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Networking 101

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MOMMY NETWORK by Susan Fishback

Research is important to all aspects of business but it is essential to  accomplish networking basics.  When looking for new networking groups, be sure to see who is involved.  The local chamber of commerce is often a good place to start.  These groups have a large variety of people and opportunities.

Before attending the meeting, look at the website and see what companies are involved.  There is often a key-note speaker who will be listed as well.  Take the time to look up the companies before attending so that your questions are relevant to what they do.  Look through their employees, mission and events that they are involved in.

Facebook and social media in general, is another great resource.  This will show you how they interact with current customers and potential customers.  This is also an opportunity to see how they market themselves.

After you have completed your research, determine what aspects of the company you relate to.  It might be their product or their community involvement.  Having a point in common is a great way to start the conversation.  Be sure to show how your area of expertise relates to their company.

At the meeting, carry a pen and business cards.  Many people keep their business cards in one pocket or on one side of their purse and put the ones they collect in the other pocket or other side of the purse.  After talking, write some notes on the back of their business card.  Keep it simple, but put the highlights down.  This will help with your follow-up.

Within the first business day of the meeting, be sure to send an email to the people you met.  Keep it simple, show that you remember them personally and leave the door open to meet again.  After connections are made; it doesn’t have to be a formal meeting – you can meet for coffee or lunch.

Networking is all about connections and finding how you relate with other business people.  The more you are out there, the easier it is.

Remember to smile and practice!

Catch up on more posts by Mommy Network, Susan Fishback, at www.blackberrymom.com and read some of her other thoughts at www.simplymoderndance.com or follow her on twitter @susanfishback.

 

 

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Secret To A Long Life – Is Living A Happy One

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MAMASTE By Stefanie Lester Coslow

Tonight I attended a Yoga & Chocolate workshop.  Ever since I saw the flyer, I wanted to go. Those two words together are music to my ears.  But, I almost didn’t go as it meant I had to sub out a class, which I felt guilty about – both because I love my classes, and, if I don’t teach, I don’t get paid.

I have to say, I’m so glad I listened to my heart and went.  It was an amazing evening.

The practice was challenging, the music was great, and the chocolate (sitting on our mats after class) was incredibly delicious (Vosges Haute Chocolates, if you don’t know them check them out!)  But David Romanelli, the teacher, was so inspiring.  His philosophy is all about living in the moment, enjoying the journey of life and to stop taking ourselves so seriously.

He shared his insight and perspective through truly funny, relatable stories that had made me laughing hysterically and forgetting that I was still holding my arms out at shoulder height after g-d knows how long!

This class was inspired by Jeanne Calment who lived to be 122 years old, the longest life in history, and her secrets to longevity were enjoying the journey and eating two pounds of chocolate per week …..this is my kind of woman! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeanne_Calment.

David has a big interest and apparently, has learned much from supercentenarians, or those who are over 110 years old.  He stated that one thing he found that they all (or almost all) had in common was a certain “joie de vivre”, or joy of life, and a good sense of humor.

He shared a fantastic quote, “ A person without a sense of humor is like a wagon without springs, jolted by every pebble in the road.”  (Henry Ward Beecher)  How true is that?

Another important point he made; youth is in the mind.

I truly believe that outlook and mental attitude play an important role in physical health.  I never, ever had thought of living to 122 years old, or even close to that as a goal.  Aging hasn’t seemed like the most appealing thing, to be quite honest.  But imagine the possibility….. my eldest child, my daughter, would be 90! Maybe I’d be a great, great grandmother….  And who’s to say I can’t remain healthy and active and feeling young for a long time to come?

Who knows what the future holds, but I can do my part, we all can, by staying active and healthy (within reason) and enjoying life, guilty pleasures and all (ie – chocolate), and by doing things that fill my heart and make me smile.  So let’s loosen up a bit, stop taking ourselves so seriously, slow down a little, and take some time to smell the roses.  Life is short….

