Apple Seed

I take full responsibility for the fact that my kids are late adopters of technology.  And while I’d like to say this is because I’d rather them play real sports than wave wands in front of a television screen, the truth is it’s because I’m cheap.

I’ve always been tight with a dollar but when I quit my corporate job the household budget came under new scrutiny and my frugal tendencies kicked into full bloom.  I became the electricity police, trailing behind family members unplugging devices and turning off lights.  I began to consider whether expiry dates might be a suggestion rather than a rule.  And I made every effort to ensure that my kids knew the full cost of things.

“Why can’t we have a pool?” they asked.

“We could have a pool, but Mommy would have to go back to work in order to pay for it.”

Today, Jack and Taylor stroll home after school with their friends, enjoy a homemade snack and plop down in front of the television.  Comparing this to the alternative of a YMCA after school program where chaotic groups of ill-behaved kids amuse themselves until their work-weary parents arrive to pick them up, my point was crystal clear.  A pool wasn’t worth the price.

To drive home the point that life’s extras need to be earned, Craig and I insist that Jack and Taylor save their allowance to purchase their own big ticket items.  Jack eventually saved enough to buy an iPod, and thanks to an infusion of cash a couple of Christmases ago, Taylor was able to purchase her first Lululemon sweater.  But something as expensive as an iPad was out of reach.

That is, until one day a leaflet fluttered out of our community newspaper advertising jobs for carriers in our area.

For a whole year, every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Taylor lugged bundles of newspaper and flyers from the base of our driveway into the house, where she assembled them.  Inky fingerprints dotted our foyer walls and elastics found their way everywhere.  Through all sorts of weather she dutifully delivered papers to 51 houses in our neighbourhood, encountering yappy dogs, terror-inducing bees and a cranky old man who declared, “This rag isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on!”

But when the iPad3 was released this spring, she was finally ready to purchase.  It was a proud day for all of us.  In short order, Taylor accumulated a stunning library of music, photos and unflattering video clips of her family and friends, and mastered a plethora of apps.  She was rarely without her iPad by her side.  It came to Jack’s hockey games.  It went on sleepovers.  And on a family camping trip this summer, she even took it to the beach.

But it’s risky to take a fragile device everywhere you go.  A couple of weeks ago, in a split second of carelessness, Taylor leaned on her precious iPad and sent a spiderweb of cracks across the screen.  She was furious with herself.  Horrified.  And grief stricken.

The web is full of tales of woe from iPad owners who have experienced similar mishaps, and Taylor and I were pleased to discover that many had received remarkable service and sympathy at their local Apple store.  Some even claimed that Apple had replaced their device for free.  Well, what could be more sympathetic than a 12 year old girl who saved for a year to purchase her own iPad, only to have it meet this untimely demise?

So off we went to our nearest Apple store, conveniently located 35km away, to plead our case.

The store’s sleek design dazzled us, as did the table groups of Apple devotees raptly absorbing information from user tutorials.  Employees strode purposefully past us, and Taylor and I paused for a moment in the midst of all this activity wondering what we should do.   Was there some sort of secret signal we were supposed to make to indicate that we needed service?

We cautiously approached a rectangular table at the back of the store where a number of employees were talking to each other.  After some time, I found a break in their conversation and interjected.

“I’m wondering if someone can help me.”

“Do you have an appointment?”


It had never crossed my mind that I’d need an appointment to ask a question in a retail store.

“I really just wanted to speak to someone about my daughter’s iPad.  She cracked the screen the other day.”

“You need to see someone at the Genius Bar about that.  We don’t have any appointments today but I could fit you in tomorrow afternoon.”

Genius Bar?  Really?  I mean, I know Steve Jobs was really full of himself but isn’t it a bit of a stretch to start calling the guys who work here geniuses?  What do they make; maybe $15 an hour?  I began to wonder if I might be on some kind of candid camera show.

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t aware I’d need an appointment… and we’ve traveled a bit of a distance to get here.  We can’t come back tomorrow afternoon; my daughter will be in school.”

“You could try the Burlington store.”

“I guess I don’t understand why someone who is here right now can’t answer our question.”

With a heavy sigh, he turned to one of three employees next to him, who were leaning idly against the table.  “Can you deal with these people?”

In the end, I suppose we got the information we needed.  No free replacement.  No interest in hearing our tale of woe.  No sympathy for the little girl who saved for a year, only to see the fruits of her labour damaged in a split second of poor judgement.

