Saturday, September 9, 2023


 Grieving a loss is one of those human experiences one cannot plan for.  You cannot schedule it.  You don't know when the time will come to begin the process.  It is an animalistic behavior even our pets feel.  Emotion.  That raw human emotion you feel when someone passes or leaves you in either a physical departure at the office or one by death.  No matter how close you may be to someone, the exchange of mental images and emotional feelings into a physical realm of despair, sadness, anger from the separation, hurt, and anxiety is undeniable.  The timing element is one that no one has the ability to determine.  

No one prepares us for death.  My parents tried when I was a young girl.  They took me to the funeral home of an older gentleman who lived down the street.  Mr. Strauss.  They never explained anything about what was going on.  They wanted me to touch him.  I did not.  It wasn't scary necessarily but, odd to see him lay there.  After the funeral, I cannot recall any dialogue about Mr. Strauss. 

I have had more losses in my lifetime than most.  There are a variety of reasons for their passing.  Some in my early adult years of best friends then my grandmother.  I still miss and think about them having fond memories of the things we did, the places we went, and the many holidays we celebrated together.  I especially remember the laughs and silly things we did together.  My grief over these deaths was mainly because I wasn't there when they passed and it was somewhat short-lived.  Although, my one friend baffled me as to why she died so young.  AIDS, cancer, too many abortions, or drugs.  She was so young to die at 27 with so many possibilities.

Present day, I have lost dogs and cats, 4 of my siblings, both parents, aunts and uncles, ex-husbands, boyfriend, and most recently my 32-year-old son.    I don't recall grieving any of them until I lost my son.  I attended funerals, planned my mother's and sister's funerals, and had a grand attendance at both even though these two ladies rejected me for much of my adult life.  I had reconnected with them about 12 years prior to their passing on my terms.  My sister, eldest brother, and mother passed within 6 months of one another.  My son....well, I had a special relationship with him.  Perhaps more than some mothers.  We talked business all the time and he was of great help to me.  He spoke with me about his mental illness.  We could talk for 3 hours on a Sunday morning.  He was handsome, liked to entertain others with his humor, and was very regimented in his routine.  He loved pinball-I found out so much about him from his friends soon after his passing.  We were in a group text for years with his sisters and communicated almost daily.  They all intrigue me and are much more intelligent than I was at their age.

I knew my son was at high risk of passing prematurely-just not so soon in life.  Manic depressives usually pass in their early 60's.  I guess they just get worn out.  It is a debilitating struggle with limited support and understanding.  We had discussed his suicide over eleven years ago.  The impact of hearing of his passing from my daughter was extreme and powerful.  It's been a little over 6 weeks now.  The first 4 weeks after his passing were intense and he was on my mind every second of each day.  My love for him is stronger than I ever knew I possessed.  It's been My grief; I know it is good to grieve.  I also know I will probably continue for a long time although the hurt isn't like it was.  I am in counseling with my son's counselor.  I have great support from my husband, daughters, family, friends and community.  All of us are blessed.  My son's funeral was one of the largest our community has seen.  He and his family are much loved.  It was more like a celebration of life than a funeral.  I am eternally grateful for my son, the 32 years God gave us to love him and find comfort knowing he is still with me.

Friday, August 18, 2023


Just like in sports or playing the piano, practice makes perfect...well, almost.  The reason I add this is because one is always striving to do better.  Your best today may not be as good as your best tomorrow, next month, or even next year.  Determine where your highest reward or payback is.  You probably have multiple skills you excel in and don't even know it.   Try jotting down the things you do.  Create a list of ten things.  Some of them may not be at a level you are comfortable with.  That does not matter.  If you have the desire, passion, or interest you will quickly assess what matters most to you.

Computers and technology are a big part of what we use to thrive in the business world today.  If you are weak in Microsoft Word, try getting yourself comfortable with the table tools.  Look at the layouts and how you can save documents by naming them for future use.  Play around with it.  Change the fonts and paragraph functions.  You have multiple choices on where to store your creations.  Perhaps the desktop may be a good place for a work in progress-until you are comfortable with the project.  OR, store them in OneDrive or in your documents.  You can also upload pictures from your personal saved items or items from the Web.  Pictures are lasting images your readers or clients will remember far longer than the actual content.  Make an impression.

Use highlighting, bold, bulleting, and different fonts and numbering.  Make it interesting to your audience.  Apply headings in larger print than the content to give an impact.  Try out the different Designs and select Themes.  The software is designed to make it user-friendly while making you look like a pro with drop-downs!  Click and view is available at your fingertips.  You can wrap your text and replace it by highlighting and moving paragraphs, pages, or a single line and save your project.  Use the up and down cursor to quickly view your project.

