author moments, perspective

The Story Within a Story

Every story has a hidden story within. The why or the why not of the subject. Maybe the storyteller shared the hints, maybe they didn’t.

For example, I may write a blog post or story that shares a fun adventure but within the story is another story of personal triumph for a person on the journey with me. Maybe it’s even highlight a memory that is meaningful to me yet just a unique story to another. That is the beauty of storytelling.

In our last book we invited children to be authors with us. We did this intentionally. We wanted to provoke learning without telling them they were learning. We wanted to promote creativity. We wanted to share our love for writing. You wouldn’t know that from the book cover, but we left hints all around the book. It’s one of the coolest author notes we share with kids when we read and engage at book signings. Talk about a wow factor. It’s the story within the story.

Often times online we invite our readers to join us on the adventures we write about. We invite, provoke, engage others to do more with what they have. Be a better version of themselves. That’s a story of inspiration from within the bigger story.

Maybe my co-author is writing about something she wants to share and it includes her vantage point. Could there possibly be another vantage point within? Maybe you have to find the hidden door to find the message. Maybe that is her hook within her story. Of course there can be a story within a story, maybe even more than one story.

For each post we write we have many who like, some who don’t like and others who just breeze through the content. Whatever the reason or the season for the read, whatever the outcome is, we enjoy sharing our stories as authors. It’s what we choose to do.

We write our way. We leave clues in one post that may link to another or maybe not at all. We may write about the same topic yet it seems so different based on the voice we use or the vantage point. We may provide a visual or maybe we don’t. No real rhyme nor reason to our madness rather we just create what feels natural much like any other artist.

Our blog is a glimpse or a snapshot of us, not a biography or novel. For a tell-all you will most likely need to purchase our upcoming publications. Our blog space is a tool. A tool to motivate and share who we are with others. Today, tomorrow, and in the future.

Our interests will change over time as will our appearance and influences. This is another reason to check in with our site often. We change like the wind. We bend and flex with life. We share the ebbs and flows of life, even the tough stuff.

Since we are talking about a story within a story, I will share the inner secret of this post: bravery.

We are brave enough to share to the level we do. We are exposed. We have readers from Serbia to Japan and beyond. We are forever thankful for all of our readers (see our reader map below). We have friends and family who read our posts. We may even have business and professional colleagues who see us in a different light on this site.

To visualize the magnitude of our bravery: We could be on a plane and somebody notice us but we not notice them. This is a level of fearlessness that many will never encounter. For that, we share our story of boldness, bravery and unwavering sense of self with the wild and tangled web called the internet. The super highway of today.

We invite readers into our world. We are depositing a piece of us for our future grandchildren to read and learn about. There may be secret clues or passages within but you don’t get the full Monty online. We save the juicy stuff for the books and unfortunately we charge for those.

Until next time.

hustle, working women

Million Dollar Milestone

Less than 2% of women-owned businesses hit the 1 million dollar revenue mark in a calendar year.

I wondered why this was the case. Most women-owned entities start as hobbies like pillow making or other grass-roots favored businesses. They sell to friends or have a limited online presence. Despite the success one may have it takes a lot of sales to hit the million dollar milestone with low cost items with no real volume sales in sight.

Women are great multi-taskers. Most manage families, schedules and work as well. When one finds a path to growth, success isn’t far off. Nothing against male counterparts as many earn their way to the board room fairly, but the wow factor is that the table in the board room isn’t always set equally for one reason or another.

One of the women may be in the token woman seat or the token diversity seat in the board room. I hate to address the elephant in the room but it’s true. With my current project I set a lofty goal for myself. I wanted to see if I could do it my way. From the ground up. No board approval. No favors given.

I wanted to be the underdog. The one who rose from nowhere to make a statement. There were many along the way who doubted me. That’s okay. They ironically motivated me. There were some who snubbed me for various reasons. That’s okay too.

I did it. I made my statement, my way. I was never seeking public approval. I was instead challenging myself to chip away at a revenue goal. My revenue goal. The pie in the sky number that many women won’t attempt to tackle. I did it with my small but dynamic team. I am one of the select few who made it to 1 million dollars. I joined the club so to speak in 2019 with one entity. Much earlier in the year due to some good luck and hard work, and I might even hit the multi-million dollar mark which is the gravy on top.

I can actually say hard work pays off and I am ever so proud of the time investment I made to become certified as a women-owned small business. My careful thought and planning afforded me the opportunity to participate in government bidding opportunities set aside for a business classified as women-owned, helping me reach my lofty goals quickly.

Learning how to leverage all tools available to your business is a very important step in business planning. Remember, without a plan you don’t know where your are going or what you are trying to achieve.

Engaging resources is also important. Finding the right business partners. The right vendors. The right social network. It all plays a part of one’s successes or one’s failures.

Be you for you. Don’t let others define your success. Wait for the right time to peak. Take all the lessons you learned in life and apply them to your business plan. Form a great leadership team and move forward. Continue to grow and shift as your market requires. Never stand still. Complacently is the death of struggling businesses.