The cost of repair was close to the cost of a new iPad, and came with a stern warning that we really should purchase AppleCare to protect us from such mishaps, and a ‘tut tut’ that we didn’t do so the first time around.  The sad fact was that Taylor didn’t have enough money in her bank account to pay for the repair that Apple offered, never mind the extra cost of AppleCare.

The whole experience left us feeling somewhat sour.

A non-Apple repair shop is a less expensive option that Taylor has enough money for today, but with a bit of time to think it over she’s not sure it’s worth it.  Right now she’s thinking she’ll keep her money in the bank and work around the cracked screen.

My tree.  My little apple.


Mourning the Loss of a Canadian Holiday Tradition

I was never much of a coffee drinker.  Sure, I’d order a coffee with dessert in a restaurant from time to time, but for many years my morning, afternoon and evening ritual was diet Coke.  During university I’d buy it at Valdi’s discount grocery store, in huge, flat trays of 24 cans that slipped easily under my bed for safekeeping.  But in my thirties when I became pregnant for the first time, I kicked my diet Coke habit.  I’d heard that artificial sweetener was a no-no for expectant Moms and so, along with alcohol, soft cheeses and shellfish, I gave it up cold turkey.  The dull headache of withdrawal lasted a good couple of weeks but after that I felt better than ever, and so once Taylor was born, diet Coke found its proper place in my life as a ‘sometimes’ beverage.

The car became my best friend during those initial months as a first time Mom.  It was my ticket out of the dusty, new home wasteland where we lived, to greener pastures where I could be distracted from the all consuming worry of new parenthood.  Plus, the car provided a delightful side benefit in its ability to lull Taylor into a deep sleep.

It was during this time that I began to glide through the Tim Hortons drive thru on a regular basis.  I’d order a sugary sweet, double double and then drive to a park by the lake to take in the view, while Taylor snoozed away in her car seat and I enjoyed my coffee.  It was December, and the Tim Hortons holiday cup design was in circulation.  Maybe it was my still-unsettled hormones but I can remember looking fondly at the holiday images on the cup, and then in the rear view mirror at the fuzzy hat of my sleeping baby, and feeling choked up with the realization that Craig and I were now on our way to becoming one of those happy families on the cup, frolicking in the snow.

The following year when the holiday cups hit the market, all those warm feelings came flooding back.  By then Taylor was one, and was captivated by the many decorations that appeared with the season.  A sparkly tree in our hum-drum basement, elves with bells on their shoes at our local mall, and coffee cups with a pictures on them.

As the years went on, the Tim Hortons holiday cups became a clear sign that Christmas was coming.  Never mind the holiday items at Costco that appeared in October… the Tim’s cups signalled that Christmas was close!  They coincided with Santa appearing at the mall, our annual family photo session at Sears Portrait Studio and strings of colourful lights beginning to adorn the houses in our neighbourhood.  We called them ‘happy cups.’

We were disappointed the year Tim Hortons went for a low budget brown on brown design for the holidays; we called them ‘not so happy cups.’  But the year following we were delighted to see a return to full colour.

So for a couple of weeks now, I’ve been waiting with anticipation for the appearance of the holiday cups but day after day, I’ve been disappointed.  Santa has been at the mall for weeks, the holiday photo session is done and our outdoor lights have been long lit, but still no happy cup.

Online, the absence of the holiday cups is generating lively conversation everywhere from, to Barrie’s hit music station B101, and even the chat room on   Theories abound, including one that takes the disappearance of the cups as a signal that corporations are coming to realize that the holidays are politically incorrect.

Falling into the camp of ‘Diane has too much time on her hands,’ I resorted to calling the Tim Hortons head office last week to inquire about the cups.  After a lengthy process of making choices using my touchpad, I finally reached a friendly customer service representative named Chantal.

“Thank you for calling Tim Hortons, how can I help you?”

“Yes, I’m calling because I haven’t seen the holiday cups yet this year and I’m starting to get worried that they’re not coming.”

“Do you mean the china mugs?”

“No I mean the paper coffee cups.”

“Unfortunately this year our Latte promotion ran too close to the holiday season and so we were unable to run the holiday cups, but our china mugs are available for purchase.”

Gasp!  They’re not coming????  I could practically hear the Grinch cackling with delight in his icy, mountain cave.

