world isn't. Hopefully I'll get to that place soon.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

It is Christmas Day. I sat this morning to watch Dylan on his first Christmas. He did his best to open the presents we bought him. He spent most of his time distracted by the paper and the noise it made. I started to think about that in the wider scope of the world.

Every person on earth, but especially in America, has equal opportunity to make something of themselves. They have choices to make. They can be free if they choose. They can be educated in the finest schools if they choose. They can have the career of their dreams. They can have the family they desire. They can have a fulfilled life. Its all in the choices we are presented.

I find though many who get distracted by the packaging of their lives. They may have been born into poverty. They may have born into a family whose ancestors were enslaved. The person may have been born into a family who had their land taken from them. They made a few bad decisions along the way and they've been shown them a  new path. There are hundreds of ways we as humans can destroy or have our futures upset. All I want to know is what you are going to do about it? What will YOU choose to do with the options before you? Will you play the victim? Or will YOU be a phoenix raising from the ashes? Will you choose to see the gift inside the package or just focus on the wrapping it came in?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sorry for not posting something original these days, but my email has been "speaking" to me...

For those of you who do not know Beth Moore, she is an outstanding Bible teacher, writer of Bible studies, and is a married mother of two daughters.
This is one of her experiences:
April 20, 2005, at the Airport in Knoxville , waiting to board the plane, I had the Bible on my lap and was very intent upon what I was doing. I'd had a marvelous morning with the Lord. I say this because I want to tell you it is a scary thing to have the Spirit of God really working in you.
You could end up doing some things you never would have done otherwise. Life in the Spirit can be dangerous for a thousand reasons, not the least of which is your ego.
I tried to keep from staring, but he was such a strange sight. Humped over in a wheelchair, he was skin and bones, dressed in clothes that obviously fit when he was at least twenty pounds heavier. His knees protruded from his trousers, and his shoulders looked like the coat hanger was still in his shirt.. His hands looked like tangled masses of veins and bones.
The strangest part of him was his hair and nails. Stringy, gray hair hung well over his shoulders and down part of his back. His fingernails were long, clean but strangely out of place on an old man.
I looked down at my Bible as fast as I could, discomfort burning my face. As I tried to imagine what his story might have been, I found myself wondering if I'd just had a Howard Hughes sighting. Then, I remembered that he was dead. So this man in the airport... An impersonator maybe? Was a camera on us somewhere? There I sat; trying to concentrate on the Word to keep from being concerned about a thin slice of humanity served up on a wheelchair only a few seats from me. All the while, my heart was growing more and more overwhelmed with a feeling for him.
Let's admit it. Curiosity is a heap more comfortable than true concern, and suddenly I was awash with aching emotion for this bizarre-looking old man..
I had walked with God long enough to see the handwriting on the wall. I've learned that when I begin to feel what God feels, something so contrary to my natural feelings, something dramatic is bound to happen. And it may be embarrassing.
I immediately began to resist because I could feel God working on my spirit and I started arguing with God in my mind. 'Oh, no, God, please, no.' I looked up at the ceiling as if I could stare straight through it into heaven and said, 'Don't make me witness to this man. Not right here and now. Please. I'll do anything. Put me on the same plane, but don't make me get up here and witness to this man in front of this gawking audience. Please, Lord!'
There I sat in the blue vinyl chair begging His Highness, 'Please don't make me witness to this man. Not now. I'll do it on the plane. Then I heard it...'I don't want you to witness to him I want you to brush his hair.'
The words were so clear, my heart leapt into my throat, and my thoughts spun like a top. Do I witness to the man or brush his hair? No-brainer. I looked straight back up at the ceiling and said, 'God, as I live and breathe, I want you to know I am ready to witness to this man. I'm on this Lord. I'm your girl! You've never seen a woman witness to a man faster in your life. What difference does it make if his hair is a mess if he is not redeemed? I am going to witness to this man.'
Again, as clearly as I've ever heard an audible word, God seemed to write this statement across the wall of my mind. 'That is not what I said, Beth. I don't want you to witness to him. I want you to go brush his hair.'
I looked up at God and quipped, 'I don't have a hairbrush. It's in my suitcase on the plane. How am I supposed to brush his hair without a hairbrush?'
God was so insistent that I almost involuntarily began to walk toward him as these thoughts came to me from God's word: 'I will thoroughly furnish you unto all good works.' (2 Timothy 3:17)
I stumbled over to the wheelchair thinking I could use one myself. Even as I retell this story, my pulse quickens and I feel those same butterflies. I knelt down in front of the man and asked as demurely as possible, 'Sir, may I have the pleasure of brushing your hair?'
He looked back at me and said, 'What did you say?'
'May I have the pleasure of brushing your hair?'
To which he responded in volume ten, 'Little lady, if you expect me to hear you, you're going to have to talk louder than that.'
At this point, I took a deep breath and blurted out, 'SIR, MAY I HAVE THE PLEASURE OF BRUSHING YOUR HAIR?' At which point every eye in the place darted right at me. I was the only thing in the room looking more peculiar than old Mr. Long Locks. Face crimson and forehead breaking out in a sweat, I watched him look up at me with absolute shock on his face, and say, 'If you really want to.'
Are you kidding? Of course I didn't want to. But God didn't seem interested in my personal preference right about then. He pressed on my heart until I could utter the words, 'Yes, sir, I would be pleased. But I have one little problem. I don't have a hairbrush.'
'I have one in my bag,' he responded.
I went around to the back of that wheelchair, and I got on my hands and knees and unzipped the stranger's old carry-on, hardly believing what I was doing. I stood up and started brushing the old man's hair. It was perfectly clean, but it was tangled and matted. I don't do many things well, but must admit I've had notable experience untangling knotted hair mothering two little girls. Like I'd done with either Amanda or Melissa in such a condition, I began brushing at the very bottom of the strands, remembering to take my time not to pull. A miraculous thing happened to me as I started brushing that old man's hair. Everybody else in the room disappeared. There was no one alive for those moments except that old man and me. I brushed and I brushed and I brushed until every tangle was out of that hair. I know this sounds so strange, but I've never felt that kind of love for another soul in my entire life. I believe with all my heart, I - for that few minutes - felt a portion of the very love of God. That He had overtaken my heart for a little while like someone renting a room and making Himself at home for a short while..
The emotions were so strong and so pure that I knew they had to be God's. His hair was finally as soft and smooth as an infant's.
I slipped the brush back in the bag and went around the chair to face him. I got back down on my knees, put my hands on his knee and said, 'Sir, do you know my Jesus?'
He said, 'Yes, I do.' Well, that figures, I thought.
He explained, 'I've known Him since I married my bride. She wouldn't marry me until I got to know the Savior.' He said, 'You see, the problem is, I haven't seen my bride in months. I've had open-heart surgery, and she's been too ill to come see me. I was sitting here thinking to myself, what a mess I must be for my bride.'
Only God knows how often He allows us to be part of a divine moment when we're completely unaware of the significance.This, on the other hand, was one of those rare encounters when I knew God had intervened in details only He could have known. It was a God moment, and I'll never forget it.
Our time came to board, and we were not on the same plane. I was deeply ashamed of how I'd acted earlier and would have been so proud to have accompanied him on that aircraft.
I still had a few minutes, and as I gathered my things to board, the airline hostess returned from the corridor, tears streaming down her cheeks. She said, 'That old man's sitting on the plane, sobbing.'
'Why did you do that? What made you do that?'
I said, 'Do you know Jesus? He can be the bossiest thing!'
And we got to share.
I learned something about God that day. He knows if you're exhausted, you're hungry, you're serving in the wrong place or it is time to move on but you feel too responsible to budge. He knows if you're hurting or feeling rejected. He knows if you're sick or drowning under a wave of temptation. Or He knows if you just need your hair brushed. He sees you as an individual. Tell Him your need!
I got on my own flight, sobs choking my throat, wondering how many opportunities just like that one had I missed along the way... all because I didn't want people to think I was strange.
God didn't send me to that old man. He sent that old man to me.
Please share this wonderful story. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

