Dessert Diva Chronicle ……… “What’s Old is New”

“I don’t drown my sorrows; I suffocate them with chocolate.” ~Author Unknown

Let’s face it, food, especially desserts, stimulates emotion!

When we are happy, we celebrate with food. When we get together with friends and family, it is over a good meal. We take lunch breaks, coffee breaks and take “five” to grab a snack. We eat to revive ourselves when exhausted and drown our sorrows in chocolate when heartbroken!

We all have special foods that stimulate nostalgic memories of childhood and home. Like comfortable old shoes and our favorite timeworn sweater, we go back to them over and over again. Why? They are familiar and bring us comfort. We simply know what to expect.

Food trends follow that vein. Styles and preferences may change over time, yet some items continue to show up in our live and on our dinner plates. Why do some things get slated for extinction while others stand the test of time? These classics, and not so classics, come back in and out of vogue like aviator sunglasses, bell bottoms and bad haircuts. The reason, they bring us back to a happy, simple or safer time. Again, we simply know what to expect.

LQ In the Beginning

In a recent mention in EAT BEAT — “11 Dining Trends From the ’80s That Are Poised for a Comeback,” by Grub Street’s Hugh Merwin: “1. Quiche .… 2. Pasta salad. … 3. Blackened everything. … 4. Pasta primavera. … 5. Nages. … 6. Chicken Marsala. … 7. Swordfish. … 8. Crazy ’80s Logos. … 9. Four-bean salad. … 10. Pink peppercorns. … 11. Glass plates and other tableware weirdness.” http://grb.st/1uBxWFP
(#Quiche took the number one slot!)

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For me quiche was never out of vogue! I was raised cracking eggs, and making fork marks in mouth-watering, buttery crust.  I remain surrounded by quiches today.

On a cold snowy wintery night a slice of quiche still brings me comfort as I sit by the fire warming my toes. I think I also have my glass plates hiding up in the closet. I will dust them off next time I serve a quiche.

Do you remember your first “Quiche”? What special foods bring you comfort? Warm fudgy Brownies? Creamy New York Cheesecake? I would love to know.

Dessert Diva ……. “Recipes for Success”

The recipe for building a strong organization

Ingredients

Add:
1. Strong new team members that bring new skills and ideas to the organization.
a. Remember to make sure they are a good corporate cultural fit!
2. A comprehensive on-boarding process to fully engage new employees to the corporate philosophies and culture.
3. Prepare them for success with a fully revamped training program.

Maria Training
Maria Inetti, Director of FSQA

Introduce:

1. New associates to key members of the organization.
2. Arrange meetings with each department head to describe the team function and clarify how the groups will interact.

IMG_0184

Left to Right (Christina Morgan, R & D Compliance and Regulatory Coordinator, Jennifer Valentino, Customer Service/Logistics Coordinator)

Mix:
1. Create an opportunity for cross departmental interaction and introductions:
a. Invite new associates to weekly departmental meetings.
• Include formal introductions and job functions.
• Lighten it up with an ice-breaker.
Stir it up:
2. Schedule time for informal socialization.
a. Set up a casual lunch.
b. Plan a mixer after work.
Point all ingredients in the right direction:
1. Share the company vision and strategic plan.
2. Encourage new members to communicate new ideas for growth.

Ingredients will settle, and then expand over time. Add new ingredients, stir and repeat.

Make it a “delicious” day!
Tune in for more “Recipes for Success” and “Brownie Points”

Happiness Is ……

“When one door of happiness closes, another one opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us”.
I recently came across this quote by Helen Keller that gave me reason for pause. It made me contemplate whether life had become so complicated that we have raised the bar too high on how we measure happiness? When we finally do get what we want in life do we stop to savor the moment? Do we move right on to the next big thing? Do we ever slow down long enough to appreciate the little things that bring us happiness every day?
When I was growing up I loved the Peanuts’ song, “Happiness is………..”. I know it was a simpler time, but they were really on to something. They based happiness on uncomplicated principles like, “Two kinds of Ice cream”, “Finding a firefly” and “Tying a shoe for the very first time”.

