When one door closes,

How long do we wait until another one opens?

How long do we stall, our hands floating above the doorknob wondering

What lies beneath?

The anxiety floats through on a wave,

Rippling into existence.

The excitement crashes down upon it,

Creating a shockwave beneath it.

You shake away the feeling,

Reminding yourself that you are in charge.

With a gulp

The door swings open.

Your sweaty hand turns into eager footsteps as you step through the threshold.

Sunlight filters through.

A whole new world stands before you.

Chuckling to yourself

You remember.

This new beginning is for you.

Are you craving a coffee run while also trying to be mindful of your health? This former barista has some tricks up her sleeve to help you lessen your sugar intake, up your protein goals, and trim your budget without losing that wonderful taste. 

Let’s Start with the Basics

  1. Don’t be afraid of substitutions – This is going to be the key to adjusting your drink to fit your health goals.
  2. It won’t be perfect the first try – Take note of what you wish it had and refer back to this guide.

Picking a Base

Are you an espresso lover? Traditional coffee? Cold press? These are perfect bases for healthy alternatives. You need to identify what you want the heart of your drink to be.
Espresso will pack more of an immediate punch; this is the base for our beloved mochas and lattes. Feel like you don’t get enough espresso? Try an Americano! Americanos typically have double the espresso when compared to a latte, and it can be made hot or over ice.

Do you love traditional coffee but want an extra punch? Ask for a depth charge! This is one espresso shot added to your daily cup of joy.

Cold press is the beloved, 12-hour brewed, icy goodness that’s made to fill any iced drink. Did you know that if you order a cold press with caramel sauce the creaminess makes it taste like a latte? It’s one of my favorite go-to drinks that has a lower price point and extra caffeine.

Let’s Talk Milk

When it comes to cost, milk is the biggest factor. Adding milk to your coffee can sometimes double the price of your favorite cup. However, picking a base and adding a splash of milk, or a milk alternative, can make all the difference. Some franchises even have protein-friendly milk options with less sugar.

Flavor Time

My suggestion here is to ask for sugar free substitutes. Many coffee shops have a variety of syrups that are sugar free. That being said, if you find that that the Toasted White Mocha syrup is too good to miss out on, ask for a half shot. A typical medium coffee can have four-to-five pumps of syrup in each drink. Getting two or three pumps instead can still give you the satisfying taste without the added calories.

Need Inspiration?

I’ve got you covered!

MacroBarista shares recipes daily on their website and across TikTok. These recipes can help you follow your health goals and save you money!

My Go-To Caribou Dupe

I absolutely love and adore a Campfire Mocha with White Chocolate. How in the world do I make this any healthier?

A Caribou Crafted Press is the answer! The crafted press has a similar taste to any of Caribou’s signature creations with the purpose of being a healthy alternative.

A Crafted Press has a cold-pressed base with a splash of cream and the milk of your choice. This drink includes one pump of any flavor. I add one pump of marshmallow syrup and a half-pump of white chocolate. This has been my go-to for the past four years now. I really love it, and I think you will, too!

Looking for more health and wellness tips? Check out the Health & Wellness section of the FlexTrades’ blog!

Create Habits and Stay Mindful in 2023

Happy New Year, everyone! 2023 is here whether you’re ready for it or not. The new-year pressure to make positive changes and set big goals can be overwhelming. Here are some tips on how to create habits and stay mindful.

Three Tips to Help Create Habits and Stay Mindful

1. Shift Your Mindset: “Your reality is a projection of your thoughts or the things you habitually think about.” – Stephen Richards, How to Get Everything You Can Imagine: Volume 1: How Mind Power Works

How to Have a Positive Mindset

  • Write down what you are grateful for.
  • Consume positive media.
  • Surround yourself with positive people.
  • Write out a “wins” checklist each day.
  • Create a morning mindset routine – Make sure you have one thing to look forward to that day.
  • Take inventory on your thoughts throughout the day.

