Monday, April 25, 2005

Day In the Life of a Trend Reporter – Tampa Day 7

Getting back to Tampa was a relief tonight. I love the palm trees and Florida sun this time of year. The weather has been a cool 70 compared to the 40+ weather I left in Baltimore. I grew up in Florida so as soon as I saw the palm trees, it felt like home.

I’m staying at the Airport Hilton and it’s a really nice hotel. My evening consisted of working over the phone with a computer technician to try to gain me access to the internet. I couldn’t get my web brouser up and finally worked with a young lady by the name of Angel over the phone. She was Asian and displayed unusual patience with me as I fumbled through with her. I am NOT a technically oriented person, and she really seemed to sense that. I just kept patient after her requests and had to repeat the functions over and over at times before I got it right. At the end, the engineer had to bring me a bridge to allow me access. Angel commented on my patience, and I commented on HERS. A sticky situation turned out fine because both of us were willing to keep calm. I think that my son Jeremy has taught me patience. He was never satisfied with his clothes, his shoes, socks, toothpaste, milk or nearly anything as a toddler. I had to just keep trying to get things right over and over until he was satisfied. No amount of disagreeing, yelling, prompting, begging or bargaining would work when he was unhappy. It was purely a matter of “we’re in this together” and we’ll figure it out. It seems my mom had child like that too… so my son must take after one of my siblings! So, tonight I can thank my son for getting me back on line!

I read about Blogging today on the front cover of US Weekly. It’s a good article about the future of it and how it’s affecting business. I am happy to be a part of a growing trend. It seems that it won’t reach the saturation point.. EVER! I’m happy because I really love writing and sharing my ideas with others. The other day I was on the plane and a young woman behind me suddenly asked me, “Excuse me, would you please move out of the way so I can read what you are writing?” I laughed at her boldness and ended up handing her my whole computer so she could read my blogs. She seemed to enjoy them. I hope that my blogs can help other people out.

It’s 3:30 in the AM but I woke up and felt like writing… so now I’m going to hit the hay and head back to bed. I have a 9:30 arrival time at the station and don’t want to be tired when I get there.

Later – I did the segment this morning at the station. The anchors were about as high energy and fun as any I’ve seen. Deborah, the female anchor is a beautiful tall, thin blonde who seemed very casual about her striking looks. Brian, the male, was originally from NJ and has 2 children under 2 and seemed to love talking about them. Both of them seem to have a great job. The show is a very casual, kind of QVC feel.. meaning, they go from set to set to incorporate different guests and stay on live the whole time. They show them walking to the next set and it’s very fun and relaxed conversation.

It’s really amazing to be at the TV stations. There are SO many people working in tandem on a show and you only see the people on camera. The ones that really make it happen are the producers and the tech people all doing a great job pulling the shows together and making it look good. The anchors are the icing on the cake. They are the cherry on top! They complete the package.

It seems in hotter weather climates the stations are a LOT more casual, fun and quirky. The north and the northeast is very conservative and mature. I think that I prefer the warmer client stations, because I think it’s great to have fun with what you are doing and they allow and like the guests’ personalities to really shine. I haven’t had one female anchor try to control the segment or hog the airtime. They’ve all been extremely professional and understand that when the guest is on, they are there to just facilitate.

Today I’m staying in the Hilton at the airport. They have a nice pool so I’m going to go swim some laps and then hit the beautiful mall across the street. They are being so generous to let me stay here and check out at 5PM because I have such a late flight. I’m very appreciative and will recommend to my publicist that they are nice to deal with.

I’ll check in later. I might squeeze in a short nap too! I need to be well rested if I’m going to hit the mall later! Mary

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Etiquette on a Plane

I’ve noticed lately a lot of people don’t know the unspoken rules of flying in planes. They apparently haven’t taken the latest course on Plane Etiquette that I teach on a regular basis.

I’m just joking. I don’t think there is such a course. But you know me, I’ll coach on it if you feel you need some help. Better yet, just read this article!

But I do see the need. So lets start with people who are waiting to check in to the ticket counter.

First of all, please have your ticket information and your I.D. ready to go. It’s best if you put this in a special place BEFORE you leave your house so you don’t have to search for it. And while you’re at it, weigh your bags if possible before you go. The airlines are strict about their 50lb weight limit so if you must take out a few shoes out of your bag before you leave, do it then. That way, you won’t be holding up other passengers. If you are over about 54lbs, they’ll make you pay a $25 fee. Don’t argue. That’s their job. Just pay the fee and move on.

I have found that if you put your identification, your ticket and your credit card in one location, you won’t have to pull everything out of your bag to find the item that you need. You don’t need to carry all of your Sam’s Cards and other credit cards with you when you travel.

Next, when entering the security gate, try to plan in advance. If you can travel with slip on shoes, all the better. Just beware, you’ll have to practically strip down if you have any metal touching off the security systems. Take off any cheap jewelry and store it until you’ve gotten in. Put your lap top somewhere easily accessible because you have to take it out and put it in a tray on the conveyor belt. You have to take off every jacket or coat. And lastly you have to do all of this FAST.

If you are flying one way to a destination or you’ve booked your flight last minute, you might have been tagged to have an extra SECURITY search. These come up in the computer so they aren’t picking you out in line. As a matter of fact, you can see the S on your ticket on the bottom right hand side so you’ll be able to determine whether or not you’ve been pre-selected. If you’ve been chosen, just follow the orders that you’ve been given and you’ll get out of there quickly and easily. If you make a scene, you’ll be the one to look like an idiot. Everyone who travels a lot gets tapped every so often and they just put up with it. It’s not an assult on your character by any means, so don’t act like it’s a huge bother to you. Also, if your shoes have more than a 1 inch sole, then you’ll be required by law to take off your shoes. Do yourself a favor and don’t wear holey socks and have sweaty feet.

When you get through the security and are waiting for your plane to board, make sure to take a look around at the people on the plane. This is helpful if you forget to notice the baggage claim section.

Getting off the plane is probably the one place where people need to learn the rules. I like to compare it to a wedding. You know how all of the people in front are dismissed first and then row by row, people come out of the pews? People take their turns and wait for the people in front of them to go before they leave the church.

It’s the same way in a plane. Each row from the front needs to go and then slowly all of the people from each sides of the isle leave when it’s their turn. The people who HIGHLY annoy me are people who jump in front of you just because your bags aren’t down from the over head compartment yet. Don’t they know it’s because they are standing in your way? I have found the best solution to this critical problem when people unload on the plane.

Say, “excuse me, I believe it’s my turn.” Or, just stick your foot out in the isle and move right in front of them. Believe me, it works like a charm. You can always smile or nod when you do it, but you are indirectly saying to them “It’s not your turn and you are being pushy!:

I honestly don’t think people give it a second thought. They are just moving with the crowds and not even thinking about anything other than getting to their final destination. But it’s a good way for you to help others to wake up and not run over people in this capacity any longer. The butting in line must stop!

