It came naturally…

I was just tweeting with a friend of mine from Twitter about childcare…and I was reminded of the time when I was a professional childcare provider. That was my very first home based business (if you don’t count the one time I ordered a book by mail order and thought I could read books for a living…what?? The Internet didn’t exist back then. Yeah I’m old…on with the story…)

So I recalled that I still have an old card from one of my former client’s.

I used it a few times over the years as a testimonial. I had no idea what a testimonial was or how it could be important to marketing, but I used it anyway.

And I recalled that I still have my very first clip from the Edmonton Journal,a letter to the editor.  If I recall correctly a child had walked home from a daycare without the daycare being aware that the child was missing. The article pretty much stated that the only options for parents were dodgy daycares that parents could afford or high priced centers with supposedly higher standards. I forget the exact words, and I would have to dig around the basement to find the copy I cut from the paper…

But it was something to the effect that there was another option that the author hadn’t  mentioned and that was registered dayhomes.

I don’t think that ever led to any phone calls or business. Who reads the letters other than geeks like me, really? But it was a rather crude first attempt at publicity.

Some of who I am today as a marketer and publicist goes back to those early days running that first home childcare.  Some of the things that I later learned were effective ways to promote a small business were things that I had either picked up intuitively or was somehow born with.

Some of it comes naturally.

Then there’s the stuff that took a long time to learn and apply…some of it I am still learning and applying.  One of the things that has been constant over the past 13 years (I officially opend on July 2nd, 1998) is the changes in technology and the ways we market.

But more on that in another post or article or something…

I just found it really weird to look back and make the connections with what I do know now.

Back then, I was just doing  what I could to stay home and be a mom to my little guy. I had now idea I would have learned this much and come this far.  Back then I couldn’tconcieve of being smart enough or saavy enough to do what I am doing now. Back then, it would’ve seemed glamourous (it’s not really…well only sometimes) and unrealistic for someone with what I had for experience and skills I had.

Back then, my biggest dream was to buy a house with my husband, and raise our family while doing childcare…

Only part of the dream came true, thank God!

And yet, there is still so much more to learn and do…

Kind of makes me wonder where the next 13 years will lead…

Born to Write

I am at home this morning though I was originally scheduled to work. I think my co-worker was concerned about me working through 11 days straight…even though I explained it wasn’t bad that the shifts were short and all. But she pretty much insisted I take the day off.

Of course, taking it completely off just isn’t possible. This just gives me extra time to work on a frew things…like networking, marketing and working on my Press Release Profits project.

And as I sat here this morning working on that project, I had what was sort of a personal and professional epiphany.

And that was that I was born to be the publicist and promotions person that I am today…

I’ve probably mentioned before that I won my first contest for reading in grade 2 and followed up with winning a writing one in 3rd. Of course, writing was just my hobby then…what I really wanted to be by the following year was the first female color commentator on CBC for Hockey Night in Canada. (Considering the last time I had much interest in hockey at all was the early 90′s it’s not likely I’ll be resurrecting that dream…though I was briefly excited when I thought I might have a shot at publicity for a local hockey team…but that fell apart and I’ve mostly forgotten it by now)

In any case, even then I wanted to be somewhat in the limelight (my own publicity efforts) while really being pumped up about being a part of telling the stories of others…

That continued through high school with being a part of the newspaper at one high school and doing the live announcements at another. I was recently reminded by afriend from that era that I tried to make them fun by getting kids to vote on a top 3 music list to be played on the announcements. Then some jerkshad to go and try and ruin it by voting for a Bethoven Symphony. No offense to those who really love classical music, but I wanted to play rock…

Here I had gotten the supervisor to agree to me running this contest and they had to go and try to be funny.


In any case, at that point my goal was to be the next Barbara Frum

Being a publicist/dishwasher isn’t exactly what I had in mind…but at least every day I get to do what I’ve loved to do since I was little…read and write.  Sometimes I get paid for it, but even the things I do for free end up being so valuable to me.