2. The Two-Minute Rule: If it can be done in less than two minutes, just do it. Using the two-minute rule from the book, Atomic Habits, by James Clear. This rule helps get you started and build momentum.

Nearly Any Habit Can Be Scaled Down to a Two-Minute Version

  • “Read before bed each night” becomes “read one page.”
  • “Do thirty minutes of yoga” becomes “take out my yoga mat.”
  • “Study for class” becomes “open my notes.”
  • “Fold the laundry” becomes “fold one towel.”
  • “Run three miles” becomes “tie my running shoes.”

3. Small Changes Big Results: Make your habits simple & easy.

How to Choose a Habit to Form (Source: CNN health)

  • Set a specific goal and start small.
  • Create a plan. Make the plan detailed and include time of day and duration.
  • Make it fun. Research shows if you do not enjoy the process, you will not stick to it.
  • Be flexible. Allow yourself a few “get out of jail free cards.” Sometimes things come up that will disrupt your plan. Consistency is key.
  • Find social support. Tell a friend / family member the habit you are working toward building.

Habit Example: I want to get more steps each day.

  • Specific Goal: I want to get at least 7,000 steps each day.
  • Plan: Each morning, I will begin my day with a 10-minute walk outside.
  • Make it fun: On Wednesdays, I will walk to my local coffee shop.
  • Flexibility: If it is snowing / raining outside, I will let myself skip the walk that day.
  • Support: Ask a friend to join me in tracking 7,000 steps each day.

List of Mindfulness Tips to Add to Your 2023 Routine:

  1. Intentional Breathing – Set a timer 1-3 times a day to breathe with intention. The breath counts should be a 5 second inhale / 5 second exhale / 5 times kind of thing. Simply put, try intentional / controlled breathing for at least 60 seconds.
  2. Stretching through the motions – Create time throughout the day to do simple stretches: arms, neck, and back.
  3. Eat with meaning – Eat with your less dominant hand and wait a few seconds before taking your next bite. When possible, eat without TV, phone or external entertainment.
  4. Sleep Preparation – Find a set time to wake up and go to bed. Wake up 5 minutes earlier. Eliminate screen time 10-30 minutes before bed and instead try reading for 10 minutes each night.  

Do you want more tips and tricks on how to start your new year off right? Check out Debunking New Year’s Resolutions.

New Year’s Resolutions Redone – “Debunking Resolutions”  

New Year’s resolutions are often cited as the unattainable goals we set in January, and they are iconic for being forgotten in the new year. The truth is this – you don’t need to set a specific date to start a goal. In fact, my New Year’s resolution started last November, and I’m continuing it in 2023. 

Putting pressure onto the meaning of a resolution implies that, after you complete it, there’s no other work to do. I’m here to help debunk new year’s resolutions and hopefully inspire you to create and maintain realistic and meaningful goals in your life… all year round. 

My New Year’s Resolution in 2022  

In 2022, I was determined to take control of my health. I vlogged (Video Blogged) every morning and talked about the good, the bad and the in between when it comes to weight loss. Two months later, my goal disappeared. Lack of motivation and passion were surely not the issues, so what went wrong? 

  • Focusing on a diet plan outside of my budget range
  • Putting pressure on perfection with no room for error 
  • Ignoring short-term goals within a long-term plan 
  • Failing to figure out the why

Create Your Goals 

Let’s talk about how you can avoid the same four mistakes that I made and crush your goals in 2023. First, we need to discuss SMART Goals. What is a SMART goal? I’m so glad you asked. Check out the graphic below.

Smart Goals FlexTrades

Need help identifying SMART goals? Microsoft Office offers this free template: here 

Now, you may have learned about SMART goals in school, but let’s break them down a little bit, shall we? SMART goals are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and monitored over time. Truthfully, these are, what I like to call, goals with intention. We discuss the power of manifestation, and this will help you achieve your goals. The reality is that when you sit down to create a goal, you immediately plan the steps you need to take in order to accomplish it. When a resolution is set, there’s no thought process. It’s just a desire you would like to achieve someday. 