Rules of the air are a bit different than rules of the road. Too bad there isn’t a manual that people need to take tests on before they can fly as passengers on planes. But, a good rule of thumb is to leave plenty of time to get there, be patient, have a sense of humor and enjoy the ride!

Day 5 & 6 – A Day in the Life of a Trend Reporter – Phoenix and Baltimore

The Phoenix hot sun was alive and well this morning when I met my friend Julia and her daughter, Madison. We had a quick breakfast at the hotel and then went to the station. Julia is a thin and beautiful blonde who gets great service and attention wherever she goes, so she’s fun to have along. Madison, her very talented daughter became my assistant and helped me set up my gifts on the table. She had some really great decorator ideas which I used.

The segment went well, and Arturo, the pro boxer was my tech guy. We had fun chatting with him. He was cut from that show, The Last Contender. I remember him from my tour in December and that he is very helpful.

We met and took pictures with The Blue Men, who performed live in the studio. We met their make up artist who told us what was involved with putting on the heavy blue masks. It looks VERY hot! Then they performed and it’s bizarre because paint comes pouring out their outfits onto the drums that they are beating. They are all playing music with their drums and are acting with each other, very synchronized. It’s fascinating to watch. When the different color paint comes pouring out of their shirts onto the drums, different color lights are illuminating over their heads. The paint is spraying everywhere and flyng up their nose, over their clothes, all over their heads and each other. They become covered with paint that is rolling down their blue heads. You don’t want to move your head or blink even once for fear that you’ll miss something. It’s completely different than any art form I’ve ever seen. And, I really enjoyed it.

After we watched the show, I was packed up and ready to leave. Julia and Madison drove me to the airport and we parted ways. Momentarily, I received a text message with a note thanking me. I quickly wrote back and said I’ll see them this summer!

Back on the plane, I sat next to a delightful man Scott. Scott had a really great personality, the type that always seems to be happy. He didn’t mutter one complaint at the fact that he was squashed in the middle seat between 2 women who were both watching the movie and politely tried to read while%2

Day 4 and 5 – Day in the Life of a Trend Reporter- Indianapolis and Phoenix

I think they should do a reality show of me on the road! I think I meet the most INTERSTING people alive! And it’s so much fun. I think that if people learned how to travel and meet friends anywhere, they’d have so much more fun traveling.

I started my day off before I wanted to. I woke up at about 7:30 but had my alarm set for 8:30. So, for the first few hours, I repacked, ordered room service and had a very healthy oatmeal and berries breakfast, ironed and then decided to ship a bunch of clothes home. I keep getting charged $25 for every trip because my luggage is over the weight limit. I met a really nice guy, Jason, in the conference center who apparently found about 15 different size boxes that I got to chose from. Everyone at that conference center was really nice. I find most people in the hospitality industry across the country extremely helpful and friendly. Finally, I settled on a size, ran back to my room and put a bunch of clothes in it. As it turned out, it was only 9lbs and I really needed to get rid of 13 lbs so I’m still over in the weight.

I did the segment at the station WISH which was really great. Brooke, the producer, who looks like an anchor, was my host. She was very bubbly and friendly and was running all over the place helping me get my bags and whatever I needed. I did the segment with Deanna, a gorgeous African American woman who has a 3 year old boy. She has one of the most unique stories I’ve heard in a long time! She is a 2x cancer survivor and speaks to college students about the importance of getting testing. She had the most stunning eyes I have seen, deep dark, and really round. She’s mesmerizing and I just know she’s got to be a passionate activist and speaker. We traded cards, took pictures and promised to stay in touch.

Even the trip OUT of the TV station was an adventure. Trying to maneuver my way around the station with 4 large bags and having to avoid the cables that ran everywhere was a challenge. By the time I got out the door, I had 3-4 staff people helping me. They were all so nice to see that I got to my cab safely!

When I got to the airport and checked in, Southwest Airlines wouldn’t budge and charge the $25 if you are over even 1 lb. At least the guy who checked me in said that. He was from Nashville, helping the people in Indy as they were short staffed. So, perhaps as a manager he couldn’t break the rules even a little bit. I asked him to bump me to first class and he said all of the seats were first class. When I opened my ticket, I found that it was open seating.

It was passed lunch time so I went to TGI Fridays for a salad. I happened to be sitting next to two men who I kept joking with back and forth until I finally took them up on their offer to join their table. By then we were laughing so much that it just made sense so we wouldn’t disturb the rest of the patrons.

I found out that these two gentlemen, Bill and Steve, are in the Funeral Business. Steve is Bill’s client and Bill sells him vaults to offer his clients. We had a very interesting talk about the importance of preplanning your own funeral so no one has to suffer after death and try to come up with the perfect funeral. It all made sense to me and I think I’m going to preplan a big party for when I leave this earth. I never want people to forget me!

The flight to Phoenix was my favorite so far. I met the coolest flight attendants and ended up hugging them all when I left. It was one of those divinely inspired meetings I believe. It was Jeff the comedian with 6 kids, Jim, the former alter boy, actor/adventurer who was really fun, and Kelly, the singer who grew up a preacher’s kid.

I was hanging with them a bit in back and just chatting and we got onto the fact that I’m involved with producing a movie. It just so happens that we’ll probably be shooting outside of Chicago next year and all three of these folks live near there. Jeff, who has 6 kids, has a very talented bunch that all act and sing. Jim, majored in theater and wants to get back into acting again, and Kelly, is a sinter. Since our film will be a musical, I promised to do whatever I could to cast them all at least as extras. They’d all be fun to have on the set. I know this because we had a great time on the plane. I took pictures with them when I left. It was just wild.

When I got to the hotel, I called my friend Julia and I must have just missed her. We decided to meet instead in the morning and I invited her and her 12 year old daughter, Madison to the TV station with me.

I’ll pick up on the next blog to talk about the Phoenix TV station and meeting the blue men, and of course.. my trip to Baltimore! Until then! Mary

Dallas and Indianapolis – Life on the Road as a Trend Reporter Day 3 & 4

This morning I opened my curtains to reveal an enormous American Flag flying right outside my window. I’m above a major Dallas highway so the commuters get to see the flag every day. It immediately gave me a since of gratefulness and pride for living in a free country, and I thought of my niece’s boyfriend who will soon leave to go overseas with the military. So many people have given their lives so that our citizens can remain free. I wonder how often we actually realize how blessed we are?

I’m dressed in bright pink today. I have pink pants and a pink/brown cute blazer. I’d get attention anywhere in what I’m wearing today, but pink IS the in color! I met a triathlete at breakfast who was ordering a mushroom and tomato omelet with no cheese! I looked at a nice trim individual and was reminded that I’m trying to drop a few pounds on the road this time. I think I’m doing it already because I’ve only been eating 2 meals a day.

Now I’m on the plane going to Indianapolis and have had a full day already. I went to the station and met the most darling News producer, Karla. Karla is a body builder, age 40. But you’d never guess her a day over 30. I soaked up all of her knowledge about diet, exercise and nutrition for serious body builders and I had her write down several of the products she eats and uses.

