The Soundtrack of Life

Recently I began taking sign language classes to better communicate with the hearing impaired. During the first session, the instructor asked us to think about sounds that we associate with waking up in the morning. While members of the class chimed in with a variety of answers, I thought about how strange it would be to live in a silent world.

boy covering ears

In today’s society, we are flooded with noise – car radios, traffic sounds, birds chirping, construction equipment, lawn mowers, people talking, public address announcements and more. We often block out as much of this noise as we can in order to stay focused on the day’s goals. But maintaining our tunnel vision has its costs. Are we missing the soundtrack of life?

While I’m often visually inspired (despite being visually impaired — go figure), I make a point to not forget about my other senses. We have five (touch, sight, taste, smell, hearing) for a reason; they all contribute to our life experiences.

Our sense of hearing opens a whole new world to us. Helen Keller, the renowned American author, political activist and lecturer who was both blind and deaf, thought deafness to be even more of a setback than blindness due to the power of sound.

“…[Deafness] means the loss of the most vital stimulus–the sound of the voice that brings language, sets thoughts astir and keeps us in the intellectual company of man.”

Have you ever stopped to think about not being able to have a verbal discussion with a colleague or client? About not being able to listen to that song that takes you back to a memorable moment in your life? Not being able to take in the sounds of nature to soothe your soul?

 

Our sense of hearing is a vital part of communication. It allows us to listen to others, hear their concerns and ideas, and react accordingly. Is it any surprise that the ability to listen has become a rare, sought after skill in today’s drowned out world?

The next time you’re tempted to stick your head in the sand, stop and listen. Listen to the world around you and what it has to say. Listen to a friend or colleague during lunch instead of burying yourself in your phone. Listen to the person on the other end of the phone — across town or the world — instead of checking email or watching TV. Listen to the birds chirping. Listen to your inner voice. Listen.

You just might be amazed at what you hear.

Your Turn — I’m Listening

What song or sound takes you back to ‘that’ moment?

What sounds make you smile?

What’s the most annoying sound in the world?

Who’s someone you love to talk –and listen — to when you’re stuck?

Do poor listeners turn you off?

When’s the last time you’ve just stopped and listened to what’s around you?

Photo courtesy of Luis Miguel Bugallo Sánchez via a Creative Commons License
Helen Keller quoted from Helen Keller in Scotland: a personal record written by herself, edited by James Kerr Love (London: Methuen & Co., 1933). 

Always listening,
Jaime

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The Art of Branding

Branding is a buzz word today, so everyone wants to drop it like the name of the hottest new rapper out there. While it’s overused and abused, it’s still an instrumental element to companies and people everywhere.

“Good brands are able to set the tone, create the scene, and make us a part of it all.”  –Danny Trizio

We’re all brands, you and me, Apple and Google. Living, breathing entities that customers and fans connect with, get to know and enter into relationships with. Sound strange? OK, think about why you buy an iPhone instead of another smartphone or why you choose Google over Bing. It may be a subconscious choice, but it’s not likely random.

Apple ad

Apple has designed a brand with staying power.

Of course, some brands get it more than others. The aforementioned Apple is one of the strongest brands alive today, and this is coming from an Android fan. I came across a blog post by Danny Trizio, marketing campaign manager at Proforma, touching on why Apple ‘gets it,’ so I’ll let him explain.

Along with the tech icon, another brand who forges a deep bond with customers is ABSOLUT. (Full disclosure: I am a customer!) I previously offered a toast to this icon for its fine take on branding.

ABSOLUT UNIQUE

One of a kind, millions of expressions…
ABSOLUT UNIQUE

Keep in mind that it’s not only industry leaders who can develop strong brands. While I’m a fan (and heavy user) of Starbucks, I also love our local spot, Angel Falls Coffee Company. It’s located in a neighborhood with a unique flavor that loves to support mom and pop shops. Angel Falls embraces its role as a local favorite, with an eclectic spot that welcomes you in to play some checkers, discuss current events or people watch while enjoying its brew (and a delicious, fresh out of the oven baked good).

So how can I bond with two brands in the same industry? First, as previously noted on this blog, I’m an espresso addict. Second, I patronize both of these companies on different occasions. I love to walk to Angel Falls to enjoy a steaming GingerBeast (relax, it’s only a gingerbread latte) while catching up with a friend or gazing out the front picture window, lost in thought.

