Summer Workwear: Dressing for the Outside Heat and the Chilly Office!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Greetings Divas! Like many of you, I am really excited to bask in the summer weather; especially with the terrible winter we had in the northeast. The summer also gives us an opportunity to switch up our wardrobe. My wooly pants, skirts, and suits and long-sleeved dresses take a back seat to thinner fabrics and sleeveless sheaths. There are a few cold-weather items, however, that tend to creep their way into my warm-weather wardrobe. Why? many offices, the warm weather outside is a stark contrast to the cold, air-conditioned office environment. How many of you can attest to the arctic tundra that your office becomes during the summer months? I realized this was a problem several years ago. Once I recognized that there was nothing I could do about it, I adapted! This was a much better option than wrapping myself in a Snuggie and rocking back and forth at my desk praying that I won't get frost bite. That being said, I've come up with a few warm weather/cold weather combos that will help you dress for the heat outside, and survive the cold inside. Check it out!

Dresses and Blazers

The Warm Weather Problem: We've already established that dresses are a fantastic alternative to the classic suit, especially if you are spending the day in the office. Dresses are chic and feminine, and are easy to slip on in the mornings with a cute pair of heels. While long-sleeved dresses are popular in the winter and fall, you may find yourself a little uncomfortable when standing outdoors with all of that extra fabric. In the warm weather, short-sleeved or sleeveless dresses are great..that is until you step into the AC.

The Warm Weather Fix: Pair your short-sleeved or sleeveless dress with a fitted blazer. Try to snag some fashion-forward blazers with bright colors; they will look great with a solid-colored dress. If you're really feeling ambitious, try to snag a few blazers with elaborate patterns. This is a great way to jazz up your outfit. When you're done for the day and are ready to head outside, remove the blazer and go! 

*Tip: I usually keep one or two blazers in my office, just in case I forget to grab one when I leave the house.

Slacks and Blouses and Cardigans (Oh My!)

The Warm Weather Problem: Dress slacks and blouses are an office staple; especially in a business-casual work environment. In the summer, it is not unusual for us girls to trade in our long-sleeved blouses for those of the short-sleeved or sleeveless variety. After all, short sleeves are germane to the warmer weather. But when you walk in to the A.C.-filled office, all bets are off and you start longing for something to cover up your arms.

The Warm Weather Fix: The cardigan is the perfect fix for your dilemma. And with all of the different variety of cardigans on the market, you are sure to find some that suit your particular style. Pair your cardigan with dress slack and a blouse (or dress shirt, or peplum, or wrap shirt), and keep yourself warm in the office...while still looking stylish! When you head back out to the heat, take off the cardigan show off those arms!

Skirts, Tanks, and Cardigans

The Warm Weather Problem...and a Natural Fix: Now, ordinarily I would not advocate wearing a skirt and a tank top in the office without some sought of cover up. As luck would have it, pairing a cardigan with a skirt works perfectly when transitioning from the warm outdoor weather to a cool office. Here's how you do it: (1) Pair a flared skirt with a matching tank and a cropped cardigan, or (2) Pair a pencil skirt with a tank and a buttoned-down cardigan. Both options present a  clean and polished look that works well in the office. When work is done and you are headed back outside into the heat, ditch the cardigan!

These are just a few combos to help you transition between the outdoor heat and the indoor chill. Please be mindful, however, of your office dress code when taking advantage of these options, as they are not appropriate for every workplace. Use your discretion to ensure that you are appropriately dressed...and perpetually stylish! Have a great week Divas!

My Brief Thoughts on Caitlyn Jenner...

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Let me first start by saying that I am an extremely open-minded person. I honestly believe in the philosophies of "live and let live," and "live your own truth." In my life, I have been blessed to have formed meaningful relationships with individuals of different races, sexes, creeds, national origins, sexual orientations, religions, and lifestyles. While these individuals have played different roles in my life, two things remain the same about each of them: (1) not one of them is exactly like me, and (2) their individual differences and uniqueness have enriched my understanding and acceptance of that which is not exactly like me. In other words, all of these folks are individuals living their own lives however they choose, and I am still able to be a friend, celebrate in their accomplishments, and mourn in their sorrows. I am an equal-opportunity friend/acquaintance. My evaluation as to whether I choose to acquaint myself with an individual starts with a question of whether or not you are a good person...not whether your race, sex, creed, national origin, sexual orientation, religious belief, and/or lifestyle is just like mine.

