Hop On the Struggle Bus To Exercise Town, Ladies!

Why do we really need to exercise?  The benefits of exercise go well beyond maintaining weight and weight loss. It’s not just about looking good or fitting into those skinny jeans!

 

It is about so MUCH more!

 

Ok, let’s be brutally honest…Does the word ‘exercise’ make you kind of cringe? Do you put it off as long as you possibly can, coming up with excuse after excuse to avoid it?

 

Chances are, unless you are an avid athlete or a devoted workout fiend, you are probably groaning about the idea of exercise…am I right? And know that you are NOT alone! 80% of Americans are not achieving the Federal Government’s recommendation of 2.5 hours of exercise per week. Uh oh! Are we getting lazy?

 

I think that the entire notion of “working out” feels burdensome, time-consuming, and difficult to fit into our very busy lives. But—what if I could give you a way to exercise without cutting into your daily activities at all! Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

 

I have a surefire EASY way to incorporate your exercise essentials into your day without taking time away from all your other obligations, your work, family, or your pass times. You are probably wondering, “what is she talking about…that’s not even possible.”

 

But trust me…it is! But first let me explain why we should even exercise at all. How important is it really?

 

Your body was not meant to be stagnant and idle. It was designed for movement, for walking, running, dancing, etc.   The problem is that while technology has continued to advance, the need for us to really move our bodies has plummeted. Most of us do not walk to work; we drive. Many kids are not outside playing soccer, dodge ball, etc. instead many opt to play video games indoors or be engrossed in social media—both not requiring us to move our bodies all that much.

 

When we fail to use our muscles, they will inevitably atrophy which leads to weakness and loss of movement. This becomes a downward spiral to issues with balance, posture, and body strength. I’m sure you have heard the line, “If you don’t use it—you lose it!”  That most certainly applies to exercise.

So—in answer to the question I posed earlier…YES, exercise is vitally important!

 

 

Your Mind needs exercise.

Exercise is not just a benefit for our bodies—our minds reap the rewards as well. With exercise, your blood flow to your brain increases and it stimulates the brain mass in the hippocampus. This area of your brain is critical for memory retention and for reducing dementia.

 

And you have probably heard about those happiness-creating endorphins which are released when you exercise. Endorphins can powerfully affect your mental and emotional health and well-being as they stave off symptoms of depression or overall anxiety.

 

Your Bones need the exercise.

When we fail to exercise our bones start to lose mass and they become thin and frail. This leads to an increased possibility of fractures and falls. For this reason, staying active and using some weight resistance even if they are very light, helps to maintain bone health.

 

 

 

Your Heart and Lungs thrive on exercise.

Doing any form of cardiovascular exercise, requires your heart and lungs to provide oxygen to the muscles. This makes the heart pump faster so that it can delivers that oxygen to your cells. All this dilates your veins and arteries and keeps them from building any unhealthy plaque or any clots.

 

When you regularly exercise, your lungs increase their capacity so that you build your stamina and don’t get out of breath. Cardiovascular exercise is critical for the prevention of strokes and other forms of heart disease.

 

Ok….so I think we can agree that exercise is important and vital for our health and well-being. And we need both of those in order to achieve our goals, live happy lives, and be our very best both at home and at work. But, I know that life is BUSY and oh so hectic…

Stay with me…I have an innovative solution to this endless problem we face.

 

For me, I like exercise, but it does take a lot of motivation to get me going. So I have found over the years, that staying consistent in my exercise routine can be a struggle. But, to stay fit, stay toned, and healthy, I do the 4 essentials and I painlessly incorporate them all into my life daily. Here is how:

 

Essential #1: (abs and core)

Driving in my car or sitting at my desk at work, I do pelvic tilts. It is basically tucking the tailbone and pulling your hip bones up towards your navel, creating a scoop in your stomach and a curved back. Then tilting the pelvic back to beginning position. This is wonderful for the abdominals and your core. I do 25 at a time, and as many sets as I’m able. You will find that not only is it a great stretch while sitting at work, but it can make your commute to work go more quickly while also being highly efficient! For a video tutorial check this out:

https://youtu.be/PdEKzbBFZrE

 

Essential #2: (arms)

While I’m watching tv at night, I stand up for a while and work my arms. Usually I get restless sitting for a whole evening of tv watching. You do not have to use any weights; you can just use some resistance, of if you are like me,  I like to use little light weights (typically 3 lbs). While I’m watching tv I work my arms (bicep curls, triceps, shoulders ) etc.

https://youtu.be/9pTEzkJu6TU

 

Essential #3: (legs and booty)

This is an easy-to-incorporate exercise that you can do while showering and/or brushing your teeth. Every time I am conditioning my hair in the shower (and I want to leave the conditioner in for a few minutes) I do squats. Yup, you heard that right. And when I brush my teeth (morning and night) again I do squats. I promise that you can multi-task while brushing your teeth and you haven’t cut into your schedule at all!

 

To make sure you are using good form, check this quick tutorial:

https://youtu.be/aPYCiuiB4PA

 

Essential #4: (arms, core, abs, back, and chest)

While I am in tv watching mode, I also do push ups. I prefer the Pilates push-ups which really help to tighten the arm pits as well. These are usually tough to get to, but the Pilates push up sure helps! Do 10 at a time, and then rest, do more reps.

It is VERY important to have good form with these, so check out this:

https://youtu.be/Ny0qFffcemg

 

 

So did you see how you didn’t have to carve out ANY extra time for your exercise routine? It didn’t cut into your morning, or your happy hour meeting friends, or your relaxing evening after a long day at work. Genius right?

 

Let me know if this works for you. I love hearing how you are putting this to good use. I promise that it is the MOST painless way to get your exercise on a regular basis. Go for it!

 

And I will leave you with this inspiring quote:

 

“We do not stop exercising because we grow old—we grow old because we stop exercising.”

-Kenneth Cooper

Life as a "Super Commuter"

Lately I have been a traveling vagabond. With our recent move to Arizona, I head out each week to California to run my Seal Beach office. So—the first week it was kind of overwhelming, and without a doubt I felt frazzled. It felt chaotic, stressful to go to the airport, get through security, handle the luggage, etc. and besides all that, I had Cali, my pup, along for the commute each and every week. So there was figuring out how to travel with her which was a whole other learning curve. Then, during my week in California, I felt like I was digging in my suitcase constantly.

 

Is all this sounding familiar to you? Do you travel for work on a regular basis? Well, by the second week, I was doing a bit better. I had simplified some of my travel routine, and I had a fleeting notion that “I got this!” I enjoyed spending a night at my Mom’s and catching up with her; then another night I would hang out with my daughter and her husband. And then I also had one of my best friends to visit if I was staying an additional night. It was a hint less stressful, and a hint more fun.

