I like Mondays. It’s a fresh, opportunity to start another week where I can start anew and create what I want. Call me an eternal optimist but I always look forward to the endless possibilities Monday promises. This morning Ernie and I will attend our regular Monday networking group, called Enlightened Entrepreneurs.
It’s a growing group of small business owners who come together each week to help and support each other. We do business with each other – but EE is also about learning and connecting in a uplifted way that provides a great way to start our week.
This weekend was filled with activities that made me feel like a part of the community I live in rather than my online community. Different from sitting in my office chair and facebooking for the weekend.
On Saturday I went to the Warrior Dash as you see from my post yesterday. Afterward, I took my friend Val to lunch at the Lake Las Vegas Westin (yes, the mud was gone by then).
Yesterday I had a meeting with a client at Barnes & Noble. She has been with me for well over a year now and the amazing strides her business has made during that time is nothing short of remarkable. She’s always upbeat and positive and looks forward to our meetings.
One of the things I told her is that she needs to be a follow-up warrior with her business. She can be a force of nature when she wants to be – but other times she lets things fall through the cracks. We all do that at times as small business owners and closing those gaps by following up and can make a huge difference.
I attended my husband Ernie Martin’s Spiritual Circles of the Vegas Valley discussion held at “The Spirit Within U” owned by the lovely Karen Campbell. For years Ernie’s passion has been to lead a group in spiritual conversations. No rights or wrongs here – it’s all about what your experience is and what matters to you.
We had a wonderful conversation for about 90 minutes exploring the question, “Is prayer/meditation effective for you?” (The picture on the right is from a wedding we attended a couple months ago in San Francisco.)
In the evening I attended a candlelight vigil for a young woman, Anne-Monique Lippitt (pictured left with her mom) who was in a near-fatal car accident a little over a week ago and has been in a medically-induced coma since at University Medical Center. Annie, age 20, is a college student working two part-time jobs. She has a ready smile for every one and is all about bringing people together. She graduated from Spring Valley High School in 2010 where she was president of the student body all four years. If you’d like to support her and her family click here now.
As I was driving home from the candlelight vigil with my friend, Stacey Hall, I felt like I really was a part of my community this weekend. I contributed in the best ways I know how to support others and connect in meaningful ways.
Ernie and I flew to Oakland California last Friday. On Saturday we attended an Indian/Sikh wedding. When we received the elegant invitation in the mail a few months ago I told him, “Hon, I’ve never been to anything like this before.”
Ernie, who grew up in India and came to America at the age of 18 many years ago replied, “I’ve never been to anything like this either.”
Our connection to the couple is Ernie’s good friend, Ravi. They were co-workers together many years ago during his days working in the aerospace industry. The couple, both born and raised in the US chose this traditional Indian/Sikh way of getting married. The bride is an attorney. The groom is a pharmeceutical sales rep.
There were Sanskrit words on the ornate red and gold invitation, so I went about looking them up on Google so I’d understand what they were about. Quickly I discovered Indian weddings are a big deal. This one was a two-day affair filled with cultural depth and rituals passed down for centuries.
I have to say this straight up – when I met Ernie, I’d never even experienced Indian food let alone Indian culture or Indian people. All I “knew” was that Indian women were supposedly considered second class citizens and had to walk two steps behind their husbands. Back when we started dating I was terrified that within a few months he’d have me chained to a stove stirring curry. It never happened. We’ve been together 15 years now and he’s the most supportive, kind, thoughful, funny, caring man I’ve ever known.
The evening before the wedding there was a party put on by the bride’s family. Actually the siblings of the bride host the party – but the parents probably paid for it. It’s an Indian traditon. It was held at a Marriott hotel with a open bar featuring Margaritas, a Fajita buffet and a DJ playing Punjabi hip hop faves. Okay, some American hits by Usher and Katy Perry slipped in but it felt Indian.
