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Day 6: A renewed focus

I set my alarm for 5:45am.  I was going to get up early and be at the park by 6:30… yeah I snoozed the alarm several times until 6:30.  Waking reluctantly, I let Beanie out to take care of business, and fixed a large glass of water to help me wake up.  Regretting not buying bananas while at the store over the weekend, I settled for my water and let Beanie back in.

He was wild.  Turning in circles he urged me to move faster. Despite our week’s break he seemed to know that today was a walking day.  I slowly pulled on my athletic gear, layering up for the early chill that I knew would soon burn off with the rising of the sun.  I slowly tied my shoes, pulled my upside down hair into a clip and athletic headband, not worrying so much about it’s appearance, but more about not scaring my fellow exercisers on the path.

Beanie’s agitation grew with each step I took as I dragged myself out the door to face the brisk air.  We loaded up and headed out, forgetting my gloves.  Upon arrival at our favorite park, I knew I was going to want those gloves and more.  I zipped up my sweatshirt, pulled my hood up, and buried my hands in my pockets.  I would miss some added exercise by not swinging my arms, but I hoped that the rising sun would raise temps as my walk progressed.

We had our usual stilted start, Beanie bounding from bush, to tree, to trashcans.  Finally he settled into the rhythm of the walk and trotted on.  I tried to focus on nothing but the sound of my steps.  Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak. I had tied my right shoe a little loose but didn’t feel like stopping to fix it.  I was clearing my mind, focusing on the repetition and trying to push out the concerns of the upcoming workday and other worries.

I read an article yesterday on WebMD that had led me to this new “Zen” mission.  It was Blissing Out: 10 Relaxation Techniques To Reduce Stress On-the-Spot and I was determine that my walk would be my meditation for the day.  Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak. Beanie pulled on the leash, wanting to linger at the drop off for the doggie bags.  I pushed on.  My mind wandered, I brought it back.  Relax your toes, relax your shins, Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak.

We were already around the back side of the park, I knew my pace was a little slow, so as I came to one of the gentle slopes up I pushed a little harder to speed up.  I have never been one for speed walking.  My aunt often complains when I walk with her about my slow pace.  I enjoy the walk too much, she pushes to sweat, burn, and get done.

Focus Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak.  My calendar loomed in front of me (a calendar that is giving me problems with my blackberry right now) and I began to plan out my time working at the local coffee shop, and when I would have time to write this blog.  Then I jumped to what time should I take lunch.  I was not meditating.

Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak.  I cleared my mind, and before I knew it we had made the first loop.  Beanie strained wanting to head up to the car, but I urged him on.  I knew the second lap was hard for him, it was hard for me.  I was going to start slowing down, my breathing would get more labored, I would most likely begin coughing towards the halfway point.

We got down the path and Beanie made several attempts to turn me back to the car.  4 times he turned 180 degrees and walked as far as the leash would allow.  I reigned him in and locked the leash at a closer length until he gave in and dutifully trotted in front of me.  We had reached the back side of the park again. I wasn’t meditating.

Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak. Beanie’s bag dispenser slapped haphazardly against the leash.  The roar of a bulldozer for a nearby road expansion came rolling into the park.  I saw a bench up ahead.  It looked like a cozy couch in my mind.  I pushed on, picking up the pace despite my labored breathing.  I began to wonder how many people ever actually just sat on that bench and enjoyed nature.  I decided it got much more use as a stopping place to stretch, tie shoes, or check a pulse.  No one sits on benches in parks anymore, except for old, slightly overweight white men, in political thrillers.

Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak.  We were easily halfway, I pushed on and pushed all thoughts but my pace out of my mind.  The coughing began.  I knew I should have taken my allergy pill before I left, but hindsight is always 20/20.  I pushed on, letting the coughs come, but trying to not let them slow my pace.  We neared the edge of the woods, and a waft of cigarette smoke caught me.  I coughed some more and wondered who would want to smoke at a park.  I had only seen people exercising like me, who combines that with the cancer sticks.  I never did when I smoked.

I turned back to my shoes. Step, Squeak, Step, Squeak.  Push on, almost there.  Beanie decided to stop for one last gift to nature.  We were almost there, the home stretch.

At last we finished, I deposited Beanie in the car and his present in one of the special receptacles placed around the path.  I threw some trash away out of the car as I was near a trash can.

