Finding Your Own Voice

Guest blog by T. J. Banks

If you write -- seriously write, with all your soul and with all your heart -- you can't avoid what writer Mary Kay Blakely calls the "treks into the white space of solitude." Writing forces me to sit at my desk for a number of hours in the morning, trying to rough out that tricky scene in the latest novel or story, that idea that's still taking shape for a new column or essay. There are a lot of times when my muse is talking in my good ear and the writing just flows; and there are a lot of times when I find myself staring out the window at my herbs and flowers and nothing comes together, no matter how I try to force it. Indeed, the more I do that, the less I come up with -- unless, of course, you want to count all the cross-outs and the little penned arrows that end up pointing nowhere on the page.

But during these often frustrating sessions with self, I've learned how important silence is if, as Brenda Ueland puts it in her spirited book If You Want to Write, my characters are to "come fully to life in [my] imagination" and if I am to "objectively and accurately, tell just how they looked and what they did....[so]it will be believed." Writing with that kind of honesty and feeling, writing so that my true self comes out in my work, forces me to keep making those treks into the white space of my solitude.

The same holds true in a different way in our day-to-day lives, in all our dealings with the non-fictional characters who wander in and out of those lives. All of us, but women in particular, tend to get lost in our various roles. We tangle ourselves up in our work and personal relationships and forget who we are, what we're striving for, and how much of ourselves we're willing to give away piecemeal.

Like Halo Spear, the intelligent, vibrant young woman who is writer Vance Weston's mentor and lover in Edith Wharton's novels Hudson River Bracketed and The Gods Arrive, we become dependent on people without meaning to, subsumed into their lives. And, like Halo, we have to force ourselves to break free: it's so much easier when we let other people tell us what we want or what we're feeling, play passive (which is, come to think of it, a lot like playing possum), and keep repeating like some mindless litany, "I am So-and-so's wife/lover/mother/daughter." And it's what "They" want, anyhow, right? But to make that break -- that soul- and life-saving break -- we need, in the words of Barbara Lazear Ascher, "to find and sing our own song, to stretch our limbs and shake them in a dance so wild that nothing can roost there that stirs the yearning for solitary discover that we are capable of solitary joy and having experienced it, know that we have touched the core of self." To do all this, we have to fight the inner and outer forces that pull us in every posssible direction and away from -- I love this metaphor that Martha Beck uses in her latest book -- finding our own North Stars. "You cannot find your own true path by locking on to someone else's North Star, " she observes. "No one but you has the ability to find your own North Star, and no one but you has the power to keep you from finding it."

"Finding" is the key word here. I like finding things -- people, animals, a book or a piece of music that speaks to me, a wobbly-legged toy lab that I cherished as a child. They have an unexpected magic about them. And if they're things I've lost and found again, they're doubly precious for that reason. The same is true when we shake off the cobwebs of other people's beliefs about us and our lives and find ourselves again. Re-discovering our own voices in writing or in anything else is a long often painful process. It requires a lot of listening to ourselves. It also requires a lot of honesty. Ueland argues that "by writing, you will learn more and more to be free, to say all you think; and at the same time you will learn never to lie to yourself, never to pretend and attitudinize." Each of us needs to free that true self, she reminds us, because it is her "immortal soul and the life of the Spirit."

As a writer, I find those words reinforcing, energizing. They remind me of the need to write what I believe in and to write about it as I honestly see it, not as someone else tells me I should see it. They remind me not to be afriad of solitude or of looking inward. They remind me to listen to that inner voice and to be my own writer and woman, well at ease, not a person who lives as though she is merely an extension of someone else, a shadowy presence who ceases to exist when alone.

And even when I'm not trying to work out a story or a column in my head or on paper-- even when I'm just going about the business of living -- those are good things to be reminded of. I like keeping sight of my own North Star.

Boomers & Dating

Guest blog by Terri Sloane

This is a great time to be single. It's now your turn to choose the kind of companion who would be right for you. The choice is YOURS. Although chemistry is still a very
important component in a relationship, it is not everything. Our inner being needs to be nourished through compassion, kindness, laughter, and sharing things in common. It's a time when we can make a CONSCIOUS CHOICE as to the kind of person we want to share our time with.

The best way to attract the kind of person you are seeking is to engage in activities that attract that kind of person. For example, if you want an exciting active man, be an exciting active woman. Go where the men would go. One of my clients wanted to meet a man who owned his own plane. She enjoyed the excitement of flying, so I suggested
she take flying lessons. It turned out that a very attractive man who owned his own plane had to take continuing hours for his pilot license. They met at the airport and the rest is history. She has a newfound passion, "flying" as well as the kind of man she was seeking.

