Acceptance of Circumstances, community involvement, Enjoying What You Do, Importance of taking break, keeping a balance, Making Connections, making time for things you value, Objectives Setting, relationship building, warriors, fighters, doing good, giving back, paying it forward

A Life Constant: Why I’ve Always Walked

Walking has always played a huge role in my life. During my early childhood years, when I lived in a very rural area, my five siblings and I walked everywhere — a long, uphill trek to a small candy store, in the many wooded areas of the very country-ish-at-the-time town of Burlington, Connecticut, and around and near two different ponds for swimming to which we had access.

Moving with my family at age 9 to a less rural part of Connecticut (Bristol) didn’t put a damper on my interest in and ability to walk great distances. Just the opposite. My twin, Audrey, and I had sizable walks to school, particularly related to our junior high school, which was a forty-minute walk from our home. As part of that long daily walk, we’d stop by the houses of friends along the way, so that they could join us on the “walking bus” to school. And on the way home from junior high and even elementary school, we’d take routes home that made the trip longer, but that afforded us the opportunity to purchase favorite snacks. In addition, I regularly walked to Bristol’s downtown area to shop, take advantage of the city’s great library, and accomplish other errands.

As you would expect, during college days at UCONN, I continued to walk a great deal. UCONN has a very large campus, so often class location required walking long distances, but UCONN also has a beautiful pond area for walking, known as Mirror Lake — an area to which I was often pulled. I attended the Universite of Rouen in France my senior year and logged a crazy large number of shoe- and sneaker-leather miles abroad, partly due to the fact that the home of the family with which I lived was a significant distance from the Universite, and partly due to the fact that I had the opportunity to spend blocks of time in Paris and other beautiful parts of Europe. Walking is such a great way to get to know a new city or area.

Fast forward to my first apartment post-graduation in Quincy MA (where I didn’t own a car) and to my 15 years of living in Brookline MA (where most of the time I didn’t own a car). I ran many of my errands on foot, but also regularly enjoyed non-errand-related amblings all over Quincy, Brookline and Boston. I often walked numerous stops past the closest MBTA (subway) stop to my employer/job or my home, just to get my mileage and my time in nature to clear my head in.

When I was a child and in my early 20’s, reasons for walking probably tipped more to it being the means to end — a way to get to where I needed and/or to run an errand. As I got older, walking began to take on a different role in my life for the following opportunities it afforded:

2019 Jimmy Fund Walk With Lifetime Friends

Particularly during our pandemic, many of my days have been “two-walk” days, and there’s even been some “three-walk” ones — either because of the need to emotionally manage daily work and personal demands and/or the tough news we’re constantly bombarded with. Or, to have the chance to visit and spend time with friends and family. Of course, walking looks a little bit different these days because of needs to social distance and wear masks.

Since our dating days, my husband, Jay, and I have always enjoyed nature and vacation walks together, but up until recently, I’ve been the primary “neighborhood” walker in the family, but now’s he’s joining me, or walking by himself, having recognized some of the benefits of walking that I’ve shared above.

This only scrapes the surface of why I am and have always been so passionate about walking. I’d love to hear why you walk, so please do share!

Acceptance of Circumstances, community involvement, keeping up with trends, LinkedIn, Making Connections, Making Connections and Introductions, making time for things you value, Networking, relationship building, sales, staying current, target audiences, warriors, fighters, doing good, giving back, paying it forward

How to Pivot Your Business Toward Relationship-Building in the Time of COVID-19

By Guest Blogger, Bethany Clarke

Running a business these days is no joke. The global pandemic has put many small businesses into a tailspin. No one’s seen anything like this before and everyone’s talking about “pivoting,” but what does that actually mean? What does a pivot look like for you? 

You’re great at running and marketing your business. You’ve got the branding, social media, and your new client funnel down to a science. You’re turning a profit and you can’t believe how far you’ve come since the first days of starting out, but this COVID-19 deal is uncharted territory.

You’re not alone. Sales for many businesses have dropped this month due to the distraction provided by the pandemic, but particularly, due to its associated social distancing practices. Yes, the latter are a matter of national health, but man, are they a pain for conducting in-person sales activities. And, our current world scenario has made all forms of sales and outreach activities far more difficult and far less effective, whether they be in-person, phone, or e-communications ones. That’s why we recommend that your pivot be one that includes relationship building.

What’s the deal with relationships? They will be what sustains you through this crisis and after it is over. By reaching out to potential clients now, you can be certain that you’ll be one of the first people they come to once the crisis has receded. You can establish yourself as a credible, helpful and friendly resource in your field, and even a “thought leader.”

How to make the pivot toward relationship building?

