Why I Never Stop Taking Chances

13 Apr

I have some big news coming up (which I’ll share later this week) and this news relates to taking chances. I took chances non-stop in my teens and 20s. Fear was not in my vocabulary.

Today, however, I am more settled. But I still have that burning fire inside me that encourages me to take another leap. I love to constantly be challenged, learn new things and explore.

I recently read an inspiring post by Jason Goldberg, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at Fab. called 90 Things I’ve Learned From Founding 4 Technology Companies. Now, I may not have founded four companies (the closest thing I’ve done is start a dog park), but there are great inspirational moments here to encourage me to keep pushing myself personally and professionally.

Here are some of my favorites from his list.

23. Inspire.

Are you doing everything in your power to inspire everyone around you? Whether it’s at work or at home, push others to move forward, do their best and work toward something great.

61. Spend every dollar like it is your last.
 But, don’t be afraid to spend.

There’s a balance between saving and spending money, but part of taking chances is finding the right moments to spend, and then spending it. My husband and I finally took that cruise we always wanted and it was one of the best vacations of our lives. It’s about quality of life today as much as it is about saving for retirement.

65. If you’re on a rocket-ship, strap on on your seatbelt and aim for another planet.

If you’re on to something big and exciting, go for it. Then, don’t take a break but instead, soar toward that next exciting moment or goal. I remember when I ran my first 5k. I was excited and proud but then I thought, what if I can run further? That’s when I started running five miles.

77. Wear funny socks or colorful shoes.

This is great for company culture, but it’s also a perfect reminder to have fun in your day-to-day life. As a mom, I can easily find myself in jeans and sweat shirt, but I don’t feel excited or empowered. I push myself to wear something that makes me feel good, even if it’s on a Saturday morning.

80. Laugh at yourself, and let others do so too.

Whether it’s burning toast or making a typo, I try not to sweat it. I learn from my mistakes and quickly move on.

83. Find inspiration in the people around you.

Always be open-minded and ready to learn new things. You can learn something from everyone you meet, so take that chance.

84. Have fun every single day.

It’s as simple as Jason puts it, “If it’s not fun, stop doing it.  No one is making you.
”

87. Mature, but don’t grow up.

I love playing with my two-year-old as if I’m a kid, too. We dig in the dirt, ride the slide together and make a giant mess in the kitchen. Some of these moments are the best ones I’ve ever had.

90. Smile, you’re designed to.

 

Thanks Jason for the amazing post. What other inspirational learnings have you gained? Feel free to share your thoughts here. And stay tuned for my news in my next post.

16 Ways to Enjoy Spring with Social Media

6 Apr

Spring Social MediaSpring is here and coming from New England, I couldn’t be more excited. We’ve been nailed with snowstorms this season so I’m thrilled about the fresh blades of grass, the budding branches, and the flocking birds.

Using social media everyday, I love to document my experiences of Spring as well as find things to do outside. Here are some ways that I do it.

 

  1. Post Spring photos on Instagram
  2. Check in with Foursquare to parks, playgrounds and hiking trails
  3. Join local Facebook groups to find nearby events or talk about the weather
  4. Follow community leaders and web properties on Twitter to find or suggest events
  5. Sign up for EventBrite notifications for relevant events
  6. Follow and use top hasthags on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram like #spring, #blossom or even #flowerporn
  7. Write blog posts while sitting outside (I’m doing that right now!)
  8. Share your new blog posts on LinkedIn
  9. Use a pedometer or tracker like FitBit to get outside and challenge your friends
  10. Go geocaching and join the online community
  11. Find an allergy-tracking app to stay healthy outside
  12. Spring clean your social media profiles: update your bios and photos, unfollow unwanted users, update your LinkedIn profile, etc.
  13. Use the beautiful Spring backdrop for a new avatar, Facebook cover photo, Twitter background or gravatar
  14. Shoot a Vine of your budding backyard
  15. Download a new app to track your outdoor activities, such as Runkeeper or Runcoach
  16. Put the phone down! Go an hour without using social media to truly enjoy the world around you

What other ways do you use social media to enjoy Spring?

