Seeing Past Stress—A Powerful Incantation

Four words that can conquer stress

Earlier today, I was visiting with a friend and business associate. “I’ve run out of tricks”, she said, “I used to think I always had the answer but I just don’t know what to do”. The economy and wh

at can feel like a chaotic spiral into the abyss is taking its toll on even the leaders of the pack—the strong, the confident and the creative.

We’ve all had those days. You know the ones. You wake up and don’t feel as wise as you thought you were. Or, the times when your once perceived valuable experiences seem trivial and ineffective for transcending from the boom days of yesteryear to the wallet challenged days of tomorrow.

What can you do to shift your position? Start by telling yourself that it will be ok. Sound too simple?

I once had a dear friend who came to me battling overwhelming feelings of doubt and hopelessness. My analytical, take care of it nature had me jumping to find a solution. “Here’s what I’d do…” was rolling off my tongue faster than honey on hot pancakes. The look of distress on his face told me this wasn’t the right tactic. “Well, what if…” quickly followed yet still, there was no response. It was clear—I was compounding the problem.

Feeling powerless, I asked if there was anything I could do. “Just tell me it’ll be ok,” he said. And so, I said, “It’ll be ok”. His face relaxed. I could feel the power of this simple affirmation. I said it again, “It’ll be ok—really”.

Try the magic of positive self-talk the next time your day heads in the wrong direction, you’re plagued with anxiety or it feels like fear is winning the game. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and exhale. Say to your self, “It will be ok”. It works.

When I was barely twenty, I read The Power of Positive Thinking, which was first published in 1952. The message is timeless—positive thoughts create a positive reality. I still have the tattered copy on my bookshelves.

I’d also like to recommend The Law of Attraction in Action: A Down-to-Earth Guide to Transforming Your Life. Deanna Davis, a friend and the book’s author, will help you take the steps to transform your intentions into positive reality. The book will feel like a visit with a friend—a friend with action oriented chat and a sense of humor.

Once you’ve experienced the power of positive self-talk, use it everyday. “I can do it!” and “I am so smart!” are two of my favorite conversation starters. And, yes, you were here when I made the public announcement—I talk to myself.

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Is Running A Business Like Bathing A Cat?

Obviously enjoying the experience

Obviously enjoying the experience

An important business lesson can be gleaned from the correlation between running a business and bathing a cat.

A Twitter friend, @alohabruce, recently tweeted that he was going to give their cat a bath. I immediately conjured up images of him donning armor as if preparing for battle with the wife close behind with a 2′ fishing net. I saw a wet figure with shredded gloves and sweat on the brow.

The next day I inquired how it went. He said the cat loves bathing and they both enjoy what amounts to a precious bonding experience. Hmmm, I still have my doubts but I can see the possibility in my mind now. It dawned on me that many people perceive running a business the same way I did bathing a cat.

I used to believe that everything fell on a side—right or wrong, good or bad, easy or hard. It took me a long time to realize that our perception creates our realities. It’s why two people can look at the very same situation and see two completely different things.

My point is—perception is powerful. Don’t let your perceptions undermine your success.

As we grapple through a challenging recession and try to redefine ourselves many people are starting new businesses. Others are playing the “who will survive” game with existing businesses.  Here are five ways to stay on the winning side of perceptions:

Address your doubts

Do you wonder if your business idea is good enough to warrant the risk of starting or expanding a business? Talk to business people, potential clients and, for that matter, complete strangers. Ask what they think about your idea.  Would they use it? Do they need it? What would they pay for it? You get the idea.

You may still wake in the middle of the night wondering. The key is to move the scale to a favorable point in your mind. If you can’t move it there, don’t fight it—move on. I’ve discarded tons of ideas that I initially perceived to be brilliant.

Know it’s better to be smart than right

Research your ideas and the industry. When you’re done, research it more. The more you know the less you have to fear. You’re also less likely to base your decisions on your perceptions alone.

Don’t wait, do something

Friends and associates have heard me say far too many times—“I had that idea! If only…” These are not ideas that ended up in the discard pile mind you. These, I’m sorry to say, can be found in the, Vicki took no action, pile.

