Wednesday, November 7, 2012

So Which Is It?

This has been an interesting few weeks with the now decided presidential election and the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Politics certainly bring out the worst in people but look what Superstorm Sandy brought out...complete love.

This had me shaking my head as I read posts on Facebook about how same-sex couples should not be able to marry because it is not "natural," arguments about how pregnancies conceived from a heinous act such as rape is a "gift from God," and even more from both sides about how our country will fall to pieces if the other side wins the presidential election. Here is where, for me, the truth is; as Superstorm Sandy devastated the east coast, people rushed to help other people. I did not see or hear about one report of a rescue that included a conversation about, "Are you gay? Because if you are, I don't believe that is natural and I don't want to help you." Can you imagine a world where a Soldier suggests that s/he will only help someone in distress if they vote the same party line? How about, "Hey you, are you voting yes on 37? If so, grab the rope!"

This may seem like an extreme and silly example, but think about it, it could be argued that the victims of Katrina were not rescued soon enough because of their socioeconomic status. The fact of the matter is, we are all people who want the same things; we want our kids to flourish with the best educations, we want our elderly to be warm and fed, we want our national defense to be strong and in place, and we want Americans to have jobs, homes, and secure lives. Ask yourself this, if you won't qualify another person's personal/political beliefs in a moment of crisis, than why can't it be okay to let them be who they are otherwise? If you don't like the direction this country is going, get involved and work within the system to make a change, if you don't like the system, work to change that. So many talking heads want to natter and complain about the current state of affairs, but they do not want to take action to make it better.

Be the change you want to see and with that, see the good in people and more of your good will shine through!

Photo: RiverLights Originals

Monday, October 29, 2012

Do Winners Quit?

"Winners never quit and quitters never win!" I've heard it a million times - I simply do not agree. 

I am working diligently to make positive things happen for me and my family and it seems that my intention and tenacity are beginning to pay off. It is not lost on me that this turn for the positive came shortly after I let go of other projects that were time, labor and money intensive - all with little progress. Yes, I quit.

I quit pouring money into a business idea that was not making money. When Dave and I started this business in 2008, we intended to see wild success. We spent more than $60,000 and didn't make anything close to that amount in return. It simply is not good business to continue to spending, spending, spending with no return.

Those of you who know me personally know that I am an optimist. I can recite all the motivational quips and quotes that assure us that if we just hang on a little longer, success will break through! I know how many of the mega-successful entrepreneurs filed, in some cases, multiple bankruptcies before finding that formula for success, and on and on and on the hype goes. I want to know the stories of those same Disneys and Trumps recognizing that a plan is not going to come to fruition and pulling the plug. Oprah did it with OWN when she let go of 130 people, it was a step back to move the big picture forward. In my case, the step back was closing the business and putting our resources to work for our future, our new dreams, and who-knows-what-else might be on the horizon for us. I feel it's important to note that what might be around the corner might have been missed while my nose was to the grindstone of the business that was not producing any thing even remotely close to success.

With all this said, I do not believe winners never quit, I feel strongly that winners do good business and that is knowing when to hold 'em and yes, when to fold 'em. I'm a winner and I quit!

Monday, August 13, 2012

There is Progress!

Finally, I feel like something constructive is happening. Selling a house can be emotional to be sure, but when it comes with financial difficulties and is not a traditional sale (it's a short sale), it comes with additional stresses. The main difficulty is that you don't know when you have to move! Well, that's not entirely true as one can certainly pack up and move anytime they want to, but moving is no small task and we didn't want to do it one day sooner than we have to.

We put our house on the market back in April, submitted an offer to the bank the first week in May and then we waited...and waited...and waited. Nothing. I advised Dave that we could get a call that the offer was approved and we would have to move with little notice, he didn't all the way believe me because the bank had not been fast to respond to anything. Well, that call came and frankly, I was glad. We have been living in a bit of limbo, knowing the move is coming, just not sure when.