 

Happiness is 2
One can also learn a thing or two from to the Vantrap family during “The Sound of Music.” Talk about setting a positive example; while escaping occupation, Maria counseled the children to focus on a “Few of their favorite things”! Again, she based happiness on simpler things like “Raindrops on roses” and “Whiskers on kittens”. She further instructed them about the power of positive thinking by prompting them that when “the dog bites” and the “bee stings” that if they simply remembered their favorite things then they won’t feel so bad.

p2p-europe-photo-austria-sound-of-music

These examples of course are not based on reality. They were not working toward their next big promotion, saving for their dream homes, dealing with work life balance issues or recovering from the recession. Nevertheless, the antidotes they offer may be just what we all need?
I decided to take their advice and create a list of my own to keep handy during challenging times. Just thinking about the my favorite things made me smile and lifted my spirits immediately. I suggest you make a list of your own.
Here are a few of my favorite things. Happiness is:
1. The first sip of coffee in the morning.
2. The first crisp fall morning that requires me to run back in and grab a sweater.
3. A clean new note book and any kind of new office supply.
4. A book that is so good that I lose all sense and time. When I turn the last page I am actually bereaved because I will miss the characters.
5. Drinking a bottle of wine that I have saved for many years that it is well worth the wait!
6. Sitting around my farm table with my whole family talking long after we have finished the last bites of dinner.
7. French fries, pizza and ice cream with mix- ins.
8. A great sale!
9. Boots, jackets and hand bags!
10. Getting an A in school.
11. Stretching past my comfort zone and learning a new skill.
12. Date night with my husband.
13. A great meal and cool new restaurant.
14. Walks with my girlfriends, long talks on the phone, and Sunday movie dates.
15. Helping anyone.
16. Time with my family (bears repeating).

Now I am not suggesting for one minute that you stop striving for greatness or that we should not set the bar high to reach our goals and ambitions; I am however suggesting that we take some time to enjoy and notice the things that bring us happiness along the way.
What is on the top of your list? I would love to know.

What are your 10 greatest hits?

What are your greatest hits?

I recently gave my mentee and assignment to outline her 10 greatest life accomplishments. Here is the catch; I tasked her to create two lists, one for her career and one for her personal life. It was a rewarding experience for her, and gave us great material for a fabulous coaching session.

So if I asked you to do the same thing what would your list look like?

Could you create two lists? Would one be longer than the other, and if that is the case what does that mean? What if you couldn’t create a list at all? What is the hidden meaning there?

If one list is longer than the other, then it might be an issue of work life balance. Now I am not saying it is wrong to be slanted in either direction, and quite frankly neither direction is wrong.

Chronology may play a role? Being single or married? Having children or not? They all factor in. Whatever your life situation, and whatever slant your list takes, it definitely prompts further examination.

I remember the days early on in my career when I was still raising young children. If I was still at the office, I felt as if I was missing out on time with my family. If I was at home with my family I felt like I was neglecting my career. I always had to make difficult choices, and I am sure sometimes I chose wrong. In the end it was a wash. My career prospered, my children thrived, my marriage remained in tact and we all have successful careers. (I think my husband was hungry a lot)

Fast forward 20 years and nothing has really changed If I am still at the office in the early evening, I feel like I should be at home. If I am at home in the early evening I feel that I should still be at work. I no longer feel like I am neglecting my children because my son lives in Philly and now that my daughter is our receptionist every day is take your daughter to work day.  Lastly, my husband now knows that if he wants dinner he had better figure something out.

What are your greatest hits?

Work Life Balance 2

My list is equally balanced with accomplishments at work and personal achievements. I continually add personal development goals that will tip the scales in both directions.

What’s on your list? How do you tip the scales?
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Respect your Fallow Periods; they are an opportunity in disguise.

I recently came across a great saying, “Striving for success without hard work is like trying to harvest without planting seeds.”

Planting seeds 2

I like to think of my fallow periods as a time to plant powerful seeds. Like gardening, you reap what you sow.

