Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Are You A Pushover?

As a young corporate chickee in the working world, are you the pushover of the office? I was, but I am not anymore! A little backstory...

At my previous company (about 3 years ago), I was one of few woman in a male-dominated organization. I struggled to be taken seriously by clients and vendors on a regular basis. So, I did what any corporate chickee would do - I had to man up. I started thinking like a man. I made sure to never show any emotion, and to keep my relationships with my colleagues on a strictly professional level - no flirting, no nothin'. I wanted to make it clear that I was a professional to be taken seriously. And you know what? It worked. It didn't happen over night, but I eventually strong-armed some stickler clients into taking me seriously and in the end they respected me more for it. I learned to be all business and go all out at every opportunity - to show the boys whose boss! Ironically, I ended up leaving that organization when I was burnt out and it was just too much for me to live with anymore. Plus, I had met my future husband and was ready to get serious! (Let me tell you how long it took to get him to make a move, considering my approach to work!)

When I moved to my current company, I made a conscious effort to dial it back a little bit. No one likes the newbie who shows up to their first meeting and tries to run the show. Which is exactly the type of behavior I had to have at my old organization. I didn't want to come off as a know-it-all, so I made sure take some time to listen, learn and soak it all up. Well, I guess before I knew it I had gotten comfortable with my newbie status. Next thing I knew, I had been here for two years and the IT guy was telling me I was the office pushover. What?! Me? A pushover?? Never! No one who knows me would ever describe me as a pushover - not in my personal life or in my professional life. I've never been the girl who backs down, ever.

Once I realized what happened... that I had gotten comfortable being a sponge, I realized I needed to change my behaviors. No more was I going to get work dumped on me that shouldn't be, or be told no when the answer should be yes. It's not easy - but I had to focus on the little things.

-The way I carried myself around the office. They always say 'walk with purpose' and I took that to heart. No longer did I hesitantly walk into my bosses office to ask a question. Instead, I firmly walked in, planted my feet, and stated my case point blank.
-The way I spoke. Yes, I can have the chipmunk voice thing going on. I had to try extra hard to keep my voice a little lower when asking questions. I almost started making statements instead of asking questions!
-I learned to say NO. Seriously... it goes a long way. Plus, it feels damn good to say no for a change!

It hasn't been easy, but I think I've been slowly turning the tides and re-training my coworkers that I am no longer a doormat. It was hard for some of them at first. You could literally see the expression on their faces as I didn't bend to their will 100% of the time. This doesn't mean I'm not a team player anymore, or that I won't help anyone out. It's just a matter of repositioning myself in the workplace, and so far it's working. Lately, I've noticed that I feel like my coworkers as well as directors take me more seriously. Doesn't happen over night, it's been about a year in the making, and I'm still working on it!


Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Work-Life Balance


Wow, can't believe it's almost October! My apologies for going M.I.A. again... the fall is our busy season for work, and it's been absolutely crazy, which I'm sure you all can relate to! Which brings me to the topic of this post... work-life balance.

What do you do to strike that balance between work and home? Now that I have my awesome new Macbook for work I can bring work home with me on nights and weekends, which is awesome - but has a downside too! Last night I didn't even bring my laptop home, knowing I had no outstanding issues/projects to work on after hours last night. Of course I did check-in on my email from my iPhone, which got me irritated, par for the course.

For a couple of weeks there, I was working long hours into the evenings while my husband watched TV, I perched on the couch next to him with my laptop furiously typing away. I feel like I hit a wall... I'm a little burnt out by the constant work flow, and I've made an effort to leave my laptop at work a couple of nights week. To give myself a few nights 'off' from work. After all, we are preparing for baby's big arrival in December - which requires lots of assembling furniture, and childbirth classes that suck up an entire Tuesday night for five weeks straight!

So, what do you to keep that that balance between work and home life?

Thursday, September 9, 2010

I Love Fall

Fall has arrived!! Well, at least in the form of Starbuck's seasonal hit... The Pumpkin Spice Latte. For those of us who adore all things fall (apple cider, pumpkin-flavorerd anything, football games, burning leaves, and bonfires) the Pumpkin Spice Latte ranks right up there with my favorite things about fall.

Fall is by far my favorite season... and especially right now as I am approaching the peak of my pregnancy, I am so grateful for cooler weather, and no more swim suits! (Baby Update: I am officially 6 months pregnant this week!) And let me tell you, I am so relieved that the pumpkin spice latte has just the right amount of caffeine that I can enjoy them - in the tall size. It would be a very sad season to have to pass on my favorite Starbucks treat!

