Alone we can do so little,
Together we can move mountains!
Sarah Petty and Family
by Skip Cohen
Sunday Morning Reflections is always about something completely off topic from the business and marketing of photography. However, getting yesterday's holiday card from Sarah Petty got me thinking about one of the coolest relationship builders so many of you could be using right now.
Here's the short backstory: Sarah was late getting her holiday cards out and mailed them in February. On the front of the card, she printed "Better Late than Never." So, the card was lost in the holiday shuffle and got to my PO Box in late March. I don't use the box that much and picked the card up yesterday.
That's the front of her card above with Sarah and her family. There's something about opening a card like this in April, months after it was meant to be sent. It simply made me smile. I won't deny for a second I'm one of Sarah's biggest fans, but the idea of sending a holiday card out of the usual timing sequence is remarkable.
I've written a lot about relationship building being your top marketing tool, but this takes it to a different level. This past December holiday season, everyone was scrounging for a bit of faith in the future. While we're still not out of the woods, things are better for most of us today. We're slowly returning to a level of normalcy, and little by little, every day, things improve.
So, why not send out a card to your clients and friends to celebrate? Why wait until December to wish people peace and prosperity? I've shared the idea of holiday cards in July in workshops in the past. Still, this year the idea has a little more strength. There isn't a better way for you to remind your target audience you're there for support and to be their number one resource for all their imaging needs.
Wishing everybody a Sunday filled with things that help you bring back a new level of normalcy. And let's not forget those eleven-second therapeutic hugs I used to write about. They've been on hold for the last year, and they couldn't be more needed or important right now.
Happy Sunday...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world!
Be yourself. Everybody else is already taken.
by Skip Cohen
I rarely, if ever, miss a Sunday Morning Reflections, but this morning biz took over. I'm helping Larry T. with a Platypod presentation this afternoon for CanAm Expo. Then tomorrow night, I'm doing a program for the Professional Photographers of Northeast Ohio with ideas for recovery after the pandemic. However, I don't want to mess up my almost perfect track record.
I might be a little late, but I'm staying off-topic from business and marketing with a theme that's been on my mind a lot lately - listening to my heart. I'm not sure if I can blame it on Melody Beattie because coming out of the pandemic, I've been doing a lot of my own soul-searching. Like many of you, I'm trying to define my business better and strategize over what I'd like to do in the future.
My challenge is - I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up!
Listen to the voice of Your Heart by Melodie Beattie.
Cultivate the art of listening to your intuition, your inner voice. This is the guidance of your heart. It's a voice that speaks differently from the one in your head. The heart whispers softly; the head prattles loudly.
The head has an agenda for our lives. It chatters away boldly, but its vision is limited. It leaves no room for the mysterious workings of the universe, nor does it take into account the side trips we need, to get where we're going, where our souls need to go. It's the voice that says, This is the way it's going to be.
The heart, the inner voice, speaks differently. Sometimes it whispers. Sometimes it pulls. Sometimes it pushes. It's spontaneous, in the present moment, and often a surprise. The heart takes into account what has to be done and the best way to do that. The heart takes emotions into account - the way things feel, the way you feel, the wisdom of your soul. The heart leads us into and through the lessons we're here to learn.
Cultivate your inner voice. Practice listening to the whispers of your heart. Practice trusting your intuition, what you really feel, what you really know. Practice until that voice is the one that you hear.
Be patient. Be gentle. Let yourself learn to hear the gentle and trustworthy words of your heart.
Here's the bottom line, we're all in search of confirmation that we're on the right path, but so often, we're searching for answers when all along they're right there in front of us...in our hearts. We just have to learn to listen.
Wishing all of you a day when your heart speaks to you, and you hear it! There's an extraordinary feeling when you know something is right. And with more people getting vaccinated, it's time to get back to those eleven-second hugs I used to write about! So, hug somebody special to you and let them know how important they are in your life.
Happy Sunday or Monday if you're on the other side of the planet.
Chance favors the prepared mind!
by Skip Cohen
Years ago, I started stepping away from marketing and business topics on Sunday mornings, feeling it was my day to write about anything I wanted. Today, I'm staying true to that goal and sharing the pure joy in my role as a new "parent"!
