Apr 06 2012

Owning a business is like being the conductor of an orchestra.

The instruments can be tuned, the notes learned and the music played, all by the individual members, but to have the vision of oversight, to understand the whole piece and how the various parts are to be played together takes a leader with vision, foresight and timing.

Yes, timing. Knowing what to do when. When to push ahead. When to fall back. When to pursue opportunity and when to shut the door in its face. Timing and risk management are the two essential talents of a great conductor and good business person.


The movie Little Women was recast and released in 1994.

Sometimes one little click on a computer can lead to a whole new life. For instance, in November 2011, I was working on the back end of SunbonnetSmart.com, putting in the sales area to sell my e-products when I noticed a comment on one of my posts.

Cat Morrow, who has a wonderful organic food and natural lifestyle website left a comment about my Your Family Cow source of raw milk post. And Cat was connected to something called BlogHer. One click of the mouse, looking at Cat’s web site, then looking at BlogHer, changed my life forever.

Cat Morrow of NeoHomesteading:
her comment changed my life!

I read BlogHer and I read BlogHer, article after article, post after post and Chatter after Comment. I decided that BlogHer was the most amazing marketing tool I had ever seen, on the Internet or off. And that weekend in November, I made a big decision. I decided to orchestrate my business differently than I had planned. Being the owner of my business web site blog and entrepreneurial, I decided to conduct my symphony in a different way. I changed the score, the instruments and the musicians to put my energies in a different direction.

“It takes people a long time to learn the
difference between talent and genius,

especially ambitious young men and women.

Amy was learning this distinction through
much tribulation, for, mistaking enthusiasm
for inspiration,
she attempted every branch
of art with youthful audacity.”

The Wisdom of Little Women, p 24

I had lots going for me in that I was ambitious, but not a young woman. I knew well the difference between talent and genius. I also knew not to mistake enthusiasm for inspiration, that marketing products and ideas are two different things. And I recognized without a shadow of a doubt, with over thirty years of business experience behind me, that hooking my SunbonnetSmart cart up to BlogHer was a wise thing to do. And so, I put all of my energy into doing what I like to do best: nurturing women, networking and writing. I was like Little Women’s Jo March in that:

“…when the writing fit came on, she gave
 herself up to it with entire abandon, and
led a blissful life, unconscious of want,
care or bad weather, while she sat safe
and happy in an imaginary world…”

The Wisdom of Little Women, p 24

I have been very happy in my BlogHer world, insulated by positive women leaving beautifully soulful Comments. But now, duty calls. I must now get back to my business and work to make a living in this recession-based whatever it is we are living in. Like Jo, I must work “by the magic of a pen” to turn comforts for us all. What I am saying is that I have the business experience and I see so much talent on BlogHer, I feel called to help those who are looking for a market and don’t know how to get out there.

What got me thinking about all of this is, remember that back end of my web site that I was working on last November, well it’s still there, just waiting until I get back to it. So, we have a sales interface all set up, waiting to go. A couple of weeks ago, when Isabel Anders was mentioning she wanted to expand awareness of her The Wisdom of Little Women book, I told her that we could sell it on my web site in a turn key fashion, put it up and see what happens.

The Wisdom of Little Women is a popular
item at the Orchard House Museum Gift Shop.

Now, having read The Wisdom of Little Women, I see all of us, those of us on BlogHer, as Little Women. We are all working hard to keep the home fires burning while the world is pictured as being in turmoil. In an instant it hit me that we can work together, like the March family did, to weather our storms.

Throughout this thinking process of the last couple of weeks, culminating with actually meeting the three BlogHers, Chelsey, Sabrina and Carol, in New York City, I have decided I would like to publish e-books and I’m throwing my sunbonnet into the ring. Why not turn my web site into an outlet for anyone on BlogHer that is interested in getting their book out on the web?

We can have the same fun we are having now, but help supplement our incomes as well.

Listen to Grammy Sunbonnet when she says,
“We’re not going to get by on our good looks alone.”

