Back to School, Back to Business – Start your “School Year” out the right way 👊

Back to School, Back to Business  – Start your “School Year” out the right way 👊

I am a summer girl through and through.  I love everything about summer and when we have the final drive home from our summer cottage on Labor Day Weekend it always brings tears to my eyes.  So dramatic, but so true. 

 

To change my focus from what is behind me, I try to focus on what is ahead.  

 

Even though I haven’t been to “school” in years there is a certain exciting feeling you get in September around the new “school year”.  It’s the beginning of a new chapter, a new season, and a new opportunity to start on the right foot.  

 

This time of the year always makes me reminisce and think about the things that my parents would make me and my siblings do once we started the new school year. 

 

In the summer we were wild kids, running around outside all day at camps or with family members, doing whatever we please.  Aka – whatever our babysitter or camp counselor had planned for us that day.  

 

Then the school year hit, and we had a rhythm and rules that my parents enforced daily to make sure that the day ran as smoothly as it could with 3 crazy active kids.  We had habits, daily practices and tasks we HAD to do every day, and I truly believe we were all successful because of it. 

 

It’s funny because when you grow up and start working or go to college, the habits and routines you were first taught when you were young easily fall to the wayside because no one is telling you that you HAVE to do this anymore.  You make your own decisions and live your own life.  Sometimes those decisions might not be the best for us.  Eating out for lunch every day for convenience, staying up late to watch Netflix or staying out at a happy hour a little later than we should be.  Of course, this is fine every once in a while, but probably not the best nightly or weekly routine. 

 

I believe that having a nightly and weekly routine and creating healthy, helpful and productive habits for yourself gets you started on the right foot every day.

 

Today I wanted to take it back to those simple routines our parents taught us when we were in school, and I challenge you to apply them to your adult life.  I have a feeling they will make you feel more prepared, awake and less stressed going into your work day…

 

 

Back to school habits that you can apply to your job!

 

 

  • Make your lunch the night before Canva - Tuna Salad on Transparent Lunch Pack

 

So simple, but this small amount of prep goes a long way.  I have written a couple of blogs about meal prep, Meal Prep 101 and Meal Prep 102 What’s Inside, that break down why you should meal prep and some healthy foods you can make

 

I personally meal prep my whole week’s worth of lunches on Saturday or Sunday, but that is because I don’t have enough time to do it the night before.   You can easily prep your lunch the night before work if that is easier for you, the food is fresher that way too. It’s an easy 10-15 minute task that gives you more time in the morning to sleep, work out, or just get into work faster.  It helps me sleep better at night knowing I just have to wake up,, and that everything is ready to just grab and go. 

 

Not only does meal prepping give you back time in the morning, but it also saves you $5-15 dollars for not buying lunch out.  Even on the low end, $5 every day a week, every week for a whole year is $1,300 and that’s only for a $5 meal.  My meals are typically way more expensive than that. Just something to think about next time you decide to watch Netflix over making yourself a salad or sandwich for lunch. 

 

 

  • Layout your clothes the night before 

 

Canva - Black Framed Eyeglasses On White Jacket And Blue Denim BottomsI’m pretty sure my mom made my sister and I do this because it took us FOREVER to pick out an outfit.  We would literally take 30 minutes to an hour to pick out the ‘perfect’ outfit, that always ended up being a t-shirt and jeans… Still, this was a habit I got into in high school and it really stuck through college and into the working world.  

 

Every night I lay out my clothes for work and pack my clothes to work out in for the afternoon.  If I am working out in the morning, I lay out my work out clothes so they are ready for me to just throw on and go get that work out in.

 

Having one less thing to think about such as what I am going to wear saves me 5-10 minutes in the morning.  It also keeps me in that grab and go vibration.

 

 

  • Give yourself a bedtime

 

We all can remember that awful time as a kid when your parents declared it was time Canva - Woman Sleepingfor bed.  Every time was the worst time and you would beg and plead not to have to go to bed. Then when you were a teenager and college student you would rebel and stay up “past your bedtime” and then be exhausted pretty much your entire young adult life. 

 

There is a reason our parents gave us bedtime and experts in any field tell you to “get a good night’s sleep” before a big event.  It’s because the #1 productivity killer is a lack of sleep. 

 

Today the tables have turned for me, and as soon as I wake up some mornings I count down the hours until I get to go back to sleep.  Then when that final moment comes and the day is over and I can get back to bed, I don’t actually want to go to bed anymore. I’ve been running all day and just want to relax, unwind and watch Netflix for a little, which sometimes ends up turning into a long time and then I go to bed later than I promised myself I would.  It’s a vicious cycle, and I would bet I am not the only one who gets stuck in it. 

 

Sleep is incredibly important not just for your productivity but for your overall health, so it really is crucial you set yourself a bedtime and then stick to it!  You will be happy you did when Thursday and Friday come along and you are not totally exhausted from the week. 

 

 

  • Set aside time to “study”

 

As kids, the first thing we had to do once we got home from school was to “do your homework”.  Then once we finished we could play, watch TV or do whatever, as long as our homework was done. 

 

As adults, sometimes we do have “homework”.  Whether it’s work we couldn’t finish during the day that we need ready for tomorrow, or you may be studying for a certification or degree.  

But I do find that is not the case for the majority of people.  They go home and relax, be with their kids or significant other, maybe workout, but they don’t ever make time to “study”. 

