Walmart, Target and Your Business

By now you’ve seen me post a lot about branding, marketing and business positioning. So why is it talked about so much? Why is it so important to your business?

Let’s take the example of Walmart v. Target. Why do more people prefer going to Target even though they charge more for products? There are several factors in their marketing efforts like calling their customers ‘guests’ and creating an experience of higher quality products. Walmart is known for their low prices which attract a certain clientele. How have these competitors fared against each other? Target has figured out the formula combo:

Right Thing. Right Time.

Wrong Thing. Wrong Time. 

Right People. Wrong Thing.

Wrong People. Wrong Time. 

You get the idea. Target is able to charge higher prices for their products because their marketing efforts were placed to the right people, on the right platforms at the right time. They create a focus on what their clients are looking for. They use store displays, language and campaigns that elevate their client’s status.

What are you doing in your business that elevates your client’s status? Is it something they’re proud to repeat to their friends? To wear? To say? To bring others in on or brag about?

When you hire a service provider or purchase a product, let’s talk a blender or house painter for example, what do you think when comparing prices?

you get what you pay for. or do you?

Do you question the value and quality of the lower-cost blender compared to the higher-cost blender? Do you automatically assume you’ll receive higher value for the higher cost? Psychology of people spending money. If you plan on charging more for your products you better have a website and online presence that reflect your business.

Now reflect those same viewpoints on your own business? Do you not believe you’re worthy of charging that much? Do you bend and sway and adjust prices for everyone or do you believe what you create and sell is worthy of selling and paying you for your time? Do you think because you can’t afford those big-name advertising agencies that you don’t have anything worth sharing? You don’t have the need for a social media account or website? You don’t have a need to grow your audience?

These are limiting beliefs and lies you’re telling yourself!

Your job is to effectively overcome those objections with your clients, too. No one is exempt from putting themselves out there to best serve the people who need what you have to offer. Your business is not exempt from what is working for everyone else. The proof is in the numbers. The best way to succeed is to MODEL the behavior of what other successful people have done. Let’s take an experience we’re all familiar with.

discipline over desire

When you were a kid, you may not have FELT like doing something your parents told you to do but you still had to do it. These days you might not FEEL like working out but you still have to do it. You might not FEEL like doing laundry, grocery shopping or cleaning but that doesn’t change the fact that you need to do it.

You might not FEEL like marketing, social media and self-promotion are things you want to do but you NEED to do it or else 1) You won’t get paid and 2) Your potential clients won’t find things they’re in need of and looking for.

I’ve talked several times about branding, content, social media promotion, and other factors of why branding and marketing are vital to your business and you can check them out under my Local Collaborative Updates blog section.

If you have tried, failed and tried again to figure out what to post online or who your ideal target audience is, you are not alone. You might have tried replicating a sales system or social media strategy you saw work well for someone else but became discouraged when it didn’t work. Maybe it was even a little overwhelming?

Don’t worry, my sweet digital friend. Just as they have formulated a plan to market a product to a specific audience at a certain time does not mean it’s right for you and your business plan. During our Branding + Positioning Strategy we customize an approach that puts you in an optimal position to market yourself. Would your products work better printed in a magazine or filmed in action on a video? Should we sign you up for a podcast interview or would a collaboration with influencers work better? You might have heard great advice but tried implementing it at an unsuccessful time in your business.

time to re-evaluate and implement

If you find yourself creating 80% new material when you really only need to create 10% new material and can re-work or republish other content with a new email campaign structure. When you re-evaluate your efforts and your results you can see where your struggles are. What’s received a great reaction? Where were the mistakes made? What can you outsource?

Maybe you think of social media as a draining time sucker? Is that really what you should be focusing on when you haven’t even honed in on your own audience or done ‘enough’ elsewhere?

Overcoming the mental hurdle of a scarcity mindset will earn you more money in the long run. Investors search for more than one portfolio to invest in.  Multiple revenue streams provide steadier income. Outsourcing your business tasks creates more opportunities for you to do what you enjoy in your business and brings a fresh pair of eyes with innovative ideas to your business.

You can also watch this video posted with the spark notes of everything we just talked about.

Let me know if you have any questions. If you found this helpful please share with your business friends!

Cheers!

Marin

Supporting the Unsupportive: Some Things Grow Well In Shade

WOW What an awesome response so far! For the entire month of March 2019 we are celebrating our first birthday by giving YOU a present: FREE Discovery Session + 50% off your Branding + Positioning Strategy!

Schedule your call here and get ready to transform your brand. 

When I first started Local Collaborative in March 2018, the amount of excitement and support I found was addicting. People were cheering me on. They were sharing, liking, commenting and encouraging. In conversations I would be shy to say ‘I own/run/lead a Branding + Marketing Company’ but they would exclaim how exciting that was.

As with anything new and shiny the lust eventually wore off. Probably because it didn’t pertain to them working their 9-5 or the fact they just passively glance at social media, the once vocally raving fans welt away. Once my initial promotion died down, I also saw my business wind down. I wasn’t worried as it lined up perfectly with a big move across country but I found myself still trying to bring in leads and this included inspecting my current practices.

 

I had long since realized that being physically far from friends and family impacted my interaction online. It was funny how people in the same town were talking more than those who had moved to another state or country. Once the excitement of change wore off they went back to being ‘just’ so-and-so. Not so-and-so who just moved to Germany, who just went on vacation to Hawaii, who just filmed her slot on the game show. These changes can make you feel like you’re an imposter in your own life and in pursuit of your own goals.

I noticed friends hadn’t liked my business page. They weren’t reading my posts and they sure had never, ever shared anything. I noticed past acquaintances lurking and observing but never outright supporting even if something did resonate with them.