What else is great about fall... FASHION! I'm not sure what it is about fall fashion that I love so much. I get excited about berry colored nail polish and lip glosses. The deep colors, the chunky, cozy sweaters, the soft, blanket-like fabrics... and part if is probably being trained from first grade on that fall is a fresh start. Each year as we started school as youngsters, don't lie - you know you went out shopping a few weeks before school started looking for your first day of school outfit. My Mom was a teacher for about 20 years, and she still did this every year! It's a habit that sticks with us for the rest of our lives! I think that's part of what makes some of us love fall so much. It has the feel of a new beginning. Even when we are coming to the same place to work day in and day out, something about fall is refreshing. Opening the windows and getting fresh air circulating through your house for the first time in months, wrapping up with a cozy blanket instead of sweltering in the summer heat. I love so much about fall... the crispness of the air, the impending excitement of football season, the way the sky looks in the evenings, I could go on and on about fall. Tomorrow, I plan to treat myself with a Pumpkin Spice Latte for making it to yet another Friday!

Happy fall!


Thursday, August 26, 2010

Home Office Makeover

Many of us have home offices, where we can log long hours plugging away at difficult projects and tasks in the comfort of our own homes. Personally, I can't work from home. My company keeps all of our records and systems highly confidential, and the risk to allow those systems to run on employee's personal computers is just too high.

Then, we were acquired. Typically this is a bad thing, but for us, it has been a great thing. We now have much cheaper benefits, more PTO, and a few other perks. One of those is that most of the account execs for our new parent company have company laptops. I asked recently if this would be an option for those of us from the "original" company. The answer was, "Possibly, yes." That means that no more coming into the office on the bright, sunny weekends while everyone's at the pool to catch up on data entry and paperwork. I told my manager, if I could do that stuff from home on the weekends, I'd probably work more often outside business hours. (I'm hoping that's an incentive for them!)

It just so happens that we just finished re-doing our home office! I wish I had before pictures, but my husband accidentally deleted them. So you'll just have to take my word that it's a vast improvement. This new space is ideal for either of us to do our professional work, plus it acts as a bookcase and bill-paying center with storage space for all that important paperwork you have to save, but have no idea what to do with.

Still no paint on the walls... we hope to tackle that big project this fall!




At Work Style


What's your At Work style? Are you different at work than you are in your personal life? Do you dress to the latest trends on the weekends and go Ann Taylor classic from 9 to 5?

Now that I've got a bun-in-the-oven, I'm trying to find my new At Work style personality. I knew my style before with my old wardrobe (that I miss dearly). I dressed 80% classic with a 20% hint of the latest trends and fashions. (Think classic suit with updated accessories or shoes.)

Since my adorable wardrobe no longer fits, I'm stuck hunting for cute maternity clothes. Which... can be kind of an oxymoron. So far I've had pretty good luck at Motherhood Maternity but it's also hard to spend money on clothes you're only going to wear for a few months... and hopefully be back into your pre-baby clothes by the time you return from maternity. Especially when you have un-paid maternity leave looming, and knowing that some pretty hefty hospital bills are going to come flooding after the baby arrives!

Working Moms do it every day - now I just need to figure out how to do it!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

It's not me... It's You

We all have those days... weeks, and maybe months. The times when you literally want to scream into your phone. (Maybe you yell after you hang up, like me.) It can stem from all kinds of things - overbearing workload, overbearing boss, incompetent coworkers, and irritating clients.

Often times we have to deal with those high-maintenence clients who truly believe that your entire job is to do whatever they ask, whenever they ask, however they ask. Without considering that maybe, as the professional in your field - you might actually know a thing or two and have a better idea, or a solution that might actually work for a change.

As you can probably imagine, I am currently in the midst of dealing with one of these oh-so-special clients. Are they a 'VIP' client? Nope. Not even close. In fact, they are supposed to be one of those get-it-done-fast-and-move-on clients. Sadly, they don't realize this. Instead, I spend my days respond to countless, incessant emails about mundane details that should not be an issue. Then the conference calls. Oh, the many conference calls. Ever heard the phrase "beating a dead horse"? They have conference calls to review what will be discussed on the next conference call, and conference calls to recap the last one. Seriously people? Maybe if you spent less time preparing for these conference calls, you would have time to do your jobs!

It's days/weeks/months like these that make you realize how easy it would be to "go postal" at work. Throw your computer out the window? Maybe throw some papers... less costly to clean up.

In all seriousness though, it's times like these when you truly realize just how serious you take work, and sometimes it's important to remind yourself that it's just work. Yes, it's important work, and yes it has to get done. But 30 years from now, will you remember that client? That annoying conference call? Probably not. You'll remember your family, the important things.

So, in honor of letting the little things go and focusing on the big stuff - what do you guys do to de-compress when work gets out of hand? OR... tell us all about the time YOU lost it and yelled at work, or threw your stapler.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Late-Summer Must Haves

An adorable tote in a fun, but not too summery color. Perfect for taking the pool, carrying on the boat, that will take you right into fall!

A cool hat for the beach on those lazy August days. A girl's got to protect herself from the sun!
Cute patterned shorts for all those late night bonfires and BBQ parties!
What's your favorite late-summer must have?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Confession

I have a confession to make... the reason I have been SO bad about posting lately is that I've been a little preoccupied. Corporate Chickee is going to be a Working Mom! I've definitely been preoccupied with the pregnancy so far and been slacking off on this blog. I apologize to my readers!

