A Change ... Will Do You Good

I had a rather interesting conversation with my teenage daughter recently. We were playing corn hole, and while my little bean bag's corner was tilting wildly close to the edge of the board's circular hole, it wasn't tipping in -- or scoring me points. Unacceptable. I expressed my frustration eloquently, I think something along the lines of "ARGGGHhhhhhhh," to which my daughter replied:

"Change something."

"But it's so close!" I said. "Every single time it is almost hitting the mark!"

"Almost, but it's not going in," she said. "So you need to change something."

This advice, while wise and useful, wasn't the clincher for me. That comes next, but here's what you need to know: I'm a planner. A strategist, a brainstormer, a maker of to-do lists. Give me a plan with a sound strategy to back it up and get out of my way, cause I'm about to make something happen. It may get messy, but it WILL get done. 

I also respect persistence, an ability to stay the course when the going gets tough and doubt sets in, making you question whether it's worth the trouble. Let's just say that if I played slot machines, which I do not because ewwww the germs on those coins and probably casinos in general, I would be one of those people who would hunker down at one machine and stay there all night, refusing to move lest some greasy, toothless n'er-do-well reap the rewards of my persistence. Or stubbornness. Whatever. Stay the course, I say.

So on to the part about this conversation that has stuck with me for more than a year. For a moment, my teen child and I traded roles, I becoming the somewhat sassy and argumentative teen, she the sage -- calm, sensible and comfortable in the wisdom she was to impart.

"This should be going in! I should be winning!" I said. "My stance is perfect, my toss sublime, the follow through supreme! What do I need to change?!"

I may have stamped my foot in frustration.

"I don't know what you need to change, but what you're doing right now is definitely not working, so try different things until you figure it out," she said. 

Record scratch and what the what?!

So you don't need an 12-point plan with spreadsheets, pie charts and market research to change course? Particularly if the consequences won't set you back any further than your current status?

Huh. Ha. Interesting.

I don't know about you, but lots of times if I don't know exactly what to change, I change nothing. I file lots of things under the "I'll eventually figure out what to do differently, but until then I shall continue to do exactly the same things that I know are not working, mostly out of habit. Please do not disturb." 

At least that was the case until that lovely autumn day when the child took her Mom back to school. And her Mom is still grateful, because now whenever I'm feeling stuck I ask myself "what have I been doing, and what's something different -- anything different -- I can try?"

I swear these words are magic, their magician a teenage girl.


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The Last of the Winter Weekends


Say what you will about winter (and I snarl many a contemptuous remark about the chilly days spanning from January to March-ish), but it does perform sunsets with flourish, tantalizing us to see so much more of its glorious colors with its trees standing strong but bare, a game of peek-a-boo with nature. Winter ... you naughty minx.

This weekend I'm:

~reading this book.
~planning for spring.
~cooking this, though I think I'll grill chicken breasts in lieu of what they've got going on here.
~procrastinating this.
~watching this on this (which we love, by the way. Love, love, and fight over it enough we may get another.)
~contemplating this. Join me, Southerners and non-Southerners alike ...

How about you? Anything fantastic for one of these last (please) winter weekends?


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Mazel Tov!

I can, with confidence, say we will not be taking any pre-Bat Mitzvah party photos at the lake this weekend. Because it will be 40 degrees. Sigh.

What are you doing this weekend?

Enough about you, let's talk about me ... I'm going to my very first Bat Mitzvah of my entire life this weekend! I am extremely excited. So excited you'd think this Bat Mitzvah was at a synagogue in Italy, or Israel, but it isn't. It's like a 5 mile drive from my house.

Let me give you a little Bar Mitzvah background. Between my two daughters, they've been to like like 40. Well, not quite that many ... more along the lines of 12 and counting, but for a bunch of Methodists I feel that's an impressive number.

I was super excited for my older daughter when she was invited to her first Bar Mitzvah when she was in 7th grade (which is when they turn 13, which is when they do their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs.) She asked me "Mom, how many Bar Mitzvahs did you get invited to when you were my age?"

To which I was forced to reply "exactly zero. Not many opportunities to fraternize with the Jewish community when you attend Evangelical Christian School from kindergarten through 12th grade."

Which is why I am perhaps uncommonly excited about attending a religious ceremony of another religion this weekend.

Already instruction has been provided by our younger, yet Mitzvah-wiser daughters:

"They will walk around with the Torah for the congregation to kiss or touch or something. Dad, remember that you are not Jewish and should NOT touch the Torah."

