WHEN IN SEATTLE, EAT!

Here is my account of our road trip to Seattle. On our quest to take the children places, to widen their horizon and to appreciate city life, we discovered that it is the simple thing that kept our boys happy!

Here we go again: During the recent long weekend we took the opportunity to spice up our‘daily life’ and took our boys across the border to visit Seattle.  We like to describe ourselves as ‘cosmopolitan parents’: “It is our duty to take them places and to let them explore other cultures ( I am not sure if Seattle qualifies)”

If it wouldn’t be for the border control, Seattle is only a hop and skip away from Vancouver (i.e. a two hour car ride).

Seattle, the birthplace of our modern, coffee drinking civilization (i.e. Starbucks)!

The first ever Starbucks store!

The first ever store!

Seattle, the home of one of the richest man in the world. The man, who made sure computers are a household item (Microsoft)!

Thanks to the invention of TV shows (in this case I – Carly), our boys were familiar with the city and the Space Needle way before we arrived.

During this recent trip we took the Sumas border-crossing, followed by a beautiful ride through winding, picturesque countryside through rural Washington State. I always ‘make sure’ that our children appreciate the beautiful surroundings they find themselves in. During this trip it somewhat back fired on me: “You always tell us to look at mountains, they all look the same.” Or a better one is: “Everything is beautiful here!”

Can I blame them? Not really. We moved to B.C., one of the greenest, most beautiful places on earth.                                                                                                                                                                               For 15 years now we are in the parent business and we discovered it is much easier to go with the flow and the ever changing times than to bang our head against the wall – wishing the ‘good old times back’. Gone are the days when our –now- teenager was happy to draw for hours, play with his Lego blogs or stare out of the window to count cows during a car trip. Nowadays it is the screen in front of them instead of the screen ahead of them which holds their attention. It is the 21th Century and hand held devices rule when it comes to entertaining children during a car trip!

We arrived, fought for a parking spot and started our adventure!

First stop: Pike Market at the Waterfront

A very crowded Saturday

It is Saturday and very crowded. We are six, only two of us have a mobile phone and we are all wearing dark jackets – in case of separation we will have a hard time relocation each other again! Needless to say, I love all this hassle and buzzing around me –  our boys couldn’t care less. 

If fish throwing, singing fish mongers can’t hold their attention, what can? And guess what? They didn’t appreciate some of the advertising either!

The simple solution to a complex dilemma?   An authentic Gyros Food stall:  Give the children food and they will be happy and contend!

Second stop: Space Needle

It is a 41 second elevator ride to the top of the Space Needle. Once at the top you are rewarded with a 360 – degree panoramic view. This trip alone set us back $120.00! I personally have no problem spending all day at the top to make sure I get enough ‘views for my money’. Unlike our boy. Money doesn’t mean anything to them. If this isn’t bad enough, five minutes upon arrival and a sprint around the platform we heard the first:”Can we go now?” Followed by a: “Are we done yet?”

Parents can only take so much nagging, so we followed our credo: Go with the flow and give the children what they really want: Food. This time we landed in the massive Food Hall next to the Children’s Museum:  It was MOD Pizza for four of us, Subway for our oldest and Big Food (aka a hot pork sandwich) for Dominic.

Third stop:

With a tummy full of food it is easy to enjoy The International Fountain. The fountain spouts  water to the backdrop of classical music and finishes with a grand finale.  It is simply put, Spectacular!

Fourth stop:

As young as our children are, the already know the universal truth: Goods in the USA are cheaper than in Canada and the choice you have here is much bigger! Therefore, it was enough sightseeing for the day and we headed for the next shopping mall and outlet stores! Let me rephrase this: A nirvana found for parents and kids alike. During the next few hours all we heard was the happy chatting of four happy boys comparing the newest Halo games while trying on Nike shirts or searching for the perfect winter sweat-shirt.

It doesn’t need to be complicated, educational or eye-opening: When it comes to children and being an extra-ordinary parent, we keep it simple: we offer them what they want! Food and outlet stores! Quite simple, really!

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GUTS & GLORY

Image

Play hard, Write even harder! It is done! I just pushed the “enter” button. Which means, Mission accomplished!

