Project Toad: Help us Create an Online Dating Profile…Pretty Please?

“I try not to drool when I eat in public, and I don’t spit my food when I’m having a conversation.”

Truly, friends, this is the response Jake gave me when he was asked to find his 5 best qualities that a woman may admire. He went on to tell me that, while finding admirable qualities in others was easy, he really struggles to list 5 strengths that someone else may value in him.

My response? “Perfect start, Jake! Looks like you were raised with a knowledge of good manners. We are on a roll!” Honestly, he also has a pretty good sense of humor also.

Following our little pep-talk, Jake was able to complete his homework assignment in preparation for designing his Online Dating Profile. He has a little bit of insight in how to tackle the personality profile now, because he has a level of self-awareness.

When asked about himself, Jake says he…

  • Generally doesn’t drool
  • Keeps himself in shape
  • Is loyal
  • Can be intelligent enough to know to use a spell-checker before sending an email and sometimes even intelligent enough to know to check for the correct tense
  • Remains open-minded and always wants to learn and improve both personally and professionally

So if I were to translate this back to Jack, I would say:

Jake is…..

  • Well mannered and respectful
  • Physically fit
  • Loyal
  • A Life-Learner
  • Open-minded
  • Is conscientious and able use Spell-Check before hitting Send

So he actually gave me 6 positive qualities – even better.

And for admirable qualities he looks for in others, he gave me these:

  • Ability to juggle multiple tasks while remaining calm
  • Patient and even-keeled
  • The ability to do the right thing even when it’s the hard and unpopular thing to do

Which tells me that he…

  • Needs a woman who thrives with spontaneity
  • Hopes to share patience and understanding
  • Values integrity and self-respect

I’d say we have a great start to who he is and what he is looking for in his Princess Charming. And Jake seems like a pretty great guy, right?

Perfect! We can move on to the next exercise.

Jake’s next homework assignment involves his interests. I’ll warn you, friends, he is going to be a little frustrated with this next task. He is excited to get a profile up so he can start winking, but I’m not allowing him to be so hasty. He needs to know what he wants to say, and who he wants to attract when he goes live on Match.

Jake’s list of good qualities now needs to be complimented by the type of hobbies and activities he enjoys. He took quite an interest in my earlier post that discusses creating the anti-profile, so we will use this concept as a foundation for building his How about we…. section of the All About Jake page.

Let’s find out what he absolutely would never do so we can start leveraging those Open-Minded Life Learner qualities that he claims to own. So, my toad kissing friends, here is where I ask for your help. Can you start throwing out some hobbies or interests that you enjoy? Maybe even share your idea for your favorite date?

I can promise that Jake will be reading each of your suggestions, and he’ll mull them over one at a time. This will help to open up his mind to enjoyable activities that don’t involve school plays or Pizza Night at Chuckie Cheeses.

So, how about it, friends? Help a Fellow Toad Kisser out? What are some activities you enjoy – on your own or sharing with others?

Warm Regards,

Heidi Lee

The Mystery of the Grape – What’s in a Name?

Good morning to all of my wine enthusiasts. I’d love to share with you how to read a wine label in response to your interest in the 5 S’s of wine. I’ve had a few provocative questions since from that post, so I’d love to share more information.

Jake from Project Toad wants to be able read the wine list when he starts meeting women through online dating. My brother is studying wine to be knowledgeable for business functions. Beverly – heck, she wants to get more out of her tastings 😉

Today, let’s start walking through the label. Knowing the label may help you feel more confident when picking out a bottle for a hostess gift, a date, or even business dinner.

Personally, I think the most interesting part of the label lies in the name of the wine (not to be confused with name of the vineyard). Traditionally, European wines are named for their appellations (growing regions) while American wines are named after the varietal (the kind of the grape).

For example, if you would like to bring a French wine to your hostess for a Thanksgiving dinner, you might look for a Red Burgundy. The Burgundy region of France is famous for the Pinot Noir grape. This varietal is rich yet delicate, so the Pinot Noir is a lovely with turkey.

If, however, you prefer to bring along an American wine, perhaps look for a Pinot Noir from Oregon. See how the same grape is named differently based on the appellation? The wine growing regions bring different characteristics based on many factors: the soil, the humidity, the amount of sun exposure, and even the slope of the hills in the regions.

