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Defining Your Like: How do you choose who you do business with?

Why do we like the things that we like?  On any given day, you will find any one of us scrolling through social media feeds “LIKING” photos, articles and businesses with careless abandonment, leaving no method to our madness.  Is it because we are just programmed to “LIKE” or do we have hidden reasoning?

Let’s slow down for a moment at take a look at a few of those feed moments you “LIKED” so much.  Take Facebook; your feed would probably look something like this: family photos, Content from your local business, friends photos, a new baby announcement, someone is getting married, some political content, and live feed of your local news station.  Am I close? Now from that list, which content did you decide you “LIKED”?   Okay great! Now tell me WHY you liked them.  

Let’s start with the family and friends photos.  For me I like my friends and family.  I am emotionally connected to these people, so seeing them in a happy moment makes me happy. Thus I “LIKE” the photos. That was an easy one.  But let’s take a look at the local business that comes across your feed?  What would cause you “LIKE” the business? If it was a business you hadn’t personally visited before, it may have been liked by a friend or family causing it to show up in your feed.  Does knowing a friend of yours likes this business give you more of an inclination to like the business as well?

What attributes do you look for when deciding if you want to do business with someone; and more so, what attributes help to make you a returning customer?

1.       Sight; what does the business look like? Do they offer a good on and offline presence? Is the location visually appealing? Is it clean or are you concerned about the health inspector coming through?

2.       Sound; what are people saying about this business? What have you heard about them? Did you hear about this business through word of mouth or a review site such as Yelp?

3.       Feel; How did your visit make you feel?  Was the business helpful and accommodating or did the interaction feel forced?  An experience can make up to 80% of a client’s decision to return.
As with most customers, we all just want to feel like we got great service at a great value.  Gaining a detailed understanding of your customers’ requirements and preferences gives you the insight on what attributes weigh heavier in their decisions to do business with you. 

Great service includes knowledgeable associates.  There is nothing worse than walking up to a store associate and asking what seems like a pretty simple question, only to get a deer in the headlights stare immediately followed by them walking in a circle until you realize they can’t help you.

Value can cover a wide spectrum, not always meaning low cost.  Most people will be willing to pay a little more for an item or service just as long as you tell them WHY they are paying for it.  As long as they understand the importance of the service and why it costs what it does, they are more inclined to move forward with less risk of shopper’s remorse. 

While consumer preferences and needs change with time, just being aware of the change and having the ability to change and grow with the consumer will ultimately keep you ahead of the curve with returning customers walking through your doors.  

To find out why clients choose Acura of Pleasanton please visit our link below!
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Cold Weather Conditions: 5 Ways to Stay Safe On the Roads This Winter

Winter weather is slowly creeping into the bay area.  While October has survived in the mid 80’s for most of the month, the cooler weather along with impending rain lingers in the coming months, ready to pounce on unsuspecting San Franciscans.  Cooler weather, while a familiar friend to the Bay Area native, can bring on unplanned expenses if you are not ready. 

1.      1.  There will be rain.  Having grown up in Southern California, I had NO IDEA that it could rain so much in one season.  In Los Angeles, I could experience a full seven days of rain in the entire season and we’d call it “A wet one”.  Here in the bay, experiencing rain for seven days in a row, more than ten times in a season is very normal, and can still be deemed a drought. Learn to love the rain. It’s not going anywhere.  

2.       2. Your lack of planning does not constitute an emergency for others.  Being as you know that it rains here in the bay, plan ahead,  and buy yourself a few of the basics.  Owning an umbrella, a pair of wellies, and even a nice warm rain coat with matching scarf and gloves are all good investments.  Keep them in your car for a rainy day, because we all know, you’ll have plenty of them in the days that come!

3.       3. Before the rainy season hits, change your wiper blades and check your tire tread.  While the idea of spending money on tires may seem a bit excessive, the cost of a saved life from quality tread on an oily wet road is worth every penny. Your service advisor at your local service center will be the best person to let you know if your tires are in need of changing, and with seasonal tire savings events happening at your local dealerships, you might even look into the additional full size spare tire for unexpected flats! You can never be too prepared.