Start with the 'Home' at the top of the page and click on each icon to view the options.  For those of you that do mailers, you can create email lists and send the final version via email.  How easy is that?  And for those of you that prefer to send mailers via USPS, setting up print for your envelopes is available.   I also like to use the 'Review' section with the Thesaurus or you can even add a Watermark!

Practice.  It is the single most characteristic in strengthening your capabilities, stretching your mind and your talents, and providing a masterpiece for you to be proud of.  Your readers and clients will think you are a master of many talents and may even consult with you on how to improve their skills.

Friday, July 21, 2023


One part of business appears to be unpracticed and misunderstood by many and perfected by a few.  Referrals.  Whether you refer business or receive referrals you know the power of the referral.  This is overlooked in sales positions as a part of the basic training.  It is seldom revisited in regular meetings and is not taught by managers.  Surely it is mentioned and definitely a topic of discussion. Perhaps the managers never acquired the skill themselves. Therefore, they are ill-equipped to discuss the philosophy and follow through on the benefits of referrals.  The importance of referrals remains clear.  Without it, you will have a mediocre career.  This is where your relationships truly matter.

Who is your best referral source?  What are the demographics or geographic details you need to pay attention to focus on for future business?  I like to think of the referrals as a two-tiered process.  The first part is a building tier.  This requires providing a good level of customer service and satisfaction.  As your experience grows and your customer base increases, you are apt to receive referrals from those you have helped.  They are more inclined to recommend a person when you gave them prompt and effective service or a professional service or product of quality in a timely fashion.  Price may not be a factor.  The second is maintaining a database of your customers for follow-up and developing a system to acknowledge your referral source.  This can be somewhat difficult in a heavily regulated industry such as financial and the type of appreciation you can bestow upon them may have limitations.  

One of the things I learned in mortgage lending was people needed help with their finances.  They wanted to have a discussion.  They wanted to explain their circumstances and heavily relied on a loan officer with a diverse background for help.  Real estate and money and family are very emotional topics.  The interest rate was discussed later in the conversation.  A full discussion to include future plans needed to be uncovered before a discussion of the interest rate.  I quickly found out-one mortgage does not fit all.  There were many people who refinanced multiple times with varying terms and reasons over a 7 to 10-year period.  Some people were adding to their principal balance and paying unnecessary fees and interest because they did not want to have the discussion.  For instance; they wanted to refinance because their neighbor did.  Those that did have an in-depth discussion with me, were more inclined to have a mortgage solution, that made sense and was financially palatable saving them money in the long term.  Those were the people who became repeat customers and gave referrals to their friends and family members to use my services.   And, that is precisely what I strive for today.

If someone wants quality service, assistance, or product, they understand value.  Price isn't their first thought and isn't necessarily the driving force to seek your business help.  Keep that in mind.  Your service/product has value.  It is valued by others.  You work hard and your customers understand this.  That is why the referral system works.  It is a reward for your hard work, level of expertise, and dedication to your belief in yourself.  Knowing your value adds to your confidence and works in tandem with success and prosperity.   

Friday, July 14, 2023


 One of the things I learned about successful people, well, basically people in general is they are multi-faceted.  No one has a single focus in life including their job.  No one has a single character trait.  As a woman, I learned this to be a fact in my 50s.  I thought people with a learning disorder were defined by that disorder-the singular thread making them who they were.  I also thought a businesswoman had to be strictly focused on her business to be successful.  I believed a woman had to work harder than her male counterparts to gain acceptance and to be a viable part of the community.  

While investing my time in learning and discovering ways to improve my performance and skills, I've read multiple books like Darren Hardy's 'The Compound Effect' or Jack Canfield's 'Chicken Soup for the Soul'.  I read many books but, those two just popped up in my mind quickly.  I also listened to many CDs such as those created by the respected Zig Zigler-American author and speaker.  I attended counseling sessions with a local psychologist while searching to uncover my personality traits and comprehension processes.  I even met with several businessmen over a 7-year period.  That's right- SEVEN YEARS!  And, I learned a lot about how the male mind works and discussed their thoughts, goals, plans, and objectives.  I quickly realized I did not have much input on these topics and soon developed a desire to learn how to put them in place and practice them.   Note:  I didn't know what the difference was between a CD and a DVD until I met them. 

Technology seems to be a profession and industry dominated by men.  My father and brothers were interested in engines and radios, transmitters and circuit boards, and building model airplanes. Even in this day and age, few women seem to work in and specialize in IT (information technology).   Here's another admission:  I didn't even know what the acronym stood for!  I was in search of the magic bullet.  I gradually figured it out to my level of satisfaction; it was not what I expected.  I anticipated something a lot different and I will do my best to finish my writing on this topic at a sooner rather than later date and release it to the world.

