Demeter Fragrance Library – My 30 Favorites

Demeter is by far the most interesting perfume company I’ve come across. It has a library of over 300 scents that range from traditional to almost ethereal. They have the floral, woody and fruity scents that you would expect, but they also carry a lot of unique and unusual scents. Their Tootsie Line, for all the candy lovers, includes Junior Mints, Tropical Dots and of course, Tootsie Roll. Some of the fragrances are cheeky, such as  Fuzzy Balls (thankfully it smells like tennis balls) while others, such as Funeral Home and Cannabis Flower, clearly push the envelope.

Blending 

The About Section on their website explains that “Demeter’s single note scents are combinations of the fewest ingredients that comprise a recognizable smell.” This means that when you smell a fragrance called “Dirt”, it actually smells like dirt you would see on a farm or walk on in your backyard. Some single notes smell nice on their own and you can get away with wearing them as a perfume. Traditional perfume is a blend of different notes together which is why you can have so many renditions of a Rose fragrance. Demeter encourages you to do the blending of single notes into your very own creation.

There is an entire section on their website that explains the blending of fragrances and offers guidelines on blending Bottom, Middle and Top notes.

Top 10 – Perfumes to Wear

I like the perfume I wear on a daily basis to be subtle. I tend to lean towards clean, water scents that remind me of the ocean. These were my favorite wearable perfumes.

  1. Caribbean Sea
  2. Clean Skin
  3. Pixie Dust
  4. First Kiss
  5. First Love
  6. Linen
  7. Pure Soap
  8. Ireland
  9. Cuba
  10. Musk # 15

Top 10  – Food & Drink Fragrances

Vanilla is really the only food-inspired fragrance I like to wear. Most times, they just make me hungry. I don’t like to smell like food, but the smell of food always makes me happy. Demeter came very close with a lot of their food and drink perfumes.

  1. Angel Food
  2. Fiery Curry – While I would never wear a savory scent, I like that it smelled like good curry.
  3. Vanilla Cake Batter
  4. Pistachio Ice Cream
  5. Lychee
  6. Hot Toddy – I don’t recommend wearing this one to work or church.
  7. Lemon Meringue
  8. Lobster -Also another scent I would never wear, but it’s surprisingly authentic, which is why it made the list.
  9. Orange Cream Pop
  10. Sour Apple Lolipop

Top 10 – Most Interesting

Scent has a really powerful way of bringing to mind memories. I wouldn’t wear any of the fragrances in this list as a stand-alone except for Sunshine and Snow, but the rest are on the list because they elicited memories or brought to mind experiences from the past.

  1. Crayon
  2. Glue
  3. Turpentine
  4. Earth Worms
  5. Firefly
  6. Dirt
  7. Thunderstorm
  8. Swimming Pool
  9. Sunshine
  10. Snow

Demeter is a wonderland for anyone who loves perfume. With over 300 scents to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start. The term ‘Fragrance Library’ is an apt description for the line, and it makes sense to treat a day at Demeter as you would a day at a real library. Take your time and let your nose lead you on a journey of unique and fun smells.

How to fall in love with your job

Stats show that in general, Americans are relatively satisfied with their jobs. I suppose it could be worse. They could hate their jobs. Why settle for a job you barely tolerate, when it’s possible to fall in love with your job or at least really start to like it. Imagine how you would feel if your significant other told you they were relatively satisfied your relationship. Wouldn’t you do everything in your power to change things?

Like any relationship, you can make real change in how you perceive your job by adjusting your mindset. Want to fall in love with your job? Do these three things.

1. Keep things in perspective

We give the greatest amount of our time to our jobs, so hopefully, it’s a place we like to hang out. Even if you don’t really love or even like your job, it’s important to keep things in perspective, especially on those hard days . The work may be tedious at times, people may steal your lunch out of the fridge and you  may have that one co-worker that gossips all day, but rest assured, things aren’t as bad as we think they are. Still not convinced? Consider the following –

  • You may feel as though you and your boss lack compatibility, but my most inept manager taught me an extremely useful skill at age 21 that I have carried with me throughout my whole career.  This boss, who shall be known as Jerry, was belligerent with employees, misogynistic and arrogant. Nobody liked him and we all dreaded having to work with him. He didn’t know it, but he taught me how to work around my limitations and play to my strengths. Even though he and I clashed, the lessons I learned under his direction have helped me through many workplace challenges.
  • No one is an island onto themselves. We exist to impact the lives of other people. Maybe you’re there to inspire someone to go back to school after a long break, or maybe your health journey will encourage someone who’s been stuck on the couch for years. When we think that we can really make a difference in the lives of the people around us, it will change how we see the workplace. It will no longer just be a place we go to earn money, it will transform into a place where we can build community with other people.
  • You might not be working at your dream job, but unlike a huge portion of Americans and people in other parts of the world, you have a job. Always be thankful for that.
2. Develop a strong relationship with your boss

