Discussing being your best boss

“I believe in recharging as often as possible.
Go somewhere luxurious to luxuriate.”
~ Niquenya Fulbright of Building Bridges Consulting

Last week the Network of Entrepreneurial Women held a discussion on treating ourselves. As we nibbled on savory paninis and vegan chocolate pralines at Let Them Eat Chocolate, NEW co-founder Erica Thomas provided tips on how to become better bosses to ourselves, while facilitating a lively discussion around self-care.


Erica stressed that as our own boss, we have to be the best boss, in order to keep our business functioning and energized. “Burnout can ruin a perfect production schedule,” Erica said. “Avoiding burnout has to be prioritized as highly as project goals.”


Our attendees covered the full spectrum of women business care taking needs, including 2 nutrition and wellness experts, a fashion designer, a wardrobe stylist, a brand consultant, a technology consultant, and a small business coach. With our introductions we had to state how we treat ourselves. These treats ranged from booking luxurious getaways to pampering in retail and at home spa places.

A “2011 study found that frequent small pleasures,
like double lattes, pedicures, or soft socks provides
more happiness than infrequent large ones like sports cars or vacations.
Research shows that breaking up enjoyable experiences into brief events
— such as two 20-minute massages at different times
rather than one 40-minute massage —
gives people more pleasure. “

~ 33 Ways To Be Happier by Dina Spector

While massages and manicures and pedicures were popular, the majority of ladies present love to take a (jacuzzi) bath. To soak our stressors away, this article suggests taking a champagne bath, and offers a less extravagant milk and honey recipe a la Cleopatra. Before that bath, My Health Beet’s Svetlana Burak recommended dry brushing to exfoliate and detoxify.


Highlighting that treats do not have to be high-cost or difficult to implement, many women also enjoyed getting lost in a story, whether through a popular TV series or by being transported into a book. Savoring a delicious meal or anticipating a glass of wine at the end of the day also served as pleasurable rewards for a job well done.

“Self-care is such a buzz word that it’s often tossed around
without people really thinking about what it means to practice it.
The truth is that integrating self-care into life is a choice
and a practice, and it only happens successfully
when someone is conscious and consistent about it.”

~ During Your Next Launch, Don’t Neglect Self-Care by Kate Swoboda

One way to treat ourselves better is by stopping to review what we have achieved. We each grow and learn every day, and looking back on a to-do list from a year to 6 months ago can indicate milestones we may not recognize as we adopt new skills into our regular routine.


When asked what we would give our best employee suggestions ranged from a day (completely logged) off to family outings to writing down a daily or weekly list of accomplishments. Realizing that acknowledgement of things well done is a key motivator, we encouraged each other to print certificates of achievements for the things we sometimes fail to recognize.


Getting in touch with nature also offers the opportunity for a re-set and turns out to be extremely helpful for the brain. John Haltiwanger writes that people who appreciate nature are happier, healthier and more innovative.

“Natural environments stimulate the brain
in ways civilization cannot,
exponentially improving our cognitive abilities
and igniting our imaginations.”
~ John Haltiwanger

Erica suggested that solopreneurs evaluate their businesses based on Crain’s “Best Places to Work 2015.” The selection criteria included: quantitative issues about pay, promotions, health care and other benefits, hiring practices as well as fairness of pay, vacation time, relationships with management and co-workers, career development and other day-to-day workplace issues.


Being self-employed can cause for some pitfalls of bossiness. Key to preventing burnout is to also acknowledge our biorhythms, which we can sometimes try to push through. Once again, the best places to work example came to the rescue with the question “Would you work for someone who made you come into the office during a blizzard?”