5 Really Fast Twitter Tricks

30 Mar

twitter tipsTwitter continues to be one of the main social channels for individuals and brands and there’s a big reason for that: Twitter has over 43 million monthly active users, and those user demographics are spread pretty evenly across age groups, according to eMarketer.

But with Facebook and Instagram as my dominant social channels for personal use, and LinkedIn for professional use, I use Twitter for both. And I don’t have a ton of time for that. Here are some of my Twitter tricks to contribute, stay engaged, and grow my followers while spending minimal time.

 1.Follow nearly everyone who follows you

This is a great way to demonstrate community and involvement, while growing your following. See, as you follow people back, you’re exposed to their conversations and their connections. That’s more people to follow, and more people to follow you back.

With that said, avoid following any users without profile bios, photos or real Twitter handles. Most of these are spam or inactive, and not worth the follow.

2. Unfollow regularly

Since you are following more people, you are bound to follow some accounts you wish you hadn’t connected with. Following more people increases your feed activity and with many more followers comes a pretty busy feed. In fact, it may be too busy to even keep up. This is another reason to clean house.

Some people prune regularly, but I choose to do it a few times a year. I use Manage Flitter to help me unfollow based on inactive users, number of followers, people who have unfollowed me, and many more.

3. Favorite a tweet for future reference

Whenever I see a tweet with a great link, quote or something I can use or reference later, I favorite the tweet (click on the star icon next to the tweet). When you’re on your Twitter homepage, you can access all your favorite tweets in one list. This is great if you don’t have time to retweet or respond to that tweet when you first see it. I also favorite great comments and conversations just to show appreciation and engage.

4. Try out new functionality

Like most social platforms, Twitter rolls out new features often. Remember when Vine launched? Whether it’s a small redesign or a new feature (like the latest social image addition), test it out when it launches. This shows your interest in social, starts conversations with other users and it’s just plain fun. I follow the Twitter blog to learn the latest.

5. Check your notifications first

Since I use a number of social channels, I don’t always have time to read my Twitter feed. I set notifications on my phone as well as check the notification feed before I do anything else on Twitter. This shows me the latest engagement around my account, including mentions, retweets, favorites and follows. It’s a good way to see the latest, most important conversations around your Twitter handle. You should respond and engage with these first before checking your regular feed.

What other tips and tricks do you use on Twitter?

100 Lessons Learned from Writing 100 Blog Posts

16 Mar

100 lessons learnedThis is my 100th blog post. While I am excited about the amount of content created, I am even more focused on what I’ve learned in this time. I started this blog in 2010 when I was working on a few client projects at an advertising agency in Connecticut. Today, I work in tech creating content that helps hundreds if not thousands of customers and non-customers everyday.

Even more amazing is the family I’ve created in the time since I started this blog. I have a husband, a son, a house, and a great support system and community. Writing over these years has shown my progression and growth. Looking back, I can find hundreds of lessons learned from my experience. Today, in the spirit of the 100th post, here are 100 of those lessons.

