Manipulation, Marketing, and Why I Haven’t Blogged

A few hours ago I discussed with my boyfriend my difficulty with blogging over the last 6+ months.  If you scan through my posts, you’ll probably notice the various phases and styles I tried over the five years I’ve maintained this blog.  Of late, I’ve contemplated starting a new blog where I focus on events, issues, and other things impacting our world, but I’m not positive that’s my answer.  First, I need to find a writing groove…and I’m not promising this is it.

There are lists of blogging challenges and creative inspiration ides.  I just finished reading one with 33 ideas, and before I made it half way through, a rant against manipulating the masses was already rising up inside of me.  Manipulation is despicable (but I’m good at it–and at spotting it).  However, knowing I’m good at it, while hating it, means I make almost every effort to stop myself from manipulating situations and people…though, not always with success.

The list I read was geared for people in the marketing industry.  Some may think marketing is synonymous with manipulating, but I do not.  Yes, manipulation is a key part of marketing for many, but I don’t think it is necessary to manipulate and still sell a product or idea.  I’m sure you all know someone (or many people) who sell products with a “not available in stores” company (i.e. Mary Kay, Avon, Arbonne, Lia Sophia, Rodan + Fields, Cutco & Vector, Jamberry, and many more).  Most people sell something they love and swear by.  I’ve considered selling a product line, but I’m not convinced that I can do it honestly.  Before I sell something, I need to have a solid, fresh reason that I can give for being impressed by and an advocate for a certain product.

My approach to marketing is to simply share with someone why I love something and why they might, too.  Do you know my favorite things to market?  Boutiques and TV shows…more specifically, Laura’s Boutique, Ltd. in Hot Springs, VA and White Collar and Sherlock.  Seriously, I’ve gotten many people hooked on White Collar and Sherlock by just talking about the fun, brilliant, and chemistry-connected writers and actors, as well as the excellent story lines.  As far as boutiques–people want good customer service.  They want to go somewhere and feel special.  Laura’s Boutique give that: great variety of clothes and accessories, relaxed ambiance for shopping, and associates who will go above and beyond for each person.

Marketing, networking, all of it–it’s about people.  People want to improve their lives and others’ lives.  They want to find new things to do and try within their range of interests, and even splash in some new experiences.  BUT, it can be done truthfully and creatively!


It Started With Donetsk


A lot is happening in the world.  Attacks, war, attacks, lost trust, attacks, and more.

I left the USA just as things began to heat up (unintentional on my part).

Now, I sit in England, not far from more attacks and war–France, Ukraine, and, because my idea of distance is different than other people’s, the Middle East and Africa….and all I want to do is talk about it, write about it, bring light to the truth of what is happening.  However, in order to do that I must be there.  I must talk with people.  There is a story, many stories, that need to be shared.  I rack my mind, thinking of ways to write truth into a world of lies.  While anonymous officials make anonymous statements, REAL people are dying.  Artillery is being fired.

People don’t stop living because their surroundings are in turmoil.

I read a brief interview transcript from NPR’s Corey Flintoff in which he shared the environment of Donetsk, Ukraine.  Shelling, spurts of artillery going off—and I asked myself how it would change me to experience that.

Why are we all not asking ourselves that question?

Perhaps if we attempted to place ourselves in the shoes of those who are accustomed to guns constantly exploding in the near distance and where the death count is more than a number–it’s family, friends, the neighborhood grocer–we might work harder, and with more passion, for justice, truth, and ending the war(s).

*Photo of painting taken in summer 2014 at the Mint Museum in Charlotte, NC

Why We Should Take More “Selfies”

Claire: “Why can’t you just take it without me?”
Thom: “Because, without you in the picture, it’s a flat shot.  It’s like a postcard… Alright.  Alright, go on and take a look. ”
Thom: “Alright, put me on, like, the side of the frame.  You see how it’s a little easier to take in all of it with something in the foreground?”
Claire: “Yeah, it’s just not the same.”
Thom: “Yeah, exactly.”

Take Me Home (2011)

Over the past few weeks and months I’ve grown increasingly annoyed with the overuse and negative connotation of the term “selfie.”  I agree, there is an over abundance of bathroom mirror pictures and “What a beautiful day” captioned photos of people’s faces–ultimately furthering a self-centered society (which is not the point of this post).  However, any photo of people that isn’t taken by someone not pictured is termed a “selfie” and treated as though it is a lesser form of photography.  Truly, the “selfie” is evidence of technological advances.  With the extension of an arm and the push of a button, we can document our own lives.

