Witnesses to Hunger CT Project Seeks Policy-Level Changes

The  exhibit ‘Witnesses To Hunger CT‘ opened Feb. 1, 2016 in the lower concourse of CT Legislative Office Building. The project is the second exhibit of its kind in the state, and follows after a 2014 New Haven exhibit Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro supported called Witness to Hungeran art and education project produced by the Drexel University Center for Hunger-Free Communities at the Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health.

Fifteen individuals from Connecticut’s cities, suburbs and rural communities documented their firsthand experiences of trying to feed themselves and their families on limited resources. The communities represented include: Amston, Bridgeport, Hartford, Hebron, Manchester, New Haven, New London, Westport and Woodbridge.

Lucy Nolan, Executive Director of End Hunger CT! is hopeful moving into the next legislation session, that the exhibit and testimony of  15 participants will, “Serve as a reminder that many among us, often hidden, need the state’s support. The Witnesses recruited for this project have faced choices that are hard to fathom – whether to eat low cost foods that could be harmful to their medical conditions or not eat at all, whether to pay for prescriptions or put food on the table.” Hunger in Connecticut is a growing problem. While youngsters may be eligible for free or reduced price meals during the school year, not every town offers a breakfast or summer meal program.

Senator Marilyn Moore, Bridgeport, spoke of her appreciation for those who were brave enough to shine a light on their personal and difficult challenges. “The Witnesses to Hunger CT project shows daunting struggles to survive, from day-to-day.While programs such as Connecticut Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides some relief, it simply isn’t enough to sustain individuals and families who don’t earn a livable wage.

CT Senator Marilyn Moore recognized four prevailing themes that emerged from project: health & wellness, food & nutrition, transportation and shelter.

CT Senator Marilyn Moore recognized prevailing themes that emerged from project: health & wellness, food & nutrition, transportation and shelter.

Anyone can become vulnerable to the challenge of making ends meet especially when health issues arise coupled with unemployment.

The photographs show compelling stories ranging from working hard to balance disease with basic necessity, empty refrigerator by month’s end, learning how to cook for healthier food choices, collecting cans and bottles for any extra income, rental living conditions in dire need of repairs, seeing eye dog with owner who forgoes breakfast when weather is too inclement for dog to walk, long lines at the food pantry, starting a garden and growing enough food to donate to local pantry, and choices between eating and not eating.

To see a town-by town percentage of those living in poverty perspective and what the available resources are for each respective area visit: http://www.endhungerct.org/#featured-page-4.

To have your voice be heard on the importance of funding programs that support CT’s neediest plan to attend ‘Talk Poverty’ Tuesday, February 9th at 9 a.m. to 11 a..m. at the Legislative Office Building, 300 Capitol Ave, 2nd Floor Atrium, Hartford, CT.:

Talk Poverty Feb. 9th, 2016 Event

Talk Poverty Feb. 9th, 2016 Event

 

For Many Veterans Wounds Still Hurt

On Veterans Day it’s hard to miss the recognition many deserving troops and individuals received. Social media played its part with Walmart’s Green Light A Vet campaign. A simple idea: replace a front porch light bulb with a green one, to signify support. Walmart provided what the symbolism represents: to “Greenlight” is to forward movement, and by showing with the first sign of a home, a lit green porch light, is (hopefully), ‘greenlighting’  and signifying veterans forward, as valued members of every community.

Every other week I anticipate seeing Dana (first name), a sergeant who served in the Vietnam War, (due to HIPPA last name is omitted). Dana, age 65, lives in a skilled nursing facility where he gets help for ongoing PTSD, COPD and other physical limitations.

The nursing facility planned special festivities for Veterans Day, as Dana wasn’t the only resident veteran. This was to be their day, beginning with a celebratory special breakfast followed by activities planned throughout the day. I envisioned Dana enjoying the commemorations, after all it is a day of thanks for those who served.

Dana shares his experiences of fighting and rescuing fellow soldiers during his service in the Vietnam War.

