Archive for the 'Lessons Learned' Category

Making Vacuum Tracks

Vacuum TracksBack when I first became a mother in 1994 (wow) I was a 100% stay at home Mom. I was living in the St. Louis area back then and after being a busy wife and teacher up to that point, it was an adjustment to be at home all day alone with an infant, especially in a new town since we moved from California when my daughter was 2 weeks old. There was always something to do, taking care of the baby, cooking, cleaning, shopping, talking on the phone, watching soaps…

As I became more social in my new role and my new home, life got busier. I found there were many ‘indoor playgrounds’ and mommy playgroups, and I got involved in La Leche League. When we moved to Florida a couple years later, I found groups there as well and despite being a “stay at home mom” I really wasn’t home much because I was involved in many things. I helped start a playgroup, became a LLL group leader, had another child, and in 1998 I started my direct selling business. Having 2 little kids and taking them places, meeting new playmates and exposing them to lots of experiences was a lot of fun for all of us.

Among my friends we would talk about how busy we were and how our husbands (my ex especially) didn’t understand why the dishes didn’t get done or why there were toys on the floor when they got home from work. They couldn’t understand how we could be ‘home’ all day long but the place still looked like it did when they left in the morning (or worse!) One day I started making vacuum tracks in the carpet. You know, when there are vacuum tracks in the carpet, someone’s been vacuuming, right? On days when there were vacuum tracks, there was peace in the house when Daddy got home. There was visual evidence that the ‘work’ had gotten done – just enough to satisfy him.

But the truth is, the REAL accomplishments were not in that carpet. They were in the hugs and the “you can do its” and the band-aids and even in the potty chair. They were in the friendships and the personal growth and the blossoming of a young mother who learned the real meaning of priorities. They were in the memories – the playdoh lumps, the marker all over the sofa, the upturned oatmeal bowl, and the trips to the zoo.

Those vacuum tracks didn’t mean a thing. Later as we got older and wiser, it became a joke among the moms. We’d be talking on the phone – or later chatting in IRC on the computer – and now posting on Facebook – and we’d look at the clock and it was a quarter to 5. “Gotta go – time to make vacuum tracks!”

Where in life are you making vacuum tracks? Are you not giving yourself credit for the amazing person you are or that you are becoming? Are you covering up for slacking off and then tricking us into thinking you’re something you’re not? Or maybe you’ve gotten yourself into a situation you really don’t belong in and are keeping up appearances instead of standing up for yourself.  I know for me, it was all of the above! But I have a new life now, a new Mr. and a new home… and I don’t make vacuum tracks any more!

Until next time,

Until next time...
My Signature

Breast Cancer

When I was young, for the longest time I didn’t even know that cancer existed. In fact I distinctly remember that when I found out about it, it was like a “new” disease. Either no one had ever called it cancer, or I was just sheltered and had no one I knew whose life was affected by it. I just remember learning about cancer when my Grandma got it. I remember being young, maybe junior high or a little younger. And I remember that once I found out about it, it seemed like everyone was talking about it, and it was in the news, and on TV shows. Suddenly it was everywhere -where for so many years before I was oblivious.

I don’t remember too many details but I know my Grandma (my Mom’s Mom) suffered and ultimately had a double mastectomy. I also know that she was one of the lucky ones in that she was given Tamoxifen when it was brand new, and it worked. She was young when she got breast cancer (around 50 I think?) and that extended her life beyond when anyone would have thought. Ultimately even though once or twice her cancer spread and even affected other parts of her body, she was a survivor and passed away at 85 years old, from complications related more to heart disease than cancer.

My Grandma was a big influence on my life, during and after hers. She picked us up from school many days, after my Mom went back to work.  She drove me to dance class and other after school activities. She let me talk to her about anything, unconditionally. And she understood me. Later it was at her funeral that I had an epiphany about the doomed marriage I was in. Knowing she survived all she had, and lived until 85 years old, made me realize I needed to live my life to the fullest, and probably had another 50 to go myself. Spending that next 50 in a bad situation and hoping it would change did not cut it any more. Suddenly I knew what I had do. If she had passed away from cancer earlier I would have never had that lesson, as I was truly blinded (20 years worth) by what I thought was love.

Grandma’s survival and endurance is due in large part to the science of breast cancer treatment research. On April 14th, my friend Jacqueline Ritz is raising money for Suzan G. Komen’s 3 Day Race for the Cure. She is asking that bloggers and blog readers that day consider donating just $10 to breast cancer research. Can you spare $10 today to donate to something that not only saves lives of cancer patients, but affects those who love them in ways most of them will ever know?

All you’re asked to do is click on Jackie’s 3 Day link to donate $10 today. You’ll be making a difference that will change lives.

