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Beware of Emotional Vampires

3 Things by Renee Schuls-Jacobson,

3 Things by Renee Schuls-Jacobson,


Minimize contact with toxic people.

You know the folks — the ones who, through their actions or words, either intentionally or unintentionally, thrive off of making others feel miserable? Yeah. Them.

If you find yourself constantly being hurt by the same person, you might need to establish better boundaries.

Caller ID can help you avoid spending time talking to your toxic person. And if you know Cruella McRude is going to be at a particular social function, decide how much you really want to attend. Don’t be like me and keep waiting for friends and family members to rescue you. Learn to protect yourself.

While there are manipulative, difficult (even pathological) personalities out there, you owe it to yourself to self-improve.

You can’t change toxic people, so stop trying.

Take an inventory of the people in your life and spend your time with the loving, nurturing people — and set limits with emotional vampires.


Don’t be afraid to throw out your kid’s papers.

As a person who used to work as a professional organizer, I have seen firsthand what happens when people attempt to stash everything in the basement.

When something comes home from school, ask yourself: Does every kid in the class have this exact same thing?

I don’t care if your kid’s math worksheet has a sticker that says “Great Job!” at the top. Pitch it. If your child scribbles 473 drawings of the dog every day, pick your favorite one, and throw away the rest.

Be ruthless.

Designate ONE large bin for each child. At the end of each year, go through these bins and be even more ruthless, keeping only the best.

That said, be sure to display a few items. The tall ceramic vase my son made (that doesn’t hold water) lives on my bathroom counter and keeps all my lip plumpers and makeup brushes. I love it. If it ever broke, of course, I would be sad. But my son knows that I truly love his work because I honor it by using it every day!


Children’s art is fabulous because it makes a house feel like a home. And every home should be infused with a little whimsy.


I recently wrote about how my favorite hair care product is being discontinued.

After strenuous testing, I have found a replacement! Believe it or not, Alberto VO5 has a new Salon Series line of products that totally work for curly girlies. Their Anti-Frizz & Shine Styling Cream is incredible!

I’ve been using this product for 2 months now, and it is better than any other, more expensive product I’ve tried. It tames my curls without making my hair crunchy or greasy.

I spread a quarter-sized amount on my wet hair after shampooing and conditioning.

Believe it or not, it holds so well, my hair usually looks even better the day after I’ve washed it, so I don’t even have to fuss at all!

The only bummer is that this product isn’t widely available in stores yet, so right now I have to order it from I don’t care. I was already ordering my old stuff online — and I like the results from VO5 even better.

After 30 years of being completely brand loyal, I can’t even believe I just wrote those words. But it’s true.

Contributor: Renee from
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  • Margaret May 24, 2013 at 7:42 am

    Your ‘Tip’ comes nearly 30 years too late for me. I never saved maths books – way too boring – but I am guilty of saving so much of the rest that I can’t even always remember which of my 3 was responsible. But you will agree that I had to save the drawing done by Ellie, aged about 5, labelled ‘This is me and Thomas fighting while Daddy reads the paper’

  • Rebecca Einstein Schorr May 24, 2013 at 7:52 am

    I ask my kids which ones to save and which we will recycle. They know that we only save the ones that have some meaning. I ask them to explain why the one they want to save is important and write it down on the back. That way, my future self will know WHY my sweet little Jewish boy wanted to save the reindeer project he made in the first grade (“because it was really, really hard for me, Mommy, but I did it!”).

  • Julie Glover May 24, 2013 at 8:12 am

    Thanks! I am sharing that find with a curly-headed friend of mine. (My hair is straighter than a wood plank.) And I agree completely about being ruthless with the kids’ stuff. I save things that are specific to them–like “about me” stories or self-portraits, that kind of thing. The rest hits the trash can.

  • Renee Schuls-Jacobson May 24, 2013 at 8:20 am

    It’s never too late to learn to deal with toxic people and dump some junk. And yes, you absolutely HAD to save that fabulous drawing. Love it and would LOVE to see it. *hint hint*

  • Renee A. Schuls-Jacobson May 24, 2013 at 8:24 am

    Rebecca: I have my son sort with me as well. Every 5 years, we go through to see if there is anything else to purge. We usually end up laughing hysterically. I couldn’t get into such detail as I was instructed to keep this post short, but I’m not as brutal as this post sounds. For me, the reindeer project falls into the category of “ABSOLUTE KEEPER” because of the context, which you dutifully recorded on the back! Hilarious! Thank you for sharing!

  • Renee Schuls-Jacobson May 24, 2013 at 8:27 am

    Hi Julie! People often think I’m kind of ruthless, but those papers can really pile up! I agree, saving the items that are specific to them is the way to go. Or, as in the case of the story above, if you HAVE to save a generic project because of hilarious context around it, be sure to write down WHY you are saving it. People always think they will remember these things, but we don’t. We don’t.

