Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How to Impress a Boss who has the Demeanor of Ari from ‘Entourage’

You know the type: Pushy, assertive, here’s-a-project-why-wasn’t-it-done-five-minutes-ago-before-I-gave-it-to-you? The I-forgot-my-blood-pressure-medication-today-so-I’ll-squeeze-the-last-remaining-squeak-out-of-this-innocent-smiley-face-stress-ball-until-it-looks-like gravity-has-flattened-it-into-a-piece-of-yellow-Play-Doh-with-only-one-dot-for-an-eye.

Yeah, you know them.

You might sit next to one. Or talk to one. Or e-mail one. Maybe they even hired you with your peaceful, vegan, angelic “I love baby lambs and bunnies and rainbows and sunshine” demeanor. 

They’re in every industry, private companies, public workplaces, and guess what? They’re not going to change. And if they’re your boss, you better figure out a way to prove you’re above a fledging employee and rock the workload you’ve been given. You make the choice to show up every day and it’s best you bring your best.

(Because if you don’t – guess who’s going to call you out on it?)

Now, real quick and to clarify, I'm not advising on situations where you need to consult HR. I'm talking about the boss whose style is assertive, swift and blunt. The type of boss that can revive an idea in 30 seconds, produce it in 40 seconds and then present it in 60 seconds to senior management. 

So how do you make your best good enough for someone who has expectations the size of Yao Ming and you’re only 5’4” maybe with heels?

You make up the height with a damn nice pair of shoes and some strategic management skills. Yes, management skills. Because guess what? You need to manage them just as must as they manage you. 

Here’s my advice:

  1. Find out what they value: If they value being on time, don’t be late. If they value organization, buy a planner and some Post-it notes. If they value intelligence, be smart. If they value innovation, spend extra time brainstorming. It’s easy, really: Know what they want and deliver it.
  2. Get to the point: They don’t want to know the details. They just want to make sure you know the details so if they ask you for the details you can tell them the details. But don’t tell them the details if they don’t ask you for the details. It takes too long to read run-on sentences about the strategy behind a project. You can do bullet points, or numbers, or short sentence about the details. But the point is get to the point.
  3. Get to the point.
  4. Do the best you can: Seriously, I know this sounds like Girl Scouts. “On my honor I will try to be the best..blah blah.” You’re only human. Do everything you can to be your best. (Sorry, I know what you’re thinking: don’t bring up the Girl Scouts, I can’t even eat the cookies anymore and the darn Carmel Delights were my favorite! I apologize…)
  5. Seniority does matter so be respectful: They got to the top for a reason. They must have talents or ideas that no one else has. Or maybe they have the ability to inspire or see things other people in the organization don’t. If you don’t think they deserve their position, then your organization has bigger problems. Treat them the way you would like to be treated.
  6. Know when (and how) to stick up for yourself: Sometimes you have to grit your teeth and bear it, and sometimes you need to stand up straight and stick up for yourself. Silence speaks louder than words until words just need to be spoken. So speak up in a respectful, well-thought-out way. If you do this right, your boss may appreciate it more than you think.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Monday, January 24, 2011

My Take: Being Vegan in Maine

Mom picking blueberries with Band-aid (the kitty) by her side.

When you grow up in a state that borders Canada, feels like the North Pole for a rough 6 months, and has the L.L. Bean Flagship store with an enormous hiking boot and whose doors never lock (seriously, never), you get use to odd light-hearted questions from people who live “away”:

“Do you have electricity up there?”
“Aren’t you part of Canada?”
“Oh you’re from Southern Maine, isn’t that New Hampshire?”
“How do you eat this?” (As they stare a bright red lobster in the face.)
“Is flannel always in style?”
“How many people graduated in your high school class, 12?”
“Do you know what traffic is?”
and my favorite…
“Is everyone this nice?”

The questions people ask are funny.  And whether they’re putting in the extra effort to get that humorous smile on your face or they really don’t know the answer, all could agree that Maine has so much to offer.

