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This was originally posted on my friend Lynn Hidy’s website Up Your TeleSales on May 31, 2010.

Who Will You Be When The Pilgrimage Is Over?

Rose Niekrewicz-Winters is a friend of mine, I met when we were both on a bus trip with a band in Ireland…. ‘nuf said. Instead of telling you, I’ve asked Rose to share her pilgrimage and thoughts about it:

It’s been quite a long pilgrimage.  I’ve traveled through the past year and a half searching for a job.  Not just any job, but “the” job.  I know, I know – in this economy many would say I’m a fool to NOT just take any job.  What those people don’t realize is that if I just take any old job and then if it doesn’t work out and they lay me off, it could jeopardize my future unemployment status.  The bottom line is that I’m picky.

Who

Some may say it’s all about who you know.  I’ve found that sometimes that just doesn’t matter.  I have over 600 friends on Facebook, over 200 members in the motorcycle club, I’m in, thousands of hits to my blog, piles of former clients….  The list goes on and on.  Nobody seems to know anyone who is hiring.  I keep my ear to the ground because all it takes is 1 “right person” to drop your name at the right time.

Who I will be at the end of the journey is hopefully someone gainfully employed and happy at my job.  Push that angle aside and I’ll also be a person who took the time to get to know hundreds of people in the process and did good things for others along the way.

What

What did I do to keep my sanity?  I helped others.  I spent time working on a charity poker run for a girl with optic nerve cancer.  I helped some friends whose house burned down rebuild their lives.  I volunteered to help do work to open up the Double H “Hole in the Woods” Ranch in Lake Luzerne, NY.  I helped out a friend who was in a motorcycle accident. I supported a friend whose daughter has leukemia and tried to help her spread the word about a fundraiser for her.  I tell friends that I may have an empty bank account and can’t financially contribute to everything I’d like, but I do have time and a bank full of good karma!

When

When did I find the time?  Being out of work many people assume you’ve got all the time in the world to run around and help them with their errands.  There is nothing further from the truth.  I look at my schedule lately and wonder “when will I find the time to work when I get that new job?”  When you get extra time in your life, life decides to throw things at you to fill the time!

Where

Where do you meet the people?  Anywhere and Everywhere!  I talk to people every chance I get.  I make friends at a local coffee shop, on vacation, at concerts, at networking events, online, through other friends….  I keep saying it only takes talking to the one right person to land that perfect job….

How

How I’ve dealt with being out of work so long is a common question.  The answer is by keeping a positive attitude.  I always keep in mind that nobody wants to hire a complainer who’s crying in their beer all the time.  So I’ve been careful not to be that person. At the end of the How Far Are You Willing to Travel article in the A Chip Off the Block newsletter some questions were asked.

How would you like it to be instead?

Obviously I’d like to be employed.  I’d love it to be with a solid company that’s willing to recognize and pay for a quality employee.  Those $10/hour job calls just frustrate me to the point of asking “Did you even read my resume??”

How open to new, sometimes crazy sounding ideas are you?

I started my job search very focused on a sales job.  Later I reflected on my career and realized I was selling myself short.  True I’ve held many sales positions as of late, but I also have done marketing, data processing, management, etc.  So pigeon holing myself was a horrible thing to do!  I later realized that opening myself up to other markets and other professions was a great idea and now I tell people that I’m keeping my options open and I’d love to hear their ideas, no matter how crazy they may sound.

Just last night a good friend told me that another mutual friend counts on me for my ideas.  Apparently I’m her “think tank” and I never knew it.  I’m analytical and try to think three steps ahead and my friend doesn’t normally think past the first step.  She let’s things unfold as they happen.  I’ve learned in life to think about the future because your actions today can make or break things.

How much effort will you put in?

I work hard so I can play hard.  Everyone likes to make money.  They’d be lying if they said otherwise.  I like to do a job in the most efficient way and get it out of the way.  I put in the effort to get a job done right the first time so it doesn’t have to be revised 4 times therefore wasting valuable “play time.”

How does this fit into your goals?

This all fits into my goals.  My goals are to work hard so I can afford to play hard.  I love to travel (in fact that’s how Lynn of Up Your Telesales and I met and became friends), ride motorcycles, attend concerts, etc.  All of that is tough to do when you’re unemployed.  So I’m hoping my positive attitude and outgoing personality I’m putting out there will pay off with the job of my dreams!

How will you keep going when it gets tough?

That’s a loaded question if I ever saw one!  Things have gotten tough.  Life is tough.  The question is will you choose to have a “Whoa is me” attitude or a positive attitude?  Attitude is half the battle!  Times get tough and somehow it motivates me to work harder and put in even more effort than I had prior.

In closing the How Far Are You Willing To Travel article said:  “It’s your pilgrimage so there are no right or wrong answers – plus if you’re happy with the path you’re on, continue!”

I may not always be happy with the path I’m on, but I’m always aware of the next crossroad and am very aware that my life can be very different based on the choices I make.  All events shape the outcome of future events.  Just like Marty and Doc discussed in Back to the Future It’s all about the “Space Time Continuum”. Make every moment count.

