Category Archives: Appreciation

It’s all in the Sauce

A large part of my business is helping people understand the value of honestly appreciating — and taking the time to recognize — the accomplishments of others. This is even more relevant in the business world today, as companies work to gain new customers, and keep the ones they have. In the world of SendOutCards, we call this “Appreciation Marketing” or “Relationship Marketing”. And, it works!

Once expressing appreciation and recognition becomes a habit in your life, it feels great not only to the people you recognize both professionally and personally, but to you too!

Decide for yourself if this phrase rings true in your own mind: “Appreciation wins over self-promotion every time.”

One of the ways I express appreciation and recognition is through the sending of lots and lots of cards (of course!), and also through this e-newsletter, which is a vehicle for sharing not only the events that happen in my own life, but in the lives of others as well.

Carrying around a camera in my purse everywhere I go, also helps.  I’ve become a photo taking junkie.

Am always on the lookout for occasions to take pictures, and celebrate the lives and accomplishments of others with cards and the written word.  It’s become a part of who I am. And it’s fun!

Today is the story of one of my favorite people. Everyone who knows her smiles when her name is mentioned. Her laugh is infectious and she has a smile that lights up a room wherever she is.

Her business is marketing a line of salad dressings and sauces made locally. (I can picture her now, eyes wide open, saying “OMG she’s writing about me!!!). So, yes, my friend, Ramona Waldecker, this one’s for you!

Aside from working a full time job, Ramona has worked tirelessly to build her business around her job and family. You’ll hear ads on the radio these days (105.9, The BIG Talker — my favorite station!), telling people what location they can visit for a tasting of Ramona’s new Kickin’ Chicken Riggi Sauce, which is a personal favorite at our house, and is AWESOME!  Dinner:

Quick, Easy. Tasty. Done.

Ramona seems to be showing up everywhere these days in her white Chef’s hat and matching outfit, smiling, laughing, and handing out samples of her Kickin’ Chicken Riggi Sauce with pasta and chicken — or wraps made with her tasty salad dressings — all made locally.  When she was just starting to grow her business, I was in Wegmans one Sunday morning, walking down the salad dressing isle, when Lo and Behold, there was Ramona’s Salad Dressings right on the Wegmans shelf!  It’s the product line she first started with.

How cool was that!?  I was so happy for her that I had an idea.

Of course, my trusty Coolpix camera was close at hand. No one was in Wegmans that early in the morning. So I explained to Tina, one of the front end managers, what I wanted to do, and she agreed to help me.

So here’s Tina, on the front of a card (what else!?) — holding a bottle of Ramona’s Dressings, pointing to the shelf containing the dressings.

The card took no time to design online: I uploaded the picture; added a thought bubble and text on the front; typed a message inside; then ordered it to be sent to Ramona in the mail, (remember, NOT an e-card!) as congratulations on this milestone in her business.

The front of the card says “LOOK!! Ramona’s Dressings in Wegmans!!” And the congratulations message appeared inside. Ramona, as of next month, is going to be promoting her Kickin’ Chicken Riggi Sauce and salad dressings as a full time venture. (She also uses SendOutCards in her business with her own customers, prospects and family. How cool is that!?)

I wish you the very best my friend.

And in the future, when Ramona is rich and famous, traveling everywhere, promoting what I am certain will be her ever-expanding line of sauces, dressings and other yummy products, I’ll be able to say: “I knew her when!”

Have a great picture you would like to send someone inside a card? Send one on me!

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 8, 2011 in Appreciation


Life is What Happens When You’re Not Watching

Life moves really quickly doesn’t it? One minute you’re a kid. Next minute (or so it seems) you’re having kids.  Then your parents are the kids. And those 50 or 60 year olds that looked SO old to you when YOU were a kid, are now staring back at you in the mirror.

When the HECK did that happen?

Last weekend we held an estate sale at my parent’s home in Rome, where they had lived for over 50 years. My Dad built this house with his own hands. I vividly remember walking through the boards and debris when I was just 3. Lots of memories in that house.

For the last 7 years, since the death of my Dad, and my Mom years earlier, their good friends — the former Police Chief in Rome, Ed Cretaro and his wife Elvira (yes that REALLY was her name!) — were living in our family’s home. Ed passed away suddenly this past February, after his wife had passed a few months before.