 

By week three—not so much! I caught the flu, and I was severely down for the count! Rather than staying with my Mom or my daughter, and risk getting them sick, I booked a hotel and I hunkered down there to beat the flu and try to work from there. I had to stick around to finalize some meetings that week, and let me tell you it took a MAJOR toll on me! I was exhausted, couldn’t sleep, wanted my own bed at home SO badly, and I felt miserable! I started to feel like life was beating me, and I could barely keep up. I felt like I was hanging on by a thread. And let me tell you—it was NOT pretty!

 

Here I am on week 4. And after several very fun and relaxing days in Arizona, I woke up ready to tackle this week with turbo speed gusto! And here is the thing—I learned a lot in the last few weeks. Not that I am an expert to this super commuter routine by any means, but I worked out the kinks, became more efficient and organized about it all, and boy have I got hacks for you!  As I keep learning the best ways to go state to state, I will share them with you Boss Gals. And please—if you have any for me, don’t hold back! Because anything we can do to help another GirlBoss out, is good for us all!

 

So first off-the packing. Well, the first week I was a hot mess! My luggage felt unorganized, and I had so much stuff to take back and forth. If you are like me, the cosmetic/toiletries bag is a load in and of itself, am I right?! Since I was staying one night in each place, I couldn’t really unpack and settle in. So that meant living out of that suitcase, and after one night it looked like a disheveled mess.

 

So here is my first hack for you…Packing cubes!

 

I ordered these packing cubes from amazon. Lifesaver! It came with 6 different size bags that zip up. They have mesh so the clothes breathe, and you can see what is inside. So now, I put my work clothes in one, my cozies for lounging in the eve in another, my casual clothes in another, bras and undies in another—you get the point right? It brings instant order to the suitcase, and I don’t start strewing clothes all around trying to find the item I’m looking for. You can check out the cubes I got at this:


The next thing I did is duplicate much of my toiletries. And I keep one bag for all that in my office in California. It is so great not to pack all that stuff each and every time! So, I have a curling iron and hair straightener there too. This sure helps alleviate the worry that I forgot something, and makes packing a whole lot quicker not to mention that I don’t have to stress about the 50 lb luggage weight limit! For many of the items I went with the travel size so that my toiletry bag at the office is way more compact.

 

Jeff had done tons of research on the best dog carrier for the plane. Cali has been such a trooper, and she has become a little jet-setter extraordinaire! The carrier he got me is fantastic, because it has wheels, can also be carried as a backpack, is compact enough to fit under the plane seat (which is pretty tricky in those smaller commuter jets!), and also doubles as a secured car seat! Cali just coasts through the airport as I wheel her around. I keep her leash in one of the zip-up pockets, and her little water bowl in the other. Have pack, will travel! You can check out the link here:

Now here is what I didn’t do right last week. Because of some re-scheduled meetings, I had to extend my stay by two days. Well, I had only brought my medicines for the exact number of days I thought I would be in California. BIG mistake! Being without those for two days was a BAD idea. For example, my blood pressure and thyroid meds are not good for me to be without, etc. Being without them for two days did a serious number on my body, and let’s just say that I won’t be doing that again! So now, I bring a whole extra week of my meds…just in case! Because, to be at our top performance, Boss Gals, we have to keep our minds and bodies strong consistently! Lesson learned!

 

Since I’m traveling with Cali, her carrier counts as one of my carry-ons. Well, that was a bit tough, because that meant that I couldn’t take a separate briefcase/laptop with me AND a handbag. Well, what’s a girl to do? So, by the third week, I went out to buy a bigger handbag that could fit my laptop (or in my case the oversized iPad Pro).  I typically put all my meds and jewelry in my handbag too, because I worry that they will get lost or stolen in the checked luggage. So, this handbag is roomy and I make sure that I use little pouches inside rather than throwing everything loosely in there which just causes a lot of digging around to find anything.  At first, I used one of the totes I did have, but I realized that the thin straps on most totes not only dig into your arm when so overloaded but could easily break off! Talk about an even hotter mess that would be!  So the new bag I bought has a sturdy set of handles and a shoulder strap too. That seems to be working really well! These are the little things that you don’t really realize until you are in it and struggling to make it work.

 

So, whether you’re a super commuter like me, or just travel for fun, I hope you can learn from my trials, errors, and successes! If you have any tips and tricks for me please comment on my Instagram, Facebook, or drop me an email!

 

Until next time, stay on the grind Boss Babes!

The Great Mom Juggling Act

 “The art of mothering is to teach the art of living to children.” —Elaine Heffner

 

With Mother’s Day approaching, I wanted to focus on the Bossgals who are juggling work and raising their kids. I know from experience that this is no easy task. It can be tough and daunting to find the time for both. For those of you who have a job that takes you away from home, you might struggle with feelings of guilt and worry. Either you feel that you should be home more, or put in more hours at work. Striking a balance is quite the challenge.

And for those moms who are entrepreneurs working from home, it can be tough to get stuff done, be productive with your work, and still tend to the need of the kiddos. Well, this was me. Throughout my kid’s childhood, I worked from home, and I can clearly remember moments that I wanted to just tear my hair out!

 

But…here is the good part. Sure I struggled with it all, but after years of experience, I became GREAT at it! And all the strategies and techniques I came up with back then to navigate motherhood might just help you with your juggling act.

 

So, here are my hacks for working from home while raising kids.

 

1.       First off, it is really essential to designate a work space for yourself. Just moving between the couch and the dining table is not the best approach. Set aside a space with a door that closes if possible. And that room is not a room the kids get to wander in. They have to be invited by you to hang out in there. By doing this, you will feel like you have your place to go to where you can leave your work untouched by others and all in one spot. Being ultra organized is the key to pulling off this mom/entrepreneur skill!  By designating a space, you also let your children know that this is not “their zone.” It’s Mommy’s work zone, and it is not to be touched.

 

2.       When my kids were babies, I would get a babysitter (usually one of the neighborhood teens) to come over during my baby’s nap time, and I would extend their time a bit after that. This can sometimes be some really good uninterrupted hours of work. I remember being able to get about 3 hours of hardcore productivity in with this suggestion. Now, this only works if the sitter and your kids know and respect that Mommy’s workspace/home office is off limits. It worked really well for me, because my entire house (bedrooms, kitchen, living, etc.) was on the first floor, and I set up my office on the smaller second floor. My kids knew not to come up the stairs. You also have to stick to the program, and not be the hovering Momma who keeps stepping in with the babysitter. Let the sitter play and be attentive with your baby, and you FOCUS on work. It definitely takes some effort and discipline.

