How good is your memory?

The human mind is an amazing thing don’t you think?

Throughout the years, I’ve tested myself to see how far back my memories reach, which thankfully land as far back as the age of 3-4.  (I’m in my 40’s by the way)

These moments in time are so clear to me, that I can almost picture myself there now. I’m visualising where I was, what I was doing and matching those visions with triggers such as food flavours and scent’s. Yes, I believe that our senses are quite strong.

Since I’m being honest here, I’ll give you a few examples of what I mean.

Milk… it’s good for growing kids and we must drink it. (mom said so) I didn’t like drinking it plain at all… especially after my mom decided to serve it in one of those 1960’s pearl lustre type mugs, which gave it an odd paint-like sour taste. (No, I’ve never tasted paint in case you’re wondering)

pearlmug

So as you can imagine, from that moment forward I opted for nestle chocolate or strawberry quik. I was 4, so you can clearly now understand how powerful taste senses can be.  To prove this is not a “one-trick-pony” example, I’ll fast forward to aged 7.

My parents loved to introduce me to old movies as a kid because they grew up and lived through the depression era.  Sunday afternoon movies with the parents were great and as I sat on the couch, still in my pyjamas some days,and watching on this particular day Laurel and Hardy, my mom made us both a cup of Jasmine tea (you know, the loose kind that requires one of those strainer things?) This was a luxury item then and probably chosen because it was served  at the local Chinese restaurant that my family and I visited for many years.

jasmine tea

I probably liked the smell more than the taste but every time I drink it now as an adult, I think of Laurel and Hardy movies and the plaid couch I was sitting on.

Speaking of Chinese food and having grown up in New York,  I can’t help thinking of my experience with Pu-Pu.  You heard me, and it’s not a typo.. it’s actually a pretty wonderful experience for kids and adults. (Visual with descriptive review below)

Not that I’m drooling or anything.. okay, I am!  I was first introduced to this magnificent beast when my parents would take me to our local Chinese restaurant in the suburbs of New York.  I was dazzled by the blue, red and yellow  flame created with a jelly type substance and the “mini” BBQ effect.  Generally, the first item I grabbed was the beef teriyaki stick purely because I could hold it over the fire. Total joy and the hot flame made the flavour explode even more. Next I went for the spare ribs… again, easy to hold over the fire and sometimes I would heat it just long enough to see a little flame appear. Camp fire anyone?

There was a process when enjoying this and boy, did I enjoy it!  One of my other favourite items was fried jumbo shrimp, which was coated in batter. This I dipped in what they called duck sauce, although it wasn’t made of duck but rather used on duck dishes… I think.  It’s a sweet fruity sauce that is probably made with mandarins, but makes the savoury shrimp all the more tasty.

It was very sad when we finished the platter… farewell tasty tidbits and tiny barbecue.. till we meet again.

Do you have any fond food memories?  If so, I’d love to hear them!

Thanks for reading

Hands-on

This blog is a prequel to something new and exciting that I’m working on..stay tuned 🙂 

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A Beginners Guide to the Job World

Happy professional journey everyone!  Have you made it out there in the world, or are you just starting out?

What’s your shtick, speciality or   job role?

Job roles   are used in business as a way to identify your purpose within a company   and  level of authority, but what do they actually mean and are they communication barriers when trying to build professional relationships or generate business?

To me, a job title/role should be a way of defining what you do in the organisation and provide you with clear tasks to follow, which will hopefully aid your professional success and add value to the company that employs you.  Simple, but true.

Questions that I’ve asked myself in the past when I was just starting out in my career:

1) Why do I feel    nervous when  contacting a company director or owner? After all, they are people just like us.. right?

2) How do I encourage senior   level people to return my call or email? Should I entice them with “an offer that they can’t refuse?”

3) What IS the right approach?  Am I saying something wrong or not using proper etiquette?

My wish back then and sometimes even now is for an answer… a logical one…. one that would cure my curiosity so that I no longer need to ask why.

I’m a relationship building type of person and to me that means that everyone  is a potential customer.

