Admitting you need help…

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Sometimes you just need to ask for help.  But, sometimes, it can be difficult to admit you can’t do everything on your own.

About 1 year ago, when I decided to start my own business, I  knew I needed a website.  So, I set about teaching myself how to build one.

I began by using GoDaddy’s Website Builder – which I still highly recommend for beginners, such as myself.  What you give up in flexibility, you gain in ease of use.  That website served me for a short while, but once I needed more, I knew I had to push my knowledge and build a website in WordPress.  So, a few months later, I set out to teach myself WordPress.

In today’s world, there is no shortage of Youtube videos on how to learn anything – from music lessons to haircutting lessons to how to raise farm animals, and WordPress is one of the most popular subject matters on the internet.  There are literally thousands of WordPress videos on YouTube.  So, I watched  many of them, took notes, and built myself a website.  And, it was “okay”, but not great.  Wordpress is complex – and for someone that does not do it every day, it is a challenge.  So, after months of having my “okay” website, I finally decided I needed help.

I put my job request in Elance ( is a great freelance marketplace – highly recommend it!) and described the task –  giving some examples of websites I admired.  I also included in the job description that I wanted the chosen person to spend time giving me lessons on my WordPress site.  I received 20 bids on my job within a few days – the prices ranged from $300 to $957.  The website designers/coders were from all over – Pakistan, Kenya, England, Panama, and the U.S. (By the way, you can limit the geography for bids if you so choose).

The person I hired, Mike (from Florida), spent about 5 days on an off with me to create my new and improved website.  He also spent hours and hours on the phone with me, patiently teaching me various aspects of what he was doing.  For some of the changes, he walked me through how to do it so I could more easily do it myself going forward.

Having a coach and/or getting the training you need is the best way to improve yourself.  All great athletes know  the importance coaching has had in their achievements.  I am so glad I finally pulled the trigger – my website is now much improved and I learned so much in the process. And, I now know a great guy who is an expert at WordPress – so I know it will not be the last time I will be speaking with Mike from Florida!

So, how do you find a great teacher or coach?  Look for someone you know personally and admire, or someone who has great references and/or online reviews.  These days, with so much social proof online, it is easier than it ever has been to find the help you need.


I Admit It – I Love Browsing Through Books

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“Friends” groups exist across the US, supporting community institutions, such as libraries.  I am on the Board of Trustees of the Friends of the Danbury Library, my local Connecticut library and 0ur mission, at the Friends of the Danbury Library,  is to support the library through fundraising.  We then manage the allocation of our donated funds to the library’s needs and dreams.

I joined the Board several years ago for the simple reason that I love books.  Reading is my favorite past time – there is not a day that goes by without me doing at least some reading.  And, I love to browse through shelves and stacks of books, picking them up, looking at the covers, at the story synopses, at the author bios, and finding books that look interesting.  For example, while recently perusing at our annual fundraising book sale, I picked up the book “The Elegance of the Hedgehog”  (a book I had never before head of) by Muriel Barbery;  It turned out to be a true gem of a book – a touching story with a mix of philosophy and human connection.

Our local Borders Bookstore closed several years ago and the huge building still sits empty – a ghost of what it once was.  With so many bookstores closing due to the competition of online book reading and online book purchasing, there are not many places left where you can go be “touchy feely” with real in-the-flesh books.   So, with bookstores on the decline, what is to become of our community libraries?

Brian Kenney wrote an interesting blog about the future of libraries.  It gives you pause to think about what libraries will need to do to remain relevant in today’s online world.


Non-Verbal Communication

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Did you know that 92% of communication is non-verbal?   It almost makes you question why we bother to speak at all?

But, our words and language really are essential for effective communication.

This Monday, I was returning from a 4-day business trip and was waiting for a shuttle van at JFK airport in NYC to take me back to my home to Connecticut.  There was a sweet-looking elderly fragile-looking woman waiting to be picked up.

She, through gestures, offered me a seat beside her.  It was soon clear that she only spoke French, and alas, I speak none.  While we made eye contact and smiled at each other, I felt at a loss that I could not speak with her.

One of the transportation agents nearby came to realize, by speaking with her, that she had been waiting there a very long time and she had lost the information specifying her pick-up details.  Luckily, the agent was French-speaking, from Haiti, and was helping her determine what her next steps would be.   I felt helpless that I could not even commiserate with her due to lack of my knowledge of French and her knowledge of English.

In September, I traveled to Germany, Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic.  In all of those countries, we felt so grateful that most people in Europe know English, because our knowledge of those languages was limited to the German phrases of Guten Tag (Good day), Guten Abend (Good evening),  and a few other short phrases we were able to learn prior to the trip.  Things as simple as a menu are challenging if not impossible  to decipher without some knowledge of the language.

While non-verbal communication like gestures and facial expression are incredibly important, it is necessary, but not sufficient to communicate effectively.  Thank goodness for verbal communication.

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My Vegetable Garden

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I have never planted a vegetable garden before.  After all, I grew up in an apartment in Brooklyn, NY, and there were not lots of garden growers around.  I have always gotten my vegetables from the grocery store – on a rare occasion, from a farmer’s market.  But, where I live now,  in Danbury, Ct, many folks have gardens.  But, gardens take time, and I have never had time.  I have always had a high stress job. I used to leave my house at 7:15 AM and get home about 7:00 PM.  Who had time to garden?

But, at the end of 2012, I left my high stress job, so I thought “this is the year I will have a garden”.  My awesome husband built me four 4ft x 4ft raised garden beds and helped me get all of the planting soil into it.  I planted.  I planted broccoli, peas, radishes, carrots, green onions, zuchini, cucumbers, and pumpkins – all from seeds.  I planted 3 tomato plants and basil plants.  And then, I waited.  And, I waited.

I was pretty sure that I was going to have nothing – “maybe you needed to be raised growing things”, I thought.  “Maybe there is a trick”, but then, I saw some hope. The radishes started sprouting.  Then, I waited some more, and the carrots and peas started sprouting.  Then, I actually read the back of the seed packets and saw that they tell you how long germination and harvest takes for each plant.  Who knew?

Now, the garden is going a bit wild.  The  I have about 25 green tomatoes that are growing bigger every day.  I have pea pods hanging, and have used many in salads already.  We have more radishes than we can eat.  I have fresh basil whenever I need it.  The rest, I am still waiting on, but the leaves are all giant and lush.

So, why am I writing about my garden?  It is this.  Gardens are a bit like life. You need to do the work and then you may need to wait a while until you see results.   When you do see results, it may be very little, but you need to keep on doing the work, and once momentum kicks in – you get more and more results.  And, lots of vegetables.