Let me put it this way: Mercury is in retrograde.

That sentence may or may not make sense to you, but I have written about that silly, menacing planet before. Here’s a quick recap.

In astrology, Mercury is the planet that rules communication, both interpersonal and electronic, as well as clear thinking, truth, and travel. Three to four times a year, the planet appears to move backward in the sky, known as “Mercury in Retrograde.” During such periods, you will find that things go wrong—more so than usual.

According to Greek mythology, Mercury represents the god Hermes who, in addition to being the messenger, has a reputation as a prankster. Hermes is a patron god of messengers and commerce, so no wonder everything business- and communications-related goes haywire when Mercury is in retrograde!

Interpersonal communications, such as speaking and listening, buying and selling, and negotiating, and commerce-related functions like transportation and logistics, travel, and negotiation, are affected when Mercury is functioning in its sluggish state. Delays and challenges are more probable, and these random mistakes or glitches can be costly.

Needless to say, it is not advisable to sign contracts, engage in important decision making, or launch a new business when Mercury is in retrograde. It’s also a good idea to plan for travel delays, communication disruptions with loved ones or customers, and technological failures during this time. (For goodness’ sake, back up your computer and network before Mercury goes into retrograde!) It’s like Hermes himself is pulling a prank on you.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - What's on Karen's Plate? - Mercury in retrograde

Unbeknownst to me, Mercury went retrograde on October 4 and remains so until midday October 25.

If you’re skeptical about this whole Mercury business and want some evidence, this is what I’ve witnessed during the last few days:

Mercury in retrograde is not all bad for everyone. If you are the creative type or like to think outside the box, then this is the period when you can make great progress. For everyone else, this is the time to sit back, relax, and wait for the tide to change.

So you can plan ahead, here are the dates when this celestial phenomenon will occur in 2015:

Good luck!

Karen

P.S. You can read more about Mercury in retrograde in the Huffington Post and TIME Magazine.

As the “vegetable lady”—my friends all call me this—anything that has to do with fruits and vegetables always makes me happy.

You may recall, a little over two years ago, I decided to go vegan for a month. The difference between being a vegetarian and being vegan means that not only do you eat a diet filled with plant-based foods, but you do not eat any animal-derived products. So, no dairy or eggs. For some vegans, that also means no honey since bees are technically an animal.

Frieda's Specialty Produce - What's on Karen's Plate? - Women of Frieda's
You could call us the Veggie Family. Frieda is a vegetarian and Jackie also eats mostly plant-based.

I chronicled my Vegan Journey for a month and something interesting happened. I found that I felt better—all my aches and pains seemed to disappear—and people told me I looked younger, which is always a plus. Well, after a year of being vegan, I found that I needed more protein. Because I am allergic to soy, I added egg whites, fish, and chicken back into my diet.

Nonetheless, my diet continues to be primarily made up of fresh fruits and vegetables. For example, today, which is a typical work day, I have snacked on cucumbers, colored bell peppers, strawberries, Cherub® tomatoes (IMHO the only ones with amazing flavor), broccoli, and a fresh apple. Plus, I had mushrooms and spinach in my egg white omelet this morning. That’s nine servings for the day already and I haven’t even had dinner!

I think that’s the point of National Vegetarian Month. It’s to call attention to how easy it is to be a part-time—or even full-time—vegetarian. New York Times writer Mark Bittman calls it VB6 (Vegan before 6 p.m.).

A well-known dietitian, Sharon Palmer, RDN, gave us five awesome suggestions, which I totally love, in her October newsletter on what you can do to introduce more fruits and veggies to your diet during this month.

Make a plant-powered goal.

Whether you’re an omnivore or a vegetarian, you can make your own plant-powered goal to eat more whole plant foods at every meal. For starters, try out Meatless Monday by enjoying one entirely plant-based meal per week as a great entry into plant-based eating. Or if you’re vegetarian, you might want to try a month of vegan eating.

Have a meat-free morning.

Breakfast is one of the easiest meals to skip the meat. With so many delicious breakfast foods, such as whole grain cereals and breads, fruit, and even vegetables, there’s little reason to rely on meat for your first meal of the day.

Plants for protein.

It’s a widespread misconception that it’s difficult to get enough protein from plant foods. Evidence indicates that it’s simple to achieve an adequate intake of protein from plant-based sources. Legumes, soy, nuts and seeds are your best bets, but whole grains and veggies have protein, too!