Hanging in the green room was the highlight of the whole day. I was hanging with Joe Thiesman and Stephen .. the actor. Stephen was the actor in Groundhog Day with Bill Murray who played the insurance sales man. He’s in Miami CSI and is a regular character actor in TV and Films and was really a great guy. I spoke with both of them at length. I talked to Joe about his speaking career. I know his agents and most of the agents who book him and was even able to explain an insider look at the business from an agent’s point of view.

I can see how celebrities learn to take the center stage wherever they are. People tend to agree with whatever they say and add to their conversation and talk about the celebrity. So, the celebrity gets used to the attention in every situation. The publicists’ job is to make their client comfortable and so they are well taken care of. It really is mind boggling to see the difference in the treatment a celebrity receives versus a regular person. Money, good looks and power can make a person’s life a lot more comfortable for sure.

Both of the celebrities segments were before mine so I took pictures with them before they both left. Everyone was telling Joe how much they respected him so I said, “Well, I just think you are handsome”. That seemed to be the perfect thing to say and he smiled big for the camera! Both men were genuinely nice and interesting people.

The segment went fine, but I was caught off guard when the director wanted to start taping from the end to beginning. It mentally threw me off a bit and I was struggling internally a bit with the order of my gift ideas. The anchor was a mom of three young children under 5 so she really got in to the items. I was grateful for her interest in my segment.

As I packed up, Karla and I spent some good time talking and I promised to email her with my workout updates. I’d love to have a work out partner like her near home. She’s serious about it but not stuffy. After all, it was a few short years ago she was about 30lbs overweight. Now, she is a model and winning first place in body building competitions! Way to go Karla!

I had a few minutes to swim a few laps before the cab driver came and got me at the hotel. It relieved my stress from the segment and felt great to be in the water. I’ve decided to work out at night so I make sure I get the work out in. It seems to be the only time that I have free for a little bit. I’m tired when I get to the hotel, but I’m just going to have to suck it up and do it anyway!

Update: I ended up swimming a bit and then got on the plane to Indianapolis. I forgot my laptop on the plane and luckily the airline called me and alerted me so I was able to get it back. That was a relief!

I stayed at the University Place Hotel in Indianapolis and the big Olympic swimming pool was across the street so I had a terrific workout last night. I met a Psych Counselor, Owen, who shared my lane and saw a swimmer I’ll never forget; a man with MS who totally outswam me! I think I’ll blog about him later!

I then got home and cuddled up with all of the pillows surrounding my body. It makes me feel like my husband is nearby! It’s a cozy feeling and great when you are on the road away from family.

Now that I’m on the plane to Phoenix I’ll start with the next 2 days of travel. I promise, it’s been incredible! Bye for now!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Life on the Road as a Trend Reporter - day 1 and 2/ 3&4 (Minneapolis & Dallas)

I’m on a trip of 10 cities in 10 days. It’s my second one and I’m already meeting incredible people again on my path. It’s the best time. It’s after the TV gig and its time just to relax. I’m on the plane and enjoying the time being able to listen to music, write in my journal, read or blog.

So far, the trip has been very eventful. I went to NYC the first day to catch a train to New Haven CT. The man sitting next to me on the plane was a newly in love man with his beautiful girlfriend. He showed me her picture about 3 times!! They met in NYC but he’s from Charlotte and she’s from Ohio. They are both CEOs of major companies and both are looking forward to the day that they can retire to spend time with each other. It was so clear that he was completely in love. It was so sweet. The craziest thing was that his girlfriend is the president of the board of the Make a Wish Foundation. I was wearing the HOPE STOUT bracelet who is the “poster child” of Make a Wish. I know her parents, Stuart and Shelby from Charlotte. Hope, who died over a year ago, had 1 wish and that was for every other child would get THEIR wish granted. The whole city went on a huge fundraising campaign and was able to grant Hope’s wish. Now, her parents are activists on behalf of their cause.

We agreed to split a cab from the airport to NYC since we were going within 2 blocks of one another.

When we arrived, I had called a friend who worked close by. I’m so glad that this friend was able to help because I have 3 roller bags, and two of them are over 50lbs. He helped me tote the bags to the train station and I was on my way!

When I arrived in CT, I was greeted by my publicists and we headed to the hotel for some media training. It was a full afternoon of going over and over the talking points of the products I selected and was I was taking on the road. They booked me first in Hartford so they watch my performance.

The second that I was able to check my messages, I had an existing phone call from the father of my babysitter who was to arrive at 5:15. He asked if we could pick her up because he and his wife were working late. Knowing that my husband would not have enough time to get there and back and to the university to be a presenter at 6:00, caused a minor crisis. I quickly called another babysitter and when she wasn’t available, I called her dad to come and pick up my son. I also told my husband to just go to our neighbors’ house to see if they were outside since they didn’t answer the phone.

Thank goodness, it all worked out. Jeremy was able to stay at the neighbors and everyone was fine. Thank God for friends and neighbors who look out for us.

I see how my actions of leaving for 2 weeks can even cause friends stress. I thought I had handled everything in advance but some details got dropped. It shows how all of our actions do in fact, impact other people.

Later, I had an early dinner and them came back to take a nap and then woke up by 8PM for a coaching class on the phone. I think I fell asleep again at 11:30 and even though I set my alarm at 6am, I finally woke up at 8:30am!

I was hoping to swim today but the pool in the hotel which was a 25 yard pool, was reserved for physical therapy patients and closed to the patrons during the day. I was bummed about this situation because I had wanted to swim every day while on the road.

So, this morning, I practiced my presentation more, packed and got ready to meet the publicist, Julie. We had a great talk on the ride to the TV station. She’s really fun and it was great to finally meet her since we’ve talked for months on the phone.

When we got to the station to set up, the white smoke started coming out of the chimney in Rome, which meant, a new pope had been elected! That took up the whole noon hour so we had to tape our Baby Shower segment. I got to meet a few other really interesting people. One is a Christian music artist from London, Rob, and the other, Andrew, is an editor of an on line wine magazine which he promotes all over the world by traveling and speaking about wine.

The pope’s segment lasted through the whole news hour and so as soon as it was done, the anchor rushed me to my table of baby items I’ve chosen and we did the segment. I made a few slip ups but mostly I did okay. The anchor, Kristin, was a sweetheart and helpful to me because she didn't talk that much and she let me do my thing. I like it when the anchors let you shine and dont' try to steal the spotlight.

Then, it was time to break down the table and leave. I’ve gotten pretty good at this and like to think it takes a true athlete to lug around so much stuff. I have 2 bags over 50lbs and having to pack them is probably the worst! I feel like I'm doing hard physical labor during this part of the trip. I used to resist the hard labor part and try to get help. Now, I know I can do it and do. I just take off my shoes and get to work. I have to save my nails though so I tend to be somewhat careful with them.

We said our goodbyes and headed to lunch. This is where we met the waiter who didn’t know what to do with his life and gets “all philosophical” about his meaning in life and then sits back and waits on people at a restaurant and has a film/TV degree from NYU! He’s so talented but doesn’t take action.

