Boosting Your Immunity

December is certainly flu season, and it can seem like everyone around you is coming down with a cold, stuffy nose, fever, or cough. It’s almost impossible to stay away from it completely.

 

So what’s a girl boss to do? Since you cannot put yourself in a sterile bubble to keep all the floating germs away, what you can do is boost your immune system so that your body can fight it easily. So in this blog, I’ve got a list of tips to keeping you healthy even in the germ pool.

 

Your immune system defends you from the microbes that cause diseases. It is the key to your resilience, and your ability to fend off the onslaught of germs you run into every single day. So how can we make that immune system even stronger during the holidays, when we need our health to be in tip top shape?

 

 

So let’s dive in:

1.       The biggest culprit to sabotage your immune system is stress. When you feel stress, your body releases the hormone Cortisol. If that hormone is running rampant in your body at elevated levels and for a long period of time, then your immune system will be compromised. So my first tip is to MANAGE YOUR STRESS! Now I know you are probably rolling your eyes my girl bosses, because that seems sort of impossible right? But at least try adding some healthy habits to drop stress levels. For example, have you tried meditating? Even 5 minutes a day has an astounding effect on your stress level. This is great for the mind and body.

 

2.       Eat healthy. Your body needs the nutrients to supply your immune system. To counteract viruses, your intake of fruits and vegetables should be increased. There is truth to the saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away!” Try to eliminate or at least minimize the processed foods that are loaded with preservatives and chemicals. These are like poison to your immune system.

 

Now I’m going to let you in on a little well-kept secret. My ultimate go-to when I need to boost my immune system is homemade bone broth. This is like the elixir for health. Bone broth is made with all the bones from a chicken, cooked in a slow cooker for 24 hours. The bones literally dissolve and what you get is a healthy concoction that tastes delish! I will include the link to the recipe at the end of the blog. I have to give the credit to my man, Jeff, because he has perfected this!

 

3.       Sleep, sleep, and more sleep. We are typically sleep deprived and we run on empty as we try to get everything done. But your body needs sleep to be in optimal immune shape. So don’t burn the candle on both ends, and try to limit all the excessive partying at this time of year.

 

4.       Sunshine! A little bit of sunshine daily (about 15 minutes) does wonders to trigger your body’s production of Vitamin D.

 

5.       I know you probably don’t want to hear this one…but yes, regular exercise aids your immune system in multiple ways. Exercise bumps up your circulation which helps white blood cells to move through your body and are more easily alerted to pathogens.

 

Studies show that people who include regular exercise into their lifestyle take fewer sick days (approximately 50% less) than people who have a sedentary lifestyle. Regular exercise also helps to flush out bacteria from the lungs. It has also been shown that the temporary boost in body temperature during exercise helps our bodies fight infections in a way similar to how a fever works when we are sick.

 

And lastly, we LOVE the release of endorphins. You know the ones that make us feel better, promote a good mood, and act like super-hero natural painkillers.

 

I will note that if the exercise is too intense, like an athlete’s hard-core training, this can actually weaken the immune system. Over training can have a negative impact on the immune system, so regular exercise in moderation is the ticket!

 

Now you are equipped with the tools to boost immunity. Put them to use, and you will enjoy a healthier holiday season and be in tip-top shape when you leap into the New Year!

XO,

Karen Otis

Boldly Stepping Into 2019

Girlfriends, we are deep in the throes of the holiday season aren’t we? Thanksgiving has passed and I hope you had a beautiful holiday with a delish turkey! And now we are in the final month of 2018. Can you believe it?

 

I’ve always seen December as a month of self-reflection and planning ahead. It’s a time to take stock, look at what you’ve achieved in the current year, and determine what your new or ongoing goals will be in 2019.

While you will probably want to spend the holidays catching up with family and friends, enjoying all the festivities and the good cheer, and finding the time to relax and rejuvenate—a dedicated GirlBoss will want to spend some time preparing for an outstanding 2019. That is what sets us apart from the crowd. That is how we create that very best life.

 

You don’t want to start off the new year waiting to see what will show up in your life, or just being a bystander in the direction your life will take. If you are looking to start killin’ it in your personal and professional life like a true GirlBoss, then you want to Lead your Life. That is how you will ensure a stellar year of success, fulfillment, and bliss. You’ve got to do the prep work for having it all. You’ve got to self-reflect, create goals, draw up a plan, and jump in with both feet! All in that precise order!

 

So what does that look like for you? We talked a few weeks ago about having a very clear vision of what your best life looks like FOR YOU. Again, it is a personal question, because the great part is that every woman gets to make this individual decision for herself. So, one exercise that I live by is creating a vision board. For me it is an annual thing, without fail. It is a super effective way to visualize and create that exceptional life because it really cements it into your psyche. And the perfect time to do it is NOW.