I want to share much of my discoveries and findings with others; particularly, women as I feel many topics have not entered into their repertoire of conversations.  They have been rather busy discussing fashion, children, relationships, and the latest sales at the grocery store or mall.  I'm not demeaning them in any way and women certainly discuss a lot more topics than these but, I found it and continue to find it difficult to discuss business topics with my long-term friends.  As my children grew, I am able to speak with them about business.  They are engaged.  

There was another reason I felt the need to begin a women's networking group.  I realized there were others out there - like me.  We have a thirst for like-minded conversation.  Multi-faceted conversations which also included the topics in the previous paragraph and many more.  I discovered while many ladies discussed business topics at length most enjoy reading good books.  Amazon is the largest retailer selling the most books.  Large book publishers follow in second place.  

There are numerous findings on the internet as to which gender reads and purchases more books.  It appears women do and they choose fiction.  Probably to escape their multi-faceted world of domestic chores and the complexities of the workplace while coordinating the activities schedule of the family and figuring out which foods and products are needed for the next visit to the store. No wonder they have embraced online ordering and delivery apps.  It makes sense.   I was thirsty for information and wanted to learn more and I still do as I venture into the workplace as an entrepreneur and the multi-faceted challenges and exciting path before me.

Friday, July 7, 2023


 To some, going to the end of the line may seem like an insult or a slap in the face or somewhat disconcerting.  I don't think this at all.  The line is long in the store and I am not necessarily happy to wait but, seize the opportunity to check my emails or text messages on my phone.  If I'm not particularly interested in doing any work or having to connect with anyone, I start looking at the 'fish papers' on the racks on either side of the aisle as my grandmother called them, and read the scandalous titles on the front pages of the magazines.  I have rarely purchased one of them and just like seeing how silly people are and know there is a segment of the population who love reading about the possible hardships and fighting amongst the rich and famous or seeing the pictures capturing the aliens and big foot while people hiked through the woods

I have another particular viewpoint of the end of the line which stemmed from my days in elementary school.  After a workout on the green fields where we played baseball or soccer or on the playground swinging across the 'monkey bars' or spinning on the metal merry-go-round.  Notably, these types of playground equipment are now banned and replaced by colorful plastic types.  I bet we had more fun!  And I know we got more cuts and scrapes and learned a few more life lessons on the cement playground.  Afterward, the teacher would line us up at the water fountain.  She would pull the hands of an aggressive classmate off the other more timid one as they fought to be first in line and send, usually a boy, to the end of the line.  And, it was usually one of the more popular boys I might add.  There were many times the popular children in school got special treatment.  Especially, if they were more attractive than others with their good looks or entertaining behaviors. 

Coming from a family of six siblings, I grew to like being last, standing calm while I watched the other's performance of chaos and the adults became flustered or angry with them.  Faces grew red and overheated, especially in the summer months, while sweat poured from every one of us.  The girls dresses clung to our legs and the boys' polo shirts were drenched in sweat.  I can remember watching; waiting as the line got shorter and my opportunity was fast approaching.  The teacher patted each child on the shoulder when their time was up as they thirstily sucked the cool water into their parched mouths, licking their lips and wiping the remaining drops with their arm as they scurried off to their seats in the classroom across the hall. Some would put their mouths over the spigot or put their heads in front of the water stream. Such innocence and basic fundamentals were learned and so refreshing.  

To this day, I will wait patiently while others strive to be first and get in front of others; racing-always racing against or for something I cannot comprehend.  What I have learned is there are times it is best to stand back and observe.  And, to stand with the most popular boys in my class.  To take in the coolness of the running waters all alone and savor the last few seconds of silence and maybe get a little more time than all the others at the drinking fountain with the teacher.  A bit of time to bond in a way the others lost the opportunity but, I alone, would appreciate.


Friday, June 30, 2023


One of the initial questions I had to ask the members of my women's networking group, WOW-Women Optimizing Women, is whether they had determined if they had a hobby or a business.  Heads tilted.  Eyes widened. And some ladies were truly uncertain of an adequate response.  I had to elaborate.  To prod delicately as each one of them was quite passionate about what they did.   I also came back with a follow-up question.  What money had they made so far?  Of course, some of the ladies were in various stages and some held multiple jobs while trying to network and convince, literally convince, other attendees that they were a legitimate business.