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Now when I say study, I mean learn something new.  It could be about your job and how to get better at it, or it could be learning more about the field of work you are in, or even learning more about experts in the space and how they got to where they are today.  It doesn’t have to be miserable and not fun like homework was as a kid.  ‘Studying’ could be as fun and simple just reading or listening to something related to your field to know more about your industry and practice.   

 

When I first started working, this was absolutely the first thing that I stopped doing.  I stopped giving myself a “study” time. I didn’t try to learn more about the field I was in or try to get better at it.  I just went to work, did what I had to do and then came home. It wasn’t fulfilling work, it was just a job. 

 

Then when I switched careers and at that time I had to start “studying” again because I was so bad at recruitingIn time I noticed that the extra study time I gave myself really catapulted me forward and made me not only really good at what I did, but also really interested in what I did.  

 

To me, there is a huge difference between a job and a careerPutting in study time, and trying to improve and grow to become the best that you can in your role, that is what makes a job a career.  Having a career, and a line of work is so much more fulfilling than punching in and out of a job every day. 

 

 

  • Set new goals

 

This was something my parents asked us to do once we were a little older, like in high school or end of middle school.  They would ask us what we were striving towards that year, and without realizing it, we were setting goals.  

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For example, we would respond “This year I want to make the National Honor Society.”, or “This year I want to make the varsity football team”, or “This year I want to win the Dance Scholarship.”  Just by talking about what we were striving towards, we naturally started to think about what we had to do to get there. Goal setting 101.  

 

I think the coolest part is that we didn’t even know what our parents were having us do. 

 

Fast forward to adulthood, goal setting is typically saved for the new year.  When the new year starts, that’s when we set goals or work towards the next big thing.  

 

If you are the type that likes to use the calendar year, January to December, as your own “school year”, go back now to those goals you set for yourself in January.  Once you look at those goals see how far you have come, or how far you have left to go, and then think about what kind of push can you give for yourself in the next 90 days.  

 

What goals can you set for yourself in the last leg of your “school year”?  What adjustments can you make to get closer to hitting that big goal in the next 90 days?  You still have three whole months to make a major dent and impact on whatever is left of that big goal.

If you push and give it all you got for the next 90 days I guarantee you will be shocked at what you accomplish. 

For more about goal setting check out my blog,  “New Year, New You – Goal Setting”.

 

They say that we learn some of the greatest lessons during our childhood, like “say please and thank you”, “be kind”, “share”.  The habits our parents forced us into during the school year were incredible habits that were and are some of those ‘greatest lessons’ that we learned growing up.  They were habits that brought us success as kids and will continue to bring us success as adults. 

 

This new “school year” try to revert back to some of those habits.  Start slowly implementing them back to your day to day and weekly life. I guarantee that you will feel more refreshed, enthusiastic, and less stressed on a day to day basis. 

 

Give it a whirl and let me know what you think!

Love, Em 😊

 

P.s. Hope you enjoyed the picture of baby Emily and her first day of Kindergarten!

This tool has totally changed my life…

This tool has totally changed my life…

I want to start by saying this is NOT an ad. I repeat. NOT an ad. 

 

You’re probably thinking – no sh**t Sherlock people wouldn’t pay you to do ads… not yet at least ;). But in case you thought I was some super hip influencer who got offered free stuff to market, I certainly am NOT and do NOT. 

 

I DO just like to talk about the things I learn about and do every day that helps me in hopes that after reading about it maybe it will help you too!

That is why today I wanted to dedicate this entire post to my Start Today Journal I got from the Hollis Co. 

 

For starters, I have been enchanted by and totally obsessed with the self-help world and becoming a better version of myself since I was a junior in high school.  My mom sat me down to watch ‘The Secret’, in hopes that her melodramatic teenager would calm the f*** down, and I have been hooked since.  

 

I do and did the goal-setting, I write in a gratitude journal, I meditate, I keep a positive mindset, I go to conferences, I have a coach, I read all the books and do all the things. So naturally, when this Start Today journal came out by a leader I respect in the space, Rachel Hollis, I had to try it. 

 

It’s basically a gratitude and dream/goal journal all in one. You dream the big dreams you have for yourself in your life and then you break it down into 10 dreams you want to accomplish that will help get you that dream life.   Then you narrow it down to one goal. One goal you will put all your attention into this year.  Just one.  

 

This is incredibly difficult for an overachiever who always has a million goals at one time.  An achiever who always feel behind and like she’s not doing enough to get to her million goals.  I didn’t know if I would be able to focus and go after JUST one goal, but she spoke so highly of it I thought ‘let’s just give it a whirl and see what happens’. 

 

(Almost) Every morning since I got it in January, I started my day by writing 5 things I was grateful for. They are 5 things that give me all of the feels, the good-happy-excited-grateful feelings, that happened either the day before, that morning, or just things in general that were happening in my life that made me really happy. You start this way so to put yourself into that happy abundant state of mind.

 

Then every day I write down my 10 dreams and then the one goal I am focusing on. 

 

I’m not kidding guys, the first goal I started with came true within a month. I’m dead serious. I wanted to take a new step in my recruiting career, turn a new page, and a month later I was in a new role at an incredible company with people I love working with… 

 

Now, I had to figure out a new goal to focus on for the year. This would be the next marker for me to work towards to get me one step closer to one of my dream goals. It’s not shocking or hard to guess that the new goals were all around being really successful in my new position so I could continue to grow and learn. 

