Friday, January 31, 2014

Food is Love: "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Green Smoothie

I've done the research, and if you ask reasonably rational people if they'd like spinach and chia seeds for breakfast, they'll say "NO!"

Well, that's not exactly true. According to my research, at least one of those people will put a finger in her mouth, pretend to gag, and walk away laughing.

Sigh. It's hard to be a good influence. So here's my advice: Don't ask. Don't tell. Just make your loved ones this scrumptious green smoothie and serve it with a smile.

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Green Smoothie 
(Makes 1 big smoothie)

3/4 cup milk (Whatever kind you want. I use 1 percent, but it could be skim, soy, whatever.)
1 medium banana
3/4 cup frozen berries -- preferably a mix with blueberries, raspberries and strawberries
3/4 cup fresh spinach
1 tablespoon chia seeds

Put in the blender in the above order. Blend. Pour. Drink. Feel great!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Creativity Tips: 5 Ways to Conquer Empty Office Syndrome

So, here's the deal. I finally got used to my empty nest (sorta kinda), and now I'm dealing with the empty office. My clients these days are scattered -- Miami, Schenectady, Nashville. Copenhagen. That's really fun in terms of business trips. On the other hand, on an average day, it's generally me and my computer.

If you work alone, meet me at the virtual water cooler and consider these five tips for conquering the dreaded Empty Office Syndrome:
  1. Create an online community. You may like Twitter, Or Instagram. Or Pinterest (Warning! Warning! Irresistible time suck!) I jump on and off Facebook when I need a reminder that there are other humans in the world, or I want a little inspiration. Some of the links my friends post are fabulous. Check out this Mandy Patinkin clip.
  2. Stop the negative Nelly thoughts. The advantages of working at home and/or alone far outweigh the disadvantages. Do you really miss the gossip? The noise? The interruptions? The wait for the elevator? The bad coffee? Go pour yourself a cup of the good stuff. And, while you're in the kitchen, remember what that office refrigerator used to look like. Terrifying. 
  3. Volunteer. You're feeling lonely? Tsk, tsk. Are you tied to that chair? Is someone barring your door? No? Then get up and get out. There are people to meet and organizations to help. Find a fun group that needs your time and talent.
  4. Get up and get out. I know -- I said that before. It's a key message. I'm saying it again. Go to the library and ask the librarian a question. Talk to the checkout clerk at the grocery store. Enroll in a small group exercise class. Take yoga. Take a walk and smile at everyone you pass. 
  5. Find a coffee shop buddy. My pal Kate kept me sane a while back by meeting me regularly for coffee. She said she wanted to talk shop. I know she knew I was slowly going stir crazy and wouldn't ask for help. Because I'm much better at giving advice than taking it. I like to consider that part of my charm.
And, speaking of my tremendous charm, those of us who work alone can work in our jammies with bedhead hair. Very adorable. And, on a cold winter morning, reason enough to love my empty office ...  

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Creativity Tips: Finish

How's your New Year's resolution coming? You'll be happy -- and possibly astonished -- to learn that I am doing pretty well on mine. I'm sitting. Some. A bit. Now and then. Really ... I am.

The trick is simple. I'm reading again -- I just devoured an Alice Munro short story collection and am now nearly finished with The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman. Hmmm. I sense a trend. Alice in Wonderland could be next.

Meanwhile, as I celebrate my New Year's dedication to relaxing, I also want to belatedly applaud my darling Kate. Last January, she set out to do a 365 project -- taking a photograph and posting it every day. And you know what? She did it! It's a huge accomplishment and I'm very proud of her. I hope you'll look through her pics -- there are some real beauties in the collection.

For now, I'll just share photo 365. Because finishing what you set out to do is a beautiful thing.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Creativity Exercise: It's Monday -- Party On!

Happy Monday! Let's start the week with a quick exercise. You know the routine. Get out a clean sheet of paper.

You'd rather do this on the computer? 
Fine ... it's Monday ... I'm not going to force you to pick up a pen. 

Now, write down five words that make you happy. For example, my list might include beach (because that's my happy place) or marshmallow (because I just like the sound of it).

I want a toasted marshmallow. Now.
Do you have your five happy words? Yay for you! Now, use all five of those words in a sentence. It doesn't have to be a sensible sentence -- but keep it grammatically correct. For my sake. For your sake. For the sake of the world.

Done? Mazel tov! Your creative synapses are now firing. Be off to great things ...

Friday, January 24, 2014

The Relationship Equation

I recently went to lunch with a woman who made me feel <. You know. Less than. Less than important. Less than worthy. Less than her.

Most of our discussion centered on wealth. While nothing was ever said directly, she clearly communicated that I didn't have enough money to matter. 

Now, those of you who know me know that money has never been my primary motivator. On the other hand, I have made a good living -- and a good life -- as a writer and I'm very proud of that.

So why did I take her comments to heart? I don't know. I don't know. All I can tell you is that she reminded me of the truth in the old cliche: People will forget what you say. People will forget what you do. But they'll never forget how you made them feel.

Fortunately, I am typically surrounded by people who make me feel =. Even a handful who make me feel >. Not greater than them -- that wouldn't be fun. But greater than your average Joe. Greater than ordinary. Definitely greater than I did when I walked into the room.

I love these people. They're > than anything. 

What about your people? What about you? When you consider your relationship equations, are you making people feel less than? Equal? Greater than?

There are lots of ways to know. A little self-actualization helps. But you can also watch the other person's body language. Does he make eye contact? Is she suddenly slumping in her chair? Is he physically pulling away?

Then, take a psychic step back and listen. Does she sound defensive? Is he getting awfully quiet?

People matter. Feelings matter. Words matter. Why, just writing this post is my way of getting my mojo back. With that in mind, I've got one more thing to say and then I'll let it go:

Kindness is > wealth.