FLY= Finally Love Yourself

Thanks to the FLYlady who has given me the tools to a peaceful home with her helpful reminders. If you have no idea who I am talking about, check her out at my other favorite lady besides myself. Her gentle reminder today was a favorite scripture of mine: soft words turn away anger. I shall let her say it best.

Dear Friends,

All of our lives we have spent putting out fires. These fires were started by our perfectionism and our procrastination. Along with panic of these fires come the squeals of martyrdom and yells of dissatisfaction. We have all done this and it is our family who have had listen to it.

Why do we torture our family with hurtful words? I can tell you why! You are so stressed out and feeling like a martyr! This has got to stop! I can help you get rid of the stress, but it us up to you to curb those angry words. The first steps is to follow our directions for your routines, getting dressed to shoes, hair and face.

It is up to you to change your attitude toward your family! Once you change your martyred outlook to one of blessing your family and giving teaching moments, you will see a change in them. I know that you don't believe me, but you can only change yourself. It is by your example that your family will begin to help and support your efforts to secure a peaceful home.

What does your wicked tongue do to your children, your husband and most of all you. It doesn't tell them you love them. It makes them feel less than; it hurts their self-worth. They feel that they have no say in things. It makes your husband feel that he is married to his mother! I don't even want to go there. They feel like servants, instead of family members. Those harsh words are worse than a whipping. You cut your family out of the conversational loop. The family cant even say what is on their mind because they are afraid of you. Home life is based on the fear of not making mother mad. Your family members hide from you. They become afraid to tell you when something happens.

After those words have come from your lips, just how do you feel then? Do you feel laden with guilt or do you even realize you are barking nasty remarks their way. Oblivious to the torture you have inflicted upon your loved ones.

There is absolutely no excuse for this. I don't want to hear that this is the only way I can get my family to do anything. This is the lie that you tell yourself to not feel guilty. It is time to forgive yourself and then ask them to forgive you.

Many times in our lives we are faced with things that are difficult. As sidetracked people we allow our perfectionism to hurt us and our children. We just do not know that is what is causing us to be raving banshees.

Now you have a chance to change by taking actions. You may not have known how to change in the past but you are learning. Take these words into your heart and forgive yourself. You know the things you have said. This can be the beginning of a new relationship with your family.

I would like to suggest that you start writing your feelings down too. Not just the pain you are feeling but how you can change. First you have to forgive yourself. You are just learning these things; the more you write the more you will discover about yourself. You are not expected to be perfect. Love yourself enough to take these words and go forward from here. This is not the end but the beginning of a new life. After you forgive yourself and get in touch with your own feelings; then you can ask for forgiveness. My heart goes out to you! My prayers are with you and your whole family.

You can do this; you found us because you were looking for a change in your life. You are willing to make changes.

Your tongue can criticize or it can encourage. The choice is all yours. If you have not changed your attitude, then how can you expect to see a change in them. It has to come from the heart. If not they will see right through you. They may not even believe it at first, because you will not be sounding like the mother that have been used to all your life. The children may think the aliens have taken their real mother away. Prove to them and their father that you have changed. Sprinkle your words of love, encouragement and teaching, all over your home. Apologize for your tongue. Don't play the martyr game anymore. No one loves a martyr. Not even you!

It time to FLY without the Guilt; forgive yourself!


Sesame Street:'s Song "What I Am"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Picture this...

Take a little journey with me if you will for a moment. We are in a park. There is snow on the ground and the trees are bare of their summer time greenery. There is a skinny little kid with a huge net slug over his shoulder. There are tagged packages of various shapes, colors and sizes in the full net. Determination is set on this child's face. He must continue on.  In front of him lies a frozen pond of thin ice. The snow is too deep to go around the pond. His only option is over the precarious ice. He steps out gingerly thinking He can trust solid ground to be his reward soon. He moves with great caution and wisdom testing his footing before each full step. He hears the eerie creek and grown of the ice. He still presses onward keeping his eyes focused on the shore, sure footing. He takes a quick check over his shoulder. People have gone this way before from the looks of it made it safely too. There is a trail up ahead waiting for him. These packages are heavy. He must deliver them to the unloading crew, who are waiting for him. Hope is keeping him warm today. He will get there. He must keep moving...

This is what I feel like these days. My packages are getting heavy. They all have names: fear, loneliness, expectations of others/self, change, hopes, maintenance of blessings, dashed hopes, surrender, dreams, work, finding new work, money, & future. I know I must keep moving on. Its what I know best. I may run in circles, but I can't win if I don't try, yes? I just want to find a nice tree to sit under until spring arrives for me again. I am so tired from my journey thus far. This ice could crack with the wrong step. If I fell through, I'd have to see a different kind of world. Arg! Who knows????!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

An email from the FLYlady's cohorts to my inbox

By Pam Young

I was at Michael's (the craft store) in the late afternoon when I heard a conversation in the next isle between a mother and her six-year-old child.

