Posts Tagged ‘Self Care’

5 Tips for Dealing with the ‘Messy Middle’

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When you start a project, there’s that magical feeling of excitement and possibility. You feel super-creative and full of ideas and energy – it’s amazing and so much fun! And at the end of a project, you have a sense of accomplishment, and you can’t wait to unveil your fabulous design or solution to your clients and to the world. But then there’s the middle of a project

That’s the tough and messy part of our business – that middle part where you’re dealing with headaches and issues. You’re slogging through what seems like a mountain of problems, and feeling completely chicken-pecked by your staff, subcontractors or collaborators, and your 5-mile-long To Do list. Ugh.

The middle is tough. It’s hard to keep up your excitement level, or to be motivated to tackle everything with enthusiasm. It’s like the shiny part wore off your favorite toy. But that is exactly the time when you need to kick things into high gear. In the middle, you have to communicate even more so your clients don’t wonder what’s going on. You have to keep your momentum going so your staff doesn’t lose their motivation, too. And you have to keep juggling everything so it doesn’t all come crashing down on you. The middle is messy, but so very important!

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The middle is also a key part of your career as a creative professional. When you start out, you are starry eyed with the possibility of amazing clients and incredible projects, ready to show the world how amazingly creative you are. At the end of your career, you hope to look back on a fulfilling and long creative path, full of happy clients and dazzled editors. But the middle is where you can lose focus, or worse, lose all your motivation. Have you been there? Or are you there now?

Call it burnout, call it a mid-life crisis, or call it stress – the result is the same. You are exhausted from running your business, you feel like you wouldn’t recognize anything creative if it hit you in the head, and you struggle just to have your head down slogging through your To Dos. We all hit this wall in the middle of our careers, and we have to recognize it and deal with it, otherwise it could be the end of our businesses instead of the middle.

So how do we “deal” with it? Here are 5 tips for dealing with that “messy middle”:

1. You have to take care of yourself. This isn’t me being all “woo woo,” it’s a simple fact. Entrepreneur magazine has hundreds of articles that talk about how self care is absolutely critical for small business owners – and that’s you! You need to slow it down, get your rest, exercise, and eat the right things. Stress is literally a killer, and you need to make yourself healthy enough to deal with the stress that comes with the job. After all, you are the most important thing in your company.

2. Deal with your emotions. Are you scared that your company might fail? Are you angry at a vendor (or two)? Are you nervous that clients aren’t coming your way? This is all normal – every CEO from the biggest company to the smallest has these feelings. The key is to recognize them and address them instead of shoving the emotions down where you don’t have to look at them. Facing your worst fears and saying “what is the worst that can happen” is the best thing you can do. You’ll find that even if the worst case scenario comes true, you can deal with it. Doing that takes a lot of the sting out of the fear and allows you to stop blaming yourself. You can also then come up with a plan to help you keep those fears from becoming reality.

3. Ask for help. We ALL have to to do this at some point – and sometimes more than once. No single person on earth can do every single thing all alone. Whether it’s moral support, financial support, coaching, or additional employees or contractors, ask for the help you need. Don’t let your pride get in the way of your future success. Even if it’s as simple as hiring someone to help with your financial paperwork, or getting advice on how to handle time management, do it today.

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4. Rediscover your passion. Too often it’s the business of doing business that wears us down. I ask my consulting clients this a lot, and I want you to really think about it now: Why did you get into this business in the first place? Whatever it was – creativity, wanting to help others, creating gorgeous interiors – how can you get back to focusing on that more? There is no reason at all to be in this business if you aren’t enjoying any part of it – and trust me, everyone from your clients to potential partners can tell when you’re burned out and lacking excitement. Here’s a big secret about being a small business owner: You are in control. So find a way to put the passion back into your company. Stop doing the things that drain you and start doing the things that ignite you!

5. Smile, laugh, and have fun! This isn’t brain surgery – it’s a creative business that’s supposed to be enjoyable. You need to have fun, to laugh, and to create joy for yourself and others. That is what life is all about! Smile more – it’s infectious and will be contagious. Have a laugh with your clients! Spread joy in your office! Think I’m off my rocker? Well would YOU rather do business with a stressed-out grump or with someone who makes you smile? Exactly. Even if you have to fake a smile for a bit, I promise you it will become genuine in no time. Life is meant to be enjoyed!

