Auntie Carol’s Secret Salad Equation

Auntie Carol’s Secret Salad Equation

Coming off of a long Fourth of July party weekend I am feeling like I shouldn’t be eating anything BUT salads.  This past weekend I way overindulged in s’mores, wine, Twizzlers and chips, guac and blueberry buckle. It’s how we celebrate the fourth, like total gluttons, and I love every second of it.  #balance

 

But when you get whiplash from snapping back into reality Monday morning, I am almost ALWAYS reluctant to putting greens back into my system, especially salad. 

 

When I graduated from college and started working full time, I was still figuring out how to make healthy food that I actually loved eating that wasn’t totally basic and awful.  At the time I cared more about calories and less about if I would actually enjoy what I was eating. My salads consisted of romaine lettuce, cucumbers, and tomatoes with a balsamic dressing and a protein.  BORINGGG.  

It’s no wonder that after a year of eating that for lunch Every. Single. Day.  that I had sworn off salads for lunch forever. I brought myself to the point where I hated salads.   But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can load up a salad with veggies and fruit making it delicious AND healthy.  I just simply didn’t know how, but Auntie Carol did and does. 

 

As I mentioned in my blog, “Summer Picnic Essentials”, my Auntie Carol makes THE BEST salads of all time.  I kid you not, every time her salad comes out, people flock, everyone gets second helpings and it is one of the few dishes that is completely gone at the end.  They are just so freaking good. 

 

A couple of weeks ago when I was writing the other blog I emailed my Auntie Carol asking for her Secret recipe.  I told her, THE PEOPLE MUST KNOW!! And then asked her permission to share this equation with you. There is a science behind this all, a method to her madness!  She was kind enough to let me share it with you. This may very well change your world entirely, so in advance, ‘you’re welcome’, and THANK YOU to the GOAT of salad making, Auntie Carol. 

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These guidelines are a direct copy and paste from my Gmail conversation with her.. here we gooooo!!

 

Here are the main guidelines for salad dressing.

 1). Everything needs to be chopped into small cubes (even lettuce, spinach etc.).  No one should have to have to use a knife when eating it.  

 2). Salad should consist of Half lettuce & Half fruit or vegetables.  I usually use green & yellow zucchini (cut into cubes).

 3).Cut grape tomatoes evenly into ¼

 4).  Add something interesting with the vegetables. (figs, green apple, orange, blueberries, avocado, red cabbage, thawed frozen green peas)

 5).  Add something with texture (chopped nuts, bacon, etc.)

6). Mix it all together.

 

 These are my guidelines to make your own salad dressing:

 2/3 cup oil, 1/3 cup vinegar, 2 tablespoons of Dijon Muster, 1 tablespoon of Honey …. basic mix and then can change it up….

 Ways to change it up

Add 2 tablespoons of plain yogurt, hummus, or an Avocado to make a creamy dressing

Add 2 tablespoons of citrus, ex. lemon, lime, orange”

 

I really think this deserves a round of applause.   Exact, simple and clear guidelines on how to make a salad that everyone will love. 

 

One really important part that you don’t want to forget is to make your own salad dressing.  This truly is a game changer with all salads. It tastes amazing and is WAY healthier for you than almost all store-bought salad dressings.  Bottled dressings are full of extra chemicals and sugar. Yes, they add sugar to their salad dressing. 

 

Auntie Carol’s salad dressing recipe can be made in a mason jar where you just shake it up on your own.  Or if you want to go next level throw the ingredients into a magic bullet and whip it up. The magic bullet turns it into this creamy goodness that makes your mouth water. It thickens as you mix.

 

I personally also add salt, pepper, and chopped garlic to my salad dressing because I am Italian and more garlic makes everything better. 

So there you have it!! The world’s best salad equation at your fingertips!   I hope you enjoy and let me know what you think once you try it out! 

 

Until next time, Bon appetite! 

 

 

How badly do you REALLY want it?

How badly do you REALLY want it?

Relationship advice from a recruiter… 

 

When I first started recruiting my boss at the time would always compare the situations we were working through to relationships.  Leaving your company is like breaking up with a significant other, and how attentive a candidate is during an interview process shows how interested they are in the job, or a relationship.

 

At first, I thought it was a bit out there, “how could a business transaction be like a relationship?”.  But the more examples they gave, and the more time I recruited and worked through those deals, I started to realize just how accurate that comparison is. 

 

One of the best lessons that I learned, which turned into a question that loomed over my head every day with every candidate and client that I talked to was, “How badly do they really want it?” 

 

Whether that question was directed toward if a candidate really wanted the job or the employer really wanted to hire the candidate, I thought about it constantly.  Once a candidate was officially in the process I would constantly be looking out for warning signs, or any sign that would tell me if the candidate wanted the job or the client wanted to make the hire. 

 

This was really important for me to understand because that would determine whether or not I would make a sale.  Since recruiting is a two-sided sale, and they have to both like each other in order for the deal to go through. Because of that, this is a super important question that I had to constantly question and find answers throughout the interview process.  Luckily, if you are looking for the answer, there are ALWAYS signs pointing you in the right direction.  As a recruiter, I got really good at looking for those signs and then finding them. 

 

When I first started out those signs weren’t always super clear.  I would ask different questions to help me get a better gauge, but often times I was still unsure.  As my career progressed, I finally started to work on better jobs that people actually wanted and then recruited better candidates for jobs that managers actually wanted to hire.  At that point, I started to fully understand and saw how someone acts when they REALLY want something. 