“It’s OK that you don’t do everything.
It’s OK that someone else does it for you.
You have the wisdom to understand:
‘that’s not my strong suit, that is not my best quality’.”
~ Brand Consultant Cierra Cole

Delegation was also discussed and encouraged, whether it be training a 3-year old to shred papers, engaging older children in answering the phone, or outright hiring someone. Erica stated that we tend to take the longest doing the things we don’t like to do, and outsourcing that task to someone else can free us up to more productivity. Being a perfectionist can hinder that process, but one member pointed out that getting it done is better than for it to be perfect.


It was lovely to lounge in a welcoming and comfortable space while bonding over indulgences. We look forward to revisiting Let Them Eat Chocolate in Andersonville, and are excited to spur each other on in our respective ventures.


Continuing our theme of wellness and self-care, our next Wine Women and Wellness Event will coincide with a Women Out Walking presentation. NEW member Svetlana Burak of My Health Beet is partnering with Kim Leider, a Training Leader with Ava Anderson Non Toxic to present: “Clean Living Inside and Out” at the Evanston Public Library on Thursday, May 28 from 7 to 8:30 pm.


Group photo courtesy NetworkHoncho.com.

NEW – The Network of Entrepreneurial Women is a group of Chicagoland business women who are upgrading business networking with fun and creative events that inspire attendees to work together, refer each other and most of all cheer each other on as the membership succeeds. Events rotate around various suburbs on a semimonthly basis, usually the 2nd Wednesday and 4th Thursday of the month. RSVP for our upcoming events at Meetup, or like us on Facebook and check up on the calendar there.


Mixing and Matching wire jewelry

Late April and Early May were the times to showcase my Mother’s Day collection, and I had fun mixing and matching hearts with various earrings and outfits.


The baby blue striped pendant wandered about town with the new short dancing spirals earrings.


We had a particularly warm day the first week of May so I got my fun dress out and matched the lime green Mother’s Day Heart with the yellow sparkly bead earrings and bangle set.


Rainbow lovers can enjoy this polka-dotted heart that I wore with my popular double spiral earrings and a pink and green jade bangle.


Pink was a theme when the flowers started popping out and I had to showcase my new fuchsia flower collection. The scribble ball earrings are always a hit.


Scarf season slowly made its exit, and I sported Purple Wonder with my coiled wire earrings.


My wrap dress made an appearance at a social gathering, this time with the rainbow crystal clouds that I have in necklace pendant and scarf/belt pendant form.  I also showed off my mom’s bangle that day.


On a visit to the Kane County Flea Market I wore the wax and wire Premium Privilege pendant and the new greece-inspired square spiral earrings.


It is fun to rotate different combinations, and also realize which pieces I gravitate toward.


You can express your infinite love to your leading lady with a crystal embellished infinity symbol or the earrings that also have infinity shapes.


The day I had my hair dyed blue I wore matching beads to set off the new hue.


The Blue vibe continued with the new Delft Blue batch of pendants.


The round windmill wax and wire pendant against a backdrop of my favorite author’s books.


The little Dutch Girl looks great against pale yellow.


We recently had two summer-ish days on which I could get my sundress out, which I combined with a sculptural pedant and the short dancing spirals.


My Yellow Agate creations got a whiff of sweetness during NEW’s May Meet & Munch.


Go pick out your favorite wire-wrapped pendants, earrings, bangles and collar necklaces in my Etsy Shop.


A Mother’s Day Bangle

When I was in grad school I would drive off to Sedona to get away from the books and learned about vortexes and crystal healing.


I don’t think I actually experienced a Vortex, but I did obtain a copy of Melody’s Love is in the Earth and started looking into crystal healing. I’ve enjoyed enhancing my life with beautiful and helpful energy infusing stones, and love carrying on the spirit of healing into my creations.


For Mother’s Day, I made my mom a birthstone bangle representing our family, along with her favorite stone, the Malachite. I’d picked up the strand of Malachites at last year’s Bead & Button show, which is coming up in June.


I went to my favorite place, Dave’s Down to Earth Rock shop (which just moved across the street but is still on Main Street) to pick out the birthstone beads representing my family. I consulted Judy Hall’s Crystal Bible for alternate beads when the traditional selection wasn’t available.