This change of events is likely to have an impact on my topics... probably to that of working mothers! I will be coming back after maternity leave full time, and that introduces a whole new host of struggles with balancing work and home!

In the meantime, I have a wonderfully supportive husband, and together we're working on getting the house ready for baby. We don't know yet if it's going to be a boy or a girl... but I'll share the news when we know it!

Now for the work-part! When it comes to telling work, it's a personal decision. The "rule of thumb" is to not tell anyone until after the first trimester, when risk of miscarriage is much lower. However - I personally would want my family and close friends to be there for me if the worst happened. So, we chose to tell family pretty quickly (around 6-8 weeks), and then started telling some of our really close friends around 10-11 weeks. Then, when week 13 rolled around, I stopped denying it at work.

I did fess up to my boss pretty early, after we told our families around week 8. I figured that I want my boss to know what I'm going through so that if I'm a little late one day, or not quite myself, she knows why. I also figured that if the worst happened, she would end up knowing anyways because I would probably miss some work. I'm SO glad I told my boss first - that eliminated the possibility of her finding out through the grapevine as the gossip mills started churning. Speaking of the gossip mills... your coworkers pay a lot closer attention to you than you think! A few of the things that tipped off my coworkers:

1. I wore flats one day. (I'm known for my sky-high heels around the office.) Apparently one pair of flip flops deems you knocked up!
2. My eating habits changed. Can't do much about this one... just interesting how much they notice! I ate McDonald's for lunch one day - even if it was just a Happy Meal... they noticed!
3. I looked "soft" around the midsection. Again... not much you can do hear, but sure glad I actually was pregnant and not just gaining weight!
4. I looked tired. Well, yeah, I was exhausted! But, never underestimate the value of "faking it". I could have tried harder to hide my exhaustion, but I didn't have the energy.

Luckily, I was fortunate enough to not suffer through weeks of morning sickness - which by the way, isn't necessarily in the morning! That would have been a surefire giveaway. So, my pregnancy advice to my fellow corporate chickees, if you do get knocked up, fess up to your boss early. Much better for them to hear it from you personally (even if it's a secret) than to hear it the through the grapevine and wonder about you for weeks!

Friday, June 18, 2010

What IS Marketing?


Does your company have a true marketing department? My company has a sales person who as adopted the title of Sales/Marketing. Not sure why those two always get lumped in together (well, actually, that's pretty obvious, but whatever). My point is - just because you're a sales person doesn't mean you can just "do" marketing! There are entire degrees and professions dedicated to real marketing. Not just flyers.

I always wonder, at what point will we realize that we truly need to market our brand and hire a marketing team? Does your company recognize marketing for what it truly is? Or do you have a Sales/Marketing person in your office - who is the local flyer-maker?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Back from the Beyond...


Hello fellow corporate chickees! So sorry for being M.I.A. yet again for such a long period of time! There have been some changes in my life, and while all positive, it takes time to adjust to change and refocus back on day-to-day life! No, I didn't win lottery. (I wish!)

So today's post will focus on one of the things that my husband and I are working on instead of the corporate world... our budget! We need to make some changes, save up some cash, tighten our belts! We're prepared for the basics - not eating out so much, spending less money on gifts an non-essentials, no more vacations, etc.

But I'm sure you guys have all been there before and have some great money-saving tips! I would love to clip coupons, but we don't get the newspaper anymore. (A victim of a previous budget cut.) What are ways you guys save money at the grocery store, or other areas? We're struggling with where to make some cuts because about 80% of our budget is fixed with mortgage, student loans, car payments, insurance, bills, etc. We can't cut back in those areas, so we need to get creative!

And one little note - I'm not exactly crafty... so making my clothes is out! :)


Thursday, May 13, 2010

Found: Suiting Bargain


Found a great suit jacket at Ann Taylor - a nice, dressy gray that can be mixed and matched with lots of other pieces to create more looks! If you love it move fast though - it's marked down from $198 to $59 and is a final sale item! What a steal!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Is It Really That Bad?


What's your vice? We all have something... smoking, obscene amounts of coffee, tanning. But, how bad is it really? Check out this article from MSN.com, How bad are your health vices?

I'm actually pretty good at not doing the 'unhealthy' things. If I have a health vice - it's coffee. But I don't abuse it, I enjoy one cup of black coffee a day... maybe two on a rough day or on a weekend morning (curled up with a good book and my dog). But even two cups of coffee a day is not enough to send you into the 'dangerous abuser' category! Black coffee has great health benefits too, it's been linked to lower risk for diabetes, Parkinson's disease, and colon cancer. It can also lift your mood and treat headaches! We all know caffeine is a great headache-buster!