I recommended a book, “What Should I do with my Life”, by Po Bronson and told him that many people have that issue, so he should research other people’s dilemmas and then TAKE ACTION. I said that in everyone’s life there are times where they just have to shut up and WORK! Make a decision and DO SOMETHING. He didn’t seem to be offended by my bluntness, because I helped him understand he was normal. He actually seemed challenged by it!

We had a incredibly fun lunch with 4 of us women who were all involved with my tour. It was so nice to be among friends who I could just be myself with.

After lunch, Julie and I raced to the airport and I boarded the plane. I sat next to an insurance guy, Owen, who happened to be a genius at figuring out my computer when I had problems. He watched my Baby Monet video from my DVD to see if his kids would like it and I think he enjoyed it.

When I got to Minneapolis, I actually had the same bell hop from when I was there 3 months ago. We remembered each other and had a few laughs. I tipped him an extra $2 because he was so much fun and I think that he got an extra $2 from me last time too! Keep in mind, I’m on a serious budget so that extra money comes out of my own reserve!

Ray is from Etheopia and is a father of 2 children 1 and 3 years old. He loves his work and doesn’t want to change his profession. I think that is so cool that he loves his job and is perfectly suited for it. I bet a LOT of people tip him extra because he loves it so much. He just radiates some fun and that is really attractive.

My cab driver to the hotel was Will. He was from Kenya and explained to me why there are so many people from Sudan in Minneapolis. They all came in the early 90s when the city was trying to attract workers. They gave the immigrants a lot of help and support and now there are over 130,000 of them here. Will is studying to be a doctor, and told me that his family is a business family in Kenya. He has a brother at University of Arizona and another brother in school in the states too. I found myself wondering about his family in Kenya that could afford to send 3 boys away to college in the US. As it turns out, the government there gave them scholarships.

Will and I got to talking so much that we didn’t realize that there were 2 Double Tree hotels and we went to the wrong one. So after I got to the front desk, I had to turn around and catch anther cab to the other Double tree, 4 miles away.

Robin was my cabbie that time. I asked if he was a musician and yes.. I guessed it! He plays with his rock band in clubs all over the mid west and east coast. I gave him the name of a booking agent in Charlotte to call who is a friend. He seemed like a really nice guy and very professional so I took a chance. After all, his band has cut 3 CDs so I figured that SOMEONE must buy his music!

I settled in to a not so glamorous room. I guess I’ve gotten spoiled so when I see a standard room, I notice the difference right away. It’s clean, with one picture on the wall, a table chair and desk, 2 double beds and a TV. Oh.. there is one other chair in the corner. I do have a nice view of a pond I found out this morning, but other than that, it’s pretty dull. At least I have my computer. It was an expensive standard room too, I must say. I think I'll ask about the rooms in advance from now on. I feel I deserve an upgraded room because being on the road is gruelling and who wants a hard bed, a not so well lighted room and ugly bedspreads when they are away from home so much? I guess I don't, now that I'm used to something a little more plush. I'm not a "prima donna" because I love to rough it and go camping or hiking, or whatever, but I just don't want to come into a sub standard room on a tour like this. It's my time to unwind and recharge for the next appearance.

Now, it’s time to eat my breakfast that just arrived by a darling older gentleman, Paul, who called me “Love” and sounded like he was from Ireland. He was so chipper and in and out of here so quick and didn’t’ make me uncomfortable that I was in my PJ’s that I had to call the front desk and to the room service people and RAVE about how sweet he was! I told them I thought he should be at the front desk greeting customers! I’m going to write a note to recommend him to the corporation. I think I know talent when I see it and Paul has it!

Another adventure awaits! I’ll write about all of the interesting people I meet and how things are so be sure to stay tuned!

Until then, Have a Great Day! Mary

Day 2 & 3 of the Trend Reporter on the Road (Minneapolis and Dallas)

By now I’m thinking I kind of have a glamorous gig going. I’m getting the hang of the road and it’s not as taxing on me when I have my computer and can write and stay in touch with people on the road. I’m mostly in and out of TV stations and airports and hotels but I’ve decided I really like the types of people who travel. A lot of them are successful in business and are traveling to accomplish some sort of goal.

I woke up this morning (Tuesday) naturally on east coast time. It was 7am EST and 6am Central. I didn’t have much to pack and I had hung up my clothes to steam the night before so I didn’t even have to iron!

I got on the computer and checked a few emails and then did a bit of reading. My breakfast arrived by a jolly fellow, Paul, who I found out had had the same job for 20 years. He’s Australian by descent which I found out later. He’s also happily married to his bride of 21 years and loves hanging out with her. I was so impressed by him, I called the front desk and the room service people and put in a good word for him. He’s 71 years young and looks much younger because of his youthful attitude!

When I got downstairs to go to the station, I had about 15 minutes to get to the station. I had called to the front desk to call me a cab yet when I got there it was going to be another 10 minutes. I stressed over this one, knowing that I was supposed to arrive sooner than that to do some “teasers” (pre-shots) for the show.

There I stood, wondering who to call to let them know I’d be a few minutes late and a fellow business traveler said “good luck” to me on his way out. I said, “Oh thanks. I guess I’m just not used to not being able to get a cab by a hotel door.” I suppose I was just a bit deflated and felt defeated so he asked me how far I had to go? I said only 2 miles and he offered to drive me.

Now, I wouldn’t just get in any ol’ person’s car that I didn’t know but this gentleman was an instantly likeable person and looked like any dad living on my block at home. I quickly found out that Tom is a manager at a major corporation out of Atlanta and that he doesn’t enjoy the public speaking he has to do. I gave him a few PUBLIC SPEAKING tips in the car and then offered him a free 1 hour coaching session on the phone because he was so nice to help me. I explained to him that God often sends people to help me and he answered, “that’s the way He works, doesn’t he?” He seemed to like the trade so we shook hands and we were off!

I got to the station in plenty of time and did the gig. It went pretty well. I met some really nice people, like Molly, a publicist who has the best MOMMY gifts in the world. She has her son Timmy’s picture in bracelets, her purse, a watch and told me of all of the other personalized gifts she has done for her mom. Her client, Bea, was so terrific that they asked her to be a regular contributor to the show from there on out presenting organic food. Bea is on a national committee that presents to the USDA in DC about Organic Food.

After the gig was over, I went back to the hotel and had a chat with the nice guy at the front desk, Thom. I explained to him that I was a bit surprised by the sub par room I got and that I was a bit surprised at how long my husband had to wait on hold when he called and while everyone I met there was really great, I just felt they were understaffed and didn’t have the facility to attract a business traveler like me again.

What he did next was superb! He lowered my rate about $50 and gave me another warm cookie! He did whatever he could to keep my business, even though I am just one person. He seemed to really care about his company as a whole and the progress they were continuing to make. I definitely could see him being a manager with the confidence that he took action. He took the liberty of making a customer happy and that totally changed my mind about the experience in the hotel. That is the power of a great employee!

