September 17, 2015

How to survive a business lunch as a vegetarian

Years ago, I went on a business lunch with my co-worker and a banker. Half way into the lunch, she revealed that she kept a strict kosher diet. I hadn't realized that she had carefully selected both the place we went to and what she had chosen for lunch. What amazed me was that the woman regularly went on business lunches and somehow managed to stick to her kosher diet.

It couldn't have been easy!

A few weeks ago I thought of this co-worker when I got a phone call from Ana Marquez, a senior account executive with RBB Communications in Miami. Ana explained to me that it has been a struggle for her to stay a vegan because of all the business dining she does. "When a client invites you to lunch, you can't always dictate what they give you for food," she explained. 

Think about this scenario a vegetarian commenter wrote on a blog: "I have a lot of business lunches and when the discussion - 'oh why did you order that, you should try.....' it is sometimes difficult to come up with something diplomatic, to not sound like you are judging their choice - which is how so many people hear any explanation...." 

When we go to work, we bring our whole selves and that includes our eating habits and beliefs Sometimes, it's a struggle to make your work life and personal life fit together. Today my guest blogger is Larry Rice , president of Johnson & Wales University’s North Miami Campus. Four years ago he adopted a plant-based lifestyle after learning about its health benefits. It has been a challenge.  

Larry rice

About four years ago, I made a lifestyle change that has changed even the most simple business lunch with colleagues: I began following a plant-based, loosely known as vegan, diet.

Since I started this journey, rarely a week goes by without the following question from peers, colleagues, friends, extended family, and of course the occasional brave souls who just can’t help themselves when they notice something is missing from my plate.  They ask, “Do you miss eating ‘real food’?”  I think I disappoint many with my usual response, “Not ever.”   

My greatest challenges when I transitioned to a plant-based lifestyle were the social changes among the people within my circle of influence. I was not prepared for, nor did I understand, to what extent eating animals protein had been a part of my culture and identity.

My supportive wife and two daughters began this journey with me. Some of my colleagues, including my assistant, also follow a plant-based diet. Yet, it was shocking how many acquaintances and colleagues noticed.  No matter how discrete I was, whenever I would join others for lunch or dinner, I found myself having to explain, sometimes in great detail, why I was no longer eating animal products.

These days, my challenges come from dining out for work.  My job requires me to participate in many business meetings over lunch or dinner, so I can offer a few friendly dining etiquette tips which are helpful whether you are following a special diet, or dining with someone who is doing so.

  1. Always remember the art of dining out is about the fellowship or establishing connections. Don't let your eating preference (or your colleague’s) hijack the conversation.
  2. Don't be defensive or evasive when asked questions. Colleagues may innocently ask how you vary your diet or get certain nutrients. They may also divulge their interest in eating plant-based a few days a week and ask for restaurant recommendations. Be willing to share.
  3. Take initiative. When meeting colleagues for lunch or dinner meetings, I'm often asked to select the restaurant either out of consideration for my lifestyle, or because colleagues want to try a completely plant-based meal.
  4. Be patient with the server. Many servers confuse vegetarianism, veganism, and plant-based.

Today, there are a number of great resources out there to educate people who are considering a plant-based lifestyle. The book Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease, along with the documentary Forks Over Knives and the CNN special “The Last Heart Attack,” prompted my interest in plant-based cuisine and helped me develop the lifestyle I follow today. I have also been fortunate to work at Johnson & Wales University, where colleagues in our College of Culinary Arts are a great source of information.

What’s most important, in both my personal and professional interactions, is that I see my diet to be a change in lifestyle and a personal choice. People have to make choices that are right for them. As such, I am always willing to have a conversation, but I am mindful that I should not impose my views on others.

Ana told me recently she has expanded her vegan diet and become a vegetarian, giving her more food options for business lunches. The good news is that slowly, the restaurant industry is offering more choices to customers including more vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options, she says. For people who dine out for business and have diet restrictions, it's still a challenge. But Ana says, it is becoming more doable!



July 16, 2015

How weird would it feel to do a digital detox?



Have you ever gone away for a day -- a full 24 hours -- and not checked email or Internet?

I've done it and It felt kind of strange, like I was missing out on something. But at the same time, it felt good, like I actually got something done, even if that something was a day at the beach enjoying my family. The question is...can you make it more than a day without logging on to an electronic screen? 

