Author Archives: Amber Whitener

About Amber Whitener

Owner of Virtual IT Assistants and

Talking to Our Kids About Feelings

Feelings. Is it important to talk to our kids about how to deal with their feelings? Many see it as an innate skill. It’s not something most parents think about. We are too busy making sure they brush their teeth properly and get to bed at a decent hour and get their homework done every night.

Why is it so important to discuss dealing with feelings with our kids?
The truth is we don’t even think about how we deal with our own feelings. We just do it and assume our kids will know how to do it naturally. But that isn’t always the case. This may be why we see so many of the future generations acting out their feelings by bullying and drama… because they don’t know how else to deal with them.

The Simple Truth:
#1: All of us are always having feelings.
#2: If we don’t deal with our feelings, we are doomed to repeatedly feel them until we consciously resolve them.

Good Feelings

Good feelings are easy to “resolve” so-to-speak because we naturally and fully want to accept them and experience them to our brain’s satisfactory completion.

During “good” experiences, our minds naturally say: “Yes, it happened. Yes, I am happy it. So I accept it and can move on.”

Bad Feelings

It’s the “bad” feelings we suppress and when we do this, our minds deny our brain the necessary resolution of the experience.

During a “bad” experience, our minds often try to process the information differently. “I don’t want to feel (insert feeling: scared, sad, bad) so I am going to pretend this isn’t/didn’t/or can never happen.” Avoidance of the feelings verses allowance and acceptance of the feelings your brain is trying to associate with the bad experience resolves nothing.

Suppressed feelings keep coming back to haunt you until you allow yourself to feel them.
Do you ever notice how a bad memory (perhaps of something that 1embarrassed you or 2scared you or even 3made you feel very angry because an injustice was done to someone you care very much about) can sometimes pop up in your mind at an odd or inconvenient time?
You simply cringe and tell yourself: “Don’t think about it.” or even catch yourself saying something out loud like “I can’t believe you said that!” or “No!” – Chances are if you do this, someone is going to come into the room and say “Who are you talking to?” ;) It happens to everyone.

These are memories that have unresolved feelings associated with them that have not been dealt with. They have been suppressed because for some reason or another many of us have taught ourselves that it is better to “brush it off” and pretend it never happened.

But it did happen and when those memories come back to us, it is like our subconscious mind is bringing it back to our attention to remind us we need to deal with the feelings that happened during that experience.

In the book: “Organizing for Life” and it is very interesting that the author states that depression is your mind or body’s attempt not to feel. This is why suppressing your feelings is very bad for you, you can end up training your brain to stop feeling the way it needs to.

What We’ve Been Teaching Our Kids Might Not Be Working!

I have a 12 year old and I didn’t realize that many many kids (and even at very young ages) are taught by society (including us parents) and self to keep many of their feelings in check and conceal them as best as possible. People who do this well are even revered and thought of a “cool” and strong in our society. So we do know that to thrive in our world, we do need to do this sort of stifling and controlling emotions in the moment of the experience up to a point.

We say things like: “brush it off” and “shake it off” and even “let it go” has come to mean the same thing. It has become another way of saying “Don’t think about it. / Don’t deal with it.”

How to Teach Someone How to Deal with Emotions / Feelings

This is more difficult than you might think. First, we must know and deal with our own feelings well.

We must somehow teach our children that yes, controlling your emotions and “keeping your dignity” is very important. Learning to press on in the face of adversity is sometimes very courageous and can take them very far. We must also teach them to learn to deal with their feelings in the right time too.

To Deal: Feel, then Heal

Allow yourself to feel the disappointment, embarrassment, fear, sadness, and even anger when the time is right and your mind will probably not let you forget to do so. The very next time you are doing your homework (or are in the middle of doing whatever it is you might be doing) and a not-so-great memory pops back up in your mind. You must take a moment and allow yourself to feel the feelings that were suppressed during the experience. It’s not like you need hours to let yourself fully feel an emotion. It only takes a minute or two for the most part.

