Another Original Idea – Who Cares?

I pulled up into the familiar driveway, past the goodbye rock, and next to the sandbox my kids grew up playing in. It’s funny how life does that, move slowly, meandering through each and every day until the next when you wake up and five years have flashed by in an instant.  The driveway was filled with cars, the garage busy with activity. Anna grabbed her overnight bag and jumped out and said, “I’ll see you later mum!.” The same little girl who used to get sand in her eye in their sandbox had straightened her hair, put on makeup, and dressed for a friend’s trip to the mall. I smiled and waved to her. I turned to the backseat towards Libby and said,”get used to it, you are slowly becoming an only child.” There was a knock on my window. I put my foot on the break and opened my window to say hi.  Bill stood in front of me proudly wearing his Buoy Bat t’shirt with a wide grin on his face. He looked good, happy, less stressed than I had seen him in a while.

I could hear Bill talking and I nodded as he did but for some strange reason I started adding up the number of businesses Bill and I have started as individuals. We only knew each other for a handful of them but had often shared stories of past ideas and how we had went about making each one happen. In the height of my entrepreneurial push, Bill and I became close friends, he was like a brother who I could sound off my craziest of ideas to and never feel judged. We seemed to think and feel the same way about business and living outside of the box, forgetting that it was even there on some days. I’ve always admired his tenacity of spirit and ability to fashion anything from nothing. He is the original MacGyver and I’ve always wondered what would happen if he hired himself out as a solution to all manufacturing and production dilemmas. He just has that sort of brain that can look at a problem and see the solution almost instantly.

Buoy Bat by Bill Page

Buoy Bat by Bill Page

When I first met him, I had just started The Little Hat Company and he was working on building Mr. Sandbox. During my run with my company, I watched Bill move in and out of ideas and product development including the Portsmouth Pickle Company (Anna’s favorite) and finally onto Buoy Bat. The idea came to him like most of the best ones do, from the spur of the moment, picking up something unusual out of necessity, to do something you’ve always done. The story as I remember him telling me was that he was walking on the beach near his parent’s house in Maine and noticed a washed up buoy on the shore. Bill not letting anything in life go to waste, seized the moment and picked it up and started playing a game of Buoy bat with his daughter using pebbles from the sand. I can only imagine that it took seconds for the idea of a reinvention of coastal baseball to plant in Bill’s mind and travel past every imaginable place he could take such a unique business. It happens to a lot of us, an idea for a business pops into our minds and for a short moment we wonder, “what if”. It’s only a rare few that seize that moment and begin taking actions to make the idea come alive.

That was nearly five years ago, I think, I’ve lost track of time since then. Time has sped up and it seems like I’m always just doing my best to remember to breathe these days. Bill is still at it and as I pulled into his driveway I saw the signs of a growing business, busting at the seams just waiting for the next level of expansion.  I looked up at Bill and said, “you need help with your marketing.” I remember how hard it was letting go of being in control of each aspect of your start up business, handing the reigns of each of its parts to another to manage. He said, “I know. I talked to someone yesterday.”  I smiled. That was a huge deal for Bill because in addition to being an incredible product guy, he can market the hell out of just about anything. He is multifaceted in his own talent pool and that makes the Buoy Bat story even more interesting.  He waved goodbye as he followed Anna back into the house, I’m sure he was getting ready for a number of shows and thinking about which item in his product line to reinvent or streamline. That used to be my life, a crazy whirlwind of business and activity swarming my home and each waking hour. Seeing Bill made me miss it just for a moment, appreciate it for all that it taught me, and respect him for making it work and staying with it as long as he has.

I have little doubt that Buoy Bats from South Berwick, Maine are going to become a national pastime, even recognized worldwide as one of the favorite of outdoor parties and games. That’s just the kind of guy Bill Page is, resourceful, driven, and ingenious when it comes to creating something out of nothing. I just wonder if Bill really did come up with the original Buoy Bat or if the idea came from his days of reading comic books late at night under the covers in Hanover. Either way, check out the amazing world of Buoy Bats for yourself on Bill’s website.  It’s just a click away!The original buoy bat

 

 

 



  • A Girl on The Run – Who Cares?

