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So this is ME, on any given day. It typifies my daily doings for this year. Oh 2012, how you amuse me.

Really, it is a metaphor for every business. Every day you have new challenges and a high bar to set. I am doing it! Some days it is custom work. I love collaborating with customers to create something wonderful or beautiful or memory-filled, maybe all of the above. Other days I am working on an entire line of wall tiles, or a set of  functional table ware, a keepsake memorial piece, a specialty line of jewelry or a _____ fill in the blank! My sky has no limit. I love the challenge that each day brings and the amazing people I get to meet. It is all about relationships and how we connect to each other. How will I connect to YOU? Challenge me. Hire me for a new project. I will jump through the hoop of fire!

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I am a Mom who chose to stay  home and raise the children while Dad trotted off to work. While raising small children, women need some friendly voice outside of the mommy groups and diaper discussions, ew, by the way.  Well, my voice was none other than Oprah.  By the time 4 o’clock rolled around, we had been to the park, washed, eaten several times, napped (not me, them!), played, played some more, cleaned some stuff, done laundry and dishes, etc…it was a FULL day. So now, 4 o’clock is time to sit, plan dinner  and sometimes fold while Oprah shared an hour with you. It was a valuable hour too. You got a glimpse into other worlds that did not always effect your bubble of parenting and people forming. I was thankful for her resonant voice and  undying enthusiasm. I always envisioned myself on Oprah for saving the world in some capacity. Maybe for being a Mom-preneur. Or maybe, one day, I would just get to sit in her audience and bask in the experience. I used to travel for work before staying home with children and Chicago was my business destination a couple of times a year. (LOVE Chicago) I asked my business associate if he could score tickets to her show for me. His reply was something terribly bigoted and appalling. It changed my, already less than stellar, view of him too. Once again, no Oprah. Well, this is her last season and my opportunity has again slipped away. Tickets on-line are the hot tamale du jour and virtually un-score-able.  Now, knowing I will not get to fulfill  my Oprah vision, I feel so bummed even watching this last season. Maybe Oprah will vacation in Florida when she has some down time…you know, after this last season. I still have hope!

Ok, I am a little off the beaten path of business and art today, but I have this really odd relationship with Starbucks. I use it as a meeting/drop-off  place for customers, sounds like a drug deal, but it is not, I assure you.  It is warm, friendly and inviting. The staff is always pleasant and the aroma is like a heady  cloud of happiness. Yeah, it is Starbucks! At some point, you must return all of the coffee you consumed, and I understand businesses trying to be all “Green” and such. But when I go into a restroom, I want to make the personal decision when it is time to leave. As soon as that light goes on, baby you are on the clock! No loitering people…do your business and get out. I always feel like I am 10 years old again and at the state fair playing that game with the water pistol and the clown head. Squeezing that trigger so hard that the balloon on the clown’s head inflates faster than your neighbors. Pee faster! I cheer myself on..then…I hear the  *click* and out goes the light! Awww, it always gets me. I flail my arms to turn it back on, once again , feeling defeated. Love Starbucks, the restroom antics…not so much. Is there a lesson here? Possibly. But really, Starbucks…can I have a light switch? I promise to turn the light out when I leave.

Ahhh, we loved it in elementary school…the quick slip of the hip when the ball came zinging our way. You could feel the Whoosh as it breezed by you, another triumphant miss! Yesssss. I stay in the  game. Well, I see business as this very sort of activity. It is you against everyone, you have to keep your eye on the ball, and you have to constantly re-adjust your position to stay on top! Staying in the game is no small task  today. You have to be creative on all fronts and find new ways of doing things when you have exhausted the old methods. Every year, it seems the old methods are just that, old. I am always thinking of  new ideas.

One came to  me just this week.  I got my “end of the year massage” so I go rolling into the new year feeling refreshed and revitalized. It was a salon I had not ever tried and when I walked into the office, I immediately loved the decor. I did notice it was sparse.(Maybe they are minimalists…you never know) Anyway, after my session, I complimented the owner on the interior and commented on the sparse part. They are not minimalists, they ran out of money for the rest of the office. My light went on! I offered him my art work to finish the look and put discreet prices on them. When an item sells, they get a commission for the sale and I replace the inventory and rotate it periodically. He thought it was a great idea. He gets a finished look to his office,  passive income for selling art and a new network of my customer base…they can now come see my work in person and maybe book a massage in the process. I get a new place to show my work, a broader network of his client base, and potential income for selling there. Definitely a win-win situation. Whooshhhhh, another miss. I stay in the  game!

Michele Palenik & Baxter

Michele Palenik & Baxter

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