Four years ago, we planted a butterfly garden in the back corner of our yard. We've had plenty of butterflies, but for the first time we spotted a monarch chrysalis a week ago. I got such a kick out of it that I made it my header for my Facebook page.
A few days ago, entirely at random, Sheila went out to check on the new addition. All I heard was, "Get a camera!" So, while I missed the opportunity to get a time-lapse, I did manage to get a few still shots. The first one above is minutes after coming out of the chrysalis. You can see the wings still crumpled up from the confinement. Five minutes later, they were flattened out, and our new addition was flying all over the garden.
It's hard to find the words to describe what we were both feeling as we watched the butterfly emerge. As I wrote the other day, there's something wrong in nature when a butterfly only lives two to six weeks, but a cockroach can go for two years! Regardless, nothing can take away the absurd feeling Sheila and I had at becoming new parents.
My point this morning couldn't be more simple - I almost missed the moment because I was off doing other things. Thanks to Sheila, I was at least there with a camera before the activity was over. There's so much going on in our lives every day; when we don't stop to look around, we miss so many memorable moments.
We are so busy watching out for what is ahead of us,
that we don't take time to enjoy where we are!
Calvin & Hobbs
I know the pandemic has had an impact on all of us. Hunkered down, we've all worked to protect ourselves and our families - but even while isolated, there are still moments to capture, savor and appreciate. Take a minute right now and look around you and look for those "butterflies" about to emerge! Sorry, it's hard not to get sappy with this stuff.
Wishing everybody a perfect day ahead and time to anticipate and be part of memory-making moments. They're all around us if we just change our priorities and notice them.
Happy Sunday...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world.
by Skip Cohen
It's a typical Sunday, and while I'm off-track from marketing and business, my thoughts this morning will hit home with many of you.
One of the only publications I read anymore, which comes in hard copy every week, is The Week. My Dad got me started years ago, and it's my ongoing link to the outside world. In last week's publication in their regular feature called "The Last Word," the article shared profile stories of what people feel after a year in isolation.
The article originally appeared in The Washington Post and was used with permission in The Week. The title of the article was "One year of isolation," and the subtitle says it all:
At the anniversary of the pandemic, said The Washing Post, we have all had to get used to living apart. These are some of the stories of a year in which travel, school, ceremonies, and even touch disappeared.
I'm sharing only the subtitles related to each person in the article to set the stage for my point this morning.
Well, the article was incredibly reflective. It got me thinking about the last year and what I've missed the most. We're an industry built on a foundation of capturing memories. Yet memory-making moments suddenly became so limited. There were minimal opportunities to capture. But for me, most of all I've missed contact with friends.
It's that excitement in the air at a convention and the hugs that come with seeing people you've missed. I've mastered Zoom, Skype, and even Facetime - but nothing beats a live hug. Nothing tops the laughter and pure joy of reuniting with people you love, respect, and have shared chapters of your life with.
But over the last year, the glass was always half full, and in place of that time directly with friends, Sheila and I found we grew a little closer every day. We got to know each other better, and the two pups became a project to maintain the change in lifestyle and loss of freedom.
So, what's the piece of the puzzle over the last year you missed the most?
The pandemic's grip is slowly loosening, and we're getting back to normalcy, but I'm not sure what normal really is after the last year. There's certainly a deeper appreciation for so many things we took for granted.
Wishing everybody a day to recover those pieces of your puzzle you've been missing for the last thirteen months. Make it a day to bring back great memories and, most important of all, more smiles in your life. And let's get back to those eleven-second therapeutic hugs I used to write about.
Only when normal things are not normal anymore,
do we realize how special normal things are.
by Skip Cohen
I'm staying true to my one consistent rule on posting Sunday Morning Reflections - they're never directly about business. I always run amuck, rarely with any preconceived idea of where I'm going!
Today is definitely a celebration and one that I hope many of you are repeating now and into the weeks ahead. For the first time in over a year, we had a return to normal last night with good friends Rose and Nairn' at a favorite restaurant in Sarasota. Four good friends who hadn't seen each other in over a year because of the pandemic - but dinner in a normal setting, lots of laughs, a drink or two, and truly a celebration.