WHY, as one of my best friends, does she not like my posts? I like every one of hers. And she likes everyone else’s stuff.

WHY, as someone who I know I should be collaborating with, schedule that call?

 

I felt selfish and petty. It’s just social media.

But no, not to me. As a home-based business serving digital platforms I am solely based online. I NEED comments, likes, shares and reviews. I would love to have that support and encouragement from someone close to me especially when they’ve heard how hard things have been. I’ve had to do a lot of realization.

You have to realize that what you’re trying to do

is bigger than those opinions.

If you wouldn’t trade places with them then why are you worrying about what they think? It’s easy to realize they are not my target audience but it is difficult to see people you view as your support network not supporting.

I quickly realized that they thought I had changed because they were left behind. Because I quit settling and living a life that they were accustomed to. When I challenge them to find a job, a better partner or the healthy body they always want…it requires too much and they shut down. I am consistently recognizing myself in situations where someone will try to pick up years-old stories, insecurities or complaints in hopes of some kind of agreement.

But I don’t want the only thing we agree on to be being miserable.

 

You can still love them without agreeing with them. You can still love them even if they never send you a referral. You can still love them and be friends (or family) with them even if it’s not the easiest thing while they’re being unsupportive.

You have likely started a new venture knowing you will grow and change. You are going to see changes in yourself and in your business; that’s good. You’re going to have to hang tight and hold close the reality of what you are doing and how that’s bigger than any judgmental eye who will see it. You want to know why? Because someday when you do get that breakthrough, they will come back. You cannot wait to be happen ‘until then’ or ‘when’ something happens; you need to realize that the work and words you’re putting out now are bigger and more important than the opinions of people behind a screen who will never be happy with anything you do.

Who is paying your bills? Them? NOPE. Go do what you do afraid. Do it unapologetically. Do it without reassurance or thunderous applause. Do it because you know you’re amazing and you’re doing awesome.

Don’t hide your products and services just to annoy people less!

I’ve also worried about this and I find it’s a hurdle for many of my clients. In reality, not every person will see every post you put out. Don’t dim your light because someone is afraid you are challenging them. Not every person will understand why you like painting signs, writing blogs, taking photos of your outfits or sharing your health journey. But out there, somewhere, and usually a stranger is your biggest supporter. If you don’t put what you have out there that person will never see it. 

 

So what is more important? That person’s snide screenshot to their partner in misery or leaving your legacy.

some things grow well in shade.

some things grow well in light.

 

Let the shadiness be in the shade where they thrive. They’re sad, hurting, insecure and filled with negativity. I’ve read that friends like this are similar to shadows in that they will stick around during your brightest hours but disappear when during your darkest hours. They like the dark to hide problems and find companionship with hate, sneakiness, gossip and failure. I hope you choose to be and spread the light. I hope you choose to serve people, guard your time, share your knowledge and build a network who supports you. If you’re circle isn’t applauding for your successes and instead showing up when you fall short….get a new circle.

 

This world is mindlessly scrolling through pages and there’s no interaction. No wonder engagement and interaction is down on every platform for every business! When is the last time you sat down for 10-20 minutes to engage with someone?

Write Happy Birthday and a personal note on the friend’s pictures that day.

React and comment to someone’s article share after you ACTUALLY read and check it out.

If you’re a business owner it is so important to reach out and help people, solve problems and get the solutions out there. That is how you are going to grow.

If you’re not a business owner and you’re not going to buy from your friends good or service support them by engaging with their posts. Getting a review or comment literally makes me ecstatic. It’s a reminder there are real people out in the world I am currently viewing out of my second-story office window.

When you comment on my posts, I literally break out in a smile. When you schedule a call, I literally dance around. When you want to move forward with monthly projects I literally hang up the phone and say ‘Thank You, Jesus.’ By doing something as simple as this, it might not seem like a lot, but you really do make someone’s dream come true.

If you’re struggling with finding a network I would love to support you! Drop your info in a comment below or reach out on Facebook or Instagram. I would also love to hear about your networks to join.

 

Cheers!

Marin

WOW What an awesome response so far! For the entire month of March 2019 we are celebrating our first birthday by giving YOU a present: FREE Discovery Session + 50% off your Branding + Positioning Strategy!

Schedule your call here and get ready to transform your brand. 

Scroll with it. Tap with it. Facts On Why Your Content Needs To Be Tap Friendly.

Tapping vs. Scrolling.
Unless you have been living off-the-grid in the boonies or on a tech strike you have probably experienced the addictive world of smart phones.

Gone are the days where you have to press the key three times to get the letter C. You don’t have to turn around your phone to get a selfie; simply tap the screen. Social media sites like Facebook are now an app on your phone so you don’t have to wait until getting off the bus at 4 p.m. to run to your computer room and log on.

 

Every one of my clients will tell you I recommend they focus on *two platforms for their audience: Facebook and Instagram. For obvious reasons, right? That’s where everyone is, including their target audience.

How do we know who their target audience is? We research and create a Branding + Positioning Strategy! For the month of March 2019 we’re celebrating our One Year Anniversary by giving you a FREE Discovery Session PLUS 50% off your Branding + Positioning Strategy.

YOUR BUSINESS IS WORTH INVESTING IN! Schedule your call here. 

*Depending on your brand, these platforms may vary. Schedule a Branding + Positioning Strategy to find out where you should focus your efforts! 

 

Knowing WHAT you are selling, WHY you are selling it and WHO is buying it is just as important as learning WHERE to connect with them and WHEN.

That’s a lot, right?

Yes. It is. Which is what makes hiring someone to do your marketing so valuable. By taking a strategic approach you are making the most out of your time and efforts as possible in order to reach your desired outcome.

pexels-photo-63572

Photo by Ahmed Aqtai on Pexels.com

Now that we have all of that figured out, how do we gain you traction? How do we bring in that attention and attract them to your site?