I was born to write…born to share stories with the world and it doesn’t really matter whether I write the stories or just connect the story subjects (my clients in a perfect world) to the storytellers (the journalists and bloggers who hold the attention of the client’s target market)

So despite the fact that I’m sitting here and typing because I broke the van again yesterday and couldn’t follow through with my first thoughts of what to do (going out and getting video of the local clients I have helped recently) it’s been a productive morning…because I wrote.

Things That Make Me Sad

Despite all the happy moments today, bad memories and their unnerving emotions were stirred up too.

You see it started with an article  in the Edmonton Journal about Vincent Li the man who murdered Tim Mclean in a gruesome attack on a Greyhound bus.

This brings about huge feelings.

But not so much about Tim Mclean, because while I was disgusted and horrified to hear about the brutal manner in which he died, I did not truly know him.

But I did know my mom who was once diagnosed as a schizophrenic (it was eventually called bi-polar disorder) and her long time boyfriend who she met in the psych ward during one of her stays there in the 70′s.  He was an NCR (as described in Mom Magazine’s Blog -Not Criminally Responsible) patient/criminal. The same as Vincent Li.

The crime was not as gruesome to the outside world, but just as devastating to the loved one’s of the victim. Though by the time I came onto the scene, the story was long buried and only talkied about in hushed tones amongst the kids and teens in the family. I never heard an adult utter a word about it.

In any case…this case brings up a lot of old emotions that I thought I had let go of…

Fear, Anger, Confusion…

The man I knew as a step dad was not a monster like Li…though he’d committed a similar crime. My stepdad didn’t have schizophrenia like Li (though as I mentioned before that’s what my mom was originally diagnosed with…but she was the type more likely to hurt herself than others…though she did have her moments when she did hurl her illness outwards too) but he did (what boils down to) get away with murder because while his victim (who I never knew and would have never known if he hadn’t done what he did) never walked the earth again, he lived to a ripe old age (past even my mother) most of it free after a relatively short stint in the same psych ward as my (relatively) harmless mother.

She endured years of his often hateful words and venom. I was blind to it for the most part during the actual time I lived there. I mean I saw him as mean and hard at times, but I didn’t see it as abusive until I went back to visit years later…after I had two children of my own.

He never killed again…

But he wasn’t exactly spreading joy and sunshine either.

If he was repentant – I never saw it.

They certainly did not teach him good communication skills while he was “locked away for psychiatric care”. Nor did they teach my mom tools to build her self esteem, nor how to identify abuse.

I don’t want Li free. I think a psychiatric release should be for life.

But I do think that if the utmost care and attention to security is taken and he is getting the medication required for his condition…that he should be able to walk around outside for 15 minutes a day.  No matter what he’s done the fact is that he is ill and he is human.

There is no fixing him anymore than there is a way to bring young Tim McLean back to life.  There is no benefit to keeping him locked away with less dignity than an amimal.  The sad truth is there is never going to be any justice in this case. Even if Li was being subjected to electroshock treatments like my (very much a non-criminal) mother was back in the 70′s it still would not make up for the death of Tim Mclean in any way shape or form.

Let him have his 15 minutes, but join the fight for changes so that he never gets more than that, no matter how well the doctors deem him to be.

Things That Make Me Happy

I went to work today expecting to bake some cookies and cake and maybe slice a few thing, maybe wash some dishes. I did not expect to be making toast, fixing salads, cooking bacon, hashbrowns or any number of other things I did today. And I feltpretty darn awesome when every member of the staff thanked me for stepping up and that I did a good job. That made me happy.

I mean I love doing well just for the sake of doing a job well.

But there’s something special about hearing it from other people too.

And any day that you can bake one of your specialties is bound to be a happy day.

Which carrot cake has always been…well since we were in Fort Resolution anyway.

That is where I first baked up this recipe…first as a triple layer cake and later as cupcakes. I meade it a couple of times in Tukotaktuk and pretty much every other step along the way.

But today was the first day that I’ve baked this particular recipe in Whitecourt.

Wow…I never connected that until I typed it.

I guess that kind of makes Whitecourt home after nearly four years.

