I’ve started this post about six times. Each time I came at it with a different angle, a different lead, yet none of them felt right. Until it dawned on me, it’s kinda like finding THE ONE. You just know it and dressing it up or trying to be creative with it takes away some of the fun, the excitement, the awe. So here goes:
I’m a homeowner. Of an actual HOUSE. With a yard. In Omaha, Nebraska. (Whew…there, I said it.)
It took months, lots of discussions about what was important to us and what we could live without, and plenty of Saturdays traipsing through other people’s homes silently (and occasionally not so silently) judging them. But on my birthday, we found the one. And while I don’t believe in signs, I should have known it was the one based on that. It took me about 12 hours to realize it was the one, but Jeff says he knew it the moment he walked in. And I’ll admit, I couldn’t be more excited about it.
I’d thought about it often, even looked at houses shortly after moving to Omaha nearly seven years ago. I never went through with it because I always thought I’d end up back in California or Chicago, or somewhere else. Plus, I really wasn’t interested in putting down roots. But, since Jeff and the kidlet became a part of my world, it’s become clear we all could use a little more space and roots aren’t so bad. And I was finally pissed off enough to do something about the obnoxiously large monthly check to my landlord.
It’s a nearly 50-year-old house, that’s been impeccably maintained by a sweet old couple who spent the last forty years living in it, loving it, and raising their family in it. We closed on it this afternoon, so it’s official. And with that, the next stage of life with a side of chaos begins…homeownership.
It has many things to love: it reminds me of the home I grew up in (more on that in a later post), it fits our lives today yet is also something we can grow into, and it has tons of potential for us to make it ours (yet another post there). It also has plenty of things to loathe: carpet (the sellers said its 30 years old…I refuse to walk barefoot on it), wallpaper (probably of similar age – ewwwww), bathrooms that haven’t been remodeled since 1964, and many other things needing some TLC or just a dumpster.
I’m going to try and chronicle the slow evolution of our home here, with before and after photos, as well as all the things we learn (about DIY, about ourselves, about each other) along the way. I hope you’ll share your DIY stories, lessons, ideas, and all the other things that come with homeownership…cause while finding the one may have been the best birthday present I could have ever received, there are many signs pointing to what will also be the most nerve-wracking, stress-inducing gift ever.
I’ve been a fan of the Los Angeles Kings for as long as I can remember. My family went to games at the Fabulous Forum, enjoyed the sport, the players, and the team long before Wayne Gretzky joined the team, and cheered (and cried) when he led the team as close to the Stanley Cup as he did. Winning the Stanley Cup in 2012 was a moment I shared with my brothers and dad – from three countries, two U.S. states, and three time zones. But in one moment, my relationship with the brand was ruined. As a marketer, I know how hard it is to build those relationships. I now know, first hand, how easy it is to lose them too.
When a brand or individual has a guest poster, whether that’s on a blog or social media feeds, it is a representation of the brand and the person you’re handing the keys to, needs to reflect the brand. A fitness blogger wouldn’t let someone who brags about their inactivity guest post, because it simply doesn’t match with their brand. A recipe blogger wouldn’t let someone who doesn’t cook guest post. I could go on and on with examples. Making sure your community, who has signed up for something specific from you, knows about the guest poster and the content the guest is sharing matches with their expectations is key, or your community is given the right to disagree (publicly) and unfollow, without repercussions.
Sadly, my beloved team didn’t let that happen; they let a bully take over.
When the Los Angeles Kings tweeted that Kevin Ryder (of Kevin & Bean fame – a Los Angeles radio show that’s been on for more than 20 years and I find crude and not funny at all) would be taking over their feed during the second period of a playoff game, I replied to the team and said I’d unfollow for the duration. That’s my right. It wasn’t what I expected from the team, it felt like a stunt and I said so. As a fan, I expect news from the team and content about the game from their feed. I expressed that opinion and sadly, the fallout from my expression of my opinion has forever tarnished my relationship with the team.
Spending the second period of a hockey game getting vilified by someone I chose to disagree with, being blasted by people who disagree with me (and that’s their right), calling me names I can’t (and won’t) repeat here, and generally ruining my enjoyment of the game simply because I expressed an opinion, makes them bullies. It attaches the brand to those people, those names, the bullying, and will reflect on the brand, forever.