The top 3 things you should   do:

  1. Seek knowledge in your role to build confidence (always ask questions)
  2. Prepare your own script to use when making phone calls (in your own words)
  3. Research the company you’re calling (It shows that   you care and are not a “drone”)

In general, businesses that grow organically are much more likely to succeed in the long run. This means they have received recommendations based on  service, professionalism, integrity,trust, quality etc.  (Many,many test runs) by people.. just people.

Of course we all understand that those in senior positions have a lot on their plate and delegate representatives from within their company to deal with certain calls, emails and queries however; communicating is always the best way forward. I would like to keep you motivated by providing   a nice little list of young successful people who made it to the top-level of their game before they reached 20.

Personally, I have a lot of respect for MD’s, Directors and Owners of companies who answer their own phone on occasion and “get their hands dirty” so to speak.   It simply means that they have not lost touch with their customers and their staff for that matter because without them , a title   is simply   Mr or Mrs.

Present yourself and your company in the best light and you’re likely to succeed.

With respect

Hands-on

Listen to your mother

I’m switching tactics here, following one of my earlier   posts entitled “Food Glorious Food.”

Diet’s, healthy eating, fitness programmes.. they are there to help us right?  One size fits all… I have learned that this is not the way to approach weight loss and become a healthier you.  I’m no expert by any means but the fact is…everyone is different.

Over the course of my life, I have tried numerous plans, pills and potions, which were advertised to “give you your ideal body” in so many weeks, months etc.  Back then I believed every word however; now that I’m older and wiser, I know that It’s impossible to guarantee the same results if you don’t know your individual circumstances, genetics, metabolism etc. For example… would a vegetarian have the same results as me on an Atkins type diet?  What about someone who has physical limitations and would find it difficult or nearly impossible to go spinning or weight train? Can we all afford a personal trainer? Probably not…

So that leads to the journey I have found myself part of and I’m hoping it can provide others with some inspiration from lessons that I have learned.

Let’s see if Mother was right….

  1. Metabolism-“breakfast is the most important meal of the day” it jump-starts your metabolism and this instruction was embedded in me from an early age.
  2. Oatmeal and oils Oatmeal is not only healthy for your heart, but it also sets you up for the day leaving you feeling full and satisfied. Oil’s- ease up on these folks… there are good oils/fats and bad ones. Stick with oily fishes (high in Omega like Salmon and mackerel), cod liver oil in the form of a capsule from your health food shop or grocery store and low-fat cooking spray.  (They even have olive oil types and garlic flavours now)
  3. Tomatoes-Vitamin C, good source of fibre, potassium and B6 to name a few!  Can be eaten raw   on it’s own to help with snack cravings, in a salad of course or sautéed with other veggies. SWEET! Treats are also important! If you don’t treat yourself now and again, you’ll end up bingeing and reversing all of the good you’ve accomplished. Save a small treat for each day or reward yourself at the end of the week or weekend. For instance: 2 of  your favourite cookies with a cup of herbal tea at night or perhaps some Chinese food on a Friday or Saturday night. (get something tasty but try to stay away from fried stuff in gloopy sauce.)
  4. Herbs-Goodbye gloopy oily and sugary sauces… Let’s opt for flavourful herbs instead. pepper, rosemary, basil, cilantro, curry powder, tarragon, lemongrass.. you choose.. it tastes nice and it’s healthy!
  5. Eggs- Great source of protein (especially for vegetarians) and easy again to snack on if you plan ahead and hard boil a bunch for the fridge.  Plus, it contains .. you ready? (Iron, zinc, iodine, Vitamin E, B2 and studies have shown that it boosts weight loss when eaten for breakfast (without 4 slices of toast with butter of course!)
  6. Red food-Well, green food has always been on the list, but as we’re going with mom’s advice here.. I’d like to focus on the red’s-Strawberries (high in vitamin c and has powerful antioxidants that have been proven to preventdegeneration of the eyes in some cases)  cherries are high in quercetin and ellagic acid. This antioxidant flavonoid has been shown to promote cell and tissue health.Cherries are also high in substances related to reducing the joint and muscle discomfort. Cherries also contain melatonin, an important natural chemical related to healthy sleep rhythms and maintaining a youthful appearance. BONUS!