They were perceived as too expensive to pursue or too far out of my realm of knowledge and ability. Tsk on me! I let perception get in the way of letting me make an informed decision.

Filter information

Although I previously told you to field your idea to lots of folks, you have to sift through their thoughts and see how they mesh with yours. How many times have you heard someone say—“If it were a good idea, someone would’ve done it already”?

Just imagine how many great inventions would have never come to fruition if the inventors listened only to the naysayers and let their perceptions become their own.

Broaden your experiences and viewpoints

It’s said that you don’t know someone until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. This old American proverb needn’t be taken literally but it makes a valid point. Keep in mind potential clients come from a variety of experiences. Never assume you know what they need or want.

Make a practice of stepping out of your comfort zone. Strive to experience life from many points of view. Before you know it, the boundaries of your perceptions will grow exponentially.

If you’re not following me on Twitter, chalk it up to a new experience and start following me @vickidar. I’ll be watching for you. Let me know you found me here!

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go. ~ T.S. Eliot

The Art of Traveling Well

Tips that will help whether you're travel one night or twenty

Tips that will help whether you're travel one night or twenty

Tips for carefree travel

Over the years, I’ve spent more and more time traveling—frequent short trips back and forth across the state and other more distant jaunts spanning the globe. Whether you travel occasionally or frequently for business or pleasure, these tips should help you feel on top of your game.

Wheels, wheels, wheels If your luggage doesn’t have wheels, give it away. This includes your computer/shoulder bag. This is especially critical, as airlines have made the switch to the one bag only rule. Get a computer bag with wheels and a little extra space. Many times it has saved the day when my too full suitcase was over the weight limit.

Pack light  Be creative Think double duty. Don’t even attempt to cover every possible situation. You never have as much time to do everything you thought you would. Think layers and coordinating, interchangeable items. Accessorize up and down. The same camisole can work on the beach and dressed up for dinner later that evening. Choose shoes that transition well between casual and dressy.

Even if you travel just a few times a year, keep a fully stocked ready to roll toiletry bag. It’s inevitable you will forget things if you try gather what you need just before departing. It’s worth the investment to buy a second set of the things you use daily. You can also pick up some small travel containers and fill those for your second set to save some money. Check and refill anything that needs attention when you return and you’ll be set for the next trip. Dhccare.com has Q10 Facial Film Soap (paper thin tiny sheets of face cleanser) that is oh so portable and feels great on your skin.

On a side note, I’ve become a sunscreen fanatic. When you’re traveling, the sun is sure to find you. As I gain on the big 5-0, I admit, it’s sheer vanity as much as a concern for battling the health hazards of the sun that I am not without my protection. For both reasons, though, I encourage you to always use sunscreen. There are small handy dandy sunscreen sticks that look like giant lip balm and Peter Thomas Roth makes a great SPF 30 self-contained brush and mineral powder.

A computer in your pocket The popularity of the iPhone, Blackberry and likes is not without reason. I can do many of the tasks on my iPhone that I usually do on my computer. I have access to my email, twitter and facebook accounts. I can check the weather, the tides and the status of my flight. I can look for a nearby restaurant. The list is endless. Good or bad—productivity need never stop.

The virtual world Recently, I did a post about our virtual receptionist. Any of us can be anywhere and the phone system will find us (what’s that saying?…you can run but you can’t hide). I also recently switched to a virtual merchant account. No longer does anyone need to be in the office, at the terminal, to process credit cards. Bills are now paid online saving time, paper and stamps. Newspaper delivery can be stopped and started online. Look for ways to manage mundane tasks better.

Entertainment at your fingertips Watching movies is in my top five to-dos. I tried Netflix when it first hit the market but quickly tired of the wait time between DVD deliveries (usually no fault of Netflix but more my failure to drop the DVD in the mail). The new and improved version of this convenient movie and more service fills the wait voids with unlimited use of its streaming video library. Yep, that’s right; picture Masterpiece Theatre on one side of your screen with a spreadsheet on the other.