My seven months long writing journey has come to an end! At one point I thought it will never end – But it did!

Writing this book has been the most intense, time consuming, detailed thing I have accomplished up to this point in my life! Giving birth to three children? To me that was easy-peasy in comparison. From now on there is no turning back! Very soon readers around the world will be able to read about “A VERY BERRY EXTRA-ORDINARY TALE of ENTREPRENEURIALSHIP” (still tentative title) and I will have to face the music i.e. reviews!

I crammed my writing in during very early mornings, and ridiculously long nights!  Nothing else mattered, but to fill the pages in front of me!  It was actually quite rejuvenating to get the story out of my system while it was still fresh. It was not only “mission accomplished”, I also became quite proficient in the use of this little device in front of me (PC). Dominic  laughed when he read this. He thinks I have slightly exaggerated here…

In approx. three months baby no.5 will be born. Book Baby is in its final trimester. Unlike six and a half years ago when I set up my first commercial business venture, I didn’t have to leave the house to get things done. I did what I never thought possible: I sat on my butt for hours on end! And, I loved every minute of this creative progress! I poured my heart into this project. I bared my soul on every page!  Not in a cheesy kind of way, more in the fun, entertaining kind of way. It’s off my chest and now I can move on to the equally important part: Collecting testimonials and doing the pre-publication promotion! Now it is up to me to show the world and myself what I am made of. I know I can set up and successfully run a coffee lounge against all odds. But can I sell my book? This remains to be seen. All I know, I’m prepared to do whatever it takes to reach the No.1 spot on Amazon! It took a while to get the pages out there, but now, it is a product I am proud of. It is a fun, inspiring, uplifting read with lots of ideas of how to stand out from the crowd.

It was another step into extraordinary territory. Just like the pole dancer I happened to watch at the local strip club (Mothers on a wild night out means we are the first to arrive at the night club and the first to leave when the real partiers come flocking in. In our case we were way too early for the boogie floor and therefore killed some time at the afore mentioned establishment)! –It was a first for me and I couldn’t help but wondering: ’’How long did it take the dancer to make the pole an extension of herself? How many hours of practise did it take to look at ease with every step, every twirl and every suggestive move she made in front of her audience? I am sure it took the lady in question lots of practise, more practise and long hours of rehearsals. She was baring it all, boobs and the rest!  But unlike her, you won’t see my frontal, but you will get a glimpse inside my heart instead.

Oops, did I just compare myself to a pole dancer? If you know me, then you know this is a ridiculous comparison.

No, I actually compared our actions: If you want to deliver a good product, either a book or a smooth pole dancing routine, you need time to produce and to rehearse!

Good things need to be created, nurtured and looked after.

Like the definition on my tummy. My 6-packs won’t re-appear by magic. They need to be shaped. A pole remains a simple pole if nobody makes an effort to practise a routine with it… And a page remains blank if we don’t add our unique expression.

Whatever your next project will be, make it shine, let it become extra-ordinary!

Olympic Glory VS White Trailer Trash

What do they both have in common?

They both represent the best and worse in their chosen field!           

olympic games

Olympic season is upon  us!

  First observation:

  What a perfect opportunity for everybody in the retail and hospitality industry to dress up their old offerings in the spirit of the games and to sell them with the title “excellent ” attached to it.       Further more, columnists at various publications are taking advantage of the event to add their pearls of wisdom.                                                                                                                                      Just like my favourite guy from our local Maple Ridge Weekly.                                                                                                                               On first sight it was funny when I read about “my new relationship with our new plasma TV”, or “leaving the house only to stock up on beer and necessary food items (i.e. tortilla chips and dips).”

    At second glance, not funny at all.                                                                                                                                            As a general rule, we (writers) have to relate to our readers – even if it means to put ourselves down at times.                                                                                                       Depending on the topic we are writing about this can be quite funny indeed.                                                                                                                            Let me get this straight: My favourite columnists sits on his butt for days on end, watches the best of the best the world has to offer and is happy and content to portray himself as a tortilla -chip- munching- couch potato? What is wrong with him? Why isn’t he inspired and motivated by the excellence he watches for hours every day? (or he is a very clever man indeed: he only pretends to behave like many of his readers).