When I arrived to my gate at the airport, most of the passengers had already boarded. There were 3 men at the gate and I asked if I had time to run to the ladies room. I conveniently left my ticket with them and told them not to sell it while I was gone! When I got back, I noticed I was still seated in the 8th row. Knowing that these guys were all buddies and not overly stuffy, I mentioned I was a bit surprised that I hadn’t been bumped up to first class! I smiled. Then I asked if they’d be willing to since I’m on this super long trip and they had already told me that it wasn’t that full. That seemed to do the trick and the guy behind the computer redid my seat to 1F.

The biggest advantage I had today in first class wasn’t the glass of wine I got for free, but the person I met while deboarding the plane!

The gentleman behind me gave a big yawn so I said “sounds like it’s time for some coffee!” He laughed and agreed. We started talking for just a minute and continued the conversation about whatever we were saying and he mentioned he worked for the cell company that I’ve been TRYING to get a new contract with. I started in with my story of how my phone is horrible and that I can’t get anyone at the company to help me since I have a NYC phone number and live in Charlotte , etc.. Within 3 seconds he pulled out his card and offered to help. I looked at the card and it said PRESIDENT! WHAT? You are the PRESIDENT? He humbly mumbled, “well, yah, it’s no big deal!” So he offered to call someone in NY to help me get a new contract and a new phone. Can you imagine that? That is what I call a Blessing! And, another miracle I’m sure! That has been the biggest nuisance in my life lately.. trying to get a new phone and not being able to get on their special ID area on line to order one!

Right now I’m on the plane to Dallas and sitting next to a 32 year old tattooed rocker who is in a bit of a life crisis. He has played music for years but has no drive for it anymore. He seems so lost and so alone, and so broke as he admitted to me. I felt for him, yet he didn’t want to talk about it, so I clammed up and started writing. I never want to infringe on anyone’s time or coach when they aren’t ready or willing. It’s a waste of everyone’s time. Sometimes you have to get to the bottom of the barrel before you are willing to make a change and sometimes you have to fall onto your face a few times before you wake up and realize that everything takes work and sacrifice and that things don’t come easy. What a difference between a successful person’s attitude and a person who floats through life waiting for life to happen.

I don’t want to be a floater. I want to be a creator. My husband Sway is also a person who takes action and I’m so glad he also supports me. It’s a sacrifice for me to be on the road like this, but it’s worth while because we are both building a successful future.

But the highlight of my day so far? Talking with my son Jeremy, 5. We each kissed, Kissed, kissed !!! the phone and told each other that we love each other and miss each other. I’m giving him a present every single day of my trip. He got some INCREDIBLES PJ’s, a Spiderman punching bag, and today he got a G.I. Joe type fireman. That was a gift from my brother Terry and his wife Karalee. He’s happy to be getting gifts but he misses me. I also got a sweet note from Sway telling me how much they both miss me and that I’m the one that keeps the family calm and peaceful. I liked hearing that and I think that every wife needs to travel to allow her husband to see what she does for the family on a regular basis!

So, day 2 and 3 have been a success. I’ll be in Dallas by 8pm and the morning show is at 9am. Then, I’m going to Indianapolis, then Pheonix, and then Baltimore!

That catches you up on the trip so far… The wonderful life of a Traveling Trend Reporter! Bye for now! Mary

Monday, April 11, 2005

Can You be TOO Feminine?

I have a client, I’ll call Julie. She’s a beautiful and fit woman that I’m working with on the phone. She’s polite and sweet and extremely smart. I enjoy her immensely and she’s working with me to get better social skills and so she can work better with men.

I guess I’m pretty good at this. I grew up with a mom who had 8 brothers. My dad had 7 brothers and I have 2 brothers of my own. I have a sister too but when I was younger I was the girl in the neighborhood who would compete with the boys while playing kickball or pickle in the front yard. I liked to win. My sister was more into crafts and sewing. I picked those up later, but was never as talented as my sister in domestic things.

I was the one who had to learn how to be feminine. I was always “one of the boys” until college when I realized that I wasn’t being treated special by the guys at all. They were rough and tough around me and didn’t hesitate to talk down to me either. I remember once in college I felt I’d had enough. I was a freshman and hanging out with the football players. They all liked hanging with me but when it came time to ask the girls out for a party, I was the one stuck at home. I decided to change that in the blink of an eye.

I disappeared.

I no longer went to the cafeteria to just hang out every night. I ate at another location and basically didn’t reappear for another month. When I finally decided to make an appearance.. I was a bit coy about where I’d been. I had lost a few lbs but didn’t show up in sweats any more and didn’t laugh quite as loud as before. Guess what happened? They all asked me out!!!

I finally realized that to be treated like a QUEEN, you have to BE A QUEEN!!! It was a lesson I never forgot and it’s allowed me to be treated well in business and my personal life my whole adulthood. I demand to be treated well. I leave if I’m not.

So, MY lesson was how NOT to be ONE of the boys!!! The lesson my CLIENT is learning is to BE one of the guys!

First of all, what are the advantages of being a woman in business who can ‘yuck it up with the guys?” Well, there are times where she’s going to be their boss. She’s going to be the one bearing bad news, or the one praising them, or the one selling to them. If she feels comfortable and can be their friend, then there won’t be the uncomfortable tension that sometimes happens between men and women in business.

Many women who didn’t have the advantage of growing up with brothers or being an athlete view men as a mystery. They haven’t figured out how to talk with them (to the point and share INFORMATION, not STORIES ) and they haven’t learned how to be treated well by them. (confront them for bad behavior or dump them!)

But how can a woman, who is used to being so feminine get to the point where she is comfortable with the men?

I read a passage from a great book to my client today. It’s from “Women who Run with the Wolves” by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.

“Within every woman there is a wild and natural creature, a powerful force, filled with good instincts, passionate creativity, and ageless knowing. Her name is Wild Woman, but she is an endangered species. Though the gifts of wildish nature come to us at birth, society’s attempt to “civilize” us into rigid roles has plundered this treasure, and muffled the deep, life-giving messages of our own souls. Without Wild Woman, we become over-domesticated, fearful, uncreative, trapped.”

YES!! This is what she needed to hear. I actually told her she could try being more MASCULINE. I challenged her to go to a few rodeos, whoop it up with some cowboys who ride bulls, go to a few sports games and sit with the rowdy folks, wear jeans, drink beer, go camping, get her hands dirty, take pottery lessons, and do some loud belly laughing!

She was amazed! No one had EVER told her that she could try being more MASCULINE in order to get along better with men. I assured her that there would be NO way that she’d turn into a man eating monster but that she’d just get the “feel” for what its like to be more comfortable with that wild part of her nature that she wanted to nurture.

She loved it. I did too. It’s something I’d never really coached on but it was definitely a lesson that I’d like to give to women who are too stuffy, too conservative, too suppressed, too domesticated or TOO FEMININE.