Now that I've shared my position on people, I want to briefly ( briefly as possible) give my thoughts on Caitlyn Jenner. For those of you who are not aware, Bruce Jenner has recently been in the public eye expressing that for all intents and purposes, he is woman. Millions of viewers watched Bruce's interview with Diane Sawyer where he bravely shared his life-long, internal battle being a transgender. At the age of 65, he decided to live his truth. Yesterday, Caitlyn Jenner made her debut on the cover of Vanity Fair and to the general public. If you were anywhere near a television or a social media site, you saw the pictures from Caitlyn's photoshoot. Unfortunately, you also saw all of the backlash that resulted from the images. Now, I will not waste time or this space rehashing some of the ignorant comments that were free-floating across the Internet...many of them were in poor taste. Instead, I'll briefly share my thoughts...

First, congratulations to Caitlyn for being brave enough to live her truth. Many of us are too afraid to be honest, and Caitlyn should be proud of her choice to move forward in a world full of judgment and uncertainty. Second, Caitlyn absolutely and positively SLAYED in her photoshoot! I'll be the first to admit that I did not know what to expect when Caitlyn made her debut, but I was pleasantly surprised. She looks amazing! Third, I was born a woman, and I feel like a woman every day. As such, I cannot personally speak to how Caitlyn has felt over the past 65 years. My inability to personally relate to or understand  Caitlyn's feelings and her choices does not mean I that I cannot be supportive and compassionate. Man or woman, Caitlyn is a human, and so long as she is not doing something that is hurtful to others, I'm not judging! Honestly, there are a lot of people in this world who do evil-spirited things. I choose to dislike and judge those folks...not Caitlyn.

And finally, for those individuals who are so afraid of the message that the acceptance of Caitlyn sends to our children (an argument I heard a lot yesterday), please allow me to list 10 socially-acceptable things that are way more damaging than Caitlyn could ever be: (1) Mediocre School Systems, (2) Waist Trainers, (3) Incompetence, (4) High Fructose Corn Syrup, (5) Fast Food, (6) "Celebrity" Sex Tapes, (7) Love & Hip-Hop (any of them!), (8) Ignorance, (9) Skinny Tea, and (10) Butt Injections. I'm sure there are others!

To Caitlyn: Congratulations! You should be proud of your courageousness. My hope is that the world extends to you the gift of tolerance and acceptance. Good luck on your future endeavors! 

To members of the public: I completely understand being skeptical, unsure, and judgmental about things in which you do not understand or agree, but there are appropriate ways to express your opinions, thoughts, feelings, and frustrations without being mean and hurtful.

Sunday Prep!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Greetings Divas and Gents!

It's Sunday! And for a good number of us, Sunday is the day before our work week begins. If you're anything like me, Sunday is the day you get things situated so that your week runs smoothly. While I have developed and refined my own Sunday routine over the years, I am always on the lookout for time-saving ideas and planning tips. So, over the past few months I have reached out to some of my professional diva and gent friends to get the low down on their Sunday routines. After checking out the responses, I was able to group them into 4 categories: (1) Planning for the Office, (2) Planning Meals, (3) Planning for the Gym, and (4) Planning for Life. Check out some of the tips below, and feel free to share some of your own tips in the comments...I want to hear from you!

Planning for the Office

"My daily to-do list is highly driven by items that come through my email. After the kiddies are tucked away on Sunday night, I sit on my couch with a glass of wine and I go through my emails. As I'm going through my emails, I start to populate my to-do list. Naturally, I add to the list throughout the week, but starting it on Sunday night helps me to get a jump start on Monday."

- Jennifer  G.

"Once my work week starts, it's a complete rat race until Friday. When I get home at night, I am completely exhausted. Too exhausted to worry about what I'm going to wear the next day. To save myself some time in the morning, I pick out all of my outfits for the week on Sunday night. I pick out everything from underwear to shoes, and I hang them in my closet. I wake up in the morning and shower, and then throw on my clothes and head out the door. This routine makes my mornings bearable!"