Too many bags of greasy nibbles mixed with  liquor leads me to my second observation:                                                                                                                            My first encounter (in our new home country ) with the less desirable face of modern civilization – the opposite end of excellence: trailer trash!

    Yes, we spotted and experienced them first hand right here at the local swimming hole!                                                                                                                                    I am born and bred European – I can testify we (Europeans)are quite open minded and tolerant towards certain topics. I.e.  I am no stranger to the concept of e.g.the legal use of  marijuana, gay marriage, nude beaches, a low drinking age (16 is the common age to drink beer in most European countries) or pornographic publications.                                                                                                                     Under normal circumstances pierced body parts or excessively tattooed body sections leave me stone cold.      A dress too tight or too small squeezed over too much body flubber may get a second look from me at the most- but no more.                                                                              Cheap wine straight from the bottle can be fun or even romantic.                                      Loud conversations are annoying but could be entertaining – sometimes.                                                                                                                                            A kiss among lovers is not worth mentioning.                                                            Tolerance turns into raised eybrows  when I have to witness                                        excessive french kissing in a public place.  I get embarrassed when obscene, very suggestive, sexual moves are added to the french kiss (still in front of my eyes – and I couldn’t leave. The exit was blocked).                                                                                                                                    I I can’t take it when cheap wine is the reason for loud, vulgar, rude conversation and I get severely pissed when fat, loud and vulgar mixes together!

Dear visitors to the swimming hole: “Behave like this at home but not in front of me and my children!”    In this instance I wished these folks had read the column of my favourite columnist and followed his example: stay at home with your cheap wine, do your french thing on the couch and leave the TV on for some Olympic highlights. You might catch a glimpse of excellence and inspiration!                                                                                             I sincerely hope there is  extra-ordinary in all us!                                                                                                                                  Oh, I nearly forgot: I prefer to get inspired- and I try to live my life to prove it!

P.S. abdominals are getting better by the day! Upper arms are still shaping up and the book? I will tell you next time!

SELL YOUR HEART OUT

First things first:

To kick-start my fight against middle-age weight gain, wiggly upper arms and excess handles on my tummy I started using weights and went “Cold Turkey” to lose at least some weight. It seems to take forever to get any changes done in the body!                    Puh, getting older is a bitch! ! But, defeat and acceptance are not in the cards – yet!

My book should be at the publisher by now but instead I got stage freight and added more bits, deleted and replaced some. Embarrassment is a big motivator at this stage in my life!  Being embarrassed because I haven’t done my best!                                          I have gone through this stage when I was way younger, not any more now:       Now It needs to be as good as it gets or even better..Therefore I want to have a polished and finished product before I will hit the route to promotion!

I am still in the industry I love best: Selling!                                                                   For years I was selling aerobic moves across fitness centers around the world and its benefits to health.                                                                                                          Then it was coffee and cakes at Strawberry Lounge, my debut into entrepreneurship and  now I am back to selling cakes again!                                      This time as an employee for a wonderful, sweet cake company in Vancouver!     Having sold lots of things around the world, I noticed one  universal law that can be applied all over:   Apart from being appreciated and wanting to feel special ( being extra-ordinary!),  WE ALL LOVE A GOOD DEAL!                                                                 This makes for a very straight forward equation: selling is a piece of cake – if you sell a product people want, appreciate and love! Selling at a good price makes it even easier, fun and more worth your while. In my current ‘job ‘the product speaks for itself:           You don’t need a hard-core persuasion technique. You don’t need to go into aImage long drawn conversation about the pros and cons and necessity of the cake.           You either want it or you don’t. You like the taste of it or not!  You have an allergy or not!  All you need is to give an encouraging word at times, some information from the ingredients list,  or to simply stand back to let your customer make up their own mind!    It is that simple! I have been very fortunate so far to gravitate toward selling what I really, really like.  But  be warned, it is only easy-peasy if you love the product and the initial selling process.

If you are able to do what you love doing, then life can be your “piece of cake!”