What Self Talk Might Look Like When Dealing With Your Feelings

Ok, so you’ve decided or been mentally reminded that now is a good time to allow yourself to really feel the feeling. It can go something like this:

“Ok, yes, that happened.” Feel it. “Yes, that kinda sucked.” Or “Yeah, that kinda stunk.” (If you are a parent who doesn’t like that word. Make sure you feel it completely like your brain needs for you to.

And then you can “let it go” and get your mind back on task.

Keep your discussion with your kids short.
Remember that kids have short attention spans. When discussing major, important issues like this: do your very best not to ramble or digress!

This is not a cure all for dealing with tragedy and may not help everyone all the time. But from one parent to another, I wanted to go ahead and write this all out in case you might have been teaching your kids to “sweep it all under the rug”. Remember, there is only so much room under the rug. We have to deep clean sometimes.

I wouldn’t even have thought it to be an important topic until I talked to my daughter about how she deals with middle school stress and all that wonderfullness. :)

We need to remember (even for ourselves) that bad feelings aren’t ever really bad, they are a part of a well rounded life and if we never had bad feelings then we’d never have good feelings either. There would be no distinction. It’s like if we never had Winter, would Summer all the time really be that great? We would have no idea.

How to Have a GOOD Day (in 4 Steps)

Take just 2 minutes right now to give yourself back the power to choose whether your day is good or bad. If the day starts poorly or even just average, you can fall back on this 4 step process. (You’ll never need more than two minutes to do it… except the first time it may take 3 or 4.)

Step # 1. Turn off auto-pilot. That’s how you’re allowing more and more of life to pass you by. Young beautiful girl driver in glasses with a wheel

Step # 2. Take a look at whatever time you have left in your day (don’t even look at tomorrow, you’ll get to that tomorrow) and see its full potential. Choose the potential you are fully capable of filling with good communication and action. (You do not get to depend on luck although that pleasantly happens too.)

Step # 3. Recognize that each minute in your day there is action (toward or away from your full potential) happening. Even if you are totally still and “not doing anything”, that in itself is a choice and an action toward end result.

Step # 4. Realize step number 3, and then begin using your minutes the way you’ve always wanted to (the way you know you can). They will grow into well spent hours, and then well spent days, etc.

Live on purpose. Work on purpose. Spend time with loved ones on purpose. Walk to wherever it is you are going on purpose. Eat on purpose.

Whatever important thing it is that you have allowed to happen in your life through auto-pilot: realize it and put it back on manual.

Look back on your day, only at the end of your day. And appreciate every small step on your journey.

As creator of your business and success remember that YOU are your greatest asset!

Ultimate Collection of Free Stock Photo Sites

Here is a fabulous collection of sites where you can search for amazing free and of good quality vector images and stock photos. Have a look at these sites, and share any great free stock photo sites with us all in the comments.

Some of the sites listed offer free stock photos only for personal use, all photos are the property of their respective authors check their policy before using their collection.

Free digital photos – This one requires an attribution to post free images, but not a required login. –

I am a firm believer in giving credit where it is due anyway and these guys have tons of great stockphotos for bloggers.


Setup an account at istockphoto and every week offers a free image of the week that you can download. These might be useful for your blogposts. ( I do this quite often.)


They have beautiful photographs there and if you are like me and prefer to buy in bulk, see if one of the RetailMeNot coupon codes works for the plan you want: IStock – RetailMeNot.

Bing Images

Search for clip art
Click or tap the License drop down menu, and pick the licensing option you want.

(Tip from Microsoft) If you’re looking for clip art pictures, type “clip art” as part of your search (e.g. dog clip art or border clip art).


Please NOTE: I have not tried all of these. I copied this information from another blog that has been down for a while now. I had it bookmarked in my browser because I would often search for free or cheap photo stock for blog posts. For reasons unknown, the Softalize site suddenly became unavailable since early 2010. So I decided to go re-post it here to share it with you because I have found it so helpful.