I'm not suggesting that you take flying lessons, however, I do know if you enjoy what your doing, and think outside of the box, a world of new opportunities awaits you. Who knows??? Maybe you should go on the safari you were talking about this past summer. Even if you don't meet "Mr. Right" you'll meet exciting new interesting people and have some very wonderful stories to share. Who knows??? Maybe the man that you want is looking for an exciting woman. Something to think about, isn't it?????©

Surprising Skin Aging Antagonists: Face the Facts

Guest blog by Dr. Tess Mauricio

Doing the wrong thing can certainly speed up your skin’s aging process, and you might be surprised at what some of those no-no’s are. Here are 5 ways to ensure you continue to put your best face forward:

1. Avoid drinking through straws.
I’m sure many of you drink dark sodas, tea and coffee through a straw to prevent staining your pearly whites or to avoid putting your mouth on a can or bottle, right? Do Not Sip From a Straw! It’s causing fine lines around your mouth, a sign of premature aging to your facial skin area. Over the long-term, pursing your lips to sip out of a straw causes extra wrinkles around the mouth.

2. Train yourself to sleep on your back
Resting your face on the pillow in the same way every night for years on end leads to wrinkles. Called sleep lines, these wrinkles eventually become etched on the surface of the skin and no longer disappear when the head is not resting on the pillow. Women, who tend to sleep on their sides, are most likely to see these lines appear on their chin and cheeks. Men tend to notice these lines on the forehead since they usually sleep with the face pressed face down on the pillow. People who sleep on their backs do not develop these wrinkles since their skin does not lie crumpled against the pillow.

3. Pull down the shade in an airplane.
You’re much closer to the sun in a plane than on land, so it stands to reason that solar rays, which can penetrate windows, are more intense at higher altitudes. This may explain why pilots and flight attendants have been found to be at an increased risk for melanoma and other skin cancers. Plus, the air up there is notoriously dry—and without moisture, skin, like any living tissue, simply shrivels. Drink as much water as you can in flight; avoid alcohol and salty foods, which are dehydrating. Apply a rich moisturizer with SPF 15 or higher 30 minutes before boarding, as sunscreen needs time to be absorbed before it’s effective. And if you’re sitting next to a window, pull down the shade.

4. Beware beauty creams with toxic ingredients. 
Yes, exposure to some beauty cream chemicals do more harm than good. You may be surprised to hear this, but many ingredients in beauty creams actually speed up the aging process. Avoid buying beauty creams that contain parabens, mineral oil, paraffin, petrolatum, dimethicone, and other toxic ingredients. When buying a beauty cream, read the label carefully and talk to your dermatologist before experimenting with a new facial product.

5. Maintain a healthy weight.
Packing on pounds can make your skin look plumper on the surface, but carrying excess weight can cause your body’s levels of insulin (a hormone made by the pancreas that controls the amount of sugar in your blood) and cortisol to rise, which can break down collagen. You’ll see increased sagging from putting and keeping on as little as 10 to 15 extra pounds. Loss of facial fat causes sagging and a gaunt, aged appearance. In addition, repeatedly gaining and losing weight can take its toll on the skin’s elasticity, leaving behind stretch marks and jowls. Yo-yo dieting also causes premature aging. The repeated weight gain and loss stretches your skin and makes it loose and saggy. Maintain a healthy weight with proper diet and exercise. Aim to keep your weight in the normal range, with a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9.

Other surprising skin aging antagonists to avoid include:

-- Cell phones held against your face - phones get left around on various surfaces and pick up much bacteria that can cause pimples around cheeks and jawline. It's best to use your cell phone in hands free mode!
-- Central Air Conditioning and Heat - pulls essential moisture from the air and can readily dry out your face skin
-- Glasses & Sunglasses - bacteria can grow on the frame that will sit directly on your facial skin for an extended period of time (simply wipe clean with anti-bacterial cloth before putting glasses on each day)
-- Chlorine - after a dip in the pool or hot tub, don't just rinse skin with water to think the chlorine is gone…scrub the face with a sudsy cleanser to remove all chemical residue and be sure to moisturize afterward!

Unmarried Couples Should Consider Living-Together Documents

Guest blog by Stephanie Ackler
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

Many unmarried couples living together should have several written legal documents to serve as a proxy in place of a marriage contract and to help minimize potential financial disputes or complications in the event of a breakup or death, say financial professionals.

