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.

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”.

Sweet Potato Hash Recipe

When your diet consists of only these ten foods, you have to be really creative to prevent boredom from kicking in. Thankfully, we have the internet for that. You can get thousands of recipes from Pinterest alone.

My favorite meal has always been breakfast and I’m always on the lookout for healthy, creative breakfast ideas. So when I came across this Sweet Potato and Egg Hash at Greatist.com, I almost couldn’t contain my excitement.

sweetpotatoegghash

The Verdict

Not only is this recipe really delicious, it also gets an A Grade for nutritional value from our friends at CalorieCount.com. They have a really cool feature where you can analyze the ingredients in a recipe and come back with the overall nutritional value.

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The only tweak I made was to remove the red peppers because I don’t like how they taste cooked. The dish is really satisfying and flavorful and I can see myself eating this on a regular basis.

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How I lost 6.5 lbs in 1 month eating these 10 foods everyday.

My doctor told me I needed to lose 15 pounds after my last well-woman checkup. It didn’t come as a surprise because my clothes weren’t fitting right and I was feeling sluggish. I thought about going back to the gym, but that wasn’t a solution at that point in my life. Work was requiring me to be at the office 12 hours some days, so a gym membership would most likely have gone to waste. I don’t enjoy drinking shakes or eating pre-packaged/processed food so my meal plan would have to include a variety of real foods that were rich in nutrients and good sources of energy.

Food sensitivities

It’s important to know how foods affect you physically and mentally. Over the years, I’ve come to know the foods that are really bad for me. Processed sugar, gluten (yes, I’m actually gluten intolerant) and soy are foods that I need to avoid because they cause adverse reactions such as cystic acne, severe bloating, migraine headaches and of course, weight gain. Even with these restrictions, I was able to put together a varied selection of foods that were satisfying and healthy.

Why it worked

I wasn’t looking to “lose 5 pounds overnight” or by using any gimmick. Most times, if you lose a lot of weight in a short amount of time, you gain it back, with a little extra. I wanted my weight loss to be permanent and healthy. With that in mind, here is why I think this plan worked.

  1. Effective preparation was key. I did all my meal prep on Sunday afternoon and Wednesday evening. This involved cutting up vegetables, marinating the meat and preparing enough for three days worth of meals.
  2. There was enough variety to prevent boredom. I had lots of options for recipes and the foods worked well together in a variety of different ways.
  3. I had a good selection of stand-alone foods that made for easy snacking. Yogurt, nuts, apples and even avocado slices were great to snack on when hunger set it.
  4. Foods were nutrient dense which meant they fed my body what it needed and helped me to feel full throughout the day.
  5. Most of the foods were high in protein and fiber. Protein helps to build and repair tissue, which was important because I wasn’t working out. Fiber slows the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream and helps with regularity.
  6. Most importantly, I enjoyed the food. It didn’t feel like a diet and I never felt like I was torturing or depriving myself. I didn’t cut out treats completely either. On one occasion, I ate a slice of cake at an office celebration.

The Fabulous Foods

1. Chicken4

2. Avocado3

3. Beans5

4. Apples2

5. Nuts1

6. Spinach8

7. Sweet Potato9

8. Yogurt10

9. Eggs6

10. Salmon7

The Results

Even though this was a happy accident, I was thrilled about the results. Breaking down the numbers, my weight loss looked like this.

  • I lost .22 lbs each day.
  • It would take me 2 and 1/3 months to lose my doctor-directed 15 lbs.
  • If the trend continued for an entire year, it would total 78 lbs of weight lost.

I lost the weight in November 2016, so when the Christmas season was upon us, I actually gained back almost 3 pounds of the weight I had lost. For me, it wasn’t realistic to only eat these foods while attending Christmas parties, client dinners and everything else that goes along with the holiday season.

UPDATE: I started the eating plan again the second week of February and I lost two pounds in the first week. Since I already know that this works for me, I’ve committed to continuing until I’ve lost 15 pounds. After that, I will probably add some more foods and experiment a little bit more.

Talk to me!

Do you have any weight-loss secrets that worked for you? Are there any sure-fire recipes that you fall back on when you have to drop the pounds. Be sure to comment below. We’d love to hear from you.

PS – Stay tuned for delicious recipes including these 10 ingredients!

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Self-Care is about You

Self-care, an often neglected practice, is the care that is provided by you, for you. It can take on many forms, but at its core is a commitment to invest in your own health and well-being. As women, we give to many people around us. If we fail to give back to ourselves, we will eventually run out of resources to pour into others. That’s when burnout, frustration, and stress start to manifest in our lives.

Millenial females at risk

Stress is higher among women than men, and Millenials experience the highest stress among the generations. This leaves female millennials at risk. High levels of stress can lead to health ailments, psychological problems, and relationship struggles. Left unmanaged, stress can be fatal. Taking time to invest in a healthier lifestyle can reduce the amount of stress and improve overall well-being.