 

Orchard House, the home of Little Women in the book, and the
Alcott family in real life, is now a museum in Concord, MA. Their
gift store sells Isabel’s book, The Wisdom of Little Women.

Say, BlogHers, can’t you take a hint?

Let me know what you think of this. I am counting the seconds
while waiting to hear from you in the Comments below.


NaBloPoMo April 2012

 

To purchase Isabel Anders’ book:



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Jan 03 2012

Winter has a harsh beauty that renders warmth
and snugly comfort all the more attractive.

Whenever I want to feel better about what is going on in my life, I read a few lines of poet Emily Dickinson’s. Considering how somberly pensive she must have been every time she wrote, her words lighten up any situation I’m facing. Whoa, did the woman have a case of the blues! And yet, much like winter, her poems being harsh and resonating with pathos, make a person glad to have intermittent problems rather than feeling maudlin all of the time like she must have felt. Reading Emily Dickinson, at times, is like hitting one’s head against the wall.  It feels so good when you stop. Each poem is a gift, just like winter’s cold is a gift creating the anticipation of warm fires and close friends as welcomed changes.

Emily Dickinson # 258

There’s a certain Slant of light,
Winter Afternoons —
That oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral Tunes —

Heavenly Hurt, it gives us —
We can find no scar,
But internal difference,
Where the Meanings, are —

None may teach it — Any —
’Tis the Seal Despair —
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air —

When it comes, the Landscape listens —
Shadows — hold their breath —
When it goes, ’tis like the Distance
On the look of Death —

Look at that: she turned out so many of these things, she gave up on giving them titles and just started numbering them. The woman was a sorrow factory. The words she chose in the poem above are heavy, encumbered with intent, each one carefully selected to be a weighty pebble added to the reader’s cart. Oh good grief! Make it stop! And yet, don’t you feel what I feel? Aren’t you glad when the poem comes to an end? Don’t you feel better? And yet, the words are so interesting, don’t you go back and read it again to spiral into its deeper meanings?

They say you have to read good literature three times to fully appreciate it.  At least, that’s what my English teacher in High School said.  Three times. Once to get use to the vocabulary and learn new words, if necessary.  Twice, to get the flow of the words, the cadence, as she would say and, finally, a third time to integrate the two, savoring the words, cadence and meaning at all once in a crescendo of literary enlightenment.

The promise of velvet green vistas heralding spring’s return is the
elixir that gets me through winter’s cold and damp.

Now, compare the weight of Emily’s words above in Poem # 258 to this poem she wrote about spring. Why, one might almost consider it a “ditty” it is so much lighter in its tone:

Emily Dickinson # 812

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.

See? Here Emily Dickinson is skipping and humming a happy spring tune, as well as she could skip and hum anything. The words are of fewer syllables so they flow more quickly, creating a lightness that seems positively cavalier compared to the winter poem. It’s still heavy with that “trade encroaching upon a Sacrament” image at the end, but oh! so comparatively happy and free, I feel giddy. What a wild trip I’m on with you, dear web site visitor.

If you would like to read poetry with more comprehension so that my English teacher, Mrs. Miller, would be proud, here’s a pdf with points for more effectively reading and understanding poetry.

If you appreciate the great minds of literature and science and desire a contemporary twist to quoting famous sayings, including some of Emily Dickinson’s best one liners, go to Thinkershirts to promote 5000 years of “wearable wisdom” by clicking here.

If you are interested in Emily Dickinson and not above sneaking into her bedroom unannounced, this is a lovely introduction to be enjoyed by clicking play:

Emily Dickinson of Amhurst, Massachusetts was one of America’s
most prolific female poets. Although she wrote 1,800 poems,only
twenty were published in her lifetime, perhaps a big reason for
her being so down in the dumps…all those rejection letters.

 

This is a lovely volume of Emily’s poems. Hover over the link below to preview:

The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)



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Nov 10 2010

Today is the 235th anniversary
of the beginning of the Marine Corps
during the Revolutionary War.