Unmarried couples face many of the same financial issues as married couples but without benefit of marital laws: property rights, inheritances, employee benefits, and division of income and debts, for example. Unmarried couples should consider signing these legal documents when one or both bring substantial assets or debts to the relationship, they plan to stay together a long time, children are involved, or they plan to buy a home or move into one of their homes. 

The first key document is a non-marital agreement, commonly called a "living together" or "domestic partner" agreement. This agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement that a couple with accumulated assets might sign before they marry.

The agreement can be as specific or as broad as you wish to make it. Typically, the agreement will spell out how assets and income will be divvied up during a relationship, or after a relationship should it end. For example, it might spell out what portion each will contribute to the monthly bills. Will paychecks be pooled or kept separate? Will assets each person brings to the relationship be pooled or kept separate? What about assets inherited by one person during the relationship? Will they share employee benefits if the employer allows it? Will ownership of property bought during the relationship be based on who actually buys the property, kept proportional to the income each party earns, or split down the middle? How will existing or future debts be handled (it's often best to avoid jointly titled credit cards)? How will property be divided at separation or death?

A living-together agreement is especially important when the purchase of a major asset is involved, such as a home. How will ownership be titled? Who pays what portion of the down payment and monthly mortgage, and how will any gains from the sale of the house be split up? 

The agreement also might spell out a method for resolving future financial disagreements, such as using third-party mediation before resorting to the courts. Some agreements even go so far as to delineate who will cook and wash dishes and take out the trash, though some legal experts recommend that a separate agreement might be drafted for non financial issues. 

While there is little in the way of state statutes, most courts recognize living-together agreements-even oral agreements in some cases. But interpretations vary, so you'll want to hire an attorney (perhaps one for each party) to draft the agreement based on your specific needs and local court rulings. 

A living-together agreement is only a start, however. Unmarried couples also should have a will, living will, and powers of attorney-legal documents even married couples should have. A power of attorney allows the partner to step in financially should the other become incapacitated. You can rescind such a power as long as you're mentally competent, so don't feel stuck with it. 

A living will spells out what life-sustaining medical treatment you wish or don't wish should you become incapacitated, and the medical power of attorney grants your partner or other appointed agent such as a relative the legal authority to make medical decisions on your behalf, usually based on what you spell out in your living will. While married couples should have such documents, they are especially important to unmarried couples because relatives would otherwise likely supercede such decisions.

The same goes for a will. While married couples should have wills, state statute will typically-though not always-distribute property to the surviving spouse where there is no will. For an unmarried couple without a will, however, it's unlikely property or custody of a child will go to the surviving partner. 

All these agreements may sound unromantic, but many relationships, unmarried ones as well as married ones, can end in bitter feuds. Written agreements not only can minimize such feuds, they can actually promote a healthier relationship by focusing attention on financial issues central to all relationships.

(Please consult with your own tax and legal advisors before taking any action that would have tax consequences.)

Get Your Accounts in Shape

Guest blog by Tiffany R. Love
Author of Surviving Financial Disasters: Bankruptcy, Foreclosure, Eviction, Auto Repossession, Excessive Debts and Much More 

With 57 percent of wage-earners with children living paycheck-to-paycheck and the record total of outstanding consumer non-mortgage debt nearly $2 trillionÜ it's time to take charge of your finances. Great news, help is available. Women have historically relied on husbands to care for their finances. In the event of divorce and, oftentimes, death many women don't know where to turn. Furthermore, a growing number of adults are choosing to remain single. What to do when prince charming isn't around? While I, a single woman, was completing my first book I was suddenly and unexpectedly found unemployed. This distressing event didn't alter my spending habits. With the threat of foreclosure lingering I took control of my financial future to save my property and rescue my sanity. Each of us have stories that lead to the disappearing of our savings, but knowing how to alter spending patterns sooner rather than later can enable us to take charge as opposed to running and hiding from creditors. 

I often liken money management to working out at the gym. How many people sincerely want to spend an hour working out each day? Most of enjoy eating ice cream and watching our favorite video. Similarly becoming financially fit takes work, a little bit each day to get into shape. The first step is to obtain your credit report; regard this stage as the enrollment process. Don't fear obtaining your credit reports; this is a pivotal sobering step that shifts our focus onto our finances. A contact list of the three major credit bureaus is included at the end of this article.