Dana shares his experiences of fighting in doing rescue missions during his service in the Vietnam War.

I’d become accustomed to hearing animated stories where I learned much about Dana. Besides sharing his terrific sense of humor, Dana shared war stories, some of which were quite gruesome. Sgt. Dana was part of  a specialized training group, called The Studies and Observations Group, or (SOG) and fought on Hamburger Hill. He’s one of the lucky few who lived to tell his story.

Dana enjoyed breakfast but insisted on steering clear from the music and socializing activities at The Summit. I asked why he preferred not to be recognized and he replied, “I don’t want to remember the bad things that happened.” Not meaning to be different, Dana’s response is one of self-preservation.

Reflecting back on being in the jungle, carrying out fallen soldiers while escaping the enemy is as fresh a memory as yesterday for Dana. He is proud of his service but broadcasting those tough times isn’t his style.

web_MG_2813

Dana shares war stories and shows me a framed collection of medals he earned from serving in the Vietnam War.

While companies such as Walmart bring attention to veterans, some prefer to choose when and where to talk, not on any particular day or place. The results of the Green Light A Vet campaign recorded 3,433,638 clicks as of December 15th at 11:20 a.m., EST. According to the Walmart campaign site “Every click counts as a social act of support in honor of our veterans, and will be displayed on The Greenlight Beacon, a glowing installation symbolizing our united support for veterans.”

The American Legion Kiltonic Post 72 in Southington, CT promoted Green Light A Vet although I didn’t see too many home porch lights go from yellow to green, albeit one, who kept it up past November and into December where it can easily be mistaken as a Christmas decoration.

Dana's service cap from the Vietnam War.

Dana’s service cap from the Vietnam War.

I couldn’t be more thankful for Dana’s service and for meeting him through the Adopt-A-Veteran program at The Summit At Plantsville. Conversation, story sharing and spending time are ways to show others we care.

If you would like volunteer for this program, please call 860 628-0364. If Southington, CT isn’t convenient, reach out to a nursing home where you live. The experience is something you’ll wind up cherishing. What you give comes back bigger in heart and spirit.

Creative Generosity Builds Communities

Help-Portrait, an annual photography event, commemorated their eighth year December 5th, 2015. Though not an official Help-Portrait event, New Haven’s Mothers For Justice group members were invited to participate in a holiday portrait event the same day, organized by photojournalist volunteer, Margaret Wage, with the idea of giving back.

Help-Portrait was founded by celebrity photographer Jeremy Cowart and Kyle Chowning in 2008. Their mission is to empower photographers, hairstylists and makeup artists to use their skills, tools and expertise to give back to their local community.

The Mothers For Justice (MFJ) is a grass-roots women’s advocacy group that seeks to support one another and empower themselves and their families to improve their lives and their communities. MFJ was founded in 1933 and is dedicated to using their collective voice to change the systems that perpetuate poverty and injustice. Our issues and concerns are Welfare Reform, Prison Re-entry, Housing, Healthcare & Domestic Violence among many other things. A similarity MFJ shares with the Help-Portrait community is they both recognize giving back to the local community is one way to effect positive change.

There are great folks working with organizations year-round to make things better for those in need. Ginger Grant, a.k.a. Ginger Lee Originals, is a Connecticut art photographer and sees art as a way to enrich those living in Bristol, CT. Grant recently opened  The Studio, an art studio space where she hosts painting, stitching, stamping and numerous craft project classes. What’s the connection between creativity and hunger, you might ask. For Grant, the connection lies in building up an underserved community where residents might not have even considered taking a pencil or brush to paper to express feelings or life perspective. Grant advocates any growth must first come from willingness to try. It’s only then that a person can see possibility and from that, change can occur.