First of all, why should any of us try it? After all, logging on is how we do business, keep in touch with friends and let the world know what we are up to.

There are a few reasons why it's worth trying.

The first reasons is our eyes. This morning I was reading an article about why our kids need digital detox. The article suggested all the screen time might be hurting our kids development growth and their eyesight. The article even quotes an eye doctor who is seeing more children than ever before with vision problems because of too much time in front of screens. I have trouble believing these problems are confined only to children. Are we setting ourselves up for a severe case of short-sightedness as we grow older?

The next reason is our brains.  A few weeks ago I read about digital amnesia. Our addiction to our smartphones has wreaked havoc on our short term memories. Most of us can't remember basic phones for family and friends. We rely on our cellphones to keep the information on file for us. Worse, we're no longer worrying about remembering information of any sort, figuring instead that we can just go the Internet to recall a fact. Experts wonder if we will completely lose our ability to memorize.

Another reason is our anxiety level. In our increasingly tech-dependent society, the emotional stakes are high. In a survey of 1,000 people, many said they would become “overwhelmed by sadness” if they lost their phone. Some even said they’d go into a panic. I would definitely fall into that category.

Now that we know why we should cut back on screen time, we need to figure out how to do it.

I'm realistic enough to know I could never go more than a few days without connecting to the Internet. But this year while on vacation, I am going to try to go a little longer than I have in past years. And, I'm going to try to try to enforce "No Internet Saturdays." That's my version of digital detox.

Frances Booth writes in Forbes that ideal digital detox is 24 hours. She says all it takes is turning the power button to off on our digital devices. Easy! Not so easy?

She offers some steps: Remind yourself why you want to detox, choose a realistic time (not when you're super busy at work), announce it on your social media sites, plan something enjoyable to keep you focused. You might also warn your parents and friends that they shouldn’t take it personally when you don’t text them back or like their picture right away.


Give digital detox a try and let me know how it goes.  It might feel weird at first. But then, it might feel great!

July 09, 2015

Too connected? Why you need vacation rules


Earlier this week, I left a message on an accountant's voicemail asking him to call me about an article I am working on. He called me back within a few hours. Well into our conversation, he mentioned he was on vacation. It was at that point that I could hear his wife in the background and she was noticeably agitated. I suggested he call me back when he returned from vacation. When we hung up, I had a feeling he was in big trouble.

Staying connected to work may make traveling less stressful for you, but it can become annoying to people who are with you on vacation. One of my friends recently told me it was while on vacation that she realized her marriage had hit rock bottom. She couldn't get her husband off his phone long enough to do anything romantic.

My suggestion for anyone traveling with a friend, spouse, or partner is to set vacation rules. My husband and I realized years ago setting rules was key to a better vacation. I agree to let my husband check in with his office every morning. He spends about an hour on his laptop checking email and returning calls. I usually check my email less often while on vacation but I tend to do it in the late afternoons when everyone is unwinding before dinner. We each get about an hour a day without guilt. The rule also is that we leave our phones behind when we do a family activity.

Today it has become increasingly easy to integrate work and travel -- regardless of where you are vacationing. There are more hotels and cafes that offer Wi-Fi, and more mobile devices with the same functionality as desktop PCs. But that ease of connection makes being on the same page of your travel companion more important than ever. 

When the goal of a vacation is to reconnect with friends or family, it can be frustrating when your travel partner sends a different message. Your stressful interaction with work can affect those who are traveling with you. My neighbor says while on his vacation, it completely unnerved him to watch his wife's reaction to an incoming work-related email as she lounged by the pool. "We're supposed to be on vacation relaxing, and I can see that something at the office didn't go her way. It not only stresses her out, it stressed me out, too."

Companions who are with someone who resists disconnecting say they find themselves torn between bringing their vacation partner in the present and coming across as a nag. Most of us only have a week a year when we can spend solid uninterrupted time with our spouse or kids. Don't they deserve to experience us enjoying time with them?

The solution may be agreeing upfront on how, when and where work check-ins will fit into a vacation schedule. Logging on and sending emails before others awake or during rest periods in the hotel room may be palatable. Missing a mid-day, zip-line excursion or interrupting pool time to make a work call may not be okay. Setting vacation rules may require respect for your companion’s work demands and it may take compromise.