Do you have a breast cancer survival story to share? Please post in the comments below, and you’ll inspire someone, too!

Click here to donate: Jackie’s 3 Day link

Until next time...
My Signature

Facebook Do’s and Don’ts

Facebook Do’s and Don’ts
Karen Clark ~ ~

It seems as more people join Facebook the lines between personal and business are being blurred. For some people, connections with friends and family are the only reason they are here. For others, promoting their business is their main reason. And still others combine the two, and sometimes those 2 worlds collide. I’ve put together a short list of Do’s and Don’ts that will help!

DO: Understand that your Profile is your “home” and you are welcoming others into your space.

DON’T: Treat others differently than if they were in your “real” home. Use the golden rule! Don’t type anything that you would not speak out loud.

DO: Post a status update regularly. At minimum once a week, or people will think you’ve quit, or worse. Not posting an update is like never answering your phone. People like to check in and even if you are doing other FB activities, when they scroll through the “home” page they may only see the status updates, depending on their settings.

DON’T: Post status updates 10 times a day unless something special is going on. Your update is like a check-in call. We don’t need to know a play by play of your day, just as you would not call up your best friends 10 times a day on the phone.

DO: Mix business and pleasure. Just as you are a whole person in real life, be a whole person on FB. Even if your goal is to promote your business, let your visitors in on the non-business side of you, this will build rapport.

DON’T: Go overboard on either business or personal information. Remember that your FB content is timeless and permanent and accessible to a wide net of people, whether you know them now or not. Someone you meet in the future can go back and read your past updates and see your photos. Do not post anything in any format on FB that you would not want broadcast on the evening news.

DO: Be helpful and relevant. Post links, photos and videos that will enhance someone’s personal or business life in some way. Just as you’d call up a friend when you read an article about something they’d be interested in, when you find something worthwhile on the web, post it to your profile. You never know whose life you will touch at just the right time.

DON’T: Post spammy, controversial, or inappropriate links, photos, or videos to your profile without realizing the act of posting them is a reflection on who you are. Remember that your profile is your “home” and imagine these things decorating your walls.

DO: Send a welcoming message to your new friends when appropriate. If you don’t know each other in “real life,” it is courteous to also mention how you found them or what/who the connection is that led you to them, just as you would if you went to visit someone in their home. Imagine knocking on someone’s door that you would like to get to know, what would you say? Be sincere and authentic.

DON’T: Welcome someone whom you have never met by writing on their wall with business information or links. This does not make a good first impression! Let them get to know you over time on their own terms by visiting your profile according to their interest, and reading your updates. If you feel you have a product or service that will help them in particular, let them know why, then ask if they’d like more information, and take it to private messages.

DO: Remember that everyone is watching. Not only your own friends, but your friends’ friends, and some you may not even be connected to, depending on your settings. When a friend comments to another friend, their friends can read usually the dialogue as well. Check the Privacy settings if you’d prefer only your friends see your activities, but remember you can only control your own Privacy settings, your friends control theirs, so comments or wall posts on their profiles may be more public than you realize.

DON’T: Post links, photos or videos to other people’s Walls unless it is relevant and wanted. Use the Wall for comments that cannot be put in as comments on status updates. When you post to someone’s wall without explanation or as part of a dialogue, it appears as if that friend is endorsing that link, photo, or video. Would you go to a friend’s house and decorate their walls with things you are excited about? Save the decorating for your own Profile, and they can check it out there.

DO: Keep private conversations private. Using comments on a status update to make arrangements for ballet class carpooling by posting back and forth on your wall is an example. That is something that should be taken to private messages, or chat, or good old fashioned email or telephone. Remember the above DO, everyone else is reading. If a friend starts a personal conversation in public, divert it by saying you’ll PM/Email/Call them. Not sure? Ask yourself if others will benefit or get to know you better from reading about this.

DON’T: Engage in conversations that indicate private matters, or give personal details you do not want public. Things like the year you were born, what school your kids go to, that your home will be unattended for a week, are all things that, depending on BOTH party’s Privacy settings, can potentially be seen by strangers. If a friend inadvertently reveals too much about you, ask them to delete the public comment, and take it private.

DO: Look around! Posted items, status updates, groups, and information that people post on their profiles are done so as an expression of themselves and what they are all about. Take the time to click on the various tabs and look beyond their Wall or status updates. Get to know them, you might find even more that you have in common!

DON’T: Overdo it. Commenting on every update, and every posted item, and every photo that someone posts is overkill. Imagine being at someone’s home, would you comment about every single thing, or would you comment on the things that are most relevant or that you are most excited about?

DO: Interact! FB is what is considered to be “social media,” the operative word being “social!” Make comments, add to the conversation, or just let them know you visited. Never participating in two-way conversations makes you a “lurker” and defeats the purpose of being there – to connect!