  1. Establish connections online by devoting a half hour to posting and being present on your social media each day. That’s enough time to reply to comments on your posts or to comment on others’ posts. Always make an effort to do this, especially on Facebook and Instagram since that’s part of the algorithm that drives your posts to the top of people’s feeds. 
  1. Direct message followers who are your dream clients. Now’s the time to reach out and say “hello” and offer to help or provide information they might find particularly beneficial at this point in time. Most people have more free time lately and are craving connections. If you’re making a practice of extending your olive branch now in a very genuine/authentic and heart-felt way, you’ll be remembered by people for helping make this hard time a little easier for them.
  1. Reach out to people who operate in fields adjacent to yours and who serve the same vertical (target audiences) you’d like to do work for. For instance, if you’re a copywriter, you could connect with someone who does graphic design. In the future, when you meet a client who needs a website re-done, you can provide your client with the copy they need, and then refer them to your colleague who will design their fancy new logo or design their new website. If you help nonprofits with marketing, but there are other firms that don’t compete with you that offer bookkeeping services for nonprofits, then why not try to be referral sources for each other? These referrals can go both ways. People in your identical spaces could be competitors but what if you shifted that perspective? What if you turned them into collaborators or work referral sources? Developing a “referral circle” is an excellent way to broaden and strengthen your network and increase your customer base.

Aside from all the business benefits that come along with establishing and maintaining relationships, having these positive, collaborative, helpful relationships just feels really good right now. In this time of isolation, it’s human and healthy to crave connection with others. Making the pivot toward relationship building in your business will not only make your business stronger, but it may help make you healthier and happier as well.

Uncategorized, warriors, fighters, doing good, giving back, paying it forward

Recognizing and Supporting the Warriors Among Us

Recent messaging I’ve been exposed to, activities I’ve participated in, and health challenges with which I’ve dealt have prompted me to remind all my readers to continue to recognize and support the many and varied warriors among us. With October just around the corner, and news media, advertisers, and merchandisers splattering pink ribbons everywhere, breast cancer patients and survivors, as well as their caregivers, come most immediately to mind as individuals who need and deserve our support, but they are a just a small fraction of the many warriors in our midst.

Because of when the Committee gathered post-summer, fall reminds me of my previous pro bono publicity work for the Braintree-Milton-Randolph MA Relay For Life — an activity that regularly provides the opportunity to meet or hear the stories of patients and survivors who’ve battled or are battling many types of cancers (including breast cancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, leukemia, lymphoma and more), and who are incredible fighters.

I was also diagnosed with a rare cancer — abdominal sarcoma — in September 2006, so this time of year always brings reminders of the emotional and physical challenges I faced at that time and continue to face 13 years later as a result of the chronic conditions cancer treatment and surgery left me with. In fact, on the day I’m posting this, I’m off to have some CT scans to try to identify the cause for some new digestive symptoms I’ve been having.

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At different points over the past 7 years, I have had the good fortune of interacting with cancer and other health warriors on a weekly basis because of my “sometimes” need to receive IV iron treatments (I no longer absorb iron well from food or supplements). I say “good fortune” because, while I may arrive at my hematology/oncology practice not wanting to deal with the pricks of blood draws or IV inserts, or simply grouchy because I have to give up several hours weekly to this health inconvenience, when I witness or talk to other patients about what they are going through, I realize how small my challenges are. While I don’t wish bad health on anyone and feel great compassion for those dealing with it, the courage and grace many patients — and those who help them — exhibit under really difficult circumstances is both a reminder to me of how indomitable the human spirit is and an inspiration to me to stay positive and be grateful for the gift of life.

My pro bono work for Our Heart Speaks (OHS), an organization that provides a voice and means of healing through artistic expression to individuals finding themselves suddenly struggling with new disability or chronic illness, reminds me so often how there are individuals who feel fairly rotten on a daily basis, but who, for a variety of reasons, don’t feel comfortable or have the need for regularly sharing their pain, fright, and suffering with the outside world, including friends and family. I’ve learned thru my social media work for OHS that, particularly patients who suffer from “invisible illness,” such as digestive issues or chronic pain that isn’t obvious to both the loved ones and strangers in the patients’ lives, often feel like they must struggle with their health challenges in silence because there’s no “physical evidence” that can be seen by the human beings with which they interact that they are suffering.

As I alluded to above, we must recognize that warriors come in all shapes & sizes. Some warrior souls are cloaked in the body of a 90-year old woman, and some use the body of a 5-year old boy as their vessel. Some are battling cancer, some, other terminal or chronic diseases like ASL, MS, Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s. And, some struggling with serious mental/emotional illness that paralyzes them, or, with addiction or social issues, such as homelessness.

Other warriors among us are the medical professionals who give their hearts and souls to their patients by helping them both emotionally and physically deal with their illness. Still, other warriors can be found in the friends and family members of those dealing with illness who do all they can to envelop their ill loved one in an invisible blanket of love. I also believe warriors can be found among the many individuals who give their free time to generate both awareness about research studies and research funds in support of a particular health challenge or social cause.

As briefly touched on above, in addition to physical-health warriors, there are innumerable warriors among us who, while not belonging to one of the four broad warrior groups above, i.e., the afflicted/challenged individual, professional caregivers, friend and family caregivers, and awareness and fund generators, battle non-physical-health challenges that seem equally insurmountable to health challenges. These include afflictions and challenges such as poverty, injustice, discrimination, and bullying. Plus mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, addiction, and PTSD.

As you do when you celebrate Halloween and seek to identify who the person is under a particular costume, make an effort to identify the warriors beneath the surface of the individuals with whom you interact. And, regardless of their circumstances, let’s all be sure to give a shout out and emotional and physical support to all the warriors we come across in our daily lives, not just in September & October, but all year long.

In close, and, in keeping with the above, please do let me know if you would like me to add a warrior song, individual, or organization to my “Keep Up The Fight” page. I would be thrilled to do so!