In October The Studio hosted a ‘Photo Feel Good’ event, inviting the public at large to have a photograph made, free of charge, and like Help-Portrait, a print was made and given to each participant. Nearby business neighbor Marisela Severino of Joamar Hair Salon volunteered her salon and services for the all day event. A photo session included  make-up by Dori Green and contributed to making each person ‘Feel Good’ for the occasion. Grant collected (business attire) clothing  donations and  in turn, participants selected  whatever they needed for a job interview. Sweaters, blouses, dresses, slacks, jackets and winter coats were made available free to take home. That generosity of spirit is what creativity is about.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Many who attended were inspired as conversations began and people opened up about their situations. Some attendees were in transitional housing and the access to free clothing was appreciated as they took the time visit each table-full of gently used garments and racks of formal wear that were placed on hangers throughout The Studio. The clothing that remained was donated to Christian Fellowship Center on Prospect St. in Bristol.

Merryl Eaton, of MFJ, was gracious and allowed the use of the building space to do portraits. Eaton organizes monthly MFJ meetings and keeps members aware of legislative events for MFJ to attend and speak to issues they wish to impact.

Surprisingly, half the people who signed up didn’t come due to lack of transportation. The following images are of the members that came, some with their family. With hope and the strength that comes from support networks such as these, changes for the better can be made.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Wanderlust Travel Observations

During a road trip I discovered places to consider for relocation. Drawn to the southeast, I visited North Carolina, Georgia and South Carolina, all of which offered a different point of view for best semi-retired possibilities. I’m most interested in moderate temperatures, cultural offerings and tax friendly municipalities.

Lexington, Statesville and Mooresville in NC, all had great small town charm. Nice shops and restaurants lined each historic Main Streets. Also noticeable stood empty store fronts interspersed between businesses. Their vacancies were reminiscent of healthier economic times, but simultaneously represented future opportunities. Whenever my husband and I travel we, or should I say, I, become susceptible to daydreaming about what it would be like to live in a particular place.  Since location scouting was our purpose it seemed ok to entertain possibilities. Empty storefronts enticed dreams of opening a small gallery space where we could build an arts/ culinary community venue of sorts.

Spartanburg, South Carolina looked promising. Several side streets were lined with cobblestones with outdoor cafes and bicycle stands.  A jazz nightclub looked like the place to be for drinks and vibes. The main avenue was wide and large. I’m not sure if retail will recover in this area as online shopping has replaced what large department stores have to offer. What is large square footage best use? DQ headquarters is located in Spartanburg and has a high rise office space. A ground floor garden equipped with pagodas looked perfect for a portrait photography backdrop. I noticed a local photography business in town and I’m sure it does well for location shoots. As we approached a vine covered walkway, we spotted a homeless man sitting in the shade. He got up to move when he saw us. The encounter was a simple reminder that no matter how serene a place looks, there’s more to it than meets the eye. Perhaps those empty building might be well suited for housing usage.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There isn’t a ‘perfect’ place. Relocating at any point in life presents a mixed bag. So much is contingent on what you have and what you have to look forward to. Finding as near to perfect a place as possible takes a lot more than locale. It’s more about striking a balance between a good working environment and that oh-so-important ratio of income to living expenses. Strive for reasonable goals and then work towards making them happen – that’s the plan! What goals are you striving for?

Southington Landscape in Transition

The Southington portion of the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail is actively undergoing change. The”Rails to Trails” pathway is 4.1 miles in length and spans distance between the Cheshire/Southington town line north to Hart Street in Southington.

Asbestos was removed from Ideal Forging at High and  Center Streets May 4, 2015. According to the Record-Journal report, Weston Solutions Inc., supervised the initial 2013 cleanup when the bulk of hazardous materials such as oils, manufacturing chemicals, acids and florescent tubes were removed in 2013. Site cleanup required specific demolition permits from the state for asbestos removal.

Peck, Stow & Wilcox was located in Southington and employed over 1000 workers spanning decades dating back to 1785-1795 under iterations of the combined names, Roys & Wilcox, Solomon Stew and Seth Peck.