Now it’s time for us to move on, clear out the belongings remaining from my Mom and Dad, and place the house for sale.

As we sort through the boxes and drawers, everyone is on the lookout for an old, green autograph book of mine that actually contains Robert Kennedy’s signature. My Dad, a Rome Patrolman for 30 years, escorted Bobby Kennedy when he was campaigning for his Senate seat way back when. My Dad threw the book to him in an open convertible as they were moving, while my Dad was on his motorcycle. It was freezing cold. Bobby Kennedy signed it and threw it back to my Dad, who actually caught it. The book has been missing for years, but I hoped that it might just turn up somewhere. I remember to this day what Bobby Kennedy wrote: “Wish you were one of my friends too. Are you?”

So many memories come flooding back. All the good times, family get-togethers, pool parties in the back yard, and of course, great home-cooked Italian food. My Dad had installed an in-ground pool in the back yard the day the astronauts landed on the moon in the 60s. We all watched it on a black and white TV. That pool became the focal point of family parties at our home for years to come. It was where we always gathered. My father wanted everyone there. It was when he was the happiest. He was a good guy, loved by many.

My Dad used to bring home “wayward” kids to eat with us and swim in the pool, during some of our family parties. Perfect strangers. Kids in trouble that he may have run into while on duty. He hoped to make some small difference in their lives. It was who he was.

And the holidays. How my Mom ever fit 26 people in that small dining room, fed everyone, and did all those dishes on Christmas without a dishwasher, is beyond me. I was the one who cleaned the shrimp we always had on Christmas Eve. It would have been a project I would have gladly handed off, but you don’t argue with an Italian woman in an apron.

When you get a bunch of full-blooded Italians in one place, there is always lots of laughing, circles of fruit, cigars, card playing and strong espresso. We all dressed up in our holiday clothes, because, well, that’s what you did.

And the cookies. My Mom loved to bake. I found her old cookbook with the recipes for her favorite cookies in her own handwriting, in the basement. Report cards from when we were all small. My brother’s old stuffed animal, now devoid of any fur coating at all. Bank statements that dated back to the stagecoach days. Well, maybe not that far back, but it seemed like it.

Relatives have come by and were welcome to take memories of their own: the swing glider my Dad used to sit on in the front yard was claimed by cousin Mick, the patriarch of our family once my Dad died. The grandfather clock went to one of my twin brothers. Mom’s piano came home with me.

And the pictures … old black and white ones with no markings. Some that are really, really old. Wish they were labeled. Some people we recognize. Others, no idea. And that’s sad.

What’s the message here? Take advantage of every day. Because time moves quicker than you think.

And, as you, my faithful readers expect, here are pictures from the card I created for Ed, Jr. of both my Mom and Dad (he’s the Italian looking guy in the black sweater, with his famous Dutch Master Panatela cigar — his favorite) and Ed and Elvira visiting them in Florida, capturing how I will always remember them.

And in the card, this is what was written:

“It’s so hard to believe they are gone from our lives. Such good times they shared together. And now, they are all together once again.”

If your parents are still with you, take a minute and give them a call, or even stop by for an unexpected visit if you can … just because.

And, if you are so inclined, send an unexpected card to them … on me.


Posted by on April 13, 2011 in Appreciation


Make today the day!

Sometimes, don’t we all look back on things that have happened in our lives and think … hmmm … “Maybe I could have done some things differently.” 20-20 hindsight is always enlightening, isn’t it?

Then we think, “Man, I wish I had known that ahead,” or “I thought about that. Why didn’t I ever do anything about it? And now it’s too late.”

Many of us make silent promises to ourselves that we’re going to do better — we plan to call someone we haven’t seen in awhile, send that card or go out to lunch with a friend.

Sometimes we do what we think about. And lots of times we don’t. This is a story about someone who did.

A few months back, we had an unexpected death in our family. My SigOther, Mike, lost his sister Gail. Gail was a gentle soul, who lived a quiet life in a special home. She went to work every day; traveled to places like Hawaii, Alaska and Cape Canaveral in Florida. Heck, she had been on more cruises in her life than we have!

When she unexpectedly passed on, the inevitable thoughts came to Mike that come to everyone at some point in their lives: Why didn’t I stop and see her more when I had the chance? What more could I have done to make her life better? Called her more? Sent her fun things in the mail?

Hard when you look back to see the things you would liked to have done, but never did. And may have lost the chance to ever do again.

