Networking for Opportunities

Guest blog by Erwi Flynn

Networking can be an intimidating task. Many businesspeople don't know how to go about this process, but there are ways to make it more enjoyable and rewarding. In these tough economic times, it is more important than ever to foster new business alliances. How do you network for new opportunities?

Plan Your Networking Approach
"Although we know that the goal of networking is to discover new business opportunities, it's more than a "paint by the numbers" process," according to Andrea Nierenberg, a keynote speaker for conferences and corporate meetings and President of The Nierenberg Group. "It takes time, patience, and creativity to cultivate people into our lives." 

When Nierenberg first started her consulting business, networking was starting to get a bad reputation. "People saw trade shows and business seminars as 'targets' to pass out and collect as many business cards as possible," she confides. "Ultimately, people networked when they needed something from someone."

To make positive networking become a part of your everyday life, start with a strategy and begin the process. "Begin to imagine that many people you meet can lead you to potential business," Nierenberg says. "Think about how that strategy will include tactics to allow people to feel comfortable to want to help you achieve more." 

First, know your contact. Let's say you call someone up and say, "Hi, Bob. I need your help with some referrals. Any suggestions?" On the surface, it seems harmless. However, people will sense when you're using them as a means to and end. Have a genuine dialog first; then, at the right time, ask them if they would help you "brainstorm" for new ideas to develop new business. 

Second, see the potential. Everyone we meet is a client, prospect, friend, or knows someone who can help us meet one. "Often, the top people rely on people they manage for advice," Nierenberg advises. "While the president of a company signs the biggest checks, you might want to find ways to let that person's staff see how you can provide the products or service to help everyone at the company." 

Third, follow up in unique ways. No, you don't have to send singing telegrams. When you network with new people, work to remember something that is important to them. Then, these topics can become a springboard for future communications. 

For example, if someone likes fishing, you could send a follow-up note that has a fish on it. It doesn't take much, according to Nierenberg. However, it does take some thought. It's this attention to detail that will strengthen your networking relationships. 

The Three P's of Networking

Deb Haggerty, President of Positive Connections, views the successful networker as someone who enters a room and sees people who need to be connected with others. Once this attitude is adopted, there are three steps to make networking pay off -- Process, Place, and Practice.

1. Process. Process refers to how and why you are going to go about
networking. Haggerty recommends asking yourself the following questions:
* Why am I networking?
* Who will I be networking with?
* What am I able to give?
* What do I hope to gain?
* When will I network?

"With these answers in mind, set goals for your networking -- decide on a
tracking system and get your tools ready (business cards, brochures, contact
lists for referrals)," Haggerty explains.

2. Place. Open your mind to the endless possibilities. Anywhere there is
another human being, there is the possibility of networking. Especially good
locations are:
* Chambers of Commerce
* Professional Conferences
* Social Clubs and Churches
* Professional or Alumni Associations
* Charitable Organizations

3. Practice. Like anything else, proper networking must be practiced to get it right. "The most important aspect of networking is creating a good first impression," Haggerty says. "Since you only have one chance to do this, it makes sense to hone the skills that will accomplish it."

Her guidelines are as follows:
* Keep business cards with you at all times, along with pen and paper to write notes on the cards you receive. This will help you to remember the who, when, and where of why you have them.
* Have a "Tell Me About Yourself" attitude. This is a short phrase that will enable you to respond professionally and lead to a meaningful conversation with a prospect.
* Remember the three-foot rule. Anyone within three feet (about the length of a handshake) is a prospect and possible contact for you.
* Always smile at people - it's contagious!
* Have fun! Take networking seriously, but don't be serious when you are doing it. 

Bottom line: Networking is an attitude. Your job is to get others to see you as someone who wants to help them. Once you accomplish this, everyone you add to your network will be actively selling you to everyone else they network with, Haggerty reports. 

Unleash Your PowerZone: Intuitive Intelligence - The Other IQ (Excerpts from Why Cats Don't Bark)

I did not arrive at my understanding of the fundamental laws of the universe through my rational mind. The intellect has little to do on the road to discovery. There comes a leap in consciousness, call it intuition or what you will, and the solution comes to you.
Albert Einstein

Unlike traditional IQ, with a century of research behind it, intuitive intelligence is a new concept. It is a different kind of intelligence. In recent years, it is gaining in respectability largely because psychologists are recognizing it as a natural mental skill that helps us make decisions, solve problems, generate creative ideas and even forecast future events. We are beginning to realize that intuition is not just a mysterious gift or an accidental insight. 

As you get rid of the emotional cataracts and your vision becomes clear, you will find the walk upon your path effortless as you proceed with ease. Fears will dissipate as you relinquish yourself to a greater cause or your reason for being. You will feel in sync, not out of touch. You will experience your work as an extension of your "self" or you very soul, feeling one with the process of becoming. You will achieve a level of unconscious competence where excellence and peak performance feels effortless as the energy is allowed to flow through you. Perhaps that is why Michael Jordan refers to this as being "in the flow." Other sports use different buzz words, although the experience is the same. In golf, it is referred to as being "in the zone." Tiger Woods would qualify. In the current world of musicians, Wynton Marsalis seems to become one with his instrument, as does any exceptional musician. The question is, can we all achieve this supreme level of mastery? I believe the answer is "yes," if we are in sync with our instinct and we learn the mind-empowering strategies that provide access to the inner unconventional wisdom of our intuition and instinctual intelligence. 

While all living things grow into their nature with a supportive environment, we must also have the courage to be different to make a difference. We must transcend from success to significance. As we gravitate toward our own uniqueness, we must respect the direction of our "future pull" which is our present self becoming our future authentic self. Singleness of purpose means avoiding exterior clutter like power, prestige and possessions, which may interfere with the chief purpose of our lives. Shakti Gawain, author on visualization, explains, "Every time you don't follow your inner guidance, you feel a loss of energy, loss of power and a sense of spiritual deadness."

Activities and life experiences which derive from our purpose are not burdensome because there is harmony between what we feel we are supposed to do and what we want to do. Unfortunately, we are often derailed and live in someone else's comfort zone other than our own. Our parents often encourage and coerce us to manifest their own unfulfilled wishes and destiny which, if we obey, is a violation of the soul. 

Until we do the work of excavating, claiming and expressing our uniqueness, we run the risk of putting our life script into someone else's hands. Joseph Campbell, in his book Myths to Live by, warns, "The world is full of people that have sopped listening to themselves to have listened only to their neighbors to learn what they ought to do, how they ought to behave and the values are that they should be living for." Unfortunately, for many people, Campbell is right. 

All of us are far richer than we imagine. None of us possesses a life devoid of magic, barren of grace, divorced from power. Our inner resources, often unmined and even unknown or unacknowledged, are the treasures we carry, what I call our spiritual DNA…the stamp of originality, which is the blueprint of our unfolding.

Human curiosity, intuition, practicality and logic are the fulcrums of personal and professional achievement. They are the revitalizing forces for converting raw human energy and potential into sound judgments and creative ideas. Intuition cannot be ordered, commanded, contrived or predicted. We simply have to be ready for it. 

