Posted by: nichemarketplace | February 11, 2009

Do you wear your heart on your sleeve every day?

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Caption:  DO YOU WEAR YOUR HEART ON YOUR SLEEVE EVERY DAY?

I recently attended the wedding of the daughter of some family friends. The wedding was extraordinary on several levels. It was a very traditional ceremony — an Orthodox Jewish wedding. In fact, there were more Orthodox Rabbis than you could shake a stick at (though why you’d want to shake a stick at an Orthodox Rabbi I will never know — rim shot!). The Affair — which is what Jews from “Back East” call a catered reception — was NOT held in a major Jewish center like New York, Chicago, Miami, or Los Angeles, it was held in Seattle, Washington. But perhaps the most unusual part of the wedding was the fact that my friend — the father of the precious young bride — has advanced, inoperable cancer.

Even though a wedding is an unqualified celebration of life, the shadow of tragedy is never far from our lives. Traditional Judaism integrates this idea into the wedding ceremony itself with the breaking of a glass by the bridegroom. Although symbolic of the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, the breaking of the glass at a Jewish wedding is a tangible reminder that life is a blending of opposites — joy and grief, good and bad, the individual and the community.

Given the father of the bride’s health situation, one might have thought that the family might have chosen to have a small private ceremony. Since the bridegroom came from another U.S. city — where the bride also attended school for several years — the family could have easily decided to hold the wedding in the bridegroom’s home town and simply invite family and close friends. But the family decided instead to invite their family, friends, and the community at large to share in their joy and celebrate together with them the founding of a new Jewish family. As I watched the parents of the bride marching down the aisle, l couldn’t help thinking that while one can’t choose how much time one gets on this earth, one can choose how one wants to be remembered. I will never forget the sight of my friend beaming with fatherly pride and surrounded by the many, many people whose lives he has so deeply touched. It was, quite literally, an unforgettable memory.

A few years ago, WWJDWhat Would Jesus Do — bracelets, jewelry, and T-Shirts were all the rage. While I am not a Christian, I can definitely relate to the concept of incorporating positive affirmations into wearable keepsakes in an effort to keep one’s conscious mind focused on what ultimately matters in life. Jewelry Designer Jessica Kagan Cushman offers a high impact, high fashion example of this concept with her fabulous resin bracelets to support The Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation.

jessica-kagan-cushman-resin-bracelets

So for all of you artsy, craftsy, creative types out there (Attention … calling all Etsy artists!), may I offer some more ideas suitable for inscribing on bracelets:

  • HDYWTBR? — How Do You Want To Be Remembered? — in honor of my dear, dear friend, thank you for teaching me yet another priceless life lesson
  • I5YWIRMAD? — In 5 Years Will It Really Make A Difference? — for all of us who tend to obsessively sweat the small stuff
  • WWYDIYKYCNF? — What Would You Do If You Knew You Could Not Fail? — for all of us who sometimes let fear and self-doubt control us (and in honor of my mentor Janelle Elms of the Online Success Institute and OSI Rock Stars)
  • LIWHWPMO — Luck Is What Happens When Preparedness Meets Opportunity — the Roman philosopher Seneca made this observation back in the 1st Century A.D., but it is as true now as it was then
  • FLHMELCMWLBMTLSMLMAAGTWBY — Fear Less, Hope More; Eat Less, Chew More; Whine Less, Breathe More; Talk Less, Say More; Love More, And All Good Things Will Be Yours — While this unpronounceable cluster of letters reads like a bowl of alphabet soup, what this Swedish proverb lacks in brevity, it makes up for in comprehensiveness

How many decisions and lives would be changed if we just wore our most cherished principles on our sleeves all the time? … Or maybe,  just on our wrists.

Posted by: nichemarketplace | February 4, 2009

Old School vs. New School Romance

old-school-vs-new-school-romance 
Caption: OLD SCHOOL ROMANCE AT ITS FINEST!

Are you an old school romantic? Or are you hip and edgy even when it comes to love? Or maybe you like to combine the trendy and the traditional? On these lists, you’ll find some tried and true suggestions for Valentine’s Day gifts, as well as some newfangled ideas. Or better yet, find your own style because love is in the air, and love is all you need, and love makes the world go round … So let’s hear it for love in all its endless forms and infinite variations.

