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Yvonne
Colorado
Professional writer and blogger.
Interests: daydreaming. in daydreams, one can soar into the clouds and feel the shimmering warmth of the sun, no matter how dark the world below may seem.
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In my other life Once upon a time, I lived another life. I threw the sheets off in the morning, slipped my legs over the side of the bed, and watch a rose-gold sun rise above the horizon, out my window. The day beckoned. I felt the warm air as a tickle on my skin. "It's going to be a hot one today!" I said, to no one in-particular. Maybe it was to the dog. The dog was there. Not our dog. Not our Emily. This was a different dog. A smaller dog. The dog said nothing in return. In this other life, I met the morning with coffee, and oatmeal cookies. I somehow felt so alone, in this other life, it was a scar across my chest. The loneliness would never leave me. I admit, rather sadly, that I didn't want it to leave me. I was comfortable with it. We had made friends, over time. Oh, when if first invaded my life, I pushed it away. I cried awful tears and threw pillows and blankets and soft things that I was surrounded with. I screamed at it, "Go away!" but in the midst of my sobs, no one heard me. "Please," I whispered, controlling my tears, clutching a pillow to my chest, as if to protect...what, my heart? "Go away," I said, but I think the loneliness heard, "You can stay." Because, the loneliness did not go away. The dog, being such an emotional creature, just as we humans are, tried to displace the loneliness. The dog offered hope. The dog licked my tears away. The dog promised never to leave me. And, the loneliness began to comfort me, also. It crowded my life with indecision. Until, one day, I decided it wasn't trying to cause me pain; I decided the damp chill it brought with it was okay. Because, why not? in my other life, the dog promised to never leave me. In the other life I lived, I went about my day without purpose. What purpose could there be, in that lonely house? Though I tried to invent, manufacture, create a purpose, I stumbled from room to room, never knowing why. I was not me, in that other life. I don't rightly know who I was, but as I look back through the lens of time, and see that other person, watch her as she makes her foolish attempts to understand her world, I realize that the other life I lived was a necessary one. It was necessary to life it as fully as I did, in order to get here, to this life. This life I live is full of friends, and family, and wonder. The day still starts with a rose-gold tint. The dog still sits at my feet; well, a different dog. Our Emily. I still make coffee. In this life, I understand my purpose. It's not to be "me". I wonder about people who say they are taking time off to go find themselves. I wonder where they lost themselves. I wonder if they realize that they are a work in progress, as the popular term goes, and that when they come back from finding themselves, they will, once again, be someone else. My purpose is to write. To share. To encourage other women to write and share. We cannot ever think we are alone, in this world. No matter how lonely we get, we are not alone. People are not meant to be alone. Yes, I know, there is a need now and then for solitude. Go, embrace your quiet moments; meditate; dream; contemplate your life growth. But, come back and be with the people around you who need you. In my purpose, the writing does more than keep the loneliness at bay. The writing brings joy and energy to me, as I am told it does to others, now and then. I don't write to become famous our rich or recognized. I write to remind people, women especially, that they are valued and important, no matter who they are or what they do. I write to help myself understand the human condition, and in doing so, perhaps I uncover a sliver of "aha" for others, also. You're giving me that sideways smile. The one that always says, "What?" as if something I've written is confusing or worse yet, cliche. Is it my mention of the human condition? You think it's overdone? You think it's become so cliched, it no longer means what it meant. What did it mean? It means a lot to me. I use it because it's an appropriate phrase. The human condition is all of who we are - our blood, our sweat, our tears; our laughter, our joy, our fears. The human condition is not something to be ignored or made fun of. It's why we are born and why we live among others, why we build communities. We live in and among other people because the human condition dictates it. I lived another life, once. It wasn't so long ago. I can still remember it. The images are fuzzy now. Dim as if in shadow, as if a veil has fallen over them. But I FEEL that life, inside of me. And, while I am joyful that I left it behind, I sometimes wish I could go back. Comfort that girl. Tell her to believe in herself. Sometimes, when my other life tries to revive itself, when it begins to creep back into this life, when it pulls the veil up enough to get a toe through, to peek beyond the gray stillness of the world it lives in, I have to push it back. I have to turn my back on it. I try to be gentle, because the other life I lived is part of my human condition. And, as such, it deserves my respect. I lived another life, not that long ago. And now, I live this life. And this life is... Continue reading
Posted 5 hours ago at Lip-Sticking
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Dear Mom - I wish I'd known you then Dear Mom, Remember that day – the day so long ago it’s hard to remember anything? Remember how I got lost coming home from school? I was in kindergarten and I tended to wander. Always looking at the houses and the gardens in people’s well-kept lawns. We had moved recently, I think, and I wasn’t as familiar with the neighborhood as I would get, over time. I remember it. I remember my awful sobs as I walked, not knowing where I was, or where I was going. I was five years old. A kindly older couple took me in. Oh the horror of such a thing today! In memory, they were gray-haired, and must have been retired. Both were home, tending their lawn and flowers, I think, and there I was, this pitiful little girl, gulping to get air through the tears, but still walking. Ever moving forward, because if I didn’t put one foot in front of the other, how would I get home? I remember they gave me cocoa and I told them who I was and I must have told them about you, because you came and rescued me. You left work and you came and thanked them and took me home, and I never felt so wonderful in all my 5 years of life! You cradled me and soothed away my fears, and wiped my tears, and laughed a little. You made it funny. And, to this day, I remember it more as a funny experience, than a frightful one. Remember, when I was 12, and we moved to Depew Street? I remember. I remember how proud you were to have that house. It was a small house, by most standards. It sat on a corner, shaped like a barn. That endeared it to me. I imagined it was a barn, once, oh so many years ago, before the 20th century, even, and it had horses in it, and cows, and there were chickens clucking around the yard. And, probably, there were cats and dogs. Depew Street is where I got my first dog. You remember? I still carry Missy in my heart, with Carmie, and Chester, and Olive, and our kitties Pandora and Molly. They’re there, with you, now. Oh, let’s go a bit further back, before Depew Street. I know you remember this – when you brought home my sister, Maryanne. And, I wasn’t very happy about that. No, I already had a brother, who took far too much attention away from me. Having another kid in the family, that was so… not fair! And, no, I didn’t warm up to her. Not for many years. But, that’s how families are, sometimes, aren’t they? I am remembering so many things now. They’re images and sounds of good times and bad times, and times that we all looked at you and thought, “None of this would be here, except for Mom.” Yep, Mom, you did it. You had all these kids – there’s an LOL in there – you had my sisters, Jan and Sue, who I did not get to know as well as I’d wished, as a child. I lived with you and Dad (well, my step-dad, but I didn’t know that), and they lived with Mr. Westover (Ross, my ‘real’ dad.) Then there was me, and after me, my brother, Mike, and the baby, Maryanne. We were family. We are family. Jan, me, Mike, Sue, Maryanne, Dad (Ross) For better or worse, this family clings to each other and to our children, and grandchildren, and we close tight fists around that true sense of togetherness that other families lack. We have it because of you, and sometimes, yes, in spite of you. But today, Mom, I want to remember something else. I want to remember that you came from a very big family. You never told me happy stories about that. I wonder if there were some… just a few… you could have shared? I know you were head and shoulders above others at school. At five-nine, you were tall for a girl. I know you played basketball. You enjoyed basketball. I know you loved football and got into the spirit of that every year, shouting at the tv and the players in the games, along with everyone else, while I slipped off to a quieter place to read a book. I want to remember that before you were my Mom, you were Margaret. What did they call you at school? I don’t even know. How is that possible? You were a willful teenager. You were smart. You never gave up the ideas and dreams you had, even when life took you in a different way. When you opened the grocery store in our old neighborhood, you never faltered. I watched you take charge and never wondered where that entrepreneurial spirit came from. You made Mike and I work in the store, and I admit that I hated it, but the lessons learned were enormous and going back in memory today, I so wish I’d understood how hard you worked, how proud you were of that major accomplishment, and how it was something important to you, you the person, you the grown woman taking charge of her life, and not just a way to make a living for us, the kids (or kid, I don’t know if Mike felt the same) who resented having to work in the little family business. Sometimes, these last few months, I would rise, go quietly into my kitchen, make my coffee, and come sit at my desk in silence. I would stare at my monitor, my keyboard, and I would wonder, “What did my Mom really want to be when she grew up? What did she dream of? What happened to those dreams?” We reminisced on occasion. You told stories of my ‘real’ dad riding his bike fourteen miles to come see you, when you were still... Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at Lip-Sticking
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Conclusions First of all, I admit, I have little or no patience with most things. This means, when I sign up for a webinar and you take 10 minutes of the hour you promised me, talking about yourself, going into great detail about your life, mentioning some major illness or event that 'changed your life', I'm gone. I don't hang around to learn whatever it was you promised to teach me. Because, truth be told, I like learning, I do not care to get your back history. A few words about your professional life, indeed. But, a long story about your this or that and how it changed your life and now you're making six figures every month, it's all blah blah blah to me. I have patience for important things. Waiting for you to start the webinar is not one of them. (Do you commit these 10 Webinar Mistakes? I did some of them, but I'm learning how not to, now.) I'm on a rant here. If you are one of the people out there giving webinars that take 20 minutes to actually start, you can write me a nasty note below. But, if you're like me, if you already read the long explanatory invite, with all the promises of what you'll learn, along with the presenter's name and link to his or her website, and now that you're on the webinar you're annoyed with having to wait for him or her to go through it all again, with a lot of extra story telling... leave me a note, also. Yes, I am just off a webinar where this happened. I apologize but I have to rant here or I'd be sitting in my chair pulling my hair out. Yes, it's that bad. What concerns me is this - this is not the first time this has happened. It seems to be routine. More and more professionals are doing "let me teach you" webinars, which are free - so, some folks would say I have no right to complain - that do this. The presenter spends the first 15-20 minutes on herself, or himself. Let's stick with herself to make it easy. In this case, I did not catch her name or business name at the start of her