Jack Schwartz, renown researcher and author, has a theory that at the moment of indecision, there is simultaneously a solution. However, it may take years for us to discover that awareness and act on it, creating confusion and learned helplessness, as we become victims of toxic logic. Yes, "look before you leap," but sometimes we just have to take an intuitive leap and trust that the net will be there. To be fully intellectual beings and experience those "leaps in consciousness" that Albert Einstein believed are necessary for bringing solutions to us, we will need to develop our intuitive abilities as well.
 

Life Lessons from Eleanor Roosevelt: The Woman behind the Mystique

Guest blog by Eleanor Roosevelt II (Niece of Eleanor Roosevelt)
Author o With Love, Aunt Eleanor: Stories from My Life with the First Lady of the World 

You know Eleanor Roosevelt for many things: her role as First Lady and devoted wife of FDR, her tireless activism for the poor and oppressed, and her groundbreaking work as U.S. representative to the United Nations. The Eleanor you probably don't know is the woman who insisted on serving hotdogs and hamburgers to the king and queen of England . . . who wept openly at the funeral for her beloved dog . . . who learned to dive at the age of sixty-plus . . . who celebrated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with a running slide down the hallway of the Palais des Nations in Geneva. 

That Eleanor has many lessons to teach, lessons about living with exuberance and integrity and love for one's fellow man. 

I learned so much about life from my Aunt Eleanor. I maintained a close relationship with her until the day she died. She was so much more than just a First Lady: she was truly an individual of great spirit and compassion. I feel privileged to have known her. I want everyone to have the chance to learn from her inspiring life. 

Eleanor Roosevelt lived a long and richly-textured life. She was a woman who lived with grace, dignity and a dedication to work that puts most of us to shame. They just don't make public servants like Eleanor Roosevelt anymore. 

The following stories reveal some life lessons that I learned from my aunt-lessons we would all do well to heed: 

o Walk the talk. During World War II, certain consumer goods were scarce. There was a campaign to persuade people to establish one meatless day a week. Aunt Eleanor was acutely aware of the privileged position of the White House and felt that she and Uncle Franklin must join in as well. So every Thursday night for dinner, she served scrambled eggs, which was one of the few things she knew how to cook . . . In general, people are delighted to receive an invitation to dine at the White House, but I suspect that during the war years, candidates hoped it would not be for a Thursday night dinner. 

o Listen to the child within. During her work with the UN, Aunt Eleanor chaired the eighteen-nation commission to draw up the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On the day in December the commission finally finished its work and voted the declaration ready to be brought before the General Assembly, she gave a small reception for her colleagues at the Palais des Nations in Geneva. She wrote to me that after the guests had left and she was walking through the empty halls with her advisor, she came up with a better way to celebrate than with a glass of champagne at a party. The marble floors were polished to the shine of black ice. My aunt's feet were long and narrow, and her low-heeled shoes had leather soles. She ran, gathering momentum, and then slid down the hall, her arms outstretched in triumph. It was so much fun that she did it again. 

o Never stop learning. In her sixties, Aunt Eleanor learned to dive to prove a point to Marshall Tito, leader of communist Yugoslavia. Tito had built a swimming pool on the Dalmatian coast and invited my aunt for a swim. She said she noticed that the marshall was not able to dive, and she decided then to emphasize her political arguments with him by proving that women in a democracy, even elderly women, had the freedom not only to study whatever intellectual subject they chose but also could learn any sport. She was tired of the endless remarks about soft, capitalist Americans who did nothing but watch television. "So you see Ellie, I decided to learn to dive, and when you tell me that I have succeeded, I'm going to have a good time writing to the marshall and telling him that this soft, capitalist American is over sixty and she has just learned to dive. Americans, you see, are not afraid to dive into the unknown. They can surprise the world when they want to."

o Don't live in fear. When Aunt Eleanor was to meet with Nikita Khrushchev of the USSR at her home at Val-Kill Cottage, a Secret Service agent told her that a grove of maple trees posed a security hazard and should be cut down. "I know you'll do your job and you'll do it very well, of course, but you may not harm one of my trees," she informed him. "You may put a special agent behind every one of them if you think it necessary, but my landscape stays the same until old age or a hurricane changes it!" And the trees, which meant so much to her-some of which she and Uncle Franklin had planted when they were newly married-still shade the meadow.

o Forgive those who make mistakes. One day when Aunt Eleanor was in New York, she took a shortcut in the middle of a block, stepping into the street from between two parked cars. A taxi driver, who had just delivered a fare, backed out into the street, hit Aunt Eleanor, and knocked her down. She got right up again but the taxi driver was instantly out of his cab and beside her.

I can imagine his profuse apology. "Oh, Mrs. Roosevelt, I'm so sorry. Are you all right? Can I take you somewhere? Do you need to see a doctor? At least let me take you home." But Aunt Eleanor was most concerned about the driver. "You must leave right now!" she directed him. "You might be fired for this! Just go, get in your cab and go right now!" . . . She told me she felt relieved when he drove off, and when she was sure that no one would notice, she allowed herself to limp to her apartment.

o Live life to the fullest, today. Sometimes when Aunt Eleanor asked for questions following one of her lectures, the subject of life after death was brought up. As always, she considered her answer in the light of her own experience and judgment, and truthfully gave her opinion. I recall her with a fork in her hand as she said, "As long as I can remember, philosophers have been debating the question of life after death. I do not think that we humans have a way of proving it one way or the other, so I have decided to leave the debate to the philosophers. I am committed to my work and enjoy it, so I simply tell my audience that I have no idea if there is an afterlife or not, but I'll find out soon enough."

When Eleanor finally did "find out" the truth about the afterlife, her immense popularity was clearly revealed. So many people converged on the little town of Hyde Park-including a number of presidents-that after leaving the memorial service, some of her own family members couldn't navigate the crush of traffic to get to the burial.

It was early afternoon when my family and I made it back home to Rhinebeck after the frustration of bumper-to-bumper traffic for an hour and a half. I was disappointed to have missed the burial and lunch, but glad, in a way, to return to my familiar home and little pond and quiet woods. My heart was already full of the wonder and privilege of having had Aunt Eleanor in my life. She is always with us, urging us to carry forward her wise tolerance and love of mankind.
:
As side note: ER II's is the oldest living relative of Eleanor Roosevelt and was often referred to by ER as her favorite niece. ER II's father was Hall Roosevelt, Eleanor's brother. President Theodore Roosevelt was ER II's great uncle.

ER II is extraordinary in knowing and growing up with several generations of Roosevelt's. She first remembers her aunt when ER II was six and they would meet during summer stays with ER II's Great Aunt Corinne, sister of President Teddy Roosevelt. She met and knew FDR and FDR's mother as well as all of FDR's and ER's children and grandchildren.

ER II visited the White House often, starting as a teenager during FDR's presidency and continuing to her coming-out party in 1938 hosted at the White House by FDR and ER. She continued a close relationship with ER until her death in 1962. A single memorial plaque to Eleanor Roosevelt now hangs in the Hyde Park Episcopal Church opposite the pew used by ER and FDR. ER II carved that plaque. 