Ironically, it was also the first day of Spring. Like pictures people have been sharing of trees in bloom this weekend, a great friendship also came back to life! We didn't lose touch, but being hunkered down, we so missed the contact. Masks in and out of the restaurant, but once at our table, the outside world disappeared.
We're a long way from what normal used to be, but those first "baby steps" were terrific, right down to no masks, hugs and clinking glasses.
The world is a long way from getting back to normal, but with all four of us having both vaccine shots, for an evening, the pain, sadness, and loss of freedom over the last year disappeared in a wave of love and friendship. I'm big on metaphors, especially on Sunday mornings - it was the light at the end of the tunnel we've all been waiting for - now it's time for the rest of the world to catch up. I've written a lot over the years about the importance of friendships, but it wasn't until we lost access to our friends did I really appreciate how vital they are to the richness of our lives.
Wishing all of you a day filled with smiles and especially hugs with friends who have had their shots! It seems like a funny way to say it - but your health and safety still need to be kept in focus. However, there's no way to describe the feeling of how a jumpstart helps to get your emotional battery back to a full charge!
And to Rose and Nairn' - sure do love you guys.
Happy Sunday - Happy Spring - Happy Journey on the way back to NORMAL!
"Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things!"
by Skip Cohen
Sunday Morning Reflections is always off the topic of business and marketing and often pretty random with what's running through my head. Add in the challenges of the pandemic, and suddenly things I'd rarely think about become relevant.
Everyone talks about how much the pandemic has created a greater appreciation for things we used to take for granted. Well, there you have it, my points this morning - friendships and cell phones!
For over a year, Sheila and I have stayed true to a policy of hunkering down. (God, how I've grown to hate those two words!) We haven't gone anywhere, not even for carry-out. Like so many of you, we miss our friends. As we countdown the days to the two-week wait period after getting our second vaccine, we've already made dinner and lunch plans for the weeks ahead.
One of the key things that kept us going over the last year was keeping in touch via the phone, which grew into Zoom, Facetime, and Skype.
For example, I had a great day yesterday with my good buddy Kevin Gilligan. We're doing a program together today for ClickCon Nation. It was initially to be presented LIVE on stage in Chicago. However, working with Kevin and catching up repeatedly during the day with text messages was the next best thing to a bro-hug.
My day ended with him and me doing a Zoom review of our program today, which ironically is about finding balance with all the different hats we each wear. But for me, while the purpose of our presentation is to help you stay focused on your dreams, the best thing for me is working on a project with a good friend.
And my love for my phone, even though it's not a "real" camera, came out of a picture I sent Kevin yesterday while Sheila and I were out doing a couple of errands with the pups. Lucy is a "wind-dog," while Belle is more timid, but that doesn't change her love to muscle in on whatever Lucy wants to see.
Remember, I warned you about the randomness of today's post - but it's all those little things I used to take for granted that have become more important.
All of us have friends we've missed, but have we done our best at keeping in touch? Do they know we miss them? Friendships aren't little things, but the pandemic has heightened my senses when it comes to keeping in touch. As a result, I'm more in tune than ever before over the role, so many of you play in giving my life more meaning.
To so many of you who have put up with my phone calls, texts, and messages over the last year - thank you for being there! And to Kevin - what a kick to consider you such a great friend - I've done a lot of workshops and programs over the years, but this one with you today is pretty special.
Wishing everybody a perfect day ahead! Make it one that's filled with appreciation for those special friends in your life, and share a few pictures here and there - even if they're only captured on your phone!
Happy Sunday...or Monday if you're hanging out on the other side of the world.
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday, and if you've followed me for even a short time, you know I'm about to run amuck from the topic of marketing. Sunday is my day to step into the world outside business, and with the pandemic slowly (very slowly) moving behind us, I was thinking about how Sheila and I got through it.