We had done it.  We were both out of breath and wanting water and I hurried home to satisfy our thirst.  It had been a good walk.  I felt renewed in my goal to be starting Couch to 5K in another 2 1/2 weeks.  I decided I should come out over the weekend and take a leisurely walk, maybe even check out the cross country trails in the park that beckoned me as I passed their trailhead markers.

Meditation, check minus.  Sense of accomplishment, check plus.


So no posts this week on walking because I haven’t been doing it. The pain in my side is actually a Gall Bladder issue that got worse before it got better. $2 in the till for missing the walk. Hoping to try again next Tuesday. Word on the street is that warmer weather is heading to town. I’ll believe it when I see and feel it. Meanwhile I’m hooking up to the Wii Fit and doing some gentle yoga.

Post Note: The Wii Fit never manifested itself.  Will add it to a long list of things to do this weekend!

Day 2: Pushing through the pain

Today was not a good day for me. Having been slightly chilled the last time I walked I put on what I thought would be sufficient layers, not checking the weather report. I was frozen about halfway around the first loop.
As the cold increased so did the pain in my shins. I had not felt any soreness from the first day of walking until this point. But every step was getting more and more painful. As I rounded the back side of the park, and hit some downward slopes the pain increased.
I also began to feel pain in my side. Having recently had a ruptured cyst I was worried that I was overdoing it so soon.
By the time I reached the car after only one loop I was shuffling my feet and holding my side. So I made the decision to not complete a second loop despite my lenten discipline. So a $1 will be going into the box later today.

Let’s hope next week proves more productive.

Ahhh the Tweetup! My favorite monthly event!  I get to see all my tweeps and socialize.  Often I make new friends.  This month’s tweetup was one of the best we’ve had!

Pomegranate Books was our host for this month.  It is a wonderful independent bookstore located just off Kerr Ave near Wrightsville Ave here in Wilmington, NC.  They opened their doors and provided a great space to move about, talk and trade tips.

A great array of snacks and beverages were provided by Kelly Cain Smith and Jeremy Smith. One of the new Tweeps who joined us at the Tweetup is Robin Robinson. She is running for District Court Judge. This is a non-partisan seat and we are excited to see that she’ll be using Social Media to reach a broader audience this election season. Maybe this will catch on with others running for office. I for one would like to see more information on many of the candidates. Robin is pictured here with Jackie Willse, founder of Wilmington Young Professionals. Jackie will be consulting with Robin on her Social Media.

Wilmington Young Professionals has continued to grow. In fact they have just reached 1500 members on Facebook! So congratulations to Jackie for all her hard work! If you would like to get involved with the group check out their Facebook page for more details.
Another favorite attendee to our Tweetups is Bruce Brown. Always on hand to snap away a few pics and report on all the local networking events, Bruce has become a familiar name and face in Wilmington Networking Society. His blog about the event and other local events can be found here.

Another regular attendee is Kimberly Brumsey, of KB Organic Skincare. Kim uses Twitter to share her thoughts and ideas, as well as specials that fans can take advantage of. Kim’s twitter name of @sourcherrywhip is taken from her favorite lotion. As you can see from the photo, she’s taking advantage of the 25% discount that Pomegranate books offered for the evening. Kim also was a sponsor of the evening and gave our door prize of an Organic Mini-Facial that went to one of our other sponsors Kelly Cain Smith.

Seen here is one of 2 furry friends that joined us for the evening! This one is named Hodie! She was a sweet addition to the evening. My little one stayed at home despite his cries otherwise.

One last great snap of our sponsors Kelly Cain Smith and Jeremy Smith. Kelly works with Port City Community Church but is also starting a Graphic Design and Web Design company. Jeremy works with the Soundside Group, an IT assistance company.

Next month we will not have a Tweetup because of Twestival. If you would like to be a sponsor for Twestival feel free to visit the website here, or contact me for more details. I am also looking for a location for our April Tweetup. Thanks to Rebecca Powell of Bec and Call we are planning a “Tweetup and Bleed Up” a blood drive. So we will need a location for most of the afternoon and into the evening. If you know of a location or would like to offer up your business space, let me know.

