It's fall, which can only mean 4 things...

Can you believe it? Summer is finally over! Friday, September 22 officially kicked off the fall season. This can only mean four things:

1. Temperatures are dropping, or are soon to drop. For someone like me who loves cold weather -- and gets very little of it in my hometown of South Florida -- this is certainly a welcome change. Unfortunately, it's warm year-round here with the exception of a few weeks in late winter/early spring. I'll take anything we can get, though, even if it's a mere five-degree "cooldown."

2. New and returning shows. Networks premier a slew of new shows in the fall. Meanwhile, loyal fans of returning shows like Law and Order and Scandal are treated to a new season of never-before-seen episodes. It's a great time to be a boob tube maniac.

3. The holidays are approaching. Most of us immediately associate fall with the changing of the leaves (i.e., yellow, orange, red, and brown), cornucopias, pumpkins, scarecrows, turkeys, and, of course, holidays/special occasions like Halloween and Thanksgiving. And it's these celebrations that help make the last part of the year fly by, which brings me to my final point.

4. The year will end in no time. End-of-year festivities -- both at home and work -- as well as vacations many of us take in the final two months certainly hasten the end of the year. Many would agree that the opposite is true of the very beginning of the year; there isn't much going on after New Year's Day, so the next couple of months typically go by far more slowly. You know what they say: Time flies when you're enjoying yourself.

No matter what you have planned this fall season or what you're most looking forward to -- whether fall foliage or a hearty Thanksgiving dinner -- here's to a great autumn for all of us!

3 things you should never break

In life, human beings are prone to break things -- everything from vases and clothing to lips and legs.

But this post specifically addresses three non-tangible things that should never be broken.

Can you guess what they are?

The three things that should never be broken in life are trust, promises, and hearts.

We're all human and can acknowledge breaking one or more of these on at least a couple of occasions -- just as we can cite specific cases where others have done it at our expense.

All three of these revolve around commitment.

When you place your trust in someone, you are counting on them to come through in some way. It can be anything from babysitting your child to expecting that they'll pay their half of the rent every month.

Sometimes, though, certain situations merit a declaration of assurance -- whether written or verbal -- that the person will do something. A promise is essentially a pledge or vow that we tend to associate with wedding vows ("I promise to be there in good times and bad, in sickness and in health"). However, they may also come into play when someone has let us down in the past, as the promise serves as a pledge that they'll make good on whatever is being asked of them this time around.

Moreover, one of the most painful experiences many of us have experienced is having our heart broken by someone we love. Thereafter, we become very guarded with our feelings, resolving never to give our hearts away that easily ever again. Or, we've broken someone else's heart ourselves and likely felt a deep sense of contrition thereafter.

It's easy to see how these forms of commitment can overlap. For example, infidelity signals a breach of trust and will likely result in the victim's heart being broken. And even if the offending party did not explicitly say, "I promise to be faithful to you," it's implied when one enters into a relationship -- the only exception being an open relationship where both partners mutually agree not to remain exclusive.

What's the best way to prevent breaking someone's trust, a promise, or the person's heart?

As soon as you feel like you can no longer hold up your end of the bargain, you should be frank with the other person and tell them in advance. Don't make promises you're unsure you can keep.

And if breaking the person's heart is inevitable (e.g., you want to end the relationship), they will at least appreciate the fact that you came forward. It's always far worse when the truth comes out in more unseemly ways, like being caught cheating. Whatever you do, don't compound the problem by lying or pointing fingers.

And if you find yourself on the other side of the fence, it's up to you to decide whether your trust in that individual can ever be restored.

Broken trust can be healed and a broken heart can be mended, but it's going to take some time. In other cases, all the "sorrys" in the world won't stop the victim from kicking the other out of his or her life for good.

Here's why being a quiet person is a GOOD thing

I'm going to go against the grain of society and say that if you're a quiet person -- and like being that way -- you shouldn't aim to fundamentally change who you are just to appease other people. On the other hand, you should take pride in being different from the vast majority of people out there.

I get so annoyed when people -- be they coworkers or acquaintances -- ask others why they're so quiet. It makes me want to turn around and ask them, "And why can't you keep your mouth shut?"

Of course, there are situations in which you can't escape communicating with others -- interviewing for a job, making a presentation, calling a disgruntled customer over the phone, etc. Sometimes you just have to "fake it to make it."

But that doesn't mean you have to change the essence of who you are. Why would you?

Let's face it: No matter how hard you may try to change from a timid, unassuming introvert to a loquacious extrovert, the real you will always prevail. Embrace your quietness; don't shun it!

It's deeply unsettling that people would go to such lengths for others' approval.

Here's what society won't tell you:

Quiet people tend to have the "loudest" minds.