power point presentation. If it was there, I missed it. And, since she was new to me, I was forced to go back to Facebook and find the invite I responded to, to learn who she was. That wasn't so bad. That's on me. As the webinar continued, I sat through slide after slide first telling us what she would teach us, which is okay, but then telling us that her system works - wow, never would have believed it, I mean, didn't I sign up because I believed her system could work? sigh Life isn't about pleasing one person. When she got into the details of her life, and how a family member contracted a major illness, which changed her way of thinking, I began to growl, silently. Here's the thing - is it necessary these days to put your family problems on display, to get people to trust you? I've attended conferences and webinars a good bit this year where the keynote or presenter took a good bit of time to tell the story of this illness or that car crash or whatever, as if no one in the audience would trust her if she didn't share this awful story. I am not criticizing the stories. I am not disputing that you build trust when you get your audience to understand you're just like them and oh, by the way, you have trials and tribulations in your family, too! "Just like you, dear audience." I am saying, following Katharine Hepburn's mother's advice, as quoted above, is not a good thing, in this case. What I am gritting my teeth about is the fact that every speaker to date has struggled with these so called life-changing events in their immediate family and they are using them to build that sense of trust with us - by tapping into our deepest emotional memories (or current life struggles), and I am calling foul. Having such experiences does not make you smarter. It does not mean your webinar is better than anyone else's. It does not mean you are more trustworthy. It does mean, I am now suspicious of you. It does mean, you are pitiful. It does mean, by the time you get to the teaching part of your presentation, you've wasted 10 -15 minutes of my time and I do not appreciate that. Wow. That's harsh. I guess. I'm sensing some of you saying I am out of control. Perhaps. However, the story of your life may influence me more if it comes with a project we are working on. If I am going to work with you for a good period of time, I am open to hearing the story of your life. I am not interested in the deepest dark secrets during a webinar. A webinar that I know you will up-sell me on - taking more time at the end of the hour. This generally leaves 10 -20 minutes for actual content. This post about how to tell a sad story might help, if you're interested in help, of course. Gosh. How kind of you to give me 20 minutes of your time. I know it's worth $500 an hour or something. Given what you say you make every month, like, $20,000. However, your invite was for an hour. An hour where I would learn how to do this or that, using a special process you've created, over the many years of your professional life. No matter that the webinar is free. That is not an excuse to waste my time. Clearly, this particular webinar was going to spend 20-25 minutes on the topic, and if that's all you need for the topic, make the webinar 30... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2017 at Lip-Sticking
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Early mornings with Emily The morning was like any other. And then, it wasn't. Her legs moved slowly under the covers; toes, feet, ankles, calves, until at last she could sit up on the edge of the bed and take a deep breath. She felt rather than saw the humid air as it settled on her hair. She talked to herself, but not out loud. "You don't have to get up yet. It's so early! Look, the streetlights are still on. The moon is still glowing in the sky. It isn't even dawn yet!" The floor was cold under her feet. A welcoming cold - a sting that hit her entire body with a shock. She pushed her feet into slippers, one slow foot at a time, allowing the shock to settle. It's not that I don't want to get up, she thought, standing now. It's not that I want to stay in bed. She walked to the door, quietly opened it, and stepped into the hall. The morning, which was like any other, and then it wasn't, greeted her with shadows, so full of anticipation she could feel the whispering surround her like static. It followed her into the kitchen. The moment she touched the button on the coffee pot, the day began properly, and all sense of hesitation disappeared into tomorrow. What hesitation is there in early morning risings? Is the hesitation a function of our sleep requirements? Is the hesitation a reluctance to face the cold, as we slip out from under the warmth of covers and husband (or wife)? Is the hesitation a desire to embrace sleep just a little longer, as we think it is? Why? Clearly, when you 'awake' you are ready to rise. I wonder about this a good bit. I dislike my morning hesitation, with a vengeance! It inhibits my ability to start my day! And then it doesn't. It's not a physical thing - it's so invisible, I often ignore it and realize later, the missing part of my day, the one little thing that is nagging me with sharp teeth, is that - the moment of hesitation I ignored, so early in the day. early morning choices Perhaps there is a message in the hesitation. Perhaps we are meant to listen more carefully, to what the day, the morning, is trying to tell us. At my house, there is little hesitation in rising, each morning. I have a dog. <cue smiley face> She rises each day full of energy and enthusiasm, and showers us with her wet kisses, as she nudges us for a butt-rub. The very silliness of it all brings laughter from a warm place in our throat. The morning becomes a treasured moment, with Emily. But, I have mornings of small hesitation, when Tom has risen to care for Emily, and I sleep in. I feel my eyes open before I am ready to open them. I feel my body telling me to get up. Even my brain says it's time, though, somewhere, in another corner of my brain, someone (me?) is whining, No! As I rise, I push the dark away. I take a deep breath. I stretch and begin to think about my day. And so it begins. I have won the hesitation battle. And yet, there, in those spaces in-between, I feel as if I have missed something. A message. A story. A proclamation. It's just a sense. Like sensing a good friend's joy, just by looking at them. Like sensing your mother is going to call, and she does. Like sensing the day will be fraught with unfinished business, and it is. It's not news that we humans feel that immediate need for gratification, the one that propels us out of bed in the morning as soon as our eyes open, to face our day with shield and sword, forgetting that in the shadows of the start of day, there are a few moments of silence in which we might learn about us, about the day, about our place in the universe. Morning hesitation has its purpose. Listen to it. Morning hesitation whispers Continue reading
Posted Aug 7, 2017 at Lip-Sticking
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The morning rises nicely, full of invitation. I feel the pull, of late, of the spaces in-between. There is a tug on my soul that will not be ignored. The day starts as it should - with letting the dog out and getting the coffee ready. I let the summer warmth wash over me, knowing the heat of the day, come afternoon, will wilt even my eyelashes. But, now, in the cool of six a.m. there is a welcoming softness to the dim light slipping in the back door, and the kitchen welcomes me with a sigh that only I can hear. My soul murmurs to me. I try to listen, bending my head just so, blinking to clear the cobwebs. "You are," she whispers. The voice of my soul is a woman of indeterminate age. I want it to be me, but I am confused by the sound, the lilt, the hush, and I wonder: if it isn't me, who is it? "Be so," she whispers. The coffeepot calls out with five dings. They burst into the silence like fireworks on the fourth of July. I watch the last of the water drip into the pot and shake my head. "Five dings," I whisper into nothing. "Why five? Why not three?" "Steel," my soul whispers. Emily desires an early morning walk. I take my coffee to the easy chair rocker. We bought a beautiful, soft, leather (perhaps not real leather, one is never sure these days and my daughter, who is a fighter for everything that breathes, would prefer it not be leather) chair that swivels and rocks for my husband, Tom, months ago. It was so wonderful, I found that when I sat in it, I could sink into the softness like a child in a feather bed, and so, I had to have one. The morning rises nicely, in my quiet neighborhood, full of invitation. I glance into the park that is our backyard and see some brave or stalwart women are walking their dogs, making use of the morning cool. I admire them. I remember not so long ago, we used to do the same. Tom and I would rise at six and immediately take the dogs out. We had three dogs then. We are down to one, these days. She lays at my feet and sighs. She, too, remembers those early morning walks, I think. Her beautiful brown eyes land on my face and call me to consider a walk. Yes, please, they say. She would walk three times a day, if we could accommodate her. Four times. I don't know, maybe five. The tug on my consciousness has not let up. I feel it as if there is an important message waiting for me, somewhere. In another room. Another home. Another neighborhood. Another planet. Another universe. It pulses with a vague pattern. I concentrate on it, with closed eyes. But messages are coming at me too hard and fast. I swallow, take a sip of water, look around the room. Everything is suddenly out of focus. And so, it stayed that way for most of the conference, that weekend. I gathered all I had to push through it, the fog that had descended on me. I took some notes. Scattered words on bright white paper. I smiled and laughed at appropriate places, one learns these responses in kindergarten, don't you think? The fog lifted eventually, that weekend. The tug on my consciousness lessened. It moved to some other in-between space, waiting as if it knew this was not the time. Today I have a chance to understand. My eyes land on a tree outside my office window. The trees here are small. We are a new neighborhood. I love trees. They are like strong, dependable friends who never disappoint. They just exist and they keep your secrets, no matter how awful or outrageous. They don't judge or laugh at you or tuck your words away to use them against you, someday. They grasp them and fling them out into the breeze, and whatever troubles you have shared are scattering to the wind, like so much nothing, which is what they are. "I am trying," I say, so quietly the dog doesn't move at the sound of my voice. She is ever alert to the tone and the sound and the possibility of that walk, of course. "What is it?" I ask. My soul is suddenly silent. I will not have an answer today. There are worlds to be discovered in those spaces in-between. If we can but find the entrance. There are worlds to be discovered... Continue reading
Posted Jul 30, 2017 at Lip-Sticking