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smAlbany Small Business Day 2010

[tweetmeme] I started my day remembering a blog I’d read the night prior.  Tea Contains Less Caffeine Than Coffee on the Broken Secrets blog.  I couldn’t get my caffeine soon enough!  I rarely drink coffee, but when I do I get the caffeine kick I need.  Since I knew I’d be talking to people though – I did them all a favor and DIDN’T drink coffee.  Coffee breath stays with me all day — so I opted for Mountain Dew Typhoon instead.  (I needed something caffeinated to help me function on 2 hours sleep!)

College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering

Once Michael and I checked in at the registration desk and mingled some, we settled in to the auditorium at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering building (For those that don’t know it’s the big glass building at the corner of Fuller Road and Washington Avenue Ext. in Albany)

Below are some notes about the forums that were offered.
I found as I started writing this that it was VERY difficult to keep up with all the information the panels were presenting.  Many of the following sections will appear more as “notes” vs. a “narrative.”

Times Union:  Tools for Small Business Success

Speaker: Tena Tyler – News and Information Services Senior Editor 518.454.5324

To have your business information printed in the Times Union you need to understand your audience.  You need to know how to speak their language.  She stressed that a business needs to know when to call an editor.  If you’ve sent in a press release and two weeks have passed and it hasn’t been published, make sure you call in.  Tena stated that one of the biggest problems with small businesses in the region is that they don’t accept that online is a form of publication.  Many businesses are turning to Facebook and Twitter to market their businesses, but small businesses seem to be slower to use the online medium for marketing.

The TU wants to help small businesses in the region
If you have a story about your business: TUBusiness@timesunion.com
If you have a business event and would like it added to our business calendar: TUCalendar@timesunion.com
If you want your event to be in the print version – please contact them 3 weeks in advance
Eric Anderson – Business editor 453-5323

Speaker: Craig Eustace – Retail Advertising Manager 518.454.5529
Craig spoke about the paid marketing that the Times Union offers.
The Times Union now has Niche publications.
Life @Home – geared towards your home – design ideas, DIY projects, etc.
Healthy Life – geared towards women’s issues and things women would like to read about.
Explore – Where to go what to do – travel/tourism
In Motion – Automotive magazine
Vow – Brand New – Wedding magazine (Just launched Tuesday!)

You can advertise your small business in these publications to get your ad in front of a targeted audience.
Pay per click is also offered.  You will know how many people clicked on your ad.  It is track-able so you will know what your return on investment is.

They offer direct mail marketing.  They can provide demographic lists.  For example – If you’re a roofer – they can get you a list of all houses in the readership area that are 25 years or older.  You can target them and send your ad to those target customers.

Tim Cronin & Lisbeth Calandrino

Keynote Speaker:  Lisbeth Calandrino – Make It Happen
Lisbeth CalandrinoOwner of Lisbeth Calandrino Business Consulting, speaker, trainer, business coach and author of Red Hot Customer Service.

We have huge growth in the technology market in the capital region.

2 out of 3 jobs are created by small businesses

Earlier this month Sam’s Club did a survey of their small business customers.
“What is it that you need in order to stay in business?” was the main question.
The answer: MONEY!  Sam’s Club partnered with the National Business Association and the Small Business Administration to figure out how to get small business loans for the small business community.  If the small businesses don’t have money to maintain their businesses, it will directly effect Sam’s Club’s bottom line.  This act alone shows that Sam’s Club partners with their customers.

What do small businesses need around Albany?
Many have good business but it isn’t steady.
Figure out how to get your customer out to shop.
Consumers are afraid to shop.  Afraid to spend – need to save their money.
If you want to make it as a small business, you need to be a partner with your customer
It’s your job to be friends with you customers.

She quoted 212 – The Extra Degree by Sam Parker & Mac Anderson
“At 211 degrees, water is hot.
At 212 degrees, it boils.
And with boiling water, comes steam.
And steam can power a locomotive.”

Meet the Media Who Cover The Local Business News
Moderated by Lydia Kulbida from WTEN and Times Union Blogger

The Panelists
Larry Rulison
Lauren Rose
Mary Darcy
Mike Hendricks

Read your tweets and messages out loud.  Would you want to buy whatever your pitching?
Engage with your audience – have a fun personality.
Friend every reporter out there to get your name out in many forms of media.
Comment on the blogs, Facebook, Twitter….
Interact with your customers on Twitter & Facebook with personal tweets and comments.

Times Union – Panel on Social Media, Blogging and Your Customers
Moderated by Mike Huber – Interactive Audience Manager at the Times Union

The Panelists
Sonja Stark

Merci Miglino
Lissa D’Aquanni
Rev. Alan Rudnick
Vic Christopher

Questions that you should ask yourself prior to blogging are:
“Why should people read your blog?  Why should they care?
People blog for different reasons.  Some blog to market their business, others blog to build a sense of community.
“Careful what you put out there.  Count to 10 before you hit publish.”
“What degree do ethics play in a community?”
Rev. Alan Rudnick spoke about people who “hide behind the veil” AKA – Anonymous bloggers.
Merci reminded us that “Blogging is a knee jerk – reactive media.”
“If you don’t believe in your product, in yourself, and that you can cheer yourself out of a corner – you shouldn’t start a blog.”
“Be a follower OR have a following.”  Your choice.
They spoke about the recent “Ding Dong Ditch” incident that happened locally last week.  Why did it become such a firestorm?  It was a story that contained emotion.  It could happen to any home owner.    Social Media helped that story spread like wild-fire.  So much so that CNN picked up the story.

