9 Drinks to Try this Holiday Season 🎄

Get into the holiday spirits.

Skip the boring beer this year — holiday parties deserve festive drinks like Christmas Sangria and Maker’s Mark® Eggnog.

Check out the below drinks and links to add a little more cheer to your life this holiday season.

1.) White Christmas Mojito

If you like coconut you will enjoy this cocktail!

Click on the author’s name to get to the recipe.

Photo & Recipe By: HalfBaked Harvest


2.) Christmas Sangria

This sangria is the right balance of crisp and fruity, with a slight touch of sweetness!

Click on the author’s name to get to the recipe.

Photo & Recipe By: Cake’n Knife


3.) Peppermint Mocha White Russian

With peppermint, vodka and a touch of milk, this is the perfect post-dinner drink!

Click on the author’s name to get to the recipe.

Photo & Recipe By: With Salt & Wit


4.) Apple Cranberry Moscow Mule Cocktail

The ginger-apple-cranberry flavor combo is so good and are quintessential seasonal flavors!

Click on the author’s name to get to the recipe.

Photo & Recipe By: Heather Christo


5.) Rudolph’s Night Off

Pomegranate | Rosemary | Ginger Beer – Such an easy but impressive cocktail!

Click on the author’s name to get to the recipe.

Photo & Recipe By: Elle Talk


6.) Jingle Juice Holiday Punch

You only need 3 ingredients to create this masterpiece! YUM.

Click on the author’s name to get to the recipe.

Photo & Recipe By: Inspired by Charm


7.) Peppermint & Whipped Vodka Hot Chocolate

Just adding a little twist to this seasonal favorite.

Click on the author’s name to get to the recipe.

Photo & Recipe By: Home Cooking Memories


8.) Maker’s Mark® Eggnog

 This large-batch crowd pleaser is perfect for your next gathering.

Click on the author’s name to get to the recipe.

Photo & Recipe By: Maker’s Mark®


9.) Hot Cranberry Apple Spiced Cider

Spiced Cider is a holiday must. The flavor is perfect!

Click on the author’s name to get to the recipe.

Photo & Recipe By: The Cookie Rookie



Need a little pick-me-up?

“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” – Aristotle


There comes times when I have some self-doubt creeping in or sales may not be landing in my favor. Other times, it feels like relationships just don’t seem to be clicking. When I start to get a little anxious, I always get that hunger for learning. I wander around the aisles of the bookstore. I get on Amazon and read the reviews you know those “if you like this book you might also love ____”. Lately, everything I’ve read is just meh. Just repetition of the same material and content I’ve heard years before. It had been quite a while since I found a gem of a read. Definitely, quite a long time since I’ve picked up a book that is life-changing.

While waiting on a cell-phone repair, I wandered into a bookstore and this one called out to me, “READ ME!” High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard. It’s off to an inspiring start. It’s the kind of book that makes you want to rush home and devour some more.

I’d love to share a few of my all-time faves. This is my go-to list of books I’ve read most more than one time. Some are dog-eared. All have highlighted passages. Some I’ve read 10 times. Not only does the content never get old, I often discover something new messages within the pages. Life situations change and that old text now speaks to me in a different way delivering a new and timely lesson.

Whether you’re looking for a little positive thinking or ready to grow your business to the next level, I hope you enjoy these classics (followed by my two cents).

E-myth by Michael Gerber (Critical for every entrepreneur)
The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz
How to Win Friends and Influence people by Dale Carnegie
Good to Great by Jim Collins
Duct tape Marketing by John Jantsch (Practical advice for small businesses marketing that doesn’t cost a fortune)
Positive Personality Profiles by Dr. Richard Rohm (Forever changed my perspective on interactions with others)
10 X by Grant Cardone
Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill (I had this one on cassette tape in my first car)
Selling the Invisible by Harry Beckwith
The Bible
Drive by Daniel pink
One Minute Manager by Ken Blanchard (Principles are timeless)
Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg (Give yourself permission to do great things!)
Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell (Fascinating research into top achievers)
Just Listen by Mark Goulston

I’d love to hear your all time faves. I’ll add them to my “MUST READ” list.


Contributed by Heather Kuth.

All images are Heather’s own & may not be republished without express written permission.

