Gratitude Attraction Experiment on Facebook

I decided to try an experiment on Facebook by starting a group called Gratitude Attraction in which I asked people to post three things they were grateful for that happened that day.

My thinking was that the more gratitude expressed, the more the universe would provide to be grateful for. I figured I’d be lucky if 10 people joined, yet in a few short months we have close to 2300 members from all over the world! It’s so inspiring to read the posts, see their photos, and realize there is ALWAYS SOMETHING to be grateful for.

The stories people post are sometimes mind blowing. People are grateful for horrible things that have happened in their lives because they find the good in it.  A man even expressed gratitude for having been stabbed and had the photos to prove it!  If that’s not truly amazing, I don’t know what is.  He’s had the most horrific things happen to him, yet he has found a way to be grateful for all of it.

People post lovely photos and share wonderful moments from their daily lives. It really does make one realize how much we have to be thankful for.  I am also thankful for simple things like finding a dollar on the floor at work or a warm smile from a stranger.

Even on the darkest of days I have to remind myself how blessed I really am.  I have my sight, my hearing, a reliable car, a cell phone, a home, a TV, a computer, a husband of 22 years,  food in my fridge, clothes on my back, credit cards, etc. I am indeed more fortunate than most.  I may not have the life I once had, or all that I want, but I know that by being grateful for what I DO have will bring me more of what I want.

There are still many moments when I complain and feel really sorry for myself. Focusing on those problems will only bring me more of them but sometimes it’s hard to ignore.

Focusing on gratitude changes everything – immensely.

Here’s a great example: I was at my job, which I hate beyond comprehension, and went outside to go on a rampage of appreciation.  I sat on a rock and expressed gratitude for EVERYTHING I could think of – the sun, the stars, the breeze, the grass, my car, my senses, my health, my car, my home, the roads – you get the idea.  I just kept going and going.

I went back into work and a few minutes later the Governor of New Jersey appeared.  I started speaking to him and told him I had once worked in state government.  He asked me if I wanted to get back into it and I said YES!  He took out a slip of paper, wrote “Erica, I want to help,” and signed his name.  Then on another piece of paper he wrote a name and phone number of his personal assistant and told me to call her.

The result of all this? I have a meeting with the head of Gubernatorial Appointments on May 11, which just happens to be my late father’s birthday.  I don’t believe in coincidences.  I believe that my being grateful and expressing it to the universe gave me more to be grateful for. Furthermore, maybe the universe, in it’s ultimate wisdom, put me in the horrible job so that a great job could happen.

Remembering to be grateful isn’t always the easiest thing; however I’m learning to monitor my thoughts, words and actions.

Give daily gratitude a try and if you’re on Facebook come join us in Gratitude Attraction and share your stories!

Horses touch our souls and hearts

horse-eyeHorses don’t just touch our lives; they touch the very core of our souls and hearts.  Horses are a blessing and good for our mind, body, and spirit.  For horse people, the obsession usually begins early in life and becomes a lifelong passion.

There’s nothing like hearing the little nicker from your horse as you walk into the barn, the gentle nuzzle from that super soft muzzle, or when he checks your pockets trying to find those peppermints he knows you have.  Just being with your horse transcends the problems of everyday life, because when you’re with your horse, nothing else matters; all is well with the world.

The pure pleasure from being around horses can’t be measured. It’s a feeling deep within you and something you ache deeply for when deprived of it.

Being in a horse’s presence is soothing. 

horse-groomingA good grooming session helps build the bond between horse and rider, and should be pleasurable for both.  Watching your horse stretch his neck in bliss as you curry the “itchy spot” brings a smile to your face.  Taking the time to carefully untangle every knot in a bushy tail can be calming, as your mind isn’t concerned with daily worries – not to mention the pride you feel in seeing the finished result.

An amazing trust is built between horse and rider.  Think about a 150 pound person getting a 1000 pound animal to willingly and happily succumb to his rider’s wishes.  That’s trust and a unique bond.  It doesn’t matter if you’re out for a trail ride on a crisp fall day or getting blue ribbons at indoors, the bliss is the same.  Even a good lesson can leave you on a high for days.

Horse people understand all of this.

Quitting your job – the gift of freedom

i quitQuitting your job is a gift of freedom.  I know it might sound crazy, but that’s what I just did.  It was my birthday and I gave myself the gift of freedom by quitting a job that was literally making me physically sick.

I had been searching for a full time job in my field for more than 5 years, all the while working a part time job that paid me peanuts and was easy but not fulfilling in any way, shape or form.  I finally landed what I thought was an awesome job.  The people seemed great, especially my boss, and the money was something I could actually live on AND it had benefits! WOO HOO.