 

3.       Sometimes we cannot fully separate our roles as entrepreneur and Mom. Those can be even more trying times. Let’s say you have to run some errands for work. Maybe you need to pick up something from a store, or pick up a sample, or drop some items off to a vendor. For those tasks, here’s what I did. I would plan a day of maybe 4-5 of these errands, and I would do it on a day that I was going to hang out with my kiddos. Well, we would start the day by creating a “to-do” list. If your kids cannot yet write or read, then you go ahead and do the to do list with images or icons. For example, maybe to go to the market you could use an image of a shopping cart. For going to staples, maybe a pic of pens and office supplies etc. if your kids are at reading and writing age, have them write it out in the order that you will be doing the errands. Let them know they are your co-pilot and you need their help to get it all done. They are “working” with you that day. Most kids will feel important and special knowing that they are being super helpful. Then, as you are out and about on your errand runs, ask them to let you know… “So where are we going next?” Or “What’s next on our to-do list?”

You can even give them a pen or pencil to cross them out when completed. This will keep them engaged, feeling helpful, and feeling like you and he/she are a team. This should keep them from getting bored, and encourage them to be on their best behavior.

 

I remember when my son Jacob was about 1-2 years old, I would take him with me to the local building department. We usually had to go there to pick up or submit blueprints for projects I was working on. Each time we went, one of the staff clerks would get all excited to see him. She would say, “Hey you!” Jacob would typically charm her every time. Well, when we needed to go again to the building department, he would say, “we re going to see the hey-you lady!” And eventually when he learned to read and write, that’s exactly what he would write on our to-do list.  To this day, as a 28 year old, he still has memories of the “hey-you” lady!

 

4.       I also recommend having a word that you use that let’s them know you need them to be quiet and not interrupt you while on the phone. Typically we cannot group all of our phone calls from work into a small window of time. There will inevitably be calls that you need to take while hanging out with the kids. I used the word, “client.’  My kids learned that when I said, “I’m on the phone with a client,” or I just mouthed the word ‘client’ they needed to be as quiet as possible, and let Mommy finish the call. Now, I’m not going to lie to you—this is NOT foolproof! There were plenty of times that I remember all too well when my kids were totally uncooperative, but for the most part it worked quite well. Of course, rewarding them for being helpful and cooperative is always a good strategy. I would give them a point for every client phone call where they were quiet and not interrupt. Then after they got to 5 points, they would get something special.

 

5.       I will add that it is essential to carve out some Mom and child time that is solely devoted to them. They cannot always feel that they come second to work. On those days, whether you have a fun routine you introduce, or you go on a fun adventure—they know that is their golden time. And they will know that you treasure it too. I remember that with Jacob we would go every week to BeniHana’s for lunch. It was our thing, and he loved sitting at the Teppan table and watching the chef perform. For Marlea, it was scheduling a “girl’s day” all about manis and pedis, doing facial masks, mud baths and spas. It still is to this day!

 

6.       When the kids start to grow up and get into elementary and middle school, then the issues kind of change. At that point, the kids typically want you OFF your phone, and 100% attentive to their needs because they kind of hit that “it’s all about me” stage. So here’s my valuable advice for that…

 

I would explain to my kids that work was not only something I loved and was good at, but that it brought in income to pay for things in our lives. So, I had a deal with them when they were about 13-17 years old. Every time I signed a new contract with a new client, I would reward each of my kids with $50. Sounds crazy right? They didn’t really do anything to earn that right? But here’s the thing, when you try this you will see that they quickly WANT you to work. They are personally invested in your success. My kids would start to ask, “are getting any new clients?” And then, when I would get the phone call from that potential client, they would say, “oh good! I’ll go in the other room to give you privacy Mom so they hire you!”

 

Crazy right?! Now that is a game changer!

 

I also made a silly deal with Jeff that for every new contract I signed, I would take him out for Margaritas—a little celebration! So now, everyone in my family circle was invested in my success! No one was complaining that I was working too much. And what that does is puts out fabulous karma and energy into the universe. Everyone is rooting for you to succeed, and typically the universe listens and  rewards.

 

So that’s it Boss Gals. I hope these help you to succeed at work while mothering and mentoring your babies. We mold our children by example. When you show them a solid and admirable work ethic, along with letting them see your drive and tenacity, AND while still loving them to pieces—then you are fully killin’ it Boss Gal! It’s a winning combination for everyone! And you are effectively showing your kids, boys and girls, that women can have fulfilling careers without sacrificing motherhood.

 

So to all the Moms out there who sacrifice, juggle, and sometimes pull their hair out,

“Stay inspired and keep on crushing it!”

XO

Karen

Aruba Trip at the Bucuti & Tara Resort

Aruba Trip at the Bucuti & Tara Resort

For most of us Boss Gals, working our booties off is quite the norm. Isn’t it? We are busy building our careers, our families, our little empires as we strive to create our most exceptional lives. But, if we don’t also take the time out to enjoy this lifetime, to explore, and broaden our horizons, and open our eyes to the vibrant cultures surrounding us, then no matter how much we build, no matter how much we conquer, we will inevitably miss out. Traveling is essential to our growth, our expanding wisdom, and to the nourishment of our soul and spirit. As they say, it is the one thing you buy that actually makes you richer.

 

And so, last week this Boss Gal and my beaux did just that. We went on an adventure full of exploration, relaxation, and luxury at its finest. Jeff and I had the pleasure of visiting the island of Aruba for five glorious days, and let me just say that the #1 Romantic Caribbean resort, Bucuti and Tara, did not disappoint!

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The island of Aruba, just off the coast of Venezuela, might be small in size, only 75 square miles with only 5 miles wide at its widest and 19 miles long—but it is Super-Sized when it comes to charisma, charm, natural beauty, and island hospitality. With its desert climate, Aruba’s weather is pretty much 85 degrees year-round. The white sand beaches stretch out for miles, palm trees blow in the trade winds, and the warm night air makes evening strolls a delight.

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And while the scenery and island-scape are spectacular, what struck me most was the joy of the island people. It is no wonder that Aruba is called the “Happy Island.” (It’s even on their license plates!) The locals and those that work at the luxurious Bucuti and Tara are personable, hospitable, and you can hear them laughing their notorious belly-laughs throughout the day. In the U.S. we laugh, yes. We giggle, yes. But in Aruba it is a deep and hearty laugh that starts from their toes! It became music to my ears.

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When Jeff and I landed in Aruba (after a flight from LAX to Miami, and then Miami to Aruba) we rented a Jeep since we knew we wanted to explore the island and see some of its rougher terrain. With our fiery red Jeep, we headed to Bucuti and Tara to check in.

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And what a greeting it was!

The concierge and bell hop met us as we pulled up. Stefano, our concierge gave us a glass of champagne, and immediately escorted us up to our room for a full resort and room tour. And this was not some VIP service, this is for EVERY GUEST! Wow, right? I know!! I have to say a heartfelt thank you to Suzanne, Susan, Amie, and Mitchell for coordinating all of our accommodations. Their attention to detail was remarkable!