  1. Strive for the best everyday.
  2. Put your family first.
  3. Make yourself a very close second.
  4. Go on vacation.
  5. Explore life.
  6. Don’t burn bridges.
  7. Be optimistic.
  8. Focus on the moment you’re in.
  9. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
  10. Find joy and love in everything you do.
  11. Look for the signs.
  12. 13 is still my lucky number.
  13. Find your focus.
  14. Then focus on what works.
  15. Listen to those around you.
  16. Know there is always someone better than you.
  17. Find a mentor.
  18. Learn something new everyday.
  19. The snow will melt.
  20. Be yourself.
  21. Have fun.
  22. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind.
  23. Be competitive.
  24. But be a team player.
  25. Take a break from your smartphone.
  26. Take a break from TV.
  27. Take a break from the Internet.
  28. Drink less coffee.
  29. Remember your dream.
  30. Strive for that dream everyday.
  31. If you’re not happy, change what you’re doing.
  32. Don’t double check, triple check your work.
  33. Travel at least once a quarter.
  34. Learn more from your dog.
  35. Learn more from your kids.
  36. Get outside and play.
  37. Buy local.
  38. Give, give, give.
  39. Make the most of what you have.
  40. There’s a reason for everything.
  41. Trust your gut.
  42. Heal old wounds.
  43. The show must go on.
  44. Give second chances.
  45. Don’t worry about tomorrow, you did that yesterday.
  46. Achieve your goals.
  47. Follow the fear.
  48. No idea is a bad idea.
  49. Smile more.
  50. Frown less.
  51. Try something new.
  52. You can’t plan everything in life.
  53. Jealously gets you nowhere.
  54. It’s OK to suck at your passion.
  55. Reconnect with old friends.
  56. Network everyday.
  57. You’ll find fun in old school board games and pinball.
  58. Communities are everywhere and joining them is easy.
  59. Give back.
  60. The first idea in your head is sometimes the best idea.
  61. But get a second opinion.
  62. Be open-minded.
  63. You can’t do everything yourself.
  64. So seek help from others.
  65. And have faith in others.
  66. Blaze new trails.
  67. Failure is fine.
  68. Blog during the holidays.
  69. Can you build it? Yes you can!
  70. Sign up for the conferences you’ve always wanted to go to.
  71. Sit next to someone you don’t know.
  72. Take more pictures.
  73. Sit in the front row.
  74. Wake up early to exercise.
  75. Find apps to help you achieve your goals.
  76. Don’t conform.
  77. Keep at your goals no matter what.
  78. Don’t Reply All.
  79. Look at your results often.
  80. Do something about those results.
  81. You can learn a lot from a 14-year-old.
  82. There’s a ton of content to create about Border Collies.
  83. Wearable technology can change your life.
  84. Love the ones you’re with.
  85. Relax more.
  86. Stress less.
  87. Remember the forest through the trees.
  88. Cleaning is overrated.
  89. Naps are good.
  90. Walk during every conference call.
  91. Stretch everyday.
  92. Yoga is your friend.
  93. Find ways to have fun without spending money.
  94. Cruising is the best.
  95. You can grow your Klout score when on maternity leave.
  96. Bacon really does make everything better. (Look at the photo again!)
  97. Give shout outs to those you admire.
  98. All boats rise.
  99. There really is an app for that.
  100. Don’t ever stop writing.

What other lessons have you learned while blogging over time? Share your ideas here and thank you for your years of reading, following, liking and sharing. I look forward to the next 100 blog posts.

The Service Providers That Cannot Be Replaced by the Internet

9 Mar
Image source:  Photo Connection of Colchester

Image source: Photo Connection of Colchester

The Internet is a valuable resource for research, connecting, sharing and discovering. It has helped me replace some unnecessary in-person experiences. For example, I haven’t been to a travel agent since I was 10. I go to the mall a few times a year, when in the ’90s, I went every weekend.

But some in-person experiences cannot be replaced no matter how hard the Internet tries. Yes, there are lawyers and doctors that fit in this realm, but I’m referring to service providers that are often swapped out for online apps and tools. To have the best outcome for yourself, in-person conversations and collaboration is crucial. Here’s what I mean.

Accountants

There are plenty of great online tools to help you with your taxes (you might be using one right now), but I still choose my accountant. She understands my job, my husband’s business, our family set up, and can recommend the best items to claim and tactics to take to get an ideal return. She is a friend and lives in our town, which makes it easy to stop by and ask questions, drop off paperwork and sign forms. She also helps us throughout the year. No online tool is that valuable.

Financial Advisers

Our financial adviser comes to our house twice a year to ensure our financial situation is running smoothly. He helps us decide where and when to invest, how much we should be saving, and gives us projections for our retirement. While there are plenty of online apps to manage your finances, a regular, in-person visit from someone you trust is the best way to plan to your financial future.