An audience member Karen McGowan spoke that she hadn’t considered a blog for her business until today.  The panel encouraged her to start blogging about her business Capital Interior Scapes an interior plant scape business.  By blogging she would humanize her business and she would appear as an expert in her industry.  She could post customer recommendations, pictures of plant-scapes she’d designed, lists of plants that people could consider and so many other things.

Going Mobile – The Mobile Revolution in Social Media
Presented by Rhea Drysdale of Outspoken Media and Verizon Wireless

Why is  mobile taking over everyone’s lives?
It makes our lives easier.

What is social media?
“Social media are media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques…  They support the democratization of knowledge and information and transform people from content consumers to content producers.”

Benefits of social media
New customer acquisition
Current customer outreach
Loyalty rewards
Corporate branding
Personal branding
Brand monitoring and management

They spoke about using Facebook, Twitter, Ning, Yelp, FourSquare GetListed and Know Em to market your business.  Go to these sites and fill out your business profile.  They stressed to fill in EVERY blank and as many keywords as are relevant to help your business come up in internet search engine results.

54% of the phone users in the local market use Verizon service.
30-40% of them are smart phones.
52% of the phones sold last week in his store were smartphones – ie. Droids, Blackberries, etc.

Top 10 Things Your Small Biz Website Needs in 2010
Presented by: Miriam Paska – Creative Strategist from Intellisites

She didn’t present them as a “Top 10” but some of the key points were:

Have a unique Design
You need to know who you’re competing against and what their web presence and marketing strategies are.
Keep your important information “above the fold”
You want the viewer of your site to see the important information without having to scroll down the page.
Use keyword phrases in your blog and on your website so you will organically show up on Web search results.
She also spoke about using Google Alerts to monitor the online activity of your company name.

Using Social Media For Your Job Hunt
Presented by: Alexis Grant

Use social media to:
Tap into your existing network
Expand your network s to include contacts at the companies where you want to work.

Facebook
Biggest online community – most bang for your buck – IT’S FREE!
People know you, like you, and WANT to help you
Great excuse to keep in touch with people who could help you

She stressed the importance of making small-talk first.  Don’t friend request someone and immediately ask them if their company is hiring.  Make some small talk and as the conversation evolves, your job search will be mentioned.

Alexis spoke about using your Facebook privacy settings to control what potential employers could see on your profile.    You want to be personal, yet still professional.

LinkedIn
Connect with professionals you might not want to see your personal life on Facebook
Your resume will appear on Google, showing potential employers what you want them to see.
LinkedIn has job boards as well as groups you can join based on your alma mater and industry.
You can find out background information about potential employers
There is an introductions feature that you can use to meet someone who a mutual friend knows.

Twitter
Network outside your circle of friends
Prove yourself as an expert
Hear about jobs
Keep on top of new trends in your industry
Make connections with companies and employers who may not have otherwise noticed you)

Tips when using social media
Fill out your profile completely
If you’re not going to do it well, don’t do it at all
Rather than being on every network – choose a few and grow quality followings

Thank you to Tim Cronin and Larry Zimbler for the invitation to be a VIP Guest Blogger at the smAlbany Small Business Day 2010.  I look forward to interacting with you in the future.

smAlbany Image from: http://www.smalbany.org
Mountain Dew Image from: http://thishelpdesk.com/mountain-dew-typhoon/
College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering Image from: http://todaysfacilitymanager.com/facilityblog/2009/12
Tim Cronin and Lisbeth Calandrino image by Michael T. Henry: http://tcrpmg.wordpress.com

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Meet Katie 🙂

While brainstorming about what to write blogs about, I wanted to find a way for my readers to get to know some of the awesome people who I know.  The best way I could come up with was an interview series.

Meet my friend KatieKatie and I met randomly on MySpace.  If I recall she was looking to meet another couple around the same age as her and her husband and we fit the bill.  Eventually we met face to face and we’ve really hit it off.     So… without further ado – get to know Katie.

Name: Katie Smith McKay

Age: 31

Location: Watervliet, NY

Hails from: Latham, NY

Relationship Status: Married

Twitter: Katieny79

Children: None not sure I want any

Occupation: Relationship Banker at First Niagara Bank currently, also Pampered Chef Consultant, and aspiring to be a Wedding Planner

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Day job – I’m not happy at and I hate the phone, feel like a glorified telemarketer sometimes.  
Pampered Chef– Keeping bookings consistent and avoiding cancellations – though that is improving as of late….

How long have you been a Pampered Chef Consultant? 2-1/2 years. www.pamperedchef.biz/katiezdreamz

Are you having any good sales right now? May is a great month to host.  May is Help Whip Cancer month purchase exclusive pink products to benefit the American Cancer Society

Jeff & Katie

How did you and your husband Jeff meet? Jeff and I met when I was 20 and he was 25 through a mutual friend.