Suzanne & I…. Thank you Suzanne!

Suzanne & I…. Thank you Suzanne!

 

You’ll have to make sure that you check out my resort and room tours on instagram, because words just don’t do it justice. It’s a must see. My favorite touch was the rose petals in a heart shape on the bed awaiting us! No wonder this place is the #1 most romantic destination resort in the Caribbean!

 The bathroom showcased a beautiful shower and a small digital touch screen on the vanity mirror so that you can play music or watch tv while showering and getting ready! HOW AMAZING, right?! I am blown away by this place!!

 Oh and they give you an iPad that is yours to use during your trip with free wifi in the room, throughout the resort, and even on the beach. And of course, no detail is too small for #BucutiandTara because they even made sure the iPad had a screen greeting me with a friendly, “Welcome Karen!”

 While the room was a luxurious haven, what we saw outside our balcony was spectacular! It is that kind of to-die-for view that takes your breath away—clear blue skies, the bluest ocean, and crisp white sand! And btw- there are more chairs and lounges than guests so you never have to worry about getting a spot! No waking up at 6am to set a towel down to secure your place. Just wake up leisurely, enjoy your complimentary breakfast at their oceanfront restaurant, then head down to relaxation on the sand when you’re ready.

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The resort offers different activities such as #movienightsonthebeach (they showed Martian while we were there) They also have a Wellness area with a smoothie bar so you can stop in during happy hour and get your #SmoothieMockTail.

 

Sitting on lounge chairs on the white sand beach, it is impossible not to relax! Our waiter on the beach, Oroville, was attentive, fun, and lively. I told him that I didn’t want to swim in the ocean for fear of sharks, and he kept saying, “Nah, no sharks here!” So from that day on, he earned the nickname Sharky.

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The water was so clear and beautiful, that I did manage to swim in it a few times. When there’s no murkiness to the ocean, I don’t start to hear the Jaws theme song in my head….

 

Jeff and I enjoyed a much needed couples massage in the beach cabana our first day. After moving boxes and more boxes from California to Arizona the week prior, we both were in seaside heaven to get massages!  I highly recommend a couples massage as a solid transition from airport stress to island tranquility.  

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The highlights for me beachside were the delectable ceviche which they serve with plantains (mouth-watering), and the distant “Whaddup!” From their pet parrot, Paco who hangs out in the outdoor bar area. I discovered that the owner had found Paco on the streets of Aruba. Apparently he had been brought to Aruba from the Rainforest of Venezuela, but had gotten separated from his family. Mr. Biemans took him to his hotel, and Paco has been with him for over 32 years! Well, let me tell you—Paco is an adorable and relentless flirt! He loves the ladies! When I went up to his cage, he walked on over, kind of showing off, and put his soft furry head to me so that I would pet him. What gal could resist that? He’s more like Paco Suave! Paco likes to mimic guests’ laughs, do a head-swerving dance to the happy hour steel drum music, and yell out his signature “Whaddup” to the guests. I will certainly miss that charming guy!

 Happy hour is a daily ritual with half priced drinks and complimentary snacks, and it is a nice gathering place for all the guests.  Whether you choose the circular bar or the lounges, you can relax and enjoy a magnificent sunset outdoors.

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One day, Jeff and I set out for some serious exploration. We took the Jeep and went all the way around the island. We traveled north past the California Lighthouse where we stopped into the Faro Blanco Restaurant with its breathtaking view of the coastline. And later, we headed past that to the rocky bad-ass terrain! While the western coast of Aruba is calm waters and picturesque sunsets, the eastern coast is like a fiery Latin temper! The highways and roads end, and you rough it on dirt roads with rocky outcroppings. The ocean waves crash against the land like angry outbursts. It is a spectacular sight, full of fury and strength unlike anything I had ever seen. Every once in a while we would see another ATV tour battling the terrain,  but for the most part it was just Jeff, me, and the tempestuous sea.  We stacked some zen-like rocks which seems to be a local ritual since you see these small rocks placed in various balance-defying formations. That was quite an adventurous day!

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Dinner at the Resort’s Elements restaurant was always a treat, especially because you can’t beat the view from their dining deck. I couldn’t believe how attentive to each guest their staff is. Those of you that know, I have a handful of allergies which I cannot take lightly. Well, mentioning it to them only once, it seemed like the entire staff knew and was vigilant about it for me. That is what truly sets Bucuti and Tara apart from any other resort I have visited. They know their guests, they enjoy their guests, and creating a memorable stay for their guests is priority ONE. And their guests truly appreciate that attention to detail and personal touch, which is why the resort boasts so many repeat visitors year after year.

 

 

I had the distinct pleasure of meeting the owner Mr. Biemans, a delightful man who knows the names of his entire team. He makes it a point to greet each member of his staff personally, ask how their families are, and shows them genuine care and kindness. According to one of our beachside waiters, that is why they love working there. Mr. Biemans is also environmentally conscious, bringing the first net-zero resort to the Caribbean. Bucuti and Tara is not only environmentally conscious, but recently received Silver Leed certification. Sustainability, sincerity, and outstanding service seem to be his trademark—and it shows!

 

Our last night, we enjoyed a private cabana dining experience at the beach. The food was to die for. The chef put together a delectable meal with unique flavors and stunning presentations that made us feel even more pampered than we already did! We watched the sunset, sipped wine, and relished every little moment.

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Now as I am sitting on the plane on our return flight to the U.S. I am sad to see our experience come to an end. But, I feel like Aruba made its way into my heart. Its beauty changes you and its island joy seeps into your soul. I feel refreshed, renewed, and ever grateful for the experience and like one of their waiters, “Happy Vincent” likes to say, “Be happy, be smiley, and be romantic. They are all free!”

“Happy Vincent”

“Happy Vincent”

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XO,

Karen















Life Hacks To Be More Productive

Life Hacks to be more productive

 

As girl bosses our to-do lists are miles long, aren’t they? I know that for me, I often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything on my list. Between running your career, your home, your relationships, and your family, it can be downright exhausting and overwhelming.

 

Well, over the years, I have developed some efficient strategies to get more done with less effort and in less time. And I’m going to share them all with you today. Are you ready for my proven life hacks to make you even more productive than you already are? Seriously Boss babe, these really work, and are so helpful that they are like gold.

Here we go:

 

Getting household chores done with ease:

Do you find yourself unable to find the time for market shopping? Who has that kind of time, right? Well, many stores (Vons, Ralphs, even Whole Foods) have a time-saving service to help you out. Go online, place your order, and they will deliver it. For you that cuts out driving time, finding parking, and

aisle by aisle shopping!