For some, your credit report may tell you that you're not in bad shape. However, others are laden with a history of unpaid debt and need to take action to prevent you from collapsing under pressure. Consider this your lucky day because it's not too late to turn your finances around. Even if the house is in foreclosure, bankruptcy is the only way you can stop creditors from calling, or the repo man is stalking you there's still time repair your finances. However, you must remove the blankets from over your head and face the problems; this is an important requirement to becoming financially healthy. 

Ready? Let's begin working out. Here are a few exercises adapted from my book Surviving Financial Disasters to help lift debt off your shoulders:

∑ For those with several credit cards, don't spend your income tax return building a deck or painting the house, use the money to pay off your credit cards and then close accounts, cut up the cards, and don't look back. 

∑ Maybe you owe the IRS and a refund is a fantasy, but you have steady income and plenty of write offs. It's time to increase the number of dependants claimed on your income tax. This should provide you with more money each month to pay off your debts. Contact a knowledgeable tax accountant to ensure you have enough write offs to prevent owing additional money to the IRS. 

∑ Don't delay selling possessions to obtain extra cash. Instead of refinancing a home consider selling the property and relocating to a less expensive area. This could be a temporary move until your debts are manageable. Don't forget yard sales. Items hidden in your closet and garage may be the find your neighbor has been searching for. Yard sales are an excellent source for immediate money.

∑ Think resourceful. We're constantly tempted with the lasted and greatest. Think long term. A Mercedes Benz isn't the only vehicle that can get back and forth to work. Wait for the sales. Evaluate the importance of the purchase. Ask yourself if it can be realistically liquidated to pay the mortgage next month?

∑ Missed mortgage payments can be made up. Don't worry, missing mortgage payments frequently occurs. Lenders allow borrowers to enter forbearance (or mortgage modification) agreements. The delinquent balance can be paid over time or added the balance of the loan.

It's time to live each day as a deposit into an account of your ultimate happiness. Women don't need to feel alone nor do we need to learn the hard way. Numerous options are available to those who want to prevent and get out of debt. Don't feel discouraged, remember it will take time to have a nice tight account, but it's worth the work. Best wishes.

Equifax Credit Information Services, Inc.
P.O. Box 740241
Atlanta, GA 30374

P.O Box 2104
Allen, TX 75013-2104

Trans Union
Consumer Disclosure Center
P.O. Box 1000
Chester, PA 19022

Gerbet Macaroons

Guest recipe by Tina Casaceli
Director of Pastry and Baking Arts
The French Culinary Institute
Author of The Fundamental Techniques of Classic Pastry Arts

Makes 25 macaroon sandwich cookies
Estimated time to complete: 2 hours

115 grams (4 ounces) almond flour
200 grams (7 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
For the meringue
90 grams (3½ ounces) egg whites, 
at room temperature
8 grams (2 tablespoons) confectioners’ sugar
For the finish
100 grams (3½ ounces) raspberry or other jam

Baking sheet
Parchment paper
Food processor fitted with the metal blade
Rubber spatula
Standing electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment
Pastry bag fitted with a #2 tip
Wire racks
Offset spatula
Prepare your mise en place.

Preheat the oven to 162°C (325ºF).
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Combine the almond flour and sugar in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Process for about 1 minute or until very fine. Set aside.

To make the meringue, place the egg whites in the bowl of the standing electric mixer fitted with the whip attachment. Beat on low to aerate. Add the confectioners’ sugar, raise the speed to high, and beat for about 3 minutes or until soft peaks form. Take care not to over-whip or the meringue will be dry and it will be difficult to fold in the dry ingredients.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using a rubber spatula, fold the almond mixture into the meringue until well-blended.

Transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with the #2 tip. 
Carefully pipe fifty 2.5 centimeter (1-inch) rounds of the macaroon batter onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Set aside for about 1 hour or until the macaroons form a skin on their surface. This is extremely important, as the skin helps the macaroons hold their shape during baking.

Bake the macaroons for about 10 minutes, or until firm and just beginning to brown around the edges. (The macaroons should not color much during baking.) Watch carefully, as the high sugar content will cause the cookies to burn quickly.

Immediately transfer the macaroons to wire racks to cool.
Using an offset spatula, lightly coat the flat bottom of 25 of the cooled macaroons with a thin layer of jam. Cover the jam with another macaroon, bottom side down, pressing gently to make a sandwich cookie.

Serve the macaroons immediately or store them, airtight in layers, at room temperature for a day or two.

