Sometimes You Just Gotta Fake It

Let me be the first to say it: Hello, my name is Lisa and I hate baking! That's right - I hate baking. I love cooking - I can cook until the cows come home or veggies if you don't eat meat - but when it comes to baking, if it's too many ingredients or doesn't come from a box - I SUCK AT IT!

Remember how I said in a previous post it's DIY Season - well December is Baking Season and nothing screams failure like a batch of burnt sugar cookies that look like Santa - am I right? So in the holiday spirit, allow me to share my no shame cookie story.

Every year I attempt to make sugar cookies and every year they just don't come out right. I don't know what it is I'm doing wrong but I'm like the kiss of death to sugar cookies. A couple of weeks ago I received an invite to a cookie exchange party and I immediately died - COOKIE EXCHANGE! As in I bake cookies and bring them for other people (not my family) to eat? I'm not going to lie - I stressed - I fretted - I was pissed! One, what the hell was I going to bake and two, when the hell was I going to find the time? As excited as I was to be getting cookies I was not excited to make them.

That's when I decided - I decided I would buy my 60 cookies. That's right, I bought them. It was like divine intervention - there I was in Costco parousing the baked goods when my husband and I stumbled on the ONLY box of 60 count cookies in the section. We looked at each other and said "it's a sign"! The holiday spirit said "Lisa, you need a break!" And I took it! I felt not one shred of shame about it. I'm doing these ladies a favor really - sparing them the horror of my burnt cookies.

Now I was faced with a dilema - do I pass these cookies off as my own? A mom who has it altogether, working, taking care of two kids and a husband and managed to make a batch of the most beautiful delicious cookies ever? What if someone asked me for the recipe? I could make that up I mean whose really going to try and make it. Do I tell the truth?

I FESSED UP! One of the women at the party quietly asked me if I had baked my cookies and I whispered back "I did not" to her excitement she hadn't either. Sure enough when I had announced to the group that the cookies were in fact courtesy of the great bakers of Costco, they all laughed and told me I could have totally passed my cookies off as home made but to be honest I was more than happy to come clean because there's no shame in my game.

The moral of the story? DO NOT BE AFRAID to cheat a little during the holiday season. Between the elf on the shelf, ugly sweater parties, shopping and remembering to be holly AND jolly - purchasing a box of delicious cookies for others to enjoy is no sweat of your nose. And I fully endorse lieing about it - if you know there will be judgey people there then simply respond with " I spent all night cooking these, I hope they taste good" and just watch as those judgey people's face light up for the yummy goodness.

Making Yourself More Noticeable At Work

Not everyone cares to have attention drawn to themselves as work. More often than not, we come in, do our work and then head home. We wind up getting into a permanent auto pilot mode. The problem with this is we just become a person in a company; we become bored with our work, less fulfilled and less challenged. Managers need to start encouraging individuality and involvement from all levels of personnel but that doesn't mean you as an employee should be waiting for those words of encouragement or involvement - sometimes we need to make those opportunities for ourself.

In my experience - I started off as an admin in a small company but after a few years I found myself just naturally falling into a leadership role as we brought on more people. I was training new people, managing all aspects of the office but was still only considered an admin - so in my year end review I listed all the things I had been doing and the successes I had and requested to become an official Office Manager and it was granted to me with an increase in salary. Then I started taking on responsibility that wasn't asked of me - I took more of an interest in HR, I created more office procedures, worked a little more closely with clients and looked into things that could help the overall company improve. As I brought more ideas to my managers and executed those plans and procedures, I became more and more noticed and often expressed interest in having more responsibility and growth within the company.

Recently, I was reading articles on how I could foster encouragement as a manager or be a fair manager during review time and I came upon Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In site where it was talking about encouraging your staff, more so the women, to speak up during meetings, to propose more ideas and have a voice. As a manger I'm trying to encourage change and allow everyone to feel they have a voice in our company to express themselves and offer new ideas. But unfortunately this is not the working environment for most people. Even if you have no plans to move up in a company, don't allow yourself to be just a number. Just because you don't aspire to be CEO doesn't mean you still can't get paid like one. Your ideas may make differences in the workplace and you might inspire someone else to speak up and offer their opinions - it's a chain reaction.