Top Ten Old School Valentine’s Day Gifts

  • A Dozen Roses
  • A Box of Chocolates
  • A Bottle of Her Favorite Perfume
  • A Special Piece of Jewelry (it doesn’t have to be expensive, but it couldn’t hurt)
  • A Bottle of Vintage Champagne or Fine Wine
  • Sexy Lingerie
  • A Romantic Candlelit Dinner for Two
  • Romance Period (from a quiet evening at home to a romantic weekend getaway, or how about airline tickets to Paris?)
  • Something handmade by your sweetie — a homemade valentine, an original poem, a home-cooked meal, or a personally-prepared romantic Valentine’s Day date spot (don’t spare the candles and the rose petals)
  • A Diamond Ring — because diamonds really are forever

Top Ten New School Top Ten Valentine’s Day Gifts

  • Cell Phone — make mine an iPhone please! (she is never without it so you’ll always be on her mind)
  • A New Laptop Computer (choose one with built-in web cam and she’ll never be out-of-sight or out-of-mind)
  • An Apple iPod (loaded with her favorite tunes naturally)
  • A Fabulous Pair of Shoes or a Designer Handbag (because she’s a chick and chicks love shoes and purses)
  • A Gift Basket filled with products to pamper your Sweetheart — Bubble Bath, Candles, Massage Oil, and a toy or two you wouldn’t want your kids to find
  • A Radar Detector (subtitled “Love in the Fast Lane” this suggestion comes directly from Gayot.com’s Top 10 Valentines Day Gifts) it is the perfect present if your girlfriend has a lead foot
  • A High Tech Espresso Maker (you’ll be in her thoughts with every cup)
  • A State of the Art Digital Camera (don’t forget the batteries cause you’ll want to start recording your special moments A.S.A.P.)
  • Name a Star after your Beloved (old school sweetness combined with new school charisma — check it out at the International Star Registry)
  • A Diamond Ring — because some things never change

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Caption: MICHAEL KORS SPRING 2009 COLLECTION — IT’S ALL ABOUT THE DOTS!

Am I the only person who is fantasizing about spring? I know it is only mid-January, but visions of spring fashions keep dancing in my head.

Polka Dots are one of the hottest looks for Spring 2009. From Michael Kors to Marc Jacobs, DKNY to Dolce and Gabbana, there are spots on the fashion horizon. Fashion experts have varying explantions for the “dots-on” trend including the popularity of the Mad Men television series, a retro throwback reminiscent of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and even a form of escapism prompted by the current economic crisis.

There are big, bold, graphic-inspired polka dot prints — black dots on white (or the reverse). Michael Kors favors high impact colors — white, black, blue, red, and yellow — and often mixes his polka dot prints with stripes or other prints. Other designers are more classic in their approach and emphasize a neutral palette — black, white, cream, khaki, and navy. You can find polka dots in all the hottest colors for spring: palace blue, dusty rose, papaya, mango, salmon pink, zesty lemon, citron green, lavender, and slate gray.

Immersing yourself in a trend can make you a style icon or a fashion victim. So how do you incorporate polka dots into your wardrobe without going too over-the-top? In an article entitled Cool Polka Dots for Spring 2009, Janine Wilson, Fashion Blogger for Sparkle*Shelf.com makes the following recommendations:

  • Avoid polka dot patterns that look too cutesy
  • Black or white polka dots on a colored background are more chic and less overpowering than colored polka dots on a white or black background
  • Choosing sophisticated background colors will help to keep the pattern from looking overly juvenile
  • A nautical-inspired color palette look sophisticated and classic
  • Polka Dotted accessories — scarves, sunglasses, or ballerina flats — are a great way to stretch your budget and add the flair of a hot trend to your existing
    wardrobe (this is an especially valuable suggestion for plus-size ladies who might feel a little conspicuous in a big, bold polka dot print dress or separates)

Fun prints are synonomous with spring and summer fashion and what could be more light-hearted, optimistic, and whimsical than polka dots? So while you are curled up on the couch, huddling in your winter afghan, and dreaming of spring … don’t forget to add a dash of polka dots to your wardrobe, just thinking about your latest purchase will bring a sunshine-like smile to your face.