4.       4. Slow Down and leave room.   For all my tailgaters out there, you know who you are, Take it easy on the other drivers.  To avoid loss of traction which could cause hydroplane, slow your roll and give the other drivers some space on those wet roads.  Should you find yourself in a skid situation, avoid slamming on the brakes to help keep control, and continue looking and steer in the direction in which you want the car to go.  Avoid hard braking or turning sharply and, with ample stopping distance, we should all survive another wet winter here in The Bay.

5.       5. Turn your lights on when you turn on your wipers.  The rule of thumb states that you should using your headlights any time you use your wiper blades.  If Karl the Fog is around, be sure to use your low beams; however the use of headlights in rainy weather can help other drivers to see you on the road and allows you to see pedestrians out walking in the rain!

Planning ahead for the wet weather not only keeps you dry, but also ensures a safer commute for everyone out on the roads.  Our goal is to get each one of you home, safe and dry, to your families.  Remember, change your wiper blades, check your tire tread and use your headlights whenever your wipers are in use. Slow down and give your fellow drivers room on the road and let’s enjoy yet another wonderfully wet winter here in the bay! 

For more tips on how to stay safe out on the roads this winter, Click on the link below! 

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Keeping A Millennial: What does it take?

I was talking with a friend of mine recently about the lack of longevity in our generation.  While the baby boomers are still fond of long-term marriages and jobs, the millennial generation is known for experience based retention.  Millennials tend to leave a bad situation over staying and finding alternative solutions to their needs. 

Let’s think for a moment, besides family members, what is your longest relationship that you currently have in your life?  Sorry guys, relationships with your cat don’t count.  According to Siri and her link to Time Magazine, the average marriage in 2015 has a 57% success rate and divorce rates are moving in the upwards of 70% if you are in a remarriage.  In my own circle of friends, I know only a few couples that have made it to the six year mark, and none of them are thinking about getting married.  The majority of them can be found dating people off and on throughout the year with no real commitment in site.  Even more so, open relationships have become the trend of our generation and the idea of settling down tends to cause us to break out into hives and run for the nearest pub for a beer to wash the taste of commitment out of our mouths.

In the work force, millennials on average will stay on about 4.6 years before moving on to their next opportunity.  While the perception is that millennials are impatient and flighty, it is actually the opposite.  This generation has been raised on instant gratification, but they are not above hard work to meet important goals.  What the millennial employee is looking for is the engagement.  They want to work on something meaningful and worthy of praise, while maintaining the need to have the equal balanced personal life as well.  Because they live in a state of constant engagement, the need to disconnect becomes a need for most millennials.  The down time allows for them to process each activity and even allows for new ideas to formulate without feeling over stimulated.

What makes a millennial so different from the rest of the world; everything.  While earlier generations were raised on Boy/Girl scout outdoor activities, nightly family dinners and Lawrence Welk on the black and white, millennial were raised on Apple computers, iPads, smart phones and google glasses.  Their generation knew how to code before they could comb their own hair. They don’t use Thomas Guides to figure out how to get from point A to point B, they have Siri, who can tell them to turn left at the light, while sounding like Yoda or even Gordon Ramsey, should they choose to enjoy the verbal abuse while taking that left.

The millennial are all about options and opportunity.  They want to be part of something big, and feel like their voice matters in the big picture.  That can be applied to both personal and work situations.  In their personal relationships, the millennial are searching for that feeling of wholeness while maintaining their separateness.  In the workplace, they search for an exchange of energies and ideas to create meaningful action.  Millennials are never satisfied by just getting by.

So how do we keep millennial from running for the door?  Get them engaged.  Millennials thrive on other people’s energy and intelligence.  They know the importance of understanding past situations to better future ones.  Sharing ideas and thought processes is one of the most gratifying experiences for the Millennials.  This generation isn’t as concerned about what they do, but rather how they do it and who they are sharing that experience with.  Millennials require mentor-ship mentality in their relationships, be it personal or professional, allowing for the exchange of ideas and the ability to search out new ways of thinking.  If they feel they are not learning and growing from the experience, the engagement is lost and they move on.  

