I flipped my calendar over to May 1st by the warm glow of our Christmas lights, still shining brightly through my front window.
Hey, I’m not the only one still in the festive spirit. John, my new next-door neighbour, still has several strings of multi-coloured lights hanging in his tree - and they’ve been there since last November.
What does it mean to have a teenage business?
Well, if you’ve been in biz over ten years, you already know. If you haven’t, it’s this: you’re probably pretty good at what you do if you’ve lasted this long. You’ve seen a lot. And you’ve got a lot figured out.
So what about when your business enters it’s twenties?
I mean, what was I expecting from a place called The Orange Cat Cafe?
An orange cat, of course.
But I was pleasantly surprised by the sense of fun I felt as I entered this rural Maine eatery .
The Orange Cat Cafe is on our route to Ontario from New Brunswick - we take a short cut through Maine and come back into Canada somewhere in Quebec. (it’s a long but beautiful drive)
I joined a twin club in Ottawa when I found out we were in a BOGO baby situation.
They offered prenatal classes for moms with multiples. (yes, some moms were having more that two)
And even though I had already been through this experience once before - and had what the twin community calls a “singleton” already - having one baby vs having two babies was a whole new ballgame, with it’s own unique set of rules.
You could have divided that prenatal class in half.
I found a loophole when I was in high school that allowed me to complete all the credits I needed to graduate early - one semester before my classmates.
How did that happen?
My school switched from full-year courses to a semester system when I was in grade 11 and, because I hadn't taken any "spares", I found a way to finish up at the end of January (instead of June) in my graduation year.
Have you ever seen your life flash before your eyes? No? Me neither.
But I have had the closest thing to it. I used to jokingly call these situations "brushes with death". But it's funnier than it sounds.
It all started with the sound of a summer tire bouncing onto the driveway.
Do you remember the first word you ever said?
I don’t even remember the first words my kids said. Maybe Momma? Dada?
But I DO remember the first word that Melanie ever said.
Melanie was the young daughter of a photographer I worked for in my early twenties. Some days I worked in the darkroom at his photo studio, some days I was sorting negatives. And some days I looked after little Mel if her Mom got called in to work.
Those were the fun days.
I don’t think my Dad ever drove by a wide open parking lot after a fresh snowfall without pulling in to do a few donuts. In the station wagon. With us kids in the back seat, loving it.
This same fun-loving guy sang inappropriate university drinking songs - with modified lyrics - when we were kids. Sometimes while making us breakfast, or getting us ready for school...“She’s got freckles on her BUT she is nice”.
38 years ago today, I joined my buddy June and her brand new husband (Danny) on their honeymoon trip.
Yes, I just revealed that I have friends that are way, WAY older than me.
The wedding took place in our home town, Brockville, and after the festivities subsided I needed to get back to Ottawa.
The newlyweds were heading through Ottawa to a honeymoon destination in Quebec that Sunday and they very generously offered me a ride.
It seemed like a good idea at the time.
You know when you are going shopping for clothes so you dress in an outfit and shoes that are super easy to take off and put back on?
You feel pajamas and slippers are the best option but because you are going out in public, you have to take it up a notch? Yep.
So on a grey day in September, four years ago, when we were living on the upper west side of NYC, I decided I needed some new clothes.
I was living out of a suitcase at the time and was craving some new threads to replace the well-worn collection I'd been wearing for several months, on rotation.
Remember that pivotal day when you KNEW you would start your own business? I remember that day well.
I was downsized from a cool start-up company (along with 60 of my colleagues) and I decided to strike out on my own. No more "job" job.
I was going to be Kim.Inc, put out my own shingle, and start my own company.
Why was my foot suddenly in excruciating pain while I was hitchhiking from Brindisi to Pescara on that sweltering June afternoon back in 1981?
I was stumped.
We were having a great day up 'til then. Spending more time in cars than on the side of the road. No pain at all.
When I removed my well-worn sandal and looked between my big toe and the next one (you know, the piggy that stayed home), something a little familiar was sticking out.
I didn't know how much I wanted to ride my bike through Times Square in NYC until I realized it might be impossible!