 

How about finding the time to tackle the shower grime? There are several new sprays out there that don’t require the labor intensive wiping down. You just spray and let it do its job. The more you can use these types of time-saving tricks, the more time you will have for those tasks that absolutely can’t be done without you.

 

How about the dry cleaning? I find that this one always gets pushed aside. I literally drive around with the dry cleaning for weeks before making it there. It just always seems so inconvenient. Well, there are several cleaners that offer pick up and delivery and get this….at no charge! They even sell these discount cards (I bought one for $40) with tons of discounts to use. I think I made back my $40 in the very first order! They have a set schedule where they pick up or drop off two times a week. I bring my bag to work, and they pick up and drop off there. So easy!

 

Banking: do you go into the branch? Not me! I am a huge fan of the mobile deposit available by most banks. What a genius idea! By using that, I hardly ever make a stop to the bank. It literally saves me a trip, parking, and standing in line for a teller. No time for that ladies!

 

Car maintenance: we’ve got to keep our cars in working order, but it can be tricky to fit that into the schedule, especially if you need your car pretty much all the time. So here’s what I do. I call for an appointment, and schedule a loaner vehicle. It is no charge at all. Then, I drop off my car, grab the loaner and get on with my day. No sitting around in the waiting room, no wasting time. And, on top of that, when I go pick up my car it is serviced and freshly washed too!

 

Prescriptions and refills. Don’t you absolutely hate going to the pharmacy and waiting in line with lots of other sick people to get your refills? There is a way to avoid all of that! Most pharmacies offer an online or phone service to place your refill order. It’s a quick few minutes at whatever time is convenient for you, and then they mail them directly to you! No driving to the pharmacy, no finding parking, no lines to wait it, no germ-infested transactions. This is truly the way to go! You just have to be on top of it to order with enough time to have them mailed out.

 

And continuing with the health to do’s, when you need to talk to a doctor, you may want to try the new concept of “phone appointments.” Now this may not be available by all caregivers, but I do know that Kaiser Permanente offers this. It is a fantastic service! They schedule a time for the call with either your doctor or a nurse practitioner. They are always right on time when they call you. And then, they don’t even charge for that “doctor visit!” Can’t ask for more than that!

 

Still on the medication topic, do you have some pills that you have to take every day? Do you just go through bottle by bottle, one by one each morning or evening to take them? That can be tiresome and takes quite a bit of time to open each, dole them out, etc. I like to use a weekly pill box (with the days of the week on it). And then each Sunday I fill them up for the week. It takes away tons of daily effort. So then, each morning when I’m usually trying to get out of the house to work or a meeting, all I do is open that day and all my meds are right there! One easy step that saves time.

 

Doesn’t it seem like there is always a birthday of a friend or family member? Rather than going to buy each card as the birthday comes up, why not buy cards for the birthdays or events for like the next 3 months? That way, it takes one visit to the store, not 3 or 4. And then you don’t have to remember to pick up a card before the next event. At the same time, I pick up wrapping paper for all of them too! When you can group the tasks, you will be so much more efficient!

 

Whenever there is a festival or art fair, I make it a point to go and buy most of my gifts for the next 6 months. That way, I have them ahead of time which takes away the worry and panic of trying to find a good gift at the last minute. Also the goodies I find are usually unique and artistic, like a beautiful necklace or earrings, etc. something artsy and fun.

 

And of course, I’m a huge fan of online shopping. Yes, I once loved the mall stroll. Going shopping for the day, browsing through stores. But, with the fabulous invention of online shopping, my shopping has become so much more efficient! No more circling the mall parking lot in search of a parking spot. No more traffic headaches. No more trying to find an attendant and then a cashier. I honestly go months and months without ever stepping into a mall or physical store.

 

And my last efficiency tip for maximum productivity is about my travel cosmetic bag. I always keep it stocked with most of my essentials in travel size. So, my face cleanser, deodorant, creams, toothbrush, toothpaste, pain relievers, hair essentials, bandaids, contact lenses…etc. that way, when I am packing to go overnight or on an extended trip, I just have a few items to add. This makes it so much easier. And for the rest of the items I need, I use a handy packing checklist. No more worrying if I have forgotten something!

 

So girlfriends, make great use of your time, because time is the one thing we never seem to have enough of. Treasure and relish the time doing what you love and being with who you love… and get downright efficient about doing all the other stuff.

xo,

Karen

Is Entrepreneurship Right For You?

Have you been contemplating starting your own gig? Are you looking to be your own boss?

 

There are so many upsides to being an entrepreneur. You get to set your own schedule, when to work, how to work, and where to work.  This allows you to set up a remote career if you choose. What exactly is a remote career? It is the ability to work from anywhere you want. You could be sitting on a beach with your laptop—and there you go! There is incredible freedom when it comes to entrepreneurship, since you can create your “office” in basically any setting. For those that want to travel, this can be a much appreciated perk of being an entrepreneur. Imagine sitting in a European café handling your biz remotely. Nice huh?

 

I actually started my architectural business while raising my kids. The flexibility of my schedule as an entrepreneur was a huge plus so that I could be the one raising my kids as it allowed me to coordinate time to be at all their events and activities. There is something to be said about the freedom that owning your own business brings. You can literally create it in the way that suits you best.

 

Another perk of the “be your own boss biz” is the room for financial growth. There is immense financial opportunity since the sky is the limit. There truly is no cap to the amount of money you could potentially make. Since you are the captain of your own ship, you can decide how to navigate it, what course to set, and the speed you want to take to get there. On the other hand,  as an employee you are typically paid a set amount, and that is your cap.  Working harder does not guarantee that you will make more as an employee. Unless your work is commission-based, you are more than likely capped at your salary.  This benefit can also be a double-edged sword, but we will get to that later.

 

As your own boss, you also don’t really have to answer to anybody else. That can be tremendously liberating. That feeling that you could potentially be fired or reprimanded is GONE! And, you really are in charge of your own career destiny. There is an overwhelming feeling of ownership and pride that comes with being an entrepreneur that is not easy to find as an employee. Feeling that pride in a job well done may be hard to come by as an employee. Yes, you may be able  to feel that on a project you are working on, or the part that you worked on and can take credit for; but you rarely get to feel pride in the entire production, outcome, or process. As an entrepreneur, you connect so much more deeply with your work as it basically has your name on it. That feeling of pride in what you build is rewarding beyond measure.

 

Running your own business definitely gives you the opportunity to follow your dream. You create the vision for your career, and you create the business to achieve it. As an employee, you are typically following your boss’ dream. You may be fully supportive of it, and you may be 100% aligned with the vision your boss has set, but there is nothing like charging after your very own dream. That can be exhilarating.

 

But…there is a downside to consider. And I would be remiss if I didn’t point those out too. In 2015, studies show that only about 5% of the working population are entrepreneurs. That number has gone up to approximately 7% in 2017.  With such a low percentage, there must be some serious downsides or everybody would jump on board the entrepreneur train. Let’s take a look at some of the negatives to running your own company.

