The Kalamazoo Holiday Parade was today. More often than not, I stay away from parades, unless there is a motivation, such as knowing someone in it. This one wasn’t going to be any different. As the date got closer, and also knowing that one of my friends was attending, I decided to go. Then I was invited to be IN the parade. This is also something I usually shy away from. However, I knew I’d be there, so, why not? It would help out my friend and his organization, and I couldn’t remember the last time I was in one. If life is meant to be full of adventures, then this would be worth it, to me.
Our group, Focus: Kalamazoo, was in charge of the Bugs Bunny float. You may have noticed in the first picture how tall he really was in comparison to us. The challenge for the group, which was even greater on a windy day, was making sure Bugs didn’t get decapitated by any of the wires or traffic lights. To do this, one volunteer was in charge of pulling the generator’s plug, causing the balloon to deflate. It was like Bugs was doing the limbo each time. There were also ropes to hold on to for steering. It was a fun experience. The three of us in back would catch the beat of the marching band walking in front of us, and use that to wave to the crowd in unison, or even break into a dance.
Probably my favorite part of all, though, was the person who came up to me, asked if I was “Stacy,” and introduced herself. Through her mom, I knew she was in Kalamazoo. The fact that we both ended up volunteering at the parade for floats that happened to be next to each other in the parking lot and her mom saw my post just before her text…priceless! (Hers was Strawberry Shortcake). I literally grew up with her mom, since we lived a few houses apart and started school together.
Everyday, really, holds some type of adventure. This particular one was not planned, exactly. What I mean by that is we reunited on the same bus which was taking us to campus. I hadn’t seen them since the summer, and we were used to weekly and sometimes daily, interactions. To make it even more fun, we happened to end up on the same bus heading off campus, too. The best bus rides, yet!
Earlier in the week, I had the chance to pitch again at Pitch Zoo. Members of the Starting Gate cohort had the first opportunity to practice their pitch because we are getting close to Demo Day. The idea was that those listening would be interested enough to find out more and attend demo day.
I had learned a lot since the first time I “pitched,” as told in It’s Not Softball. In fact, I felt like I had a better handle on what to say, and my energy was high when talking to my prof about it before class that day. All of that, and the fact that I knew everyone in the audience, did not stop me from being nervous. Somewhere between the end of class and the ride home, it appeared, full force, and I could not shake it. It didn’t stop me, and I am grateful for the support and feedback, and ideas to check out.
The suggestions I receive sometimes send me on a peculiar path. Many ideas have related to the structure of the organization, such as a building of resources with a staff, a version of a sorority, a gym, a community center, or a co-op working space. Everything but the co-op space I could completely discount, almost right away. I decided to look into the co-op structure further. It’s similar, in that the environment fosters collaboration of skills and knowledge. Trying to put it completely in that form did not fit, and I had to back off a little bit to figure that out. What I did conclude from all of these suggestions and the research was that my idea had always included a space, so this time, in the pitch, I made sure to have that part in there. One gold nugget sifted from the sand and caught a week ago.
Throughout this week, including my official “pitch,” I’ve been questioned on all sorts of points, including the space. So, more research, which also included, “why me?”
At first, I thought the answer to “Why me?” was my background of creating events, and my education. One friend I met with this week mentioned that I have a passion to know people and a genuine openness about myself. As part of what I naturally like to do, I connect people I meet, a facilitation, when I see a good reason. This translates to something I’d be good at doing as part of running this business. I may have figured out another answer, too, and I will know more in the next few days if I am off-roading again, or actually on a more solid path this time. Will you be back to read more? Please like (or comment), if so.
Thanks for reading!!!!
This semester, I feel like I have gone back in time, at least partially, and I think about that whenever I take the bus to campus. I am more like a current Freshman, walking around from bus stop to buildings, then any comparison to having been a graduate student through last April. I don’t even feel much like a Senior, which is my technical status. It mostly feels like I have begun again. In one way, I have. Since previous experiences do count, I’ll call it a transition chapter, and probably the most challenging to date as a student.
What I find even more interesting is that there are several parallels to what was happening in my life five years ago. First, I moved in October that year and had a stack of items which had fit into a house that were now sitting in a one bedroom apartment. It took awhile before I could find much of anything. Right now, I am packing and getting ready to move. It is from house to house, at least. The thing that is the same is the chaos and keeping what I need most away from what could easily get buried or lost.
In the chaos that I called my apartment five years ago, I had to find enough items where I could put together a portfolio for a Michigan Jaycees competition. I wasn’t sleeping well, mostly because I moved after filing for divorce. I didn’t know exactly what I was doing for the competition, either. What helped was that Neil, the President of the Kalamazoo Jaycees at the time, basically talked me through things. I had to turn the portfolio binder in earlier than the actual travel to the convention. Whatever the deadline was to get it to him, I probably made it just in time.