One of the unique Indian fashion traditions is the bride usually has intricate henna (an herbal dye) tatoos traced on her hands and arms called “Mehndi.” They’re considered a beautiful adornment for the bride. At the party Friday evening a Mehndi tatoo artist was doing designs on any of the women who wanted them done on their hands and arms.
I have a detailed design on my left hand that looks like a heart with leaves trailing up my arm. It has a red/brown cast to it, and, I’m told it will last about 10-14 days. I’m surprised a few people have noticed it since the wedding and pointed it out saying, “Oh, you have a Mehndi.”
Of course the bride had her Mehndi designs done the day before the party and the photographer got pictures of the beautiful designs on her hands and arms a part of the memories of her wedding.
Towards the end of the party there was a ritual where different family members put bangles and charms on the brides arms as a symbol of happiness, prosperity and long life. The tradition is that the bride is supposed to wear the bangles for the first 40 days after her marriage.
On her wedding day, I asked the bride if she wore her bangles and charms to sleep the night before. She told me she kept the bangles on her arms but removed the charms so they wouldn’t wake her so she could get some sleep the night before her wedding.
The bangles were red, white and gold similar to the ones you see in this picture - which are the customary bridal colors of India.
The day of the wedding Ernie and I arrived at the Sikh temple called a “gurdwara” at about 8:00 am in the morning. After a lot of standing around wondering what to do the groom rode in on an ornately decorated horse surrounded by family members who are all dancing, whooping and hollering with joy for the soon-to-be husband and wife.
The bride chose pink as her color and the groom chose purple so there were lots of brilliantly hued pink and purple saris and other Indian apparel. Because both men and women have to cover their heads in a Sikh temple there were also a lot of men wearing pink or purple handerkerchiefs tied on their head to honor the bride and groom.
A light breakfast was served with Samosas, Pakoras and Indian sweets. Indian chai tea was offered along with orange juice. All the food was vegetarian. Volunteers at the temple traditionally cook and serve the food at this meal.
Then people started filing into the actual hall in the temple you see in the picture. Men sit on the left side of the gleaming marble aisle, and, women sit on the right side. It’s a very meditative space and you remove your shoes and sit on the heavily padded and carpeted floor.
In researching a little something about Sikhs, I discovered they broke off from the Hindu faith about 500 years ago. They are not Muslim. They are very peaceful people and most of the 700,000 Sikhs in America are in business, medicine and academia.
The most devout of Sikh men never cut their hair and wear it bound in tight, meticulously wrapped turbans. They are not Muslims – the only similarity with that faith is the turban. Another thing I learned about Sikhs is they believe in complete equality between men and women, husbands and wives. All the unfair treatment of women in the Middle East is not a part of the Sikh faith.
Finally the ceremony was about to start at 10:00 am and the groom came in. He was wearing the most incredible beaded and embroidered jacket that came down almost to his knees. He wore dark red pants beneath the jacket, bare feet, a red ascot and a red turban. The groom in this wedding is usually clean shaven guy with a conservative Western haircut. It’s common for Sikh grooms in America who cut their hair in a standard American way to grow a beard for about a month before his wedding day out of respect for the Sikh tradition among men.
At last the bride appeared from the back of the temple. She was slowly walked up the aisle by two friends – sort of handmaidens. They brought her up the aisle in her gorgeous red wedding dress resplendent with heavy gold embroidery and beading. Her mother and soon-to-be mother-in-law were also a part of the procession walking up the aisle with her to her waiting groom.
Both Hindi and Sikh weddings, very similar, are wordless affairs. No vows are spoken. There is much well wishing by family members as the wedding takes place but no “I do’s” are said.
The groom walks around the altar in the temple and the bride follows him around. They are connected by a sash or a ribbon of red fabric. Each time around the altar represents something – though I never found out exactly what. It’s all done very prayerfully and mindfully. If she follows him around all four laps they are finally husband and wife. Ernie told me that in a Hindu wedding there are seven laps around the altar so the wedding ceremony takes even longer
Once this ritual is completed there is handshaking all around and the ceremony is almost complete. Then, all the wedding guests get in line to give their good wishes to the new bride and groom. They also make a contribution to the gurdwara – I would imagine the money helps to pay for the food. Most people seemed to give about ten dollars each, so that’s what Ernie and I contributed to the kitty.