Like most of you, we've been isolated from friends and family for over a year. We chose to hunker down and ride out the storm. I have fewer respiratory issues than Sheila does, so I've been doing the food-shopping, typically at 7:00 am on Sunday mornings - before the no-mask wonders show up. We've cooked every meal at home, mastered a couple of fun cooking techniques, and put on the "Covid 15," which we're walking every morning now, trying hard to shed.
Through this entire nightmare, it's time I paid tribute to our therapists, Dr. Lucy and Dr. Belle. I wrote about losing Molly the Wonder Dog in February 2019. Like everyone who loses a dog, I was devastated. Nine months later, we decided it was time to get back into the dog world - only this time it was two fur-balls joining the family.
For the first three months, just about every day, I questioned our decision. Most of the time, Sheila and I would look at each other and say, "What made us think at our age we could handle two puppies?" Then we'd laugh and refocus on training.
When the pandemic hit in full force, the four of us really did become a family. Our days kicked off with getting the girls out, typically our morning walk around the neighborhood, and on and off through the day, it was puppy playtime. They've filled our life with chuckles and an occasional scream - but big smiles every day.
Over and again, I've thought about how lucky we are to have them with us, and the love for these two knuckleheads just keeps growing. I thought our experience was pretty unique until I called our vet to get them in for their annual checkups and shots. I was told that through the pandemic, "Everybody got a pet!" As a result, they're five months behind on available appointments.
That brings me right to my point - our pets help fulfill our lives. While there are no words to describe how much we've missed friends and getting together, our "therapists" have kept us focused on laughing and smiling every day.
Sheila and I got our second vaccine shot this past week, and there's finally light at the end of the tunnel. But over the last year, it was Lucy and Belle who helped us stay focused on our hearts and, in fact, each other.
Dogs are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole!
Wishing everybody a day loaded with smiles and hope for the future and a return to some level of normalcy. It's going to be slow, but still faster and the right direction away from what we've all dealt with for the last twelve months. And if you've got a pet therapist, dog, or cat, they deserve a couple of extra treats today because they guided you through the storm.
Happy Sunday...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world!
We can't always control the timing of our plans, but we can have fun along the way.
Friends don't care if the project is finished; they just want to be a part of the magic of life.
Look at things from a new perspective. Laugh. Be grateful you're where you are at this moment.
Don't worry about trying to hurry the future along. Look for the joy in life now.
by Skip Cohen
Part of the fun of writing Sunday Morning Reflections is simply heading into any topic that moves me at the moment. Well, I just spent almost an hour staring at my computer and thinking. Along the way, there was plenty of procrastination as the pups wandered into my office to play. I got down on the floor to participate in the pure joy of a let's-abuse-Dad moment.
That's when it hit me, how downright awful the last year has been, but how proud I am that we made it through it all. And while it's still not over, we got our first vaccine shot, got out yesterday to the mall, and did a few errands. It was a day of just routine chores, but it was part of Melody Beattie's "magic of life."
Two days ago, we met a neighbor for the first time. We've been waving and nodding to each other for years but never actually talked directly. We were out for a walk, and so was he and his wife. It was great to finally meet him, and as we walked away, I looked at Sheila and said, "Oh my God, we shook hands."
Just go with me on this. Think about the last year and the level of isolation we've all been through. Even though we immediately grabbed the hand-sanitizer when we got home, we'd shaken somebody's hand! It was terrific and seems so damn stupid to write about.
Here's my point - all we've got is RIGHT NOW. It's this very moment in time we need to appreciate. We can't do anything about the mistakes we made yesterday, and spending time wishing we could turn back the clock only wastes the energy we could use to live today to its fullest. I still love looking in my rearview mirror, but only to give me the energy to create more memories.
Two of our honorary "kids" sent us the picture of Sheila and me above. It was an all-u-can-eat snow crab night at a restaurant in Sarasota. The four of us were out together. It was two years ago, and it helps set the tone for today - Smiling more and bitching less.
There's so much we all took for granted before the pandemic. Now is the time to appreciate the pure joy of the littlest things - from a handshake to just a run to the market. Like everyone else, I know I've wasted time wishing things were different. I miss friends, family, and freedom - but as it all slowly starts to come back, I'm not going to waste a minute not smiling.
