Friday, February 28, 2014

How did You Celebrate Tooth Fairy Day?

The tooth fairy has visited most of us herself, or himself, as the verdict is still out on whether this spirit is male or female. Although the concept has been around since the Middle Ages, the exact origins are unknown. In fact, the fairy may have just been a means to calm a child that was undergoing the strange experience of losing a tooth.
Tooth Fairy Day is designed to pay homage to the generous spirit that is known to leave treats or coins underneath a child’s pillow. The exact date of the celebration is a guess. Some people claim it falls on February 28, while others claim that it is held in August.
Thank goodness I haven’t lost any teeth recently so the Tooth Fairy hasn’t been to my house. I don’t want to lose any of my teeth, but felt like celebrating Tooth Fairy Day. So, the next best thing was to give away pillows that we are no longer using.
Today’s gift was to give two bags of bed pillows to the Pumpkin Patch Thrift Store that is a part of the Gospel Mission Homeless Shelter. They may not find any hidden coins but for some people, just having a nice pillow is a gift as good as any fairy can bring.
In Giving,


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Walking Down Memory Lane

Walking through the memories of my photo album from my college days at West Virginia University, I found these photos.
Louisa, Sue and Robin on Halloween


Louisa and Kathy


The block dog, Moses, who had a bad haircut every spring.

Looking out from our dorm room in Arnold Hall.
Today’s gift was to send these photos to my four college roommates. This will help them get psyched for our reunion in May. It will be the first time we’ve all been together in nearly 35 years. I am looking forward to reminiscing about our lives then and now. These photos are sure to send them down memory lane.
In Giving,


Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Helping Tame Social Media

Three colleagues and I started an Internet marketing company in 2007. To learn about it we attended workshops and seminars conducted by gurus in the business. Each person in our company had a unique expertise.
The first owner had extensive computer experience. His role was to put the product on the website so that people could buy it. The second principal was a storyteller and humorist. He helped create the verbiage to sell the product in an entertaining and informative way. The third partner was an expert in marketing and running the business. I was responsible for the search engine optimization. That meant I presented the executive team with a list of subjects that people were searching on the Internet. As a group we narrowed down the topics by those that were getting a lot of web traffic, but had the least competition. From there, we picked ones that we had expertise or could find someone with the knowledge.
We worked long hours on creating our first websites. One product was a humorous version of Beowulf. The movie had just been released in theatres and there was a lot of web traffic. Our humorist did a fabulous job of creating the audio recording. Our website ranked high in Google searches, but the sales were not what we had hoped.
The other product that we worked on was a DVD series created by a veterinarian on how to diagnose and treat sick animals. It covered domestic animals like cats and dogs, as well as farm animals. The vet had already been selling them with a moderate success. We wanted to help him increase sales. We found a niche where he would answer questions online to get people interested in the products. Unfortunately, sales were lackluster.
We discovered that every day there was so much new competition on the Internet that techniques we had learned were quickly outdated. What worked yesterday doesn’t work today. A few of the people on our team became distracted by other opportunities and we decided to end the business. Despite the rocky ending, I gained incredible knowledge about operating an Internet based business.
Today’s gift was to offer to help someone that I met for coffee set up social media and put a tracker on her website. I suggested she put success stories online and then post it on social media. She has a great product and service. Getting the word out to a broader audience will drive more people to her website and increase her business.
In Giving,


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Trash Bag Clothes

When Tim and I lived in Phoenix, Arizona in the early 1980’s, the homeless population lived in tents and make-do cardboard shelters on the courthouse grounds. Downtown Phoenix had very few shopping, dining or business establishments, so as long the homeless didn’t become a nuisance, the city allowed them to remain on the lawn.
One homeless woman camped out in front of my office building. In the morning as I drove into the parking lot, I saw her lying on the bus stop bench. She wore a black trash bag with holes for her arms and neck. Another black plastic bag was cinched around her waist with a piece of red ribbon. She rarely wore anything on her feet except when the weather was chilly in the winter. Then she would wear a pair of ragged, dirty socks. When the temperatures soared over 110 degrees, she would move a block up the street where the buildings provided some shade for her.
One of my co-workers attempted to strike up a conversation with the woman. She didn’t have many teeth and was difficult to understand.  My co-worker collected clothes, shoes, a jacket and a few other items from all of us. As she was leaving work one evening she gave them to the woman. There wasn’t a dry eye among us as we peeked from inside the office building.
The next morning I expected to see the homeless woman decked out in her new clothes. But she wasn’t there. We kept glancing outside during the day, but she didn’t return. As we were leaving work that evening, the janitor came in with a bag in his hand. All of the items she had been given were in the dumpster behind our office building.
The woman returned several weeks later in her same baggy attire. I will never know why she wouldn’t accept help from us. Maybe she was too proud or possibly she was living on the street by choice. Unlike her, there are some homeless women who will accept assistance to get back on their feet.
Today’s gift was to write a check to the soon-to-be constructed women’s homeless shelter. A donor has given a challenge grant that will match up to $50,000 for money donated before the end of February. I look forward to hearing the stories about the women who will benefit from the transition facility. It is reassuring to know that they won’t have to wear trash bags for clothing as they get “a new lease on life.”
In Giving,