Some business owners and professionals say checking in briefly allows them to relax more. It prevents them from a stressful return to work. That's understandable. But remember, the goal is to use your vacation to come back to the office and your home life happier than before you left. If setting vacation rules ahead of time is what it takes to make that happen, why not give it try?


May 28, 2015

10 Ways Working Parents Can Prepare For Summer

                                         Summer camp



Many summers, I would scramble to leave the newsroom by 4 p.m. to pick my kids up from summer camp. Still, I would be one of the last parents in the camp pickup line. When my kids complained, I wondered how other parents made their summer schedules work.

For working parents, summer can be one of the most challenging and expensive times of the year. The free and low-cost day camps usually fill up quickly. Most camps end at around 3 or 4 p.m., and aftercare programs charge an additional fee — if they are available at all. This week, I tackled the topic in my Miami Herald column about planning ahead for summer

I also asked Linda McKnight for her thoughts. As a working parent, founder of and a former owner of a child care center, Linda has a lot to say on the topic of putting steps in place to ensure a smooth summer while balancing work and family.

Here are her 10 tips for preparing for summer season:  

1.     Start early – Summer camps have limited space and fill up quickly. These days there are a myriad of resources for finding summer camp options. Camp guides are offered by local parenting magazines, the YMCA as well as local county Parks & Rec Depts. Guides are generally available by March and April. Be sure to be on the look out for the printed guides at your local libraries or check websites for online versions. Additionally, a quick google search for “Summer Camp” in your city will produce even more options.

2.     Do your due diligence – When enrolling your child in a summer camp program you want to give the same attention to due diligence that you would when enrolling your child in a school year program. To check on licensing status visit the Florida Dept of Children and Families at To further assess the quality of summer programs you are considering, remember to look for reviews on review sites like Yelp, Yahoo Local Listings and even the BBB. For a comprehensive checklist on how to check out a child care program visit

3.     Include your child in the decision – A week or more in a program that your child dislikes can be an eternity for both your child – and you. Make sure to interview your child as to the kinds of things they are interested in participating in this summer and have your child weigh in on picking which programs to sign up with.

4.     Try to enroll with a friend – Even the most gregarious children can experience angst when faced with a new situation and new people. The transition to a new environment can often go off without a hitch when there is a buddy in toe.

5.     Mitigate separation anxiety – Children who experience separation anxiety or are shy can find the short stay in a new environment uncomfortable at best. The best remedy for separation anxiety is information, information, and more information. Keep your child completely in the loop as to where the camp is, what they will be doing while at camp and how long they will be there etc. If possible, pay a pre-first-day visit to the facility so your child can meet the staff ahead of time. Visit the program’s website and Facebook page and any other social media sites to see pictures of some of the activities and the children having fun.

6.     Fees and Discounts - Be sure to inquire about additional fees or even discounts. The base tuition may be what you are quoted when you inquire about a program, but there may also be additional fees for special activities, events or field trips that are planned.

7.     The right clothes can make or break the experience - Be sure your child is dressed appropriately. Summer activities often involve water, mud, sand, watermelon and/or pie eating contests and more, hence, expect messiness. One of my best tips for parents is to visit your local second hand store and buy 6 or 8 outfits that are “camp only” clothes. This relieves everyone from worrying about stained-beyond-salvage situations. And don’t forget about appropriate shoes. Shoes with laces or buckles are out. Sandals can be a tripping hazard. So if sandals are worn they should be in good condition and fit well. And finally, use a Sharpie to label everything with your child’s last name.

8.     Stay up on communication – After you decide on a program, make sure you are signed up on any email list that the program uses to communicate with parents. Also be sure to join any social media they participate in so you can stay abreast of any and all new development that will affect your child’s participation.

9.     Read the fine print – Generally there is plenty of paperwork that goes along with signing your child up for any camp program. Be sure to carefully review program details for items like extra registration or insurance fees, closure days that are out of the ordinary or maybe special fieldtrips that you may want to participate in.

10.  Consider traffic patterns - When evaluating summer camp programs, they will likely be located outside of your normal routes. Summer traffic patterns can be different than when school is in session and can cause extended time on the road.

Summer can be a nice break for working parents -- no homework to supervise or lunches to pack. A little planning can make it even better!



December 16, 2014

Parenting Do-Overs for 2015

Do over.