Learning the characteristics in the European regions that drive the naming may be more than we want to tackle with Thanksgiving being so close. Let’s take a peek instead at the American wines. Read the label for specific growing regions.

A wine that lists Napa Valley or Sonoma Valley as the region will be more concentrated than a wine that names Northern California as the appellation. This is because to list Napa as the region, the grapes need to all be grown in that region.

However, a Northern California wine may use grapes from a few growing regions within Northern California. The more generic the label’s appellation, the wider the growing region. Make sense?

Now the real lesson – while the wine from Napa may be considered a higher quality of wine due to concentration, this does not mean the bottle of Cabernet that you grab from Northern California is any less enjoyable.

Remember, wine is subjective. Paying $50 for a bottle doesn’t guarantee that you will like the wine any better than paying $15 for a bottle. With a little bit of information, you can start to make informed purchases. Take your time to get to know what you like. You can find good labels in every price point.

And for Jake or anyone else wanting to learn about wine to enrich your dating life, don’t waste the date by throwing out every tidbit you learn about wine. Don’t feel threatened by the guy one table over who sniffs and says,

“Oh Buffy, how reminiscent this Merlot is of that Cuban cigar you brought me from your adventures in Panama. The tobacco does mingle so perfectly with the wild blackberry nuance.” He is showing off!

Instead, offer a quick comment on the wine, and then spend your time learning about the man or woman sitting across from you. After all, that person should be the most interesting topic at the table if you hope to get a second date.

Cheers,

Heidi Lee

Confidence Booster from Robin Roberts

“When I started I was 19 and scared. Today, I am 44 and….Fierce!”

Photo Credits: ABC John LeMay

Wow! What a statement. The sentiment that has taken me 25 blog posts to try to convey, Faith Hill summed up the story with a Finish this Sentence interview question posed by Robin Roberts.

This dynamic 44-year-old country singer and mega-star has evolved into a person who can feel comfortable in her own skin. To me, that is the most admirable trait about her. Yes, she has sold over a gazillion albums. Sure, she has managed an endearing character or two on the big screen. Definitely, she found her own devastatingly handsome PC. They seem to have a family life that we all would hope to emulate. But, WOW, she is comfortable in her own skin – greatest accomplishment to date.

Photo by Donna Svennevik, courtesy of ABC.

Last night, PC and I watched In the Spotlight with Robin Roberts where she interviewed several of Country Music’s biggest stars. For me, Faith was clearly the one to watch. I wouldn’t normally blog about celebrity gossip – I have no interest in Baby Bieber’s possible baby. But when someone stands up and says something so seemingly honest, I take notice. Faith’s statement took guts, but the words came so naturally to her. I want that feeling for myself, and I wish that type of confidence for each of you as well.

With that being said Ms. Roberts, may I borrow your interview question and ask my friends to complete this sentence? Your interview inspired me. I’d say this particular sentence is a strong Confidence Booster without needing any additional props.

Ladies and gentlemen, please complete this sentence:

When I started I was 19 and scared. Today I am (age) and _________! I’ll start.

When I started, I was 19 and scared. Today I am 41 and Formidable!

Photo courtesy of My Mom! MBA Graduation

Ok, everybody. Your turn! Let’s see what you’ve got.

Kind Regards,

Heidi Lee

Avoiding Warts at Work: How to Kiss an Office Toad

Well hello, and Happy Story Tuesday to all of my Dear Friends.

Yes – You can Order this MousePad 🙂

Today, I hope to introduce to you the Other Heidi Lee who you have not yet met. This Heidi Lee is the ass-kicking dynamo who takes Business and Industry by the horns. She is as comfortable running the show in the Board Room as she is fighting the lady in the shoe store who just grabbed the LAST pair of Sz 7 Red Kitten Heels during the Midnight Madness sale at the local DSW. She can do it all, and what she can’t – she learns. That is how Heidi Lee is seen in her professional life – TODAY.

It took me years of Toad Kissing to earn that badge, so I wear it with pride.

