Friday, May 6, 2011

Mobile Tweeting, Give It a Try


Let’s talk about Twitter for a bit.  I touched on the very basics of Twitter in a previous post, Twitter Crash Course; however there is a little more that I’d like to discuss about it.  Twitter is about socializing online and with many people at once.  It is known as a social network.  You make friends by following people and they follow you back and all that.  The main point is to engage others in conversation or thought.
Many people have joined twitter only to share information with others and will rarely engage in a conversation.  I have done this at times while away from the internet or short on time.  I only post links to things and do not have the time to follow up on any conversations those links may have sparked.  While that is ok in a sense, it is not a good idea to only use Twitter in that way.
Did you know that you can receive tweets to your cell phone like a text message?  Did you also know that you can send tweets from your phone just like sending a text message?  If not, you can.  First of all, make sure that you have a text messaging package on your phone that will accommodate your tweeting activities without costing you an arm and a leg!  Even if you choose to not receive tweets to your phone you can still send them, just text your tweet to 40404.  It is easier to set that up while at the computer but is possible to do from your phone, just send your first tweet to that number and it will walk you through the rest.
If you have a smart phone...well you can either use the texting method or you can find an app that is compatible to your device and take your mobile tweeting to a whole new level.  (Seesmic mobile app allows you to have multiple accounts logged in even!)  There are way too many different mobile apps for Twitter for me to even think of going into how to use them all.  If you are using a mobile app you can always find a FAQ section on the site you downloaded the app from to help you get started. 
If you choose to use the texting method of tweeting on the go, just log into your Twitter account and in the upper right portion click on Settings, then click Mobile.  This is where you can turn mobile tweets on and off, as well as see a list of texting commands that you can set from your phone.  You can also set individual people to get their tweets via text or not.  If you have more than a handful of people you follow you will more than likely want to choose those you interact with most, rather than choosing your entire list of people you follow.  If you get stuck on how to do this you can always go back to Settings and Mobile and read down the right hand side to review how to turn mobile tweets on and off.
Now that you know that you can tweet from your phone and how to do so let’s talk about why you would want to.  No one really wants to know what you are eating through out the day unless it is really rare or scrumptious.  However, what you eat can start conversations.  So, if what you are eating is interesting to you or you want to engage others in a conversation about food or something along those lines...by all means tweet it!
Tweeting while you are out and about brings a new level to the conversations that you can start and participate in via Twitter.  Rather than just sitting at your computer relaying links back and forth you can actually talk to others about activities that you are taking part in.  If you see a beautiful sunrise or sunset maybe describe it and ask others to share what they are seeing at that time.  Or better yet...take a picture of it and send it to something like Twitpic so that everyone can share in what you are seeing.  Or even take a video using Qik (or one of the others) and share the video through Twitter.  Using Twitpic and Qik are up to you, those are just the ones that I use, but there are many others out there that you can find and use.
Just be safety conscious while sending tweets, pictures or videos to Twitter (or anywhere else for that matter).  If you do not want to divulge your real location or identity then don’t take pictures of yourself or anything that will positively identify your or your location.
So go out...have fun...tweet about it...start a conversation...ENGAGE!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Blogging Anonymously

 

Many of us want to speak out, tell our stories, share our experiences and help others by telling things as they are. Partial map of the Internet based on the Janua... However, for safety reasons many are concerned or even scared to do so, and with good reason.  A person who still has a protective order against their abuser because of past violence and threats made can’t exactly feel (or be) safe blabbing everything that happened to them all over the internet.  Those that were abused as children and now still talk to the same people that abused them; may be reluctant to talk about what happened. 

There are ways that you can still share your story; not only to help others but as a stepping stone in your own healing process.  Many people make up online personalities to use for social networking and blogging.  No one says that you have to use your real name, your actual location or anything personal.  If you go the route of making up an online personality to blog and join social networking sites with make sure you do not give yourself away (for those that you wish to remain anonymous).