I looked through my “mobile uploads” on Facebook and recalled events I’d not thought about in ages, laughed at a few moments, and reminisced of a time in my life that has passed.  Some were selfies.  But, as the quote at the beginning says, it makes the scenery less flat.

If you know me or follow my blog, you’ve probably figured out I travel relatively frequently, whether across the ocean or a few states away.  More often than not, I’m traveling alone.  There is no one to take my picture in front of something I want to document.  Thus, I choose.  Do I take a selfie or keep going and fail to document this trip, experience, event, etc.  A lot of times, I take the selfie.  Why?  BECAUSE IT’S A MEMORY!  I want to share it.  I want to remember it.  And, I don’t have a camera crew following me around.

Photography has boomed in recent years.  No longer must we sit perfectly still in hopes of one good picture.  Cameras are not only for those who can shell out vasts amount of money.  Almost everyone with a cell phone has a camera.  Digital cameras come in all sizes.  Future generations will not have to scrounge, hunting for pictures of their grandparents and great-grandparents.  We are leaving thousands of photographs (albeit, mostly digital–which could disintegrate…so print a few of them, just in case).

My brother’s graduation was last week.  One of his classmates was speaking from the podium and ended by saying, “But first, let’s take a selfie.”  She did, and it went on Twitter.  She documented herself, her classmates, and the memory of that day–and it was great.

So, when your cousin just graduated from nursing school and the wine is handy, take a quick selfie before she has to run off to the rest of her guests!

We have the technology–let’s use it!

P.S. It’s really only a selfie when you’re the only person in the picture.



When Playing Librarian


Photo by K.L.R.

*Written yesterday, while in the clutches of my librarian chair…waiting for the bell to ring*

I spent my day substituting for the high school librarian.

Translated: I had hours to research, play on the Vogue website, and think.

At this point I am ready to:

-enroll in the Conde Nast School of Fashion and Design in London…

-bake Chewy Earl Grey cookies with an orangey glaze…

-someday become the editor of Vogue or British Vogue…

-visit some redone jazz clubs in NYC…

-read Redeployment

-watch (and in some cases rewatch) some great movies

-and, you know, go shopping…

All in a day’s work, right?

Instead, I shall finish this library stint up, head to tennis practice, meet with the pageant ladies, and prepare for a very full weekend of serving pancakes, being a guest on a local radio show, and whatever else may pop up.

Have a fabulous weekend!

P.S. In case you missed it, the other afternoon, Vogue retweeted and favorited me…..I might have gotten a little excited.

Memories of Shirley Temple

I awoke bleary eyed to “Breaking News: Shirley Temple Dead at 85.”


I am attached to my actors and actresses.  I remember when Don Knotts, Fred Rogers, Buddy Ebsen, Bob Hope, and Andy Griffith all died.  I felt, with many of them, that I’d lost a friend.  I felt I had a personal connection with them that was deeper than other peoples’.  After all, how many people my age watched the old films and shows they were in?

And now, the actress who played opposite Cary Grant and then became a political figure, is dead.

I loved Shirley Temple in Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Heidi, The Little Princess, The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer, The Story of Seabiscuit, and so many others.

When I was in 6th grade, I went to spend the weekend with two friends.  We got a Shirley Temple movie out of the library and put curlers in our hair that night so we could have curls like hers!  Such special memories.

Slowly the era of my favorite movies is slipping away.  I just learned that Katharine Hepburn died in 2003.  I think I vaguely remember it, as that was also the year that Buddy Ebsen (Jed Clampett) and Bob Hope died.  However, in my mind it means there was the potential I could have met Hepburn–albeit slim.

Now that Shirley Temple is dead, it’s a sort of sinking feeling that affirms, I will not get to meet her.  Now, when I watch her movies, instead of thinking, “Oh!  She’s still alive!”  I’ll know she is dead.  Not to sound morbid, but it’s true.

If this snowpocolypse that has area schools closing early tomorrow hits, I may just take advantage of the snow in and watch Shirley Temple movie!