Even though the call came because our agent had a hunch, we ran on to the field and began calling plays; scour the classifieds, call rental agencies, put the word out to family and friends, we're looking for a new place to live! There was lots of, "Fill this out..." and "How is your credit? We will be running a background check you know, AND it IS $40 per applicant. Oh, but don't fret, we will keep your file active for a full 6 months!" Which is all okay, but the fact of the matter is, we are your dream tenants...we are not the people who put holes in walls and allow our dog to chew and scratch everything in sight. No, we need to take a different approach, we need to market ourselves to homeowners looking for us!

I created a pdf and put it out via e-mail and social media, within a few hours we had two really great locations to choose from and we found a place to rent! It's less than one mile from where we live now and basically, in the same neighborhood close to town and Mason's school. I am over the moon about what a lovely little house it is. It's a 3 bedroom/2 bath on a lot that is maybe a little smaller than where we are now. It has a deck of the whole back of the house with a portion of the deck covered with a ceiling fan for those warm nights when you want to be outside. There is no grass but other outdoor living areas with rock walk ways, lots of little planters, fall trees, a fig tree, a lemon tree, an apple tree and an outdoor fire pit. Oh, and another perk, it has a hot tub! The kitchen is small, but it is lovely, all white tile with newer appliances. Finally, there is a breakfast nook popping right out of the front of the house, just another fun, quirky feature of the house. Having lived in a larger space, we will have some adjustments to make, but all in all, this is a great place for us to live until it's time to make the big move. I'll send out change of address once we sign our lease and know for sure our deal is done!

While we were finding our new home, we also got word that our short sale has been approved and we close on 9/25 - perfect for our 9/15 move in to the new house. Finally, it feels like things are going our way and working out without a continuous stressful effort!

I will comfortably call this Intentional Winning finding a place to live!!

Monday, July 23, 2012

It's Hard to Come Back...

Intentional Winning has a definitive point of view - it is about making your dreams that have not come true, come true. It's so clear to me, I eat, sleep and breathe it...but I have stopped living it.

Like so many, I have been living through difficult times not only with the universally struggling economy, but personally on the level of, who am I really? Why am I here? It's a strange place for me to be because I know who I am! I know what I am supposed to do, however, every time I set my sails, the wind changes. This makes me wonder, am I off course? I keep coming back to what makes me happy and what's working, continuing my college education and creating RiverLights Originals.

I stopped posting regularly popping in only occasionally but I want to come back. I want to share my journey from a more honest perspective, less Rah! Rah! cheer leading and more motivation from a place of honesty. I want to motivate you, and me with the truth. Not the truth that outs the overbearing pseudo-celebrity who takes advantage of those who turn to her for mentoring, or the others who preach the importance of being "real" and "approachable" only to not return phone calls or e-mails. No, I want to share my journey, what really happened with ZipperBack Gloves and what the outcome of our tax audit is. The way we plan to make Dave's dream come true that will have us moving across the country in the next 12-18 months. Heck, a cross country move to a new state, new jobs, a new school, and who knows what else should make for some enjoyable reading!

I hope you'll join me and share your experiences, thoughts and ideas as we go along, as we find our course and the wind fills our sails. Let me know how I can help you and rest assured, I will return your calls and e-mails!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

If You Don't Have Something Nice to Say...

We've all heard that before, right? ...Don't say anything at all. Well, that is pretty much where I have been. I started out this year longing for the truth, the truth about my family finances, my education, my weight, my career, the whole shebang! As I looked at what the truth really was, it seemed there were possible consequences for putting them out on my blog, not just for me, but for some of the people involved with me. It is never my intention to hurt anyone, and if I tell a truth about my experience with someone else, well, it might not shine a very good light. In some cases, I want to, I want to so badly I can hardly stand myself, but the fact remains, it's not my intention to hurt any one else. I have to rely on my faith that while that someone is out in a public forum telling half-truths and sometimes lies, well, that will come back to them in time, it's not necessary to share what I know about their deceit.

So each time I feel inspired to get real and share a truth, I have to check in and ask myself, What is my real intention with this writing, and what might the consequences be for all involved? If it even remotely looks like my writing is for cathartic purposes only or could possibly appear slanderous, I'm not writing it for this forum. For now, I'm choosing to live with the Golden Rule, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."