What did you and your husband Jeff do on your first date? We went to see a movie The Bone Collector I think that was it, we met at theater after he got out of work on a Friday night. We didn’t do much “dating” as in going out mostly just hung out and talked and hung out with friends very casual dating atmosphere in the beginning I guess.

What have you always wanted to do but were too afraid to try? That’s a really good question and I feel like I should have an answer but I really don’t. I could say starting my own business but I’ve decided to work toward that plunge so I guess I lost my fear in some ways. The best I can come up with is maybe sing in public sober and non-karaoke.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Hmmm that’s hard……. I enjoy food so to pick a favorite comfort food……….. I guess I’ll be boring and say pepperoni pizza or if I’m sick Chicken Noodle Soup.

Would you go back in time if given the chance? Yes

What would you do? If I could go back 10 years ago, I’d know that wedding planning is my true passion and could have started pursuing that then.

The Fresh Prince of Bel Air

What were your favorite TV shows when you were a kid? Full House & Fresh Prince of Bel Air I guess

Now? Too many I watch way too much TV. But currently probably Survivor, Parenthood and Modern Family oh and How I Met Your Mother.

What do you like to spend money on? Wish I had money to spend on things I liked to spend it on. Mostly just goes to bills and necessities.

What is your favorite board game? I  LOVE board games so I really can’t pick a favorite, but I guess if I absolutely had to pick one I’d say Cranium.

Chewy

What is your favorite way to relax? Reading

What’s your biggest pet peeve? Socks and sandals

You and I met on MySpace.  Are you surprised we hit it off as well as we have? Honestly yes I am but I’m glad!:)

You’ve just closed on 1st home.  What part of home-ownership are you most looking forward to? All of it!  I can’t wait to pay towards an investment instead of rent to landlords that don’t even care about their property. Being able to do whatever I want, paint tack knock down walls. Having space and freedom.

What other questions do you have for Katie?
Ask away!

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Cute~Ella Is Bold

While brainstorming about what to write blogs about, I wanted to find a way for my readers to get to know some of the awesome people who I know.  The best way I could come up with was an interview series.

Meet my friend Cute~Ella Is BoldCute~Ella is a great gal who I met through a social networking group I’m part of.  Since we’ve met she’s proven to be a great friend who knows how to listen and can give un-biased advice when it’s needed.  So… without further ado – here is Cute~Ella.  🙂

Name: Cute~Ella is Bold

Age: Closing in on 30 faster than my mother would like.  (Turning 30 on Saturday!)

Location: Upstate NY. Yes, there is one of those. It’s actually quite large.

Hails From: East Bum-fuck NY – within an hour radius of Oneonta, NY

Relationship Status: Newly not single.

Children: None of my own yet, I’m enjoying letting my friends have turns, planning baby showers and spoiling their kids.

Blog Link: http://cuteellaisbold.wordpress.com

Cute~Ella Is Bold

Occupation: My real job isn’t exciting. It’s supposed to make an impact, but all it really impacts for the most part is my company’s bottom line. Also, I spend a lot of time in bathing suits either teaching midgets not to drown or refining bigger midgets strokes by yelling things like “reach!”. “kick!”, “glide!”, “breathe!” and various other things across the pool.

What is the most challenging part of your job? My real job? Not quitting because I’m bored and need a change…swimming lessons is more like play time, but I’d have to say not getting kicked, flashing boobs when the little ones grab my bathing suit straps and or not getting spit on when they come up for air.

How did you get into blogging? I started blogging in 2004 for no reason I can remember now, then my friend passed away and I found that it was a good distraction and when I needed to get stuff off my chest it was a good way to do so.

Why did you move to the Capital District? I came up for college and for various and sundry reasons, just haven’t left yet.

What thoughts went through your mind when you found our your little brother was getting deployed to Iraq? He was deployed to Iraq in Oct ’08.  It was complicated because I was so proud of him and what he was doing, but at the same time I was so scared for him.  I eventually put it up to Fate that he was well-trained, focused and that he would be home again.  My parents were more worried and I think part of the reason I was alright for the most part was because I was more focused on being there for them coordinating Christmas and my Dad’s retirement party than anything else.
Of course I worried all the time and started crocheting because it was the one thing I could do and not think about what he was doing and where he was.  Also, I started working out with a friend and that took my mind off what was going on because she was trying to kick my ass regularly.
I can say though that the training camps and being out of touch for long periods of time helped.  Also, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been because we had internet connections on both ends and he and I had a deal that we didn’t have to talk or email, but I had to see that he had logged into My Space on a regular basis or I’d worry more.  He’s all about me not worrying.

I know you like crocheting.  What is the most complicated project you’ve completed? Haha complicated? I don’t really do complicated.  I do hats and scarves and I’m going to do a couple blankets for soon to be arriving bundles of joy.  I am going to try making a poncho type thing for my niece.  See the problem is, I don’t really know how to read patterns, I just play with different yarns and/or materials and hope for the best!