 

So here’s what you do:

 

You’re going to browse through magazines, the Internet, and photographs in search of images and words that illustrate your wishes for the New Year. Maybe it’s an image of a person doing yoga or Pilates, deeply grounded and balanced. If this inner peace and body/mind unity is something you are striving for, save that image. This begins the process of bringing your visions, dreams, and inspirations into tangible reality. Gather all these images. Maybe a certain heading or title in a magazine grabs your attention. Cut that one out too. Be aware as your mind is drawn to certain images that you may not think are of interest to you. Those may be hidden desires that are beginning to surface—because we are always evolving. What we may have wished for or wanted before, may be becoming something else now. Remember this is a discovery, a work in progress. The actual process of doing this will reveal what you may not even know you wish for.

Attach your selected images onto a piece of foam core or poster board approximately 20" by 20". They can be placed in whatever arrangement, collage, or format that speaks to you. Have fun with this and be creative. When you are finished, hang your vision board in a place that you see every day. Remember that each day you will be looking at it in order to keep your vision intact throughout your journey.

 

If you travel a lot, I recommend creating that vision board on the inside cover of your journal or notebook. That way it will be accessible to you often. Or you can make the 20” x 20” board and take a picture that you can put into your notebook. The key though it’s for it to be visible to you every day. That is how it will work its way into your thoughts.

 

The vision board will work in two ways. First, it will allow for thoughtful and creative exploration. You may not set out to find a specific image in a magazine, but after sifting through some you may notice that you are drawn to something quite unexpected. You may discover that you are pulled by images of travel while you never realized the wanderlust you had. Or images of easels, paints, and art studios may tug at you unexpectedly. The process of searching for images can reveal many of your hidden desires.

Secondly, the vision board, when complete, will serve as a visual inspiration, reminding you of your aspirations and the wishes that you envision for yourself. Seeing it daily will affirm your commitment to creating the life you desire.

 

I’ll share a story with you. My daughter and I each made a vision board in 2010. We were home for a New Year’s Eve and while watching Ryan Seacrest and the NY Times Square Ball drop, we decided to be crafty. We sat on the floor with all sorts of magazines and images surrounding us. When we finished the vision boards, we each put them up somewhere visible. For years I had my vision board up on my studio wall, and Marlea had hung her vision board in her walk-in closet. We saw them every day for years. Recently, I was packing up the house to move and I decided to throw them out. Why? Because I suddenly realized that we had achieved everything on them! That is the power of envisioning a vision. And our boards had some biggies on there—like writing a book, building a new home, and opening an architecture studio!  Keep in mind that the clearer the vision, the easier the path to reach it will be.

 

Ok…are you ready for my next tip to get ahead of it all for 2019?

You may have heard me say that “a vision without a plan is just a dream”. So girlbosses it is about planning and doing!

 

What better way to do that than to organize yourself in a brand new planner for 2019. I love a new beautiful, well-organized, and inspiring planner.  I literally get excited just thinking about it!

 

So let’s talk planners.

 

The real benefit to using a planner is that it will keep you organized, on track, aligned with your vision, and way more productive. But here’s the thing, the best type of planner for you may not be the best type for someone else. So Girlfriend, some research is required! And don’t feel awful if you buy one, start using it , and feel like it just isn’t working for you. I’ve been there. It’s part of the process to find out what makes your life easier—not harder. Some layouts will be great for one GirlBoss, but not for another.

 

The first decision to be made that will narrow down the choices dramatically is to determine what size works best for you.  For me, I usually go with a 6” x 8” one. It’s small enough to put in my purse or briefcase, but not too small that I’ve got tiny boxes to write in. You will find that there are tons of options out there, so take some time with your choice.

 

The next decision to evaluate is—do you want a daily, weekly or monthly calendar. Here’s my thoughts on that. The monthly calendars don’t leave a whole lot of room to write your tasks down. That can be a problem if you are one busy Lady Boss. On the other hand, the daily planners can be cumbersome and heavy because of the number of sheets. So—my choice has always been a weekly calendar. That seems to give me plenty of room to write tasks down without being a heavy brick in my purse. And usually the weekly planners will also have a page at the beginning of each month that has a monthly calendar. Then decide if you need an hourly calendar where you account for each hour of your day. If you tend to have a lot of appointments or scheduled meetings throughout the day, then a planner with hourly tasks might be better for you.

 

Since I lead a team at my office, I usually like to have a space to write down the tasks I’m assigning to each team member. Sometimes there will be a sidebar for that or space on the weekly calendar page.