 

Namaste,

Stefanie

 

Take one of Stefanie’s classes at CorePower yoga studios throughout Chicago corepoweryoga.com (Stefanie C on the schedule) or at Yoga Loft Chicago http://yogaloftchicago.com. She also works with private clients in their homes so think of her for your next party or corporate event. Either write her a note on the blog, or call her directly at 646-642-3391. Catch up on Stefanie’s prior posts at www.BlackBerryMom.com

For more information on David Romanelli or to check out his book, his blog, his yoga workshops…..visithttp://www.yeahdave.com/.

 

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Dressing for the Theatre

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passion for fashion

Alison Malkin Schwartz - PASSION FOR FASHION

This past Saturday night my husband and I had a long overdue overnight in Manhattan and decided to see a show on Broadway.

It’s been ages since I’ve had the opportunity to treat myself to live theatre and I must say I was a little shocked at some of the dress combinations I spied at the show. From ripped jeans to cut off shorts and t –shirts and a few sneakers in the midst, I can’t believe how dressed down some of the audience was.

My personal opinion on dressing for any live performance (not including rock concerts) requires a little more effort. Appropriate dress for a woman might include a dress or skirt (not frayed or ripped), a blouse or a sweater paired with a pair of slacks.  If a pair of jeans is your only option, make them dark so they at least look like they’re on the dressier side.  No sneakers or flip-flops please!

For men, slacks and a button down shirt in lieu of a suit, or chinos and a collared shirt. Same as above if you’re opting for jeans. Boat shoes or loafers instead of sneakers would be a better choice.

I’ve always had the outlook that attending a show is a special treat and we tend to dress up for those occasions. Remember, you never have to spend a fortune to look polished.

 

Read more about Alison’s Passion for Fashion at www.BlackBerryMom.com

 

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Networking Like A Pro

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MOMMY NETWORK by Susan Fishback

Welcome to the art of networking

Many people know they should be networking; but what does that mean?

  • Does networking only happen at specific meetings?
  • Do you have to be in a specific field?
  • Networking in the most general sense is talking with other working professionals about you and the other person.

 

This can happen at the grocery store or a meeting and it can work for people in any field.  It often takes practice and you can start with small steps.

Often starting the conversation is the most difficult.  Luckily, this can be practiced all the time.  When you are out and about; smile and make eye contact with at least one person.

If you are standing in line at the store or at a kids’ activity smile and say “hello” to the person next to you.  The simple act of smiling and making eye contact shows that you are friendly and confident.  This is especially important at networking events.

It makes you approachable and allows other people to begin the conversation.  Simply saying hello to the person next to you at a kids’ event can lead to small talk and casual networking.

Keep it simple.  When asked about your background, give a simple, concise answer and ask the other person a similar question.  Effective networking should be a balance of talking and listening.  Small talk is easy for some people and difficult for others.

If you are attending an event, you can write down your questions and answers before going.  Practice your responses with family members and friends.  It seems silly, but it is a huge help when you enter the room.

Always carry business cards!  In today’s world, you can make your own business card on the computer if you don’t have one for work.  It doesn’t have to be fancy in the beginning, just something that has your name, contact info and what you do.  You never know when you need to hand one out – opportunities present themselves at random times.

Instead of giving someone your number verbally, give them a card.  The more people who have your card, the more likely someone will think of you when they need your services.

Building relationships isn’t immediate, but with practice you will build your career network.  The most important part is to enjoy yourself as you are out meeting new people.  Continue to practice and smile!

Catch up on more posts by Mommy Network, Susan Fishback, at www.blackberrymom.com and read some of her other thoughts at www.simplymoderndance.com or follow her on twitter @susanfishback.

 

 

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Vintage Shopping

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passion for fashion

Alison Malkin Schwartz - PASSION FOR FASHION

I love a Vintage Shopping Spree

I’m not a regular vintage shopper but I do enjoy the experience of shopping in a vintage store when I have some “free time” on my hands.

