The Occasional Vegan

To commemorate Earth Day, I thought I would post an alternate way to honor and respect this round thing we call “home”.  Once upon a time, I was a full-time Vegan.  I lost weight, I felt good and I learned a lot!  Veganism is neither a cult nor a religion, it is simply a lifestyle.  While many Vegan’s are very passionate about their lifestyle, they are not praying to the god of tomatoes.  Furthermore, some can be a bit outspoken about debunking the myths of Veganism, but that’s likely because they have heard the question, “but where do you get your protein?” a gazillion times already! Lemme give a quick rundown for those unfamiliar with the basic premise: Vegans do not eat any animal products.  This includes meat, chicken, pork, seafood, eggs and dairy products.  Instead, their plates are filled with veggies, fruits, legumes and grains.

Here are three main reasons people typically choose to become Vegan:

1-     They love animals and respect their right to live & die naturally

2-     They want to eat in a more healthful way

3-     They want to respect Mother Earth

Let’s talk about good ol’ Number 3 today.  So what, you ask, does being a Vegan have to do with Mama Earth?  I thought you’d never ask.  Some factoids you probably didn’t know include:

  • Factory farming (where traditional meat products, dairy and eggs come from) is incredibly detrimental to the environment
  • The methane from all the gas passed by 10 billion animals a year is directly responsible for global warming (ewwww!)
  • The urine and feces from these animals pollute and contaminate our soil and water (double ewwww!)
  • See more info below from www.CulinarySchools.org

There are numerous facts and research papers to support the benefits of going Vegan, however, proposing an all-or-nothing type of lifestyle works for very few of us and quite frankly is likely what gave Veganism the cult or religion stereotype in the first place.

So I propose being an Occasional Vegan.  That’s what I am now.  While some of my meals include dairy, eggs and seafood, I regularly create meals that are Vegan.  One meal a week can make a difference; one full day of meals a week, an even bigger difference.  But do what’s comfortable for you and your family, every little bit helps. As an adult, you can feel good knowing you’re providing a healthy, nutritious meal for yourself and family.  There are also many great opportunities for family discussion on the topic.  While I hope, over time, you’ll increase the fruits and veggies portion on your plate and decrease the animal products, this doesn’t HAVE to be an all-or-nothing lifestyle.  To help get you started, I’ve included a few of my favorite recipes that I encourage you to try.  Don’t be fooled by the claims that state that a particular Vegan dish tastes just like its non-Vegan counterpart.  It likely doesn’t.  But introducing an entirely new flav to your weekly dishes is super cool!  Just like Thai and Mexican are fun themes for food, now you can add Vegan dishes too!  Not only are they healthier, but it’s a great way to appreciate that big ol’ Mama of all Mama’s!  Happy Earth Day!!  And if you have some favorite earth-friendly recipes, c’mon now…share-nice in the comments section!

Breakfast:

Scrambled Tofu

  • 1T olive oil
  • 3 scallions finely chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • 1 pkg (16oz) firm or extra firm tofu (usually found in the produce section of your favorite supermarket)  ((drain water and remove from package.  Place tofu block on paper towels and wrap in dishtowels to absorb water.  Place heavy cookbook on top to help drain water for 20-30 minutes))
  • 1C spinach leaves, rinsed and patted dry
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2T nutritional yeast (most health/natural food stores carry)
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper

Heat oil in sauté pan then add scallion and garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes.  Add bell pepper and sauté till tender.

During the sauté, crumble tofu in a large mixing bowl using a fork, pastry cutter or your hands to create coarse crumbs that resemble scrambled eggs.  Add to sauté pan, stir and combine with scallions & pepper.

Add spinach, and all remaining seasonings and sauté an additional 7-9 minutes, stirring occasionally until tofu is bright yellow and heated through.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve with toast and Earth Balance spread.  Serves 2-3.

Lunch/Appetizer:

Cuc-YUM-ber and Cream Cheese Sandwiches

  • 1 eight-oz container Tofutti nondairy cream cheese (most health/natural food stores carry)
  • 3T finely chopped chives
  • 2T finely chopped fresh dill (fresh is key here)
  • 2T finely chopped fresh mint (fresh is key here)
  • 1 cucumber peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 pkg cocktail rye, wheat or pumpernickel bread (usually in the deli area)
  • ½ lb arugula
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Mix cream cheese with chives, dill and mint.  Dry cucumber slices between paper towels.