Self-care is not selfish

If we don’t care for ourselves, every other relationship we have will suffer and we as women, put great value in our relationships. Self-care will look different for each person. I don’t really enjoy shopping, so that type of activity doesn’t energize me, but for someone else, a trip to the mall might be just what they need to recharge. Take time to know yourself and listen to that inner voice telling you what she needs.

Self-care ideas

Get sufficient sleep – Sleep deprivation is a leading source of stress, so be sure to get enough sleep every night. Power naps are great for reducing stress too.

Healthy eating – Nutrient dense foods help your body fight against disease and strengthen it against the effects of stress.

Physical fitness – Working out helps to produce endorphins, chemicals in the brain that make you feel happy.

Prayer/meditation – Prayer and meditation can be a source of comfort and help to change one’s perspective.

Reading – A good book can be more than an escape. Reading is said to relax the body and calm the mind.

Spend time with friends – Studies have shown that spending time with friends can help people to fight disease and cope with stressful situations.

Take a long bath – Some of the benefits of warm baths are pain relief, lower blood pressure and overall relaxation.

Unplug from gadgets – Technostress (the stress that comes from working with computers and other gadgets) is a relatively new form of stress. It can cause headaches, anxiety and physical problems (carpal tunnel, back pain). Unplug from your gadgets every so often to help your body reset itself.

Go for a walk at lunch – Too many of us work through our lunches and don’t take the break that we’re entitled to. Even a short 15-minute walk over lunch can significantly increase productivity.

Get a pet – Not only are pets lots of fun, they help to reduce stress by releasing feel-good hormones and lowering heart rate.

Go shopping – Buy those shoes you’ve been looking at for weeks. Treating yourself to a well-deserved gift is a sure-fire way to reduce stress.

Being intentional and strategic about taking care of yourself is essential to your well-being. Start treating this practice as a necessity, rather than a luxury and start enjoying the benefits.

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10 Delicious Mug Cakes You can Enjoy Guilt-Free

Looking for a dessert that will satisfy your sweet-tooth but won’t derail your healthy eating? Mug-cakes, also known as cakes-in-a-mug, are the perfect small bites for these cravings.

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If I had to choose between sweet or savory foods, 9 out of 10 times, I would pick savory. I don’t really have a sweet tooth which is great because I have a slow metabolism. Yet, even with a palate that leans toward savory, I still find myself with the occasional sweet cravings. Cake mugs are perfect for these times.

I like them because they’re bite-sized and they disappear after one serving. You don’t have to face the temptation of eating half a cake over the course of the week. So the next time your sweet tooth kicks in, take your pick of these (almost) guilt-free desserts. Many require only a few minutes of prep time and just a few ingredients.

1. One Minute Low Carb Vanilla Mug Cake

Low Carb Vanilla Mug Cake

2. Chocolate Mug Cake (gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo)

(gluten-free, paleo) A delicious, healthy and moist chocolate mug cake that can be made in less than two minutes - super easy!

Chocolate Mug Cake

3. 5-Minute Toffee Mug Cake

5 Minute Toffee Mug Cake

4. Cinnamon Roll Mug Cake

img_0633Cinnamon Roll Mug Cake

5. Carrot Cake in a Mug

mini carrot cake

Carrot Cake in a Mug

6. Apple Pie Mug Cake

Apple Pie Mug Cake

Apple Pie Mug Cake

7. Gluten-Free Funfetti Mug Cake

Super easy 1-minute gluten free funfetti mug cake - made with cake mix so no mixing or measuring a bunch of ingredients! Dessert recipe from @whattheforkblog | whattheforkfoodblog | gluten free desserts | how to make mug cake | cake mix mug cake | funfetti cake | easy funfetti cake | how to make cake in a microwave | no-bake cake | microwave cake | easy dessert recipes | sprinkles | confetti cake

Gluten-Free Funfetti Mug Cake

8. Chocolate Peanut Butter Mug Cake

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One Minute Chocolate Peanut Butter Mug Cake

9. Double Lemon Mug Cake

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Double Lemon Mug Cake

10. Red Velvet with Cream Cheese Icing Mug Cake

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Red Velvet Mug Cake with Cream Cheese Icing

BONUS – Cake Batter Mug Cake (my hubby’s favorite)

cake-batter-dip-for-one-2Cake Batter Mug Cake

Grab your mugs

They all look incredible but I think I’m going to try the 5-Minute Toffee cake first. My kids would be all over the Cinnamon Roll and my husband’s favorite will be Cake Batter.

Have you ever made a Cake in a Cup? Why not share your recipe in the comments below.

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20 things that make me happy (that don’t include my family or spending money)

Gratitude not only makes you feel good, studies have shown that it actually enhances your physical and psychological well-being. It’s good practice to stop and reflect on all you have to be thankful for. Some people use a gratitude journal as a reminder of the people and things that enrich their lives. Some of us do it in blog posts like this.