Setting Goals is all About Intent 

The intent to do something can make your dream a reality. If you intend to get a promotion at your job by the end of the year, you are more likely to take the steps that are necessary to getting there. This is when the plan starts to map itself out: 

  • Assisting with extra projects 
  • Expressing specified interests in your quarterly reviews 
  • Setting a timeline 
  • Self-Assessing your current project completion 

These simple steps are prime examples of SMART goals in action. You specified by the end of the year that you want that promotion. You measured the goal by pinpointing prime areas; areas in which you can showcase that you’re ready for new responsibilities. These goals are made attainable through your self-assessment and quarterly review check-ins. The promotion then becomes realistic as this plan fits within your daily routine and works with your schedule. You identified the time by stating when the promotion is happening and how often you would touch base to check on this goal. 

Starting a 2023 Resolution in November 

Yes, I started my New Year’s Resolution in November of 2022. And while the new year is a great time to reevaluate change in your life, my goal this year couldn’t wait. Again, my goal was to lose weight and take control of my health.

My initial resolution in 2022 resulted in me losing two lbs., or about one pound a month. 

My resolutions for 2023 remained the same, but by creating SMART goals, I have been able to lose approximately 10 lbs. in the past two months, or about five pounds a month. 

I am following the same exact routine this year as I did last year, but this time I found resources within my budget to ensure that my goal was both attainable and realistic. I now have weekly goals, a 6-month goal, and an end-of-year goal to keep me motivated and moving forward. These goals are accompanied by a realistic, imperfect schedule that works for me.

Next Steps 

Debunk those new year’s resolutions, and don’t lose sight of what you want to achieve. Use SMART goals, think about your passions, and place intent behind these ideas. Watch your goals become reality, discuss them with those close to you, and enjoy the view as that New Year’s resolution voodoo simply fades away. 

We’re kicking off the New Year with a new challenge in hopes of inspiring you to get moving, at your own pace, with a team around you to support your success. 

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to walk / run the Pan-American Highway together. 

The Pan-American Highway is a network of roads that stretch from North America to South America. It spans 14 countries in total. As one of the longest roads in the world, we’ll be walking almost 19,000 miles; starting in Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, before heading towards Ushuaia, Argentina. 

Each Monday, until we collectively reach our destination, we are hoping that you will share your weekly steps / mileage with our Human Resources team. There is a shared document internal employees can access, and Technicians are welcome to email their steps to techbenefits@flextrades.com. We will then add all of the entries together each week to determine how far we’ve traveled while exploring some of the key places that we’ve seen along the way. 

For the fun and spirit of a little friendly competition, I’d like to propose a race: Corporate FlexTrades’ Employees vs. FlexTrades Technicians who are actively out on assignment. With this, our corporate employees will be walking / running side by side against our Technicians to see who can get to our destination faster. In the end, participants from either team who cross the finish line first will be entered into a drawing for some truly incredible prizes. 

Get your walking sneakers ready… our journey has begun! This means that you will submit your first week’s mileage / steps on Monday, January 9th. Do you have any questions? Let me know, and I will be more than happy to help. 

Are you looking for your next career at an organization that cares about its culture and employees’ wellbeing? Browse our jobs board online, and see if FlexTrades could be a good fit for you!

Not Home for the Holidays

You don’t have to look hard during this time of year to realize the holidays are upon us. City streets are decorated, store windows are full of gift ideas, and seasonal music is omnipresent. For most of us, even if this isn’t our idea of ’the most wonderful time of the year,’ it’s a time of joy and nostalgia. But there’s a large portion of the population that the rest of us forget about during this season – those who can’t get home. While most are at home, millions of people around the world are working so that we can celebrate.

From flight attendants and emergency workers to our own FlexTrades technicians keeping the wheels of industry turning through seasonal spikes, there are a lot of people missing time with their families. We want all of you in that position to know we appreciate you a lot! But we also realize that all the recognition in the world doesn’t make such a sacrifice any less lonely. Therefore, we turned to our travel-work experts for some tips on how to make sure you don’t feel alone just because you’re spending this holiday away from home.