Spread a thin layer of cream cheese mix on each slice of bread.  Top every other slice with cucumbers and arugula and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cut each sandwich into a triangle and enjoy!  32 servings

Dinner:

Veggie & Bean Cassoulet (that’s French for yum)

  • 2T grapeseed or olive oil
  • 6T Earth Balance butter, divided
  • 2 leeks, thinly sliced
  • 1 celery stalk diced
  • 1 carrot peeled and diced
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1.5T tarragon
  • 1T fresh minced thyme
  • 1T fresh sliced chives
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cans white cannellini beans drained and rinsed
  • 1C veggie broth
  • ½ C panko breadcrumbs, divided
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350.  Heat oil and butter in large pot over med-hi heat.  Add leeks, celery, carrots and garlic and cook 5 mins, stirring occasionally.  Add thyme, chives and bay leaf and cook 5mins more.  Add tarragon, beans, veggie broth and ¼ cup of breadcrumbs.  Reduce heat and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Season with S&P to taste.

Meanwhile, nuke remaining Earth Balance butter then mix with panko crumbs and set aside.

Pour veggie mix into a 13X9 baking dish, throw out bay leaf.  Cover loosely with foil and bake about 25 mins.  Remove foil and sprinkle with breadcrumb mix and cook til browned on top.  6 Servings.

 Side/Soup:

Corn Chow-it-down-Der

  • 2T olive or grapeseed oil
  • 1 small yellow onion chopped
  • ½ C chopped celery
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 6 small gourmet red potatoes chopped into large chunks
  • 2 C corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 4 C veggie broth
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 C almond milk (can substitute with soy)
  • 1T unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3T water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper

Heat oil in large saucepan and sauté onion and garlic about 4mins.  Add garlic and continue cooking for 30 seconds. Add potatoes, corn, broth, thyme and milk.  Simmer 20-25 minutes until potatoes are tender.

In small bowl, whisk flour and water til smooth.  Add to soup.  Simmer 5 more minutes.  Add S&P.  8 Servings.

 Dessert:

Perfect Parfait

  • 2 pts strawberries (preferably organic) quartered
  • 1 pt blueberries
  • 1 pt raspberries or blackberries
  • 1T lemon juice
  • 1 six-ounce container nondairy plain or vanilla yogurt (health/natural food stores)
  • 2T agave nectar (sweeter than honey, but honey is not a Vegan food)

Evenly divide fruit between 6 bowls or wine/champagne glasses, leaving 6 fruit pieces separate. Add lemon juice to each bowl or glass. Spoon yogurt on top and drizzle with agave nectar. Top with fruit piece. Serves 6.

Five Languages in Five Weeks – How ‘Bout a Little QT

Ok, so we are into Week 2 of Learning Five Languages in Five Weeks.  Let’s review:

These are the Five Languages:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Acts of Service
  • Gifts
  • Touch

We all have a primary “language” we speak and need to have communicated to us in order to feel loved in our personal relationships and appreciated in our workplace.  The key is finding out your own language, as well as those you have relationships with in your personal and professional life.  These discoveries will help you communicate and dramatically improve the relationships in your life.  Last week’s post talked about the Words of Affirmation lovers.  These language speakers want you to tell them they rock and why.  This week we will discuss Quality Time.  If you would like a brief overview of each language, revisit last week’s post.  Remember, your primary and secondary languages may differ between your personal life and business life so view all the languages from two sets of perspectives.  If you’re pumped and ready to move on, let’s spend some QT together dissecting this language.

The quality aspect of Quality Time is founded on focused attention.  That means without distractions or other tasks being completed simultaneously.  (Are you listening smart phone owners?)