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The mountains are lovely today. It's Sunday. The morning is lovely. Our view of the mountains this morning is lovely. Life is lovely. There is a special quiet to the early mornings, here in Firestone, CO. The neighborhood is slow to wake up. One or two folks are up and about, walking their dogs before the summer heat hits - and when it hits, it hits hard! They are right to be out in the cool of the silent morning. As I wake up, I remember. I remember other mornings, so long ago. I feel a tug on my memory. Someone, or something, is opening a door to yesterday, offering me a glimpse into the life of the child I once was. Oh, she was a strange little girl. I see her now and I lament over her shyness, her lack of understanding, her inability to cope with her world, and her desire... not to cope. She just wanted to be left alone. In the best Greta Garbo way. That little girl, she was so skinny, "She would rattle around in a bushel basket!" my dad used to say. Well, he was my step-dad, but I didn't know it. Until I was 12, he was my dad, and remained so ever since, regardless of titles and society bringing me my 'real' dad. There was such timidness in her. And still, she craved being out doors. Unlike myself, who does not find the out of doors a friendly place to be. My little girl self was eager to be ... there, out, not in. We (the neighborhood children and I) played outdoors all day long. We played tag (I once fell and broke my tailbone, I think... though I never told anyone, I just endured the pain for days and days afterward - after all, you didn't complain and you didn't go to the doctor, back then; not unless you were really bleeding to death). We built forts. We made up games. I don't remember them but I remember meetings to "do something different today". Our heads bent together, our breath still sweet from cereal at breakfast, our minds working like engines revving for a race. My head, my mind, was too often lost in the clouds. Like a kite. I was a dreamer. When stuck inside, I would write stories and draw pictures. Oh sure, I was addicted to Lassie and Rin Tin Tin, on TV. But it was black and white and so tame, compared to today's television shows. Still, the fascination was real. I saw the dogs save little kids and soldiers and the townspeople, and I craved a dog of my own. But, that was not to be for a long, long time. So, I wrote stories about having a dog. As I walk our dog, Emily, these days, I muse on the world that little girl I once was and I'm sad that she missed so much. I'm sad that she didn't know that her place in the world wasn't locked in her own mind, keeping others out. I wish she'd participated in those childish games with more enthusiasm. No, she didn't have a clue that her 'just being there' wasn't enough. She did as she was told. She had no ambition. All she wanted was peace. It's that way, I think. For many of us. We didn't understand, as children, how the world is inviting us to live, and be alive, and achieve the dreams beating in our little hearts. It was a different time, back in 1950 and through to 1969, when I graduated from high school. I don't blame the time. I don't look back and think, "Oh, I could have been so much more if only time had been kinder." It wasn't time that held me back. And, it wasn't myself. Life coaches and therapists would say, "Talk it out," or "Release it to the Universe and move on!" And to them, I say, I've done that. But, the wonder of who I might have been, lingers. I wonder, had I believed in myself, could I have been... whatever I wanted? That's what we teach our children now. And that's what it should be. They can achieve their dreams, if they work hard. However, with that hard work needs to come support and encouragement. Both are necessary. Oh yes, many people achieve greatness with no support, no encouragement, or so it seems on the surface. I applaud those who rise to greatness completely on their own merits. They are to be admired. Myself? I lacked that ability. I was not able to turn inward and teach myself to make my dreams come true. I did pursue my dreams, but I never believed they would come true. I had some encouragement. From teachers. Teachers who believed in me, who told me I was talented. It was not enough. It didn't carry through. There is no turning back. You can go home again, but it isn't the same. Sometimes it takes a lifetime to learn appreciation. These days, I think it starts with appreciation. I am grateful for this life. For this wondrous day, full of sunshine and warmth, and the lovely, lovely sounds of birds in the trees, of an occasional dog barking, and the sounds of silence that whisper of a day coming to life. In my appreciation, I wax the morning nostalgic. That little girl I once was calls out to me to remember her, and to make her proud of me. Continue reading
Posted Jul 23, 2017 at Lip-Sticking
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It's the story of your life. From beginning to end, it's about struggle, despair, depression, select moments of joy, and the usual experiences of one person, one life, going through trials and tribulations as their life unfolds before them. I have a vivid memory of long summer days as a child - full of crayons, and paints, and childish toys; of long days spent out doors. Barefoot and full of energy, those hot sunny days were full of neighborhood kids building forts, feet slapping broken sidewalks as we chased each other up one street and down another, falling into the grass at someone's house, keenly aware of the open screened door, where someone's Mom would be standing, admonishing us for leaving the littlest one behind. The life of a child is woefully different today. We know this. Many baby boomers lament the change, posting images on Facebook showing the risks we took (no seatbelts in cars, drinking unfiltered water from outside spigots, no sun-screen slathered on our skinny arms or legs, days spent away from our home...with no thought of telling mom where we were), and how none of those risks kept us from growing up. We, in our braggart, know-it-all way, walk with a swagger, brushing danger away, embellishing memory, adding crazy things we want to think we did, but did not (jumped a train and travelled hundreds of miles away, for instance; really who actually did that? no one I know). The story, we tell whomever deigns to listen, is true to our best recollection. The story, we laugh, may be stretched, like taffy, not like bubble-gum, but not that much because we have sharp memories of the dog days of summer, during those 1950s, and early 1960s, when life was simple, without smart phones, or apples you couldn't eat. We love the memories with a passion. Because we lived the moments of major changes in history - the introduction of power steering on cars (that looms large in my memory because my first car did NOT have power steering and I cannot tell you how difficult it is to steer a gigantic machine - cars were huge back in those early days of my having a license - without power steering); the moon walk (yes, it happened folks, it was not a hoax) and, the death of a beloved president. I have presented these memories not in chronological order, but in order of memory. The experiences I remember follow no set timeline. They just are. Perhaps one of my favorite authors put it best in a popular novel he wrote, "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we have everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only. ~ Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities" I return to my opening question - whose story is it? Is it our story? Is it the truth of how we remember, or the truth of what really happened, or the mixture of memory and fact? Does it matter if we, in our innocence, use what fiction writer's like to call poetic license? Are we allowed to weave a story of yesteryear, that did not exist, or rather, exists only in memory (memory being a faulty tool, at best)? I submit that the story is yours. The story belongs to the reader, or the listener. As the author creates the story, he or she must never forget that her reader is the owner of the tale. The reader, dear reader, decides if the story is believable. And therein lies the answer to our question - if the writer is able to "suspend disbelief" - the writer/author has allowed the story to flow properly, as she gives the reader the reigns to the tale. The story is not mine to tell, no matter that it's about an experience I was intimately part of, in a time that stretches my memory to retell. The story must, by nature of the tale being told, become a street in a city, in a town, in a country, that the reader is strolling down. If the reader cannot place herself there, the story ceases to exist. My story belongs to you. Yours to me. The reality is this - we tell our tales to others, because in the telling, we hope to make them real. ~ Yvonne DiVita, Lipsticking.com Continue reading
Posted Jun 16, 2017 at Lip-Sticking
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guest post by Jane Dizon 5 Ways to Brand Yourself for Amazing Results in 2017 I can still remember being fascinated by Audrey Hepburn when I was growing up. She was undeniably the epitome of elegance from top to toe. From her pearls, to her iconic little black dress, to her wistful films, you can easily identify her brand. The effect that she had on me was how she took a stance on her career, the way she dresses, and how the world perceives her. Audrey Hepburn emanates a different kind of class that she alone can pull off—now that’s good personal branding. In lieu of entrepreneurship, one of the most important aspects business, startup, or retail owners invest in, is a good branding strategy. With the right identity and value proposition, a business can stand out and be recognized as relevant — the ultimate goal. If we put this into a personal context, branding yourself can be a huge advantage. In a world where impressions last only for a moment, being relevant and relatable will differentiate you from the rest. A personal brand makes you impactful, substantial, and memorable to help you achieve your goals, be it landing your first job, starting a business venture, or even becoming a famous actor like Audrey Hepburn. Connect with your future employer and build meaningful foundations that last. Here are five ways to brand yourself this new year: Tell your story instead of your qualifications. Your story is your most powerful brand attribute. It makes you distinct and memorable. Instead of selling your skills and knowledge set, exactly like everyone else, why not sell your story and emerge from the crowd? Tell a hiring manager that one time you lead a big project. How did you manage your team? What were the problems and how did you solve them? If you’re a freelancer, tell your prospect client your creative process. How do you find balance between your concepts and client needs? In this way, you’re creating a more meaningful interaction, be it through your résumé or job interview. Nail your social media persona. Employers need more than a fancy résumé. It won’t help your case if you don’t embrace the world of digital. (Come on, it’s 2017!) Instead of telling your story on a three-paged CV, leave your marks all over the world wide web. Here are some ideas on how to create a killer online persona: LinkedIn - Build a professional and visually looking profile by shooting a video of yourself to upload on your page. Spend time writing your introduction, again, tell a story and don’t throw out big words like, fast learner, competent, or hard working. Instead, tell the story of how you got in your industry and about the turning point which distinguishes you from others — that could also be your hook. Facebook - Set your profile’s privacy wisely keeping intimate information to people you know and showing significant information to the right people (e.g. your future boss). Twitter - Follow relevant people in your industry and retweet their posts. Don’t stop there. If you stumble upon highly relevant information, tweet it! Engagement to your target audience will also help in raising your followers. Ask them questions, encourage them to comment, retweet, and like your posts. Invest on a killer business card on paper and online. Business cards are also an important aspect of your personal brand. If it gets lost easily on someone’s desk, or worst, becomes trash, then it clearly means you need to update from plain and unforgettable to awesome and memorable. Here are some tips: Think less is more by putting only your name, tagline, and contact info. Steer clear from ostentatious designs and fancy fonts. Speaking of tagline, think of a short, expert yet snappy tagline that resonates you and what you do. For example, Digital Catalyst if you’re a Digital Marketer and Ambassador of Buzz if you’re a Social Media Manager. (My tagline is Writer by day, Ninja Mom by night.) Match it with your brand, be creative, and don’t be boring. Be unpredictable. Be active and opinionated on current events. Dress in a certain way. There are countless ways to do it, but the most important thing is to do what comes natural in you. What’s worse than being normal is inauthentic. It also helps to have your own website where you can highlight details in both your professional and personal life that didn’t make it to your CV through a dedicated About Me page. Start a blog there while you’re at it. Through blogging, you can impress your future employers by writing what you know best and presenting yourself as an expert on that matter. Create a distinct look. You got a story to sell, a strong online persona, and an awesome business card. It’s now time to wrap it all up in a box with big, gleaming bow on top. Beauty and brains are the two must-haves in personal branding. Think of it this way: your look is like packaging. Is it inviting enough for someone to open it and see what’s inside? Here’s how you can achieve that distinct, personal look: Choose a wardrobe that resonates your personality. Bold? Minimalist? Choose a look that shows you care, as if you have thought about every piece that goes in your ensemble. Choose your statement piece, be it fun dress socks, bow ties, ribbon headbands — something that catches attention. And the most important step is, you have to own it. Think a word that best describes you and live by it. When you think about yourself, what’s the first word that pops in your mind? Is it not the word you’d want to represent you? Would your friends say the same word? Now, choose a word you want other people to identify you as. Is it consistent? Bold? Fearless? Confident? Think about that word and commit to it. Live and breathe it. You’d be surprised that it’s in... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2017 at Lip-Sticking