By optimizing and creating content that will perform the best where you are putting it. Are you creating videos? Current and relevant events? Giving massive value before ever asking anything of your audience?

If you want a free download on content creation and ideas, download our guide. 

You may have heard when Instagram was enabling their tap to advance platform.

Why?

Because we prefer to tap rather than scrolling. As if having the world at our fingertips at an instant wasn’t enough industries are now recognizing ‘thumb-scrolling fatigue’ by creating more ‘tap-friendly’ material and platforms.

Tap to expand this text.

Tap to change your face filter.

Tap to turn the sound on or off.

Tap to like it.

Tap to go to the next Instagram story.

pexels-photo-248533

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Knowing this I encourage you to update and test your outreach strategy. Instagram highlights and stories always get more views than your regular posts and way more interaction. Stories have kept more than 400 million daily active users and 39% of Instagram users have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Instagram Stories.

By sharing moments throughout my entire day, I am able to let people in on business and personal updates without worrying about something 100% permanent to leave on my page’s account. They’ve provided me an outlet to share on their app more than just once a day.

Stories also take up the entire screen whereas posts take up a smaller portion. People are on stories while watching Netflix or doing some other activity. Because people love to see the page refresh and a bright pink ring around your profile image it’s important that you are on there every day.

Wondering what to post? Test out anything and everything! People are likely to tap the sound on when you  are energetically speaking and adding interactive elements.

Are you posting beneficial information? Sure your cat is cute but if I always know what I’m going to see I will likely stop visiting. Is what you have to share interesting? I’m not encouraging you to be someone different than who you are or spend thousands on trips to ‘stay interesting’ but adding a humorous touch, unique twist, thoughtful prompts or new visual effects like filters can add interest to a ‘basic’ post. Are you incorporating the interactive polls where people have fun choosing and viewing the results instantly? Are you adding music so they can tap the sound on to hear it?

 

The results show that an Instagram Feed with additional ad text results in the lowest cost per lead due to the highest conversion rate.

Instagram Stories gives the best click-through rate and cost per click.

 

Last but not least, you’re not too good for locations or hashtags! Take up that 30 hashtag block limit. Make it relevant to what you want to attract or what you are posting. How much competition would there be on #fitness versus something like #WomenWhoLift? Narrow yourself down and find that balance to expand your outreach

Struggling to find that balance between too generic and too specific?

We can fix that. 

I hope a few of these tips, free guide and discounted offers helped you out! Make sure to follow us on Instagram below or any of our other social media to see what we’re testing out. Let me know how this works out for you!

 

Cheers!
Marin

We appreciate your reviews on our Facebook page! 

How To Self-Promote Without Feeling Salesy or Pompous

Want some free stuff? Don’t worry. I’ve got this. 

Does going live on Facebook or sharing selfies on Instagram with ironic captions make you cringe?

Yep. Same.

Something I regularly run into when presenting my clients (and, let’s be real, myself) is apprehension to putting themselves out there.

Even though people are buying YOU and who YOU are, people still believe they don’t belong on their pages. It can be a delicate balance of posting online as a professional being transparent and open with their brand or just another high school girl’s IG feed.

 

How do we separate ourselves? Well, there are a lot of layers to that social media engagement cake but the goal is to get content that converts. PS: That’s one of the freebies I offer plus I wrote an entire post about it.

When we conduct a Branding + Positioning Strategy we find a brand’s personality and voice. We don’t completely re-brand and change what you have; we enhance it. When you nail down your product, audience, your WHY and your goals these usually come quite naturally.

BRAND VOICE

Who is the ideal customer you’re speaking to? No, not just who you currently have but who you WANT to be your clients. Who are they, what do they sound like, what do they like to read and where do they consume content? Do they prefer visual consumption on YouTube or do they prefer audibly listening to you on podcasts?

While I encourage you to push your boundaries and play around do not force yourself into a medium that you’re uncomfortable with. For some people they really struggle with long-form writing like blogs but others love being able to write out their thoughts. Find what works for you and I promise the message you want to put out there will come through.

Can you use fun and flirty language to talk to your makeup babes or do you need to be starch collar professional for your law office? An agriculture company be too stuffy with ‘kindest regards’ and too hokey with ‘y’all’.  This is an excellent balance to match your voice with your brand’s archetype. Finding a copywriter and marketing professional to help post for you will allow you to interact and focus on your business while you work IN your business.

 

BRAND Personality

Just because you have multiple personalities doesn’t mean you can decide which one you want to show! Our goal is to find the best way to communicate using that personality and how best to translate your most authentic self.

Let’s look at the angle of speaking as a personal brand or on behalf of a brand as a representative. Just because you cuss in real life doesn’t necessarily mean you have to censor yourself for the Disney channel but make it tasteful and be mindful of your audience. If you share audible content, add a disclaimer at the beginning of your video or podcast. Offer your audience the chance to listen or read later when they’re out of public or the kids are napping.

Also refrain from using words that are commonly offensive or derogatory vs. something you would find in church or broadcasting. When in doubt, leave it out. Remember there is a time and place to speak to your friends at a bar and being an approachable business person. You can’t go spend money at the bar if you’re driving your clientele away!

When deciding on your brand’s personality (or are curious about your own) I recommend you take the FREE 16personalities.com quiz to get an idea of your brand as an actual person. You can also take Myers-Briggs or go the more traditional advertising route and decide your brand’s archetype.

Finding your brand’s archetype will allow you to decipher the nitty-gritty like fonts, colors, posting style and infusing that personality in your marketing materials, imaging, branding, logo and voice. You can have some fun playing around with holidays or special occasions. like your brand’s anniversary, but your #BrandPersonality should stay consistent.