 

One of the biggest has to do with money. Here is the double-edged sword I mentioned earlier. As an entrepreneur, you are not guaranteed a steady paycheck which can be stressful. Counting on a regular paycheck becomes a thing of the past when you make the decision to go it alone. And for many new businesses, financial stability takes a while to achieve. Studies have shown that it typically takes a new business three years to reach a profit.  And studies indicate that first time entrepreneurs only have an 18% chance of succeeding. Yikes!

 

Given those statistics, entrepreneurship can be a risky proposition which many people cannot stomach. You must have the stamina to undertake starting a business, since it will not reach profitability overnight. It will take lots of grueling hours, a whole lot of faith in it and your abilities, and the motivation and drive to sustain you.

 

Entrepreneurs can also find it difficult to maintain a good work-life balance since you are not really clocking in and out of your work. Most employees apply themselves at work during their work hours, and then can separate themselves from it, leave the office, and enjoy their personal lives. For entrepreneurs this separation becomes a bit blurred. Whether you find it difficult to break away from work or if it stays on your mind well after “office hours,” it can be a struggle to create a healthy balance that your family would appreciate. While many people think that you can work less hours as an entrepreneur, it is completely the opposite. Typically entrepreneurs work much longer hours, with an ever-increasing list of duties. You will have to take on administrative tasks that may not have been a part of your job as an employee, and you now also have the task of managing employees which can be difficult at times.

 

Another downside to being an entrepreneur is that it can be lonely up there. While it sounds exciting to “have it all,” it can be a scary and lonely place when you are the one fully responsible for your company’s success or failure. The stress associated with this responsibility can be a tough one to control or manage.

 

So now that we’ve covered the ups and downs of the “be your own boss gig” do you feel that it is something you want to try? Or have I scared you away?

 

I can speak from experience that while the challenges as an entrepreneur have been great, the rewards have been even greater. Mark Twain says it well…

 

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

~Mark Twain

 

If you are ready to embark on entrepreneurship, check out the YouTube for how to start your own gig here….

 

And if you are wondering if you have the personality to go on your own, check out this podcast….

And remember to “like” either one if you find it helpful!

 

Until next time—

Stay inspired

xo,

Karen

Clearing The Clutter

Do you feel overwhelmed by never-ending clutter? Whether it is a cluttered desk, a cluttered closet, for us gals a cluttered handbag, or for any of us a cluttered mind…clutter can inundate and engulf us. It seems to slowly creep into our lives without us even realizing what is happening. Like for example, where do you keep your mail? Is it an ever-growing pile that just gets stacked and stacked, or shoved in a drawer that gets more and more difficult to close? It is so hard to keep on top of it.   Isn’t it?

The extent of our clutter becomes really apparent at certain times like when we are selling or turning in our lease on a car (and trying to clear our stuff out), or digging around in our big stylish fashionista bag for our keys, or when it is nearing tax time and all the receipts and files you need are in cluttered disarray.  You know what I’m talking about...

There are many reasons we collect things. Some of the things we hang onto have sentimental value, others though unused for years, are items we think we will definitely need one day in the future. And who wants to feel silly for just having thrown out something you haven’t used in years or maybe even ever…that a week later you finally need?

It can certainly be a struggle to actually rid ourselves of that clutter. Scientists have even shown that when we let go of something to which we feel attached, the two areas in our brains associated with physical pain actually light up. So that unsettling discomfort when purging these things is real.

But…did you know that it is more detrimental to keep it all? Clutter can have a very negative impact on our brains. It impairs our ability to focus and think cognitively. A study was done at Princeton University in which neuroscientists measured the performance of people in an organized versus an unorganized setting. What they discovered was that the amount of clutter in our surroundings affects our performance because it pulls our attention away from the task at hand.  Excess belongings in our environment result in less effective performance and a higher level of induced stress.

The physical clutter surrounding us causes our stress levels to spike as it overloads our senses and distracts our minds. Our ability to think clearly, be creative, and complete projects are dramatically affected by physical clutter.

But clutter doesn’t just come in physical form. The physical is the clearest to see, it is apparent to everyone who walks by your desk, gets in your car, or comes into your home. But it is the mental clutter that has exploded upon us as of late. The Facebook notification, the latest Twitter feed, and our addictive tie to our cell phones is just an example of the mental overload we feel. It is digital clutter and it is everywhere!

When we are mentally overwhelmed by our schedules, the compiled to-do lists we store in our heads, or the relentless pull of social media, our minds are not able to fully engage in the creative flow or the process of synthesizing our thoughts. Our thinking becomes splintered as we try to mentally multi-task. Our brain feels divided and our memory, ability to stay on task, and thought processes suffer. Physical and mental clutter have the same negative impact on our well-being.

 

They can give us the unwelcome feeling of overwhelm and chaos. Now let me tell you how much I dislike chaos, and why I strive to keep chaos out of my life as much as possible. Chaos is “complete disorder and confusion.” It is like a constant and annoying mental tug of war. It clouds our thinking, clutters our thoughts, and confuses our reasoning.

Did you know that there really is something called chaos addiction? It is real. While most people try to avoid drama, research shows that others have figured out how to trigger the body's stress response, just for the rush. They have come to rely on that rush…it somehow makes them feel alive. Chaos junkies feel that rush when chaos is happening around them. It is the adrenaline and cortisol (the stress hormones) that they crave. As they become dependent on this substance, they develop the addiction. And soon enough, their chaos becomes a way of life. They begin to replace one chaotic event with another in an endless cycle.

Chaos addicts are typically always about 15 minutes late to wherever they are going. That’s because they tend to do just “one more thing” before heading out. This makes them late, which causes stress and induces chaos—just what they are looking for. They also typically have a mess that surrounds them. It can be their closet, their surroundings, their desk, you name it. This tends to make them lose items, like not know where their keys are, or their cell phone. Again stress inducers that feed their need for adrenaline to feel alive.Take the test and find out if you're creating chaos in your everyday life!

 

Directions: Answer the following questions ‘True’ or ‘False’

 

* Do you usually raise your voice and scream to make your point?

* Do you ramp things up to win every argument or discussion?

* If you get sick, do you feel that EVERYONE should know about it?

* When you argue, do you ever break stuff or knock things over?

* Does being calm or bored sound like the worst possible thing to you?

* Do you ever scream at strangers when you feel that they are in your way?

* Do you hate it when you are not the center of attention?

* Is there usually a crisis to solve in your life?

* Do you break up or threaten a break up with a mate often?

* Are you usually the one who starts fights or arguments?

 

Results: If you answered ‘True’ to five or more of the questions above, you are addicted to chaos!