    I’m not a runner, I’ve never been. It’s never felt comfortable and I’ve never seemed to be able to find my stride. In field hockey and soccer I would run because I was chasing a goal or trying to prevent one from being scored but when we were asked to run laps or even cross country to get in shape my body and lungs always cried out in protest. Soon after I started I would always get winded and cramps. If I was lucky, shin splints followed. It wasn’t until my early forties that I found my pace and my breathing became deeper, more controlled. I still wasn’t running to run, I had found another reason, actually I was asked by one of my best friends to coach a girls’ running team.  It was another classic moment in my life, being asked to do something I knew  little about and had almost no experience doing. So of course I said, yes without asking any questions or giving it a second thought.

    groupLast Sunday finished our third season coaching in South Berwick for the non profit organization, Girls On The Run.  The other two coaches and I completed thirty lessons, ten weeks per season, designed to inspire, motivate, and educate young girls on their “star power”. I was almost relieved to find out that I wouldn’t be co-coaching young girls to become the fierce runners they had always dreamed of being, it was much more than that. We were given a well thought out lesson plan that navigated us through the tricky waters of growing up a girl in today’s world of instant communication, open information, and achievement based success for kiddos. We met twice each week and led the girls through a new lesson about being confident, secure, and filled with their best star qualities when confronted with some of life’s age old social traps.  Our head coach, who is an incredible long distance runner would lead us through stretches, a warm up game, and then finally the running which was always accompanied by fun and motivating lap counters for the girls. We always finished off the practice with a closing circle to process the information that had been presented and thoughts on how the girls could connect it to their own lives and when they thought they could use the new tools and strategies in life. Before we said goodbye we  ended with a group cheer.

    During each season we ran two 5Ks. The first was a practice run which started at the town hall and went past Aggie’s Ice Cream Stand, the softball field and had a water stop at the farthest soccer field. After the girls doused themselves with water, grabbed an orange slice, they headed back to the town hall to finish their run. For many of the girls this was their first 5K, run of any distance, and as they ran home to a crowd of teachers and parents holding encouraging signs their faces seemed to beam with pride and accomplishment. Everyone in our groups always finished, whether they walked, skipped, ran, or sprinted through the finish line of toilet paper, it didn’t matter. They had accomplished a task that many adults never attempt or successfully complete.

    finish lineThe end of each session in Girls On The Run in Maine is marked with a 5K run either at Pineland Farms in New Gloucester or at the Cumberland Fair Grounds just off 95. Girls and their running buddies from all over the state unite to celebrate their ten week accomplishment of learning, growing, and training to become the best running girl that they can be.  This past weekend we joined over four hundred other runners and their buddies to show ourselves and our team what we could do. It’s never a race, and we’re encouraged to remind the girls and their buddies that the objective is to have each runner set their own comfortable pace.  I was fortunate to be my daughter’s running buddy for the second time. We stayed in stride with her friend and her mother. The run was challenging for me, feeling as though I might not be able to run the whole way, but watching Libby and her friend stay determined while they had fun with each other took my mind off the aches and pains that come with a non athlete in their forties.  When we reached the finish line the girls found their stride and sprinted ahead of us. Their adrenaline kicked in and pushed them forward in an unexpected jolt of energy while we held back and watched our daughters triumph in their own special moment of glory. If you look closely at the picture I’m the adult wearing the tutu a ways back from the girls.

    Running BuddtThis was Libby’s last time running as a GOTR and I will miss the moments I was able to spend with her as her coach and not her Mum.  It was  an incredible glimpse into the life of Libby as a third grader  being able to take part in  a  program that allows young girls to shine their star power and be perhaps more than they ever dreamed of being. If you had told me in my teens that I would be running 5 K’s in my forties I would have laughed and told you that you were crazy. Somehow life has taught me that it’s not so much what you are doing each and every day but how you are being while you are doing it.  Girls On The Run magnifies the importance of being the best part of yourself while trying new activities and reaching out to the world whether you are in a familiar place or somewhere you’ve never been, and that’s a good thing.