As a full-time resident, you start to live with the ebb and flow of the state –its tourism and four seasons and homegrown crops.

You get use to the spring and summer crowds, with their accents and brash driving skills, whose presence adds excitement to the beaches and a buzz at the outlet stores. Who relish our sweet summer corn and strawberry fields. These are the people who wish for Maine summers all year-round. But sadly pack their SUVs for home, only to return when the weather is warm and the kids are out of school.

You get the people who trek to the mountains for leaf-peeping season. Who like the taste of hearty Maine beer and the feel of crisp fall air. Whose inch-thick sweaters take on the aroma of freshly baked apple pie. The time of the year that instantly makes me want to go to a football game and create oddly amusing Jack O’Lanterns. 

Then there’s the winter crowd: The ski and snowboarding families who monopolize the mountains, the hockey families who monopolize the rinks, and the holiday shoppers who monopolize the parking spaces. Hot chocolate and baked goods in hand, trudging through a true Maine winter wonderland. A time where I love Saco Main Street, that changes yet, always remains the same.

My point is this: Maine may be deceiving, especially to a vegan. It may seem limiting with its excessive quantity of pine tree and seafood tradition. It may seem limiting because of the lack of an urban population and numerous vegan restaurants. But if you look a little closer it has so much to offer. From the restaurants that offer single vegan dishes to the farmer’s market to the tiny coffee shops that serve with a smile. It may take a little extra effort to be a vegan in Maine, but everything is worthwhile.

To answer the questions above:
Q. “Do you have electricity up there?”
A. Yes. Laptops don’t run on magic. Although I’m sure Steve Jobs and his staff are sitting in a dark room somewhere trying to figure out how to make that possible for the next release of an iPhone, iPod, iEverything contraption.

Q. “Aren’t you part of Canada?”
A. Not yet, however if it increases our chance of winning a gold medal in hockey at the next winter Olympics I suggest we look into to it.

Q. “Oh you’re from Southern Maine, isn’t that New Hampshire?”
A. No. That’s it, just no.

Q. “How do you eat this?” (As they stare a bright red lobster in the face.)
A. Not that I’m promoting this -- but when you live in Maine, you definitely get asked this question. Google it.

Q. “Is flannel always in style?”
A. I would have to defer to my overly stylish friends, but I’m going to say paired with the right boots and jean options, flannel could be a versatile all-year-round possibility.

Q. “How many people graduated in your high school class, 12?”
A. I think 250+.

A. “Do you know what traffic is?”
Yes, and that’s why we live in Maine.

Q. “Is everyone this nice?”
A. Yes. Most people in Maine come from nice families that help their neighbors and their friends.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Thank You for Reading & Writing

I'm posting these compliments because you have given me so much great feedback! I love hearing from you and how the information that I write has affected your life in one way or another. Honestly, feedback like this is what keeps me writing. These snip-its are just a sample of bright spots that have filtered in through the past couple months. Thank you so much for reading…and writing!

(I didn't put names - but you know who you are.) 

* * * 

"This made me want to laugh and cry at the same time.  So enjoyable!  Thank you so much for sharing it…" 
(Comment from post, Let's Appreciate the Women)

"... all I wanted to say is thank you.  I am bombarded with negative feedback from everyone around me for choosing to eat this way because they don't understand how anyone could live without meat or cheese or why you would even do that and even though I explain my reasoning they don't understand or even accept it.  Your blog is my wonderful solace of positive commentary on a similar lifestyle and it makes my struggles just
a little bit easier."

Me: Thanks! Happy "Vegan" Holidays!
Vegetarian Portland Happy holidays to you as well Danielle, and thank you so much for all you do to help raise awareness about non-violent, healthful food choices ! You help to make the Portland area an even more wonderful place to live :-)

"Dani! I know I already said so on your wall, but your blog is wonderful. Very inspiring and happiness-inducing. :)"

"I love your blogspot and really enjoyed your take on "Why be Vegan?" It pretty much sums up how I feel and have felt along the way."