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Hands fascinate me. I can remember TV commercials when I was 40 talking about hands. About dish washing soap that kept your hands looking young, even if you were 35 or older. The concept of 35 being old astonished me. But, we're a youth society, aren't we? And, as we watch our favorite TV stars age, the women look younger and more beautiful than ever, as they take advantage of whatever means they can to perfect their faces and sculpt their bodies. And yet, their hands tell a different story. No, you can't tell a person's age by their hands, but hands do tell a story of their own. A story of a life well-lived, or a life of toil. A story of a life of ease where washing dishes is someone else's job or a life of appreciation, lived in the soil, creating and tending to a garden. The story someone's hands tell can also be misleading. The gnarled skin and bulging knuckles may be a form of illness, not a result of hard work. The smooth skin and lack of veins popping up might be great genetics, where family has passed along good genes so that regardless of how hard you've worked, how much time you've spent outdoors, what long hours your hands have put in doing the tasks they do, they remain young and beautiful far longer than expected. Time, however, catches up to us all. We are not timeless nor indestructible. Our hands are may reflect the aging process more properly than any other part of our body. My hands tremble, these days. I am likely experiencing the onset of essential tremor, a disease not well researched or covered in medical journals. It is debilitating, over time, but it is not serious enough to command attention by anyone other than those of us who have it. Sadly, it can affect younger people, also. I am blessed that my experience to date has not been overly debilitating, but I do shed tears some mornings when my hands will not let me dry my hair or put on my makeup. It's a vanity sadness, and I remind myself that I am still a functioning adult, despite not being able to eat soup sometimes or wear eyeliner, as I used to. We take our hands for granted, I think. We assume they will assist us in holding a pen, using a keyboard, chopping vegetables for dinner, and when they do not, it causes more pain than merely the slivers pulsing in the muscles we are trying to use. The pain goes beyond the tremors (which others do not notice as yet, I am still able to mask the growing trouble of eating with a fork or spoon, and I manage, with great care and a much longer length of time, to apply makeup properly; at least, I believe those things to be true). The pain we feel, as we age and our hands betray us, is in the realization that we are not indestructible. I often hear the refrain of that old song, "Those were the days", in the back of my mind, as I go about my daily chores. Those were the days my friend We thought they'd never end We'd sing and dance forever and a day We'd live the life we choose We'd fight and never lose For we were young and sure to have our way. We believed it. We lived it. We truly thought it would never end, embracing the life we would choose, the world we would create, the wondrous time of our youth. And sitting on stoops, or porches, or in recliners in homes cluttered with big TVs, our parents did cross-word puzzles and knitted baby booties and knew... that life was being kind to us then, life was hiding the truth, life was moving along at its usual pace, to a place of recognition - a place our parents were grappling with, and which we, too, would grapple, someday. I am fascinated by hands. The strong silent ones that tell a story of being outdoors, tending to life of one sort or another (on a farm, in a garden, at a ranch, I know not). The gnarled fingers of an old woman (by which standard we call her 'old' is debatable, I won't get into it today, but to say she is older than I), still working needlepoint or knitting needles, without regard to arthritis or other diseases that claim us in our old age. I love simple, beautiful hands. Babies hands. So unmarked by time, they are like sweet flowers still budding in spring. I love hands that are never still, hands that play instruments, or write stories, or tell the audience the story someone on stage is relating. Hands are beautiful things. They allow us our humanity. When, someday, our hands are silent, lying on our bosom, they will still tell a story - in the stillness of our passing, our hands will say we lived, and we worked, and we achieved. I wonder if anyone will notice. Continue reading
Posted Mar 21, 2017 at Lip-Sticking
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My Mom ... circa 1953? Somehow, this weekend, I was half-asleep, listening in the dark for the dog (when I hear her collar jingle I wait to see if she's coming to the bedroom door to give it a scratch, indicating she wants out), when a vivid memory hit my brain like a big yellow balloon, bursting from too much air. It was a memory of my mother. The year was, actually I don't remember the year. I think my mother was my age, or rather, the age I am now, 65. She was a vibrant woman who loved to laugh. If she was 65, I was 45, and in the 'prime' of my life. I do remember thinking she was old. The thought jolted me awake. My eyes popped open to stare into the dimly lit bedroom, shocked at the realization that I was now the old I once thought my mother was. Tom's snoring was soft, just a quiet rumble, as if he had his face turned to the pillow. I was grateful for that. For the silence of the early morning that allowed me to think, and remember. We were on a trip. A trip to visit my younger sister in Philadelphia. If she sees this post she will reprimand me for forgetting the year. I am forever losing that ability - to remember when something happened. I can remember events and food and trips and excitement, just not when it all occurred. This trips was one of the most amazing trips of my life. My two older sisters, Jan and Sue, were with us, with my mother and me. We somehow decided it was time for an all-girl road trip, where this family of strong women would travel from Upstate NY to Philadelphia, and spend a few days with the baby of the family. I so remember the laughter on the ride down. I remember hilarity over...well, nothing. It was as if we were all schoolgirls again. We made jokes about nothing, laughed at each other, sang songs and generally caused a ruckus in our own little bubbled, as we each took turns driving. (and I will get reprimanded for that, also, as I am pretty sure I never took the wheel... with Jan and Sue and my Mom in the car, I wasn't needed to drive - which suited me just fine; I am not fond of driving) Once at my sister's home, we were assigned rooms. Or sleeping arrangements. I don't remember a whole lot about where the bed was that I slept in. I only remember that my Mom and I decided we'd share a bed, so Jan and Sue could share a bed. Mom with blonde hair It was a logical arrangement. In the family, my mother and I lived together as I grew up, and my older sisters lived together, as they grew up. This happens in divorce. The two older children were assigned to live with my father and step-mother, while I was left with my mother and step-father. My younger brother and sister were born afterwards. Within in our little house, I was the eldest. If I chanced to visit my Dad, I was the youngest. And, when we all got together, I was the middle child. As I lay in the dark, just the other night, remembering this trip, feeling the smile on my face and the silent laughter I held in because the trip was full of fun and laughter and I never think of it without laughing, I was so shocked to realize I'd become...my mother. We all do, don't we? But this was different. This was a sudden realization that at 65 years of age, back then, though I thought of her as old, my mother wasn't old. No more than I am old. She was old in a different way, because we did, at that time, think anyone - woman or man - over the age of 60 was ready to be put out to pasture, as they say. We, the young of the day and let's be clear, at 45, I was not young. Not by any standards. Even today, women of that age are discriminated against...merely because they have achieved such a high birthday number. But, in that time, at that moment, I recall the way my mother was full of energy, full of enthusiasm for life, and just as silly as we were - we who were her children, her girls, her offspring. I can look back, in my mind's eye, and see her blue eyes and white hair all permed and pretty. And I glimpse a little envy. I can see her looking at us with sadness. Because, once, she thinks to herself, once I was young and beautiful like they are. It's not a bad envy. There is no wicked witch deep green to this envy. It's just a realization. Mostly that society has nudged her aside, in favor of us. And, of our girl children. I almost see her sigh and come back into the conversation, silliness over making coffee or something other nonsensical event in the kitchen of MaryAnne's home, there in cool Philadelphia. I see her accept that time has had its way with her and though she is younger in appearance than her years, though she has not given in to the cruelty of old-age, she cannot compete any longer. Women her age are ... all the same. Society lumps them together, as non-descript clay; there is little color or vibrancy to them, little distinction. They are as they will now forever be...old women. As I turn over in my bed, pulling the covers up to my neck, locking out the cold of a March dawn as it rises over the mountains that are so far away and yet not so far away, I know that I have become an old-woman. Less so than my mother at this age, because both time and society have... Continue reading
Posted Mar 6, 2017 at Lip-Sticking
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"Just dance," she said. Her voice was full of laughter. Happy laughter. She wasn't judging. She was advising. I watched her slip onto the dance floor and throw her long blonde hair back, and thrust her body into the movement, keeping time with the band, waving her arms about, full of true abandon. "Never," I whispered to myself. I could never do that. I could never get out on a dance floor, in front of dozens of other people, and commence to gyrating. The laughter would change from happy-go-lucky sounds to ... judging. There would, I was sure, be finger pointing. There would be derision. I would be...well, a laughing stock. No doubt about it. I remember turning away. Slowing nudging my way between the tightly packed people swinging arms and shoulders in tune to the music, as their feet tapped on the cement floor. I remember shutting out the sound of the band - though I thought they were very good - and searching wildly for the door. I was blind in that dark cafe. I'd left my glasses home, of course; what self-respecting young woman wore her glasses out to party, back in those ancient days of 1970? It left me literally blind, given the clubs were already full of shadows and corners that surely hid serial killers. I don't suppose we (well, I) thought of the corners as hiding 'serial' killers then. I don't think it was a common term. But, I did think those corners hid ... scary things. Like young men who might ask me to dance. Truth is, as I struggled to get through the crowd, I was gently grabbed. A young man smiled at me. "Dance?" he said. I panicked. The sweat began to form under my arms, I couldn't look at this boy, I pulled my arm away and mumbled, "No, thank you," and I hurried away. I could hear him call me a name... apparently, he was not happy with rejection. The name, it began with a C... stuck in my brain and circulated round and round, getting louder and louder, as I fought my way to freedom in the parking lot. Once there, I gasped. I took a deep breath. The night air was wonderfully cool on my hot face! The darkness was comforting. I looked up at the stars; we were far out from the city I lived in, and the night sky was aglow with millions of sparkling gems, welcoming wishes or dreams or thoughts of other worlds; I could easily imagine a world so many millions of miles away, in that night sky, where someone like