So, what's your vice? How bad is it really?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Walkin' on Sunshine

Check out this adorable little yellow denim jacket! Perfect for a casual Friday at the office! Yes, it's denim, but it's also a jacket, and bonus - it's Yellow! Doesn't wearing yellow make you cheerful? I stinking love it! By Ralph Lauren, marked down for $159 to $89!

Lately I have been super cheerful... when you're walking up to sunshine and birds chirping... it's hard to be in a foul bad even if you wanted to be! If you're not walking on sunshine just yet... go get yourself some yellow - I swear it makes a difference! (And no, I'm not getting any chemical assistance for my mood...)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

He Did What?!

If you've ever watched The Office, you've been grateful that Dwight Shrute is not your cube mate. Not to worry though, there are plenty of other annoying coworkers to go around! I'm not just talking about voicemails-on-speakerphone guy, or little-miss-loud-talker next door. I'm talking about all of it... so let the gripes begin!

1. Little Miss I-Can-Do-It-All and No-One-Ever-Helps-Me. We all know her. Her heart is in the right place... but she volunteers for everything, and won't ask for help or invite help from others. She'll allow help if you push, but then she thanks you about a million times how much she really appreciates that you helped her... because of course, she has SO much on her plate. She typically bulldozes other people's projects and assignments, and commandeers them as her own. Then makes a big deal about how she has to do everything. Seriously? Is there ever a polite way to tell a coworker - "This isn't actually your assignment, so you can stop thanking all of us every time we contribute, because we all signed up to do it in the first place." Ugh....

2. Mr. I'm-An-Up-and-Commer. He wants to ride the corporate elevator instead of the ladder, and he's really good at the buzzwords and the sucking up portion of the job. In meetings he's full of fluff, and has these really complex, three-teired questions about the direction of a specific project, or impact on the company's mission in 10-years, etc. Enough already... we're not buying it!

3. The Honorable Queen of Drama. She's in tears half the time, the other half of the time she's mad at someone. If you've ever been "on her list" you know what I'm talking about. She announces to the general vicinity that she's "still mad at you" from a previous encounter... and you better believe just about everything is going to be personal.

4. Mr. Just-To-Piggy-Back-On-That. We know what you said, and we know what the guy before you said, we don't need you to rehash it six times for us. Meetings are long-enough as it is, without you reiterating everything for us ... FYI - it's called beating a dead horse. Quit listening to yourself talk and wrap it up!

5. Miss I'm-Asking-You-A-Question-But-Won't-Let-You-Get-A-Word-In-To-Answer. Wow... that was a long one. She asks you a question, but instead of asking, "What time do you want to meet tomorrow to discuss ABC Company?" The question is phrased as, "Oh my goodness we really need to work on ABC Company! Seriously we have GOT to find time this week to sit down and talk about ABC Company! I don't know how long it will take, but maybe we can find some time in the morning, or maybe in the afternoon, I wonder when we're going to have time, we seriously, really need to talk about ABC Company!" During this entire question rant, you've tried to interrupt six times to offer 10am in the conference room to discuss ABC Company. How annoying.

6. Little Miss In-A-Tizzy. You know her - she's gets all riled up into a tizzy over everything. You've started to say "Take a deep breath" as part of your normal 'good morning' routine. She gets worked up over nothing, and God Forbid you joke with her or tease her in the slightest - because she will take it personally and overreact exponentially.

7. Mr. I'm-Way-More-Important-Than-The-Rest-Of-You. He's never on time for meetings, including the ones he calls. You better believe his time is WAY more valuable than anyone else's! And don't you dare expect him to perform at the same level of everyone else - because he's so good at A, B, and C, that there's no way he'd ever find the time to even complete X, Y, and Z - let alone do it well. Which brings me too...

8. Mrs. I'm-SO-Busy-You-Have-No-Idea. These people usually like to use the phrase "Welcome to my world" anytime you care to share an anecdote about a crazy client, or a particularly chaotic day. You're crazy if you think these people have even one moment of spare time in their crazy days. They are so much busier than everyone else ... they don't even have the time to be courteous to their fellow coworkers!

I think that covers them all... at least the one's I've had the pleasure of working with at some point in my career! I'm sure there are some great annoying coworker stories out there - so, let's hear 'em!

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Art of Organization


We all have our specialties in life... our little talents. Mine is organization. It's funny, because growing up I was the messiest kid around. (Note: I was never dirty... there's a difference between messy and dirty. I was just messy.) Seriously - my parents would periodically take everything off my floor and fill up a garbage bag or two. You better believe I had to really clean my room and earn back those garbage bags. (I remember one time, begging my Dad to let me me grab my only bra (my starter-bra) from one of said garbage bags! They used to preach to me, if it's important - you shouldn't be leaving it on the floor! (He did take pity on me and let me grab my one bra... too funny.) However, I have always loved school supplies... my sister and I used to sit down every night, probably the entire week before school started, and sort and organize our school supplies over and over!