Being feminine lady is a wonderful thing…. but abandoning your ‘masculine side’ will make you slightly uncomfortable and fearful in the presence of others. While men will appreciate your sophistication at a dinner party, they may avoid you while cutting lose. We’ve all heard how much business is done on the golf course. That’s because people do business when they feel comfortable with others.

So ask yourself.. are you comfortable with others in every situation? If not, then push yourself to be in situations that potentially make you uncomfortable. When you can be comfortable with being uncomfortable, you are on your way to making others comfortable too.

And that is the BEST trait of a sophisticated lady!

Friday, April 08, 2005


Fess up! Tell the truth!!! You’re a Queen Bee!!!

Okay.. maybe not all of the time.. but some of the times! Think about where you DOMINATE. Where do you rule the roost? Where are you most confident? Where can someone NOT trip you up!!!???

What? You’re a man? Okay.. you can call yourself A BULL for all I care.. but you’re still a QUEEN BEE!!!

I think it’s cute.. but it’s also important to know WHO is the QUEEN BEE WHERE!!!

I think of myself as a Queen Bee! Many places I go, I tend to be noticed. I gravitate towards the people who manage or run the show. I will meet them if I want or need to. I’m not always compelled to, but I do like knowing WHO is the QUEEN BEE wherever I go.. just in case I NEED to know! So I realize that even though I’m the QUEEN BEE in MY world.. wherever I go, there are OTHER QUEEN BEES that I have to get to know!

Think about it. If you are in a grocery store like I was recently and your birthday cake that you ordered and that you were to pick up at 3:00 was never made, would you sit and argue with the baker or would you go to the management of the store? I said to the cake decorator, “I’m sure there has been some mess up.. Let me go get some help”. The manager quickly got the right person to decorate a cake and it was ready for me in 20 minutes!!! That was INCREDIBLE.. especially since it was decorated as THE INCREDIBLES!

What about at the office? Do you know who the queen bee is? It’s not always the Owner or the manager you know! It very well may be the receptionist! I once knew a receptionist who worked on Capital Hill for major players. She was the lowest paid person in the whole office, but yet, if you called the office playing a personal call to someone there, she treated the caller rude. She didn’t like personal calls coming into the office. She was protecting her boss and subtly making everyone who called in for personal calls VERY uncomfortable. She was the one that you learned to walk on egg shells around.

When I finally learned that SHE was the QUEEN BEE of that SENATE OFFICE on Capital Hill, I learned how to TREAT the Queen Bee!!! I’d be HAPPY to talk with her! I’d ask her about her Baseball playing son and her latest dish that she cooked for her family. Boy, did I win HER over! I never got treated ill again!!!

Today I was coaching a client who I encouraged to find out WHO the QUEEN BEE was in the office that she was trying to secure as a client. She’s trying to get a consulting gig with a male client which isn’t as hard for a woman sales pro as it is for a man. (Given all things equal of course! )

She knew that there were a few other people making decisions along the way. There is another female in the office that brought her in initially. GOOD. That’s possibly the QUEEN BEE. She is now IN at the office.

But the OTHER QUEEN BEE to remember is the client’s wife!!! NEVER forget the WIFE or the spouse at home!

There are two sides to this client.
1. His professionalism at work and the job at hand. My client and I discussed the need for her to be the MOST professional in her presentation by hiring an outside company to prepare her presentation. She needs to blow them away in her presentation. The QUEEN BEE at the office needs to know that every new vendor views their company with the utmost amount of respect.

2. This client lives with a QUEEN BEE at home! Part of my client’s goal is to become FRIENDS with her future client. That includes knowing about his family and tapping into the fact that on any given day he might be more stressed than other days. Being able to ask the client if he is okay, or mentioning the fact that he sounds busy is a great sign that the sales person CARES for the customer.. and NOT just the COMMISSION. It’s a GREAT way to become friends with a client. Being friendly and knowing their emotional pulse while doing business is a DEFINITE advantage for a woman. But there needs to be a fine line.

So, we discussed today that my client send her hopeful client a BIG basket for the family on his way out of town. He’s going on vacation and we discussed that she could make a THEME basket centered around the families’ vacation. This works like a charm.. and the QUEEN BEE at home takes note. She was included!

Finding the QUEEN BEE sometimes takes times. Its not always the Top person in the office.. but it’s usually the person with the MOST influence.. EMOTIONALLY. It’s the person that is protective and loyal and will completely RAGE Against anyone who dares get too close.

Every subculture has one! On the TODAY show, it’s Katie! (Try tripping HER up and see how you get crucified!) In our homes, it’s often our KIDS. At the office.. it’s usually a receptionist or the second in command.

To work effectively with Queen Bees: A) Get to KNOW the Queen Bee. B)Find their buttons and work within those boundaries. 3) Don’t go around the Queen Bee’s back without either the knowledge or asking for the HELP of the QUEEN BEE. 4)If you trip up, apologize and move on.

If you ARE the QUEEN BEE: A. Be willing to help everyone in your domain. B. Don’t take yourself TOO seriously . C. Realize it’s not ALL about you everywhere else you go. D. Enjoy the special treatment when you get it!

It’s fun to be the QUEEN BEE when you get treated special .. but it’s not so much fun when you TRY to be the QUEEN BEE in someone elses’ territory.. But ahhhh.. that’s another blog in itself!!!

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Angels on My Path

I'm leaving on a TV tour in a few weeks. I'm going to be on the road. This is my second one and I'll visit TV news stations all over the country talking about the HOTTEST Baby shower gifts for the season. Let me tell you about my last tour and the miracle that happened:

I knew that it was going to be a long trip, in and out of airports every single day and facing many people during the flu season. I also knew I’d be away from my husband and son and it was going to be draining.

So, I prayed that God would send me angels along my trip.

Lo and behold, I got my prayer answered in a very bizarre way! It was through my taxi cab drivers and my old and new friends along the way. Here are the names of the people who taxied me around:








ANGEL – SERIOUSLY.. two separate men named Angel


Elisabeth (Lisa)



David and

DIANE CROSS! Seriously.. my new super cool friend Diane Cross is from Detroit and worked at the FOX station! (Die On Cross= guess who? .. Jesus! )

At each stop, I called my husband and I called the publicist who booked me and told them the names of my cab drivers. We were all getting a kick out of it. There were a few other names thrown in there like Craig or foreign names I cant’ pronounce, but the bulk of them came from the old and new testament. I firmly believed that an angel nudged the people along to be there when I called or to offer to help me out. They made my trip completely easy and I was confident that I was being well taken care of.

And now I KNOW angels exist!!!

If any of YOU have an angel story.. I'd love to hear it!!!