For our two-month stay in Manhattan I was going to rent a bike but when I saw the crazy rental prices at the hole-in-the-wall bike rental shop in Tribeca, I decided to buy one of those cool turquoise city bikes instead.
That bike was my favourite way to get around NYC.
A few weeks ago, on my quiet residential street, I saw Alexander’s cool, kinda vintage, burgundy car go by my window on the bed of a tow truck.
Was this out of the usual? Yep. My typical entertainment through that window consists of commuters (some wave to me, hi!), random deer jaywalking, joggers jogging and dog walkers. Normally, I don't pay much attention to the comings and goings while I’m working.
Then Alexander’s car went by.
Having a pet snake made us the most popular family in the neighbourhood - let me rephrase that - the most popular among the KIDS in the neighbourhood.
Our oldest son, Joey, not only loved all creatures but he could actually seek out, find (and capture) just about any living thing in the great outdoors.
It was like living with the Canadian version of the Croc Hunter!
Shoreline Graphics was a small, progressive design agency made up of four young, creative, go-getting guys when they hired me.
I was young, keen and had no idea what I was getting into. (I'm saving my stories about being the only girl in an all boy agency for another day.)
I think the small office was about 800 square feet total and I shared a small portion of that space with Jimm, one of the co-owners.
The sun had just come up when I noticed that a particularly impish bird landed on the ledge of our deck. The same ledge where I have all my beach finds on display.
We are living and working in Costa Rica right now and because I had a full suitcase when I arrived (I mean packed-to-the-hilt-stuffed suitcase) there is no room for any shells, cool rocks or beach glass for the trip home. Well, maybe some beach glass will fit.
So why even collect these treasures? To enjoy them while I'm here, of course. So there they all are, on the ledge, on display, being enjoyed.
I saw the Titanic movie. I know how it's supposed to feel when you wave good-bye to people heading out to sea on a big ship. It's fun. It's romantic. It's heartwarming. It's a special event.
That's why I thought it would be a great idea to see off a group of family members as they headed out to Bermuda on a ginormous cruise ship, from a port in New York City, not far from where I'm living at the moment.
It happened in a split second.
Do you ever have that thought, that sinking feeling, that you want to go back in time, just one or two seconds. If you could just get time to back up a smidge, so you could re-think a decision, or undo a really dumb move.
As I stood in total disbelief, with mounds (and mounds) of shattered glass everywhere, I'm pretty sure I said a bad word (the air was blue), then I actually put my head in my hand, and shook it a little.
It was a fixture on Beechwood Avenue until Saturday night. Yes, our beloved New Edinburgh Pub closed its doors for the last time. I happened to be in Ottawa on the weekend of the closure and it took me by surprise.
I know restaurants come and go. But I was pretty sad and nostalgic about the loss of this well worn corner pub. It was the go-to place for many of our family gatherings - we celebrated birthdays, anniversaries and sometimes, nothing at all.
The booth by the window was the perfect perch to people watch and gab. And they'd happily pull a bunch of tables together to feed our big clan.
The Small Business Guide
Kim Houlahan is a marketing consultant who loves helping small business owners improve their marketing.
Small Business Guide ~ Archives
See the light at the end of the tunnel?
Speak Volumes without Saying a Word
Why you need to be different
Surprising Advice for Budding Entrepreneurs
What are you doing all the way to the bank?
What a Mom of Twins does NOT need to hear
Have you got a Secret Sauce?
Have you Ruined any Surprises Lately?
What Story Are You Telling Yourself?
When the Rubber hits the Road
How is your Business like a Marriage?
The Right Place at the Right Time
Just Get Out There.
How Hard Can it Be to Describe What you Do?
What's Your Best Productivity Hack?
To Share or Not to Share
Relatively Small Efforts for - wait for it - Great Results
The Truth about Working from Home
What's YOUR Superpower?
6 Things You Can Do Now
Perspective is (Almost) Everything
Are You Sensitive to Customer Needs?
Got a Process for That?
Don't Get Attached!
Aim DIRECTLY at your audience
Know When to Ask for Help
3 Things you Should Never Assume
Avoid the Wild Goose Chase
Where do you Draw the Line?
Give'em a Memorable Experience