Thursday, November 25, 2010

Small Business Saturday

I had the BEST Thanksgiving conversation EVER this year.  Why?

I sat next to my sister's brother in law, a current employee of Walmart who offered me a first hand account of working for the corporation - even turning down a management position based upon his hands on experience with the company.  Although thankful to have a job, he is anxious to move on (and is waiting to hear on a new position elsewhere), having seen too much.  He had to leave our festivities early since he's working at 4AM tomorrow for "Event Friday" (no longer Black Friday since the trampling death of 2008), but I thoroughly enjoyed talking with him and getting to know his family.

It was like having pie before the turkey.

And with that, my convictions have been affirmed and strengthened, and once again, I IMPLORE you to patron the small businesses in your community that are clamoring for your business.

Are you free on Saturday, November 27th?

You may not get that flat screen TV for $10 at your local business, but, in the long run, you will receive MORE than a penny saved.

Some facts:

  • For every $100 spent at local small businesses, $68 is returned to the community.
  • Small businesses employ half of all private sector employees.
  • Small businesses represent 99.7% of all employer firms.
  • For every year over the last decade, 60-80% of new jobs were generated by small businesses.
Try stepping out of your norm and shop with a local vendor this holiday season.  Here are a few of my favorites here in Beaver:

AK Nahas:  Shared pie with the owner, at my kitchen table, while we discussed what items we'd need in order to have a working kitchen.  He even talked me OUT of a new microwave. Good people.

Cafe Kolache:  My "go to" place to write, fellowship, and hang.  I've even been covered when I forget my wallet.  I promise - I don't do this intentionally, or often.  Again, good people.

Castle Toys and Games:  Hands down, my favorite toy store EVER.  Really.  Ever.  Partly because of the incredible selection, but more so because of the lovely owner, Linda.

There used to be this toy store in Evanston where the owner's were NASTY to children.  Toy store + Nasty to children = Bad combination.  That store is no longer in business.

Linda at Castle Toys and Games is pure delight.  She loves her customers, and even surprises them with goodies when they break an arm. I will spend my money in Castle over Toys R Us any day.

Beaver Healthmart Pharmacy:  Can you love your pharmacist?  I think so.  Especially when you hear the encouraging words, "Joline, we'll figure it out.  Hang in there." during a time when a family member is having to change medications every month until we find the one that works.

What is the common denominator here?


I have a relationship with these business.  I know them and they know me.

Try a local business this Saturday.  Even if it doesn't open at 4AM. I guarantee you that you'll receive much more than a good "deal".

You may even make a new friend.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Repost on Black Friday: Have at me

This post was originally published on November 19, 2009.  It has been re-posted for your shopping enjoyment.

Okay, I've been putting this off, posting pieces about my new exercise challenge, and the inspiration I received for writing a book, and, well, anything else but this topic.

If you know me well, then you already know my opinion on this.

Ok, here goes.

I am completely not down with Black Friday.

And, to go a step further, I don't think you should be either.

Yes, I am an American.

Just stop reading right here if you can't handle the heat.

You say you want to save money and get the best deals for Christmas?

You say it's fun?

You say, "Hey, you're just a kill-joy. Black Friday is an American Tradition. Like Flag Day."

To you I say:
I understand deals. I'm a complete deal seeker. I just don't feel like waking up at 3 AM and fighting traffic and circling a parking lot to find a space only to stand in line with like a trillion other people, who, let's be honest, could care less about my well being and more about whether they'll get to the electronics/toy/whatever department before me (even if they have to trip me), just to save money.

Here's an idea: How about simplifying Christmas by buying less - maybe one or two really nice gifts for your children, the total of which equals the amount you wind up spending on a mountain of meaningless toys, for which you had to risk life and limb and valuable time. Precious time which could have been shared with your kids and your family, and friends, by, say, playing games or watching a movie, or baking, or decorating for Christmas, rather than entering into a full on sprint against total strangers in order to reach the toy department first to grab a toy that will end up irritating you within 5 minutes of the batteries being installed. Can you say Tickle Me Elmo?

No, you be quiet! I told you up front that I am not down with Black Friday, so what did you expect to read here?

You say Black Friday is fun? Yeah, it sounds like a blast.