- Lauren B.

"I look at my work calendar each Sunday, and I schedule all meetings and lunch on my Outlook calendar and send around invites to my colleagues. It gives me an idea of what my work week will look like so I can plan my life accordingly."

- Robert C.

Planning Meals

"I do my grocery shopping for the week each Sunday. Before I head to the supermarket, I sit down and plan my meals for the week using a food planner app on my iPad. I plan for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for me, my 3 kids, my husband, and my sister-in-law. As I'm planning, I make note of those things that I can prep ahead of time. I head to BJ's and get all of the food I need for the week. I come home and prep throughout the day. I separate and season my proteins and place them in the refrigerator or freezer. I chop up my veggies and put them in plastic bags so I can grab them throughout the week to cook. I even started making those mason jar salads that I saw on Pinterest and bringing them to work with me. Prepping this way on Sundays makes the week go by so smoothly, especially when work gets busy."

- Lisa C.

"I read your post a few months back on preparing smoothie packs (see it here!). One of the the biggest time savers ever! I also have been making my salads in mason jars, an idea I got from Pinterest."

- Alyssa  T.

"I have been practicing Paleo, so on Sunday night I have been making egg scrambles in muffin pans. I store the batch, and take two "muffins" out each morning for breakfast. I grab them and go, and warn them up when I get to the office."

- Autumn  J.

Planning for the Gym

"Every Sunday, I decide which days I intend to go to the gym and/or my spin classes. I make sure that all of my workout clothes are washed, and I keep them in a separate drawer for easy grabbing (my choice of clothes varies depending on whether I'm going to the gym or going spinning). Each night I packed my gym bag and leave it by the front door so that I don't forget it in the morning."

                                                                                                                                               - Jessica F.

"When I really started getting into working out on a regular basis, I went to TJMaxx and purchased a variety of workout pants and tops because they are super cheap there. On Sunday, I wash my workout clothes and throw 5 pairs of pants, 5 tops, and my gym stuff in a bag with my sneakers. I bring my bag to work with me on Mondays, and I leave it there. I change into my workout clothes in my office and head directly to the gym after work (a new set each day). On Friday, I grab my empty gym bag and bring it home, and I repeat on Sunday. Not only does this save me time, but it ensures that I do not leave my work out clothes at home."

- Danni K.

Planning for Life (Not Just Sunday!)

"I set my coffee maker the night before, and I have my travel mug sitting nearby so I can get my caffeine and go!"

"I curl and wrap my hair before bed, so all I have to do in the morning is brush my hair down and go."

"My car does not have auto start. In the winter, I sit in my car and do my makeup while it warms up. Saves me time!"

"I pack me and my son's lunch bag and work/school bag the night before so that I don't have to in the morning. I also lay out our clothes and I give him a bath the night before."

"I do all of my primping on Sunday nights. Hair gets washed. Nails and toes are done. All is done so that I don't have to do it during the week."

"I run every morning, so I sleep in running clothes (sans sneakers). In the morning I wake up, brush my teeth, put on my sneakers, and go."

"I usually get to bed late and wake up early so I take my morning shower before I go to bed."

"I clean my entire house every Sunday so I have a clean start to the week. It's a mess by Saturday. LOL!"

What are some of you Sunday prep tips?

5 Steps To Receiving Criticism At Work Like a Champ!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Receiving criticism at work is one of the hardest things for professionals. As a professional, you strive to do an excellent job at any task. You work hard to be thorough, accurate, and timely when performing your job duties, and you take pride in your work product. All of these qualities is the primary reason why receiving and accepting criticism is so difficult. You are a perfectionist, so it stings pretty bad when someone tells you that you're...not perfect. Believe me, I get it. I've been there, done that, and starred in the made-for-T.V. movie! But over the course of my career, I have actively worked to be a gracious receptor of direct feedback and constructive criticism...even when I do not agree. It's a skill that I believe every professional should work at mastering. Now, I always acknowledge that I am a work in progress, but I have taken the liberty to share with you 5 Steps to Receiving Criticism at Work Like a Champ. Let me know what you think!

