Good For You

Five Love Languages

fivelovelanguagesI know it’s hard to believe but sometimes, I get in fights with people. Or more accurately, I get mad at them and steam silently. I know, super helpful.

One thing I’ve learned in my travels is about the five love languages:

If you go on this site, there is a short quiz (30ish questions) that’ll tell you what ways you best appreciate having love expressed to you.

Think mine is ‘words of affirmation’? Nope, it’s ‘quality time’ followed by ‘physical affection’.

So if I’ve ever spent some quality time with you or if I’ve ever hugged you, that was me speaking my love language. (I am not at all a touchy feely person unless I am super comfortable with someone so if I haven’t hugged you yet, don’t be offended! I like to respect people’s space as a general rule.)

The idea is if you know the love language of your partner, your friend, or even your coworker, you can give them what they need to feel valued, appreciated, and, well, loved.

Sometimes we don’t feel the love from someone because they are doing what they think is a great job at expressing their love and appreciation… but if the person on the receiving end doesn’t understand what’s going on, they might not assign much value to it.

Now if you go to that website, of course there is a book, course materials, and other things but I think you can go there and not even have to buy a thing. Just take the quiz and get some of your favorite people to do the same. I bet you’ll be understanding their language sooner than you think once you do.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

On Handling Things Well

This is how I feel sometimes when I'm 'handling things well'. But I'm getting there!

This is how I feel sometimes when I’m ‘handling things well’. But I’m getting there!

“You handle things so well.”

“Nothing seems to bother you.”

“You are so calm.”

It’s funny how a quality most people perceive as effortless on your part has actually taken a lot of effort to cultivate.

In high school, I got voted ‘most laid back’ in my class. This is hilarious because back then, it was a total facade. I cared way too much and worried. A lot. Mainly about my life going well.

Over the last five years or so, I have really really really worked on actually being laid back though. And it seems to have worked.

The following are the three tenants I live my life by:

I take nothing personally.

One of my friends had a competitor design her website recently. Instead of feeling grievously hurt, I have decided to look at it from her perspective and made a list:

My competitor is less expensive. Since this competitor isn’t a good friend, my friend probably felt like she could tell them what to do more easily. My timeline would have been longer because I would have built a responsive site and those take longer.

As you see (and as I do), it wasn’t that my friend didn’t pick me. She just picked something else… which likely had very little to do with who I am or our friendship.

(P.S. Cultivating this took a LONG time but when you practice looking at situations from someone else’s point of view and making a list of reasons for their response, it makes a lot more sense. This works in business and personal life stuff.)

I take everything at face value.

I may ask you if you seem upset: Is there anything wrong?

If you say “Nope”, then I proceed like nothing is wrong. I will not press you because 1) You might have something wrong you don’t want to talk about or 2) I might have misread the situation and you are not upset at all.

People in my life who have waited for me to read into their words have I’m sure gotten frustrated when I take what they say at face value and proceed with my life. This has attracted for me the right kind of friends and has deepened relationships with my dearest family members.

Similar to taking everyone at face value, I expect everyone to take what I say at face value.  No one, my fiance or otherwise, is expected to read my mind.

As an adult, I am in charge of making decisions based on my feelings and communicating those to others. If I don’t want to go to a party, I need to say so. If I can’t do a favor, I need to decline. If I want you to bring over your fabulous paella for dinner tomorrow night, I need to request it. That said…

I don’t expect anything in particular.

If you say you don’t want to bring your paella to dinner, I am not disappointed. I have no dreamed of paella with no backup plan. I have not projected my expectations for happiness onto you like that.  

As stated in the first point above, you not bringing your paella is nothing personal against me. You might not have the ingredients at your house. You might not have time to cook it. You might have ate it four times last week. There are any number of potential reasons to say no and the reason doesn’t matter since the outcome is the same.

But if I don’t ask for what I want, who will ask for me? Worse case scenario is what I want can’t happen. But if I don’t put it out there to happen, there is no chance it actually will.