Until now, you’ve seen my romantic yet realistic outlook on happiness within personal relationships. I hope you’ve enjoyed my somewhat purist views on love, dating and romance. I, however, have been described as quite the Dichotomy – sort of a “Touched by an Angel meets Red Shoe Diaries” personality. Today, I write to you as my alter-ego, a Business Sophisticate who happens to be proud to have been called, “One Smart Broad” by more than a couple; A professionally savvy women who has jumped in bed with many amphibious critters to get ahead of the rest of the pack.

Ok, ok…. I know where your sordid minds went right away. You may be thinking, “Oh cool, Office Smut and Sleeping your way to the Top”. Come on, raise your hands if slinked into that gutter….its ok, we all do.

On the contrary, Professional Toad Kissing actually has a very different meaning – one with which we can all relate. We have all worked or reported to people who wanted to hold us back. We’ve been in situations where people with more power than we had actually had control of our destinies. We’ve buried our tears into a pint of Ben & Jerry’s Pistachio Pistachio because someone less qualified got the promotion that we felt we deserved. And we’ve had to bend over and smile right through it…without the Toad even having the courtesy of giving us a reach-around.

Sound familiar? I’ve lived each of these scenarios – many times over – so I’ve learned to plant wet, juicy smooches dead center on the Lips of the Toads who I described above. Remember, kissing toads is a necessary learning process that we all go through to find our Happily Ever After. Mastering the Art means that you have become Confident with who you are – that you may be happy on your own or with another person. You don’t rely on another man or woman to complete you. So of course, kissing toads also applies professionally. And professionally, you have to be able to live with the decisions you make.

I’d like to start our journey into the pond of professional toads with an important lesson that I used to guide my communications, my actions and my interactions throughout my career. My professional journey began working in Retail, and I take you back to a time where I worked my way up to the management levels of a retail giant.

Professional Lesson #1: Yes, you CAN learn from every kind of leader – even poor leaders teach lessons.

What? How can I learn anything from a bad leader Heidi Lee? What could he or she possibly teach me? I know the business better, and I know my project like the back of my hand. This person simply doesn’t have a clue. His/Her leadership is taking us down a bad path….. What do you mean by suck it up and learn?

Thank you, I’m glad you asked. Let me share a story…..

Long ago, and far-away, there was a small village where incompetence had overshadowed productivity. There was no longer color or creativity. The villagers had fallen slave to Princess Melissa the Inept, and they were sad.

Princess Melissa was a new Princess who took over our village as a gift from her betrothed. Princess Melissa sat on her throne day after day, and she issued orders on how to sow her land. She never took the time to learn our climate, our growing seasons or our rocky patches. The Princess did not value ideas from her people, and we villagers were often punished for trying to speak up when the tools she gave us did not allow us to produce enough grain to feed her Court.

All of the Kings and Queens watched the young princess, and they thought how pretty she looked sitting in the monarchy. They loved how she was able to control the masses, and they saw that her people did exactly as they were told. They also saw that Melissa had plenty of grain to make cakes and breads and other foods, so they assumed Princess Melissa’s bounty was plentiful.

Meanwhile, in the fields….Heidi Lee of the House of Hood was the most tenured indentured servant in the village. She had seen locals tried, imprisoned and even beheaded for speaking against the Monarchy. Yet somehow, she survived. And while she didn’t prosper, she had enough grain to feed her own family while sometimes giving a hungry neighbor a morsel or two of bread.

Heidi Lee of the Hood was a wise young surf. Cunning and bright, and believed that helping her village meant also helping herself. While not all of her thoughts we pure and right – some maybe even slightly selfish – she seemed to always have the right answers on how to survive.

Heidi Lee of the Hood would often protect the younger, more vulnerable peasants and help them to become more productive. She would teach them ways to grow more grain with less land, and her creative ideas for getting wheat to grow often worked even in barren lands. Our young Hood would figure out how to make the tools work that she was given – teaching herself and others new ways to turn a butter knife into a shovel during the Harvest.

And over time, Heidi Lee of the Hood gained the respect of the feeble-minded Princess Inept. The Princess saw that when Heidi Lee was around, work got done. She even began to allow Heidi Lee into the castle for private meetings about how tilling the land really worked.