By following “mother’s” instructions, I  lost 2 stone (almost 30 pounds) in 7 months.  I feel better about myself and I’m healthier to boot.

I hope this helps at least a few people and thanks for reading!

With love-Hands-on

Red berry health facts were taken from this site

10 Special ways to celebrate Father’s Day

DadnMe

Whether your Father is present   or dearly departed, I feel that sometimes, Dad’s Day get’s the short end of the stick.

Okay, so how many father’s day cards have you seen with either a tie, fishing rod, some type of sport or racing car on it?

Countless right?  The public are therefore stating that all Dad’s fish, race cars and play sports…. Um nope.. they’ve got it all wrong. I realize that each family will have a different experience and that times have changed due to technology, modern conveniences etc however; there can be many special talents within Dad’s (young and old) and I’m here to tell you about what I feel is important to remember, based on my personal experience’s with my Dear father.

What my father gave to me  was precious and I  remember each gift as if it was yesterday. It is the gift of time.

Dad   had 4 children before me, so he was well versed by the time I arrived but older and a different kind of wiser. When I was growing up, we didn’t have much but there was always “time”, creativity and self-made adventures. As I get older and wiser myself, I have realised that time is definitely more precious than things. Remember one thing, you can always replace a possession but you cannot replace a time or a moment.

So, without further ado and moving on to the celebration of Father’s Day, I present my 10 ideas (a mixture of ideas for kid’s and adults):

  • Go for a nice walk and spend some time just talking, catching up on life and listening to his stories
  • Prepare a nice dinner of his favorite item’s (even if it’s not what you would eat)
  • Make your own card by hand if you’re a kid or if you’re an adult, choose some photos sharing special moments together and showcase on a card
  • Take the time and experience something new together- whether it’s an outdoor activity or    a new movie
  • If you’re like me and your Dad always insisted on paying for your dinner when you dined out, treat him this time
  • Make something together, it could be anything from a “mud pie” if you’re a kid or something less messy as an adult that he would enjoy making
  • Return the kindness and teach him something-perhaps how to do something new on the computer, if he’s   technophobic (exercise patience)
  • Switch off the TV  and play a board game
  • Adult and children alike-if he has his own car separate to mom, surprise him and wash it
  • And last but not least, thank him for being there and loving you unconditionally

I would like to add that the same love and kindness applies to Father figure’s and Step-father’s and whomever you have considered to be a Dad in your life.

Thanks for reading

With love on this Father’s Day weekend

Hands-on

Get Dirty

I can totally relate to this. Well written!  From a girl who made “mud pies” as a kid!

Storyshucker

I’m going to be dirty today.

As a kid, Mama often met me on the back stoop as I came in from playing outside. With a broom in her hand she’d have me slowly turn in a circle while she brushed dirt from my blue jeans. She wasn’t against sweeping my bare legs either if I happened to be wearing shorts.

“Don’t bring that mess in this house.” She’d say. “Did you plan to get dirty?”

Well no. I hadn’t planned to. I was a kid. There was dirt. We met and fell in love. The end.

I remembered that this morning as I thought about where to plant some things in the yard. I still love dirt. Not potting soil in shiny garden-center bags. I don’t care for the sterile smell of plastic and perlite. I love real dirt. Earth.

One of the finest smells of spring is that…

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How I Went From Very Shy to Less Shy

Confidence is not something that can be learned like a set of rules; confidence is a state of mind.

When I was a child, I was confident because at that time, I had no fear of the “unknown.”

In most cases, when we are young we just go with it and enjoy play, light conversation and meeting new people (making new friends) etc. There are no rules on how to be… we just are who we are at that moment in our young lives and we are not being judged by anyone. Perhaps the biggest decisions we make as children are; which toy to play with or which one of our friends are free to play jump rope with. (well.. in my day anyway)

Let’s talk about fear..  I have a very early example of this. 1973 aged 7- I was a Brownie and due to take part in a Christmas concert with my troop.. there must have been over 100 people in the audience (mainly proud parents.) We were performing “The 12 days of Christmas” and my part was.. “and a partridge in a pear tree.”