 

Ok…so now you’ve determined a size and layout for your planner. The next thing is to figure out the style you like. Maybe it’s pretty, pastel, or bright and bold. Is it leather or a different material? What color suits you best? And make sure you look at the different types of binding. It can be edge-bound or spiral. You’ve got lots of options.

 

And then, do you want it to have motivational quotes, be inspiring, or minimalist? Is it thematic or nondescript? The key is to a really love it, because if not you will more than likely not use it. So fall in love with it! In essence it will be your new fashion statements—your new accessory!

 

 

And finally, are there other things that you want to include or add to your planner? For example, do you want a page for contact info, or a page to list long term projects, or a budget sheet? And do you want a bookmark that fits into the planner to take you directly to the current day?

 

Is your head spinning with all the choices? I know…it can be overwhelming. But remember you are not making a life or death decision. What can happen is that you feel so overwhelmed that you can’t make a decision at all.  Well that’s no good either. So, realize that if you really don’t like the one you first choose, it’s not the end of the world if you buy a second one that better suits your needs. If you are a bit on the fence, then I suggest buying a relatively inexpensive planner so you won’t feel such heavy buyer’s remorse if you realize you need something a bit different.

 

And here is my last bits of advice. USE IT EVERY SINGLE DAY! It won’t be helpful to you if you don’t look at it and use it daily. I look at my planner at the beginning of every day, several times throughout the day, and again before I leave work so I know what the next day looks like.

 

I also find that using a different color pen, or highlighting tasks in different colors to group them into categories is super helpful. For example, you might use pink for your family events, blue for work appointments/meetings, and yellow for personal appointments like dentist, doctor, hair cut…etc.

 

So there you have it my Lady Bosses! You are ready to leap into the new year with a game plan, a strategic set of goals and action steps, and you are getting a head start which will put you ahead of the crowd! Be sure to tag me if you post a pic of your new vision board or planner. Or, share privately with me in a message or email. I love to see big action steps that are streamlining your journey.

 

I’m attaching links to some great vision board examples and some links to a variety of fabulous planners. Have fun browsing them for ideas—or go to sites to actually purchase your 2019 planner today!

 

I will leave you with a great quote from one of my faves, country music man—Brad Paisley.

 

“Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one!”

 

If you liked this episode, subscribe and let me know by giving it a thumbs up or leaving me a comment. And remember my lovelies, until next week—stay inspired and keep crushin it!

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Holiday Office Party Do's and Don'ts

After reading this week's blog, don't forget to check out my new podcast! (Link at the bottom). 

The office Holiday Party looms just a week or two away. So tell me Girlbosses, are you sort of excited, but mostly dreading it because you don’t know how to act in that setting?  It’s weird to go from being so professional to trying to “party” or “hang out” with these same people. Right? So first of all, know that you are not alone in being a bit fearful of the office holiday party.
 
The intent of the gathering is to interact with co-workers and bosses in a less formal way, make a personal connection with your peers, and to enjoy the holiday. But, you need to play your cards right. You need to enjoy, but — be on your very best office party behavior. Even though it is a festive event, your behavior will undoubtedly be scrutinized and remembered by others. And this can get a bit tricky, because there is typically alcohol involved, and that is where some employees get themselves into trouble.
 
So let’s break it down…
Here are my very best tips for smooth sailing through your holiday office party.
 
Tip #1: 
Unless you are in dire straits or down with the worst flu of your life,  make sure you attend! It will be seen as rude if you do not attend the party. Your boss or supervisor is putting on the event to promote camaraderie, and by not joining in the fun, it will appear that you are not a team player, or that you just don’t care much about your job or your co-workers. So make it a priority to put the event in your calendar as soon as you know the date. And, if an RSVP is requested, make sure to follow through with that.
 
Tip #2: 
Oh no!What do you wear? I suggest first talking it over with your co-workers to know what kind of dress code is expected. It may be cocktail attire where party dresses are appropriate. Or, it could be a casual ugly sweater theme. Make sure to get some insight on that. You may even want to look up some photos of last year’s event to see what others wore to the party. Whatever the dress code is, make sure to follow it. If you are supposed to dress up in a theme (ie,. Ugly sweater or Santa etc.) —do it! I know you are probably cringing and thinking, “Do I really have to?” YES…and here is why. If you ignore the theme, you will be sending the message that you are too cool for that, or you just aren’t a true team player. Remember that playing by the rules is best in this setting.
 
If it is cocktail attire, be sure to keep it somewhat PG rated. No excessive cleavage ladies. No skin tight revealing dress that shows more skin than fabric. Yes, you can be sexy and chic, but always make sure it is CLASSY. If you are not certain, it is better to err on the side of modesty.
 