Let’s start from a personal perspective.  The whole point to these language speakers is quality.  Just spending time together may not be enough.  A spouse may wonder, “we just spent six hours at the picnic with our friends and family and you say we haven’t spent quality time together”.  Ah Marone!  The definition of quality time lies in the hands of the one desiring it.  Your first clue is to listen to their complaints:  “you never watch TV with me”, “we never go out to dinner alone anymore”, “why don’t we take day trips together anymore”, “why are you always on that damn phone?”  You get the picture.  Take these not-so-subtle hints as a sign that this person needs a little QT with you.

From a professional perspective, it can be more difficult to determine when a co-worker speaks this language.  Supervisors should regularly set aside scheduled QT time with each direct report.  If you can trickle it down to other levels, great.  Some may be able to pull this off monthly, others only quarterly.  If possible, allow about 30 minutes with each individual.  You’ll start to see which ones need the full amount, and which ones don’t.  Adjust accordingly.  You should be actively listening while the other person is talking.  Remember, this is about Focused Attention.  Paying attention like this will also help you determine each person’s “language”. Even if you’re not a supervisor, a complaining co-worker saying “nobody cares around here”, or “if I could catch Beth’s ear for 2 seconds I could fix this whole problem”, or “nobody communicates anymore”, is likely to speak this language and can be helped following the same steps in casual conversation.  Ask how they’re doing, if they have any ideas or concerns on their mind.  If nothing comes up, just shoot the breeze with them.  Ask about their life outside of work, upcoming vacations, whatever, just make sure they feel they were listened to and valued for their contributions.

Quality Time can be a tough language to speak as we are all so pressed for time, but for those who really need it, providing it can prevent bigger issues down the line that you also wouldn’t have time for.  So get it in your calendar and stop putting it off.  There’s an awesome likelihood that you too will benefit from that quality time! Is QT a language you’re fluent in?  Share some stories about how to successfully communicate in this language.  Stay tuned for next week’s post on Acts of Service.

(The Five Languages are based on “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” (co-written by Paul White))

Five Languages in Five Weeks – Starting with Words

Think you can’t learn five languages in five weeks?  C’mon, give yourself (and me) more credit! Of course you can.  After reading “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman and “The Five Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” (co-written by Paul White)… I felt that this was an awesome topic to share with my readers. These were both easy reads, but more importantly for me, they were need-to-read’s.  They were practical, with quick, applicable stories.  I suggest reading the books, however, if your time is limited or you’d prefer a more condensed version, I aim to please:

These are the Five Languages:

Words of Affirmation

Quality Time

Acts of Service

Gifts

Touch

Each of us has a primary and secondary preference and these may differ between your personal and business lives. (For the free personal assessment, go to www.5lovelanguages.com/profile . For the professional version, there is a $15 charge, but can be found at www.mbainventory.com . Here is a brief description of each language:

Words of Affirmation:  Those that count this as their primary language require words to feel loved and appreciated.  These can be spoken or written.  We’ll learn more about this in a bit.

Quality Time:  For these types, one-on-one time together is important.  Acitve listening is key here! We’ll dive into details of this one next week.

Acts of Service:  These acts typically involve anything that could be counted as “thoughtful”.  While the specific act will vary, the gesture is what counts the most to these peeps.

Gifts:  As if this isn’t obvious.  This person prefers physical, tangible evidence of being loved and appreciated.  While expensive and materialistic items may qualify, these gift lovers often enjoy handmade gifts, flowers or other thoughtful expressions of love and appreciation.

Touch:  You know that “touchy-feely” person that always seems to hug, touch and show PDA virtually anywhere?  Yeah, this is probably their preferred form of loving communication.  While less likely (and some would caution, less appropriate) at work, these people can be identified as the high-fiving, fist bumping ones.

Figuring out another’s language can be tough, but once you do, there are an endless number of options to satisfy their need.  Each week for the next five I will highlight a particular “language” and some suggestions on ways to meet that need for yourself and others.  This information is very beneficial in every relationship you have and it would behoove you to understand your own language and those you spend a lot of time with.  This week, let’s focus on Words of Affirmation.

