Be a Better Person -- Starting Today

If you’ve been feeling a little crabby lately -- maybe you feel more stressed or extra burdened than ever -- it is possible to give yourself a personal reboot and be the kind of person others admire.

Our experts offer seven ways to increase your generosity, patience and tolerance -- starting today.

Tip No. 1: Fill Your Personal “Pitcher”

Before you can be bighearted towards others, you have to do what certified health and wellness coach and registered dietician Adrienne Raimo calls “filling your pitcher” first. “This means taking care of yourself and your body,” says Raimo. “To be the best you can be, do your best to eat well, exercise and reduce stress. Otherwise, you’ll feel depleted.”

Tip No. 2: Ask Yourself Some Tough Questions

“The first step to becoming your best self requires brutal honesty,” says Kerry Connelly, a certified life coach. “Ask yourself what you’re good at, what your faults are and what are the things that repeatedly come up that hold you back. By becoming aware of your constant frustrations and the ways in which you’re responsible for them, you’ll experience a greater sense of peace and well-being.”

Tip No. 3: Find a Way to Be Compassionate

So much of our negative actions are based in fear, says Jen Hancock, author of several books, including The Humanist Approach to Happiness. Ironically, the antidote to that fear is compassion. “When we view negative people and situations through a compassionate lens, we no longer view people who scare us as giant ogres. They’re frail humans, just like us.” Next time someone cuts you off in traffic or posts something on your Facebook feed that gets under your skin, think a kind thought: “Maybe he was in a rush because of a family emergency,” or “I may not agree with her, but I admire her passion for her cause.”

Tip No. 4: Own Your Own Stuff

That means taking responsibility for both your successes and failures without beating yourself up for it, says life coach Elaine Taylor-Klaus. “Decide that you’re going to stop making excuses to anyone, especially yourself. No more: ‘Sorry I’m late, there was a slow truck and I hit every light.’ Try, instead: ‘Sorry I’m late. I just didn’t allow myself quite enough time to get here.’”

Tip No. 5: Be Thankful for the Good -- and Bad

It’s not always easy to be thankful for rough times, but they help you to become a better person, suggests Colene Elridge, a life coach in Lexington, Ky. “When you’re experiencing something unfavorable in your life, stop and say, ‘What am I learning from this that I didn't know before?’ Use every experience as an opportunity to learn.”

Tip No. 6: Avoid Gossip and Drama

Resist the temptation to join in the fray when your friends dish about work or the Kardashians. “When we gossip, it’s hard to feel good about ourselves,” says Alanna Zabel, a certified yoga instructor whose company, AZIAM Yoga, created a 30-Day Non-Judgment Challenge this spring. “Judging others will only drag you down.”

Tip No. 7: Always Apologize

If you’ve made a mistake, ‘fess up. “Tempting as it can be to pretend to be perfect, we all fail from time to time,” says Lauren M. Bloom, author of The Art of the Apology: How, When and Why to Give and Accept Apologies. “An effective apology can not only restore trust and heal relationships, it can also help the person making the apology cultivate honesty, humility and empathy -- all wonderful qualities.”

7 Tips to Being a Successful Work-at-Home Mom

Generations ago, staying home with the kids meant a life of housework and homework. Today, it’s likely to include conference calls, invoicing and paychecks, as more women discover the perks of being a work-at-home mom. If you’ve been considering starting your own home-based business, here are seven important tips to keep in mind.

1. Find the right job. If you already have a career in mind, or your current boss has agreed to a telecommuting arrangement, then lucky you! But if you’re not sure what sort of at-home job to pursue, do some research to find a good match for your interests and skills. Websites such as WAHM.com, HBWM.com and RatRaceRebellion.com are excellent resources for “mompreneurs.”

Among the many home-based business options available today are virtual call center and office assistant jobs, social media management, catalog sales, blogging and data entry. Or consider turning a hobby you love, such as photography or jewelry making, into a career.

2. Beware of scams. Steer clear of any company that asks for an up-front fee (although virtual call centers do require a small payment for background checks). Work-at-home expert Christine Durst, co-founder of RatRaceRebellion.com, also warns against clicking links on Facebook threads from people promising business opportunities (“Earn $7,000 a month!”). These are usually recruiters from shady pyramid scheme companies.

3. Know the costs. Depending on your line of work, you’ll probably need to invest in supplies such as shipping materials or software upgrades. Do your homework before you begin to make sure your new job won’t break your budget. If your start-up costs are high, look into options such as small business loans or even a crowdfunding campaign.

And it may take a while before you see a profit, so set aside enough savings to see you through the lean times. “There’s a real misconception out there that you can slap up a blog or start doing direct sales and money will pour in,” says Kelly Land, founder of MoneyMakingMommy.com. “Ask yourself: Can I do this around my current job so I’ll still have an income, or is there another source of income to keep us going while I do this?”