Amazon’s Kindle deserves a mention here, also. This wonderful, lightweight little gem lets you download books and magazines from any location. I have to admit, I didn’t think I’d like giving up the feeling of turning the pages of a book but I love my Kindle.

You gotta eat Speaking of Amazon, I am a frequent visitor and customer. One of my favorite food items, and many others, are now available on a subscription basis. My case of GoGo Steamed Rice Bowls (scrumptious little containers that produce two servings of perfectly cooked organic brown rice in a mere 90 seconds ala microwave!) arrives on schedule every other month. Not only does it save me the trouble of remembering to reorder but it also lowers my cost and awards me with free shipping. And yes, my shelf safe (kind of a scary term but sometimes a girl has to do what a girl has to do when the rice cooker has to stay behind) rice often travels with me.

Eating out is always one of the delights of travel. It’s fun to try new places. Its also all too easy to skip meals or on the other end of the spectrum, eat too much of the wrong things at the wrong times. I used to feel a little vegetable deprived when I was on the road but have found that most restaurants will gladly substitute veggies for part of your dish—even at breakfast!

Another good idea is to make your own trail mix packets. Keep these will you always and you’ll never get to the hunger point that will have you grabbing a candy bar to chug with your fifth cup of coffee. Much of the trail mix you find on the store shelves has a high percentage of dried fruit that often contains other preservatives. Nuts are a great source of protein and a satisfying snack. Opt for fresh fruit instead. And, lastly, stay hydrated. Use a water bottle for not only easy portability but to remind yourself that you need another twelve ounces.

I could go on but this post has grown rather long and there’s always another day!  Happy travels. For my closing thought…

No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow. ~Lin Yutang

What Is A Blog

istock_000006057864xsmall2There are well over 100 million blogs on the internet today. Yet, I am frequently asked, “So what exactly is a blog”. Originally, blogs were used simply as online journals—a place for people to log their thoughts, adventures and daily activites.

Today the humble blog, derived from weblog, has evolved into its own social platform. Although still used to chronicle the lives of individuals, blogs now discuss, educate and offer enlightened observation on every topic of interest imaginable.

Blogs usually have a single author who keep the site updated. To the unseasoned eye, it can be difficult to distinguish between a blog and website. It’s simple to find blogs to read if you’re looking for examples. Pick an interest. Type it into your favorite search engine, i.e., cat blog, travel blog, etc.

Start clicking through and prepare to watch hours (maybe even days!) disappear. I should note here that unless used judiciously, blogs can be hazardous to your productivity (and maybe your health—hmmm, 10pm…did I eat dinner?). So, back to our topic…some of the components you’ll almost always encounter are the most recent post, an author bio, an archive of previous blog articles, a link to subscribe to future posts and a place to interact and comment. Depending on the goal of the blog host, you might also find advertising.

Blogging can be fun and one of the most cost effective ways to stay in touch with your customers if you have a business. There are several free or very affordable platforms to help get you underway. I use WordPress. I like the format. Others to explore are Blogger or Typepad.

About now, you may be saying, “But I can’t write!” A successful blog does require a time commitment but keep in mind you’re not crafting the next bestselling novel. It’s your blog and people expect a conversation tone and your voice.

Blogs were almost non-existent ten years ago and now, for many of us, they’re part of our daily routine. Maybe it’s time you joined in the fun? Another day and another time we’ll talk about how it can even make you money.

Time strapped companies should keep in mind we offer blog set-up and ghostwriting services. Like our tagline says—We make you look extraordinary!

The World of Apple Macintosh

A move in the right direction

A move in the right direction

Thinking about buying a Mac? A new Twitter friend @midlifetrip mentioned that she was a Macintosh newbie. I can promise any hesitation in her journey and yours will be brief.

I’ve been a diehard Macintosh fan and user since 1987 (ooooh, that’s an age marker!) I’ve lost count of models I’ve moved through over the years but never have I been disappointed. Here are a few things to consider if the world of Macintosh is calling to you.