There could be something to the whole it takes three years for Whitecourt to feel like home thing…

In any case, that wasn’t the end of the great things that make me happy stories for today.

Oh no! Today gave me much more to be thrilled about.

You see, it wasn’t long ago that I entered a contest to write an about page for abrilliant (IMO) bag designer.  I’m not the only one who thinks so…you can ask any of the ladies who already own one how incredible they are. We know each other from a parenting & faith related forum.

The prize for the contest was one of her bags, but knowing the price of shipping to Canada would likely be silly…I asked her to donate the bag to a local women’s shelter in her area because that’s close to my heart.

Well today MamaPepper was working at her booth and a volunteer from the church that runs one of her local shelters stopped and shared that the bag will be used as a special award for one of the shelter’s clients.

Isn’t that fabulous? Well…I know it makes me happy.

Everybody won…MamaPepper, Me, the Women’s Shelter and it’s clients…

And everybody wins makes me happy.

Church discipline, Chuck Phelps, and a Wolf

In many church discipline situations, the pastor is privy to specific details that are not shared with the congregation. I believe this to be appropriate and would support my pastor in conducting church discipline in this private manner. However, this support is contingent upon the idea that sufficient details have been shared. The congregation can only make an informed decision regarding a member’s conduct and subsequent restoration or removal if sufficient information is given.

If my pastor brought a young man before our congregation, and the young man confessed to theft, I would hope the response (and requirements) would be different if the theft was of $10 from a friend’s wallet or the violent armed robbery of a bank. I would also hope that my pastor understands that — while he needn’t share all of the gory details — indicating the level of the offense to the congregation is vital to our decision-making process.

Relate this to the recent brouhaha involving Chuck Phelps and Trinity Baptist Church in Concord, NH. (If you are unfamiliar with the case, this article provides the most complete list of allegations that I’ve found.) Apparently Ernest Willis was brought before the church, and he confessed to unfaithfulness to his wife. The church then voted to forgive Willis and allow him to maintain his membership. (I was not an eye-witness, but members of the congregation who were present have related these events.)

Chuck Phelps says he reported the incident to both the Concord Police and to the Department of Children and Youth Services. My question is: What exactly did Phelps report to them? After all, he performed church discipline on Willis for unfaithfulness without also mentioning to his congregation that the unfaithfulness occurred during the course of two rapes of a 15 year-old girl. Given this, I’m not inclined to think that he was entirely forthcoming when he reported the incident to the authorities.

And THAT, my friends, is one of the reasons many think that Chuck Phelps holds some responsibility for Tina Anderson’s continued victimization. If Phelps minimized the crime to the authorities, then he did not seek justice for her as he should have as her shepherd. When a wolf named Willis injured one of Phelps’ flock, Phelps sent the injured lamb away and allowed the wolf to remain in the fold.

That’s just poor shepherding. (At best.)

Reality Check…

I’ve really debated writing this post, because it’s embarrassing to admit that you’ve flubbed up in a major way. You see I am really good at writing and developing concepts for publicity and shop local fundraising and awareness campaigns, but I am not great at handling money.

And I took more risks than I maybe shouldn’t  have in trying to get my business off the ground.

And I think it goes back to the whole Tuk experience, that I described in earlier posts.

Because despite the low points, we dig land pretty much on our feet when we did get over to the other side. Not in the most pleasant of places…it’s been a long journey here to Whitecourt. One that spanned two first nations reserves, a long stint in a Northern Town, a year in a teensy town of maybe 500 or so. (If it’s more I’d be surprised) and then we landed here in Whitecourt.

Where I started off working for a radio station. It was it first seemed a dream job for me (way back in the dark ages I went to what tried to pass as a broadcasting school). I mean it wasn’t the on-air gig that I had dreamt of way back then…it was media and by that point I’d been doing publicity, writing and web development for a while.