Insurance Agencies

There are many great insurance agencies to help you find the best insurance for your car, home, rental, business, etc. However, oftentimes we shop around via online quotes and close the deal within an hour over the phone. By working with real, live insurance agents, you get the best policies for your needs. Plus, they’ll help you expand or change your policies as needed. It’s nice to stop shopping around ourselves and have the experts guide us.

It’s important to use the Internet to do your preliminary research and find the best resources for your needs. But consider how real conversations and expert advice can help, too.

What other services do you use in person versus online? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

How Cleaning Out My Old House Created a Community

26 Feb
creating a community

We moved this hall tree from my old house into our new one.

This past Saturday was the end of an era. After owning our childhood home in Purchase, NY for 30 years, it finally sold. Getting over this emotional hurdle was one thing, but there was an even bigger challenge: The contents inside hadn’t moved since 1985.

This was going to be a massive undertaking.

If you’ve ever emptied out an entire house, there are two good ways to go about it. A) Pay a company to move everything, or B) call on everyone you know and make an all-hands-on-deck, weekend-long, moving adventure.

We chose B.

My father’s friends, my brother’s friends and my family and friends all descended on the house like soldiers on a mission. We had 15-20 people in and out of the house for two days moving furniture, cleaning out drawers, watching the kids, playing with the dogs, and supporting us as we went through my mother’s things for the last time.

Everyone who helped had a reason to be there. Besides supporting us, they too had a memory of that house. Whether it was play dates after school, family meals, holidays, or just spending a Saturday morning eating bagels, the house was a vessel for memories that went far beyond my immediate family.

A wide variety of people came to the house that weekend. Friends since our elementary school days, friends of friends I’ve hardly (or never) met, new babies and puppies, and of course, close family and friends. People came from upstate and downstate and other states, too. This event shaped a new community in itself, coming together for one common cause that affected everyone.

The experience was a whirlwind and at the end of the weekend, the house was completely emptied to prepare for a successful closing. It’s a sad time for me and my family, but as I reflect back, I think about the love and memories from that house. I believe that’s why everyone came together to help.

We may have stripped the house clean, but one thing we can never remove is the memories. That is something we will all take with us. It bonds us. And with this community coming together, this past weekend was another memory for the books.

15 Powerful Life Lessons I Learned from My Mother

16 Feb
Lessons from my Mother

Me and my mother, 1984

I was 16 when my mom passed away. I don’t remember much about her and often the tough memories cloud my mind over the good, but nevertheless, I still reflect. February 13, 2014 was the 15th anniversary of her passing and now is the perfect time to do that reflecting. Here are 15 things I’ve learned from her that I take with me everyday.

1. Give, give, give

My mom was a giver. Getting a gift from her didn’t require a birthday or holiday or even an A+ on a test. Whenever she shopped, she thought of others, and would never leave a store without a gift. She’d give her own jewelry to my friends, send cards to those she hardly knew, and made sure to always give her time and energy to my school and extracurricular activities.

I believe she found joy in giving to others more than anything else. She seemed to live for our smiling faces and thought nothing of getting something in return. Perhaps all she wanted in return was our happiness. That was her greatest gift of all.

2. Give it your all

My mother directed high school plays as if they were Broadway musicals. She would go bigger and better each time. There couldn’t be enough glitter and glamor. Starting at age three, I was on stage dancing and acting with my mom in the wings, cheering me on.

She pushed me to do my best and perform like I’ve never performed before. There was no such thing as rehearsing too much. I believe that’s why I’m so driven and passionate about everything I do in life. She’s constantly in the wings, pushing me into the spotlight and telling me to go for it.

3. The show must go on

No storm, no sickness, no big hurdle could stop my mom from making something happen. Once she put her mind to it, she was 110% in. It goes back to the mentality of show business. No matter what, the show must go on. Today, whenever I think about stopping, I remember that I can do it and I must do it. Keep going until the curtain closes.