Here are a few of the most common mistakes that I have seen where someone with a made up screen name has ‘outted’ themselves:

  • If you don’t want someone you know in real life to find your new online identity, don’t tell anyone in real life about your identity.  Things have a habit of spreading to the people you don’t want them to.
  • Don’t use the same email account for everything.  When you make up an online personality give it its own email account.  Use a free email provider, don’t make a new account with your home internet provider.   Don’t link this new made up account with your old accounts at all.
  • Don’t post/use real pictures of you, your family, your pets, etc. 
  • If you promote your new blog or profile from your real profile say something like “I just found this blog/person” or “Reading this interesting post”  or something along those lines.  If someone asks you if that is really you, well then you must decide if you tell them or not.
  • Don’t use the real names of anyone you may be talking about on your blog or profile.  Many people will use just the first initial of everyone, but if someone that knows you and those people read what you have written it isn’t hard to put initials and details together.
  • Use a different location than where you are and a different time zone.  Usually you can adjust these in the settings area of many blogs and profiles.
  • Don’t use a made up name that has any meaning to you or that could make someone think of you.  If your favorite animal is tigers, lets say, then don’t make your username tiger something.  If you prefer to use a real sounding name don’t use something like your middle name and your grandma’s last name, others can figure that out.  Make up something that is totally not you.  If you want a real sounding new identity try this site:  http://www.fakenamegenerator.com/gen-female-us-us.php

There are many many other things that I’m sure could be added to the list above.  If you have something to add please leave it in a comment on this post!

I have had the discussion with others about whether it is ‘right’ to use a fake identity to tell your ‘truth’.  My opinion on that is that if it is keeping a person safe (and safety is the primary factor in my mind) and helping them and others at the same time...then sure why not use a fake identity online.

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Twitter Crash Course

 

I wanted to go ahead and get this Twitter thing out of the way before I really get into the blogging stuff (tomorrow I will post more on blogging anonymously).  There are still a lot of people that are not using twitter, and most of the reasons that I have heard are because they have nothing they want to share that publicly and that much.  This is completely understandable, actually if it weren’t for my advocacy, awareness and coaching I would not Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...have joined in the twitter craze.  However, now that I am on there I do use it for some minor personal stuff. 

Twitter is a great way to get into social networking; especially for abuse survivors.  I say this because you can make an account that has nothing to do with your real name and you can begin to connect to others that are abuse survivors as well.  This helps to build communications and lets you know that you are not alone in this.  It also can help with trust issues that we all face once we are away from the trauma and abuse.  You can begin, even on a surface level, to communicate back and forth with others without having to even know who they are and without them knowing who you are.

I would also suggest that when you join twitter...don’t just follow people that talk about nothing but abuse, violence, trauma, etc.  It is harder (if not impossible) to heal if all you take in everyday is more stories about abuse.  If you have a hobby do a search for others that share that same hobby.  I follow people that tweet about crochet and reading; I also follow those that tweet about different healing techniques such as Reiki, tapping, Yoga, meditation, Law of Attraction, etc.  So, be diverse and follow many people, it is actually more fun that way! 

The rest of this post is for those that are new to twitter.  There are things that may have you scratching your head in confusion and you aren’t even sure where to look to figure it out.  I’m going to start with the symbols used within the messages and what they mean and how to use them; as this seems to be the one thing that most people give up using twitter because of.

  • @ -- this is the symbol you use directly in front of a profile name to reply to someone specifically (ie @TLCoaching), everyone else can read this tweet.  The reason you use this is to get the other person’s attention.  All of your mentions (@’s) are on one page or depending on which twitter client you use they are in one column, that way you can see who specifically has said something to you.  You can also use this to mention, recommend, or give credit to another twitterer.  Using the @ in front of a profile name creates a link to that profile that is clickable.
  • # -- this is called the hashtag and by putting this symbol in front of a word you create a hashtag that is searchable (#domesticviolence).  Do not use spaces in hastags, if you do only the first word is picked up.  If you make up an abbreviation to use as a hashtag, send out a tweet explaining it, so that your followers will know what it means.  Using the # in front of words makes a link to the search page that is clickable.
  • d -- you use the letter d in front of a profile name to send a direct message to someone that no one but that person sees.  (d TLCoaching).  There is a space after the ‘d’. 
  • RT -- this means re-tweet, you use this when you are copying exactly what someone else tweeted (RT @TLCoaching).  You still use the @ in front of the profile name because that gives a link to the person who sent it.  This is a polite thing to do, you will upset people if you constantly forward their tweets without giving them the credit.