50 Years of Gratitude

“The healthiest of all human emotions is Gratitude” was spoken by Zig Zigler as he described what he called an Attitude of Gratitude

This is not human nature, and therefore not always easy to implement, and those around me know I am not always grateful in the moment.  However, when I step back and reflect on my time on this earth – Grateful summarizes my posture. You, like me, have so much to be grateful for, if we can keep redirecting our attention to gratitude.


I’ve had the fortune of visiting some cool places in the US and abroad. These are a few pictures where I’m feeling grateful!



I have been blessed with what I believe are God’s greatest gifts. I turned 50 this year and I’ll illustrate some of my most precious gifts below:



My amazing, beautiful and talented wife Ira. I took this picture of her recently with the Alaska landscape in the background.



We were married in September 2016 in Asheville at the Omni Grove Park Inn, now one of our favorite destinations…  The air in the mountains is so clean and fresh, and that resort is magical and very relaxing…



My loving and supportive parents, Justin & Ilde Sucato. My parents are both 100% Italian, and my Mom came over from Italy when she was a little girl. My Dad’s parents came from Sicily. My parents taught and were examples for my brothers and I that honesty and hard work are the foundations for success. Although my Dad passed in 2010, and I miss him dearly, I’m very grateful for the man that he was, and the example he set for me.



My brothers (Justin, Dan, and Joe) and I grew up very close. We’re all in different professions now, but each successful in their field. I’m grateful that we are each married to wonderful wives and have beautiful families. I’m also grateful that we schedule annual family reunions to spend time with each other during these busy times. Justin’s a successful business owner, Dan is a world-renowned Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeon and Chief of Staff of his hospital, and Joe is an accomplished Jazz Musician and aspiring entrepreneur.



My 3 Handsome Boys:  Anthony 23, Andrew 19, and Christopher 16 are my pride and joy. These guys are growing up to be fine gentlemen and they continue to make me proud.



My 3 Beautiful Girls:  Emma 9, Gia 12, Maya 11. These are my step-daughters and they are a handful!  Girls are for sure different than boys, and I’m learning that first hand now! They are caring and sweet, and little firecrackers!



Our Family! This picture was taken at the foot of a waterfall (fed by a glacier) in Alaska. We were all together for this once-in-a-lifetime trip! The boys and the girls. and Ira and I had the best time!



Our puppy Nova was my gift to the girls for their wedding gift. The boys and Ira and I picked him out. He’s a multi-poo and he’s smart and intuitive. I can’t imagine our household without Nova!



This is my ex-wife Teresa. I include here in my collection of gratitude because we shared 18 years our lives together married and raised my 3 boys together. I’m grateful for that chapter of my life, my 3 boys.



This is one of my favorite pictures of our family altogether after our wedding ceremony! It doesn’t get better than this!



And finally, I am so grateful for my RSVP work-family (pictured below) who have been incredible for the last 18 years. Although some of my team members have changed over the years, this group of fine professionals inspires me daily to be my best. They have unique personalities and interested, and that makes our team unique and world-class! We have reached national status for our performance, sales accomplishments, and quality. Each of them has family not pictured here and I’m proud that our business supports their fine families.

My clients who we serve are amazing! My staff and I work with hundreds of incredible people and their businesses who we are proud to consider RSVP family. Each one of them has helped to grow me and my team – and we’ve helped them in a small way in exchange.


This is my family and I’m proud and grateful to be among them and serve!   


I hope you’ll join me and make 2018-2019 your best year ever by having an Attitude of Gratitude!




Anthony R. Sucato

Owner, RSVP / Sucato Marketing Systems


All images are Tony’s own & may not be republished without express written permission.


Last week, we were blessed to travel to the lovely Dominican Republic home to gorgeous white sand beaches, gracious hospitality, and very spotty almost non-existent wi-fi.

We were very excited for our nine-year-old son to experience his first trip out of the country. Between the three of us, we had 2 cell phones, one work laptop, our family laptop, an iPad, and a Fitbit.

Upon arrival, like bonafide tourists, we were snapping photos of the palm trees and buildings and ourselves with tropical beverages. And what would one do with these photos next, upload to Facebook, of course! No such luck. Downloading…. Error…. Unable to process….

I joined the gaggle of other guests at the lobby desk in search of wi-fi codes. In a resort that attracted visitors from various parts of the world, I could see this desire to connect is not unique to the USA.