4. Dress to impress

My mother could have a 103-degree fever and she’d still put on her best dress and walk out the door with her head held high. She knew that if she showed weakness, others would feed off of it. Everything had to be perfect. I push myself everyday to get up and face a new day with vigor and excitement. If I am excited about each and every challenge, those around me will be just as excited, too.

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff

Perhaps she didn’t mean to teach me this, but when you experience a major loss in life, everything else seems inconsequential. I remember as a teenager finding it hard to understand how other teenage girls could get so upset over trivial things like curfews and boys. I was forced to be wise beyond my years, but I felt that if I put life into perspective, many of the small things would be no sweat at all. Even 15 years later, I think about that to avoid stresses over minute things.

6. Persevere

If my mom wanted something, she went for it. She found my dad and got him. She wanted a masters degree and got it. She wanted to raise her family in a great area, and she got that, too. Her passion and drive were some of her most admiral traits. I think about my passions and how I can push myself and others to do great things and break down barriers. If my mom could do it, I could too.

7. Blaze new trails

Compliance wasn’t in my mother’s vocabulary. Sure, she wanted to please my grandmother, but she wasn’t about to sacrifice her big ideas and desires. My grandmother wanted her to become a teacher, and my mom did. My grandmother wanted her to marry Jewish, and my mom did (twice). But my mother found ways to grow and experience new things in life that my grandmother never dreamed of. She had a vision and passion for the way she wanted to live her life and I believe she achieved that. I’d never want to leave this earth thinking that I didn’t do that, too.

8. Family first

No matter how tough things got, my mother always put her children first. She quit her job to raise us and worked hard to keep me and my brother happy and healthy. She was dedicated to us more than anything else and loved us unconditionally. As a mom with my own family, I think about this everyday. I question my every move to make sure it’s exactly the right step for my son.

9. Go lay in the sun

Lessons from my mother

1990 Macinac Island vacation

My mom always had a great tan and that was from her beautiful olive complexion combined with her love of the sun. She could sit on a lounge chair for hours baking in the Las Vegas summer heat and love every minute of it. Meanwhile, my brother and I have my dad’s fair and freckled complexion, so hats and sun tan lotion were big staples on our family vacations.

This great memory of her leaves me with one big takeaway: relax. Amongst all the stresses and craziness in life, sitting in the sun with a good book is the best way to just forget it all. We all deserve this. We all need this.

10. Go dance

My mother loved to dance. I remember my parents dancing in the kitchen as Willie Nelson played in the background. My brother and I would dance too and we’d all end up laughing. 15 years later, I’m still dancing. I think about the fun, little things I can do to have a good laugh.

11. Have animals in your life

We always had dogs. The most we ever had was four Maltese at once and we hardly had fewer than two. I’m sure my dad kept the (not-so-small) quota on the animal population because my mom would have had 20 dogs and cats if she could. Animals are a big part of my life and my Border Collie, Cooper is focus in our family (I blog about him often).

12. We live on

My mother believed in reincarnation. It’s reassuring to think about loved ones living on. I think about my mom often in a positive, happy place by my side. No matter what we believe, it’s all about the passion for your beliefs.

13. You always have support

1994 Disney Vacation

My, my mom and my brother on our 1994 Disney Vacation

It’s tough to be a mom without having a mother. I see my friends asking their moms for help and I sometimes wish for it, too. But I’ve learned to look beyond that. I have an amazing mother in law, a dedicated husband and a strong support system. We can’t focus on what we don’t have because that doesn’t allow us to open our eyes to what’s front of us.

14. Perfection is not always realistic

The extreme need for perfection led to my mother’s demise. It affected her physically in the end. As children, we learn great lessons from our parents in terms what to do and what not to do. In this case, while I strive to have her passion and dedication, I know that 100% perfection, 100% of the time is not realistic. We can’t always be going to the extreme.

15. Never stop writing

My mother was a writer. My old house had countless notebooks filled with her stories and poetry. Her creativity was inspiring. I’ve always loved to write. I got that trait from my mother. I write for myself and I write for my job. I’m the luckiest person in the world to be able to have that opportunity. I will never stop writing.

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