Princess Melissa noticed that publicly, Heidi Lee never spoke against the Princess or the Kings and Queens. She noticed that Heidi Lee would speak to her quietly behind the castle walls. With the draw bridge lifted so no one could cross the moat to overhear, Heidi Lee of the Hood would teach Princess Melissa about the land, the seasons, and why the tools that the peasants were forced to use did not deliver the abundance the Kingdom could really have. Heidi Lee helped Princess Melissa learn that her village could be wealthier than All of the other lands if only Princess Melissa would lead her people by listening to their needs and ideas.

And Heidi Lee of the Hood learned from Princess Melissa as well. Heidi Lee learned that Princesses may be put into positions that they aren’t ready to take on – whether from Bedding a Dozen princes or by inheriting Dear Daddy’s kingdom. She understood that just because one is a Monarch does not mean that they understand how to lead a kingdom. Sometimes even, a spoiled princess may be given a village just to stop her whiny and naughty behavior.

And Heidi Lee learned that publicly supporting the Monarchy while showing the peasants how to be successful helped our heroine to earn the respect from above as well as below. She learned that she could build teams around her by earning the respect of the peasants. And she understood that her ability to lead was powerful – strong enough if she needed to lead a revolution.

Most importantly, Heidi Lee learned that she never wanted to be a Leader like Princess Melissa the Inept. Our fine Ms. Hood studied closely what NOT to do so she could learn what should be done. After all, Heidi Lee of the Hood met her friend Cinderella at a local tavern one day and found out that some princes really do fall in love and give kingdoms to slave girls.

Ok, so in this situation, Melissa is the Toad. We had to kiss her. She has the power whether we like it or not. So how did we start to win her over while helping the poor peasants who needed their own Robin Hood? We taught the people who looked up to us how to be good followers while we respectfully and privately helped the inept leader to understand the true possibilities – when finally she was willing to listen.

The most important thing for me was that I kept my dignity and maintained personal integrity. I never sought to hurt people to get ahead, and I tried to speak up for what was right. Sure, that mentality didn’t fast track me by any means, but I like who I have become because of it. And I rose up – slowly but surely – while curiously managing to avoid the raging case of warts I secretly suspect kept Princess Inept so unhappy for so many years.

The rest of the story….

Over time, all of the Kings and Queens envied Princess Melissa and they exhalted her to Queen of all the Land, and Heidi Lee of the Hood was still a peasant………

Ok, so not the Happily Ever After you expected, right? Nope, not yet – still plenty of toads hopping around that need a little tongue…But don’t you worry – I get to visit Cinderella in her castle often over my years. And if you’ve ever seen #EverAfter with Drew Barrymore as Cinderella, you know what kind of kick ass broad our Fairy Tale Princess really was.

Hope you enjoyed story time. I’d love to hear from any of my other peasant friends out here if you’ve ever worked for Princess Inept. What did you learn from her? Post your comments, please.

Your Friend,

Hood!

Ode to a Mufa and the Flat Belly in each of us

Here I am, coming to the confessional again and I’m not even Catholic. Is that allowed?

I’ve not kept to my commitments towards better health – Yet. And the good news is that I am starting to understand why I haven’t put this personal goal first on my list – I’m too busy for me.

We can start out by defining the Mufa and why I’ve chosen to incorporate it into my eating rituals. Then I’ll dive into owning up to my mistakes as well as my little victories – sound good?

“MUFAs (pronounced moo-fah) are monounsaturated fatty acids, plant-based fats found in some of the world’s most delicious foods–avocado, nuts and seeds, oils, olives, and dark chocolate!” (Prevention Magazine) The Mufa is also a principle built into Prevention’s Flat Belly Diet – we will spend more time with these principles as the weeks progress, but the concept is to target the fat where it hurts us the most – The Belly. Not only does a flatter belly make us feel more confident in a tight pair of jeans, but it also helps in the battles against diabetes and other killers.

So here goes – my journal through the quest for good health

Last week in my Pot & Kettle declaration of guilt I made the commitment to:

  • Eat my 4 small meals per day – A Mufa in every meal
  • Do 2 miles of vigorous in-home walking
  • Have dinner with my family
  • Take care of me first

Let’s break this down a bit so I can celebrate any little success while also identifying Opportunities to be better.

I have successfully taken time out with my family – Prince Charming and my son, Cole. Last night we went out for Wings and Beer after Cole’s guitar lesson. Success! Dinner with the fam.