Try these tips to help get you out of that messy middle rut that we all fall into. Give yourself permission to take steps to reduce the stress that comes with our jobs. If you’re happier, I promise your clients, your team and your family will be happier, too!

xo,

Tobi-Signature

 

 

 

 

PS – If you need help dealing with any part of your business, then my Business for Creatives: Designer MBA course is for you! From financials to time management to client outreach, I’ll show you how to transform your business into a lean, mean, money making machine! You can learn more here, or you can join me for a FREE telecall at 3pm EST on March 15. On that live call, I’ll tell you why Designer MBA is a can’t-miss event for creative business owners not just interior designers. Click here to register for that call right now!

Saturday’s Secret Sauce: More Work Doesn’t Equal More Success

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Every day I hustle. I leap into each morning with either gusto and zest for life or like I am being dragged behind the run-away train of my to do list, already behind and more to do than I could ever accomplish. Does that mean life is hard? Or am I just making it that way?

The dictionary has a few definitions for hustle. One is to “obtain by forceful action or persuasion” as in the CEO used his business savvy to hustle the book deal. Another is “busy movement or activity” as in the “hustle and bustle” of life or the holidays. A third definition means to play a sport in an aggressive way. And finally a fourth definition means  “a fraud or a swindle”.

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My goal when I hustle is typically one of the first 3 definitions…to obtain a deal, to be busy or active or to be aggressive in the way I attack my life. But the more and more I strive, the more I am feeling like #4…a fraud. What do I mean? No I’m not taking advantage of people, well except one person. Me. I am feeling like a fraud because what I am telling myself will work, never exactly does. I am succeeding in my efforts and crossing off lots of lots of to do’s, only to find myself miserable at times, when my intention was to feel strong and accomplished.

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I’ve been “hustling” at my job for 17 years. And boy has it paid off in many ways. My list of accomplishments is long. I look super-successful “on paper”. And depending on how you (and I ) define success, you could definitely say I’ve reached it. But longer than my list of accomplishments, is my list of lessons learned and one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is that more work doesn’t necessarily lead to more success. I’ve also learned that to hustle, to bust your hump, to strive and do and push makes you tired. It wears you out. It’s exhausting.

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Think about it. There are people who work really hard every single day and they don’t have more success and they don’t have more money. Assembly line workers can break their backs working for 30 years and have very little financial success to show for it and they certainly don’t have much control of their lives or their schedule. But some high-powered and very smart business people can take very little time and energy investing in the right deals and make bookoos of money in a small amount of time so that they can live the rest of their time the way they desire on their own terms.

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Now I’m not suggesting there is an easy way, but I do think there is a better way. Yes those CEO’s work hard and spend many years getting to where they are. There really aren’t any get rich quick schemes. But there comes a time when you can’t keep “paying your dues”. There is a point in which you have to decide what you want and how to get there or it will never happen. And complaining about it but not taking REAL action will not get you anywhere. It’s hard to change, but it’s harder to work hard without the results you want.

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So what if the Secret Sauce isn’t working harder, but rather it’s doing the RIGHT things the best you can do them and saying no to the rest. You might call it working smarter and not harder. I think “working smarter, not harder” is one of those phrases that is often over-used because we hear it all the time but I am not sure we REALLY know what it means. I think we all think we’re working smart when we’re hustling. But really we are just hustling. We’re frantically doing a bunch of stuff we think we need to do, but those things aren’t actually moving us closer to our goals. And no that’s not smart, but I don’t think we realize it’s not working smart or we wouldn’t be doing it, now would we?

Imperfection is a form of freedom. (1)

This goal of finding freedom is my focus for 2016. And I was just watching a great video from Hilary from the fashion blog Dean Street Society and her new class about living with Elegant Excellence and she said if you’ve been striving for years and putting things off like your health or your happiness and telling yourself “just let me just get through this week (or launch, or project) and then I’ll workout (or slow down or make money or start living my dream)”, then you are never going to do those things. Hilary says “there isn’t a day you’ll finally finish your to do list” and “Perfection, Completion, and Total Control are NOT right around the corner”. Ah-ha moment, isn’t it? These things don’t come with just working a little harder and a little longer. Trust me, I’ve been trying this approach for years and I would say my to do list is longer than it’s ever been and my schedule stays jam packed.