Monday, February 24, 2014

Searching for What You Want

In the spring of 1981, it was obvious that a coal miners’ strike was imminent. Tim was working as a mining engineer and I was operating an interior design studio in a small town in central West Virginia. Typically, coal strikes cause the economy to take a nosedive. We decided to look for a new place to live with the hope of a better financial outlook.
On my Royal typewriter, I wrote letters of inquiry to potential employers in the western United States. “White Out” correction fluid  hadn’t been invented yet. If I made a mistake, I would have to start the letter over. I sent over 100 letters and landed only two job interviews—one in Vail and the other in Aspen, Colorado. By June the strike was in full swing. So, we decided it was time to venture into the unknown.
Tim and I packed the U-Haul double axle trailer and hooked it up to my brown, 1972 Buick Skylark, nicknamed Ellie May. The U-Haul slogan emblazoned on the side “an adventure in moving” rang true for our experience.
The trailer was so heavy, or maybe the car’s shocks were so bad,  that the hitch drug on the pavement. We unpacked it and repacked it with my Dad and Uncle’s help. They had lots of experience in moving, but to no avail. So, we rented a single axle trailer. It worked better, but we had to stop every 100 miles or so and use a jack to bend the trailer hitch back up. The headlights on the car didn’t work with the trailer connected. So, we had to be sure to arrive at our hotel or campsite before sunset.
Needless to say, it was an adventurous trip across the United States. By the time we arrived in Denver we knew it wasn’t wise to pull the trailer up into the mountains. We chained it to a utility pole near a friend’s apartment while we interviewed in cities in western Colorado.
We ultimately settled in Denver for about nine months until Tim received a job offer in Phoenix, Arizona. Note to file: Phoenix is really appealing in March when the palm trees are swaying in 70 degree weather, but that attraction quickly wears off by May when the thermometer reaches 110 degrees. We have continued to search for that perfect western locale.
Last weekend while preparing to teach my leadership class, one of the course readings was titled, “Are You Picking the Right Leaders?” The essence is how important it is to search for a person who is the right fit. I thought it would be valuable information for an executive search firm that recently called me.
Today’s gift was to send this information to the recruiter. It will help them perform more effective job searches for what they want in their candidates who will lead organizations.
In Giving,


Sunday, February 23, 2014

A Tweenager’s Love Story

It was the week before Christmas, 1970. The movie, Love Story, with Ali McGraw and heartthrob Ryan O’Neal started playing at the local theatre in small town West Virginia. I was a “tweenager” which meant I wasn’t quite a teenager but pretended to be, even though I still liked to play with dolls. Over the summer I expected to magically transform from a kid in grade school to a “grownup” junior high freshman.

I had planned to see the movie with my friends, but my mother put a stop to that. It was rated PG which meant I had to have an adult with me since I was younger than 13. Of course, in those days a PG rating was very different than today. It probably meant that a couple kissed on the screen. I pouted around the house for a few days and kept saying, “But Susan, Becky, Nancy and Mary Beth all get to go without an adult.” But Mom held firm.
My grandmother worked in the fabric department at the downtown Montgomery Ward store. After school I would walk through the store stopping briefly to see if any new record albums were in the rack. Then I would climb the creaky, wooden stairs and watch her show fabrics to customers. She would have someone cover for her department when we went into the break room. When she asked me how school was I whined about wanting to the see the movie with my friends. Nannie said, “I would like to see the movie. Would you like to go with me?” I was ecstatic.
During the movie I didn’t understand what all the fuss was about. I’d seen Mommy kissing Santa Claus many times. I did notice that Nannie seemed to develop a runny nose and needed quite a few Kleenexes. We went out for a milkshake afterwards. It was very fun. The next time I was in the record department I bought the Love Story sound track album.
Yesterday while cleaning the garage, I saw our free-standing CD holder. It reminded me of when record albums were popular and how later I traded those for CD’s. Now, I listen to my IPod, Pandora and music television instead of playing CD’s.
Today’s gift was to offer my 42-inch high CD holder on Freecycle. The person who takes it may have sentimental CD’s that they want to keep handy so that they can easily recreate their own Love Story.
In Giving,