These days, besides school and getting ready to move, I am also busy with figuring out if my business idea is only that, or if it can go anywhere. As written in Checkpoint, I am moving along yet not too far down. It seems that in practice, I have become an entrepreneur, much in the same way I became a runner. I knew I was a runner when I wanted to, and actually did, run more than walk. How does that work for becoming an entrepreneur? I’m learning, stressed, sometimes happy, tired, and not sure at all if this is what is right. One of my friends said I have probably “hit the wall,” as marathon runners do. I’m also experiencing within a couple of months what he has felt for the last 12 years, Does that make it official?
Hopefully, the music and words will match well and whether the first or umpteenth time, it is heading in the correct direction and will not be so rocky.
What do you think?
Thanks for reading (and commenting/liking)!
It was my favorite Sunday night of the month a few days ago when I ended up in a conversation with Kaitlin Rose, the songwriter who was showcased at the Chili Pepper Write Night. When Kaitlin was up on stage she had mentioned that she is usually a happy, peppy person who helps bring that out in others. For those times when she is in a different mood, that is usually where she gets her song ideas. What we were discussing was how that puts you out there. Writing the blog posts like I do here is the same thing. Sometimes that makes us an open book with what and how we express to the world, That is not easy, and sometimes it seems scary. At the same time, it is a necessity. Without the writing, those thoughts and feelings would not have a place to go. I post to a blog through the computer while Kaitlin expresses hers with music through her guitar. What would we do without music or words?
What does any of this have to do with what you are waiting to read about? Well, it goes like this: I mentioned in the post The Break that part of being back in school has included the opportunity to work on a business idea. The business, in many ways, is an extension of myself, and that makes it challenging since I know the emotional aspect to it. Right now, the name of it is Women’s Center of Kalamazoo, and the idea is to have a women’s community group and be able to help each other by breaking down the barriers to success. I thought of this because of my own experiences and the discussions I found myself getting involved in over and over again.
My story starts with a journey I purposely began six years ago towards self-improvement. During this time I got divorced, I have lost weight, and I finished graduate school. To accomplish these things, I was pretty much on my own and always searching others out for help or ideas. While doing that, others would discover this and ask ME questions, making me the mentor. My idea is to put all that together within a community. Everyone has strengths and things they want to improve. The community I have started to build would give the chance to learn from each other on a wide range of topics. Last week, we learned about line dancing, and had a blast doing it!
The reason that this post is a “checkpoint” is because the semester is halfway through, and for Starting Gate purposes, that means we are getting near demo day, and, hopefully, working towards successfully completing the milestones we set just over a month ago. My business is a different type then the rest of the founders in my cohort, giving me a unique challenge. I am finding out that this means the path to completing milestones, including proving/disproving the business idea, is not the same as those with an application or a physical item to sell. Thankfully, this journey includes mentors (at least one faculty member), and I have many and am always accepting more, since everyone adds to a different piece of what I am trying to do. Last night, I had advice about a great book to read called “The E-Myth.” (and I seem to be unofficially known as “the book lady.”)
Another reason I was inspired and have even wanted to work on this is from being involved in Kalamazoo’s start-up community during the last year or so. I have made friends with people like the guys pictured above and am able to attend current and new events, such as the one this week, Startup Grind. Although I am not sure how the story will end, I see the point as being willing to try the journey in the first place. The last few months especially have been some of the most challenging and clearly the most rewarding. Ready or not, here I am!
What are your thoughts or personal experiences on any of this?
Thanks for reading (and commenting/liking!)
A couple of weeks ago on a Monday morning I was taking out my garbage can to the curb and happened to look up and see the rainbow pictured above. My aunt commented that it was not only rare to see a full rainbow, but also that it was against a blue sky. It didn’t last long, either, cause I went inside to get my recyclables and by the time I returned the sky had turned overcast. Even with the sunshine earlier, though, it had been sprinkling. My aunt’s final comment was that it must be my lucky day and maybe I should buy a lottery ticket.
Well, the story does not end with me as a big ticket winner, or even playing anything. I find that I look at luck much differently. The fact that serendipity is a part of it does not seem a coincidence to me. What this leads to is a reflection – with a conclusion that I am glad I live the life that I do. Even more so, I am grateful for the relationships I have built, especially during the last six years. This is what I think abut daily, and it helps validate that I’m on the right path, wherever it leads.
Yes, all of this from seeing a rainbow. It’s the best pot of gold I ever want. How would you see the rainbow?