My Life is a Running Sitcom: The Dating Files

Text message conversation.
Portland, Maine
Wednesday, January 9, 2011
10:22 AM

(Dating should always include a handful of humor.)

ME: How'd it go?

ALI: It went really well! He paid, opened doors and what not. I think he's grown up a little. He's still slightly off his rocker, but I guess who isn't!

ME: Exactly. I'm clearly not normal.

ALI: OMG. I'm as whacked as they get. Haha.

Just a Reminder...

I'm on 


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

True Bistro: Enjoyable Vegan Dining in Somerville

Somerville, Massachusetts
After a full day of traveling from Maine, the Bruins vs. Pens game, and other crazy events, Sarah, my best friend from college who is an omnivore, and I decided to head to True Bistro for some vegan deliciousness. It’s a new, slightly up-scale restaurant in Somerville. Drummmm roll-please!
Sunny sign in the midst of snow!

MY Experience 
Rating: 4.5 of 5
Sarah called ahead and planned quite well, as we didn’t make it out to the restaurant until 8pm and it was fairly packed. Be careful of the restaurant rush hour, since they don’t take reservations.

There is a lot of white on the walls that give the space a modern, but slightly cold feeling. Everything is very cheek, however in the midst of winter weather we thought maybe a few more colors could provide a bit of visual warmth. The temperature was perfect and the wait staff was pleasant.

MY Food
Rating: 4.5 of 5
When you’re at a restaurant where you can get anything and everything what do you get?! Only the best recommended by the wait staff and people sitting next to you, of course.

APPETIZERS: After a quick back forth between the Ravioli filled with roasted butternut squash and caramelized onion in sherry cream AND the Cornmeal-crusted oyster mushrooms served with horseradish-dill aioli we decided on the Ravioli. Creamy and delicious! Highly recommend by Sarah and myself.

ENTRÉE: I got the Seitan Piccata, Grilled Seitan in white wine sauce served with garlic mashed potatoes and broccoli. It was tasty. I thought the potatoes could have had a tad more garlic, but Sarah liked them just the way they were presented.

If the Seitan Piccata was good, the Phyllo Purse was amazing. It honestly melted in my mouth. The first bite reminded me of warm, cozy Thanksgiving dinner. Sarah delighted in every bite and the presentation was fantastic.

DESSERT: I wanted chocolate, however they were out of their chocolate desserts that night. Which I don’t think happens very often because the owner of the restaurant came to the table next to ours with a personal apology.

So we could have skipped dessert. Or we could just look for the next dessert that caught our eye.

Which is exactly what we did. The table to my left was having the Coconut Crème Pie. I asked the women how she liked and she replied, “It was good.” After I told her my desire for chocolate she said “If you ever make it back, try the death-by-chocolate cake, it’s amazing!”

Sarah and I decided on the Rustic pear fruit galette served with vanilla ice cream. The crust was a little thick but was warm and split open to reveal delectable warm pears. Overall, fabulous dessert choice. Not too overbearing, not too faint-hearted.

Sarah with her purse.
Seitan Piccatta

Coffee time.

MY Logistics
Rating: 5 of 5
True Bistro is located in Somerville, MA on 1153 Broadway. It looked like there was only street parking, which wasn’t a problem, even through the massive amounts of snow flooding the streets.

The budget is for mid to high priced dinner fare. Entrées were between $13-$18 dollars. Salads were in the $6-$9 dollar range. I personally was pleased with the amount of food and drink Sarah and I got for $72 ( To recap: A glass of wine, mini bottle of champagne for one (I couldn’t help myself), bread rolls, ravioli, phyllo purse, seitan piccata, 2 decaf coffees with soy, and a pear dessert).

I will definitely try to make it to True Bistro again when I’m back in Boston. This is the type of restaurant I wish we had more of in Portland, Maine. Where I could bring work people who are open to trying vegan food or parents of boyfriends that are a little unsure what do with you when their son tells them “She’s a vegan.” "But what does she eat…"The food is good and the people are sweet.