Chantal couldn’t have been more sympathetic to the irrational trauma that this news caused me.  Her down to earth, warm and understanding approach was everything that I would have expected from my favourite Canadian corporate icon.  But there was no hiding from the fact that Tim Hortons chose commerce over tradition this year.  Someone in that sensible brick office building on Sinclair Road in Oakville, decided that it was more important to try to sell lattes this year than to reinforce the warm, family-first, community focused character of their brand.

It worries me that Tim Hortons may think their best defense against customers leaking over to Starbucks and the like, is to offer fancy drinks like lattes.  I love Tim Hortons because it isn’t fancy.  Like me… who is also, not fancy.  The Tim’s brand mirrors my values, with a focus on family, friends and community.    It’s a deep emotional connection that is nirvana for marketers.

I asked Chantal if she knew how long the holiday cups had been running at Tim Hortons.  She said she didn’t but that she would get back to me.  A few days ago she called to tell me that she didn’t have an answer but was working on it, and wanted me to know that she hadn’t forgotten about me.  Chantal gets it.

Camping is Like a Box of Chocolates

You never know what you’re going to get.  And that’s some of the attraction.

On one trip last summer, the weather was barely warm enough for the kids to swim.  But we made the best of it by going for a long hike in the afternoon.  The forecast low was 5oC so we warmed ourselves by the fire and bundled up before bed.  Jammies first, pants on top, socks and an extra sweater all went on before we tucked inside our sleeping bags.  While Jack and Taylor enjoyed brand new Coleman sleeping bags, Craig and I zipped together our 30+year old singles and cuddled together for warmth.

Partway through the night my bladder demanded a trip to the washroom.  I clamoured out of the sleeping bag and across the jiggling air mattress in my bulky clothing.  As quietly as I could, I unzipped the tent, slipped on my shoes and trotted out into the darkness.  The moon was so incredibly bright in the crystal clear night sky that I scarcely needed my flashlight.  But MAN was it cold!  Is this what 5oC feels like???  It felt like the inside of our freezer!   By the time I got back my teeth were chattering and so I grabbed another pair of track pants before tumbling back onto the air mattress.  Both Taylor and Jack had their sleeping bags over their heads and Craig had the strings of his hoodie tied so tightly only his nose and mouth poked out.  I shivered for what seemed like hours and drifted on the edge of sleep until dawn.  In the morning we all complained about a terrible night’s sleep.

“My sleeping bag is horrible!” Jack said.

“Mine is too,” Taylor said.  “It wasn’t warm at all!”

“Are you kidding!?” Craig said.  “Those sleeping bags are brand new!  If you guys were cold, imagine Mommy and I in our sleeping bags from the ‘70’s.”

“But yours are thicker and fuzzy inside.  Ours are slippery and cold.”

“That’s called modern, space age, heat-retention technology.”

“Oh yeah?  Well if you think ours are so much better why don’t you trade us?”

“Sure!  But be careful with that offer… no tradebacks.”

That night we vowed to be better prepared.  Worried about the kids in our old fashioned
sleeping bags, I forced them into multiple pairs of pants, socks, shirts and sweaters with hoods.  We covered our sleeping bags with extra layers of beach towels and even the spare tablecloth.

Although the weather report had promised a low of only 8oC the second night was worse than the first.   Craig and I shivered inside the new Coleman bags.  We tucked our knees to our chest and ducked our heads underneath the top of the sleeping bags thinking that our breath might warm the inside.

“The kids seem to be sleeping ok,” I said.


“Do you think they’re ok?”


“How do we know that they haven’t slipped into a hypothermic coma?”

“No idea.”

Midway through the night my bladder called again, and I couldn’t resist the temptation to poke them each awake under the guise of checking to see if they had to go.

“I’m fine,” said Jack.

“I’m good,” said Taylor.

Turns out that the kids were right; those space age technology sleeping bags sucked!  Jack and Taylor had slept soundly while Craig and I fought for our lives.

A month or so ago I read an article in the Toronto Star about the increasing popularity of ‘glamping,’ a glamorous version of camping.  Glampers  can arrive with no equipment of their own, sleep on cozy king size beds in heated yurts, and in some cases are treated to five course meals of local organic food complete with wine pairings.

