Grandmother

Sixty five years ago my mother said, “Stand up straight.” “Stop slouching in your chair.” “You are going to have round shoulders like your grandmother.” I knew she was right, so I sat up straight. I walked without looking at my feet with a book on my head. I sat with my back up against the chair and my feet flat on the floor. I didn’t cross my knees and sat as proper as I could. I didn’t want to look like my grandmother.

Even after I left my home in Pennsylvania, I could hear my mother “nagging” me to sit up straight. I saw my grandmother in Indiana more when I attended Purdue and she never nagged me. But, I could see the hump in her back and she often walked with a cane. Besides the normal cooking and cleaning that grandmothers do, she sewed clothes and played the organ. I sat and listened to her beautiful music and didn’t notice that she was hunched over the key board. Arthritis began to play tricks on her hands which seemed like a reason to play the piano less and less, but it could very well have been her back was complaining as well. My grandmother never complained to me and even at 20 I was unaware of the potential for pain in sitting for hours playing the organ.

I followed my mother’s advice because I didn’t want to look like my grandmother. All the practice in walking, sitting, standing, kneeling, lifting, and moving in general was done, so I could look as beautiful as my cheerleader mother. Never mind that I was already heavier than her and three inches taller and “blessed” with an hour-glass figurer at a time when Twiggy was the model every teenager strived to look like.

New Year’s Resolution

When I picked up the water that was in a drawer under my bed, it was the last item that needed to be moved out of the three rooms that would receive the new floor. Bud was not able to do any of the prep work so my body from head-to-toe was tired. If my back had warned me, I could have told it to hang in there a little longer because I was almost done, maybe it did tell me, and I didn’t listen. Regardless, we both limped through Christmas and didn’t move anything back to its place until our daughter flew out to help us. Yeah, we could finally find what was missing for a month and I set a new year’s resolution to finally beat my rounded shoulders.

As you might expect, things don’t usually happen the way you plan. Geny flew back to Utah on Dec 30th and nine days later Bud my husband and best friend for 52 years died.

My week-old new year’s resolution was put on the back burner for months, as I resolved the many issues that followed the unexpected death of my husband. Unfortunately, I gained twenty-five pounds before I started to focus again on my journey back. To be honest five of the pounds were due to the pandemic but it all added up to extra weight that my back carried around.

The Beginning

As the days creep on, my mind, which does not have a good rewind button, remembers moments when my back felt like it does at the moment. The rocky journey started in the 1960’s when my mother would tell my sister and I stand up straight. I remember sitting and walking with a book on my head to keep my back straight. Mom was trying in her own way to prevent us from developing rounded shoulder like her Mom. My grandmother may have been in pain especially in the years leading up to her death. We didn’t know her well then, but we remembered her as an active woman who played the organ, sewed her own clothes, and worked alongside my grandfather as he cared for pigs and sheep on their Indiana farm.

I listened to my mother and tried unsuccessfully to keep my back straight over the fifty years since I left her care. In my mind I frequently remembered her words of caution and would stand up straight, suck my stomach in, and try to look like I was puffing my chest out. The perhaps that was the chink in my armor. My mom was thinner than I was and try as I might my little 16-year-old brain knew it was impossible.

Fast forward to 1/1/2019, I was determined to accomplish the impossible. I set my new year’s resolution to eliminate my rounded shoulders. A month previously when I bent over and picked up a six pack of water bottles, my back made a loud cracking noise that was not normal. Two days before my husband of 50 years slipped on ice clearing the driveway so a truck could deliver the laminate floor boards to replace thirty-year-old carpeting in our house.

The Way Back

My journey started when I was very young. Although it was over sixty years ago, I remember vividly my mother lecturing me to sit, stand, and walk with my head up and shoulders back as I walked around the house with a book on my head. I assume that book balancing was punishment when I was discovered slouching. There was warning mixed in with the lecture that I would have rounded shoulders like my grandmother, so I had a vivid visual reminder every time I caught myself slouched in a chair. For years that was enough to keep me focused on sitting, standing, and walking with grace and correct posture.