I’d say there were about 125-150 people at the temple so the line was a slow one. When we got to the front of the line there was a photo op to get your picture taken with them.
Now I said the wedding ceremony is a wordless one – but it’s not a silent one. These three bearded dudes played drums and sang traditional Punjabi wedding music – much like chanting throughout the entire wedding ceremony.
After the ceremony was over we left the main hall of the gurdwara. I removed the scarf from my head and put my stilettos back on. Felt like me again. Once again, volunteers prepared Indian food in a buffet for lunch. This time the food was served by some of the family members. The lunch was a little more hearty compared to breakfast. As much as I told myself “don’t eat any more” – it was just all so good. And there was more to come at the reception.
For a few hours Ernie and I went back to our hotel room before the reception which took place at a lovely venue for weddings and other big events owned by a winery. As we arrived appetizers were served and there was an open bar and lots of milling around. Lots of dancing, too. The music was booming. Ernie and I cut a rug and had a lot of fun, even if we didn’t understand the words to the music.
When the bride and groom made their entrance into the wedding reception room they looked very different. She was wearing a white dress, though Indian in style with a lot of gold embellishment. He was clean shaven and wearing a very modern suit. They both were beaming.
Dinner is served later in India. Same as in Europe. Ever been to Paris and the restaurants don’t even open up for dinner until 8:00 pm? At about 9:15 pm, six huge doors into a buffet area were opened and dinner was served. If this was a food blog I’d go into detail about the food. Suffice it to say everything was the most delicious Indian food I’ve ever had the opportunity to enjoy.
Unlike at the temple – it wasn’t vegetarian. Fish and two kinds of shrimp were served during the cocktail and appetizer hour. During dinner chicken and lamb curries were served. No beef or pork, of course.
Everyone we talked with and hung out with was lovely, gracious and full of fun. Old guys with salt and pepper beards were on the dance floor celebrating. Young women in saris and Indian dresses with the latest platform heels were getting their groove on to the music. It was a once in a lifetime experience I’ll remember with fondness the rest of my life.
Meeting Ernie was like the end of a journey. After nothing but lousy relationships with men my entire life, I finally met the perfect man for me. If you’ve had challenges with love or are happily in love – you might enjoy my story.
It was Saturday August 2nd 1997 and I was excited. I’d just bought a computer and gotten online for the first time a few days ago. I’d heard there was a lot of information online about singles. It wasn’t fast or easy to access back in the dial-up days. But I was curious and so I surfed. I had no idea what I was doing – it was just a way of getting familiar with the new world of the Internet.
When I noticed an announcement for a singles beach picnic about an hour from where I lived in Vista CA, I decided to go. I figured it wasn’t a smoky bar, and, you never know what could happen. As I drove north along the I-5 close to the Pacific Ocean I felt a sense of anticipation and expectation. Something great and life changing was about to happen. I tried to calm myself, but it persisted the entire drive.
I found Dana Point State Park and walked and walked and walked for half an hour with a beach bag slung over one arm and a folding chair over the other. I was almost ready to turn around and walk back to my car when I finally found the sign for the picnic. The gathering was just getting started. Like many singles events, there were more women than men in attendance. If nothing else it would be a beautiful Saturday afternoon on the beach
After about an hour, I heard a male voice in an accent I didn’t recognize. I turned and saw a pair of nicely muscled, brown, male legs in shorts. All the women were saying, “Hi Ernie! How you doing, Ernie?”
He chirped back, “Helloooooo!” I later learned the event organizer practically begged him to come so there would be enough men in attendance.