For those who need Words of Affirmation, it’s obvious they need words, but it is equally important that they get sincerity!  They don’t want empty or generic compliments.  “Nice job today” will feed the need for about 5 seconds.  They want to know specifically what they did to please you.  If she cooked a rockin’ dinner, tell her what was so awesome about it and why it was appreciated by you.  If he spent the entire day tiling the bathroom floor, take the time to point out how awesome it looks.  If Suzie dealt with the “customer from hell” so the rest of you wouldn’t have to, tell her what this meant to you.  Also, those who feel loved and appreciated by this language want to be recognized for the personal characteristic that got it done or made it so worthy of mention.  Tell her how much her dedication to providing quality food to the family is admired.  Tell him how his sense of responsibility, like keeping the home in good condition, is one of his sexiest traits.  Let Suzie know that her patience in dealing with higher-maintenance people makes the rest of you envious and you’d like to know how on earth she does it without going ape-shiz crazy afterwards.

Keys to remember:  Be specific, be detailed, and be sincere.  This is not a “fake it til you make it” opportunity.  If you can’t be sincere, then be silent.

Now what:  If you can identify with this language, and believe it to be your primary or secondary language in either setting (personal or business), there are a few things you can do with that knowledge.  Let others know this is how you prefer to be loved and recognized.  Also, understand that those times when you feel neglected or slighted by someone may not be because they don’t love or appreciate you, but because they are speaking a different language.  If you suspect a loved one or co-worker prefers this language, get creative in ways to recognize them.  This can be spoken face to face or publicly acknowledged, or written in a thoughtful letter, card or email.  This is one of the quickest and easiest needs to meet once you’re aware.  So pay attention and share with words why you think someone is a ROCKSTAR!!  Stay tuned…next week’s post will focus on a little Quality Time.

10 Things You MUST Do In Front of Your Kids

It’s a whole lotta work raising kids, and there’s a lot of pressure to do it right (whatever that means).  I’ve discovered some MUST-DO’s.  Some I learned the hard way, others by luck and none by the “Parent’s Guide to Raising Your Children to Not be Freaks, Morons or Full-On Embarrassments” which continues to be on back-order!  So without further ado, here are my Top 10…

#10 – Show affection – Keep it PG Rated, but let them see hugging, kissing, tickling, snuggling, holding hands, complimenting, laughing or any other displays you are comfortable with.

#9 – Cry – Whether this is because you lost a loved one, got fired or you’re just really frustrated.  Let them see that even grown-ups need to release their feelings through tears.  I know this is a tough one.  I hate crying in front of anyone, let alone my kids, especially since I’m one ugly damn crier.  So while you may prefer the actual crying stage to be solitary, once you’ve got yourself pulled back together, talk to them about how healthy it is to release feelings in a safe and human way.

#8 – Be Health Conscious – Monkey-see, Monkey-do. It’s awesome you tell the kids to eat fruit as a snack and not Oreo’s, unless of course, you’re the one eating the Oreo’s.  No judgment folks, I’ve been there! And while it’s great to suggest they go outside and play, it’s even better to do it yourself.  Kids give us an easy excuse to try something new.  Rollerblading, ladder ball, sidewalk chalk, it’s all better than sitting at the computer or on the couch!

#7 – Give to those in need – It’s all too common to hear people criticize those less fortunate. The scammers and schemers may be out there, but let’s leave them to Jerry Springer.  Show your kids how to give back and to do so without judgment, just love.  Food pantries, street performers, animal shelters, veterans, whatever.  Just show them how to share time or money with those who are struggling.

#6 – Admit you’re imperfect – We work so hard trying to teach our kids to be right. Showing how to gracefully admit making a mistake and own up to it, is one of the best lessons you can give. Also, make it ok to not always know everything.  Teach them how to be resourceful and find the answers to their questions. Resources can include The Bible, the Google or the friend that knows that kind of stuff.

#5 – Talk about work – Including the nasty supervisor, the insubordinate employee and even the backstabbing co-worker.  Teach them how you problem solve and deal with those messy people problems they will undoubtedly experience throughout life.  I’m a firm believer that Business School starts at home!

#4 – Share financial goals and struggles – Kids will learn to save (and spend) based on your example.  Let them feel part of the family team and contribute ideas on ways to save.  Brainstorm crazy-fun things you could do that cost little, to no money.  Camping in the woods, “unplug” for 24 hours, make a meal out of only what’s in the cabinets. Get creative.