But alas $40 per day!?! I’ll pass, thanks. Reluctantly, we unplugged for the week.

In any language or even without words, you can see the disconnect being connected has created. It’s no wonder this video has been viewed over 50 million times.

In our week of being unplugged, we discovered:
1. We didn’t miss it that much. (Okay… maybe after day 2)
2. We still like each other. Whew!
3. Work went on fine without us. The people we trusted did what they were supposed to do.
4. We spent more time really appreciating the beauty of our surroundings instead of just photographing the sights for social media.
5. We made new friends poolside from all over the USA, Canada, and France. We learned about their culture and even picked up a few new words in other languages.
6. We got a real kick of watching people take selfies (one gal must have taken 40 selfies in the pool) and Snapchat (one musclebound dude nearly broke a leg on sandcastle while capturing his best kissy face on camera). Very entertaining!
7. Without tracking it via the device, we’re pretty sure we logged 20k-30k steps/day. There’s a lot more time to walk and discover when your heads not down on a screen!
8. On the four-hour flight home (GASP) we played cards and talked while others watched movies solo they had downloaded in preparation.
9. By day 7, disembarking at home and observing entire families deeply entranced in their phones, we found ourselves reflecting on what impact all this connectivity is having on real social relationships.

I hope that you will get the chance to be #unplugged if not, by force, then perhaps by choice. In a recent survey, 29% of cell owners describe their cell phone as “something they can’t imagine living without.” I assure you, you can. It’s quite refreshing!

Challenge: Set aside a day each week to be device free. Can’t do a whole day? Start with an hour each morning.

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.” —Anne Lamott


All images belong to Adventure Photos & may not be republished without express written permission.

Listen Up! A Message from Your Body

I have an important statement to make: you need to listen to your body when it tries to tell you something. Got an ache? A pain? A wheeze? Listen. Because I didn’t & it knocked me flat on my back for over a week!

It started as an annoying cough a few Sundays ago, around the time we started making dinner. I didn’t think much of it; I’d recently switched allergy medications & figured my body was still adapting to Claritin after taking Zyrtec for so long. But then I started to feel stuffy as we loaded our dirty dishes into the dish washer. By bedtime that night, I was reaching for the NyQuil. The next day, my eyes were watery, my nose was runny, my ears ached & my voice was somewhere between James Earl Jones & Barry White – and I’m not even a guy!

But did I listen? Nope. I kept up my usual routine of working & running errands & tending to housework. Sure, I felt tired & clammy, but it would pass!

My co-workers were concerned. “Do you need to take the day & go to the doctor?” my supervisor kindly asked. “No, I think I should be OK. I’m taking cough syrup & drinking lots of water,” I said, sounding as optimistic as possible before turning away to reach for the Kleenex. “Hey, why is some guy answering Renee’s phone?” another coworker asked after dialing my line. “Haha. It’s me, Jeff,” I rumbled back in my newly-discovered basso profondo. And if being referred to as “Mr. Pugh” wasn’t annoying enough, I barely slept because I couldn’t stop coughing at night & my nose was so red from constant blowing that I was worried Santa was going to show up & offer me a gig guiding sleighs.


But then he saw my salary requirements & reconsidered.

And I still didn’t listen, even though my cough was getting worse, and the pain in my ears & sinuses was becoming impossible to ignore. It wasn’t until nearly 5 days later that I finally paid attention to what my body was trying to tell me. I was sitting at our breakfast table, feeling like a pack of angry bears mauled me in my sleep. “I feel pretty terrible,” I admitted to my boyfriend – who responded with honesty: “You look pretty terrible, too.” I called my doctor & set an appointment for the afternoon; I picked my z-pack up from the pharmacy that evening. I spent the entire weekend trying to listen to my body – which meant taking a nap when I felt tired, instead of ignoring the feeling & trying to muddle though it.

It was surprisingly difficult to do! We typically spend our weekends planning meals, making grocery lists & trips, and cleaning the house from top to bottom, so I felt guilty saddling my boyfriend with all the work while I shuffled around wearing PJs & drinking honey tea (I was also more than a little disappointed that I missed out on a Saturday trip to Costco. I am a devotee of the free samples – or as a friend calls them, “Costco Tapas”). Fortunately, feeling physically awful trumped my feelings of guilt, so I got the rest I needed. By Monday – over a week after first feeling sick – I was much better. Maybe not quite back to 100%, but at least up to about 80%. Truth be told, it took until the following weekend for me to feel well enough to tackle cleaning the house & running errands – which means I was out of commission for nearly 2 weeks over a stupid cold.