Monday, March 5, 2012

Kids Get It All Too Soon

Mason came in the kitchen this weekend while I was loading the dishes and said, "Mom, nobody knows this, but I found a $100 dollar bill on the playground on Friday." His eyes were wide waiting for my reply. He didn't have to wait long as I immediately replied, "You did not, you are absolutely telling me a lie." I gave him the disapproving mom look, you know the one, and his eyes fell so he could feel like if he wasn't looking at me, I couldn't see him. I asked him why he feels like he needs to lie for no good reason and his reply was, ironically honest, "I want to share something with you that is interesting. The normal stuff is boring."

Mason is completely right and at eight years old he understands that lies are often perceived as more interesting than the truth and he has already heard that white lies are harmless. I don't agree but the fact of the matter is, we are surrounded by more lies than we can identify. The idea that our peers and neighbors have all that they appear to have materially, financially, and emotionally are the lies they tell when they don't just put the truth out there.

This is a tough post to write and it's been sitting in my drafts for more than three weeks now. It is difficult to find the right words that say what I want to say without implying malice. I don't believe that people intentionally set out to mislead anyone as to what they have or don't have, but I do believe that we all get caught up in not wanting to admit we have too much credit card debt, drive cars we can't fully afford, or possibly have not managed our money in the best possible way. We live in shame. I know this because I am working to break these bad habits. I want to tell the truth and I want it to be okay that we currently live paycheck to paycheck, we drive older cars, and we can't afford to just go buy anything we want to buy. Since late last year we have been using cash, budgeting our money and you know what, it feels good. It feels so good to get creative when it is a few days before payday and my inclination is to eat out because we have no food - that's a lie, we have food, it's just not the food that is convenient or what we may want. It feels good to eat what we have.

Mason and I talked about the idea that ordinary life is boring and at 8 years old, he can see the magic in pretending to be an army guy when he plays in the bamboo, but he can't yet appreciate how my time with him talking in the kitchen is the epitome of wonderful and not one bit boring! He'll get there and when he does, he will see that there is so much more excitement in being honest than there ever will be in telling lies.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Life and Dreams

What is the truth about making your dreams come true? Dave has struggled much of his adult life feeling like he is not in a position to pursue his dreams. I have argued with him that if he thinks about his dream differently, he could start the process that moves him closer to his dream life. Through a series of unfortunate events I find myself wondering if maybe he's right, maybe if you make one choice in life, the door closes on the other (your dream).

The optimist in me says, No! I can live this life with my family and live my dream, too. Circumstances dictate something else. I then go to optimistic thought number two, What if I seek a slightly different version of my dream? Maybe, but can you feel like your dream is truly being fulfilled if it's not really your dream? I would argue yes, but one would have to want to make the change. Or maybe a better way to say that is one would have to love the life they are living more than they love the idea of their original dream coming to fruition - and fully recognize that.

“There are two ways of being happy: We must either diminish our wants or augment our means - either may do - the result is the same and it is for each man to decide for himself and to do that which happens to be easier.” - Benjamin Franklin

I completely believe that changing the way we see our dreams is not only possible but a wonderful option! Life offers such a bounty of possibilities that to limit ourselves to just a few would be a shame. For each of us to truly indulge in the unlimited possibilities available to us, we will have to pick and choose - after all, there are just 24 hours in one day. Be creative in your choosing and be open to ideas that may not be exactly your first choice. You might be pleasantly surprised!

Monday, January 30, 2012

There are Have's and Have-Nots

I am learning that I had an expectation for my life. I expected that if I worked hard, I could make a decent living. I expected that success was available to every person that would put action to their dreams. I refused to believe what my mom believed and told me often, “There are Haves and Have-Nots. We are Have-Nots.” I have worked hard and have a strong life and work ethic, yet my qualifications and experience for a job I could truly rock are only considered after I note that I have a college degree. I do not have a college degree. Success is not about hard work, it is about the defined work. Dreams do not come true for those who take action, dreams come true for those who have access to decision makers, people who may or may not be honestly qualified to make the call but they know my -fill in the blank. In forty-five years of life experience I question my mother’s belief and wonder about the possible validity of it.