So I left my five year job and started the new one, all excited for this new venture.  In the five weeks I was there I felt like I was in prison, chained to my desk for 8 hours every day.  Originally I was working nights 3-11pm which wasn’t so bad.  Then they switched it to 1-9pm during the week and 3-11 on Saturdays.  This meant I had no time to do anything; but; that wasn’t the worst part.

I was learning new software that is very complicated. I’m not stupid and ever time I had figured something out they threw me a curve ball, which would throw me into a panic. I started having nightmares about the place.  I was physically sick.  Every time I thought about going there I would start crying in my car. This was no way to live; but, I have bills to pay.  Every meeting with my boss resulted in his telling me how he had hoped I would be further along.  I felt like I couldn’t do anything right and should keep a box in my car because I could be fired at any moment.  Then my boss went on vacation and things went from bad to worse.

Let’s just say, when you give young people power bad things happen and indeed they did.  On a Friday night, after enduring what felt like torture the entire week, I had a meeting with the young woman who had just been promoted to Operations Manager. I told her how I felt.  I told her I had been set up to fail.  She was very kind and gracious, said to take Sat. off, have a three day weekend, and I could talk things over with my boss on Tuesday.

It was my birthday weekend and my husband was off (we never get any time together). We tried to do fun things; bu,t all I could think about was that horrible conversation I was going to have to have on Tuesday.

My mother begged me not to go back.  I told her I had bills to pay and she said she would help until I could find something.  I told her at my age it wasn’t going to be easy, she needed her money, and I didn’t know how long it would take me to find something, especially since it had taken me five years to find this job. Yet, she insisted and she was right.

After an hour on the phone with my mother on my birthday, I nervously drove up to my office, packed up and told my boss I was leaving. To my pleasant surprise he was totally gracious and kind and said the door was always open. In fact, when I told him I felt I had failed him, he said he felt as if he had failed me.  He said I looked awful when I came in and he could see the relief in me.  I didn’t feel relieved at that point.  I came home and curled up in a ball in bed.

I just jumped out of an airplane without a parachute!

What a great way to spend my birthday.  But my husband was right when he said anything we tried to do would not be fun, yet.

This morning I woke up with a sweet smell in the air – the smell of freedom. Sweet, sweet freedom.

There’s a saying I’ll believe it when I see it, but that’s backwards. It’s I’ll see it when I believe it.  So now I am putting my trust and faith in the universe that there’s something much better for me that lies ahead.

The point is, life is short and there is no point in wasting it being miserable at a job in the name of paying bills. I wish I could get my husband to believe the same.  He’s in an awful job because he says he has bills to pay.  I understand; but, he’s too tired, mentally and physically to try to find something better.   I told him it’s time to put our heads together and figure out what we are both good at and start another business. We used to have a very profitable business which he foolishly shut down on the promise of another job that didn’t happen.

At this point I’m taking the next week to just enjoy life for a change.  I’m going to play with my dogs, relax (try to), and maybe tackle some projects in the house that we never have time for.

Don’t waste your life doing something that makes you miserable. It’s not worth it. As Dory says in the new film Finding Dory, “there is always another way.” It’s all about faith and believing, and as Marissa Peer says, go find a lipstick and right I AM ENOUGH on every mirror in your house.

 

Frequent Flyer Miles, Try to Use Them!

Screen-Shot-2013-01-30-at-5.30.48-PM Frequent Flyer miles,- try to use them.  Go ahead, I dare you!  Let me know how you make out.

I have lots of frequent flyer miles on United, American, Capital One, and American Express.  I am trying to fly from Newark to London or Dublin in April and use some of them.  The joke is on me.  Frequent flyer programs aren’t what they used to be.  Basically, you can’t use them.

Continental was a great airline. I flew everywhere from Newark directly – Switzerland, London, Paris, Rome, Prague, Budapest, and more.  Then the merged with United (the worst airline on the planet) and stopped taking American Express points for miles.  Well, I still had frequent flyer miles so I thought no problem! WRONG!  I couldn’t get a direct flight from Newark to either London or Dublin. There was a co-share with British airways that was 132,000 frequent flyer miles (just for the first flight!) and $699 for the co-share plus taxes.  Mind you, the price of the ticket was $750.

I have to mention a little side note about United.  You can’t even get a snack or watch TV unless you pay for it, not even a bag of peanuts (Jet Blue at least gives you a snack.)  Continental used to give you a sandwich and TV.  In fact, on the newer planes TV isn’t even an option because a flight attendant told me that is an after market addition and the planes would have to go back to have them installed. REALLY?  Then you have the surliest crew members. I think it’s a requirement that you be a truly miserable person to work for United. But here’s my very favorite thing about United……

They kept the Continental logo but changed the name to United after the merger.  When I inquired as to why, I was told United was more recognizable world-wide. ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME? What marketing genius thought of this and who approved it? Why is United a more recognizable name? Gee, who doesn’t want to be reminded of 9/11 every time they get on board? Seriously, this is the most egregious marketing error in history! This airline needs to hire me as their new director of marketing.