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Career Road Maps: Five ways to keep you on the road to success

I recently found myself in a career crossroads.  Nothing in my life had changed, but somewhere along the lines money stopped being as available as it used to.  I had come to a point in my career where I needed to make a change or go broke ignoring what was happening. 

When you think about “having it all” what do you envision?  When I was a girl, I imagined becoming an entertainment lawyer (because celebrities never run out of legal issues), some strapping bearded man I’d call husband, and a kid or two running around thinking I was the most fascinating person they know.  That wasn’t how life played out, and I’m grateful for that.  I learned a lot while traveling down my own personal career path, and the below are my top five lessons I’ve learned, that might help you as well.

1.      Like Jack Sparrow once said, “They are more like guidelines than rules”. There are no laws that bind you to one path in life.  Just because I announced my intentions of being an entertainment lawyer at the age of 10, doesn’t mean that I am stuck in that path for life.  I’m pretty sure I also announced my intentions of being an oceanographer and a make-up artist at some point as well. None of which I am doing for a living, and that’s okay.

2.      Mentors will be an invaluable tool in shaping your career path, no matter what age you decide to begin on it.  They help you gain exposure to new ideas and ways of thinking, help to develop new skills and give advice on developing strengths and overcoming weaknesses.  The use of mentors in businesses are a great way to develop a culture of personal and professional growth, enhancing your leadership and coaching skills in managers, improve staff morale and increase your staff engagement and retention within the company.

3.      Steady incomes and job security aren’t for everyone, but they sure do come in handy.  As a creative, I like the idea of working without a time clock but my reality is that I need that. As a single mother, my bills are coming in on a regular basis, and so should my income to pay them.   I have many friends that are able to survive on a freelance lifestyle,  I however, cannot.  My situation may change in the future, but at this time, I need steady and secure income.  Being able to adapt according to your changing lifestyle needs will increase your financial survival rate exponentially.

4.      Like what you do.  I’m a realist so I won’t say LOVE, but you have to at least like what you do.  Look at it this way; you are spending 40+ hours a week at your job of choice.  Do you really want to spend 40+ hours doing something you can’t stand, only to go home and complain about it for another 4-6+ hours until you have to go back to it? Yeah, me neither. Everyone is going to have bad days on the job, but you should never dread going into work. 

5.      Be the change you want to see.  I know how cliché that sounds, but it is also true.  It begins with the attitude in which you approach your work and continues into the actions needed to succeed.  Elizabeth Gilbert said it best in her book, Eat Pray Love, “There's a wonderful old Italian joke about a poor man who goes to church every day and prays before the statue of a great saint, begging, "Dear saint-please, please, please...give me the grace to win the lottery." This lament goes on for months. Finally the exasperated statue comes to life, looks down at the begging man and says in weary disgust, "My son-please, please, a ticket.”  Being able to articulate what you want is the first step, but sometimes it requires an extra action on your part to meet your goal.  In order to have change occur, you must change yourself. 

My willingness to adapt to the change has opened up many doorways of opportunity that wouldn’t have been available to me had I remained rigid and unmoving.  Life is a highway, and I am making sure I am the one in the driver’s seat. 
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Economy Vs. Luxury - What is a comfortable commute worth to you?

I was making my way on interstate 680 this morning when I noticed a man in the car next to me calmly eating a rather large bowl of cereal as if it were Sunday morning at his table.  There was no hesitation in his merging, and his ability to do so without spilling the entire contents of said bowl down his front side had me in total awe. I can’t image the skill it must take hosting a full breakfast in your car, I can’t even handle a bagel and lox without at least part of it landing somewhere on me. 

It was that man and his cereal bowl that got me thinking though, how many of us commuters live out of our vehicles?  With the commutes on the upwards of two and three hours a day, the bay area is finding life is happening inside of our cars more often than not.   Just think for a moment, how many meals have you had inside your car? How many movies have your children watched while sitting in traffic?  How many naps have you taken in your car? You get the idea. 