"Oh, Mama, look at this!"

"Uh huh."

"I love this!!"

"Uh huh."

"I have one don't I!!!"

"Uh huh."

"You made it for me didn't you Mama!!!!"

"Uh huh."

As I listened to the excitement and love for her mother in the child's voice and the drone of her mother's responses, tears welled up in my eyes. I thought about how many times I'd done the same thing with my children when they were young. After all, I had a centerpiece to make, a decoration for the coffee table to think about, colors to consider, people to impress and not enough time! At that moment in Michael's I would have given anything to go back to just one time in the isle of a store, hear my child's voice and not miss what was really happening. Love, joy adoration. The stuff of Christmas! 

My kids are grown now and I'll never again hear their little bell voices exclaiming their joy over something. That time is gone forever.

I had to get to the next isle and see the child! With tears streaming down my cheeks, I peeked around the corner and looked at the small girl's happy little face. She had a dress on and her hair was dark brown in shoulder-length curls. She was holding a Christmas stocking with a Santa Claus on it. She looked up and smiled at me. Then I looked at her mother. She was tired; I could see it in her eyes. But when she looked into mine she smiled seeing my love for her child and the moment.

I told her what had gone through my mind listening to their conversation. Her tears started to collect and she said, "Now you're making me cry." She dabbed her eye with the back of her wrist, "Thank you, I needed to hear this. I get so busy and it's easy to neglect her natural enthusiasm." I told the mother it was obvious that the child had not been neglected, because she was such a happy little girl, and that I understood how easy it was to get wrapped up in our own thoughts and miss these holy moments.

I left Michael's knowing I wanted to write about this. Your children adore you and they are like little joy dispensers, especially during this time of year. Since it is also an especially busy time for you, it can be so easy to miss those gifts of love and joy your children are eager to give to you. They are gifts that can't be wrapped up with festive paper or charged on American Express. Stay awake! This is a holy time. 

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Here's something I wrote a while ago...

I'm sitting here alone in my living room of my apartment. The lights are off and the glow from the computer screen is illuminating the dark places. The blinds are softly clicking together as the air from the humming fans hit them. The night is cool and inviting me to join it. 

It's nights like this when I am transported back in time to the summer when I was 17. My parents were separated and change was all around me. We never had a specific time in my parents house when the lights went out, so I'd often be the last one asleep. 

My park

After my dad moved out, I often sneak out of the house. I'd sprint up to the park on a cool crisp night like tonight. It was as if I was running for my life. I was chasing away the helplessness that comes with change beyond our control. I'd go swing back and forth staring at how my toes would touch the stars. I'd stay in the park with the street light glowing until my skin was cold to the touch. I rarely wanted to leave the freedom I had there in those moments. I had chased the nagging thoughts away. I could make it one more night. I could do one more day. The goals I'd set for myself were attainable there. I'd walk back to my house and quietly return to my room. I'd sink into my warm water bed drifting into dreamlessness.

I am no longer 17. I find change to be inviable- negative and/or positive. I would not need to sneak out any longer. I have more responsibilities than I ever had before. At times I miss the girl I was, but not her problems. And still the night beckons...

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Meyer Briggs Personality Test

This morning I decided to take this personality test. It was rather interesting. Here are my results:

Strength of the preferences %

    Introverted iNtuitive Feeling Judging
    by Joe Butt

    Profile: INFJ
    Revision: 3.1
    Date of Revision: 8 Aug 2010

    Beneath the quiet exterior, INFJs hold deep convictions about the weightier matters of life. Those who are activists -- INFJs gravitate toward such a role -- are there for the cause, not for personal glory or political power.
    INFJs are champions of the oppressed and downtrodden. They often are found in the wake of an emergency, rescuing those who are in acute distress. INFJs may fantasize about getting revenge on those who victimize the defenseless. The concept of 'poetic justice' is appealing to the INFJ.
    "There's something rotten in Denmark." Accurately suspicious about others' motives, INFJs are not easily led. These are the people that you can rarely fool any of the time. Though affable and sympathetic to most, INFJs are selective about their friends. Such a friendship is a symbiotic bond that transcends mere words.
    INFJs have a knack for fluency in language and facility in communication. In addition, nonverbal sensitivity enables the INFJ to know and be known by others intimately.
    Writing, counseling, public service and even politics are areas where INFJs frequently find their niche.
    Introverted iNtuition
    Introverted intuitives, INFJs enjoy a greater clarity of perception of inner, unconscious processes than all but their INTJ cousins. Just as SP types commune with the object and "live in the here and now" of the physical world, INFJs readily grasp the hidden psychological stimuli behind the more observable dynamics of behavior and affect. Their amazing ability to deduce the inner workings of the mind, will and emotions of others gives INFJs their reputation as prophets and seers. Unlike the confining, routinizing nature of introverted sensing, introverted intuition frees this type to act insightfully and spontaneously as unique solutions arise on an event by event basis.
    Extraverted Feeling
    Extraverted feeling, the auxiliary deciding function, expresses a range of emotion and opinions of, for and about people. INFJs, like many other FJ types, find themselves caught between the desire to express their wealth of feelings and moral conclusions about the actions and attitudes of others, and the awareness of the consequences of unbridled candor. Some vent the attending emotions in private, to trusted allies. Such confidants are chosen with care, for INFJs are well aware of the treachery that can reside in the hearts of mortals. This particular combination of introverted intuition and extraverted feeling provides INFJs with the raw material from which perceptive counselors are shaped.
    Introverted Thinking
    The INFJ's thinking is introverted, turned toward the subject. Perhaps it is when the INFJ's thinking function is operative that he is most aloof. A comrade might surmise that such detachment signals a disillusionment, that she has also been found lacking by the sardonic eye of this one who plumbs the depths of the human spirit. Experience suggests that such distancing is merely an indication that the seer is hard at work and focusing energy into this less efficient tertiary function.
    Extraverted Sensing
    INFJs are twice blessed with clarity of vision, both internal and external. Just as they possess inner vision which is drawn to the forms of the unconscious, they also have external sensing perception which readily takes hold of worldly objects. Sensing, however, is the weakest of the INFJ's arsenal and the most vulnerable. INFJs, like their fellow intuitives, may be so absorbed in intuitive perceiving that they become oblivious to physical reality. The INFJ under stress may fall prey to various forms of immediate gratification. Awareness of extraverted sensing is probably the source of the "SP wannabe" side of INFJs. Many yearn to live spontaneously; it's not uncommon for INFJ actors to take on an SP (often ESTP) role.
    Famous INFJs:
    Nathan, prophet of Israel
    Robert Burns, Scottish poet
    U.S. Presidents:
    Martin Van Buren
    James Earl "Jimmy" Carter
    Nathaniel Hawthorne
    Fanny Crosby, (blind) hymnist
    Mother Teresa of Calcutta
    Fred McMurray (My Three Sons)
    Shirley Temple Black, child actor, ambassador
    Martin Luther King, Jr., civil rights leader, martyr
    James Reston, newspaper reporter
    Shirley MacLaine (Sweet Charity, ...)
    Piers Anthony, author ("Xanth" series)
    Michael Landon (Little House on the Prairie)
    Tom Selleck
    John Katz, critic, author
    Paul Stookey (Peter, Paul and Mary)
    U. S. Senator Carol Moseley-Braun (D-IL)
    Billy Crystal
    Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury)
    Nelson Mandela
    Mel Gibson
    Carrie Fisher
    Nicole Kidman
    Jerry Seinfeld
    Jamie Foxx
    Sela Ward
    Mark Harmon
    Gary Dourdan
    Marg Helgaberger
    Evangeline Lilly
    Tori May