OK, I digressed…..

American Airlines basically doesn’t fly anywhere from Newark.  The last time I used frequent flyer miles to fly to London I had to leave from JFK.  At the time I was able to leave my car at my brother’s house in Long Island, use 20,000 frequent flyer miles each way and it was easy. Now I can still get those flights, but since my brother wrote me out of his life with two vitriolic letters (a story for another day), I can’t get home from JFK.

Virgin Atlantic no longer accepts Amex points for frequent flyer miles and no longer flies out of Newark. British Airways will accept frequent flyer miles BUT the flights I found had layovers from 4-28 hours.  28 hours? Seriously? I’m going to spend 28 hours in Brussels after flying all night?  Shoot me.

So I thought I had the system beat when Capital One said I could use my miles anytime, any flight, etc. Score! Wrong again!  I have more than 60,000 miles on Capital One; however, they aren’t really frequent flyer miles – they are cash towards travel.  Apparently my 65,000 miles equates to $600 and the ticket has to be that price or less. They won’t accept the $150 difference if I’m willing to pay it.  I was told that I could use that $600 for rental car or hotel.

Take a look at American Express airline partners.  There are very few left.  I used to use Amex points for all my travel and even flew Air Mexico with them. Now the choices are few and far between. I have 200,000 American Express points.  Maybe if I get another 300,000 I can trade it in for a first generation Ipad.

It’s really a shame that these airlines tout these frequent flyer programs but fail to tell you you can’t use the miles for anything. Also did you know they expire? Oh yes they do!  If you don’t travel on that airline within a certain time frame, those miles are history.  I have an American Airlines credit card so I make sure I use it occasionally just to keep my miles from expiring.

All I want is a vacation.  All I want to do is go visit my friends in England and go see Ireland for a few days.  I have ff-program-newvacation time I’m going to loose if I don’t use it and now it seems my vacation is going to be spent at home cleaning the house or staining my deck if it’s warm enough in April!

So now what is one to do with all these unusable frequent flyer miles?

If you have any suggestions please let me know. Also if you live on Long Island and will let me park my car there for 10 days I can actually use American Airlines frequent flyer miles to get to the UK!

Finding a Job when you’re over 50

Biz-Finding-A-Job-May-Mean-Getting-More-Niche Finding a job when you’re over 50 is darn near impossible.  Gone are the days of company loyalty when they treasured their hard working, long time employees. Now as soon as you hit a certain age and are at the height of your career, they get rid of you and find some youngster who will work for a fraction of the money.  Companies don’t value experience; they value their money.  I’ve seen it happen to many of my friends.  How very sad and frustrating.

I’m in my 50’s with 30+ years in my field and a Masters Degree. This makes me virtually unemployable and over qualified for everything. I’m currently working part time (not in my field) earning a whopping $358/week.  You can’t live on that amount of money, especially in New Jersey.  I’ve been searching for a writing/editing/publicity job since 2008.  I’ve even tried jobs at such places as Target and Walmart with no luck, just to supplement my current salary.  Don’t get me wrong, I am truly grateful for the job I do have and I think the company values me as well – to an extent.

It’s illegal to ask someone’s age when they apply for a job so companies are getting around this with computerized forms that make you put in the year you graduated high school. This sneaky little trick lets them figure out your age and you can’t go further unless you fill in the box.

All this ageism makes it almost impossible to find a job when you’re over 50.  My husband is facing the same problem and stuck in a dead-end job.

If I had kids right now I wouldn’t even send them to college.  I’d have them learn a trade.  Plumbers and electricians charge a fortune and always have work. In fact, try finding a plumber or electrician when you need one. Let me know how you make out with that.

So finding a job when you’re over 50 is frustrating and can lead to terrible depression, not to mention the stress that comes with the financial hardship.

I’ve been handing this “job over 50” thing in a multitude of ways, none of which have been successful.  I’ve subscribed to dozens of job boards, given my resume to recruiters, temp firms, and pretty much anyone who will talk to me.  I’ve even tried to resurrect my freelance business and despite many nibbles, not much has panned out.4-tips-for-finding-a-job-in-your-niche-48b2d207b9

The biggest problem with finding a job when you’re over 50 is the way the job search process has changed. There is no more face to face, no more opportunity to make phone calls to hiring managers, and many times you can’t even submit a cover letter to sell yourself.  People don’t even read your resume; it all gets sent through a computer that makes the decisions.  At one point Obama talked about making this illegal; but, nothing ever happened with it.