I am sure my recovery would have been much faster if I’d gone to the doctor earlier, or rested when I first felt ill. But, because I am the person I am, and the person I am is incredibly stubborn, I ended up feeling worse for longer than necessary, all because I refused to pay attention to my body’s distress signals. Learn from my mistakes! If you start to feel unwell, be sure to:

  • REST! Get a good night’s sleep, and if you start to feel tired during the day, take a break. You don’t even need to nap; just sit or lie down somewhere quiet & peaceful for 15 minutes.
  • drink lots of fluids – especially water. It helps flush the grossness out & keep you feeling hydrated.
  • go to the doctor when things get unmanageable – even if you’ve only been under the weather for a short while. If you feel awful to the point it’s impacting your ability to function, it’s better to go to the doctor to find out you have a cold, rather than wait for the cold to become something serious – like pneumonia!
  • and of course, pay attention to how you feel & what it means – don’t ignore what your body tells you!


Submitted by Renee Pugh






Santa picture source: http://img2-2.timeinc.net/people/i/2013/sandbox/news/131223/santa-letters/santa-clause-600×450.jpg

Free Your Time

Every day, I feel blessed to meet inspiring business owners through my work at RSVP. Each of them started their business with some passion, end goal or dream in mind. Each story shares that uniquely American can-do spirit & independence. I hear things like:

  • “I was tired of the corporate rat race.”
  • “Why work for someone else when I can work for myself?”
  • “I want to create a legacy.”

But their reasons run even deeper than that. At the heart of their decision to strike out on their own is the desire for a sense of control over their lives and futures. They year for independence, yet they find themselves working harder, burning the candle at both ends, no end to the workday, perpetually tethered to the business they created & nurtured. Instead of resting easy they lay awake thinking about hiring new employees or tackling the next big project, answering emails in the wee hours of the morning or at their kid’s soccer practice.


“OK, we do monkey bars until 3:15, then the slide from 3:30-3:40, and that should give us enough time to have juice & crackers before our 4:00 meeting with Mom regarding your most recent finger-painting performance.”

That original laser-focused dream that started it all becomes a little cloudy in the weary mind of that business owner. Now she may be totally in charge of her own destiny now, but she’s somehow a little more out of control. And yet she still has the same spark of passion and energy that inspires her to get up every day and do it all again, living the madness to create her dream for herself. Despite the unique challenges and struggles that come along with being an entrepreneur, most are proud and wouldn’t trade the freedom that comes along with it for the world.

Our conversations often turn to the real reason they’re working so hard: the freedom to do what they want with their downtime. The desire to be able to take a vacation without requesting time off from someone else, relying on another person’s approval. Common escapes include foreign travels, a beach, a lake, camping. Living a life of pleasure & relaxation in a place of peace & serenity. A place to reboot & recharge. I have to smile when I hear that their escapes are often jam-packed with activity, from adventure sports, boating, or other adrenaline-pumping, white-knuckle, edge-of-the-seat activity.  It isn’t surprising that the same business owners who pour their passion into creating & sustaining a business during working hours tend to approach their downtime with the same fervor.


For example, this is how I relax.

But it takes time, dedication, and delegation – and delegation seems to be the hardest part! For business owners whose ventures are in their infancy or growing years, these escapes must be postponed. Sometimes it may be for personal reasons – “We’re waiting until the kids are a little older before we buy a cabin on the lake.” – but often it’s for professional reasons. They have to wait until such-and-such employee is able to handle the workload – or even have to wait until their business grows enough to hire employees! Other business owners have grown their company & begun to hand the reins over to capable individuals. These owners are enjoying their time, living in the moment…and looking back, they wish they would’ve done it sooner.  They wish they would’ve spent more time with their children and escaped from the daily grind even if that grind is one they created for themselves. If you’re nervous about delegating business responsibilities to others so that you can enjoy the life you’ve created for yourself, let Entrepreneur magazine help you out with their 4-step guide!