     

     



  • Simple is Good – Who Cares?

    siggisWe’ve stumbled on something that is simply incredible.  It’s incredible just as much for what it’s not than for what it is. Okay first let me say from a nine year old’s perspective that it is her new favorite in her planet box because it is smooth, creamy, delicious, and has no CHUNKS. From her mother’s perspective, that’s me, it is incredible for the long list of ingredients it doesn’t include: aspartame, sucralose, gelatin, artificial colorings, preservatives, or high fructuse corn syrup. I wish I could say that I am the diligent mother monitoring everything that goes into my children’s mouth but I would be stretching the truth. With a blended family of seven, a farm, and both of us working full time jobs, we do our best to make sure each of our children and animals are covered and given as much love as possible but even with our due diligence, there are some gaps that present themselves in our parenting.

    Libby happened upon siggi’s yogurt, Icelandic style skyr, on her own at Demoulas Market Basket in Dover, NH. She is probably the healthiest eater in our home and at her early age is very aware of what it means to eat close to the ground.  She’s never fallen pray to junk food or soda and since she was a baby has always preferred fruit and veggies over processed food. It was a couple weeks after her choosing siggi’s for her lunch before I tried it, another week before my husband took his first taste.  He loved it and asked me what I thought of it. I hadn’t really given it much thought but when asked I knew that it was my new favorite. This morning I noticed that the label had a proud GF stamp. I looked closer and realized how incredibly healthy it was and was motivated to visit their facebook page to learn more about the product and company and became quickly aware that this new discovery was very much more than a welcomed addition to our fridge, it was an inspiration for us to do better for ourselves and our family. It was a pledge that we were taking to chose something different than what we had become accustomed to in the late seventies and eighties.

    I believe that siggi’s dairy and all that it encompasses really does care and I’m starting to wake up to the idea of what really matters most in our crazy, hectic existence we call life.

    Check them out on facebook! 



  • Welcome to the World of Wanelo – Who Cares?

    wanelo-shoppingA few years ago,  I remember being alarmed on Christmas morning to a new startling evolution of life with me and my two young girls.  Anna had come out from her room with her first ever phone that her dad had given her for her birthday. I looked at her and then looked at our tree with the sparse amount of gifts arranged under  it to make them seem like more.  She sat down on the couch and waited for her sister.  I sipped my coffee and took in one of my most favorite days of the year just as a horrible realization dawned on me.  Anna was scrolling on Instagram and would know instantly what each of her friends had opened under their tree.  I tried to remain calm and asked her softly to save her phone till after we had opened our tree as a family.  It was my own ego telling me that the presents we were able to share that year wouldn’t stand up to the gifts her peers would be opening or had already opened that morning. Looking back now I realize that moment of doubt and uncertainty was as much a reminder to me to remember what truly matters most and what is meant to be celebrated on Christmas morning.

    Flash forward to last night, the girls were in the living room doing their homework camped out by the fireplace and brightly lit Christmas tree.  A lot has transpired in our lives since that Christmas morning awakening on Instagram.  We had found our center, our balance of being a divorced family and we had started discovering the many things in life that can bring joy and happiness when your checkbook balance is in limbo from day to day.  When we reached what seemed to feel like equilibrium, we met Kyle. Dating, marriage, a new home, a new life including a blended family and here we are once again trying to find that point of equilibrium. But this time we are doing it surrounded and blanketed in love.  So last night as Kyle and I worked together ironing out some bumps in the road, the girls camped out in the living room taking care of their daily responsibilities and winding down from school and activities.