So how do you find a job when you’re over 50 and highly qualified?  At this point I am open to any and all suggestions. If you need a highly accomplished writer, editor, proofreader, or publicist, let me know!

The last suggestion I was given was that I write a blog post about it. So I did.

Is Lisa Vanderpump Ruling the Roost?

Is Lisa Vanderpump ruling the roost on the new season of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills?

This is probably one of my favorite casts of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, and while this season has been a bit boring so far, I’m not missing the hot mess that is Kim Richards or her equally host mess side-kick, Brandi.

erika jayneLet’s talk first about the new addition, Erika Girardi, aka Erika Jayne.  There are lots of reasons to hate her; but, alas I find myself irresistibly drawn to her and am growing fonder of her with each episode. First, she looks like Malibu Barbie. She’s married to an uber wealthy attorney 33 years her senior.  She’s the trophy wife living the jet-set lifestyle complete with private plane.  She has an alter ego, Erika Jayne who makes dance videos that the other women seem to find scandalous. I watched a bunch of them and find them totally benign. She seems to have some talent and basically just shows her ass a lot.  Of course if I had an ass like that I’d run around with no pants on at all.  She doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her, but she has incredible candor and honesty that’s so refreshing. While she has every reason to be a snob, Erika Girardi appears totally grounded. Her compassion for Yolanda exceeds all the other women by leaps and bounds.

david and yolandaI miss Yolanda being part of the regular cast and was shocked to hear that she and David Foster were divorcing. However, since she was wife number four for the Grammy winning musician, it’s not that much of a surprise. My guess is he’s no angel in the marriage department.  Yolanda appears to be really suffering and Lisa Rinna’s suggestion of Munchhausen’s Syndrome was appalling. Yolanda’s surgery showing all the free-floating silicone in her body was truly disturbing and I hope it’s the answer to all her suffering.  Yolanda Foster seems to be an incredible woman and I have nothing but well-wishes for a speedy recovery.

lisa vanderpumpLisa Vanderpump gets paid $500,000 per episode of the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills!  That’s a staggering number.  I thought she was terribly rude in the questions she asked Eileen Davidson regarding the start of Eileen’s relationship with husband Vinny.  However, Eileen should have stopped the discussion in its tracks. I imagine Lisa Vanderpump is very intimidating and this is why Eileen let the conversation continue despite her obvious discomfort.  Lisa Vanderpump appears to have a perfect life. Yes she works hard and has her hands full with her bat shit crazy Sur employees.  (I’ll have to do a blog post on Vanderpump Rules although at this point I can barely stand to watch it.)  Lisa Vanderpump can best be summed up with one word: excess. Who hires a private plane to transport a miniature horse?  I did love when Kyle said that can’t possibly be her biggest problem!  There must be something that keeps Lisa up at night and maybe it’s the British in her that just keeps a lid on things and she doesn’t talk about it. Everyone seems a little bit afraid of Lisa, yet I predict Erika Girardi will confront her at some point. Lisa Vanderpump has too much money, way too much. I’ve never seen a Louis Vuitton purse with pink trim anywhere except on the arm of Lisa Vanderpump. Custom made? $$$$$$

This is a person that takes one of her swans to the vet – in her car no less.  Everything she does seems to be over the top, done well, but over the top.  The luncheon she threw for Ken’s 70th birthday came complete with a new hat for each guest. Who does that?

Then there’s Kyle Richards. This woman bores me to tears.  I honestly don’t see what she contributes to the show.  There was the conflict with her sister Kim, but that’s been eliminated and it seems no one in Kyle Richards’ family is speaking with her, although Kyle has not gone into any details.  The whole thing with Nicky Hilton’s wedding was brushed over without explanation. This was probably the most interesting thing about Kyle all season. The best thing about Kyle is her hair and her incredibly good looking husband.

The current cast of the RHOBH gets along really well, maybe too well for the season to be interesting.  While I’m not a fan of the f-bombing mess Brandi, she did at least add some spice and there was always some argument or something crazy going on caused by her.

I will continue to watch this season in the hope that something interesting happens; but, so far it’s been a snooze fest.

 

 

Josie Maran’s argon oil miracles

Josie_Maran_-150x150body butterJosie Maran and her argon oil products are true beauty miracles.

I have to say, I’ve been watching Josie Maran on QVC for years and finally took the leap, buying a kit of argon oil, body butter, divine dip, and a shower milk – all in a caramel apple scent that is beyond heavenly.  I want to eat it.  The only product I’m not crazy about is the shower milk because I find it doesn’t lather very much, I don’t feel it cleanses, and you have to use quite a bit of it.  That being said, it does smell amazing.

