Sunday, April 24, 2011

A Blog Log

I’m a total hypocrite! Seriously, I tell people if you’re going to blog, you need to blog at least once a week. A few times a week is better and daily is best—if you want to do this sort of thing. I follow dozens of social media specialists who write frequently. They make it a priority and it’s a part of their daily work. I have come to realize the only way that will be me, is if it becomes a part of my daily job requirement.

Since starting my freelance work, I have picked up some interesting projects- unfortunately; blogging is not one of them. I am working with a very creative and much more disciplined writer and journalist. She has a great blog. She doesn’t blog daily, but crafts at least one or two memorable entries a week. It’s like exercise. You have to make a commitment to do it on a schedule, no matter how you feel and no matter what is going on in your life.

It was less than six weeks ago when my step-father fell and broke his hip. The following day he had surgery and then he was moved to a rehab facility where he has been about three weeks now. Tomorrow he is being moved to a nursing home to continue his therapy. I could and will write another blog about finding decent nursing care for a loved one. This has been so tragic- not only watching him in pain, but negotiating our healthcare system. There are so few options when you don’t have a lot of money for assisted care. Many of the nicer options cost up to 5,000 dollars per month. Is that reasonable? Our mortgages are not that high, even if you factor in electric, gas and water. For an elderly person? It’s pretty ridiculous.

I know I will have plenty of stories with this ongoing saga. I also want to start blogging about kids’ movies. I was inspired today after going to a Disney Nature film which was rated “G” and it was so far from “G”, that I had a sobbing child on my shoulder and lost one of my friends who had to leave with her three year old! More on that tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Fabulous and Freelancing

What a difference a few days can make! My last post was January 14th and January 21st was my last day at Borders! I can't say I shed any tears, it was a relief- even beyond the financial worry. It certainly was my first retail position that was a poor fit. I have had some "quirky" situations in the past, but this one was downright unsettling from the get go. My first day, I was told that the woman who hired me to work under her was leaving. After my first week, 100 people were let go. And then there was a massive site redesign which was set to go live just before the busiest time of the year. From there, it went down hill, tumbling to where things sit now, bankruptcy. People asked me, including friends and family why I took a position with a company in such dire condition. There were a couple of reasons. I loved Borders. Always have. But it was definitely better living on the outside. I also met some fabulous contractors who were exciting to work with and who taught me a lot in a short time.

Now it's six weeks later and I have three new freelance clients! I'm thrilled and very excited about working with them and contributing the knowledge I love to share. I'm already making a difference in a way in which I never could have at Borders. Perhaps I bought my ticket too late for a ride which was spinning out of control. And now it's my time to go full tilt into this new adventure.◦

Friday, January 14, 2011

Back from hiatus!

My last post was just before I starting my position at Borders in Ann Arbor. Blogging was one of those labors of love I had to stop for a time. I realized my blog time turned into drive time as I've been spending over 10 hours in the car per week. When I first started, I was also putting in time to learn everything I needed to learn, so I was away from home 12 hours a day.

Amanda started 3rd grade and has lots of activities. Besides her homework, she has piano, Brownies, math pentathlon and just last weekend, she started ice hockey! I know, right? And next weekend, she wants to audition for a play.

I am on my third year with the school science fair and this year, I have the exciting designation of 'Chairperson'. If only that title included a nice recliner, a glass of wine and one of the many books I have recently brought home from work.

The upside of course is that I am employed, I'm being challenged and have met some great people along the way. Welcome 2011, the milestone birthday year for me which let's say is 30- yeah- that's about right. I just bought myself a new pair of ice skates and can still turn a perfect cartwheel. I'm excited to see what this year brings and the amazing things "Amanda Says".◦

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Time to Grow

While I've been off, well more accurately, while I have not been employed full-time outside the house, I have really grown. I have had the time and random experiences that have made this all worth while. We're all probably sick of hearing the phrase "everything happens for a reason" and although true, the tricky part is in not knowing all the reasons up front. Some of the reasons take time to present themselves and need nurturing, just like a plant needs water and sun. Having the extra hours in the day or at least the luxury of having flexibility makes me gravitate toward the things I love best. I find myself puttering more in the yard. Yesterday, I used the electric hedger for the first time- and then spent the rest of the day worrying that Rob would have a fit over what I "hedged". I think I did a pretty good job and finished with all 10 fingers to boot! I pondered the empty space behind the deck where we had cut down the dead arborvitae and decided to put our table fountain there.

Today I went to the Heavenly Scent Herb Farm to get something inspiring for this new space I created. I found a metal faerie with colored stones and a hanging ladybug which now resides in our cherry tree on the deck. I'm thrilled to share some of what I saw today.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Street Sense

Sometimes the most amazing things can pass right by the street in front of your house.

This morning I attended an open house at The Creative Group with about seven other marketing professionals and we talked and met with Donna Farrugia who is the Executive Director of the agency. She had flown in from California and wanted to have a meeting of the minds on social media. Obviously a hot topic right now- we discussed how so many companies want to join the bandwagon, but have no idea where to start or whom to hire as their buzzmaster.

I mentioned to this group that I also attended my first "tweet up" last night at a local bar/restaurant and found it all pretty interesting. Without going into the reason for this tweet up, I met a bunch of great new people who were in the industry as bloggers, internet marketers and social media makers- all very friendly, connected and plugged in to their device of choice, which overwhelmingly were i-Phones. Some although under the same roof were actually tweeting to each other. Most of the time I was there, my phone was in my purse- for these are the occasions I relish that face to face contact- my only concern was that my daughter had phoned me a dozen times because she was not happy I was out! The one thing that struck me was one of the attendees said sometimes she just really appreciates having so many people respond on her Facebook and Twitter pages when she is having a bad day or is upset. What she appreciated the most was that human contact- people reaching out.