Two words that all of us think about at one time in our lives. If I could have a do over, I would stress a lot less when my kids were in elementary school about their homework, friends, and activities. I would approach parenting without guilt for being a working mom and realize that I'm teaching my kids responsibility rather than shirking my parental duty when I asked them to make their own lunch for school.

When I saw this guest blog post on the topic of do overs, I wanted to share it with all of you who may still have time to approach the juggle of work and family with new insight. Work life balance is a lofty goal and over our lifetime, we all have something we would have done differently.

The author of this guest blog post is Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl's Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at and more about Rapini at


10 Parent Do-Overs For 2015
Including "Embrace the Mess"

by Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC
When my first daughter was six and my youngest was two, I came to a realization that helped me parent in a much different fashion. You see, I've always been a neat freak and I prefer structure and order in my home. Beds made, no dust, and I'm happy. No one told me I couldn't have that and kids too, but it wasn't long before I realized I would stress myself into a heart attack if I continued.
When you have kids, you should actually think of living in a barn because kids are hoarders; they're messy; they spill anything they carry; and they are curious and forgetful. They don't close doors, clean up toys, worry about mud, clean up art supplies or Cheerios. And, unless you pacify them with electronic gadgets (which don't stimulate their creative ingenuity as well as hands on manipulating things), your home will be full of rocks, leaves, sand and bugs.
Every parent I know who has a teenager or college-bound child reminisces about what they would do differently if they had a baby or small children now. Many of the things they say are enlightening and helpful when you are sure you're losing your mind with the little ones. I have come up with a list of ten things for parents to consider for 2015 as they continue raising their children.
I've found that hindsight gives you great insight, and if you hang in there a few more months, what drives you mad now will be gone with the next thing your child finds interesting. So, stay curious and take naps.
1. Play with your child every chance you get. Instead of putting them in front of the TV or iPad, get down on the floor and play with them. Your child's brain is developing at a speed you cannot understand. Every opportunity to play is an opportunity for your child to connect with you and their environment.

2. Work on your relationship with your spouse or partner.
Your child will be far better off if you keep your marriage intimate and close. They need your marriage more than they need you 24/7. Dads give children something moms cannot, and visa versa.

3. Power nap with your child. Instead of thinking about all the things you can get done at naptime, lay down and nap. Your power nap will give you more energy and clearer thinking, and both of those will benefit your child more than cleaning.

4. Forget the electronics until your child is in kindergarten.Coloring, gluing, and cutting are much more important for your child's motor and cognitive development than an electronic alphabet game. Being able to create new ideas with art supplies and blocks is not only a way for them to develop motor skills, but it also builds confidence and cognitive skills.

5. Go to the park any and all chances you get. Being outside and running, swinging, jumping, and observing is everything to your child. You playing with them helps them grow closer to you and the wonder of all they see. Talking on the phone or distracting yourself with work is not worth it when you are at the park with your child. Take the time...and be there.

6. Make lunches and cook with your child. Yes, it will be a mess, and yes, you will have to clean it up, but children who touch food and learn to make healthy food choices are also at an advantage as they grow older and become more independent.

7. Quit stressing over what is normal for your child. Kids grow at different rates and no two children are at the same height and weight at the same time. Relax. Use your intuition and parent sense to help guide you.

8. Your child is not going to go to prison because they won't share their toys. New parents make mountains out of molehills, and if their child is more stubborn or temperamental, they make the issue worse than it is. Staying structured with rules and following through with discipline is important, but don't stress over the little stuff.

9. Hug your child EVERY chance you get. Someday you will miss when they no longer want you to carry them, and they will grow out of wanting to sit in your lap during story time.

10. Never parent with guilt. Sometimes you have to be firm and that means teaching your child there are consequences for their actions. But, yelling or screaming at your child should never be done, and they are very forgiving; so always apologize. 
No one tells us how to parent, and kids don't come with an instruction manual. So, it is wisdom of hindsight that helps new parents feel comforted during the rough times...and there will be rough times. Kids get sick, they don't sleep, they like bugs and messes and spill water, milk and anything liquid. Love them anyway. 

December 12, 2014

Why a task expands to fill the time you allow it




Planning to write an end-of-year holiday letter? How much time will you spend on that? 

Planning to shop for a new wreath?  How much time will you spend on that?