 

 

In light of all this, what we inherently need and should actively strive for is clarity

This is my mantra:

                                                                Clear the Clutter

                                                                Clear the Chaos

                                                                Clear the Chatter

When I am designing a space, whether it is an entire home, a kitchen, or even a small workspace at home, I strive to create a clear place for everything. I like to include a built-in space to charge electronics, a drawer with perfectly placed outlets at the vanity for the blow-dryer, curling iron, etc. a cabinet with a pull-out drawer for the coffee pot so it doesn’t clutter the counter, a laundry chute that lands right into the laundry room so no hampers needed, etc. Anything I can think of! The more thought out, the less clutter later.

“Clear the physical clutter and you make room for simplicity and ease.

Clear the mental clutter and your soul makes room for inspiration and joy.” –K.O.

So Girlbosses, this week free yourself from the clutter and the chaos surrounding you, whether it is physical, mental, or even emotional.  Clear your mind from all that doesn’t serve your dreams and aspirations. Streamline your thinking by streamlining your surroundings and lifestyle. Embrace peace of mind and patience. By letting go of the drama that chaos stirs up, you can begin to create a new normal—one that brings clarity, calm, and renewed focus.

xo,

Karen

The Beauty of a Personal Invitation

The Beauty of a Personal Invitation

In this tech-savvy day and age, most of us send out and receive invites by email. Yes, it’s convenient and efficient. But, there is something so intimate and personal about receiving an invitation in the mail. Don’t you agree? It definitely feels thoughtful and sets the right tone for the event or gathering. The invite alone speaks about how formal or casual the event will be. Things like the selection of paper and fonts are the very first thing a guest will see, and they set the tone for the event.

 

But I know Girl Bosses how busy we all are. Our days are filled with to-do lists a mile long, and we are running around trying to accomplish our goals, balance our work and home life, and not miss a beat. So what if I shared a life hack with you today? What if you had a really easy way to create invites that spoke volumes in terms of creativity and style, but they were as easy as 1-2-3?

 

Recently I came across a company called Basic Invite, and they really are anything but basic! Their templates, selection of beautiful incredible selection of colors, font and layout options sparked my creative juices instantly. They literally have more than 180 color options. It’s like the huge Crayola box we used as kiddos!

 

Since I am a bit of a perfectionist, I really like the fact that you can see previews of your invite instantly online where you can make lots of changes and see what it will truly look like. And even better, they let you order a printed sample of the invite you design so you can check it out before your guests would. You can feel the quality of the paper, the printing—it takes all the guess work out of the process.

 

The other feature that got me excited is that you can have the recipient’s address printed directly on the envelopes. Fancy! There is no added charge when ordering your cards. Crazy right? And the envelopes come in so many beautiful colors. 40 color choices!

 

What about the working Mom on the go that’s trying to throw together a great graduation party for her teen? Basic Invite’s got you covered! They have a treasure trove of college graduation ceremony invitations, beautiful graduation announcements, and so much more! The Hollywood Graduation invitations and / or announcements are the cutest way to make your teen feel like the star that they are! When I saw those, I was suddenly wishing that my kids were graduating again so I could throw them a cute Hollywood themed celebration!

 

Well, with fun summer get-togethers around the corner, lots of graduations to celebrate, wedding showers etc., this may be just the personal touch your party needs. I know that for me, I plan to send out my “change of address” and housewarming invites this way when Jeff and I get to Arizona. Oh, and for the procrastinators amongst us, it is not a lengthy turnaround time. They literally arrive in 5 days.

 

When you want to entertain with style and flair, hop on over to check out all their fun options. If you use this code 15FF51 you will get 15% off.

And what Girl Boss doesn’t want to be the hostess with the mostest?

 

I’m all about bringing creativity and style to everything I do.  And celebrating accomplishments and special moments in life are what leading an exceptional life is all about! By the way my lovelies, if you have a fabulous party—don’t forget to invite me! :)

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XO,

Karen

The Great Balancing Act

Today’s BLOG topic is Balance….isn’t this the age old issue? How often do you feel pulled in too many directions—work, love relationship, family, friends, etc. What is the key to juggling it all and feeling like it is a well-balanced composition?

So my girl bosses the first question to ask is What does it mean to be well-balanced? To me, it means that you have a handle on the the various elements in your life and don't feel that your heart or mind are being pulled too hard in any direction. More often than not, you feel calm, grounded, clear-headed, and motivated.

The very first thing is to acknowledge that you are the CEO of your life.  Life does not just happen to us….we happen to life.

We are the designers of our lives, and we don’t just r-e-a-c-t to life, but rather we c-r-e-a-t-e it.  So step number one is accountability and responsibility in regards to the composition that is your life. Though you may think you don’t, you have the control over your life rather than your life controlling you.

Everything in life is a distinct choice that we are given. Sometimes we are headed on a path and we vigorously push ahead until we realize that our life is slightly off-kilter—that it lost its balance because we were pushing so hard in one direction that the other aspects of our life got left behind…

If there is one portion of  your life that is drawing a disproportionate amount of energy, other parts of your life will undoubtedly be shortchanged. That can throw you off-balance. We have to deal with any areas that are consuming too much energy and put them in perspective, in alignment with all the other parts of our lives. Imagine walking a tight rope or the balance beam like in gymnastics. If you are feeling a pull too far in one direction, you get wobbly and you try to regain your balance, but chances are—you will fall. There is no doubt that creating and maintaining that balance is no easy task!

Sometimes,  we are weighed down with what we think is a necessary routine. Working long hours at a job that feels unfulfilling, with very little sleep and little to no leisure time, or relationships that feel unhealthy, draining and not good for us. We may feel like we are all over the place, and generally out of balance.  That reality doesn't have to be the norm if you truly long for something more. You probably have a dream life you aspire to. And you think that one day you will get there. But, creating this balance in your life will get you there sooner and with more clarity and focus.

Your best and most exceptional life won't look like someone else’s best life. We each have distinct needs, desires, strengths, skills, and talents that make us who we are, and for that very reason we each have different visions for our lives.

 

So, how do you begin the balancing act? Here are 5 ways you can begin:

1. Self-care is the first step.

Everything starts with a solid foundation. This is essential for health and well-being. As much as we know we should practice healthy habits, we often let them slip. Do you find yourself prioritizing the needs of friends and family, without remembering to make time for yourself? You need and deserve a healthy foundation in order to thrive. This means restful quality sleep, fresh and healthy rejuvenating food, consistent exercise, time in nature, and space for quiet, mindfulness, and reflection.