me, perhaps, was looking up and wishing for escape! "Is she braver than I am?" I wondered. I pushed myself into the parking lot, found my car, and drove home. I couldn't even think of a good excuse to tell my friend, who had dragged me to the club, insisting I get out and have some fun. "She'll understand," I told myself, as I pulled to a stop at a light. She didn't understand. She raged at me. She shook her head and for a time, she avoided me. I never learned to dance. And so, I never danced. I was forever conspicuous and fearful. I lived a life as a quiet mouse, following others...hoping to enjoy their amazing personalities, in the shyness of my little bubble. When confronted, as I had been that night, by a friend who had only my best interests at heart, I sometimes tried to be what others wanted me to be... out going and extroverted, because that's how you met people and that was the goal, wasn't it? To meet people; people who might introduce you to ... MR. Right! I'm older and wise now, as they say. I know I should have danced and thrown caution to the wind! I should have looked in the mirror and known I was attractive enough to be okay out there in the big world. Because, attractive mattered. Still does. And it's a sliding scale, folks. I'm sure lots of people didn't think I was attractive. But, no doubt, others did and I could have enjoyed myself without the worry of looking foolish or out of step or crazy. Certainly, in memory, I saw a lot of others who were all those things, and didn't care they were all those things! People ask me now what I would tell someone just starting out as an entrepreneur. What wondrous advice would I share? "I'd tell them to dance," I usually answer. It took me decades to get to a place where I was comfortable with me! I still have my moments, but I know now that it's not just how you look that matters - it's your smile, your personality, your confidence. If you have all those things, you're good to go. Dance. If you can do that, if you can dance, you are leaps and bounds ahead of your competition. Your competition is waiting for you to stumble, bump into possible clients and push them out of the way, as you head for the door - and safety. Safety is not all it's cracked up to be. Safety can actually hold you back. Safety can actually keep you from being successful. Safety can stifle you. Just dance. Gather your courage and...dance... go on, do it. And tell us all about it over at The Lipsticking Society. Because, there's a story there, in your decision, in your choice, and I want to hear it. Continue reading
Posted Feb 28, 2017 at Lip-Sticking
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I call it the Rise of the Wayward Woman. I call it time to embrace your phenomenal self, as a woman, in the 21st century. In a keynote given at the Women in the Pet Industry Network last year, I focused on the power of women to day to rise up; to take charge; to shed the Goody Two Shoes cloak they had wrapped themselves in, so many years ago. It's a heavy burden and all of us need to throw it off with vigor! We need to trample that cloak of 'be a good girl' - trample it into the ground until those dark fibers that have held us back all these years, are nothing but dust. Is it happening? Can we do it? This is not new. Those of us who accept the Baby Boomer label know what it's like to Rise Up. We were deep in protests back in the day. Those riotous 1960s. I look back on those days and the shouts and cries and raised fists and I feel proud that we "burned out bras", but I also see children. I see young women who had no idea what they were demanding, nor how to achieve their desires. Yes, we wanted equal pay. We wanted to be respected. We wanted to be taken seriously. And yet, in 1980, we were laughing at Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Jane Fonda in "9 to 5" - the story of "three working women living out their fantasies of getting even with, and their successful overthrow of, the company's autocratic, "sexist, egotistical, lying, hypocritical bigot" boss." The joke was on us, as life for most working women was reflected in the movie and not only had nothing changed from 1960, it had possibly gotten worse! My life as a working woman was full of unwelcome advances, of pats on the back, and numerous requests for coffee, because, after all, that's what women did best - they made coffee and tapped into their waitress soul to bring it to the 'boss'. Mind you, being a waitress if hard work and deserves far more respect and appreciation than it gets! But, in a business, an office setting, where you are not the secretary (and even if you are!) getting coffee is not part of your job description. How was it possible that the efforts of the 1960s evaporated into the stratosphere? That the women who were not going to accept second class status, were now working in offices and restaurants, and other places...still being asked to get their male boss coffee? How was it possible that we were actually...getting the coffee? I have no answer to that, at the moment. I will comment on it, later on. Rise of the Wayward Woman I only know that we are stronger now. We spent time in those 20 years to raise phenomenal, strong, talented daughters and sons. We put our energies into learning why we failed in the early days, and how to turn the corner... in this new, blank slate called the 21st century. We are looking in the mirror now - deeper into ourselves, and we are not moaning over the wrinkles, crow's feet, or extra pounds we've acquired over the years. We're suddenly recognizing the woman who was always hiding, just beneath the surface. She's stubborn. Yes, she is. Stubborn enough to keep going when those around her try to make her stop. "She was warned and she persisted." Yes, she did! She's determined. Yes, she is. Determined to stay the course. To gather all of her friends - male and female - around her, as a new, powerful cloak, with teeth. She's independent. Yes, she is. She is out there, thank you Mary Hart!, pushing the envelope. She's laughing in the face of conflict. She's shrugging off the negativity being thrown at her from the 'other' side. She's acknowledging those on the 'other' side, who would keep her down, but they are few and far between today and not worth her worry. It's the Rise of the Wayward woman. The phenomenal woman sitting next to you in the subway. The phenomenal woman who is writing a blog without remorse, shrugging off the guilt of decades, when accusations that women should stay in their place, were loud and angry. The phenomenal woman leading a community meeting, demanding respect and education and healthcare for all - equally. We are smarter now. We are stronger now. We are ... bigger now. Determined. Stubborn. Independent. The Rise of the Wayward Woman has begun. Be prepared. She is not taking no for an answer. Continue reading
Posted Feb 20, 2017 at Lip-Sticking
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The hand that rocks the cradle, so it's been told, rules the world. How true is this? Can women demand and command the kind of attention men get as a matter of fact? We can and we do. We can and we have. We can and we will. History shows women to be powerful members of society. While so many stories prefer to depict us as silly, frivolous, shy, weak, and ...let's be kind and say not so intelligent, but you know what I mean, if you dig deeper you discover women are STRONG, POWERFUL, INTELLIGENT, DETERMINED, WAYWARD, INDEPENDENT. We have been pillars of the society we live in from the beginning of time. Historical time, that is. In the bygone years of the Paleolithic era, cave paintings previously thought to be done by male hunters, have been shown to more likely have been created by women. This is merely one instance of reporting. Searching history, discovering articles in dozens of publications, we learn that phenomenal women have existed since the dawn of time. From Ideas to Independence , shared via the National Women's History Museum, carries the phenomenal woman story through a century of accomplishments. Why then do we hear so little about the women who have contributed amazing things in science, technology, the arts, and even politics? Is it because the women themselves are too 'shy' to stand up and take credit? Is it because the women were diminutive and small and overlooked by the gigantic men beside them - men who may have helped create but were not actually the creator? It's all of those things. It's a sad commentary on who we are as members of a vibrant, dynamic society on the brink of remarkable discoveries - for which we may not receive proper credit, even today. I predict otherwise. I predict that rise of the phenomenal woman will change history and show the power behind our smile, our walk, our voice, our talk, everything we are and do. The rise of the phenomenal woman is happening in cities all over America, in cities all over the world! We gather in groups to give testimony to our sex and our intelligence. We gather in groups to demand recognition - long deserved recognition! We gather in groups to show our daughters and our sons that we matter! That we have a voice and it needs to be heard! The rise of the phenomenal woman is here. In some places, it's quiet. Not out of fear or retribution, but out of determination and purpose. Quiet does not mean weak. In other places, it's loud and raucous - tinged with anger at a society that continues to dismiss us, ignore us, treat us as after-thoughts, with little regard to our very well-being, from cradle to grave. The kind of regard that asks us to step back, be quiet, stop complaining! It's in thanks, I believe, to women of our historical era - women like Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Meryl Streep, Katharine Hepburn, and so many more; women who said no, I'm not sitting in the back of the bus; no, I'm not giving up my quest for equal treatment under the law and the right to vote; no, I'm not going to lose weight to be in your movie; no, I'm not going to wear dresses, I like wearing pants, thank you all the same. It's a new century. We are a new breed. The rise of the phenomenal woman has arrived. Phenomenal Women will not be ignored.Take note, world. She has arrived. Continue reading
Posted Feb 18, 2017 at Lip-Sticking
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If you, like many people, will be headed over the river and through the woods to Grandma’s house — or anywhere else for that matter — you may stress out at the idea of stepping away from your business for days or weeks at a time. Thankfully, we live in an era of technology and being out of the office doesn’t have to cause a catastrophe for your business. Here’s how to reduce that holiday stress, enjoy time with family and friends, and keep your business up and running. Plan Ahead. Simply giving your customers a head’s up that you will be unavailable (or have limited access to email if you can’t go cold turkey) will eliminate much of the email you’d get during that time. Your customers are busy with their own holiday plans, so don’t expect too much activity while you’re away. Take care of any assignments or projects that are due ahead of time. Ask your clients if they need anything before you leave. (Do this at least 2 weeks out.) Spend extra time now clearing your plate for your vacation. Get Your Apps Ready. The great thing about technology is how many wonderful mobile applications there are. You don’t even need your laptop to stay on top of business. Queue up the apps that you use so that they’re easily accessible on your phone. The Freshbooks mobile app lets you invoice people, track time, and accept payments on the go. The Insightly mobile app lets you take your CRM wherever you are, so you can keep the pulse on what’s happening with your customers. The Google Calendar app helps you stay on top of meetings and deadlines. Carve Out Time to Work. If you absolutely need to check in with work, plan ahead of time when you’ll do it. Maybe it’s the early hours before the kids are up, or after they go to bed. Limit your time and stick to it. Check in, put out fires, then put your devices away. To manage their expectations, let your family know you plan to spend some of your vacation working. Schedule work ahead of time so you don’t miss out on family get-togethers or events. Find somewhere quiet to work so you can focus and finish quickly. Set up automatic task reminders in your CRM. You'll be notified when critical tasks are waiting so you won’t miss a deadline no matter how busy you are. Put Your Marketing on Autopilot. Your marketing efforts can go on without you while you’re enjoying eggnog and Christmas carols. You can write several blog posts in advance and schedule them to publish while you’re gone, and you can even schedule social media updates. Spend a few hours lining everything up so there’s no evidence that you’re not working hard, even when you’re skiing the slopes. Use a social media dashboard like HootSuite to schedule updates on all platforms. Use Twitterfeed to automatically share your blog posts through your social networks. Set up your email marketing software to automatically send emails while you’re out. Know When to Say No. It’s far too easy to check your work email with a touch to your phone, but do you really need to? Technology has made us all too accessible at times, and it’s up to us to take control again. If there’s not a reason you need to make yourself available to your staff or employees, turn your vacation autoresponder on and go enjoy your family! Sign out of your work email from your phone so you’re not tempted to access it. Turn off social media notifications. Let go and enjoy your time off! You’ll never be satisfied trying to work and enjoy your vacation at the same time, so aim not to work. It’s a challenge for us Type A personalities, but it’s completely doable. Susan Payton is the President of Egg Marketing & Communications, an Internet marketing firm specializing in marketing communications, copywriting and blog posts. She’s also the founder of How to Create a Press Release, a free resource for business owners. She’s written three books: DIY Press Releases: Your Guide to Becoming Your Own PR Consultant, 101 Entrepreneur Tips and Internet Marketing Strategies for Entrepreneurs, and contributes to several sites, including ChamberofCommerce.com, The Marketing Eggspert Blog, CorpNet, Small Business Trends, and BizLaunch. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing. Continue reading