Wishing everybody a Sunday filled with time to feel great and appreciate the moment - right now!
You can dream a little dream or you can live a little dream.
I'd rather live it, 'cause dreamers always chase but never get it."
"No Regrets," Aesop Rock
Happy Sunday or Monday if you're on the other side of the world. Wherever you are don't waste time on yesterday and tomorrow isn't here yet. Just savor today!
by Skip Cohen
It's a very short post this morning, but as always, a long way from my "day-job" and nothing about marketing and business. When I'm stuck for something to write about for Sunday Morning Reflections, I grab a book off the shelf. This morning I randomly grabbed a quote book, "Nothing is Worth More Than This Day." I thumbed through the book, and the quote below called my name!
Watch the sunrise at least once a year, put a lot of marshmallows in your hot chocolate,
lie on your back and look at the stars, never buy a coffee table you can't put your feet on,
never pass up a chance to jump on a trampoline,
don't overlook life's small joys while searching for the big ones.
H. Jackson Brown Jr.
We've been hunkered down just short of a year. While we do miss friends and all those random freedoms we took for granted, the pandemic has taught us to appreciate what we have instead of being depressed over what's missing. I'm not suggesting it's been easy, but between Skype, Zoom, and the phone, we've been able to keep in touch with family and friends.
Here's my point - slowly but surely, we're getting through the vaccine challenges, and finally, there's a light at the end of the tunnel. At the same time, we've all learned something, and, ironically, it's all about focus! Focusing on "life's small joys while searching for the big ones."
Hey, it's a little hokey and definitely sappy this morning, but it's my blog. LOL
Wishing you a day filled with appreciation for the smallest things in your life that make you smile. For me, it'll be the fun of making French toast in a few minutes and breakfast with Sheila. In a post the other day, I shared some information about smiling - "According to scientists, smiling causes an influx of positive emotions that help in relieving stress and lowering your blood pressure. Each time you smile, you benefit your health and happiness."
So, make it a day jam-packed with things that make you smile. Let's all be Alfred E. Neuman for a day!
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and if you're new to the SCU blog, I always stay away from business and marketing with Sunday Morning Reflections. This morning, I'm definitely running amuck because I'm tired of people who have lost their sense of humor and sarcasm.
Back at the start of the pandemic, one of my most favorite artists and good friend, Gilmar Smith, created the self-portrait above with Platypod. At the time, people were hoarding toilet paper. I even found a classic and relevant one-liner on the Internet:
"If you bought 144 rolls of toilet paper in preparation for a 14-day quarantine,
you probably should have been seeing a doctor long before coronavirus."
My good buddy Nick Vedros, is one of the funniest people in the industry. He's always capable of finding inappropriate humor any place it's needed. He sent me the piece on the right.
Then there are one-liners all over the Internet, and here are a few of my favorites:
"I’m not talking to myself, I’m having a parent-teacher conference."
"A mask isn't a political statement, it's an I.Q. test!"
"I finished Netflix today!"
"Back in my day, you would cough to cover up a fart. Now, with COVID-19, you fart to cover up a cough."
"Pollen still coming out during a global pandemic? Bitch, read the room."
I'm not making light of the challenges of the pandemic. But as Congress wastes millions of dollars on impeachment proceedings (all televised too), I can't help but wonder what would happen if all that money was put into better distribution of the vaccine. Or, how about lunches for kids who aren't in school, support for the homeless, or a program where the elite in government took the same average pay cut as their constituents?
And long before the Internet there was plenty of sarcasm about Congress...
"It could probably be shown in facts and figures,
there is no distinctively native American criminal class except Congress."
I guess that's always where I seem to cross the line. Why is it when an old fart like me makes a valid point, he becomes a curmudgeon?
Wishing everybody a day of smiles mixed with some well-placed sarcasm. I know there are days when there's not a whole lot to laugh about, but it's our sense of humor that will get us through this mess!
"30 days hath September, April, June, and November, all the rest have 31,
except for March which was infinite."