If you haven't thought about those tasks from a time perspective, you should because if you haven't noticed, our to-dos expand to the amount of time we allot them.

In my line of work, everything is about deadlines. Sometimes, when the deadline is way in the future, an article takes me much longer to write than if I had to get it done in an hour.

Organization gurus tell us to put almost everything on our calendars and give ourselves a set amount of time to complete each task. Reading email is a great example.  If we don't set a specific amount of time aside for it, clearing email can fill many more hours of your work day than it should. One productivity expert told me that limiting the amount of time we give ourselves to complete a work project increases our productivity and quality.

But we don't just need to work smart, we need to play smart, too.

Yesterday, I looked at a friend's calendar and thought she was insane. It's color-coded and jam packed. She has allotted herself three hours on Saturday to run errands. As she explained why, I had an a-ha moment.

By allotting herself only three hours for errands, my friend has prevented chores from filling up her entire day off work. That's pretty smart because we all know that running to the grocery store and the dry cleaner and the drug stores can expand into an all day event if we allow it.

In her blog post, Jennifer Lea, The Energized Mom, asks: Does having more (free) time lead to greater fulfillment?

The answer is not necessarily.

How you use your free time is critical to work life balance. No one wants to have to follow a minute by minute schedule. But without slotting set amounts of time for certain tasks, you can easily find yourself reading email for hours instead of taking a bike ride with your spouse. Maximizing your time at work by confining tasks to time slots can mean the difference between leaving at a reasonable hour and staying late unnecessarily.

Life is so much more than spending hours doing something unfulfilling that could have taken just 15 minutes.  So, take some time on the front end to identify your high and low priority work and home tasks and decide in advance how much time and energy you want to invest in them. Nothing is too small to allot a set amount of time, even picking a restaurant for a date or browsing Facebook. 

It is so worth creating more time for those activities you most enjoy!


February 18, 2014

How to take control of email

Email overload

Today, I came back from a holiday weekend to find myself facing email overload. It kind of made me feel overwhelmed before I even began my day. Can you relate?  It seems regardless of how hard I try to keep up, I just can't get email under control and taking off a few days made it worse. So, I'm the first one to welcome any advice on this topic. 

My guest blogger Dmitri Leonov, vp of growth for Sanebox, has some thoughts on gaining better control of your Inbox. Sanebox is email management software that filters messages, organizes them, and initiates reminders.

Here are Dmitri's 5 Shocking Facts About Email: 

Do you remember when you first got email? If you’re 35 or older, you might have imagined yourself as Tom Hanks or Meg Ryan in “You’ve Got Mail,” about to get a message from your sexy soulmate thousands of miles away. If you're a Millennial, it was probably one of the first exciting “grown-up” things you got to do—and far less disturbing than those AOL chatrooms filled with creepy guys named Bob.

Sadly, the days of pure email joy have come to an end. Email has changed a lot in the last decade. Today, email often feels less like an exciting new friend and more like a bipolar stalker who screams at you all day. And if you’ve ever had a stalker, you know that they make it IMPOSSIBLE to get anything done.

Consider the following:

The average person spends 28% of work time reading and responding to email. 

“Emailing skills” probably wasn’t in your job listing, but emailing is likely the thing you do most at work. The McKinsey Global Institute found that the average employee spends 13 hours a week reading and responding to email—28% of a typical 40-hour workweek.

That means that the average employee is spending 650 hours a year reacting to largely non-urgent and irrelevant messages, distracted from the kind of work that actually moves a company forward. For employers, not having a smart email system is akin to burning money, which is totally illegal, by the way.

Less than half of emails deserve your attention.

You may feel like you need all of your emails right away, but that’s simply not the case. According to billions of internal SaneBox data points, only 42% of emails in the average inbox are important or relevant. The majority of your email can be processed in bulk at a later date or time. Imagine a world where your inbox is less than half as full. It’s pretty beautiful.

It takes 64 seconds to recover from an email.

That employees spend 28% of their time reading and responding to email is bad enough. What’s even worse is how long it takes to recover from an email. A case study conducted by the Danwood Group found that it takes an average of 64 seconds to recover from an email interruption and return to work (regardless of the email’s importance).

Imagine that you receive 10 emails an hour during the average workday. About six of those emails don’t need your attention, which means that if you check every one, you’re spending an additional 10% of your time (roughly) recovering and getting back to work.