One line, easy to remember however; the act of delivering this was frightening. I was in the spotlight, which for most people is where they get stuck.  At that early stage in my life, I didn’t know about believing in myself or my abilities.. who would?  So I forced myself to sing to cue and almost missed my line once, before my troop leader gently tapped my shoulder to encourage me. The performance ended and I was relieved after many happy and proud parents applauded all of us kids. phewww.. it was over.

Why was I so afraid?  Why are people generally nervous and scared to be in the spotlight?  Actor’s who we perceive to be extremely confident also claim to be nervous every time they perform. Let me skip ahead to my working years and share with you how I overcame shyness.

So, “I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar” yes… really and this was the beginning of my confidence building because A) I was in the “spotlight” and B) I was “performing” in front of strangers.

My good performances resulted in rewards (tips) and when I was off kilter, not so much. 15 years in the hospitality industry overcoming public appearances face-to-face with happy people, grumpy people, celebrities and new event challenges, encouraged my   ability to feel more confident and so, I started a new challenge.

I began working for a globally recognised company and brand, where my people skills were valued even more. I rose from service advisor to sales advisor/ team leader and then technical advisor in less than 2 years. I was the go-to person for both customers and new recruit training and loved interacting with and helping people. As my training mentor has always said, “I could sell ice to an Eskimo” and had positive persuasion skills.  Positivity is a “state of mind” and so is confidence. So I soaked up all that I could in the 5 years that I was employed there before embarking on the adventure known as the next stage of my life. Hang in there, I’ll get to the point but if you’ve read my other blogs, you’ll know that I enjoy telling stories and taking you on a mental journey.

All aboard…. next stop North West, England.  A different culture and a new beginning. How did I prove myself to yet more strangers? My husband is one of the most confident people I know. Not arrogant by any means, but genuine and very approachable. He makes friends wherever he goes and I was never like that. He uses the “icebreaker” technique, which is such a simple concept, but one that you need to follow up and not be afraid to continue being yourself. I used to be the type of person that went to a party and stuck like glue to one or two people I knew in order to be part of it all, I didn’t have self-belief at that time or confidence in being myself to just mingle with anyone.  I was simply…ME. Me from the very beginning of this story. Happy to be a part of something but froze under pressure.  I must admit, with age comes a new kind of confidence and so I conjured up all of my powers and promised myself I would break down my wall.

After learning that a fair amount of companies   in the UK prefer presentations as a means to rate one’s confidence in an interview, I   swallowed my fear and came up with a plan.

During my first presentation, I decided to wear a mask. You think I’m kidding don’t you?  Well.. I wore my glasses, which provided a mask-like protection that physcologically helped my confidence, as I felt that I was not fully exposed. I performed pretty well and if it wasn’t for the lack of a driver’s licence, I would have gotten the job. Personally, I don’t believe in presentations as part of an interview because A) It’s not a natural   environment and  B) I believe in getting to know the person.

I’m a people person (as you’ve probably gathered) and generally have good feelings or intuitions. So, I played the game several times during my career, with no training just being me and spreading my passion about subjects, people and experiences.  I’ve created events, chaired meetings, started focus groups in order to share ideas and working   practices and find that focusing on liked-minded people, relationships and common goals is by far the best way to nurture   your mind and confidence. My state of mind has grown and so will yours if you’re true to yourself.

Some of the examples I’ve used might help you.  I’ll break them down briefly in 5 steps:

  1. Believe in yourself and take baby steps to master your fear
  2. Use a conversation “Icebreaker” and stick with the conversation
  3. Be yourself-It is much easier
  4. Wear or use something that comforts you or makes you feel more confident
  5. Be honest and talk about or do things that you know how to do (pretending is nerveracking)

I hope my story can help you in some way.