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Get off the hamster wheel. Rest. Slow down. Journal. Decide what you really want. No one says, “What I want in life is to work really, really, really hard, period.” The working hard in and of itself isn’t our goal. But those of us who are driven and super responsible, and committed and people of our word who pride ourselves on our work ethic, and who strive to be like our hard-working parents and grandparents, confuse working hard with what we want. We want freedom, and money, and experiences, and travel and things and we think that working really, really, really hard is the way to get all of that.

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And yes working hard has helped me have many things, and experiences and travel and I’ve made a good bit of money, thankfully. At least all my efforts have been worth something. But what I haven’t achieved with more work is more time. What I haven’t achieved with more work is freedom. And having freedom of time and financial freedom so I can design the life of my dreams, now those are my true desires. Are they yours? If they are, then that requires us to stay hyper-focused on these goals while changing our methods for reaching them.

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So the key is figuring out what few things make the most difference in getting us to our REAL goals. We need to decide what can go away from the plethora of things on our to do lists or in our minds or hearts that we “think we SHOULD be doing”. It’s likely that 75% or more of the things on our list aren’t making a difference in our financial or time freedom. And we also have to give ourselves a break at the end of each day when we haven’t marked every thing off our list. We have to stop working every night and every weekend. We have to rest and replenish and let our minds focus on those few things that we truly want so we are ready to start the next day smarter and more organized and NOT hustling. It’s like spending time sharpening our axe so when we do go to work it we will be sharper and smarter than ever. We will get more done, in less time.

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In other words, it’s time to stop the madness. Do you want to work on the assembly line of your life for the next 20 years and never reach where you think you are going, because thats what you’ve been doing and it’s all you really know how to do? Do you want to win the medal for hardest worker and get an award to hang on your wall and admire for the rest of your life.  Or do you want to be sitting on the beach with your family, having paid for that trip by working smart, and be able to stay at the beach for a month because you can work for a few hours a day from there with a big payoff?  Now that’s what I dream about! So I am basing my decisions on the beach.  I can already feel the sand in my toes.Want to join me?

Working harder doesn’t equal success. And that’s the secret sauce to reaching your dreams.

Happy Saturday! xo,

Tobi Signature

 

 

 

Saturday’s Secret Sauce: Finding the Courage to be Imperfect

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So I don’t really consider myself a perfectionist. Did you just laugh? No, there are definitely people in my life that I think hold that title and I often watch them struggle with thinking anything they do or have is ever really what they wanted it to be. I don’t think that is me. Rarely is anything good enough for these perfectionist people in my life and they beat themselves up in the pursuit of perfection. I don’t do that. Or do I?

Let me be clear,  I think I definitely strive for an extremely high standard. But in my opinion, I am not a person who thinks what I create and what I do is never good enough. I am often satisfied with my work and my accomplishments. I think I am good at many things. I know I am an expert at times. I definitely hit a point of satisfaction and “good enough” for me in all that I do. Eventually.

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But isn’t is funny how our self-perceptions aren’t always totally accurate. Isn’t it odd how we can see ourselves one way when the world may see us differently? If I am honest with you (and me), that bar I’ve set for myself in all that I do is pretty darn high and I have to really bust my buns to hit the level where I think I can stand back and admire my handy work, where I think I have accomplished what I set out to. I am a visual and creative person and my visions are not simple or easy to reach. In fact they are often grandiose. So is it perfectionism…I don’t think so. But maybe. Kind of. Sort of. Ok, possibly.

Just this week I found myself wondering if I was at least 50% perfectionist. Or maybe 75%. But certainly I am not 99%. I mean, seriously. Is perfectionism an all or nothing trait or would we be more honest if we looked at our “degree” of perfectionism and how we rank on that scale when it comes to  REALLY reaching our goals and dreams. And am I 50% in my cooking and 87.5% in my interior design? And what about in my self-image?

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Ultimately, these are the questions at hand. Can we give ourselves a break? Can we relax and not be striving all day every day. Can we relax? Can we have less proving ourselves, and more being ourselves? Can we feel more comfortable than ever in our very own skin? Can we be at peace? I think those are the answers to whether we are a perfectionist or not and I am beginning to look more and more like a perfectionist with each one of my answers. Yikes!