Thanks for reading (and commenting/liking)!
Yesterday, October 1st, was my birthday. During the month or so leading up to it, I was having a hard time about it. Sometimes, whatever the number of the chronological age is, I am fine. This time, the idea of being officially midway between 40 and 50 was hard to grasp. How could I really be that old? How was it possible to give a personal example that was “twenty years ago” or more? Were others having similar issues at this stage? (are/did you?)
One of my closest friends happens to be about 8 months older than me (and between his birthday and mine, we pick on each other for being “younger” or “older”) and we’ve been having discussions about it. I agree with what he says about being “ageless.” I mean, no one really knows how old either of us is. We fit with those younger or older and go with the flow of it. Yet, the number is challenging for both of us.
While still contemplating these thoughts during the final countdown to my birthday, I decided to take a picture of the sunset. It wasn’t the end or even any part of a vacation, yet it felt significant. It was the end of being a particular age. What a beautiful site, don’t you think?
My birthday celebration officially started last Thursday when I went to karaoke because a friend of mine was hosting. It continued on my actual birthday with more karaoke and friends. What made me feel better was what I did in-between. Take a look at my hair in the picture above, and how it looks now, as it does in the picture with my cat:
Notice the change in color? Somehow, that transformation to RED was more than dying my hair. It makes me feel “sassy.” Therefore, I have changed my attitude from being “close to fifty (OMG!)” to “This is my age of Sassy-ness.” I think my cat may agree, too. How has the thought of an age effected you?
Thanks for reading (and commenting/liking)!
The kickoff meeting for Starting Gate took place a week ago on Monday, September 16th. My intent was to post during that first week. Well, similar to a real race, we have been off and running! So, here I am, just over a week later, finally getting to this. Thanks for being here! If you missed what happened previously, check out the It’s Not Softball and Double Time posts.
For the Fall 2013 Cohort, there are eight business teams. This was the first time most of us had a chance to be in the same room together. As we have attended different meetings and events, we have had the opportunity to talk a little bit more with each other. Plus, there is always the chance to hang out while using the Starting Gate space to work. Sometimes, there are other students or faculty assisting the teams or at events. I love that I finally had a chance to chat with one of my MBA classmates!!
Oh, and that spot where the bean bags are is usually where you’ll find me when I’m here.
It’s been a long and busy week for many reasons. One specifically is that I’m getting to school by walking, biking, or taking the bus. My old bike was traded in for the one shown here and it’s great!!
Taking the bus is free for students at WMU. I’ve never had so many uses for my school ID!
What you really might be waiting for is the answer to the question of “What is the Women’s Center of Kalamazoo all about?” This is still an early stage and may change. The short description is that it is a women’s community group (or, will be) in the Kalamazoo area that fosters a healthy lifestyle through activities, services and events. If you are in the area and want to participate in surveys and events and helping to build the community, please email me (not comment) directly. For everyone else, thanks for reading along and commenting with any general experience or feedback on this post or the idea. I appreciate it!
Thanks for reading. Please “like” if you do.
Has your mind ever been too awake to let your body return to sleep? I went to bed somewhat early in the hope of catching up on much needed rest. It’s been an extremely busy couple of weeks, and extra sleep seemed like a good idea. Instead, I woke up around two or three hours later, and the result is slightly less clutter in my house and this blog post you are now reading. For those of you waiting to find out the rest of the It’s Not Softball story, you are in luck!
Some of the story actually begins with graduation and the Transitions of refocusing what I considered important to move me forward. This is explained more in the Detangler post, as far as some of the groups of people I have been around and the types of events I have been attending. In the middle of the summer, it lead me to an idea that, with the help of others, is leading me towards potentially having my own business. And yes, I’ll explain more after I finish the story…
Meanwhile, I hit a bump in the road that I wrote about in Even Rock Stars Need to Rest. One result of that was if I wanted health insurance outside of school, I would have to wait until pre-existing conditions would not matter as part of the application. In other words, I needed to continue with what I already had at a higher non-student rate, or be uninsured, and I was not going to be uninsured.
A new hangout during the summer was Starting Gate, as far as attending events and supporting friends. It is a student business accelerator and added to the inspiration for my particular business idea. The more I thought about it, the more I really wanted to be in it. At that point, I was not going to be eligible for the Fall semester because I had graduated in the Spring. If anything, I could have been a part of the Summer cohort, except that my idea hadn’t even existed yet. No deal there, darn it!