Posted by: nichemarketplace | January 9, 2009

Diamond shopping for Valentine’s Day in the midst of a Recession … 

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Caption: LOVE KNOWS NO BOUNDS … EVEN IN A RECESSION!

I have just returned from a glorious Caribbean cruise narrowly avoiding a major snow storm and record-breaking cold snap in my hometown of Seattle. It was a blissful week of sunshine, balmy temperatures, and pampering. I read the all four books of Stephanie Meyers’ Twilight Saga in a week — awesome! The high point of the trip was a visit to Effy Jewelers in St. Maarten where my Sweetie bought me a Diversa diamond pendant and earrings set as a holiday present. The earrings set is so amazing because the stud earrings change to drop earrings in the wink of an eye (and the pendant morphs into a drop pendant the same way)! Two different looks — one for daytime and another for evening — from the same set … How cool is that!

Upon our return what do you think I found in my E-mail? A fabulous guide on How to Make a Diamond Look Larger than Its True Carat Weight from Carly Wickell, Jewelry & Accessories Expert from About.com. Acting according to type, I greedily devoured the article and congratulated myself on all the things I did right when choosing my newest baubles. While far from perfect, I scored pretty well on Wickell’s five point tip sheet.

Although the average employee is still trying to get caught up from the New Year’s holiday, believe it or not it will be Valentine’s Day before you know it. Given the national belt-tightening inspired by our unpredictable economy, I thought it might be helpful to summarize Carly Wickell’s insights for all of you hopeful romantics that are planning to surprise your significant other with something sparkly (even when purchasing luxury items, getting the most bang for one’s buck makes good sense).

Here are just a few ideas to consider when making your Valentine’s Day diamond purchase:

  • Marquise, oval, and pear-shaped diamonds often look larger than round diamonds of equal carat weight.
  • A Pavé setting — a continuous surface of diamonds that is made up of many smaller stones set very close together — can make a piece of jewelry appear to have more and larger diamonds than it actually does (because it is difficult for the eye to distinguish the individual stones).
  • An Illusion setting — a diamond which is mounted on a highly reflective plate before being set into the band — can also make a stone look larger and more brilliant.
  • A setting with side stones won’t necessarily make the center stone look larger, but it will give the piece more overall impact (this is especially true for engagement rings).
  • A Bezel setting — a metal rim that encases the stone and attaches to the band — enhances the shape of the diamond and makes it blend into the band thereby making it appear larger.

This is just a sliver of the excellent advice that Carly Wickell offers re: diamond buying. I encourage you to read the complete unabridged text, as well as her related articles on diamond cuts and how to judge diamond color and clarity. Although her conclusions are focused specifically on diamonds, I imagine the principles she outlines apply to other gemstones as well.

Despite all the recession naysayers and the doom and gloom economic prognosticators, I wish you happy hunting. Remember, love knows no bounds … even during inflationary spirals and recessionary dips!

Posted by: nichemarketplace | December 17, 2008

Last Minute Holiday Shopping Quick Tips …

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Caption: LAST MINUTE HOLIDAY SHOPPERS RECHARGE THEIR BATTERIES!

For all of you last minute holiday shoppers, the clock is ticking down and it is really crunch time now. Never fear, glory awaits those who keep the faith! To assist you in your quest, here is some expert advice culled from sources across the Internet.

Buy in bulk or shop for lots and repackage them into gift sets or gift baskets. This suggestion comes from terrific Seattle online writer Kristina Jensen. In an article entitled How to Give Christmas Gifts in a Recessionary Economy, she remarks that “Buying Christmas gifts in bulk is cheaper and you can usually get [better] quality products.” eBay, warehouse clubs, discount or liquidation outlets, the clearance sections of chain stores (like Walgreens or Target), even the local dollar store are great sources for decadent treats, unusual products, and cool stuff that can be grouped together to make a gift package fit for the most discriminating family member or co-worker. Think about the gift recipient — is he or she a chocoholic? A coffee or tea lover? A student? Group the items around a particular theme, add a dash of creative presentation, and … Ta-Dah — you’re good to go!