When I was younger, I remember having a debate with my father about new and pre-owned cars.  He preferred buying older cars and accepted the fact that he would repair his car more often than most, but the savings on the overall cost would be worth it.  I, on the other hand have always had a preference for new or certified pre-owned.  I think it was growing up and watching my father always working on the car instead of driving it that swayed me so heavily.  I didn’t see the point in owning a car that you would always have to be fixing.  To me, that felt like a moving money pit. 

Flash forward to my first car buying experience.  The first car I ever bought was a 2001 Nissan Sentra.  Prior to my first buy, my father had gifted me several older vehicles that of course, broke down and required replacing within just a year or two of purchase.   It was with the history of these prior jalopies that I went into the dealership with a checklist of attributes I wanted to have in my dream car. 

I wanted something reliable.  After having three cars die on me in the five years prior, I was ready for something that would be around for a while.   I needed a car with excellent gas mileage.  While, at the time of this purchase, gas was still close to the $1.99 range, I was also a very broke college student and gas for my car was the least fun thing I could use my money on.  I wanted a low car payment.  Again, college student, I think you get the idea.  So with my minimal budget and practical mindset I purchased my reliable yet fairly basic Nissan Sentra.  It was everything I had hoped for.  Great gas mileage, never broke down on me, and being as I purchased it pre-owned, I was able to achieve the lower monthly payment I was hoping for. 

Now flash forward to the car I purchased after my very reliable and inexpensive college car.  I purchased a Certified Pre-owned 2003 Mercedes C240.  My wants list had upgraded, and I now had the budget to pay for it.  Having graduated from college and gotten a job running call centers for Fortune 500 banks, my ability to move past my needs and start addressing my wants became a reality.  The car buying process stopped being about the basics or being thrifty, but rather about showing myself appreciation for a job well done.  This was my proverbial pat on the back for finally getting a grown up job and making it out there in the real world.

When I was younger, the purpose of my vehicle was to get me from one exciting adventure to the next without breaking my very tiny bank account.  Having luxuries such as movie screens, heated seats and even smart phone integration were just wastes of money, however as I got older, I realized that the majority of my adventures were found in the journey itself.   For me, adventures have become conversations with my daughter driving to and from work, driving my daughters Brownie troop to and from their next patching activity and our monthly excursions out of town for weekend getaways. I found that I was willing to pay a little extra for added conveniences if I was going to be spending so much time in my car. 

While there are a multitude of makes and models to choose from, you will find that many of life’s mini hacks have already been made a standard feature in most new vehicles.

I can recommend a few that I’ve found to be life savers for my adult/parenting lifestyle.

-          Heated/cooling seats are a must.  Living in the bay, the weather changes at the drop of a hat and between sweltering heat and biting winds, this little feature will ensure that your body temperature stays just right. 

-          The AUX/USB port in my car is a daily go to.  Being that I hate everything about commercials, being able to stream my music from Spotify or Pandora allows for me to stay happily Zen while maneuvering through the travel crunch. 

-          And although I know they are a bit controversial, I am a big fan of the DVD and TV screens for the back seat passengers.  The best part is that each back seat passenger has a headphones jack allowing for them to enjoy their selected movie while you continue to drive without the added distraction!

Want to check out more available features on your next luxury vehicle? Click on the link below now!  

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The Price of Retention - What does it cost to keep a good employee?

Residents of the bay area are one group of many facing spikes in the costs of living while trying to get by on pay rates that remain the same.  While financial compensation is a major factor when deciding on a career, as the millennial generation navigates the work force, they are beginning to understand that there are many benefits that can’t be applied in monetary denominations. 

While the benefits of cold hard cash are undeniable, things such as flexible hours, growth opportunities and feeling appreciated by other employees have become major selling points for selecting and staying with a chosen company.  It’s the people that you work with that will make or break job retention.