For the Love of Spring

Guest blog by Eva Selhub, MC. 
Author of The Love Response: Your Prescription to Turn Off Fear, Anger, and Anxiety to Achieve Vibrant Health and Transform Your Life

Spring is the time for new beginnings and growth, when flowers bloom and children play outdoors. It is the time for new ideas and for plans to burgeon, for future accomplishments to be visualized.

Like the child who believes they are unstoppable or the plant that opens its buds to the warmth of the sun, Spring is your chance to expand to the possibilities of your life. 

But often, something holds you back. Rather than blooming like a flower, you are likely contracting into a bud, ruminating about the past and fearing the uncertainty of the future. 

The thing about Spring is that it is also the time to let go of the old to make room for the new. Thus the term, “Spring Cleaning.” 

In order to connect to the myriad of possibilities in your life, the message here is that you may need to let go of what you are holding onto that is keeping you from moving forward. It means facing your fears and sweeping them out of the closet where they have been buried.

Now who really wants to do that? Who really wants to voluntarily face their fears and open themselves up to uncertainty? 

Well, children do it, unknowingly, all the time. They take risks. They imagine greatness and adventure. 

How often do you take risks? How many times have you decided to have an adventure? When do you use your imagination to help you mitigate uncertainty?

If you did, you might be able to face your buried fears and let them go once and for all. Then, when you make the space, new adventures can be had. 

When the stressors of life accumulate, your buried fears get triggered and they activate your fear response. When in the fear response, you connect to little, least of all the potential of life. The fear will shut you down, physically, emotionally and psychologically.

In fear, the neurobiological mechanisms are such that you lose higher cognitive functioning, your heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension increase, negative emotions preside, and your sociability is null and void. You lose your connection to the social support around you; to the resilience person within you; and to the larger universe that can guide you (this includes your imagination). 

These are the very commodities that help you overcome stressful situations, stay healthy and happy.

So if you are under a lot of stress in the springtime, rather than connecting, you will disconnect. The more you disconnect, the more you shut down. Dismal, eh?

Ah! But there is something you can do! You can begin by connecting to your fabulous self, the love that surrounds you, and the help that may be available to you. 

• First, honor the tension and anxiety you are feeling. You have every right to feel this way. That’s right. Create the space for you.
• Second, acknowledge that this is an opportunity to heal buried fears. Make more space for you.
• Third, gently and kindly allow yourself to receive the golden rays of light from the sun in the sky and the aromas of love and life to fill your lungs and your heart (real or imagined). Bask in it. 
• Fourth, repeat these words: “Receiving love and support is my birthright.” Say these words every time you inhale. Simply receive.
• Fifth, let yourself fully and completely exhale, imagining that you are releasing buried fear, tension and negativity. Out they go. You can even use your hands to sweep the tension and fear out of your heart as you say these words, “I release the negativity that does not serve me.” Receive and Release.
• Sixth, imagine a smaller image of you—as an infant or child—receiving this love and support too.
• Seventh, run around outside, for no reason. Then, run around some more. 

Now, you are changing your physiology from stress to balance, opening up the neurons in your brain to perceive possibilities rather than fear and dread. When you are open, you are open to the people who can help you, the universe that can support you, and the resilience within your own mind and body.

This may not change your life in an instant, but you will certainly feel better and be ready for the Spring!

Inactive Leads

Guest blog by Erin Flynn

Case study: Jump-starting those inactive leads. 

"Thanks for calling to confirm - but I'm afraid I'm going to have to cancel our meeting for next week. We've decided to put a hold on all our spending in this area for now. We'll be re-evaluating in a couple of months. Keep in touch, okay?"

It's part of the sales landscape - a law as dependable as gravity. No matter how effective, persuasive, or experienced a given salesperson is, some percentage of that person's promising leads will turn into "opportunities." These are static contacts that aren't moving through the sales process and can't be counted on to provide income - at least for the time being. 

The question really isn't whether contacts will fall into the "opportunity" category, but what steps to take when they do. How do you reignite interest and generate activity within your list of "cold" prospects? Canadian sales representative Gino Sette came up with an interesting strategy. 

Gino decided to write a letter to every prospect who had decided not to buy from him over a given period. Basically, the letter said this: "It was a pleasure meeting with you awhile back to talk about what your company was doing. Even though we were unable to move forward at that time, I'm still thinking about you." 

Gino then invited each "cold" contact to sit in at one of his company's upcoming events. "This will give you an opportunity to evaluate, first-hand, the applicability of what we do to your business environment," he wrote. "Attached is a list of all upcoming training where my clients have approved outside observers. I've also included a brief description of each of the programs."

According to Gino, he got calls from prospects who were very interested in observing specific programs, even though they had initially declined his firm's training. Gino decided to write to each member of his active client base and extend the same invitation. The letter begins as follows: "First of all, let me thank you for allowing us to work with you and XYZ Company. We are very excited to have you as part of our client list, as you are a significant player. It is for this reason that I would like to extend the following invitation to you…"

As his flurry of return calls proved, Gino's innovative letter technique is an effective way to win back (or solidify) your position on the to-do lists of your customers and inactive leads. His idea can be adapted to training programs, open houses, media events, and any 

Bringing In Management

Guest blog by Erin Flynn

At the sales training company I work for, I watch salespeople bring in new business on a daily basis. I've noticed that the most successful reps have learned when and how to bring management in for help. These reps realize they cannot always close a deal solo; wisely, they turn to their higher-ups for assistance. 

Let's say an experienced sales representative at my firm is at the proposal stage with a prospect, but is not certain about the timetable, pricing, person or plan. It's not at all uncommon at our company for the rep to call in the president, Steve Schiffman. Steve will call this prospect and say something along the following lines: "I just wanted to call and say hello. I'm Steve Schiffman, the president of the company. I understand from speaking with my rep, (rep's name), that it looks like we'll be doing business together."

At this point, one of two things can happen. If the prospect says, "Yes, that's right," then Steve knows that the salesperson is in fact presenting a solid proposal. If Steve gets a "Gee, I'm not so sure" answer, he will ask, "Oh, what seems to be the issue?" 

Steve deals with the issue by showing examples of how D.E.I. has helped other companies in similar situations. It always helps to assure the prospect that your company has handled similar situations, and achieved positive results. 

He often closes the call by saying to the prospect, "I will work with my rep in dealing with this concern. You can be assured we will together to make sure you are comfortable in such-and-such an area."

Let's say the rep then meets with his or her contact -- and then doesn't get the deal. Steve will make a second call. That call sounds like this: "I understand from speaking to my rep that we are not going to be doing business together after all. Did we do something wrong?"

Steve asks the person directly why there is no deal. This is one of the most underrated strategies in the industry. Invariably, when Steve asks, "Did we do something wrong?" the prospect will say "No, it was nothing you people did." Steve will then ask, "So why aren't we doing business together?" At that point, the prospect will outline what is really at stake. 

Steve will address his concerns and close the call by saying, "Let's get together with my rep and review how we can work together to solve the issues you've raised in such-and-such an area. How about Tuesday at 3 p.m.?" 