 

How people act when they REALLY want something may be obvious to some of you, but personally I never fully understood it until I witnessed it as a recruiter.  When it finally clicked, it dawned on me that this same reality is true in SO many more areas of our lives. People will ALWAYS act differently when they REALLY want something to happen. 

This is a huge LIFE lesson for all of us that can carry over to getting a new job, dating, or going after a goal.  This is a life lesson that I wish I could go back and tell my high school self about love, goals, and dreams, but since I can’t do that, I am sharing it with you. =]

 

In writing this blog, I wanted to share with you how to find the clues and signs that determine how badly you or someone else really wants something. 

Below are the top traits that I have noticed in candidates and clients on how they start to act when they really want a job or really want to hire a candidate.  You will quickly see how these can be applied in many other areas of your life. 

 

 

RESPONSIVENESS 

This is the first thing I notice in a candidate and client when they are interested.  They actually respond to me and they do it in a timely manner. Instead of the typical 1-2 days of waiting before you get feedback or a response, it’s more immediate.  If they stay interested, this responsiveness continues throughout the whole interviewing process.  I don’t have to nag or hunt them down for an answer. They freely and quickly give me the answers to my questions.  

This is the same in relationships.  If someone is taking days to text you back or is playing the game and they won’t reach out for a couple of days.  They probably aren’t THAT interested at the time. That could change, but if they really wanted to talk to you, they would respond or reach out.  

This reality made me wince because I would remember all of the times I made up stories in my head of why someone WASN’T texting me back or reaching out.  I would make up the most ridiculous stories to make myself feel better when in reality, they simply weren’t interested. 

FOLLOW-UP 

Whenever a candidate is interested in a job, they will reach out a lot, asking the status of the job, how they are doing in the interview process, they ask for advice on how to stand out and what they can do to keep moving forward.  The same holds true for the client side. When a client really wants a candidate, they will ask me the candidates status throughout the interview process to gauge how interested the candidate is and what we will have to do to get them to take the job. They both follow-up with ME to check in and see what the other is thinking. 

This holds true in relationships in two ways, maybe you meet someone through a friend and then you are constantly following up with the friend who set you up to check in to see what the other person thinks of you and if you really have a chance.  Or very simply, if someone is interested in you, they will follow up after a date and ask you to meet up again.  

FLEXIBILITY 

You start to notice this trait later on in the interviewing process.  At the beginning of the recruiting process, typically, you need the first date/interview or two to happen before the sparks start flying.  But once that fire gets going there is this magical thing called flexibility that starts to grow. At this point, the candidate and client want to woo each other.  They want to make each other happy, so they loosen up their strict standards and checklists and even their calendars.  The times they couldn’t make an interview before they are now magically wide open.  Salary ranges are now “open to discussion”. Commutes and travel requirements that were a hard no, are now a maybe.   

In relationships, when you really start to like someone, the flexibility grows.  It grows in ways like realizing she really loves sushi, and even though you hate it you take her to out to sushi to make her happy.  Or the times you know he loves to watch baseball so you take him to a game, but you really despise the sport and are legitimately upset there isn’t halftime so you can take a break from it, but you do it because you like him.  

Those small ways new found flexibilities, and the ways we will bend to make something work, they are indications that they care and want you. 

 

ENERGY LEVEL 

This makes me think of a puppy.  When you first come home from work and you have a puppy they are just so freaking excited to see you.  They run, they jump, they go get their toys to show you. You can almost see their brains working, working out their next move to show their excitement.  People act the same way when they are excited, except they aren’t quite as cute. 

When people are excited about an opportunity their energy level’s spike up.  You can hear the excitement in their voice through the phone and through their emails.  You can feel it from the managers when they are talking about how an interview went with a candidate they really liked.  It’s like everyone is on an interview high, just happy and excited about what’s happening and next steps.  The energy level for the entire search lifted up like a cloud and we are all floating up there waiting for the final decision. 

This is the same with relationships. Think about when a new couple is in that “honeymoon stage”.  They talk about each other at nauseam and think that every little thing the other one does is the cutest thing in the world.  They are always smiling, excited and happy.  That high that they are riding, the excited energy that is buzzing through the relationship, that only happens when you really like someone.  

 

So there you have it! The top traits that I have picked up on, to help me fully understand how badly someone really wants something.

There are a lot more signs and details that I could share with you.  More signs that show whether a candidate really wants the job, a manager really wants to make the hire, or someone is really interested in starting in a relationship.  BUT we would be here for a very long time and these are the basics that will still point you in the right direction. 

 

On your next interview or date, look for these traits and follow these signs to really gauge how interested they are.   It might even lead you to realize he or she is THE one… 

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My Favorite Podcasts

My Favorite Podcasts

Good Morning!

This week’s blog was inspired by my friend Meg. =]  

The other day Meg asked me and my other friend, Carol, what were some good podcasts that she should listen to.  That question got me to thinking of writing a blog about podcast recommendations because there are also just so many options out there and it’s hard to even know where to start looking.

 

When you are first getting into podcasts there are so many to pick from that it could get pretty overwhelming.  This is the case with books, TV shows and movies.  It feels like at every turn I am constantly hearing about a NEW podcast, show or book that was just released.  It’s gotten to the point where we literally have hundreds if not thousands of options to pick from and the last thing you want to do is to make the WRONG choice.  

 

I hate when I waste my time reading a book and then halfway through decide I don’t like it.  Or when I invest my time into a new TV series or podcast and then find out that by episode 3 or 4 I can’t stand the person.  There is nothing that infuriates me more than time wasted, ESPECIALLY when it’s for a leisurely activity because I have so little time for it in the first place.  