Then I grew up and went to college. Do you remember your dorm room? You have got to be neat and organized, because if you're not, there is no way you're going to fit all of your belongings in that tiny little space! In college I somehow went from messy to neat-freak. Not really sure how it happened, I don't think I even realized that it happened! The friends on my floor thought I was hilarious with my neat-freak ways, and would periodically move things around on my desk, then laugh when I walked into the room, went straight to my desk and put things back in order. In my sorority house I became known for having the neatest room in the house... I found myself getting irritated when roommates would leave clothes out, or when one roommate would always manage to leave her polar pop on my desk... it wasn't going to fit on her cluttered desk!

Somehow, I became the local organization expert! I've helped friends organize their closets, given them tips on what little tools they could use to organize their kitchens, etc. If there was a job called "Professional Organizer", I would totally do it. And I would rock at it. Then I married a true, lifelong neat-freak. You can imagine what our house looks like! We struggle to be okay with it when people come over and don't take their shoes off, or if the put their purses and bags on the kitchen counter... or don't use coasters, or any other little thing that normal people do that drives us nuts. I like to adjust picture frames so that sit an exact 45 degree angle to the corner of the table... it drives me nuts when the blinds are crooked, and I truly cannot stand water around the sink, or when the dish towels are hung haphazardly.

Now as a Corporate Chickee, I've become the local neat-freak once again. Coworkers constantly comment on how neat and tidy my desk is... and how organized my work is. It's nice to be appreciated! So, I've decided to share some of my organization-tips, free of charge! Share your's too so we can all get even more organized!

1. Clear away clutter! I don't know about you - but mounds of paper everywhere make me start to feel like I'm drowning. In paper. If it needs action, file it in a to-do folder, or even in a nice neat stack in your in-box, if it doesn't need action it needs one of two things - to be filed for reference, or to be thrown away!
2. Color coding. Color coding is an excellent tool for visual people. Everything at my desk is color coded - one glance at my calendar and I have a good idea of how much time I'll need to prepare for client meetings, internal meetings, when I'm scheduled to work out, urgent tasks that need to be completed for clients, and even which nights I have personal functions after work.
3. Get on the Post-It Program! I love those little post-it tabs - they're stronger than regular post-it notes and smaller, and come in a variety of colors. You guessed it - I color code those as well. Red ones are assigned to new accounts, green ones mean I need to track shipments to a client, yellow, blue, and orange are all specific types of accounts that need extra steps, etc. One look at my binder of events I've planned for the next three months tells me what I need to do - now and later, for up to 3 months!
4. Lists. Every evening, about 30-minutes before the end of the workday, take some time to organize your desk, and make a list of everything you need to do the next day. That way you won't forget that project that you're halfway through, or to return a call to a client tomorrow morning that you didn't have time for today, and so on. I even take this one step farther. On Friday afternoon I make my list for the entire next week. I have a typed-up list saved on Word that I print out fresh for the next week. It already has on there the things I HAVE to do each week, regardless of whatever else I have going on. Then I write-in the details, make mini-lists on that one big list, etc. Then each evening, I update my list - cross off the things I've done, add new things, and so on. This helps me keep everything in one place. And it's okay if something gets transferred from last week's list to this week's list ... there are only so many hours in a day. And sometimes, if it's not urgent, it's not getting done. We all have those days!
5. Create a filing system. One that works for you - if you want to file alphabetically, or by date, or my favorites... doesn't matter. As long as it makes sense to you (and perhaps to an assistant who may need to understand it!), that's all that matters. You're more likely to really USE your filing system if it's organized in a manner that works for you.
6. Keep a voice mail log book. Record every voicemail you get, write down the number and the date they called. This way you won't forget to return someone's calls for days at a time! As an added bonus, you have their cell phone number written down from when they gave it to you three weeks ago!
7. Clear your desk! This was addressed already - but I can't say it enough! Put everything away at the end of the day. Your pens, your calculator, your files (even if you just stack them up in the corner of your office). Coming into a clean office each day puts you in a good mood and makes you feel productive! It's the same concept of why you make your bed each morning - to come home to a nice neat bedroom each evening!

So, those are a few of my organizational tidbits - share your tips!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Super Cute

I love this adorable, spring jacket from J.Crew. Can be dressed up for the office or dressed down for happy hour! I love that it's short sleeved, I adore short-sleeved jackets in the summer. Professional, but cute and cool in a hot car!


It's on sale now, looks like they have sever
al sizes still available! $99 marked down from $228!


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

The Joys of PTO

As you may have noticed I haven't posted in a while! I was enjoying some much-needed R&R on vacation with my husband! We soaked up the sunshine (through our SPF 30, of course), and basked in the glory of sleeping late, having a beer with lunch, and I personally plowed through 3 beach-reads! It was a great trip. You know how management always says to "recharge your battery"? This vacation truly felt like that for me. Before I left I was wound so tight at work that I just couldn't relax, and the slightest rumble from a client sent me reeling into anxiety and frustration.