Understood. Also, there's a kiddush luncheon afterwards, which apparently involves bagels.

Then there's the soiree that evening ... for which I still need to find something to wear.  Have I mentioned I'm excited?

I hope y'all all have something you are really excited about this weekend, too!


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Please Note the New Blog Header for 2015

Hello, and Happy New Year! Please note the new blog header for 2015 (subscribers, you'll have to click through to the actual website to see such.)

I want you to note the new header because it's the reason today is the first post of the new year.

It's the first post because I disciplined myself to design and post the new header prior to writing any new posts.

(Anyone who's thinking "well, how disciplined are you really if it took 14 full days to design and post a new header?" is clearly a cynic, and should probably work on that as a resolution.)

The picture above, while delightful, is from the reject pile.

I promise actually entertaining and/or helpful posts soon now that the header albatross is off my back. Man, I feel so much lighter! Albatrosses, particularly the digital kind, are super heavy ...


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Even My Dogs Smell Like Christmas (but for all the wrong reasons)

I've compiled a list I've found vaguely interesting and very personally informative as I've been preparing for the holiday season. Perhaps you, too, will be intrigued. (Perhaps instead you will be alarmed. I understand completely. If you find you are more disturbed than amused, you should totally find a more relaxing blog with a more sensible writer.)

  • We have 8 bins for Halloween decorations, but only 3 for Christmas decorations.
  • One of those Halloween bins is labeled "GRAVEYARD" and is an enormous bin on a high shelf so I can't really access it. I'm just saying there may be an actual graveyard in my storage room and I have no way of knowing for sure. Ce la vie.
  • One of those Christmas bins is so ridiculously enormous that I usually just grab the items I need and carry those upstairs individually. Did not get that memo to my husband, who hauled the giant bin upstairs and said "whatever is in that bin needs to be separated into two smaller, lighter bins" as he huffed and puffed and grabbed his back. His look of incredulity when I announced there are actual bricks in that bin (cute preschool-painted Christmas bricks) was totally worth the price of admission.
  • At least one of our dogs has upgraded from treating the Christmas tree water as vitamin water and gulping it down with wild abandon to actually nibbling on the tree. We assume to freshen his breath. Or maybe for extra protein. We will be keeping the candy canes high up on the tree per the usual this year. Because what the world does not need this holiday season is two naughty Corgis jacked up on sugar.
  • Speaking of naughty Corgis, remember that cute frame my niece procured as a cute little hostess gift (actually a "thanks for getting us a place at the beach" gift) back in the summer? She visited again in October and brought the above photographed fabulously-pine-scented soy candle, which if memory serves she procured at the Memphis Farmer's Market. She totally gets MVP in the gift-giving category, because it smells divine.
  • I once bumped into Morris Day of Morris Day and the Time at a church. I was reminded of this when thumbing through old preschool Christmas program pictures of the girls. Yep, they went to preschool with Morris's child. And no, I did not go up to him and sing "Ohweeohweeoh!"  while performing the accompanying dance moves, though it was encouraged by one of my dearest friends from college. We were in church, people. It didn't seem appropriate, though it was wildly tempting. (Watch a video of Morris performing Jungle Love here, but serious dancing does not commence until the 3:30 mark.)
  • When in need of a tacky Christmas sweater, I would totally rather sew lights onto an old sweater than go to Goodwill to purchase a tacky Christmas sweater. And did so. Evidence below.


XO --

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The Best Cookbook for Thanksgiving Recipes ... or Any Recipe, Really

Last Friday, AKA Halloween, I was full of faux-pity for my fellow parents who were Trick-or-Treating with their youngsters. Why? Because the temps went from long-sleeve-but-no-jacket-necessary weather to freaking freezing cold in a matter of two hours. I was smug in my "my teenage children are at various Halloween parties, thus I remain indoors and toasty warm" stance.

So when karma came back to bite me Saturday morning while spectating at my daughter's cross country race via 40-degree temps and 25-mile-per-hour winds, I really couldn't complain (though I did regularly threaten to set myself on fire to ward off frostbite. Into Thin Air by Jon Krakauer is one of my favorite books of all time, yet I shall never visit Mt. Everest due to the way those people talk about frostbite with the same nonchalance a girl from Tennessee might talk about a mosquito bite or spotting a possum. There are other reasons I will not likely ever grace Mt. Everest, like the necessity to walk on a ladder over a massive crevasse, having to tether oneself to multiple others while dangling off particularly treacherous inclines, and highly questionable air transportation, but we shall save that discussion for a different post.)

