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Thanksgiving Treasures

§ November 22nd, 2012 § Filed under Uncategorized § Tagged , , , , § No Comments

This holiday provides a time for many of us to reflect on what makes us grateful. I join that chorus. I am so thankful for my family – my son, my daughter-in-law, my grandson – but also the family I have chosen – my friends.

My son is brilliant, gifted, creative yet pragmatic. He has grown into a considerate son, a devoted husband, and an exemplary father. He chose a sweet, kind, and beautiful woman as his wife and I am honored to have her as my daughter-in-law. Six years ago, she gave birth to, and raises with skill, my grandson, who has brought happiness and wonder back into my life. I could not ask for better family.

My two closest friends have been my friends since high school, and for an only child, those relationships are absolute treasures. When I was in the Girl Scouts, we learned a song, “make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other, gold.” These two are my “gold” friends. They have nursed me through so many difficult times in my life, but have also been there to celebrate the moments of triumph.

I am blessed to have people who have been in my life for dozens of years. They are too numerous to name here, but many are my friends on Facebook. We don’t see each other often, but I know they are only a call away when I need them. They make up an amazing support system for me and I thank you all for being a part of my life.

When I worked at the Texas Commission for the Blind 15 years ago, I worked with the most talented, brilliant group of people, and I have been able to stay in touch with many of those folks. I didn’t think I would ever have the opportunity to be a part of another team capable of that level of accomplishment.  As a result, I am extremely thankful that I have found another professional team that has accepted me as a member. The San Antonio Small Business Development Center staff and so many of the people at the Institute of Economic Development (some of whom I’ve known for years and some I met 14 months ago when I started my job as a Business Advisor) are devoted to helping small businesses succeed. I am grateful for my job. I get to do what I love to do every day, and I am grateful to the small business owners who trust me enough to let me share in their dreams.

I am so thankful to be living in the most vibrant city in the country. My parents moved here in 1957. I was five and I thought I would be riding horses every day. (I have yet to ride one, but it’s on my list.) I have watched this city grow and blossom, and I’m extremely proud to be a part of it. I’m especially delighted to live in one of its amazing historical neighborhoods, an area that is filled with people from diverse backgrounds, not to mention the eclectic assortment of restaurants. I love being able to walk on the Riverwalk. I also love being walking distance from my job. I am thankful to my landlady and my neighbors for being a part of this new phase of my life. I adore my apartment and my simplified life. I love my windows that look out on the Tower of the Americas and Southtown.

I am grateful for the chance to reinvent myself. There are so many people in this world, even in this country, who never get that opportunity. I have seldom felt stuck. My parents gave me the foundation and provided the education that has allowed me to change careers, to obtain more education, to open myself up to new experiences. I have realized that if there are areas of my life that I am dissatisfied with, I have the ability to change and improve. That is part of the reason that I have lost 35 pounds over the last year and become much healthier (blood pressure is normal, cholesterol and sugar levels are much improved). I’m still a work in progress, but I know I’m on the right path.

I’ve lost family and friends (two this year) and am reminded of how precious every day is. I hope to have several decades ahead of me, and hope that I continue to celebrate the silver and the gold friends in my life. Thank you all for being part of my journey, and for letting me be a part of yours.

It rained!

§ August 31st, 2011 § Filed under communication § Tagged , , , , § No Comments

Don’t knock the weather; nine-tenths of the people couldn’t start a conversation if it didn’t change once in a while. – Kin Hubbard

Last Thursday, something remarkable happened. It rained in San Antonio. That’s remarkable because for the last six months, we have had only five days with any rain. With the exception of one day in June, these few days of rain produced less than an inch.

Thursday, I sat at a local coffee shop and when the rain started, everyone stopped what they were doing, looked up from their laptops or newspapers, stopped their conversations on their iPhones and in person, and breathed a collective happy, awe-filled sigh. Some people got up and walked outside. You would have thought it was snowing from the looks of delight and surprise on people’s faces.

I had a wonderful conversation with a delivery truck driver outside the coffee shop. I mentioned that I was tempted to dance in the rain. He told me that the last time it rained, he and his wife went walking in the storm, getting soaked, loving every minute of it.

People started talking to each other. Yes, in-person, real-life verbal conversations. There was not necessarily any depth to the conversations, but people who would normally ignore each other connected, at least on some level.

Wouldn’t it be marvelous if we all connected, even if only on a superficial level, with each other every day? If we made eye contact, said something, even banal comments, to complete strangers, rather than ignoring each other, wouldn’t it help create a happier community?

There are so many remarkable things going on every day that we are alive. We need to find excuses to connect with people in person.

Being Social

§ July 5th, 2011 § Filed under communication, marketing, small business, training, writing § Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , § 10 Comments

There’s always a price to be paid for doing, being, and having more, and it has little to do with working harder or knowing the “right” people. In as few words as possible, “get out more.”  – TUT… A Note from the Universe (Mike Dooley)

A few events lately have convinced me that it is time for some comments on social media. This is not designed to be a list of rules. One of the things I love about social media is that it is still in flux. We’re learning “acceptable” behavior as we go along. I’ve come up with a few suggestions, though, and would welcome your comments.

To the extent that you would keep your personal life and work life separate, keep your personal and work social media separate. I have two Facebook pages – one for business and one that is personal. My personal page is primarily a space for connecting with friends, although many of my friends are also business acquaintances. I only become “friends” with people I have actually met (with a few famous exceptions), and all are people whom I would invite to my home.

I started with two Twitter accounts, but am starting to meld those into one.  I accept everyone at LinkedIn, because I view that as a business network only.

I don’t think there should be any rules here, except to think about what your purpose is for the particular social media channel before you start accepting friends, following, and linking. Let that purpose guide you. Just stay civil online and be sure to proofread. Remember who has access when posting your location or any updates.  If your friends have photos of you in compromising positions, well, that’s another whole issue.

Please remember that just because you are good at connecting on social media does not mean that you are sociable. Sometimes the skills that make a person truly excellent at social media are not the skills that make him or her personable or well-mannered. Both venues require a bit of “walking in the other person’s shoes,” but the in-person interaction can be more difficult for people who are introverted. If you feel more comfortable online, you may need to work on your face-to-face manners. Make sure that you smile, make eye contact, act courteously, and follow through on commitments. When you are with someone in person, stop texting and updating, and be present.

Finally, the more social media you participate in, the more you need to connect in real life to balance yourself out. Recently, I joined a new friend for lunch. We initially met through a #BMPR event and started following each other on Twitter. We know each other more based on what we Tweet than an in-person connection. As I approached her, I realized that I was visualizing her name with an @ in front of it.

That’s when you know you have spent too much time online.

What guidelines would you like for social media? Join the conversation – post your comments here.

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