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!

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!
FA692932-2562-44DD-8FC3-FFFA8A1A6391

“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.

 

 

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. =]

 

My Top 3 Healthy Work Habits

My Top 3 Healthy Work Habits

Health and Wellness is extremely important to me. It has been and always will be a top priority for me in my life.

At home I have (almost) perfected my healthy habits and created a healthy environment to live in. I clean my house weekly, workout daily, have a Britta pitcher always filled with water, buy lots of fruits and vegetables, keep my pre-packaged food to a minimum and do not buy things I don’t want myself to eat, not even for a “treat”.

Your environment and habits play a huge part in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Believe it or not, it’s easy to make those changes at home. The question here today is how do we keep that up at work?  The place that many of us spend more time than our actual homes. A place that you don’t own or have total control over.

When I first started working, I was at an accounting firm and people bought lunch often. There were candy bowls everywhere for a midday “pick-me-up” and everyone worked long hours.

I am sure to many of you this sounds very familiar.

At first I thought nothing of it and fell right in line, following the habits and ways of others. I bought lunch at least once a week, would go for random sugary coffee breaks, took an M&M break every day at 3 pm, and sat on my a** all damn day.

I was still following my home life healthy habits of waking up at 5 am every morning to make sure I got my workout in before lunch and was eating (mostly) healthy foods. And yet, after a couple months on the job I started to notice that I was actually gaining weight, was always tired, and couldn’t keep a clear mind all day. At first I thought this is just what working in the real world felt like, but after reading different articles about health and habits I realized I was wrong.

At that point I started making small changes like no longer eating the 3 pm candy and no more fun sugary coffee breaks. On top of that, I began researching the topic of healthy habits at work and eventually started implementing what I was learning to my daily work habits.  I found that those changes had a huge impact on my energy levels and my production at work.

 

Today, I have 3 core healthy habits that I always follow to ensure I stay on track with my health goals and increase my productivity and energy levels at work.

 

 

  1. Track your water intake

bottle-drink-glass-113734.jpgThis is so important for many different reasons. For starters, being fully hydrated makes you more awake and alert than coffee actually does. We are all roughly 60% made up of water and we need sufficient water intake to ensure our body performs at its best.  A lack of water leads to fatigue, a foggy mind, and hunger.  Yes, I said hunger. Believe it or not most of the time when we think we are hungry we are actually just thirsty. Drinking enough water will actually make you less hungry and help you realize when your body actually does NEED food. As a test drink a bottle or glass of water and see how hungry you are after.

How to do this?

  • We should be drinking at LEAST half our weight in ounces of water each day.  If you weigh 120 pounds then you should be drinking at least 60 ounces of water.  Make sure you always have a water bottle on you (preferably a reusable one so we can save our planet!) and refill it as many times as needed.

 

  • You can even make a mental note of how much you should be drinking throughout the day.  
    • For example, I always try to drink a full water bottle before I get to work, a full bottle after my coffee is gone, two more full bottles before 5 pm, and then 1 or 2 at night.  Having that mental map of when and how much I should be drinking keeps me on track and helps me get back on track when I am behind. I would be lying to you if I said that I do this perfectly every day because I absolutely do NOT. But, it does put me in a way better place than if I didn’t try at all.

 

  1. Pack and prep ALL of your snacks and meals

When I leave the house for work in the morning I’m typically out the door at 6:30 am and most nights I won’t return until 8 or 9. In that time frame, I eat my breakfast, two lunches, and dinner. I never skip a meal, so when I leave at 6:30 am I have all of my food in tow.

Prepping and packing those meals ahead of time ensures that I am eating healthy foods, that I am eating the correct portion size of foods, and that I don’t snack on anything else in the office.

When you eat out at lunch or grab those little snacks / treats in the break room you can close-up-colors-container-1640767.jpgeasily lose track of how many calories you are actually consuming in a day and are likely eating things your body really doesn’t NEED. Even though we all know we don’t NEED M&M’s, if you are drinking enough water to stay hydrated and have your healthy snacks already packed you are less likely to go for that mid-afternoon treat.

Another thing to consider is that most days we are just sitting at our desks all day long. You really aren’t burning through THAT many calories so you don’t NEED that many calories or snacks to get you through the day. If you have a desk job it’s not like your lifting anything or moving much at all. What your body NEEDS is nutrient dense foods to keep your body and mind moving and grooving all day long without any roadblocks or detours.

The How:

If you need help on how to meal prep or what to meal prep check out my previous blogs “Meal Prepping 101” and “Meal Prepping 102: What’s inside?” for ideas.

 

  1. Move more and take mindful breaks

adult-autumn-casual-663437.jpgI can’t stress the importance of moving more enough.  Think about the daily pattern of a typical 9-5 job. You are sitting on the drive to work, siting once you get to work for 8 hours or so, sit on the drive home, sit for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and sit on the couch at night.  Maybe you have an hour or 30 minutes of movement for some kind of exercise.