Smell that holiday spirit! There is a strong relationship between the sense of smell and human memory. The smell of turkey roasting on Thanksgiving or cookies baking in the oven is bound to bring a flood of childhood memories. Aromatherapy candles and gifts not only spread holiday cheer, they are known to reduce stress. eHow author and expert gift giver Kristina Jensen, also recommends buying fragrant gifts, especially anything scented with apples, spices, cinnamon or pine. Personally, I find the fragrance of vanilla, citrus, berries, and eucalyptus very festive. A cautionary note — some people are extremely sensitive to strong fragrances. If the proposed recipient has a sensitivity to smells or is highly allergic, you might want to try a different track.

Think Green, Save Green! Recycling and reusing resources helps the planet and your budget. Green holiday gift giving can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Kristina Jensen offers a range of suggestions for environmentally conscious, cost-saving gift giving. Online greetings cards create no waste. Cut down on the expensive gift wrap and use simple tissue instead. Even better, consider saving and reusing gift wrap, gift bags, and ribbons. Remember how your mom or grandma used to save and reuse gift wrap? It turns out they were smarter than you thought! Last but not least, there is regifting. Regifting saves energy, saves precious natural resources, as well as saving money. The key to successful regifting is to think before you give. Ask yourself this question, “Does the regifted gift complement the interests and lifestyle of the proposed recipient?”

Get Personal. Personalized gifts are always appreciated. As Kristina Jensen rightfully observes, “Photos are always personal and meaningful.” Current or vintage photos of family members, beloved pets, favorite vacation spots, or other shared memories presented in a lovely frame make thoughtful and heartfelt holiday gifts. But you don’t have to stop there, we live in an amazing digital universe — greeting cards, gift cards, T-shirts, tote bags, coffee mugs, mouse pads — you can add a digital photograph, custom colors, and a personal message to almost anything you imagine.

Give group gifts, instead of individual gifts. This suggestion comes from frugal gift giving maven strvnwriter (another talented online writer who writes under a screen name). In an article entitled How to Give Frugal Christmas Gifts, she duly notes that you can save both money and time by buying a single gift for the couples or even entire families on your list. Her recommendations for great couple’s gifts include a pair of movie tickets, a pair of wine glasses or champagne flutes, or a bag of gourmet coffee and some chocolate spoons. Suggestions for family gifts include a Blockbuster gift card put together in a gift package with microwave popcorn and movie-size candy or a fun family board game. DVDs of family movie classics — from Shirley Temple to Shrek — also make great family presents.

Gift Card Do’s and Don’ts — strvnwriter insightfully points out that, in general, gift cards and gift certificates can cause a person to spend more money than one might otherwise spend. With a little creativity, a frugal shopper can design a fabulous gift package for $10, but one might be reluctant to give a gift card in such a small denomination. There are exceptions to this rule, however. Gift certificates and gift cards are simple, convenient, perfect for family and friends at a distance, and eminently Green. The key is to choose a restaurant or service that the recipient actually uses on a regular basis. If you have a co-worker who buys a coffee every day from the local espresso stand, then a $10-$15 pack of Latte coupons would go a long way.

So now that you’ve received a transfusion of gift giving wisdom, your shopping batteries are recharged and you’re ready to make the final assault on the mall. Just keep your eye on the prize and you’re sure to go the distance!

Posted by: nichemarketplace | December 4, 2008

Finding the perfect gift for that special lady in your life …

Finding the Perfect Gift
Caption:  THE SPECIAL LADY IN YOUR LIFE DESERVES SOMETHING SPECIAL THIS HOLIDAY SEASON!

Psst guys, I’m talking to you … Okay it’s holiday time and the pressure is on to find that perfect gift for your wife, girlfriend, mother, or that special lady in your life.

The quest for perfection can be stressful. Maybe you are even trying to convince yourself that a trip to the hardware or electronics superstore is just the ticket. Don’t kid yourself, you are not going to get off that easy.

Fear not. Here are some suggestions to get those creative juices flowing …

What colors does she wear most frequently?
Think about her favorite outfits. The ones that make her feel happy, confident, sexy, and special. What color or palette of colors do they fall in? Pastel shades (pink, yellow, pale blue, and mint green)? Jewel tones (sapphire blue, ruby red, emerald green, and amethyst purple)? Perhaps her wardrobe is geared towards classic styles and neutral colors — black, white, tan, and grey.