2. Envision what balance looks like for you.

Having a vision for your very best life that is unique to you is what will keep you on course and guide you to reach your goals. But it must be accompanied by— consistent inspired action. Once you identify your goals, and plan them into your life, you can take the inspired action to set them into motion. I’ve got a great little quiz to determine if you have the balance you want in your life. The link is below…

 

3. Smell the roses.

Don't neglect the joys and pleasures of life NOW. Often we can be so focused on the future, on the goal we want to achieve, that we are not truly present. We can unfortunately tune out the here and now. There are inspired moments and beauty wherever you look. Spend time with loved ones and friends who lift your spirits. Let yourself laugh. Choose relationships that invigorate, engage, and excite you rather than leaving you drained. Make time for playfulness. Be sure to incorporate joyful moments that nourish you.

4. Let it go.

 Don’t consume your energy towards anger, regrets, resentment, or grudges.

Carrying around anger, resentments, and grudges slowly gnaws away at you, creating emotional and psychological stress, and even physical ailments . When you clear this baggage and let it go, you allow space within you to open and room for a better balance.

 

5. Schedule it ALL!

Set aside a time for each aspect of your life. Assign an appropriate time for each activity based on priority.  Develop a schedule that you will stick to.

 Create a distinct time for each aspect of your life.  It’s not about doing everything all of the time, because that can just make you go nuts! It’s about moving back and forth between aspects of your life. Lateral movement versus only linear one-directional movement is the key.

Let me give you an example:

If you don’t have the intimate love relationship you dream of, then you need to commit to some time where you are in pursuit of it.  For example, create a time where you can do some online dating or networking. Maybe make time for a new interest that may help you meet new people.

If you are in a relationship—make it a point to prioritize that relationship each week.  As you all may know, I’m a huge fan of date night. Get into the habit if spending quality time to nurture and maintain that relationship.

There is no doubt that life is inherently a balancing act. We try to move ahead, pursue our passion and purpose, achieve our steadfast goals, and never lose sight of the balance we seek for all the various aspects of our lives.

Let me give you a metaphor or an image that I think explains this really well.

In my office, we are always working on lots and lots of projects, we have a tremendous amount of work to balance. What I always tell my team is to think of it all as a juggling exercise. For each project in my office,  (or think of it as each aspect of your life), you have to keep the balls in the air. You don’t want any one ball to fall to the ground. So the moment you tend to one, you are throwing that ball into the air, then you have a bit of time to focus on the other ones, before you need to tend to the first one again. For example, you may go on a wonderful vacay to spend intimate time with your significant other, (that’s ball one in the air) then when you get back you will need to focus on the other aspects that have been waiting for your attention…So on and so forth.

So Girl Bosses, know that  the search for balance is a life-long endeavor.  We try to balance our work, our family time, and our personal moments.  When one area of our lives becomes too dominant, the other parts suffer as we fail to strike that balance.  Many of us stay on the endless treadmill that we think will lead us to a happiness triggered by success and achievement. But, we often find that we are running and truly getting no closer to our pursuit of happiness. Instead, we often exhaust ourselves in the process.  Without balance, we feel unsteady.

For this week Boss Gals, look within yourself to understand the elements that are in need of balance in your life. To help you with that,  I’ve got a great balance quiz to determine where you need to re-calibrate. Here is your link:


And remember Boss Gals: Only a life that is balanced is genuinely poised for happiness.

So find your unique balance and maintain it, because it makes all the difference in the world. And until next time, stay inspired.

xo,

Karen

Moving To AZ

We’ve talked a lot this month about decision making. A couple weeks ago, I shared my tips on how to go about making great decisions…from information gathering to intuitive thinking. I stressed the importance of looking at both external and internal information.  But what happens when the decision is not a solo decision, but a couples decision? How do you do that?  That is a whole different thing. A decision with a partner requires a whole lot more synergy, compromise and communication. It’s like going from freestyle dancing to ballroom dancing. You can’t each be flailing all over the place. You’ve got to be in sync.

 

Some of you may know that Jeff and I have made the big, bold, and kind of bad-ass decision to uproot and move to Arizona! Neither one of us has ever moved to another state, so this decision is a biggie. I want to share with you how we got to this decision, what our process was, and how we navigated this as a couple. Hopefully it will shed some light on decision making as a duo.

 

About 1 ½ years ago, I could see that Jeff was getting really dissatisfied about where we live, the changes happening in California, the ever-increasing traffic, and the overall quality of life that California was offering us. Now, this was kind of a big deal since he has always absolutely loved Redondo Beach. He grew up in the South Bay and has said he would never leave!

 

So you can imagine my surprise…

Especially when I had just sold my home in Huntington Beach, and made the move to the South Bay, and we had designed and built our new home which we absolutely loved. I had thought this would be our “forever home,” so I had never even contemplated the idea of moving, let alone to another state.

 

But when you are in a relationship, your partner’s needs matter, and so I wanted to explore the idea with him. At first, Jeff suggested places that were just too far away, like Belize. And while that sounded like  tropical bliss, I just couldn’t move so far away from my grown up kids, and from my California office which I am NOT planning to shut down.

 

Then, on a weekend getaway to Palm Desert for my birthday, the topic came up again. We were floating in the pool when I suddenly thought and said, “How about Arizona?” To be perfectly honest, I have no idea how that thought even entered my mind. It kind of surprised us both!

 

We both love hot sunny weather, it was a quick 1 hour flight or a do-able car ride. And just like that, the minute I said it, Jeff went running with it! Within 2 weeks he had researched lots, had discovered that Fountain Hills (just outside Scottsdale) had the hillside lots we wanted and the small town feel.

 

So the day after Thanksgiving, we drove out to Arizona for our “fact-finding mission.” We wanted a lot instead of a house that was already built, because we figured that we would design and build it, like we had with our Redondo Beach home.

 

And after 2 days looking at about 30 lots, we picked the one on Keota Drive. It had a view of the golf course, 4 peaks, and even the Fountain Hills 500’ fountain! We celebrated our decision by going back to the lot at sunset, sitting on the tailgate of Jeff’s truck, and sharing a bottle of wine. And so it began…

 

We made an offer, bought the land, and I started designing! Once the home was designed and construction drawings were completed (by me and my team), we drove back out to Arizona, and set up a pop-up tent for interviews with 8 different local contractors. We literally created a makeshift office right there on our dirt site.

 

 

 

Unfortunately when we put the bid sets out, we were in for a huge shock! Maybe because these contractors didn’t realize that we are so well-versed in construction (me with my architecture background, and Jeff as a general contractor years ago), they came back with outrageous numbers. Even though Jeff and I are VERY familiar with building costs (in California it is about $300/sf and less expensive in Arizona) these guys were charging in excess of $500/sf! Crazy!

 I suddenly knew that we really needed to wait to build this project until I had established good connections and a solid rapport with builders.

 

But the saga does not stop there…there is more to this story..

 

Jump over to the podcast to hear it firsthand…

 

 

 

And remember…

 

Your life story is written by the decisions you make each and every day

xo,

Karen