 

Sometimes I get so caught up in making the WRONG choice, that it leads me to just picking what I already know.  Watching a movie I have watched 5 million times, or listening to one of the podcasts on my small list that I rotate through because at the end of the day I know what to expect and how I will feel after.  I need that little bit of certainty in my life.

 

I would rather know that I am going to love whatever I invest my time and money into and because of that I always LOVE getting a good recommendation.  

 

Anytime a friend brings me a book and says “you HAVE to read this”, or when a sister-in-law tells you over dinner, “you HAVE to watch this movie”, you are almost never disappointed.   When I get suggestions from friends and family, those are the times that I can’t stop turning the page or I come back to the podcast every single day in the car.

 

So, when Meg asked us what our favorite podcasts were I thought, might as well share them with everyone in case anyone else out there is like me and wants a little guidance on what to try out next. =]

 

Now, depending on the time of day, weather, how I am feeling, or who I am with can change the type of podcast I want to listen to, drastically.  I am assuming I’m not the only person like this so I decided to share them by category.  I broke them up into HeartwarmingBusiness/Goal-oriented, Mystery, and Funny.   

 

Let’s start with HEARTWARMING.

Some days are just tough days, for whatever reason, and days like that I like to listen to uplifting stuff.  I like to listen to stories that remind me that you can overcome anything, all is still right in the world and love prevails all.  

super soulSuper Soul Sunday is pretty much my go-to in this category.  You get a mix of all of those feel-good feelings, leaving you believing that everything will always be okay.  The host is our girl, Oprah, and you know anything and everything she stamps her name on is going to be not good, but great.  She encourages us all to take a minute to pause and connect with the deeper meanings of the world.

Some of my favorites interviews are with Brene Brown and Joe Biden. Definitely check those two out.

 

Then there is the BUSINESS/GOAL-ORIENTED podcast category.

These are the types of podcasts I listen to the most.  I throw one on my drive into work to get myself mentally motivated and prepared for a workday.  If you have followed my blogs you can tell that I am a very goal-oriented person, so I love to learn new tips and tricks by other business women and men.  These podcasts are always really interesting, telling you the story of how the top people in their field got to where they are today.

My favorites in this category are:

school of greatnessThe School of Greatness – The host of this podcast is a former professional athlete, Lewis Howes. Lewis is always bringing on different guests who are leaders in their space, celebrities, or people who are making waves in the world in their own small way.  The guests talk about how they came to be, and then they always end the interview with what their definition of greatness is and three things they would like to leave behind in the world. 

 

goal diggerThe Goal Digger Podcast – This podcast is run by Jenna Kutcher, a photographer, influencer and educator.  I think this is THE BEST podcast for exact how-tos for starting your own small business, especially with marketing and social media tips.  She tells you exactly what you should be doing to create an email list, ways to stay productive, and how to build a brand. When I first started listening I was in awe of how much information she was giving to her listeners for FREE.  On top of that, she is all about self-love and is an Aeire Clothing spokes-person which is my favorite brand and meaning behind a brand, so it pretty much makes her the best ever.

 

rise podcastRise Podcast –  I couldn’t leave out my girl Rachel Hollis.  Her podcast is very similar to Jenna Kutcher’s and Lewis Howe’s where she both gives advice and direction on what small business owners should be doing and she interviews top business owners in their space to learn from them.  Her shows are more all-encompassing in business. For example, she brings on finance experts, she talks about how to overcome the fear of failure, and how to scale your business. The best part is that she breaks it down to make it all really really simple and digestible.  She wants everyone to be able to understand the message and take away something from the show. I also just love listening to her in general, so this was a great way I could continue to listen to her that wasn’t in a blog or book form.

 

Tim-Ferriss-Podcast_1600xThe Tim Ferris Show – This was actually one of the first podcasts I ever got into.  His interviews are very long, but they talk about a lot and nothing at the same time so you really get to know the guest on the show.  He also somehow gets them to talk about more than the typical talking points they will do on other shows. It’s funny because he graduated from Princeton, and you can tell her graduated from an Ivy league.  He is very articulate and prepared and I feel like he would love caviar or something like that. But it is a really good show and I feel smarter every time after I listen to it.

 

Now to get a little less serious and move into the MYSTERY category.

I love listening, watching, reading an anything murder mystery.  There is just something about a good murder mystery that gets me going.  These are the podcasts I listen to if I don’t want to think and want to watch a movie in my mind while I am driving.  Dan and I also always listen to these together on long car rides.

My favorites are:

atlanta monster.jpgThe Atlanta Monster/Monster: The Zodiac – This one is fantastic!  It is a breakdown of the unsolved murder cases of The Atlanta Monster and The Zodiac.  Each story has a series of episodes attached to it, and it breaks down different parts of the investigations.  It constantly keeps you on your toes and guessing who it was, why it happened, and where they went wrong in figuring out who the real murderer was.  It’s really good and keeps you engaged and on your toes for long car rides.

 

in the darkIn the Dark – This murder mystery is in a very similar format.  It is all about the murder case of a boy who went missing and then years later the killer admitted to everything he did.  It breaks down every part of an investigation and gets all the facts of what happened and what didn’t happen. You totally get sucked in and question, “How did they NOT find him?”. Another really good listen for a car ride.

 

serial killersSerial Killers –  This show is a bunch of short stories about different serial killers in the world.  Typically the stories are about serial killers you have never even heard about that might have happened in your town or state!  I was hooked on this one when I listened to a show where it talked about a serial killer that I had never hear of before that lived in Connecticut!  I liked how they focused on small cases that go under the radar that leave you thinking, how did I never know about that!?

 

Then finally I wanted to add in a FUNNY podcast series.  