Add a little luck. Add a little hustle. Add some good timing. And then the magic happens. Opportunity knocks and you have to be ready to take hold of it when it’s available. Don’t hesitate. Take the risk! Fortune favors those who are bold.

Long days. Late nights. Weekends. 24:7 availability means personal sacrifice. Lots of sacrifice. I made it. I made it the to the one million mark and beyond. The numbers scribbled in my Wonder Woman journal as a dream are taking shape.

Remember, I said it’s hard work. There were many bumps along the way. My husband wanted to kill me many days I am sure. It’s time to turn the page and set the next set of challenges. Where will I go? What will I accomplish? Who will I take on my journey? Will I fail? Will I succeed?

I must circle back again to celebrate me. Not only did I hit the number, I reached well beyond. Millions more is in sight but I’m not holding my breath or putting a specific time frame on the number. I am a firm believer that if I put in the work / effort, the rewards will follow. It may not be a revenue number this time around. It may be a strategic account. Or maybe a new connection with a key influencer. Those steps are part of the growth process. Connecting the dots so to speak.

As I reflect on the million-dollar achievement there is so much to be thankful for. All the people in my life who support me. My amazing but small work team. My family who motivates me to be strong and fight through thick and thin. It truly takes a village to be at the top of your game. Whatever your game is, you were inspired by others to seek the higher ground.

Now that I am here, I like to savor the moment and reflect. See what went well but where the opportunities are for improvement. Sometimes making slight modifications in operational efficiencies is far more important than the next revenue milestone!

As I write this post I know some will perceive my celebration as a sign of arrogance. Well, there may be a hint of that but the motivation is to share this with other aspiring business people who are reaching for the stars.

I am a growth coach for those entering entrepreneurship for the first time as well as those trying to find their spot in life. In order to be a good role model for those I mentor, I leave sprinkles or nuggets of my development online for others to read. I don’t need a New York Times Best Sellers list number to validate my growth. I just want one person to be motivated to reach to the stars because my stories inspired them.

Write the lofty goals. Chip away at the goals. You will get there. Hard work pays off. Be consistent. Be confident. Be prepared.

For now I will stay in the moment. I will take great pride in what was accomplished and be ready for what’s next.

And what’s next is part of the #1095 Days project. What’s next is always a new story. Stay tuned for the next chapter.

adventure

Riding Topless

Did that title get your attention?

It refers to riding topless in my Jeep for those of you who are wondering. Relaxing, riding topless, and too noisy to talk to be specific! That’s exactly what my auto text responder says when I’m enjoying the beautiful sunshine or night sky traveling by Jeep.

The smell of fresh cut grass, flowers in bloom or just cool crisp morning air. Your senses come alive riding topless in a Jeep. It’s also an opportunity to blast some music and ignore cell phones and the distractions of the busy day.

Riding topless isn’t just limited to the Jeep. You can have the same free feeling on a bike, scooter, motorcycle, boat or jet ski to name a few. Whether on land or water, you can see the sky above, feel the wind in your face, enjoy the scents of a fresh BBQ in the distance, and feeling the heat on your skin can be mood changing moments.

If any of those topless activities seem far fetched for you try a walk. A light casual walk. Listen to the birds chirp, smell today. Settle your mind. Smile and repeat as often as you can.

Get topless!

family

Words to my Mother

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I wrote a Mother’s Day poem for my Mom 27 years ago.  Just weeks before graduating from high school.  All the fighting and sneaking around and lying I had done.  All the awards and trophies and certificates, too.  So many things we had endured, loosely but inevitably connected.

I had chosen to go to college in Ohio, so I was facing being away from her for the first time.  I guess this poem, my gift to her, was my way of showing her that I had begun to understand what she had done for me.  What she had given up for me.  Our bond, which would now be stretched across state lines.

I remember crying as I wrote it, one line in particular.  I remember carefully writing the title in crayon, and smudging it with stuff to bring to mind the kindergarten creations of so many Mother’s Days past.

I laid it on her bed, always neatly made first thing in the morning.  On her paisley pillow, not far from her Pall Mall golds, her ashtray and lighter, the plastic tray filled with her earrings.  There was no fanfare.  I just left it there.

I don’t remember her reaction to the poem.  I’m sure she said thank you, but that may have been it.  With all the flurry of activity around my graduation, I’m sure it just got lost in the shuffle.

Nearly a dozen Mother’s Days came and went before my Mother passed away. At that time, I was pregnant with my first natural-born child and a new Mom to two toddlers. I was exhausted and overwhelmed trying to clean out my parents’ 25-year-old home.

I was sifting through the basket of papers she kept right next to her bed.  Underneath a few People magazines I found file folders with birth certificates, legal papers, these were important things…

then I saw the mauve paper peeking out.  And I knew just what it was. My poem.  Just next to some of the most important things in her life.  My poem.

My mother was not the type to gush.  I clearly got my sentimentality from my Dad.  But seeing my poem in with all her most important papers was all I needed to know.

I nearly lost that paper a couple of times, but eventually I had it framed and it still hangs next to my bed, just like where my mother kept it.  Some of it makes me chuckle now, the overinflated ideas and revelations of a too-big-thinking teenager.  But a lot of it still holds true.  I’ve shared a few lines from that poem below.