Holiday Tips for When You’re Away from Home

Communicate

The number one rule of family planning is communication and that goes double for holiday schedules. Once your shift is solidified, the first thing you should do is let your family know. There are a lot of ways to make alternate seasonal plans, but most are not very realistic at the last minute. It sounds simple, but often the best answers are exactly that. If you know you’re going to miss a party or tradition, talk about it asap. You’ll be surprised how creative your family can get.

Decorate

Whether you’re in an office or on the shop floor, you might not be able to go home for the holidays, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring some of it to you. Christmas lights, a mini-tree, or a singing reindeer are easy ways to surround yourself with some seasonal items. You can even level-up this step into a simple group activity by involving coworkers or others with a ’project’ such as setting ten minutes aside for everybody to cut out a paper snowflake for their station. Do you have a cherished tree ornament at home? Bring it with you on the road so you’re not leaving all your nostalgia behind. Even wearing a work uniform doesn’t have to be a dealbreaker. If you can’t wear that Santa hat or Grinch shirt, try wearing a themed lanyard or safety glasses with decorated frames!

Technology

Technology can be a stressor in life, especially during the holidays, but it can also be a day (or even a season) saver. Video calling and messaging apps, like FaceTime, have already changed the roadwork experience for many FlexTrades technicians. You don’t have to be on the road to also benefit from these technologies though. Even if you’re just missing a New Year’s Eve party for a single shift, using FaceTime and a well-timed break can make sure you’re still there with the people that matter to you when the ball drops. There are lots of other technologies that can help with this too. One that we love is using the group watch function of your favorite streaming platform to share a classic holiday film with your friends and family, no matter where you all are around the globe! Using VR goggle could make it even more exciting but does require a few extra steps.

Redefine Family

Working over the holidays, especially on the road, can be a team effort. It could make sense to celebrate those holidays with your work team. Little things like group caroling competitions or gift exchanges can add a lot of fun to seasonal work. Those little things make it easier to focus on the big stuff too, like making sure your teammates know just how much you appreciate them. Shared appreciation is always a good thing!

Volunteer

Do you feel bad about something you’re missing this season? The best way to feel good is to do good. If you can’t make it home for the holidays, then do something to make where you’re at feel homier. Church groups, charitable associations, and community organizations put a big emphasis on holiday projects, and they can always use extra hands! There are many online platforms, like VolunteerMatch, that make it easy to find opportunities to help, no matter where you find yourself around America. A great side benefit to volunteering for the road warrior crowd is that it doubles as networking for the out-of-towner too. Doing good and meeting good people is a win/win in any season!

Other Ideas

We hope this list gives ideas of how to make the most of this holiday season away from home. If you have other tips, we’d love to hear them! Send them to our Writing Team. We’ll do our best to cover them in future posts.

Do you want to give yourself a gift that keeps on giving all year? Check out our blog page to catch up on other advice about working away from home.

As a working parent, a celebration for ‘Working Parents Day’ (I say with sarcastic air quotes) seems like extra work, because I know I’m the one throwing the party or begging my kids to give me a break. Considering so many of us live a working parent’s life every day (more than 60% of U.S. families have working parents or dual earners), I will admit I appreciate the idea that our children should take 24 hours to reflect on all we have sacrificed for them and celebrate it on a day other than the 2nd Sunday in May or the 3rd Sunday in June. (End sarcastic tone… 😊) 

 

When my husband and I started talking about having kids early in our relationship, I knew being a stay-at-home mom was not going to be something that kept me satisfied. Stay-at-home parents are a special kind of person. I absolutely look up to them and admire them, but I knew I didn’t have it in me to be one of them. 

 

Fast forward to our children being born. Heading back to work after 12-weeks of leave was really difficult but it was something I knew I had to do for my own sanity. When we moved from central Illinois to the Minneapolis metro when our youngest was just 6 months old, the cost of living more than doubled and it felt like every kid in my daughter’s preschool class had a mom who stayed home and could volunteer at every teachers request. I struggled with what the expectation was of our community and if we were going to be able to give our children everything they needed while both my husband and I worked all day. 