    Anna came into the kitchen to show me something.  She had gone quiet for a bit and I had wondered what she might be creating. She handed me her phone with a wide, bright grin painted across her face. On the screen was a collage of images, items I assumed she liked or thought were cool.  She innocently offered, “It’s Wanelo.”  My mind flew back to the year of the Instagram Christmas and with hesitation I returned her grin with a smile.  I asked her how I could view what I assumed was her first ever electronic Christmas list.  She set me up with my own account and after I had put both girls to bed, Kyle, Aaron, and I sat at the kitchen island scrolling down her list.  Instead of finding an unending list of needs, wants and desires, I began to uncover a new connection to my teenage daughter.  Suddenly in front of me, displayed in bright real life images, was a collage of her books she wanted to read, art she wanted to hang, and a emerging style that would bring her from her childhood into the young adult place she has so gracefully landed.  I wasn’t looking at items she needed to have or she would die.  I had been given a front row seat to the person she was becoming and perhaps had always been.

    I wanted to reach through my screen and give Wanelo a giant standing ovation, Christmas Cheer, and a hug for creating a bit of technology that instead of widening the gap between me and my newly found teenager, it had built a bridge for me to step over into her world for just a moment or two.  This morning she woke up and shared that she had updated her Wanelo account and that she didn’t want me to think that she expected to get everything or anything from the items she had placed on her page, just that they were the things she liked and made her smile when she came across them.  I nodded and I know that she understands the monetary connection between what I do for work and what her expectations could be for what may fall under the tree. Honestly I don’t even believe that she thinks about it in that way.  That makes my heart beat stronger and fills my being with glee and joy especially during the holiday season that I know was once incredibly tight for us and is still  for many.  So as I poured over Anna’s Wanelo page discovering a deeper sense of who she is becoming, I delighted in picking a few of the things to add to Santa’s sack to be left for Anna this Christmas morning.



  • A taste of each – Who Cares?

    north-carolina_blue-ridge_1280x800Last night I waited on a party of three from North Carolina.  They were fun, energetic, and eager to experience Maine, “The way life should be.”  After asking questions about which items on the menu were local and wanting to make sure that they were going to order something unique to  our region, one woman turned to me and said, “I don’t see any wines from Maine on your menu.”

    It took me back for a moment. I’ve never been asked a question in regards to our having local wine. Beers? Yes, plenty of times and proud to share that we have dozens of local beers on tap, always flowing and ready to represent the great state of Maine.  As I ran through the index file in my mind and sorted through our extensive fine wine list the party continued to share how much they would like to try a wine made in Maine.  Finally I flipped to the right card and remembered that a husband and wife from my own town had started producing wines a few years ago and had recently brought  some bottles from  their new label into the restaurant.  I quickly shared that we did have a new Maine wine on special recently and I would check to see if we had any left. I asked if they would like to sample what we did have in stock and they eagerly replied yes.

    SLH-pinot-label-300x251

    We had two bottles of the Andrew Bevan label in house, a Pinot Noir and a Chardonnay. The bartender poured a taste of each and off I went back to the table.  I placed the glasses in front of the two ladies and waited as they first sniffed the aromas and then slowly sipped and held the wine on their palettes a moment before swallowing. I hadn’t yet tried any of the collection, so I waited patiently for their decision. Smiles appeared on their faces and after continuous nods they ordered one of each.  They were so incredibly impressed with each of the wines that they asked numerous times where they could purchase bottles on their drive back to Boston.

    The group of three traveling from North Carolina had been determined to experience Maine and were open to trying everything that was either from or produced in this great region of our state.  I admired their gusto and respected the way in which they chose to live life and learn from all it may have to offer.  Ironically, I happen to know Andrew and Amy and admire them as well for taking the less traveled road in life and creating something from scratch, an idea that often begins more or less as a notion,stepping out of one’s comfort zone and being willing and open to what may follow.  It may not seem like such a huge experience that I encountered last night at work but somehow being there it felt as though we could all take a little bit of inspiration from the group of travelers and the local entrepreneurs.  It seems to me that they are all part of a growing group of humans in our world that seem to care what they do, create, and  celebrate.

