Can you use more kindness in your life?

I think it’s normal for people to reflect about their youth as they age. Some of us remember special times and people we’ll never see again: our first loves, that summer vacation that just can’t be topped… And some of us are incredibly grateful we don’t have to relive sitting home the night of the prom or that godawful first job.

Either way, I think most of us agree life was different then. No, we didn’t have to walk 5 miles to school in the snow, uphill both ways, but we all remember things our children and/or grandchildren never heard of, like carbon paper, 78s, and party lines. As we look back, the nostalgia of kinder times fills our minds and we can’t help but compare them to the way things are right now. Kindness is what I seek when I look backward, probably because I’m experiencing less and less of it these days.

Psychologists say that to overcome the harm of a single negative comment, a person needs to receive seven positive comments. Do you know anyone who praises more than he or she criticizes, let alone seven times more?

When I grew up, my parents told me to always reach for my first choice, that good old brass ring. They also cautioned I wouldn’t always reach the brass ring, finish first, or get exactly what I wanted. And when that happened, I needed to be prepared. I had to have second, third, and fourth choices waiting in the wings.

Which is why I wanted to be a mother … a writer … a musician … a doctor … a teacher … and a ballerina. (Note: I always knew I couldn’t be a ballerina, but I still dreamed.)

The worst thing in the world isn’t failing to get what you want, Mom said, it’s quitting. Well, actually, that’s not the worst. The real worst is not getting what you want because you didn’t even try to get it or because you sat around and waited for someone else to get it for you.

When you expect other people to do things for you, you set yourself up for failure because they’re too busy searching for their own brass rings. Sure, they love and care about you, and might take a rest from their own searches to help you once in a while. But let’s face it, everyone’s more concerned with themselves than they are with other people.

Which, in some ways, is sad. Yes, we need to take care of ourselves. But we need to take care of each other, too. On our quests for whatever it is we seek, we need to walk around people instead of stepping on them as if they were staircases. We need to listen to the things we say and imagine if those very same words were directed at us. (The Golden Rule isn’t really as obsolete as carbon paper, is it?)

Tell your coworker you love the color of her sweater. Let the driver who’s been waiting patiently at the stop sign pull out in front of you. Give your dog an extra treat. Tell your child, spouse, parent, AND brother you love them. Why? Just because.

Kindness doesn’t need a reason. It is a reason in and of itself.


I’ve never minded the aging process. In fact, I actually welcome each birthday because, as my father used to say, “It beats the alternative!”

I’ll be looking 63 in the face in a couple of months and, as I’ve done ever since turning 60, find myself with a bunch of regrets. My regrets focus more on the things I’ve done and now wish I’d done differently rather than on things I haven’t done and wish I had.

You know, like the things I said and wish I’d kept your mouth shut about. The decisions I made when I was younger and that, from the perspective of chronological and [hopefully] emotional wisdom, should have been made after conducting more research and/or asking more questions. The times I hurt my children, parents, and loved ones for any number of reasons.

I was talking to my friend Ginny yesterday and shared that during the past few years, I’m plagued by regrets. She was surprised because she views me as being so positive and upbeat. Then she told me regrets were actually a good thing, and said the kindest words I’ve heard in a long time. They gave me a great deal of comfort and I paraphrase them here for you.

If we didn’t have regrets, we wouldn’t be learning lessons. Because we’re imperfect human beings, we’re always going to make mistakes. Which means that even if we could undo the mistakes we made in the past, we wouldn’t be able to prevent the other, different mistakes we would have made instead. Mistakes we’d still regret…

Feel free to share Ginny’s wisdom. We all need more kindness in our lives. And we especially need to be kinder to ourselves.



Are you an introvert, an extrovert, or an AMBIVERT?

I’ve always been told I’m an extrovert because, well, I talk a lot. And I’m loud. And I can walk up to strangers–anywhere–and strike up a conversation without any twinge of nerves. Oh, and I can stand in front of 100 people or more and teach a class or seminar.

Why, then, if I’m an extrovert, do I love spending so much time by myself? Why do I need to spend time by myself (much to the annoyance of the few people who really love me and want me to traipse all over the place with them)?

Maybe I shouldn’t have believed that just because I’m loud, talkative, and the polar opposite of shy I had to be an extrovert. Because I’m not. I’m actually more of an introvert than an extrovert–or an ambivert.

Extroverts need other people to recoup lost energy and pysch themselves up. On the other hand, introverts prefer to recharge all by themselves, alone. Of course, very few people are 100% extrovert or introvert; most of us possess both traits in different degrees.

Which is where ambiverts come into the picture. According to psychologists, ambiverts tend to enjoy being around other people–but not too often. And when they do get together with others, they only have so much patience for all the chatting and socializing. They also tend to prefer smaller groups, or one-on-one interactions, rather than large crowds.