Sarah trying to make me do a "serious" or "artsy" photo.
My shoulders were shaking from laughing. Whoops. 


Saturday, January 15, 2011

My Take on the Common Question: Why be Vegan?

After a year of being vegan I never actually told why I do all of this. Grab a chair, some coffee with soy and put your feet up… this might take a while.

* * *
I'm lucky.

January 2007 in Southern India: I was 21, and traveling with 12 other people who were strangers just a week before, but now were my teammates.

It was a Habitat for Humanity trip to help build houses for tsunami victims. I decided sign up out of the blue. I don’t consider myself a world traveler. I have been to India, Canada, numerous states and some other vacation islands you can find per resort websites. And my trip to India, cliché as cliché can be, honestly changed my life.

So, it was January in Southern India, I was 21 on a weathered bus and I looked out the window to see people walking past with colorful fabrics, minimal shoes and children who looked like they hadn’t seen a meal in months…and I thought to myself:

“I am so damn lucky. Dad was right.”

My Dad is a Portuguese immigrant who came to this country when he was 13. When I would put on my little pouty face and complain about why I wanted another Polly Pocket he would gently tell me, “You have no idea how lucky you are to live in this country. Be grateful you have toys at all.”

Then I would pout some more and Mom would be hearing every word, rooting for team Danie and for the Polly Pocket that would magically appear in my stocking at Christmas.

So, it was January in Southern India. I took a deep breath of dirt and dust and sweltering hot air – with the scents only India can provide. Looked at the people outside of the bus and did generally grasp how lucky I was. Here I was -  white, a woman and traveling to this country on break from college. It was one of those unique events where you swear your thoughts have finally out run time and space and they seem to have fallen behind.

Time always catches up however, and as is it resumed it's normal pace my mind centered and I thought, while staring out at trees, dirt, and a florescent fabrics, “I need to go home and I need to help make this world a better place.” And that’s what I thought.

It’s cliche, I understand that. But seriously, that’s what I thought.

* * *
The Veggie Timeline

Now, I know what you may be thinking. “Oh, so you went home and became a vegan.” And the truth is no. I went back to college to finish my last semester, had an awful stomach pain for a week and a half and had my mother convince me that I really didn’t have to give away all the clothes in my closet to be a better person. Mothers know best of course.

To clarify, I became a pesca-vegetarian in 2004, including in my diet minimal seafood, eggs, and other dairy products. I’ve always disliked cheese and yogurt for some odd reason, so they were doomed from the beginning. The deciding event happened after I bit into a turkey burger and could only picture the poor turkey staring at me. While I chewed, that darn turkey was all I could think about. So the burger went back into the basket and stayed there.

I was a pesca-vegetarian. It was great, until I started noticing in the summer of 2009 that every time I reached for a piece of fish I instinctively felt guilty. While I chewed that darn salmon all I could think about was Pixar’s Finding Nemo “Fish are friends not food!” relaying over and over. It’s amazing how catchy children's movies are – oh those babysitting days.

December 2009, I started watching a lot of documentaries and had received The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone from my sister as a Christmas present. As my knowledge started to increase about food structures and the vegan lifestyle, I began to think this could actually be a possibility for me. I could do it… why not, right? As it was, my favorite animal product that I was consuming at the time was soft serve frozen yogurt and clearly that was not a need in my diet (although some may argue).

January 1, 2010. First day as a vegan.

During the transition, I told myself I would do it for a month and if I was really craving something, or my body told me I needed to eat an animal product then I would stop. But it hasn’t told me I need to go for the pizza or honey. It hasn’t screamed for a burger or bacon. It has told me “You want Brussels sprouts or sweet potato.”

I listened to listen to my body and it made all the difference.

* * *
Why, oh why? There are so many reasons.

I didn’t choose to be vegan so I could write about something. I write because veganism has a greater purpose, and like I decided in India, it’s one step to “help to make the world a better place”. It's just something I can do, that’s within my power at the present moment.