 

I made a small set of goals that were all around one big goal.  They were like mini markers within the big overall goal. I was still primarily focused on performance in my new role, with the markers really just being a reminder of what affect those mini markers would have on me and my family. 

 

But I have to say the next couple of goals I set for myself were stretch goals, and I mean strettttchhhhhh goals

 

They were the type of goals you set for yourself and think- if I ACTUALLY hit these goals… I will pee my pants. 

 

I will pee my pants type of excitement because these AREN’T your average joe goals- these are big monstropulous goals that I would love to hit ONE DAY.  

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I have always been a dreamer and let myself dream and believe in my big dreams.  Even when others have told me I was naive or ignorant for believing that I could, I went on believing and dreaming, and thank God I never listened… 

 

Because in just a short 7 months later I hit 2 of those mini markers that have made an ENORMOUS effect on my life and I am WELL on my way with hitting two more markers and then the overall goal!   This is all happening TODAY, not ONE DAY but TODAY. 

 

To date, I have met and moved past three of the most massive goals I have set for myself in my life. And not only did I hit them, but I hit them in 7 months after starting my start today journal practice. Let me repeat that… 7 months!!! Not one year, not 5 years, not 15 years, but HALF of one year.  These were goals I legitimately thought would take me years, that took me less than one. 

 

This realization dawned on me one day when I was driving to work.  I was half-listening to a new podcast and half thinking about the day ahead when I thought to myself “Holy sh** I have hit two of the goals… like I actually hit them…” I started to get like jumpy giddy in my seat. 

 

In that same thought, I totally forgot about what my initial goal of the year even was.  The minute I got to the office, I searched through my bag for my journal, opened it up, and I saw what I wrote down for the next step in my career.  

The next step which turned into the new opportunity that I got 2 months later, that I was in today, that lead me to and gave me the capability to achieve the massive goals I set for myself… It was all working and happening just the way I let myself dream it would.

 

When I looked at that entry I didn’t even know what to do. I just stared at it as my heart started to dance in my chest and tears welled up in my eyes… I actually did it… this sh** actually works. Note- I didn’t actually pee my pants. But you get the picture! 

 

The reason I am telling you this whole montage of what I have achieved isn’t to be boastful or show off if you know me well you know I am NOT about that life. 

 

I wanted to share it with you to show you that THIS SH** WORKS.  To show you that YOU can do this too. To encourage you to let yourself dream the big dream and believe that you can get there one day because YOU CAN!!  And that ‘one day’ is way closer than you think. 

 

This practice has also taught me that having focused attention on the one thing works.  It actually works better than any other way I have worked towards goals in the past.  All I needed was the tool to help me focus to get there, and that is EXACTLY what this journal did for me. 

 

Of course, the first step is allowing yourself to dream the dream and believe that you are worthy and capable of achieving it.  Then loading yourself up with the tools and knowledge to prepare youFinally, it’s the work that follows that actually gets you there.  

 

Day after day showing up for yourself and your dreams.  Always working towards that goal. Some days that ‘work’ will feel a sprint, other it will feel like a slow and steady walk but with every step, every ounce of effort you put in will get you one step closer as long as you never give up.

 

This journal is just a tool that will help you focus and concentrate while you are on that journey.  But man, I have never gotten to something as fast as I did while using this journal. Another reason why I wanted to share this with you today.

 

If you have a dream for yourself and your life, you have big goals that you want to achieve I would HIGHLY recommend investing in something like this.  If you don’t want to spend the money, Rachel Hollis tells you EXACTLY what to do and how to do it on your own, for FREE in Episode 72, of her podcast called Rise available anywhere you listen to podcasts. 

 

I’m telling you guys, this changed my life, and I hope it can change yours too.  =] 

 

Until next time, keep dreaming the dream. 

Love always, 

Em

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What I learned from a tour guide, a chef, and Michelangelo…

What I learned from a tour guide, a chef, and Michelangelo…

What I learned from a tour guide, Chef and Michelangelo

 

I went to Italy on a 10-day trip to Tuscany and Rome a couple of weeks ago.  It was my immediate family and our significant others. We went to Tuscany for 8 days and then ended the trip in Rome.  We stayed in a beautiful villa in Panzano, Tuscany and took small day trips to the local towns and then some of the bigger cities like Florence, Luca, and Cinque Terre.  We had a private tour guide who was local to the area and brought us around. We had a chef who came and taught us to cook homemade pasta and pizza, and then we have another tour guide bring us all through Florence to point out and teach us about the art and history of the city.

It truly was the trip of a lifetime.  We had such a blast drinking wine, eating unlimited bread cheese and pasta and just being together.  But the icing on the cake was really learning about and getting to know some of the locals. Our tour guides and chef were so gracious, all with huge smiles and a deep appreciation for their country and its history.  They all lived very different lives, but they all taught me something that I didn’t think I would find in the classic Italian laid back culture.  

 

They all taught me that they are all incredibly hard workers, you can reinvent yourself many times in your life, and don’t rush the process.