The thrill of finding a piece of clothing, handbag or jewelry that has its own personal journey and history with previous owners, traveling between different parts of the country, or world for that matter, is a very exciting concept when you really think about it.

If you’ve ever entered a vintage store it can be very overwhelming. With lots of bold colors and retro prints hanging from every angle, you might want to run the other way, but I encourage you to take your time looking throughout the shop and picking out some pieces that jump out at you immediately.

If you’re looking for clothing, definitely try everything on. If many alterations have to be made in order to have it fit correctly then I would pass on the garment. However, if minimal tailoring can fix the garment to your liking – go for it and buy yourself something unique that no one else will have.

My personal favorite vintage pieces that I shop for include coats, purses and costume jewelry. I find pieces that really bring you back in time and then pair it with something a bit current to combine the past and present together. Shop owners can fill you in about the pieces you are interested in and maybe clue you in about their history.

I love finding classic designer bags that I wouldn’t normally buy because they are so expensive, but I find an older version at a cheaper price and feel less guilty about spending the money.

Make sure you have time to shop (minus kids and husbands) and you will have a much better chance of scoring some really cool pieces…plus it’s a nice change from shopping at the Gap.

Happy shopping!!!

 

Read more about Alison’s Passion for Fashion at www.BlackBerryMom.com

 

 

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Yoga and Aetna

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MAMASTE By Stefanie Lester Coslow

I’ve always been a connoisseur of magazines and I guess I’ve gone through a sort of evolution with it.  My infatuation started somewhere along the lines of Tiger Beat, Teen Beat, …whatever those magazines were called that I ripped the pictures of John Stamos (way before the Full House Days), Jack Wagner, and the cast of the Outsiders out of.

Then I graduated to Seventeen, Glamour, Cosmo, fashion magazines, gossip mags, Parenting magazines,…..  The magazine that I now run to the mailbox for and tear through cover to cover, dogearring pages of?  Yeah, you guessed it…. Yoga Journal.  Yes, I’m kind of a dork, but also feel a bit more adult that I actually have a career/interest that I geek out over reading about.

The latest issues of Yoga Journal was no disappointment.  There was a fantastic article that I loved about the CEO of Aetna, Mark T. Bertolini, and his love of and belief in yoga as a healer and stress reducer.

After suffering a terrible skiing accident, Mr. Bertolini was in constant pain and partially paralyzed.  After a year of living on narcotics, he tried alternative therapies such as acupuncture and yoga and found great success.

In 2008 he commissioned his yoga instructor to develop a yoga program for Aetna’s employees to help reduce stress, and he partnered with Duke University Medical Center, as well, to conduct a scientific study of the effects of yoga.  The study was published this year and showed that the yoga course had significant stress reducing benefits.

We’ve all heard and read about the effects that stress can have on health, both physical and mental and many studies prove it.  People with the highest levels of stress often have the highest medical expenses as well.

Some data on from Aetna’s study on stress in the workplace:

 

  1. Those with the highest stress levels generally spent $2,000 more annually on health care costs vs those with the lowest stress levels
  2. a 33% decrease was shown in stress levels after taking stress reducing yoga classes
  3. only 1 hour per week of yoga resulted in lower stress levels

 

More and more companies are incorporating wellness programs for their employees.  And, by lowering stress levels it’s been shown we can lower medical costs, so hopefully, somewhere down the line, insurers will cover mind-body therapies.  One can only hope.  Mark Bertolini is a huge believer and so am I.  After all, an ounce of prevention…..