I hated being limited to one medium when the client might have been better served by direct mail or investing in better displays or training for staff to improve customer service…things that radio could not really provide on it’s own. The thing that irritated me most is they had this beautiful website and all the bells and whistles that money could by for an ungodly amount of moeny. with absolutely no investment in affiliate marketing or copywriting.  Plus the tie-ins

between air, ‘net and email are haphazard at best and no one is tieing in the on-air for the radio stations real target market the ones who bring in the dollars, the buisness owners. Instead of educating the audience through the mass media at their fingertips they relied on a one on one approach by salespeople who often only had a very quick and ever so elementary course on marketing which focused more or finding and selling to clients than it did on actually helping the clients.

What ultimately made me leave was the constant harping on clients that were still unsure instead of delivering the best value to the clients that already existed.

In any case, I thought I had planned far enough ahead and that I would have enough funds coming in through what I had already started working on part time to supplement my income well enough while I got into a full time swing. And things did seem to go well for the first 8 months or so, and then the economy burped.

Which was fine because I had ideas that I was sure would help clients through the bumpy times. I mean who wouldn’t want great media coverage, loyal customers and I was so sure my community connected commerce idea would work.

And it did the following summer when I launched the Summer Sizzler, which I really did so that I could attract the customers who participated into developing their own online marketing and publicity campaigns…

And it seemed to at first…I had two sure fire (or so I thought) commitments from when I first started to promote the Sizzling Summer campaign, but before the end of it one would back out and one would delay and in the meantime I would be accused of conflict of interest by another chamber member…and though the complaint came through private channels…it was deemed at a board meeting that something must be done to investigate and I have no idea whathappened next as I was ejected from the room for at least half an hour (it seemed like an eternity).

I’ve never heard an official word about what was decided.The cloud has yet to be lifted though I know I did nothing wrong as I specificallychose summer to launch the campaign in (even though it is a down time for many of the small business owners in town,but also the only season when the Chamber is not active. Even general meetings are suspended through the summer months.

That’s why I chose summer to show them what the idea I had presented the previous November would look like (more or less).

Instead of impressing them, I pretty much got blown up from the inside…

And the combined hit of losing both the projects I had hoped to commence and the whole Chamber debacle along with the onset of winter led to a miserable depression.

And so…I’ve got this pretty big mess to clean up despite the fact that the actual promotion itse3lf was a smash success with the target market. Part of my problem was that I had anticipated that the campaign would attract 1000 participating shoppers for the $1000 prize…but more than 3500 signed up to win.

About 20% got weekly updates throughout most of the campaign and the winners all seemed to be thrilled with their winnings. The Grand Prize winner lives just of out town and works in town at a locally owned business…

And that brings us to this week…

When I was forced to “suck it up princess” and go back to work. But not in sales or marketing or publicity or anything related to my passion at all. Nope, back to the kitchen…where my work career first started really…

Back when I was 14…

And yet as I worked through this week I learned a little more about myself. Like even back then I didn’t work in half-measures. I worked hard then and it hasn’t been hard to get back in teh grrove again. It’s not hard work, but it’s important work…to be in the back of a big restaurant kitcehn making sure everything is clean and tidy and hygienic…that everything is fresh and teasty and worth the prices paid…

And over the week I became less and less embarrassed about having to go back. Of having to say “Ooops…I’m way overextended and got in over my head, and I need cashflow now to start makign the people who put their faith in me by allowing me to use their services on credit (unintended though it was for both them and me)…

I fully expected that everything I was arranging would be paid in full by the due date.

I didn’t anticipate the cancellations or the accusation…or the turmoil that followed.

But I’m still here and I’m still kicking and I am still working towards living the dream that I have started to build.

Taking a part time job right now may be a bit of a detour, but I am enjoying it and it’s been somewhat of an inspiration and helped me to see things in a much more positive light thatn I was before I started.

Down but not out.

Just a bit of a reality check…

But reality will be different soon enough…

Of that my heart is certain.

Even though it’s not good to have to admit messing up and I know it will likely lose me some customers who might not be able to separate my mostly self inflicted financial woes from my talent and potential. But I have chosen not to worry about that…

Because I do believe in being myself, being authentic…

And at the moment being authentic means publicly admitting that I have a part time job in addition to rebuilding this business that went almost stagnant over the winter.

It’s Springtime now…and I am back.