I will start off by saying that I do not typically listen to funny podcasts or stand up comedians, it’s just not my thing.  But I do love Ron Burgandy and Anchorman, so when someone suggested Dan and I give this podcast a listen we couldn’t say no.

 

ron burgundyThe Ron Burgandy Podcast is stupid and funny.  Very light hearted and if you need a good laugh I would definitely recommend giving this a listen. I can’t say more than that because I have only listened to about an episode or two.

 

 

 

That just about sums it all up!  Now you know the handful of podcasts that I rotate through regularly.  Try them out and let me know which one you love!

Also, keep the recommendation train going and let us know which podcasts are your favorites so we could give them a listen too!  

Leave a comment on what your favorite podcasts are right now!

What is your Legacy? – Notes from my talk with the Miss Connecticut Contestants

What is your Legacy? – Notes from my talk with the Miss Connecticut Contestants

Good Morning!

Today I wanted to share with you a speech I prepared for the Miss Connecticut 2019 contestants.  As some of you know I was Miss Connecticut in 2012, and that experience changed my life entirely.  I was a totally different person and looked at the world in such a different way before I was a part of the Miss America Organization.  

 

I went into the organization thinking small, not really realizing the impact that one person can make in their own world.  I came out with big audacious dreams, having a better understanding of the ripple effect from one small positive event. But the best part was, for the first time, I really believed in myself and my ability to achieve my dreams.  I believed in my ability to make a difference in our world.

 

I talked a bit about that with the contestants who were running for the Miss Connecticut 2019 title.  I talked about a legacy, and what that really means. I talked about what I wanted my legacy to be as Miss Connecticut but how I continue to live that legacy every day.

 

My hope in sharing this speech with you is to help you remember that we all have a legacy we leave behind.  A way that we all are remembered when we phase in and out of people’s lives. How we show up and what we do every day really does matter.  

 

At the very least, this may give you a little glimpse into my world the year I was Miss Connecticut. 😉

 

Enjoy!
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“Hey Everyone,

I am Emily Audibert McGrath, and I was Miss Connecticut in 2012.  To those of you who don’t know me, I won Miss Connecticut the first year I ever ran in a pageant.  It’s kind of a fun fact about me, but also gives me a good bird’s eye view of the pageant system as a whole.  


To give a quick background on me, I ran for Miss Connecticut in the first place because my dance teacher, Miss Amy, suggested that I ran in our local pageant. She was my biggest role model growing up, and I hoped I could have the same impact on other young girls the way that she did on me, so I decided to run. I ran in the 2012 Miss Wolcott pageant and ended up winning.

Once I won I didn’t even want to run for Miss Connecticut, I was perfectly content as Miss Wolcott because being Miss Wolcott was a really BIG deal in our town.  I actually asked my business manager if I HAD to run, and she said yes. I was contractually obligated to run unless I wanted to step down as Miss Wolcott and I didn’t want to do that, so I started to prep for the Miss Connecticut 2012 pageant.  I ended up winning that title as well.

That’s a quick cliff note version of how I got to where I am today.  

 

But today, I wanted to talk with you all about that final question on your Miss Connecticut paperwork, the question that asks, “What do you want your legacy to be?”

 

I remember when I was filling out my paperwork for the first time I felt like that was such a deep lofty question, and I didn’t feel like I ever a good enough answer for it.  It always stumped me just like the question, “why should YOU be the next miss Connecticut?” My thought always was “ I don’t know! I just want to be and I think I will be good at it?!”

For both of these questions, in my heart, I knew I wanted to be Miss Connecticut and would be a good one, just like I knew I wanted to leave a good legacy behind, but I always had a hard time articulating exactly what that was.

 

What do I want my legacy to be?

 

Looking back now I can see it a bit more clearly, and even though at the time I really couldn’t explain to you what I wanted my legacy to be, I always knew what kind of Miss Connecticut and person I wanted to be in my life.  Now I see, that is exactly what my legacy was.

 

My year as Miss Wolcott and then Miss Connecticut was a bit of a whirlwind, but throughout that year I always had the same mindset and goal in mind.  I wanted to make an impact on the young women and girls that I met, and I wanted to be the role model that I would like to see in the world.

 

That was my mantra for the year.  What kind of impact can I make? How can I show up as the role model I want to see in our world?  For me the answer wasn’t a big extravagant goal, to run a huge event or really anything major where I was the main focus.  Instead, I wanted to help enhance events for other people and when I went to an event to really see and interact with the people I met.  I wanted to make everyone I met feel comfortable and special, and then maybe even inspired after met me. I didn’t want to be thought of like someone on a pedestal, but as someone that you would feel comfortable talking to in any setting.  Someone who when you walked away from our conversation, you not only felt better about yourself but you also left thinking, if she can do it, then so can I.

 

That was the person I wanted to be remembered as.  That was the impact I wanted to make.

 

I got a glimpse of that impact at one particular event as Miss Connecticut.

I was asked to be the keynote speaker at a Superintendent’s Award Ceremony.  To give you some context these were students that were hand-selected by the teachers in the entire school district as being a “top student”.  They were picked because of their academics because they were a good student and role model in the classroom and they gave back to their community.  

The age range of the students was wide, there were some in elementary school and others about to graduate and head off to college.  I had to present a topic that would be applicable to all of them at all of those drastically different stages of their lives. I decided to make my theme, “Never Give Up”.