In his book The 4-Hour Workweek, author Tim Ferriss recommends to readers to not to work until retirement, but rather to live your retirement a little each week. Build those little escapes into your life so you can enjoy them now, rather than waiting for some undetermined future date – when you hire more people, open another location, add another service. I know it’s hard to believe, but work can wait.  What may seems like an urgent problem requiring your attention RIGHT NOW, TODAY may simply work itself out in the hands of capable & trusted employees if only you would make like Elsa & let it go.


And now the song is in your head. No need to thank us.

So as my family & I pack up and head to the lake this Fourth of July season, I’ll be counting my blessings: not just my own personal or professional success, but also our nation’s independence, and our country’s long history of encouraging men & women to make their own way by doing things their own way, freeing us to create the life of our dreams. I like to think that the fantastic fireworks displays with all their awe-inspiring moments of “Ooh!”s and “Ahh!”s are symbolic of these blessings, and a reminder to keep your head up, dream big, be grateful, and be present.

I hope these business owners see it the same way, and that they continue to work to fulfill their dreams, but remember to get away and savor the here & now.

Contributed by Heather Craaybeek.




Image sources: 1, 2 and 3. Frozen copyright Disney 2013.



Remote Control: Is the Remote Office the Workplace of Tomorrow?

RSVP is a local business & proud of it. Our office headquarters has been located in Centerville, Ohio for all of our 15 years of business, and our employees are both familiar with & active in the communities they serve in Cleveland, Akron, Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, Louisville, Lexington, and most recently, Indianapolis. We take pride in being small & local because we believe it helps us better understand our clients’ needs & struggles. When you call our office in Centerville, I answer the phone – Hi, my name is Renee – and I help you get in touch with the person in our office who can best assist you. I also write & distribute the minutes for our weekly staff meetings, maintain client records, and manage our calendars and data gathering systems, in addition to generally trying to keep everyone else sane in the face of constantly looming deadlines.

That’s not terribly unusual for an administrative assistant. What is unusual is that I’m doing all of these things from my home office in Seattle, Washington – and probably with one of my cats in my lap.

space needle

The view from my “office” window.

I haven’t always worked from a home office. From 2011-2013, I worked in our Centerville office, and as far as I was concerned, I was going to keep working in that office until they pried my cold fingertips from my keyboard. Life, of course, had different plans for me: in August 2013, just as I hit the big 3-0, my boyfriend – a talented mobile app developer – was offered an incredible opportunity to work for a large tech company headquartered in Seattle!  One month later, we sold my car, loaded our belongings into his Honda Civic, and drove across the country to start a new life in an unfamiliar city.

That’s how I became one of the millions of people who work remotely. Remote employees usually work from home, but sometimes they’re in coffee shops, airport lounges, and even planes themselves! The office as we used to know it has become less ubiquitous as businesses work to accommodate & respect their employees’ personal lives. According to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace, 39% of companies now allow employees to work remotely. A remote office is now less of an anomaly & more of an expectation, and this rings true even for small, local businesses, like RSVP. In fact, president & publisher of RSVP, Tony Sucato, recently said, “The goal is for all of us to eventually be able to work remotely.”

Not everyone thinks that is something to strive for in the business world, and some companies are actively working to curtail the remote trend. In 2013, Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer mandated that employees work from a Yahoo! office. Explaining this decision, Yahoo! Human Resources director Jackie Reeses said, “Being a Yahoo isn’t just about your day-to-day job, it is about the interactions and experiences that are only possible in our offices.” This, admittedly, hits home for me. I certainly miss my co-workers & the jokes we shared, or lunch runs we would make to grab mid-day bulgogi at Kabuki (P.S. if you live in Dayton or Columbus, go there on my behalf! I miss their food). Less tangible than lunch dates & inside jokes, though, are the small nuances you pick up on after sharing an office with people for years and years. When I worked in the office, I could tell if Jodie had a sick child at home, or if Heather was talking loudly because she had too many cups of coffee. Now, I am no longer privy to these details, and I miss out on the minutia. Yahoo’s decision was, at least in part, motivated by a desire to re-establish an office environment & encourage the sort of daily interactions that I miss now.

