Sitting in the Lap of Luxury

The lap of luxury as defined by The Free Dictionary is “a freedom from financial difficulty that promotes a comfortable state.”  Some of us are able to live in the lap of luxury and others are only able to have a few moments there.

Regardless, where is your lap of luxury?  Is it cooking or baking in your state of the art kitchen?  Is it sitting in your own backyard paradise?  Or maybe for you it is sitting in a massage chair having a pedicure while listening to your favorite music or visiting with your friends.

As an office we have been reading Luxury World:  The Past, Present and Future of Luxury Brands by  Mark Tungate.  A couple of things struck me as they discussed luxury and its forms.  First, a representative from Bentley Motors defined luxury as not something one can necessarily afford but as something one feels they deserve.  I think we can all relate to that idea.  After a long hard week of work or reaching a goal that we have strived for most of us will do something to treat ourselves that may not necessarily be in the budget.

The other point that struck me that I believe most of us can relate to is that in this busy world time has become a luxury.    How I crave to sit on the couch and read a book without falling asleep.  However, my daughters, their activities, my commitments, and housework begging to be done after a day of work deny me this luxury.  Or how about quality time with friends and family simply enjoying each other’s company?  I’m not sure if my daughters enjoy it more or if I do, but the simple joy of them crawling into my lap is a luxury I will too soon miss.

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Contributed by Amber Fasig. All images are the author’s own & may not be republished without express written permission.





5 Steps to Up Your Road Warrior Game

According to the Washington Post the average commute for most employees has sharply risen over the last couple years to an average of 27 minutes in 2015.


I for one can attest that I spend hours a week behind the wheel driving to and from appointments.

Back in college, I was spending several hours a day using Chicago’s public transportation.  I took advantage of the metro in the morning, plus the El train, and bus in the evening.  Between two part-time jobs, that commuting time was the only study time I could carve out.  I can only imagine if I had the technology available today back then.  How much more could I have accomplished? Or how much more would I have been distracted?  Maybe I would have said “I’ll just check my Facebook real quick”

If you’re lucky enough to have public transportation, surf away.

No public transportation, maybe find a trustworthy a carpool buddy.carpooling-done-wrong

For the rest of us suburbanites burning up the highways and by-ways, here are five ways to make the most of your drive time:

#1.  Dashboard education.   With nearly an hour in the car every day what could you learn?  A foreign language? The history of the world?  And in just 90 days you could finish the entire Bible.  Audible app offers a monthly subscription service to download the latest in audio books.  There are abundant free resources from your local library including overdrive and hoopla apps.  Listen to a podcast or a Ted talk to develop your skills or learn something new.

#2.  Rekindle relationships.  Take this time to personally phone someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Don’t just check in on their Facebook page and assume you know what’s going on in their life. Plug in the Bluetooth and give them a call.

#3. Write a book. Well, not literally.  I don’t advocate writing while driving! But in all my hours spent on the road I’ll attest I’ve seen it! I’ve even seen people reading a novel while driving.   Please don’t–for our safety!  But seriously there are apps for translating talk to text.  Check out the free app Dragon dictation.  Each day dictate a short story by the end of the year you may have enough to build your own novel or biography.

#4.  Clear the clutter.  So you finished your long commute  just to encounter a completely full email inbox.   Not the most motivating and invigorating way to start the day.   Take advantage of apps that will read your emails out loud and prompt with delete, save, spam, etc.   Ah, done!

#5.  Meditation.  Turn off the radio.  Tune in to the moment.  Eyes open and on the road, folks. Think about your accomplishments for the week.  Give yourself a pat on the back.  Set goals.  Focus your priorities.  Is what I’ve done today getting me closet or further from my life goals.  Take in a glorious sunrise for a moment.  Appreciate the change of season.  I’ve talked to many a business professional who enjoy their 30 minute commute home to decompress from a stressful day.   No need to bring home work stuff.   Work through relationship challenges in your mind and decide how you’ll positively address them in the coming day.

May I add things not to do: apply makeup, text , eat a meal.  (we’re all guilty at some point–but let’s stop!)

Somebody wise once said “life’s not about the journey but the destination”. I say, “yeah but at least we can make the most of it!”



American Commute source:

Carpooling source:

Contributed by Heather Craaybeek





My Home Before & After

One year ago this week I closed on my first home.  Here is a little of what I’ve accomplished so far:

KITCHEN – Probably the most dramatic, I basically started with a blank slate. Added a fridge, stove, wall mount microwave and dishwasher. Installed new cabinets on the left side and painted the existing cabinets so that they all matched. With the help of my uncles installed a new counter top, sink, faucet and garbage disposal. I added subway tile back splash and bought a kitchen island for more counter top space.




DOWNSTAIRS BATHROOM – I didn’t have to do as much to update the downstairs bathroom. I gave it a fresh coat of paint, replaced the hardware on the vanity and added a tile back splash.




DINING ROOM – I am still on the hunt for the perfect junk to decorate with.



SUN-ROOM – I painted the walls and added wooden blinds. I also restored the stain glass light.



OFFICE – The smallest room that had the most work put into it. The original wooden floor had carpet on it. I decided that I wanted to have all wooden floors on the main floor. So I got rid of the carpet and started the process of restoring the floor. The finished product was worth it.



LIVING ROOM – This room is mostly complete. I painted the walls, put up blinds, and enjoyed finding places for all of my antiques and furniture. It came together pretty quickly and I am pleased with the finished product.



There are plenty of project that still need to be done. I am excited to continue making this home into the perfect space for me!



Contributed by Contributed by Caitlin Tuohy.

All images are the author’s own & may not be republished without express written permission.