I stood up and joined a cluster of women talking with him. He had deep brown skin, but hair like a Caucasian. I nudged the woman next to me and whispered, “Introduce me, would you?” She did and he smiled hello. His smile melted my heart. Our eyes locked. It was as if everyone else fell away, though I heard the gaggle of feminine conversation around us.
I thought how do I get him away from this crowd to talk with him alone? Without hesitating I said, “Who wants to go swimming?” I hoped he would say “yes” and the other women wouldn’t want to swim and get their hair wet.
“I’ll go swimming with you,” he said, not missing a beat. As if on cue the other women dropped away.
We walked down the sandy beach and into about knee deep water as the waves crashed into us. There was an instant attraction different from anything I’d ever felt. I don’t remember much about that first conversation – it was many years ago. I remember him asking questions about my education, my religious faith and my family. He said he was born in India and he came to America after high school. He told me he had two grown sons. I was 39, he was 51.
I knew nothing about Indian people. I’d never even tried Indian food back then. A million questions swirled through my mind. Wasn’t India a country where women were treated like second class citizens? Would he expect me to walk two steps behind? Would I be chained to the stove stirring curry for the rest of my life?
His sweetness, graciousness and sense of humor drew me in regardless of my fears.
I suggested we get out of the water and walk down the beach along the ocean’s edge. We walked a couple miles along the wet sand. On the way back he took my hand in his. I’d only known him a little over an hour, but already I felt a deep connection with this unusual man I still find difficult to explain all these years later. A lifetime of all the wrong men and the wrong relationships fell away. I was finally home.
When we returned to the group two hours later it was dusk. The guys built a bonfire to light the evening sky and cook hot dogs and marshmallows over the flames. Ernie never left my side that evening. Our knees touched lightly as we sat on a blanket.
We talked with others and enjoyed the laughter and joking all around as the night sky grew dark. But it was clear to everyone, in the two hours we spent away from the party we became completely connected as a couple.
I got up from the sand and walked down to the water’s edge. I wanted to etch this perfect moment in my mind forever. I knew he was the one for me for the rest our our lives. We hadn’t even kissed yet. In the indigo sky on a sultry August evening, a sliver of moon and a few stars hung in the sky. I felt overwhelmed with gratitude and just whispered a simple, “Thank you, God. He’s the one,” to the heavens.
We’ve been crazy in love together ever since. Through the years he’s been the kindest, funniest, most supportive wonderful man I’ve ever known. I’ve never had to walk behind him and he makes the curry. His smile still melts my heart every day.
Last time I visited Seattle was twenty years ago. Coming back to the Emerald City was going to be familiar but new at the same time. Ernie and I were looking forward to getting to know the ambience of Seattle during the few days we had to visit.
Because our Amtrak train engine had “issues” (See post: “The Little Engine that Couldn’t.”), we got to our hotel in Seattle at 7:00 pm rather than 4:00 pm as scheduled. We had dinner at a Thai restaurant at the Pacific Place mall. Nice, but my feeling is anything in a mall doesn’t give you the real experience of a city. But hey, it was 8:30 pm by the time we ordered dinner. You gotta be prepared for things changing when you travel. So, we wanted to get an early start the next morning – a Saturday.
At 6:10 am we headed out the door of our hotel to explore and catch the city in the early morning as it’s just starting to shake off the cover of darkness. We headed in the general direction of the harbor area not knowing where the streets of Seattle would quite take us.
In short order we were at legendary Pike Place Market – but it was a far different scene from what most people see when they stroll through. At six-something in the morning it was empty. Some of the flower vendors were pulling their wares out of refrigerated trucks. The fishmongers were getting the crushed ice just right for their fishy displays. The produce vendors were starting to set up their best displays of brilliantly colored fruits and veggies.
This early in the morning there was no fish throwing going on. No street musicians singing and strumming. I stopped into a Starbucks across the street and bought a bottle of water to sip on as we were about to walk back to our hotel to shower and have breakfast. I asked the barista, “Is this the original Starbucks?”
“No,” she replied. “It’s down one block and to the left a few doors.” We decided to come back later.