As many of you know, I love to garden. In the winter I rest up and with the first hint of spring I am off to the nursery to start my masterpiece. Different than other facets of my life, while gardening I plant without discipline, rhyme or reason. I plant from the heart. I grab from the many rows of beautiful colors, shapes, and sizes and I place them haphazardly into the first pot I see. I then pray for the best.

Sappling

That is where my uncharacteristic behavior starts and ends, and then discipline comes in.

This winter was one for the books in regards to the weather. As my mother always reminds me in challenging times, “This might be a good time to take stock in your life”. Well I am sure like me you have had your fair share of reflection time during Mother Nature’s imposed fallow period.

Now spring is finally here, the fallow period has lifted, what’s next?

planting-seeds

First, like in gardening you must clear the field. We have all had plenty of time to do our spring cleaning this winter. When I talk about cleaning our closets, I refer to this both physically and spiritually. When removing the cobwebs from our closets, it is also good to remove the dust-bunnies from our heads. What have you been putting off? Who or what have you been avoiding? What important action have you not taken?

Next you must decide what seeds to plant and how many. I embrace my fallow periods as times to learn. I am an avid reader, life learner, and a self-proclaimed audio book junkie. Spring is a great time to enroll in a course or even go back to school. This winter I enrolled in a certificate program to become a life coach, and I am loving it! The more seeds of knowledge you plant the more successful you will be!

Planting seeds of knowledge

Surround yourself with Sunshine! I use sunshine as an analogy for happy positive people and situations. You are the company you keep.

People like plants need oxygen to grow, so take a deep breath. Meditate if you can, or just breathe in deeply in times of stress.

Lastly, plants need plenty of water and nutrients. Eating healthy gives us the energy we need to think and be productive. I go to work every week with tons of raw vegetables, hummus and other healthy snacks. Pre-planning always helps us avoid unhealthy eating pitfalls.

Watering plants 2

Happy Spring! I hope your fallow period reaps a beautiful harvest, and that you continue to plant new seeds for future success.

Fields of flowers- 2

Your presence is a present

In today’s crazy 24/7, cell phone, social media, multi-tasking, and over scheduled worlds, are we truly listening to our spouse, children, co-workers and friends when they are talking to us?

 I profess to be guilty as charged.   Recently I made a vow to be “Present when I am Present”.  This sounds easy in theory but not as easy in practice.

 Interestingly, this request came for my husband.  My husband makes no other demands on me whatsoever; no cooking, no cleaning, no scheduling activities.  I mean nothing!   One would think that fully listening was an easy request.  Well, let me tell you, it took work!

 The bottom line is we are programmed to multi-task and many of us have made listening to one another just another item on our to do lists.  What I have learned through this experience is that even if you are listening while doing the laundry, paying the bills and unloading the dishwasher; you may be taking in the information, but does the person you are listening to feel like they are being heard?

 I have started to examine this behavior to see where else in life I am making the same mistake. 

 At work, how many of you have said to a co-worker, while typing and e-mail, “Go on, I am listening”?  Meanwhile, you never look up from your computer screens. How many of you are on conference calls with people in the same office on separate phones, while continuing to do your e-mails?  Not to mention the remote attendants who are doing g-d knows what?! Come on raise your hands, we are all guilty.  Are we really taking in all the information being said?  Are we making our co-workers feel heard?

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 Now that my children are grown, out of the house (well kind of) and have their own lives, what I would not do to have the time back that I wasted doing my chores instead of sitting down on the couch and really listening to what they had to say!

This behavior also affects our friendships.  Texts and e-mails are just no substitute for a good old fashion girls’ nights out, walk on the trail, movie date, glass of wine or cup of coffee!

 I now take my vow to be present when I am present very seriously.  I come home from work, throw down my briefcase and enjoy a nice glass of wine and great conversation with my husband.  I schedule one on one time with my son when he is in from college and continue to have Saturday nail dates with my daughter.  Weekly, I schedule phone calls with my remote team.  I do this when I am not in the office, so I can give them my 100% undivided attention.  I now never miss a weekend without at least one opportunity to spend time with a girlfriend.