Buttercream, ganache, or pistachio or praline paste may be used as a filling in place of the jam. 
A drop or two of food coloring along with 3 milliliters (½ teaspoon) of any extract or 15 milliliters (1 tablespoon) of fruit brandy can be added to the meringue.

The baked macaroons should be smooth and round with no cracks, crunchy on the exterior and soft and chewy in the interior.
The baked macaroons should be consistent in size, shape, and color.
There should be just enough filling to hold the two pieces together as well as to add a bit of moisture.

Mentoring with: Tina Louise Odgen

Guest post by Tina Louise Odgen
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog!

BARRIE: Tina, what kind of challenges have you faced? 

Barrie, I, like most people, have faced many challenges through-out my life.  Fortunately, challenge faced with insight and confidence often means new opportunity.  For example, when growing up, my school system, had limited resources, and no one in my family had gone to college.  However, mentors along the way provided guidance and direction and contributed to my successful undergraduate and graduate school studies. 

In another example, when I first entered the work world as a woman engineer, I went through a couple of years of sailing in uncharted waters.  However, I stuck to it, and persistence paid off.  Eventually I found a mentor who helped me navigate. 

BARRIE: How did you begin your interest in mentoring?

Well Barrie, my interest in mentoring began after I was in the corporate world and understood what it meant. My interest was fostered by the memory of mentors that guided me when I was younger, who through their coaching illustrated to me what it might be like –out-of-the-box. For my mentors in school and sports I am forever grateful. And it is in their memory and dedication that I give back.  In particular I had a sixth grade teach who told me his story of career woes and guided me to study math….

Barrie: Have you had other mentors along the way?

Yes.  When I was young, I did not recognize that individuals such as teachers, were mentoring me. However, once in the work place, I began to understand the valuable role of mentors.  Early in my career, I had two exceptional women mentors. While working in one company, the first mentor was my boss.  While at a different company, I was assigned a mentor through the Human Resources Department.  In this second case, it really worked well because this was a senior woman who was not in my chain of command.    This allowed her to be quite candid.

BARRIE: What do you think about women and the mentoring process? 

I think that women should reach out to mentor other women. Women need to seek and cultivate mentors as well.  Also, given that so many men are in the top ranks, and know the rules that got them there, women should realize that men can be valuable mentors as well. A male mentor will have keen insight to the rules of engagement while women mentors will have the shared experience of having gone through the same issues.

The experiences of working as a woman are different than for a man. This is a complex subject, but, most cultures still treat women differently from early childhood. This hinders women from learning early in life about many skills that are necessary in the business world. I learned much about these issues in 1986 when I was appointed to a New York State Task force to identify issues surrounding the lack of women and minorities in technical careers. 

For example, I think that men have a different level of emotion in the work place. They suppress their emotion. Boys learn this skill early on. For men, the career often becomes like a sporting event.  If someone gets a man mad, that “guy” scored and the offended man comes back to play another day. Women often have not learned this approach. Women tend to take things personally. This is one example as to why a woman mentor is important. 

Women also have workplace issues like finding role models or career paths that are viable with raising a family. I believe that an experienced career woman can coach a young woman just starting out better on this subject than a man could.

On the other hand, we see some cases in the workplace where women are in denial. I was meeting with a female Nobel Laureate and asked her about women in the work place. Her answer was that there were no women-issues for her in the work place. By the time of this conversation, I had professional experience and was not convinced about what she said. However, I recognized that it had to be either her perception, or her public position on the subject. She remained black and white that she had no workplace gender issues. In another example, I know a professional woman about the same age as the Nobel Laureate (late 60s-70s) who was a CEO, and now serves on several Fortune 100 boards. She does many things to help other woman and recognizes those challenges unique to women..

BARRIE: What types of mentoring have you done?

The mentoring that I have done has taken three forms:

presentation to groups
structured “corporate” mentoring
impromptu assistance to a range of individuals in need.

The presentation to groups was often centered on career day programs or other career forums. This often takes the form of motivational speaking with a broad overview to introduce opportunities in science, math, engineering or technology to persons who may not have any idea why that foundation is important.

The Structured Corporate mentoring took place in “corporations. ”Actually, this was one of my better experiences in being mentored.  When I worked at Bank of New York, I was assigned a mentor. That was fabulous. I was assigned a career savvy woman who guided me on corporate cultural issues and management communication issues. It was very powerful. Later, when I became the assigned mentor at a different firm, I had an understanding of the power of mentoring. I was able to provide my mentees with guidance for both the company specific issues as well as broader career issues. 