List of Attendees
Pomegranate Books @pombooksILM

Jeremy Smith @soundsidegroup

Kelly Cain Smith @KellyCain

Bruce and Marge Brown @BruceBrownNC

Rebecca Powell @BecAndCall

Robin Wicks Robinson

Annie Anthony @JLWQueen

Brooke Freeman @rightleftstudio

Elizabeth King Humphrey @Eliz_Humphrey

Angela Johnson @DancingAngelArt

Dawn Bugni @DawnBugni

Gayle Tabor @dalm8ton @glynnesoaps

Jennifer Beddoe @3athlete @glynnesoaps

Jackie Willse  @WilmYoungProf @portcitycandles

Kimberly Brumsey @sourcherrywhip

Jennifer Caslin  @foodbankjenc

Becca Jones @sunsetinmyveins

If you can think of someone I missed on this list, please drop me a line.  Also if you or your company would like to sponsor a Tweetup or donate a door prize let me know!

Day One: Getting off the couch

Ok, so I am not used to getting up and trying to be somewhere by 7. So this morning was a challenge! I was on schedule, dressed, face washed, teeth brushed, and hair pulled back.  Then I decided it would be a good idea to take my dog with me.  Since I don’t walk that often, he suffers many days from my laziness.  What better idea then to take him with me! Only that meant, getting his leash, packing a container for water and more.  So then I decided I would go ahead and pack my computer, this way I could easily drop the dog off and head straight to the coffee shop to work and of course blog! Then I had to get a bottle of water for myself.

Finally I’m in the car and about to pull out, when I realize I’m not wearing my glasses, and I legally and physically cannot drive without them. Yeah, so needless to say, day 1 was not looking so good.

Beanie moving so fast he's a blur!

We arrived at the local park and Beanie jumped out of the car, eager to get moving!  I keep him tight on the leash and make sure I stretch a little, knowing that no matter what I do, I’m going to feel it the next day! Maybe even sooner.

Keys and phone stuck in pockets I set off on the nice asphalt path.  Only to get stopped 3 times within the first .2 miles by Beanie.  Apparently walking makes him need to take several potty breaks! Bags disposed of, we set off again.

During one of our breaks I took a quick snap of the woods alongside the path.  This park is a nature preserve and it appears they’ve had a controlled burn to promote growth of smaller plants and revive the forest.  I began to think of the theme of rebirth and thought I would focus on ways that this exercise regimen was helping me to start again.

Notice the black soot and ash from the recent controlled burn.

As the cold began to hit on my cheeks, and the slight breeze through the now bare trees blew across my ankles, my thoughts turned more towards wearing a bit warmer clothes for my next adventure.  I also began to notice how I had not seen many cars in the parking lot but there were several individuals walking in the park.  It seems many people from nearby neighborhoods enjoy using the park to walk in the mornings.

Beanie continued to keep pace and take only a few breaks to mark the various trash cans and bushes, but he gradually stopped pulling at the leash as we headed around the back corner of the park, and the halfway point of our loop.  It was at this point that I encountered an older gentleman walking in jeans in a long sleeve shirt.  He seemed friendly enough, but I still pulled Beanie in closer to me and hunched my shoulders as I picked up pace.

I chided myself for being so paranoid.  Here I was thinking the worst of a stranger.  I began to analyze how often I judge others, and told myself that maybe that was the lesson to learn today.  To be less judgmental based on appearance alone.

I focused on that thought as I began my second lap.  Beanie was now starting to show how tired he was becoming.  I knew that he would sleep most of the day once we got home. But as I came around and hit mile marker .7 I heard a noise behind me of shuffling feet. Glancing back I saw someone getting on the path.  Jogging in an odd sort of shuffling way.  I first thought it must be an older person, trying to get the exercise their doctor had recommended.

As I continued walking though, my natural paranoia came back.  Here I was a lone female on a path back in the woods.  I had not passed anyone in quite some time and was nearing the back side of the park again, which seems almost set apart from the world, even with the quiet suburban street just a stone’s throw away.

The gentleman continued to stay just far enough behind me that I had to turn around to see him.  And it seemed that every time I would stop for Beanie to mark a trashcan or bush, this man would take that moment to run in a few small circles on the spot and stretch his arms.  I quickened my pace, much to Beanie’s dismay and kept a watchful ear and eye over my shoulder.  Glad now, that I had opted to go sans iPod and listen to nature instead.   I rounded the back corner and listened to the sound of traffic from the nearby main road getting louder.

The jogger continued to stay just around a corner and repeated the odd running in circles with arms stretched overhead.  I scolded myself again for the judging but did not slow my pace.  Maybe he has a OCD disorder that requires him to do that.  Maybe he thinks it helps his run.  Maybe he’s seeing how aware of my surroundings I am.  The birds were chirping as I entered the home stretch, and the jogger lagged behind even more.  I passed a few more people and my heart rate began to slow.  As I neared the parking lot, I pushed just a little harder to make it to the security of my car and my car alarm.