I had been using Volumagen, because it was inexpensive for getting eye cream, serum, and moisturizer. Besides not wanting to put more money into the pockets of Heather and Terry Dubrow, I didn’t see any results after 90 days.  My face was the same as with the Vichy I’d been using from CVS.

argon oilEnter the beauty miracle of argon oil.  First of all, I have replaced my moisturizer with pure argon oil, which is NOT greasy at all.  It hydrates, has no chemicals and after just a week have noticed a reduction in fine lines, especially the annoying line above my lip. Unfortunately, it hasn’t eliminated any hair frizz. I need my keratin treatments.

My neck has been the bane of my existence. I’ve tried everything to no avail. However, the Divine Dip (combo of honey and argon oil) has virtually eliminated the “tree like rings” at the base of my neck.

The body butter is sublime.  It’s whipped into a deliciousness I cannot describe. Not only does it smell good enough to eat, but the changes in my skin are incredible.  I have been to several dermatologists for the red, scaly patch on my left elbow and nothing has worked – except Josie Maran’s whipped body butter. The red patch is barely there and  the flaky skin is gone.  My thighs also seem to be getting firmer!

I’ve been using it when I get out of the shower and I can’t tell you how amazing the caramel apple smell is. Josie, PLEASE make this scent available on its own. The 8 oz. tub is supposed to last three months. There is no way that’s going to happen. I’ve also seen a huge difference in my cracked heels and dry feet using the body butter.

Josie Maran makes a host of other products including lip balm, lipstick, concealer, eye shadow and more, all comprised primarily of argon oil.  I plan to be switching exclusively to these products when I run out of all the stuff I currently have.  Unfortunately I have a LOT. Josie-Maran-Argan-Black-Oil-Mascara

I just started using Rimmel argon oil mascara and really like it; but, Josie has a mascara that’s next on my list to try. It has a unique brush that curls, defines, volumizes, and lengthens, all with argon oil.  She even says to sleep in it as a lash treatment!

argon lipstickThe lipsticks are unique in that the color is in the center with a core of argon oil around it.  It seems amazing, although without lip liner it will be interesting to see how long it lasts.  I drink water constantly and without a lip liner underneath, I’m constantly applying my lipstick.  I have the perfect nude shade with a combo of a MAC lip liner and Bobbi Brown lipstick, so it’s going to be tough to transition.

As for Vollumagen, I’ll be selling it on Ebay as there is no need for it and I have 4 months worth of unopened product.  (If you’re interested, let me know.) Josie Maran makes an argon oil milk that takes the place of a serum and since I was lucky enough to get a sample at Sephora, I’m going to start using that tomorrow.  Sorry Heather and Terry, your proprietary blend of peptides doesn’t do a thing.

I keep noticing more and more Josie Maran cosmetics and I am craving them all. Basically I want a head to toe Josie Maran argon oil makeover.  How nice it would be to get rid of everything I own and just use argon oil based products if I can get the coverage, concealing, and contouring I need.  There is a concealer; but, I’ve been bugging poor Josie on Twitter to make a contour kit! Wouldn’t it be nice to get everything you need that’s good for your skin, gets results, and has no chemicals?  Even though my makeup has good ingredients for my skin, there’s still a fair amount of things in it that I can’t pronounce.

I am now totally obsessed with all things argon oil and all things Josie Maran.  The problem is when I get obsessive about something I tend to go a little nuts, which is why I have a TON of things I use daily.  When I find them at a good price I stock up; hence, the back stock of Volumagen. Now I’m dying to throw it all out and buy all of Josie’s products.

I would love to see Josie come up with a full face kit starting with the pure argon oil and moving on to all the necessary products for a full makeup look.  Um, Josie are you listening? I really really want a Josie Maran makeover!

 

 

Customer Service -the best and worst

Customer service seems to be a thing of the past; but, I’m going to give you a list of the best and the worst based on my experience.

Remember the days when you called a company and a person answered the phone? Now it’s an automated system; good luck trying to get a person on the phone at all.  The menus send you round and round, the voice recognition software doesn’t work. I end up screaming obscenities into the phone only to have it say “I didn’t get that.  Please try again.”  There was a movie a couple of years back with a group of terrorists sitting around a phone with “for nuclear missiles press 1, for automatic weapons, press 2, etc.” It was hysterical because it’s so true.

There are, however, a handful of companies with incredible customer service and I remain loyal to them.