Beyond employee relationships, Yahoo’s Mayer was also concerned about out-of-office employees’ ability to be productive and ignore the many distractions working remotely may present. Writing for Forbes, David Sturt & Todd Nordstrom note that, “[p]ets, children, television, and the refrigerator can all be distractions for people who work from home,” and that remote workers who travel frequently face additional challenges, including noise, chatty co-commuters, and unpredictable work conditions. Still, I am not convinced that the distractions I now confront in my home office are any different from those I had in the RSVP office. Well, OK, granted, this wasn’t likely to happen in the RSVP office:


Captain Morgan, my CFO (Chief Feline Officer)

But something like this?


Ongoing construction outside our apartment building in Seattle.

Now that type of distraction is totally possible. In fact, I remember when we had the roof replaced at RSVP and had to brush plaster off our desks because the work was so intense above us. We couldn’t even use the office phones because of the noise! How is that in-office distraction worse than, say, having a cat hop up on your desk for a quick nuzzle at the home office? I’m honestly not convinced that it is. Additionally, studies have often shown that employees who work from a home office are more dedicated and productive, logging an average of 4 extra hours of work per week & cranking their productivity up by as much as 13%. Remote office employees even report being more engaged in their work than their in-office counterparts.

Still, remote work is not for everyone – businesses & employees alike. Large companies like Yahoo!, whose bloated infrastructure hindered growth in recent years, need to maintain control over many facets & departments chock full of employees, and an easy way to do that is to encourage in-office work. Further, some people are simply not cut out for remote work; the distractions prove too many, or they simply use the office to create a physical separation between their home lives & their professional lives. Sturt & Nordstrom encourage those considering remote work to do it for the right reasons, and believe it comes down to personal preference. According to them, “it may soon be possible that everyone can choose the work environment that suits them the best.” That is, remote office workers can work remotely, in-office employees can stay in the office, and businesses can reap the benefits that come from a happy employee base.

Even though I miss the camaraderie of the office & the convenience of being physically close to our central location, I am glad I have the opportunity to work from home. Working from home allows me to keep a job I enjoy with people I like at a company dedicated to excellence – and those factors are important enough to me that I’m willing to work across space & time (thousands of miles & a 3-hour time difference).

Now if you’ll excuse me, Hemingway needs to see me for my annual purr-formance review.


“We really need to focus on catching the red dot this quarter.”

Contributed by Renee Pugh.








All images are the author’s own. Unauthorized usage without proper credit is prohibited.

Time Out!: a Referee’s Tale

bball clip artIn sports there are three levels of participation:

  • as a player
  • as a fan, and
  • as an official.

Most of us have participated in two of the three at some level – we play a pick-up game with friends every so often & cheer on our favorite teams on game days – but few have participated in all three. I have been fortunate enough to be all three – player, fan, and official. For many years I had the pleasure of officiating high school basketball in Kentucky.  I called small games, big games, both boys and girls games, and had fun doing it all.

I think the best part of officiating games is being privy to all of the behind-the-scenes action. So much happens at a fast pace, that officials have to be quick, decisive, and experienced to know how to handle more than just calling fouls and violations; more than anything, you have to know how to handle people. Players have conversations with one another, coaches are attempting to persuade officials, and at the same time officials have to communicate with the scorer’s table. There is more going on in the game than anyone ever realizes, and not only is most of it interesting, but it’s often very funny!

One of my favorite examples comes from what normally would be considered a boring game between a strong girls team from the eastern part of Louisville, and a weaker one located in a part of Louisville called “Okolona.” Everything went smoothly and as expected, as the strong team led throughout and the outcome of the game was never in doubt. Suddenly, with about ten seconds left in the game and the stronger eastern Louisville team leading by seventeen points, the team from Okolona calls a timeout.

My partner and I were a little frustrated by the timeout being called at this point of the game because it seemed pointless. Their team had no chance of winning and we just wanted to hurry up and get home!

The strange timeout ends, and as I’m about to hand the ball to the player standing out of bounds, I said, “So your coach drew up a seventeen point play for you all to run?” I heard another player standing inbound say something back to me but I couldn’t quite tell what she said. Confused, I turned back to her out of bounds teammate with a puzzled look.  And then I realized…

The other girl was speaking German! I’m sure she was cussing me out in a different language to avoid getting a technical foul called on her. Her teammate looks me straight in the eye and with the surly attitude and snarl that can only come from a teenage girl, she says to me, “What’s wrong, don’t you speak Okolonan?”