    Introverted iNtuiting Feeling Judging
    by Marina Margaret Heiss
    INFJs are distinguished by both their complexity of character and the unusual range and depth of their talents. Strongly humanitarian in outlook, INFJs tend to be idealists, and because of their J preference for closure and completion, they are generally "doers" as well as dreamers. This rare combination of vision and practicality often results in INFJs taking a disproportionate amount of responsibility in the various causes to which so many of them seem to be drawn.
    INFJs are deeply concerned about their relations with individuals as well as the state of humanity at large. They are, in fact, sometimes mistaken for extroverts because they appear so outgoing and are so genuinely interested in people -- a product of the Feeling function they most readily show to the world. On the contrary, INFJs are true introverts, who can only be emotionally intimate and fulfilled with a chosen few from among their long-term friends, family, or obvious "soul mates." While instinctively courting the personal and organizational demands continually made upon them by others, at intervals INFJs will suddenly withdraw into themselves, sometimes shutting out even their intimates. This apparent paradox is a necessary escape valve for them, providing both time to rebuild their depleted resources and a filter to prevent the emotional overload to which they are so susceptible as inherent "givers." As a pattern of behavior, it is perhaps the most confusing aspect of the enigmatic INFJ character to outsiders, and hence the most often misunderstood -- particularly by those who have little experience with this rare type.
    Due in part to the unique perspective produced by this alternation between detachment and involvement in the lives of the people around them, INFJs may well have the clearest insights of all the types into the motivations of others, for good and for evil. The most important contributing factor to this uncanny gift, however, are the empathic abilities often found in Fs, which seem to be especially heightened in the INFJ type (possibly by the dominance of the introverted N function).
    This empathy can serve as a classic example of the two-edged nature of certain INFJ talents, as it can be strong enough to cause discomfort or pain in negative or stressful situations. More explicit inner conflicts are also not uncommon in INFJs; it is possible to speculate that the causes for some of these may lie in the specific combinations of preferences which define this complex type. For instance, there can sometimes be a "tug-of-war" between NF vision and idealism and the J practicality that urges compromise for the sake of achieving the highest priority goals. And the I and J combination, while perhaps enhancing self-awareness, may make it difficult for INFJs to articulate their deepest and most convoluted feelings.
    Usually self-expression comes more easily to INFJs on paper, as they tend to have strong writing skills. Since in addition they often possess a strong personal charisma, INFJs are generally well-suited to the "inspirational" professions such as teaching (especially in higher education) and religious leadership. Psychology and counseling are other obvious choices, but overall, INFJs can be exceptionally difficult to pigeonhole by their career paths. Perhaps the best example of this occurs in the technical fields. Many INFJs perceive themselves at a disadvantage when dealing with the mystique and formality of "hard logic", and in academic terms this may cause a tendency to gravitate towards the liberal arts rather than the sciences. However, the significant minority of INFJs who do pursue studies and careers in the latter areas tend to be as successful as their T counterparts, as it is *iNtuition* -- the dominant function for the INFJ type -- which governs the ability to understand abstract theory and implement it creatively.
    In their own way, INFJs are just as much "systems builders" as are INTJs; the difference lies in that most INFJ "systems" are founded on human beings and human values, rather than information and technology. Their systems may for these reasons be conceptually "blurrier" than analogous NT ones, harder to measure in strict numerical terms, and easier to take for granted -- yet it is these same underlying reasons which make the resulting contributions to society so vital and profound.
    Copyright © 1996-2010 by Marina Margaret Heiss and Joe Butt

    Monday, November 29, 2010

    Admiration and Challenges

    I'm not sure how to start this blog, so I will "brain dump" this one out. Apologies if it turns into a jumbled mess.

    I've been considered the future. What is best for me? I want Dylan to have a strong legacy of faith like I do. My Great-great grands, great grands, were believers in Christ. The legacy has been passed onto me through my Pastor Grandpa and grandma, to my mom and now its my turn. How do I best go about this? Admittedly, I have no clue. I know Dylan will mirror what he is shown until he can decide for himself. I realize the bible talks about training your children in the way you desire them to go. The hope is that they don't turn from that when they grow older. This terrifies me.

    I've been raised in church from day one. If it weren't for personal experiences and church being the place I feel most at home,  I'm not sure where I'd be. I've seen plenty of people by hurt by other believers. I've even felt the need to apologize for other believer's actions numerous times. I find that deplorable. I don't want Dylan to grow up being hurt by anyone, let alone the people who claim to be followers of a loving God. We, as a spiritual body, should hurt when terrible things happen. Do we though?

    If you loose the use of your natural eyes, studies show your ears will become more sensitive to their surroundings. A physical body will compensate with it's other senses when injury occurs.  It a physical response to a loss that proves to be most significant. One that the church should mirror. Actions ARE very important. (I totally hadn't planned on this direction with this! Woowho for brain dumping.)

    I believe Christianity is the truth. I do find many challenges in our chosen responses to foundational doctrine of Christian belief. We say we want revival or an influx of new souls to nourish into strong Christians. One of two things happen:  nothing or the people come. We forget new people means unpolished humans who are at or close to rock bottom in need of God's love, forgiveness, and grace. They come with their smells and habits. They come as unsavory looking characters, you know the ones we try to shield our children from. They are the huddled masses.

