business, Uncategorized

Dining In Dining Out

I sat down to write this post and came into a few roadblocks. Nothing major just my perception or perspective. I decided this was important to write about.

In a recent post Chick 2 referenced her vantage point in the restaurant industry as a family-owned business. My post today will be as a patron.

I dined out a few times at local establishments during the pandemic shutdown. My hopes were to make an impact and to break up the mundane on the home front. It worked for the most part.

I bought pastries from a local bakery. I bought curbside pickup at a chain and tipped big. I took to go orders at the small mom-and-pops. I even hit a franchise or two.

Now that things are starting to open up I decided to dine out. Well my first choice was closed. A bigger chain but one of my favs. I looked for another local fav spot that a friend managed and that too was closed for dine in. Then I thought well I’ll just grab something elsewhere with disappointment.

When all was crumbling around me with lack of options I saw a Mexican place open that I had never been to. I decided to give it a shot. I was pleasantly surprised.

As I entered the facility I saw floor markings noting 6 feet apart. I saw a plastic protector by the hostess stand. I saw a make shift to-go pickup area with tables in use that were normally for dining. It seemed odd.

I took my seat. I observed. Every other booth was taped off for my protection. Tables were spread apart in the floor area. The servers were masked like healthcare workers. Does that kill your vibe to eat food? I was just rolling with the experience.

I couldn’t stop watching the to-go area. It had a table lined with to-go margaritas. Filled in 1/2 gallon milk jug type containers. They were labeled and sealed but never would I have seen this pre-corona. They sold like hot cakes with the to-go order. Interesting concept to generate revenue and make do with the new normal.

It was hard to understand the waiter. Was he annoyed or smiling? So many thoughts crossed my mind. The food arrived. It was delicious. My worries went away with the comfort and presentation of the meal.

Fresh cut slivers of avocado were the highlight of my meal. Fresh chips and salsa. The sounds of conversations and other humans around me. It was a new normal and a bit weird but it was a good first step. These are the vibes you can’t replace at home. And no clean up!

Mother’s Day came and went. A holiday normally spent at a restaurant but not this year. Nobody in my family wanted to dine out. A barbecue at home it was for this family. A picnic for another group I knew. A day on the lake for others. A work day for others whose family runs a restaurant.

I wondered about the financial effects of not only corona but on the restaurant industry itself on such a day like Mother’s Day. Some of these establishments need those holiday highs to maintain the lulls of other parts of the year.

I will continue to eat out when I can. If my budget allows. If my community stays open. If opportunity presents itself. So many ifs in the world today.

Are you dining in or out today?

perspective

Special Deliveries

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I am a huge Amazon fan.  Like, huge. Maybe too big.

Me and Amazon go back a long way. I peeked in my decades-old email inbox and saw my oldest email from Amazon.com is from 2003 when I had a baby registry there.  I know I was a customer years before that though. I loved Amazon when they just sold books and  spending 25 bucks to get super saver shipping was the coolest. Prime wasn’t even a thing.

I loved Amazon when it was losing money and people didn’t think it would survive. (Yes, there was a time when Amazon did not make money!)  I was a college student then, busy falling in love with knowledge and reading and all that nonsense, when Amazon was the place for all my little philosophy and poetry tomes, long before Amazon baby registries.

I do know that Amazon isn’t everything. Over the years I have learned to seek out and shop small businesses when I can.  Local bookstores, hardware stores, boutiques…I try to shop them often.  But still, there are some times when Amazon’s selection and even price and return policy can’t be matched. (Not to mention you can shop them in your pajamas when you just think of something you need and voila!  It’s there in 2 days.)

Of course, the pandemic has caused retail pandemonium. Even more people are shopping online. Delivery services are taxed to the max. Amazon didn’t escape this fate.  My little reliable Prime symbol doesn’t even mean 2-day shipping anymore. Only “essential items” from these categories would be delivered quickly: baby products, health and household, beauty and personal care, grocery, industrial and scientific, and pet supplies.  Everything else was in slow motion.

I guess this didn’t really sink in for me for a while. Here I am, spending most of my time at home, many businesses closed.  Times have truly, deeply changed, both in a global sense and in a personal sense. I’ve been using my hour once spent commuting to the gym and work to read every morning. Of the many changes I’ve taken on, that has been a bright spot.  But, my book supply was small, and reading for nearly an hour each day has me flying through books quickly.  A visit to the local Barnes & Noble isn’t an option. Libraries are closed (?!?!?)  So, of course, I ordered a couple of titles from Amazon.

FOUR WEEKS.