The wire was coiled with my high-tech mandrel. 😉


Then I designed the order of the beads.


Adding the Malachites was fun. They’re such a positive and empowering stone, and have lovely patterns.


It was fun to think about everyone and our memories as I strung the birthstones.


I lucked out with my family.


There’s a butterfly named after the Malachite, which I incorporated into a desktop mini. I’ve created a few Malachite Butterfly collages over the years.


After completing the bangle I decided to add some earrings as well.


Circling wire around the beads is a challenge, but it worked.


Then I reviewed all the energies of the stones I had incorporated and picked out the words that rung most true about the personalities I know and the energies my mom should carry with her on her adventures.


Right now our family is pretty set, so I used a single wire to connect all the beads. If there is an addition I’ll probably add the stone with a new piece of wire, but I could also re-string everything. That’s a challenge for the future.


I’ve got a few beaded bangles in my Etsy shop that are based on color schemes and chakras, but I always love taking custom orders to make something with meaning just for you.


You can peruse these in person on May 30 during my pop-up at Creative Coworking’s Art & Wine night from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.


I cannot wait to see my mom wear this set!

Tulip Love

Life is blooming here with trees awakening and birds beginning to nest.


Blossoms abound in wide arrays of color.


Tulips are the most dominant beauties this month.


Sunshine and warmth brings so much joy.


The amazing colorations of these flowers are fascinating.


Even showers cannot dampen my spirit with all the color and fragrance.


My favorite, the forget-me-not is in bloom as well and makes me so happy.


I also captured a cabbage white butterfly on camera. This is the third one I have spotted since April.


Magnolias are mesmerizing.


Wishing you a vibrant, joyous day!


Join Our Treat Yourself Meet & Munch

Guess what? The Network of Entrepreneurial Women is back! With the unpredictable winter weather we decided to take a hiatus since long commutes are no fun. But now that spring has sprung and birds are chirping we are ready to connect with women business owners throughout the Chicagoland Suburbs.


Our next event is coming up on Wednesday, a Chocolate Meet & Munch. We’ll gather at Let Them Eat Chocolate to pamper ourselves with delicious treats and discuss why we should indulge ourselves.

The high-powered businesswomen present will address the Return On Investment of treating yourself and creating strategies around being the best boss ever when you’re self-employed. If you can’t be your own best boss, who will be? There will be ample time for mingling to get to know each other and make business or personal connections.


“Treat yourself as well as you do your business,” advises Entrepreneur.com. We’ll tackle the best strategies by sharing experiences, wisdom, and questions as women entrepreneurs while we indulge in delicious chocolate. This lovely venue also offers paninis, baked goods, Italian soda and a jolt of caffeine with various coffee beverages.

Treat Yourself: Chocolate Meet & Munch will be held on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 from 2 to 4 pm at Let Them Eat Chocolate, 5306 N. Damen Ave., Chicago. For $5 per person, you can delight in advice, support, and sweetness. I’m looking forward to this treat and exploring Andersonville a little bit more. Andersonville was named by real estate site Redfin as the 7th hottest neighborhood in the country – attributing the ranking in part to the “abundance of charming small businesses”.


Let Them Eat Chocolate is a high-end all natural chocolate shop and lounge. It offers Belgian and vegan chocolates as well as cozy chairs and gelato that is most commonly reviewed as “amazing.” Tickets for this event are $5. Each participant pays for her own chocolates and refreshments from Let Them Eat Chocolate’s Menu.

Graphic courtesy NetworkHoncho.com and photos courtesy Let Them Eat Chocolate.

NEW – The Network of Entrepreneurial Women is a group of Chicagoland business women who are upgrading business networking with fun and creative events that inspire attendees to work together, refer each other and most of all cheer each other on as the membership succeeds. Events rotate around various suburbs on a semimonthly basis, usually the 2nd Wednesday and 4th Thursday of the month. RSVP for our upcoming events at Meetup, or like us on Facebook and check up on the calendar there.