Email overload increases stress levels.

If you feel like the last time you felt happy was during the Clinton administration, it doesn’t just mean that you’re probably a Democrat. It could also mean that your email habit is making life more stressful. A team of researchers at UC Irvine and the U.S. Army found that participants in a suburban office environment switched computer windows 18 times per hour if they did not have email access, versus 37 times per hour if they did. Those switching windows 37 times an hour were constantly in a “high alert” state, which resulted in a constant, “high-stress” heart rate. Considering the psychological and physiological damage that stress wages, getting your email under control may be the smartest health move you’ve made in a long time.

Banning email doesn’t work.

A 2012 study by the Grossman Group found that banning internal email or forbidding employees from using email outside of work hours simply doesn’t work. It stifles internal communication, and employees overwhelmingly hate such a policy. But that doesn’t mean employees are happy with the status quo. They want their email, but they also want the experience of using their email to be less insane. And that’s where SaneBox comes in. (See what I did there?)



Thanks Dmitri! And here's a review of Sanebox by PC Magazine.









February 12, 2014

Too busy for love? Romance boosters to last long after Valentine's Day


  Maya Ezratti, Rewarding Relationships IMG 6898

(Below is an edited version of my column from today's Miami Herald)

Jeremy Wilson spends long days courting customers and building his South Florida software business. He arrives home with Bluetooth in ear, smartphone in hand, and engaged in conversation about cost structure or competitive advantages. Married for 19 years, Wilson said he typically eats a quick dinner with his wife and logs on to tackle email: “I just need to focus on my business right now.”

With more dual earning couples and today intense work demands, sustaining romantic relationships takes awareness and intention.  Most couples remember to express their love on Valentine’s Day, but experts say there are plenty of ways to keep the passion alive all year.

• Ditch the excuses: To rekindle romantic love in a relationship, start by taking responsibility. “Working hard, being tired, that’s not an excuse,” says Maya Ezratti, a Miami relationship expert (pictured above) and founder of Rewarding Relationships, a dating and relationship counseling firm. “If you don’t’ have five minutes for your partner, your husband or wife, then who are you giving all your love in life to?” Ezratti finds an increasing number of people are complaining about a love partner, male or female, present at home but still connected to work. Some will argue that it’s the new norm. That, too, is not an excuse.

•  Show more affection: Work demands make it easy to overlook being affectionate at home. But maintaining passion can be as easy as holding your partner’s hand. “A touch goes a long way,” Ezratti says. She suggests making an effort to kiss your spouse when you walk in the door after work. Or, if you’re the one home first, acknowledge the other person’s entrance in a loving way. “You both should look forward to coming home after work.” Making an effort to show emotional affection helps, too. Ezratti says your partner should feel you have his or her back at home and work: “The reality is one person’s career is not more important. I don’t care if he is the CEO and she’s a nurse or the other way around. Part of being romantic is to help facilitate each other in being successful.”

• Communicate differently: When infatuation wears off, avoiding couple burnout requires letting your life partner know when you need more attention or excitement. “Sometimes, when one person is working too much, it doesn’t occur to them that it’s impacting the relationship. You have to sit and have a chat, and tell them what you feel can be done to fix the relationship,” says Ernest Quansah, president of Relationship Advice for Success, a relationship counseling firm in British Columbia. “But that doesn’t make it OK to neglect a relationship.”

• Mix it up: Bringing back freshness in a relationship takes creativity. Even date night can get old if you’re always renting a movie or going to the same restaurant. Jennifer Sneeden, founder of Boca Marriage Counseling, recommends breaking out of the routine and trying new ways to spend time together — going dancing, taking an exercise class or eating pizza in the back yard. Watching romantic movies might be another option. A study by researchers at University of Rochester found that viewing five films a month, with relationships as their main focus, and discussing them afterward, can get couples through rocky patches and could even cut the divorce rate in half. They concluded many couples have relationship skills, but they needed reminders like those in romantic films like Love Story or The Way We Were, to put skills into practice. Quansah says men need to realize that women want their husbands to be their best friends. “When she goes out with you, she wants to laugh and have fun. If that happens, she’s yours forever.”