Nordstrom – the best ever.  Nordstrom will return ANYTHING even if you don’t have a receipt.  They will work tirelessly to look up old stock numbers and find out what you paid. They will refund it to any credit card you want, not just give you store credit.  I was once in Nordstom in the shoe department and mentioned I had bought a very expensive pair of boots, wore them once and they killed my feet. He said, do you have the box? I said yes and he said bring them back. I said that was about 4 years ago! He said it didn’t matter. I got my full $245 back and subsequently returned a bunch of clothes that no longer fit and I didn’t have receipts for. The sales people could not have been more congenial and helpful. I got all my money refunded to the credit card of my choice.  Another great thing about Nordstrom’s customer service is the personal shopper. It’s free and the shoppers are amazing at finding and bringing you clothes that look perfect on you.

QVC – this shopping channel has incredible customer service!  You have a brief automated system that gets you right through to an English-speaking person just dying to help you.  I bought a tooth whitening toothbrush (it’s the bomb) but I had braces on and wasn’t able to tell if it was working. I called about the 30 day money back guarantee and said my braces wouldn’t come off during the 30 days. No problem, they extended the guarantee period for me immediately. QVC used to reimburse you for your original shipping; but, unfortunately they don’t anymore.

EVINE Live. I never heard of them before and then found out it used to be ShopNBC.  I bought some face serum and moisturizer and the serum bottle was leaking and about 1/3 of the product was gone in three days. I called their customer service number and they said they would immediately send me a new one and I didn’t have to return the one I had. SCORE.

Victoria’s Secret – always helpful, will jump through hoops to help you, and when you have too many bras (like I do) they will let you use the $10 off coupon on another product!

Lands End – This is the only company I know where an actual person answers the phone. It usually doesn’t even ring on my end before they answer. They are always helpful and will do whatever it takes to make you happy.  I do think LL Bean might still answer their phones too.

The Skin Store also has great customer service.  I had made a return but used a coupon and was confused about the return amount.   They were very helpful.  The new products I wanted to buy were ineligible for the current 20% off promotion; but, they said they had no problem honoring the discount, made a note on my account and told me to give them a call when I was ready to make the purchase.

Sephora is wonderful for may reasons.  First they give you samples of everything and returns are easy even with no receipt as they can look up your member number. People there are always willing to help; although, I was a little taken aback buy the gentleman giving me his list of faves on eye shadow primers and such.  I asked him if he wore eye shadow and he said of course. Ok, who am I to judge? He gave me great samples.

Violife answers your emails or calls you in a day or so.  I was trying to make a purchase with a 30% off deal but couldn’t get their website to work before the coupon expired.  When they called me they gave me a code to use any time for 30% off.  That’s good customer service!

Ebay and Paypal also offer great customer service and have resolved my issues. You have to hunt like hell for a phone number; but, once you get it you’re golden.

There are a couple other small companies with good customer service; but they are few and far between.

Now, the list for BAD customer service could take up a book the size of Webster’s dictionary.  The worst customer service award goes to Comcast. I have a friend who worked there for 11 years and always called it Shitcast and now I know why.  If you call, expect to be on hold for more than 30 minutes, transferred dozens of times, and ultimately hung up on.  The last call I made I was talking to someone in the Philippines!  My first call was two hours, transferred 10 times, disconnected and had to drive 40 minutes each way to the call center.  I was promised a call from a supervisor and that I would get a break on my bill for my trouble. Of course that didn’t happen.  They shipped me the wrong remote,  then shipped me the correct one and charged me for shipping the right one.  (I fought that charge and got it removed.)  The next call was because my equipment wasn’t working correctly. I was told I had the wrong equipment and an appointment was made to install another DVR.  My friend who worked there said that was wrong. Another phone call, 5 transfers and 40 minutes on hold I found out he was right; but, the tech did install the wrong box.  So, they had to reschedule the appointment and I had to wait another week.  They couldn’t modify the original appointment. Then the bill came and of course that was wrong too. Another 40 minute phone call. I figure I’ve lost about ten hours of my life to this company.

Nomorerack – non-existent customer service. In fact, the company has changed its name now, no doubt to all the complaints. My roommate and I ordered from them, got wrong merchandise, no merchandise at all, broken merchandise, etc.  Hours on the phone with them were futile. We sent things back with delivery confirmation and they claimed they never got it. It literally took months to sort it all out. STAY AWAY.

United Airlines just plain sucks.  When it was Continental it was a great airline; but then it merged.  They said they picked the name United because it was more recognizable. Gee, wonder why?  What marketing genius though naming it United and reminding everyone of 9/11 every time they get on a plane was a good idea?  Geez, and I’m overqualified because I’ve got a Masters Degree.