#3 – FIGHT – No, not the down and dirty, heavy adult stuff, just your day-to-day spats.  They too, will argue as an adult one day.  You want to show them the right way to do it.  Even if things get a little heated, kids need to see that respect (no name calling) and love (babe, I’m trying to understand your perspective here, but…) should be the base to every disagreement.

#2 – Give love to yourself – just like they play and color and swim, we need stuff to make us feel good too.  As this typically involves time without them, explain why this is important no matter what your age.  This may include personal work-out time, a nail appointment or a hot date!

And the #1 Thing you Must Do In Front of Your Kids is…

#1 – Commit to an established designated family time – For some, this would be a meal time, like breakfast or dinner.  Other options include the 30 minutes before bedtime, Friday nights or Sunday afternoons.  While 5 days per week is a great goal, even just once a week, consistently, will have great affect.  The goal for these sessions is to allow all family members equal time to share verbally.  So if they are excited to share something, have a question or maybe just something cool they learned, this is the place to share it.  Remember, active listening is key during this time.

These work for all ages with minor adaptations through the years. Please test out any that resonated with you and “comment” how they worked for you and your family.  Also share any tips you’ve discovered along the way in the “comments” section.

The Limitations of “Labels”

“ADHD”, “Depression”, “Autism”, “Sensitive”, “Addict”, “Introverted”, etc.  Common labels, yes? However, labels are inherently limiting.  Sometimes a medical professional applies them, other times it is people we respect or look up to. Once that label is accepted, the tendency is to forfeit responsibility and control and accept defeat.  It’s like a big weight that’s been placed around your neck.  Take ADHD for example.  I have a colleague “Kevin”, who has been diagnosed with ADHD.  Here’s the thing:  This comes up in a confession-like statement in virtually every conversation we have.  He even commented that his medication hardly even works.  Well how crappy must Kevin feel each day knowing, not only that he’s often seen as loud and hyper by others, but that this is the improved effect of being medicated for the disorder.  If the watered down version of Kevin is annoying, what is the unmedicated version?  What if, instead, Kevin was “diagnosed” with being a highly creative, social creature that thrives in ever-changing environments but could benefit from some organizational tools?  What if Kevin just needed friendly reminders to lower his voice yet was rewarded for being caring and funny and interested in others?  Visually, do you think these two versions of Kevin would carry themselves differently?  One with shame, the other with pride?

Let’s take someone who has battled addiction.  Twelve-Step Programs are great, however, some addicts get stuck on Step 1: “We admitted we are powerless over the addiction.”  OK, great, but if the pole dancing on the tent pole of cousin Jane’s outdoor wedding in June wasn’t indicative, I could have told you that forever-ago! This is often followed by, “Well, addiction is a DISEASE!”  Oooohhhhhh, why didn’t you say so?? By ‘disease’ you mean, out of your control? Not your fault? Little you can do about it? I’m not saying there isn’t scientific evidence to support some labels and their limitations, however, they have a tendency to suck the control out of a situation.  I have a beautiful, wonderful, badass friend who has been diagnosed with several debilitating “disorders” and yet she could kick the butt of everyone I know on her WORST day! She doesn’t doubt the accuracy of the diagnoses, but she doesn’t allow them to drive her bus! They are uninvited passengers, but they are NOT the ones in control. They do not define who she is. Those unaware of her struggles would never know.  She inspires them to be their best selves as she leads them towards greatness.  She pushes them through emotional and physical limits to show them the power and control they have over their own bodies and minds.  She does this WHILE suffering the effects of her own labels.

When someone of authority, like a physician or specialist, gives us that label, it’s much easier to buy-in to all the limitations of it.  I mean it’s science, right? But nothing is more powerful than the mind and sheer will of a human being.  Why not focus on what you CAN do and not on what you (potentially) CAN’T?  Perhaps if you do things IN SPITE of the labels others have given, or rename it to reflect your strengths, you can conquer the world. Sound crazy? How about you throw that “Crazy” label out and replace it with “Bold”, doesn’t it immediately sound more possible?

Have you “conquered” a label and would like to inspire others? Leave a comment on this post, sharing your wisdom!  If you have a label that’s held you down and you don’t want to allow it full control any longer, send me a message on my “Contact Me” page and together we can find ways to take back the steering wheel of your life!  Don’t allow ANY label to define who you are.

