National Bike Month

league_bike_month_logo

May is National Bike Month!

Help promote bicycling this May and every month! The League of American Bicyclists is the sponsor of National Bike Month, which includes Bike to Work Week and Bike to Work Day. National Bike Month is an opportunity to celebrate the unique power of the bicycle and the many reasons we ride. Whether you bike to work or school, are trying to save money or time, to get in better shape and be healthy or to save the environment- get involved in Bike Month in your city or state and help others get involved too.

What can you do this month to participate?

Friday May 17, 2013 is the National Bike to Work day. Ride your bike to work during all of Bike to Work Week (May 13-17).

National Bike to Work Day

As a driver of a vehicle that shares the roads with bicyclists, understand that cyclists have road rights as well so follow these 10 rules for coexisiting with bicyclists:

  1. Appreciate Bicyclist Vulnerability
  2. Know Bicyclists’ Rights
  3. Adjust That Attitude
  4. Consider the Benefits of Bicycling — for Drivers
  5. Spare Them the Right Hook
  6. Beware the Left Turn
  7. Give Cyclists 3 Feet of Clearance
  8. Look Around — but Not at Your Phone
  9. Look Before You Exit Your Car
  10. Accept That Bicyclists Are Here To Stay

Check with your city and state to find out activities that are happening in your area during National Bike Month.

bikemonth_bike_smallClick the bike to find out more information from the League of American Bicyclists.

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Hockey City Classic

Hockey CIty Classic

Coming to Soldier Field in Chicago on Sunday February 17, 2013 is the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic.  This is a rare event where an ice rink will be set up in Soldier Field for a doubleheader that will feature 2 games of college hockey from 4 of nation’s premier men’s college ice hockey programs: Minnesota vs. Wisconsin and Notre Dame vs. Miami. The puck drops Sunday, Feb. 17, 2013 at noon CT when Notre Dame faces off against Miami University, followed immediately by Minnesota vs. Wisconsin at approximately 3:30 p.m. CT.

Picture 8

In addition to the game on February 17, there will be winter festivities including two days of FREE public ice skating (Feb 2 & Feb 18), high school hockey events, youth and adult hockey events, private ice rentals and much more.

To find out more information on the Hockey City Classic, visit their website.

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January is Thyroid Awareness Month

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January is Thyroid Awareness Month and to me, that is very near and dear to me as a large number of people in my family have or have had Thyroid issues.  Understanding the facts about thyroid disease and its symptoms is the best defense in treating this disease and maintaining a healthy life.

Do you even know what or where your thyroid is?? 

thyroide

Your thyroid gland is a small, butterfly-shaped gland found immediately below the Adam’s apple. This gland produces hormones that influence every organ, tissue and cell in your body. If you have a thyroid disease and  it is left untreated there are serious consequences including elevated cholesterol levels, heart disease, infertility, muscle weakness, osteoporosis and in extreme cases coma or death.

Here are some facts about thyroid disease:    An estimated 27 million American have overactive or underactive thyroid glands, but more than half remain undiagnosed. Women are more likely than men to develop thyroid disease. Additionally, people with diabetes and/or their siblings are 15 to 20% more likely todevelop thyroid disease.

The incidence of hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) increases with age; by the age 60, as many as 17% of women and 9% of men have an underactive thyroid.

How do I know if I have a thyroid disease? Testing for thyroid disease is easy, although not routinely included in an annual physical blood work. Treatment of thyroid disease is also easy and often includes taking a daily pill of synthroid or a generic substitute.  However, without proper diagnosis many people suffer from the following symptoms.

How do I know if I should be tested for thyroid disease?                               Common symptoms of Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
Fatigue
Forgetfulness
Weight gain
Depression
Hoarse voice
Heavy menses
Dry, coarse skin & hair
Mood swings
Constipation

Common symptoms of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid)
Heat intolerance, sweating
Menstrual disturbance
Weight loss
Impaired fertility
Alterations in appetite
Mental disturbances
Frequent bowel movements
Sleep disturbances
Changes in vision
Tremors
Fatigue and muscle weakness
Thyroid enlargement

For more information on thyroid disease and/or to find a medical expert in thyroid conditions visit the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists website.

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Final Fashion Update

Wow, can you believe it’s already been a year since I started my fashion updates? I can.  Honestly, I thought that this resolution to be more fashionable would be easier.  But for someone who doesn’t like to shop, try on clothes or dress “outside of the box”, this is a really hard goal.  Even if it was only really one day every week of the year.