I'm a negative Nelly? Well, Sherlock, I'll have you know that the original term Black Friday was never a particularly positive title, but, in fact, made reference to some pretty darn tootin' icky days in history. Google it. And the phrase as we know it today, was actually used by newspapers back in the '70's, to describe the extreme hecticness that stores experienced the day after Thanksgiving.

So let me get this straight. Historically, Black Friday was never a good thing. And when newspapers began deeming the day after Thanksgiving as Black Friday, it wasn't initially a compliment, but rather, a phrase used to describe a commonality between the crowds and the traffic and the sheer craziness of the beginning of the holiday shopping season, with, well, dark historical events.

However, since being in the "black" is a necessity for retailers, they have now hijacked the term, and thus, Black Friday now pays homage to the buying frenzy that will drive retailer's books into the "black".

Well, I'm not bowing to Black Friday.

In fact, and this will make you sick, the "big" presents that my children receive for Christmas (they get a main, or "big" gift from both sets of grandparents and then we supplement with a few other items) have already been purchased, at full price, from a local independently owned toy store, and are resting peacefully in my attic. The owner even helped me carry my bags to the car.

And no one tripped me or slipped a mickey in my coffee, so they could beat me to the Playmobile Egyptian Pyramid. Nope. I pre-ordered it. Months ago.

I realize I'm a bit over the top, but so is Black Friday.

If you are going to participate, let me share with you these words from Sergeant Phil Esterhaus of Hill Street Blues: Hey, let's be careful out there.

And when you come to your senses and realize that I am using this statement in reference to SHOPPING, perhaps you'll join me in on my soapbox.

I'll make room for you.

While pondering your plans for November 27th, check this out.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Reason I Started Blogging In The First Place

I started my blog back in 2001 as a means of keeping my family updated on Harper.

Since then, it has morphed into a "coffee house" of sorts,  a place where one goes to shoot the breeze with a friend.  I'm all over the place on topics.

But, now and then, my kids say something that I want to remember, and thus, you're stuck reading their cute little quotes.

George and Harper were preparing to leave for her 4th grade camping trip.  He, as a chaperone, planned to drive them to school the morning they were to board the bus for the trip, thus leaving his car parked in the school lot.  Harper, having lived 9 years of her life in a larger city, anxiously inquired,

"Are you sure that's ok? I mean do they have long term parking???!!!"


Always the mommy-lover, we were on a hot chocolate date when I began to get emotional over how old he is getting.  Six in January.  I can hardly believe it.  When I mentioned my excitement and my sadness about him growing up, he met me with,

"Mom.  You can still hug me until I get really old and move out and live next door to you.  You know, when I'm 40."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Give a Little Bit . . .

Remember this?

Well, I haven't forgotten about it.  That's more important than whether you remembered that I'm on a "giving quest".

I am.

So how's it going?

Well, the attic is no longer a storage facility, but rather a playroom for the children.  That ought to tell you something.

While cleaning the large space in the attic (it is finished and divided into a large and small room),  I found mounds of items that could be useful to someone else.  It seems as if I have been adding something to my giveaway pile daily.  We have cleaned up and donated so much stuff that our storage can now fit in the smaller attic space. And despite moving all our stored items to that smaller room, it isn't full.

Talk about downsizing.

Tonight I brought another load over to Goodwill.

You know what?  I realize that I could probably get a little coin from selling a few items on Craig's List or Ebay, but really, I've been blessed with a great freelancing life.  Writing, Beachbody, and Mary Kay keep me busy.  And paid.  I think I can afford to simply give away these items.

And so I have.

For those of you who have joined me on this quest - how's the giving going???

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Respectful Repost

Was doing some reading of old posts and came across this one from November 1, 2008.

At least I'm consistent.

I do seem to harp on the whole love and respect our neighbor deal.

Especially when it comes to politics.

What's flowing from your mouth these days?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Lend Me Some Sugar, I Am Your Neighbor

I've been doing a lot of heavy thinking lately.  It started in a weekly bible study that I attend at my church when I was presented with the fact that my children are my "neighbors".

(For those of you who may not espouse to any particular faith, I am about to get Jesus up in here.)

Jesus summed up our purpose in life quite clearly in Matthew 22:37-39:

37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b]

For years, I took "neighbors" to mean the people around me.  Those living outside my home.  Those who lived next door and on my street. The people who served me in restaurants or waited on me at stores, the mailman, the woman who never waives back, the homeless guy muttering to himself. Other drivers.