Hope you all are celebrating Mother’s Day in whatever way honors the women in your life the best.  Take some time to write words to a woman who has meant something to you.  Our words and our time are some of the most precious treasures we can share.

 

mother

I am born of you

out of a painful love that has

already outlasted my lifetime.

You surround me with your

words and your listening silence

and your arms…

 

mother

we are different stages of the same woman

who learn from each other like learning

from a separate self…

and that is why I say I am always with you – because

I am you

and happy to be, lucky to be

thankful to be

 

mother

what is to be is something we don’t know but I can see that it will involve distance

and I wonder how I will make it –

but I know your love can cover the whole world in its maternal infinity

and your wide arms will tuck me in each night even long after I am gone.

 

mother, (mom)

I would not have this future without the past you’ve so unselfishly given and given.

Thank you for my life. I love you.

-Beth

Mother’s Day, 1992

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perspective

Are you Broken?

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On any given day we are all a little broken. It could be a simple hangnail type of broken, a big breakup type of broken or anything in between.

Some days we break a little, like a small crack in your cell phone. Some days we seem to be broken in a million and one pieces like the shattering of a mirror. Fortunately for us, there are bandaids for little boo boos, bandages and Advil for bigger cuts and bruises and then there is always the gym, counselors and good friends to help you when the heavy kind of broken happens. Loss of a loved one, divorce, mental breakdown, financial losses can all leave one broken which is just part of life but we all need to find coping mechanisms to deal with brokenness.

Remember, everyone can break. It’s not a sign of weakness. One can break at 2 years old resulting in a tantrum. One can break in their teens when social struggles hit hard. One can break as an adult for many reasons and the elderly can even break. Caring for an aging family member takes a big toll on people but many don’t talk openly about it. Being broken offers an opportunity to realize change is needed.

I’m sure we all wish we could sprinkle pixie dust on our brokenness and it all just goes away.  In reality, it’s not that simple. It takes strength, wisdom, encouragement, time and perseverance to realign with what’s important and needed to move ahead when brokenness hits us.

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(photo by @ahborson)

One may find hope with Jesus and the church. Another may exit a bad relationship and find peace in forging ahead alone. Another may readjust financially to a setback with counseling or help from a friend. In each scenario options are visible. Taking a step may be hard but if a step is never taken one will never move forward and may be burdened with sadness and sorrow from the brokenness.

I describe brokenness to my kids as we all have an emptiness inside of us.  And some of that comes from the broken places that we all seem to collect throughout life…  Seeing that things aren’t perfect. Accidents happen with awful consequences.  Humans are messy and flawed. People let us down or fail us. We lose someone we care about, for whatever reason. Each of these leaves us cracked, spilling, a little emptier.

It’s up to each of us what we fill those broken spots with.  Will it be productive or destructive? Some will fill that emptiness with substances, addiction.  Some will fill it with meditation, yoga, religion. Some will fill it with giving.  Some with an empty kind of busy-ness. Some with hopelessness or detachment. Some may write their way through grief to a deeper understanding of themselves. Some will fill their lives with new or deeper relationships, reflection, and a true attempt to find joy in the brokenness.  We each choose how we fill those cracks, whether we choose carefully or consciously or now.  We choose how we mend ourselves and even others.

I read about the Japanese art of Kintsugi. It’s the centuries-old practice of repairing broken ceramic pieces with gold…in this tradition, the cracked and repaired spots are not blemishes, but make the piece more beautiful and unique.  It’s a powerful metaphor for our broken human life. Our cracks don’t mean we are useless. Instead, they are part of what make us precious and ultimately more valuable.

I am broken. I have repaired cracks in my life journey and I have many stage one cracks in my life now. I am content with my brokenness. Life is not perfect and neither am I. I grow through my life lessons. I wander. I encourage. I challenge. I test fate and when I do I risk it all. The risk could be emotional. The risk could be financial. The risk could be unknown.

If I lived in a bubble could I still break? Yes, of course. I can however control my attitude when I start each day. I can manage my emotions when times are tough and I can fuel my body with health and fitness regimens that help me stay the course. It’s all in the mindset.

It may be hard to share, but I find that when I am brave enough to share my broken, I often also get the chance to be closer to people.  So often, others are suffering in ways we don’t know or can’t see, even refuse to see.  If we take a risk, make ourselves vulnerable, show our tender spots to a trusted friend, we will often learn we are much less alone in our broken. Many are fighting battles we can’t imagine, and often they feel they are fighting them alone. The cracks are opportunities to shine a light on others and share a light in what can be a very dark time. Be the light and share your broken.  Be the gold that fills another and reflects their unique beauty.

Be the gold that fills the cracks. Your gold may melt different than mine but it doesn’t decline in value. Gold is precious just like you and me.

If you thought this post was meaningful, please share it. Share the words that speak to you. I know there are some keys phrases in this post that make me smile and work towards being a better person. I am always filling my cracks with gold and trying to help others find their gold to fill their cracks as well.

 

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(photo by @svklimkin)