Love Delivered Inspiration

At Christmas Santa gifted me with a subscription to Curly Girl Design’s Love Delivered.


Each quarter, the wonderful people at Curly Girl Design pack up their latest releases, boxed sets of cards and other odds and ends to cheer the recipient up.


Then the job becomes figuring out whom to send these pearls of wisdom to.


The list of recipients is almost completed, but the writing of the cards is still to be done.


My aim is to take some of my electronic hiatus weekend days to sit down with pen and paper and write (scribble) someone a personal note. Handwritten notes are so unusual these days, and I’ve relied too much on electronic (group) correspondence the past few years.


The third installment had festive polkadot tissue paper with a fabulous sticker on it.


It was begging to be converted into a pendant.


I pasted some of the tissue paper on the back of the pendant to even out the stickiness, and then twisted wire into a circle to go around the sticker shape.


I used a piece of Brenda Schweder’s Now That’s a Jig to form a polkadot pendant and made spirals emulating the happy dots.


After some shaping and bending I waxed the paper and added it on to the wire with black encaustic paint.


These pendants will make their way to Etsy this week, so someone who does dream in perfect French can snap it up. I used to dream in Dutch, then German, but now it is mostly English.


Check out Leigh Standley’s amazing wisdom and quirky collage designs.


I’ve had her calendar two years in a row, and was fortunate to listen to her share her journey at the Creative Connection Event when I first responded to the tinglings of embarking on a creative life.


It is fun to be encouraged to “live imperfectly with great delight.”


Thursday was a gorgeous day to spend at Navy Pier.  The overcast skies had made way for sunshine and the Chicago skyline was picture perfect.


I was a bit torn about having to spend the afternoon inside setting up for the big event, but happy so many people were celebrating a tentative Spring on the pier.


The RAW: natural born artist directors gave us ample time to set up for EXPOSURE on the Odyssey Yacht.


I customized my space early.


This was my first time setting up lamps with the display, and I am glad I am grown-up enough to have three desk lamps of the same color.


This left me with time to go to the other decks and take snapshots of their creations.


Carolyn Sullivan of PumPums ‘below deck’.


The fashion sneak peek looked fabulous.


I hope there will be an album of the actual show, which I missed since I was above them.


The most varied artists resided on ‘my’ Amethyst deck.


Each time the setup has its own feel.


I chatted with the two other jewelers present, who both have distinct styles and great passion for their craft. Rust Belt Americana scours the nation for rustic finds that are repurposed into jewelry.


Flux Of Feathers offers perfect adornments for the more morbidly minded with pendants holding claws, teeth and other animal parts.


My neighbor Troy of BowExotic creates fantastic wooden bow ties, which make dressing up a cinch!


They add elegance to the outfits of men and women alike. Troy makes many bow ties based on how inspiration strikes him, but he also customizes them with fraternity logos and other customer-specified designs.


He also made his own lamps for the event.


My left hand neighbor Brandin of Paper Moon Affairs hand-cuts beautiful paper vignettes and then places them in lit-up frames for a dreamlike scene to hang in your home.


I enjoyed the view during quiet moments.


Throughout the evening the outfits were a sight to behold. I spotted a lovely ethereal star dress, sky-high heels, and a vast interpretation of the requested ‘cocktail attire’ dress code.


The bar was closeby and Odyssey Waitstaff were quite helpful to the table-bound vendors to keep them hydrated and fed.


I enjoyed a slider and potato wedges for dinner and imbibed in some bubbly to celebrate the festivities.


A few pieces will be gifted to mothers on May 10, and even more business cards wandered off into the world.


The Odyssey Yacht offers lunchtime and dinner cruises during which the ship does traverse Lake Michigan.


As a bonus I forgot about, we were invited to take head shots by a professional photographer, and a videographer took detailed footage of each booth. I cannot wait to see how that turns out.