4. Take your job seriously. Just because you’re not putting on high heels in the morning doesn’t mean you’re not working. Set regular hours and stick to them, even if it means letting the housework slide or putting a “Do Not Disturb” sign on your home office door.

5. Have a child care plan. While the point of being a WAHM is being there for your kids, it still pays to have a good support system just in case. A trusted sitter, loving grandparents or a reliable friend can be a lifesaver when you’re dealing with deadlines and a restless toddler all at once.

6. Be prepared to lose sleep. Between work responsibilities and kids’ activity schedules, many work-at-home moms find that their work day is a lot longer than the eight-hour norm. “Getting up before everyone and staying up later was the only way I could stay on track and get things accomplished,” says Land. “A lot of times, I’d just nap when the kids did.”

7. Find time to unwind. Running a business and a family can be stressful, so don’t forget to put some me time in your day. “For me, gaming is how I relieve stress,” says Land. “I have one friend who goes out and weeds when things get crazy, and another who can’t live without her weekly facial. The key is to find a healthy

Going Back to Work After Baby: Get the Job. Ditch the Guilt!

If you’re a new mom who is going back to work, we’re here for you. Read on as we walk you through some job-hunting strategies, how to smooth the transition once you’ve landed a new job and how to deal with ever-present new mom guilt.

Consider All Your Work Experience

If you’ve been out of the workforce for a while, you may not realize what skills you’ll be bringing to the table. Your first step: Make a list of 20 things you’re good at. “Think about all the experience you’ve accumulated since you’ve been home as well as the work you were doing before you had your baby,” suggests Stacia Pierce, a life coach in Orlando, Fla.

Don’t Undersell Yourself

Just because you’re a working mom doesn’t make you less valuable of an employee or less capable of handling all your responsibilities. In your cover letter, emphasize your strengths and your past accomplishments. “Working mothers are known for their capacity for work, ability to prioritize, productivity and their ability to improve team dynamics,” says Liana Downey, executive director of Liana Downey & Associates, a company that offers strategic advice to large governments and nonprofits -- and a mother of two.

Prep for Your Interview

Once you’ve landed an interview, start prepping -- even if you’re exhausted from those late-night feedings. “During your interview, you want to convey that you’re ready to return to work and that you’re excited to get back into the workforce,” says Pierce. To really impress, always take a few minutes to research the person you’re meeting with. “It’s so easy to Google the person beforehand,” says Pierce. “Look at her social media page to see what she’s working on or what she cares about and see if you can add that to the conversation.”

Map out Your Back-to-Work Strategy

Whether you’ve just accepted a job offer or you’re nearing the end of your maternity leave, it’s time to iron out all the details of your now-complicated schedule. “If it’s at all possible, target your start date for four to eight weeks in the future so that you can line up childcare and figure out breast pumping or formula issues,” suggests Lauren Napolitano, a licensed psychologist in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. If you’re pumping, see if your workplace has a mother’s lounge or another quiet room that you can use regularly.

Try Some Test Runs

Even if you’re looking forward to being back in the office, mom guilt is inevitable. To help ease the transition, chat with as many other mothers as you can. “These moms are a great source of information and can tell you how they managed their guilt and anxiety about going back to work,” says Napolitano. Slowly practice spending time away from your baby to get used to your new arrangement. “Try a day out first,” suggests Napolitano. “This full day -- or a few half days -- can help your baby to transition to this arrangement, and it will ultimately help you to adjust to the idea of leaving your baby in the care of others.”

Focus on Polishing

Before that big first day, do a little image enhancement. “In the days leading up to your first day, prepare your outfit, adding an accessory or fresh blouse that makes you feel good about yourself,” says Pierce. “When you wear something new and fresh, it makes you walk taller and feel different. That energy gets across to a new employer.” Just check for spit-up on that new shirt collar before you head out the door.

Get Lost in a Good Book: Your Spring Reading List

Warmer weather means more time to relax in the sun with a good book -- and there are some fantastic must-read books about to hit the stores (or your tablet). Here are some of the most eagerly anticipated new releases of the spring/summer season -- just in time to plan your spring or summer getaway reading! 

Fiction

The One and Only, by Emily Giffin: If you loved her novels about love and marriage, be prepared to be blown away by this tale of a woman from a small college-football town whose life is turned upside down by a tragedy. 

Your Perfect Life, by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke: These two childhood friends joined forces to write a book about -- what else? -- two childhood friends.  But this story has a Freaky Friday twist: BFFs Casey and Rachel wake up after a college reunion to discover that they’ve switched bodies! 

Written in My Own Heart’s Blood, by Diana Gabaldon: The latest in Gabaldon’s

Outlander time-traveling series follows the saga of the Fraser family as their destinies cross between Revolutionary War-era Pennsylvania and twentieth-century Scotland. Family secrets and a kidnapped son add to the intrigue. 