Over time my resolve to fight the inevitable faded. It was hard work to stand correctly and life had diminished my determination not to look like my grandmother. For seventy years it was my appearance that was the driver until the fateful day when my back cracked. Then I faced the reality that I had kyphosis and something more than standing up straight was needed to correct the deformity.

A Christmas Miracle

Tonight, two days before Christmas, I witnessed a miracle. There is no other way to explain the coincidence surrounding the incident.

I was the fourth car waiting in a left hand turn lane. When the green arrow indicated we could safely turn, the cars in front of me didn’t move and one of the drivers impatiently honked his horn. It was then that I noticed the first car in the lane had changed his, or her, mind and was pulling into the right hand lane. Just as they finished the awkward maneuver, a semi-truck barreled through the intersection. The truck definitely didn’t have a green light or the right-of-way. I am absolutely positive that if any of the cars in my turn lane had been in the intersection at that point in time, they would not have survived the impact.

That car in the wrong lane, stopped traffic in both lanes long enough to save our lives. To that unknown stranger and to a loving Heavenly Father, I say thank you and Merry Christmas.

Small Business Saturday

November honors veterans the fist week in November with Veteran’s Small Business Week – supporting our veterans is a great way to say thank you.

The last Saturday in November is Small Business Saturday® – a day to celebrate and support small businesses and all they do for their communities.  Please remember to support your local small business by shopping at a small business.

As a shopper, you can participate by shopping at the small businesses in your area.

As a Small business owners, you can be prepared and put your best foot forward on the last Saturday in November. You can host and event and serve cookies and warm cider or holiday punch or join in a community hosted event. Offer a special and rally your friends and neighbors to join you.

There is more information about support from American Express at https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/Shop-Small/

The program is sponsored by the SBA – Small Business Administration so look through their site for my information. http://www.sba.gov/smallbusinesssaturday

Exceptional Service

While I often wonder if exceptional service will become a thing of the past, I am reassured by the exceptional support received at two different Microsoft stores in the past six months. Both were the result of dropping a Surface and breaking the screen. One entrepreneur had a  Service Plan and one didn’t. Both owners received fast, efficient, and exceptional service with no interruption in connectivity or work. Both were extremely happy with the results!

Small Businesses have always excelled at exceptional service, but Microsoft has demonstrated twice that they are committed to customer service as well. So service comes in small and big packages. Thank goodness!

Business Cards and Cell Phone Aps

With all the amazing applications on our cell phones, life is getting easier. For instance… business card scanning.

When I was at a conference recently, I watched a young woman scan my business card into her phone. I regret that it wasn’t easy! Not because the software wasn’t scanning, but because my pretty business card was not designed to be scanned into the phone.

Not only do our web sites need to be responsive (the word that says it will look great on a phone,) but our business cards need to be designed for our phones as well. From print to electronic.

From my experience, the rules are simple.

  • Don’t use an unusual or script font for your name and other vital information.
  • Don’t use light lettering on a dark background, such as white on black.
  • Don’t use shiny paper. Too much gloss throws the scanner off.
  • Don’t crowd the text; put long descriptions on the back side.

Pictures, colors, fancy or plain paper, horizontal or vertical design didn’t make a difference. So have fun and be unique, BUT…

Bottom Line: Going forward, you want your business card clear enough to be scanned into your customer’s phone. For the more technical wizards, don’t forget your QR Code.

What did I finally buy for a bank-breaking $5; ABBYY Business Card Reader (Android and iPhone versions exist)

What an improvement over the one I tried to use ten years ago.

No Excuses

I have no excuse for my ignorance but myself. I walked out of the Lake Villa library today and two flyers on a rack caught my attention – Mining Census Records and Make Your Own YouTube Video. As an SBDC advisor, I need to know how to do both, plus I had just learned that the Library has a free Notary Service when they are open. I feel like I just hit a home run! Check your library today, you may hit a home run too.

The Same Old isn’t the Same Old

My first real job was programming COBOL. (Don’t try to guess how old I am.) I remember vividly the first object-oriented program I wrote; I had to rewire my brain.
Blended Learning is just like that I have to rewire my brain. In the fall (2013) I taught a blended class. But, although it was blended, it wasn’t integrated. I hadn’t rewired my brain. I need to integrate!!!