I’m scoping out the future RAW Midwest events and hope to pop up at one of those soon.


Meanwhile, check out the happenings in your city, and support a participating artist in your neighborhood.


Meanwhile, don’t forget to shop on Etsy for Mom!



Dutch vibe on King’s Day

Yesterday was Koningsdag or King’s Day in the Netherlands. After celebrating Queen Juliana’s Birthday on April 30 for 36 years, we are now honoring King Willem Alexander on his birthday.


Two of my globe-trotting friends have been posting photos of Delft and its porcelain and the Keukenhof’s gorgeous tulip splendor this week so I am definitely feeling a Dutch vibe. My fellow Dutchies posted their Oranje festivities which made me feel connected.


My nostalgia found a channel with a Delft Blue napkin I had been holding on to for a while. It reflects quintessential Dutch imagery often found on pottery.


The little girl is holding buckets, reminiscent of a childhood song.


Blue is prominent in my life, and Delftware has created an affinity to cobalt blue in particular.


My blue coat is finally back in rotation after wearing goose down for much too long.


I’ve also added some highlights to my hair for fun, which actually go well with my safety mask.


Boats are making their way back into Lake Michigan harbors. SAIL Amsterdam, a fantastic boat exhibit similar to the Chicago Air and Water show (sans air), will be held this summer.


I’m still working on a Winkeljuffrouw pendant that is not aligning properly in my printer. The original print turns out to be a bit too large for a necklace, and shrinking onto a double-sided print is proving to be harder than it should be.


Persistence will win out over this though.


More Mother’s Day pendants are going up on Etsy this week to round out the collection.


I’m enjoying the different color combinations and had to remake a lime green version that got snapped up at RAW Chicago.


Let me know what other combinations and shapes you would like to see.


The windmill is already on Etsy and the other two will make their way online next week if no one claims them via Facebook.


Resetting Nutrition

“We are never too busy
to take time to reset, recharge, and refuel.”
~ Svetlana Burak, My Health Beet

A few weeks ago I decided to take part in a mini-cleanse to reset my body and get into the swing of Spring. I’ve had very sluggish mornings during this long winter, and as the birds started chirping my body needed a jump start for Spring.


I had met Svetlana Burak of My Health Beet through a small business group and skipped her January announcement for a cleanse, but when this one popped up I felt ready. Of course, I dawdled the weekend of the start date and didn’t get my shopping list together until the 3rd day of the group cleanse. That was OK though. I just jumped in on the tail end and shared my daily meals on the Facebook group at my own pace.


I decided to skip the foods that didn’t appeal to me and instead doubled up on the other recipes I did like. That meant I ended up with more food than necessary, since I didn’t check the serving size and bought enough for a whole family!


The dressing recipes looked complicated to me, so I skipped those. I’m not big on salad dressings anyway. Between Aldi and Trader Joe’s it is easy to get produce without hurting the wallet, which was a good revelation to me. The idea that healthy food is expensive food had gotten ingrained into my head, and realizing that I can budget shop fresh food as easily as pre-packaged meals is going to change my shopping habits.

 “I created this program for the busy person
who simply needs the action plan simplified.” 
~ Svetlana Burak, My Health Beet

I purposely picked a slow week for the cleanse since I knew that making the meals would be time consuming. I’d gotten stuck in a rut of quick pasta meals or oven-baked meals from a box. But I found that the simple recipes Svetlana had put together for us were no more time consuming than waiting for something to finish baking. Sure I spent a little more time chopping and measuring foods, but interacting with the ingredients was a lot of fun and uncomplicated.


A lot of the ingredients can be pre-chopped and cooked later, or leftovers refrigerated for another day. I froze one smoothie the night before when I had an all-day road trip on my calendar.


Another bonus was that Svetlana is a fan of one-pan meals like me. Multi-pan cooking productions easily put me off preparing a meal.