I told them stories about how at various points in my life, I was the underdog or was told that I wasn’t smart enough or experienced enough to succeed but I didn’t listen, never gave up, and prevailed.  I told them about the time where I worked really hard for dance scholarship at my studio, it was based on improvement and I made sure I went to extra technique classes and was constantly helping and working hard to get better.  Then the end of the year came and I didn’t get it, and I talked about how much that crushed me. But then the following year, I got back up tried harder and won the scholarship. I told them of the time my Chemistry teacher told me I wasn’t smart enough to take AP Chem, but I did it anyways and then won the AP Chemistry award at the end of the year, over the top students in my class.  I told them how about no one pegged me to win for Miss Connecticut. No one even thought that I was a top contender, but I didn’t listen, worked hard and won the title. Every time when I was told I wasn’t enough, I didn’t listen, I kept going and came out on top because I never gave up on myself.

I told the students how they were all already so much more successful than I ever was at their age and that I knew that they could do anything that they set their mind to, as long as they always stood back up, and never gave up on themselves.  I was so emotional at that end that I totally cried, in a very non-public speaker way. But when I looked up I noticed everyone else had tears in their eyes too. Parents, students, teachers. They all felt what I felt, and were reminiscing in their own minds of times that they overcame because they never gave up.

Then at the end of that event, I was signing these autograph pads for some of the students, and I saw a little girl out of the corner of my eye, with light and feathery blonde hair, hiding under her dad’s arm but looking my way.  I smiled and she turned away. Then I continued to sign for the other students and then there she was in line to see me, shy and sheepish next to her dad. She must have only been in 1st or 2nd grade. When it was finally her turn she came up to me, I smiled, asked her name and started signing.  As I was looking down signing her name I heard this little voice say “My mom always told me to never give up. And I promise I will never ever give up.” At that moment I looked at that precious little face, full of hope and at that moment I totally lost my marbles and gave her a huge hug with tears in my eyes.  I told her I was proud of her, she was a good girl and that she would do such great things.

 

I wanted to share that story because it was one of the best experiences of my life, not just as Miss Connecticut.  But I think that story really shows what this organization is all about and what our legacy really is, being a role model and encouraging others to be the best version of themselves.

 

Being in the pageant system it’s easy to get lost in the politics, the small minute details of your hair, makeup, and clothes, things that don’t really matter.  The only thing that really matters is understanding that you have a platform and an avenue to make an impact on other people’s lives. You have the opportunity to use your voice, and share it with your community to help make it a better place in any way that you can.

 

Even though there will only be two of you walking away from tonight with a new crown, it doesn’t mean that the rest of you, or any of us ever really take off our crown and stop spreading the good word.  It doesn’t mean we stop being a role model for others or stop giving back to help others in whatever way we are most passionate about.

 

I think the true spirit of Miss America never goes away and lives on in all of us in some way or another, beyond the time that we are wearing a crown.  That is our legacy.

 

When I think back on the women I competed with at the National level, so many of them are still embodying the title and they have been for years.  Many of them are in our own pageant system.  Acacia, Alyssa, Kaitlyn, Morgan, Eliza, Miss Amy, these are just a few who are all still give back to their community in some way.  They all STILL make you feel comfortable and seen. They STILL make you feel special every time you see them or talk to them at any event. They truly are STILL wearing their invisible crowns.  

 

It’s so cliche to say “invisible crown” and I hate myself for it but that but at the end of the day it’s true and being here on the official pageant day, I think it’s important for you all to remember that.   You don’t need to be a Miss Connecticut to make that type of impact. You can do it every single day, with or without a crown. This organization has armed you with the tools to be a powerhouse of a woman. Take those tools and never stop using them for good.  Never stop trying to make an impact on your world, even if it’s just your family and friends. Be the role model that you want to see in this world. That is the true spirit of the crown. That is the legacy you will leave behind, not just as a titleholder, but in your lifetime.

 

 

Summer Picnic Essentials

Summer Picnic Essentials

Since this past weekend was Memorial Day, that means the summer barbeques and picnics have officially begun!  Praise the Lord our 3 months of warm weather is FINALLY here!!

Summer is my favorite time of the year for many reasons, but one of the things I most look forward to is parties with friends at the beach.  While this is super fun and an awesome time, it can be a little taxing on some of us with our health goals. Having pasta salad and hot dogs is great in May and then mid- July comes and you’ve already eaten 10 hot dogs over the recommended ‘1 hot dog a year’ limit, and it feels that if you just look at another pasta salad your shorts may bust open.  Or at least this is how I feel…

 

To keep myself on track with my healthy lifestyle during the summer party sessions, I make sure I always come prepared.  I come with healthy food options. I offer to bring foods and side dishes to share so that I know that I will always have healthy choices.  

 

Making these dishes delicious is a must so that you don’t feel deprived and everyone loves it and wants you to bring your “dish” to every summer party. Win/win. 😉

 

I am going to share with you my Summer Picnic Essentials, four things that are perfect for picnics, dishes that everyone loves and will be begging you to bring again and again.

 

A Salad the people can’t refuse.  

mediterranean-chickpea-salad-fb-ig-1.jpgI really appreciate a good salad.  Mostly because salads could really suck if you don’t put love and care into it.   My best friend Rachel and My Auntie Carol make the BEST salads, and if they make it, everyone’s eating it, even the guys.  They were my inspiration for this picnic essential because I have watched as people swarm around the salads that they bring to parties.  These are always healthy and delicious leaving you completely satisfied.

This weekend, for example, My Aunt Carol made a salad that we were all raving about.  It was a chopped salad with romaine lettuce, raw zucchini, blueberries, sliced radishes for a crunch, edamame and a poppyseed dressing… It was unbelievable.  We ate it on Saturday and couldn’t stop talking about it until, well, today. I am still talking about it and decided to base a blog around it.  It was that good.  Never underestimate the power of a good salad.