That's great. I've had similar experiences while travelling: God sending saints my way as cab drivers, companions, lodge keepers, etc. . I pray He gives you many during this next trip.
Garrett, VA

Yes... I too believe Angels exist - what a sweet story - have another great round and look forward to seeing you sometime before 2035 (lol) !!!
Best regards,
Jordyn, NYC

Hey Mary!
I think that's so wild about the cab drivers!!!
Can't wait to hear about the appearances. Michelle, NJ

Too Funny!!! I'm bumming that I'll miss seeing you on one of the channels in NYC but I'm sure they will hear of your segment and want to book you soon. Make sure you keep tapes so we can see them!!!
Lot's of love,
Geof... just another way of spelling Angel :)

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

American Idol

I don’t know about your family, but my family is addicted to American Idol.

It’s become similar to a family who has to cheer for their favorite sports team. We all plan our schedules around what time the show starts and whether or not we have enough blank tapes to tape it if we are going to be out for the evening.

We even know which friends of ours also like the show and we sometimes call and exchange our opinions about the contestants. When we were in FL with my family, we raced over to my brother’s house to watch the show with their family. My parents were watching something else and we COULDN”T miss the show!

I especially love the judges. I like the mix of them and how they all have their own personalities when critiquing the contestants. I like it that Paula is always a motivator and that Randy struggles for words. He’s very sensory though and knows what he likes. I also love the comments that Simon makes and the fact that he is SO English!

Right now, I have some very strong opinions about the contestants. I like the ones who are true to themselves. I like the ones who don’t have to try too hard. And I like the ones who know who they are.

Kind of like in real life.

My favorite contestant from day one has been Carrie Underwood. She’s beautiful without trying too hard and she’s sweet and pure. She’s got an unbelievable voice and I love the country sound without the twang. Tonight she looked like she was staring in a “soap commercial” from the 1950’s according to Simon. I thought that was dead on!

I think Constintine tries to hard. Even though Paula is falling in love with him and Simon gave him a 9 for his “pout” tonight, I want to shake him when he looks lovingly in the camera like he’s trying to seduce someone. He’s sending out these I’m HOT under the covers look and trying to get the young girls gushing over him. What it appears to me is that he’s trying TOO hard to be sexy and that’s a negative. Once when he sang a David Cassidy song, Paula made the comment that he was trying to have fun and playful with the song. Instead of saying that he just wanted to TRY it to see if he could update it, he went along exactly with Paula and said he was playing a joke.

OH PLEASE! Have a backbone!

I really like Bo Bice even though I’m not a rock fan. He’s authentic and fun.

And Anthony! What a voice and what a doll. He’s a bit on the sweet side but he’ll have a good career as a musician somewhere. His voice is really good. Simon slams him every time but I really love his voice. Nadia is talented and pretty and memorable. Vonzelle, while a wonderful singer just doesn’t have that IT factor in my opinion. She is very sweet, but I don’t feel she gives of herself in her performances.

Scott is going to get the boot soon I think. He has had a “checkered past” and although he is now living his dream and has had a hard life .. he still has a shaky voice in many of his performances. And I don’t know why, but Nikko drives me nuts. I don’t like his glasses or something. He just seems a bit “off” to me. I don’t feel like I can trust him.

I really love Anwar Robinson. Finally tonight he swung his beautiful dread locks around and got into the music. I want him to get more passionate on stage and really go for it. His voice is gorgeous, but he seems so shy on stage and I really want him to just loosen up and have fun!

Simon was right about Jessica. He said she didn’t have a “likeability” factor. I wish I could have worked with her. I would have helped her determine where her spark was and present that to the world. She just was like a sweet puppy. She’d be run over in the music world without the gumption to stand up for herself.

I love the story about Clay Aiken. Simon wanted him to name his first album CLAY AIKEN but Clay didn’t want to. Simon tried to force him to but Clay didn’t want his name on an album that wasn’t his music. He had the guts to stand up to his producer and named it what he wanted to which was Measure of a Man. With or without his name attached to it, Clay had the innocence that America loves, with the talent and the drive to back it up. He was a star and he knew it. Even before he got second place in the show.

I was sure that Michalia (spelling? ) would be knocked out of the competition early. Her voice couldn’t’ hold a candle to the other women. But her personality is completely over the top and completely unique. I am guessing that MANY people didn’t like her. But I predict that she will have a very long career as an actor. She’ll probably get her own sit com. That girl is hysterical! She’s loud! She’s abrasive! She’s arrogant! But she is funny! She’ll appeal to a certain type of older group. And she’ll appeal to people to are creative and free to be outrageous themselves. She’s different, and different IS what stands out.

So many people have NO idea who they are. They go through their whole life willing to be whoever other people want them to be. They mold to the times. They change with the wind. They seem a bit spineless at times although they may possess great skill or talent or intelligence.

I believe that this is one of the hardest things to know about yourself is WHO you really are. It’s more than your morals, your values and your beliefs. It’s how you LIVE your life every day. It’s whether you walk the talk. Do you keep to your word. Do you try your very best in your job and in your life. Do you suffer in silence or do you let the whole world know?

I find that knowing that each of us was created by God for a reason helps. I find that remembering that the journey isn’t a destination but that the lessons along the way will shape and mold us into the person we are meant to become.

I just hope we enjoy the journey! If not, we can always watch the American Idols enjoying theirs.

It’s Good to Know Your Banker

Recently my bank opened a new branch that is a few miles away from my house. I used to visit the local branch that was located in the grocery store and enjoyed seeing the ladies on a weekly basis who were the tellers.

Since the store branch closed, I’m forced to travel a few miles more down the road to the new beautiful building that also offers drive through service. I’ve been getting used to that recently and so only spied at the tellers through the camera lens.

I’ve since discovered that it’s worth it to go inside the bank and get to know the tellers. And I also learned that it’s good to know the managers!

On one particular day I deposited money into the wrong account. I have a few accounts.. for business and/or personal, along with my husband's, his business and our son; and there was a deposit for the wrong account. It can cause problems when trying to do taxes and keeping everything in the right order.

She discovered the mistake and attributed it to me. I had asked the teller to deposit into an account without knowing the right account number at the time. Nevertheless, because of the confusion, there was definitely reason to believe that the teller might also be at fault.

After explaining that my side of the story and also my long history with the bank, this nice woman took the time to rearrange everything in my accounts. It did take some time but we got it straight. I was very grateful.

Today when I went into the bank, we spoke socially for the first time. We got to know one another and I found her to be such an interesting woman. She’s Spanish and from Peru. She’s also traveled all over the world and went to college in London. I enjoyed our conversation immensely and will look forward to seeing her again.

I’m happy I like my banker. And I’m happy she likes me. Why? Because she said some magic words to me that I’ll hold onto:

“We’ll take care of you Mary”.

Why is that important? It’s important because as an entrepreneur there are favors that I need. Checks to not be held or times when I might ask them to stay open a few minutes late so I can get there on time before they close to deposit a check. I’ve had times where I’ve been on the road and I needed something special from my banker and it’s always easier when they know you versus just being a voice over the phone.

I’ll take care of them too. I’ve brought them presents before when they did favors for me, and I’ll do it again. I want to have a great relationship with them so they’ll feel good about taking care of me, their customer.

How about you? Are you friends with the people who can help you at some point? Are you extra courteous to them or treat them like a friend? Do you know where they are from and a little about their family? Do you know their interests and what makes them tick?