What’s it like being a swim instructor? Have you ever tried corralling cats?  Kidding.  I love it.  I teach little kids basics and have fun refining older kids strokes.  Sometimes it’s wicked stressful but it’s almost always fun.  Every time a kid “gets” it, it’s a personal victory.  I liked my special needs kids the best, but right now we don’t have a special needs program at the pool I’m at.  Also, it’s quite inspiring to know I have to be in a bathing suit so many nights a week…keeps the inner fat chick at bay.

Do you find that kids are well-behaved because they enjoy time in the water? Sometimes.  They try to be good for me, but some kids are just rambunctious or are facing other things that make it difficult.  After 15 years of doing this, frankly, if no one drowns and we all learn something new, then I consider it a good day.  I had some kids years ago we’ll call Igor and Namanja (because those are their actual names) and they were terrible.  If we could make it through a class without they punching each other, trying to hold the other ones head under water or kicking each other in the junk then it was a seriously successful day.  They were hands down the worst children I had ever met.  I have often wondered what was going on to make them act out like that

How large are your classes? Up to 8 kids at a time.  If I have more than 6 they give me a helper.  My current one is awesome, but I fear that he will realize how good he is and want his own class.  Then they’ll give me someone new to break in.

What do you do if you get a bad kid? There are no “bad” kids.  I have kids that misbehave, kids that are going through a lot of changes in their life outside of class, kids who don’t want to be there, and kids who have trouble paying attention.  When they misbehave they get a warning, if they do it again they have to sit out of the pool, and after that if they do it again they get out for the day.  I’ve only had to tell one parent in my current program that if their kid doesn’t get better at listening/behaving then they can not return next session.  The parent took it well because at this point, they’re just wasting money.

Cute~Ella Is Bold

What book has had an impact on how you think about life? Oh gosh, so many books! I don’t even know where to start.  PS I Love You by Cecelia Ahern hit home hard.  When I read it, I had just lost a dear friend of mine/ex-boyfriend to complications from his lung replacement and it was just a really meaningful book to read right then and there.  The Lorax by Dr. Seuss when I was little and it really did help form an opinion of “different is ok or even good” at an early age, my Intro to Semiotics class book in college – it really changed my view on word usage, and then a book in college about how a message is affected by the media used and mode of communication.  That was really fun to play with.  An example of this is the song “Good Riddance“, by Green Day. it’s a song we all know and most of us have loved or at least even liked, but if you read the lyrics with any degree of anger it’s not a happy goodbye, it’s the ultimate F*ck You.  (You might only know the song by it’s secondary title of “Time of Your Life”.)
I’m working in Ishmael by Daniel Quinn right now.  It’s about a Gorilla who has the meaning of life.  I try to take something meaningful/educational from every book I read.  Even the trashy novels.  It might not be the message the author intended, but I get something out of it all.
I just finished reading Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore.  It’s religious satire at it’s finest.  The writer is either drunk, stoned or crazy – or some combination of the three.  (and I say that with the utmost admiration and respect for his talents.)

What do you worry about? I am a worrier by nature.  I want my friends and family to be happy, healthy and loved. I worry about my parents, my siblings, my friends and their troubles and about finding a new job before I go completely nutso here.  I worry that I don’t have it in me to make it through the next year with my guy, but I’ll find a way… I worry about money, if I’m eating the right food, if my car is going to die.  Maybe worry isn’t the right word for some of it, but there’s a lot of passing concern and thought.

What do you miss most about your childhood? The only thing I miss  about my childhood is the simplicity and reading by the pool every day all summer while I life-guarded (rarely had patrons).  I don’t want to go back and relive high-school, I wasn’t a typical kid.  My parents divorced when I was really little and I had a more adult role from about the age of 5.  I was then raising my kid sister (we have different moms) at 14 on weekends… my parents actually considered letting me take the GED and leave high-school to start college at 16.

Cute~Ella Is Bold

What’s a goal in your life you have yet to accomplish? Figuring out what I want to do with the rest of my life. I’m not sure I’ll ever figure that out to tell you the truth.  Right now my goals include saving 6 months worth of living expenses, making sure my friends, family, and new guy know how much I care about them, finding a job that I like more, working on the 101 in 1,001 Days, and finding a way to relax on vacation.  I don’t do relaxed very well. 😦

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While brainstorming about what to write blogs about, I wanted to find a way for my readers to get to know some of the awesome people who I know.  The best way I could come up with was an interview series.

This week’s interviews all have a military connection.  Meet my friend SaraSara and I met on MySpace through our friend KimSara is an army wife.  She got to know my good friend Lisa who was featured in yesterday’s blog when she moved from Yakima, WA to Ft. Hood, TX.

Sara and her hubby Mark

Name: Sara Caraway Kowalski

Blog link: http://armywife1208.wordpress.com/

Age: 34…almost old enough to be offended by giving out my real age! lol

Location: Fort Hood, Texas

Sara & Mark ~ December 27, 2008

Relationship Status: Married since December 27, 2008

Occupation: Mother and Army Wife Extraordinaire

Caitlin, Celsie and Cyler

What is the most challenging part of your job?
Dealing with children who rarely listen and putting up with the frustrations that come along with the Army life. I’m a married single mom, that is the easiest way to put it!