If you watch any of the Airbnb shows like Instant Hotel or Stay Here you’ll recognize they do this with locations. Find a color, a personality, a marketing opportunity and you create a profitable destination to stand apart from your competition. What do you expect from a vibrant New York condo vs a romantic wine country cabin vs a luxurious, high-class home in Malibu? They’re consistent with their branding and create an experience their clients can share.

 

KEY TAKEAWAY: Feel free to evolve your brand but the most important thing is to stay consistent! Consistency is key. I recommend trying something for a MINIMUM of six months and adjusting based on your audience’s reactions. The thing you want to avoid is changing so often when people refer to you, the potential client gets confused on who they are looking for.

 

If you need clarity on finding your brand’s voice and personality, just ask. We’re always happy to help!

Cheers!

Marin

Want some free stuff? Don’t worry. I’ve got this. 

The Personal Side of Complaints, Apologizing and Forgiveness

In case you haven’t heard we are running a huge promo to celebrate our first birthday in March! Make sure you’re following (social media and enter your email) so you don’t miss out. Once March is over, so will this promotion.

In Success Magazine’s Spring 2019 issue they had a large several-page spread with one liners on how to improve areas of your life in 2019. One paragraph stood out to me. It went as follows:

Don’t insert a complaint about someone when changing subjects will suffice. Apologize for things hanging over your conscience, but don’t over-apologize when you’ve done nothing wrong. Forgive people even when you know an apology isn’t coming your way. Forgive yourself.

This simple paragraph out of all the writer had spewed out was exactly what I have been focusing this season of my life around and it’s a source of my largest stress as well as what I am most proud of.

I believe they wrote this down in a certain order because it’s often the way we need to process through these mentally. Let me break it down…

Don’t insert a complaint about someone when changing subjects will suffice.

We all have the friends and ‘group’ that you can rant to, uncensored, and it’s okay. But be careful who you tell what to. I have had several friends or confidants who I believed were on ‘my side’ but the same toxic things they would spew about their other ‘best friends’ shows you exactly how they will speak to others about you.

Even after removing the toxicity they are free to spread whatever they want around. It is about how you react to it that shows your character. It frustrates me to see them doing this same vicious cycles to others but who am I to tell others what they can and can’t do? If you’re someone who believes you are a good person then let your actions reveal that. Trust that people have the ability to decide what is and is not true. Trust that even if they’re in bad company they will soon figure that out the same way you did. Adding more trash doesn’t clean up a pile of trash…it just makes for one messy area no one wants to go near.

Don’t give in to the urge to reveal the truth. (I KNOW it is tempting but you will find it will reveal itself.) The minute you talk poorly of someone you become known as the person who talks poorly of others. You can say what you mean without saying it mean. It’s that simple. Wish them well. Bless their heart. Spread love where you can.  And just change the subject. You will feel much better avoiding that guilt hangover.

Apologize for things hanging over your conscience, but don’t over-apologize when you’ve done nothing wrong.

I remember every time I have extended a white flag and it was not returned. Not that I necessarily expected one (there must have been something off that caused the conflict in the first place) but it would have been nice! It’s like telling someone they’re beautiful and they respond with ‘I Know.’

See some of those stories below. Don’t worry, they’re comin’.

It’s not all just boyfriends and girlfriends but also in professional relationships. There is nothing that drives me more crazy than when people say ‘I’m sorry.’ in situations that do NOT require those words!

I worked with a person primarily over a conference line. She would never say the first word, she would never take the lead and she often only took action when guided how to. Nothing wrong with that at all. She did great work.

But every single time, often more than once a conversation I would hear her say Sorry for an accidental interruption, project missed, wrong title read, etc. It loses all sense of the word when it’s part of your regular vocabulary!

I am all for owning your mistakes and truly meaning you feel empathy for something. But do NOT go through this world apologizing for being here and assume every misstep you take is a bad one. NO. You’re better, smarter, tougher, stronger and too good for that.

I’ve known several people who are serial offenders to repeatedly adding condolences in their everyday sentences. I started asking ‘What are you apologizing for?’ They would mumble out some line about how they weren’t sure it just felt like they should say it. Break the habit!

 

Forgive people even when you know an apology isn’t coming your way.

Ah, offering forgiveness. It’s like volunteering and internally expecting something in return.

I remember when I was younger and going through a break-up there was always the conversation to bring ‘closure’ aka not a thing. Days, months, years later I would cross paths again and apologize for my wrong doings. Not because I thought profuse I’m Sorry’s would reconcile anything but truly recognizing where I fell short, what I learned from that and what made me better for the next relationship I would be in.

Alexa, start playing God Bless The Broken Road by Rascal Flatts…

 

Do not feel the urge to apologize when you feel you have done nothing wrong. I’m going to make this realllll big so you don’t miss it.

When a person tells you that you hurt them you didn’t get to decide that they didn’t.

-louis c.k.

I eventually told most everyone who hurt me in some way, shape or form what they did. We may have both been at the same place, same time doing the same thing but our memories of the event could be very different. If you felt humiliated, unsafe, hurt or let down they do not hold any kind of special power to say ‘No, you didn’t’ or ‘I didn’t do that.’  Believe wholeheartedly that it is better to agree to disagree and walk away than it is to convince them they fell short.

One response I got was fantastic. They said they were also sorry for not recognizing the major support I needed in a very difficult time and we were both grateful it happened and move forward. We are friends and it’s not weird. A large gap of time and space did help that (most annoying thing to hear, my bad) but it truly does. It can happen. If it doesn’t, that’s okay, too.