Other things to keep in mind:

  • When you send a tweet that you want to have re-tweeted make it short enough so others CAN re-tweet it.  If they have to work too hard in shortening it themselves many won’t.
  • If you send something that you want others to pass on just add a (PLS RT) to the beginning or end, don’t be shy about asking people to pass it on, they will.
  • If you want to RT something that has been RT’d several times and all the profiles are taking up the 140 characters; delete them all except the original person who sent it (this should be the profile name closest to the message).  If you have room then you could also leave on the person that you are following that passed it on so that you saw it.
  • Texting slang/shortcuts are helpful but do confuse people sometimes.  Make sure you are using widely known shortcuts to cut down on confusion.  If you need to figure out what a certain abbreviation or slang term is a good place to look is Internet Slang Dictionary & Translator or Netlingo.

That’s about it!  There are other things that you will figure out as you go along!  If you have questions either ask on twitter (others will help you along) or post your comments and questions here and I will help you if I can.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

To Blog or Not to Blog, That is the Question...

 

If you are like several people that I know and have worked with you feel like you want to start telling everyone about the abuse that you have endured.  Some decide to do that from the awareness stance, some decide to go into prevention work, and others decide to just tell their own stories and encourage others to heal through knowing they aren't alone.  Regardless of your reason for wanting to speak out, you are now faced with the question of:  How do I do this safely and What is the best way for me to reach others?  Is blogging really for me?; is another question that many think about when trying to decide to start a blog or not.

Do you like to write?  Do you keep a journal and feel that you would like to share parts of it with others to help them in their healing?  Whether or not you have good spelling, grammar or typing skills should not matter in your decision to start blogging. 

Perhaps you are not ready to start blogging or just the thought of it is giving you anxiety attacks...for various reasons.  You could also consider micro-blogging through a service such as twitter.com or using the notes and/or status section of a facebook.com profile to get started with.

There are so many different platforms out there for blogging that it would be impossible for me to cover every one of them.  I personally like blogger.com the best for those that are new to blogging.  I recommend viviti.com for those that want a website and blog meshed together.  I have used wordpress.com and personally I don't like it simply because I can not customize and tweak things the way I can with blogger and viviti.

Before you begin blogging or micro-blogging you need to think about whether or not you will be in danger if your abuser finds out that you are telling the world what they have done to you.  The great thing about the internet is that you can speak out with out identifying yourself or putting yourself in danger.

Another thing to think about before you use your real name...do you have kids?  Do they already know everything you plan to blog about (including details you may include at times)?  If you have kids and would rather they NOT read everything you plan to blog, then you may also want to use a fake name.

If you need to remain anonymous yet would like to have a real sounding name so that your readers will take you seriously; visit this website: http://www.fakenamegenerator.com/gen-female-us-us.php to generate an entirely random name and location to use. 

One thing to keep in mind is this:  If you don't want to write or blog and someone else is telling you that you should...then you should think about whether or not to even start a blog.  If you aren't ready to write about what has happened, well then you are not ready; period.  Although many are helped greatly in their healing process through writing, there are those that are not helped at all.  There are even some of us that fear writing when we first start thinking about it, after what we have been through.

So, if you don't want to do it, then don't; and do not let anyone try to force you into it.  (Unless of course it is a medical professional; which I am not....then you may want to at least discuss it with them)

If you have any questions about this or how to get started please leave a comment!

Go Empower Yourself!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Best Results for Busy People: Organize Yourself for Spring Cleaning

I subscribe to the email newsletter Best Results for Busy People and thought the below would be helpful for everyone. 