The bad news is time flies, the good news is you're the pilot
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and I always run amuck from my usual topics. This morning I'm wrestling with trying to understand where the years have gone. Tomorrow is fifty-one years since I came into the industry, and except for my body creaking for ten minutes before Sheila and I walk every morning, I don't feel older. And according to her, the only maturity I've shown is in my hair turning gray.
Somebody recently told me it was easy for me to write about business and marketing because "I'd made it already!" Well, while I've always had fun in most of the jobs I've had, but it sure didn't start as a career I'd grow to love.
I've been working on a fun book about my journey, which still hasn't slowed down. Here's where it started.
It's 1970, and I'm trying to find a job. Time Magazine has a picture of a college grad in cap and gown pumping gas! There are no jobs, and I've just completed 2 ½ years of being every parent's worst nightmare as a college student. I spent more time perfecting my pinball game than opening a book. I'd be on suspension, afraid of getting booted. I'd buckle down, get the grades, then start the cycle all over again. I wasn't stupid, just lazy, unmotivated, and unable to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up – No, I just didn't want to grow up!
Finally, they suspended me, and I needed to figure out what to do. I decided it was time to leave the nest. Say good-bye to Ohio and hello to New England. Found a job at Polaroid at $2.89/hour washing bottles in their research lab. It was the most I'd ever made, and it paid the rent on my basement apartment in Boston's Back Bay, which I shared with a few other tenants, 100,000 cockroaches!
I remember a quote from an article in the Boston Globe that year: "The cockroaches were in Boston before man, and they'll be here long after man is extinct!" Cuffed pants were the style, and before I left my apartment, I'd shake the cuffs to make sure I wasn't bringing my "roommates" with me to work! And these were the big ones, the kind you could jump on and skateboard down Newbury Street.
I owe so much to Polaroid and everything I learned over 17 1/2 years of working there. From going back to school nights on their tuition reimbursement program, to jobs in R&D, HR, Customer Service, International, and marketing, there wasn't a day that went by I didn't learn something about myself and business.
Here's my point this morning - take the time to appreciate your roots. Regardless of the path, you took to get to today - you've got time now to appreciate it. There are no guarantees on tomorrow, and you can't change what happened yesterday.
But there is something extraordinary as you look back on your roots in this industry. Do an inventory of everything you've learned over the years. For me, it's volumes and all thanks to an incredible collection of people I've met and worked with since I started.
Polaroid as a Fortune 500 company may no longer exist today, but the memories and the friendships are still around. I still can't answer the question of where all the time and years went, but then again, who cares? Time really does fly when you're having a good time.
And if there's one lesson I've learned - if you're unhappy with something, then change it! It's not easy, but you've only got one life, and it's not a rehearsal.
Wishing everybody a day with no regrets and time to appreciate where you started right through to this very moment. And with Super Bowl today - I'm all ready - Go Bucs!
Happy Sunday...or Monday if you're on the other side of the world!
PS The shot of my first apartment in Boston was one of my first LUMIX images - captured with a GH3 and LUMIX G VARIO 12-35/F2.8 with a slight adjustment in clarity using Luminar.)
"Neither Rain, Nor Sleet, Nor Dark Of Night
Shall Stay These Couriers From The Swift Completion Of Their Appointed Rounds."
by Skip Cohen
It's going to be tough for today's Sunday Morning Reflections to not sound like a rant. But I'll do my best to at least be relevant. The topic is the USPS, and I wonder if the quote above, known as the Postman's Oath, is still valid.
Yesterday I went to the mailbox, and there was a holiday card from our good buddies Mark and Tony in Cleveland, mailed on December 23. The good news is in two parts - first, I got it. Second, it was the stimulus for a call to them to wish them a happy new year and find out what they've been up to. However, 5 1/2 weeks travel time for a card from Cleveland to Florida?
I bought Sheila something for the holidays and ordered it online around December 1. From December 15 to January 12, the tracking information showed the expected 12/15 delivery date and simply said, arriving late. The company I ordered from was doing their best and about to issue a refund when it finally arrived.