My first Monday back was great - I checked my emails, only 4 voicemails (!!), and touched base with coworkers covering my accounts in my absence. No disasters, no catastrophes, it's what you want to come back to! I actually felt excited to dive back in... but from a more relaxed angle this time. I'm trying to not let the little things get to me - which is tough when you want to do the best job you can - because things are going to go wrong.

Another thing that helped - we scheduled our vacation perfectly - we were gone for the whole week. We bookended our trip with a weekend on each side. That really cut down on all that last-minute-trip stress right before you leave. I was able to focus on wrapping up work before I left - and didn't even give a thought to packing or anything until I left work that Friday afternoon. Then, having a weekend on the other end was perfect timing. I don't know about you - but I always feel like I need a vacation to relax from the vacation! Having a weekend buffer before going back to the real world was ideal! We had two days to catch up on the big household tasks, grocery shop, unpack, do laundry and take a few naps, too!

In honor of being back to work - I think it's time for vacation Rants & Raves! I'll start with the raves... so I can end on a positive note :)

Rants

* We went budget on our hotel... and while it was a very nice place, it's not what we're used to.

* When hotels are U-shaped and all the balconies face the pool. People have no concept of volume control!

* The hotel had "complimentary" valet parking - which really meant "mandatory" to them! It was the weirdest thing. It was not a big parking lot - we're talking at most, 20 steps to the front door. So we never used the valet. They started roping off huge sections of the parking lot leaving only a handful self-park spots available. So we just drove around and parked in the valet section. The valet guy actually ran out to our car as we were getting out and told us we had to go back and he had to park it for us. Seriously? You're not a 5 star resort... the jig is up.

* Sunburned scalp. Next time I go on vacation, remind me to spray SFP along my part.... Ouch!

* Florida Tollway System. In the probably 10-12 mile drive to the airport - we passed at least three $1 tolls each way! Thats ridiculous. (And this from a Chicagoan!)

Raves

* Disney World really is the happiest place on Earth!

* I couldn't help but notice their level of customer service. Every single staff member I saw was smiling, cheerful, and looked absolutely thrilled to be doing whatever they happened to be doing. Even the people emptying trash, directing foot-traffic around the parade... you can't help but get goose bumps :)

* Space Mountain... enough said!

* Listening to little kids experience their first flight. The squeals and cheers at take off & landing were priceless!

* Funny Flight Attendants. When they can work little jokes into their safety speeches - it just makes everything more fun.

* Sitting at the pool with a good book.

* SUNSHINE!!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Random Finds



Cool skirt. From J.Crew, I wouldn't wear it like the model with the black tights... but with a silky shell and nude heels - awesome date night outfit.
Love this spring/summer sheath dress, also J.Crew. Also comes in pink & navy blue. I'll take on in beige and one in navy, please! So cute for work with a little cardigan and pumps... and for play by itself with cute sandals!

Stress Sucks


Actually - it sucks the life out of you. No, really. Stress is the feeling you experience when you have to handle more than you are used to, and your body responds as though you are in danger. (In danger of a bad review, perhaps?) You know that fight or flight response? It makes hormones that speed up your heart and make you breathe faster and give you a burst of energy. So maybe it wasn't the extra shot of espresso this morning...

Some stress is normal, useful, and can moderate levels can be good for you! It can help you power through and complete a task you never thought you could, or meet a deadline you thought was impossible. Then you get that 'achievement feeling we all love so much. But we all know stress has down sides - headaches, upset stomachs, back pain, and trouble sleeping. It can weaken your immune system, make you moody, tense, or depressed. Your relationships can suffer as well as your work. See - stress really does suck the life out of you. What can you do? Funny you should ask...

- Find out what is causing stress in your life: Really narrow in and find out - is it your workload or one rude, needy client? Maybe a time-sucker coworker is draining your energy and leaving you stressed.
- Learn better ways to manage your time. You'll get more done with less stress if you make a schedule. A former manager of mine used to preach "plan your work and work your plan". Annoying but true.
- Learn how to cope. Does eating chocolate cake make you feel better? Maybe, but will going for a walk and getting some fresh air make you feel better and not resentful later? Probably.
- Take care of yourself. If stress is making it tough to sleep at night, find ways to relax and make night time more peaceful. Turn off the TV (I read somewhere that the TV glow can interfere with your internal body clock!), take a warm bath, get a massage, anything to help you relax. Also - make sure your bedroom is a peaceful place - don't keep unpaid bills next to your bed - that will just stress you out more!
- Learn to say No. (I'll let you know what I find out how to do this!)
- Speak up. If taking on an additional project is going to push you over the edge, is it really worth it? (See above.)
- Exercise. I don't know about you but a good sweat session always makes me feel better. Running is my personal outlet - its a chance for me to zone out and finally breathe and be alone with my thoughts. Plus - when I'm angry or stressed it's like I'm fueled to run. In college I once ran 6 miles out of sheer anger at a boyfriend. (HA!)
- Write. Get a journal (or a blog...) and get your feelings out somewhere. Some people suggest writing (fake) letters to people that frustrate you. Just DON'T mail them!
- Get a hobby! If you're always stressed about work - doing something after work for fun will help you feel better. Volunteer, go to the library, paint something.
- Laugh. Laughter is the best medicine - so get some girls together and a bottle of wine and de-stress!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Irish I Were Celebrating


St. Patrick's Day! What are you doing to celebrate today? I personally, am not Irish, not one bit. Every year I forget to wear green on St. Patty's day... and every year I tell myself I am going to remember. Because people at work always give me a hard time when I'm not wearing green on St. Patty's Day.