The development of the Linear Trail is such a positive addition to Southington. The flat trail is a great use of open space and provides a resource for exercise enthusiasts: a win-win for all. It seemed a natural fit to look at the surrounding areas and plan for the removal of vacant buildings such as Ideal Forging and nearby empty factories. The Hartford Courant reported New York developer Meridian Development Partners Southington purchased The Ideal Forging property in 2005. The recession delayed a retail-residential complex project slated for the 14-acre parcel. The wait is over and signs of change are seen throughout the landscape.

Piles of rock wait to be taken away while blocking the view from homes that line the trail. Rusted metal artifacts truly look the part of relic technology. That view will continue to evolve as debris is replaced by new construction. It will be interesting to see how the integrity and idyllic feeling of open space the trail currently offers will blend with that of a mixed use space site plan.

Another factor to consider is crowd logistics. Southington is best known for its annual Apple Harvest Festival with a 5K run, the yearly Italian-American street fair, weekly music on The Green concerts and big turn outs for parades.  With new housing situated so close to populated events – be prepared to get your maneuvering skills ready!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Photography Tradition Endures Through Generations

There’s no time like the present to do what you love. Years ago that sentiment became a popular catch phrase following the book  publication, “Do what you love and the money will follow,” by Marsha Sinetar. The idea to pursue a life passion as a career choice seems a no brainer to finding job satisfaction.

Jay Misencik’s career choice was influenced by uncle Ed Brinsko (1927-1995,) a photojournalist and lifelong Bridgeport resident who worked for The Post Publishing Co., (CT Post).

In January 2015 Jay Misencik and partner Geralene Valentine, both self-employed photographers, and Brinsko’s son Ed Brinsko, assembled a month long Connecticut photo exhibit held at McLevy Hall in Bridgeport . The show titled, “ReVisit Bridgeport … Photographs by Ed Brinsko,” showcased Ed Brinsko’s work which spanned decades. Ed Brinsko and Misencik frequently accompanied Brinsko on assignment where they learned to develop film and print enlargements in the darkroom. Print and film processing is considered  a craft compared to digital photography with its ease of use and immediate results.

Ed Brinsko imagery for 'Revisit Bridgeport' exhibit. Photo courtesy by Jay Misencik

Ed Brinsko imagery for ‘Revisit Bridgeport’ exhibit.
Photo courtesy by Jay Misencik

The photos are stories unto themselves. Brinsko captured hard news, celebrities and street photography in a way that is both portrait and document. Michael Daly, Connecticut Post editorial page editor, presented a discussion on Brinsko’s work to a room at full capacity of retired news journalists and Bridgeport residents.

McLevy Hall

January 2015 “ReVisit Bridgeport … Photographs by Ed Brinsko,” McLevy Hall in Bridgeport, CT

Analog photography is a longer process than digital photography. That’s what makes Brinsko’s images special. Brinsko didn’t have the luxury of seeing what the picture looked like immediately. His talent, his eye for capturing the right moment is evident in each image in the collection.

Standing room only at 'Revisit Bridgeport Photos by Ed Brinsko' talk during month long exhibit. © Margaret Waage Photography

Standing room only at ‘Revisit Bridgeport Photos by Ed Brinsko’ talk during month long exhibit. © Margaret Waage Photography

2014 Jay Misencik documents Bridgeport through photography projects. Miscenik and partner Geraline Valentine have spent twenty years photographing Bridegport in ‘Main Street Bridgeport’ and current ‘Bridgeport Portrait’ projects. © Margaret Waage Photography

Misencik and Valentine have documented Bridgeport for over twenty years beginning with ‘Main Street Bridgeport’ series and now, through their ‘Bridgeport Portrait Project’ series. Misencik like Brinsko, is interested in portraying those individuals who have spent time in Bridgeport. From office worker to outdoor laborer, Misencik says, “It’s the stories people tell that in turn, tell the story of a place.”

 

Misencik is interested in hearing from those who can share their memories of The Palace Theater, a cornerstone to culture in Bridgeport.