  • Kitt Crescendo May 24, 2013 at 9:59 am

    You are so right about the toxic people. Sadly, my bio-dad is one of them so I keep my calls with him to a minimum and only speak to him when I’m feeling emotionally equipped to handle him. The other one was an old friend who has been spending the last few years wallowing in self pity and blaming her condition on everyone around her (and she’s enjoying where she’s at too much to help herself). I’ve finally had to just tell her that I’m not available when she pulls the “can we talk” out. Sadly, I’m not her only friend who’s gotten to that point with her. Oh, well…tough love.

  • Renee Schuls-Jacobson May 24, 2013 at 10:18 am

    Hi Kitt! I’m glad you figured out how to cut off the toxic twits. They really blow. I’ve learned how to put up boundaries, but I’m still learning how to find my voice at the right times to honestly express how I’m feeling. It’s kind of a package deal, I think.

  • Sandra May 24, 2013 at 11:07 am

    I’m with you on being ruthless when it comes to kid creations, Renee. It’s a must or when you’re my age, with kids grown, out of the house, living their own lives you look around and realize that you have closets full of their stuff that means nothing to them, but by this time, you’re too attached to ANYthing and EVERYthing to get rid of even ONE thing. My closets will remain filled with kid creations, toys, and incidentals for a little longer I guess. Save yourself while you still have time!!

  • Maggie Amada May 24, 2013 at 11:42 am

    I like your kid’s ceramic work. My kids are too young for that and I struggle with throwing away stuff but you’re right. We can’t find and keep and use the good stuff unless we get rid of the bulk. Good tips!

  • RASJ May 24, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I love how you tell people to save themselves! But it’s true! Those papers add up — and fast! The key is to be selective. People tend to become sentimentally attached to items their children make and it makes it especially difficult to let go of them. Sometimes it takes sitting with a friend to sort through the papers and separate the wheat from the chaff.

  • RASJ May 24, 2013 at 12:48 pm

    Hi Maggie! You’ll be amazed at home quickly kids’ stuff piles up. I only have one child, and I’m REALLY glad that I was a Professional Organizer when he was young. I saw how easy is was to become buried under papers! It kind of freaked me out. When he was in elementary school, I opened his binder over the garbage can. I know it sounds cold, but it really helped to get rid of those papers I may have been tempted to just stash.

    Now my dude is 13-years old and far fewer creative projects come home, so I really cherish his writings and artwork. Trust me, you’ll be there faster than you know it!

    Buy those bins now! ;)

  • Maggie Amada May 24, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    I don’t do bins anymore. My husband used to have ten of them lying around. Sometimes we would buy new stuff we knew was in one of the bins because it was easier than going through them. I’m trying to go down to less stuff but it’s sooooo hard. Thanks for this and for visiting my blog.

    I enjoyed it and will try that VO5 product ASAP. I have a closet full of discarded hair products I’m dying to replace.

  • David N. Walker May 24, 2013 at 1:39 pm

    Wish there had been a like button. You know I like everything you write, Renee.

  • brickhousechick May 24, 2013 at 1:46 pm

    FIrst off, I love your tips. Getting rid of toxic Debby Downers is a must! I’ve got a few too close to me and it’s time to make some distance. Second, I love your son’s vase. Although it does not hold water, it is a pretty color and is good for something useful. I will now have to dig up a non holding water vase my daughter made for me and find something to use it for! Third and most importantly, thanks for the tip on the V05 anti-frizz! I was disappointed for you and for me, that your old product would no longer be available but there is hope for our frizz balls…after all! :)

  • Nina May 24, 2013 at 5:50 pm

    Fantastic tips, Renee! I especially agree about ruthlessly pitching the paperwork and other crap that comes home. It’s ESSENTIAL!

  • Misty May 24, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    Oy vey. You are so right on about all of this, momma! I have many bins full of kid projects and artwork. They are taking over my house. And it took me a while as well to figure out that toxic people are no bueno. I have a magnet in my office (yes, at WORK), that simply says, “Be Nice or Leave. Thank You.”

    Also . . . yay for finding a replacement product!! I tried so hard to find that old one for you down here to no avail. I was so sad. But now you have something even better, so congrats!!

  • Patricia Sands May 24, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Right on all of this! I have a leaky ceramic ‘vase’ too – on my desk. It has held pens and pencils … for 30 years! I love it.

  • Steve May 25, 2013 at 8:04 am

    Love the one about the kids stuff. We did the exact thing and have two bins of their stuff. The one item that stands out for me: in my son’s daycare for fathers day they bought these cheap crappy measuring tapes from the dollar store and covered the label with a sticker that has a thumbprint heart and says ” I love you Dad”. I still have it and use it all the time… because I can NEVER seem to find my real fancy-schmancy one that I bought at the hardware store!