So if you’re thinking about guest posters for your channels or communities, think hard about who they are, if they fit with your brand, if the content they’re sharing is what your community expects, and whatever you do, DON’T let them attack people for deciding to tune out your content while they’re in charge. They are a reflection of your brand, your brand will suffer the damage if it goes awry, and rebuilding those relationships will likely cost you more than what you gained.
I’ve forever lost respect for the Los Angeles Kings, as a result of Kevin Ryder. I’ve forever lost the love I had for a team because they let a bully take over their feed and didn’t rein him in when he started attacking fans. It’s sad. It really, really bums me out, because the Kings have brought so much to my life over the years, that to lose it in an instant at the hands of someone who isn’t even a member of the team, feels like such a waste.
I know I’m just one fan and who cares if the team loses one fan, right? As a marketer, I know the team should care, because relationships with fans (or readers, or consumers) take time and a lot of effort to build and to have it ruined in an instant means all that effort was wasted. What it would take to rebuild the relationship, is likely more than it ever cost the brand to build it in the first place.
Now excuse me while I go cheer for the San Jose Sharks (oh wow, typing that just pains me).
POSTSCRIPT: It seems I’m not the only one who took issue with the Kings’ decision to hand the keys to the kingdom to Kevin Ryder: Deadspin didn’t think too highly of it. I’m small change compared to that, since I’m sure legions of fans are pissed at the team now. And rightfully so.
Last Summer, I entered a contest on the Hilton Garden Inn Facebook page on a bit of a whim. It was late, I was doing research in Facebook (or avoiding homework, more likely), saw their “Life’s Ultimate To Do List” contest and was curious about the consumer experience on the back end, so I entered it. Yes, the social media geek in me entered a contest just to see the back end of it.
Fast forward a few months to when I received notification from Hilton Garden Inn that I was one of eleven winners for the contest. I couldn’t believe I’d won, since it meant I’d be going to Alaska on a cycling adventure. See, riding a bike in all 50 states has recently been added to my bucket list, so when I entered the contest, I shared that and picked the state that I thought others would laugh at and would never win. Everyone wants to go to Hawaii or Florida or California. Who would have thought they’d send me to Alaska!? I never expected to win (doesn’t everyone say that about a contest?), and purposely picked a place where no one would go nor send me. The entire concept of this trip was just crazy to me and here I was, going. To make it even more insane, the trip had to be completed by December 31…and I wouldn’t be able to take vacation until after Thanksgiving.
And so began the #AlaskaAdventure. Once I established I was going during the Christmas holiday, I started researching gear, bikes, and my destination. Dayna and the team at Emanate PR planned all of the details of my travel and accommodations in Anchorage (the Hilton Garden Inn leg of the trip), and I took their hard work and extended three days into ten. I worked with Aaren at the Alaska Railroad to craft the perfect solo adventure and to see as much of Alaska as possible. Billy at Arctic Cycles took care of my bike and gear needs. Nick connected me with his Alaskan friends including Valette, John, Marian Call, Karen, Michael, and MANY others. And I started preparing to be very, very cold. The Alaska Adventure proved to be the trip of a lifetime, complete with a bike ride around Anchorage, a 14-hour train ride through the Alaskan wilderness, and a trip into the Arctic Circle.
I traveled by myself to a place few people ever dream of going. I met people who were more generous with their time and energy than some “friends” of mine. I saw some of the most stunning scenery in the world. I stood outside in unbelievably cold temperatures and watched the Aurora Borealis move in the sky. I encountered a moose. I took nearly 3,000 photos. And I crossed Alaska off the list.
Thanks to Hilton Garden Inn for giving me the opportunity to take this adventure. Thanks to Ann who very, very generously lent me her expensive camera since I didn’t have one of my own. Thanks to everyone who supported my wild adventure, offered ideas and suggestions, and followed along on the Alaska Adventure. I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I enjoyed capturing them.
If you want details about any part of my adventure, I’m happy to share – just leave a comment.