We all know it’s not appropriate to fraternize with your boss, but if you want to be successful at your job, it’s important to have the support of your superiors. Your boss isn’t a mind reader, so you can’t expect him to know when you’re maxed out because you’re studying for your MBA. Engaging with your boss helps your relationship in many ways. Firstly, when your boss is aware of your job aspirations, she can more readily help you to achieve them. Unless they’re lacking good-will, a good boss will help you with your career progression because they see that you genuinely care about company goals and objectives. Secondly, you are there to help your boss. One of my favorite sayings is “Play for the name on the front of the shirt and they will remember the name on the back of the shirt.” Spend time thinking of ways to ease your bosses burden. This is something they will never forget, and will more likely think of you first when promotion time comes. If you make your boss look good, you make yourself look good too.

3. Go beyond balance to blend

Millenials get a lot of bad press when it comes to their work ethic, but maybe we can learn from them when it comes to balancing work and personal life. Most generations (Gen X, Boomers) tend to compartmentalize work and home life. We have a hard time integrating these two aspects of our lives. This means that we continue to strive for the elusive “work/life balance”.

We ask ourselves questions like –

  • “What do I have to give up in order to achieve this other thing I really want?”
  • “Can we really have it all?”
  • “Do my children/spouse hate me for spending so much time at work?”

We still don’t have answers because work/life balance doesn’t really exist. Thankfully, things are changing as we see more employers offer flexible working arrangements and we might just have a millennial to thank for this.

I recently heard a story about a young woman who was training for a marathon. She was on a strict schedule which meant she had to eat and train at certain times each day. Her job required her to attend weekly team meetings which happened to interfere with her training schedule. Rather than attending the meetings with her team, she would call into the conference room (which happened to be located directly across from her desk). Her reason? She needed to prepare her green smoothie at a certain time each day, and the noise from her USB blender would interfere with the meeting.

The rest of the team who attended the meeting felt that she should be there too and they voiced this to her boss. In actual fact, her boss didn’t have a problem with her calling in. She was more worried about the optics of the situation. After all, how could she request everyone attend the meeting, but allow one person to call in? A minor stand-off ensued between the employees and the marathon runner. Who won? The marathoner. She reasoned that as she contributed to her overall health, she would become a more effective employee. She also showed that being goal-oriented made her a better employee too and that in order to achieve these results, she would need some flexibility during working hours. She didn’t have to trade off one thing at the expense of the other (which is generally how work-life balance works). Instead, she managed to integrate her work and her personal life without having to sacrifice one thing for another. She blended these two aspects of her life and was on her way to achieving her own work/life bliss.

We’ve all heard the expression “Do what you love”. I wonder how many of us are living our childhood dreams and truly doing what we love. For those of us who aren’t Beyonce, Kobe or Bill Gates, we can still love the job we have by making a few small changes. And with love,  it’s the little things that count.

Goal Setting – When YOU are the Project

Goals are about change. Whether you want to lose those last ten pounds, become a master coder, launch a business or fix a broken marriage, there will have to be some behavior changes in order to get from here to there. Change is good and scary at the same time, but it’s not impossible.

Pro-ject (n) – an individual or collaborative enterprise that is carefully planned and designed to achieve a particular aim.

Treat your goals like a project. Be systematic and methodical and build in levels of accountability.

Most people fail in their goal-setting efforts because they don’t plan effectively. In order to successfully achieve your goals, you need to take action and have a plan. Simple, right? Easy? Not always.

Recognize the need for change

All projects are borne out of some type of need. Companies may want to develop a new product or new technology. Individuals may want to start a business but the common thread is a need for something new and different. We can keep doing things the way we’ve always done and get the same results or we can attempt something new and see our lives change. Sometimes people are hungry for change. Other times, it can feel like a lucky mistake and other times, it’s thrust upon them. This is the essence of Project Management and Goal Setting.

Goal setting can be applied to a set of best practices loosely based on Project Management principles. Achieving your goals will take careful planning and lots of agility.