Again: PLEASE READ the disclaimers and copyright info before downloading and using anyone’s images on anything for your personal use or business!






















This was originally posted by extinct blog called Softalize, originally posted April 14, 2009 titled: “16 Ultimate Collection of Free Stock Photo Sites” and has now been improved and reposted by me. <3

Write Now: Simple Writing Dos and Don’ts

write nowNote: If you already have a main idea / topic for writing and simply need help getting started, skip to the last section: Do: GET STARTED NOW.

Do start with a purpose and stay focused on your topic!
Ask yourself: “What do I want my reader to learn and/or feel after reading my article?”
Write out your message as clearly and completely as you can right away. This does not have to begin your paper or article, but it will help you remain on topic.

Don’t use repetition.
It is a poor habit of many writers and good bloggers to repeat themselves. Remember to get an editors input on repeating thoughts. Even if you acknowledge it with ‘in other words’ repetition is often a waste of time for your audience. (I battle this habit myself.)

Do include proof or facts that support your message.
Have at least one or two supporting outside sources that prove your stance. If you need a little “fluff” you can add one or two facts that disprove another person’s argument. It’s completely acceptable to disagree with others, but it would be wise to get someone else’s opinion on whether you come across in earnest or just argumentative.

Don’t jump back and forth presenting both sides of an argument.
There is nothing more daunting than reading an article from an undecided author. While it is important to show both sides of an argument, it is more important (as the writer) to solidify your own firm stance for your readers.

Do use paragraphs to separate different views of an argument.
If you have sufficient details to support two or more different sides of an issue you should put each standpoint into its own separate paragraph. Check out Paragraph Dos and Don’ts for more on this.

Don’t let paragraphs get too long.
Paragraphs that take up a half or a whole page could probably be broken down into three or four paragraphs. You could even use headers, bullet points, graphs or even pictures to replace many globs of words! :)

You may have come across this article because you were searching for the right rules and formats to get your message across to your reader as optimally as possible.

I am going to share some of the best advice I have ever gotten as far as writing. It was a time when I was to write a paper for a college class and I had unfortunately waited until the last minute to even begin. I called up a ADD coach I happened to be working for: Frank Coppola who still does coaching at

I told him it was very important I started and finished it right away, but I had some sort of writer’s block. And he said these very simple golden words that I absolutely needed to hear.

“First” he said, “say what you’re going to say and then simply build on it from there.”

Then I realized I was making it too complicated. even though I technically knew what I wanted to say I was waiting for the perfect words. <- And that hidden habit of trying to make my first draft as perfect as possible was the reason I kept procrastinating. I had always felt it was a waste of time to write a second draft.

That's the beauty of writing on a computer, we no longer need to re-write anything. It isn't like we are writing with pen and paper and white-out anymore. The first, second, and final drafts are all on the computer screen now. We can copy and paste and rearrange our words so much easier now than we could in grade school when we were learning about the "process of writing".

So go ahead: Just say what you're going to say.

One Last Tip: For marketing or persuasive writing you may want to buy or borrow Hypnotic Writing by Joe Vitale.

Starting your day with non-GMO Cheerios?

cheeriosHave you heard the news about Cheerios yet? General Mills begins selling Cheerios without genetically modified ingredients

A large company like General Mills turning away from genetically modified cornstarch and genetically modified sugar must be an EXPENSIVE undertaking, I thought. So I looked into this more.

The FDA says the GMO’s have been in our food for 20 years and they are found in more than 70% of all processed foods you find at the grocery store.

Here’s the multi-billion dollar question: Why Use Genetically Modify Foods?

The first glance argument pro-GMO’s: genetically changing plants to be stronger, require fewer herbicides and pesticides, and grow bigger to feed more people sounds like a great thing!

However, taking the genes from other organisms like viruses and bacteria to genetically change the crop that is produced by these plants is too complex to have only good results.

Our own bodies are repairing our cells and DNA all the time with the fuel that we give it. So, isn’t it time we really look in to these genetic modifications we are making in our food?