I came to a realization this morning one week after Thanksgiving. Not only am I immensely grateful for everything and everyone in my life, but I’m also immensely grateful for everyone who ISN’T in my life anymore. I’m thinking of a number of friends, family members, coworkers, etc. who came and went, either in the flash of a few days, or over months and years of drawing apart. Each of them brought something to my life in one way or another, and maybe it sounds insensitive, but they have served their purpose and moved on to other things and people. They’ve brought something to my world and left their mark, but are no longer here to see the impact it’s had.
Like the ex who stressed me out to no end by pushing me to schedule so much time with him and define our relationship, which only resulted in me dumping him and refocusing on those who make me happy or did something positive to my world. That, in turn, has resulted in stronger relationships with a few dear friends, and ones that I actively work on.
Like my high school best friend who once told me I intimidated her. Because while I still don’t totally understand it, her comment has constantly pushed me to think about how others see me and think about how I make others feel, which means I try to leave them feeling happy.
Like the former family member who is still somewhat a part of my family, and taught me so much about relationships by watching the failure of one of hers. Some of the things I have learned by watching that relationship evolve over time, continue to shape me today.
So today, one week after we’re all supposed to look around and be thankful for what we have, I think it’s only reasonable to also be thankful for what I don’t have….because I think I got the better end of the deal. A few times over.
I started this post the other night while doing three things at once: eating dinner, paying bills, and cooking bacon for this soup (YUM!). Dinner wasn’t anything remarkable but I very nearly paid my phone bill twice because I wasn’t focusing on any one thing. The TV was on too, but what I was watching, I have no idea…it often just serves as background noise. But that multitasking to the point of distraction is so typical. I’m always juggling, I swear. If it isn’t work and school, it’s school and sleep, or work and the whisper of a social life i have these days.
With so much juggling going on, it’s no wonder that some things never get done. Like updating this space. It’s clear that my blog gets neglected, since the last time I posted was when I was off my bike for weeks after my crash. And that post was about my crash since I used the space to explain it to anyone who asked instead of having to repeat myself a hundred times. But back to the point: this blog really is the embodiment of the shoemaker’s son. I spend all day developing social media strategies and content for the brands I love at work, that by the time I get home and get the basics of life under control, I don’t have many (any?) brain cells left to pour into this space. It gets woefully neglected and I go four to six months between posts just because I create content all day, and coming home and doing it for a few hours at night isn’t relaxing.
The sad part is, I have a list of ‘posts I’d like to write’ scribbled on my bathroom mirror (with Crayola’s Window Markers that I ADORE!!). I’ll see the list before I get in the shower, and actually write snippets of posts in my head in the shower, but by the time I get to a point where I can either capture the thought or have a clear enough head to focus, it’s gone.
So how do you find the time to update your own personal space when you do it for others all day long? What motivates you? How do you make sure it’s a priority (or at least getting some of your brain space) when there are so many other things that need to be done? Please share your tips, links to your own posts, and ideas because I clearly need some help.
And when you come by and the most recent post is six months old, yeah…that’s cause this blog belongs to someone who works in social media.
A six-year old gets doored…there’s something wrong with that. Seriously wrong with that. A great article about urban cycling, the dangers of it, and the responsibilities of both drivers and cyclists.
There is no safe lane for bicyclists from the Chicago Tribune
Since I’ve had to run through this a few times, I figured it would just be easiest to toss it up here and share the link when folks ask.
Where: Eastbound on Blondo at about 148th, about mile four of a short nine mile ride home from the Jeep dealership (where I’d just dropped my car off for regular maintenance). It was a poor choice of route, I realize now, but I didn’t know going into it that it was one lane through there.
When: About 9:15 Friday morning (the 29th), I was alone at the time.
How: Either I got clipped by a car or just reacted poorly to a car that came too close and went off the road into a narrow ditch. I tried to almost hop the ditch and keep going up the hill (not a HILL, just the grassy shoulder of the road) but the two combined sent me flipping over the handlebars of my bike onto the back of my neck and rolling over onto my back where my right side took the brunt of the momentum. That bruise will be noteworthy. Somehow, I also managed to get a pretty good bruise on my cheekbone and a lovely knot on my forehead that I can only think were caused by my helmet. Which, by the way, I AM CONVINCED SAVED MY SKULL. Broke the lens of my sunglasses, and scratched up my right shoulder and arm. Thankfully, I landed on grass, so the road rash could have been much worse. I finished the flip sitting up, but quickly laid down since I’d had the wind knocked out of me and couldn’t breathe. I know now why but at the time….it was all panic and adrenaline.