Began vegan is first a privilege and then a choice, particularly the way our food structures are set-up in America. If you have the ability to know where your next meal is coming from, that’s a privilege. If you know that you can afford to feed your whole family with fresh food, that’s a privilege. If you choose to eat kale over a hamburger because you can – that’s a choice.

In my mind, the distinction between privilege and choice is gravely important. I understand that it’s hard to justify choosing a plant-based diet for your family when just getting food on the table is a struggle. How would one even begin to convince others that this is a healthier choice when familiar foods provide safety and security? There is a reason certain items get labeled “comfort food” and there is a reason why we need to guide our youth to healthier choices.

My point is that I make this choice because I can make it. When you look past the initial curiosity and uniqueness, past the hipness and fabulous vegan baked goods you ask yourself why? Why do you do it?  Everyone may have a different, yet very similar answer.

I choose to be vegan because I feel better on a plant-based diet; because it’s better for the environment; because living things do not have to suffer for my energy; because our food systems lead people to sickness and disease; and because I can sustain the cruelty-free lifestyle.

If you choose a vegan diet and are lucky enough to sustain it mentally, physically and economically, then it is the right choice for you, as well.

* * *
 Taking care of me.

The first year as a vegan has had trials and tomfoolery. Measuring tofu and greens. Pondering at the farmer’s market. Releasing of material items that don’t serve my needs anymore like saying Farewell to my Pretty, Pretty Coach Bag. Or dealing with work situations like Bullies and Business Dinner. Trying to co-exist with a meat eating Portuguese family and seeing the beauty in Sunbeams and Apple Trees. It’s been a year of interesting compromises and misunderstandings, failed recipes and fabulous food. But overall, things have been pretty darn good with all the veggie madness.

My goal is to keep life interesting and purposeful. Continue to learn more about health choices and products. Give up bad habits and work towards better health. Try to be kind with myself as life gets hectic. Remind myself that even the little steps are giant ones.

The way I think about my choice to be vegan is this: I will follow a vegan diet and lifestyle until it does not serve my health. Because as the wise people who have come into my life always tell me, “You must take care of yourself before you can help anyone else.”


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

My Life is a Running Sitcom: Snow Signals

Text message conversation.
Portland, Maine
Wednesday, January 12, 2011

ME: I'm going to go out on a limb here and say you shouldn't drive to work.

JP: Already here...

* * *

JP: Corporate Communications sent out the note saying we're going to close early...

ME: Fabulous

JP: But they didn't give the all important detail of what time it's happening.

ME: Don't hate on Corp Comm. They're suppose to be ambiguous.

ME: ;-)

I kid, I kid...

Monday, January 10, 2011

No Need: Invisible Wings

There is no need, no need for him to treat you like that.

Sometimes I wonder why life has decided to shift
When your head spins so fast and then lands on your fist.
When your eyes have not soften from the blare of the sun
And look weathered and tiresome with tears that do run.

Invisible wings
I see though you can’t.
There is no need, no need for him to treat you that.
Like you do not hover with grace from above
And try to tape up this fake type of love.

And sometimes I wonder why you have not taken the fall?
Should you not solider on and refuse to stand tall?
Cannot you not look in the mirror and try to just see
That you should just be, try to just be, just be just be.

I have seen them
Delicate and strong
There is no need, no need for the substandard and wrong
Like you do not hover with grace from above
And try to mend up this fake type of love.

The weight that you carry does not measure in pounds,
No is does not amount, although is dragging you down.
And I see your soul aching for the latch to release,
For you to make the decision where your heart sides with peace.

Silver sparkles adorn,
Soft gemstones alike,
And there is no need, no need for this fictitious plight.
Like you do not hover with grace from above,
And deserve much more than this fake type of love.

Invisible wings
I’ve seen them patched so
And they have melted in more, more towards the bone.
Because your heart is lost and yearns to go home
And there is no need, no need for him to treat you like that.