 

Today, as our girls head back to middle school, I appreciate the fact that I have a success story to share with them, so they know what they are capable of. That you can go from working at a truck-stop diner right out of high school and finally graduating with your bachelor’s when you are 27 years old, to being the Director of Human Resources at a really great company that appreciates the importance of quality time with your family. I get to show them every day what being a successful businesswoman looks like and to the same effect, their father does too, just with his own story to back it up.  

 

In the end, I feel like Working Parent’s Day (minus the sarcastic air quotes this time) is almost more of a day for me to appreciate myself: that I’ve done everything I’ve done to be a positive example for my children. I must preface that by saying stay-at-home parents likely feel the exact same way, and for goodness sakes, they absolutely should feel that way – what they do is a full-time job as well. What it really comes down to is that I’m happy doing what I do every day and I get to share with my girl’s what happiness at work looks like.  

 

If you are like most of us, you will not find happiness and contentment in your first job, or your second job, or your third job, or even your tenth job but you will find it if you keep following your passion and doing what feels good to you. Just keep doing what you believe in, and all that work will pay off in the end. And then, that’s when you get to throw yourself that party or ask for a break.

National Grief Awareness Day is August 30 this year. It began almost a decade ago. The intention of this day (and National Grief Awareness Month throughout all of September) is to raise overall awareness of the many ways those affected by grief cope with loss, provide resources to those going through personal losses, and to remind us all the importance of supporting people we know to be grieving. Like many silent struggles, there are many tools available to the individual experiencing grief but there is often a stigma associated with needing or using them. To try and reduce the stigma around conversations about grief, I’d like to talk to you about my personal experience using one of the tools available to millions of Americans attempting to manage their grief – their EAP (Employee Assistance Program). 

What is Grief? 

According to the Mayo Clinic, grief is a strong, sometimes overwhelming emotion for people, regardless of whether their sadness stems from the loss of a loved one or from a terminal diagnosis they or someone they love have received. The feelings associated with grief can vary greatly from person to person and so can how long it most strongly affects people. People can also use a wide range of tools to cope with grief, both internal and external. If you’re uncertain about whether your grieving process is normal, consult your health care professional. Outside help is sometimes beneficial to people trying to recover and adjust to a death or diagnosis of a terminal illness. 

What is an Employee Assistance Program (EAP)? 

An employee assistance program (EAP) is a work-based intervention program designed to assist employees in resolving personal problems that may be adversely affecting the employee’s performance. EAPs traditionally have assisted workers with issues like alcohol or substance misuse; however, most now cover a broad range of issues such as child or elder care, relationship challenges, financial or legal problems, wellness matters and traumatic events like workplace violence. Programs are delivered at no cost to employees by stand-alone EAP vendors or providers who are part of comprehensive health insurance plans. Services are often delivered via phone, video-based counseling, online chatting, e-mail interactions or face-to-face. 

How do you use an EAP for grief assistance? 

My father died on Halloween of 2021. Dad and I were close and his passing was not peaceful or pleasant. I wouldn’t say I’ve necessarily struggled since losing him, but I can’t pretend I’ve thrived either. Some days I find myself crying in the car for no reason and others I feel like my focus is affected. When I was first reminded that our EAP through FlexTrades had resources for dealing with grief I checked them out online and found them helpful. When another bad day hit me months later, I decided to call and use one of the 3 annual sessions with a trained and licensed councilor which my EAP provides. I was connected and prescreened to make sure I was not in need of emergency assistance then we simply had a conversation. We talked about the things I’ve been feeling and the things many others typically feel in my situation. Then we discussed avenues and alternatives to coping. Finally, we talked about professional service providers in my area and the counselor even was able to provide a list of those I could call in my area that matched my requirements and were covered under my insurance plan. It was easy, non-judgmental, helpful, and surprisingly cathartic.  