Every year, on November 10, the United States Marine Corps celebrates its birthday with formal dances and the cutting of birthday cakes with sabers. It is the highlight of the year and today is the day!

Underway on the open ocean during the Persian Gulf War, 1990.
The side of the USS Guam, an amphibious assault ship, now
retired, decommissioned 25 August 1998.

When shots were fired at Lexington and Concord in Massachusetts on April 19, 1775, Continental Army generals realized they would need to fight a naval war to keep Britain from re-establishing control. In the fall of that year, plans to formally create a fighting force based on the water took hold and it was…

“Resolved, That two Battalions of marines be raised, consisting of one Colonel, two Lieutenant Colonels, two Majors, and other officers as usual in other regiments; and that they consist of an equal number of privates with other battalions; that particular care be taken, that no persons be appointed to office, or enlisted into said Battalions, but such as are good seamen, or so acquainted with maritime affairs as to be able to serve to advantage by sea when required; that they be enlisted and commissioned to serve for and during the present war between Great Britain and the colonies, unless dismissed by order of Congress: that they be distinguished by the names of the first and second battalions of American Marines, and that they be considered as part of the number which the continental Army before Boston is ordered to consist of. Ordered, That a copy of the above be transmitted to the General.”…as written by the Second Continental Congress on November 10, 1775.

USS Nassau as seen from the USS Guam in port.
Rota, Spain March 1991.

Today, any Marine and their family recognizes the Marine Corps Birthday by thinking of the goals of the Corps and the dreams, some fulfilled and others lost in sacrifice, of every young Marine. It is a sobering moment to remember all the battles fought and time served by those who have proudly worn the Eagle, Globe and Anchor emblem. Today, especially, if you know a Marine or see one when you’re out and about, thank them for their service to our Country and be sure and wish them a Happy Birthday!



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Oct 04 2010

Wampanoag women watch the cooking fire while sharing their culture.

When we visited Plimoth Plantation, I was fascinated by the Wampanoag (Wam-pa-nog) tribe members who were interpreters in the Wampanoag Native American homesite area. These interpreters went beyond being reenactors as they were actually present day Wampanoag tribe members recreating the cultural life of their ancestors. It was very interesting to listen to the two ladies at the cooking fire and also to hear their conversation with each other. They were enjoying life, cutting up and pleasantly giggling with us as they prepared food and answered our questions. We enjoyed meeting them.

The green area shows the original location of the Wampanoag.

A little over 2,000 Wampanoag survive, and many live on the Watuppa Wampanoag Reservation on Martha’s Vineyard. In addition, there is land which is owned separately by families and in common by Wampanoag descendants at both Chapaquddick and Christiantown. Some additional Wampanoag tribal members live in Bermuda. They are descendants of those sold overseas by the Puritans during the aftermath of King Philip’s War in 1675-1676.

This information and the nice map are from a Wikipedia entry that you can find here. If you want a detailed report, there is a very interesting Native American history web site that documents Wampanoag history as one of its listings: go to this link.

In the following video, you can take a tour of the Wampanoag homesite at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts. By the way, if you are interested in planting the three sisters of corn, beans and squash in a Wampanoag Garden, directions found here, you can see Wampanoag companion plantings in the video at 7:08 minutes or so.

Tour the Wampanoag Homesite at Plimoth Plantation.
Spoiler Alert! Wampanoag Garden shown at 7:08 minutes!

This is a good book for children in the primary grades. I especially enjoyed the photographs. If you would like to preview it, hover your mouse over this link: The Wampanoags (True Books, American Indians)



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Oct 02 2010

At Plimoth Plantation, the living history museum in Plymouth, Massachusetts,
the Pilgrims come to talk with you during your Thanksgiving feast.