Get on a United flight and be prepared to get NOTHING except surly flight attendants.  I actually think it’s a requirement that you be a completely miserable person to be hired. Continental used to give you entertainment and a little sandwich. Now if the plane has any entertainment at all, you have to pay for it. Food choices are severely limited to expenses “snack boxes” which basically have nothing in them.  Make sure you bring food from home and something to occupy your time.  But it gets better.

I book airline tickets online and United’s website saves your last search, which is naturally the return flight. When I booked a flight in June it booked it backwards and I did not find out about this till I got to the airport!  They charged me $580 additional to get on the next flight.  I had to get there for a doctor’s appointment so I had no choice.  I spent two hours on the phone (40 mins. on hold) with a rep who said not only could I get a refund for these fees; but, I could cancel the ticket and fly standby on any flight for $75.  I knew this couldn’t be right.  I went to three counters in the airport before I found someone helpful – helpful enough to charge my Amex another $580 on top of the $247 I had already paid.  Of course she said you can’t fly anywhere without a ticket so the standby theory was incorrect. No shit.  She said I could file a refund form with United, which I did, only to be denied.  Not being willing to take no for an answer I took to Twitter and started an attack.  At first I got some snarky responses from someone masquerading as United.  The actual United Twitter people helped me and I got $200 refunded.  Hey, it was better than nothing but took hours of my time.  By the way, attacking Comcast on Twitter does nothing and it is IMPOSSIBLE to find a phone number for the corporate headquarters in Philadelphia.  I tried. I was a journalist for more than a decade I have damn good research skills.  I think the only option is driving to Philly and demand to see someone.

Whatever you do, NEVER EVER rent a car from SixT.  This was the most unbelievably horrible experience I think I’ve ever had.  The car I had rented – a brand new BMW – died on me.  They left me on hold for an hour then disconnected me. I called back (it was evening and I was thankfully at my hotel) and they said they’d have a tow truck there in half an hour.  Three phone calls, three disconnections, and three hours later I had no tow truck. I called AGAIN and was told it was too late and a tow truck would be there in the morning. I told them it was too late and that I had a flight early in the morning.  I returned the key to SixT and since their computers were down AGAIN (same when I picked up the car) I made them give me a hand-written receipt.  The next night I got a call telling me they were there to pick up the car and could they have the key. I told them I was in NJ and the key was with them!  Then they tried billing me for an extra day.  Fortunately American Express (a top-notch company) fought this for me and I got the entire cost of the rental refunded.  But, it wasn’t over yet!

I got a letter with a bill in excess of $300 saying I had drained the battery by leaving the lights on.  This was impossible for several reasons.  First I was only out of the car for about half an hour and you need to have the key in proximity to the car for the lights to work.  I had a local BMW mechanic review the SixT mechanic’s report and he confirmed it was a “bunch of crap.” He knew the dealership they had taken it to.  American Express ended up paying the claim but SixT still wants a $50 administrative fee. Bite me; you’ll never get it. Fortunately they haven’t pressed the issue.

American Express is amazing.  Use your Amex for everything, especially travel.  Had I known it at the time, Amex would have sent a tow truck, picked me up if I were stranded and sorted everything right then and there.  Whenever I have had a problem with a purchase, American Express has been there for me.  This is another company that will jump through hoops for you. I have five Amex cards and have been a member since 1984.

The sad fact is most companies have terrible customer service, automated menus that won’t let you speak to a human, and if you’re lucky enough to get one on the phone they don’t speak English (but their name is Dave Smith or Sally Martin) and are located in a foreign country.

Even if a store is slightly more expensive, I would rather deal with a place that has exceptional customer service. I will drive 45 minutes to the nearest Nordstrom when Macy’s is right around the corner.  I have nothing against Macy’s; but, it doesn’t hold a candle to Nordstrom, especially in the customer service department.

Please share your customer service stories with me as I know I’m leaving out some companies worth mentioning!

 

Freedom from your haunting past

Being stuck in the past keeps you from moving forward. Now, I’ve known this concept for a long time but remain stuck in my past, reminiscing and wishing for my old life.  It’s like reading the same book over and over again and wanting a different ending. It doesn’t happen.  What happens, at least for me, is a life of sadness, frustration, depression, and withdrawal.

This morning I awoke (grateful for a day off after working non stop at a job that is not my chosen profession) anxiety stricken – homesick for my abundant life of horses, travel, and freedom!  To me, money equals freedom and I had plenty of money, didn’t have to work, rode my horses, traveled the world with my husband, and just enjoyed life.  That is until the real estate market crashed and so did my world. Since 2008 I’ve barely survived.  Many times I just wanted to die.  This morning was one of those times.