Once we were home and I thawed my bones, I stayed put by the fire pretty much all day. Making chili. Putting away Halloween decor. Watching football. Drinking chai tea lattes. You know, November whatnot.

November. Sheesh.

Which set me on the path of thinking about Thanksgiving, which is at my brother and sister-in-law's this year (thank you Baby Jesus that it is not my year to host.) But I will bring food. Because I like to cook. And because my husband has a very specific way he enjoys his sweet potato casserole (mostly brown sugar and melted butter with a sweet potato smashed in for good measure.) And I have a specific casserole I make and holiday season cannot commence until I have consumed it. Find the recipe here. But there's also the potential I'll try out a new dish or two.

Perhaps you're thinking along the same Thanksgiving-recipe lines, and if so, I'm going to tell you the first cookbook I grab these days --- and for the last several years since purchasing -- if I'm looking for new recipes: Cook's Illustrated Cookbook.

God Bless America, those recipes are dee-lic-ious. One of my favorite parts of Cook's Illustrated (there's a magazine, too. And it is advertisement-free!) is that if they ask you to do something that seems silly (toss the meat lightly from hand to hand until a loose ball is formed -- what the??), they explain it and it makes total sense. So that's a plus.

I bought the cookbook the same week it came out and happily paid the full-price of $40 (and it has been worth every single penny), but if you click that link above you can purchase it for $22.83. I'm not even kidding. It's a great housewarming or wedding or Christmas or hostess gift (and no, they are not paying me to say these things. See above re: no ads.)

It's just that good. And I like to share hopefully helpful information with people for whom I'm thankful.

And that means y'all.



Disclosure: Some of the links in the post above are affiliate links. So, if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a miniscule affiliate commission. I only review things I have personally used and loved, and think you'll love too.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 
16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


How to Reorder Work Experience on LinkedIn in 6 Simple Steps

When I'm advising professionals on sharpening their personal brand --  particularly when it comes to their resume, bio and LinkedIn profile -- my number one tip is to move eye-catching, results-based achievements to the top.

For all the many wonderful attributes of LinkedIn, it insists on complete chronology with work experience, so whatever job you're in right now sits up top. Then the last job you held, and so on. It doesn't matter if you were the President of the United States and now you're a professional apple picker ... CEO will be listed second, with your picking profession center stage.

Which is dandy if you're putting politics aside for greener orchards (no one could blame you, really), but if you're looking for a more professional image as you charge back into the working world (or change industries, de-emphasize a short-term job, or after a downsizing) there's a simple way to place your top accomplishments front-and-center.

6 Simple Steps to Reorder Work Experience on LinkedIn

1. Log into your LinkedIn, click "Profile," then "Edit Profile."

2. Scroll to "Experience," and click "Add a Position."

3. On the "Company Name" tab, type a broad category you want to emphasize. For example:
~Marketing Strategist
~Human Resources Professional
~Financial Consultant
~You could even go with something like "Career Highlights" or "Industry Experience." 

4. On the "Title" tab, type in a little descriptive. Think of it as a subheading instead of a job title. For example:
~ Company Name: Healthcare Marketing
~ Job Title: Key Career Achievements

5. On the "Time Period" tab, input a start time that best describes whatever you've categorized. So if you've been in your current field for 10 years, input "2004" for start time. The most important factor is that you input the end time after the next position that comes up! So if you resigned from your last position in May 2014, the end time for this position should be June 2014 or after. Yes, there will be crossover with other jobs, and that's okay. You're not claiming this is an official job you held ... you're listing work experience.

6. On the "Description" tab, include whatever you need to highlight. For example:
~Heartstrong Medical Company: created brand strategy resulting in new product sales of $40 billion.
It doesn't matter if that particular achievement was back in 2002, and you've held 2 different jobs since then. If it's something that needs to be said first, put it right up top.

One point upon which I want to be completely clear: I'm not encouraging you to fudge details on your LinkedIn (or anywhere.) In fact, I strongly encourage you to fact-check all your information for honesty and accuracy throughout LinkedIn and on your resume.

From a personal branding perspective, you must position your career results and achievements in a way that will intrigue a future employer. When you look at the scope of your entire career, success isn't necessarily sequential. So don't let a little technical obstacle on one of the top professional resources on the internet keep you from putting your best foot forward, right at the top of the page.

For a few more tips about pumping up your personal brand on LinkedIn, visit here and here. And if you need a little professional assistance getting that LinkedIn profile in order, send me a note at amyATamymacwritesDOTcom.

Have a great week!
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