28. June 2007 | Show Originial
There are few things you get used to living in Virginia. The population is constantly shifting as a result of the military influence, which, unfortunately, also means that businesses are fairly transient. No sooner are you discovering that amazing new organic, hypo-allergenic, smoke-free (ha! In Virginia?!), puts-a-fuzzy-feeling-in-your-tummy, hip-spot than you have to say goodbye to it. Sad face. Whatever Virginia may lack in things that don't cause cancer, it certainly makes up for in summer constants that even townies have yet to get used to.

At the top of the list: humidity. Ok, so maybe we can't complain. We're not bombarded constantly from all sides by hurricanes, tornadoes, or swarms of killer bees ... but a trip up the block for a smoothie turns into the equivalent of a three-hour jog on an uphill treadmill for the majority of the summer here. Once you get there, you end up ordering the largest smoothie possible, with the most add-ins, and the most calories, creating a vicious, vicious cycle. Second on the list would be tourists. Virginia Beach is becoming a sort of hub for family types who want to waste no time in making little baby skin cancers all over their bodies for the sake of a tan ... which means, ahhh, more traffic! Being late due to traffic is a valid excuse 99.9% of the time here, and it's only worse during the summer.

Last on my list (for now) would have to be the gigantic mutant jellyfish that invade the rivers and coastal areas every summer. I've only been stung by a jellyfish once, and it was enough to make me fear them above most things that could possibly tear the flesh off my bones in the ocean ... and make no mistake, those things are vicious! Yet, they're oddly captivating and I'd spend all day floating above them in a kayak if I could just to watch them float by. Oh, Virginia ? I love you.

Of course, as a nation, once the summer begins to warm up, we turn our thoughts away from winter fashion, spreadsheets, homework, family dinners and covering every inch of our bodies possible. Instead, the collective hive-mind (two bee references in one blog? Crazy!) turns to the nationwide constant we never get used to: beach fear. As we're stuck gazing into our computer monitors, behind our cash registers, our inner-child is quivering with both excitement and trepidation at the thought of bearing it all for the sake of a tan line. It's very distracting!

But never fear! Having been an almost rabid collector of work out routines over the years, I'm offering you a few ways to keep your stamina going throughout your work day, which your boss will like, and ensure that you look forward to those weekly Saturday morning trips to the ocean front.

To make sure you can both spike that volleyball for the game-point, and lift heavy boxes of merchandise to make your millions, take 15 minutes out of your work day every so often to do some wrist and arm exercises. Begin by pressing your hands together in front of your chest, with your elbows bent and parallel to the floor. Bend your wrists to the left and right as though your hands were locked in Gladiator-style mortal combat. Now go forth and conquer the volleyball net, Spartacus! To keep your legs in swimming shape, try a few leg extensions every now and then. While sitting in your chair, or any chair, extend your left leg until it is level with your hip. Hold this position for a few seconds and then repeat with the other leg. It's always a terrific idea to stay hydrated during the summer with water, and this exercise is something you can do with that water bottle you bought from the snack machine. (Of course, this works best if you use a full water bottle. Don't be lazy ? this is your job and beach vacation we're talking about!) Hold the water bottle tightly in one hand, with your back straight, and curl the bottle towards your shoulder in slow but steady movements. Once you feel you're adequately Hulked-out, repeat with the other arm.

Not only will these simple exercises keep you in fighting shape to ward off the jellyfish on your fabulous vacation to Virginia Beach, but they will also keep your blood flowing and your stamina high-powered enough to keep you going all day long at work. There, Spartacus. Now all you need to do is boot up that computer, grab a bottle of water and hit the beach! When all else fails, just smile, nod and repeat, 'veni, vidi, vici!'

14. June 2007 | Show Originial
I recently performed a nine-song set list of other people's songs at a karaoke bar for the very first time. This wasn't your typical karaoke -- these kids were professionals -- seriously. I'm talking Pavarotti's of the local dive bar scene. For my first attempt, I chose some song from "Grease" that I hadn't heard in years, and by the time I took to the stage I wanted to vomit. It was good that I couldn't see the crowd because I'm sure they were all gasping and clasping their hands over their ears as I failed to hit note after note. It was truly awful. My competition was starting to make me look like Britney after K-Fed -- except it would've been better if I had been lip-syncing like the much maligned "princess of pop." But like every great pop star that's fallen off the map, I reinvented myself and channeled my Brian Wilson obsession into the greatest cover of The Beach Boys classic, "God Only Knows," known to man. It was the most monumental come back since Cher, Celine Dion, The Rolling Stones, and Pink Floyd decided they just couldn't go away. It was like an amalgam of all four colliding into one super event. A supernova of a karaoke triumph!