Another response, the big one, I apologized for my wrong-doings…and was met with Thanks for saying that. And trust me they had a lottttt, a lot they could have apologized for. Now there is a long, long story attached to that I won’t get in to but the main point stands out. Had I stayed with that person I would more than likely still be where they are (physically and mentally). It’s no wonder that was a leading reason I left the relationship. If you ever get the chance to experience something like that, it will be the  most clarifying moment. Just like you couldn’t fix someone back then  there is nothing you can do now.

Apologizing to those does not show defeat at all. It shows maturity. It shows growth. I would much rather leave telling someone ‘I’m for all I did wrong. Thank you for everything.’ than something cruel I said in a moment of anger.

 

Forgive yourself. 

I’m not much of a person to #selfcare #selftalk #forgiveyourself but #hereIam. Mostly because it was in the previous excerpt so I will give this my best shot. This is usually something I only speak about with close friends because, damn, is it hard.

I considered myself to be an extroverted, confident teenager. I liked being liked. I liked being everywhere with everyone at every event. The last place I wanted to be was sitting at home in what was, at the time, a place I felt extremely uninvited to. I much preferred to be out where things were lighthearted, where I had people who also wanted to be around me, where I could ‘make memories’ and be apart of everything.

Because of this outward image I was putting on it came as a big shock to those I opened up to what was going on at home, in my mind and in my personal life. Some people believe me; some of my closest friends still don’t. Some believe you can’t be two people at the same time.

You can’t be a party girl and also be someone who went through something invasive and demoralizing.

You can’t have amazing parents who love and support you and also physically, verbally fight with them, get kicked out and told you’re stupid or in need of a workout.

You can’t be the captain, the homecoming queen, hold a crowned title, several leadership positions and also see how many pills you can take to get away from the issues.

But you can. People go through things like this every single day.

You’re bound to screw up. It will happen. It’s important to have someone, at least one person who you trust that can help carry that burden with you.

There are things only my friends know. There are things myself and those who were there with me know. There are things only my husband knows. And there are things that are only between myself and God that not a single other person will ever know.

I am okay with that.

I have only been to two counseling sessions in my life. One I was tricked and forced to go to (which scarred me you could say) and one I chose to go to when I had a panic attack/actual breakdown in college. Neither one personally allowed me to open up but I encourage you to find someone you can trust, a licensed stranger if it helps, and let it out. You’re not alone and it’s nothing to be ashamed of.

I still have moments where a bad or annoying memory will pop up and in the deep pit of my stomach right under my ribs this anxious feeling creeps in. It’s all consuming. I recognize that and I let it pass; knowing it will come back sometime. Someday.

 

I was self-conscious about a lot of things in my life and several of those still exist. I am proud of who I am and what I have done.

I forgive others for thinking they get to say who I was or am. I forgive those who took their own personal vengeances out on my wedding day. Including someone close to me who has never publicly said one positive thing about me and instead pointed out everyone in the room except for me. For saying the only good thing I ever did was marry my husband and not screwing it up. I forgive them because they were blind to anything that was every actually going on.

No. Marrying him was the greatest experience of my life but I have definitely done many, many more good things. Being his wife is the favorite thing I have ever been but I am much more than that. I forgive myself for thinking anything less was ever true.

I forgive myself for every time I treated my body less than. For thinking I wasn’t worth something special. For going through phases of not eating, not eating enough, or eating junk. For harming myself, picking, pulling, prodding, treating, comparing. I forgive myself for ever letting words from teasing or bullying hurt me.

 

 

I forgive myself for thinking things happen to everyone. I forgive myself for being too ashamed to tell anyone. I forgive myself for feeling the shame of not stopping it from happening to someone else. I forgive myself right now for putting this out there in the world after being engraved in my mind and scribbled on paper for years.

I forgive myself for every time I thought I had to compensate for being something someone else wanted me to be. I forgive others who didn’t reach out, see the problems, or be the leader and mentor I needed them to be. I held on. I figured it out. I know what to look for and what to ask and when to ask it. I can take the shortcoming’s that adults gave me and use that for something much, much better now. I will break the cycle of what I have experienced.

Even if I never received a much-deserved apology, the justice that should have been served or the outcome I was too afraid of pursuing…I forgive myself. At 25-years-old I understand I no longer need public validation like I once thought I did. Just because you publish a post or a photo and no more than 10 people like it does not mean you aren’t beautiful or have nothing important to say. Not every person needs to see something to make it true or untrue. Not every person needs to believe or support everything I do or say. If I feel it is true, it is true. Wherever that is, Let It Be. 

I forgive myself for thinking terrible, awful things are happening in my body because of some twisted karma from an event that happened in 2009 or 2011 or last week. God loves me and he wants everything that I want. He’s just better at knowing what I need.

Forgive someone today. Don’t over apologize. Don’t insert a complaint when you could just change the subject. Forgive yourself.

Love,

Marin

“She wears strength and darkness equally well, the girl has always been half goddess, half hell.”— @nikita_gill

 

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Love Is Always Coming Back Home

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I’ve been with my husband for eight years and married almost four of those years.

In the grand scheme of things that really isn’t that long but it does hold a lot of weight when you’re together during some of the most transformative years of your life and building a foundation for forever.

There is so much I have learned since being with him but without getting all mushy and excessively serious…

Love is more than emotion.

It’s actions.

A majority of my friends are in ‘normal’ relationships as far as their career and their partners career. They leave in the morning, they are home that evening, they have the weekends off and the occasional short-term business trips where they can talk each day. It’s been interesting to see the difference in our relationships and what works for different lives.

If there’s something I have noticed about making the most of our time together it’s that love is more than emotion; it’s actions.

It’s not always the warm and fuzzies like when he surprises me with flowers or impromtu lunch dates. Sometimes it means he changed my oil or unloaded the dishwasher.