Some killer Kabobs

barbecue-barbeque-blur-604660I have always loved kabobs with chicken or shrimp.  Partially because it’s a fun thing to say, the pronunciation of ka-BOBs automatically puts a smile on my face, but it’s also fun and easy to eat.  When prepping for picnics I try to think about what would be the easiest dish to bring. A dish that’s either totally prepared or would be easy to cook once I get there with the least amount of prep and clean up needed.  Kabobs are a great option. All you have to do is defrost the shrimp, and cut up the chicken. Throw it in a bag of olive oil and an Italian seasonings packet or a teriyaki sauce, and mix it all up so it’s entirely covered and coated in the sauce.  Stick the shrimp or chicken on the skewer then pack it all up.  Grill it once you get there. Easy peasy, and a great way to get the protein in.

 

 

Guac and Veggies

guacamole-foto-heroe-1024x723-500x500Guacamole and cut up veggies is the best appetizer to have at any party all year long, but especially during the summer.  For starter’s, almost everyone I know loves guacamole. At any party, once the guacamole comes out people swarm around it, and you better run over too or it’ll be gone before you get there.  It’s a serious concern at every party we have.

You can serve it with tortilla chips or veggies.  Nothing really beats a tortilla with guac on it, but a cut up carrot or celery stick is still pretty freaking great and a healthier option.  Even if you bring both cut up veggies and chips, just decide to eat mostly the veggies with a just couple of chips. #balance. It’s all about balance and making small healthier choices.  

 

Cut up watermelon

blur-close-up-delicious-1070858.jpgNothing screams summer more than biting into a juicy ripe watermelon and having the sweet red goodness streaming down the sides of your mouth.  Having watermelon at a picnic is the ultimate summer essential. It’s the perfect dessert that leaves you hydrated, full and satisfied. I prefer to have watermelon up cut into chunks, but some prefer the quarter moon cuts.  Whatever tickles your fancy, or is easier for you, people will love it either way. It’s the great healthy dessert option for you to have over the plethora of sugar-filled store-bought baked goods that everyone else will be bringing.

 

Coming off a four day weekend, with three beach days filled with friends and family, partying and picnicking, I would definitely say that these are the four summer picnic essentials that will help you to continue choosing healthy options and staying on track with your healthy lifestyle.

 

I hope you enjoy and this helps you make healthy choices all summer long, but more than that, I hope you enjoy every minute of this summer time season.  It only comes once a year, so get outside, feel that glorious vitamin D seeping into your skin, play, laugh and let the good times roll.

 

Happy Summertime. =]

 

 

Level Up your Squad

Level Up your Squad

I was inspired to write this blog after seeing the ‘Avengers: Endgame’ movie.  I am not a crazy, obsessive Marvel diehard, but I am definitely a fan. I think they are funny and cool and if there is a popular Marvel film out I am likely going to watch it.  My all-time favorites are ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ 1 and 2. To me, they’re hilarious, light-hearted and have great endings, which is very important to me (otherwise I get pissed).

 

Without spoiling anything, at the highest level ‘Avengers: Endgame’ is the sequel to ‘Avengers Infinity War’, a pretty epic movie that brought nearly all the major Marvel superheroes together to fight the big, bad guy, ‘Thanos’, determined to end life as we know it.  Simply put, things didn’t so great the first time around, so ‘Endgame’ is their second shot to kill the bad guy.

Image result for avengers endgame

I don’t want to spoil the entire movie, so I won’t, but there was one scene in it that pulled at my heart and I can’t help but share.  It was actually the only part that I got super emotional during the movie, but MAN it was good.

 

At one point, Captain Marvel is getting ready to carry the Infinity Stones away from the enemy to safety, but what’s in front of her basically couldn’t be any worse. Rapidly approaching is a sea of evil, black creatures. Rabid Gargoyle-like soldiers, slithering alien warships, armored mutant gorillas all sprinting towards her. Now, Captain Marvel is pretty rad, but still, the odds didn’t look good.

 

Spiderman looked at Captial Marvel and said, “I don’t know how you are going to get through all that”.

But out of nowhere rolls in the ultimate SQUADDDDD.  All the female Avengers characters started flying in around her one-by-one, reassuring Spiderman, “Don’t worry. She’s got help.”  For a second, they all stood around her tall, proud for a glorious moment, and then proceeded to kick all ass in the surrounding zip-code  It. was. EPIC.

 

It’s a scene that probably no one is talking about except me, but in my opinion, it was by far the best scene in the movie and definitely one of my top 5 or 10 movie scenes ever.

 

I have been thinking about that scene for weeks now and have been trying to think about how I can write about it, besides the simple fact that I just loved it.  Then, I was on one of my lunch walks and it came to me. Leveling up your squad.

 

This scene hit me in many different ways because it show was a perfect women empowerment moment. It showed friendship and women supporting each other, believing in each other and standing up for one another.  Pretty much the best situation ever for all the girls out there that don’t always get the same superhero love as the guys. But, it didn’t really just stop at women’s empowerment.

It was the perfect example of what friendship and respect for a colleague SHOULD look like.  The only way to get a squad as epic as the Marvel squad here to level up your own squad.  Consciously surround yourself with people who believe in you and your dreams and who would fight through Demogorgon super creatures to help you succeed. Figuratively of course ;).

 

But, you all know what I am talking about here.  We all have different groups of friends or colleagues. There are some who you know have your back always and would fight for you. Then, there are others who are a bad influence or they make you feel small and think your dreams are dumb.   