Our bodies are designed to move.  And yet, it’s so easy to forget the importance of that. We get lost in our work and caught up in the idea that we “don’t have enough time” to take a break. I am here to tell you that is all simply not true. It will actually do the opposite. Taking a break to move will increase your productivity later. Trust me, give it a shot, you might be surprised.

There are studies that demonstrate the average brain loses concentration in 52 minutes and taking a break increases your productivity by 30%.  Research says that we should take a 1-7 minute break every 25, 52 or 90 minutes.    Yes, it may take a few minutes to pick everything back up, but you will come back recharged and ready, producing better results than you did before.

Now how will you put this into play?

  • What you can do is set an alarm on your phone for an hour and then take a quick break where you are physically moving. It really doesn’t matter where or for how long, just that you are actually doing it.

 

  • Walks during your lunch breaks is another great opportunity to move your body.
    • This is something I put into practice two years ago and I’ve become totally addicted. Every day at lunch when the weather permits, I will walk for 30 minutes to an hour outside. I’m to the point where I will make sure I get to work earlier and use my time more wisely so I can get this break in.

 

Those breaks do so much for me mentally and physically. It gets my body moving, puts me out in nature, and really forces me to shut off my brain and emotionally detach myself from my work for a minute.

I am the type that can get very emotionally attached to work and am always battling the fear that I am not doing enough. In some ways this can be a very painful trait and a thought process that is hard to get out of.  When I physically remove myself from a situation, taking time away and then coming back, it clears my mind and makes me less emotionally charged so I can look at a situation more objectively. Plus, who doesn’t love seeing a little nature after hours in an office?

It truly is a gift that I give to myself.

 

Which brings us to a perfect place to end this blog.  Taking care of your physical and mental self, inside and outside of work is one of the best a gifts you can give yourself. But, it takes work.

Prepping your meals and snacks takes time. Constantly reminding yourself to drink water throughout the day takes dedication. Allowing yourself to take a break and move your body seems like a lot of extra work, but I promise you it will all pay off.  You will feel better and you will produce better work.

These are all changes that YOU have to DECIDE to do and then COMMIT to doing it. They seem hard at first and you may be wondering how you can actually put these habits into practice. But remember, everything seems hard at first until it’s not.

These habits have increased my productivity, my overall health and my peace of mind in the workplace.   Apply these three healthy habits to your day and I promise you, you won’t be sorry. =]

 

Your Q1 Review – A step by step guide

Your Q1 Review – A step by step guide

This past December I noticed that all of my favorite podcasters were doing a year end review on their shows.  A year end review is when you would take a moment to reflect on what went well and what didn’t over the past year. The pod casters would go over what they accomplished and where they failed so they could learn from it.

At first I really wasn’t into the episode because I didn’t feel like it was something I could benefit or learn from. But, by the end of that first episode I realized just how wrong I was.  The whole concept of what they were doing was such a GREAT tool for improvement. Taking a minute to stop and reflect on the past year to get a better “birds eye view” of what ACTUALLY happened, rather than evaluating it while your in the middle of it.

I am not kidding when I say this, every single December I eat too much, I party a lot, and then January comes and I’m NOT happy and at that point I’m already starting to think about the year to come. Not once have I ever taken a minute to stop and evaluate the year that just happened.  It sounds bizarre, but I truly never take time for reflection. I am always too focused on how to fix everything I just screwed up in December and am looking forward to next years goals.   

Also, a year is a long ass time and I can confidently say I forget most of it.  I can barely remember my social security number and that never changes, let alone my weekly and monthly accomplishments over a year.  When an obstacle comes up I will figure out how to overcome it or just trudge my way through it. Whether  I fail or succeed, in the end it is over and I move on. I don’t really dwell on things too much, that’s how I have learned to survive.  I never take the time to stop and reflect on what just happened, unless there was a major blow up or something really bad happened.

But seriously, how often do we all do this?  How often do we not take the time to stop and reflect on what just happened in our life and just keep soldiering on? Sometimes that is completely necessary, even vital, but I think once in a while it’s good to force yourself to stop and think about what REALLY just happened.  Taking the time to pat ourselves on the back or figure out how we can do better is essential

As I mentioned before, a year is a really freaking long time and because I really do so easily forget everything I do, I thought it would make sense for me to try to do this quarterly.  The reason I thought of this was because in February/March I started noticing how “off course” I was in some of my goals and how “on course” I was in other areas of my life, and I started to change my ways a bit.  That’s when I started thinking that we should all being doing this quarterly review, so give ourselves credit where credit is due towards accomplishing our goals and then getting ourselves back on track in the area’s we were lacking.

Today, I am going to go through what I did for my quarterly review and will share the steps with you so that you could do the same.

Continue reading “Your Q1 Review – A step by step guide”