I tried to make some strategic purchases throughout the year of things I could wear with multiple outfits: scarves, necklaces, colorful tank tops, etc. This seemed to help a bit.  (I guess I used to wear a lot of dark colors so even just incorporating more color into my wardrobe had people noticing.)  I also tried to shop at places I usually wouldn’t or hadn’t yet: Marshalls, TJ Maxx, Banana Republic, Discovery Clothing, Nordstrom Rack, the outlet malls, etc. I think these small changes (buying colors, wearing accessories and trying new places to shop) all helped to make my resolution of being more fashionable a reality. Overall, I’m not really 100% satisfied with how I did, but I also keep telling myself that you can’t completely change in just one year (unless of course I had TONS of money, then I am sure this one would have been much easier).  But, I will continue to try and venture out of the box and become more fashionable so that in the future it comes more naturally.

As I did last two quarterly updates, here are the outfits from October, November and December. I’m not going to call out each outfit, but will call out some key highlights and possible themes. (and yes, I know that most of the photos show me in NO shoes… yep, that’s an area that I still need A LOT of help with.  I am getting better at identifying outfits that work well together, but still not so good on the shoe front.  Any recommendations are welcome :))

October 2012:

October was a mis-mash of outfits for me.  I spent too much time at work and didn’t have much time to get out and shop for anything new. So this was a month of rummaging through my closet to find things I haven’t worn in awhile or things that I haven’t ever worn together.  This is inevitably what I came up with – not my proudest month.  The greatest thing I picked up this month was a black and white striped infinity scarf- shown in photo 1- and I love it!  I never really paid much attention to the “infinity scarf” as it came out, but now that I have worn them, I have to admit I’m sad I hadn’t gotten one sooner.  If you don’t own one, I highly recommend picking one up. It adds a much needed flair to any outfit- while also keeping you warm as we are now getting into the winter months.

October Outfits

November 2012: 

November- also known as stripe month – was a month that I seemed to wear lots of stripes.  I suppose this is because a lot of sweaters and long sleeved shirts that were out this year were striped.  Overall, I think I look ok in stripes so it was a pretty successful month of wearing more colors and new things.  My favorite is the red and grey sweater in photo 3 with the grey infinity scarf.  I have to admit that every time I put the sweater on I kinda feel like Freddy Kruger, but I get a ton of compliments… so maybe Freddy knew something I don’t 🙂

November Outfits

December 2012:

Finally, December.  December was a pretty good month for me.  I branched out and got new scarves, with color, to wear-as you can see in outfit 2.  I also got some new jewelry- shown in photo 4.  If you’re wondering what I was thinking for my outfit in photo 3, it was actually all done for a great reason.  This was the day we attended TBOX– The Twelve Bars of Christmas. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a really awesome Christmas themed bar-crawl that happens in Wrigleyville each year- if you haven’t ever heard of it or done it, it’s a TON of fun and you should try it out. Finally, kinda hard to see in the photo, but I got new dress pants that are a light blue-ish grey color- shown in photo 1.  They kinda look like jeans in the photo, but honestly they are some of the most comfortable dress pants I have ever worn- picked them up at the Banana Republic outlet store.

December OutfitsThanks so much for following me along this year as I pushed myself to venture out of my comfort zone and try more fashionable clothes.  I have had a lot of fun this year, gotten some good advice from friends & family and enjoyed the whole experience- I hope that you did as well.  As I already said, I’ll be keeping up with the new things and fashionable outfits, although I haven’t decided yet if I’ll continue to post them or not. If you think I should, let me know.

Happy 2013 and I hope your year if filled with fun and challenging things that help you branch out and become the person you want to be.  Here’s to a great year!

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Honey

Ok, since I am a total honey freak (yes, I have at least some honey EVERY day) and it’sthat wonderful cold & flu season, I thought I would post something about the benefits of honey that I found in an article.

NOTE: I have done lots of googling on this and found lots of sites and articles confirming this, however, I am not a doctor and have NOT tested any of this, so please, take this information as you will.  I just wanted to post since I do love honey and find it to be a very under utilized resource. Be sure to consult a licensed physician before starting any remedies noted below.

Here it goes.

Honey is the only food on the planet that will not spoil or rot. It will however, crystalize and turn to sugar when left in a cool dark place for a long time.  When this crystalizing of the honey happens — do not fret.  All you have to do is loosen the lid, boil some water, and sit the honey container in the hot water (after you have turned off the heat) and it liquefy once more. Never boil the honey or put it in a microwave to reliquify, as doing so will kill the enzymes in the honey and most often destroy the container it is in.