Tip #3:
The alcohol dilemma. Most of these holiday parties will serve some festive cheer. And it is perfectly ok to partake. BUT be careful. You DO NOT want to indulge too heavily. Keep it in check—the key my girlbosses is moderation. Here’s what I recommend. Stay away from the hard stuff. The hard alcohol such as vodka, tequila, and whiskey can be too risky. I suggest going with wine or beer. I like to go with a white wine spritzer which is really white wine with some club soda and ice. You can pick whichever wine you like, ie. Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, or Pinot Grigio. By making it a spritzer you are definitely lowering your alcohol consumption, but still feeling festive. If this doesn’t tickle your fancy, then I suggest go with the glass of wine and then after each glass, alternate with a club soda and lime. Also a good rule of thumb is to not drink more than one glass per hour. I know it can be tough to be so regimented, but you certainly don’t want to be slurring your words to your supervisor, or acting ridiculous, or doing something embarrassing in front of your co-workers, right?
 
Tip #4
Make sure to thank your bosses, supervisors, etc. for hosting the event. Being appreciative goes a long way! Employers want their staff to acknowledge that they have gone out of their way to create the celebration. So, let them know!
 
Tip #5:
Party with Poise. You definitely want to enjoy yourself, have fun, and bond with your co-workers and bosses. It is a festive time of year—But ladies, the key is to stay poised and polished. You don’t want to be out of control, incoherent, sloppy, or disheveled. People remember if you act like a hot mess! And that can be hard to live down.
 
Now that you know the do’s and don’ts, you are fully equipped to crush it at your office celebration! But the question that remains is…what will you wear?  So let’s focus on some stylish outfits to have you looking fab!

If it is a casual event, you might want to try a beautiful top paired with some black dress pants. If it is on the fancier, dressier side I love either a dress or a fun jumpsuit. With the dress, be careful about the hemline. You want it to be flattering, but keep it classy. What is nice about a jumpsuit is that you don’t have the hemline concern at all!
 
I’ve picked some of my faves below, and you can link directly to them. Enjoy browsing!


 

xo,

Karen Otis

 

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A Feast For The Eyes

I used to always stress out when I hosted a family or friend dinner.  And while the menu and cooking was relatively easy—it was the table setting that got me flustered every time! The reason was that I never thought out the presentation of the table. I just started to set the table on the day of the event, and then I scrambled to make it look pretty.

 So take it from me….The tablescape is just as important as the food you are cooking, and it deserves planning too! Did I just totally stress you out? You might be thinking… “what do I do? I don’t know the first thing about decorating a table…”- Not to worry, I’ve got you covered. From great ideas, to some DIY touches, and even the links for what you might need, it’s all right here. After reading this, you will be all set to table-set!

 

 

Start with a tablecloth. I typically like a solid color without any pattern. That way the décor on top gets highlighted even more. My favorite approach is to use a white tablecloth.  You can’t go wrong with its simplicity and elegance. And then, if there are some red wine spills you can use some bleach to spot treat.

 

Next, pick a table runner for a nice accent that also helps to cluster the centerpieces for a more cohesive tablescape. Some people adhere firmly to the use that the runner needs to go the full length and even hang off the edge. I don’t stick to that as a firm fast rule. Especially since for holidays sometimes we extend the table for more guests, so the runners may not be long enough. If you do want to extend the runner with it, I suggest getting two of the same runner and overlapping them in the middle. That’s an easy trick.

 

Then, I like to come up with a centerpiece idea that is dramatic, has an array of heights to it, and incorporates something that will shine like crystals, candles, tea lights, twinkly lights. Those type of accents always look spectacular and create an intimate setting. Since we tend to dine with dimmed lighting, eating by candlelight is especially striking.

 

When designing a centerpiece, I suggest that you be somewhat loose with it. Don’t get stuck on making it symmetrical our too staged. You absolutely do not need to go out and buy a huge floral centerpiece. Besides, utilizing your creativity is what makes the table setting even better.

 

I typically start with raised piece (piece of wood, small tray, a long silver dish.  Don’t be too worried that it be perfect, because you can always layer some greenery on top to cover some of it. You can use garland, leaves, etc. Then I add in some varying types of candles—tall and chunky ones, slender dining candles, water-filled votives with floating candles, and tea lights. I also absolutely love to use little twinkle lights that are attached to a thin wire (ie. Copper) and are battery operated with an on/off switch. These are perfect for the holidays to create that winter-like ambience that sparkles.

 

The key is to vary heights and layer the elements. Scattering some crystals, or glass pebbles adds a nice touch too. Try to keep your color palette to just a few colors so that it feels cohesive.

 

And then my next favorite element is the napkin ring. You can go sleek, mid-century modern (and I have links for my favorites in my blog) or you can get crafty and make something DIY. For example, I love the idea of using twine to wrap around the napkin and then adding a spruce twig for a beautiful accent. It definitely brings nature in.