During the summer I also realized that everything seems to return to writing for me, and I wanted to have to write more often than I already do. With that thought, and some ideas for particular types of writing that would be more practical in my career goal, I looked into what programs were being offered, and really liked the Rhetoric and Writing Studies area of the English department. An adviser pointed out that the classes would be a good way to modernize writing skills that were obtained initially as part of being in a Journalism minor.
Where is all of this finally leading? After an encouraging conversation that maybe returning to school after “just” getting out was not something to dismiss, I applied. It took longer to get through because the new minor puts me in readmission, not a new admission, as a non-degree seeking student. Regardless, I was able to be accepted and am taking two classes.
This also meant I was eligible for student insurance to continue at the student rate. Check!
Equally important, being a student made me eligible to apply for Starting Gate, which I did, and that brings me back to It’s Not Softball. The day of Pitch Zoo I was asked if I wanted to practice my pitch for the business idea I had written about in the application for Starting Gate, especially since two of the four decision makers would be present. I agreed to add pitching on top of being emcee, and used the two mile walk home from class to try to figure out what to say. I had discussed the idea with a group once before, besides many individual conversations. This was different since it had to be explained succinctly within three minutes. I was definitely more nervous about the content than actually being up in front of people.
The result of all of this? I have possible my most challenging semester or year of college yet as I not only am busy with classes, I have officially been accepted as a member of the Fall 2013 Starting Gate cohort for my business that, right now, I am calling “Women’s Center of Kalamazoo.” Yes, I am going to make you wait, again, to read more about this business. It is an adventure in itself, however it turns out, and it deserves undivided attention as I incubate and innovate at an accelerated rate with the rest of the cohort.
Thank you for reading (and commenting)! If you “like,” please do.
Do you have a fear of public speaking? Although I am not 100% comfortable, the training and practice as a former member of a local Toastmasters International Club, a Kalamazoo (and Michigan) Jaycee, plus the many presentations while a graduate student in the MBA program all have helped. I look at nervousness as part of the game that reminds me to warm up in the bullpen before heading to the pitcher’s mound. Last night, I had a chance to put all of that practice together, starting as emcee, during a local monthly event called “Pitch Zoo.”
During the hour scheduled for Pitch Zoo is the chance for participants to listen to people “fast pitch” their new business or idea in three minutes, then get feedback from everyone else in a five minute discussion. The “pitcher” chooses who the audience is and what type of feedback is desired, such as the idea itself, or the delivery style.
When I originally went to this event, the structure reminded me of Toastmasters. The difference is that not everyone has had much practice with either giving feedback or making presentations. What the audience usually has is a desire to support others working on their own businesses, and that can contribute to a fun and relaxed environment.
Wait…fun? Relaxed? Public speaking? Did I really just tie all of that together? Once my nervousness subsided, I definitely had fun, and I did more than emcee. I ended up being one of the pitchers. The decision to pitch was made in the middle of the afternoon, right before I left for class, with the event starting shortly after I was done with class. Not much time to prep for an important speech! It’s a good thing that part of my training has been impromptu, and that I had a two mile walk to talk out loud any ideas in order to practice. I’m happy to say “I did it!” As emcee, I was also able to support one of my friends who pitched. We definitely earned our tees!
As far as what I pitched or the reason I did it last minute…stay tuned for that story.
Any thoughts or comments, especially on public speaking or new businesses?
Thanks for reading (and commenting/liking)!
The Combination Lock has been spinning wildly lately, or so it seems. When it lands on a path, is it completely by chance? Many discussions have been coming up revolving around this idea, and, specifically, “Serendipity.”
When I hear the word “Serendipity,” I picture a female, similar to the one above. Who is Serendipity and what is her purpose? According to the dictionary:
The first time I remember acknowledging Serendipity was earlier this year while reading the book club book “The Start-up of You” by Reid Hoffman and Ben Casnocha. The authors, also the creators of Linked-In, discuss how building relationships and putting yourself out there gets you to where you want to be, and not in a forced way.
Theoretically, based on behaviors, this can lead to noticeable milestones. An important one to me is having been a part of the Chili Pepper Songwriting Club for a complete year. The first time I attended was August 2012, and I haven’t missed any yet. I connect as a writer and I enjoy the music. They support me as much as I support them. One way or another, it is an inspiring place to be and I cannot imagine friends from the group not being a part of my life. In fact, I made a friend at that first visit who I haven’t seen in person since. We also connected as fellow writers, and have continued with chatting . Hoover Damn is good at telling it like it is. Are you curious? Then effing check out his writing!
Another milestone is the increase in Twitter usage. In fact, the first link for this post on Twitter will be the 1000th tweet. I didn’t even know I was coming up on that number, and a friend mentioned it to me. Thanks to Kzoo Enrique for paying attention out in Oklahoma! Now anyone who follows me gets to see the constant cat pictures. A cat only does so much, yet there is always another picture to post. If you happen to be my friend on multiple social media platforms, then you’ll probably get an unlimited fill of seeing Whisker Kitty.