Here are some tips to make yourself noticed:

- Educate yourself on the industry your company is in - read news articles and get google alerts; read up on your companies competitors and find out what they're doing different for you. By doing this, you are far more prepared to engage in conversation with your peers about what's going on in the industry during a meeting or interoffice conversation - you may have read something of value that no one has seen yet.

- If you have some ideas on how your department can be better managed or run - speak up during your meetings or write an email to your manager/supervisor showcasing where the inefficiencies are and what can be done to improve them. Keep in mind that you want to come off as wanting to help the team, not make it seem like they suck and you can fix everything.

- Learn a new program. Whether it's furthering your advances in Microsoft Office or learning new project databases - you're adding extreme value by learning more about something other people don't know; eventually you will become the one people will go to for answers. You also offer insight on how, as a team, a project can be most efficient. What's great is that YouTube offers so many tutorials for free vs. paying for classes.

- Don't let ideas fall on deaf ears. Not all managers are great at passing along those great ideas you are sharing with them. If you're sending email after email to your managers, following up with them, trying to setup a meeting to talk about your idea and you're getting no response, bring it up in a meeting setting so that other people can chime in along with you and don't be afraid to seek other supervisors to help. Send an email to the next person in charge, cc'ing your manager so they're not totally in the dark about what you're doing.

- Engage with your co-workers. If you're noticing that someone is having a hard time, falling behind on work or just needing a little extra help with programs - step up and offer your assistance. This will show your managers that you're willing to help the team succeeded by making sure no one is falling behind.

DIY Season

It's here - DIY season. We all know what it means, right around when fall hits - people from far and wide start hitting up craft stores, Pinteresting as if their lives depended on survival. Isn't that what it really is, how to survive amongst the parents who live and breath Pinterest life? And for what do we go through this torment for? For the mere satisfaction of the two minute dialog you're going to have with parents that brag about how amazing you're homemade unicorn costume turned out or those amazing pumpkin treats that you spent 24 hours making not mentioning the tears, the curse words, the alcohol you consumed to put this beast together but instead smile proudly and say "it's all for their happiness"......SCREW THAT!

Why do we do this to ourselves? Two weekends ago I threw a halloween party for my kids and spent WEEKS preparing all the little bits and pieces for the "make your own s'mores" bar or the popcorn bar and I stressed over the entire thing BUT I did not make one thing....not one, I bought all the decorations, all the elements to create this magic and I still got my Pinterest worthy comments that I tucked in the back of my head and gave myself a mental high five for crushing it, then when everyone left I laid on the floor from the mere exhaustion and thought to myself "it's all for their happiness" - LIES! It was for me to throw a kick ass party. When I asked my son what his favorite part was - he said the donuts.

I used to love doing DIYs, then I had kids - sorry folks but I just don't have the patience to make my kid's halloween customs from scratch nor do I have the perfect sugar cookie recipe for the Holiday Cookie Exchange - I suck at baking. So what do I do to keep up with the actual Pinterest moms - I cheat. I go on Pinterest and look for the easiest thing I can put together with the least effort I can muster. My three year old will not remember the time during Valentines when I spent two hours tying little tags to squeeze pouches that said "will you be my main squeeze?" - why did I do that? They can't even read! I did it for the parents - that's right folks we are a bunch of braggers who want the kudos and that's ok. But I will not feel bad about buying the pre-decorated cupcakes from Publix to bring to the class party - see ya later mom guilt. My kids will remember that I was there for their class party and if they don't I'll be sure to show them the thousand selfies I took as proof.

Ironically, my most popular post on this blog is the DIY Scooby Doo group costume we did when we had our first born - it was my last DIY costume. Who am I kidding - I'll be back on Pinterest shortly after this post goes up to find something to show off to the other parents with - it's an endless cycle!