Her comment caught me so off-guard that I just had to laugh out loud and dropped the whistle out of my mouth! All I could do was just hand her the ball and say, “Let’s just get this over with, danke very much!”

In addition to being verbally assaulted by a German-speaking teenager, I’ve also been repeatedly beaten during a game by a cheerleader, and chased down a hallway by a fan during halftime!

But those are stories for another time.

Contributed by Jeff Vice.






Basketball referee clip art from Microsoft Office.

Fake It ‘Till You Become It

I took a class last year where my teacher told us that you have to “fake it ‘til you become it”.  She followed that comment up by showing us a video from TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design).  Amy Cuddy is the speaker, and her video has been viewed over 16 million times, and ranks among the top 15 most-viewed TEDTalks.  I highly recommend watching this video, it is an interactive video that forces you to reflect on how you compose yourself in your everyday life.  The entire video is 21 minutes long, but for all of the timesavers out there, if you skip to 15 minutes into the video you will get the gist.  Amy talks about her life story and shares how she used to be very insecure, until one day she learned that she could not live the rest of her life as a shell of herself.  Since that point, she has made a couple of the simple changes that she talks about in the video, her life has changed dramatically.  She holds a PhD in social psychology and now is an Associate Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School.

I generally consider myself a confident person, but there are certain situations that I don’t feel equipped for, or prepared.  The key is acting as if you’ve been there before.  Half of the battle is how you present yourself.  You only have one chance to make a lasting first impression, and your first impression can be noted even before you have the chance to say a word.  It can be based off something as simple as your body language and how you carry yourself into an interview or an appointment.  Growing up I always heard “fake it ‘til you make it”.  I always wondered, “What if I don’t want to fake it?” “Why pretend I’m someone that I’m not?”.  Amy talks about going one step further than faking it until you make it.  She says, “Fake it ‘til you become it”.  This means put yourself in positions to get out of your comfort zone to make yourself better.  Overtime there becomes a realization that you no longer “don’t” belong there; instead you became and conquered what you never imagined you could do.  This video resonated with me because I felt as if it was calling me out personally.  While overall I feel like a secure and outgoing person, I still have areas of insecurity and the video forces you to reflect on your individual weaknesses.  While I’m young, and still trying to establish myself in the workplace, I feel  that the video gives me the tools to become who I aspire to be and realize my full potential.  Amy states that “Our bodies change our minds, our minds changes our attitude, and our attitude changes our outcomes.”  A great quote that sums up her video.


Contributed by Anthony J. Sucato.


Why Do We Celebrate the 4th with Fireworks?



Christmas has presents, Thanksgiving has a turkey, and Halloween has costumes.  Each holiday we celebrate has its own tradition.  So why does the Fourth of July have fireworks?  Why don’t we hold parties to knit American Flags instead?


John Adams, 2nd President

Although the Fourth of July didn’t become an official holiday until 1870, nearly 100 years after the signing of The Declaration of Independence, we can thank the second President of the United States, John Adams, for the suggestion of how Americans should celebrate the fourth.  Around 1817, Adams wrote about The Fourth of July:

 “I believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival.”  He went on to write, “It ought to be celebrated by pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires, and illuminations from one end of this continent to the other…

Declaration of Independence Soon after The Declaration of Independence was conceived in 1776 by our founding fathers, it was read publicly, and supporters of the War of Independence erupted in cheers and celebrations.  In 1777 in Philadelphia those celebrations were done with ringing bells, guns fired, and firecrackers.  However with the country in its infancy at that time, Fourth of July celebrations were not common.  It took Adams’ writings almost a century later, along with the re-circulation of the signed declaration throughout the nation, to jump-start the traditions of the Fourth of July.

The original, smaller celebrations in the 1770’s, and the later, more formal celebrations were separated by so many years, yet it seems we were destined to celebrate the Fourth of July with spectacular explosions of some type.

So while you are enjoying fireworks this Fourth of July take a moment to remember those founding fathers who took enormous risk in declaring our independence and how that has shaped the United States into the greatest country in the world.  But also take a moment to thank John Adams for prompting Americans to celebrate our freedoms and liberties in the loudest and proudest way possible.  Without that we might be celebrating The Fourth of July in silence.

Contributed by Jeff Vice.