They're deep thinkers. They think through their words carefully before opening their mouths. They neither waste words nor mince them. Once they come around to telling you what's on their minds, you'll realize it was well worth the wait, as they teem with great ideas they wish to share. They're averse to chit-chat and gravitate toward deep conversations. They prefer small groups to large ones. They rely on solitude in order to recharge, especially after a day involving heavy social interaction.

Unfortunately, quiet individuals get a bad rap, given such labels as "cocky," "stuck-up," "weird," and "antisocial." And it's for this reason that so many people are ashamed to admit they're quiet and feign being outgoing and talkative.

If this sounds like you, don't ever feel pressured into becoming someone you're not. It's better to be hated for who you are than loved for who you're not. So-called friends who criticize you for being quiet aren't true friends. Those who truly belong in your life are the ones who accept you for who you are.

Think of it this way: You're an agent of calm in a world populated by blabbermouths -- people who don't know when to stop talking. Society, unbeknownst to it, could use more people like you. You're special just the way you are, so never feel as though you have to change for anyone but yourself.

Being quiet makes you unique, interesting, mysterious. Those are good qualities to have, no matter what people tell you.

Listen to YOUR instincts

Some of the people in your inner circle -- whether friends, coworkers, or acquaintances -- may attempt to convince you that they know what's best for you, even if you beg to differ. 

In essence, they're saying that they know you better than you know yourself!

This is, of course, utterly preposterous. 

No one but you knows all your fears, misgivings, hopes, and dreams.

No one other than you has been at your side 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every single day of your life. 

While your parents, siblings, or friends are likely to have taught you a few valuable lessons as you've gotten older, there are others you've learned through personal experience. 

That being said, how can a person claim to have a better handle on you than, well, you?

Be wary of these people, I tell you, for they aim to foist their own beliefs and opinions on you as if they were the law. 

Whatever you do, do not cave.

People do this for one simple reason: They want you to think and act as they do because it makes them feel better about themselves. They seek validation for their own choices, and what better way to do that than to coax others into making the same ones?

Don't let their opinions override your instincts. If your gut tells you to do something that runs contrary to what others are suggesting, just go with it. Don't worry about people disapproving; you're the one who will have to deal with the consequences of your actions anyway, whether good or bad. 

That's not to say that you shouldn't listen to or consider their well-meaning advice. But never feel pressured into doing something someone else's way just to appease them. It's your life, not theirs. 

If things worked out for them by taking a certain course of action, more power to them. It doesn't mean that's the path that works for you. We're all different, from our personalities to our working styles to our ways of dealing with problems. 

One of the beauties of life (in the states, at least) is our freedom to exercise free will, whether it concerns choosing a career, picking a partner, buying a car, and so on. No one should ever impinge on that right. Once you are an adult, no one has the right to make those decisions for you. 

When in doubt, go with your gut -- it never lets you down. Your instincts should supersede the advice of others, who may only have their best interests at heart rather than your own. Never allow others' perceptions and biases color your own if you don't agree with them. 

It's your life. Live it on your terms!

Don't let anyone dull your shine!

Stop for a moment and pay careful attention to the words that follow, for they could change your life in a big way:

You are a wonderful person -- one unlike any other on the face of the earth. You light up the world with a unique blend of talents, skills, and quirks. You've achieved great things and have so many more feats awaiting you. Others look up to and admire you. You inspire greatness in others and radiate optimism. You have every reason to love yourself for who you are. 

Inevitably, some people will envy you. Some will try to tear you down. Some will spread lies about you in an effort to get you to share in their misery.

But you don't have time for such naysayers. You embrace your uniqueness and love yourself to the fullest, not allowing anyone else to cramp your style or dampen your high spirits.

You recognize that no one knows you better than you know yourself. No one else pays your bills or is there for you every single second of your life. You're your biggest ally in your life, and so you owe it to yourself to stand up for what you believe in. To never compromise your values no matter how heavy the social pressure may be. To embrace your uniqueness and never allow yourself to be cajoled into changing who you are to placate people who may not even be in your life a month from now.

You know better than anyone else whom or what's best for you. Your gut hardly ever lets you down.

Don't let others' opinions of you override your own. No one can make you feel bad without your consent. If you allow what people say to get to you, you're signaling that they've essentially overpowered you -- that what they say and think about you matters so much as to ruin your day.

Life is too short to spend your time seeking others' validation. You're better than that. And you know it.

If someone isn't content with the real you -- if they press you to change something about yourself that you love as is -- they have no business being in your life.

Embrace your individuality!  There will never be another you -- someone with your exact temperament, interests, and idiosyncrasies -- in this world again. Instead of harping on the fact that you're different, focus instead on the sweet feeling of knowing that they're all the same -- and you don't want to be like them.

Love yourself. Celebrate your uniqueness. Cease seeking the approval of others who only want you to be more like them so they can feel more comfortable in their own skin.

Don't let anyone dull your sparkle. Be proud of who you are and never change for anyone but yourself!