    I find when new people do come, we immediately try to show them into a get-saved-be-polished-to-perfection box. We may as well show them into a locker room shower with a bible study in hand. It IS exciting to see the new faces become transformed. I've often wondered if this quick change is a true character building God lead salvation or just a move-into-a-mold-with-bags-in-tow type of experience.

    I have felt the latter as a child not fully understanding everything. I had no tools to comprehend what the rapture meant or how awful hell was. I still don't. I had reoccurring nightmares of people in our church dealing with spiritual battles. I learned quickly that the spirit world was a very real place. I remember running home from the bus after school one day to find my house empty and freaking out. The teacher at school had been talking about solar eclipses at school and I knew that to be a sign of the end times. I recall knowing the move of God's spirit through prayer.

    I had people tell me again and again to get the Holy Ghost and get baptized. It was a lot of pressure for me at such a young age. While some of the pressure was genuine God-lead personal conviction, most of the pressure came from believers. I did take the steps to into salvation when I was 12 years old.  Some describe the experience as freeing, a place where their burdens rolled-away. I recall it being where responsibility to answer to the cross was added. It was a type of burden to know the battles I'd dreamed about was now raging over me. That night I slept knowing which side I'd chosen.

    (Sorry so long...) While I want Dylan to have a legacy of faith and belief in Christ, I don't want him to feel pressure TO believe. I think there must be a way to teach him the important things about this life while showing him there isn't fear in love. There must be a way to let him know true conviction comes from God and lasts your lifetime. I don't want him terrified into salvation. I want him to know how to worship his way into a life with Christ and out of life's sticky situations. I want him to respect other religions and find wisdom for his own walk from them.

    I admire the Mormons for their knowing what they believe They send their youth to a summer of service. The young people must be out of debt to go on mission. They are gone anywhere from 3 months to a year or more. The first portion of their  mission is an in-depth study of doctrine. Most of the kids I've sat/sit in the pews with don't know the books of the bible, how to share with others their beliefs, or where in the bible those beliefs stem from.

    Muslims are called to pray 5 times a day. I find this amazing. I know there are days some times weeks that I don't pray outside a church service. Yes I'm ratting myself out for honesty's sake. I admire their value of abstinence for the young and unmarried, despite the stories I've heard on how they enforce it. They seem to cherish it.

    I admire some Eastern religions for their stance on peace and giving. I admire other belief systems for their care of the this planet. We should be taking care of the things we are given to the best we know how: our health, our finances, our relationships and our world.

    There are other religions that go to great lengths to show their devotion to their gods. The worshipers will cut themselves or give everything they own away to walk miles on their knees to their holy place to show their loyalty. While I don't think such lengths are necessary in worshiping Christ, we should be willing to give everything away. We should at the very least get out of the pew in which we sit to give thanks to the Creator.

    Wednesday, November 24, 2010

    Its shine my sinks Wednesday!

    In the spirit of shine my sinks Wednesday, I decided to polish myself as well. I've been thinking a lot about marriage recently. Marriage (as I posted in a previous blog) is not for the faint-hearted. It is/can be a roller coaster ride. You work your way to the top, throw your hands in the air, and thank God you made it through that challenge on the way through a loopty-loop. LOL.

    Go buy some flowers!
    I was mulling over something someone asked me the other day. If you were your own spouse, what would it be like to be married to you? I think most of us would want to say that we are the most forgiving, hard-working, charming person on the planet. We'd like to say we know ourself inside and out. We desire to say we rock at all aspects of marriage from money, to the Ach-um, to honesty/trust and to tidiness.

    While we may desire to be those things, reality usually is quite different. We may have really skilled in orderliness, but stink with money. Or we maybe rather charming still, but you keep an internal list of annoying things your spouse does. Or you could be the greatest worker making a bagillion dollars an hour, but argue dirty by bring up hurtful past events.

    So how about it, when was the last time you called your spouse just because you care? When was the last time, you went out just for fun? When was the last time, you give a little sugar or said "I love you"? When was the last time, you did some of those oopey-goopie things you did when you were dating?

    Who cares if they they've done some stupid things! Who hasn't? Perfection is not all it is supposed to be. That knight in shining armor on his white stallion will eventually just a man at night with a minivan he traded his stallion for. The shiny armor will become dirty socks laying somewhere outside the hamper. ; D We love that person nonetheless and should show it! Have a Splendiferous day!

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010

    My Resume

    I'm serious this time. I am tired of my current employment. I am thankful for it just ready to move onward and upward! In the spirit of thinking outside the box, I'm posting my Resume on here. I am looking for something with consistent daylight hours. I would like to work in an office setting. Eventually, I'd like to go back to school, so I'd like to have an employer who'd work with that goal. I'd like someone who is willing to realize I have a family who I'd like to spend time with. I'd like to make eight dollars or more. I'm Thankful for this job in advance.

    Dana L. Ballentine
    I would enjoy a position that would challenge me to expand upon my previously acquired work experience in retail/sales, customer service, child care/adult foster care, and office assisting. I am seeking a full time or part time job that offers good hours, decent pay and a friendly work environment. An entry-level position as a secretary/receptionist or a teacher's aide requiring excellent writing skill, and creative thinking abilities.

    Customer Service in a retail setting for around 10 years.

    Cashier and deli customer service rep, 11/2007, Hardings Friendly Markets, Portage, MI
    Home Care Provider., 06/2007 - 11/2007, C & M Assisted Living, Portage, MI
    Home Care Provider, 09/2005 - 06/2007, Moman Assisted Living, Kalamazoo, MI
    Photographer/Sales, 08/2004 - 05/2005, Sears Portrait Studio, Denver, CO
    Photography Service Representative, 06/2002 - 12/2003, Wolf Camera, Aurora, CO
    Shipping Clerk, 06/1998 - 02/2002, Chesire Corporation, Aurora, CO

    Diploma - Diploma requirements
    Smoky Hill High School, CO
    N/A - General Studies
    Community College of Aurora, CO
    N/A - Liberal Arts
    Kalamazoo Valley Community College, MI
    n/a - American Sign Language Interpreting
    Lansing Community College, MI

    I volunteer with my local church congregation serving dinners, working in our consignment shop, and with fund-raisers. I help interpret for the deaf in our local congregation.

    I would prefer to stay within Kalamazoo or Portage city limits.

    Saturday, November 20, 2010

    Duh! Like I didn't know this! I just took a quiz to tell me what I know already. Genius! (Reeeeallllly Looong!)