Does she like to accessorize her apparel?
Accessories  include jewelry, shoes, hats, hand bags, and scarves. Women often use accessories to stretch their clothing budget. Adding a trendy scarf, a fashionable purse, or a fabulous pair of shoes can update last year’s look or transition her favorite outfit from fall to spring. Working women often use accessories to personalize and add a sense of individuality to the female equivalent of the corporate power suit.

How does her personality express itself in her choice of fashions?
Is she dramatic? Or does she like little details? Does she prefer big and bold colors and prints or small and subtle flourishes — a touch of lace or vintage buttons?

What is her taste in jewelry?
Big and chunky? Delicate? Intricate? Does she wear Gold jewelry, Sterling Silver, or both? Does she have a favorite gemstone? What is her birthstone?

Does she like surprises or would she prefer to pick out her own gift?
Some women adore spontaneity. For them, being surprised is the ultimate expression of romance. If your special someone falls into this category, there is no reason to freak out. Remember the source of joy is primarily in the act of being surprised and only secondarily in the choice of a gift. Other women are extremely discriminating and have very specific ideas regarding their likes and dislikes. The good news is that shopping for such ladies is simple — gift cards / certificates make excellent presents.

So, now that your mind is positively percolating with gift ideas … go forth and shop fearlessly!

Posted by: nichemarketplace | November 24, 2008

Holiday shopping in a recessionary economy …

Holiday Gift Giving in a Recessionary Economy

Spare Giving -- Holiday Gift Giving in a Recessionary Economy (photo by Mother Pie)

Caption:  THE KEY TO HOLIDAY SHOPPING IN A RECESSIONARY ECONOMY IS CHOOSING GIFTS FROM THE HEART!

Santa is making a list and checking it twice all right. That is because — just like the rest of us — his holiday shopping budget has just taken a major hit.

Holiday shopping in a recessionary economy can be challenging, but troubled economic times only heighten the need for rejoicing and celebration. So before you swear off gift giving altogether, here is some expert advice to help you give generously even on a budget. What does it mean to give generously? Generosity is more than financial, it is spiritual. It is not the size of the gift, but the attitude of the giver that really matters. A heartfelt gift is always cherished by loved ones and appreciated by friends and co-workers. Giving generously is a mindset. Choosing a gift from the heart can be more difficult than merely finding an item in the dollar range that fits your budget. Meaningful gift giving requires effort, thought, and planning.

In an article entitled How to Give Christmas Gifts in a Recessionary Economy, terrific Seattle online writer Kristina Jensen emphasizes that the key to gift giving on a budget is to follow the old adage — It’s the thought that counts! “In times of economic instability, the gift you give doesn’t have to be the height of luxury. It just has to be thoughtful and aimed at the person you’re giving to.” eHow author and expert gift giver Kristina then goes on to suggest a strategy to help buyers in finding thoughtful, affordable gifts for their loved ones. “Consider each member of your family and all of your friends. Rather than ask, ‘What does my cousin most want?’ Ask [yourself] ‘What makes my cousin happy?’ Asking the question this way opens up a lot of new possibilities for Christmas gifts.”

To some degree or another, we are all making sacrifices to make ends meet. Often the first things that get cut are the personal indulgences — the little luxuries — that make life a bit sweeter. If your co-worker has recently started bringing coffee from home to save money, how much would he or she enjoy some Latte coupons? It may take some research on your part, but nothing is more appreciated than a gift that fills a genuine need.

Unquestionably the best holiday present I ever received was a video cassette recorder. It was a group gift. My entire family chipped in to purchase it and, as I recall, it was the only gift that I received that holiday season. At that time, I was a single mother with a young child who was working full-time. To say that I had no social life back then is an understatement. It was quite literally the perfect gift. Not because it was a top of the line, state of the art model, but because that video recorder was my lifeline during a very difficult time (remember there was no internet to speak of in the late ’80s). Each time I used it, I was reminded of my family’s unexpected thoughtfulness and generosity. Do you remember the best Christmas present you ever received? I would be willing to wager that it wasn’t the most expensive one you’ve ever gotten, rather it was the most meaningful — the one that touched your heart most profoundly.