One of the reasons I increased my Twitter usage after two years of being on it was because not only did a friend make it sound interesting (thanks, Little Red Reviewer!) it was a way to help further with increasing blog traffic and other postings. Plus, I actually like to skim through the stories and see what conversations are going on. It’s fun!
All the people previously mentioned I have met in person, at least once. The goal of increasing posts and utilizing Twitter is to be out in the “Blogosphere” more. Thanks, again, to Little Red Reviewer to guiding me. The main method of gaining more followers is to go looking for what is of interest, sincerely commenting and, if desirable, following the posts. When there are new followers, the blogger receives a notice. When there are comments, conversations are started. One of my favorites has been Comm Before the Storm, which happens to be authored across the border by a Canadian blogger. I’m always excited to see what she has to say on her own blog as well as what she thinks of my posts. It’s one of several I follow and I find sitting and reading these something to look forward to during the week.
Similar to the unplanned breakfast gathering after Yoga, relationships are being built through in-person and virtual conversations. When there is overlap within the community, faces are familiar from one event to another and through social networking in-between. What better way to look forward to seeing people than as friends at an event or within organizations that are of mutual interest? This particular one showcased the summer cohort at Starting Gate. I was happy to see some of the people who hadn’t been around since the springtime. The other benefit is that the mutual interest many times means mutual support. The question is, will any of the variety of groups mentioned here overlap outside of the main community? I connect them together whenever it seems applicable and I believe Serendipity does, too.
My Yoga instructor pictured in the previous breakfast group states that the car I own is appropriate because I am a very focused person. Maybe that’s how I figure out some of these connections. What does any of this have to do with Serendipity? She is the focus of working on what I enjoy with who I want to be around and the reason there can be milestones to celebrate. The milestone in the picture above? A 40th birthday party celebration and most of us met through the Kalamazoo Jaycees.
How has Serendipity been a part of your life?
Thank you for taking the time to read (and like/comment on) my post! I look forward to reading your stories and continuing the conversations.
I usually have energy. Lots of energy, in fact, and it can keep me busy. It has kept me hopping from one thing to another so often that one of my friends claims I am a “Rock Star.” During the last few years, though it may not always seem like it from the outside, there are factors slowing me down. It’s not all about age, either, since I still claim I am getting younger. That’s a different story. What I am referring to are the reactions I have had internally from anxieties, the environment, whatever, that have created challenging obstacles.
This is not something people usually like to talk about, and because the challenges are specifically female, that decreases who might be wiling to discuss this issue. My point, though, is not about why I have an issue. It’s about how it gets resolved.
The natural place to start is your doctor’s office, right? In my experience, doctors can help with what they know, what they see, and what the insurance companies allow them to do. This seems to translate to “let’s observe,” or “we can regulate with medication” or, after it has been awhile and there is something more concrete “let’s operate.”
I’ve been through scenarios like the one above twice now. And, you know what? I don’t feel well, again. What are the doctors (main and specialist) offering? After I begged for an Ultrasound (and received the results), they decided they want to wait a couple of months and then retest. <sigh> Not unexpected. Not helpful, either.
What I have been doing is discussing the situation with others who would understand. In this case, female friends. All different ages and experiences. What I have learned is that the scenario is common, and many end up with multiple surgeries. Take out the area that keeps having issues and that solves the problem. Right? Well, I don’t completely agree or, more importantly, want to personally find out. One answer had a different potential and was similar to how Mr. Miyagi healed Daniel in “The Karate Kid” movie.
I just began working with a local “Miyagi” of sorts, thanks to one of my friends and her mom and those discussions mentioned above. Not much to tell yet besides this: I know there is something to it because my cat pays attention and curls up on or near me more often. He can sense the change in energy and that it is a good thing, and totally wants to be a part of it. I’ve always said he is my “guardian cat,” and maybe this gives him something to think about other than his hatred for mice. Whatever the thoughts, he has been hanging close.
For the last several years, and especially the last year, I have really been working at better nutrition and exercise. I feel stronger and healthier. Lately, my house has started to resemble some of my busier student times – unfinished projects and messes that don’t get taken care of too fast, for starters. When I feel good, the things like that are easily conquered. When I don’t, I take more naps and let the piles grow and specifically have to figure out what I want to accomplish each day before I get too tired. Not much of a “Rock Star” life at all, right now. I figure that even Rock Stars need to rest. What do you think?
Thanks for reading (and commenting/liking)!