You'd be amazed at how often this approach results in major sales from prospects that appeared to be "dead in the water."

I have seen this "bring in the manager" strategy utilized again and again. It really works! Try it yourself and see what happens! 

The bottom line: Working together, salespeople and their superiors can get to the heart of the prospect's situation -- and win sales that otherwise would have slipped through the cracks. 

Beating Quota

Guest blog by Erin Flynn 

Recently, a client of ours in the telecommunications industry asked us to help set up a customized training program to help sales representatives increase sales depth within its base of existing customers. This client had numerous Fortune 100 customers... but had not developed a systemized way of identifying new areas for growth within each of these major accounts. 

We asked participants to bring information on their top five accounts to our training session. At the program, we asked them to answer the following questions about each account: 

* How can I work with this company's sales department to win new customers - and increase profitability? Follow-up: What new people within the organization would I talk to about that? 

* How can I help the target company's sales, customer service, shipping and transportation departments to maintain its base of existing accounts more effectively? Follow-up: What new people within the organization would I talk to about that?

* How can I work with the target company's shipping, accounts receivable, accounts payable, and manufacturing departments to improve communication with major suppliers? Follow-up: What new people within the organization would I talk to about that?

* What programs can I put together with this company's marketing and sales departments to help the organization gain a competitive edge in the marketplace? Follow-up: What new people within the organization would I talk to about that?

* How can I help this company's department heads and human resources people retain and recruit high-quality employees? Follow-up: What new people within the organization would I talk to about that?

* What can I propose to this company's shipping, receiving, dispatching, sales, and customer service people to help streamline transportation? Follow-up: What new people within the organization would I talk to about that? 

In answering these questions, trainees were asked to identify contacts in at least five different areas within each company. They wrote down the size of each account, the possible product application by division/department, and information in each relevant area gleaned from sources like the World Wide Web or the company's annual report. 

At the end of this process, all the participants had a huge number of new prospects! Their new calling list was prioritized according to three criteria: territory management considerations (i.e., which contacts to meet with in the same building on a given day), the potential account size, and the likely time cycle. 

We then showed these reps how to build their calls around the groups and people these reps had helped in the past, thus dramatically increasing their likelihood of scheduling a meeting with the new person. 

The bottom line: By using these strategies, our client was able to target and win new business within their major accounts - and beat quota. 

The Rules for One Night Stands

Guest blog by Melinda Gallagher, M.A., and Emily Scarlet Kramer
Author of A Piece of Cake: Recipes for Female Sexual Pleasure

The number-one piece of advice women give to each other is to know yourself and the context, and be sure of what you want. Set boundaries on one-night stands, boundaries that are both emotional and physical. To have a good casual encounter, you have to protect and assert your own needs, along with respecting what your partner wants. 

After all, what's the point of getting down if it doesn't feel good? If we could be assured that our orgasm would be a priority, then it would seem that casual sex encounters would look a lot more attractive to a lot more of us. A sexy smile can last only so long, and once the romp begins, we are looking for the skills to match our attraction. 

During her first one-night stand, Jennifer (24) hit the jackpot. It was the holidays and most of her college friends were out of town. All alone in the big city, she decided it would be fun to hit one of her favorite wine bars for her first solo bar experience. After a few glasses of wine, she strolled over to a group of five men who had just come in after work. Feeling confident and independent, she decided she would try going home with a stranger for the first time. After about an hour of speaking to one guy whom she was particularly attracted to and felt comfortable with, she asked him if he'd like to leave with her. He responded by grabbing her arm and pulling her out the door. 

Without exchanging names or any personal information, they got in a cab and drove uptown to his apartment. Once inside, he slowly undressed her and laid her on his bed, then took his clothes off. He was a very good partner: He was verbal, which she found terribly exciting, and was careful to take his time, making sure she was sated. Jennifer swears he went down on her more than ten times. After their romp had concluded, she got dressed and slipped back into the night, feeling just a bit guilty because he kept asking her to stay. The next morning, she still couldn't believe what had happened. She never would have imagined something like that was within her command. 

Unfortunately, we may not all be lucky enough to come upon a partner with mad skills. Frankly speaking, many men do not know their way around female pleasure, and in the case of an unfamiliar body are either clueless or careless. This is when we have to take matters into our own hands. It's up to us to let the new boy on the block know exactly what we need, even if he's going to be around for just one night. Casual sex can be an opportunity to demand that male partners get with the equality program by putting our orgasm on the same level as theirs. 
Copyright © 2005 Melinda Gallagher, M.A., and Emily Scarlet Kramer

Parenting After The Divorce: How To Thrive!

Guest blog by E. R. Reid

Divorce. I have been there and done that, along with 19 million other adults in this country. Although it has lost some of its stigma over the years, divorce hasn't lost any of its heartache, especially for our children. As a divorced parent, nothing is more heart breaking than watching the impact of divorce on your children. They are usually the last to know and the most affected.

Many professionals disagree about the impact divorce has on children. Some say they are resilient enough to become successful adults in spite of divorce. Others say divorce will cause long-term damage that will carry over into adulthood. But almost everyone agrees that how well parents handle themselves and their children during the divorce transition can decrease the damage and increase the chances that the children will form their own successful relationships in the future.

AFTER D-DAY -WHAT'S A PARENT TO DO?

So, the question is, "after the divorce, what can we, as concerned parents, do to provide our children the best possible roadmap towards becoming highly productive citizens and adults?" As a professional corporate strategist, my success comes from knowing how to put myself in my client's position so I can see issues from their perspective. As a parent, my great awakening came when I realized I needed to do the same thing for my children. The lessons I learned and suggestions I offer are derived from seeing divorce from a child's point of view. 

BAG THE BITTERNESS SO YOU CAN THRIVE! 

One of the most important things you can do to help your children, and yourself is to bag the bitterness! Focus on taking away helpful lessons from your experience. Then, use this new knowledge to become better. Despite the reasons you divorced, your mental attitude is critical to not only surviving, but thriving as a family. If you have the right mindset, then you can feel confident that you and your children will be all right. Take it one day at a time. For every problem there is a solution. Don't try to tackle everything at once. 

You have to move quickly, though, towards healing and away from bitterness, anger and depression. It's like the instructions we get on the airplane for using the oxygen masks. If you are traveling with a minor, put yours on first, then help the child secure hers. As parents, we don't have the "luxury" of wallowing in negative emotions and behavior because the impact of such behavior hurts our children.

YOUR CHILD IS WATCHING AND LISTENING!

 My children are like little sponges, they absorb everything especially when it comes to what comes out of me! One of the biggest mistakes a divorced parent can do is to tear down the ex-spouse in front of the children. This is hard not to do, because it makes us feel better if we can play the "blame game" and point to someone else's faults. For your children's sake be careful and be quiet. Remember it is painful for them to hear anyone talk badly about Mom or Dad. 

WORK IT OUT OR WORK TOGETHER!

Our children learn culture, character and esteem from us. They take cues about what is acceptable from what we do not necessarily from what we say. The way you handle yourself and your relationship with your former spouse will be the way your children handle other complex issues and relationships. 