DON’T: Isolate yourself. This is not a monologue – if you want to simply grace us with your presence and wisdom, start a blog and turn off the comments. There is a time and place for that, but FB isn’t it.


Permission to use this article is granted so long as original name/website information on top is retained. Thank you!

Until next time...
My Signature

CPSIA Information

Welcome! For more information about my Story Time Felts business, visit We offer imaginative children’s educational felt products such as felt boards for storytelling fun, felt paper dolls, felt quiet books, and more!

My business and thousands of others are being threatened by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which will go into effect in phase 1 on February 10th, 2009. This law, which unfortunately was pushed through last year without forethought as to the ramifications for small business, will effectively limit the small business children’s products industry by requiring redundant, expensive, and ultimately destructive testing for lead and phthalates on new product as well as current inventory. I believe that these limits do need to be put in place and supported, however the manner in which the law was written will result in many small businesses and manufacturers destroying current inventory, limiting their product lines or going out of business all together.

These are just some of the categories of products this law will affect:

  • books, including library books
  • infant equipment
  • childcare supplies including diapers
  • children’s clothing including babies to age 12
  • all toys for children birth to 12
  • stuffed animals
  • birthday party goods, decorations, supplies
  • wooden “natural” toys
  • hand-made children’s toys/goods/crafts
  • homeschooling materials
  • art and school supplies for children
  • children’s musical instruments
  • teaching materials and textbooks
  • bicycles and outdoor equipment for children
  • resale and consignment clothing and products
  • prizes/incentive items for children
  • bedroom furniture items and bedding
  • girls’ jewelry and dress up items
  • hand made baby blankets, booties, and hats
  • religious education products
  • sporting equipment designed for children
  • science and math hands-on teaching tools
  • kindergarten and preschool learning through play items
  • children’s shoes, backpacks and other accessories

This law, as it stands today, requires every person who distributes a children’s product in any way (selling, lending, donating) to be sure that the finished product meets the lead and phthalate limit outlined in the law or face fines up to $100,000. They are to do so by ensuring that the original manufacturer or the finished product and the original manufacturer of the raw materials have obtained scientific testing and General Conformity Certificates for the finished product and each individual variations of that product, all individual components of the finished product, every single time a “lot” or “batch” is produced, whether it is a one time production of a one of a kind item, or a lot of 1000s. With certified testing running anywhere from $100 to $5000 per product, it is easy to see how this could put small businesses who produce small quantities out of business. That fact that it is retroactive and applies to existing inventory is enough to put someone out of business. Currently, XRF (x-ray) testing is permissible and tends to be a lower cost, but is not widely available. By August 14, 2009, all testing must be done by a certified 3rd party laboratory using testing that destroys the sample. The costs for this testing is truly exorbitant except for those companies who are producing mass quantities large enough to recuperate the costs.

The affect on our livelihoods and lifestyles as Americans will be affected by this law, as only the larger corporations, including those whose products are produced in foreign countries, will be able to continue doing business in the USA. We will be left with only mass produced items and lose the charm and innovation of Made in the USA products for children. Jobs will be lost as companies go out of business or reduce their reach. Our stores are already beginning to close down, and clear their shelves of non-compliant products, toys, clothing, and books. Thrift stores will no longer carry children’s product, eliminating an affordable option for many families in these tough times. Libraries will not be able to allow children to check out books. This is a serious problem that needs attention.

What can we do? Although this law has already passed and will go into effect February 10th, both Congress and the Consumer Product Safety Commission appear to be open to feedback for possible exemptions or amendments to this law. Contacting Congress, especially those on the Committee for Energy and Commerce who drafted this law, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and your local representatives to let them know that this will affect either your business, the local economy, the available products for your family, or someone you know directly.

Below are some website links to government resources and contact information, press releases, news articles and media coverage about this law.

Consumer Product Safety Commission:

Congress and its Committee on Energy and Commerce:

From Experts in the Field:

Print and Online Articles:



If you know of any other resources I should add to this list, please let me know in the comments. Thanks in advance for helping raise awareness of this cause!

Until next time...
My Signature

Regret – A Poem

Hi everyone! My older kids are at their bio-dad’s and Fallon has been emailing now and then (YESSS). She is in a writing club online where they (mostly teens) submit stories or poems for others to critique and she has been begging me to submit something. I don’t have a lot of experience/success with writing fiction so I thought I’d start with a poem. I went to the Personal Mastery weekend with Klemmer and Associates last weekend and it has stirred up some ‘stuff’ for me this week. So it is nice getting it out. I haven’t written a poem since high school. LOL! Enjoy! Continue reading ‘Regret – A Poem’

Until next time...
My Signature