    The External Path helps you to focus on the job characteristics that most affect your happiness, showing you ways to make improvements in these areas. These changes can take the form of big actions that involve real risk, such as quitting your job and starting your own business. Or the changes can be smaller actions that can also move you down the path towards career happiness, such as negotiating a raise or job sharing.

    Two Paths to Career Satisfaction

    However, while addressing the External aspects of your job will help improve your career satisfaction, it is only half the battle.
    Many people find that even after they have addressed all of their specific areas of dissatisfaction and have maximized the benefits they receive from their careers, they still feel dissatisfied. Like hamsters in a wheel, they just do not feel that they are getting anywhere.
    That is because only focusing on the External is not enough. Many approaches to career satisfaction do just this, ignoring the other side of the job satisfaction coin: the Internal Path.
    The Internal Path involves changing your perspective, changing how you think about your career. By altering your expectations and perceptions you can find your way to deeper career and life satisfaction. It is not easy, but being more accepting, grateful and optimistic about your career can have a significant impact on your overall level of satisfaction.
    By exploring both the Internal and External Paths, you will have the best chance of attaining true career happiness.
    Before you take any action, it is helpful to see your scores for the 19 job characteristics that most directly affect career satisfaction. In the chart below, your results are measured in percentiles so that you can compare your satisfaction to that of other people like you.
    Percentile Profile




    Coworker Relationships 
    Job Security



    Work Conditions

    Work Content 
    Work Flexibility 
    Work Life Balance 

    It can be helpful to pay particular attention both to areas on which you score extremely high and extremely low. Areas that you score highest on are: Workload, Commute and Autonomy. These are your areas of strength and satisfaction. They also represent things you may have to give up if you decide to make a bigger career change. The areas that you score the lowest on are Importance , Prestige and Work Content . These are the main culprits for your career dissatisfaction.
    (Future Blog. Answering the below questions...)
    It is natural to want to do work that matters. But, for some reason, your previous job did not feel important or meaningful. Here are some ways to focus in on jobs that will bring you the fulfillment you desire:
    • Be mission-driven. 
      Research organizations whose vision and mission appeal to you. Whether it is an ambitious corporate vision or eliminating world hunger, make sure you connect with the larger goals of the organization. If you get an interview, pay attention to whether people "live" the mission. Ask how their day-to-day work translates to achieving their vision.
    • Explore a wider variety of options. 
      If you did not find meaning in your previous job, why look for the same type of work? Many people who dislike their jobs end up accepting new jobs that are quite similar. Branch out. Consider working in a different industry, for example. While you may be doing similar tasks, perhaps the excitement of a new product or field will inspire you.
    • Use informational interviews. 
      If you are considering a new career, informational interviews can give you get a deeper understanding of what a job truly entails. Shadow someone who works in your target career as they tackle their daily challenges. See if you can imagine yourself doing the type of work they do and finding it meaningful.
    • Volunteer. 
      A career change can be a big commitment. Spending a couple of hours a week as a volunteer is a small investment you can make that can help you assess if the particular job or industry is the right move for you. You'll gain experience, new contacts, and, once you prove that you are invaluable, a volunteer position can also lead to a job.
    While finding a new job may be the answer, it can be helpful to examine your beliefs and assumptions about the importance of certain kinds of work. Here are a few things to consider:
    • Job, Career or Calling? 
      People have different expectations when it comes to their work: People with Jobs care most about the financial rewards rather than the pleasure or fulfillment they feel. Many of them find their true enjoyment outside of their 9-to-5 existence. Those with Careers focus primarily on achievement and advancement. While they may gain quite a bit of satisfaction in their work, it is often associated with the prestige that comes from external sources (like recognition or raises). Those who have a Calling find their work fulfilling in its own right, regardless of compensation or advancement. Which one of these descriptions sounds the most like you? Or do you have your own personal philosophy around work. As long as you accept where you are, there's no right or wrong answer.
    • Define meaning for yourself. 
      Are you aspiring to someone else's definition of importance? Who can say which is more altruistic-a doctor, a teacher, a social worker? Each job has its own purpose and meaning. Don't succumb to pressures to conform to narrow views of what meaning, importance or fulfillment is. You don't need to join the Peace Corps to make a difference. Perhaps you are making the biggest difference just by being the best at what you do.
    • Don't underestimate yourself. 
      Regardless of the role you play, take pride in your contribution, big or small. Rather than being critical of your job duties, focus on the aspects of your job that are important or meaningful. You are spending your most valuable resource, your time and life energy at work, so try to make the most of it. Even if you are not the CEO, your honest day's work is one part of what keeps your organization going.
    • Follow your passion. 
      Studies have shown that people find their careers more satisfying and meaningful if they are doing work that closely matches their interests. Haven't found your passion yet? Think about the parts of your job that you enjoy doing-which you would want to do even if you weren't paid. Think about the times that you get so engrossed in your work that you aren't aware of time passing. Think about how you spend your time outside of work. These clues can lead you to the work that you can be excited about.
    There are many ways that we can increase your level of fulfillment and meaning, taking steps to change the way you work or the way you perceive work can start you in the right direction.
    Since you are dissatisfied with the status and prestige associated with your career, it's more likely to be the latter.
    There is an increasing body of evidence that shows that the amount of prestige the public assigns to your job plays a significant role in your career satisfaction. Here are ways to ensure your next job provides what you desire in terms of respect and status:
    • Apply to challenging, high profile jobs. 
      Since prestige is important to you, your title and job description should inspire respect. Select challenging leadership roles that will showcase your greatest talents and strengths. Avoid jobs that do not have clear paths for advancement or have you working alone or in the shadows. If you are not ready for such a bold career move, keep the big vision in mind and take baby steps. Build your skills, experience and confidence first and move your way gradually up the ladder or towards your goal.
    • Look beyond the mystique. 
      Television and the movies have made some jobs look more glamorous than they actually are. Before you decide to pursue what you think is a more prestigious profession, find out what those jobs are really like. The reality is that lawyers, doctors and advertising executives have to do tedious and grueling work on a regular basis.
    • Dip your toe in. 
      Many "prestigious" jobs require years of education and training. Before you invest a lot of time and money, get an informational interview, volunteer or take a course about your target career field. These are great ways to test the waters before taking the plunge.
    While finding a job that is held in higher esteem may address your dissatisfaction, there are also ways to develop a greater sense of pride internally. Gaining a better understanding of what people truly admire as well as changing your own views can help you to feel better about your work no matter what your occupation.
    • Check your beliefs. 
      Many people assume that money, fame and power are what get respect. In actuality, the most lucrative jobs are not the most prestigious. Jobs that contribute to the community or help people in great need are held in much higher esteem than flashy jobs like professional athletes or movie stars.
    • Define prestige for yourself. 
      Who are you trying to impress? Your neighbors? Your parents? Your spouse? While making your loved ones proud is a noble goal, you will never gain others' respect by measuring yourself against someone else's yardstick. Since it is a moving target, you will always come up short. Act with integrity, have conviction and believe in the contributions you make, regardless of others' opinions.
    • Find a sense of accomplishment. 
      Think of the times that you've been proud of yourself at work. It could be when you supported a colleague, met a tight deadline or received a compliment from a customer. Even if you don't try to save the world each and every day, find something to feel proud about.
    • Share your passion. 
      Think of yourself as a spokesperson for your profession. While others may not be immediately dazzled by what you do, you might be able to win them over with your enthusiasm. If you find your work fascinating, chances are someone else will too. Exuberance is contagious.