Oh crap – wings and beer? Nothing close to a Mufa in there – just a great big dish of high cholesterol and a little extra padding being added  around the middle. But it was fun, and we all had a moment to appreciate.

I’ve fit in my in-home walking twice this week, and PC (short for Prince Charming) and I took a brisk stroll through NYC. Hooray! Fitness and Activity!

Darn-It. Our brisk walk landed us right at an Italian wedding reception with the most delectable dishes I’ve experienced in ages – pastas, appetizers, filet mignon – and plenty of the liquid grape. But there is a light in there somewhere….<thinking…thinking> Yup – found it – my pasta salad had wonderfully salty kalamata olives. My Mufa, my friend. I had roughly two tablespoons of olives which is just the right amount for healthful eating. Unfortunately, I squeezed way too many calories around the Mufa so I probably diluted the benefits.

And goodness knows I did enough dancing to work off the second piece of cake I had to eat since PC seemed to opt for the Gin & Tonic instead of the sweet stuff.

So I’ve had a few successes, and I’ve seen where my social calendar has stepped in the way of my path to a healthy lifestyle. But let’s look for a moment at those other 168 hours or so since I made myself the promise – I still haven’t gotten myself on board and I’ve allowed:

  1. Work to occupy more than 11 hours per day – cramming pretzels in between conference calls to stop the hunger pains
  2. Professional deadlines to come before personal commitments
  3. Business-related stress to excuse adding in an extra glass of red wine in my evenings
  4. Colleagues and peers to consume my family time rather than cutting off my work day at 5:00 (well, ok, 7:00 until we get this proposal written).

As I look above, I’m proud of my little milestones, but I see I need to strengthen my back bone a little to master my own objectives. I need to crack down on my calendar and develop a little bit more will power. I can do this!

And as for my Mufa, I miss you, my friend. When you and I are together as nature intended, I have more energy. I feel better and I have a clear focus. When I invite you into my diet, my relationship with PC is better (he loves you as much as I do). When I allow you, my Mufa, to mingle with my first meal of the day – I sail through the rest of the hours with renewed commitment.

This morning’s first light is with you, and my chosed form is The Cashew. My breakfast – 1 whole grain organic waffle topped with 1 cup of warm blueberries and 2 tablespoons of chopped cashews. Delightful. Wash it down with a glass of Almond Milk for calcium, and I’m ready to conquer the world.

Thank you, #FlatBellyDiet, for introducing me to my new friend.

xoxo

Heidi Lee

Reference: http://www.prevention.com/flatbellymufaslideshow/

An Ode to Andy Warhol and the Healing Power of Tomato Soup

Hello, Dear Friends. I’ve missed catching up with you this week. My week has been a whirlwind of Professional Toad Kissing, where I’ve had to apply my Mastery in a foreign culture and environment. I’m trying hard to adapt to the water in this new pond, and I’ve come to understand more clearly why we ease a goldfish into new waters by sheltering them in a plastic bag filled with familiar. I now feel very sorry and want to apologize to the fish I won at my 3rd grade school carnival – I’m sorry, Ernie, for dumping you into that big and scary fish bowl without your bubble.

That being said – I survived. I kissed the toads, and I’m learning to share my lily pad. But what I am learning most is why the Art of Toad Kissing isn’t simply for Online Dating or other romantic involvements. Nope – We’ve talked before together that we kiss our amphibious friends at work as well as in our personal relationships. We’ve also mentioned that one person’s toad may be another’s handsome prince – in the office is no exception.

So let me share with you a little more about me. Professionally, I’ve reached high-powered roles where I’m viewed with credibility, integrity and expertise. I’m the biggest toad on the lily pad. However, this week I find myself in an area where I have to start from scratch and take my beatings all over again. I’m put in a pond with so many strange toads, and I am now no more than a tadpole within an unfamiliar area of my company.

My new role is incredibly exciting even if I’ve been reincarnated as the smallest aquatic larvae in the pond. I get to swim with the big fish as long as I dodge being somebody else’s breakfast.

This week was filled with Power Lunches in our Nation’s Beltway, and I’ve been humbled to be in meetings with Legacy Toad Kissers more impressive than I could have imagined. The cool thing about being in those meetings, though, was that I actually had my voice. I had something to say, and these Legacy Toad Kissers were willing to listen to me. Wow!