The car that came too close (or hit me) didn’t stop as far as I know, but five wonderful, sweet, generous Omahans did to check on me, one of whom was a physician’s assistant, so I was immediately well taken care of. They asked me lots of questions, even checked my Road ID and questioned me when I only gave my shortened name (not the full name listed). It didn’t take much for me to agree to a ride home at that point, since I wasn’t sure of the status of my bike (pretty sure it’s fine). A wonderful woman named Teresa and her two daughters loaded my bike and drove me home. I will never know who she is, since I was far enough out of my head to not ask for her number.
A hot shower, two conference calls for work, and one call to my mother later, I figured out that a trip to the ER might be necessary since I couldn’t take deep breaths and had some serious pain in my side. Enter the cracked rib. Do you know how much they hurt?! Holy crap, I can’t move without wincing. Xrays at Methodist SUCKED since they kept moving me around and twisting me to get the right pictures. I walked out of the hospital with a prescription for painkillers, orders to take it easy for the next few days and instructions to not ride for two weeks, and if it still hurts then, to give it another two weeks. The prospect of four weeks off my bike makes me ill, so we’ll see if I even make the two weeks.
The lesson: Now, I know I’m insanely lucky when it comes to my injuries. We’ve all heard stories of much worse, or even attended the funerals of cyclists killed by cars, so I’m not going to pretend my injuries are that important. But this little scare has convinced me of two things.
1. Helmets save lives. They don’t always completely prevent injury, but if I hadn’t been wearing mine, this would be a much different post, I’m sure (likely from a hospital). Should I ever see you, your kids, your friends, whatever without one…I will personally brain you to avoid the ground scrambling your brain. Please wear them, for me?
2. Omahans are incredible people. I may not love this town, but when it comes down to it, the people here are generous and genuine. If those people hadn’t stopped to assist me, I would have likely laid in the grass until I got my wits about me and then walked home, which would have been incredibly painful and taken me half the morning I bet.
So, the next time you see someone crash or on the side of the road, stop and ask if they’re okay. While I know my cyclist friends do, not all of my friends/readers are cyclists. For those of you who aren’t, this is a plea to not only be aware of cyclists on the road and give them their due (which is the entire lane technically, but we’ll settle for three feet), but to slow down and stop if you have to. While a driver may be a few minutes late due to a cyclist on the road, the cyclist may be injured or worse due to a driver coming too close.
I didn’t know what a wall cloud was until I moved to the Midwest. For my Midwest friends, now’s the time to laugh (and answer my ‘water in the ditch’ question!!). For my California friends, a wall cloud is the precursor to tornadoes. They literally look like a wall of clouds moving across the sky AND QUICKLY. Sunshine and clear in the front, dark and tumultuous and stormy on the back side. Midwesterners do not mess around when they show up. Meaning, Omaha’s TD Ameritrade Park (where the College World Series is currently being held) was evacuated. Tornado sirens went off. Patio furniture comes off the deck. And you head for cover. Normal people get to a place where they’re safe and then stare at the clouds. Kinda like what my trainer and I just did…
And for the record, I’ll take an earthquake ANY DAY over Midwestern tornadoes. I’ve heard every argument: you know when tornadoes are coming, you can’t predict earthquakes; earthquakes level entire cities, tornadoes can be limited; you name it. But still…give me earthquakes. I’ve lived through the biggest ones Southern AND Northern California are likely to see in my lifetime, so I’m not that worried. But when wall clouds show up? I make sure I’m safe at home, then pull out my camera, because they can present some of the most incredible images I’ve ever seen. Here’s a link to a few more (not so good ones)…
|June 20 Storm – Omaha|
I know I’m not the greatest of friends right now. I’m a basket case with no time, no energy and no patience. That’s attributable to work and school, I know that and my friends know that. But stressing me out by getting on my case or calling me names just ensures I’m not going to make your friendship a priority when I do have time for something other than work or school.