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Just as I was thinking about this idea of perfectionism this week and struggling to tackle my to do lists at home and at work,  a profound article by one of my favorite gurus Brian Johnson hit my inbox. And in it he said “Let’s quit setting ourselves up for failure and burnout by thinking we need to be perfect and just get on with the business of becoming a little more courageous day in and day out!”

Wow! I hadn’t ever thought of how courageous it is to set out every single day to just do your best. I hadn’t ever framed our constant pursuit of our goals and to use our gifts and talents as courage. Courage! What a relief. Just showing up is courageous. That feels good! We don’t have to be perfect. There really is no such thing. All we have to be is courageous.

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Brian is totally right! Life is so hard. Even for those of us who have it easy in the grand scheme of things, who have jobs (or even dreamy jobs) and have food and shelter and love and friendship. Even for THOSE of us, life isn’t easy. I mean just dragging our tired selves out of bed each day to start down the monstrous list of to do’s we have can be totally overwhelming at times. And if we throw perfectionism in on top of it all, if we have ridiculous standards of how those “to do’s” are done, then how can any of us ever feel accomplished, feel joy or feel at peace? We can’t.

It is true. It takes REAL courage just to show up everyday. It takes courage to take our gifts and give them away. It takes courage to face the expectations of life and of the world and of our friends and our family and our clients and our community. But most importantly it takes courage to face the expectations we set for ourselves.

The moment we can stop trying so hard to be perfect and just accept ourselves for who we really are in all our perfectly imperfect glory, THAT is when we find true joy.

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Brene Brown in her fantastic book Daring Greatly talks a lot about courage and how to be vulnerable and show up in life. She was inspired by the great Teddy Roosevelt when he said…”It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, who’s face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory or defeat.”

Wow. Leaves you speechless, doesn’t it. And I love this quote from Brene’s book Daring Greatly where she says…“Because true belonging only happens when we present our authentic, imperfect selves to the world, our sense of belonging can never be greater than our level of self-acceptance.”

How profound. We can never feel at home in the world, if we don’t feel at home in our own skin; if we can’t give ourselves permission to be who we really are.

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And from Brene’s book The Gifts of Imperfection she says, “Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.”

Talk about needing courage! Can you show your TRUE self? I am a bit nervous just thinking about this concept. And I do strive to be honest and authentic in all that I do…but wow! Our true self–the one that is vulnerable, and doesn’t know everything, and is flawed. Can you show her?

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Well that brings me back to Brian Johnson and his admiration of the wisdom of Alberto Villoldo in his book Courageous Dreaming where Alberto says…

“There are no perfect human beings! Persons can be found who are good, very good indeed, in fact, great. There do in fact exist creators, seers, sages, saints, shakers, and movers… even if they are uncommon and do not come by the dozen. And yet these very same people can at times be boring, irritating, petulant, selfish, angry, or depressed. To avoid disillusionment with human nature, we must first give up our illusions about it.”

We are human, friends. And humans aren’t perfect.

And Brian also highlights the words of Abraham Maslow who said “No, what we need is to be honest about what it means to be human: that we are fated to miss the mark of perfection but achieve small and impressive acts of courage and greatness. Instead of thinking that some people are flawless, we ought to take inspiration from the fact that our heroes, celebrated or not, brought themselves back on course again and again whenever they realized that their behavior was out of alignment with their intent. Simply saying, “Enough—I’m moving on!” is an act of courage that breaks the spell.”

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So can you do it? Can you show up as your perfectly imperfect self? Can you give yourself a break? Can you do less proving yourself and more being yourself? Can you achieve “small and impressive acts of courage and greatness” each day in spite of your “human-ness”? Well, I am an optimist, so I think we can. And this my friends, is definitely the Secret Sauce to a life of joy.

Happy Saturday from this imperfect almost perfectionist. xo,

Tobi-Signature

Saturday’s Secret Sauce: Say No to the Good and Make Room for the Best

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Life is so interesting. We work hard for opportunities, for money, to reach our dreams. We set goals and kill ourselves to reach them. And even when our wants and wishes and dreams do start to happen, it’s not always what we thought it would be. Isn’t it ironic? How many times have you thought to yourself “Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it?” Well I’ve certainly thought that while standing at the crossroads of which amazing things in my life to say “Yes” to and which to say “No” to or maybe not No but “Not Now”.