A hobby by definition, is something you do regularly in your leisure for pleasure such as reading or gardening.  On the other hand, a business is something you do as a regular occupation, trade, or profession.  It is how you make a living; although, some people are far better at making money to support themselves than others.  It can include making widgets, jewelry, practicing a profession such as a lawyer or a doctor, or even providing a service like a limousine, travel agency, computer service, or even networking and consulting.  We've seen retail change from brick-and-mortar structures to online business hosting a wide variety of products from candles and books to lumber and lighting.  The banking and mortgage industry has changed with people forming them for virtual applications and services without meeting with anyone personally.  

I began coordinating a women's networking group over 10 years ago as a way for business women to get together to share their visions, develop relationships, and build their business.  It wasn't a traditional 'hobby' and it certainly was not a 'business' based on the definitions of same.  It lay somewhere in between.  Clearly, women were doing business together and I was making a lot of business contacts and we were meeting on a regular basis.  The networking group gained in strength and the number of participants.  I kept their contact information and sent out invitations for events.  We shared business cards with one another and I kept them for both future reference and to give to other women as they requested a need for a particular person or business entity.  

Eventually, things changed.  It wasn't until I met a gentleman, Tom Mazerski, at Carroll Community College in October of 2021 that I realized I had the components for a business.  Tom and I started communicating about blogging.  I needed help.  As the weeks passed by and he introduced more concepts and ideas, he began asking questions about what I did.  I spoke to him about WOW.  His voice got a bit excited as he exclaimed, "You have a business, Barbara!    You have a following-several hundred ladies, a logo, have conducted regular events, and have great insight." The latter was perhaps more my words than his.  But, I did have insight.  I had a vision.  I was goal oriented and I knew what I wanted for the group.  I had a full-time job requiring a great deal of time and was in no way ready to begin focusing on a business.  

Then, the opportunity presented itself.  One too many corporate monthly meetings soon had my mind shifting in a different direction.  I realized the time had come.  The networking was ready to shift into a business!  The decision was made on April 14, 2022-a little after 1 pm.  I planted my seeds, started an LLC, and began thinking in a different light.  I started building a website.  I continued the WOW networking meetings and began attending other networking events.  I spread the word and used my WOW FB page to update the ladies as I made progress.  I am still in the infancy of a business and each day work toward achieving the next goal and look forward to a prosperous and fulfilling adventure.  

Sunday, June 25, 2023


 How hard is it for you to focus on your emails?  To write a story?  To keep on task with the chores you want to accomplish over the weekend?  What about simply reading a topic or a book or following along with the important memo you received from your department head or manager?

Without focus, your mind may go off on a few different tangents at once.  Reining in your thoughts may be one of the hardest things to do.  You may think this is something you alone struggle with.  Factors that can affect your focus could be stress, fatigue or perhaps you have a bit of ADD (attention deficit disorder).  It can build up until you feel somewhat anxious.  Each of us wrestles with this.  You are far from being alone.  Did you know that hormone levels may also affect your ability to focus?  

If you had difficulty seeing, you would make an appointment with your eye doctor.  I know I do.  Actually, I found out I had an issue with reading on my computer.  I have a 34" monitor to help me as I can split screens in a variety of ways to view multiple web pages and emails simultaneously.  I squinted my eyes and felt pressure as I furrowed my brow to regain my focus.  I am on my computer off and on for 6 to 8 hours a day.  Upon a recent visit to my ophthalmologist and after several of the usual tests she performs each year, I shared my issues with her.  Admittedly, she shared she had a similar problem and we discussed my working conditions and how long I used my computer each day.  "Aha!", she exclaimed.  You need a different pair of glasses."  I am both near and far-sighted and have an astigmatism.  My progressive glasses were not enough. Progressive lenses allow you to see clearly-far, close, and everything in between.  It is a seamless transition for everyday activities and provides a more natural window into the world. I have used both contacts and glasses since I was 19 years old but, never realized I had another alternative.  It worked!!  The computer glasses help me tremendously.  One caveat:  I quickly learned, however, I could not drive with them.  

The same holds true with your ability to focus on the other things in life.  Educate yourself on the topic of focus.  Take time to invest in yourself.  Eliminate distractions and multitasking.  These actions stop you from focusing.  Practicing meditation and taking breaks during the day helps to reinvigorate your brain and is useful.  Sleep deprivation is probably the culprit of many of our issues along with proper hydration.  'Brain slapping', a phrase I coined decades ago can be a useful tool to stop overthinking.  Stopping yourself from allowing the multitude of thoughts by stating, out loud if needed, "I need to focus on..."     When your mind drifts, bring yourself back to the task at hand.  Hold yourself accountable.  Practice a method like brain slapping and take a look at your current habits to change and improve your focus.  Repetition is the way to learn a new skill or habit.  And, be patient.  Making any change requires time.