Remember your children may face difficult relationships, too. You can teach them by example how to handle, discuss and reach solutions with someone whom they do not agree. Work to find common ground. Sometimes you will have to bend more than you want to but it may bring resolution and be better for the children.

TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF AND PRAY

Avoid name-callers, doomsayers, and negative people because they will bring you down! Look for and develop friendships with others who are positive, want to move forward, and are encouraging. Your stability and outlook sets the tone for your child's life. Without overlooking the needs of your children, take care of yourself spiritually, mentally and physically. Then you will be in a better position to ensure your child will learn how to do the same. 

"BANG, BANG " Choose your Target

Guest blog by  Melinda Gallagher, M.A., and Emily Scarlet Kramer
Author of A Piece of Cake: Recipes for Female Sexual Pleasure

While it's still a serious matter, and maybe the most important choice you will make all day, choosing a casual-encounter partner is, well, more casual than choosing a long-term lover. You don't have to worry about whether you'd want his toothbrush on your sink, whether you'd have to bring him home to meet your parents, or whether he'd get along with your girlfriends. More important, if we always practice safer sex, we do not have to worry about whether our sex partner will be a good dad. A casual-sex partner does not have to fill your every expectation, but there is one basic requirement: attraction. 

Acting on a feeling of instantaneous attraction can be very exciting; in turn, the feeling that you're so sexy that a stranger is overwhelmed by his attraction to you can be equally mind-blowing. From both perspectives, the possibility of being so passionate with someone we don't know but have a spontaneous sexual connection with is enough to make our heads (or bodies) spin. A perfectly common reaction to physical attraction is sexual excitement, and we can get turned on, often and easily, by people we don't know. 

Of course, a hot body and good looks can always whet our palates for some lovin'. But above and beyond simple attraction, anonymity, in particular, plays a big role in female fantasy. The exciting part for some of us is particularly that which is not connected to a relationship: the freedom of indulging in attraction without ever having to know someone's name. Pure physical pleasure can be heightened when we are freed from having to consider what will happen when the moment is over. Anonymity resolves the issues of consequences. There are no sacrifices. No one gets hurt. 

Copyright © 2005 Melinda Gallagher, M.A., and Emily Scarlet Kramer

Top Tips for Women's Health: Medical Care Every Woman Should Know About

Guest blog by Elizabeth Stein, CNM, MSN, MPH
NYC practice Ask Your Midwife, PC.

1. Gynecology - Women should see their midwife or physician routinely for a Pap smear, pelvic exam, pelvic sonogram, breast exam, STD screening, pregnancy planning and birth control. In addition, blood pressure and weight should be recorded at each visit. For many women, their gyn provider is also their primary care provider. This visit should include a complete interval history, which is the history from previous visits to the current visit. This includes medical problems, medications including over the counter medications and herbs, sexual activity, lifestyle which includes smoking, drinking, drugs and exercise. 
2. Breast Health - A breast self-exam should be done every month for the women's entire life. Mammograms should start at age 40. They can be scheduled earlier if there is a close family member with breast cancer.
3. Cervical and STD Screening - Though not standard of care, HPV testing should be done in combination with the Pap smear. STD cultures include gonorrhea, Chlamydia, trichomonas. Other cultures include bacterial vaginosis (BV), yeast, and group B strep. STD blood screenings include HIV, syphilis, hepatitis B, and herpes 1 and 2.
4. Heart Health - Heart disease is the number one cause of death among older women in the United States. Blood pressure, weight, nutrition, activity level, lipid profile (cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL, LDL) and diabetes screening are all factors that affect heart health and should be discussed regularly. Obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke. Women may want to consider taking a baby aspirin (81 mg) daily to decrease their risk of heart attack and stroke.
5. Colon Health - Women should have a colonoscopy at age 50 and repeated every 10 years. Women with a personal history may start screening earlier and more frequently than every 10 years. 
6. Bone Health - Osteoporosis is a condition that causes bone deterioration and mainly affects women. Women should have a bone density test near the onset of menopause. Estrogen prevents bone loss. Weight-bearing exercise and diets rich in calcium and vitamin D will help to keep bones healthy.
7. Perimenopause Health - The transition into menopause can last anywhere from 2-8 years. Menstrual history should be reviewed because the first symptoms of menopause are often changes in the menstrual cycle followed by hot flashes. Hormone tests can also determine if a woman has entered perimenopause and include follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), estrogen and thyroid levels. 
8. Postmenopausal Health - The average age for menopause is 51+ years. The average lifespan for women is currently nearly 80 years. Women may want to discuss a wellness plan with their provider as most will live another 25 to 30 years in the postmenopausal period. 
9. Vaccinations - An HPV vaccine (Gardasil®) is available and strongly recommended. Women should also consider a flu vaccine annually.
10. Other Annual Screenings - See your dentist and eye doctor yearly.
11. Be Proactive. Review all results and make a healthcare plan with your provider.

For the Love of Spring

Guest blog by  Eva Selhub, MD

Spring is the time for new beginnings and growth, when flowers bloom and children play outdoors.  It is the time for new ideas and for plans to burgeon, for future accomplishments to be visualized.

Like the child who believes they are unstoppable or the plant that opens its buds to the warmth of the sun, Spring is your chance to expand to the possibilities of your life.  
 
But often, something holds you back.  Rather than blooming like a flower, you are likely contracting into a bud, ruminating about the past and fearing the uncertainty of the future.  
 
The thing about Spring is that it is also the time to let go of the old to make room for the new.  Thus the term, “Spring Cleaning.”  
 
In order to connect to the myriad of possibilities in your life, the message here is that you may need to let go of what you are holding onto that is keeping you from moving forward.   It means facing your fears and sweeping them out of the closet where they have been buried.
 
Now who really wants to do that?  Who really wants to voluntarily face their fears and open themselves up to uncertainty?  

Well, children do it, unknowingly, all the time.  They take risks.  They imagine greatness and adventure.  
 
How often do you take risks?  How many times have you decided to have an adventure?  When do you use your imagination to help you mitigate uncertainty?
 
If you did, you might be able to face your buried fears and let them go once and for all.   Then, when you make the space, new adventures can be had.  
 
When the stressors of life accumulate, your buried fears get triggered and they activate your fear response.  When in the fear response, you connect to little, least of all the potential of life.   The fear will shut you down, physically, emotionally and psychologically.
 
In fear, the neurobiological mechanisms are such that you lose higher cognitive functioning, your heart rate, blood pressure and muscle tension increase, negative emotions preside, and your sociability is null and void.  You lose your connection to the social support around you; to the resilience person within you; and to the larger universe that can guide you (this includes your imagination). 
 
These are the very commodities that help you overcome stressful situations, stay healthy and happy.
 
So if you are under a lot of stress in the springtime, rather than connecting, you will disconnect.  The more you disconnect, the more you shut down.  Dismal, eh?

Ah! But there is something you can do!  You can begin by connecting to your fabulous self, the love that surrounds you, and the help that may be available to you.  
 