So when I request with no expectation and what I want happens, yipee. And when it doesn’t and I realize it is nothing personal, I can take it at face value and move on.

As you see, these three ideas feed into each other. And thinking them has taken a lot of things out of my perceived control and have made me a more empathetic person.

Like you, I’m headed into a new year and struggle with living in the moment. But I know if I keep cultivating these qualities, at least the moments I choose to live in while be relaxed ones.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Self Taught Vs. Taking A Class

This blog posts, as many do, started with an interaction on Facebook. Below (orange) is a woman who needs help and in blue is one of my friends responding to her:


So I am teaching a website class in my hometown (Fort Kent Maine) in January.

Later on in the thread (I jump in and tell her to come to the class because it’s not expensive and very good):


Now I am proof you can take ‘self taught’ to another level. I have three bachelors degrees (that’s another story) but none of them are in communications, marketing, or web design. But even I take classes, seminars, and workshops from others in my field for the following three reasons:

I don’t know what I don’t know.

The more you learn, the more you realize you don’t know about a topic. That’s why most people feel dumber their senior year of college than they did their freshman year. They definitely know more… but they are now aware of what they don’t know.

Our orange friend above is aware there are gaps in her knowledge. But she is unsure of what they are since her learning didn’t have a syllabus, she’s learned things as she’s needed to know them, not necessarily how they relate to each other. A good class or book gives you a great general outline and show you what you ought to know.

Getting a vocabulary.

Based on the item above, a good course teaches you a new vocabulary required for your field.

Have you ever tried to do a Google search with a general topic:


Versus a specific topic:


Note the second screenshot had ads that I covered up. The first one did not. In other words, people who did the second query tend to be better customers (and are reached out to more by businesses) than people who ask the very general question.

A class can give you the words you need to do better web searches, can give you book titles the instructor has read (versus reviews from know-it-alls on Amazon), can tell you what products they use daily (not because they are paid to by a website but because they genuinely like them)… and all this can better help yourself in the future.

Seeing someone else’s reasoning/point of view.

Recently, I went to a very basic social media seminar put on by another marketer (Nancy Marshall of Nancy Marshall Communications). And guess what? I learned some things. Because not only is Nancy a great speaker but she’s been doing PR for almost as long as I’ve been alive.

Seeing another point of view, different examples, etc. gives me some much needed other perspective on what I’m doing.

Taking a class, even on a topic you think you know a lot about, will give you new ideas and ways of looking at information. And you’ll likely meet people in the class you can either help out ($) or you can get other people’s opinions (both the instructor and people in the class) about what you are working on.

Even the self taught need to be taught by someone else once in awhile… so if you haven’t taken a class in awhile, I encourage you to do one. It makes you remember what it’s like to learn new topics and helps you do whatever you are trying to do better.

Those who can, teach. And those who can are also taught.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Three Ways To Help Someone After A Tragedy: A Captain Nemo’s Case Study


Thursday morning, I woke up to the shocking news that one of my favorite businesses burned to the ground overnight.

Captain Nemos was a restaurant and bar in Bass Harbor. Run by the Cousin’s family who relocated here from Alaska and opened this place, it was an eclectic building that looked like a lighthouse and, from one of the daughters, the whole place was “build from stuff we found at the dump”.

Anyone who has ever been here has commented on the mismatched chairs, children’s artwork on the walls, and the feeling like you’re hanging out in your friend’s living room much more than a seedy bar. Ever since discovering it for myself in 2011, I have loved coming here with local and visiting friends.

Here are several bleh pictures I took with my iPhone in case you too would like to experience this place virtually:



Now Nemos could have just coasted along as a dive bar if they wanted I’m sure. But it didn’t. They regularly held fun and new events, like ugly sweater and toga parties, and created an outdoor seating area with a small bonfire area for chillier nights. They were trying new things while being true to who they are, something all businesses should try to do.

The family lived on the property too, meaning that the fire also took their primary residence.