I felt silly as I got Beanie’s water out and went over to the nearby picnic tables to stretch.  I began looking back towards the path to see if the man was coming along.  Hoping that as he walked by I could get a better look.  I guess I hoped that if he looked normal enough I would feel worse and then could start feeling better about being so judgmental.  He never walked by.  Not once in the 15 minutes I stretched.  I strained to look at the other side of the lot, hoping I would see his car pull out.  But none did.

As I got in my car to leave I realized that in my hurry to get the walk over with and to get away from this “boogeyman” I had created in my mind, I had missed the outer loop of the park and cut myself at least a quarter mile short on my 3 miles, if not more.

So if nothing else I learned a lesson there.  Focus on the task at hand, stay alert to your surroundings, but not so much that you miss your objective and goals.

Well so often we let our blogs be all about business. But sometimes our personal struggles and challenges are just as important!
I always have a hard time each year when Lent rolls around. I spend time worrying about what to give up. What item in my life should I go without? Many people this year talked about giving up Facebook and other social media sites. Being someone who supports herself with Social Media management that was not an option. So I returned to the web, and began to look more closely at the purpose of Lent. And found that sometimes it can be just as good to take on a new challenge as it is to give up a favorite treat.
So I have chosen to take up a regular workout schedule. More specifically I will be taking up running 3 times a week! Yikes! How am I going to do this? I hate running! My asthma kicks up, my legs ache, and I get all sweaty and stuff… Ok I can do this.
Years ago I found a great program called Couch to 5K that trained you to run a 5K in just 2 months. I have tried the program 3 times and never completed it. So before I took this challenge on I decided to read into it more. I found that you don’t have to go crazy and stay on schedule. In fact many blogs, websites, and groups suggest starting off just walking the same distance for a few weeks to get your body used to the distance. Then you can start the training, and repeat weeks of training depending on your increase in stamina.
Perfect! Now comes the discipline. Just as I have had to learn while starting my own company, self-discipline is the most crucial talent to develop.
So here’s the plan. Starting tomorrow and for the next 4 weeks I’ll be walking at a local park for 3 miles 2 times a week. (if I can get a 3rd time in great!) Then I’ll begin the training schedule of the Couch to 5k program which is 3 times a week for 20 to 30 minutes. As needed I’ll repeat weeks until I can run the full 5k 3 times a week. Of course this goal will go beyond the Lent season, but sometimes that’s a good thing. You learn what you can do without and what your body and soul can take on.
Once I get to the point where I’m running a 5k with no problem, I’ll begin looking for a public 5k to run.
So I invite you to follow me in my progress, and possible failures! I think having the support of my followers on various social media sites and the accountability of blogging after every session will be a good motivator. I also have picked up my lenten box from church and will be depositing one penny for every minute I don’t work out! If I miss a day altogether I’ll be putting in a dollar. As much as I love donating to charity, I’m hoping for a light box or even an empty one when Easter rolls around!

I love Follow Friday! Don’t know what that is??? Well if you’re on twitter you should! It’s only the best day ever!

Follow Friday happens every Friday in the Twitterverse! Twitter users send out reccomendations to their followers of other Twitter users that they enjoy following.  They tag their posts with #followfriday or #ff so that others can easily find them in a search of Twitter posts.  If you’re new to Twitter or decide to join, this is a great way to find interesting people to follow.  It’s also a way to thank people who follow you!

Why do I love it so much? Easy. Follow Friday is almost like a book club.  Here are all your friends reccomending a good book to read.  This is a chance for you to find new people to interact with, network with, share ideas with! It’s also a chance for you to acknowledge the people you follow so they know that what they are sending out into the Twitter ether is appreciated.

Follow Friday is so often overlooked or rushed through. Some users always reccomend the same tweeps.  Others just retweet users who reccomend them, a little self serving but not altogether bad.

So here’s a challenge! The next Follow Friday, go onto your Twitter account and really think:  “Who do I love on Twitter and why?”.  Then send out individual posts to each one of these people with a note about why you enjoy them! I promise it will make your Twitter experience more enjoyable and you’ll see a better return from your followers!