Did I remember today? Nope. I'm wearing pink and cream... oops. In honor of one of my favorite TV shows, The Office, are you having an office party? Or better yet, stories from office parties or happy hour work functions? People get crazy on St. Patty's Day, which means hilarious stories.

Spill 'em Chickees!

M.I.A.


Wow... what a crazy few days it has been! I'm back... no longer Missing In Action. I don't know about you - but I love to daydream. I dream real, big, dreams, too - but daydreaming is always fun! Personally, I enjoy daydreaming about what my husband and I would do if we won lottery. Not that I ever even buy lotto tickets... My thoughts and plans usually revolve around upgrading our home to a ridiculous degree, and of course clothes... and college funds for nieces and nephews, and new homes for our parents... oh the joys of daydreaming.

What do you daydream about? Or, more specifically, what would you do if you ever won the lottery? How would you spend your days and your money?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Backyard Office


Check out this - the coolest 'home office' I've ever seen. I want one! Found on TheOfficeStylist.com - check out to scoop behind the Backyard Office! Thanks OfficeStylist - had to share your awesome find! More office renovations and cool style tips can be found on her site. (Photo courtesy of TheOfficeStylist.com)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Season of Sales

The tail end of each season is a great time to stock up on staples, and purchase those big-ticket items marked down! Every Corporate Chickee should have a great, business-appropriate dress coat. I have two different styles - one in charcoal grey and one in winter white. I highly recommend having two in very classic, basic colors. Whenever I'm wearing black - I wear the charcoal coat, when I'm wearing brown I wear the white coat. I have two great classic looks. Then I mix it up with my red spring trench coat (cheap at Sears over Memorial Day weekend a few seasons back) and cropped plaid peacoat for a more casual look. For more on trench coats, check out CornerOfficeChic's article on punchy-colored trench coats for spring!

Check out this adorable winter white dress coat found on JCrew.com - marked down from $298 to $149.99! At $150, it's still a higher priced item for most of us - but it's half off! You can't pass that up when it's a staple item you'll wear for years. The key when investing in these pieces is going timeless. Don't buy a $300 super-trendy coat that you can only wear for 2 seasons. Buy a classic silhouette that won't go out of style that flatters your shape! There's lots of flexibility in a jacket like this. Wear it buttoned up for a serious look, wear it open like the model with a cute camisole or layered tanks underneath for a more laid-back look.


Bonus item: Since you know how much I love J.Crew I can't stop at just one item - check out this super cute, cropped jacket. On the hanger I probably wouldn't give it a second look - but on the model it's adorable! As a petite one, I love the cropped look with shorter length sleeves.

A jacket like this is versatile - wear it buttoned up for a serious, professional-look, or open like the model with a camisole or layered tanks underneath for a punch of color and a more laid-back look.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Cleaning Bug

If you're like me - you've been bit by the cleaning bug! The recent warming-weather and morning sunshine makes me want to clean our blinds, reorganize closets, and buy fresh flowers! In the spirit of spring cleaning, here are The 10 Habits of Highly Organized People by Sarah Stebbins, courtesy of Oprah.com. (Kind of like the home-version of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for work!) Below I've highlighted the main rules, and my own 2 cents! What are your personal habits that keep you organized at home?

Rule #1 Walk Away from Bargains Just because the sweater in on sale, doesn't mean you need it! (or have space for it!)
Rule #2 Make Peace with Imperfection In the article, PysD Renae Reinardy says that "trying to do every task perfectly is the easiest way to get bogged down." So give your best effort and call it a day!
Rule #3 Never Label Anything 'Miscellaneous' No need to quote the article on this - we all know what this means. Give everything a home. If it doesn't have a home, maybe it doesn't have a place in your home, either!
Rule #4 Schedule Regular De-cluterring Sessions Do a little every day, don't wait until it's a huge project!
Rule #5 Stick with What Works Another expert in the the article, Dorothy Breininger says, "Don't waste time and money seeking out the best of everything" - if what you use works and you like it - its fine!
Rule #5 Create a Dump Zone Identify a place for all the 'stuff' you accumulate each day and will need later - like dry cleaning receipts and field trip permission slips. My personal favorite? A cute basket or bowl near your main point of entry to the house - you can easily stash your stuff there and hide it on a shelf where it just looks like a decoration!
Rule #7 Ask for Help This is pretty obvious...
Rule #8 Separate Emotions from Possessions I think we all struggle with this when it comes to clothes! That adorable cocktail dress you wore at such-and-such function... if you'll never fit into it again, or it's too worn-out to be saved... maybe it's time to say good-bye!
Rule #9 Foresee and Avoid Problems Breininger suggests tackling the leaning tower of tupperware now, before it erupts on you while you're running out the door to work - smart gal!
Rule #10 Know Where to Donate Find a good place to donate your loved but no-longer-needed clothing and items, whether it's a charity or a neighbor. This way you know right where to go each time you clean the closet!