 

Italy is known for its laid-back culture, focused around food family and an appreciation for the things that are all around them.  Going into the trip I was expecting only this type of lifestyle and I absolutely saw this, but once I really learned more about our tour guide, chef and the life of Michelangelo, I realized there was so much more to the people than that.  

Like any good book, or an onion, when you dig deeper in and peel back the layers, there is always more than what meets the eye, and I absolutely found that here in Italy, in its people.  

Now, my opinion and experience could have been completely different if I got to know a different set of people, but they are the ones that I met and what I learned from them really stuck. 

 

Let’s start by giving a quick back story on each of them:IMG_8579

 Our tour guide who was with us for 3 days bringing us to all the local cities, was actually from Germany.  She moved to Italy after “Hotel School” and worked in a hotel to “practice her Italian” and she never looked back.  She met her husband who was a chef, then they opened a restaurant in a small local town that became a Michelin Star restaurant.  They had two kids and the restaurant became too much, so then she became a tour guide and started bringing people all over the local Tuscan Chianti Classico region. 

IMG_9265Our chef went to school to be an English teacher and then moved to London to find work.  The first job he found was a cook in a big fancy hotel. He always loved cooking so he took the role, and then stayed there for 15 years.  During that time he met his wife who was also Italian, and they moved home to Italy to have their family. In Italy, he started a huge restaurant that had over 30 tables in it.  He ran that for years and then also decided to back off a bit and slow down. Today, he owns a wine bar in the center of a small town and teaches cooking lessons to tourists who rent in the area. 

Then there was Michelangelo.  He is not alive, so I didn’t personally meet him but I 3DCA8181-7C8C-4288-A105-E7BCC9DFAE9Dwas blown away by his story and the impact that he made in not only Florence but the world of art.  Michelangelo was the greatest of the Italian Renaissance artists. He was born in a small village and then grew up in Florence. By the age of 13, he was an artist’s apprentice and creating work that we still are paying to see today.  He also became a sculptor and later in his life he got into architecture. In his lifetime he was commissioned to do many pieces of artwork for churches and wealthy families. A few of his greatest pieces of artwork include the statue of  David, the painting on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, Pieta, and the Last Judgement which is also in the Sistine Chapel. These are just a few of the many pieces of artwork he created in his lifetime. All of which crowds gather around to this day to get a glimpse of the masterful work he has done. 

 

Clearly, these three individuals are all VERY different.  Not even remotely similar, but there are parts of their story, characteristics they all have that are all the same. That’s what I wanted to talk about today.

 

They are all incredibly hard workers.  You don’t just casually open up a Michelin Star restaurant, slave in a restaurant of a famous hotel, or paint a 40.9-meter ceiling in the Sistine Chapel without working hard.  The Sistine Chapel took Michelangelo 4 years to paint, and it took our chef 15 years of experience working in a high-end restaurant until he had the skills and knowledge to open up his own.  That is HARD freaking work, and you have to work even harder to do it and then become the best at it.  The culture may be known as laid back, but it doesn’t mean that the people within it aren’t working their butts off to achieve their dreams. 

 

They all ALSO reinvented themselves many times in their lives.  They didn’t have one path or do one thing for their entire life.  In the U.S. it seems as everyone is on a path. They go to work and then work their way up one path, without much variance.  It’s just what you do, and if you don’t do that and you try something different or new people question you, it’s like taboo. They don’t understand.  With these three individuals that were completely the opposite. Michelangelo started off as a painter, then became a sculptor and then an architect… AND he was renowned in his work in each of those areas.  Granted he was known as a genius in what he did, but he still did it!  So many people who are geniuses or have lots of talent don’t even try to do something like that.  

Then there was our tour guide who ran a hotel, then a restaurant and now it is a travel guide.  She doesn’t quite measure up to Michelangelo’s level but she still reinvented herself time and time again and found success with each new turn.  That still takes guts and work and is incredibly impressive that she found success over and over in completely different fields.

I think that was one of the greatest lessons I learned, that all of us could learn.  Just because you are doing something today, or you are on this path, it doesn’t mean you are stuck there. It doesn’t mean that you can’t make a change and reinvent yourself and still be successful.  You CAN reinvent yourself, you CAN do something differently, you CAN follow your dream and have your cake and eat it too. 

 

Then finally, none of them seemed to rush the process.  Now I must reiterate, I did not meet Michaelangelo so he could have been a crazy man speeding through every project he had to finish.  But in the attention of detail in his work and the quality of what he created, I just can’t believe that was the case.  

The two people I did meet, our tour guide and the chef did not rush the process.  The chef took his time and learned all that he could in the restaurant business before starting his own.  Then when that became too much he downsized and opened a wine bar that became the top bar in the town we stayed.  He was never in a rush to get somewhere or to the next thing or goal, and he still got there successfully. Even when he was teaching us how to make pasta and bread, there wasn’t really a sense of urgency to get it done, but he carefully went through the process of showing us step by step with no impatience in between. 

This was another huge lesson to me because I am super type A and don’t do anything slowly.  I walk fast, talk fast, everything. I am also always eager to hit the next goal and do the next thing so I am always looking for ways to hurry up the process to get there faster.  Understanding and seeing that things not only take time, but you will still get there, in the end, was almost a relief for me.  It showed me that it is okay to give yourself space and time to slow down and fully be in the process of working through it one day at a time. 

 

So there you have what I learned about the Italian lifestyle from a chef, tour guide and Michelangelo!

