Sunday, February 28, 2016

One Day Break From a Minnesota Winter

What do you do in Minnesota when it hits 61° on a rare balmy and sunny February day? Wrong question. The question is what don't you do when summer arrives for a day in February? The average high temperature on a typical February day in Minneapolis is 29° and the low is 13°—hence all of the fuss over yesterday's 60° temps. Here's a few of my own observations of what my fellow Minnesotans were doing outside in yesterday's record warmth:
  • Dog Walking. Everyone who owned a dog was out walking myself included. This did result in a very muddy, but happy and exhausted dog.
  • Bike Riding. If you weren't out walking your dog, you were out on your bike, wearing shorts and a t-shirt, of course. 
  • Ice Fishing. The lakes are still frozen enough to support all of the cars, ice houses, and ice fishers out on the local lakes. My favorite image was of people out on the lake ice fishing while others wearing summer clothes jogged, biked, and walked their dogs alongside the frozen lake. 
  • Long Boarding and In Line Skating. A favorite way to get to the local Dairy Queen and grab some ice cream to enjoy while boarding around.
  • Dressing Like Summer. From a young woman wearing a gorgeous, colorful sundress to shirtless teenage  boys walking on a frozen lake, the boots, woolen hats, and down jackets of February were left inside.
  • Driveway party. In one neighborhood, folks were gathering in their driveway for cocktails, complete with lawn chairs, tables, a Tv, and drinks.
  • Bonfires. Yesterday ushered in the spring bonfire season. The backyard neighbors built an evening fire and others were burning along a lakeshore.
  • Windows down and sun roofs open. If you've ever lived in a cold climate you know there is nothing quite like turning up the music and opening the sun roof on a warm spring day. A golden retriever was enjoying the breeze in a car ahead of me—his head popping up out of the sun roof.
  • Not sitting inside blogging. Save that for the next day when temps drop 30° and it starts snowing.
Today snowflakes are in the air and the February wind is bitter. Winter has returned to Minnesota. Yesterday's reprieve was a welcome reminder of what lies ahead. Spring!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Too Much Information

1,913 unopened emails and that is only on one of my four active emails accounts. (Sorry if yours is buried in my backlog.) Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest accounts to tend. And my blog of course. I'm only counting my own personal social media, blog, and email accounts, not my work accounts for which I must also devote constant attention.

Do you feel like I do? Bombarded by information coming at you online and, at times, overwhelmed about how to possibly answer all of those emails; add new pins to your Pinterest boards; cultivate friends, LIKES, and shares on Facebook; and grow your professional network on LinkedIn?

Makes me long for 1995 when no one had email and only one computer in the office had this new thing called the Internet. This tech-free office was actually a Congressional office in Washington, DC. We had a hard enough time answering the letters that came in the mail, meeting with lobbyists who walked in the door without appointments, and answering the phone. I cannot imagine how much time Congressional offices must devote to emails from constituents and maintaining an updated web presence all while monitoring and participating in social media for a member of Congress.

But this doesn't have to do with a Congressional office. This is life. Mine and yours. It seems that we are so tuned into the bells, whistles, and vibrations of our phones and responding to a device in our hand or at our desk that we lose touch with those sitting next to us. Or worse, we cause an accident while reading an email in the car or walk into traffic or a building while texting and walking.

As much as I love social media and knowing what is happening in the world whenever I want, taking a break from technology can be a good thing. Here are a few simple technology breaks:

  • Look up from your phone and out into the world. 
  • Step away from your laptop and walk around your office and talk to people instead of emailing them.
  • Don't allow phones at the dinner table.
  • Don't text and drive.
  • Take a trip to a remote location where you cannot connect every minute of every day.
  • Be daring...turn off the phone for an entire day or just leave it at home.