The tradition of spring cleaning date back to ancient cultures, and though we tend to think of it as occurring only in locales with cold winters, the act of readying our homes for spring has long been celebrated world-wide. The origins of the ritual vary by culture, with ancient Persians "shaking the house" as part of a New Year's observance of "khouneh tekooni", while observant Jews, in shedding their homes of "chametz" (unleavened foods) in advance of Passover, clean even the tiniest crevices and corners. Members of the Eastern Orthodox Church observe Clean Week, sweeping clean their homes as the week of Great Lent approaches.  In North America, the concept really took hold in the 19th century when homesteaders found the spring air was warm enough to allow for opening doors and windows, cool enough that insects wouldn't be a problem, and windy enough to blow dust away from the homestead.

Cleaning and organizing aren't the same, but they go hand-in-hand. Cleaning is about getting rid of dirt, cobwebs and dust, and organizing creates functional systems that save time and money. But since you can't
clean if clutter is in the way and it's really hard to organize things that are dirty, we're going to look at how you can organize your spring cleaning.

1)      Break It Down To Build It Up
It's important to take baby steps when approaching the spring cleaning process so that you don't get overwhelmed! Just as a room (or house or car) full of clutter does not get that way overnight, one should not
expect to be able to reverse a year (or five years) of clutter or schmutz in one day.
I advise clients to pick just one room, and start
small. Go drawer-by-drawer or cabinet-by-cabinet and take everything out of one small space, and only put back the items you'd choose all over again if you had to acquire them for the very first time. Think of it as
a zero-based budget, where you don't have any assumptions regarding what has a "right" to stay, only this is a budget for your space instead of your money. For example, if you're going to start in the kitchen, take everything out of the freezer (and only the freezer), wash it down (or defrost it, if you must) and then only put back items you can identify and still
want to eat. Be realistic with yourself - it doesn't matter whether they're leftovers from last Thanksgiving or from an expensive restaurant dinner - just ask yourself if you (or your family) will really eat it.  Then, just as we discussed in our March and May 2010
Bonus Room articles on organizing kitchens and deep freezers, group the food types together so that all the chicken, all of the desserts, all of the vegetables, etc. are in their own sub-sections. If you still have energy, do the same with the fridge and pantry, one shelf at a time, until you've eliminated what must go and have sorted and grouped what will stay. For food items, check http://StillTasty.com to learn how long foods are still safe and nutritious. For cabinets and drawers, pull everything out so you can clean and analyze. If you've never used the strawberry pitter or the ricer or fondue pot (but oh, how could you not make fondue if you had the chance?), send them to new homes and stop letting them live rent-free in your space. If you're worn out, stop there, and plan what project you'll do the next day. Spring cleaning need not be completed in one day or weekend as Ma Ingalls might have done it. In fact, you might maintain more enthusiasm for the process if you break it down into smaller steps for each day.

2)      Embrace Dishpanned Hands
Clients and readers often ask me what tools I most recommend people buy to help them get organized. I think they're surprised by how often I advise not going to a store at all, but by "shopping" in one's own home or office. It's amazing how many baskets, tubs and containers we have which go unused (or ill-used) which could serve our needs. Take, for example, the lowly dishpan. It's rubber or
plastic, it's cheap (usually available in dollar stores or Walmart or Target for under $3) and it's a superior solution to myriad household storage problems. Not sure what a dishpan looks like? Here's a traditional 12-quart dishpan in a spiffy red: http://is.gd/03FG1x.
Use dishpans as easy-to-slide-out drawers under the sinks in your bathroom or kitchen, and on pantry shelves so that if something spills or leaks, it will drip into the washable dishpan and not onto other food, cleaning items or toiletries. Clients are often amazed
when I take all of the cleaning supplies from
underneath a kitchen sink (dishwashing liquid,
dishwasher detergent, spare sponges and rubber gloves, steel wool pads, floor cleaner, all-purpose cleanser, etc.) and fit it all neatly in one or two dishpans under the sink. It's a tiny change that rids the cabinet of dripping messes and toppling containers, and makes it so simple to identify when you have duplicates
and when you need to restock. Pull everything out of the area under the sinks in the kitchen and bathroom and group them by what they do. When you see each type of item side by side, it's easy to combine three almost-empty bottles of your favorite shampoo to free up space. Keep cleaning supplies in one dishpan, bath & body products in another. Dishpans aren't just great in kitchens, pantries and
bathrooms. A few other ideas:

--Stack toddler books vertically in one or two dishpans on a low table or even the floor. Normally, we array books on shelves, perhaps in alphabetical order. But small children can't read the spines of books, so they need to pull one (or all) down to get meaningful information. By making books stand tall and face outward, children can let their fingers do the walking
and flip each book towards themselves to find the most appealing cover. The rest of the books stay self-contained. Dubious? I worked in a public library as a teenager, and all pre-school picture books were arranged in a few
dozen such dishpans or tubs, sorted only by the first letter of the author's last name, and it definitely saved cleanup time.

--In craft rooms, use dishpans on open shelves for craft items, whether for adults or children. You can sort yarn types, paints vs. markers and crayons, cloth of different weights or colors, and so on. Label the front-facing portion of the dishpans so that you can
delegate "clean-up" time to someone else.

3) Think Outside the Box
Over and over, we professional organizers tell people to "sort like items with like" when we create homes. Indeed, the rules I always share include:

-- Everything should have home, but not everything has to live with you!  The Pareto Rule or 80/20 rule says that 80% of success
comes from 20% of the effort. And 80% of the time you're wearing the same basic 20% of your wardrobe and your kids are playing with the same 20% of their toys. This is why paring things down gives you a much bigger bang for your buck than you expect -- because you
usually don't miss the things you purge, even though you probably think you are going to, which is what blocks you from downsizing in the first place.

--Things should live with others like them.  All your coffee mugs should be in the same cabinet. All your shoes, except the ones on your feet right now, should live together in their little shoe community in your closet. If it seems like it will take too much time to put them away, ask yourself how much more time
it will take to find them when the kids, the pets and midnight stumblings in the dark knock them under the bed.

--Things should live where they're used.  You'd never find your toothbrush in the middle of the garage, right?  The best place to keep something is where you use it, so if your kids never study in the kitchen, don't let them just leave their knapsacks in the kitchen because that's the first room they hit when walking in the house--their stuff should go right to
their study areas. Similarly, you should have one central hub where you pay your bills, and then you should keep a box or tray there with stamps, address labels, a calculator and envelopes.

--Things should live according to the rules of
proximity and utility. Loyal readers know that my fancy way of saying if you need it often, keep it close. If you should be using something all the time, whether it's the dictionary, tax code, or moisturizer, it should be at your
fingertips.  These are the things that deserve Prime Real Estate on your desk or the bulletin board next or your bedside table. The more you use it, or should use it, the closer it should live to you.  If something is hard to get to, you're going to come up with excuses not to use it,
read it, study it or fix it. Conversely, if you only use something once a year, like a serving tray or crock pot you only use at the holidays, put it in less-accessible storage and put a note on your calendar or in your tickler file to get it
out on November 15th.

--Know What's Living Where!
Label where things should go, just like your house number labels the house so the postal carrier knows where to deliver the mail.  Nobody can complain that they didn't put things away because they didn't know where something belonged if the home is labeled. If
that means labeling the inside of the kitchen or
bathroom cabinets, that's OK.  Even if your kids can't read words yet, they can read pictures, so a drawing or photo can tell a child this bin is for Barbie dolls, and that bin is for Matchbox cars. With these five rules in place, you can usually tell your family my golden rule: "Don't put things down, put them away" and they might actually do it.