Identify the gaps 

In order to get from Point A to Point B, you need to take an honest look at where you are now compared to where you need to be. This is the first and sometimes the hardest step. I recently took an Emotional Intelligence test, and though the results weren’t surprising, they were still hard to see on paper. According to this test, I am very adept when it comes to interpersonal relationships, but almost hopeless when it comes to self-awareness. Below are the things that brought my Self-Awareness score down.

  • Not fully grasping the role you play in creating the difficulties you encounter.
  • Not fully appreciating the impact your behavior has on others.
  • Not spotting when others influence your emotional state.

I knew that there were aspects of my personality that needed work, but I couldn’t really identify them (although my husband had been saying this for years in a less clear way). Once they were identified, I was able to work more effectively toward changing them. The gap is still there, but I’m much less prone to dismiss or downplay my own behavior and I’m also less prone to shift blame.

Assess the risks

All projects come with a certain amount of risk. There is always the chance of failure, but forewarned is forearmed. Risk assessment is always forward-looking. For example, if I’m trying to lose 10 pounds, will my weekly family dinner derail my weight-loss goals? Can I be in the presence of Aunt Dee’s peach cobbler and only eat one piece? That’s a known risk. Another PM best practice is the Pre-mortem. Look ahead proactively at what could go wrong. This sounds a little morbid and it can be. This involves looking at everything that could derail the project, from a vendor giving a wrong quote, to flights being canceled because of bad weather, to a death. It not only involves looking at what could go wrong but also ways that we can be prepared for these small and large disasters. Most PM’s hate this aspect of the job, but I actually like it. I’m a bit of a futurist at heart (and a conspiracy theorist too), so this type of thing excites me. Some people look at this like a “sky is falling” mentality, but it actually encourages innovation and new solutions. It allows for new perspectives to be seen.

Commit to change

One of my husband’s favorite expressions is “Proof of desire is in the pursuit”. Until you move beyond lip-service to real action, then you can’t say you’re pursuing your goals.

  • Commit to giving of your resources. Count the cost in terms of time and money. I’ve been teaching my girls about Opportunity Cost. In order to get one option, you may have to give up another. So, if I’m studying for my MBA, it will likely cut into my Sunday nap time. Am I willing to pay that price?
  • Put it out there – but with one caveat. Some people are motivated by the haters, but most times, haters just demoralize you. When you put your dreams and goals out into the universe, be sure to broadcast it to those who will support you and cheer you on.
  • Don’t be afraid of constructive criticism from your support section. Constructive criticism propels your dreams by helping to remove obstacles and show blind-spots without demoralizing you. That takes trust and maturity.

“The secret of change is to focus all your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” Socrates

Make a plan and follow it…unless it’s not working

I’m sure by now, you’ve heard about SMART Goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-focused, and Time-bound). Goals need to be measurable and should be tied to some type of achievement. For example, a weight loss goal could be “I want to lose 2.5lbs and 2 inches in 30 days”.  The next thing you will want to do is break down each element of your goal/plan into a specific set of activities and steps. In project management, this is called a WBS or Work Breakdown Structure. It’s a top-down structure that lists the main goal at the top and breaks down each step in greater detail. For example, if you’re studying for an exam, break it down into modules. Study Microeconomics this week and Cost Accounting the following week. Piling all tasks into one huge task will cause you to lose focus and won’t allow you to properly allocate resources.

Once we determine the specifics of your goal, devise your plan. In order for me to lose 2.5lbs and 2 inches in 30 days, I will need to cut out 300 calories/day. This means that I need to cut 100 calories from each of my main meals. What do 100 calories look like in food? Or you can ask yourself, “How long will I have to do a certain activity to burn 100 calories?” Break each step down into smaller, bite-size pieces. The next step is to plan your shopping list and then do you weekly meal prep.

Align Risks with the Plan

Remember how we talked about pro-active risks? Now is the time to align them to your goals. If you know that you have a family dinner every Sunday that brings you 2000 calories past your goal, come up with a contingency plan. I still want to eat Aunt Dee’s peach cobbler, so I can either reduce the serving size and stay on track. Or I can enjoy the same serving size and cut back somewhere else. Another alternative is to go for an hour-long walk after dinner or do 50 weighted squats to offset the calories. Whatever contingency plan you choose, you need to be prepared to execute it OR be prepared to achieve your goals later than expected. Again, this comes back to counting the cost.

Be Agile

Another project management concept that is instrumental in achieving your goals is agility. It’s pretty new on the PM scene, but it’s been transformational to the industry. In a nutshell, agile is about making plans, but not sticking to them too tightly. Traditional Project Management looks ahead to the plan, whereas Agile breaks the goal/project up into smaller, incremental pieces. Instead of setting long-term goals, look at your goals from a daily perspective. What does this look like? You can start by setting daily intentions that tie into your goal. For those studying, this can look something like “I’m required to read 300 pages by next class so I will read 60 pages each day.”