Increase Intimacy. Given most people’s hectic schedules, the intimacy once enjoyed may now be just tired sex, if it’s happening at all. One in every four married or cohabitating Americans claim they're so sleep-deprived that they're often too tired to have sex, according to a study by the National Sleep Foundation. Larisa Wainer, relationship specialist with the Morris Psychological Group in New Jersey, says it may sound boring but she recommends couples schedule sex on the calendar. “The fact that sex is spontaneous is a myth,” Wainer says. She urges couple to agree on how many times a week they will have sex and try to stick to the plan. “If it hasn’t happened yet, let the other person know you’re looking forward to it happening.” To build desire, dole out more compliments. “Aim for five compliments each day,” Sneeden says. “The first few times it may feel phony or forced but it will turn the tide of the relationship.”

• Find new ways to flirt. If the sparks are fading, heat them up by making your partner feel desirable. Try flirty text messages to build excitement for a later sexual encounter or romantic evening together. Emails work, too. Miami atttorney Patricia Redmond says she and her husband swap about 25 emails a day to stay connected. The content may be about new case law or upcoming adventure travel, “but they always include XOXO,” she says. Redmond and her husband, attorney Jerry Markowitz, are married 28 years and both practice corporate bankruptcy law at different firms. They are planning an upcoming trip to Hawaii in May for a legal conference and fun. Their recent emails start with “aloha.” “It’s easy to get into a routine so we build excitement for our time away together,” Redmond says.

(Patricia and Jerry)

• Use apps. Of course, in today’s high tech world, there are Apps to help. The Tell My Wife I Love Her habit has become one of the most popular on, an app that helps people track personal goals. Quanash says old fashioned romancing works too. He charms his woman by cooking a signature dish and naming it for her.

The bottom line is to keep romance alive, “Your partner must know that he or she is a priority in your life, not just an item on a to-do list,” says Wainer.

So, do you find it a challenge to keep romance alive? Do you find yourself making your career a priority at times?


December 31, 2013

Happy New Year! May you find the work life balance you want in 2014!

Is it just me or are the years going by much faster? For me, as my kids grow older and near college age, I'm more motivated than ever to make each day, month and year as fulfilling as possible. 

This time of year, many people will tell me that want better work life balance in the new year. They want more fulfillment from life. My response is "what does that look like for you?"

Does it mean eating dinner with as a family a few nights a week? Does it mean reclaiming Saturdays for personal time? Does it mean devoting more time to your career so you can achieve your goals? 

Once you know exactly what it means, figure out what you need to do to make it happen. Remember creating a habit or breaking an old one takes time and practice. It requires change. What specifically are you going to do to make sure that change happens. If you want to eat dinner with your kids, post a photo of you doing it somewhere you will see it each day -- like on your computer desktop. A visual prompt helps!

If you mess up and spend a Saturday at the office, don't fret or give up. Change the background on your mobile phone to yourself on the beach as motivation for making it happen the next week. 

All of us can and should work toward living the most fulfilling life possible. 

Happy New Year to All!


December 18, 2013

10 to-dos you should get to before 2013 runs out

Each day, I scurry around town trying to enjoy the festiveness I'm supposed to be experiencing while I check stuff off my to-do list. A good day is when I get to at least five items. I decided this week to approach the end of year craziness with some strategy. What are the things I should make priorities?  I came up with 10 action steps that will better position you and me for work-life balance, career success and financial wellness in 2014. 

• Get to the doctor. Even if you’re not sick, you might want to visit your doctor in December. Most healthcare flexible spending accounts mandate that the money you contribute be spent before year’s end or you forfeit whatever remains. Don’t let that money go to waste. It can be used tax-free for contact lenses and glasses, prescription drugs, co-pays for health services. Another reason to scramble for a doctor’s appointment: With some insurance policies, the plan year ends on Dec. 31. If you have met your deductible, you will want to get your medical visits or procedures completed while your insurer picks up the tab.

• Assess time off. By now, you know whether you have neglected to take time to rest and relax in 2013. If you’ve left some of your earned time off on the company clock, you’re not alone. The Society for Human Resource Management found employees at 61 percent of its member organizations had an average of three or more unused vacation days each year. Lisa Orndorff, SHRM’s manager of employee relations, said managers should encourage their people to use their leave and take a break from the work, even if it’s just a day or two every few months. If possible, use December to take your remaining days off and study the 2014 calendar to schedule vacation days now for next year.