 

Whatever direction you go with your tablescape design, be sure to plan ahead, try it ahead of time to see if you need to add a touch, and inject your individual flair. Sharing a meal is so much more than just the food—it is an experience to be shared.

Here are some seasonal and timeless decor for table setting on my Must Have Products page. Happy shopping and decorating!

XO,

Karen Otis


Business Attire for Lady Bosses

Business attire can be a confusing topic for women. Men can settle on a business suit or slacks and a shirt—and call it a day. But for us ladies, our definition can be much more broad. We, thankfully, have an abundance of choices which in my opinion, allows us to inject our personality into the outfit.

 

The first thing is to determine how casual or formal your office dress attire should be. I suggest taking some cues from the overall office environment. If you have been at your job for quite a while, then you probably already have a sense of how dressy or casual you should dress. If you are at a new job, pay attention to other employees and their attire.

 

For the casual office setting:

I’m a firm believer that you dress for the job you want, not necessarily the job you have. Dressing down, being too comfy or casual is typically a mistake. Showing your boss, your co-workers, and the clients you serve that you take pride in how you present yourself can go a very long way to reflecting your dedication and commitment to your career. Now does that mean that you should overdress the part? No. But a hint of finesse is key.

 

Pants and a blouse are the perfect solution for that relaxed office setting. If others are WAY casual like in tennis shoes or flip flops—choose a pair of nice flats instead. You are not headed to the beach or the gym, so class it up just a hint! Another great way to keep it simple but add a touch of style and class is with some well-chosen accessories. Think of it as décor in a home. Your favorite room may be casual and relaxing, but a vase of fresh flowers or candles always adds a special touch, right?!


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In the winter, I love wearing flat boots. They look so stylish, kind of edgy, yet they are easy on the feet, and at least for me, they are ALWAYS a confidence booster because they make you feel a bit tough—like you could conquer anything!

 

 

Slightly formal office setting:

If your office environment tends to be a bit more formal, perhaps more corporate, you may want to step up the attire a bit. One of my absolute favorite looks is a women’s pantsuit. But I’m not talking about a conservative traditional suit. I think those look too overly mature, bordering on boring. If you want to go the suit route make it trendy or has flair. For example, a capri length, tailored leg fitting suit says I may be serious, but my personality is vibrant and fun. Or choose a suit that has an unusual cut or design.

I think that skirt suits tend to be too dressy and formal, unless you are an attorney or on a serious corporate track. I tend to steer clear of those.

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Let’s talk dresses. I love a good, well-fitted dress, or a stylish pencil skirt. They speaks volumes about confidence and femininity. Typically solid colors or color-block patterns are flattering and reflect professionalism. The dress or skirt length is critical. Make sure to steer clear of short mini lengths that are much more suited for the club than the boardroom. Save those for your fun date nights or a night out with the gals.

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A great dress or skirt length is just above the knee. If it is slightly shorter than that, then pair it with flat pair of boots or booties which makes a stylish statement without being too seductive. If you go for the midi length, then heels are great! As for the heels, stick to those not too high (ie. 2 ½-3 ½” heels) are best. They make your legs look spectacular, but don’t scream sexy. They just hint at it. And, definitely stay away from platform heels unless you are wearing pants. The platform heel has a tendency to seem stripper-like so that is usually a bad choice. In most settings, closed toe shoes are a safer bet. Although I will confess that in the summer, I love to wear beautiful sandals. Just make sure the pedicure is on point!

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There is one thing that I always try to do with my outfits. I ALWAYS add a flair of my personality to it, and you should too! Whether it’s a fun piece of jewelry, a statement necklace, a scarf, or a handbag. Don’t hide your personal style. When the outfit feels like you, it will instantly make you feel more comfortable and confident. It will feel like you are wearing the outfit, not the other way around. Never wear something that feels like someone else’s style rather than your own. Remember YOU BE YOU ladies!

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Since a picture is worth a thousand words, I thought I’d share one of my favorite fall fashion looks with you!

Let me know which outfit ideas are your faves and if you want some direct shopping links so that you can step out in stellar style!

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Remember to stay fashionable and dress to impress my lady bosses!

xo,

Karen Otis

The Importance of Courage

Does courage come naturally to you? Are you a thrill seeker who loves to face your fears, loves the adrenaline rush, and loves living on the edge? If you are, you are in a small percentage…

Most of us aren’t…in fact we tend to avoid whatever scares us.

 

But, we all need a solid dose of it at pivotal moments in our lives.

The definition of Courage is being afraid but taking action anyway. It is about having concerns, worries, doubts, but persevering through and past that fear.