This is all tragic but since then, people have stepped up to help. And this sense of community is really the reason I live here.

In less than 12 hours, each of the following events happened:

A website, with needed items, was established.
The vehicle in this case a Facebook group. Someone created a document in this group where people could add items and sign up to donate items. If you are more technical, you can set up a basic website with or (The one thing with Facebook is it can get chaotic so having the admin of the group be the coordinator might make the most sense!)

The great thing about this is everyone has stuff lying around but having an exact person who needs it can be really motivating to go through your stuff with a more close eye. Also in the days ahead in particular, having things like pots and pans and towels is going to help in the immediate aftermath.

An online fundraising campaign, to raise capital, was created.
In this case, a GoFundMe page was made to raise money and collect messages/well wishes.

Money is always needed but, until insurance is processed and losses are calculated, it can be hard to tell where to put the cash. So having a short term campaign to raise funds (and having that take a few weeks or months) is actually alright.

A real life event, for more immediate cash, has started to be planned.
Through the Facebook group, a hall has been rented, a local band has offered to play, and local businesses have offered items for an auction. This live event will allow more ‘offline’ people to participate in the effort and create more community awareness about the event. It’ll also give the family support since they’ll be able to see how much people care about them at the event.

And if your neighbor experiences a tragedy, you can do one (or all) of these things too. Really a combination of online and offline events, a combination of cash and item donations, and a collection of support (letters, emails, Facebook messages, phone calls, visits) will help people cope.

Because we’ll all have our turn needing help, which makes giving when we can even more important.

Proud to have been to Nemos.
Proud to be in a community that supports local families and businesses.
Proud that in this tragedy, we can all have some hope, love, and support for the Cousin family.


Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

How Affirmations Have Actually Helped Me

Those of you who have met me know I am the least mumbo-jumbo hippy-dippy person you will ever meet. I’m only touchy-feeling with the amount of people I can count on one hand. I rolled my eyes when everyone was reading ‘The Secret’ and ‘Who Stole My Cheese’.

OK you get it. So why is a person like me falling for affirmations?

There are a couple reasons I thought I’d give an affirmation a shot:

There was an article. About two months ago, it felt like everyone I knew was talking about this article in Forbes called 5 Things Super Successful People Do Before 8 AM. It’s what you expect for the most part: eat healthy, exercise, blah blah. The one thing on the list that was actually kind of surprising to me was visualization. Apparently you don’t even have to do it a long time; you just focus on your successes for the day and how you’ve move through it positively. If I can visualize for 2 minutes instead of running for 30 and still have a positive change in my life, that works for me!

There was a health coach. I met this person online (a friend of a friend) a few months ago. I went to her webinar, expecting the usual braggy webinar most consultants give with a couple pieces of information in between you hearing them yammer on about their amazingness. Instead, immediately after introducing herself (1 minute) Shannon delved right into actual information. I decided right then I liked this woman.

I learned A TON during this webinar. Not I-wrote-three-sentences-in-my-notebook-and-smiled a lot, like blew-my-mind-and-made-me-want-to-watch-it-again-and-send-it-to-everyone-I-know a lot. In her last email newsletter, she mentioned an affirmation and how repeating it changed her health.

And then there’s the fact that I’m kind of lazy. Not about some things like work but about taking time from my day to do things like meditate or figure out what color my aura is. (See explanation of my personality above.)


I thought, what can an affirmation hurt? Even for a very skeptical person like myself, it’s not much to ask.

So every morning for the past two weeks, I say my little affirmation “I am healthy in all areas of my life.” I say it to myself and I close my eyes and see myself getting through my day, having meetings, accomplishing tasks, getting to the end of the day and cooking dinner, walking the dog, seeing Derrick, everything. I takes about two minutes.

Then as I sit at my desk and work, I tell myself once in awhile “I am healthy in all areas of my life.”


And guess what? I feel better. Surprisingly better.

If you want some numerical proof something has changed, I’ve lost weight. I’ve been stuck on a particular number on the scale for six months. (Yeah, like I’m going to tell you what it was!) Quite a plateau.