Wine Drinking

 I must admit that my life is a lot fuller and the world has not come to an end having not sent out one e-mail or failed to fold my laundry before going to bed. 

 I hope you have learned something from my experience.  Thank you for listening!

 

What is your End Game?

 

If you could time travel and wake up one year from today where would you be?  What would you have accomplished and what would life look like for you?

Would you have a new job, a relationship or live in a new home?  Would you have lost 10 pounds? (That one keeps slipping back on my list)  Going to the gym? Change your look? Go back to school? Take up mountain biking? (I don’t recommend that one see #take it on the road)

If you say you would change nothing what does that mean?  Surely we can all use some personal improvement. What is holding you back?  Is it fear of failure? Self-judgment? Nay-Sayers? Plain laziness?

Snap out of it!  We all need an end game and set of goals to strive for.

I always have and end game in mind, and a set of goals and dreams in my back pocket. I recommend you do the same.

Goals picture

My trick is to visualize myself at my personal best.  I imagine I have already achieved my ultimate life accomplishment and have completed my goals; then I work backwards.

I start by asking myself the following questions:

What are the obstacles standing in my way?

(Tonight it is a cancelled flight)

People stuck in airport

What resources, options and solutions are already available to me?

(I can always get a hotel room and re-book for tomorrow)

What will the payoff be?

(A good night sleep, a glass of wine, definitely a Snickers bar)

How will I feel now that I have accomplished my dreams?

(Like I did not visualize myself on the living-room couch hard enough)

Woman relaxing at home

All kidding aside, visualization, goal setting, assessing your resources, options, and solutions, imagining the pay-off and “acting as if” are powerful tools.  They may be all that is standing in the way of achieving the life of your dreams.

What is your end game? I would love to know!

Ending

 

 

How to press the reset button

There are some weeks or even months that we would love to forget and times we wish we could do over.  Why does it seem that when one thing goes wrong, everything else seems to follow?  It can be as devastating as losing a job or as simple as spilling coffee on your shirt on the way to work.

Wouldn’t it be great if we had a reset button?

Of course, I don’t possess a reset button, but I do have a couple of tricks up my sleeve to help get me back on a positive track!

Turn it up!  Nothing helps turn your state of mind around quicker than music.  I just took a drive with my daughter who turned me on to all her favorite upbeat songs.  We sang the whole way home and I can’t wait to put together a new playlist for the gym, car and office.

Exercise outside.  Nothing clears out the cobwebs faster than taking a deep breath of fresh air.  I love walking the local trail or on the beach.  I always come home refreshed and ready to face the next challenge.

Take a Mini Yoga Break.  5 or 6 Sun Salutations always clears my head. If you can’t stop your mind from running in circles try getting into tree pose.  If you don’t still your mind you will fall.  (Trust me I’ve done it). Bonus Round: Try it in heals at the office. Now that takes concentration!

imageTree pose 2

Lose yourselves in a great book.  This would not be the time for a literary classic.  Find a real page turner, relax and enjoy.  (You can go back to War and Peace when things calm down.) Magazines are also a great release.  Who doesn’t enjoy the “Fashion Police”, “The Best and the Worst Dressed List”, or finding out “Who Rocked It“?

Indulge in a Sunday Afternoon Movie.  Nothing feels more like running away from home than grabbing a Sunday afternoon movie with my girlfriend Kim. If we can’t breakaway for a movie date I find catching up on my favorite television series also does the trick.

Pamper Yourself!  This is no time to let yourself go.  Get a new hair style.  Go for a massage or a mani-pedi.  My favorite Sunday morning activity is doing a home facial.  (I no longer scare my husband and children when they wake up to my various colored masks)

Face mask

Send out an SOS.  I tend to self-isolate, but I am working on it.  I have a great inner circle to call on in emergencies.  A quick phone call or cup of coffee usually does the trick to help me work things through.  (I have now programmed my friends to reach out when I do my disappearing act).