It might be worth finding out so if and when the day comes that you need a special favor, they’ll be happy to do it instead of resentful.

It just takes a few minutes of your time. But it could save you hours later.

Now THAT is what I call: A Good Investment!

The Coffee Mugs

As you know I just got back from a week in Florida. We stayed with my parents outside of Orlando Florida and mostly just hung around with the family and friends. We did a few things like celebrate my mom’s birthday with a surprise party; go to Spring Training and Sea world. I also saw a good friend and her kids which was fun too.

But the highlight of the trip for me was getting the old blue mugs.

I just can hear you asking, what do a couple of blue mugs have to do with a spring break trip to Florida?

Well, let me share the story with you.

My mom is the type of mom that all of the kids in the neighborhood loved. She’s the one who would take the neighbors to the emergency room when they cracked open their head or needed stitches. She’s the one that my girl friends would come to talk to when they have boyfriend problems. And she’s the one that people always wanted to have coffee with just to catch up.

As a kid, it was always a special time when my mom would say to one of us, “Let’s go for coffee”. What that REALLY meant was that she would get coffee, and we’d get to spend some alone time with her and get a piece of pie or something sweet. It really made us feel special to get that special treat and attention from her, which wasn’t easy because she was raising 4 kids and was the neighborhood mom!

Coffee is a big tradition in my family. When I go home, my sister will come over and have coffee with us and also my mom will make it every morning and bring it to us wherever we are in the house. In my parents’ house, there have always been these blue Asian type mugs. They’re kind of big and clunky and just the perfect type for a good cup of strong coffee. I always use those mugs whenever possible because it feels like home.

When my mom’s siblings come from Oregon a few years back, everyone commented on the mugs. They all noticed that they were the same type that THEIR mother used when they all grew up. So mom’s brothers and sisters all felt their own mom’s presence because of the mugs. How cool.

My brother Terry is a big “EBay” guy. He buys and sells all the time and is quite a collector of really cool items. I asked Terry to look for some of those mugs for me on the computer and he said he didn’t have to. He already had some.

I could feel the anticipation rising… when he told me that I could have them! He explained that they were wrapped up in his cupboard and that he and his wife never drink coffee or anything out of mugs.

He brought them over later that day and I opened the box. There were two perfectly identical blue Asian coffee mugs just like my moms. And just like my grandmothers. And quite possibly just like my great grandmother’s. There lying before me was a piece of history and of home, and of fond memories.

Now I want my family to grow up with the blue coffee mugs. I want them to feel the comfort of home and of good times. I want them to feel the connection with family around the table and of great conversation. I want them to know that the mugs represent a lot more than just a good cup of coffee. They represent a life of love, family and friends.

They say that the more you become like yourself, the more you revert back to the comfort of your families. Feeling a connection to others seems to be something that everyone wants to achieve. Perhaps part of that longing can be to more simple days; days that were spent without a worry in the world.

How do we get there? Perhaps it’s partly found in items like the mugs. Bringing them into your life can alter your attitude, calm you down and bring a sense of good times and the good life.

You can get all of that from a coffee mug?

You bet! But just don’t forget the coffee!

Monday, April 04, 2005


Next time you are dreaming of taking that perfect Florida Spring break. THINK AGAIN!

My family and I just got back from a glorious week in Sunny Florida. The weather was beautiful, the people were friendly and the last preseason spring training baseball game between Detroit and the NY Yankees was a blast (did you see me on ESPN? ) but the CROWDS?


I think we spent about 4 extra hours in the car on the way back and forth each way. The stop and go traffic made my son Jeremy, 5, sick in the car. Twice! We witnessed several accidents and even a bus that completely burned to a crisp on the side of the road with all of the people standing nearby watching all of their possessions being burned up.

Okay, so we planned it like everyone else on the east coast. We left on the Friday before Easter and came back the following Saturday. We took a detour to Atlanta to see friends on the way home and went through miles and miles of two lane stretches of highway that made the crowds worse. The one good thing was that the Florida tolls let us fly by without paying since the crowds were so horrible. I guess you’d NEVER see that in NY or NJ. They’d make you wait for the 3-4 hours that it’d take to pay your toll.

We did visit Sea World one day. We got there by 11am and the crowds were starting to stream in. By the time we left, approx. 5PM, the wait for all of the attractions were over an hour. The lines to buy food were not much shorter and just walking from showcase to showcase was a very deliberate act. Shamu was in rare form though and the seals were spectacular. We had a wonderful time and it’s worth the trip. I could watch those animals every day and always get a smile on my face. They are beautiful and I sometimes think I missed my calling of working with animals for a living!

Sea World also has a great hospitality tent sponsored by Amheiser Busch. Each person over the age of 18 gets to try 2 different beers of their choice. That makes the waiting a little bit more tolerable even in the Florida sun. And of course, it puts everyone in a good mood!

Besides going to my favorite theme park, Sea World, we did enjoy seeing the baseball spring training with all of the Yankees. I mean, there were TONS of Yankees. Not only from NY either! Because all of the teams were playing, there were people from every state and as far away as Canada who camped out for the whole event. We had great seats on the grass behind the third base foul line. Jeremy got to throw his baseball around with tons of other kids and Sway and I hung out with our friends Rob and Joy and eat hot dogs and drink beer. Everyone at the game was in a great mood and even sang “Take me out to the Ball game” together. Then everyone in the stands roared and cheered when the announcer said that the weather in both cities represented (Detroit and NY) were in the 40’s, but we were all enjoying 82 degree Sunny Florida Weather!

At one point at the game when I learned we were on ESPN I called my mom and had her turn on the TV to see the game. Literally, within 2 minutes, the ball was hit RIGHT in my direction and landed about 1 foot in front of where I was sitting. I ran to the ball and waved to my mom who was watching me at that very moment on live TV. I got to shout: HI MOM and I knew she was watching. It all happened so fast but it was perfect timing!

Ahhhhhhh! Spring Training! Sea World! They were worth doing every year.

But lets please not forget, if you ARE going to go to Florida during Spring Break, to see Mickey, Shamu, or any of the other many theme parks or Spring Training, Get YOUR TIMING RIGHT.

Travel before or after the time everyone else does. Remember that if you DO have to travel during those times because of school vacation schedules, then take frequent breaks, bring a DVD player and GREAT movies. Also, don’t forget the healthy food in the car and sandwiches for the ride too.

If you do want to hit the theme parks, then plan on standing in line.. A LOT. Bring LOTS of sun tan screen and bring everyone a hat to wear. (You have NO idea how many people were buying hats to protect themselves from the sun!) Bring a lot of water and keep a cooler in the car full of ice and drinks at all times. You’ll go broke buying water at the theme parks!

And most of all, if you want to visit Florida during spring break; BRING YOUR MANNERS… and DRIVE SAFELY. No amount of traffic is enough to make a person get careless on the road and if you can’t be PATIENT and take the crowds all in stride, then STAY HOME!