I have chanted, read Law of Attraction books, tried GG codes, astrologers, conscious creation, theta healing, casting spells, and just about anything I could think of because I had decided enough was enough! I wanted to be well, happy, and fulfilled again.  Facebook was killing me with all the photos of people I knew – all at horse shows or on vacation. That used to be ME! I want that again!  So there I was revisiting that same chapter, rereading the same book hoping for another outcome.

I know my financial situation can turn in a heartbeat but I’m not patient. I want that NOW! So my focusing on the wanting only results in more wanting.  I pretended for a long time (Neville Goddard style) that I was a millionaire again living the life I wanted.  But I was also told every manifestation happens at the appointed hour.  WTF? Do I have to be 90 for the appointed hour? The Law of Attraction says when you’re frequency lines up with what you want you get it.  No one ever really says how you match that frequency.  Abraham Hicks says just get happy. Others say it’s gratitude for what you do have so the universe will give you more things to be grateful for.

I have had some success with this. I’ve given some money to charities and received unexpected monies and refunds from companies.  My relationship with my husband has improved tremendously to where he now goes out of his way (and he’s exhausted) to suggest things to do together on Sundays.

When total money anxiety sets in I have to stop myself. I have to say that right now, in this very second all my bills are paid.  I cannot worry about the future and believe me I’m the queen of worry and planning ahead.  Funny that I actually got a Masters Degree in Planning!

I’ve reached out to my friends from the past – horsey friends and they have ignored me although I have seen they have read my messages. I take everything personally. What had I done to make them dislike me?  I spent hours crying today over the past.  Well there we go again, stuck in the past.

I forced myself out of bed, cleaned the bathroom, walked both dogs, brushed one, played some Facebook games and took to my bed saying “I am FREE” over and over and over because to me money is freedom.  So it was suggested to me that instead of focusing on money, I focus on the feeling of freedom – kind of going in the back door for manifesting money.  I really like that idea.

I have to look to the future – not be stuck in the past.  It’s hard, very hard to monitor every word and thought and not punish myself for the mistake I made that put me in this situation.

I am grateful for my home, the fact I have a job, my husband, my dogs, the money I DO have in the bank, my teeth are being fixed, I have friends who do let me ride occasionally, I have a great brother and sister, my mother has helped me, I have a car, I have a cell phone, I have clothes, I have shoes, I have a lot more than most. I have to learn what I can from the past and realize that whatever happened happened for a reaon but being stuck in the past will never move me forward to where I want to be.

This is a tough road but I’m not giving up. I know I can do this!  I just want it NOW.

Forgiveness sets you free

Forgiveness sets you free.  I really have a problem with forgiving someone who has wronged me or hurt me because to me forgiving them meant I was telling that person it was OK what they did to me. Since it was clearly not OK what they did, I was not forgiving – at all, period.

What  I realized that my lack of forgiveness was actually hurting myself.  Someone (ok it was Adrien Blackwell the amazing theta healer I’m always talking about) said holding onto the anger, hurt, resentment, etc. was like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.  When I heard this light bulbs immediately went off.  The statement is spot on.

I got Adrien’s healing audio on forgiveness and it was the best money I ever spent.  When I listened to it the first time she asked who is the first person you need to forgive? The immediate answer that popped into my head was MYSELF!

I was a millionaire.  I had a Ferrari, horses, a  life of travel, wintering in Florida, and the luxury to do whatever I wanted.  Then I lost ALL of it.  People mocked me. How could you loose $3 million they would say.  My husband hounded me about it. I felt guilty and have been suffering and struggling financially since 2008 with no hope in sight and constantly having to ask my family for help.

I had a dear friend who hurt me terribly. I’d never gotten over it. I would forget it for a while but it would always come back to haunt me and leave me in tears.  Over the 25 years I’ve been with my husband, his words and actions would hurt me.  My parents, especially my mother, did unconscionable things to me.  Other friends have hurt me too.  All of this was eating a hole in my soul because forgiveness was not an option.

The first time I listened to the audio I woke up feeling sad and curled up like a cocktail shrimp and felt it was an epic fail; but, then I listened again.

I woke up feeling like I’d been poisoned. I felt toxic to the point where I knew I had to get it out of my body so I went for a massage and then treated myself to a pedicure.

The next morning I woke up feeling like a billion ton brick had been lifted from my shoulders!  I felt FREE and liberated and happy.

I thought about the dear friend who has brought me to tears for years and she didn’t matter.  I thought about the money I lost and thought, eh, I’ll get it back soon enough.  A guy whose very name would set me on edge for days actually walked into my office and it didn’t phase me one bit.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean it’s ok what they did to you; but it does set you free.

That freedom gives you the power to manifest the life you truly want by letting go of everything that’s holding you back.