Misencik wishes to show something new by recounting recollections and in doing so, pay tribute to the idea of time and place in history. The Palace Theater remains a significant part of a changing neighborhood.

It’s the tradition of storytelling that Misencik and Valentine practice. “Whether shooting digital or analog photography, doesn’t matter as much as how one approaches an assignment,” said Misencik.

“Photography is more about practicing the craft of capturing a moment in time. Anticipating that is what makes a good photograph.” Ed Brinsko would have been proud.

Renovation Unearths Signs of The Past

Southington’s Gura Building was originally built in 1925 according to land records. Located at 93 Main St., the brick building was given the name Gura Building to honor the town’s late health director, Dr. George Gura.

The vacated historical site sits adjacent to the Town Green and was saved from the wrecking ball. In 2012 the building would either be sold to a developer, demolished or leased and used by a non-profit. Previously the building was used in a municipal capacity as a town hall annex housing services such as the Finance,  and Community Service departments. Over the course of history, the Gura Building also served as a police station.

A $1-a-year 20-year lease was approved by the town council in July 2014 after the Southington Community Cultural Arts (SCCA) fulfilled a condition set forth by the town to raise 80 percent of estimated renovation costs of $1.27 million. SCAA raised $1.1 million, helped in large part by a $500,000 contribution through the State Bond Commission.

Mary DeCroce, leader and spokeswoman for SCCA,cites the new community arts center will incorporate classrooms, studios and a performance space. Bookmark and visit SCCA’s site, and in particular the Project Update tab, to learn about the events leading up to the renovation and to see the progress underway.

Florian Properties LLC, a local development firm is supervising the project for SCCA, a non-profit arts group. The cold temperatures aren’t stopping the work. The facade front windows are boarded up but will be replaced by new picture windows.

The interior has been been completely gutted out and Thomas Damon-Smith, Project Foreman, has put aside artifacts he found within the building. A huge metal safe will be cleaned and preserved to serve as a keepsake to the building’s history.Other items such as wall calendars look as vibrant today as they must have looked when first rolled out.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A crumpled cigarette package reminds us how far we’ve come where smoking is concerned – in 2015 smoking inside is banned from many office buildings. Did employees light up inside the Gura building in years past?

Stay tuned for more photos and if you have your own memorabilia and recollections from either working in the building or what you are looking forward to in its new art capacity, reach out to me at margaretwaage@hotmail.com to share your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you and capture your Southington experiences via video interview.

Stranger Fear: Is It Unfounded?

Watched ‘Blackish‘ a new ABC series last night where the episode focused on the father character, a hip and attractive Andre “Dre” Johnson, (played by Anthony Anderson,) tries to impress his nonchalant son Andre Johnson, Jr., (played by Marcus Scribner), on the significance of Martin Luther King Jr., holiday and in general on being, well, blackish.

He goes about trying to prove what he thinks is a blatantly racist world we live in. He provokes every situation they encounter loudly AND obnoxiously.

Fast forward to tonight’s sunset. It was a clear sky with a gradient hue developing as the sun made its way to the horizon. The last few days cold made today feel like spring, even though 31 degrees is still cool. After sitting indoors all day till 5:30 I was compelled to pull over on the approach ramp to 691 East. There’s a full view of Hubbard Mountain, and it appeared purplish as that sun was saying farewell. I set the hazard lights to flash and tucked the car inside the white line next to a metal divider separating me from a deep ravine to the right.

With the set to ISO to 12800 I leaned into the steering wheel for a 1/50 second exposure at f8. If the viewfinder where a canvas I’d be painting in orange and near-to-black colors.

IMG_6503I was so absorbed in what I saw through the viewfinder I didn’t notice a car had pulled behind me. A blue light flickered from inside the car and thinking it had to be a police vehicle, I got scared nonetheless as the officer approached my window. He asked if everything was ok and it was, but I couldn’t help but to blurt out, “You scared me for a minute!”