Ways to cope 

What I learned from that counseling call was that my, and everyone else’s, experience with grief is unique. There is no right or wrong way to act or feel nor is there a “proper” amount of time for those feelings to last. But there are simple ways you can cope with grief. 

  • Give yourself permission to take as much time as you need to help you move forward through processing your loss. 
  • Surround yourself with caring, supportive people. 
  • Find safe ways and places to express your feelings without hurting yourself or others. 
  • Try to maintain a healthy lifestyle. 
  • Maintain as much of your “normal” routine and schedule as possible. 

Empathetic grief is normal 

Grieving isn’t just for those experiencing loss but for those who care about those who’ve lost. If you are a friend of someone currently experiencing grief don’t be frustrated if you’re struggling to support them. It can be difficult but try to remember these 5 things as a guide. 

  • Be a supportive, caring listener. 
  • Be a “safe friend” accepting your friend’s feelings, even those that are more negative. 
  • Continue to reach out a month or more after the funeral. 
  • Help your friend slow down their decision-making process when making changes following loss. 
  • Let your friend know that it’s ok to not be “normal” yet at work and socializing, regardless of time-frame. 

Your eyes: 2 things you are probably taking for granted, simply assuming they will always be happy and healthy without having to put much effort into maintaining their health. In reality, taking care of your eyes so you are able to see those beautiful great grandbabies of yours when you are in your 80’s does take a little work, but I promise it is worth the effort!

Below are just a few reasons why you should take advantage of that vision insurance you have been paying for and not utilizing:

  1. Suffering from headaches? Ever thought it might be related to eye strain? It’s certainly worth seeing someone so they can help pinpoint the problem (or eliminate that concern).

  2. Grades suffering at school? According to Optometry Times, ‘one out of every four children have vision problems.’ If you are like me, your kids complained about not seeing the white board for months before you took their concerns seriously and realized maybe they weren’t just begging for attention. Make sure your child sees an eye doctor annually so learning or reading difficulties related to eyesight can be recognized/diagnosed early.

  3. Things looking fuzzy? Your eyes are constantly changing and those glasses you have been wearing since high school (20 years ago) may be back in style, but those lenses are in desperate need of an update! Get your eyes checked so you can determine if an update is needed (they’ll probably even set you up with some new lenses to pop into those funky old frames if you are not willing to let go quite yet).horn rim eyeglasses sittin on top of an exam chart forground sharp and background soft

  4. Stop it early! Having an annual eye exam is a great opportunity to have a professional look at the overall health of your eyes, even when you are not showing any symptoms or concern. Optometrists can detect eye diseases early in hopes of preventing serious damage.

  5. Concerns about other common health issues? Having an optometrist peek at your peepers allows them the chance to check for the onset of many other diseases or diagnosis, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Who knew?

If you are a FlexTrades employee, you have access to affordable vision insurance! Be sure to take advantage of your eye exams annually and get those green/brown/blue/hazel beauties the attention they so desperately deserve.

Did you know that FlexTrades has an entire behind the scenes safety team!? It’s called “Safety First”. FlexTrades’ #1 priority is to keep our people safe on and off the job!

“Safety matters because you matter” – Brenda Lovitz, FlexTrades’ Safety Manager.

We have been bringing awareness to the importance of staying hydrated. All across the United States the temperatures have been HOT this summer.

Here are some tips on how to stay hydrated:

  • Drink water throughout the day… attempt 8-10 ounces every 1-2 hours. Drinking water at shorter intervals is more effective than drinking large amounts infrequently.
  • If you are working in the heat… you will require more water consumption.
  • Try to avoid… energy drinks, surplus of caffeine, or any alcohol. If you do choose to consume any of these, you will require more water consumption to stay hydrated.
  • Eat regular meals through the day… this will help you retain the salt that you lose when sweating and moving around.
  • Carry a water bottle with you… having this with you will make it easier to drink water.

Infographic about how much water you should drink

Safety First is what FlexTrades Plans, Practices and Prioritizes.