Take a moment and think about how you came to be at your current company.  What were some of the attributes that you looked for while searching for a job?  And even deeper than that, while searching for that job, what was the motivation behind the search?  Were you trying to put out an immediate fire (i.e.: you needed money to pay bills, rent is looming and you need money to pay it) or were you already employed and looking to better your current situation (i.e.: maybe you aren’t getting along with your co-workers or although it’s a great job you just can’t afford to stay at it due to rising cost of living). 

As an employer, it is important to constantly be evolving.  Changing times mean constantly being aware of your employees needs and attempting to meet them when possible.  Working for Hendrick Automotive Group has given me direct access to a working reverse pyramid management structure that has been successful time and time again. 

The idea behind this working structure is to have leadership at the bottom of the pyramid allowing them to be of service to the people working on the front lines and beyond, while the front line associates and on floor staff being placed at the top making them the most important to our teams’ success. 

Lead by Rick Hendrick and his management teams across the states, Hendrick Automotive Group has provided a covenant that they have stuck to from the beginning.  

1. We Think Big
2. We Embrace Openness
3. We Develop Solutions
4. We Demand Excellence
5. We Expect Great Things
6. We Execute Brilliantly
7. We Serve With Passion
8. We Communicate Effectively
9. We Cherish and Understand
10. We Always Win
11. We Celebrate Achievements
12. We Learn and Grow

Through monthly team appreciation luncheons, staff outings to baseball games for the Oakland Athletics and The San Francisco Giants, and even an annual trip to the Sonoma Races to celebrate Hendrick Motor Sport with Mr. Rick Hendrick himself, employees are reminded just how valuable they really are to this team. 

In addition to the incredible outings and events hosted by the management, team members are offered full benefits packages that include medical, dental, vision and 401K options.  They are affronted vacation and sick time allowing for them to come to work refreshed and rejuvenated while enjoying a healthy work and home life balance.   

But if you remember, it’s the people that will make or break your decision to stay or leave a company.   So in addition to the incredible benefits packages offered, it’s the people that we bring in that make this company so great.  By using MBS and Wonderlic testing we are able to determine the best communication styles for each team mate, and are able to help determine strengths within people that we are able to apply during the hiring process. 

Being able to approach and work with our team mates in a way that is best matched to their personality types allows for trust and comfort to be built between our staff and management.  This trust enables the company to communicate more effectively and allows everyone to understand how they fit into the big picture for the company’s growth. 

Employees and job hunting hopefuls alike will always have a list of values that they want in a current or future company.  Not all of them are motivated by dollar signs.  As employers, it’s our job to be aware of the rising costs of living, adjust pay scales as needed and provide benefits not found at any other company. Giving your employees and future employees a comfortable and enriching work environment that values their time as much as the companies time, will always result in longevity and harder working employees, happy to further your company’s future results.  

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Going Off the Grid

In the decade following 9/11, The United States as a whole,  has become a little more reserved and hushed as the reality that “anything can happen, at any time.” sinks in one more time.   Everyone had a different experience and a different reaction based on where they were located and how it directly affected their lives.   Similar to the day John F. Kennedy was shot, our generation will remember where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the attack on the Twin Towers.  For me, I was a sophomore in college.  I had just finished parking my car in the university lot.  The radio was on and every channel I turned to was talking, but as always I wasn’t listening. 

It wasn’t until I walked into my creative writing course and saw my five foot nothing blond haired professor crying at her podium, that I started to listen to what was being said.  At the time, cell phones were still fairly new, and every call was $0.10 per minute, but that day everyone person in that room was on a call.  They were calling friends, family and anyone they loved ensuring they were okay.  Even if they weren’t actually in New York at the time of disaster, the emotional devastation was felt nationwide.  It was the first time, we as Americans, stopped feeling safe and untouchable and became very aware of our own mortality. 

With our moral compasses leading us to live lives out loud and with gusto, there comes the awareness to be present.  While the idea is to be able to slow your mind down enough to appreciate every aspect of every situation, the reality is that if you were only able to accomplish this task even half of the time, your quality of life would exponentially increase.   Being able to separate the sounds and actions occurring around you, allows you to remove the emotional attachment from the situation, letting you experience that moment from different angles you might have missed otherwise. 