As I come home this morning, a Saturday of pure exhaustion, the only Power Lunch I want is grilled cheese with a steaming bowl of tomato soup. And I want to share it with my Prince Charming. Thank goodness he thought to pick up a loaf of bread while I was away.

In short, dear friends, Grilled Cheese and Tomato soup is simply the best form of “Feel Better” that I could ever recommend. And if you’re lucky, you can eat it while still wearing fuzzy slippers and flannel pajamas. Campbells, I’m starting to understand why Andy Warhol found you so beautiful.

And for you, my dear friends and family, a quote from Mr. Warhol which I found on the exclusive Christie’s Auction House website:

“Famously, when Warhol was asked about why he chose to paint Campbell’s soup cans, he explained that it had personal significance to him as a consumer, ‘Because I used to drink it. I used to have the same lunch every day, for twenty years, I guess, the same thing over and over again. Someone said my life has dominated me; I liked that idea’ (A. Warhol, quoted in I’ll Be Your Mirror: The Selected Andy Warhol Interviews, p. 18).”

Need I say more than, Thank You, Mr. Warhol, and Thank You Campbells for providing a Lunch of Champions!

Reference: http://www.christies.com/features/2010-october-andy-warhol-campbells-soup-can-tomato-1022-1.aspx

But What is Toad Kissing?

Good morning to all! And Happy Tuesday.

I went to dinner last night with some family members, and we were talking about The Art of Toad Kissing. I noticed a bit of curiosity but more
skepticsm as they realized that I would be sharing with all of you my very personal journey through Online Dating. During the conversation, I mentioned that I saw the Art of Toad Kissing as relevant across personal dating, professional growth, and other core relationships that we all experience as we move through our lives. I’ve kissed toads at work and at play, and heck – even at home. I’ve grown from each giant smooch.

This brings us to my thoughts for today. I’ve spent my first couple of conversations with you discussing my philosophy, but I haven’t really dug into any of the pearls of wisdom that I hope to share. My first pearl:

Understand who you are and love yourself first.

Over my 41 year life, I’ve had many successes but probably double the failures. This made my first lesson tricky to learn. I spent the majority of my adult life with the wrong men for happily-ever-after, but they were the Right men at the time to help me learn myself.

Huh? I know – I ask myself that same thing. I’ll explain.

My ex-husband – while he may likely turn out to be somebody else’s Prince Charming, was clearly a giant, wart-infested toad in my life. What I learned from this man, though, was how to shed the warts and keep only the good stuff that remained – my son.

I was married for the better part of my 20s, and I pretty much all but crushed my own identity. I spent those years raising children and being a
stay at home wife and mother. I lost most – if not all – of my female friendships, and I became quite introverted.

The good news was that living within my own, lonely mind for so long allowed me to realize that I wanted so much more than the life I was
living. I wanted a career, an education and a family. The man I was married to simply didn’t share these goals, and he was quite content to live below our true abilities.

Therefore – I got out. We divorced, and I have been raising our son on my own for well over 12 years now. What a great kid!

So this was truly my first Toad Kissing experience, and I am grateful for that time in my life. Those years were my lead in to understanding
who I really wanted to be – a necessity to being able to successfully share myself and my life with another person.

Throughout my 30s, I grew both personally and professionally – and I literally swam in toad-infested ponds at work and in my romantic world. I’m sure over time I’ll share more of these experiences with you, but I learned to push myself harder in spite of people in front of me who wanted to hold me back.

So now we come to my 40s. Spending the past 20 years finally becoming an adult, I know who I am. I like who I am, and I am proud of many
accomplishments. So now, I’m ready to share. I want to talk with you all about life’s insecurities as well as celebrate all of our accomplishments. I feel that only when we can openly accept all that we are, can someone else really appreciate us – warts and all.

With this being said – I’d love to hear what you might be proud of in your life. Tell us here, or whisper it to me quietly in an email. Either way, it just feels good to have someone notice.

So what am I most proud of about me – personally – children, men and friends aside?

I’m proud of my personal drive and my commitment to always grow. I accomplish my goals, and this feels great!

How about you? What about you makes you proud?

Warm Regards,

Heidi