Resilience is key

In order to achieve our goals, we need a plan that we can look at to keep us on track. Have something visual in front of you that will serve as a daily reminder of what your future is going to look like. Download my Goal Setting Worksheet to keep yourself on track.

You would be surprised at how many high profile projects started out as failures. The key is to apply Lessons Learned (a very important Project Management concept) and learn for next time. You have to be able to bounce back and have resilience when you are working toward a goal. Failure is never final.

You have something inside you that is going to serve and help others. You are the answer to someone’s question or problem.  Remember that you are the project.

 

How to take control of your career

In September 2016, the company I work at hosted a Women’s Leadership Conference entitled, “It’s Your Move.” The idea behind the theme was that every person is not only responsible for the direction of their own careers, but they are much more empowered than they might think. With some careful planning and the use of a multitude of resources, each of us can move strategically along the career path of our choosing.

Let me be real, I picked the theme out of a sense of defiance. After hearing story after story of women who were told they couldn’t get a promotion, get a raise, lead a company, break into a certain field and ultimately take control of her own career, I decided that it was time to defy these barriers and false narratives.

Being in control of your career takes boldness. It might mean venturing into an area that you might not be familiar with because there aren’t many role models yet. Being in control of your career takes confidence. It means knowing who you are, knowing your strengths and weaknesses (but focusing on your strengths) and knowing what you want. Inwardly, we need to take the stance of the defiant girl facing off against the Wall Street bull. Being in control of your career will require you to be strategic. It will require to you make the right connections, be seen by the right people and speak up at the right times. It will also mean that you have to make corrections and changes as needed.

Image result for defiant girl statue free photo

There are some things in life that are true mysteries.  Career advancement doesn’t have to be one of them. We still have a long way to go before there is more representation of women in key decision-making positions, but we’re seeing more women entering the C-Suite. It will still take many years to close the wage gap, but more women are learning how to negotiate for fair wages. We are making strides because, in addition to our expertise and training,  we are learning how to use the tools (sponsorship, networking, negotiation) that have always been available.

My career journey will be much different than yours but we all have the same tools at our disposal. What we do with them will make all the difference. When it comes to career advancement, fortune favors the bold, confident and strategic.

Career Advancement Best Practices

When it comes to your career, always remember that you’re in charge. There are some elements that are beyond your control (amount of job openings, proximity to jobs etc), but in a general sense, you set the pace and the direction. Think of each phase of your career as a project that you manage. In the early stages of your career (up to 5 years), your focus should be on skill development and the building of professional relationships. As you approach the mid-career stage, you should be able to demonstrate the application of best practices and industry standards and start to set yourself up as a contributor of ideas. Finally, as you approach Manager/Director/C-Suite, it’s time to brand yourself as an industry leader and Subject Matter Expert. Look for opportunities to speak and get published (even if it’s on your own blog).

A couple of caveats here. Time-frames are not set in stone. Even though the average age for entrance into the C-Suite is 53, you can get there sooner. You don’t have to be a newbie for 5 years if you master your craft beforehand. Also remember that whatever your title (or age), you are a leader and people are watching you, so act like someone you, yourself, would follow.

Even though your approach to work may change depending on your level of responsibility and experience level, there are some best practices that you should have in place no matter what career stage you’re at.

Continuous Learning

We’ve all heard it said that leaders are learners. This is more than a catch-phrase. The value of Professional Development cannot be downplayed when it comes to career advancement. Studies have shown that organizations that encourage professional development activities are more likely to produce employees who are loyal to the organization, align more closely with the company vision and as a result, progress more rapidly than peers who don’t participate.

Increase your Visibility

In an earlier post entitled 4 Ways to Increase your Visibility at Work, I talk about ways to get out of the shadows and in front of key decision-makers. This is usually one of the first pieces of advice that I give to younger employees. We sometimes have the mistaken idea that as long as you work hard, your boss will notice, and reward you for your diligence. While this may be true some of the time, it won’t make you a stand-out in your field. I was recently impressed by a young female in the accounting field who is progressing rapidly in her career. As we spoke, she told me that she would reach out to her managers for training and spend one-on-one time with them. They were all so impressed with her drive and initiative that they all personally took the time to sponsor her in her career. For mid-career professionals, increase your visibility by getting on the speaking circuit. Volunteer to speak at conferences and other networking events. For professionals with more responsibility, consider becoming a sponsor or mentor. Also remember, the higher you climb in an organization, the more likely you are to be a representative of the brand. Use that platform to help your company shine and to also highlight your accomplishments.