It was going to take four weeks!  And one is a best seller!  Geez.  Another sign of the times.

I see Amazon trucks scurrying everywhere through traffic and their delivery people running up to doors.  I know people are working hard.  I’ll survive.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I was granted a hundred dollars from our school PTA to spend on classroom supplies earlier this week. I had to spend it quickly, so I just piled a bunch of colored copy paper in my Amazon cart and hit order now.  I knew we didn’t have any at work and I knew we wouldn’t need it anytime soon, since we won’t have students in the building until the fall.  It was just a simple thing to stock up on and Amazon usually has decent prices.  I clicked it and forgot about it.

Then, VOILA.  What shows up on my doorstep in less than 24 hours?  The 8 reams of paper I didn’t really need for months, in a large box marked “HEAVY.”

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I was shocked.  Really?

Meanwhile, I’m still waiting for the books I ordered weeks ago, the items I truly needed now – or even last month.

I guess this probably sounds quibblesome to many.  A definite first-world problem.  Maybe it’s selfish of me to wish I could have somehow deemed my books essential items.  After all, they are what I am using to work on my mindset and my future wealth.  I get that books aren’t at the top of many people’s priority lists. Screens are more an essential for most these days, and others have said that focusing long enough to read in these troubled times is impossible.  But for me, books have been a saving grace.  And for those who are isolating alone, I can imagine books can be essential for some.

Still, I can wait.  What was sillier to me was my heavy, cumbersome box of Atomic Orange copy paper, which I didn’t need anytime soon, zipped to my home address like it was on the Pony Express.  Can I find a way to trade my priorities?  Or somehow push the paper down the delivery list so the urgently essential items (whatever those are) can get to their destinations more quickly?

But in the end, who decides what is essential?  And why? It’s different around the world, and not without controversy.  Amazon, who started out in the book industry, now has books as non-essential items.  Amazon, you’ve forgotten where you came from!  (The conspiracy theorist in me says, of course they don’t want us to read!  Reading means we can think for ourselves!  They’re trying to limit our access to information.  And did I mention that the LIBRARIES ARE CLOSED??!?)

Calm down, Beth. Really though, it’s probably not much more than another shuffling sign of the times in the age of corona.  And it brings a new appreciation for the conveniences I took for granted. And a whole lot of neon-colored paper collecting dust in the cupboard.

 

 

 

 

 

adventure, balance, inspire

Nature Therapy

If you recall we posted a digital doomsday blog and noted all the negative vibes around what’s missing these days from the school experience from a teen daughter’s perspective. All the time stuck with eyes glued to a laptop. No time to move between classes. No friends to laugh with.

However, after reflecting on the extra time available to take a walk with my daughter outside because of the “downtime” in our schedule and her lack of spending time with friends or at sports activities, a different vantage point appeared. Again a negative turned positive. Below is a great pic we snagged on a late night stroll together. We are embracing nature in a way we never have before. Just listening to birds chirp in the morning is a new kind of peaceful way to start the day. Very different than how life started a month ago and hopefully different than next month but for today we are embracing what options one can celebrate.

One wish for us is that the vast majority of people would or could look past themselves and their immediate discomforts during this pandemic and see the sunshine that is around the corner. It may not be the brightest sunshine but even every sliver of light can be embraced in the darkest hour.

If even just a few people out out there choose nature as a stress relief today it can spread. Think about others as well. Your aura reflects on others. A joyous smile is infectious when you pass somebody at the park from 6 feet way. It’s free and simple and may be the one interaction that person has that day. It could be mind altering that day. There is always somebody in a worse situation than you despite what you see right in front of you. Pass on the positives during this dark time.

As we write this, Spring is springing forth in the USA. Color is starting to dapple the landscape. Flowers are beginning their parade of blooms. Here’s a tip: find some local flower growers and follow them on social media. If your feeds are full of gloom and doom, trim those folks back (mute them or unfollow) and add some beauty to your screen.

Even better, reach out to flower farmers near you and see if you can connect that way. Farmers near us, used to relying on farmer’s markets or florists, are now offering porch deliveries or pre-orders to open air markets. These small local farmers are suffering from the breakdown of routines and supply chains just as many other businesses are. They are forced to innovate on nature’s timeline. Many can offer you bunches of exquisite little treasures that you can enjoy and share with others. Here’s a recent pickup we enjoyed, and supported a couple of small businesses in the process.