Posted Nov 26, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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by Yvonne DiVita "It's great reconnecting," she said. Her voice boomed through the phone with a power that penetrated my entire body. It dominated her presence. I could see her speaking to me, through the miles between us, the phone line, the very air separating us. "I agree," I said, without anywhere near as much impact, I am sure. We talked business. We talked personal lives. We laughed. We shared a few stories. We took the frayed edges of our lost connection and began to repair them. The color of our lives improved. We went from gray to red... and variations between. I find it encouraging to talk to women on the phone when their very presence is demonstrated by the power in their voice. One of the areas I feel most strongly about is in the use of one's voice to accomplish goals and achieve more results. Women tend to be quieter. We tend to be gentle, if we need to push the other person in our direction. We shy away from the booming, startling voice of authority... the voice men use, mostly, when they talk business. This is not about why men get more done or why people listen to them more or why they command a higher presence in business. It's about how women can improve their position in business, no matter where they are, by using the power of their voice. Sound can be a weapon. A weapon need not devastate. Sometimes a weapon is a means to an end. Sometimes the end does justify the means. Picture yourself in a crowded room, people are sitting, fidgeting, gathered around tables or standing in the back of the room. They're clearly anxious. The lights are turned down low. The rustle of paper programs can be heard among the whispers. waiting for the speaker - is it you? At the front of the room is a stage, with a lectern. All these fussy people are waiting for ... you. You are behind the curtain. You are speaking to this group of anxious people, men and women, from businesses across the nation. You are keynoting a conference. How will this turn out? Much advice revolves around how well you know your topic and whether you've practiced enough. That goes without saying, doesn't it? My advice is this - get a voice coach. Improve your speaking voice. Be confident and demonstrate power by dominating that room...as soon as you open your mouth. Create the outcome you want by owning the experience. Your voice is more than a way to share your story, it's a tool of immense power that should resonate in the ears and minds of every person in that audience, long after you're gone. I am still struck by the phone conversation I had two weeks ago, with this powerful woman I am so glad to be reconnected with. Who is she? You will learn in weeks to come. For now, I wanted to share the story of a powerful voice, rather than the people who have powerful voices. It doesn't matter how tall you are, how much you weigh, what you look like, or the color of your hair. It doesn't matter where you grew up or how many times you've been published. What matters is... how confident are you? Your voice will tell your audience (audience of one or one thousand, it doesn't matter) that you know who you are and they will leave knowing who you are. In the process of discovering who you are, they will learn more about your passion and your mission and you will gain followers. Learn to speak out loud. #womenofpower Continue reading
Posted Oct 4, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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Dr Lorie Huston and Yvonne at WIPIN by Yvonne DiVita #friendshipendures “This is an amazing event,” she said as we met in the narrow hall of the exhibit area for BlogPaws Denver, 2010. Her blue eyes sparkled like a sunny afternoon in June. I have to admit, I was pleased with all the praise coming our way. The event was the second BlogPaws, here in Denver, back in our launch year. I remember the conversation so well because having someone of the stature of Dr. Lorie Huston compliment you is not something you forget. “Thank you,” I said. We shook hands. We talked a bit more about why BlogPaws was created and how it could serve the veterinary world. We had a Vet track at the conference and Dr. Lorie was especially interested in that. That was the start of an enduring friendship, and she accepted an invitation to join our unofficial board, which met mostly by phone each month. I came to rely on her insight and expertise. I came to appreciate her knowledge not only of blogging (wow, a veterinarian who blogs!), and using blogs effectively for a veterinary practice, but for many other things; for business, for life, for the good health of my pets, even for inspiration. Dr. Lorie inspired me to be more than I am, better than I am, and kinder to others. During our friendship I never heard a harsh word about anyone, from her. That’s a cliché, I know. However, with Dr. Lorie as we all called her, it was true. She epitomized the kind and gentle veterinary professional – as good with her patients’ humans as she was with her patients, themselves. I remember last year being so upset about a certain incident, really hurt by it, and Dr. Lorie sitting across from me at a separate event we were both attending, looking at me with sympathy. There was a sincerity there, and calmness, that I badly needed at that moment. “I don’t think they meant it that way,” she said, in her quiet husky voice. She understood, but wanted to help me overcome the feelings of anger clearly evident in my scowl, my hard sighs, even my gaze, no doubt. “I know them pretty well and I bet they were just confused.” “Perhaps,” I said. I could feel my heart calm. “I just don’t get it… why would they do that?” “Everyone makes mistakes.” The look on her face said, “Try to forgive.” And so, I did. And, I discovered the issue was as much my fault as anyone’s. So, I reached out, I talked it through, and I made amends. Because Dr. Lorie was so right – every story has two ways of telling, and yours might be partly right, while the other person’s is also partly right. Together, you need to let go of acrimony and agree to move on. When I told Dr. Lorie what I’d done, she gave me that amazing smile and I felt reborn. reborn “If you were here now, Dr. Lorie,” I say to her this morning, in the silence we have embraced, the little bit of space we are taking to say the goodbyes we did not get to say to her, on that horrible day this week that we learned of her passing, “I’d tell you how much I appreciated the time you gave me; time to vent, time to laugh, time to share and learn together. I’d tell you how much I valued our friendship. I’d remember the times we had at BlogPaws and WIPIN, where you looked so beautiful, with your hair all done up and your smile as bright as all the stars in the sky, and I’d listen to your stories from your vet conferences or the times you were at AAHA with Tom. “I’d tell you how much I admire you because you bring such grace and honor to all that you do. I’d ask about your cats – how is it I never asked about your cats? <sigh> I’d tell you stories about Emily and Olive and Molly. And I’d cry with you over the loss of my beautiful Chester. “If you were here, I’d ask about the learning center we’re building and get your advice on what to include and I’d thank you for sharing so much with me, over these few years we knew each other. “If you were here, I’d hug you again and take a picture with you and I’d make sure the whole world knew what a treasure you are to the veterinary world, the pet community, and to me… in my silly, eventful life…often full of drama and a bit of spectacle... offered by the company I keep. None of whom hold a candle to you. “If you were here, I’d focus on our plans for next year – how we decided to conquer the world together, laughing, joking, but serious in our own way. I’d write down my thoughts and you’d write yours down, and we’d put them in order and we’d make them happen. We’d create that landscape where pets and people and veterinarians and brands that serve us would all get along and make life better for each animal and the world would understand that the human-animal bond is as vital a part of our lives as human beings as breathing or sleeping or loving one another. And, I’d be glad to have you at my side. “If you were here…” But you are not. You are somewhere else. Somewhere I cannot reach you now. You were taken too soon and too quickly and I cannot understand why that is. I will miss you forever. #friendshipendures Continue reading
Posted Oct 3, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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by Yvonne DiVita It may only be October but the New Year is looming. Somehow, once we hit September, the days and weeks pass by in a blur and before you know it, Jolly Old St Nick is arriving, with the celebratory night called New Year's Eve, hard on his heels. I wonder how St. Nick celebrates - does he just crash and heave a big sigh, and wait for his wife to bring him a beer? #thingsthatmakeyougohmmmm Over the last two years, as I've worked more intimately in blogging and programs with brands, over at BlogPaws, my emerging and strong community of pet people who blog or tweet or just connect to make life better for animals everywhere, I've learned a thing or two about where we're going with this social media stuff. You know, the Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc...stuff. The stuff that is a direct result of blogging. Back in 1994, when I started blogging, we were brand new. "What's blogging?" folks would say, with that quizzical look on their faces, when we told people that's what we were about. "It's... like an interactive newsletter, online," I would say. Or, "It's a conversation," Tom would say. The blank looks persisted. Over time, folks 'got it.' The Internet, they discovered, was a useful tool. The Internet, and websites, and BLOGS, could help them market and sell and connect and grow. Hallelujah. The infographic over at Social 4 Retail tells us that 6.7 million people blog on blogging sites, while 12 million blog via social networks (Facebook and twitter). It also says...wait for it... drumroll please... "the majority of bloggers are WOMEN" Looking at that graphic, we see a list of the highest earning blogs which includes Mashable, Techcrunch, and something called Car Advice. Interesting, the car advice one. The others are well known and you'd expect them to make almost any list of good blogs. The key here is to recognize that they are blogs. As we move into 2015, into a new decade, into an ever increasing world of "what ifs"... where folks like my 16 year old granddaughter take social media and talking phones and texting for granted, the way we old folks took color TV and remote controls and power steering for granted when OUR parents had to watch black and white TV, get up and change the 3 channels if they wanted something