My Top 20 Happiness Inducers

  1. Wonton Soup
  2.  My tiffany-blue cashmere blanket (a gift from my boss)
  3. Laughing
  4. Walking at Horseshoe Bay beach
  5. Looking at model homes
  6. Long baths
  7. Writing music
  8. Hosting dinner parties
  9. Makeovers
  10. The smell of Blue Mountain Coffee
  11. Getting a massage
  12. A freshly cleaned house
  13. The smell of Las Vegas rain
  14. Public speaking
  15. Beating deadlines
  16. Playing the piano
  17. Singing harmony
  18. Encouraging people
  19. Post-workout endorphins
  20. Holding babies

Talk to me!

Write out your own list and share it with this group.
Was this exercise challenging for you?
Were you able to list more than 20 things?

Step in Love – What’s my role anyway?

c20b48b28d4a456527e076df80bc4d20I’m a mild Tiger-Mom who happens to be from the Caribbean so my kids have to deal with high expectations. Sorry, it’s in my blood. Actually, I’m not sorry at all. I expect them to aim for high grades, work hard at activities that they choose and never live with a sense of entitlement. I have a hard time lowering my expectations…except when it comes to myself. (More on that in another post)

I grew up in this type of environment, so it’s all I know. My bio-daughter is used to it as well. She is the classic overachiever and seems to thrive when she is challenged. My stepdaughter is also brilliant, insanely athletic and very creative but being pushed doesn’t motivate her. It actually stifles her. She needs more nurturing. I realized when she came to live with us, I had taken on the role of “Governess”. For those of you who don’t know what this means, think back to The Sound of Music and the oldest daughter, Liesl repeatedly saying “I don’t need a governess!” A governess is an educated woman who teaches children in a private household. I helped my stepdaughter skip a grade and end the year with A’s and B’s. I’ve  taught her how to do a back walk-over. I thought I was giving her the things she wanted and needed but the connection never seemed to deepen.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vtq9t08ktU&w=560&h=315]

My stepdaughter’s favorite scene from the Sound of Music – ENJOY!

It would have been easy to focus on everything I was doing for her and blame her for this lack of connection, but I knew I was the problem. Just as Liesl never embraced Maria until she became ‘Mother’, my stepdaughter would never really connect until I moved away from the governing/ruling role into the mothering/nurturing role. She was setting the pace and I needed to follow. Our disconnect came from a place of her not feeling like I loved her the same way as her sister, my “real” daughter.

I still teach her things and push her to get good grades, but I also hug her more, laugh with her more and be a mother to her, because that’s what she needs and that’s the role I am privileged to play in her life.

Photo Credit –  Pinterest

Step in Love – Stop trying to blend in

CanUSLoveI grew up in Canada – a country known as a cultural mosaic. We bring the diverse aspects of our individual culture, tradition, heritage and language and co-exist together.  Now I live in the USA which is a melting pot, rather than a mosaic. The aim here is to assimilate people into the American culture. I can see the merit in both perspectives. Let’s just leave it at that.

When it comes to my family, however, I come out strongly on the side of mosaics rather than blends. Here’s why. When you attempt to blend the new family together, aspects of the individual gets lost in the whole.  A  mosaic, on the other hand, is made up of fragmented pieces of material, such as glass, tile, stone, pebbles, that are placed on a bed of cement to form a picture or design. On their own, each piece is unremarkable, but together they make a beautiful picture. You might need to squint to see it, but it is still there and intact.

As I’ve said in other posts, stepfamilies are usually precipitated by some kind of loss. These are the broken pieces of the mosaic. We are “broken” because of failed relationships, abandonment or even death. This is not to say that people in these families are flawed, but in many cases, they have experienced a painful event that has led them to where they are now.

When people see the inner-workings of any family up-close, things can look messy. We lose our tempers, yell and take each other for granted. If you take a step back, however, you will see a beautiful picture emerge. Sometimes it all depends on your perspective. Even though a loss had to occur, the new family is formed out of love. This is the cement that holds all the pieces together in the mosaic.

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I remember a time when I had to fly internationally with the kids without my husband. It was early on in our marriage and I was still adjusting to being a stepmother as well as the mother to a newborn. Thankfully it was a short flight from Bermuda to New York. As I was getting off the plane, a woman approached me and said “You have a wonderful way with your children. You’re an amazing mother.” I cried when I heard those words. They seemed so implausible to me. Looking back, I don’t see why I was so nervous. Both of the girls were amazing on that trip. I created a lot of undue stress at that point in my life because I didn’t know how to handle the self-imposed expectations of being a stepmother. Sure, other people can place expectations on you, but it’s the ones you place on yourself that are often the hardest to live up to.

Up to this point, all I could see was the brokenness, frustration, and confusion. This stranger allowed me to see our family through her perspective. Here we were, a family of four adjusting to our reality. Far from perfect, but established in love. Our picture is still being created. I hear that artwork grows in value over time. I believe it.