Both of my parents have passed on, and I know what it’s like to look back and wish I had done some things differently.

But Mike still had time. His parents are both still with us, and I encourage him to do whatever he thinks about, NOW … while he still has the chance. He took his experience, and our conversations, and channeled this into what I will call “The Fish Dinners”.

Mike’s parents are older. They don’t get out much other than to doctor’s appointments these days. Not usually many occasions to dress up. Yet after Gail died, he knew it was even more important to stay connected, even though he is already one of those good sons parents can rely on.

So, one Friday afternoon, after work, he stopped down to their house. He knew they liked to go out for fish on Fridays. So that first week, he talked them into going out with him for fish.

And so began the weekly ritual of “The Fish Dinners.”  Initially his parents gave him a hard time about everything from his driving them to the fish place to paying the bill. But he would give them a hard time back, and make them laugh with his dry, sense of humor we all know and love.

Now, they are waiting for him, all dressed up ready to go, each Friday night, looking forward to those fish dinners.

Does this take a lot of time to do? No, not really. Just a little bit of planning ahead.

What kind of memories are those dinners forming? The kind that you remember in those quiet times, years from now, when you smile to yourself knowing you seized the moments, and made them count.

So go ahead and call that friend, make that lunch date or send that card (I know a cool keep-in-touch tool you can do this with!).

Make today the day.

Leave a comment

Posted by on May 25, 2010 in Appreciation, Inspiration


Don’t Freak Out, Mom…

It started off as a regular day. Logged onto my computer. Lots of things scheduled for the day from business meetings to stopping at the grocery store. My mind was already racing to organize it all.

Then the phone call came. It was my 28-year-old daughter, living in California. “Don’t freak out Mom, but I had a small stroke.”

What? How could this be? She is young. Young people don’t have strokes.

She was driving. Stressed out from challenges at work. Five minutes more she would have been on a 6 lane expressway doing 70. But she didn’t feel right, and pulled over. Her vision was distorted. People were looking at her strange in the other cars. She pulled into a parking lot, luckily close by. Her first thought was to get some air. Stopped the car, couldn’t move her left side as she tried to get out of the car, and fell to the ground. Should she call 911? People her age don’t have strokes, she thought.  So she sat on the ground for awhile, about to call 911 when she started to feel better, waiting a bit and drove herself home.

A friend then drove her to the ER. They gave her an EKG, and told her she was too young to have a stroke. Probaby just fainted, they said, and sent her home.  Hmmmm … and we pay for this??? But don’t get me started, or I’ll rant.

Home now. She still wasn’t feeling right. Conflicting feelings on what to do.  The ER said she was okay, right? “Hon, you need to go to another ER. Forget about work and take care of yourself first.” Mom’s advice from 3,000 miles away. Very hard.

Second ER the next day did a CT scan and MRI, and she was then admitted into the hospital. Doctors don’t know what happened, even after all those tests. Spinal tap wasn’t fun, but they ruled out serious stuff. They can tell us what she DOESN’T have, but not what happened.

When something like this happens, you drop what is going on in your life, and hop on a plane.  Your projects, appointments and daily life fades. Your mind races and as a parent, no matter how old your child, you want to be there. Your child, no matter how old, is comforted when Mom is there.

The plane ride from NY to CA was the longest in my life. Usually I sit back, take off my sneaks, and watch TV on JetBlue, my favorite airline. But not this time.  All the “What if’s” went through my mind, and I had to struggle to stay composed and seated for 8 hours.

What if she had gotten on the expressway?
What if she got out of the car and passed out?
What could have caused this in someone so young?

I am one of the lucky ones.
My daughter is okay. Making some changes in her life, which is a good thing.

And for me? I get to say the things I want to say another day. There is still time for me. Many people don’t get that second chance. Whether it’s a family member you need to say something to, a friend you haven’t seen in awhile and miss, that client who referred someone to you that you have been meaning to say thanks to or that sympathy card you need to send but haven’t quite found the time to stop and buy.
I say it in every newsletter, and with more conviction than ever, I must tell you again –

Today’s the day. Now’s the time. Make that call. Stop by and see that person. Call just to say “Hi”. Drop them a note. Send them a card. Get together for coffee.

Because … some of us never get a second chance.

Leave a comment

Posted by on March 2, 2010 in Appreciation