Starbucks is a different breed. It’s everywhere, so I can stop in for a mouth-watering soy hazelnut macchiato, breakfast sandwich or old fashioned glazed doughnut whenever I want. The breakfast sandwiches are available all day, so it’s perfectly OK if I want breakfast for dinner or am really slow moving on a lazy Sunday. I can meet business associates or customers there to discuss projects while enjoying the breeze on the patio. One of the main reasons I became a Starbucks fan is the company’s prevalence in airports. I could grab an espresso and Perfect Oatmeal (which fits neatly on top of a lidded Starbucks cup, by the way) en route to my connecting flight at 7am. Haven’t we all been there?!

Now that I’m not traveling so much, I find that I love hitting up my local Starbucks, which makes every effort to fit into the community. Its baristas are some of the happiest people I see all day, the atmosphere is conducive to thinking (which I like to do) and this coffee giant’s reward program is phenomenal. I was pretty excited when I received my gold card in the mail this week. Brightened up my Monday!

Follow my take on my favorite brands on Pinterest

Chime In

So, who are some of your favorite brands? Who ‘gets’ the power of branding?

Did I miss the boat on any brand I referenced above? Who did I miss?

Let your voice be heard!

(Oh, and I’d be remiss not to mention my favorite brand, Clearly Conveyed Communications.)

Apple ad courtesy of Apple, Inc
ABSOLUT UNIQUE photo courtesy of ABSOLUT US

Cheers,
Jaime

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Wilson: Friend, Confidant & Idea Man

As I’ve noted before, I like to get moving when I’m trying to think,  brainstorm or solve a problem. It just works for me and apparently I’m not alone, as I’ve seen this tactic cited in various business and news publications.

Related reading: Need an Idea? Just Walk Away…

Granted I’m an active person and sometimes need to dispel a little extra energy, so sitting behind a desk just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes I’ll hit the trails for a blood-pumping run or a quiet yet vigorous hike, where I’m always inspired by the sheer beauty of nature.

Hocking Hills Resevoir

The beauty of nature inspires me.

On other days, I’m content to take a brisk walk around my neighborhood, through the park, soaking up the sunshine, to get the ideas flowing. That’s when Wilson joins me.

Wilson -- my idea generator

Meet Wilson, my friend, confidant & idea man.

Wilson is my friend, confidant and idea man. I’ve hashed out many a good plan bouncing Wilson while traversing the streets of my neighborhood. I’ve made decisions, outlined blog posts and constructed marketing plans for clients with him by my side. For some reason, he inspires ideas within me. Perhaps it’s the added activity of bouncing the ball or the rhythmic feel of the worn, fuzzy surface hitting my hand. Whatever it is, it works.

Yes, Wilson is a pink, fuzzy tennis ball. On a whim, I picked up a tube of tennis balls on clearance at Target a few years ago. (Hence, the pink.) I don’t own a tennis racquet, so clearly that wasn’t the plan. I just knew when I looked at that tube on the shelf that I needed to take Wilson (and his bros) home. Who knew?

I’m curious… what unexpected item or situation sparks your genius? Are you a mover and shaker or do you like to meditate and chill out? Do you have a lucky charm that you always take to presentations or always drink the same tea while writing? Do you hit the cinema or catch a poetry reading when you need to crank up the old brain?

What inspires you?

Cheers,
Jaime

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Eat: An Experience, Not An Obsession or Afterthought

We’ve been conditioned for years to treat food as the enemy. There are so many delicious, savory foods out there that we can’t have. Cake. Cookies. Lasagna. French Fries. Hamburgers. The more we tell ourselves that we can’t have these foods, the more we want them.

Relax. I’m not selling you a food system, juicing program or magic weight loss pill that will transform your body overnight. (I’m actually not selling you anything right now.) I want to recommend a book that you should read. Yes, a book about food.

Eat: A Guide to Discovering Your Natural Relationship with Food

Well, it’s not about food exactly. It’s about our relationship with food and how distorted it has become in today’s society. Counting calories, watching our weight, only drinking grapefruit juice for the next 7 days to make up for last night. What?! It sounds crazy, but we used to eat for nourishment and energy.

Linda R. Harper’s Eat is all about returning to your natural relationship with food. Cut out the noise and busyness of modern society to ask yourself, “What kind of eating experience do I want now?” Seriously, stop what you’re doing and think about what you want to eat the next time you’re hungry. Think about where you’d like to eat — outside on a patio, with friends, alone with a good book — and incorporate that into your decision. It may take a little time to truly be able to listen to your body again, but you’ll be surprised what happens when you do.

Your body naturally wants what’s good for you, what you need to survive and thrive in life. Really, it does. It’s just that we’re always in a hurry, darting through a drive-thru on our way to pick up the kids or meet with clients or get to Billy’s soccer match remotely on time that eating has been relegated to an afterthought. We don’t stop to listen to what our body actually wants.

green smoothie

After trying them, I’ve discovered that I love green smoothies!