Which one do I want? With so many choices today, choosing the right model can be overwhelming. Plus, spendy purchases can lead to indecision. Ask yourself how and where you’ll use your computer. Question number one—mobile or desktop. It’s a mobile world but if you’re only buying a laptop so you can get your email on the go, remember there are other, even more portable, options.

Desktops have advantages but I would be lost without my laptop. When I’m sitting at my desk, my work demands a larger screen. Keep in mind, the Pro versions allow you to add an additional screen.

How much power do I need? The answer lies in what you do. Any graphic oriented acitivies whether it be gaming, movie editing or graphic designer raises you a higher tier. Remember, also, that processor speeds of PC and Macs are like apples and oranges. The same number does not mean the same thing. Always shoot for the higher side of what you need.

How much RAM do I need and what is it anyway? RAM (random access memory), your computer’s memory, may be the biggest source of frustration for computer users. Invest in RAM and you invest in a frustration free future. Does your computer freeze up or process unbearably slow sometimes. RAM is the likely culprit. Like the human brain, RAM is trying to memorize everything you have open and are working on. More is better.

Macs are easy, simple to use, look cool and are destined to be your friend for life. We’re not experts but as enthusiastic fans, we’re here to help our friends. If you encounter questions on your Mac exploration, run it by us. You can follow me on Twitter and send me a message @vickidar. Welcome to my world!

A Flip Video Love Story


Vicki and her loveable new friend

Vicki and her loveable new friend

What’s smaller than a toaster, slower than a turtle and as much fun as a talking cat? I had been waiting a week. My new toy was a day late and I was getting anxious. And then, yesterday, finally…My new love was wrapped in my arms.

My new Flip video camera was only a box cutter away. I’m working on a second blog— 42best.com —coming soon to a computer screen near you. It’s being developed to talk about the coolest of products for people like you and I.

But, for now, back to the Flip video…It fits comfortably in the palm of my hand. It’s sleek, ergo-friendly design is easy to learn and manage. What it lacks are adjustment controls for things such as lighting, resolution and flash. In my opinion, though, these are not shortfalls—they are blessings.

For Christmas, I bought one for my daughter. I wanted one but said to myself, “just get the old one out and put it to use”. Well, the videos Gods decided to shine on me and I was the Flip Video gift recipient now. He’s sleeping on the desk beside me (I always humanize my favorite gadgets). He took the cat’s place who moved to the chair with me.

Being my father’s daughter, printed how-to instructions and I are like water and oil (funny thing when my business is all about words, huh). Anyway, I had this sweet little video camera up and running in a matter of minutes after reading less than four sentences (the reason the old one is in the drawer). In no time at all I had a test video of the disgruntled cat playing on my computer screen. The quality is exceptional considering the size and ease of use. A limited zoom feature and clear sound make this a must do for anyone looking for fast fame and on the go portability.

Oh, the possibilities! The simple, straight-forward, no learning curve opens up a whole new world for fun and business.

Don’t forget to subscribe if you haven’t already. We always have great things to share!

Twitter Your Way Into the League of Publishers

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Have you met Twitter? Let me introduce you.

Being a publisher once meant I belonged to a fairly exclusive group. Today, with the rapid development of social media, my peers now number in the millions. Twitter has become one of the powerful new ways to communicate.

Never before has it been so easy to connect—with friends, family, business associates and far beyond. Here are a few ways people are using Twitter:

  • Find new friends
  • Promote your business
  • Announce a new product
  • Get feedback
  • Send out an invitation
  • Learn something new
  • Keep up with the news

Have you ever been in an online chat? Twitter expands your reach. You are allowed 140 characters for each post, referred to as a tweet. Whether you use it as a tool or just for fun, its effectiveness is proven. You can control how you want to use it. The beauty of Twitter is its simplicity.

Have I piqued your interest? You have nothing to lose and much to gain by exploring this just over two year old phenomena. You can follow me at www.twitter.com/vickidar. It’s easy to get started. Sign up today and soon you’ll be on your way to sharing your thoughts with the world. I’ll be looking for you!