  • toni May 25, 2013 at 9:58 am

    One word for kid’s paper….”scan”…..I have scanned to flash drives tons of paper and pictures…..

  • RASJ May 25, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Thank you, David. You KNOW I feel the same way about your words.

  • RASJ May 25, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Hi Maria:

    I have quite a few of his art projects that I use in the bathroom. Some of this ceramic mugs hold hair clips; popsicle stick boxes hold jewelry. And get ready for a big VO5 giveaway at my place in June! I wanted a curly-girlie to have the chance to try the New VO5 Salon Series products! Stay tuned! There is DEFINITELY hope for us!

  • RASJ May 25, 2013 at 10:15 am

    Nina: Somehow I KNEW you’d be with me about tossing out the crap! Thanks for visiting me here, and for pointing me in Lauren’s direction in the first place!

  • RASJ May 25, 2013 at 10:19 am

    Misty: You’d better watch those bins! They reproduce in the basements and closets! Think about going them at some point with the kiddies. You’ll be amazed how much they DON’T remember. And you’ll amazed how much you stashed that you might be able to let go!

    As far as the VO5 stuff goes, so far, so good. We’ll see how it holds up during the summer. ;)

  • RASJ May 25, 2013 at 10:21 am

    Thank goodness for leaky vases, huh? I would be REALLY devastated if that vase ever broke. You saw how I fell apart when my glass pendant broke. Oy. Glad to know you have surrounded yourself with whimsy, too.

  • RASJ May 25, 2013 at 10:24 am

    Hi Cowboy! I love that you prefer your bedazzled measuring tape to your fancy schmancy ones. And I’m guessing that goes over real big at Home Depot. :)

  • RASJ May 25, 2013 at 10:29 am

    Hi Toni! That’s a god idea for those 3-D projects that you KNOW are going to fall apart. My son made a frog diarama out of Play-Do and toothpicks. I took a picture of it, and it lived on my computer for a long time with thousands of other photographs and documents.

    Sadly, I didn’t have Dropbox or an external hard-drive at the time. I lost everything, so yes. If you are going to put the work on a flash-drive, make sure you label it so no one writes over it or put it in a fire safe. In other words, don’t be me!

  • Margaret May 25, 2013 at 11:12 am

    One day. First I’d have to find it. Then scan it. Then…. you get the idea……

  • Mary @ A Teachable Mom May 25, 2013 at 1:13 pm

    I am so happy to see you here! I enjoy this site so much and now that you’re here, it’s even better! I’ll take all of your recommendations here and love the reminder that we can’t change other people, only our own actions. Setting boundaries is hard to do, but it’s saved me a world of hurt and frustration over the past few years. I’m off to for some VO5 – I’ll tell them you sent me! ;-) Fabulous post as always!!

  • Michelle May 25, 2013 at 3:49 pm

    Renee! Believe it or not, I was just thinking about your beloved discontinued hair product today! We used to carry it at my store, and I thought of you when I went down that aisle this morning, wondering what you were going to do when you ran out. And now here I am reading about your wonderful new find! I’m always psychic like that. You know, in the totally coincidental kind of way. I’m glad you found a replacement!! Nice list of three :) And I like this site.

  • RASJ May 26, 2013 at 8:14 am

    Mary, you KNOW I’m such a blabbermouth that it is practically impossible for me to condense 3 different topics into 200 words each! But it was a good exercise for me. More on the VO5 stuff to come in a blog post from me soon! Thanks for following me here!

  • RASJ May 26, 2013 at 8:18 am

    Hi Michelle! You are kind of psychic! Meanwhile, I haven’t been able to find my beloved product for years now. I’d been ordering it online for a long time. I knew I was in trouble when it showed up in The Christmas Tree Shoppe. Never a good sign, right? And there will be more on the exciting new product in a blog post in June! The folks at VO5 have sponsored a giveaway for me on behalf of all the curly-girlies out there. It happened when I tweeted them to figure out where to find the stuff! So if you know any girs with curs in your life, you’ll have the opportunity to win something for them — or send them my way! And thanks for thinking of me in the grocery store! That’s where I’m going right now, if you can believe it! ;)

  • pegoleg May 28, 2013 at 10:27 am

    “emotional vampires” – such an evocative way to put it! Your advice about not saving e-e-e-e-verything your kids do is spot-on, but tough to take, Ms Renz. You go from bushel-baskets full of cute to nothing-to-save in such a few, short years.

  • RASJ May 28, 2013 at 6:50 pm

    Peggy! You are soooo right! Tech barely brings anything home these days that isn’t on a flash-drive. It’s weird. That’s why I cherish and use as manyl of Tech’s old art projects as I can!

  • Naomi May 31, 2013 at 9:47 am

    When we finally meet, I will introduce you to the BEST product ever for curly hair and frizz … but we’ve got to get that date on the calendar!!! Loved your Truth by the way.