We trekked to 4th Street and then down Wall Street back to our hotel. Our plan was to return in a few hours.
When we did the area was transformed – with people. Lots of people Wall to wall humanity, in fact. Pikes Place is like a Farmer’s Market – on steroids. There is every type of produce you can imagine. Seafood fresh caught from the ocean that morning. And everything in between.
We started out at The Pike Place Fish Market. This is where the famous “fish throwers” do their thing. Every time someone buys a fish, these guys toss it over the big fish display to the guys waiting to cut it up and wrap it to the customer’s specifications – or ship it cross-country. They are famous for putting on a “show” and shucking and jiving with the crowds. And you can tell they’re having a good time. People crowd in just to see these guys toss fish and joke around with the crowd.
I get why they do it. It’s great marketing. In fact, the Pike’s Place Fish Market has been written about as an excellent example of how a not so unusual business – a fish market – has distinguished itself by providing an experience that’s fun and unique. What blows me away is the crowds. People really dig fish throwing. All that fame probably is a good thing for all the other vendors, too.
We kept walking through the throngs of people. Since we had a refrigerator in our hotel room we bought oranges, apples, raspberries and blueberries to keep with us as healthy snacks. Prices were pretty close to what I pay at Trader Joe’s at home.
At Pikes Place you can find wines, cheeses, meats and sausages, baked goods – including a locally famous donut joint known as The Daily Dozen. I almost bought something called Chocolate Pasta. It’s a dessert. I guess you serve it hot over a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream with a few berries or toasted nuts. I thought it would be a nice dessert, but I never went back to that vendor for it.
Pikes Place Market is so big and so busy you can even find tours to take you through and “show you the hidden gems in Pikes Place so you can experience it like a local.” Yes, the crowds can be a somewhat daunting – but I need a tour guide to go through a market?
The flowers are positively amazing. For a mere five dollars you can get a pretty respectable bouquet. It’s a riot of brilliant color that just makes you feel happy to look at it. For ten dollars you can get a larger, more lush bouquet. How they do it so inexpensively – I have no idea. But I didn’t see any florists shops in the downtown area – they just can’t compete with those prices. I’ll bet a lot of people who live in the area buy flowers to adorn their dining room or hall table all the time when they’re in season.
I’m starting to get it. Pikes Place Market is about food (and other curiosities) as entertainment. It’s crowded but it’s still fun. It’s about the food hawkers who try to tempt you with “just a little taste.” They’re a little silly while being about business. In a way it’s small business at it’s finest. In fact, the market is so expansive and varied I’m going to write another blog post about the food we enjoyed in the area. Stay tuned for more. And if you’re planning a trip to Seattle – you can’t miss it. You might not get Pikes Place as I didn’t at first – but go anyway.
In about ten days I’m going to San Francisco. My sister, Cherie, will be flying out from Denver to join me. We’re going to spend four days and three nights in the City by the Bay, as Tony Bennett crooned many years ago. Our plans are pretty loosey-goosey. I’m sure we’ll do some sight-seeing, it’ll be about sister time and retail therapy, too.
I remember the first time I went to SanFran I didn’t want to return home. My then-boyfriend literally had to drag me back on the plane back to Detroit. I just loved the culture, the diversity, the architecture, the hills, the cable cars and the bay. I was blown away by it all. In a good way.
I went for high tea at Neiman Marcus in Union Square. It’s the most elegant and relaxed event. The restaurant clings to an oval shaped balcony perched several floors above the shoppers. On the ceiling is the most spectacular, oval stained glass window. I remember that from my first trip many years ago.
Eight years ago I surprised my husband with a trip to San Francisco at Christmas. We flew there on December 27th and flew home New Years day. Ernie’s a train buff, and, I thought what better city for him to enjoy trains, cable cars, trolleys, etc.
Unfortunately I came down with a cold on Christmas day. So I’d go sightseeing with him in the morning. He’d go out exploring on the various forms of mass transit in the afternoon while I relaxed in our hotel room and nursed my cold. In the evening we’d go out to dinner.