Step 1. Listen Carefully - I know this is easier said than done, but listening carefully to criticism is the most important step. You have to be an active listener so that you are completely clear on that in which you are being criticized. One thing I tend to do is try to formulate my rebuttal while I'm listening, which would result in me missing something being said. Don't do this! Just sit back and listen attentively...don't miss anything while you're disagreeing in your head. My suggestion is that you take notes during the critique (or shortly thereafter), and ask questions where appropriate if you need clarity on a particular point. Remember, this question-asking opportunity is not the time to argue; your job here is to listen!

Step 2. Don't Be Defensive...Be Receptive - Once you have listened to and received criticism, you may feel inclined to issue an immediate rebuttal. Not a great idea! Why? It is perfectly natural to feel dejected, upset, misunderstood, picked on, or even angry immediately after receiving a critique. If you are a "react first, think later" type of person, you may react yourself right out of job by addressing a critique while in a not-so-great emotional place. My suggestion is that you suppress the urge to go on the defense. Instead, receive the criticism (even if you disagree), thank the critic(s), and request and opportunity to discuss further if necessary. For those of you wondering how to do this, here's how! In your non-defensive, non-angry voice, hit your critic with this:

"Thank you for taking the time to provide me with this feedback. I definitely have some things that I need to think about and work on. May I schedule a meeting with you later this week to discuss further?"

That's it! Reserving your thoughts for a later conversation gives you a chance to digest the critique and apply suggestions as appropriate. It also gives you the opportunity to respond in a non-emotional way. Further, thanking your critic(s) demonstrates that you are open to feedback, and that you are approachable.

Step 3. Take Time To Digest - Here's where taking notes comes in handy. After your critique, take your time to digest what you were just told. Go over each point and objectively decide whether they have merit. Is there a reason why team members think that you are not responsive? Is there a reason why you had a few grammatical errors in your report...were you rushing when you were proofreading? Were you truly a team player? This is the time to look back at your behavior to ascertain your contribution to a project, or a team, or an event. Again, your job here is to decide whether the criticisms have merit. It is extremely important to be honest with yourself here...none of that "I did everything right" stuff! This is a time for self-reflection and self-improvement. Where can you make adjustments in your behavior? Where can you make changes to your management style? What personality changes can you make so that you are not perceived in a certain way.

Now, after doing some soul searching, there still may be some points on which you completely disagree. How do you handle these? Well, you will have a chance to address some of these in the follow-up meeting you scheduled with your critic! Be sure to think about these items and come up with specific discussion points for your follow up. (See Step 5)

Step 4. Apply - Now that you have had a chance to digest your criticisms, it's time to make some changes. Start with the thing that you have complete control of...yourself! Apply those behavioral changes that you identified in Step 3. Actively work on answering emails quicker. Make an effort to be more responsive. Identify ways to better work with your team. In sum, take charge of your actions!

Step 5. Follow Up - During your follow-up meeting with your critic(s), be sure to once again thank him/her for providing you with direct feedback. Then, inform him/her that you have put certain things in place to address some of the concerns discussed in the initial meeting. Your critic will be happy to know that you have taken his/her criticism seriously, and are actively working to better yourself. As for those items on which you disagree, here is the time to have a dialogue with your critic(s). Notice that I used the word "dialogue" and not "argument." This is a time for you to obtain some additional understanding on the specific criticism, and also to give your thoughts on the matter. Maybe the critic(s) did not have all of the information necessary to make a may use this time to provide additional insight. Perhaps you were initially unclear on what was expected of you while performing a certain task...this is the time to discuss expectations on both sides. The purpose of this follow up meeting is to ensure that you have all of the tools necessary to be a better professional. You've already dealt with the things that are directly reflective of your behavior. The follow up meeting is intended to give you clarity on the remaining a non-emotional way!

For those items in which you absolutely do not agree and which you and your critic have not resolved, you may have to just agree to disagree and move on. Receive the information, put it in your back pocket, and keep it in mind when performing your next task or assignment.

So...that's my spiel! Any thoughts? How do you receive criticism at work?

I Have A Dream!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Good Morning! With all of the disrespectful and ignorant uses of Dr. King's image on club flyers and such, I thought it only right to put a more appropriate image on display. Maybe it will inspire someone today...maybe. Enjoy!

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