These tips aside, however, a reality check is sometimes warranted. For example, I make a lot of pasta - ravioli, pierogies, linguini, etc. I have four nested pots in a lower cabinet. For more than a dozen years, I've stored my strainers and colanders with the pots because these I use them for similar, associated tasks
related to the larger aspect of making a pasta dinner. However, my lower cabinets have half-shelves; thus, the pots are on the bottom and I have always had to bend down to reach halfway back, behind the pots, to get a colander. Recently, while putting away the dishes from the dishwasher, I realized that my most-often-used colander fit perfectly nested underneath my glass mixing bowls, which I use to mix salads... which I often eat with pasta. After more than a dozen years of having a
split-second of unconscious annoyance at having to bend to get the colander, I've had two lovely weeks where making pasta is annoyance-free.

My point? Organizing rules are designed to help guide you. If, while you're spring cleaning your kitchen (or bathroom, or bedroom, or garage...), there's a storage option that makes something easier to access and easier
to put away, and which will incline you to use it more often (and more joyfully), set the rules aside.

4)      Safety Is the Best Medicine
Now that flu season is behind us, it's the perfect time clean out the medicine cabinet and dispose of expired medicines responsibly and safely. However, please take
caution. Generally, you should NOT flush medicines or wash them down the drain. The FDA does recommend flushing a small number of prescription medicines, as indicated by this list: http://is.gd/KK4zWF Protect children and animals by taking a few extra steps: pour pills into a sealable plastic bag, add some water to dissolve, then add kitty litter or coffee grounds to the bag to make it unappealing to any little
hands (or paws) that might come across it.
If you're uncertain as to how to dispose of a
particular over-the-counter or prescription medicine, consult your pharmacist or see if there are prescription medicine drop-off locations in your community. And participate in the Drug Enforcement Agency's Second Annual National Prescription Drug
Take-Back Day on April 30th from 10a-2p. To learn more,
and to find a Take-Back Day collection site near you, visit:
http://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html

5)      Don't Pay the Clutter Tax!
Clutter makes it harder to clean, and when it blocks access to what you want or need, you waste time looking or money on buying duplicates. That's a "clutter tax", which you pay with your hard-earned money and your
always-dwindling supply of time. Like pile of clothes or toys, paper can be quite the
obstacle. But, if you clear the clutter that sometimes prevents you from handling finances quickly and easily, it's like getting a "clutter tax" refund! Spring is the perfect time to shred the old receipts and statements that don't relate to tax records, ownership of big-ticket items or things you're going to return. Office Depot has a Shred-While-You-Wait service for
.99/lb. And on that note, here's a link to a special three-part Office Depot coupon:
http://f.chtah.com/i/48/1237020949/CPD_TaxSolutionsFly_0411.pdf
Shred up to five pounds of papers (and circumvent those nasty identity thieves), photocopy your tax documents and more...all at no cost. (I love saving you money!) If you're not sure what documents and receipts are safe
to shred, consult a records retention schedule, such as the one in my ebook, "Do I Have To Keep This Piece of Paper?"
http://www.juliebestry.com/products/keep_this_piece_of_paper/index.html.

6)      Everything should have a home, but not everything has to live with you!
That rule is so important, it appears twice in this article! Just as you clean out the cobwebs and dust, take this opportunity to let go of the excess items you don't need. Whether that's clothing that no longer fits or flatters, furniture that's blocking your space, or kitchen tools you never use, freeing up space in your life can be a blessing to others. Donate to Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity's Re-Store, your house of worship or any non-profit, and you can be thrice-blessed. You'll eliminate the clutter from your own space, give someone the opportunity to extend the life of the item, and perhaps even take a tax deduction (next year) on
your donation.

Organizing your spring cleaning process needn't be overwhelming. Break the tasks down into tiny steps (in tiny spaces), clean (to remove gunk), then clean OUT (i.e., purge), and finally, organize what remains. As you go forward, putting a little spring cleaning in your habits may even put a spring in your step!

Julie Bestry is a professional organizer, speaker and author, who helps individuals and businesses save time and money, reduce stress and increase productivity through new organizational skills and systems. For information on how Julie can turn your chaos into serenity, visit Best Results
Organizing at http://www.juliebestry.com.