Initially it may be hard to give up control, which is really what counting calories and diets are about. But you have to trust yourself. Trust that you can listen to your body and hear what it’s asking for (and yes, that may be a doughnut or french fries sometimes).

I’ve been on a journey the past 10 years to a healthier me. No, I haven’t lost 100 pounds or underwent some shocking physical transformation. However, I have lost about 30 pounds and managed to keep it off while changing my eating habits and lifestyle. I’m so much healthier today and love fresh fruits and veges. Yes, I still eat some processed food and will never give up my Italian favs, but I’m healthy across the board. And the best part is that no one is telling me what to eat; I’m making these decisions myself.

So do yourself a favor and read this book. Read part of it or one chapter or however much of it that makes you get back to best self eating. And no, that doesn’t mean only eating vegetables for the rest of your life. OK, I’m heading out for a macchiato right now. Tell me what you think of the book!

Speak Up

How’s your relationship with food?

Does this book sound appealing?

Feel free to chime in with any good green smoothie recipes! I’d be happy to swap.

Let me know your thoughts on this book and other books/documentaries/media that focus on your relationship with food.

Happy Saturday!
Jaime

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Finding Courage

“America woke up that day from a decades-long slumber and found to its surprise that it still possessed the courage, can-do pragmatism, inventiveness, idealism, and teamwork that had made the nation the envy of the world.”

                                                                        –Frederic C. Rich, Christian Nation

Intriguing read that gets more difficult to put down page by page… Have you read it? What were your thoughts?

What book do you highly recommend to your fellow readers? Why?

Happy Friday!
Jaime

Do You Mow Your Blog?

As a homeowner, there are certain tasks that you tackle on a regular basis. Mowing the lawn, taking out the trash/recycling, washing and drying clothes, cleaning, etc. While they can seem repetitive and sometimes annoying, they’re necessary to maintain the look and feel of your home.

freshly mowed field

 

As a blog manager, there are also certain tasks that you should tackle on a regular basis. These include:

  • posting quality content 
  • responding to readers’ comments
  • updating the About page
  • cleaning up your categories/tags when necessary
  • analyzing blog stats and making updates as necessary
  • ensuring that contact information is up to date
  • visiting your blog on various devices to test loading speed/quality
  • checking for broken links to external content 
  • reading and engaging with other blogs

 

Regularly visit your site as a reader does. What kind of experience do you have? Does your blog load quickly? Is it easy to navigate on a smartphone and tablet? Does it have compatibility issues with any browsers or operating systems? Is it easy to find specific content via categories, tags, archives or a search box? Can a reader quickly contact you if interested?  

Yes, these are basic blogging tasks, but they’re easy to forget or push to the back burner — just like those homeowner tasks. Admit it. When’s the last time you’ve decided to clean only because the massive amount of dust is triggering a sneezing attack? 🙂  

So remember to mow your blog. You don’t want to be that creepy blog with stale content, overgrown navigation and an absentee owner.

What other blog tasks do you perform on a regular basis? Do you disagree with any I’ve listed? Chime in below!

Photo courtesy of Allison Carmody via a Creative Commons license

Happy blogging,
Jaime 

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Bleeding

Clearly Conveyed Communications is excited to share a guest blog post, Bleeding, by Sage Doyle. Following is an original poem by Mr. Doyle that he was willing to share with our readers. Enjoy!

Who is Sage Doyle?

Sage Doyle GravatarSage Doyle is a mainstream novel writer pursuing
publication. On his blog, he features a mix of
poetry and short fiction, including the ongoing
story, The Journal of Wall Grimm (which
contains mature content.) Mr. Doyle has a B.A. in
English and an M.S. in Psychology/Counseling.
His approach to fiction writing is character-
based, psychological and literary. You can
connect with Sage on Twitter @sagedoyle or via email at sagedoyle@yahoo.com. Sage Doyle is a pen name.


Bleeding

by
Sage Doyle

I feel it inside corrupting the
moment of each plaited
glance you press
upon me
intense and
formulaic
I understand
those subtle grimaces as
they express pain I’ll take it
in order to sedate
your worried heart
do not ever think I am not
man enough for
an occasional beating
of my soul
beat me
beat me and i will
carry you upon my own
broken feet as
I prevent your feet
from bleeding

Related Reading: Table Top, The Opera: Chapter One 

*****     *****     *****     *****     *****

We hope you enjoyed Sage Doyle’s original work! Please visit his blog to enjoy more of Mr. Doyle’s writing and leave a comment with your thoughts below.

We would love to host more guest bloggers! If you’re interested, please review our invite and get in touch!.

Cheers!