And then, "Doh!"

Recently, during a 2x4 moment, I realized that my neighbor is also my spouse, my children, my parents, my in laws . . . and then I crumpled over what a horrible witness I've been.  We've all been there.

God wasn't done.

What Jesus doesn't state in this passage is that loving one's neighbor will be instinctual, comfortable, and easy. Or even bearable.  Sure, it would be great if we were all swaying together in one big love fest - but we come together to form this "perfect union" from different families, ethnic roots, life experiences, educational backgrounds, convictions, faiths, political affiliations, and personal tastes, which, in turn, make up our opinions, beliefs, and biases.

And yet.

As Christians, we are COMMANDED, to LOVE OUR NEIGHBORS as we hang out at this big 'ole block party together.  I have no issue with everyone having their opinions.  Come on, I'm as opinionated as they come.  I am, however, struggling, deeply struggling, with HOW these opinions are communicated especially by those of us who follow Jesus.

People, face it.  Those of us who consider ourselves Christians can be downright unloving towards our neighbors.

"What?!" you say.  "But I lent so-and-so my leaf blower just last week!  I'm as neighborly as they come!"

Newsflash.  Our neighborhood also includes President Obama.  Guess what?  He's your neighbor.  And George W. Yep. Neighbor. Michelle Bachman. Needing to borrow a cup of milk.  Democrats.  Living next door.  Republicans.  Mowing the grass.  Tea Party Members.  Having a barbeque.  Muslims?  Yes.  All of them.  Neighbors.

Search that scripture again.  It doesn't state that loving one's neighbor is a SUGGESTION, nor does it place parameters, boundaries, or restrictions on how much love to give or when to dole it out. This is where Jesus is so gosh darn revolutionary.  In fact, he even said in Matthew 5:43-45:

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[a] and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous."

Wait a minute.  LOVE MY ENEMIES?  Yes.  AND pray for them.  Honestly, we fall prey to quarreling, debating, and fighting about political and religious differences (me included), but really?  This is not our job.  We do not cause the sun to rise on the evil and the good.  And as far as I can tell, I have never sent down rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.  Who am I to read a person's heart and soul?  That is God's territory.  I'm tainted.  I can't read that map.

However, I have been given the following marching orders:

1.  Love God
2.  Love my neighbors as myself
3.  Love my enemies
4.  Pray for those who persecute me

This is a great challenge when it comes to the political climate of our country.  James 3:9-12 addresses what comes out of our mouths (or, might I add, communicated via email, blog, text, or facebook post - geez Louise life has gotten complicated):

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water. 

Unfortunately, we forget this as we trample public officials.  We actually think it's somehow OK to be lip-smacking rude to those who have chosen a career in politics.  And it's not even WHAT we say that is the problem (unless we are spreading falsehood - then?  I get ticked.), but rather HOW we communicate our stance.  For while it is fine to disagree, it is not OK to be disrespectful.  I'm no Pollyanna.  I'm singing in the choir here. I realize we won't always have glowing things to say about everyone we meet (or don't meet), but, as we speak (or type) have we lost the ability to communicate truth with love and decency, or have our words been reduced to cursing?

How am I curbing my tongue (and keyboard) as it pertains to this subject? 
  • By refraining from bearing false witness against my neighbor:  that means not disseminating information that I can not validate.  I am going to try my darndest to stick to the facts.  
  • By refraining from attacking my neighbor's character.  
  • By apologizing, without adding a "but", when my words are found to be hurtful, or incorrect.
We, and I mean those of us following Christ, simply must deal with political topics better if we really desire to follow Christ's very words.
    I do.  So I've enlisted the help and accountability from a friend of mine who voted Republican in the last Presidential election.  Both of us will do our best to follow what I've listed above.  We both agree that while disagreements will occur and debate is healthy, it often turns into a game of "telephone".  Not effective at all.

    Oh, and guess what.  I'll trip up.  See, I'm not perfect.  No party is perfect or the correct one for our nation.  Human beings are way to prideful to bring about hope and change, or fix what they think didn't bring about that hope and change.

    It is bigger than us.

    Won't you be my neighbor?