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You may be thinking, wow, Tobi you got what you wanted and you’re not happy! But it’s not that at all. What I mean is that life has this interesting way of offering you tons of choices and opportunities and many of them are good and a few of them are Great. And you have to be able to tell the difference to craft and create and mold the life you really want. Finding Joy…that is my objective. And for me, finding joy means saying no a lot. 

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One of my all-time favorite quotes and ideas is this…”You have to say No to the Good so you can say YES to the Best!” I have been highly focused on this quote for the last few years. It’s one of my mantras when life presents so many opportunities to me. I can’t say yes to everything. Well I can, but that doesn’t equal the life I want. I’ve tried it and it only caused me to be tired or overwhelmed or overworked or unavailable when the GREAT things happened. And that’s not at all what I was looking for. My family and my health suffered when I said yes to the good.

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So today’s Secret Sauce is this…Say YES to the Best! Let that sink in. Say YES to the GREAT! Say yes to the BEST for you and say no to EVERYTHING else. This sounds simple but it’s really hard. How do you answer these questions? What is right for me? What do I want? What is my Purpose? Which is my path? How can I say No to this?

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And what I often find is that what I thought I wanted turns out to be not exactly what I wanted. It may be close, but it needs a little work. Or it may be completely wrong for me. And that doesn’t mean that I am unhappy with what I get. It’s more like this…I strive for something and work hard to achieve it and I have fun in the process or at least I learn something. And then when I get there, I have to do what I call “Measure and Adjust”. I get to decide if the path I was heading down is the right one or if I need to tweak it a bit or even do a 180 degree turn. And you know what? Nothing is wrong with that. Nothing is wrong with changing your mind when you have more information. Nothing is wrong with wishing you could travel more only to decide you want more time at home. Nothing is wrong with thinking you want a big giant business only to decide a small one fits you best. Nothing is wrong with wanting a big house and then deciding you want less to maintain and less to pay for.

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The exciting part is that we can determine our own destiny. And yes, of course there are some things we have to do for a while until we can say no to them. For example we can’t quit our jobs to start our dream jobs if we have a family to feed and no other source of income. But the best news is these choices are ours to make. And if we are going to be happy we have to go deep inside and see what we really want. And then we can start putting things into place so before long we can say no to everything that isn’t serving us, even that old “bill-paying” job that wasn’t part of our Best, because we have created a new way of living and supporting those we love that is truly right for us. Making these transitions are scary. But we have to have the guts to say NO to the good so we can say YES to the best.

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John F. Kennedy said to those that “much is given, much is required”. And I know he likely meant this from a perspective of service to others and I agree. But I think this is also profound in just thinking about what is right for each of us. When we are given many opportunities and avenues in life, there is a lot required of us to make sure we are making the right choices. There is big responsibility to be true to ourselves and those we love and those we can help. There is the huge job of picking the path that lets us live in our sweet spot and live up to our potential and use our talents and gifts and to find joy and fulfillment. WOW! No pressure, right?

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One of the biggest killers of picking the right path is FOMO. What’s FOMO you ask? It’s “Fear Of Missing Out”. Yep, there it is. That little devil sitting on our shoulder saying “But all your friends will be there” or “You’ve worked so hard for this and now you are going to change your mind” or “What if people think I’m a flake” or any other number of things that run through our heads when we know that we are saying yes to good and fun and fabulous, but it doesn’t align with what we say we really want. It isn’t the BEST. So beware of FOMO. It’s the thing that will keep your dream life just out of reach. Be patient my friends and be diligent. Say No to the good and make room for the BEST!

Here’s to wishing you the Courage in 2016 to make your life exactly what you were meant to be. Here’s to your BEST life.

xo,

Tobi-Signature
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And speaking of the best, sometimes the best for me means living life to the fullest with those I love, like baking with my daughter every chance I get. I gave you a glimpse of this beauty in my blog post yesterday. Yes, sometimes we CAN have our cake and eat it too and today’s recipe is the Best Cake Ever! My Sweet Potato Cake with White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Icing courtesy of Martha Stewart Living Magazine about 15 years ago.