Mr. Mercedes, by Stephen King: The King of thrillers is at it again with a story that rings all too true in these troubled times: A loner who committed mass murder years earlier threatens to strike again, leading a cop to come out of retirement and hunt the killer down before it’s too late. 

More must-read books: The Hurricane Sisters by Dorothea Benton Frank, The Arsonist by Sue Miller, The Transcriptionist, by Amy Rowland, and Cold Cold Heart, by Tami Hoag. 

Nonfiction

My Drunk Kitchen: A Guide to Eating, Drinking, and Going with Your Gut, by Hannah Hart. What began as a goofy joke for a friend -- making a fake cooking video while drinking wine -- turned Hart into an overnight celeb. Now she offers her cooking tips, favorite recipes and, of course, the right cocktails for every dish.

New Life, No Instructions, by Gail Caldwell:  Need a dose of inspiration? You’ll find it in Caldwell’s memoir of grief and hope. After a series of losses -- her mother, her best friend, her dog and her mobility -- she underwent a surgery that brought back not only her ability to walk, but also to believe in herself and in her future.

Save the Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guest, by Jen Doll: Just in time for wedding season!  Doll recalls a lifetime’s worth of invitations, buffets and cocktail dresses as she sums up the whole bridal experience and what it says about relationships today. 

Delancey: A Man, a Woman, a Restaurant, a Marriage, by Molly Wizenberg: Think of it as a Food Network reality show in hardcover. Newlywed Wizenberg supported her husband’s dream of owning a pizzeria -- never realizing how the work and stress of running a restaurant would affect their relationship.

More must-read books: Listen to the Squawking Chicken, by Elaine Lui, Everybody’s Got Something, by Robin Roberts, and a new memoir by Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Purse Matchmaker: Find the Best Bag for Your Personality

You never outgrow them. They never pinch your feet. No wonder most women love to “bag” a new purse each season. No matter what your style or needs, there’s a purse that’s just right for you. Better yet, for every pricey “It” bag, there’s an affordable knockoff near you at fast-fashion fixtures like H&M, Zara, Forever 21 and Uniqlo. Check your “purse”-onality below to find your perfect fit!

Personality: Fun and Easygoing

Your bag: Pouch

This relaxed version of a strapless silhouette has become 2014’s most coveted bag. The relaxed frame suits this year’s upscale sweatshirts, track pants and sneakers. Gotta have it? Lanvin’s gold and blue “paper bags” are spring’s must-haves, while Dries Van Noten’s kaleidoscope-patched soft envelope pouches will make fad followers drool come fall.

Personality: Flexible and Ready for Anything

Your bag: Tote

Call this the SUV of carry-alls. Totes are practical, roomy and perfect for moms and travelers -- especially if they have outer pockets or inner compartments, which save you from digging around in search of your keys. This year’s totes include fun furry styles from Marc Jacobs and Fendi -- but if you opt for that look, be sure to streamline the rest of your outfit or you may be mistaken for a Muppet.

Personality: Unpretentious and Earthy

Your bag: Hobo

Perfect for hippies and cowgirls, these bohemian bags feature slouchy posture, scooped center, long shoulder strap and zipper closures. Add fringe or tassels, and you look ready to head into the sunset. The hobo’s cousin is the bucket bag, named for its shape. Our fave source is eBay, where you may be able to snag a vintage Coach hobo for a song.

Personality: Practical and Organized

Your bag: Saddlebag

Perfect for work and play, saddlebags typically have outside pockets that make it easy to find your smartphone and keys, plus top and side compartments with buckled flaps provide extra organization. Barbour makes stylishly earthy versions of this highly practical purse.

Personality: Elegant and Sophisticated

Your bag: Clutch

They’re not just for evening gowns anymore: These small, simple bags have become a daytime “do” in the last couple of years. Choose one with a loop that you can hang around your wrist to free your hands -- perfect for navigating buffets. Need to carry more than just your lipstick? Go for a larger version with pointed flaps, known as an envelope. We’re expecting 2014’s lust object to be Salvatore Ferragamo’s hard case.

Personality: Retro and Classy

Your bag: Handlebag

This top-clasp, hard-sided purse is perfect for pencil skirts, nipped jackets and other ladylike fashions that evoke the ‘40s and ‘50s. Huge, round-top, hard-sided versions are called doctor’s bags -- a nod to their inspiration. Christian Dior’s yellow or red bags for next fall are gorgeous, but if you go vintage, you might be able to afford Louis Vuitton and Hermès versions. Better yet, ask your mom or grandmother if you can raid her closet!

Personality: Always On-the-go

Your bag: Messenger

Whether you’re dashing about the city or hitting the club, you’ll want this carry-all bag by your side. Smaller versions hold the essentials, while larger versions can take on anything you care to stuff inside. Best of all, we adore the ones we’ve spotted at Kohl’s and J.C. Penny!