The Ticking Clock

I recently saw an ad while watching Hulu that was extremely effective but also a little anxiety inducing.
What a great way to represent not only the importance of acting now but for whom we act. Why is this unnerving? Easy, just the sound of the ticking clock. It makes me think of the crocodile from Peter Pan, and Captain Hook. Captain Hook
Now he had a real reason to be afraid of the sound of a ticking clock, but me I just don’t like to be rushed!
I’ve learned that to be effective in any effort you have to take your time. Rushing through a project because of a time crunch or because you just want it to be over will only result in one thing, a half done project.
You see this all the time in business. Stores rush to put together a sale, when customers come in, there isn’t enough signage and half the staff doesn’t know what’s going on. You rush a proposal, and you can lose the job to someone who’s more prepared. You rush the growth of your business, and you end up providing poor service because you can’t accomodate the increase.
The fan in my home office where I often work, has a habit of making a ticking noise. One of the chains taps against the light fixture. I often put on music, or a movie I’ve seen, to drown out the noise. This allows me to stop thinking about how much time is passing and focus on my project and doing it right.
How can you stop the ticking clock in your life? Do you need to step out of your surroundings more? Maybe take 15 minutes everyday where you just enjoy the business you’ve built, the employees, and the customers. Step out of the office or your store and take a stroll, get a new perspective. Go visit your competition and get ideas!
Don’t be Captain Hook, afraid of the ticking crocodile.

Cheshire Cat

There’s a lot of buzz out about the new version of Alice in Wonderland. My favorite character was always the Cheshire Cat. I loved how he slowly dissappeared and reappeared, and his singing and laughing.

Cheshire Cat
Lately I’ve been a bit of a Cheshire Cat with my business, appearing when I feel like it, and fading away when it’s super hectic. I need to be more of an Alice, curious about everything, and ready to take little leaps of faith. Growing and shrinking my business as the opportunities arise. What about you? Which character do you feel you’ve been lately?

Are you still there?

I was checking my voicemail today, and one in particular required me to write a reminder to myself in my calendar.  As I wrote, the dulcet tones of the voicemail lady (who wants that job?) instructed me on my many options as to the storage and disposal of the message.  When I did not enter in a numerical response, she politely asked “Are you still there?“.

Wow, did that get my brain turning.  Of course I was still there, but was I really there in my mind.  I had already begun planning the return call, the steps to complete my task, and the possible solution.  I entered in the code to delete, hung up the phone and began contemplating the larger question.

So now I’m going to pose this question to myself, my clients, and you the reader.  When you started your business where did you want it to go?  How did you feel about the endeavor in the early stages (first weeks, first months, first year)?  Are you still there?

We’re taught early on in life to plan things in advance.  Set goals, reach for the stars, have a desired outcome.  Yet somehow once we reach these goals we suffer a huge letdown.  After the first dollar bill is framed,

First Dollar Bill Frame

First Dollar Bill Frame

the grand opening party over, grand-openingor the first profit shown on the books we feel deflated.  We set other goals bigger numbers, more success, but often these don’t live up to that initial fervor.  Is it just a fact of life?  I don’t think so.

There is a hunger that all of us feel in the first few days of a new job, new project, or other activity.  Over time that fades with the monotony of the activity or the lack of stimulus or improvement.  The goal is to remember that feeling, to keep that dedication, to strive to improve and excite.  Every week, month, year you should be asking yourself Am I still there? In essence, you have to continue to promote yourself to yourself.

The definition of promote is: to contribute to the growth or prosperity of . Don’t you want to contribute to your own personal growth and prosperity?  As a promoter I often have to coach clients to think big, set goals, and move forward when they’re unsure.  I never ask them to do something I wouldn’t do myself.  The hardest goals to set are stretch goals.  We all set a vision for ourselves and our companies.  But to truly attain that vision we have to stretch ourselves and set bars high.  We can set quantitative goals, weekly goals, or even recognition goals but they must be large enough that they challenge us and excite our minds to dream.

Find some time for yourself, sit down and come up with a vision for yourself and one for your company/job.  Then stretch your mind and set some great stretch goals.  If it’s a quantitative goal, add 10% to what you think you can do, or even 20%.  If it’s a weekly goal, challenge yourself to complete it before the week’s end.  If it’s a recognition goal, double it!  You’ll set smaller milestones for yourself that may need to be accomplished in order to reach these stretch goals, but each one will give you the sense of accomplishment we all  crave.

So did you come up with an answer?  Are you still there?

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