Going back to my morning meeting- we discussed how todays "kids" are wired so differently than previous generations. They grew up with computers, internet, texting and social media- it's how they live, learn and connect. I sometimes struggle with this- I don't want my cell phone to be my life line, but do understand why it can be theirs.

In the evening at home, we like to spend time outside visiting with neighbors, the neighbors dogs, children and just sit in the grass talking. Most times, I leave my phone in the house. Tonight, we spoke to a grandmother from around the block who happens to be from China. She was pushing her granddaughter in a stroller. The baby girl is half Russian and half Chinese. This babe is trilingual. Both Amanda and I greeted her in Mandarin- what a doll! After they passed by, a couple walked by holding a 10 week old black lab puppy named Cody. We learned that this pup visits on their son's golf night. They were thrilled to be puppy sitting and enjoyed meeting our Molly and her love Grue who shared ice cubes on the lawn.

I want Amanda to love the simple pleasures in life. That's why we ride our bikes a lot together. This is what my mom taught me. I'm obviously plugged in now, but Amanda is sleeping. My challenge now is to take my "street sense" be successful working in an industry that is on 24/7 and squeeze in those quiet meaningful times that happen without tones, rings and acronoyms.◦

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Going for Balance

While my new blog platform is being fleshed out- meaning my more technically advanced husband made it too complicated for me- I'm going to start posting again here. It has been quite sometime and it's certainly not because Amanda stopped talking. On the contrary! She has also had a lot to put up with this past year. My position at Gale Cengage was eliminated at the end of January and since then, I've been doing contract work and job hunting. The ironic part is, while I'm trying to secure a new position that would probably include social media, I have had no time to do social media for myself. You know that story about the shoemaker's kids...I always have time for others and love promoting businesses and developing ideas that translate into cash- but I have to make cash too. The bills don't stop when full-time employment stops!

I was so fortunate and perhaps wise beyond my regular income when I took a part-time consulting position last October, before leaving Gale. This same agency found me additional work and I did a neat little analytics project for Schoolcraft College. Thank goodness for Avinash Kaushik's web analytics books which walked me through some complex detail I needed- I was then able to really provide Schoolcraft a roadmap on where they should take their website.

Something else I have learned about doing contract work: It's a little hard for me to do the work and then let it go! I'm not used to that. I like to take ownership in a business and nurture it along. So, with that, I am interviewing and interviewing and interviewing more for something full-time and a place to call home. I have had some awesome opportunities present themselves and I am very excited to see where I'm going to land. I think what sets me apart from others is my backround as a merchant and I am really thankful to have a solid business foundation. I guess those 10 years of managing at Lord & Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue gave me more than a thinner waistline! I am so ready to get back to business. Universe, bring it on!

There is too much to update you on with Amanda, so I will make that a separate post. It's good to be back and I can't wait to share the happs with friends and family. Thank you to Marla for this photo! She really inspired me on her recent trip to China to bring her new daughter home! It really is all about balance. More to come-


Saturday, April 25, 2009

How Amanda became a U.S. Citizen

Here's one from the archives!

How Our China Punim Became a U.S. Citizen

When it comes to raising our China Punim, there are so many decisions to consider. Of course she will go to Sunday school and be a Bat Mitzvah, but those are easy decisions. Growing up in our area as all kids do is not a simple thing, but it’s decided and settled and right now, we are planning on sending her to public school. What about her Chinese culture? Both my husband and I want Amanda to learn Mandarin. It is not just because if she decides in the future that she wants to be a business person, she will have a definite edge in knowing the language, but we want her to learn about her Chinese heritage. We plan on returning to China, either to adopt another child, a “Mei Mei”, which means “Little Sister” or just to show Amanda her birth country, the culture she was born into.

It’s incredible to us what is going on now in the United States with the immigration issues. I can understand both sides, but one I will continue to support is the laws that affect the citizenship of children that are adopted internationally. One of the most powerful moments in our adoption emotionally was when we landed on U.S. soil in Detroit. Amanda was automatically a U.S. citizen. It felt like we held our breath for 2 weeks until we touched down at Metro Airport.

I remember the day like yesterday. We were sitting on the runway in her birth province, waiting to take off to Guangzhou for one more week. That was where the U.S. Consulate was. As we jetted out, my eyes welt up for her. I felt a tremendous sadness, like I was taking her away from all she knew. It did not feel natural, nor did I feel a sense of relief. It was more like a tremendous appreciation for the land and the unknown couple who created this incredible child to take care of and love. And although the country has its issues that girls are not as “desirable” as boys are, none of that mattered to us. We felt we were given a gift. I knew the next time we would land in the Guangxi Autonomous Region, we would be in the company of a boisterous 5 or 6 year old, or perhaps a moody teenager and we would be Mom and Dad.

Although everything was “Kosher” and legal, there was a sense of being in some episode of Alias, with passports, Visas, fingerprints and all those documents. We walked to the U.S. Embassy in Guangzhou, and our group was ushered past hundreds of Chinese citizens trying to get out of the country and to the United States. Left behind were these desperate faces clinging to and locked out behind the gate in hopes that someone would hear their case. Meanwhile these 14 girls in our group, once seen as less desirable, were about to become U.S. citizens. In retrospect, it was quite ironic.

Unfortunately, no cameras were allowed in the area because of security. We packed into a small room with a couple hundred parents holding their babies and repeating an oath we could barely hear- all the sudden everyone cheered and I knew that was it. Our girls were officially free to leave with us to start their new lives an ocean away.

As we were departing from mainland China for good, flying from Guangdong to Hong Kong, there was finally a sense of relief. We had her VISA to the United States and the famous brown envelope, not to be opened until it was handed to U.S. immigration officers in Detroit.