 

Whether you are considering becoming an entrepreneur and taking the bold scary steps of starting your own biz, or you are making a life change such as new hometown, new job, new step in your relationship, you have fears that can be overwhelming, paralyzing, or just burdensome.

 

Here are some tips to muster up the courage you need to follow your dreams.

 

1.       Courage is a muscle that when exercised gets stronger. So, in order to build your courage, you need to put yourself in situations that are out of your comfort zone, but you take them on anyway. Yes, at first it will be intimidating, scary, uncertain, and feel risky. But the more you persevere, the stronger your courage muscle will be.

 

2.       Focus on the outcome that you want. Everything that you want is probably on the other side of the fear. But, rather than focusing on the fear or the worry, try keeping your eye on the prize. Stay focused on the results and outcome that you are working towards. This will amp up your motivation which is a great way to counteract the fear.

 

3.       You must make your desire greater than your fear. Be fully engaged in your desired outcome. Be fully invested in reaching your goal. When you want it that badly, you can tip the scales so that your desire absolutely outweighs your fear.

 

4.       Become aware of your inner wisdom. Intuition is profoundly wise. And the more you are able to hear your own intuition, the more courageous you will be. Learn to decipher between your intuitive voice and the voice of fear. We each have both, and typically they will sound different. For example, for me, the intuitive voice is deeper, speaks slowly and with a steady voice. The fearful voice is like a high pitched chatter that speaks quickly, almost panicky. By distinguishing between the two, you will be able to listen more closely to your intuition, and silence the fearful chatter.

 

5.       Surround yourself with courageous people. It is always more scary to go at it alone. If you are looking to start your own biz, surround yourself with others who are doing it too. Having comrades on the same path helps immensely. You give each other courage by numbers.

 

6.       Find a role model or mentor that has done what you are doing. We can all benefit from finding someone who will share their ups and downs, the struggles they encountered, and how they pushed past their fears. This can be an incredible source of support. When you doubt your own courage, they can remind you of your strength and conviction.

 

7.       This is not the first time you have been afraid. Make a list of all the times you were afraid, but succeeded despite the fear. We tend to forget or dismiss our wins. Reminding yourself that you have not only overcome this kind of fear before, but succeeded in spite of fear does wonders for your confidence. The more confident you are, the better equipped you will be to face your fears head on.

 

In order to reach your goal, your desired destination, you need a well-designed plan, a map with the steps laid out, and you need to muster up the courage to get you there.

I’ll leave you with an inspiring quote from an inspiring leader…

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. “ -Nelson Mandela

With Gratitude,

Karen Otis

What’s In Your Art?

Art is in essence a measured contribution to our world, it is an expression of imagination and ideas generated by the human mind for others to experience. It is the result of creativity, innovation, aesthetic and beauty. It is a person’s individual creation and expression. It is a form of communication and an expression of a multitude of observations, thoughts, and emotions. Art is not solely about something beautiful, but rather a depiction of all sorts of emotions, such as anger, sadness, love, regret, joy, fear, worry, and gratitude. It can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, writing, music, photography, film, and architecture.

 

I am sure that if we asked the question “why do you make art” to different artists, we would undoubtedly get a potpourri of answers. It is a highly personal endeavor. Some artists feel a deeply rooted need to express themselves, to create and put their thoughts out into the world. It is as if their creativity is so embedded in their DNA that for them being an artist is not a choice, but a calling. For others, it is a desire to connect with others who will experience their art. It is a vehicle for communicating and connecting with the outside world. And, even if the reason for their art is purely for enjoyment, many artists feel they are doing what they are meant to do. It is their destined path, and the need to create is fundamentally tied to who they are.

 

Art has the profound ability to touch an emotional chord with us, to make us feel and experience something more. It can be beautiful and breathtaking, and it can also render you breathless. It can transport us to a new place beyond our own lives. Art that truly resonates for you and touches your soul, can be incredibly powerful. Its purpose can be as simple as being a symbol of human emotion. It can speak of our needs, our desires, our struggles, and our journey. The most enlightening and soul-catching form of art is that in which the artist shares openly. The artist is putting into tangible form their experience, their discoveries, and their unique understanding or interpretation of the world, and sharing that with us. We feel gratitude for their honest expression and for letting us into their psyche if only for a moment.

 

So let me ask you, what is your art? How do you express your imagination? How do you share your thoughts, ideas, and creativity with others?

 

You may feel that you don’t have that creative gene. But—truly we all have the ability to be imaginative. We all have the right hemisphere of our brains that thinks intuitively, creatively, and spatially. But for many, this part of the brain hasn’t been cultivated. It is like a muscle, the more you access and use that hemisphere, the stronger and more powerful it will be. You will see how it begins to positively affect your everyday thinking. New options, new ideas, and new solutions to problems you face will come more naturally to you. By putting your right brain to work, you will broaden your thinking in enlightening ways.