Last picture saying goodbye to Mark


You’re new to the Army Wife world. What are the biggest difference between being a civilian wife and an Army Wife?

Well first and foremost the Army comes first and everything else comes second. It is something that I am still trying to get used to. As a civilian you only spend time away from your spouse because one of you needs or wants time away with the Army separations are part of the job description. I find that I have distanced myself more from friends and family back home because they don’t understand exactly what I’m going through. Unless you actually are a military spouse you will never truly understand what one is going through.

What is the best part of being a military spouse?
Friends who become family very quickly. I feel closer to my friends that I have made here than some of those who I have been friends with for years. The extreme pride I feel for my husband when he puts on his uniform each morning.

The kids saying goodbye to Mark

Your husband is currently deployed in Afghanistan, and he’s been gone for about a month.  How are you coping?
Mark has been gone for a little over a month, although it feels a lot longer. I was a wreck when he first left but I am starting to get a routine down which make things a little better. I seem to have thrown myself into my kids and working on the house more than I have since we have been here. I don’t want my kids to feel like their mother can’t cope just because their dad/step-dad isn’t around.

How are your children handling it?
They really seemed to struggle at first. They were asking on a daily basis when he was coming home and now that he has been gone for a bit they have eased up on that. Although my 6-year-old still tells everyone she meets that her daddy is in Afghanistan killing the bad guys. It isn’t exactly what I want her telling people but she knows her daddy and his friends are making it possible for her to go bed at night and sleep safely.

What are the toughest times not having your husband home?
I think it is hardest when something needs done around the house that he would normally take care of. The front porch light burnt out two days after he left and I just cried. It sounds silly because it’s just a light but it caused my first mini-breakdown. The nights are hard too because we normally hangout watching movies and things after the kids go to bed and now there is just me here. I also hate sleeping alone and even when one of my kids crawl in bed with me it just isn’t the same.

Do you find yourself glued to the news stations?
Actually I promised Mark that I wouldn’t do this just for my own sanity. I watched CNN for a few hours one day and found that I could learn more accurate info by just talking to my hubby.

The family

Do you have a huge homecoming planned for him?
I don’t have anything set in stone for his homecoming. I know that I am hiring the photographer who took our family pictures to photograph the homecoming but that’s all I have for now. I would rather do something small and simple with just us and the kids rather than something huge.

I think this picture is soooo cute!!

What advice do you have for a new military spouse?
Don’t get mad at your spouse for things they can’t control. Your plans will always get screwed up by CQ, Staff Duty, or late nights for no reason. Learn to be laid back and to go with the flow, you will be much less stressed. Nothing in the Army makes sense, they sooner you accept this the better off you will be. Febreze does NOT cover up the Army smell…you will eventually learn to like it, you’ll even miss it when/if your spouse deploys.

What got you interested in blogging?
I accidentally clicked on the most popular blogs on Myspace one day a few years ago and one of them caught my eye. I read it and I was hooked on reading them. I eventually started my own just to get things of my chest. I did it mainly for my friends and family. I started to get more and more readers that I didn’t know which made want to write more for some reason. I quit for a while because of getting married and moving, I’m slowly making some sort of comeback.

Do you feel that there are perks to having so many years between your youngest and oldest child?
It has it positives and it’s negatives. They aren’t very close because of the 10 year difference but since they are so spread out I can enjoy different things with each of them. I can play with my son, watch cartoons, and just be silly and with my oldest I have someone to hangout with or someone to go do things with. I can take her shopping or to the movies and not have to seem something rated “G”. Also with the huge gap I always have a sitter if I need it! lol

Sara & Lisa

Lisa & Sara ~ I just thought this was such a cute picture!!

Tell me when you’re going to come visit NY with Lisa….
Oh I wish we could. I have never been to New York and would love to at least say I have been there. Sadly the Army doesn’t pay too well so I just can’t afford it right now. So when are you coming to Texas to visit us? You only have a limited time ya know, she is moving soon!:(

You got to have a video conference with your husband this week. What was it like? How did it go?
Do you feel like seeing him helped you miss him less? What were your feelings after?
It was amazing and depressing at the same time. We only were allowed five minutes each because there were so many soldiers who signed up. It went well and I didn’t cry like I thought I would…well at least were he saw (I waited until we were done). I think it made me miss him more because I was wanted to feel him so bad and yet I couldn’t.

You lived at Ft. Hood during the shootings here earlier this year. What was it like that day? What were you doing when you heard about it? How have things there changed since then??
I was working that day and got a text message from my husband saying there was a shooting and the next thing I knew he was texting me saying all of Fort Hood was on lock down. All I could do was watch CNN to see what was going on because all of the phone lines were busy. I finally made it home to an empty house because my girls were locked in their schools, the neighbor had my son and they were locked in the school as well. I sat on my couch glued to the tv and basically just answered phone call after phone call from people back home making sure we were all ok.  All of my family was separated in different locations around post, which was the worst feeling because when something major is going on you want your family with you.  When the finally opened Hood back up it was close to 9pm at night, my poor babies had been at school all day. I had a lot of questions to answer from my kids and had to deal with the fears that something or someone would come hurt them. My husband’s company had 11 wounded and 4 killed that day. So there is a constant reminder of that day when I’m at the company. My husband was actually supposed to be at the SRP building that day and was fortunate enough to need some medical and dental work done before they could stamp him as deployable.  I never though that a bad back and a cavity could be such a blessing.