In an article entitled How to Use Great Gift Ideas in a Recession, Lynn20 (another talented online writer who writes under her screen persona) echoes the importance of making thoughtful and heartfelt gift choices. She recommends choosing gifts that trigger fond memories of shared past experiences. “Think! Think about past conversations or experiences you have had with each person you want to give gifts.” Choose a gift that reminds you of some special memory that you shared with the recipient — something you remember that made them “embarrassingly happy, sad, furious, or excited … There is something that you can find … to bring the joy of WOW I THOUGHT YOU FORGOT ABOUT THAT!”

“The key here,” according to Lynn20, “is to either tell the story when they open the gift or write a reminder in the [gift] card.” Think about it … Who wouldn’t want to play the role of Ralphie in their own personal production of A Christmas Story? What could be more precious than a memento of days gone by? So this holiday season, put another yule log on the fire and add another old chestnut to the trove of treasured memories spent celebrating with family and friends. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Posted by: nichemarketplace | November 17, 2008

Shopping smart in a recessionary economy … 

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Caption: ARE YOU A SMART SHOPPER OR CHEAP-MINDED?

Getting the most bang for your buck is a major motivating factor for the smart consumer in good economic times or bad. However, in a recessionary economy, the imperative to shop smart has far greater consequences. There is an immense difference between shopping smart and being cheap-minded.

Beware the cheapest price …
Cheap products are cheap for a reason. They are usually inferior either in terms of materials, design, quality, or service. Or in the words of that time-honored cliché, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is. For the smart shopper, price is a major factor when making a purchasing decision, but it is not the only factor.

A good value trumps a great bargain …
The cheapest price is not always a good deal in the long run. It’s what our mamas used to call being penny wise and pound foolish. Or what I like to call the “cheap panties syndrome.” It is easy to understand that underwear that doesn’t fit, isn’t comfortable, and won’t last is NO bargain! This priniciple has implications that extend far beyond underpants. Looking for the “complete package” — quality products, superior design, competitive price, and excellent customer service — is always the hallmark of a smart shopper.

The cheapest price seller is soon out of business …
Circuit City, Linen ‘N Things, Frontier Airlines — how many of you remember Pay ‘N Pak? — the list of corporate bankruptcies goes on and on. And it will undoubtedly grow longer if the recession deepens. Whether you are shopping for consumer electronics or tube socks, don’t you want the option of returning the product if you discover that it is defective or substandard? If the answer is yes, make sure the seller you are dealing with is a reputable one and is going to stay in business for the long-haul.

Don’t be a cheapest price puppy …
A cheapest price puppy runs all around sniffing out the cheapest price (and usually ends up chasing its own tail). While their intentions may be admirable — i.e., they want to be good stewards of their family’s finances — cheapest price puppies miss the point: time is money! What is your time worth? Driving all over town trying to save pennies costs you dollars. The last time I checked, gas was not free (if you do know of a service station that is giving away free gas, please don’t keep it a secret!).

Time is the X factor …
For most people, time is more valuable than money. This is especially true for busy people. Think about it … no matter how much money a person makes, everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day. Even if you wanted to, you can’t buy more time. (Wealthy people leverage their time by hiring people to do the things they don’t want to do, but even they can’t buy more hours in a day.) One of the defining characteristics of shopping smart is appreciating the value of time and factoring time into the equation when making purchasing decisions.

In a recessionary economy, it is easy to be lured into one-dimensional thinking and focus on the bottom line to the exclusion of all other considerations. The ability to think outside the box and consider the bigger picture will not only save you money (especially long-term), it will give you a competitive edge in every area of your life … it will even help you become a smarter shopper!

Posted by: nichemarketplace | November 14, 2008

Barack Obama & September 11 — the ties that bind

election-night-2008
Caption: A VISION OF HOPE

While every blogger on the face of the virtual planet has already pronounced his or her verdict on the 2008 Presidential Election, I can’t resist offering my own humble impressions …

We don’t always recognize the transformational moments in our lives when we experience them. I vividly remember the first time I used a computer, dialed a cell phone, and surfed the internet. Yet I freely confess, at the time, I had little awareness of how rapidly or dramatically these technologies would change my daily existence.

Conversely, there are pivotal moments in history against which we measure the progress of our lives. We will always remember where we were and what we were doing when …

Martin Luther King Jr. shared his dream;
President John F. Kennedy was assassinated;
Richard Nixon resigned the presidency;
Neil Armstrong walked on the moon;
The Berlin Wall fell.