Don’t Hold Back.  If something is bothering you, get it off your chest.  You might not get the answers you want, but you will have given it your best shot.  Finding your voice is not always easy.  I used to either “cut and run” or hold everything in when I was upset. When I finally spoke my mind it would not be pretty.  Now I process it, say it, hope for the best and move on.  That’s it!

Eat Candy.  I always keep a box of Snowcaps in the house and a box of Good & Plenty in my night table in case of an emergency.  Whenever I prepare for a storm or other natural disaster, I buy batteries, water and half dozen boxes of Snowcaps.  (If the world is going to come to an end, I want to make sure I am prepared and don’t run out of chocolate!)

Stay calm and each chocolate

Listen to an Audio book.  I am a self -help audio book junkie (There are worse things). I love to learn new things about time management, leadership and positive thinking.  The classics are great.  Norman Vincent Peale “You Can If You Think You Can” always does the trick to help turn my mood around.

Cleaning.  There is nothing better than cleaning out your closet, both literally and metaphorically.  It is cathartic. (Unfortunately for my family, this is the only time I clean) I highly recommend cleaning while listening to a positive audio book.

Cleaning out your closet

 

Bonus Round:  Try cleaning while listening to an audio book while doing a home facial. Warning-don’t take the garbage to the curb while wearing the mask. (I can assure you one of your neighbors will be outside at that exact moment)

Just stop.  Stop obsessing, stop over thinking, stop beating yourself up, stop trying to control everything.  Let go and move on.

Stop Everyting

As quoted from Wikipedia- the reset button clears the memory and reboots the machine forcibly. Sometimes that is what it takes.

Tell me how you press the restart button?  Please reply, I would love to know.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Roll with It” – Tips for Embracing Life’s Ups and Downs

   At the risk of sounding cliché, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans”

 I used to spend a lot of time and energy trying to reach equilibrium in life and chasing the status quo.  I have now learned to live in a world of uncertainty and embrace “peaceful connected moments” as they arise.

 What is a “peaceful connected moment” you ask?

 When I first got remarried my husband did not understand what I was talking about when I kept referring to “peaceful connected moments“.  That was before he moved in with my teenagers and we both entered the world of management.

Peaceful connected moments at work are the days you actually finish a project instead putting out fires. You catch up on your e-mails, instead of running from meeting to meeting, or you actually stop to eat lunch, instead of running down the hall while sipping soup out of a mug!

running with soup

 Peaceful connected moments at home are weeks in between college and job interviews for your young adults. Nights you go home after work instead of running to sports events, back to school nights or concerts.  Months where you are not moving into or out of dorm rooms or apartments, your kids come home at a decent hour, and no one smashes the car!  

 They also consist of weekends when you have no scheduled plans and you can just lie on the couch in your pajamas reading and catch up on your favorite programs.

 Let’s face it, if you are anything like me these “peaceful connected moments” described above are few and far between, and I only just brushed the surface! 

 So how can one cope with the frantic pace of a busy live?  I suggest you “roll with it.”

 Here are some of my favorite tips for coping with life’s crazy pace:

 1. Embrace it – Life goes by so quickly; what I would not do now to go after work to watch my son run track or go to my daughters art show!

 2. Learn something– often when work is  most challenging  I learn the most.  Maybe you will need to take a stretch assignment, a new system will need to be created and put into place, or an important lesson needs to be learned for the future.

 3.  Reach Out– Find someone who has walked this path before and contact them. We all like to believe we are terminally unique, but chances are if you are feeling stressed out or overwhelmed others are feeling the same way.  I always keep my personal network close at hand during these times to give me personal or professional advice, or talk me off the ledge if necessary!

 4. Take a breath– I am a hugely into meditating.  Now I know that this is not for everyone, but surely you can close your eyes and take a couple of breaths to re-center.  Keep in mind that if you practice traditional meditation in a public setting or at the office people may think you are strange.  (Take it from me and just breathe till you get home.)