Well I must admit, digging through our cooler on day three and discovering that our hamburger patties have leaked red ‘juice’ into the water surrounding our single serve yogurt containers makes me long for the comforts of a dry refrigerator.  But that wouldn’t be camping, would it?  Our trip wouldn’t be complete without at least one “Aarrrgghh!” from Jack or Taylor as their near-perfect, golden marshmallow slides off a toasting rod and into the fire.  There’s a valuable life lesson wrapped up in keeping close watch on something as fragile as a marshmallow when it’s so close to fire, and I wouldn’t trade it for a whole plate of chef prepared S’mores.

I realize that our favourite camping spot close to the flush toilets in our local provincial park isn’t exactly a ‘Survivorman’ adventure, but still there is something about it that boosts one’s ego.  You are a member of a somewhat exclusive club if you love camping in a tent.  Not everyone can do it.

Yesterday we returned home from our final camping trip of the season and already I miss the soothing rhythm of camp life.

I love that we slept together side by side, the soft breath of my children within arm’s reach.  In the morning we stirred awake and felt the world slowly coming alive.  Tents zipped open and people stumbled out into the light of day.  Coolers opened
and closed and the salty smell of bacon floated in on the breeze.

By mid morning families were parading to the beach, each person carrying as many inflatable toys, chairs and refreshments as possible.  By mid-afternoon most of us
were ready for a rest.  Lying in the tent, reading our books, we were soothed by the breeze whistling through our mesh windows and the soft roar of poplar leaves above us, applauding some far off performance.

At dusk, the beach was empty again and once our dinner dishes were done, we went for a walk along the water.  The waves washed ashore leaving behind an endless succession of unique patterns in the smooth sand.  Sand castles decorated the landscape in various states of erosion, along with the odd masterpiece like a pair of
mermaid ladies sunbathing.  Even as it sat before us, we mourned this fragile piece of art left to the elements by its creator, and so we took a photo to try to preserve it.
Here and there we found gnarly bits of driftwood, a plastic handle from a toddler’s pail and smooth flat rocks for skipping.  It seemed like a picture from a magazine; Jack and Taylor running ahead along the water’s edge, silhouetted in  the sunset.

These times are like finding the cherry cordial in that box of chocolates.  And I’m willing to choke down the occasional vanilla cream to get to it.

Vacation Revelation

When I left my job, we knew that many luxuries would have to go.  But every family needs a holiday.

We have tried to vacation at home in the past.  In theory we should have been able to forego the cost of a hotel and simply enjoy the many activities available in our local
community, but invariably chores crept in.  We found ourselves taking on gruelling projects like re-staining our backyard fence or cleaning out our basement storage area.  Jack and Taylor would complain about how bored they were, and Craig and I would bitterly wish that we could be so lucky.

So we have concluded that from time to time, it’s important to get away from home.

Back in the days when money was no object, we once took three vacations within a span of six months.  Jack and Taylor’s first trip on an airplane whisked us away to a luxurious Acapulco resort with Craig’s parents.  The kids had a great time dashing from pool to pool, sailing down the ‘mountain’ water slide one minute and traipsing across
a wooden suspension bridge the next, safe in the care of their beloved Grandparents while Craig and I took time out to enjoy the on site golf courses.

A few months later we took our first family trip to Walt Disney World in Florida.  We stayed on the resort for an entire week in a spacious suite and visited a theme park every day, each more impressive than the last.  We filled ourselves full on the deluxe dining plan, complete with mouth watering desserts and seemingly endless snacks.  And we travelled with another family so the kids always had a willing playmate close at hand.

Our third vacation that year was a mere four days at Fern Resort in Orillia, a family run operation within driving distance of our home.  A special deal had motivated us to book a basic room which meant that I shared a bed with Taylor and Craig shared a bed with Jack.

“Taylor!  Stop digging your foot into my back!”

“Daddy is snoring.”

“Jack!  You just slapped me in the face!”

Three very different holiday experiences.  So that fall, as we began to think about our
vacation plans for the following year, I asked the kids, “Which vacation did you like best?”

Without hesitation, in unison Taylor and Jack said, “Fern!”

Really?  I knew they had enjoyed their stay at Fern but it was no Disney.  Sure there were pools, but no character themed thrill rides or fantastic parades.  In fact, the activities we most enjoyed at Fern couldn’t have been more low-key.  Bingo games in the poolside gazebo, jumping on one of three trampolines and playing endless games of mini putt on a basic course in need of a paint job.  The highlight for both kids seemed to be dangling crude homemade fishing sticks off the dock to catch sunfish.  And yet this, was the vacation they enjoyed the most.

Last week we were back at Fern Resort and I had an opportunity to speak with one of the owners.