This is an excerpt from an English paper I wrote about being lost. I don't want to be all about gloom and doom, the Eyeore if you will, but at the same time, part of the growth process is recognizing what's working and what's not. On my journey looking at deep seated beliefs is proving helpful. Do you know what you believe and why? Questioning why you believe something is good to do, you just might find it was never really your belief to begin with.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Trouble With The Truth

I am thinking about my new years resolution to get honest and frankly, I'm stalled. I'm finding that I get stuck in what feels like a spider web sticking to me from all sides. What will he/she think? Say? What will the reaction be? Will my truth be seen as more or less serious than I see it? Will a duologue be had or will judgment be cast? If judgment is cast, what will that mean? Will I lose my power if I'm perceived as weak or broken? All of this is plain and simple fear, but at what point is fear healthy and sane? It's easy to advise someone else that no matter what the fallout might be, that honesty is the best policy. Would you tell your boss you had a prescription drug addiction?

The trouble with the truth is it can be dangerous. This all goes back to what I said at the beginning of the year about public persona versus what's real. Is it better to simply deal with what is real and do what you can to make right what is wrong - getting really honest personally? Seeking help and confiding in trusted sources may be better than opening Pandora's box for the world to see. From my perspective, once the world sees it, each person is forced to do something with it...from simply dismissing the knowledge (who cares?) to being rocked with fear not knowing what will happen next (something ones young children might feel). I suppose it all depends on what needs confronting and only the individual person can decide what the right thing to do is. I'm feeling that getting honest is a good thing, but doing it in a responsible way is equally important. Addressing issues with only the people who need to be involved and working to feel less fear and shame is really the goal anyone who wants to come clean is looking for, don't you think? I really do want to know what you think of this topic.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Big Business Say, Yes! to Small Business

No one will agrue that America today is not the same place that it was when our grandparents and parents were living and doing business. In many ways it's a better time, but for small business, it's not working.

Big business (sorry, I can't help myself), the 1%, needs to throw a lifeline out to small business. Say Yes! to Small Business. Large retail chains need to take all the fees and rhetoric out of the process of evaluting the products of small businesses. Allow the products that are "retail ready" with distribution in place to share some shelf space with the name brands. If our products don't sell, don't reorder! We are not asking for charity, just a fair shake and a fighting chance to succeed, to live the American dream.

Did you know that some retail chains place large orders, require costly specific packaging, charge for shelf space and in some cases are doing a "Pay by Scan" practice? Yes, after you provide them with huge quantities of inventory - packaged specifically for them (cha-ching!), they are paying you as they sell it. Yep, consignment with a national chain - thousands of stores. What mom & pop in American can do that? Not me.

A campaign like Say Yes! to Small Business could not only boost our economy by putting money into small businesses, but also creating jobs, maybe one at a time, but that is one more American working than there was yesterday. Big business would be wise to let their consumers know that they are supporting the mom and pop businesses with some signage highlighting the products. Give real feedback to the small business so if their product is not as marketable as they thought, they can improve or cut their losses. Work together, sadly, it's a novel idea today.

This idea has more potential than I can even conceive. Will Big businesses like Target, WalMart, REI, Sharper Image, Dick's and others even consider such a thing? Or will they continue to allocate the bulk of their buying dollars to the big brands? Big business/Big brands...they stick togther.

Friday, January 6, 2012

What About Reality Television?

Reality television is another bunch of nonsense, not only in the world of entrepreneurs but also the true art and craft of acting. It's fine for Americans to find entertainment in watching other people live their lives with shock and awe, but are they really role model celebrities who deserve massive amounts of money, book deals, and more? Will my product really make me millions if Daymond John or Kevin Herrington pick us up and open doors? Maybe, but again, why do I need to rely on this avenue to succeed? Back to reality television, Shark Tank wouldn't cast me (along with a myriad of other really hard working individuals with great products) because I am not wacky enough and my product isn't bizarre. Hello? People need everyday products! It's also important to note that I personally know several people who have been featured on reality television shows with their products and guess what? They are not millionaires, nor are they really much further along than they were before appearing on the show.*

Is it possible that hard work, a great product, and doing good business is simply not enough in America? Is luck and who you know more important? If I'm getting honest, the answer is sadly a resounding, Yes!