My Time with Oglala Lakota Nation: A Photo Essay

“You make a living by what you get. You make a life by what you give.”
-Winston Churchill

I spent my Fourth of July week volunteering somewhere new this year. Last year I worked in Peru but this year I thought it would be good to help in the states with Re-Member. I took my first solo road trip out to Pine Ridge, South Dakota to work along side the Oglala Lakota Nation. With so much going on in everyone’s day to day lives it can be hard to make the time to be aware of the conditions other humans live in and what we could be doing to help. The best way I can think to celebrate my independence every year is to use that freedom to help others and I strongly encourage anyone else to do the same. It’s not about the money or time you have. There’s always a way to help.

Re-Member shares the following statistic:

“From 1980 to 2000, the counties that make up Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota (home to the Oglala Lakota Nation) comprised the poorest of our nation’s 3,141 counties. The 2000 census found them the third poorest, not because things got better on Pine Ridge, but because things got worse on two other South Dakota Indian Reservations. The poverty on Pine Ridge can be described in no other terms than “third world.” It is common to find homes terribly overcrowded, as those with homes take in anyone in need of a roof over their head. Many homes are without electricity, running water, or sewer.

  • Unemployment rate of 80 – 90%
  • Per capita income of $4,000
  • 8 Times the United States rate of diabetes
  • 5 Times the U.S. rate of cervical cancer
  • Twice the U.S. rate of heart disease
  • 8 Times the U.S. rate of Tuberculosis
  • Alcoholism rate estimated as high as 80%
  • 1 in 4 infants born with fetal alcohol syndrome or effects
  • Suicide rate more than twice the national rate
  • Teen suicide rate 4 times the national rate
  • Infant mortality 3 times the national rate
  • Life expectancy on Pine Ridge is the lowest in the United States and the second lowest in the Western Hemisphere. Only Haiti has a lower rate.”

 I took a series of photos to show how beautifully strong and resilient this oppressed culture still is. If you’re looking to take a volunteer trip solo or with a group, or make a donation feel free to learn more at

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Contributed by Syd Miles.



All photographs are the author’s own & may not be reprinted or published without express written consent.

What my clients taught me about advertising

There’s an abundance of articles on the internet that will discuss the top 5, 10, or 12 mistakes businesses make with their advertising.  With this article I’m going to take on some of those “mistakes” from the perspective of actual clients that I’ve worked with for many years.

No Commitment

A common attitude of small business owners about advertising is that because they don’t know ahead of time if a particular advertising vehicle will work for them, they want to “try it out”.  They want the opportunity to pull the plug on their advertising quickly and save money if they perceive it’s not working for them in a very short amount of time.  I get it, most business owners are allergic to not wasting money and can’t blame them for feeling that way.

Of all the clients I’ve had in advertising the ones that commit to a long term vision of advertising are almost always more satisfied with their advertising than those who take the short term outlook.  Clients with the long term outlook will talk about how their advertising efforts grew in a positive way and consistently over time.  Clients who “try it out” have come and gone before their prospects even knew they were there and become severely skeptical of advertising their businesses.

By the way, the same concept applies when I talk with prospects. I can always tell when they say they’ve tried everything or think advertising doesn’t work, it’s because they always just dipped their toe in and never reaped the rewards.

When the phone rings

One of the ways that advertising can be tracked is with a dedicated tracking phone number.  With this tool business owners can definitively know from which advertisement the call came from.

An interesting thing my clients taught me about the value of a tracking phone number is that it went way beyond being able to see which ad the call came from.  Neither one of us knew in the beginning a tracking number would turn out to be more than a tracking tool.

We learned that many times (more than they might like to admit) that the initial call was handled badly and likely gave a bad impression of the business as well.  Most owners have one person dedicated to answering incoming calls.  After setting up this system the business owner makes no effort at monitoring those calls or overseeing how those calls are handled.  Even I was surprised at how aloof, un-friendly, or unhelpful those who answer phones can be.  It can be a very awkward conversation at the time to point out how badly their calls are being handled, but ironically it helps solidify the value of the ad in the first place.

Get used to talking

Small business owners typically wear many hats in running their businesses.  In many cases the owners’ business is based upon a talent the owner has to offer their clients.  On the flip side owners are not always good at the business side of the business.  That means that they may not be very good at selling their product or service or may not be comfortable in working with other people.

This usually shows up in communicating with their clients after the initial sale.  Their clients have an expectation of how things should go after the sale.  Communicating with their client is essential, and keeping them in the loop will go a long way in handling expectations when the unexpected occurs.

In the owners mind the project is going good and will look fabulous when it’s finished but the client is thinking something different.  I’ve learned those that communicate well have much happier clients than those who don’t.

Keep it simple

Clients whose message is short and sweet typically express more satisfaction in their marketing.  They have trained their prospects to focus on a small number of products or services they have to offer and in turn prospects will do just that. There’s a nice side effect to this too.  Most of the time those few products or services offered allow the business owner to showcase his or her highest quality and typically have higher margins. On the other hand, it’s unnecessary to throw everything and the kitchen sink in an advertisement.  It confuses the message and leads the prospect to believe that the business is just a jack of all trades and master of none.

Once the business has the attention of the prospect and has generated the initial call, that’s when the business owner will have the opportunity discuss additional options or services.  It turns out talking about other options or services you have to offer at that time usually goes really well.  I’ve even had clients tell me that their clients will add on services after the job has started because of the open communication, which not only led to more revenue but better client relationships.

Know your limits

One last thing my clients taught me about advertising.  Leave the artwork and design up to the professional designers.  I learned that one the hard way.  I am not good at the layout and design aspect and that is the case for many business owners as well.

Submitted by Jeff Vice