If you would like to partner up and work on living a life by design, then an Empowerment Session is for you! Take advantage of the complimentary strategy session!

If you’d like special offers, updates, and insider-only goodies, SUBSCRIBE to be a VIP! (It’s free and I won’t blow up your in-box!)

email April@AuthenticLifeChronicles.com 

It’s All About YOU – Survey for my Blog Readers

Energy mango/spearmint body butter, scrub and buff. Aaahhhhhhh…..

Hello All!  Cool survey for you to fill out at Survey Monkey:  http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QW9SMTL  that asks you to ANONYMOUSLY share your struggles at this stage of your life.  C’mon now, when was the last time someone asked about you and your life and REALLY wanted to listen to your answer?  Tonight’s the Night! Please answer my 10 quick questions.  Future blog posts will be written to address your concerns.  OHHH, did I mention that all who respond will be entered to win a fabulous “thank you” gift? ——>  Complete the survey BY 4/5/13, then drop me a message on my contact page, comment box, facebook page or email with your name and contact (email, phone, whatev) and I’ll enter you to win a super-cool little gift. And don’t worry, your word is good enough for me, I trust you!  Here’s the link again in case you missed it:  http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/QW9SMTL

Finding Your Passion Using Assessments

I have always been a firm believer that people do their best work when they enjoy what they do.  No duh, right? No big revelation there, however it’s all too common, in the United States especially, that we focus on the areas that need improvement.  This starts in the schools and the same is true in business.  Jobs (and often managers) are so rigid in the requirements that employees are expected to perform all duties at an accomplished level.  Almost like robots.

I’m willing to bet that quality and productivity would increase in any industry if employees were utilized for their strengths and we’d all be a lot happier to boot. As neither our educational system nor our traditional business philosophy is likely to change anytime soon, we have to take charge of finding the right career for ourselves.  This doesn’t sound hard, right?

I have counseled many young adults who are so terrified at not yet knowing what they want to be when they grow up that they are frozen in fear making no decisions.  Additionally, I’ve spoken with numerous mid-lifers who ask the same question but instead of exploring it, they just go with the flow in a job that doesn’t satisfy them at all. So what to do? My advice is to take an assessment, actually several assessments.  And no, I’m not referring to the ones in Glamour, Seventeen and Cosmopolitan.

While assessments won’t spell out precisely which job you should pursue, they will identify your strengths and some provide suggestions on types of careers that might interest you.  I’m speaking from experience here people, and I can tell you that Retrospect is a beautiful view.  I took many assessments over a large span of time and reviewing them all assured me that I was completely blind to what has always been right in front of my face!  I often pursued training and education that would serve in my job at the time but didn’t necessarily advance me closer to my true passions.  I, too, went with the flow of each job, letting others lead me to the trail I should blaze.  While this allowed me to advance over the years, one fact remained: I was a coward.  I’m a very confident woman and yet I didn’t trust my own ability to FULLY blaze my own chosen path.  Reviewing my assessment results really gave me the bitch-slap I needed to start pursuing my passions.

So where do you begin? Do the assessments I’ve listed at the end of this article.  All of them.  You’ll likely see a pattern which will reinforce what you already know.  Regardless of the life stage you’re in, it’s important to know your strengths and to take steps towards utilizing them.  If you’re just starting out in your career ask yourself how your position is serving you and your strengths.  You may need to tough it out and prove yourself to get more of what you love in your position, but that’s still progress.  If, like me, you have a family to support or other financial obligations and can’t just “start over” immediately, try to find the areas in your current position that serve your passions WHILE taking baby steps towards your dreams.  Who says you can’t do both? And don’t get tangled in the, “I’m too old to do that now” bullshit.  Don’t limit yourself like that.  You can do whatever you want once you are clear on what you love and what you’re good at.

Marie Forleo says it best: There’s only one you. Never again will there be someone with your knowledge, experiences and gifts.  The world NEEDS you and your talents!  So go forth and identify your strengths and start finding where and how you can put them to use!  Here are my recommendations:

“Strengths Finder 2.0” by Tom Rath.  Purchasing the book gives you a code to take the online assessment for free.  Results will show your Top 5 out of 34 possible personality “themes”.  For example, my top 5 are: Adaptablility, Connectedness, Empathy, Harmony and Positivity.