 

Take one of Stefanie’s classes at CorePower yoga studios throughout Chicago corepoweryoga.com (Stefanie C on the schedule) or at Yoga Loft Chicago http://yogaloftchicago.com. She also works with private clients in their homes so think of her for your next party or corporate event. Either write her a note on the blog, or call her directly at 646-642-3391. Catch up on Stefanie’s prior posts at www.BlackBerryMom.com

 

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Easy Summer Meals For Busy Parents

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james weiselman schulman chef daddy

James Weiselman Schulman CHEF DADDY

The summer could not be a better time for easy meal preparation for the busy parent. It’s hot out, so no one wants to turn on the oven and the fresh produce is abundant.

Take advantage…

Salads are always a great way to enjoy the freshest produce. And no one says that they have to contain lettuce, either. Beans, nuts, fruit and dried fruit, all add texture and flavor. Looking for some protein – toss in some cheese, nuts, or edamame. You want some crunch – try seeds like sesame, pepitas (pumpkin), or sunflower.

Maybe you have some leftovers from the weekend grilling – what better place than into the salad. Toss grilled corn and onion with black beans and a squeeze of lime and you have a great quick Mexican salad.

Or for the really lazy, slice a variety of tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and drizzle with oil. That’s it. Couldn’t be simpler. Add some crusty bread, cheese, and a glass of wine and you have a great summer dinner.

Another great option is cold soups. They couldn’t be simpler to make either. The red variety of gazpacho is by far the most popular, only takes minutes to prepare, and does well made ahead of time. Make a batch on the weekend after a visit to the farmers’ market and you’ll have it at the ready for a couple of days. In a blender, mix tomatoes, cucumbers, onion, and bell peppers. Add oil and vinegar and salt and pepper to taste and thin with water. You can also toss in a piece of day-old bread that’s been soaked in water. In true Spanish fashion, drink it out of a glass served over ice.

Or, one of the favorite versions around our house is a green one that uses avocados instead of tomatoes.

Summer is also the best time of year for all the yummy fruits the kids love, from cherries to blueberries to peaches. Make sure to finish every meal with some. Not only are they better for you than most other desserts, many are mostly water (think watermelon), which the kids will need after running around all day in the hot sun.

Got a question for Chef Daddy? Ask in the comment section below and he’ll answer in an upcoming post.

For more from James, check out his own blog at: www.jamesschulman.blogspot.com, follow him on twitter @jamesschulman, and find his other Chef Daddy posts at
www.BlackBerryMom.com

 

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Carry A Spare Everything

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passion for fashion

Alison Malkin Schwartz - PASSION FOR FASHION

My car trunk has many spare things in it not including tires…

I have found that spending all hours of the day with my children this summer equals many outfit changes.  Since we are out and about for most of the day, I’ve learned that my car trunk seconds as a closet for my children.

My daughter insists on having a backup pair of flip-flops at all times. When she’s running around in sneakers at the playground for hours at a time, she can throw them off her sweaty feet afterwards and let them air out wearing her flip-flops.

I’ve learned from experience that carrying swimsuits in the car can be a real lifesaver. Ending up at my friend’s house led to a swim in their pool that I didn’t come prepared for. My kids, almost about to have multiple meltdowns thinking that we left their suits at home, were pleasantly surprised when I whipped out their suits from the trunk of my car…. glad I dodged that bullet.

My five year old son is like a walking stain, constantly falling in the dirt and spilling food and beverages on every shirt he owns, then ripping anything off that’s the tiniest bit wet (sound familiar)! It’s imperative that back up outfits are on hand to be replaced after all meals acquired throughout the day.

Of course my kids love to complain how every restaurant and other indoor facility is freezing inside, especially the movie theatre that we’ve been frequently visiting to stay out of the 90-degree weather outside.  My point, a sweatshirt is a must have item for our trunk!

Of course you might want to consider adding extra underwear to your collection for the toddlers in your life.

Bottom line… I’ve learned it pays to be prepared and our days run much smoother carrying spare clothes, and being ready for all spills and climate changes during the day.

 

Read more about Alison’s Passion for Fashion at www.BlackBerryMom.com

 

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List Making

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MOMMY NETWORK by Susan Fishback

Put your thoughts into action!