Cinnamon and Honey. Whoever thought? Bet the drug companies won’t like this one getting around.  It is found that a mixture of honey and Cinnamon cures most diseases. Honey is produced in most of the countries of the world. Scientists of today also accept honey as a ‘very effective’ medicine for all kinds of diseases. Honey can be used without any side effects for any kind of diseases. Today’s science says that even though honey is sweet, if taken in the right dosage as a medicine, it does not harm diabetic patients. Weekly World News, a magazine in Canada , in its issue dated 17 January,1995 has given the following list of diseases that can be cured by honey and cinnamon as researched by western scientists:

  • HEART DISEASES: Make a paste of honey and cinnamon powder, apply on bread, instead of jelly and jam, and eat it regularly for breakfast. It reduces the cholesterol in the arteries and saves the patient from heart attack. Also, those who have already had an attack, if they do this process daily, they are kept miles away from the next attack. Regular use of the above process relieves loss of breath and strengthens the heart beat. In America and Canada , various nursing homes have treated patients successfully and have found that as you age, the arteries and veins lose their flexibility and get clogged; honey and cinnamon revitalize the arteries and veins.
  • ARTHRITIS: Arthritis patients may take daily, morning and night, one cup of hot water with two spoons of honey and one small teaspoon of cinnamon powder. If taken regularly even chronic arthritis can be cured. In a recent research conducted at the Copenhagen University, it was found that when the doctors treated their patients with a mixture of one tablespoon Honey and half teaspoon Cinnamon powder before breakfast, they found that within a week, out of the 200 people so treated, practically 73 patients were totally relieved of pain, and within a month, mostly all the patients who could not walk or move around because of arthritis started walking without pain.
  • BLADDER INFECTIONS: Take two tablespoons of cinnamon powder and one teaspoon of honey in a glass of lukewarm water and drink it. It destroys the germs in the bladder.
  • CHOLESTEROL: Two tablespoons of honey and three teaspoons of Cinnamon Powder mixed in 16 ounces of tea water, given to a cholesterol patient, was found to reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood by 10 percent within two hours As mentioned for arthritic patients, if taken three times a day, any chronic cholesterol is cured. According to information received in the said Journal, pure honey taken with food daily relieves complaints of cholesterol.
  • COLDS: Those suffering from common or severe colds should take one tablespoon lukewarm honey with 1/4 spoon cinnamon powder daily for three days. This process will cure most chronic cough, cold, and clear the sinuses.
  • UPSET STOMACH: Honey taken with cinnamon powder cures stomach ache and also clears stomach ulcers from the root.
  • GAS: According to the studies done in India and Japan , it is revealed that if Honey is taken with cinnamon powder the stomach is relieved of gas.
  • IMMUNE SYSTEM: Daily use of honey and cinnamon powder strengthens the immune system and protects the body from bacteria and viral attacks. Scientists have found that honey has various vitamins and iron in large amounts. Constant use of Honey strengthens the white blood corpuscles to fight bacterial and viral diseases.
  • INDIGESTION: Cinnamon powder sprinkled on two tablespoons of honey taken before food relieves acidity and digests the heaviest of meals.
  • INFLUENZA: A scientist in Spain has proved that honey contains a natural ‘ Ingredient’ which kills the influenza germs and saves the patient from flu.
  • LONGEVITY: Tea made with honey and cinnamon powder, when taken regularly, arrests the ravages of old age. Take four spoons of honey, one spoon of cinnamon powder, and three cups of water and boil to make like tea. Drink 1/4 cup, three to four times a day. It keeps the skin fresh and soft and arrests old age. Life spans also increase.
  • PIMPLES: Three tablespoons of honey and one teaspoon of cinnamon powder paste. Apply this paste on the pimples before sleeping and wash it next morning with warm water. If done daily for two weeks, it removes pimples from the root.
  • SKIN INFECTIONS: Applying honey and cinnamon powder in equal parts on the affected parts cures eczema, ringworm and all types of skin infections.
  • WEIGHT LOSS: Daily in the morning one half hour before breakfast on an empty stomach, and at night before sleeping, drink honey and cinnamon powder boiled in one cup of water. If taken regularly, it reduces the weight of even the most obese person. Also, drinking this mixture regularly does not allow the fat to accumulate in the body even though the person may eat a high calorie diet.
  • CANCER: Recent research in Japan and Australia has revealed that advanced cancer of the stomach and bones have been cured successfully. Patients suffering from these kinds of cancer should daily take one tablespoon of honey with one teaspoon of cinnamon powder for one month three times a day.
  • FATIGUE: Recent studies have shown that the sugar content of honey is more helpful rather than being detrimental to the strength of the body. Senior citizens, who take honey and cinnamon powder in equal parts, are more alert and flexible. Dr. Milton, who has done research, says that a half tablespoon of honey taken in a glass of water and sprinkled with cinnamon powder, taken daily after brushing and in the afternoon at about 3:00 P.M. when the vitality of the body starts to decrease, increases the vitality of the body within a week.
  • BAD BREATH: People of South America , first thing in the morning, gargle with one teaspoon of honey and cinnamon powder mixed in hot water, so their breath stays fresh throughout the day.
  • HEARING LOSS: Daily morning and night honey and cinnamon powder, taken in equal parts restores hearing. Remember when we were kids? We had toast with real butter and cinnamon sprinkled on it!

