Thursday, January 1, 2009

There's Always a Silver Lining

TO FRIENDS & FAMILY

Before ushering the New Year, I reflected on this past year, personal highs and lows. If you know about my blog and have followed it like a faithful reader of a book, then you already know most of my story. Or maybe you're a friend or relative that I have not seen or written in years or a stranger who's facing a struggle and can draw on my experience. This is my online journal, and I invite you to read and take away any morsel for staying in touch or even inspiration.

It was smooth sailing for the first half of the year and then the summer and Christmas Holiday presented unchartered waters, challenges of life and death. It said that the strength of a person's character is determined and developed by how one deals with life's unexpected blows and emergencies. I wonder if may peek at God's scorecard.

In January, the new year did not kick off with rose-tinted glasses (gosh that is unlike my optimistic nature--but I'm a business woman as well). My crystal ball forecasted a dark 2008 for the local economy. OK--so I don't have a crystal ball, but experience is the best teacher of all and after three layoffs in ten years, I sensed it was time for a down swing in South Florida if not the nation. Little did I know, I would hit the bullseye. I hate it when I'm right about these things. I think I missed my calling as an economic forecaster. Hence I embarked on a self-tutorial of blogs to keep up with the marketing trends. So I began to home school and hone my marketing skills and learned how to create and program blogs--a social marketing phenomena.

In late February, I became a permanent employee of Young & Rubicam, an advertising agency. I could not be more happy with my job, bosses, coworkers and team spirit. I also work seven minutes away from home. A savings in gas and time and sleep. I now have a life again to spend with friends and my cherished pets. It's not about the salary or money--for me a job has to support my values of quality of life.

Springtime is a season of rebirth and giving. In May, I graduated as a certified tour guide for the Miami Design Preservation League. So what does one have to do with the other? As a volunteer for MDPL, I offer walking tours of the Art Deco district highlighting the architecture and influence of the hurricanes, Prohibition, the mafia and Hollywood. Hmm, sounds like corruption was beneficial to Miami. It was at the time (but you have to take the tour to learn more)! Walking outside in the breezy, tropical outdoors, highlighting the history and physical features of Miami (including the transplants and implants--I'm talking about the buildings) and meeting people from around the world is how I donate my time and expertise. Is this volunteer work? Yes, but it is so much fun and rewarding.

June--a nip in the economic air tells this bellweather that dollars and cents will be void of value and sense. I decide to launch a side business to supplement my income by offering Art Deco Walking Tours! You're probably thinking I'm competing with MDPL. Not really, if anything, my attempts have sent MDPL more customers during the week. How so? I can only offer tours on the weekends, so hotels have been sending tourists to MDPL during the week. My business is still in infancy, so I rely on my marketing skills and experience to get the word out at minimal cost. In a coconut shell, I offer the same 90 minute walking tour for same price. The only difference is that I offer the tour at a TIME CONVENIENT FOR THE CUSTOMER.
So on your next visit to Miami, be sure to make your reservation for this fun tour! And tell your friends too! http://www.artdecotours.com/

July --sounds off with a drum roll and the launch of my first of six blogs. Yep Six blogs. Am I crazy? If I join the elitist group of mad authors like Hemingway and Capote, then consider me officially crazy!

The first blog is all about moi: http://aboutchristinemichaels.blogspot.com/
Then there's my Fashion and Shopping blog: http://kryshasshoppingkapades.blogspot.com/
Of course, you have to have money before shopping, hence my "We'll Show You the Money" Blog http://blogsistershowmoney.blogspot.com/
With so much hype about going green, there's my Green Blog "Going Fishing at Lake Valdez" http://goinggreenguide.blogspot.com/
So what is the best remedy to remove a stain? With so many useful and fascinating tips out there, I share ZIP TIPS http://ziptips.blogspot.com/

It's a part-time job but blogging is like an online journal and has served a therapeutic hobby and creative outlet.


August--the buzz of the Olympics leading up to the big day had me swatting at invisible Chinese flies. On August 8, the din turns out to manifest itself as a well planned, spectacular opening grand ceremony. Perhaps under the influence of the parade of athletes, the next day, my mother thinks she's an agile gymnast and attempts to climb a piece of furniture. She slips and falls and is in agonizing pain. Life and death flash before my eyes. If you read my emails, then you probably followed the link to my blog detailing the event.

October-- this month I became a European. I worked less and vacationed more. I took what seems like a three week vacation all at once. In reality I planned two different four- day weekend trips. Why? I turned the BIG 40 this year and I was going to celebrate and do everything I dreamed of. First a weekend trip to a spa resort at Phoenix, Arizona at the Buttes. Pampering and relaxation is therapeutic and rejuvenating. I highly recommend it. The following weekend was a trip to Key West with my sister and brother-in-law. And the next weekend I invited a group of girlfriends for a limousine ride to various cocktail destinations in South Beach. And then Halloween decided to share in my month-long festivities. It was another night of drinking and dancing. For details follow the yellow-brick links. Or in this case the purple links. Don't worry, I'm still proud to be an American.

December-- aah the Christmas season. The scent of faux pine tree spray (for the fake tree) lingers in the air while velvet stockings are hung with great care. Sipping eggnog laden with whiskey and rum, the pets are frolicking til they tire like a bum. You know I just made that up! (To be clear, I was the one drinking the egg nog). Suddenly the love of my life passes away. I was devastated. Aside from my aging grandmother, I had never experienced a sudden loss of someone so close. Francois taught me lessons of life.

So what do I wish for in 2009--well good health of course, but honestly--how do I get my friends and family to post comments on my blogs?! They read it. But instead of writing a comment on the blog, they send me an email. No matter how many times I explain the advantage of collecting comments on the blogs in keeping the conversation connected, they don't get it. Strangers send me comments. How ironic is that? If that is my biggest worry, then life is good.

(Warning: the syrup is about to spill...)
But I am still grateful for all that I have and share in this world. Despite difficult times around me, I am blessed in many ways. There is a silver lining in every trial. For me it was the test of job layoffs early in my career that I have learned to confront loss with an appreciation for what I have. I embraced the basics and focused on what I have rather than what I lack. It forced me to leverage my marketing skills and financial savvy. (Funny, my skills served me more in times of unemployment. Employment taught me new skills). Together with faith, I was bouyed afloat. Never have I amassed any type of debt aside from my mortgage even when I was jobless or even employed. Never. And no, I never borrowed money from anyone. As I write this I'm thinking "Wow--this is so rare in today's 'max the credit limit' society." I feel proud but not over confident. There will be triumphant times and new challenges in the future. Who knows what 2009 holds? But I await with great anticipation. In less than 20 days, our country will inaugurate the first black President of our country. No matter who one voted for, it is a great time to be an American. For there is always a silver lining.

Happy, Healthy & Prosperous New Year to all!

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