• Network into the new year. Get into the right frame of mind, and the holiday season is rich with networking opportunities. Industry open houses, holiday gatherings and even friends’ holiday parties are an opportunity to make connections. “You never know where your best friend’s cousin works or who he knows,” says Amanda Augustine, job search expert for TheLadders, an online job-matching service for professionals. Job hunters often think that December is a dead month, but that’s not the case; more people are hired in December and January than any other months, according to, an online employment website. Networking isn’t limited to parties. “The holidays are a great excuse to reconnect with a recruiter or future customer by email or a handwritten card,” Augustine says. “You don’t need to fabricate a reason. Take this time to send a holiday greeting or end-of-year wish for a great new year. It’s an opportunity to put yourself back on the front burner.”

• Max out contributions. While you’re busy buying gifts, remember that the biggest gift you can give yourself is a comfortable retirement. Joseph L. Saka, director in charge of the Tax Services practice of accounting firm Berkowitz Pollack Brant in Miami, suggests you use the year end to max out your annual contributions to retirement plans such as 401(k)s and IRAs. “By contributing to your retirement plans, you not only save for the future, you also reduce your taxable income,” he said.

• Close a deal. In business, deal-making heats up right about now, so get in the game. David Wells, shareholder in the corporate department of law firm Greenberg Traurig in Miami, explains some of the reasons for the end-of-year scramble. First, people often are more cooperative in early and mid-December in anticipation that activity will slow when people take time off. Another motivation is tax implications. If you’re selling a business or asset, you may want to recognize a loss or gain on the sale in 2013, depending on your tax position. Lastly, if your company awards bonuses or assesses you on performance for the calendar year, your motivation to close the deal could be driven by compensation. “All these factors may motivate people to devote the energy to get transactions done,” Wells said.

• Position yourself. Now’s the time to evaluate your next career move. Casandra Roache, a Fort Coach cassLauderdale life coach and founder of, suggests having a conversation with your supervisor about moving up the ladder. “If there is no next step, maybe it’s time to look for a new job. If there is one, establish a guideline for what you need to do to achieve it.” If you are the business owner rather than employee, set business goals now to be ready for January. “If you want to earn $20,000 more, that could mean an extra 10 clients or a higher price point,” Roache says. Also, December can be an ideal time to negotiate a raise as companies set new budgets for 2014. “Look at your current job description and put in writing what you have done above that job description. You want real results that you can have a conversation about,” she says.

• Clean out email. Declare email bankruptcy or move all email to an archive and start fresh for 2014, suggests Shani Magosky, a business/productivity coach with Vitesse Consulting in Fort Lauderdale. “I’ve seen executives so distracted by minutiae, especially their email, that they are not fully present mentally and emotionally.” She says to only touch an email message once: Delete it, file it in folders or turn it into a task. “Usually those emails that linger require action. That’s how people end up using email as to-do lists instead of as a repository for communication.”

• Review social media and email marketing strategies. If you don’t know what online marketing efforts are working for you, now’s your chance to figure it out. Alex de Carvalho, South Florida regional development director for Constant Contact, suggests offering a holiday or end-of-year promotion to one set of customers and a different one to another set. “That can give you clues on how to take it forward next year.” For anyone active on social media, it’s a good time to craft an editorial calendar for 2014, he says. Quarterly objectives and seasonality should drive customer interactions, such as what you tweet about or promotions you include in your email marketing campaigns.

• Be charitable. If you’ve been meaning to contribute time or money to a good cause, get to it. For many charities, end-of-year fundraising is the difference between a successful year and financial hard times, and it might be your opportunity for a 2013 tax deduction. Experts suggest you give to charities that have the biggest impact on making change. To motivate kids to be charitable, pick a cause that has meaning to them and fit volunteer time into your holiday schedule, or clean closets and donate clothing and toys for which they no longer have use.

• Break a bad habit. Use December to figure out what held you back from achieving work-life balance. Did you work on weekends or spend your evenings toiling at your computer? Magosky Shani Magosky Headshot suggests taking time to understand why you want to change a habit and what is at stake if you don’t change it. The next step is narrowing the focus of what you want to change to one actionable task, such as leaving work one day a week by 5 p.m. Then, figure out a way to keep that intention at the top of your mind and identify someone who will hold you accountable. It takes about 21 days for a new habit to take hold.


 If there's something you think I should add to my list, please let me know!