 

When striving and working towards being the best version of ourselves we can’t have heavyweights like that holding us back.  Now, I am not saying to ditch all of your friends who don’t always see eye-to-eye with you or are exactly like you. Our friends come in all shapes and sizes and being different from our friends in ways can be healthy.  I am just suggesting to be mindful of how much time you are spending with the different types of people in your life and be sure you’re not surrounding yourself with negative influences constantly.

 

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with”.

 

Take a minute to think here. Who do you spend most of your time within a typical week?  Think about who they are, what they do and what they stand for. Do you want to become more like that person?  Do you want that person to influence how you treat others?

 

At some point in our lives, which will be different for all of us, it’s important for us to take a good look at the people around us and ask ourselves “How they are influencing us?  Are they building us up or bringing us down?”

 

I did this in high school, college, after college, and before I got married.  And it wasn’t something I planned. I just naturally started asking myself which of my friends I really trusted and looked up to, who I was a better person around and who I wanted in my life for the long haul.  I naturally wanted to spend more time with the friends who built me up and made me feel good because I enjoyed them and I was proud of the person I was around them.  I also look up to them in some way and respect the person that they are. 

 

The friends I have today and the people I spend most of my time with I truly do think that they make me a better person and I know they are ALWAYS there for me no matter.

 

For those of you who maybe have never even thought about how the people who you spend your time with influence you, I put together a couple of things you can start to do or think about to level up your own squad. 

 

  • Raise your personal standards.

To level up our squad we need to start with leveling up our own standards.   Think about the person that you want to become.  Who do you want to become or be remembered as? Maybe a great friend or the mom that has everything right or a badass businesswoman.  Whatever it is we want to be, it starts with us believing in ourselves and our ability to become that person, followed by raising our personal standards to help us get there.  

Then the question is, “Am I surrounding myself with people who are making a positive impact on my goals and the person I want to become?” “Do I personally know people that I can learn from and look up to?”  If you do, great! Become best buddies with that person and learn from them, look up to them and their awesomeness.  People who make a positive impact on our life are gems to be treasured.  Absorb and take in everything that they do and learn from them.  You may start to notice that the reason they are who they are and do what they do, is because they hold themselves to a higher standard.

By simply being around people who hold themselves to a higher standard it will help you do the same for yourself.

 

 

  • Make a conscious effort to meet new people.

 

This is what I want you to do if you find that you DON’T have the friends or network of people you want to become like. There are always different types of networking events in local cities where you can meet people. You can try to reach out to people directly via Linkedin or anywhere you go by introducing yourself and just putting yourself out there.  

But to be honest, I have never loved the whole networking events, introduce yourself to random people thing.  Some people love it and it works great for them, and more power to them! It’s just not my thing. What I do is start to follow someone I look up too, in a certain area I want to improve in.

For example, I love Rachel Hollis.  I think what she is an incredible business woman and has been able to do inspiring things in her career, so I follow her and am a raving fan.  I read all her books and blogs, I do her programs and follow her on all forms of social media.

This helps me in two ways, 1. Having a role model to look up to who lives a life that I respect, and 2. Has been a way for me to meet people through a common interest.  

This method of meeting like-minded people with common interests can be done in so many different ways.  My way of connecting with people has been through a business role model, but yours could be through a lifestyle blogger or an art class you are taking or even joining a rec sports league you are a part of.  They are all great ways to meet new people.

 

 

  • Lead by example.

 

Whenever trying to level up your squad it is important to remember to START being the person you want to be for the people around you.

Finding new friends that help you grow and learn is super important, but it’s just as important to be a great friend and person towards the people in your life today.   Regardless of how they treat you, make sure you always treat them with the love, respect, and support that you would want. Lead by example and show up as the best person that you can every day.  We can’t always wait around for our hero to show up, sometimes we need to be our own hero.

By doing this, you will turn into that person that others look up to, seek out, and try to befriend because you are the person that they respect and love most.  You will teach those around you how good friends or colleagues SHOULD treat each other.  You will show them how they should act to become the best version of themselves.

Someone out there that you already know needs you to be the person they look up to and learn from.

Funny how that works. 😉

I hope this helps and inspires you to level up your squad.  Surround yourself with people who support you, love you and believe in your dreams.  If we all just tried to be a little better of a person to our friends and those in our lives imagine the impact we could all make on our world.

We can save the world, just like the Avengers. =]

 

In loving memory…

In loving memory…

This blog is meant to be about work, life, health and how to not only get by but also to become the best version of ourselves in all of these areas.

 

My goal is to be completely honest with you about everything that I do and try, things that I go through and learn from.  Today’s topic is a bit of a personal one, but I think it’s important to talk about. It’s important because I learned so much from it and it caused such a sudden shift in my life that I know it made a permanent impact.  

 

It’s also important because it’s just about life. In life, we experience happy, beautiful times and losses that make us want to just curl up in a ball and cry.  We aren’t always going to be able to be go-getters and achievers, there are going to be low lows. This past April was that for me.

 

To say that the month of April totally sucked would be an understatement.  I lost my Uncle Jim and Aunt Donna exactly one week apart. Both of whom I was very close to growing up.  Both of whom I love dearly. One death was sudden and the other was more anticipated, but both hurt. Both hurt so badly that it felt like my heart was breaking.  I couldn’t control the tears coming down my face, I couldn’t believe it was happening and I had no words or thoughts. I just saw complete grey and felt a heavy cloud all around me that I couldn’t seem to shake away.

 

If you can’t tell already from my blogs, I am a “fixer”.  A “solution-oriented” person always trying to solve the problem or find the good in the situation.  With something like this, it’s hard to find any positives at all because there is so much loss, hurt and anger.  I kept trying and failing to at least find my silver lining in the clouds.