The practice of being present begins and ends with a breath, but the action itself is very mental.  It is a conscience effort of doing things differently and shaking things up a bit.  It can be as simple as drying off from a shower in the opposite order, paying attention to the happenings as you walk home, or even driving home a different route than normal.  The idea is to break your day to day habits and really learn to enjoy the adventure of discovering a new way.  The moment something becomes a habit, you stop being aware of it or being mindful of it. By losing the awareness you also lose the beauty and magic offered in each moment that approaches us.  I have a post it on my desk that reads, “Be where you are.  Experience that piece.  Think about something else and you miss it.”

While I am happy to practice awareness while getting dressed in the mornings and even on my afternoon walks, I have found my dependency to SIRI GPS and in-car navigation isn’t one to be toyed with.  Thankfully I’ve found that most new automobiles are now fully equipped with navigation features allowing me to play with my drive home, without getting completely lost in the process.   The less stressful my drive home can be the better for everyone inside of my car.

In car navigation features are available pre-installed, or if you like to change cars often, a portable form such as the Garmin Tracker is handy to have!  With annual updates available for your in-dash GPS at your local dealership, being able to veer off course now and again just became easier!

Take a look at some of the features available in the Acura Navigation packages!

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Creating a Meaningful Maintenance Routine

There are few things that can determine a good or bad day more than my first cup of coffee.  If I am able to enjoy that one cup of coffee before my bouncing bundle of conversation jolts into the land of the living, I know I’ll survive the day.   However if I am blessed with an early riser, my schedule gets thrown to the wind and I become a frantic mess.  It’s never a pretty sight. 

While racing to throw everything I could possibly need into my bag, making sure my child has clothes on and food in her stomach and maneuvering through San Francisco’s illustrious commuting maze, the last thing I want to worry about is a check engine light on my car dashboard.   So when things like little wrenches that light up on my dash, or even worse, letters and numbers that give me no indication of what is actually wrong, my inner control freak flips out just a bit.

Proper maintenance for one’s self has become very trendy these days, thanks to the ever booming yoga and meditation groups, the scary obsessed Cross Fit clans and even the ever growing marathon trends.  Who knew that throwing glitter and bribing people with wine and hot chocolate would promote fitness? Now, what about your vehicles well being?

If you’re anything like me, I had a love hate relationship with my first car.  It wasn’t glamorous, nor was it new.  I drove a 1967 Fleetwood Cadillac handed down to me from my grandfather.  Now as a sweet little 5 foot three inches sixteen year old, this was both AWESOME and terrible all at once.   The car was a tank, and any time I pushed on the gas pedal, I literally watched the gas quickly drop to the letter E. 

The part I never fully understood until now, was how well the car ran.  It was a flawless drive, and although, by the time I got to it, the shocks were much to be desired, the engine was still a beast and purred like the kitten she was the day my grandfather bought her.  I remember watching my grandfather go through his old ledger books marking down oil changes and different services done on the car.   His meticulous efforts to care for that car were the reason I was able to drive it to and from high school 30 years after it was made. 

What does a regular maintenance routine mean? Thankfully, as drivers today, we have the ability of self-alerting vehicles letting us know when and what maintenance are needed for our cars.  There are different symbols and light colors to let us know if the issue is a minor or major concern.  We even have alerts letting us know when the pressure has dropped in our tires. 

The easiest way to get on a regular maintenance routine is to start with purchasing a pre-paid maintenance plan for your vehicle at the time of purchase.  Although it is a large chunk of change up front, it’ ensures that you’ll always have the money to pay for your car’s needs, and knowing you already spent the money makes it more important for you to show up and take advantage of the service appointments. 

The next best way to ensure you stay on track for a regular maintenance routine is to build a relationship with your service advisers!  Most dealerships will offer in house vehicle maintenance, which allows for your car to be serviced with factory parts and factory trained technicians, as well as having an onsite expert ready to answer all your questions and concerns regarding your vehicle.  Creating an ongoing relationship with your service adviser allows for you to have someone you trust “on the inside” working for you to get you back on the road in a safe and well maintained vehicle.