It’s compromising on movies or omitting cheesy foods from their plate.

It’s me taking over duties so he can relax when he gets home because I want to spend time with him. And him not expecting that of me.

It’s me realizing not everything has to be done all the time, right away, and we can sit down.

It’s recognizing the sacrifices made or things you have done for one another. That day, that week or in the eight years of knowing each other. This one has been the most challenging since it only makes sense that we want a life together but it was a series of choices and sacrifices that allowed that to happen. The worst thing you could say is ‘You know what you signed up for’. Recognize it. Acknowledge it. Appreciate it. Don’t take the fact that someone adjusted their life plan to match yours for granted. And don’t hold the fact that you did that over their head as a bargaining chip the rest of their life. For one reason or another you both made the choice to be together.

Love is being there when they need you even if they don’t say they need you. It’s being there in silence and it’s being there as a sounding board.

It’s doing things without being told or asked or expecting those things of the other and getting upset when they don’t read your mind and it doesn’t happen.

It’s standing up for one another, protecting one another, advocating for one another. I have always heard ‘We’re on the same team’ or ‘We make a great team’ but didn’t understand what that actually meant until my teammate reciprocated. You should always have each other’s best interest at heart.

It’s loving each other’s loved ones and doing the same for them.

It’s about having a bond so deep you’re ready to share that with someone else via charity, volunteering, church, community outreach or a child. Gary Chapman said

“Your emotions will always influence you but they do not control you.

Love is an attitude.”

It means I love him even when I don’t feel like I like him. And trust me when you live together with no barriers, walls or personal space sometimes…you’ll understand what that feeling is like.

As I have said before its Us and We not You and Me. It breaks my heart when I see people stuck in a relationship they hope will work out because I was there, too. It’s scary to be set in what is familiar and not wanting to be ‘alone’ or start from the beginning. Are you spending longer sitting in a dead-end road or are do you recognize this path didn’t work, turn around and head in a different direction?

You are worth that. Your happiness is worth that. It’s in more than someone saying ‘I Love You’ and ‘I’ll do better.’ It’s what they do with their actions. They say they love you but what are they doing to show they truly mean it?

You will be spending a lot of time with that person. Are they someone you want to be like? Be around? If you want kids are they someone you want to be connected to forever? As a role model to your nieces or nephews?

 

I believe you can be in love several times in your life. It’s a basic human need to connect and want to be wanted. You usually pick someone who makes sense to you. You connect all the events you have been with together as the bond you share. But those events are placed there to develop you into the person you will be for the rest of your life. They had their place there and sometimes that means leaving the person you experienced that with in that place behind you.

 

You were raised by people who were in a place just like you. At some point in their life they made dumb choices, they had their ‘first’ everything including the time they became first-time parents…and they didn’t know what the hell they were doing either. Maybe they still don’t.

So much of adulthood is unlearning bad habits, guarding ourselves from bad experiences we had or assuming because you never saw a healthy relationship you won’t have one either.

But you can. Just because you were raised on fast food and instant boxed meals doesn’t mean you can’t make healthier choices now.

Just because you were raised in a home where disagreements were won with who could yell louder, leave faster or hit harder does not mean that is how it should be. You can learn from that.

Just because your parents argued daily and divorced doesn’t mean you will follow the same route. take what you did like and change what you didn’t.

You are not your parents, you are not your siblings, you are not your mistakes. You are your own person and your own family. You need to protect that, uphold that and stand firmly in what is best for you; not most convenient for them to understand.

 

You deserve someone who fits in with all the awkward, weird parts of you.

You deserve someone who is easy to be with. It won’t always be easy but if there’s no expectations from each other and it’s still the best day ever…that sounds like an easy-to-love life to me.

You should be laughing every day and not feel guilty when you break down in front of them. You need to show up and be entirely who you are because you are an entire person. And they, too, are an entire person. One that you’re learning something about every day. You can be each other’s better half, you can compliment each other, you can depend on one another and you can still be independent. You can rely on each other while still relying on yourself.

 

I’ve heard actual comments made about marrying into the military for money, about not knowing what to do for yourself when you’re alone, about being dependent and always giving something up and coming in second place to his job. We didn’t decide to get married because I didn’t want to work. No, I did. I’ve heard people say they’re too independent to commit to someone else.

We didn’t get married because we thought it would boost our self esteem. We got married because we realized how dynamic we are together. And when he is gone I can still keep things going. My biggest struggle has been finding a fulfilling job and contributing like I want to. But he’s been there supporting whatever decision I have made, no pressure whatsoever, and encouraging me to pursue what he sees makes me extremely happy.

 

Marriage, especially in a MILSO position, is like when you really (realllyyyyy) like the way your spouse mows the lawn but when they’re gone you have no problem doing it. It would be great if they could take care of those errands while they’re out and you’re busy but if not, you are more than capable of doing them yourself. It’s having zero communication and still being able to keep your life together going. It’s being able to handle whatever situation you’re placed in so they can focus on getting back safely. I don’t know if you would actually find someone who needs to be a more independent person than a military spouse. (Keyword needs to be.) 

You should be respected even when you don’t agree on something. Because you won’t always agree on the correct way to fold towels or who is the better driver. You should both find each other worth the irritations that come with spending life with another person.

Since dating we have always had a rule.

Rule #1: Always Come Back Home.

If you need to walk away from a fight, go cool down. But then come back.

If you’re going on a trip, go. I’ll be here when you get back.

Even if it’s just a normal day going into work you both know you’ll be coming back home at the end of that day.

If you’re gone for one week, three months or one year, go do what you need to do. Just come back home when you’re done.

Love is not always just saying I Love You. It’s coming back home.

Cheers to you and all you love!