    Enjoying the work you do everyday is a cornerstone of career satisfaction. Your previous job left you feeling bored and uninspired. It was probably an internal battle just to show up for work, let alone feel happy about it.
    Now, you are seeking work that is more interesting and exciting. But how do you know which jobs will meet your expectations? You do not want to fall into the "grass is greener" trap, only to discover your new job has the same mundane tasks that you were trying to escape.
    Before pursuing a new job, it makes sense to first examine what kind of work actually does make you happy.
    People who love their work often find that their day has flown by. Artists, for example, can get so lost in their work, that they forget to eat or sleep and may not interact with people for days. (Not that that is necessarily the ideal!)
    Scientists define such experiences as "flow" experiences. Flow is defined as engaging in an experience that is so gratifying that you are not aware of the time passing.
    When do you experience flow? Whether it is working with customers or crafting PowerPoint presentations, identify which activities and projects give you the experience of flow and which do not.
    Once you have identified your flow experiences, you can start to look for job descriptions that include these activities. Below you will find additional suggestions for how to ensure that your future job has the best chances of making you happy:
    • Clearly define what you do/do not want. 
      If you fundamentally want to work with people, avoid anything that will stick you alone behind a desk struggling with spreadsheets every day. Be sure you do not end up in a similar or worse situation in your next position.
    • Do your due diligence. 
      Job ads and interviews may portray a job in a certain light to attract candidates. While you are interviewing, find out as much detail as you can about the job duties and how they are accomplished. Ask why the previous person left the position. Gather all the information you need to assess whether the job content would truly keep your interest.
    • Explore a wider variety of options. 
      If you are truly bored with your job, why look for the same type of work? Many people who dislike their jobs end up accepting new jobs that are quite similar. Branch out. Consider working in a different industry, for example. While you may be doing similar tasks, perhaps the excitement of a new product or field will inspire you. Or identify your transferable skills and consider a bigger career change.
    • Use informational interviews. 
      If you are considering a new career, informational interviews are a great way to get a deeper understanding of what a job entails. Shadow someone who works in your target career as they tackle their average day challenges. See if you can imagine yourself doing the type of work they do and enjoying it. Be sure to find out how they paid their dues and how they got where they are today.
    While finding a new more interesting job may be the answer, it is important for you to step back and examine exactly why you became disengaged from your previous work. Only then can you feel confident that you will not fall into a similar pattern in your next job.
    If you cannot remember any time that you have felt happy in a past job, perhaps it is your perspective that needs adjusting. Here are a few suggestions:
    • Go for it. 
      Many people who find their work dull do not bother to challenge themselves. Sometimes it is easier not to put your best effort forward. To truly give yourself a chance at career happiness, you have to be willing to take risks and make mistakes. Only then will you find what truly makes you happy.
    • Be grateful. 
      Do you perpetually see the glass half empty? If this is the case, you are likely to feel dissatisfied with your job content, no matter what job or career you choose. Studies have shown that the practice of being grateful can help boost your overall satisfaction level. Start a gratitude journal and write down all the things about your career that you appreciate.
    • Seek guidance. 
      Talking to a mentor, coach or therapist or can help you gain perspective. If shifting perspective feels too impossible or unlikely, it can be useful to get this outside extra help.
    Your time is precious. You spend the majority of your waking hours at work. You owe it to yourself to take action and ensure your job is engaging and enjoyable.
    At your previous job, your relationship with your supervisor was strained. You felt discouraged or, at the very least, unmotivated. It could have been that your boss' management style rubbed you the wrong way, or that you just did not seem to be on the same wavelength.
    You are not alone in your dissatisfaction. Research says the number one reason people leave their jobs is because they fail to connect with their bosses. In the worst cases, bosses can be clueless, unresponsive or unforgiving micromanagers.
    To ensure that your next job or boss is a better match for you, here are some things to consider:
    • Pay attention to subtle cues. 
      As you begin to weigh new opportunities, take a good look at the personalities you encounter. If you are invited for an interview, observe the person who would supervise you. Would you enjoy working for this person on a daily basis? Take a look at the people who work for your potential boss. Do they seem happy or miserable?
    • Ask about turnover rate. 
      Supervisors who manage effectively and have good relationships with their direct reports generally have lower turnover. Ask about turnover in general as well as specific statistics for your potential supervisor's team. This will give you a better idea of the manager's effectiveness vs. that of the entire company.
    There are going to be challenging supervisors no matter where you go. A change in the workplace may indeed do some good, but there are also steps that you can take to improve your chances for building a better relationship with your next boss.
    • Examine your expectations. 
      What do you want to get out of your relationship with your boss? Respect? Recognition? Support? While you should expect a minimum level for each of these, it may take a consistent track record of high performance for your boss to give you what you desire. Put in the time, commitment and effort to prove to your boss that you deserve it.
    • Stop blaming. 
      It is easy to blame your supervisor for anything and everything you dislike about your job. But is it really your supervisor's fault? Could it be the shortcomings of the organization or strict policies that are beyond your manager's control? Often managers would like to be more generous and flexible but they need to hold the company line. In your next job, try understanding your supervisor's point of view and working together come to mutually satisfactory solutions.
    • Check your signals. 
      Maybe you're the one who can't adapt your communication style. Without being aware of it, you might be being critical, demanding or disrespectful. Ask someone you trust-preferably a coworker-how you come across. Being aware of how you are perceived could be one of the most important steps towards improving your relationship with your supervisor.
    • Be positive. 
      If you have a tendency to concentrate on all the things that your supervisor does wrong, you can fall into a pattern of negative thinking that may blind you to your boss' good qualities. Try to identify what works and what you appreciate about your boss. Separate the person from the behavior. This can go a long way toward building mutual respect and a better relationship.
    • Set your own career goals. 
      You can't solely rely on your boss for your career growth and advancement. If you are not getting the support you need, take control by setting your own short-, medium- and long-term goals. Having your own clear vision of what you want out of your job can empower you to look beyond this one stifling relationship.
    • Gain personal insight. 
      Dealing with difficult bosses can help you to learn a lot about yourself and how you deal with conflict. You may even start to recognize recurring patterns, not only with previous supervisors but with personal relationships such as friends, significant others and family. Are there any common factors contributing to these recurring patterns? What part do you play? Identifying what you can do to improve your ability to handle or avoid potentially toxic or unhealthy relationships is a life lesson that is worth learning.
    Your relationship with your supervisor is an essential part of your overall job satisfaction. If it has made you miserable in the past, do your homework before accepting the next position. Also, make an effort to understand how you may be contributing to the problem. This can help you avoid future tension and stress.
    Total compensation is not only determined by the wages an employee earns, but also by the paid and unpaid benefits received. With the rising cost of health care, especially, benefits are a larger component of compensation than ever before. Some benefits can be just as valuable as a salary increase, if not more, both in a monetary sense and in terms of the satisfaction they can give you with your job.
    You feel that the benefits that your previous organization provided did not meet your needs. With over 47 million uninsured Americans (about 16% of the population), you are in good company. But what can you do about it? Here are suggestions on how you can negotiate the best benefits package for your next job:
    Consider the industry. 
    • Some career fields and jobs are known to offer better benefit than others. Employees working in education, government, healthcare or large corporations tend to receive comprehensive coverage as well as other perks. Small businesses, on the other hand, are the least likely to be able to afford top tier benefits for their workers. If benefits are at the top of your list, you may consider transitioning to another industry.
    Separate benefits from salary. 
    • Your salary should be based on the objective market value of your skills and experience. Your benefits, most of which are not taxable, should be more tailored to your needs. Most experts agree that just as with salary negotiations, do not discuss benefits until you have an offer in hand so as not to undercut yourself.
    Tailor your package. 
    • Do not be afraid to get specific. Savvy employees are asking for, and getting, a full spectrum of benefits, including: non-traditional work hours, a generic expense account, extra vacation time, relocation packages, coveted parking spaces, and improved office space. There is greater room for negotiation than you might realize. If you are worth your salt, your prospective employer will at least try to work with you. You may not be able to get everything you want but you should get what you need.
    Ask strategically. 
    • Partner with the hiring manager. Point out that most benefits are not a direct monetary expense and emphasize the benefits to the company of offering a more comprehensive benefits package. Unpaid time off, for example, does not cost the company a dime, yet it allows employees to recharge.
    Build a case. 
    • If you are asking for an exception, first understand what is behind the policy. Do your homework by reading through the employee manual and considering separate but equal suggestions. Get creative and do not accept the first "no" or "that wouldn't be fair" as an answer. Probe to understand what is behind it and see if there is any wiggle room.
    Persistence is rewarded. 
    • Keep negotiating, even after you have been hired. You hold a stronger hand every time you initiate the conversation. Managers are more willing to go to bat for the known, trusted employee.
    While these suggestions should help you to negotiate your way to the best benefits package possible, it is also a good idea to take a step back to look at what "benefits" mean to you, what you really need and why. Here are some ways to help you to gain this perspective.
    Know the value of your benefits. 
    Before you include free meals and car service in your list of demands, it always helps to be aware of the value of the benefits being offered. While you may think that the package leaves something to be desired, consider the fact that many workers have no health insurance at all or have to pay a premium price for a small amount of coverage. It is important, even while you negotiate, to be appreciative for what is on the table. Take the time to understand what these benefits are worth from a monetary standpoint and attempt to sympathize with the dilemma that employers face with rising costs.
    Identify and evaluate your needs. 
    • What are your requirements as far as your benefits are concerned? Is it really important to you to have the ability to telecommute, for example, or do you want this perk simply because you know a lot of people with this flexibility. Separate the deal breakers and the concessions from the essentials before you make any requests and consider an offer.
    With the ever-increasing prices of health care insurance, the highly competitive job market and the volatile economy, your future may be greatly enhanced by a solid benefits plan. Be sure you are armed with a clear understanding of your needs and what prospective companies offer so that you can strategically present your requests to your best advantage.