You’ve decided what direction you are moving in and you know how to find important information; but when are you going to do it?  Like many things in life, we know what to do but it can be difficult getting started.  Creating a schedule is a great way to find a time that works for you and helps you focus.

One way to move forward is to write a list of each task that needs to be completed and estimating how long each task will take.  Next, write out your current schedule for the entire week and see where you can fit each task.  By looking at the full week, you won’t be as overwhelmed and it makes the tasks seem more manageable.  Don’t forget to allow time for promoting yourself.  It can be as simple as fifteen minutes a day on social media or being involved in your community.

Be fair to yourself, and consider what time of day is realistic for completing these tasks.  My oldest is an early morning person.  For seven years, we have been waking up at 5:30 – thankfully, this winter he slept in until 6:30 but we are currently waking up with the birds.  Being up so early, makes mornings a great time for me to work on my blogs or peruse social media and articles related to my interests.  By the afternoon, I am usually dragging a bit and not very effective or motivated for that matter.

In the beginning of my transition, I was pretty lax with my time and as the kids’ schedules started getting busier I was losing my time for writing.  I looked at what days are less crazy and set them as my writing days.  I try to allow 15-30 minutes each morning for looking through social media and reading interesting articles.After creating this schedule, I have been more efficient and consistent in my work.  I may not complete my goal first thing in the morning but I am always there by the end of the day.

Just making the commitment will provide you with joy and a sense of accomplishment.

Catch up on more posts by Mommy Network, Susan Fishback, at www.blackberrymom.com and read some of her other thoughts at www.simplymoderndance.com or follow her on twitter @susanfishback

 

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Cancer and Yoga

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MAMASTE By Stefanie Lester Coslow

 

Unfortunately, I feel pretty confident in saying, that most of us, in one way or another, have been touched by cancer.

I think I first heard the c-word in my preteen years when my grandfather was diagnosed, and ultimately lost his battle with colon cancer, and at the same time, neighbors/friends of mine, in my age group, lost parents to the disease.

At this point in my life, I have more than a few friends who have, themselves, had some form of cancer.  In the fall of 2007, my dear friend Rose, was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma at the same time that my college friend, Angie, was losing her battle with metastatic breast cancer.

Rose is now a 4 year survivor and, Angie’s legacy lives on to me personally through her family, which I hold near and dear to my heart, but to many others as well through the charity started in her memory, Angie’s Spa.  Angie’s Spa is a non-profit organization that funds free therapeutic massages for cancer patients undergoing treatment.

Of late I’ve become a pretty big believer in the mind body connection and the benefits, both physically and mentally, that stress reduction and exercise can have.  But I was really happy to read some articles recently, via Angie’s spa, about the benefits of yoga for cancer patients.

Studies have shown that yoga helps to decrease blood pressure and heart rate as well as improve mood and help with fatigue in cancer patients undergoing treatment.  It has also been shown to help with joint pain and muscles aches that can be common side effects of cancer drugs.  Yoga has also been shown to help with memory difficulties in cancer patients and survivors, and studies show that yoga can help improve depression symptoms as well.

Now I’m not saying yoga is a cure for cancer or should be used in place of traditional treatments, but I’m a huge believer that alternative treatments, such as yoga and massage, are a wonderful compliment to a traditional treatments, and I can only hope that they are explored and prescribed more and more.

For more information about Angie’s spa go to http://www.angiesspa.org/.

In love and light, namaste,

Stefanie

 

Take one of Stefanie’s classes at CorePower yoga studios throughout Chicago corepoweryoga.com (Stefanie C on the schedule) or at Yoga Loft Chicago http://yogaloftchicago.com. She also works with private clients in their homes so think of her for your next party or corporate event. Either write her a note on the blog, or call her directly at 646-642-3391. Catch up on Stefanie’s prior posts at www.BlackBerryMom.com

 

 

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