“Career Match” by Shoya Zichy with Ann Bidou.  Assessment is in the book. Results are color themed with extrovert/introvert considerations.  For example I’m a Green/Red Extrovert. (warm, free spirit)

MBTI (Myers-Briggs) Assessment: There are several options for this one.

http://www.capt.org/take-mbti-assessment/mbti.htm  This one is taken online and has a $150 price tag in the US & Canada ($175 in other countries) and includes a personalized readback from a trained professional.

https://www.mbticomplete.com/contents/learnmore.aspx  This is taken online and results are shown online as well.  There is no one-on-one readback, but it’s more affordable at only $49.95.

There are copy-cat versions on the web that are often free, but they are not endorsed or supported by Myers-Briggs.  Results are a four-letter combination.  I’m an ENFP. (Extroverted Intuition with Feeling).

DISC Assessment:  This is taken online and measures 4 dimensions of your behavioral style. Decisive, Interactive, Stability and Cautious.  Typically a $250 assessment, you can complete it and get the results immediately and for free at Tony Robbins site:  http://www.tonyrobbins.com/ue/disc-profile.php

I’d love to know how YOU scored on each of these and how you do, can or will utilize your strengths, so please share your results in the comments section of this post!

Un-Friended

I’m a very open-minded, inclusive individual.  However, today I “Un-Friended” a Facebook friend because of how they continued to communicate their views.  Please re-read that sentence…it was not BECAUSE of their views, rather, HOW they continued to communicate them.  I’d like to say it pained me to remove them, but it didn’t.  It felt damn good to cut their antagonistic, self-righteous rants out of my life! So here’s the story.  This individual is a highly educated, well-versed and, as far as I know, loving person.  A “practicing” atheist based on the sheer number of daily/weekly posts made that I was guaranteed to see ANYTIME I logged on.  I couldn’t care less if someone is an atheist.  Truly.  All posts, with the exception of one, were based on making derogatory statements about the Pope, Christians, faith, etc.  I’m not Catholic, so I don’t care about the Pope any more, or less, than any other human being.  But seriously, it was getting hateful.  I tolerated these as individual expression, despite the implication that those of us who didn’t agree would not only die without any hope of Heaven, God or angels, but seemingly worse…we would die as idiots.  So back to today: I’m happily scrolling through Facebook, quickly viewing posts and photos of kids and dogs and…wait, what the hell IS that? I see ‘said person’ has posted “something” that is not connecting in my brain yet, although it appears to be a dummy or the set of a horror movie. I don’t know, what possessed me to continue trying to figure “it” out, but instead of heeding the warning of my psyche, saying, “STOP, NO, GO BAAAACCCKKKKKKKKK!!!” I continued on to the article attached and then it was clear.  The picture was of a mutilated corpse of a woman who had clearly been tortured prior to her death.  I will not get into the gory details, suffice it to say this image is emblazoned in my mind.  Once my neurons made the connection, I was pissed! I don’t watch the news, I don’t watch CSI or any of its derivatives and I deplore movies based on violence.  I read the news and am very aware of the travesties and unjust actions that occur, but I don’t need the images.  I have a very active imagination, thank you very much.  All I know is that I feel violated now.  I have friends who are Jehovah Witnesses, Muslim, Democrats, Republicans, Gay, Single, Unemployed, Alcoholics…the list could go on and on about my friends and family that are, or believe, things that differ from me, my preferences, views or lifestyle.  I love every single one of them and NONE of them have ever forced their views on me.  (Yes, including the Witnesses!) I go on Facebook to see the joys, successes and struggles of my friends.  I want to see the sarcastic e-cards and motivational words they enjoy.  I don’t even mind their “conspiracy theories” or “save these dogs” posts so much.  But if your ultimate purpose is to propagate change and improve the world, then motivate through positivity, not gory realism.  I would have been much more open to a post stating: “Women are being brutally murdered, here’s how you can help…”  Instead, this person got the same treatment Sarah McLaughlin gets with her “starving children” commercials…BOUNCED!  And I “LIKE” Sarah McLaughlin and her cause, I just don’t want images forced on me.  You can’t change the world if everyone runs from the message you’re trying to make and in the case of my former Facebook friend, I don’t even know what the message was. What a wasted opportunity to enlighten an open mind. Thanks for tolerating my rant. In Peace!