With love,

Hands-on

To Paris- with Love

The term “gay paree” comes from the original meaning of the word “gai” in French “happy” or “cheerful.” Thanks to artistic and social movements in fin-de-siecle (turn of the century) Paris, the city became world-famous for social, artistic and sexual excess.

Cities, love them or hate them they are all so different, as I learned during a spring trip to ” Le Gai Paree”.

My expectations were limited and included of course the famous tower and museums but to be perfectly honest, Paris was never at the top of my list for places to visit. In my mind I essentially envisioned the Eiffel tower as a steel structure plunked in the centre of the city and swarming with tourists, surrounded by the typical street cafe’s where you can watch the world go by.  I was so wrong and my new love for this wonderful European city will be captured in a  flattering and emotional review.

My visit was sparked by  visiting  my  brother who was vacationing from the states. This was a long-awaited one-to-one period of quality time with big bro, which hadn’t occurred between us since I was about 8!  He booked a quaint little apartment near the Bastille area, which suited us and housed many local trinkets inside from the owner who lovingly decorated it, plus a balcony to enjoy a glass of wine and of course  local cheese!  Nothing too fancy, just comfort and basic necessities.

Our first day out was visiting Notre Dame and that first day became so much more, that my feet are still recovering. (more on the power of Notre Dame in a moment) Who could resist 80 degree weather and the new spring  blossoms in their amazing Tuileries?! I imagined myself basking in the sun during lunch hour, just like the locals…I was jealous of this luxury and my hope is that they don’t take it for granted. There are gardens everywhere and provide a much-needed rest when exploring.

From the moment we walked out of our apartment door, it was love at first site for me and I was on a mission to explore and inhale every nook and cranny of this friendly and beautiful city. (as suggested by a friend  and writer  who  adores France) We couldn’t resist a coffee on the way to our next destination from a cafe called “Esmerelda” could we?

Walking along the Seine river in the sunshine and watching locals enjoy time at a leisurely pace was unusual but fabulous! Cities are supposed to be fast paced, but the beauty and feeling of love in spring was magnetic. Street artists galore with memorabilia,delicately painted landscapes  and a friendly “bonjour.”  Next stop, the famous “Louvre” Tuileries and people watching followed by Pont De Le Arts and Pont De Le Concorde (an adult playground of sorts along the river Seine pathway)  Ping Pong anyone? Day one was a full one and it didn’t stop here!  Eiffel tower……calling all tourists….. it’s the big one now! Steel towered structure with great fame… not at the top of my list but WOW.. I never expected to see what I saw..(am I teetering?) sorry couldn’t resist.

The Tower is surrounded by a lovely landscaped park with perfectly placed wooden benches that ask to be sat on.. small gardens appear in a corner near the tower, which by the way has a small pond underneath it!  Locals take advantage of this outdoor space by jogging, cycling or just reading a book under a leafy tree.

Under the Eiffel

The lights, the language,  inspiring art, the happy gatherings with picnics and wine along the Seine, lovers celebrating their marriage on the bridges… all of this made my heart and soul swell with joy.

My brother used his french daily and locals were appreciative, patient and very friendly. Before  emigrating  to the UK, I never imagined that I would visit so many wonderful places and my father  would  be very happy knowing that I was enjoying exploring the world.

In fact, he was there with me during my second visit to Notre Dame. I’m not a religious person, but the beauty and peace as I stood inside admiring the sun gazing through arches of stained glass was awe-inspiring.  As I started to follow my brother whilst he was capturing this beauty on film, I walked by a display of candles that you would typically light and say a prayer or remember a loved one. I kept walking, but something pulled me back… I thought of my father and stood there for a moment and decided to choose a candle just for him. I lit the candle and thought to myself, “Dad, I will take you with me on my travels from here on in and this one is for you and I love and miss you.”  I placed his candle in the centre, because anyone that knew my Dad knew that he loved being the centre of attention, especially in the later years.

So there you have it, Paris has the power to bring out love in many forms…beauty, art, lovers and unconditional love found with family and memories.

Thanks for reading

With love,

Hands-on