new, and drive cars that built muscles... I have to wonder where the whole blogging craze is going. We're moving beyond the focus of blogging. It was a tool to build expertise and connect people by sharing stories. It was a way to meet new people without ever leaving your home. It grew into a way to market to the masses by having individuals, consumers if you will, share the product or service or next big promotion. People began to accept the input from bloggers - and brands recognized the influence these popular writers maintained. Suddenly, okay, maybe not 'suddenly', maybe over a period of years, bloggers gained not only acceptance but respect. Of a sort. There are still brands today that mistrust bloggers and we are as likely to be portrayed in TV shows or movies as gossipy, with a lack of integrity, rather than as journalists who deserve to be paid for their work, not their opinion. And yet... as time marches on, which it is wont to do, regardless of how many naps you take or how long you step away from your computer or whether you miss a favorite TV show or not... the world of marketing, to women or otherwise, has begun to change. It's moving away from blogs. It's moving away from social. Let me clarify, lest you rush to cancel those Facebook ads you launched yesterday, or you dismiss that amazing new agency with the smart and talented social person who is going to get you in front of thousands of new customers, at the click of a mouse... Bloggers are still influential. Bloggers are actually growing in influence, by virtue of their expertise and knowledge - gained over the last ten years doing this kind of thing; connecting to people personally, through their writing, and via their vast social networks. Blogs and bloggers are evolving. And therein lies the tale. As we grow, as we learn, we evolve. As we evolve, we become something different. As we move into the connective tissue of this thing we call social, we realize that some parts are better than others, some parts stronger than others, and some parts... just not worth paying attention to. We, the bloggers of the ancient world of 1999, are recognizing the need to be more. Therefore, I repeat - blogging is so 1999! What will you do in 2015 that rocks the blogosphere and gets people's attention? What will you do with this thing you call your blog, which is really a personal, online newsletter or diary, of sorts? Will you improve it? Delete it? Embrace it with a passion that says, "Here's who I am, what I do, and how I do it?" And continue being the voice for your higher purpose, on your blog and elsewhere, expecting brands and consumers all to stay in check? I am not. I am creating something new and exciting. This blog is moving. You will hear more in the very near future...and I hope you will come with me. The world is not enclosed in the small spaces one has for her personal blog. The passion I have for helping women in businss cannot be contained in this one space of a blog called Lipsticking. I have big dreams. I have big expectations. I believe women are the answer to the ills of the world - it's a belief I've had for more than 10 years, and one I've supported on this blog space. Stay tuned for MORE. Stay tuned for BETTER. Stay tuned for: #womenofpower #womenofdistinction #womenofsubstance I hope you will join... Continue reading
Posted Oct 1, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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by Yvonne DiVita "You're just so hard to work with!" Harsh words to hear. Especially given the fact that I'm not hard to work with. Yes, I am proud and confident and I can be domineering. But, I also listen well and 99% of the time try to see things from the other person's viewpoint. The incident causing this statement arose from an event that had happened several weeks prior. The person making the statement had worked with a competitor, a big competitor, to devise some online content that she now wanted ME to share. I was surprised. I was confused. I was ... slowly, a bit angry. "I'm here, I'm focused on this also, as you know," I wrote to her. "It confuses me why you would work with <competing brand> when we have an on-going relationship and I am always at your beck and call to create content." The answer to that statement was, "That makes me feel bad. Is that what you wanted...to make me feel bad? This wasn't my doing. It was <someone else>. I just participated." I had to let it go because, after all, I don't own anyone and relationships are open for interpretation. This person obviously felt it was okay to not only create content with a competitor, but to then ask me to share said content. I chose not to share. I chose to make note of the insult - yes, it was an insult - and move on. Fast forward to the opening sentence of this post. I was being told how hard I am to work with because I had made a stance weeks earlier, defending myself and my work. Interesting? More than that, it goes to intent on the other person's part. The intent was... all hers. She wanted to "have her cake and eat it too"...if you will. For a few moments, that comment stung. It caused me a high level of consternation. It made me catch my breath. Until the next morning... when, I rose to see... the sun. Since then, I look out the window in my office and the sun shines brighter than ever. It reminds me that relationships, certainly business ones, come and go. It reminds me that smiles gender more and better attention than tears. It reminds me that I am in charge of how much sun shines into my office, thereby into my world. Early morning sun can be brutal. It flows through the blinds like sharp knives, cutting my vision into random pieces. I find myself forced to close the blinds and turn the lights on. Oh that sad artificial light so many of us live with, day to day, in stark offices across the country. I hate it. I use it sparingly, only when the sun, the real light of the world, prevents me from accomplishing my good work. Each day, I rise here in Colorado, and I thank the good Lord and the Power of Light, for the sun. I often stand at my back door and marvel in the beauty of my grass, my trees, my simple but small yard, where the dogs cavort and chase squirrels. Am I really here? I sometimes ask myself. Is this my world? What luck, if that is true. If, indeed, I do not live in an alternate universe where I am only dreaming or imagining the beautiful yard out back, the stunning yard out front, the wondrous walking paths we take the dogs down almost daily... then I am blessed, am I not? Courtesy Photo | NASA | 09.22.2009 Though I am still seething a bit over the comment that I am hard to work with - born of the result of my standing up for myself - I realize more and more that I have sunshine all about me. I embrace the warmth and light of this marvelous orb as it serves to show me the way forward. My way is to move on and not allow foolish comments to dictate my happiness. I am reminded of this old song of my youth, "Don't Let the Sun Catch You Crying"... by Gerry and the Pacemakers. "We know that cryin's not a bad thing -But stop your cryin' when the birds sing," they told us. And yes, I see birds out my backdoor. I hear them singing each morning. I hear the soft and soothing sounds of a breeze in the trees. I can't help but smile, each and every day... The trials and tribulations of owning your life, of accepting the bad with the good, and of knowing yourself as intimately as you know ... your pets, your kids, your own mother... dictates the truth of Gerry and the Pacemaker's words... Don't let the sun catch you crying. Crying is for solitude and shadows. Believe in the sun and the smiles it brings. Believe in you. “A diamond doesn't start out polished and shining. It once was nothing special, but with enough pressure and time, becomes spectacular. I'm that diamond.” ― Solange nicole Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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Guest post by Katie Parsons By now you’ve probably seen the viral “Like a Girl” video ad from Always that features men and women from different age groups performing physical actions like running or throwing a ball like (you guessed it) a girl. The ad, directed by women’s rights documentary maker Lauren Greenberg, has been hailed as an empowering one for both genders by proving that perceptions of what women can and cannot do are vastly man-made. The ad joins a growing list of them that highlight strong, powerful women who are comfortable in their own skin, including those from brands like Dove, Pantene, and even athletic-wear manufacturer Under Armour. The ads first debuted online – an attempt to capture the attention of the 93 percent of millennials, ages 18 to 34, who do research online before deciding to buy and who are certainly more interested in the social messaging behind campaigns than older generations. On the surface, these ads are designed to be thought provoking and inspire an empowered feel for women. Are they really all that they seem though? As with all marketing, you have to consider the source. Always is owned by the world’s largest consumer packaged goods company, Procter & Gamble. Among other things, P&G manufactures makeup, hair dye, and even some anti-aging products – none of which really send the message that women should be embracing their beautiful, natural selves. The same is true of Dove (owned by Unilever) and Pantene (also a P&G brand). These companies present marketing campaigns with titles like “Real Beauty” while promoting products to the contrary. Perhaps a case can be made for Under Armour and its genuine message of women as strong and empowered. Long before it released its viral ad featuring atypical ballerina Misty Copeland, Under Armour was showing women with fit, not thin, physiques with sweat dripping down their faces after a tough workout. Again though – Under Armour wants to sell more products to women and that is the aim of its newest ad. Is the company providing a public service, or simply manipulating the good feelings of women to its own advantage? Historically, women have always been a tricky demographic for marketers to corner. Without enough attention to the things that concern them, marketers lose their interest. Sending patronizing messages, or ones with an old-fashioned or sexist feel, risk turning women off to a particular brand forever. Women are important to the economic bottom line, though. It’s estimated that in the next decade, women will control 66% of the wealth in the U.S. No wonder marketers are working so hard to reach women on a level they appreciate to the extent that they will open their wallets when the time comes to buy a particular product. Whatever the motivation, the latest string of ads that ride the empowered women trend is an important contributor to the cultural discussion surrounding women, their portrayal in the media and the power of their spending habits. Are you a fan of women empowerment ads – or are you weary of their messages? Katie Parsons is a writer for ChamberofCommerce.com. She covers small business news and technology, and also blogs about her family life on Mumbling Mommy. Photo via Flickr/Creative Commons Continue reading
Posted Sep 22, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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The non-profit organization Art as Action means a LOT to me. I've been on the board for 2 years and counting. While I don't perform, my daughter and granddaughter do. They embody the concept of Artivism, which is to perform in support of community, to share something bigger than the individual. This organization is focused on people, and the concept that art is fundamentally a part of the human condition. We believe: the world needs ART. Art needs YOU See below: ART as ACTION nurtures & cultivates a wide range of Artivists including: People with Parkinson's Disease who uncover their inner dancer through our Reconnect with your Body classes At-risk youth finding a safe space to explore their place in the world through our Young Artivists Performance Lab program at Attention Homes Runaway and Homeless Youth Shelter Veteran performers, both experimenting with new genres and embracing their primary art form Closet artists just discovering their creative potential through our Artivist Process We do a fund raiser every year. This year, we are SO CLOSE to our goal... only a few hundred dollars off! I share the purpose of Art as Action with you, my dedicated readers, and ask you to consider a small donation. Think about it... you are part of the human condition. You are part of the art of being alive. You are part of a bigger purpose in this small world of ours. You may write a verse... we think Art as Action can help inspire that verse. Will your verse speak to the whole world, or will you continue to hide it away? Share it. Be one with Artivists like me, my daughter, and my granddaughter. Inspire your daughters and granddaughters. Share Art as Action with them. ART helps us understand that which is bigger than ourselves. ART as ACTION provides participants and audience members the opportunity to reflect on ourselves and explore the common feelings and experiences we all share. Our programs and performances provide a place to discover unexpected connections and stop feeling so small and isolated that we stop contributing what is unique about us. We embolden the distinct, rare creativity deep within each individual. YOUR donation helps us compensate the human-power it takes to make our programs and performances successful. Continue reading