On that trip, we stayed at the Sheraton close to Fisherman’s Wharf. The room was compact but elegant. This trip, sis and I will stay at the Hilton in Union Square. I’ll be sure to post a video blog about it. Gotta remember to bring my flipcam.
I’ve been checking the weather reports (here) and I can’t wait to get out of the Las Vegas desert heat for a few days. We’ve been baking in 110F. degree temps the last three days. San Francisco is supposed to be about 75F degrees for the high temps on the days we’ll be there.
On my last trip to San Francisco, since it was over the holidays, I thought it was an appropriate time to write my goals. I remember going to the opulent Fairmont Hotel at the top of Nob Hill and sat in a comfortable chair in the lobby and wrote and wrote. A crisply-uniformed waiter brought me fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice as I wrote. I hope I get time for something like that this trip. We’ll see.
There’s something about an adventure to a dynamic, diverse, vibrant city like San Francisco that makes life wonderful. I can’t wait.
By Denise Michaels, Author, “Testosterone-Free Marketing”
Maybe you’ve been reading my blog for awhile now. Maybe you know me from when I used to be a trainer and mentor for a mega-bestselling author and seminar guy. Maybe you’re a previous marketing mentoring client. Or, maybe you’ve never heard of me before.
It doesn’t matter. If you’re a woman, home-based business owner and you really want to discover the secrets to take your business to the next level – but do it your way – without all the testosterone – come to Las Vegas and discover how to:
* Attract ideal customers who pay on time and are a pleasure to deal with
* Get them to happily say “Yes!” and know you’re aligned with them and have their best interests at heart
* Do business with people you like – so you don’t waste time on customers who are a pain
* Create a plan to help you easily draw in more people who want to and DO say “yes” to you
* Discover why you’ve held back from success and how to get the word out in a woman friendly way
… and much more.
My “No-fluff Testosterone-Free Marketing Magic Workshop” is being held Monday November 2nd in Las Vegas from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm. Get to Las Vegas. Attend the workshop and get more great ideas that’ll work for you as a woman business-owner than you ever imagined. Average temperatures for Las Vegas the first week of November are sunny and in the high 60 degree to low 70 degree range, Farenheit. Share your travel expenses with a girlfriend whose also a business owner and attend together. I just checked on Expedia.com and the hotel where the workshop will be held has a special rate of just $49 Sunday and Monday nights.
I’ll be presenting. The event will be limited to just 35 attendees. It’s small and intimate – so check into it now. Plus, there’s an Early Bird Discount right now that you don’t want to miss out on. For more information and to register click on the link at the top of the page that says, “Denise’s Events.”
I’d love to meet you in Las Vegas and help you enjoy the rest of 2009 and 2010!!! *smile*
By Denise Michaels, Author, “Testosterone-Free Marketing”
I’m really excited. This has all just started coming together in the last few days – but I’m thrilled to share with you that I’m going to be conducting a really great workshop on Monday November 2nd, her in Las Vegas.
I’m 100 percent confident when you walk away you’ll see your business and your role in it in a totally different way. You’ll get insights and ahas – that will blow you away and you’ll finally say, “Wow! I can really DO this!!”
It’s not just because I give you step-by-step instructions. It’s also because my aim is to open you up to understand why marketing must be a testosterone-free endeavor for most women. And chances are so far you’ve only been bombarded by testosterone-heavy marketing. It was designed by and for men.
Let’s be honest – marketing and selling is all about:
* Good communication skills
* Good relationship building skills
* Good problem-solving skills
… and men and women do these things in totally different ways.
You never have to put up with feeling like you’re pushy, manipulative or too forward to be successful anymore. Yes, you absolutely can do it – starting now…
Go to http://denisemichaels.com/events/ or click on the little, tiny link at the top of this page that says “Events” for more information, the workshop fee and how to register.
I’d love to have you there so you benefit from what I know.