*There certainly may be people who have succeeded wildly with the help of angel investors who give capital and exposure to their products, I just don't know any of those people.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Is Hard Work and a Great Product Enough?

Whatever happened to, if you work hard, you will succeed? We all know it takes more than hard work to find real success, and in many cases you have to pay to have an opportunity. Oh, I can hear you now, "It takes money to make money!" Sure, and I've spent lots of it on: education, supplies, operating expenses, materials, inventory, samples, marketing, trade shows, and more. Oh, add to that list that I have a great product at a fair price.

I have and continue to work hard but I am nowhere near close to breaking even, heck, even dreaming of success. Here's my point as it pertains specifically to mom & pop invented products, why do we have to rely on contests (most aren't free) and reality television (more in my next post) for a shot at success? Why do product awards cost money to apply for? If I don't have the money to have my product evaluated, I'm not in the running for "Mom Approved!"? Some of the applications for these seals of approval and other awards cost thousands of dollars - all with no guarantee you will get the illustrious seal.

Heck, I know my product is mom approved, just look at the e-mails from moms sharing that for the first time ever, they did not struggle with ill-fitting gloves and even better, "My son can put them on himself!" Is my brand/product more valuable when I have purchased the seals and marks of others? And who are the people "approving" these products?

I don't know if it would make a difference because I don't have one. I am not willing to pay for the chance for someone to tell me my product is worthwhile and good when I have moms, dads, grandmas, and grandpas buying the gloves and writing me hand written notes and e-mails telling me how much they like them. That is a real Seal of Approval!

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year...A New Blog

A new year may be just another day to some, but for me it feels different - this year it's especially so. Usually, I feel excited and inspired but this year it seems like there was no ramping up of positive energy. I've been out of sync the last few months and initially I wasn't sure why, I felt absolutely no inspiration to write but it wasn't that I didn't know what to write about (as in traditional writer's block), it was more that I didn't feel like what I had to say mattered. In a world of millions of bloggers, who really reads what I have to say and frankly, do they care?

There are many reasons to speculate why I may have been down in the dumps (as my mom would say), but I feel that I'm in a time of growth and maturation in my life and I am recognizing some realities that maybe a younger me couldn't see before. Most notably, I am finding that so much of what I see around me is not what it appears to be. People are not who they say they are and until I spend time with them to see who they are, I can't take their words at face value. It is incredibly foreign to me to move through my day in a space of speculation or distrust, but I also feel incredibly gullible when I jump in trusting all the way and then see the truth. Things are sold with all the promises of what the bells and whistles will do to make our lives easier, when in fact; our lives are easier with less stuff. It makes me think back to being a kid, the commercials on television would demonstrate all the cool things the toy-du jour will do and then when you get it home, it performed nothing like the commercial promised. Should I have paid better attention to this when I was eight?

Here's what I know for sure, my family is healthy and happy (well, relatively speaking!), I love being in school and I'm looking forward to developing my skills as an artist and photographer. My new year’s resolution is to get honest on all fronts, really honest. Dave and I are working together on our family finances with an emphasis on saving and I'm digging deep into why we (our society) believe things need to look like something other than what they are. I understand "image" and "perception" and how they play into getting people to do and be who we want (okay, manipulation), but wouldn't we all be better served if we just told the truth and worked together to lift each other up? Call me crazy, but it seems to me it doesn't make sense to sell an image that is far more than what it really is and have people putting their faith and hard earned dollars into something that is a lie, a foundation of quicksand. When can you really believe what you see?
This year I am writing about my journey to get honest on all fronts of my life. It may come back to bite me at some point, but I'm putting my money on that the truth will set me free. Intentional Winning is victory by design. Creating the journey and the outcome for every aspect of my life by participating in the process...honestly.