Mark Downing and his sister Laura represent the fourth generation in this family owned business, carrying on over one hundred years of history on the property.  You might think that having grown up on the resort and then been handed a thriving business, Mark would be sitting back enjoying the fruits of his ancestors’ labours and letting
peons run the show.  But this is not the man I met.

At our scheduled meeting time he entered the tiny lobby bar with a flourish, carrying a glass of water and plate of carrot sticks.   A few days before, I had seen him attempt to
leap off a ramp in the middle of the lake into a barefoot position behind a speedboat as part of the water ski show.  He does this kind of thing fuelled by carrot sticks?

When I told him about my kids’ love for his resort in comparison to more elaborate vacation destinations and asked him about the ‘magic’ of Fern he had a ready response.

“I’ve heard this comment from other families, so I’m not surprised to hear it.   The difference at Fern is that it creates a community where friendships are built quickly and
easily.  Everything at the resort is designed to promote this sense of community.  Everyone eats together at the same time in the dining room.  We hire staff that are outgoing, salt of the earth types who endear themselves to guests immediately and we treat our staff well so that they come back season after season.  And we offer activities that attract small groups of guests who bond together through a shared experience.

“One year I had a guy come in and tell me that our best asset on the resort was the lake view.  He told us that we should tear down our poolside bar and barbeque gazebo
so that people could see the lake from the lounge chairs.  But if people want to spend their time looking at the lake, they would be going to Muskoka.  At Fern we want our guests looking at each other!”

When Mark told me this, it immediately rang true.  Like Cheers, where everybody knows your name, Fern is a place where our family feels part of something bigger.  After just one visit, we felt that we knew many of the staff and had built friendships with other guests that made us all want to go back.  And when I more closely watched our kids catching fish off the Fern dock, I realized that they spent as much time chatting with the teenage boys hired to put worms on hooks as they did with their lines in the water.

In fact, a main motivator for leaving my career was the desire to build stronger relationships with my family and friends.  Building relationships and enjoying a sense
of belonging is something that is difficult to do in our fast paced society, but I believe that it is something that we all (kids included!) long for.

Sports Director Mike Stewart is a warm and charismatic man with 32 years of tenure at Fern Resort.  On one of our daily morning walks, he summed up the magic of Fern in a simple phrase, “Fern is a feeling.”

He’s right.

We may have some great photos of spectacular sights and sounds from those other resorts but the feeling of Fern is something that seems to live on in our family long after our stay is over.  And that’s exactly why we’ll be back again next year.

For more info on Fern Resort and what it has to offer, check out their website at

The Wandering Mind of a Soccer Mom — Part 2

In my last post, I described a great example of amateur sports sponsorship used to deeply engage a relevant consumer target.  Continuing on that topic….

I also award kudos to last winter’s league-wide sponsor of my eight year old son Jack’s hockey team.  At around this age our budding NHL superstars typically get their first taste of tournament play and so we were faced with the new experience of packing up our Subaru Forester for weekend-long, team trips.  Well, the hockey bag alone is humungous!  Add luggage for a family of four, a 12 pack of beer, juice boxes, snacks
and the like, along with bulky winter wear, and we were squeezed tight in a vehicle that had always been more than adequate in the past.  The timing could not have been more perfect for our league sponsor to write ‘Caravan Kids’ on the back of each and every player’s hockey jersey!

We had to admit that we were going to need more space soon, but Craig and I couldn’t imagine ourselves owning a minivan.  Maybe a nice hybrid SUV some day… but never, ever, a minivan.

Then along came plans for a winter trip to visit my Dad in Florida.  The mere thought of twenty-four hours in the car with Jack and his sister Taylor bickering and within poking
distance of each other in the back seat was more than we could bear, and so we chose the next best low cost option and flew out of Buffalo.  Once we reached Orlando, we rented a minivan in order to accomodate the four of us plus my Dad, on outings.  By some co-incidence it turned out to be a Dodge Caravan.

“Awesome!” Jack said when he saw the side doors slide magically open with the click of a button.

“I get the back seat!” said Taylor.

“I’ll sit way up here,” said Jack, taking the second row.

Not only could they sit FAR apart from each other, but the storage compartments, passenger lighting and armrests kept them occupied for what seemed like an eternity.  Meanwhile, Craig and I loaded our luggage in the back.

“Are you sure we’re not missing a bag?” I said.