·        First, honor the tension and anxiety you are feeling. You have every right to feel this way.  That’s right.  Create the space for you.
·        Second, acknowledge that this is an opportunity to heal buried fears.  Make more space for you.
·        Third, gently and kindly allow yourself to receive the golden rays of light from the sun in the sky and the aromas of love and life to fill your lungs and your heart (real or imagined).  Bask in it.  
·        Fourth, repeat these words:  “Receiving love and support is my birthright.”  Say these words every time you inhale.  Simply receive.
·        Fifth, let yourself fully and completely exhale, imagining that you are releasing buried fear, tension and negativity.  Out they go.  You can even use your hands to sweep the tension and fear out of your heart as you say these words, “I release the negativity that does not serve me.”  Receive and Release.
·        Sixth, imagine a smaller image of you—as an infant or child—receiving this love and support too.
·        Seventh, run around outside, for no reason.  Then, run around some more.   
Now, you are changing your physiology from stress to balance, opening up the neurons in your brain to perceive possibilities rather than fear and dread.  When you are open, you are open to the people who can help you, the universe that can support you, and the resilience within your own mind and body.
This may not change your life in an instant, but you will certainly feel better and be ready for the Spring!

Join The Real Fight Against Obesity: Go BioChemical™! and beat the Yo-Yo Effect

Guest blog by Eleonora DeLennart
Author of The BioChemical Machine 2
Watch her interview on The Woman's Connection YouTube Vlog

Many responsible people realized that we reached a point in history where health and weight problems can no longer be politicized when Professor Krugman's gave the New York Times his landmark statement "…it's in health care, not Social Security." And CNN (December 31, 2005) reported: "Annual cost of obesity is $117 billion." 

But isn't it true that people dieted like crazy in order to get healthy and slim over the past 50 years? Yet, it is dieting that is the root of all evil. Diets make people fat! People "lose" muscle mass and water-and health, but not the fat they want to lose. That's why diets have failed for the half century. And as soon as dieters stop dieting they gain everything back and usually more-which is the case in 99% of all dieters. The reason? The starvation shock, called the "Yo-Yo effect." But as if this weren't enough, the Yo-Yo effect also weakens the immune system. 

I was the first who had the courage to say it as it is-which didn't make me friends. And yes, despite heavy resistance campaigns, even sabotage (or, as it turned out, magazines have even been threatened with 'no ads' if they would write about my work) the first edition of The BioChemical Machine, copyrighted in 1995 became a national bestseller. Why? Because honesty sells. 

Nobody can prevent the future from happening. Not even the powerful diet industry. The BioChemical A&B Eating Method ® IS the future. It is the key to enhanced quality of life; the right to be energetic; the right to be pain free even in later years of life; and the solution to eliminate health and weight problems without diets that weaken one's immune system. (And yes, the BioChemical A&B Method® will also open a new market (definitely for the next 50 years); but instead of our health going "downwards"-as it has over the past half century-it will make an upward climb in regard to health, quality of life, and energy-all vital for humankind.)

The breakthrough discovery, the clinically proven BioChemical A&B Method ® will make all the difference for millions of people. The BioChemical Machine 2 presents this latest research. It is based on state-of-the-art clinical studies and the most modern approach to health and weight problems. It is based on the premise that creating compatibility between food chemistry and body chemistry is key to sustaining a healthy weight, overcoming illness, and bolstering general overall good health. 

Central to the research is the breakthrough discovery that two different types of digestion exist for protein-one for the good proteins (pure high grade protein) that the human body has evolved to handle over the course of millions of years and another for bad proteins (abnormal proteins), which have been consumed in larger and larger quantities only since the invention of home refrigeration. 

Carbohydrates (regardless whether healthy, less healthy, or not healthy at all) have only ONE type of digestion. That's why the term "good" or "bad" carbohydrates has been taken out of context from my European edition of The BioChemical Machine (Random House).

In regard to eating carbohydrates, there is no classification for "good" or "bad" carbohydrates. It is a well known fact that some carbohydrates are healthier; others less healthy-but that's it. Carbohydrates can never cause serious or hazardous health problems. However when bad proteins are eaten chemically incorrect they create toxins in the body that leads to conditions such as acid reflux, arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, thyroid problems, kidney and liver diseases, and myriad of other illnesses that may cause distress and chronic pain. Once people know how to handle the vast difference between good and bad proteins EVERY carbohydrate will become easy to digest and valuable for the body- and as a result, will not cause any weight problems.

The BioChemical A&B formula for life is very straight forward: Eat any carbohydrate with good proteins, but never with bad proteins. This simple but significant formula will make the difference for millions of people and will end the health and weight-related problems in this country."

The BioChemical A&B Eating Method® is the clinically proven perfect match of food chemistry and body chemistry. It is the result of many years of research with internationally renowned biochemists and food chemists. The BioChemical A&B Charts®, arranged into three unique categories-"A", "Neutral" (can be eaten 24/7), and "B" divide foods according to the type of digestive process necessary for breaking down good proteins, bad proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. 

The BioChemical A&B Method® is the "guide" to help people's "old" body chemistry (developed over the course of millions of years) to handle the labyrinth of today's delicious and seductive "modern" foods. People can eat everything and anything, including bad proteins, which is the cause of many health problems. Yet, the BioChemical A&B Method ® also teaches people how to eat unhealthy foods so they don't harm the BioChemical Machine. People can happily drink their beer and enjoy every food that is out there. It's just a matter of learning how to handle the two different types of digestion that exist for protein.

Although it would have been easy for me to write "just" another simple diet book with the usual rules and regulations of calorie counting, glycemic indexes and all the other counting programs that, seemingly, people love to do: But, it's not about food-it's about our cells. If we understand this, we know don't need eating plans, diets, non-diets, anti-diets, food-combiners, glycemic indexes, low-carb, low-fat, high-protein or whatever the never-ending ideas of money-hungry people will produce.
Dieting is the root of all evil, because dieting opens one of the most vicious cycles in somebody's life: the Yo-Yo effect… the starvation shock.

The following example can make this concept more understandable by visualization as it shows the importance of ending an ineffective half-century of the "diet guru" era: If you were to drop off an overweight and/or obese person in the desert for a couple of weeks without food (or to be fair, only with small portions of food, or other "chosen" foods), the result will always be the same-a thin and emaciated-starving person! This person will, assuredly, regain everything back faster once returning to his or her normal eating habits. In actuality, dieting is voluntary starving because the body-The BioChemical Machine-will do everything in its power to prevent you from another starvation-shock. We call this natural biological reaction: The "Yo-Yo Effect."

Everybody can lose weight and become a big loser-but loser is another key word; as the bottom line is that one "loses" more than just weight. This weight loss is always a temporary condition! In addition this "loss" may weaken the immune system and the person may "lose" something more vital-their ability to fight disease. Therefore the word "loser" becomes a negative condition in most cases. In effect, unwholesome weight loss can cause a person to "lose" the ability to secure good health. No human being should stress to control their cravings to eat normally…no one should be deprived. 

Therefore, I started a crusade for the people and remained true to myself. I knew I'd meet opposition, and have, but I also knew that I had to follow my convictions and the truth-not just the useless initiative diets that produce quick results; compromise immune systems; eventual weight gain and produce boredom by following a regimen of limited foods. 