Psychologists also indicate that it’s ambiverts, and not extroverts, who make the best salespeople. So there!

Seriously, here are so links for you to check out if this topic interests you:

So, what kind of “vert” are you?

Easy, inexpensive way to keep track of your time

As a freelancer, it’s essential for me to keep track of my billable time, and to be sure I’m billing the proper client for the appropriate time and expenses. In addition, I like to keep track of the time I spend marketing (i.e., Social Media), playing my cello, and–of course–working on my current fiction novel.


I’ve been using OfficeTime since 2015 and can’t recommend it highly enough. This is just SOME of what you can do with it:

  • Use it on a PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and Watch
  • Track time and expenses by client, project, and category
  • Invoice directly from the software, but only if you want to
  • Program the software to run timers for multiple projects at the same time, pause them automatically, and round times up or down
  • Download the software to multiple devices (but you can only keep it running on one at a time)
  • Sync the software between your devices
  • View reports, by date, week, month, year, or any customizable period
  • Export reports for download to my computer
  • Backup the software automatically

photo credit:

One of the things I really like about OfficeTime is that it’s a time and expense tracker. Meaning it isn’t complicated, it isn’t designed for teams of people, doesn’t entail a large financial commitment to purchase, and doesn’t require a monthly subscription fee.

When I first began using the software, it was free. Now, the cost is $47 –a one-time cost … and it’s WELL worth it. However, a 21-day free trial is available if you want to try it out before committing to buying it.

Although I downloaded a free version in 2016, and was able to continue using it indefinitely, I opted to pay the one-time $47 fee and upgrade to the newest version. The developer is working on an even more enhanced version, which is still in BETA, so more good things are coming. (Yes, I’m using the BETA version, too.)

And that’s another good thing about the software. The developer is accessible. If you email him, he emails you back quickly. (Note: he’s in the UK, so you need to be aware of the time difference.) He also has a support Facebook page where other users post questions and he answers them right on the Facebook page.

Now, you need to check it out for yourself. OfficeTime is the best investment you can make in your freelance or personal endeavors:

My credit card info keeps getting stolen … does yours?

I stayed at a Marriott hotel near Boston last April, so I was very concerned when I heard about the Starwood breach. As a result, I’ve conducted a bit of research on the subject.

Marriott purchased Starwood Hotel & Resorts, in part, because of Starwood’s popular loyalty program. Unfortunately, Marriott also purchased Starwood’s cyber issues. A vulnerability in Starwood’s hotel reservation system had been allowing unauthorized access to it since 2014, a year before the acquisition between the two corporations was even discussed.

Although original estimates indicated more than 500 million guests were affected, recent estimates by Starwood top out at 383 million. Some of which may be duplicates. Phew! That makes me feel SO much better. You too?

Here are the most recent figures released by Starwood (on January 4, 2019):

  • 8.6 million encrypted payment card numbers were compromised
  • 5.25 million UNencrypted passport numbers were compromised
  • 20.3 million encrypted passport numbers were compromised
  • 327 million guests had some combination of the following types of information compromised:
    • Name
    • Mailing address
    • Date of birth
    • Gender
    • Arrival and departure info
    • Reservation date
    • Communication preferences
    • Encrypted payment card numbers

Although you may be breathing easier because stolen credit card info was encrypted, you might want to reconsider. Why? Well, it seems the encryption key might have been stolen right along with the payment card information. The bad guys had access to the system for 4 years. I wonder what other info they stole…

From what I’ve learned, hotels are notoriously vulnerable to security breaches because they often don’t use chip readers and, instead, either enter credit card info manually into their systems or swipe credit cards when guests check in. One cybersecurity expert reported that both the Hyatt and Trump hotel chains were hacked in 2016.

What bothers me is that hotels keep your credit card information after you leave–even when you ask them to destroy it and they swear they will. That happened to me last spring, when I traveled to the Kansas City on business. My client paid for my hotel stay and, when I checked in, the hotel required me to present my personal credit card for “incidentals.” I asked the desk clerk how much I would be charged and whether the hotel would keep my payment information afterward. I was told that a $25 “hold” would be placed on my card at check-in and, if I did not charge anything during my stay, the hotel would remove the hold and destroy my card info.

Well, that’s not what happened. Several months later, after a glitch in communication between my client’s booking agent and the hotel, the hotel charged $152.25 to MY credit card rather than the client’s credit card. (The hotel had not destroyed the info on either card.)

This charge was made although I had not paid the hotel anything (the “hold” was removed) and without my authorization. I called my credit card company, reported a fraudulent charge, and had the card cancelled and reissued.

This was the 2nd time in less than a year I used my credit card legitimately and, through illicit means, an unauthorized third party acquired my info and used it for their own benefit. As a result, the Starwood breach–and the cope of it–does not surprise me. I’m just glad I stopped using debit cards years ago.

Feel free to share your own stories. I know you have them…