Think of all of us who lived years of life without an iPhone, a laptop, or Twitter. Somehow we survived and probably sometimes still long for a day without logging into the computer and answering emails.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Early Emergence of the Extremes

I've tried to stay out of the political fray by distracting myself with old episodes of Portlandia, cleaning out closets, even needlepoint. I was hoping that by the time I emerged from my self-imposed hiding out from the reality of the 2016 election, a strong, likable, brilliant leader of the pack would emerge. From the looks of the four, front runners, I'm should go back into hiding.

Tomorrow is the New Hampshire primary--the first state primary following last week's first caucus in Iowa. I have a feeling New Hampshire will follow suit—the forward momentum of the extremes of both parties pushing Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton, and Bernie Sanders to the top.

Interestingly most people I've talked with about this election cycle are not happy with any of the top candidates who have emerged. Only a very few are strongly backing one of the front-runners. Most are afraid for our country if the "angry white man" Trump becomes President and others are literally afraid of Ted Cruz's far-right leanings or just downright hate the man. Hillary has the best Presidential resume by far; however, her Benghazi baggage, her mishandling of State Department emails  and server confusion, and being viewed as a liar are dragging her down. Then there is Bernie Sanders. Even my 17-year old son who is taking Economics this semester has learned enough to know that Bernie's ideas are not economically viable.

The extremes of both the Republican and Democratic parties have emerged and are skyrocketing high in the polls. However they will eventually plummet back to reality. The extremes are leaving an opening for the majority of Americans who aren't on polar opposites of each other to support other candidates.

My son Patrick with Marco Rubio in Iowa
Watch Marco Rubio. He came within 1% point of beating Donald Trump in Iowa. He is smart, has a plan for going after ISIS, does not want to build a wall, and is a genuinely nice guy. Having had the opportunity to spend some time with him, listen to a few speeches, and hear his story about how he got to where he is now, Marco provides true hope and change. Plus he is a Prince fan if that matters to you. He is a uniter, not a divider. With all of the extreme division that has emerged, Rubio is a game changer and a genuine person. He is intense, but that is because he is in this race with his heart, not just his head.

Despite his stumbles in Saturday's Republican debate, Marco Rubio is that breath of fresh air with a message of positive change that this Presidential race needs. Check out his story, which really is the foundation of his entire campaign.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Exceptional Sheer Addiction

Have you grown tired of hearing about and being thrust into a horrible customer service experience by retailers? I'm thrilled to report that customer service is not dead, but thriving at Sheer Addiction  Jewelry in Hudson, Wisconsin.

As a lover of vintage jewelry, I was pleased to find a gorgeous antique silver bracelet on the website of one of my favorite jewelry establishments, Sheer Addiction that is owned by the talented artisan Tamara. I've been buying Tamara's works for many years since I discovered her nearly a decade ago tucked away in the back of a favorite boutique in Hudson, Wisconsin—La Rue Marche. Tamara's business has exploded and moved out of La Rue Marche and has become an online sensation.

Sheer Addiction items have a following and has grown so popular that items now sell out quickly, like that vintage silver bracelet. Especially when they have a Flash Sale. Gone! I was bummed out to receive an email from Tamara explaining that many customers had also dropped that silver bracelet into their shopping carts and she ran out of the bracelet. She offered up any other items at the sale price as a replacement.
The blogger sporting a couple of her
most favorite Sheer Addiction pieces.

For starters I was surprised that the owner of the company cared enough about her customer's satification to email directly. That rarely happens anymore. But what happened next has made me a lifetime Sheer Addiction customer and a proud patron of Tamara's creations.

After choosing another (sadly not vintage) bracelet to replace the sold out silver bracelet, I immediately received another email from Tamara offering the replacement bracelet at no cost to me. Sheer Addiction has gained a happy customer by doing the right thing and very generously sending me my new Houston bracelet at no charge to me!

Kudos to Tamara and Sheer Addiction Jewelry! If you like handmade jewelry with a vintage edge, check out Tamara's creations at Sheer Addiction Jewelry. You won't be disappointed. And that Flash Sale is still on!