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Spring Collection!

Introducing the Lauren Conrad Collection for Kohl's! Adorable tops and camis at reasonable prices. I love some of her dresses - but they look way to short to be work appropriate. (Not that I think she designed this collection with the office in mind or anything.) There are some really cute blazers and tops for under suits though. As a long time fan of The Hills, I'm excited to check out her new Kohl's line collection.

I also love that she's a young start-up designer. I remember reading in magazine article, the interviewer asked her that if it hadn't been for Laguna Beach and The Hills, what would she be doing now? Her answer: The same thing I'm doing now, with a smaller apartment and fewer shoes. Points for honesty!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Tried & True

If you were stranded on a desert island, what beauty product would you not survive without?

I love this question. I love hearing about other people's favorite beauty products - because they test them out then I can purchase them knowing I at least have a decent product on my hands. Let's be honest, many beauty products aren't cheap! You don't go out and buy 10 moisturizers and then pick your fave... you let magazines do the dirty work for you! Every magazine has their own beauty awards. I personally like Self Magazine's Healthy Beauty Products Awards.


What are my personal can't-do-withouts? First - my Neutrogena Healthy Defense daily moisturizer. It's SPF 30 and available in tinted or untinted. I love the way it goes on and feels good all day. I usually wear the untinted version, but keep the tinted version in my gym bag. After a lunch-time workout, tinted moisturizer is a great way to get office-ready again fast!


Next up - my lotion. (Can you tell I'm obsessed with moisturizing?) I'm a life-long fan of Lubriderm daily lotion with SPF 15. It's just the best -
non-greasy, non-sticky, moisturizes really well.
I'm never going without it!



Now I'm in the market for a really good night cream. I'm getting to that age where I feel like I should start using some kind of anti-aging night cream and/or eye cream. Any suggestions?

What can't you live without?

Put Me In, Coach!


Ever feel like you're working your butt off and no one notices? Ever feel just plain invisible? I felt invisible today... not really sure why. I just did. Sometimes it's nice to feel invisible for a couple of days, I mean I did get a ton of work done today. Silver lining!

So, in case anyone else out there is feeling invisible on a regular basis, here's an article from iVillage about how to get noticed at work. The author has 5 tips on how to Get Your Career in the Spotlight:

1. Meet people in other departments. Why? It's not about what you, but who knows you! (and who likes you!) Apparently this one-liner works internally as well as externally in the job world. Personally, done! I have a fairly small office, so it's easy to get know other departments. But, there's always room for improvement! I don't know that much about everyone - so there's something to work on.

2. Join an outside group. The theory here is to make yourself an informal spokesperson for the company - in the networking world. This means you're a natural leader. Well... I've been doing some business chatting on LinkedIn, does that count?

3. Learn a new technology. The author suggests trying predict what might be the next new technology in the field and start teaching yourself necessary skills now - so when it becomes standard and others have to learn it, you'll be a pro already. Hmm... I'm going to have to think about this one for a while. I'm already pretty tech-forward for my office, and that hasn't really gotten me 'noticed' in the big way just yet.

4. Take on something unpopular. Earn brownie points by taking on a high-profile job that no one else wants to do. Bonus if you ace it. Good advice, I think. But make sure you're confident you can at least do very well at it, so even if you don't ace it - it's not like you took a bath or anything. That's a good way to get noticed in a bad way.

5. Remember to limit yourself. Choose your tasks carefully, and really focus on them. Everyone knows you're better at something when you can really dedicate time and effort to it. For me this means going back to the basics. While I can really excel in some of my job duties, if I work too hard on one project, the basic duties start to slip. Time to go back to focusing on the little things - because the little things add up.

What have you don to 'get noticed'? Did it work?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sale Alert!

Now is a great time of year to stock up on big-ticket winter items like coats, scarves, gloves, bulky sweaters, etc. Stores are putting out their spring clothes, even swimsuits are almost out, while we're all still trudging through snow.

You may have noticed - but I have an affinity for coats - here's a super coat plaid winter trench coat from Victoria's Secret marked down from $168 to $89.99!


Another great find - a cute striped cardigan from NY & Company, I love this one because it's a simple cardigan, but it's not a solid. It has a little bit of personality to it, and I love the way they styled it with dressy dark jeans and opera-length pearls.