 

You meet so many different people when you travel and learn about the history and what made the people and the country who they are today.  But how much of that are you fully absorbing and analyzing, making comparisons and contrasts to how you live your own life?  I think making mental notes of reflection makes it all the more interesting. With that, I would like to challenge you, the next time you go away to ask yourself, What did you find to be different? What do you notice? What will you learn?

 

Until next time, ciao! 

Love, Emily 

What I learned in Italy: The Food Edition!👩‍🍳

What I learned in Italy: The Food Edition!👩‍🍳

Coming off a 10-day vacation in Italy with a 9.5-hour plane ride, a couple of blog ideas were bound to happen. For starters, the trip we had truly was a trip of a lifetime.

My family and our significant others rented a villa in Tuscany for 8 days.  We took day trips to the local towns, Florence, Luca, and Cinque Terre.  Then we ended the trip with two nights in Rome.

We were toured around by locals, taught how to cook pasta and pizza by a local chef, had multiple wine tastings at local Chianti wineries, and had some really interesting tours in the big cities.  We drank unlimited wine, Aperol Spritz’s, and ate homemade pasta and bread and oil Every. 👏Single.👏 Day👏.

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The best part was that the wifi and service at the villa totally sucked and I didn’t buy an international phone plan.  Therefore, for 7 nights I had little to no access to the internet, email, texts, and social media.  At first, it was infuriating but by day 2 I started to appreciate the lack of service because it truly forced me to unplug, focus and soak in all my surroundings.  It ended up being my blessing in disguise.

Being completely out of touch with my life back home, while experiencing new places, people and things, really makes you start to think about things more clearly.  It opens your eyes to another way of life and allows you to learn new things.  It’s one of my favorite parts about traveling.  Everything seems to get really clear for me.  Really simple. That happened on this trip.

 

I started to notice several things were different from my own lifestyle and the states back home, and since I am a blogger, I, of course, wanted to talk about it! 😊

There were two major differences I noticed when comparing Italy to the states.  As I am sure you can guess, one was the food because it’s Italy. Then the other was the lifestyle because again… Italy. I wanted to break it up and into two blogs so I can break down what I saw and learned!

 

Since Italy is most known for its food, I thought I would start there.

 

IMG_8407To give you a quick back story on me.  I am a food and health junkie; I love to eat healthy delicious food and I am passionate about living a healthy lifestyle.  At home, I don’t eat any dairy and little to no meat and primarily fish and eggs.  For carbs, I mainly eat sprouted bread, quinoa, and sweet potatoes.  I even try to buy oil sprayers so that I don’t use too much oil.  I try hard to make as many healthy choices as possible in my day to day life.  I’ve watched one too many documentaries and have read too many books on the topic do otherwise.

So when I was heading to the pasta, bread, meat and cheese capital of the world, I was a little nervous about how it would affect my body because I obviously wasn’t going to pass up on any of it while I am there.

Not to mention that the last time I went to Italy with my best friend I gained over 10 pounds and it took months to work off.  Granted we were fresh out of college and totally reckless eating Gelato at 11 am, but it still happened!

Though, I had heard multiple times from a lot of people that the food is different in Italy.  The ingredients are fresher, and they don’t use the chemicals that we do.  I believed all of that to be true, but I still questioned how my body would react.

Would I still get breakouts when I ate the dairy products? 

Would I get bloated and sore after eating the bread and pasta like I did at home?

 Would I get super hungover from 2 glasses of wine?

 

But once I got there and ate and drank ALL of the things… I didn’t.  I didn’t have any reaction at all. I was perfectly fine, the entire time.

 

This was my first lesson.

The food is LEGITIMATELY better in every single way.

When I say we ate pasta, bread, and cheese every single day, I am not kidding.  But it img_8784.jpgwasn’t because we were in Italy, but there really weren’t that many other options.  Salads were available, but nothing fun like we do in the states with craisins, nuts, quinoa, and other veggies.  It was straight up lettuce tomato and maybe some cucumber.

It was the same with the vegetable options, they were very limited. They DID have unlimited options for cheeses, meats, bread, and pasta, so that’s what we ate.  So, as a result of my surroundings, I ate all the things that I almost never eat, every single day, and I was totally fine.  I didn’t have one break out or a hangover and never felt the bloated achy feeling that I get when I eat bread at home.

I want to say it was mind-blowing… but it’s really wasn’t.   I knew exactly where all the cheeses, meats and wines were coming from and how they were being made.  Then the bread would start to go stale after being out for just a couple of hours. You couldn’t even bite into day-old bread.  Compared to the states, where I have no idea how they make the cheese, preserve it or where it comes from, and then the bread lasts for weeks without going bad…sketch.

One morning we went on an olive oil tasting and the woman who gave us the tasting said that she stopped buying chicken from the store because she didn’t know where it was coming from or how the chickens were being treated. It mattered to her to know what she was eating was coming from.  I think that is a major difference. We DON’T really know where our food is coming from or how it’s being prepared.  So much of what we eat, and buy is made for convenience, speed, and cost.  But because of that something gets lost (or added) in between and we are physically affected because of it.

The whole experience just made me stop and think about the foods I was putting into my body in an entirely different way.

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Speaking of the lady from the Olive Oil tasting, she made a huge impact on me in the short time we were together so the next two lessons are from what I learned in my conversations with her.