Here’s wishing you a Sweet 2016 with those you love and to Living your Best Life (while eating the BEST cake)!

Sweet Potato Cake with White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Icing

  • 2 pounds (about 3) sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/4 cups vegetable oil
  • Unsalted butter, for pans
  • 2 cups cake flour, (not self-rising), plus more for pans
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 tablespoons brandy
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted macadamia nuts, toasted, coarsely chopped
  • 1 pound white chocolate
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat potatoes with 1/4 cup vegetable oil, and place on baking sheet. Bake until tender, 30 to 40 minutes. When cool enough to handle, remove skin, and mash flesh with a fork into coarse puree.
  2. Lower oven temperature to 325 degrees. Butter two 8-by-1 1/2-inch round cake pans, dust with flour, and set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat eggs and sugar together on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add remaining 1 cup vegetable oil; beat on medium speed until well combined. Add the cooled sweet potatoes; mix until combined.
  3. Sift together cake flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg; mix into sweet potato mixture. Mix in vanilla and brandy until combined. Remove batter from mixer; fold in 1 cup macadamia nuts by hand.
  4. Evenly distribute cake batter into prepared pans, and transfer to the oven. Bake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Let pans cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto rack; cool completely, about 1 1/4 hours.
  5. Meanwhile, chop white chocolate into small pieces; set aside. Bring 1 cup cream to a boil; pour over chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Chill for 30 to 40 minutes.
  6. When chocolate mixture has cooled, pour remaining cup cream into an electric mixer; whip on medium until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. Fold whipped cream into chocolate mixture until fully incorporated.
  7. Cut each cake layer in half horizontally, creating four layers. Spread 2/3 cup chocolate frosting on one layer, then stack next layer on top, and frost. Repeat frosting-and-stacking process until each layer is frosted. Spread remaining frosting on sides and top of cake. Arrange remaining 1/2 cup macadamia nuts on top of cake, and serve.

 

Saturday’s Secret Sauce: The Grass Isn’t Greener

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So how Happy are you? Yes, that’s a deep question isn’t it for a Saturday Morning? So I hope you’re on your second cup of coffee. But I’m serious. Are you happy? Do you feel joy and fulfillment every day? If you answered yes, congratulations! But if you didn’t, do you know why not? And are you looking for that “Secret Sauce” that would finally help you love your life more than anyone else’s?

In my job and personal life, I deal with so many people every single week in all different cities and even from different countries. And it is easy to see that many people just aren’t that happy. People are grumpy and stressed and cynical and sad and definitely insecure.  There are a number of reasons I think people are generally unhappy, but I think the main reason is often that they are comparing themselves to others. You know, the Grass is Greener syndrome?

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Insecurities and a general lack of confidence is epidemic these days in both children and adults. I’ve always had a healthy dose of confidence which I credit to my parents because they gave me so much unconditional support both as a child and now as an adult. They are my biggest cheerleaders for sure. But I know that so many people don’t have this kind of support system and it really takes a toll. Everyone needs someone to make them feel like a million bucks. But what everyone needs even more than that, is to learn how to make yourself feel like a rockstar all by yourself.

And no, I’m not kidding or being funny. I am telling the truth. But more about this novel idea of being responsible for your own happiness in a bit.

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First, nothing makes people less happy than to compare their perception of themselves to their perception of others.  And yes I said perception because I know very few people are able to be honest and objective when comparing their own lives to the lives of other people they admire or are inspired by or are jealous or envious of. Honestly, doing any sort of comparing at all usually doesn’t pay off.

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I’ve talked about this before but social media definitely makes not thinking of what other people are doing, where they are traveling, what their homes and bodies and spouses and children look like, very difficult. It’s always in our heads. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE social media for many reasons. But it’s hard on you sometimes if you are not very confident and happy in your own life and your own skin to see the successful “version” of life being played out for everyone on Instagram or Facebook.

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But here’s the thing. Everybody has something. EVERYBODY! Everyone has the GREAT in them and everyone has things they would love to change. And Happiness and Joy (they are different you know) come when you focus on your gifts and your talents, your strengths and your skills, instead of focusing on other people and what you think they have.