As we have said in many ways at many times, you become who and what you surround yourself with. Get out and surround yourself with fresh air. Bright, warm sunshine. Sweet breezes. Walk your feet on fresh grass. If you’re having trouble getting out of your head or you’re feeling anxious, do a 5 senses countdown exercise out in the world. Clear your mind and notice what is happening in nature. Surround yourself with reminders that time continues on.

New life is coming. Even though part of nature is going haywire at the moment, much of it is marching in its usual rhythm. Bees are buzzing. Baby ducks and bunnies will soon appear at local parks. The earth is waking up from its yearly nap. Let this reassure you that this dark season will also pass. In the mean time, don’t miss the things we are often too busy to notice.

This post is dedicated tho those full of raw emotions relating to Coronavirus. We all have them. We opt to share ours with the world via a blog. Our posts are edited multiple times and viewed by others subjectively before going live. Although only one vantage point, it may help somebody reading along.

Nature therapy has worked for us during this crazy time. Walks in our community. Short jogs. Bike riding. Gardening. Swimming. Kayaking. Hiking. All activities that allow physical distancing while embracing nature. Chick 1 even climbed a few trees.

We don’t need to be confined to our four walls to be safe. We can be distant and enjoy nature. Opt outside when you can.

balance, celebrations, Uncategorized

31 Days 2020 Style

Last year I blogged about my 31 days in January as it was the first month of my #1095days project. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary when I made the post, however I thought about how I needed to repeat this task each year to see how my life changed, if it changed at all. I made the calendar reminder and here we are with a post update. Here goes…

January just seems like the longest month ever generally speaking. During the month it may feel like a year has passed, but it is actually just one month. One single month of 31 days. Each day representing a day to make a difference in the world some way, somehow. Master planning for the year or recapping the previous year? Each year may be different based on environmental conditions and life in general, but the year always starts with 31 days in the month of January.

Over the past year my home environment changed. My workspace changed. I added a puppy to the mix which is close to resembling having a newborn in diapers. I adjusted to loved ones having health issues. I traveled to new places. I lived life, basically. I had no regrets.

Add the cold and chilling January weather, rain, rain and more rain and that equates to another whole level of awful. Sprinkle on a busy schedule and those 31 days were gone before you know it. Or maybe the 31 days go fast because I am always waiting for February to arrive. February is my birth month. I am always looking forward to February. Once February comes and goes it’s time to think warm weather, sunshine and vacations on the horizon or maybe it is just because the chill in the air is starting to depart.

Just as I did last year, this is a memory tracker where I write down 31 significant or interesting things that transpired in my life in January. May be boring to some but it’s part of my story. 10 years from now, I may not be around. If for some reason I am not around, my loved ones can see how my life view was in this snapshot of time. That is a pretty cool time capsule, if you ask me. Here is my 31-day reflection to start this month with a bang.

1. I attended a vision board party. This was a blast and I recommend it every January.
2. I completed a weighted CrossFit workout with my friend again. We now have an annual event!
3. I got tattooed. I didn’t even realize it was an annual thing until I did this exercise!
4. I booked travel to seven different states, all for different reasons.
5. I toured an assisted living facility. This was an experience in itself.

6. I wrapped up a coaching session with an awesome millennial. She is ready to soar on her own.
7. I gained weighed and lost weight. This surely hasn’t changed year to year.
8. I tracked my nutrition consistently. This may be a reset for many this time of year.
9. I worked on my 2020 goals like a boss. I have some lofty goals this year.
10. I rode my bike 20 miles in one ride to celebrate 2020.
11. I worked out on a Sunday at 5am with crazy friends.
12. I worked on taxes for multiple entities which is so boring, but I am ahead of past years.
13. I organized a large event and it went off without a glitch.
14. I signed up for a mud run and 10k race out of state.
15. I took a jump rope class.
16. I managed a concrete expansion project at a property I own.
17. I got a massage which I guess I did last year. Self-care matters.
18. I spent time with family and friends. This hasn’t changed since last year.
19. I made kale soup for the first time. This was so good.
20. I coached lacrosse. Watching my team grow is amazing but this is my last year coaching!
21. I took on more responsibilities on the work front. I just volunteer too much.
22. I cheered my daughter on during basketball games.
23. I dealt with a tenant full of excuses for this, that and the other.
24. I got to dress shop with my daughter for her first big dance event.
25. I got my hair cut. I did this last year, too.
26. I had a water leak at a property I own. This was not fun. It was expensive though.
27. I shopped on Amazon a little bit, but maybe not as much as last year.
28. I shopped local as well and this is a big goal for me in 2020.
29. I blogged. I blogged a lot more than last year.
30. I solidified a sale of a house. No more expensive storage space.
31. I planned for some upcoming challenges on the horizon. Fingers crossed all goes well.