It was fun to learn how to make carrot soup, and I promptly went on Pinterest to gather recipes for my favorite veggies (bell peppers and tomatoes) to turn into soup at a later date. What also surprised me is that I didn’t miss the standard habit of having a bread roll with soup. This cleanse was dairy and gluten free, and yet I didn’t miss the cheese and bread I am so fond of. Each meal filled me sufficiently to get through the day, and was flavorful enough to not generate any cravings.


One person reported losing a few pounds during the cleanse, but my results were not that dramatic. I definitely didn’t lose weight, but I did feel more energetic in the morning and throughout the day, which was my main objective.


What I am taking away from this cleanse is a better food consciousness. I found myself over-snacking at night simply by the trigger of watching something or reading a book in which people were eating. Feeling more full and knowing that I had all the nutrients I needed in my body had me reach for a glass of water instead of a snack, bake kale chips for the crunch, or mix cranberry concentrate into water in lieu of wine.


My fitbit arrived right before the cleanse and the cleanse prompted me to start on MyFitnessPal, which has me tracking my food. Calorie counting isn’t my favorite thing, but as I enter recipes and food combinations I am more aware of my snacking pitfalls and how tasty alternatives reduce my calorie intake and therefore allow for a wider variety of food grazing throughout the day.


Svetlana’s recipes aren’t about calorie counting. Her aim is for participants to change their relationship to food, which she accomplished. If a person doesn’t want to prepare smoothies, that is fine. If breakfast requires more protein, she encourages participants to change the order of the meals to suit their lifestyle and energy levels.

“The goal of this cleanse is
to warm and nourish your body for optimal digestion,
which means an optimal cleanse.”
~ Svetlana Burak, My Health Beet

The cleanse isn’t about only drinking smoothies, it completely ignores supplements, and encourages the participant to focus on self-care on all levels, including leisure time, physical care, and mental space. So many cleanses hawk specific supplements, insist that you go exactly by the book, focus on liquid diets, or try to sell something which has set me up for failure in the past. Taking this lifestyle-based approach is far more effective and enjoyable. Four days is also easier to incorporate than a 10- or 11-day cleanse.


I could have continued this cleanse for a few more days since there was no deprivation. However, I still had some cheese and non-veggies in the fridge and am back to having wine in the evenings. While this cleanse isn’t prompting me to give up my favorite foods, it is helping me moderate the portion sizes and change the percentages of where my nutrients come from.


I look forward to trying the recipes I skipped, will rotate between my regular dairy-based drinks and the coconut-milk smoothies, and savor the awareness of fun foods. With the abundance of leftover greens I actually looked up other recipes to incorporate these power-foods into.


Self-care is all about making manageable changes and keeping up with them one day at a time. Knowing how to make nutritious meals and snacks with your favorite veggies is empowering and beats trusting a manufacturer with your health and your energy levels.

New Mother’s Day pieces

Mother’s Day is less than a month away and I’ve been busy making new pendants to honor the nurturers in your life.


These pendants contain the word ‘mother’ in a variety of languages, and are fun to peruse. The majority of words have m and n sounds, but a surprising amount have different letter configurations altogether. ‘Patrino’ and ‘panjo’ surprised me the most.


I’ve incorporated birthstones and special mementos in various pieces, and look forward to creating another mother’s day birthstone bangle in the near future.


With Spring having sprung, flowers are on my mind as well. Lots of Springy pieces are going up on the Etsy shop this week.  Who doesn’t want flowers that last forever?


If your favorite nurturer doesn’t wear jewelry, desktop minis might be an option. Wall decor never goes out of style.


Of course the best gift you can give is your presence, so you can always come up with a fun mom-child activity to give the best gift a mother can ask for. After all, one holiday isn’t enough to show appreciation for your loved ones, and love and family should be celebrated year-round.


Or how about a little serenade for mom? May 10 is the day this year. Get creative!

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