Posted Aug 28, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess Oh the misteaks we've scene! (Please tell me you see the mistakes in that prior sentence!) I'm not certain whether it's the texting generation or pure laziness, but the mistakes I see in the daily missives I receive make me cringe -- especially when they come from #womenofdistinction for whom I have great respect. Here are five mistakes you should be aware of and eradicate from your writing: You type and then simply hit, "send." Whoops, did you even give your email a once-over? If you haven't had enough coffee before you hit reply all you may be sending along a mistake you had never intended to send and once it's gone you can't get it back! Never send a message before you re-read it. An editorial tip I learned from my time at the newspaper is to read your item from the bottom up -- that way your mind will not be filling in the blanks and you won't skim over a mistake. Be real in your writing. If you wouldn't normally toss around $10 words, then don't do it in your writing. Your recipient will not be impressed and will likely wonder if someone else is writing your messages for you. Of course, if you are talking about a technical issue and need to use industry jargon, go right ahead, but offer an explanation if necessary to the jargon. Your recient shouldn't have to run to the dictionary to decipher the message. They're are to many mistakes being made by people in are industry who simply use the wrong homonym. If you're not certain which is the correct one, then please ask someone which "they're, their or there" you should use. Hopefully you caught the mistakes in the first sentence of this bullet. Tell me what you really mean. If, for example, you read one of my blog posts and like it, say so. If you say, "it was nice" I don't know what that means. Was it informative? Enlightening? Hilarious? Or are you saying "nice" in a sarcastic way that I just can't feel in the email message? Don't back into your sentences. This is something I learned from my years of writing fiction. I also learned when I wrote fiction that I didn't just say what I meant. I had a build up of unnecessary information to get to the point. "Starbucks has great coffee. Sue and I went there for coffee the other day." What?! How about, "Sue and I wanted a great cup of coffee so we went to Starbucks." -- short, sweet and to the point. (obviously it doesn't have to be Starbucks, but it does need to be clear) What errors do you see in the emails you receive, or what errors have you been guilty of? We'd love to know! Continue reading
Posted Aug 25, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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Yes I have tattoos. Yes I am pursuing my dreams of becoming a model... I have been told on several occasions that everything about me is perfect for modeling if only I didn't have those tattoos ... I've honestly thought about removing them to advance ... I have put each and every one of these beautiful tattoos on my body for a reason. Most of them are reminders ... visual tokens that show me how far I have come in this life ... I have spent years perfecting the art of loving myself fully and I have decided to not comprise who i am because my style doesn't for into the category mold of commercial model. I am good at what I do and if a few tattoos is what's holding me back then watch me work twice as hard to achieve my goals. ‪#‎nevergiveup‬ ***And so says Jenna Rusnak, aspiring model, beautiful niece, smart woman online. What have YOU done lately, to show yourself how you feel about yourself? #womanofsubstance #womanofdistinction #womanofsignificance photo by Hannah Betts Continue reading
Posted Aug 21, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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by Yvonne DiVita The women of WIPIN rock big time! WIPIN is Women in the Pet Industry. I am a member. A proud member. This past weekend I experienced such profound acceptance by a large group of business women, it made me glad to be alive. Over and over, at the WIPIN conference in Portland, OR, women were saying, "Everyone here is so friendly! I am amazed by how giving they all are!" That's the catch-phrase of the weekend... Giving. The conference itself was about Growing. But we don't grow until we GIVE, isn't that true? Each woman brought a unique set of ideas with her. Each woman was an expert in her field...not the kind of expert with a lot of initials after her name, but an expert in how to get it done...by doing it. By putting a little elbow grease in it. By recognizing the need to ask for help or give help. My team from BlogPaws was there in spades... helping galore! Carol Bryant spoke and so did Robbi Hess, and in-between speaking, they were learning, sharing, and giving... always giving! I am so blessed to be among women like these women! Sessions at the conference focused on building a bigger, better, stronger business. Tools to do so were shared by each presenter I saw. Lots of tools! Lots of information! A wealth of learning. I noticed women taking notes, or not taking notes...because they were so intent on what the speaker was sharing. I heard women exclaiming their amazement over the content ...or, over each other. And yes, we checked out shoes and bags and jewelry, too! And, I must say that Shawna Schuh went above and beyond, with her team, to make this event a winner. It's not easy corraling a group of over 200 women into one room, where you can address them individually. Or, make them feel you are addressing them individually. But, she did it. She struts her stuff throughout the hotel halls with the confidence of a true Diva, with the knowledge that a conference like this, focused on women in the pet industry, is not only necessary, it's obligatory. Truly. Throughout the weekend, as I looked around the rooms (session rooms, the general session room, the lobby, the hall, the ladies room, for heaven's sake!), I saw women aborbing the very essence of networking and togetherness... lead by a dynamic woman who is quickly becoming an icon in this industry. The conference did more than help women achieve better learning, in order to take their businesses to heights they were afraid to even dream of... it gave a small group of women the status of celebrity. A small group of women were Finalists in the Woman of the Year ceremony. I was one of them. I got the royal treatment from Shawna and team, along with my other finalists... and, by the way, I was honored to be among them; each one was a leader in her field of endeavor, and eager to show the rest of the members in attendance how to become strong, powerful women in their fields, also. The ultimate prize, Woman of the Year, was given to an outstanding woman of accomplishment who radiates giving. Lorien Clemens, Director of Marketing for PetHub where "lost pets get home faster" has always impressed me as a mover and shaker, and someone other women can look up to. She doesn't just work to save lost pets, she is always looking for other women who need a lift, who want to achieve but are 'stuck', or who just want another professional to bounce ideas off of. I love her smile and her laughter and the way she looks at life - as a great experience worth every second of her attention. She was and is PRESENT in all she does. What a fantastic weekend! If you're in the pet business, you should have been there. If you're in business, and can help women with expertise to take their dreams higher, you should have been there. If you're hoping to meet more like-minded women with a purpose, in the pet industry, you should be there...now. It's a membership and yes, it culminates yearly in a conference, but WIPIN has much to offer, all year long. I am already planning for next year. Who's coming with me? p.s. I won a Fantastic sterling silver and amethyst heart-paw necklace by Elena Friegner and matching shelter donation from Good News for Pets, too! Here I am with Lea-Ann Germinder showing off the official document of my winnings. Will share the new bling when it arrives! Donation will go to Longmont Humane, of course! Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess Does the idea of the "blank screen" make you cringe? It does for many entrepreneurs. After all, you're an expert in your business niche and that niche may not be writing. If you endeavor to write your own blog posts, here are three ways you can create content that will intrigue and enchant your readers: Use photos podcasts or video. As many blog sites to, host a "Wordless" day. As in a "Wordless Wednesday" in which you ask your readers to simply submit a photo under a stated theme. "Relaxation at home" for example could prompt your readers to send photos of themselves cooking, walking the dog, sitting under a shady tree, etc. Video is quickly, or has quickly, become king. If you're good behind a camera, then offer your readers/viewers a quick video snippet based on an idea for a blog post you may have wanted to write, but never did.If you don't want to be on video camera, consider a podcast for your readers' listening enjoyment. Tell a story. Let your readers get to know the person behind the business. Today's consumers aren't looking for B2B or B2C interaction, they are craving H2H (human to human) and if you want to draw in more clients, be more human. You may not want to tell your entire life story, but let them know about a "day in the life" for example. Be engaging. If you're boring and formulaic your readers will be nodding off before they finish the first paragraph. If you're bored of your topic, your reader will be bored as well. If you've had a bad day, it will show through in your writing. If you simply can't "fake it" on the computer screen, then step away until you are more refreshed and able to write lively, engaging content. What ideas do you have when you need to create new content for your readers? Continue reading
Posted Aug 18, 2014 at Lip-Sticking
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Post by Blog Manager Robbi Hess It still kind of amazes me that even today, business owners will ask, "Do I really need a blog?" My short answer is a resounding, "yes!" Why? Myriad reasons, but the main one is that if you have a website and you don't typically update your site -- and no one usually does -- it will not rank high in Google searches. However, if you have a blog on your website, every time you add new content Google thinks you've updated your site (which essentially you have) and your searchability gets revved up. Here are three ways having a blog can help you market your entrepreneurial endeavors: If you're the expert in your business niche, a blog will help you share that knowledge. Through your blog posts you will be sharing information and letting your readers know why you are the authority. Because you live your niche and area of expertise daily, you can use your blog as a forum to share that information -- in a non-salesy way. Use your blog to become the go-to authority in your niche. Answer questions you read online and questions your potential, and current, clients have asked. If a reader of your blog post asks a question, use that as a spring board to another blog post; if one reader has a question, chances are others do as well. Announce anniversaries, promotions or deals on your blog. Use your blog as your number one marketing platform to make company announcements. Whether you're hiring a new employee, moving to a bigger office, launching a new product or celebrating a business milestone, use your blog to share the news. Once you've written your blog, you need to make certain you share that information across your social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. When is the last time you blogged? What is holding you back from blogging? Let us know! Continue reading
Posted Aug 15, 2014 at Lip-Sticking