2020 was the start of a new year, a new beginning mixed with new friends and old friends. It’s funny when you look at who is around your circle, who has passed by, who is excluded and who you are feeling lucky to have welcomed into your circle. I am thankful for opportunities on the horizon and at peace with all that is part of my history aka the past.

Last year I wrote: Even when life tosses you to the wolves, we are still empowered to find our inner sunshine and really just seize the day, the week, the month. I can safely say I feel the exact today as I did a year ago in relation to this statement. Each day is a new page in my story book. It could be a day of adventure or a day of emotional highs and lows. No matter how my day flows, I get back up and start again the next day looking for sunshine. Coincidentally, today I get a message from my friend stating: Love you and all the sunshine you bring to my life…. As you read future posts you will often see why the word sunshine is so meaningful to me. #buddy

In 2019, I wrote: Keep on keeping on and take a moment to reflect on your January. If you had only one day left on earth what would you do with your day? This rings a bell to me since I put out a 2020 challenge to my readers regarding what will you do with an hour a day. Funny how life circles around.

This year I will sign off with, Happy Birth Month to ME. Looking forward to this time next year when I review my 31 days again. I love new traditions. I wonder if I will have another tattoo in January of 2021?

 

 

dare to be different, giving, inspire

Making Local a Priority

This year I decided to make a goal to spend money with local small businesses. I actually track my spends and make a firm commitment to choose local and small even if it costs more for a particular item. I’m not going cold turkey on Amazon Prime by any means. Just making a percentage of my spend hit the local economy.

So far so good. I am excited about these choices. I am excited about helping a small business live another day.

I went to a local restaurant with friends. It had a good vibe and allowed pets in its outdoorsy environment. I decided I’d buy a t-shirt and gift card. Each was given to a different person to build the hype. Hopefully they will buy something and share their experience with a friend. It’s that simple to stimulate the local economy.

A friend works at a pet store, locally owned and operated. I have pets. I bought some special treats. Those treat make my pets happy but also helps my friend have a job.

My car needs an oil change. I can go to the corporate dealership but I like going to the local shop down the street. The service is good and I get to talk to the mechanic. I can’t get that attention at the dealership. I can even see the work getting done in the bay vs. sitting in a lobby with the TV or internet. Check out my photo above for a view of my mechanic’s shop where I happened to drop by when this sweet car was in for a little tune up. Not sure the year but it sure did have a pretty paint job.

It’s crazy what you can observe if you just slow down and appreciate what’s right in front of you. At the holidays many shop online to avoid the crowds. I get that, but then we miss the human interaction with the workers. We miss the smiles exchanged. We miss the crazy customer who gets mad when they can’t find something. Isn’t there a value in shopping in the muck of it all?

I am going to enjoy my community a little more this year by opening my eyes to what’s right in front of me.

Having a small business is hard work and when you read about one closing, you immediately think what went wrong? Well many things could go wrong but at the end of the day if I never went in to that storefront and bought their cup of coffee or their dog biscuits then I didn’t really help them have a fighting chance.

Big companies have strong leaders making key decisions and a boat load of funding. A small business is a family behind the scene. It means a kid getting to play little league or getting new shoes when mom or dad finally takes a paycheck. It means that business lives another day.

This month a local coffee house shut down as in went out of business. Is it a coincidence that Starb**** opened up next door inside Kroger’s grocery store? Probably not as folks may find it easier to get their latte while they shop vs walking a few doors down. Convenience is good but once a week visiting the local independent coffee shop could make the difference in the owner making their rent payment that month. Just food for thought.

This post could go on and on but the simple point is take a little bit of your monthly spend and divert to a local small business. It could be a hair salon, a nail salon, a restaurant, a bike shop, etc. it may not be the cheapest but I bet the owner is passionate about what they provide to the community.

While you are at it, give a local company shout out on the web. So many people read reviews. Make sure to note it’s a local favorite to build trust. Today I made my Saturday a small business Saturday and hit a locally owned place I adore called Pat’s Eatery. A place where you can sip coffee with friends for an extended period of time and the owner is cooking up a storm on his Saturday morning. The server is a long-time employee who must love her job because she is as permanent as the sign on the exterior of the building. It’s always a pleasure when she serves you. Smiles and conversations are a must.

Have fun experiencing your local community. Put your own special twist on this. Visit a farmers market. Buy from a local artist. Have a sales meeting a local coffee shop. Make a difference in community with the money you are going to spend anyway.