Yoga at work

 5.  Look your best   My Aunt Phyllis always used to say, “If you can’t play tennis, then get a great outfit and learn how to jump over the net.”  Put your best self on display.  Only you need to know that you feel overwhelmed.  My sister in law always used to say to me, “You look great, what’s wrong?”

woman jumping over the net

 6.  Exercise- this is the best method for keeping stress at bay. My assistant always takes a walk around the block at lunch before we start a new project.

 7.  Eat well   Although chocolate and potato chips (in that order) offer the perfect diet solution for most of what ails us, you will then be dealing with two issues. Better to eat well and look and feel your best, (see # 5).   I highly recommend the running with soup diet. (See #6)

 Woman running with soup

 8.  Read a book– I was raised to believe that this is the solution for everything; in this case it offers a great diversion.  Audiobooks work too if you are too stressed to concentrate.

 10. Sleep   nothing helps you cope better with stress than getting a good night’s sleep.  Naps are also a great way to regroup and gather the energy you needed to go on. (Do not do this at work, it will be seen as counterproductive)

woman sleeping at her desk

 11.  Have Fun– we never laugh harder at work than when we are stressed out! At home I always make sure to have something fun planned on the weekend, especially at the end of a particularly hard week.

 12.  Have Faith– this too shall pass, IT ALWAYS DOES!

   So the next time work and life have got you stressed, grab this list and “Roll with it”!   Whether you decide to take a breath, exercise, call a friend or read a book, it won’t be long before you are creating your own “peaceful connected moments“.

 This to shall pass

 

If you were a superhero who would you be, and why?

Superheroes

These are the questions I posed to my team in preparation for our recent annual planning meeting.

Why superheroes you ask?

When we think about superheroes we think of their strengthens; however, superheroes are so much more multifaceted. Each superhero has a special power or strength as well as a major flaw or weakness. Isn’t it the same for you and me? 

 As we develop throughout our career it is important to continually assess our skills.  What are our core competencies? Where do we excel? What makes each of us stand out from the crowd? 

 On the flip side we must remember to evaluate our weaknesses. What do we still need to learn? What is our Achilles heel? What is standing in the way of getting that next great job or promotion?

 Superheroes spend much of their days developing their skills. They gather new tools for their tool belts, create force fields to fight off the competition and stand up to opposing points of view. Above all,   they create coping mechanisms to combat their weaknesses.  Couldn’t we all learn a thing or two from them?

superhero

 When superheroes first discover they have superpowers they are always shocked, amazed and have no idea what to do. In each case they find a guide (or mentor) to help them understand and develop their skills, manage the pitfalls, and grow into the best they can be.  Behavior I would recommend to anyone wanting to excel.

 Superheroes main purpose in life is to fight off villains, save the world and build a better tomorrow. Well that sounds a lot like what we do on a daily basis. We fight off the competition, put out fires, and build a better organization for ourselves and the people who will come after us.

 Show me a great superhero and I will show you a great sidekick.  Where would Batman be without Robin? We are all as good as the people we surround ourselves with.  I for one would want my Sales Support Manager Lisa at my side if I was stuck in a burning building.  Or I would turn to our Marketing Director, JoAnn if I wanted to figure out how to fight off our latest opponent. 

 Superheroes can teach us a lot about team building.  Look at the Avengers!  I always tell my team that they are better together then they are apart. Each of them is superstars and has skills and strengths that they share with each other.  We may have our weakness, but as a team we are unstoppable!

 Superheroes also teach us about focus.  They know why they are here, what needs to get done, and they go for it, no questions asked.

 In the end, they always wind up showing their vulnerability. That is what makes them believable, why we follow them, and ultimately trust them with our fate. They almost always fall in love and often have to make difficult work life balance choices.  Look at Spider-Man; he had to choose between the woman he loved and saving the world.

 In retrospect, the superheroes theme was the perfect choice.  After all as I demonstrated, they are a lot like you and I. We have all learned a thing or two from examining their work ethic. 

 So again I ask, if you were a superhero who would you be?   Reply and let me know.

superhero