 

So, flex your creative muscles. If you focus more on the process of creativity, rather than the result or outcome, you will find that yourself less inhibited and less critical of your abilities. You don’t have to create another Mona Lisa; instead it should be about the imaginative activity in itself.

 

And maybe instead of painting or drawing you could put down your observations or thoughts in a blog that you share with others...or maybe you have a book waiting to be written. Think big and don’t let the logistics scare you away from it.

 

If it sounds somewhat daunting, I’ve got some simpler ideas here just for you:

Start an art journal.

Create or color a mandala.

Put together a collage of different images superimposed.

Create a vision board.

Splash paint on a canvas.

Take a bunch of random objects, art material, and/or remnant fabric and combine it into a collage.

 

I’ll sign off with this quote by Maya Angelou:

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

4 Productivity Tips To Make Any Day Efficient

I know that for many entrepreneurs one of the biggest challenges can be how to stay productive and highly motivated. Whether you work alone as a solo-preneur or you have employees on your team, maintaining peak productivity can be difficult for many. So I’m going to share with you my powerful productivity tips for your optimal business success.

 

Productivity boils down to 2 things:

1.       Staying organized.

2.       Staying positive and motivated.

 

So let’s dive in…

 

To stay organized:

 

Daily checklist:

I am a huge fan of checklists. With all the chaos, stimulus, and distractions we get every single day, it’s impossible to keep all our to do’s in our head. Don’t even try it! So I write a checklist for each day. I draw a little box next to each item and cross them off as I complete them. It keeps me on track and at the end of the day when you can feel like your day sped by and you wonder if you were even productive, you have your checklist to show you how much you accomplished!

 

Weekly goals:

Each Sunday afternoon or evening I sit down with my planner and I outline the weekly goals I have for the business. What do I want to accomplish this week? Where will most of the effort go? I do a list for myself and also separate lists for my employees. That way I can divide up the tasks and assign them to each employee.  Then, I have them ready to go for our Monday meeting.  That way we kick off the week in a productive and strategic way. Everyone knows what they are working on and what the expectations are. It’s a win-win.

 

Now how to stay positive and motivated even amidst the daily stress:

 

One great thing per day:

Each morning when I wake up, but before even getting out of bed, I think about one fun or exciting thing that I have for that day. It can be big or small…that doesn’t matter. It can be big like a new presentation or small like I get to have lunch with a friend, or I get to carve out time to enjoy lunch and read a book I’m really into. Whatever it is, you need to make it stand out for yourself. Finding joy in even the smallest thing does wonders for a positive mindset. Try it! I have done this for years, and it amps up your positive energy like nothing else.

 

Victory wall:

Create a victory wall.  Whether you do this on your office wall, or even in your journal, have a place where daily you can put your wins for the day. So often we focus on the lousy or frustrating things that happen in our day, without really taking note of the successes we have had, whether big or small. Did you sign a new contract today? Or did you have a great collaborative meeting with a client or your staff? Did you meet someone new who could be a great source of networking?

 

Not only does this highlight the positive but it lets the universe know you appreciate these wins, and by focusing on them, more will come because that is what the law of attraction is all about.

 

So there you have it, my four top tips for productivity. Let me know which you liked best in the comment section, and when you put them into practice, which one works the best for you?

As always, please like and comment below, and make sure you subscribe so you wont miss a single of the weekly Hard Hat and Heels blogs! You can also check out the weekly videos on the Hard Hat and Heels you tube channel.I know that for many entrepreneurs one of the biggest challenges can be how to stay productive and highly motivated. Whether you work alone as a solo-preneur or you have employees on your team, maintaining peak productivity can be difficult for many. So I’m going to share with you my powerful productivity tips for your optimal business success.

 

Productivity boils down to 2 things:

1.       Staying organized.

2.       Staying positive and motivated.

 

So let’s dive in…

 

To stay organized:

 

Daily checklist:

I am a huge fan of checklists. With all the chaos, stimulus, and distractions we get every single day, it’s impossible to keep all our to do’s in our head. Don’t even try it! So I write a checklist for each day. I draw a little box next to each item and cross them off as I complete them. It keeps me on track and at the end of the day when you can feel like your day sped by and you wonder if you were even productive, you have your checklist to show you how much you accomplished!

 

Weekly goals:

Each Sunday afternoon or evening I sit down with my planner and I outline the weekly goals I have for the business. What do I want to accomplish this week? Where will most of the effort go? I do a list for myself and also separate lists for my employees. That way I can divide up the tasks and assign them to each employee.  Then, I have them ready to go for our Monday meeting.  That way we kick off the week in a productive and strategic way. Everyone knows what they are working on and what the expectations are. It’s a win-win.