It dawned on me that I am no stranger to that feeling of dread, that feeling of other-worldliness as every ounce of liquid you've ingested all day seems to want to escape your body rather than let you embarrass yourself in front of your peers. How many times have each of us sat in a small, sterile room on the opposite side of the desk as your prospective boss and thought to yourself, "Don't let him/her see the whites of my eyes?" In many ways, the job interview is an exact recreation of karaoke. Fluorescent lamps that create beads of sweat on your forehead, along with dry mouth, and sheer, unadulterated terror...

The trick for both is to stick to what you know. Your audience and prospective boss want to see (and hear) that you know your talents and that you can stay on key. Before you interview, you should sit down and make a list of everything you know makes you qualified for the job. Likewise, please don't get on stage and sing "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" unless you know the song. We can list that one as one of your weaknesses. That's another good thing to know -- your weaknesses. Maybe you're the best at spreadsheets and data entry, but not so good with analyzing the data. Knowing what you're good at and being able to vocalize that with conviction (even better if you can do it in song!) will help bring you to the forefront when your prospective boss is looking over resumes and reviewing applicants after the interview process. Not to mention, you'll just feel more comfortable when the lights are glaring and you've been chugging gallons of water all day to keep your voice fresh, if you know you're the person for the job before you go into the interview.

Back to just karaoke, I think that next time I'll do a song by Milli Vanilli. Because they didn't even sing the original songs, I know I've already one-upped them just by getting on the stage! Talk about concentrating on strengths...

06. June 2007 | Show Originial
I'm a kid of the 80s, but I'm still convinced I didn't start forming solid memories until 1991, when Christina Applegate hoodwinked her way into the hearts of America (and out of the career-long prison sentence that was "Married With Children") by assuming the role of fashion designer and whirling her way through her hip Los Angeles-based fashion company's petty cash in "Don't Tell Mom the Babysitter's Dead." Who could forget her ice-cream-truck-driving boyfriend, Brian, after all? In her role, she was young, she was fresh, she was hip, and she had ideas ... true, most of them were for uniforms for girl scouts, the hospitality industry ... hey! Now that I think about it, that movie really was way before it's time.

Hollywood often has a way of lending relevance to the outside world through film. Sue Ellen showed the world of the early 90s that her age didn't really have much to do with anything. That girl knew what to do with some fabric. Years later, we have gigantic fashion houses designing flight attendant uniforms for gigantic airlines, ad agencies being run by twenty-somethings, dot com ventures making millionaires of unassuming teens ?- and I'm going to call it -- they have Sue Ellen to thank.

More and more, companies are looking for the "fresh face of tomorrow," the exciting new idea that's going to ensure their involvement in the world's future. The average American employee is being bombarded constantly with new digital media, Tickle-Me-Elmo's that move so independently your dog thinks it's the new baby, iPods that make phone calls ... America is growing up, and the proverbial babysitter has passed on to celluloid heaven! Companies are looking from the bottom up for the idea that is going to make them relevant in this paradigm shift.

That's why, more than ever, it's important for the hourly worker to not just be an employee, but a real contributor to their workplace. Today's vice presidents and CEO's are being trumped, not by the reality-TV mogul with a bad comb-over of the same name, but by the associate who said, "Hey, maybe we should make that blue instead of pea green!" Sue Ellen paved the way for the hourly worker to be the next great inventor, the next great fashion designer, the next great toy maker, the next great idea (wo)man. Heck, I'd even go so far as to say Sue Ellen is directly responsible for that amazing cure-all, Airborne®.

Next time you say "I'm right on top of that, Rose!" you'd better mean it.

01. June 2007 | Show Originial
Returning to full-time work from maternity leave was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I am not an overly emotional person, but in the days leading up to my first day back I would wake up in night sweats, crying hysterically, feeling sad, guilty and worried. How could I stand being apart from my beautiful baby boy, with whom I had spent every minute of every day since the day he was born?

But guess what? We both survived without a scratch! The following three things helped my transition to work go a little smoother:

1. Knowing that he was being cared for by a wonderful, fully licensed and trained staff at a reputable daycare, and knowing that I was geographically close to him.

2. My decision to go back to work was for the good of my family.

3. Last but not least, I enjoyed my work, the work environment and my co-workers.

That being said, the time I have now with my little man -- evenings, weekends and holidays, will NEVER be taken for granted.