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If you want to be truly happy, then you have to believe that it doesn’t matter what others are doing. Focus on your own stuff. Period.

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Now that doesn’t mean not to be happy for others or ignore them all together. I find that the happier I am for everyone whether it’s my friends or my competitors, it always comes back to me in positive ways. Jealousy is the #1 killer of Happy. So first be happy for others joys and successes. But mainly, happiness comes from striving to be the best version of you that you can be. 

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And yes! Learn to be happy for yourself. Learn to give yourself what you need to feel good every day. It may sound silly but I do this all the time. If I design a gorgeous room for a client, I stand back and smile and say “Dang I’m good! I should have been a designer” and then I laugh because I am one. But I feel all warm and fuzzy and proud inside. And I know I am good at what I do.

And when I cook a great meal or bake a yummy cake and I take a bite, I don’t say “this is so-so, I’m not that great in the kitchen”.  Nope, I usually say, “Wow this is fantastic. Man, I’m a great cook” and my family all smiles and says “and a humble cook too!” and we all laugh. But you know what? I believe it. I am a good cook.

It’s not arrogant to give yourself validation. It’s not stupid to tell yourself where you are remarkable. It’s not conceited to toot your own horn as long as you are kind to others in the process. It’s called confidence.  And if you don’t believe in yourself, who else is going to?

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So here we go–what are you great at? Cooking, singing, grocery shopping, being a friend? What are your skills? Negotiation, conversation, design, entertaining, sports? What do you love to do? Knit, travel, collect, organize, work, golf. You see we are all so very different and we are all great at something–actually lots of things, even when we think we’re not.

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And if we practiced reminding ourselves of what we are great at on a regular basis, instead of feeling inferior all the time and comparing to others, think of how far we could go towards reaching our potential. And think of the happiness and joy we could find. And think of how we could influence others for the good.

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You have to find happiness and joy in the day to day. There isn’t a magical day when you will be standing on the other side of the fence and the grass will suddenly be greener. You see what you haven’t noticed, is your grass is already green. And when you water your own grass the possibilities are endless.

I know my grass is green and I am grateful. I know I work in my “Sweet Spot” as a designer and consultant everyday. I know that I am good at cooking and entertaining so I do it often. I know that I am a pretty good writer, and a great organizer, and good business person. I know where my strengths are and I keep them honed by using them.  I enjoy being me and I enjoy using my strengths and talents to benefit and share with others. And that gives me confidence. That makes me comfortable in my own skin. That makes my grass green.

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The more you sit around and think about how inferior you are to everyone else, the more miserable you will become. And the more you take action using your strengths and talents to make the world and other’s lives better, the happier you will be. My daughter and I cooked every single day of her Winter break and we shared dozens of meals and baked goodies with others. It made us happy. We were proud of our food. And it tasted great! When is the last time you took action with one of your strengths or talents to make yourself proud and bring joy to others too? That’s the secret sauce for Happiness. It’s where the grass is as green as can be.

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So here’s my question again…Are you happy? And if not, what could you do today to find joy while using your gifts? Can you cook a meal for others like I love to do, that you can be proud of? Ok you hate to cook and you actually can’t boil water…no worries! Can you help your child learn a new sport that is your forte? Can you organize your closets and stand back and look at your handy work and have so much less stress because you and your family will know where everything is? Can you volunteer or teach or lead others? Can you write a blog or a book? Can you take photographs, or be a good listener, or help someone move to a new house? What can you do?

Action=Happy. Action=Green.

Good luck using this secret sauce to make your own pastures as green as they can be.

And speaking of green, today’s recipe is for my green smoothie. I drink these every morning before I go face the world to share my gifts and talents.  So give it a try.

xo,

Tobi-Signature

 

 

 

 

green smoothie

Tobi’s Favorite Green Smoothie:

1 banana sliced and frozen

1 cup of almond milk (unsweetened, 30 calorie, non GMO)

1/2 cup of blueberries (you can add other fruit–strawberries or peaches work great too!)

2 cups of fresh baby spinach (not frozen)

1 Tablespoon ground Flax seed

1 Tablespoon ground Chia seed

Mix well in your favorite blender (which for me is a Vitamix) and enjoy making your health a little greener too. Cheers!