Happily Ever After....

Do you have any questions for Sara?
Ask away, she’s got lots of time while she waits for her hero Mark to come home….

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Snow Day

I fell asleep really early (at least early for me) last night and didn’t write my blog.
I’d love to get my readers interacting a bit.

The northeast is getting a pile of snow today.
How about this: Tell us what you like to do on snowy days.

I’ll start.
I love to make a big pot of chicken noodle soup and then cuddle up with Bella and read a book or watch a movie.
Of course I throw some internet surfing in there as well.    Oh, and a pot of tea too!!  🙂

So… what are you doing today?

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I’m going to start out by saying that none of what you are about to read is about anyone that you know online or anyone you’ve met or anyone I’ve talked about, so don’t start speculating that you know this person.  I can guarantee that you don’t.  Literally about 5 people I know have met this person and they don’t read my blog so…  moving on.

I have a very close friend who is in a relationship.  He met a girl about 6 months ago.  He liked her and they kept in touch.  He went to see her roughly once a month and then at the beginning of January they decided to step things up and see each other more often and see if they could turn things into more than what they previously were.  One important thing I’ve left out is that she lives 3 hours away from him.  (He just moved last weekend – prior to his move it was 8 hours)

I would like to see your honest opinions of what you’d do in his situation.  What questions would you ask?  Would you run?  Would you stay and sort it out?  What would you do? What advice do you have for him?

Buckle up, put on your crash helmet and hang on.  Here we go….

He met her one night while traveling in a bar at a hotel he was staying in.  They got chatting for hours and at the end of the night she gave him her number.  He thought she was cute and the conversation was good so he kept in touch with her.  The girl is married with two young children.  She is estranged from her husband, but they’re not divorced.  He’s moved out of the house, but I’m not sure when that happened.

My friend has been the one to drive back and forth to see her.  He’s been the one who always seems to be going out of his way for her.  (Each visit costs him $200 between his hotel room for the night and gas)  She understandably can’t just up and leave to see him for the weekend because of her children.  I wonder if this will always be the way.  Even after she’s divorced will she be able to take the children out of the county where her and her husband lived?  Divorce laws vary by county in the state she lives in.  And they do NOT recognize legal separations.  They’ve been keeping their relationship behind closed doors until she speaks with an attorney (this week) to find out the consequences if her husband does find out she has a boyfriend.  The way I see it, since her state doesn’t recognize legal separations, it would probably be viewed as adultery.  Could this possibly jeopardize her custody situation?  I’m not sure.  While we’re on the issue of her kids, how easy is it going to be for my friend to raise someone else’s kids?  Will her ex-husband make it a living hell for him?  My friend obviously can’t even meet these kids to see what they’re like.  (Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand this, it’s not healthy for kids to meet everyone their Mom or Dad dates until it’s serious)

She seems to communicate with him most often by text messaging.  Picking up the phone and calling him seems to be a foreign concept for her.  He’ll send her a text at 7AM and he might hear back from her by 2 in the afternoon if he’s lucky.  She’ll ask him to text her when he gets home after work so she can call him.  He’ll send the text at 7:15PM and not hear back from her.  She’s used the excuse over and over again that she fell asleep with her kids.  That excuse is getting really old and tired….  This is the first month the two of them have been dating more seriously and she doesn’t seem to care about communicating with him.  When she DOES communicate it’s always sweet, nice and flattering, it’s just getting her TO communicate that’s the problem.  She’s asked him to let her know when he’s home from work so she can call, he’s passed up dinners to wait for her call that never comes.  He really likes her and didn’t mind sacrificing some time with his buddies for her, but he DOES mind it when she couldn’t be bothered to call.  She paints a really pretty picture with her words and flattery, but she doesn’t seem to back it up with actions.  You know the old adage “Actions speak louder than words.”  My friend is willing to drop everything and pick up that phone and make time for her whenever.  Again, he’s going out of his way for her.  But it’s getting to the point that he feels like he’s 10th or 12th on her list.  I understand that her children are first, as they should be, but he should be right up there at the top with them.  He doesn’t feel like he’s important to her because she’s not showing it….  He talked to her a few weeks ago that she needed to step up her communication skills and this is how it’s been since then.
Is she just playing head games with him?
Does she want to be chased?
Is that why her communications skills SUCK??
She seems to have a lot of time that’s unaccounted for.
What’s she doing that she can’t call or text him?

My friend mentioned to her at one point that he wanted to join the rest of the world and go out and get a laptop.  He works with computers all day long so the last thing he wants to do when he gets home is play around on the computer.  He’s been thinking about it though.  When he told her this her response was “What, are you going to go and get a Facebook account too?” (and she wasn’t saying it in a joking way)  She said that she likes that he’s not online.  (I’m not sure if she’s worry he’ll cheat on her, catch her online, or be hit on by other women??)  She did tell him that she has a MySpace that she rarely uses.  What she failed to mention is that she does have a Facebook with a decent number of friends.  We don’t know if she goes on it often, but isn’t it kind of hypocritical?  I’m not saying she has a ton of friends – in fact she’s got nothing compared to me, but the point is it’s pretty shitty to make it clear she doesn’t want him on there when she is.