9/11 was one such moment. No one who saw the Twin Towers collapse on that fateful morning had any doubt that the world would never be the same. The election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States was another such moment.

These two events are linked. They were both defining moments in our national psyche. On September 11, 2001, all Americans were united by their sense of grief. On November 4, 2008, all Americans were united by an undeniable sense of history. Individually and collectively, we knew were experiencing a moment that our children and grandchildren would ask us about. In my view, these two events are two sides of the same coin. Each, in its own way, brought out the best in us as Americans.

On Election Night, I heard a CNN commentator observe how strange this election must appear to the rest of the world. In 2004, the American people reelected George W. Bush. A mere four years later, they elected a candidate that is, in many respects, Bush’s polar opposite. In my view, the commentator’s remark was a distinct understatement. In many parts of the world, peaceful, freely-contested elections are nothing short of a dream and it is no exaggeration to say that the only way a standing President ever leaves office is in a pine box.

CNN asked viewers to offer their personal stories about Obama’s historic election. In the thrill of the moment, I shared the following comment:

My Family, My Future! African American, Hispanic American, Jewish American — regardless of ethnic affiliation — the motivation was the same … voting for Barack Obama was act of faith in the future of the U.S. and the planet. As a proud and committed American Jewish woman, I voted for Obama because I want a better America and a better world for my son, for my future grandchildren, and for my son’s two biracial half-sisters who live across the globe in Jerusalem, Israel. I want all of them to know — unequivocally and unconditionally — that their highest dreams and goals are within their grasp … that with hope and faith, there is nothing that we cannot achieve together!

It has been more than two weeks since Election Night 2008. The yard signs are crumpled up in the trash or are slowly decomposing from the perpetual Seattle dampness. In our overcrowded house, we are anxiously searching for some space to store all the Obama merchandise we’ve collected (T-shirts, a baseball hat, even a commemorative poster). Nevertheless the black and white rectangular sticker on the bumper of my screaming yellow hatchback bears testimony to our deepest aspirations for the future: Got Hope?

Posted by: nichemarketplace | November 13, 2008

Finding your inner voice …

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Caption: THE HEALING POWER OF WRITING

I love writing … it makes me feel alive. My pulse quickens, all the neurons in my brain spark and flare, and instead of warring with each other (as they so often do), my intellect and my emotions — my head and my heart — are yoked together in the pursuit of a common goal.

When I write, I am totally immersed in the moment. Writing is more than an outlet for creativity — it is an act of becoming, rather than just being. Remember how you felt when you graduated from High School? You had your whole life ahead of you and the whole world was at your feet just waiting to be explored. That is how I feel when I am writing “in the zone.” I am the captain of my own destiny and the future has yet to be written.

So it is incredible to me that I haven’t been able to write anything of substance in almost five months. My sister passed away suddenly in June, 2008. My mother’s health — both physical and mental — is failing. Oh, I’ve had my share of challenges and then some (but then again who doesn’t?).

Albert Schweitzer is credited with the quotation: “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.” I guess I’ve always written more from the heart, than from the head. In recent months, I’ve felt too vulnerable to publically articulate my feelings in words. At the same time, the intensity of my emotions has made it impossible for me to consider writing about anything else.

So what caused my breakthrough moment? I took an intensive webinar from the fabulous online marketing guru and success coach Janelle Elms of the Online Success Institute and OSI Rock Stars about — of all things — building a successful eBay store. One of the assignments for the class was a detailed description about who do you want to be online? Guess what? … You can’t explain who you want to be online without first figuring out who you are and where you’re going. So I learned that I am, at heart, a writer. And what is a writer? The simplest — and ultimately the most profound — answer to that question is: a writer is someone who writes.

Joanna Young of ConfidentWriter.Com is a writer of great passion and profound insight. In an inspiring blogpost entitled On Losing and Finding Your Voice (Part 2), Joanna speaks of the healing power of writing: “And then starting to feel better. Starting to take more control over my dreams, my words, my world. Creating the world that I wanted as I shaped and was shaped by the words that I wrote.”

In that spirit, I am writing — and shopping — my way back to the land of the living. I hope you will join me on the journey. Shop a little, share a little, grow a little … sounds like the recipe for a pretty fine life, doesn’t it?

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