But-alas, to move a whole nation-good-will is not enough. It needs a realistic solution; a solution that is welcomed by all ages. People want real solutions that fit the reality of today's supermarkets and fast food restaurants-solutions for the entire family and something that will be fun for everybody. For the adults: who like to drink beer without the "guilt-trip" that this consumption is unhealthy or fattening. For the children: who want their chocolate and Big Macs. For the men and women: who know, all too well, the stress of struggling to lose weight. And…for the elderly and/or ill people who still need to enjoy life to the fullest.

In conclusion: Based in solid science, the Biochemical A&B Eating Method® is poised to become the health and nutrition story of the century; empowering millions to take control over their own well-being; eliminating the "Yo Yo Effect"; teaching the youth of our nation some clear-cut rules and eradicating the current plague of obesity in our youngsters. Sadly, recent studies show that today's youth and their obesity rate will deduct up to twenty years off the average life span and put our nation's health and longevity in reverse. This method can also encourage schools to implement the proper scientific eating method into their cafeteria meals and also be part of the school's health curriculum on a national level. It will not only make history, but it may change it.

The BioChemical A&B Method® is affordable for everybody. Every food industry can profit from it. Even the pharmaceutical industry is not excluded, because the A&B method enhances the effectiveness of necessary medicines.

One of the best testimonials comes from Professor Claus Leitzmann, one of a growing number of respected authorities who endorsed my research. Professor Leitzman is an internationally renowned micro-biologist, U.C.L.A molecular biologist, biochemist and author of 500 studies, articles and books in the field of Nutritional Science-he is also a recipient of the Zabel Price for Cancer Prevention and the Broerman Prize for Preventative Nutrition and this is what he has to say: "In these times with health care in a state of crisis and people searching desperately for solutions that really work and can be implemented in everybody's life…people need to know about eating the Biochemical A&B way…It's a breakthrough that could lead to a whole new quality of life and save millions of dollars for both people and governments." 

Pumpkin-Ginger Pancakes

Guest recipe by Ellen Easton
Courtesy of Nielsen-Massey Vanillias

2 TBS. butter, melted
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup milk, room temperature
2 TBS. Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup Walnuts, natural, crushed to tiny pieces
1/8 cup Ginger People crystallized ginger, crushed to dust size pieces
2 TBS. ground cinnamon
1 1/2 cups King Arthur Pumpkin Pancake Mix

Melt butter over a low heat. In a medium size mixing bowl, add next eight ingredients. On a medium speed, slowly add pumpkin mix, blending together until combined. It is OK if batter is a bit lumpy.

On a preheated hot skillet, place 1/4 cup of batter for regular size pancakes or one heaping tablespoon for mini pancakes, allowing room in-between each. When small bubbles appear on the top, flip over for 30 seconds or until cooked through. Remove and serve with slices of fresh pear and maple syrup.
Garnish: fresh sliced pears and maple syrup

Marshmallow Dessert Pizza

Guest recipe by Eileen Talanian
Author of Marshmallows: Homemade Gourmet Treats

Makes one 12-inch pizza

Kids love eating sweets that look like dinner. I think they feel like they're pulling one over on the big guys. Using real pizza or bread dough helps to keep this dessert from being overly sweet. Vary the type of fruit you use, and change or omit the candy. You can make the pizza early in the day and add the strawberries at the last minute.

1 package fresh uncooked pizza dough, or 1 loaf frozen bread dough, thawed
2 cups Chocolate Ganache (recipes follows), made with half milk chocolate and half dark chocolate
1 ½ cups cut-up marshmallows
1/3 cup candy-coated chocolate pieces
1 1/13 cups sliced fresh strawberries

Roll out the dough and bake it according to the package directions. Let it cool completely before assembling the pizza.

Spread slightly warm ganache over the dough, leaving a ½-inch rim around the edge. Sprinkle the ganache with the cut-up marshmallows and the candy pieces. When you are ready to serve the pizza, place the sliced strawberries generously around, and if you like use a propane torch to soften or brown the marshmallows. Cut with a pizza wheel and serve.

Homemade Mallowmars

Guest recipe by Eileen Talanian
Author of Marshmallows: Homemade Gourmet Treats

Mallowmars are from way back in some of our memories. They are graham crackers topped with marshmallow and dipped in chocolate, and are incredibly delicious. Use any flavor marshmallow batter that you like. People are delightfully surprised when they eat homemade mallowmars, but they really go crazy when they are filled with banana, strawberry, or any other unexpected marshmallow flavor. If you don't feel up to dipping the mallowmars, you can just drizzle the tempered chocolate over them decoratively.

Ingredients:
Packaged graham crackers or Homemade Graham Crackers (page 111)
Piping bag and plain decorating tip with a ½-inch hold
Freshly made marshmallow batter of any flavor
Tempered chocolate (page 147)-made with 1 ounce chocolate for each mallowmar + an extra 12 ounces for ease of dipping

Directions:
Don't make the marshmallow batter until everything else is ready. If you are using homemade grahams, cut them out into circles before baking them. If you are using packaged grahams and would like to cut them into circles, you'll need to soften them first. To do so, place them on a cutting surface in a single layer and lay a damp kitchen towel over them for several minutes. When they begin to soften, use a round cookie cutter to cut circles out of the squares. Place the circles on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refresh the grahams in a preheated 350-degree-F oven for about 5 minutes. Pipe a mound of marshmallow batter onto each round and let them cure for 3 or 4 hours before dipping them in chocolate.

Line baking sheets with parchment. Temper the chocolate in a cool, dry room according to the directions given, and place a marshmallow-topped graham on a 2-pringed meat fork, dropping it into the chocolate and gently pushing it under the chocolate to coat it.
Lift it with the fork on the side of the bowl to remove excess chocolate so you have a thin coating, slide the bottom of the fork across the side of the bowl to remove chocolate drips, and coax the mallowmar onto a parchment-lined baking sheet using a skewer. Repeat for each mallowmar. Let the chocolate set before storing them. They will keep for a few weeks with wax paper between in an airtight container.

Crispy Rice Treats

Guest recipe by Eileen Talanian
Author of Marshmallows: Homemade Gourmet Treats

Makes one 9x13x2-inch pan

Nearly everyone in the United States has eaten these sweet gems. They’ve become a staple at bake sales, as after-sports refreshments, or for birthday party delights. You can make them with either fluff or marshmallow, so if you have a little extra of either around the house, this is a great way to use it up. Try using one of the pretty-colored marshmallow or fluff flavors to make your treats more special. There is no wheat or corn in them.

3 tablespoons salted butter
7 ounces, by weight, any flavor fluff, or 10 ounces, by weight, marshmallows
7 cups crisp rice cereal

Spray the bottom and sides of the pan or mold with nonstick spray, and wipe lightly with a paper towel so that only a thin film or oil remains on the surface.
Melt the butter and fluff or marshmallows together until smooth. Add the cereal and stir until all of it is evenly coated. Spread into the prepared pan and let sit until cool. Cut as desired and wrap in plastic wrap. They will keep for several days in an airtight container.