To give you back story on her, she and her husband own an olive tree farm.  The farm was passed down to them, it has been in the family for hundreds of years.  It is 99 acres of olive trees that his family would organically produce into olive oil.  They continued to keep that tradition alive and produce thousands of cans of olive oil every year.  So, she clearly knew a thing or two when it came to olive oil.  What I found most interesting was what TYPE of olive oil you should buy.

 

My next lesson was on Olive Oil Purchasing.

She taught us that once olive oil is made it needs to be kept in cold and dark places so that it doesn’t oxidize and lose the nutrients and vitamins.  Because of that, we should NOT be buying any olive oil unless it is in either a tinted glass bottle or a tin can.  She told us that anything that ISN’T in a tin can or tinted glass bottle is NOT 100% real olive oil and has some sort of chemical or additive in it to keep it the golden yellow color, and it doesn’t have the same vitamins and nutrients that real olive oil has.

She also said that you should NEVER buy olive oil that is in a plastic container because the chemicals from the plastic seep in.  After she said that we all gave each other a guilty look because we all knew that we ALL buy the jumbo plastic olive oil containers from Costco…

So pretty much all the olive oil I have ever eaten hasn’t been the best quality…which is nuts to think about because I pride myself on buying high-quality foods but at least we all know now so we can make better choices moving forward!

 

Moving on to my next lesson learned…

During our tasting, the woman told us that she gave cooking lessons, so I was excited to hear about the different meals she made.  In that conversation, she mentioned how in Italy the foods they cook change every season and went on to describe the foods that they eat in each season.

They ate for the season.  That was my next lesson.

They ate what was available to them at that point in time-based off of what was growing IMG_4550that season.  They ate tomatoes and cucumbers in the summer, and then the peppers and eggplant in the fall, and broccoli and cauliflower in the winter months.

They didn’t have a grocery store full of cauliflower crust pizzas or a plethora of options of vegetables, fruits, and foods to choose from. They primarily ate what was grown and picked last week from the farms.  For whatever reason, that made me stop and think for the first time when should I be eating certain foods.

Is a tomato you eat in summer as flavorful and full of nutrients and vitamins as the tomatoes you eat in the winter?  Where are the broccoli and cauliflower coming from that I am eating all summer long when it’s not in season until wintertime?

I am not a nutritionist and I didn’t try to go find the exact scientific answer to these questions. But if you look at it simply, we probably should be eating fruits and vegetables when they are in season, local, and freshly picked because that IS when they are at their best.

From that conversation, I am much more interested in not only learning more about eating for the season but also, what vegetables and fruits are best in what seasons so I can start to implement more of that in my own life.

 

 

Then the final thing I noticed, which ended up being my last lesson was that there was,

NO Snacking.

If you think about a typical US grocery store there are aisles and aisles dedicated to different snack bars, to-go packets of nuts, chips, cookies, and crackers. There are loads of it and we are constantly craving it.  Partially because it’s filled with sugars that we are addicted too, but more so because it’s a part of our culture.  Snacks between meals is a common thing that most people do in the US.

In Italy, they don’t do snacks.

There were few snacks available to buy at small-town grocery markets or at the convenience stores of the side streets.  They didn’t have chips for you to buy or bars or snacks.  They had meals.  They had bread, pastries, a slice of pizza, and all types of sandwiches with prosciutto, but there is very little else to buy outside of that.  They are more focused on eating meals and more “real foods”.   Think about how differently your own day would be if your only option for food was “real” food.  Food that didn’t come out of a package or freezer…

 

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Overall, I truly believe that submerging yourself in another culture is one of the best educations you can get because you are seeing and experiencing it firsthand.

 

Those were just a few of the details I noticed and the lessons that I learned while we were away.  I hope that you were as intrigued as I was, and it taught you something new or simply was just some food for thought. 😉

 

Summer Reads for 2019

Summer Reads for 2019

I LOVE reading.  It hasn’t always been this way, but I got here. 

 

When I was a kid, I didn’t always like reading, I actually kind of hated it at points.  But I always really wanted to like it.  I wanted to be thought of as a “reader”, a lover of books, pretty much a real live Belle from Beauty and the Beast.  I really wish I was kidding here…but I’m totally serious… 

 

At the time I just couldn’t get into any books that I would read.  Then in about 7th grade, I finally read this book Flipped.  It is a total teeny-bopper book, but I fell in love with it and it totally changed how I felt towards reading. 

It was the first time I ever really got sucked into a book.  After finishing it I wanted to experience that all-consuming feeling again.  I wanted to read a book that silenced the world around me and allowed me to escape for a couple of hours. 

 

Ever since then I have been on a constant quest of finding and reading really great books.  I have definitely had my share of boring books or books I hated, but for the most part, if I am not interested I stop reading and move on.  I have gotten over the whole idea of “finish every book you start” mentality.  Mostly because that would make me NOT enjoy reading, which is the whole point.   PLUS there are so many GREAT books out there to read, so why waste my time on one I don’t like?

 

Since we are in the height of summer, I find that this is often a time where I can get the most reading done on the weekends at the beach or on vacations, aka the best time to share with you some of my favorite Summer reads for 2019! 

 

These are books that I have recently read that totally sucked me in and kept me turning the pages at a rapid pace.   Check them out and let me know what you think!