When I lived in upstate New York, I would often go to Boston, Massachusetts and when I did, I would stay in Plymouth to enjoy the historical area. I was intrigued by the story of the Pilgrims landing in 1620, and, so we were taught, being the first Europeans to land in North America. Years later, after reading many books and after learning that Squanto, the Native American who helped the Pilgrims through the first winter, greeted them in English after they landed, I have reassessed what I was taught in school. In my schooling career, very few books mentioned that before the Pilgrims arrived, Squanto and many other Wampanoag tribes people has been captured and taken back to England. But that’s another story and a good one. You can find it and more facts about that first Plymouth winter in Nathaniel Philbrick’s wonderfully educational book, Mayflower, as seen at the bottom of this post.

All plants and animals in the 1627 Village are native
to the times, as are the garden preparations.

But, when I went to Boston and stayed in Plymouth, I would always make a point to visit Plimoth Plantation, the historical area that is spelled in the old style of the original Plimoth colony. And, when I visited Plimoth Plantation, I was always charmed by the idea that every Thanksgiving, the museum hosts a banquet, a 17th century Thanksgiving feast, where tickets may be purchased to “dine with the Pilgrims.” I decided that someday, when I had a family, we would one day go, sitting in rare style on Thanksgiving Day, eating our pumpkin pie just down the street when where it all happened long ago.

Plimoth Plantation is a living history museum,
providing historical immersion in another time.

Eventually I did take my family to Plymouth and Plimoth Plantation, but it was after a few false starts. The programs are very popular around Thanksgiving. I had heard reservations have to be made early, but I thought the beginning of October would be plenty of time. I didn’t know they begin taking reservations in June, (!) so that some of the most popular seatings for dinner are sold out long before fall even begins. So, later, we planned ahead and the next year actually did eat with the Pilgrims on Thanksgiving Day. A triumph years in the making.

A mast, rigging and the crow’s nest of the Mayflower II
docked in downtown Plymouth, Massachusetts.

When you go to the Plimoth Plantation website, found here, to look at the educational events, you will find the Thanksgiving dinner information here. You will notice there are many dates and times from which to choose. The Thanksgiving dinners start in October to allow many more visitors than could be accommodated in November alone. The web site will also show you there are several living history areas: the Wampanoag Native American home site, the 1627 English Village, The Mayflower II, the Nye Barn, in addition to a tempting Gift Shop and other educational and social event facilities.

Wampanoag descendants tend a cooking fire
to instruct visitors on their cultural customs.

Being a bargain shopper as I know you are, I hope you have noticed on the Plimoth Plantation web site that educational and social events are less expensive for Members of the museum; why you even get a discount in the Gift Shop! I would strongly encourage everyone who loves history to become members of all museums that speak to your love of heritage. With the economic climate and families traveling less, donations toward non-profit groups like museums are declining.

Visitors wander freely through the Village
while talking to Pilgrim interpreters.

Unfortunately, government grants and funding have also lessened leaving museum directors and curators wringing their hands as to how to maintain collections to safeguard the pubic trust. By supporting museums, by becoming a member and actively participating in staged events, museum doors stay open and the collections can be maintained for future generations. In some small museums, the need is especially critical, so please give to the museum/s of your choice.  Make sure the museum where you want to take your kids or grand kids someday will be open when you bring a carload of fun seekers to their door.

To preview a copy, hover over this link:

Mayflower: A Story of Courage, Community, and War

The following is a spirited Amazon review:

“After a recent trip to Plymouth with the family (also heartily recommended), most of the tour guides & workers suggested this as a very good first read about the history of the Plymouth Colony. They were absolutely right (thanks guys). This is a very well written book that covers the main history of the Plymouth Colony from the establishment of the first successful colony through King Philip’s War. Nathaniel Philbrick’s main point is how the relationships with the natives changed from one of mutual dependence to outright open warfare between competing cultures. While telling the big story, he tells a lot of small stories along the way that make this a wonderful book. The details didn’t interfere with the flow of the larger story.
The writing is excellent. The history is fascinating. It’s a must read for anyone interested in the Pilgrims, King Philip’s War, early American History or Massachusetts history.”

To enjoy a video of Plimoth Plantation, click play:



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NaBloPoMo November 2012