Friday, December 30, 2016


Four years ago this season, I had just finished my first of four chemo cycles--confused, weak, scrawny, itchy, nauseous, and bald, yet surrounded by amazing, uplifting humans who cared for me. 

Every Christmas, I keep in touch with the staff of the inpatient chemo floor where I stayed for the majority of my treatment. Their card this year reminds me once again that I was not just a patient. I wasn't just some pin cushion that needed his IV changed every few hours. I was a fellow human--a friend whom they genuinely cared for and cared about.

Treatment is more than the drug regimen; treatment is the caregivers and administrators that hold your hand and lift you up.

I had the best caregivers. They gave from their hearts ... and they're still giving.

#Survivor #Christmas #Caregivers #Chemo #GivingfromtheHeart #AskUncleMarty

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Don't Feed the Wolves

I've been doing yoga for the past few months. I started going late in the summer, figuring it would be a good outlet for tension and pent-up stress. And it has been!

Initially, I was just doing hot vinyasa yoga--sweating it out in a 105-degree room, trying to push myself to stay active for the whole 75 minutes without having a complete panic attack. But then I discovered yin yoga. Yin is a passive practice, holding positions for three minutes at a time to stretch connective tissue. It's amazing. And the class I try to go to is at night, done by candlelight, with an instructor who speaks softly and constantly reminds us how great we are for taking time for ourselves. It's the crunchiest, chillest, most wonderful experience. But I digress…

Last night, Linda the instructor kept repeating, "Don’t feed the wolves. Water the flowers instead." I've been thinking about that since, wondering what my wolves are and realizing just how much I encourage them.

We all have wolves in our lives. Some are external, threatening us and trying to tear us apart with aggressive attacks. These can be competitors, enemies, frenemies, injury, restriction, or even just negative people that bring us down and make us fret. And then some wolves are internal, eating us up from the inside out: worries, phobias, self-depreciating thoughts, disease, and addictions.

These wolves are bad news. In all logical thinking, we should avoid them and put up fences to keep them out because they're destructive and dangerous. Yet somehow we feed them! But how? And why?

Some ways we feed the wolves are easy to understand, like how we feed addiction … because we literally do feed addiction. "Just one more cookie; I'll eat a salad tomorrow." "Just one last puff; I'll quit when I'm not so stressed." "Just one last episode; I'll sleep better tomorrow night." Worries, phobias, and other obsessions are fed in much the same way. We focus on them--feeding them--which, instead of bringing resolution, just makes them stronger and allows them to take over more of our being.

Other ways we feed the wolves are harder to understand, like how we feed competition … because we don't think we actively feed competition. Isn't our intention to beat competition? Well, we do feed it--just like we feed other aggressors--by playing its game. We play price wars, insult, condescend, downplay, and degrade. We want to run negative ad campaigns, telling the world just how much they suck and we rule. But that behavior only makes us look petty, whiny, and on the defense. It makes us appear weaker, and consequently makes the competition stronger.

What if, instead of feeling all of these wolves, we put energy into building up those things inside of us and in our lives and businesses that are beautiful, strong, attractive, and distinguishing--watering our flowers. Let's stop throwing scraps to those wolves, and stop giving them the territory that they're creeping in on. Instead, let's plant new seeds, take back our property, and make it shine. Let's stop the damage, stop bringing ourselves and others down, and instead make healthy choices to build our world back up again.

A friend messaged a Simon Sinek quote to me today: "Fight against something and we focus on the thing we hate. Fight for something and we focus on the thing we love." 

We have nothing but opportunity. Here's to a beautiful year ahead!

#DontFeedtheWolves #WatertheFlowers #Resolutions #AskUncleMarty


Also published on the AMBC blog on December 27, 2016.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

A Case for Holiday Cards

I got my first Christmas card yesterday. It was from my Aunt Bonnie, and it was spectacularly special.

I send cards out every year, both personally and from my business. It's quite a project! Though I must admit that I'm indeed exceptionally organized and have card crafting down to a science. 

I keep a spreadsheet going all year long with different contacts, then just do a simple mail merge to create my labels and I'm golden. Well that and designing, proofing, printing, cutting, gluing, cutting some more, writing an itty bitty note, enveloping, labeling, sealing, and stamping … then repeating those steps a few hundred times in an assembly-line fashion.
What's the point of this, you may ask? It seems like a lot of work for something kind of silly. It seems like other projects--especially for a business--should take priority over something like this. I mean, who cares about a little card anyway? Right?


People care. And it makes a huge difference.

It truly is a lot of work. But much more than that, it's a lot of fun. It keeps my favorite people top-of-mind. It keeps me in touch with friendly clients past--those who have moved away but still advocate for my business from afar. It keeps me in touch with friendly clients present--those who have been in my store this year and have been a joy to work with. It keeps me in touch with friendly clients future--those who may not be doing much business with me yet, but with whom I'm connected and for whom I'm hopeful. It's a direct, personal, seasonally appropriate way to reach out, express gratitude, and share warm fuzzy feelings.

I don't send cards to every single customer that has waltzed through my door this year. Goodness! Can you imagine?! No, I just send cards to my regulars--the loyal friends of my shop. Some spend thousands of dollars each year, and some spend just a few. Some are in multiple times per week, and some only occasionally. But each one is someone who I consider part of my team--an important part of the essential network that allows my business to organically grow.

If you're having trouble thinking about who to send holiday cards to or where to draw the line, think about it like this: If your business was a person, who would it want to say hello to? Who would it want to wish a happy holiday season to? Who would it want to keep in touch with? Who brings it joy? Send cards to those people: the ones who will appreciate the gesture.

I'm in the middle of my card project now. I should have done this in November; I usually do this in November before the holiday rush starts. But one thing led to another, projects piled up, and getting my business's holiday cards done simply just got put off. So now, as the busy season gears up, I'm furiously finishing my festive messages and sending them off to my friendly clients--past, present, and future--all around the world.

Someone said recently, "To be respected, you must first show respect." While I echo my "Amen" to that, I'll also state a new version: "To be thought of by others, you must first think of others."

Merry Christmas!

#HolidayCards #KeepInTouch #SpreadJoy #AskUncleMarty


Also published on the AMBC blog on December 6, 2016.