Are you interested in scheduling your vehicle for its next maintenance?

Click on the link below to check available times!

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The Pursuit of Happiness in a Millennial Era

In a world filled with iPhones, laptops, tablets and smart watches, Millennials are inundated with advanced technology.  The ability to connect directly to your personal happiness has become more challenging than finding parking downtown at Union Square.   For the majority of us living and working in the city, happiness is something we read about on Buzzfeed or Elephant Journal on our 10 min breaks or in between bites while we Instagram our lunch within the allotted hour. 

The world around us has become a constant stream of instant gratification opportunities; however no one seems to be feeling satisfied.   All the instant gratification has left our generation feeling jaded and unimpressed.  After going through almost a full year with a, “Now what?” feeling inside of myself, I decided it was time to make a change.  I created a five step plan to bring me back to life. 

1.      Put down the technology.  This was probably the hardest for me.  Having grown up with a computer in my house from the age of 7, I have been cord-connected longer than I care to admit.  I purchased my first cellphone in college and haven’t put it down since, (that was over 20 years ago…).  My ability to reach for my phone after the text message alert rings would match that of Doc Holiday in Tombstone.  But it was the act of NOT picking up my phone that really opened my eyes. Obviously there are certain messages and calls that you are expecting, and need addressing.  But what I have tried to do is put the phone away after my work day has ended.  I keep it in my bag and only allow myself to check it periodically to ensure I am not missing an emergency.  If the messages I find are not urgent, I force myself to wait until the next day.  At first the act was very conscience for me.  I would have to talk myself down from checking, but do you know what happened after a while?  I didn’t miss it, nor did I feel like I was missing out. 

2.      Drink more water.  This seems so straight forward; however the proper intake of water in my life did more than just quench my thirst.  There were so many benefits I wasn’t expecting including helping to control calories, energize my muscles,  keep my skin looking amazing,  as well as helping my kidney’s and bowel functions.    I know drinking water doesn’t sound sexy, but it’s incredibly easy to incorporate into your everyday life.   Start with including a glass of water with each of your meals and keep a bottle of water with you in your car or at your desk at work.   Just having the water available will make it that much easier to make it a regular part of your daily routine. 

3.      Step outside at least three times a day.  As I was brought up by my hippy mum, I was forced to play outdoors all the time.  I never understood why it was so important, when I could just as easily play with my Barbie inside as I could outside.  It wasn’t until I entered adulthood that I began to understand benefits of the sun.   The sun provides the body the ability to create Vitamin D, which is essential for many functions such as bone health, anti-cancer, immune system support, protects against dementia and brain aging as well as many others.   We have been so bombarded with the dangers of the sun, but in moderation, the sunlight has the ability to heal on so many levels.  Take a drive with the top down, and get out there to the local beaches and parks! Having a sun roof in my own car gives me the ability to take in the rays even if it is just during the morning and evening commutes to and from work.  The overall uplifting feeling I get can best be related to one of the best hugs from my little kiddo.  I mean it’s right up there for me.

4.      Breathe.  When I say to breathe, I mean get into a breath practice.   I like to focus on three deep breathing techniques that really help to calm my day to day OCD and social anxiety.  The first is Coherent Breathing, which is basically breathing at a rate of five breaths per minute.  The easy way to time your breaths is to count five seconds for your inhale and five seconds for your exhale.  Breathing at this rate will help to improve your heart rate variability.  The second type of breathing is Resistance Breathing, which is exactly what its name suggests, creating resistance to the flow of air.  Resistance can be created by pursing the lips, placing the tip of the tongue against the inside of the upper teeth, hissing through the clenched teeth,  tightening the throat muscles, partly closing the glottis, narrowing the space between the vocal cords.  Or if you are like me, the easy way is to just breathe through your nose with your mouth closed.  The final technique is Breath Moving.  Think, sending your breath on a little journey around your body.  As you breathe in, imagine you are moving your breath to the top of your head. As you breathe out, imagine you are moving your breath to the base of your spine, your perineum, and your sit bones. Each time you breathe in; move the breath to the top of the head. Each time you breathe out; move the breath to the base of the spine. Breathe in this circuit for ten cycles.