Find a Sponsor

Sponsorship is something that I talk about often as it is one of the most neglected ways to advance your career – at least among women. Sponsorship involves an influential person becoming your career advocate. A sponsor will use their “political capital” to speak on your behalf, recommend you for high-profile projects, put you in front of the right people and help you to get promoted. The young accountant mentioned earlier became a protege of more than one sponsor in her organization. Since she had managed to increase her visibility (through her desire to learn and initiative) now every time a promotion or opportunity opens up, they immediately recommend her.

If you have a sponsor, consider yourself blessed. Your career will progress much more quickly than if you tried to navigate it on your own. If you don’t have one, make a plan to find one.

Network

Networking is another way to increase your visibility outside of the organization. Regardless of where you are in your career, you should make an effort to attend both formal and informal networking events. Conferences, symposiums, and similar events give you exposure to industry leaders, keep you on top of the trends and allow you to be noticed by a wider variety of people. Networking can really open up your eyes to new possibilities and give you a perspective that your job alone can’t give. As I always say, networking is about reciprocity and relationships should be formed from an authentic place of interest in the other person. While networking can reap benefits for you, never forget that you have a lot to offer others. Look for opportunities to meet other people in your industry. An exercise that I like to do at every networking event I attend is to introduce myself to someone just starting out in their career as well as someone more experienced that I can learn from. I’m always surprised at how much I learn from people on both sides of the career spectrum.

Enjoy the journey

As I said at the start of this piece, you have control over your own career. That’s not to say that things will always be easy and that you won’t experience setbacks along the way. The key is to know who you are, set clear objectives for yourself and enjoy every step of your career journey.

Step in Love – Don’t be a statistic

I hate statistics. I hated taking the class in university and I don’t really like being one either. Did you know that 50% of statistics are made up?

Stepfamily stats.001

Even though stepfamilies are more common than “traditional” or nuclear families, it’s still not an easy road to navigate. There are a lot of analogies use to describe stepfamilies. We talk about throwing a bunch of ingredients into a food processor and blending them all together until they become one. We also hear about stepfamilies being like “slow-cookers”. It takes time for all the flavors to blend together and create something palatable.

I likfood-and-drinks-mixer-and-blender-842233e those analogies mainly because they involve food, but they don’t really work for my family. I don’t like the blender analogy because it suggests that we lose our individuality in order to become a unit. I prefer the idea of a mosaic.  No one loses themselves in the new family. Rather, each person’s uniqueness is left intact to create a beautiful one-of-a-kind picture. Let’s be real, combining two sets of traditions, rules and values can be very difficult and unrealistic at times. Someone will always feel as though they are losing out. Plus, the whole blender analogy is kind of gross when it involves humans.

I believe the answer lies in the name itself. We are called stepfamilies after all. In most cases, blended families begin the relationship out-of-step with each other. We inadvertently step on each other’s toes. Those times when It feels like when we’ve finally made progress and have taken one step forward, something blows up and we realize we’ve actually taken two steps back.

It all comes down to walking or stepping together through life. We need to take one step at a time and enjoy the journey together. Being a step-parent is probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do. Not because I don’t love my step-daughter, but because these situations aren’t exactly ideal. They usually arise from a sense of loss (divorce, death, abandonment). I find myself second-guessing decisions a lot, over-analysing things and trying to control every detail instead of letting things evolve organically.

“…and walk in the way of love,  just as Christ loved us and gave Himself up for us” Ephesians 5:2

“Walk (or keep in step) in the spirit and you will not carry out your selfish desires.” Galatians 5:16

Those stats at the beginning of the post actually represent my family situation. If we don’t want to become a statistic, we have to take steps to make things work.The environment of my home will be set based on the actions  I choose to make on a daily basis. When I get out of bed each day, I’m faced with choices. I can choose to yell and criticize or I can choose to listen and embrace my family members with love and humor.

One last idiom. If we can step into each other’s shoes, we might just have a different perspective on our situation. To me, this is “Stepping in Love”.

Cool meets warm

Cool meets warm

WithChic red long sleeve top
$27 – withchic.com

River Island high rise legging
$12 – riverisland.com

Burberry zipper purse
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Mark Graham ivory shawl
markandgraham.com

Free People beanie hat
nordstrom.com

Matte glasses
shopzerouv.com