There is also a full website dedicated to the wonderful benefits of honey… so check it out!

So, get your sweet on and improve your health at the same time 🙂

As with all things, make sure you consult your physician before starting any type of “remedies” as I am not a doctor and cannot recommend any type of treatment for your situation. Only you and your doctor together can make that decision.
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Your resume and the job world of today…

So, recently, my mom joined the fun “laid off” club- like many of us have been a part of at one point or another in our lives.  She had been at her job for 10+ years and is now faced with updating a resume and really learning the whole new world of finding a job.  I’ve been helping her (like she has helped me many a time) to “learn the ropes” so to say and have realized how much things have changed, even over the last few years.

First off, there’s now LinkedIn. What is LinkedIn? LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with over 175 million members and growing rapidly. LinkedIn connects you to your trusted contacts and helps you exchange knowledge, ideas, and opportunities with a broader network of professionals. Basically, it’s a live and working online resume that allows you to “connect” with people you used to work with and find new opportunities.  Now, as many of us LinkedIn users know, it’s for WAY more than just your working resume, but for starters that’s a good place to start.  Once you have developed your “working resume” on LinkedIn, you can search for groups aligned with your skills and knowledge to join and network with others, search job postings and read relevant articles. There’s so much you can do on LinkedIn and the options keep on growing.

 

Then, your resume itself.  There are so many things that have changed over the course ofa few years on what’s acceptable and what’s not. Here are just a few of the things that have drastically changed with resume building:

  1. You limit your resume to only 1 page.  As many of us remember, when we were graduating college it was told to us that we needed to have our resume fit into one page.  That is no longer the case.  You don’t have to try and rework your bullet points and important skills to fit on one page.
  2. You create an objective. This, too, is no longer necessary to do.  Many employers know that you are looking for a job and that is your objective, or else you wouldn’t have applied.  Note: removing this also gives you more space in your resume. 🙂
  3. You list “references available upon request”.   Back before LinkedIn and Facebook, candidates listed this to inform potential employers that you can provide them a list of references if they needed them.  Now, as you are walking out the door from your interview, or maybe before you’ve even come in, potential employers are searching for you on LinkedIn, Facebook, Google and more.

Finally, it’s the job search itself.  Back in the day, you pulled out a paper and looked for a job. Or maybe did some cold calls or went to see a recruiter.  Now-a-days there is so much more that you can do just to get out of the gate and search. Here are some things you might consider doing/checking when you start to look for a job:

  1. Update your resume and cover letter.
  2. Join LinkedIn, or update your LinkedIn profile
  3. Reach out to recruiters you have worked with in the past
  4. Reach out to people in the jobs you want and find out what they did to get there
  5. Search the sites for current job openings (Obviously this will change by industry, but this gives you a good “starter” list):
    1. LinkedIn
    2. Moster.com
    3. Careerbuilder.com
    4. Indeed.com
    5. Snagajob.com
    6. Job.com
    7. Simplyhired.com
    8. and about a million more that are out there…just google it 🙂

Here are some of the wonderful blogs, articles and more that I have visited in researching skills for my mom that might be useful to you. Check them out as I have not noted all good feedback here in my blog: Divine Caroline, Corn On The Job, AL.com, Tulsa World, Mass Mutual Newsletter, and  US News (although if you google any topics on job seeking, job sites, tips on job searching or more you’ll get TONS of results you can read through.)

Share some of your good advice for people who are just entering the “job seeking” world after a long stent at a company.

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What’s in your office? (and what does that say about you?)

I was sitting at my desk with a “to-do” list more than a mile long and never enough time to do it, a full calendar of meetings and conference calls to attend, hadn’t eaten lunch yet and a last minute meeting invitation came through for an hour in the afternoon to “meet our new executive”.  Great.  Another meeting that will end up being a waste of an hour where some executive talks about how great their resume is, how they “really want to get to know you” and how they are going to make their footprint in the company.  Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled about doing last-minute cancellations of my other meetings (some that I had already rescheduled about 3 times) just to make sure I wasn’t the only one not at the intro meeting.