 

I had nothing until I listened to the eulogy at both of their funerals.

 

I really debated even writing this blog because I thought, “No one cares about this.”  “This isn’t important to your audience and it won’t help them.” But it’s important to me and it’s helped me. It’s important to me that I always remember them and what they each taught me about life.  What legacy they have left behind that I will hold onto, look up to, and strive towards forever.

 

Their legacy and memories are my silver lining.  

 

I’m not sure if some of you ever think about this, but I think about the legacy I will leave behind and the impact I will make on this world often.  I was so attracted to being a recruiter because I truly believe I am able to help and make a difference in people’s lives. That’s also why I love writing this blog so much.  But when I would think about the impact I will make in my life, it was always a far distant thought, nothing that would actually happen any time soon.

 

When I was actually faced with the end of a story for two of my close family members, I was saddened, but also proud of the people they were and what they brought to this world.  And I felt so, so lucky that I had them in my life for a time and that I was able to be loved by them.

 

jungle jim.jpgMy Uncle Jim had a couple of different people speak at his funeral, but the message was consistent.  He loved everyone, always. It did not matter who you were, what walk of life you came from, or whether you had just met on a plane.  He made you feel special, loved and like you were the only one in the room. He had an energy that would light up every room he walked into.  He loved to make people laugh and was the funniest man I have ever met. He was constantly cracking jokes, but never making fun, again leaving you feeling special and light.  Any time I would walk in the room he would start singing, “There she is… Miss America…” He would sing songs loudly, dance regardless of who was watching and dress up as a Teletubby or Austin Powers depending on the occasion.  He never held back his own joy and had the type of laugh that would make everyone laugh. He has always reminded you, without actually saying anything, to not take life too seriously. My dad was one of the last to speak and he ended it with saying that he was, “Our leader in happiness” and that he was. He truly was a light in all of our lives.

 

My Aunt Donna was my mom’s sister so my mom spoke at her funeral.  Her stories also aunt donnawere consistent with every person who came over our house to visit. All of us just spent a lot of time sitting around the kitchen counter telling stories of Aunt Donna, just like she would have wanted.  My Aunt was fiercely loyal, protective of her kin, unapologetically her unique self, and was always helping others. She would help me study for tests at Sunday dinners and was always there whenever I needed her even if I didn’t ask. She would proudly talk about all of my siblings and our cousins to anyone she would meet, just because she was proud that we were all related.  When she was younger she would help the neighborhood kids who were being neglected by bringing them peanut butter sandwiches and bathing them in her parent’s pool. And she continued to do that as she grew up. She never had much, but she would always take the time to stop and help the wounded, hurt or less fortunate. Doing whatever she could to make their lives better, even if that left her with nothing.  She did all of this without any care of what others said or thought of her. She was quirky and beat to her own drum. She was unique, interesting and absolutely wonderful in every way.

 

I think part of the reason I am so sad is not only because they are gone, but because they were such lights and warriors in our world truly making it a better place for us.  They each did it in their own way, but the impact they made rippled into all of our lives and made it a little brighter and better.

 

Death and the rainy seasons in our lives are inevitable.  It’s going to happen whether we like it or not, but when that time does come what do you want to be remembered as?  

What will your friends and family say about you at your final chapter?  

Did you fully live out each day you were blessed with?  Did you love as much as you could? Did you reach for your dreams?

 

So often we let ourselves get stuck in the small details of life.  We get upset or consumed by things that don’t really matter. I am totally a victim of this and do it more often than i care to admit.  Too often, I get upset about what my body looks like, or that I am not performing well enough at work, and I get annoyed with people I love for the DUMBEST reasons or give attitude to a stranger because I’m not happy about something else in my life.  

 

This is my choice and my mistake.  Our lives and our worlds are what we make of it.  The legacy we leave behind, what we are remembered for after we leave is by the actions we choose to make every day, the things we choose to say or not say, the way we treat others, the way practice patience, the way we give and receive.  All our choices, our actions.

 

Losing them, reminded me of that.  It made me really stop and think to myself, right now, this very day, have a lived out a life I am proud of?  Have I made the type of impact on the world that they did on ours? How do I show up for those around me every day?

 

My pause in my response was enough of an answer for me.  I am hard on myself, but it made me realize that I can get so caught up in being successful in what I do, sometimes I forget about why I want to be successful, which is so that I can have the freedom to spend more time with the people I love…  

 

At the end of the day, we aren’t promised tomorrow, we are only promised today, this very moment to show up as the best version of ourselves.  Since then I have tried to remind myself that every day. I have made sure I made more time to be with my husband and family, doing small things for them just because I love them.  I will continue to work towards that, trying to remember to stop and think what the result of my actions will be.

 

I hope if this blog does anything for you, it reminds you to stop and give gratitude for what you have in your life today and to take a minute to think of the life you are living, the impact you are making and the love you are giving.

In your final chapter, would you be proud of you?

 

I am so incredibly grateful for the time that I was given to be with my Aunt Donna and Uncle Jim.

They taught me to love with everything I got, be unapologetically myself, not take life too seriously, be a light for all of those I come in contact with, laugh a lot, and, at the end of the day, family and friends always matter most.  I promise to them, to never forget that and to do my best every day, to chose to live this way.

 

April was a hard month, a very rainy season in my life, really it was more like a downpour.  But this beautiful May day, with the sun coming up behind me, it reminds me that after every season there is another one waiting for you.  Another opportunity to try to rewrite the ending of our story. Another opportunity to start new, try again, and to stand back up.

After all, April showers bring May flowers.