Genetic Roulette by Jeffrey M. Smith discusses health risks and documented proof of negative reactions seen in animals and humans consuming GMO foods.

The Significance for Them – the Company According to an article on money CNN article: General Mills: Original Cheerios are GMO free a GM spokesman Mike Siemienas said the changes apply only to original Cheerios and replacing genetic modified ingredients from the other varieties like Honey Nut, Apple Cinnamon, or even Multi Grain Cheerios would be “difficult, if not impossible“.

General Mills blog post: The One and Only Cheerios says that General Mills’ position on GMOs hasn’t changed.”

The Significance for Us – the Consumers

1. For Today This effort should encourage awareness of how GMO’s affect our environment and our health.

2. For Tomorrow We must learn a lesson here and recognize how financially and ethically irresponsible it may be to use these scientific advancements without long-term testing it’s effects on human health.

This is great news anyway, because we are starting somewhere! Kudos to General Mills for making this effort.

A $1 Here and a $1 There

Christmas Charity

A few months ago, I realized something. Many stores I was going to would ask me to donate a dollar for one charity or another.

Costco asked me to donate to Riley Hospital, Walgreens would ask for a dollar for the American Cancer Society, and now I must confess that I even enjoy a Taco Bell burrito every once in a while (apologies to Dr. Lisa ;) because it was there that I realized something about a simple dollar for charity.

After I ordered at the drive thru the attendant asked for a $1 donation to support local programs to keep High School students in school and graduating.  His spiel was very hurried and I didn’t even understand what he said. I think that’s why I took notice. Two things happened simultaneously.
Taco Bell Supporting Your Community

  1. I realized that my automatic response to the requests for charity from corporate sources had too often become: “Not today, thank you.”
  2. I also realized that I had a habit of not really listening to what my donations were being requested for.

I asked him to repeat what he said, simply curious about why they were collecting dollar donations when he didn’t end the spiel with “hospital” or “foundation”. I decided supporting teens in any community was a very great cause and said: “Ok, yes.”

The speaker sort of paused and asked “Really?”

This took me by surprise again. “Yes.” I said.

“Well, thank you very much!” he enthused.

At the window I received a coupon for a free taco and genuine gratitude for the donation. Another two realizations happened for me.

  1. The response of almost disbelief resounded with me on my way home. Perhaps I was the first person of the day to donate to the cause. Perhaps, it just didn’t happen very much at all.
  2. I wondered at the coupon for the free taco. What kind of future are we cultivating where companies are finding it necessary to create incentives for patrons to donate to the betterment of our community?

The entire situation was very thought provoking as you can see. I kept the coupon in my bible to remind me of that day always. Since then I have made a conscious effort to give charity, and even if I do this two or three times a week it is only ever amounts to $10-$15 a month.

I felt very blessed that day to simply have the dollar to give.  And I understood this could be why Acts 20:35 mentions: “… we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

It does feel good to give.

The origin of the word charity means “Christian love of one’s fellow man”.  Is it any wonder that during the Christmas season we will have many more stores asking us for our dollars for charities? The salvation army bell ringers will be at the entrance to every mall and the food drives will be soliciting donations for the many families in need of wholesome holiday meals this Christmas.

This could be the year we all decide to give a little more. Maybe we won’t wait for someone to ask us for our canned goods, but we could go a little out of our way to find a donation box.  Maybe it will be the first year we sign up to buy a Christmas present for an Angel Tree child. Or maybe we’ll remember to drop some money in a Salvation Army bucket on the next trip to the supermarket (even if it is just the pennies and nickels and dimes we’ve been meaning to clean out of our vehicle’s extra cup holder).

Charity is love, and we all know how much the world could use a little more of that all year long. May God bless you so much that you have more than plenty of extra dollars to be the blessing for others this Christmas.

Written with love by,
Amber, the girl who edits your Excell for Life newsletter (Dec 9, 2013)