Work is well, work. I love my job, it thrills me every day but is the sort of job that you don’t always get to check out of. I know that, accept that and actually thrive on that. I work with an exceptional team that supports me and makes sure that when checking out is necessary for me, the people and systems are in place to allow for it. Add grad school to that, and the potential for stress is great. Grad school is hard enough without working, add a job to the mix, it gets ugly. When it’s a job that you’re so passionate about you want to do it more and be better at it, and the potential for stress is astronomical. Throw in a type-A overachiever who isn’t satisfied with ‘good enough’ at work or school (and is so annoyed by the fact that she doesn’t have straight As that she’s considering retaking two classes just to get those As), and disaster is imminent.
In the last three years, I’ve been lucky enough to avoid disaster (this week’s little hiccup is just that…a hiccup that will pass). I have an incredibly supportive family that for many, many years has watched me run through this cycle of taking things on, achieving something and crashing at the end because it pushed me to my breaking point. I have that incredibly supportive team I mentioned that has learned the signs and nags me to the point that I actually listen, and has become friends in addition to coworkers. Through Facebook and Twitter, I have a network of everyone from childhood friends to practical strangers that always have a supportive word or laugh for me and have become my friends.
I also have a network of friends around the globe that knows me better than I know myself some days and is available for late night telephone therapy sessions, laughter, or just to distract me from whatever has me stressed out at that moment. They reach out to me, rather than waiting for me to reach out to them. They email me again and again knowing I get the emails, but just don’t have time to respond. They call and leave voicemail after voicemail even if I can’t call them back because the only time I’m not working or doing homework is between the hours of 11pm and 5am. They send supportive notes so when I open the mailbox, it’s just not junk mail or bills. They do whatever it takes to be my friend, knowing I can’t reciprocate right now. They understand I’m not ignoring them because of anything they did or because my interest in them has lessened. They recognize they need to carry the burden of our friendship for a little bit while I make sure I don’t melt down.
It’s that support structure that has gotten me this far – fourteen months from the end and while it might not be pretty, it’s going to get done and the vacation I’m already talking about will be where I can crash and recover. Once it’s done, I fully intend to make it up to everyone that’s supported me: All of the bloggers/Tweeters/Facebook friends I’ve interacted with and have never had the time to really dig into their blogs or worlds. All of the family members that keep me honest and force me to confront the truth about myself. All of my friends that have asked for nothing from me because they know I have nothing to give right now. I don’t know how and I can’t predict when, but I’ll find a way to make it up to you and tell you that I appreciated your support.
And those who haven’t been able to deal with me, that have gotten angry with me for not being able to make plans because I just don’t know when my homework will be done, or think I’m avoiding them because I don’t think calling them late at night is very nice and I have no other time to talk, or who want more from me that I can give and as a result lash out at me for saying no…you have shown me who my true friends are.
You’ve told me friendship is a two-way street, and I understand that, but you’ve indicated you’re not willing to do your part by being supportive and understanding. You’ve called me names and told me I’m hostile, which just isn’t what friends do to each other. You’ve referred to my secluded world, that admittedly is very focused right now, but you’ve done nothing to be flexible when I can escape that world of homework and work or to relieve some of the stress that creates that focus and seclusion. All you’ve done is pile on to the mountain of stress and forced me closer to that point of disaster. And that’s not something that anyone wants to see, so I have to avoid it. And you, and others like you.
So consider your numbers lost, your Facebook friendships removed, your IMs blocked, all of that…I don’t have time for the friends that don’t stress me out, so I’m certainly not making time for ones that do. But thanks for pushing me one step closer to disaster and making me cry, thanks for making me feel so horrible that I have to reach out to one of my friends, so I can further learn the lesson of who those true friends are. That’s something I’ll remember for when the tables are turned and I need to be the one emailing, calling, and just being a friend asking for nothing, only giving.
I only hope I can adequately repay the love and support I’ve received from each of my true friends.
P.S. to RD: Adults in my world agree: phone calls and texts after 10pm are too late. I guess my world of working professionals is much different than yours of professional students.