 

becomingBecoming – Michelle Obama

To those that follow me, you know that I dedicated an entire blog post to our girl Michelle and her awesomeness.  But seriously this is a FANTASTIC book. The best book I have read in 2019. The way that Michelle openly writes about her life, you feel like her best friend at the end of it, like the two of you went through that all together.  When her heartbreaks, yours breaks. When she rejoices, you rejoice. After every stage of her life, I felt I could relate to her on such a deep level that I felt like she was actually talking ABOUT me and my life.  Once I finished the book I was so sad because we wouldn’t be able to “hang out” every day anymore.  She doesn’t know this, but after that book, we became best friends… 

If you only pick one of these books to try out… READ THIS!

 

thegoodgirlThe Good Girl – Mary Kubica

This is another GREAT BOOK!!  I was suggested to read this book and ended up loving it so much that I would stay in on weekends and would rush home from work to read it.  It was that freaking good. It was about a girl who was abducted and the storyline would bring you back and forth to the time frame of the abduction and afterward, telling about how it all went down and how she got to present day.  The twist at the end was so wild that it left you dumbfounded. I’m not kidding it was a better twist than Gone Girl… mic drop

 

something in the waterSomething in the Water – Catherine Steadman

I actually started this at the end of 2018, specifically on my honeymoon. So that was a bit of a fib for being a 2019 read, but still great and worth reading.  I specifically bought it because it was about a couple on their honeymoon and how one event changed the rest of their lives forever. It was definitely a page-turner with a twist at the end, which I always love.  Mostly, it was fun to read for me at the time because I was also ON my honeymoon and I could pretend my life was crazy and exciting, even though I was actually just laying on a beach chair drinking my Mojito… totally non-eventful. 

 

nine perfect strangersNine Perfect Strangers – Liane Moriarty 

This book was by one of my favorite authors, Liane Moriarty.  She wrote other amazing books like My Husband’s Secret and Big Little Lies (the HBO show).  Those were two books that I had read a couple of summer’s ago and LOVED them.  All of her books are twisted, different and VERY original. The settings, circumstances, and characters are all very relatable yet very unique at the same time.  Read any of her books and you will have a great ride. Nine Perfect Strangers is the one I picked up this summer and tore through it. It was about 9 strangers at a health resort that they came to cure themselves in one way or another.  None of them could have guessed the way that they would be “cured”…

 

the house at rivertonThe House at Riverton – Kate Morton 

I LOVE LOVE LOVE a great historical mystery novel.  I also really love this author, Kate Morton. I have read a couple of her books and they go back and forth between present-day and whatever time period the story is set in.  She gives such great detail on the character’s background and just enough of the setting where you can easily picture the whole thing in your mind. It’s set between the two major wars and is about an aristocratic family, a mysterious death, and long-kept secrets.  So. good. 

 

Girl, Wash Your Face and then Girl, Stop Apologizing – Rachel Hollis

I almost feel like this wouldn’t be an official blog post if I were to NOT write about Rach and my love for her books.   I have mentioned Rachel, her books, and everything else she does in MANY of my blogs. I think she pretty awesome and these books are what got me hooked in the first place.  When I first noticed “Girl, Wash Your Face”, I was very opposed to getting it. I had no idea who Rachel was, but I also was thinking it was an over-marketed book that would probably suck.  I had fallen into that marketing trap before and had been very disappointed. But boy was I wrong. I finally caved and bought it. As I read it I started to fall in love with Rachel, her honesty and authenticity.  I also LOVE her message. If you want a good pick-me-up book, this is the one for you. 

 

 

So there you go!  My top summer reads for 2019. So far. I have three books lined up for the remainder of the summer.  Let’s see if I can get to them by the end!

 

Happy reading!

What makes YOU an attractive candidate

What makes YOU an attractive candidate

In this blog, I try to make it a combination of work and play.  For most of us, that’s what our lives primarily consist of working our real-time jobs and then whatever we do outside of work, which isn’t always “play” or fun, but you get the idea!

 

Since I am a recruiter and interview people all day every day, I give career advice and interview advice from what I have experienced in hopes that it will help you when the time comes. 

 

Previously, I have talked about how to prep for an interview and how to write a thank-you note.  Those were tips that you can apply in real-time and you would then get an immediate reward from. 

 

Today I want to talk about the characteristics that make you a really attractive candidate to a hiring manager and they are characteristics that you have to build up over a longer period of time.  Writing thank you’s and preparing for interviews will definitely help you move forward during the interview process.  But I would like to focus on the characteristics or traits that you have worked on repeatedly, (hopefully) throughout your career, that you didn’t always see an immediate reward for, but will make you stand out in a hiring managers eyes.  

 

These are the top traits that an interviewer looks for when conducting an interview.   The things that you have to work towards your entire life and career. The intangibles that will make you the most attractive candidate.  

 

 

Can you do the job?

This seems like the dumbest question to ask – but it’s one of the most important.  Can you actually do the job you applied for, or have been recruited on? Very rarely will your “soft skills” or your ability to pick up on new things quickly, get you the job.  If a hiring manager is looking to fill an engineering position or a developer and you don’t have an engineering background and you can’t code… then you can’t actually do the job. Often times when hiring managers are searching for a person in a specific position, they need that person to be able to come in and almost hit the ground running.  They are not expecting you to know what the company does right away, but to at least have the skills to get the job done. 