     



  • Farm Camp – A New Family

    Farm Camp

    Farm Camp

    There’s a magical place close to our home that has become a focal point in one of our daughter’s world.  It’s a place where animals and children co-mingle and quietly take care of one another as they laugh, play, and learn what is truly most important in life.  On any given pick up when the sun has begun to move from its highest place in the sky above, you can expect to see the unexpected and hear the joyous cries of a good ole fashioned belly laugh ranging from the smallest small to the biggest big.  Their motto and mantra being always be safe and have fun seems to be all they really need to create an incredibly nurturing and educating habitat of life.  Our daughter looks forward to it each and every day; mucking out stalls, gathering eggs, riding the horses, and taking creativity to the next impossible level through the wondrous and magical crafts and games they play.  It’s become her safe place in life, where she can truly be who she is meant to be and not hold back in all the things children do best.  It has become an incredible reminder in our family that life can be and is meant to be fun and enjoyed even when shoveling out and cleaning up messes.



  • Do what you do – A Little Lift

    Just the Thing, Dover NH

    Just the Thing, Dover NH

    Sometimes out of nowhere I get a notion and before too long I am obsessed with bringing it to life.  Kyle and I have had a connection with islands since our first couple of dates. It began as a weekend project, visiting local islands and spending time together in Maine getting to know one another.  It quickly expanded and included talks of Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and more recently Bermuda.  During the summer, I waitress to pay bills as I continue to pursue my dream of being a writer.  In my efforts to support myself and children I have accumulated a boat load of change.  Kyle seems to be a magnet to coins as well and somewhere in a conversation of island hopping we decided to actively start saving our change for a getaway this coming winter.  He shared how his parents collected coins in an old fashioned glass water jug and when it was full had enough to go to Mexico.  Perfect, I thought, now we just need a glass jug.

    My notion of needing a glass jug took me to Just the Thing in Dover this morning.  I quickly found one filled with corks.  It was the exact one I had imagined as collector of coin for our quick, winter getaway.  I asked if they had others, the image of me spending hours to remove the endless supply of corks from the bottle seemed less than appealing.  She sent me to the second floor and within minutes I came back with three antique glass, gallon jugs.   I seem to always get lost in their store, finding so many things I would like to bring back with me to continue making our house into our home.  It’s been a favorite of mine since college, this non shopper could spend hours there if my life allowed the generous reprieve.

    After I had brought the jugs to the counter and gave the clerk my debit card, I spotted a pair of matching lamps that I thought would look perfect in our bedroom.  I walked over towards the display and was surprised to find the pair were only $59.00.  I questioned if they were marked right and she smiled and said, “we like to keep things affordable here.”  I knew that, and it was one of the reasons I have always loved shopping there.  I promised myself that I would be back after another prosperous weekend of working.  Behind the counter on the wall was a display of original hand carved owls which seemed to be looking down on us as we spoke. They were light, carefree, and beautiful.  For some reason I continued to be drawn to the large tall, white one which stood higher than the rest, closer to the ceiling. After I asked how much it was I commented that I needed to leave before I did something silly and purchased it.  She again smiled and said, “You gotta do what you do.”

    I hesitated as I picked up my bag of glass jugs from the counter and smiled back at her. Her words resonated with me, my feelings and thoughts about my life as late and I couldn’t help but grin at the serendipity found in the moment.  I continue to second guess my journey of becoming a writer as I downplay the relevance of my jobs that support me in being able to follow the dream of one day supporting myself and family with my writing.  I often feel the pull of my old life in the corporate world as if going back to making ridiculous money and giving up so much of my time would deem me more successful in life.  When she looked at me and said the words, “do what you do”, I felt a tug back to somewhere closer to my own heart’s desire and away from what the world may deem the path I should take.  Maybe sometimes in life, just the thing is doing what you do and not what you may think you should be doing.