Marin

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Alki Beach Park in West Seattle: What To Know Before You Go

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Alki Beach (Also referred to as West Seattle) holds a special place in our heart. If you haven’t already read the write up on Seattle itself catch up here.

Not only is it the place where we adopted our little Iranian mutt but it’s also host to some amazing skyline views of Seattle, small food and drink stores, stunning homes (that we will probably never afford) and filming locations.

This was the first day we met him.

And each year we went back for his adoption day celebration to repeat everything we did. This was the last visit before our move.

This beach was made famous from a scene from the movie “Sleepless in Seattle” where Tom Hanks flies a kite with his son. Other scenes filmed at this bustling park were Singles, Man vs. Food and House of Games and several others.

If you look at Alki Beach on a map you will notice it’s surrounded by Elliott Bay. This allows you to get views of the ferries, paddle boarders, SUP’ers, swimmers and even on one occasion for us ORCAS! There have been several sightings for them in the bay so keep your eye out for seals, birds and these beautiful whales.

PARKING

While it might seem overwhelming while looking at the beach from Seattle’s downtown and crossing under the busy bridges, you will soon drive along the water to see it makes the perfect (and very popular) location for a weekend day trip. As you drive in you will see several restaurants and watersport rentals along the water. We went to Alki about three times but we never went out into the water. Too cold for us!

I don’t own this photo…a lot got lost with a hard drive crash!

Keep an eye out for parking along the edge but if you prefer to get your car off the main street turn onto the residential roads and aim for a free spot next to the homes. We always turned left at Blue Moon Burgers (57th Ave SW) and went down a few blocks before finding an open spot. It’s a quick walk in a quiet neighborhood and we never had issues.


 

WHAT TO DO

This will give you vibes of a typical PNW beach.  Think bungalows sitting next to medium-rise waterfront apartment houses, waterfront businesses, a thin, rocky beach, and a road with a bike/foot trail running several miles along the water. There is plenty to do and how frequently it’s packed with people doing some sort of activity.  It’s a fun atmosphere!

The beach and sidewalk stretch all around the beach so there is plenty of room to walk, run, rollerskate or bike. If you don’t have your own bike you can rent one or rent a 4-person pedal buggy (what are those called? Is there an official name?) An area I frequently saw rentals was near  the point to Seacrest Park which provides one of the best views of Seattle from across the water. We were always with our dog and there are many people who will bring there furry pets as well; just make sure they stay on the leash and off the sand and you will have a great time.

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My favorite part of walking the edge was seeing how the views changed. No matter what it is magnificent. Water with minimal wakes, snow-capped Olympic mountains, land and islands, the Puget Sound, Seattle (have I mentioned the best viewpoint enough yet?) You will enjoy being able to check out the variety of homes as well!

There are grassy areas, benches and covered areas you can reserve for anniversaries, reunions or other large parties. If you don’t feel like playing catch and want to kick off your shoes in one of there sand volleyball courts they’re near the shelters and close to several restaurants and bars if you need liquid courage.

You’ll also come across some rich Seattle history displayed on plaques, statues and markers. One of these is a replica of Lady Liberty because the original name of the settled area was New York Alki. You’ll also see the iconic Alki Point Lighthouse and the Birthplace of Seattle monument.


 

WHERE TO EAT

There are the classics that you should try at some point like Duke’s Seafood & Chowder House, Top Pot Doughnuts and find dining options but you will mostly find the smaller, casual beachfront restaurants which are our go-to anyway.

Blue Moon Burgers offers options…a lot of options. Luckily we decided to stop in after parking nearby several times. They have delicious, juicy burgers, fresh fries and hand-dipped milkshakes. Only downside is you’re paying that smaller restaurant, peak location price. If you have a good boy or girl they are welcome and a common site out on the patio!

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It is very minimal service so plan to seat yourself or take it out to another location. We took our burgers to the truck, drove to the other side (Beach Drive SW) and parked to enjoy the views. This is the day we saw orcas!

I always wanted to try Alki Spud Fish and Chips and El Chupacabra Alki. Since we always went during the day with our dog we didn’t grab a drink but I would head to Phoenecia or Salty’s for their famed brunch. If you’re wanting a rooftop bar there are a handful offering different views but I would go to Alki Beach Pub & Eatery or Marination Mai Kai unless you’re looking for something specific.

 


 

Whether you drive yourself or take an Uber tour this nice little nook of West Seattle is top choice from locals and tourists alike to wind down, watch the sun rise and set, grab a hot sandwich with a cold drink and play. It’s a great visit and I hope you have fun in Seattle.

Cheers!

Marin

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You Are Here: Raleigh, NC

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In August 2018 we moved cross-country from Washington to North Carolina. While we miss the PNW we do enjoy being so close to family and all the east coast has to offer including where America was built and history was made.

We went to D.C. over New Year’s Eve and Charleston (coming soon) for our anniversary but we obviously had to check out the big city just an hour and a half north of us. Raleigh is the capitol of North Carolina and is home to several well-known regions/cities including Chapel Hill, Durham and the Triangle. The Triangle is the area of three major universities (Duke University in Durham, The University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University in Raleigh.) So the nightlife, food and amount of things to do is jam-packed. Not to mention it’s hours away from Asheville, the beaches on the coast and 20 minutes driving from RDU airport.

As of January 2019 we have been to Raleigh twice and, while I’m not a local-local I can offer some insight on the city or a quick trip.

If you want more pictures and videos follow me on Instagram and check out the highlight!

If you plan on staying the night in Raleigh try this Airbnb and we felt very safe in the apartment. It was just the right amount of space and a few minutes walk from the main strip. There was street parking available as well as covered parking garage which we always prefer.

We stayed there over October 19-21, 2018 to celebrate my husband’s birthday and to spend a day at the Triangle Oktoberfest.