 

 

Job Stability 

No matter how much the market is changing, and companies are evolving, or the circumstance at hand, hiring managers are STILL NOT interested in job hoppers.  

The definition of a job hopper will vary drastically from one person to another, but my personal rule of thumb is that if you have moved from one job to the next every 1-2 years, you look like a job hopper.  

Being in recruiting for years I have heard every story in the book as to WHY someone moved from one job to the next, and some are very legitimate and we can explain. But at first glance, it still doesn’t look great.  If we see that you have 10 years of constant job movement, maybe you should be vetting out your next job more carefully to make sure it really is a good move. 

This sounds negative, but it’s an elephant in the room and one of the biggest reasons a hiring manager won’t be interested in a candidate.   So I really want to make sure you are conscious of it when making a career step. 

On the other hand, if a hiring manager sees that you have been at a company for 3-6 years, they think the exact opposite.  They see someone who has stuck it out through the hard times, someone who took the time to learn and grow within a company, and who contributed years of their career to make it a better place. Someone they want to hire. 

Sometimes when we stop and try to see it from their perspective, we can better understand why they would feel that way and how we can better make decisions moving forward. 

 

 

Positive Outlook

Having a positive outlook isn’t something that is only talked about in self-help or fru fru stuff.  It’s legit and needed in the workplace. As you all know, “fires” or problems arise all the time. It’s inevitable and none of us can hide from it or control it, but what we can control is how we act or react when faced with adversity.  

If you are the type of person to freak out when shit hits the fan, no one really wants you on their team, because they have to pick you up and calm you down while they are trying to figure out a solution themselves.  On the other hand, if you are the type to look at a problem or unfortunate situation head-on thinking of solutions or the lessons learned, people will naturally be drawn to you needing that positivity to keep pushing them forward. 

Having a positive outlook and a can-do attitude is essential, and hiring managers can pick up on that just by how you talk about previous roles or situations you have worked through.  

Are you picking out the positive or the negative? Are you focusing on where you learned and could improve or where you lost? 

 

Work Ethic

I have never met a hiring manager that doesn’t love or respect a hard worker.  Some colleagues might get jealous or poke fun to settle their own insecurities to make themselves feel better, but that has never happened with a hiring manager.  

Your work ethic and how much of a driver you are comes through in an interview and is applicable to any job.  You know exactly who I am talking about too. It’s the person in the office who comes in early, or work late, and is just always giving it their all.  Hiring managers are never going to be upset about that and will bend over backward to keep employees like that happy or to get someone interested in joining their team.

A hard worker doesn’t only yield results faster, but it also brings the entire team motivation and overall energy to a level higher.  If everyone is goofing around in the office and not getting their work done, then there is less pressure to get back to your desk.  Whereas if there is one person grinding away, and hitting their goals and numbers while you sit and talk at your desk then there is a little bit of a nudge to get back to work to keep up. 

 

 

Culture Fit 

Aka – Can we work together?  As you all know, the people you work with or see in the office, you spend WAY more time with than your actual family and friends.  Since you spend so much time together it is crucial that you actually like each other and can get along.  

This one is typically harder to vet for.   Everyone is their own unique person, and no one ever wants you to change who you are, and it really depends on whether you just click with the hiring manager or not and if you have some of the basic qualities that a company is looking for. 

For example, many companies today have a “no asshole” policy.  There is no specific guideline or tool kit to follow to figure out if someone is an asshole or not, you just know or you don’t know.  

From a hiring perspective, a good way to be sure you like someone is to have the candidate interview with multiple people at a company to make sure the stories stay consistent and you get multiple opinions on a candidate.  This is never guaranteed to give you perfect results, but it will at least give you back up behind your ultimate decision. 

If you are the candidate interviewing for a job, if you have been a good person your whole life and you are kind and work hard you are probably going to be fine.  But what is most important here, is to just be yourself.  If you aren’t clicking with a team or meshing with a hiring manager it probably isn’t the best place for YOU.  

Remember interviewing is a two-sided sale.  BOTH parties have to be interested in each other to officially make a match.

 

 

Past Performance

How you have performed in a previous role or in anything in life, is likely a good indication of how you will perform in the future.  History repeats itself.  In the past, if you were a really hard worker with a positive attitude and didn’t give up until a goal was accomplished or an initiative met, you will likely act the same way when faced with another problem. 

If the opposite happens and you dodge conflict, or are always late with deadlines and blaming others for things that come up, you will likely continue to do that in your next role.  

Now with that said, there are always tough work environments or circumstances outside of our control that hinder us from hitting a goal.  But like I said in the job hopper bullet, if this is continually happening job after job then a hiring manager is going to get suspicious on where the blame should really lie. 

Hiring managers want top performers so that the top performers could help them meet their own objectives and goals, and will be a good influence on their team. 

 

In general, whenever you are interviewing for your next job the only thing that you can do is your best.  Put your best foot forward and show up to every interview prepared and ready to show them the best version of yourself.   

 

From now on, in your current role and every role moving forward, if you are consciously thinking about and working towards these long term characteristics to be the best version of yourself then no matter where you go or where you are, you will be valued and you will make your way to the top. 

 

Until next time, stay classy. 😎

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!