 

Now how to stay positive and motivated even amidst the daily stress:

 

One great thing per day:

Each morning when I wake up, but before even getting out of bed, I think about one fun or exciting thing that I have for that day. It can be big or small…that doesn’t matter. It can be big like a new presentation or small like I get to have lunch with a friend, or I get to carve out time to enjoy lunch and read a book I’m really into. Whatever it is, you need to make it stand out for yourself. Finding joy in even the smallest thing does wonders for a positive mindset. Try it! I have done this for years, and it amps up your positive energy like nothing else.

 

Victory wall:

Create a victory wall.  Whether you do this on your office wall, or even in your journal, have a place where daily you can put your wins for the day. So often we focus on the lousy or frustrating things that happen in our day, without really taking note of the successes we have had, whether big or small. Did you sign a new contract today? Or did you have a great collaborative meeting with a client or your staff? Did you meet someone new who could be a great source of networking?

 

Not only does this highlight the positive but it lets the universe know you appreciate these wins, and by focusing on them, more will come because that is what the law of attraction is all about.

 

So there you have it, my four top tips for productivity. Let me know which you liked best in the comment section, and when you put them into practice, which one works the best for you?

As always, please like and comment below, and make sure you subscribe so you wont miss a single of the weekly Hard Hat and Heels blogs! You can also check out the weekly videos on the Hard Hat and Heels you tube channel (link below!)

Have a wonderful week & as always, stay inspired!

With Gratitude,

Karen Otis

Exercise Without Adding ANY Extra Time To Your Daily Routine!

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

Choosing a Career Dilemma: How Do You Know What The Right Choice Is?

Stuck in the Career Choice Dilemma?

 

It can be a daunting task to choose a career for yourself. Sure, there are things you enjoy doing, things you are passionate about, and things that hold your attention for long periods of time; but are those the only factors that should determine your career choice?

 

Whether you are just embarking into the professional world for the first time, or you are at a pivotal crossroads where you want a career change, you need to consider many factors. Without this type of inner contemplation, you run the risk of engaging in a career that will not match your skills and talents, or not bring you the happiness you desire.

 

1.       What are you passionate about?

To really attain that career bliss, you need to choose a career that aligns directly with your passion. That is the surefire way to enjoy your work, be highly motivated and driven to succeed, and to assure longevity in a career path. But you are probably wondering, “What in the world am I passionate about?”

 

The best ways to discover your passion is to think about what tasks or activities you like to do so much that when you are involved in them, you literally lose track of time, because you are so engaged. That is most likely your passion.

 

Another method to reveal your passion is to remember how you used to play as a child. What did you like to do? What did you like to do as a teenager? Most likely these will guide you to discover your passion.

 

2.       What is your talent or skill set?

Each person has a talent or skill that comes easily to them. Aligning your career with the talent that comes naturally to you is the best way to insure your success. You may not even think that it qualifies as a talent, but more often than not, it probably is your unique gift or skill. For example, maybe you are a wiz at organizing. You might think that wouldn’t be considered a talent, but it is since not everyone is good at this. Certain people can bring a fresh sense of organization out of what was previously a disastrous mess!

 

3.       How do you envision the job?

For many of us, the “idea” of a certain job seems great, exciting, and even glamorous. But is it really? It is important to research and ask a few people who are actually in the career of your choice to explain what their day-to-day looks like. What tasks do they typically do? How stressful or how fun is the job? What are their responsibilities? Make certain that your chosen career still holds your interest even when you find out the details.

 

4.       What training or education will you need?

Determine what education you will need to obtain a job in your chosen career. Don’t panic if you do not have that degree or certification yet. If it is truly the career that you dream of, would you be able to set yourself on this education path? Sometimes we think that we must have all the requirements in order to select a career. But, I encourage you to set your sights on the career that you truly WANT, and do not let education hold you back. Embark on the training you will need, because learning is always possible. And in the end, you will reap the rewards.

 

 

Remember that you are a unique individual, and figuring out the exact career that suits you best is essential to your ultimate career happiness. There is not a universal answer to what career is best. It takes individual introspection, research, and perseverance to determine the very best career path for yourself. I have come across a fantastic career quiz that I think asks the right questions, sorts out your likes and dislikes, and can offer some career possibilities you hadn’t thought of. Just make sure that you do not use ONLY this quiz. The four steps that I outlined above are by far the most effective way to make your decision. But a quiz is always fun, right?

 

Check out the quiz below! Once you do the quiz, share what you discovered in a comment! I love seeing the different results.


 







As always, stay inspired!



With Gratitude,

Karen Otis