When I woke up the other day and was two pounds less than that number, I was as shocked as you are reading this.

I haven’t changed my diet. I haven’t started exercising more. I attribute this change to a combination of eating half my breakfast at 7 am and the other half at 10 am and this affirmation thing. (Shannon made both suggestions.)

So if you are feeling like you want something to change, I suggest you try this. From one skeptical person to another, it’s surprised me how effective it seems to be.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Ten Vegetarian Recipes I’ve Tried And Loved

veggierecipesyouwonthateI’ve had a very informal New Year’s resolution this year of trying one new recipe a week. Like everyone else, I tend to get into ruts.

If I plan on eating healthy throughout my life, I am going to need to expand my repertoire. And being healthy includes working with more vegetables. And I quite accidentally liked these ten vegetarian ones.

They are all easy, requiring less than 30 minutes of prep time (in a general way though the spinach pie should be the exception). Meatless Mondays anyone?

Stuffed Onions from Plenty cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi (Another person with a hard to spell ‘O’ last name like myself!)

Stuffed_onionsAlso this happens to be vegetarian, great if you’re going to one of those kind of potluck suppers where you are unsure of the crowd.

How to Make Fresh Pasta Dough In The Food Processor by Kitchn

Have more tomatoes than you know what to do with? Want to impress people but have it not actually work hard to do so? Have some picky eaters? This will meet all your needs.


Butternut Squash and Brussel Sprout Lasagna with Yummy Mummy Kitchen

While mommy blogs usually leave me feeling left out (and like I should have lots of spare time on my hands), this recipe was so good, Derrick bragged about it to his friends and made them try it. Also you can make two and freeze one. (This is good enough to be worth the effort – might take you 45 minutes to do unless you are super efficient.)


Roasted Corn and Tomato Soup from Williams Sonoma

If you are like me and have a bag of corn in the freezer all the time (or got suckered into buying 5 ears of corn for $1 and live alone), this is a great flavorful soup you can throw together when you have no idea what to make. And you can eat it a couple days in a row without wanting to hate corn forever.


Tuscan Sweet Spinach Pie from NPR

You are kind of expecting for a recipe you hear on an NPR podcast to be a slight pain in the butt but I almost cried while making this (baking in general makes me weepy). Brought it to the almost in-laws house for Easter and I think I scared everyone. “It’s spinach pie but it’s sweet?” Yup. And as one of the most memorable things I’ve ever made I had to include it in my list.

tuscanspinachpie(Mine so did not look like that. Do yourself a favor and know there will be ‘extra’ dough and just save it for some lemon squares or something versus trying to make it all fit in there. Or buy premade crusts and shove some lemon zest into them… I might do that next time.)

Sweet Potato, Black Bean, and Kale Quesdillas from Cookie Monster Cooking

Good for those who like spice (though make less sweet potatoes than you think necessary because you’ll have plenty of extras). And by plenty, I mean you’ll eat them for a week and still have some left over.


Chocolate Fudge Pie from Chocolate Covered Katie

When Derrick said he was kind of ‘Meh’ on the pie, I ate the rest of it the next day. He was sad which means he really did like it. It has tofu in it, so you can feel self righteous as you eat a ton more than one serving. (Let it thicken overnight for a more pleasing consistency.)


Beet Hummus via Shape

I don’t normally like to cook via infographic but this beet hummus was so good, two people at my poker game asked me for the recipe (I haven’t tried the others on here but we ate the beet hummus with toasted bread and carrot sticks.)

Southwestern Chopped Salad by The Garden Grazer

Sorry, I love black beans, tomatoes, and cilantro so this is all that is good in the world in my opinion. (Well all that is healthy good anyway.)



Healthy Peanut Butter and Chocolate Fudge by Creating Naturally



I already blogged this but yeah, need I say more?

Anyway, in case you’re wondering what I got out of a year of cooking (on the vegetarian side anyway) this is it!

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.
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