I head down to the meeting and take a seat with everyone else and wait for the new introduction.  Half hour later, after her speech was already done, I was actually motivated and excited about this new executive that they had brought in.  What had changed my mind and made her stand out and not be like every other executive that I had sat through their introduction meeting?  Well, let me tell you.

She got up in front of everyone and said “I’m sure you can read the announcement that came out about me that tells you all about my background and where I came from.”  In my mind, I was like “Yes. Finally someone who knows I can read and don’t need things repeated to me everyday like I am a 5 year old.”  From that point on, I was more interested to hear what she was going to talk about. She told us that instead of just getting up and talking a bunch that she would do a show-and-tell of the things in her office and why she has them there as that shows a lot about a person.  Here are some of the things that she showed us and the reasoning as to why she kept these things in her office:

  1. The first dollar she ever made.  Her mom had framed this for her and she kept it in her office to remind her what it takes to earn a dollar, that every dollar counts, and that you need to gamble at times and take risks to make money. – All very true things.
  2. A photo of her with a NASCAR driver and her NASCAR ticket. She kept this to remind her that although things move very fast (and in NASCAR it’s at a pace where you are really moving at speeds of life and death), you still need to have a great team behind you to keep your “car” in good shape and moving in the right direction, you have to have a spotter looking ahead and making sure you are sticking to the right path, and you have to have a good strategy on how you are going to win before you start traveling at high speeds towards a goal.
  3. A Fossil. As many people know, and in any industry, if you aren’t moving ahead and willing to evolve with the times, you are going to end up as a fossil.  She kept this to remind herself of what she doesn’t want to become.
  4. A photo of her and Lady Gaga. Now, personally, I am not a big fan of hers, but she had it up for good reason. She kept it in her office to remind her that you should always remember to be an individual and take some time out each week to “rock out”. – Ok, that justifies the reasoning as to why she has that in her office.
  5. A photo of her dad and of her family. She has it in her office to remind herself that family is the most important thing.  Of course, putting in 100%+ at your job is extremely important, but everyone works for the same reason… to provide for their family and to have a nice life. It also reminds her that she needs to take care of herself and not to “overwork” and to take time out for yoga and tennis to keep healthy.

There might have been a few more, but these were the main things that I remember.  After getting up from the meeting and heading back to my cube, I started to think… what do I have in my cube and what does that say about me?  Well, I sat down at my desk and started to look around. This is what I saw:

Here are just a few things that stand out to me and mean something to me at my desk, although in this photo they may be hard to see.

  1. Photos of me and my boyfriend, photos of my nieces, a photo of Chicago-the city I love and a photo of a boston terrier (in a tie as he’s definitely in “business mode” :)). Obviously, surrounding myself with images of the things I love and the things that I inevitably work for.
  2. A labeler and post-it label rolls.  If you know me at all, you know why I have this and it means something to me.  Life, like work, is just easier when it’s organized and  what better way to do that than to label stuff.
  3. A pack of tic tac freshmints.  Now if you know about freshmints, they are the all white tic tacs.  One day while I was out shopping, I saw a pack of these all white tic tacs with an orange tic tac right in the middle.  It reminds me that no matter how easy or hard a task may be, you still need to put in 100% effort as you can always f it up (check out my blog post on that topic I did back in 2010).
  4. And color.  You can see the flowers in the background, colorful notebooks and pens, a fun kleenex box and more.  You need to keep things that show your personality. It doesn’t mean you need to be all cluttered (as you can see my desk is clean, and that was NOT just done for the photo. If you know me and have ever seen my desk, it does look like this EVERY day.  And I learned from a professional organizer and friend of mine that it’s important to clean your desk every night before you leave so that when you start the next day you can start with a clean start…but I digress.)

When all is said and done, I think I am happy about the things that I surround myself with on a daily basis at work, and what those things say about me.  To me, my area shows that I am organized, family oriented and productive. And let’s face it, you spend more time of your life at work these days than you do at home, so you might as well make the best of it.

Take a look around you while you’re sitting in your workspace (whether it’s at home, a cube in an office building, an office or your car), do the things you surround yourself with mean something to you?  What does this stuff say about the type of person that you are?  If you think that your surroundings don’t match your personality or the image that you want to portray in a business sense, I challenge you to take some time out of the day to make a change.  Time is a hard thing to come by these days- but from past experience- if you take an hour to rearrange your desk, declutter and get rid of the things you think you don’t need and organize in a way that works for you, in the end you will find that you are much more productive with the time left in your day (and the coming days).

Tell me some of the things that you keep on your desk or in your workspace.  What do they mean to you and why do you keep them?

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