Why would I be scared? For not knowing what to expect? I wasn’t completely sure if this person was a cop, with nothing to identify the car as such, only a hint from its interior blinking light.  I feared it wasn’t a cop and why would anyone pull behind me and approach? I thought what profiling must feel like in that moment.

He was actually a young officer, perhaps four or five years older than my own son. He had a flashlight in hand, more like a small penlight, not unlike something I just purchased for my son so he could find his way around. Glad the officer didn’t use it … that would’ve felt weird him peering inside my car.  I said I’m taking photographs of the sunset, and wondered if he thought I was a loony! He smiled and said I’m fine to stay where I was, he was only checking.

Imagine if instead of an on ramp in a busy area of Meriden, CT,  I was in Fargo with no street lights? Too many movies and real life events of late that gets my imagination active.

Artists Honor Vets in Give Back Event

Ginger Grant shows family their portrait during 'Thank You Photo Shoot' event at Artist Tree Tea House & Gallery 156 in Bristol.

Ginger Grant shows Van Houten family their portrait during ‘Thank You Photo Shoot’ event at Artist Tree Tea House & Gallery 156 in Bristol.

If you do what you love enjoyment follows. That sentiment is the driving force behind the Artist Tree Tea House’s totally free ‘Thank You Photo Shoot,’ event held at the studio to honor veterans and their families.

Dori Green, proprietor of Bristol’s Artist Tree Tea House & Gallery 156, (ATTH&G156), sponsored the event in conjunction with volunteer photographers Ginger Grant of Ginger Lee Originals, G.L.O. Photography and Lynn Keeler Fisher, who is also a veteran.

The idea to pay it forward comes naturally to all three women, each of whom shared perspectives why they give their time and talents. Green, a relatively new entrepreneur in this brick and mortar space, brings a multitude of skills to her business, which opened in 2013. Green’s creativity encompasses painting, event production, catering, hairstylist, make-up and massage therapy.

ATTH&G156 brings Bristol and nearby surrounding towns a community-minded destination for arts and crafts exploration, a live venue for music performance and poetry readings and a cozy vintage styled tearoom with offerings of fine loose-leaf teas, coffee and sweet treats.

Additionally, lunches are served consisting of salads, wraps and hearty soups. ATTH&G156 is available to host receptions and business meetings.

Green is active in the Bristol Rising momentum and has advocated for improvements to the building to expand the rear outdoor space. Green hopes to accommodate yoga classes or meetings on the deck overlooking the Pequabuck River.

Dori Green applies a touch up to volunteer photographer and veteran Lynn Keeler Fisher on right.

Dori Green applies a touch up to volunteer photographer and veteran Lynn Keeler Fisher on right.

Ginger Grant’s work consists of jewelry design, fine art photography, painting and knitting arts. Grant’s unique hand made necklace and earring designs and photography are for sale in ATTH&G156.

Lynn Keeler Fisher is active in arts advocacy. Fisher’s photography of Hartford Artspace and Meriden Gallery 153 events touts each organization’s arts activities.

Lynn Keeler Fisher gives in to laughter during her turn at sitting for portrait.

Lynn Keeler Fisher gives in to laughter during her turn at sitting for portrait.

Three busy people recognize giving time nourishes the very creativity that feeds their spirits. Green worked as volunteer Massage Emergence Response Team (MERT), member during the 9/11 crisis through the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) helping first responders cope with fatigue and exhaustion from hours of search and rescue efforts. “As objective a person could be, it stills upsets me remembering how disappointed rescue workers were after realizing they couldn’t get to people in time to save them.”

Grant describes photography as a life passion, “It gives me the chance to feel good giving back.” Choosing veterans to thank is an easy choice because they are the kind of people who put others before themselves.

For Fisher, volunteering for ‘Thank You Photo Shoot’ presented an opportunity to connect with veterans, to practice posing techniques and to have her own portrait taken, “Portrait photography is different than event photography.” Fisher chose to enlist in the Navy and served four years from 1978-1982.