    How To Be Happy With What You Have

    Traditional vs Positive Psychology

    Throughout your Career Satisfaction Report, we have directly addressed your External Path to career satisfaction by giving you specific advice for making changes to the aspects of a job that have caused you the most distress.You do not find career happiness. You make career happiness. You choose career happiness every day.
    The above statements demonstrate how to apply Positive Psychology, the science of happiness, to the subject of career satisfaction.
    Rather than treating disorders or ailments of the mind like other forms of psychology, Positive Psychology uses the scientific method to explore mental "wellness" and to uncover what it is that makes people happy. It attempts to identify how human beings can live a full life consisting of three identified components of happiness: enjoyment, engagement and meaning.

    We have also given you advice for the Internal Path: ways to change the way you think about specific aspects of a job so that you can feel more satisfied, without actually changing anything about a job itself. These techniques for addressing the Internal Path are called Positive Psychology Interventions.
    Positive Interventions
    While scientists used to believe that genes determined how happy someone could be, it is now believed that there are things you can do to positively affect your level of happiness. In addition to the specific Internal Path advice this report has given you, here are some general Positive Intervention activities that have been proven to make people happier over time:
    • Appreciate what you have.
       Start a gratitude journal. At the end of the day, write down the positive things that happened at work. Both little and big things count--whether it is enjoying a coffee break with a co-worker or a stellar performance review.
    • Use your signature strengths.
       Identify your unique strengths and use them as often as you can and in a variety of ways throughout your work day.
    • Thank a mentor.
       Write a letter thanking someone who has given you guidance in your career. If possible, read the letter to him or her in person.
    • Reflect on you at your best.
       Write about a time when you were proud of yourself at work. Think about the admirable qualities you displayed and review the story whenever you doubt yourself.
    • Engage in flow activities.
       Identify tasks that you enjoy so much that you lose track of time. Try to engage in flow activities as much as possible.
    These Positive Interventions will change how you view your job. While they do not address specific desires and expectations, they have been shown to help increase the level of enjoyment, engagement and meaning you experience in your work life.