CHOCOLATE CHIP OR CONFETTI CRISPY RICE TREATS
Make the recipe for Crispy Rich Treats, above, adding 1 cup of mini semisweet chocolate chips, or 1 cup of candy-coated chocolate pieces.

Chocolate Truffle Tart

Guest recipe by Eileen Goudge
Author of Something Warm From Oven

Makes an 11 - inch tart.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease an 11 - inch tart pan with a removable rim.

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2sticks) cold unsalted butter
1 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Kahlua, or other coffee-flavored liqueur

Place the flour, confectioner's sugar, cocoa, cinnamon, and salt in a food processor and whir to combine.  Add 1/2 cup of the butter, cut into chunks; pulse until well blended.  Distribute evenly over the tart pan, then press firmly over the bottom and sides, starting with the sides and ending with the bottom.  Bake in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes, until the crust begins to pull away from rim.  Set aside to cool while you prepare the filling.

In a medium microwave-safe bowl, place half the chocolate and the remaining butter.  Heat in the microwave, covered, for 30 seconds at a time, stirring after each interval, until melted (about 1 1/2 minutes total).  Stir in the granulated sugar.  Set aside to cool for a few minutes.  Add the beaten eggs, and blend with an electric mixer on low speed until smooth.  Finely chop the remaining chocolate, and stir into melted chocolate mixture along with Kahlua.

Pour into the partially baked crust, and bake in the oven until edges are set and center jiggles slightly when the pan is gently shaken, about 20 minutes.  Let cool thoroughly, at least two hours, before removing the rim.  Lightly dust with confectioner's sugar or unsweetened cocoa before serving.

The Employee

Guest post by Erica Bardin

When asked to write an article for The Woman's Connection® based on my perspective of being a working woman in the corporate environment, I was horrified; I felt empty of any exciting anecdote or interesting overview of my job. I knew I should have some feeling of empowerment or a surpassing of societal expectations, but truthfully, I was more intrigued about what kind of dessert would be served at the power-networking event where I met Barrie Switzen. The result of staring at this communication cement wall you ask? - I procrastinated typing the article for practically six months. In light of that half of a year stall, I have finally found some material much more real and interesting to relate as a working female in a male dominated industry - the working world is the world. 

I'm not going to discuss the corporate incompetence embedded in female stereotypes or I'm certainly not going to beat the dead horse of double standards. I'm also not going to offer an uplifting story of how I stormed into the battle known as the conference room and conquered the dueling partners with my artillery of PowerPoint. What I will bring to the table is how the gender relations and struggles for power I have experienced in the working environment are no different than those that I have faced in my personal life. 

In combating these recycled struggles in the workplace, certain female characters we can rest assured will emerge in any company. The following are some familiar faces: the Victim, Captain Defensive, Signourney Weaver's character from Working Girl, and the Employee (all of which I have embodied at some point in my short career). Through these women we see how female challenges (much like our monthly visitors) never seem to -end. 

The Victim- While meeting with potential partners, clients, CEO's, and internal superiors, she clings to the excuse that due to the less than adequate female stereotype she won't ever be able to reach that next rung on the ladder. She is a deer in the headlights, hoping her co-worker will fill in the gaps. She flashes us back to the lone female adolescent in a student group project stunned by the lack of eye contact and acknowledgement of her male partners. She nervously sits in silence while those around her have exchanged an understanding of their strategy through high fives? "Stacey, you're taking notes, right?" Stacey originally brewed up some brilliant ideas on presenting the stages of photosynthesis with pizzazz, but is now furiously taking notes in a state of defeat.

Captain Defensive -This frustrated female finds herself immobilized by her exaggerated interpretation of the "setup to fail" association with women trying to succeed in a man's world. We all know women who, when asked by her husband if she has gotten the oil changed barks back, "I know what to do! It's not on my list to do until Wednesday!" That wasn't the question. 
Sigourney Weaver's Character from Working Girl - This vixen is - also known as the classic power-hungry woman angrily climbing the corporate ladder to prove to the masses that women can do it better than men. She loses sensitivity and assumes an overabundance of rigidity. People will listen, processes will be followed, and deals will be won. She reminds us of that nauseating high school girl who begins campaigning for that homecoming tiara freshman year. She delegates a campaign strategy for the student council that mimics Julius Caesar's acquisition tactics. In the office setting, this homecoming queen has now turned into the Sheik of micromanagement. She communicates via the Outlook task manager and has to include on her list, "Remember to ask Jerry in Accounting how his wife is doing." 

The Employee - When the roller coaster of identity fears levels out, a working woman finds herself in a position of power as she finally feels like an employee first. This position is not in disregard of the inequities of power distribution and gender relations. This position also does not fail to celebrate womanhood. This position involves the beautiful execution of excelling at your job and relinquishing the emotional effort to fight the stereotypes that one blows up to nano-proportions. She knows that despite the inadequacies of social constructs, she is fully equipped to reach her goals. Finally she finds vengeance for the little girl who wasn't allowed to play on the boys' team. She now cunningly wins accounts and closes deals in the face of a sexist competitor who mistook her for a "secretary." 

Everyday, women go head to head with workplace inadequacies. We have been facing this combat our entire lives, and, in fact, we have formal training. The work environment is the collision of all worlds: gender constructs are a gift with purchase. Work echoes of the relations we experience in our family, with our friends, with our teachers, with our boyfriends and mentors. Essentially, female success at the office is success in the world. 

Invest in Yourself: 8 Non-Financial Tips for Retiring Boomers

Guest post by Ellen Freudenheim
Author of Looking Forward: An Optimist's Guide to Retirement

Think Big: Life’s about More than Money
Take a look at the non-financial dimension of retirement. For the New Year, make a list of what makes you happy—friends, projects, activities. Focus on what makes your life fulfilling—not just what satisfies your bank account.

Forge Your Personal Path
Nobody said you absolutely must retire to Florida and play golf. What is it you’ve always wanted to do, but never had time for? Start a log of your unfinished agendas, whether that’s learning to play piano or getting in great shape.

Find Your Anchor Activity
Identify one or two things around which you can structure your time. Volunteering, retraining for a new career, grandchildren, travel and personal hobbies are all perennials. 

Give Back
Getting involved in volunteer activities is a great way to meet new people, do useful work, and put your own life in perspective. 

Make Time for Fun
Kick back! Make sure your schedule doesn’t get so busy there’s no time for you! Make time to read, garden, meet new people—and dance! 

Be Realistic about Finances
Get a handle on your finances—and if you can’t afford to retire yet, consider partial retirement, plan a way to earn income from your hobbies, or downsize your life so you can save more. Start today!

Invest in Your Social Portfolio
Retirement is more than just a matter of financial investment. It’s important to invest in your social portfolio—your friends, family, relationships, too. 

8. Staying Healthy= Money in the Bank

Health care costs are the bugaboo of everyone’s retirement. So invest in a healthy regimen by getting enough exercise, losing weight if necessary, eating healthily. Exercise staves off depression, keeps your blood pressure down, and is even good for your sex life! You may save thousands of dollars in health care costs just by living healthily.