Every time they’ve met up since the night they met, they’ve met at a hotel in the town where she lives.  They hang out there and don’t go out in public because they don’t want to run into her ex or someone that could tell him.  So one weekend he went with her to a football game out of town.  It’s the first time they were ever really in public together.  She spent pretty much the whole game flirting and heckling a guy who was sitting in front of her.  She ignored my friend.  He almost walked out of the stadium and went home.  When he finally confronted her about it, she didn’t understand why he was upset.  That would have been a deal killer for me.  Disrespect is a HUGE deal killer for me.  For my friend it usually is too.  This girl played it off that she didn’t think it was a big deal.  The guy she was talking to was cheering for the other team and she was having fun.  If it was me and I hadn’t seen my boyfriend in weeks, I would have spent the whole time talking to him because I hadn’t seen him in a couple weeks.  But that would be me….I wonder how she’ll behave in public next time they go somewhere? I hope she learns from last time….

He made a comment on one visit that she could be cheating on him and he wouldn’t even know it because he lives so far away from her.  Her response was “When would I have the time?”  That sounded like a very evasive answer to me.  My response would have been something like “I have you, I don’t want anyone else, and you’re the guy for me and the only one I want.”

A big concern that my friend has is that from what he sees this girl has never had an example of a healthy relationship in her life.  Her Father left when she was young and her parents divorced.  Her Mom remarried and got divorced again.  She’ll even admit that she knew she was making a mistake the day she got married and referred to her marriage as “lust at first sight.”  She’s never had a healthy relationship to model herself after….  This girl is 35 years old and loves to watch The Real World and Jersey Shore.  Isn’t it time to get interested in something a little less juvenile?  I have friends who watched Jersey Shore and asked if they can have that hour of their life back.  My friends concern is that the more you watch crap like that on TV you get desensitized.  You start to think that cheating and treating people like crap is ok and it’s a way of life.  When he brought this up to her she told him to watch Sex In The City if he wanted to understand women.  Seriously? I think a comment like that is the kiss of death for this girl.  My friend is an old fashioned kind of guy.  He’s got manners, morals, and values.  He doesn’t treat women like objects.  Is this guy watches that show, he’s going to think all girls are like Samantha who’s out getting laid with a different guy every night of the week.  That is not what this guy wants to see.  He doesn’t need to see Carrie go out with one guy and go to a bar and make out with another guy.  Saying women are like what you see on Sex In The City is not the way to get to this guys heart.  (And for the record I LOVE SITC, but I’d never tell a guy that’s what all women are like and what all women want!)

This girl is good to him face to face.  She can carry on a great conversation when they’re together and she’s got his attention.  Something about her made him notice her.  The problem for her is that his attention is waning….  He went to see her last week and was going to lay a lot of these issues he has with her out on the table among others (YES there are OTHER issues on top of all these) but when he got there she had cooked him a nice dinner and brought it to the hotel, so he felt bad about coming into that with an ambush and didn’t bring it up.  He also didn’t want to stress her out a couple days before she’s going to talk to an attorney because he realizes that talking to an attorney will be stressful enough.  He cares about this girl quite a bit, he says they do have some stuff in common, but I feel like she just doesn’t know a thing about him.  If she did she wouldn’t be behaving the way she is.

My friend is honestly one of the sweetest, nicest guys on God’s green Earth, but he’s the rebound guy.  (She says she hasn’t dated anyone since her husband)  He’s a great guy, he isn’t controlling, he thinks that both parties in a relationship should be making decisions together, but she seems to be wearing the pants and controlling where this relationship is going at the moment and in my friends words “No cat will ever walk this dog.”

As I’ve talked to him I’ve come up with tons of unanswered questions.  Obviously my first one is security.  My friend makes good money, has a house, nice car, a few expensive toys on the side…  Could she just be looking for a soft place to land?  A sugar Daddy to take care of her and her kids?  Or does she really care about him because he’s a great guy and how he makes her feel?  My friend puts his girl up on a pedestal.  Since he started noticing all this stuff he’s knocked her down a bit, but he still treats her wonderfully through it all.  He doesn’t want to become a doormat though.

Another concern is if he sticks it out with her somehow and then she gets her divorce will she leave him in the dust and ride off into the sunset with some other guy now that she’s free of her marriage??  Having been through a divorce myself I’ve explained to my friend that she will be a different woman after all is said and done.  I know I went in one way and came out the other side much harder, less trusting, annoyed much easier….

I worry quite a bit about my friend.  (Hence this being the longest blog I’ve ever written) There are questions sprinkled throughout this whole situation.  I worry that if he breaks up with her though without getting some sort of closure will he forever wonder what would have happened if he stayed?

What are your honest opinions of what you’d do in his situation?
What questions would you ask?
Would you run?
Would you stay and sort it out?
What would you do?
What advice do you have for him?

Thank you for reading this!  I know it was long winded and I REALLY appreciate it.
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