Having driven to the airport in our packed full Subaru, I simply couldn’t believe that a skinny looking area behind the third row seating could hold so much.  Our hoard of luggage fit easily, with room to spare.  Craig and I giggled with glee as we settled into the luxurious captain’s chairs and oriented ourselves to the variety of gadgets within reach.  The kids were still fiddling with their cup holders as Craig accelerated through the parking garage, smoothly taking corners at speeds well beyond the posted limit.  Maybe we are minivan people!

Now if only the marketers behind our local hockey sponsorship had gone that one step further to give everyone whose son was wearing a Caravan Kid jersey this kind of experience!  How about offering an entry in a draw to win a free two year lease to everyone who brings their family to test drive a Caravan?  How about having a collection of hockey equipment and weekend luggage on hand in the showroom to illustrate the storage capacity behind that third row?  How about displaying the vehicle at the arena for a weekend so everyone going in and out could at least have an up close look?  I can think of a hundred ways to take what must have been a costly league wide sponsorship, one step closer to closing the deal.

In my years as a marketer, I never gave much consideration to amateur sports sponsorship.  But now that my butt is aching from sitting through a year’s worth of games, I realize that there are thousands of parents just like me, watching those jerseys streak by week after week.  Together, we are a captive audience that is ripe for the taking.  But companies are going to have to go further than a logo.

Everyone is saying I should blog.

It’s been a year since I left my executive job in marketing to spend more time with family and try my hand at writing as a means to pay the bills.

My plan was to document this journey through a series of magazine articles under the umbrella “A Year of Living Simply,” but it seems that magazines are not nearly as captivated by my story as I am!  They want a portfolio of published articles from new writers before they will even consider taking the leap.  They want to know that a writer can draw an audience.  Go figure!

Again and again, I have been encouraged to blog as a means to generate that audience and I’m not sure exactly why I resisted for so long.  Perhaps it was my fear of technology?  Having left behind those helpful corporate IT resources, I’ve had enough difficulty just keeping my email synched to my BlackBerry and operating the RISO photocopying machine at my kids’ school.

Perhaps it was a fear that I’d have nothing interesting to say?  Probably not; I always seem to have a funny story in my back pocket.  A while back I was having lunch with the kids and we were discussing different types of animals: carnivore; herbivore; omnivore.  Through a mouthful of sandwich, seven year old Jack added, “Don’t forget the por favors.”  We’ll save that little anecdote for his wedding reception.

Perhaps it was because I thought I’d be giving away for free, the “Living Simply” material I had hoped I could sell.  That’s probably more to the point.

But on the elliptical trainer last night (where I get all my best ideas!) an angle struck me.  At this point in my journey I’m finding my biggest struggle is balancing my desire to be the best mother ever, with my desire to leave a mark in the world outside of my own circle of family and friends.  And as much as I’m enjoying my creative writing time, again and again I find myself falling into marketing mode.

A couple of months ago I had occasion to meet a woman in the business of reselling vintage dinnerware.  Walking through her ENORMOUS warehouse full of fantastic china, crystal and silverware I was struck by all the many marketing angles she might pursue.  How about a bridal registry?  What about an eco-friendly, low carbon footprint approach?  It was just such great stuff, there had to be a way to build a bigger market for it!  So I immediately set up a Survey Monkey questionnaire to investigate the market potential for one of these ideas.  The business owner must have thought I was wacko when I sent her the link and told her that I was simply interested in learning more.  I’m sure she thought I was going to try to sell her something at some point and I thought it was telling that that she didn’t post the survey link on her website.

Then I met a woman who used to be editor of Wedding Bells magazine and this led to more deep thought on heritage china business opportunities and challenges.  When the survey results came in, I scheduled an appointment to share the results, complete with a summary of key conclusions and a list of next steps.  I just couldn’t help myself!  We had a great chat about her business and the survey and what might be the future of the industry, and I left feeling a sense of satisfaction that I had given a small gift to this enterprising young woman.

And I’d gotten my “fix” of marketing.

I thought I could leave it all behind.  I thought I could just walk away and reinvent myself as super-Mom and creative writer extraordinaire.  But it seems I can’t.  Marketing is baked into my bones and I just can’t leave it behind.

Which of course complicates things.  Now I’m not just trying to balance Mom versus writer.  It’s also a battle for balance between Mom versus Marketer.

So much for Living Simply.

For more info on the fantastic source for heritage china, crystal and flatware I mention in this blog, visit