5.      Laugh.  If you haven’t heard, laughter really is the best medicine.  Laughing decreases stress hormones and increases immune cells and infection-fighting antibodies, thus improving your resistance to disease.  Laughter also triggers endorphins, which if you watched Legally Blond, you know, endorphins make you happy! Endorphins promote an overall sense of well-being and can even temporarily relieve pain. 

Having incorporated these five simple routines into my daily life, I have found my quality of life dramatically increased.  Feeling good and being able to laugh and let go of the minor stresses allowed for me to appreciating the life I was actually living, instead of the life I thought I should have been living.  I began to look forward to weekends with my daughter, taking off in our car for an impromptu adventure days.  And for the first time in a very long time, I can honestly say, I am happy.   Remember, the hardest part is getting started.  So maybe today, you drive with the top down or the sun roof open and enjoy some of those beautiful Vitamin D rays on your way home today.  Enjoy a nice cool glass of water and for those few moments let yourself begin to feel happy. 

Don’t have a convertible or sun roof in your car? Check out the link below to see our latest selection to choose from! It’s always a great time to start enjoying your life, one drive at a time.

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Committing to the Commute

Part of making the choice to live and work in separate cities is committing to the weekly commute.  San Francisco has consistently landed on the top-five lists for the worst traffic and commute, and the stories of hour plus drives to and from work is a very real occurrence.  As the young kids like to say, the struggle is real.   

The average morning drive in the bay area can range anywhere from 40 minutes to over an hour and a half each way.  With hiking commutes, people have begun exploring different forms of transportation trying to alleviate the costs.  From local tube transports to hybrid vehicles, San Francisco has been a front runner for commuter convenience. 

Known for its illustrious BART system, San Francisco’s tube takes you from one end of the bay to the other at the cost of a cup of coffee.  In addition The Ferry services, offered from Vallejo, Oakland and Larkspur, Sausalito,  he San Francisco Ferry Building, Fisherman’s Warf and even AT&T Park for the occasional Giants games  give you ample opportunity to arrive to work fairly stress free, having been able to avoid sitting in hours long traffic. 

Not a fan of the public transportation options? I can understand that, I love my car just as much as the next.  In fact, being a Los Angeles transplant, I grew up knowing nothing about public transportation.  Cars were all we knew.  So then how about looking into a hybrid vehicle? 

When driving three hours a day in traffic, gas millage and vehicle wear and tear become major concerns. Having the available hybrid or Eco-system, allows you to conserve gas when needed.  On average, you can actually save from upwards of $500+ dollars per year, but the cost of the vehicle can be slightly higher than standard engine vehicles. Also if you do your homework, certain green vehicles let you drive in the HOV lanes on highways.  That can definitely help save some time on your drives home, and depending on the actual gas cost savings, hybrids could be a great choice for most!

Now if you are anything like me, I love the idea of the hybrid, I am just not a fan of how they look.  Thankfully in this day and age, hybrid vehicles have jumped on the sexy car bandwagon.  Following suit of the likes of Tesla, Acura has taken the hybrid engine and placed it inside some of its most popular models including the 2016 RLX Sport Hybrid.  The RLX is a nice sporty sedan with a hybrid engine and three motors combined to produce 377 horsepower.  With leather seats, surround sound, streaming Pandora and XM radio, and USB ports come standard, making this vehicle ideal for long road trips or even that long drive into the city. 

Now, the self-driven vehicles are still a very new concept, however with Google, Audi and Tesla breaking ground on these cars, the concerns regarding safety are currently in discussions.  Although testing has shown that no more accidents have occurred than in stander drivers, the self-driven vehicles are still very much in trial phases.  We might have to wait a few more years before we can let our cars take the wheel. 

For more information on hybrid vehicles or to shop for one of your own, check out the link below!

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