Our first night in was our usual eat and drink around the main strip. There are two to three areas with great bar districts and they’re a 30 minute walk or quick Uber from the Airbnb. We mainly checked out S Wilmington Street. First stop was food at Gallo Pelón Mezcaleria.

Upstairs is their sister restaurant, Centro. If you get a chance try the Cats Out Of The Bag IPA from Ancillary Fermentation; they only make 120 per month. At these types of places I enjoy trying out the cocktails so I tried the Cucumber Caipiroska. We shared their tacos, nachos and spicy chicken sandwich which were all really good but smaller portions than you would get at a chain Mexican restaurant.

You probably sat too long taste testing tequila so get to walkin’ down the street a few blocks to The Raleigh Times. Check out their website! This 100-year-old building displays newspaper clippings from it’s namesake newspaper. They have restored and expanded the establishment several times so there are plenty of booths, table, bar space and an upstairs seating area with a rooftop if the weather’s nice.

This bar is a super cool interior and seat yourself. I had the Peach Milkshake IPA and the Blackberry Ale which were both delicious and drinkable to keep the night going. We didn’t try their nachos but heard this is one of the few places offering a late night menu. The later you go, the fewer options you’ll find.

Down the street is the Landmark Tavern which reminded me of a Irish tavern but had the trendiness of a basic hipster bar in and outside. There’s a $1 cover and we had the 2 Hearted IPA from Bell’s Brewery.

The London Bridge across the street was closed for a private event and, what looked full of Greeks; otherwise it looked like a fun, younger crowd with loud music and live events!

A popular choice from everyone who visits Raleigh is Trophy Brewing Company. Head to the corner, turn left and walk down a bit before you see their neon sign next to other random streetside stores. We were in the mood for a late-night snack by now and shared their tots and wings. The wings weren’t too good and really spicy but the tots are definitely worth ordering!

Trophy Brewing Wings and Tots

Trophy Wife and Cloudburst were probably the top beers we had from our visit. Other people have also raved about their session IPAs, the Milky Way Stout which ‘tastes like candy’, and the best nano brewery in the Triangle.

Trophy Brewing Company

On Saturday we were planning on going to Oktoberfest but first…BRUNCH. The biggest must-do while here is heading to Beasley’s Chicken + Honey. We were able to take our time getting ready and got there right before their 11 am brunch doors opened. We didn’t want to stand in line too long so we walked around and found the street closed down for a festival where artists were creating chalk art on the pavement.

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If you can get there right as they open to wait in line DO IT or else you’ll be waiting for a while. Even on a rainy day Beasley’s was buzzing with guests. We snagged a couple seats at the bar and ordered drinks and brunch from the menus written on the wall. Hope you brought your glasses! I don’t think you could really go wrong ordering anything on the menu but we loved their beer, cocktail Ameila’s Crush, and several more classic cocktails. I cannot remember what we ate but I’m pretty sure mine was The Reunion after looking at several strangers plates. (Ok Creeeeppp). Drew had their recommended Huevos Rancheros.

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We caught an Uber for the 30-minute drive to the Triangle’s Oktoberfest. We did NOT expect to spend all day here but we did!  Pre-purchase your tickets which I believe were about $30 for all you could drink cup option but they have several to choose from. They open up an outdoor, riverside ampitheatre which is also used for concerts and your proceeds go to benefiting the rotary clubs, The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and several other organizations.

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They had two large tents, a row of food and drink vendors, competitions, weiner dog races, brat and food stands, live music and performers, games and much more. (Sorry this video is sideways!) 

It was a great family-friendly crowd and we ended up shutting the place down with some new friends we met and Uber’d back to Raleigh with.

Reserve your Sunday for RECOVERY. We went to BREW Coffee Bar which was said to be an old train station converted to serve local beer and use coffee from Raleigh Coffee Company. When we got there it was the post-church, college study venue in a strip mall. Next door was Donatos Pizza which made my Ohioan husband go crazy with childhood memories and (to be honest) pizza on the hangover never sounded better!

On our second trip in December 2018 things were a bit more tame. It was a day trip with my dad and sister while in town for Christmas. Luckily it was a sunny (but windy and cold) day to wander around downtown. If you continue down S. Wilmington you’ll come up on the corner of the Capitol building. The North Carolina State Capitol is a 19th-century Greek Revival–style building with a statue of George Washington dressed as a Roman general in its rotunda.

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You can walk around the grounds to view the statues and views of the city and you can enter with a brief security scan before exploring the building. There are three levels and when it was decorated for Christmas it was beautiful! They have most rooms open including detailed signs of where the NC Supreme Court, Legislature, General Assembly and the two committee rooms on the opposite wings. There’s also a small library and a geology room.

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A block and a half away from Beasley’s is Sir Walter Coffee where they host a board of pay-it-forward drinks, seasonal flavors and friendly service and treats. While we just stopped in for a drink to warm up they also had a beer menu for their late-night guests.

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Take your drink and wander down to the historic Raleigh City Market.

The cobblestone streets are home to some venues, pet stores, restaurants and artsy boutiques. The market opened in 1914 and through the years hosted farmers with a variety of goods. Over the years it was sold and purchased from several owners for numerous purposes but it’s still a small corner of charm in the Raleigh.

If you’ve never been to The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar you. need. to. go. It was the largest menu selection I have ever seen and they were featured on the show Tanked. Every mash-up we had was insanely delicious, top-grade burgers and sushi. The portions are pretty large and easy to share. We loveddddd it and I can’t wait to go back!

 

We will of course be back in Raleigh soon and I’ll update you on everything else there is to do as we explore the area. If you have any suggestions or places we need to visit on the east coast let us know and until next time…

 

Cheers!

Marin