Impromptu mentoring comes about when persons comes to me either word-of-mouth or another route. In this case, I have a list of persons that I have provided guidance to over the years. In this category, the guidance seems to fall in two areas. Strategic issues like, “I have this problem. It just came up. Can up can you help?” A couple of these have been salary negotiations. Another example has been how to exit a company. Other issues have concerned discussions of next steps for career moves, “What are the pros and cons of possible career opportunities? In this category, much of the work is instilling confidence in the person to take a certain step

BARRIE: Do you see a theme across the persons you have mentored?

Yes Barrie, I think so. And the theme varies by venue. For the mentees participating in a career day, the biggest take away they can have is to have their imagination opened, get motivated about new opportunities, and gain confidence about continuing to study in science and math. For the corporate mentees, the theme is more like the aha insight, that psychological event that occurs when someone understands a concept clearly for the first time.  For these corporate mentees, you can see the lights bulbs coming on when they realize that a corporate issue really is less “about them” and more “about how the system works”.  Eyes also open when a mentee realizes that a career is like a complicated long-term game where there are pieces that have to be collected before something else can happen.  (Getting ones ticket punched).

Barrie: What do you think is an important message for all persons out there?

Barrie, I think the most important message is that empowerment comes through risk taking.  Using the subject of mentors as an example, a woman generally must seek a mentor.  This will not happen with taking the risk of asking someone for assistance and then risk that the person may responding, “no.”  Likewise, if a woman finds a mentor, she must take the risk to execute the suggested steps in order to progress towards desired goals and results.  We cannot grow or succeed as individuals, even with guidance, if we do not take the associated risks.   

5 Ways Women can Guarantee Their Edge

Guest post by Frances Cole Jones
Author of How to Wow: Proven Strategies for Selling Your [Brilliant] Self in Any Situation
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog!

1. Because women have naturally higher voices, it's particularly important to insure we're speaking from our diaphragm which gives our voices resonance and authority. To check if you are, place your hand on your abdomen while you speak. If you're hand's not moving, your diaphragm's not engaged. An easy way to practice engaging it is to lie on the floor with a heavy book on your stomach and breathe until the book is moving up and down. When you stand up, your voice will have dropped about an octave.  

2. It's important for everyone to be aware of how they are taking up space. As women, we often make ourselves smaller, rather than larger.  As you sit in your next meeting, look around at the posture and attitudes of others at the table. If you're leaning back with your hands in your lap while others are leaning forward, move to the front of your seat, sit up straight, and lean in toward the group. Also, we trust you when we can see your hands, we don’t trust you when we can’t—keep you hands where others can see them.  

3. Listening without interrupting is a vastly underrated skill set-- and interruptions come in many forms. As women, we often interrupt by agreeing and encouraging—“Absolutely,” we’ll say, or “I know exactly what you mean,” not recognizing that this can interrupt others' thought patterns. Instead, I recommend signaling your encouragement and agreement via non-verbal techniques:  leaning in, nodding your head, and smiling.   

4. Multitasking comes easily to women, consequently many of us take it for granted—neglecting to formalize our thoughts into words. But research has shown that one of the most effective ways you can plan for success is by instituting checklists—yes, those work-a-day items that inevitably get left on the front of the refrigerator when you go to the supermarket. But before you write this idea off as too simple, consider that both surgeons and pilots complete rigorous checklists before they begin operations—in fact, pilots have a list of twenty five items that must be checked off, in order, every time they leave the ground, despite the fact that most of them know the list by heart. 

5. In this economy it’s critical to have access to multiple areas of expertise. One way to ensure this is to barter your brain power.  To begin, I recommend sitting down with one or two friends who have a wealth of knowledge about something you’ve always wanted to know, but haven’t yet had the time or inclination to learn and telling them frankly how much you admire their expertise. I would then ask them if there’s anything that you do that they have always wanted to find out more about. These shared talents can be gold—or, better yet, worth their weight in gold.

Where the saying "Upper Crust" comes from?

Guest post by Tonessa (Isabella of York)

High table is where the Royalty and Nobility sat. It was at the "high" part of the hall or "top" of the hall or room. Usually meats were placed in sliced and hollowed out bread loaves "Trenchers" to soak up their oily juices. The tops of these breads were served to the High Table and the bottom soppy bases were served to the groundlings. This is where the expression the "upper crust" comes from.