Change the center of your plate.

When planning your meals, start with the vegetable or plant protein component to get your creative juices flowing. Meat or “faux meat” doesn’t need to be the “center of the plate.” If kale and cauliflower are calling to you, plan your meal around those veggies, with perhaps some simmered savory lentils and a quinoa pilaf on the side. Yum!

Try a new veggie recipe each week.

It’s easy to get in a rut! But why not dish up some new fabulous foods to celebrate National Vegetarian Month. Just try out a new plant-based recipe on your easiest day of the week. My website and books can get you started. And invite over your friends and family to share them. Spread the plant-powered love!

So, when you hear “vegetarian,” I want you to think it’s OK to be a part-time vegetarian. Consciously make the center of your plate fruits and veggies. Celebrate Meatless Monday! When you stop by the market for your fresh produce, walk the department and look for something new, colorful, and interesting. You never know when you will find your newest “favorite produce item” to entice you to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Shift the way you eat, starting now!

And enjoy!

Karen

Last Sunday, my mother, Frieda, and I were invited to participate in a panel discussion at the Hotel Irvine in Irvine, California, to share our experiences as members of a family business. (By the way, a family business is defined as one that has two or more family members in positions of authority.)

You know, our lessons learned that we could share with others.

We were invited by my longtime friend and fellow woman business owner, Patty DeDominic. Patty founded of one of the largest staffing companies in Los Angeles County, PDQ Personnel Services, more than 30 years ago. She sold her company a few years ago and is now running Maui Masterminds, an organization that helps business owners build businesses that they love through private business coaching.

Joining us on the panel was Brian Thomson, who is the second generation in and current President of LH Thomson, a manufacturer of aerospace parts for companies like Boeing. And for the last 20 years, the company has also run a niche business in patented bicycle parts.

After 30 minutes of our facilitated discussion, it was time for my favorite part, Q&A with the audience.

“How do you deal with all the different generations of workers in your business and how different they are?”

I especially like that question! Here at Frieda’s, we make a concerted effort to hire and retain all age levels—from the early 20s to older than 50s—because we like our team to be well-rounded so it mirrors our customer and supplier base.

I also shared my thoughts on Millennials (aka Gen Y) about their supposed lack of work ethics or inability to work hard. I am sick and tired of hearing that because it simply is not true. Millennials just have a different perspective from us Baby Boomers.

Instead of growing up expecting to have just one or two careers in their lifetimes, Millennials now know they will have multiple career changes through out their lives—maybe 10 or more careers—some of which don’t even exist yet! They want to be challenged and valued, and to be upwardly mobile in a short time.

Photo credit: Flickr/State Farm

“What do you do about all the instant messaging and texting in the workplace? How can you control it?”

That question was asked by a fellow Baby Boomer or possibly a Gen Xer (also known as the “skeptic generation”). I had to confide to the audience that it had been an adjustment for me to walk through the office and see people looking at Facebook or texting while at their desks “working.”

But I came to the conclusion years ago—with some coaching from my HR Manager and many seminars—that instead of worrying about controlling the social media activity and texting, I should ask myself one question: “Did they make their numbers?” or “Are they getting their work done?”

You see, the paradigm has shifted in offices today. And we can thank the multitasking Millennial generation that grew up being connected 24/7 to their friends and family.

We Baby Boomer bosses cannot judge others solely by how we were raised and trained. We have to condition ourselves that in order to attract and retain the best employees and team members, we need to be flexible and understand what motivates them. And we need to provide coaching and mentoring.

Although many of us grew up separating “business from personal” (e.g., limiting socializing with the folks you work with), for Millennials, some of their closest friends are those they work with. If we want to keep them, we’re going to have to be their friends too!

The Maui Masterminds session was only 45 minutes and it flew by. When it was over, the man who asked me the question about instant messaging and texting stopped me in the lobby and said, “Thanks for your honest answer. I guess texting in the workplace is here to stay.”

Just something to think about,

Karen

Frieda's Specialty Produce - What's on Karen's plate? - Maui Mastermind
Frieda’s EARTH University intern Isaiah Lekesike from Kenya, Maui Mastermind Patty DeDominic, Frieda, and me