During that time Fisher held Engineman status and worked as a diesel mechanic. “Most friends were just getting out of college when I returned from service. I travelled to Hawaii, Singapore, Somalia and Philippines. I never regretted the choice I made – it provided me with a solid education and great life experience,” said Fisher.

Ginger Grant photographs officers Jodie and Ken Fay who serve in CT Governors Horse Company and work with canine Comfort Dog Maggie of Christ The King LutheranChurch in Newtown, CT.

Ginger Grant photographs veterans Jodi and Ken Fay. Ken works with the CT Governor’s Horse Guard and both work with Comfort Dog Maggie of Christ The King Lutheran Church in Newtown, CT.

Green hopes more people will come to Artist Tree Tea House & Gallery 156 to check out the goings on there. “It’s all about creating opportunities to nourish the good within each of us.”

Lynn Keeler Fisher photographs Naval officer with family. Fisher also is a veteran and sat for photo.

Lynn Keeler Fisher photographs Travis Van Houten, Naval officer HM2, wife Ali and baby daughter Leah. Fisher, is also a veteran.

Business Growth is A Personal Journey

Unique: ‘Being the only one,’ is an enviable characteristic. Don’t we all want to be special? Identifying what it is in life that would make you happy, and being good at that profession, is the biggest challenge we all face.

Being special implies standing out apart from the collective whole of (_____________ ), fill in the blank. Finding your own passion has become a marketable commodity.

Clamoring to be ‘the best’ takes place in every industry, hence, the rise in rankings, a.k.a. reputation. SEO practices are on the rise as a way to get more exposure. Fully established entities from Nabisco and Nasdaq compete just as much as mom and pop operations such as local food trucks in any given ‘hipster’ town. Social media networks have become the de facto new advertising models that help entities big and small, to grab that elusive brass ring called ‘market share.’ A Google search for Nabisco shows their Facebook page ranks higher than their own website:

Screen capture of Google search using keyword, ‘Nabisco.’

What’s a freelance journalist to do to win clients and influence people? A simple web search for business strategies results in a multitude of subject matter experts (SME), that can assist. A SME can be an organization (Poynter, for example for journalism practices) or an individual professional who has monetized their expertise in the form of coaching. Coaches and mentors cover a variety of topics to include: business coach, life coach, health coach, spiritual coach, personal trainer, organization methods, etc. To be clear, a coach works with clients on specific defined goals, whereas a counselor practitioner (mandatory Master degree and/or Mental Health license) works with individuals to explore the origin of problems and develop strategies to overcome emotional hurdles.

The idea of pursuing personal or business growth can be daunting given the amount of choices. Whatever course of action one chooses, be it a formal education or participating in online seminars, the results must point to taking actions otherwise the learning is for naught.

Five strategies that help me reach goals are:

1) Recognizing specific areas to work on initially. Don’t expect any course of action to be the end all in transformation. Set one to three key goals, instead of trying to change the world and chances of meeting goals is favorable. Progress can be made in increments!

2) Shop wisely for which way to go. Any effort whether it’s an online webinar, traditional education or professional membership will have associated costs, so be mindful of what you can afford financially and in terms of time commitments.

3) Be prepared to show up ready to participate in whatever course of action you choose. Achieving goals requires effort and time management, two things that are in short supply.

4) Acknowledge your own work. Dwell in accomplishment to fully appreciate the energy and mindfulness of what it took to achieve goals. It’s important to savor this moment before it passes.

5) Realize meeting goals and personal growth are not the same. It’s entirely possible accomplishing goals such as earning a degree, getting new clients and completing assignments, being promoted or straightening out a messy house, most likely took several steps to accomplish. To then expect total gratification with the entire picture of your life may not be the result, even though the goal was met.

Remember the reasons why you did what you did and where the accomplishment fits in with the entirety of your life. It’s a part, but not the whole. By reflecting on the journey you will recognize what you need to do next, because there will new goals to achieve at every level. Never stop reaching for new plateaus because they are what define personal and business growth.