Man Up

Ladies, you may have read my “Fifty Shades of 40” post. This version is more for the men out there who haven’t been paying attention. Men, start reading here: While the following doesn’t apply to ALL women, it does for many ladies I’ve spoken to, so    pay attention. When we (the ladies) first met you (the men), you were likely decisive, confident, chivalrous…wait, I forgot, I’m talking to men right now…you were badass. You took what you wanted, you jacked us up against the wall, you owned your masculinity and you were willing to kick the ass of any other male who even thought about moving in on your woman. Fast forward through commitment, marriage, perhaps children, what-have-you and…well…now look at you. When did you become a chick? Ok, that may have been a little harsh, but think about it. At some point we took some power, then some more, then, before you know it, it’s a total role-reversal. I am not blaming the men here (entirely). We did this to you. Think back to the very first time you made sex an option. “So…waddaya think? Wanna fool around?” Who are you? Urkel? What happened to the badass machine who knew exactly which  move would elicit complete passion? Because that moment…when we just get into bed after cleaning up the kitchen, doing dishes, catching up on laundry, helping with homework or maybe just washing our face, is not the most opportune time to give us an option. Sleep…sex…hmmm. I can have sex anytime, but sleep, that’s now or I have to wait another 24 hours. On the other hand, when your woman comes to bed, maybe offering a (sincere) back rub would pave the way. Sorry to disappoint, but sporadically letting your hand fall on our back while watching CSI is not exactly foreplay. Don’t ASK us…just GET us there. You know what we like, just do it. If we have a book on our nightstand, read the title. If it even remotely sounds like a romance, I highly suggest you read it. Chick-flicks? If you appear even slightly intrigued you’re almost guaranteed to get some after. Pay attention! What does the guy do in the movie that makes the girl get all gushy? Do this, SCORE! You know when your woman is most open to a little nookie. For some, this is morning, or in the shower, maybe afternoon delights are more her thing and some may just need a little help unwinding at the end of a long day. Pay Attention! Another clue, roughly 10 days after the start of her period she is having lascivious thoughts that can almost guarantee a happy ending for you. A little wine…score. Every woman is different, so don’t go jack her up unexpectedly if that is not your “couple style”. Think about what’s worked in the past. Also, don’t translate this into “no” means “yes”. Sometimes “no” means “no” and sometimes it means “maybe” and sometimes it means “yes” but let’s just start with the easier steps, ok? The key here is paying attention to her signals. We don’t want to tell you what we’re thinking, that takes all the fun out of it. Read our mind by reading our signals. Man-up and remind us why we picked you in the first place. And if some Rockstar Lady happened to send you this post…well then your work is half done, isn’t it?

Miscommunication

Listening is very important! As a person who prides herself on “looking at the Big Picture” I, too, can fail. Here is the story:
7:02pm: My teen daughter is observed viewing her phone with an expression of anger/sadness. I ask her, “What’s wrong?” She mouths, “I’ll tell you later.”
7:36pm: Husband comes downstairs to the kitchen and asks me, “What is that sound, like something being hit?” I reply that I haven’t heard anything and tell him I have no idea what he’s talking about.
8:10pm: I text my teen daughter and ask her to come downstairs and “fill me in”.
8:11pm: My teen daughter comes downstairs and quietly asks, “What’s ‘banging’?” I reply, “Well it depends on the context it was used in, but typically it is a reference to sex or some variation of it.”
8:12pm: My teen daughter collapses over the kitchen counter in laughter. I ask, “What’s so funny? Did you misunderstand a text or tweet, or something?” Teen daughter replies, “No Mom, I was asking what was banging. Daddy heard it too.” Time to get my mind out of the gutter!! 
This is an impromptu post that I thought shouldn’t be wasted. There will be a full post released this Sunday. Hope you enjoy this interim piece!