One of the hats I wear is CMO for Platypod. I'm very proud of our fulfillment department because they haven't missed a day since the pandemic started. Also, orders in by early afternoon almost always ship the same day - but then the mystery begins. And 2-3 weeks after that correspondence from our customers starts, as people inquire about their orders.
So, here's my point, and it's one we all need to remember. I know the pandemic has turned shipping upside down. Tracking information is rarely right because it's not being updated regularly. And if you're outside the US, carriers are limited by the availability of flights. For example, in the early days of the pandemic, I was told there had been a 75% reduction in flights to Australia.
One side of me understands the challenges the USPS, FedEx, and other carriers have had to deal with. Let's face it - this wasn't a year that thousands of people were going to be waiting outside Walmart for the Midnight Madness sale on Black Friday! But the other side of me can't help but feel these carriers completely underestimated the pandemic's impact on consumer buying patterns this past season.
As I asked the postmaster at my local post office in mid-January, what was going on, he looked at me, shrugged his shoulders, and said, "I've got packages I'm still waiting for!" And if you Google USPS delays, you can take your pick from dozens of articles and videos talking about the backlog, which, based on my card from Cleveland yesterday, they're still dealing with.
And that brings me right to the bottom line. It's not the fault of your mail carrier, Fedex or UPS driver or the companies you've ordered from - Don't shoot the messenger!
Wishing everybody a Sunday loaded with plenty of on-time deliveries of memory-making moments. While the pandemic has created an excess of time, don't waste it on things that don't really matter. Let those people most important in your life know they're on your mind with a phone call, text, IM or email - just don't send a card.
Happy Sunday - or Monday if you're on the other side of the world!
by Skip Cohen
While I'm always off-track from photography on Sunday mornings, today's post is more photo-centric. I want to give you something to think about in terms of your own family.
If there's one thing the pandemic has given us, beyond the challenges and frustrations of the virus, it's TIME! I've had an album of pictures of my folks on a shelf for years, and yesterday took the time to look through it.
I've pulled a few of my favorites, but let's get right to the point this morning. Photographs are about capturing memories, intangible moments that turn into something you can touch. Great pictures allow you to feel and transport yourself to times when life was different.
The album is essentially a day in my Mom and Dad's life, captured by Bambi Cantrell. She spent the better part of a day with them. Now, seven years after my Mom's been gone and five since Dad passed away, the book has become an incredible treasure.
When was the last time you captured images of your own family? While we always think about the kids growing up and changing, your parents aren't getting any younger. When they're gone, what photographs will you have to tell their story?
I know I've shared this quote a dozen times in previous posts, but there isn't one better:
This is what I like about photographs.
They’re proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat,
everything was perfect.
Here's my point - Stop procrastinating and take the time to capture those moments that years from now will have such incredible meaning. You're photographers, and the line about "shoemaker's children always need shoes" couldn't be more appropriate when it comes to photographers capturing their own memories.
Wishing everybody a terrific Sunday and the time to create a few memories to capture.
Those we love don't go away. They walk beside us every day, unseen, unheard, but always near...
still loved, still missed and very dear.
Happy Sunday everybody, or Monday for friends on the other side of the world.
by Skip Cohen
I got up this morning, knowing exactly what I wanted to write about for Sunday Reflections. The challenge is how to sound like an encouraging post and not a rant. So, it's a read-at-your-own-risk kind of blog this morning.
I'm frustrated with so many people who haven't hit the reset button yet. While just the flip of a calendar page doesn't suddenly change anything, each of us has the power to change the recipe for 2021. I won't deny for a second that I'm tired of being hunkered down and even more tired of using those words. But as frustrated as I am, I realized over the holidays, I have so many choices.
You wanna fly, you got to give the shit up that weighs you down.
I know it isn't easy. I'm just as frustrated as anyone else over the challenges in our lives these days. And just when things seem to be headed in the right direction, somebody out there seems to screw it up.
It's hard not to sound like a rant, but it's a new year. The vaccine is slowly taking hold, and the need for people to capture memories hasn't disappeared. They're all still out there, scarred a little from the last year, but there's a clean slate for a start, with a greater sense of family. And while there is no button to push, each of us has a restart button buried in our hearts under all of last year's pain.
On the business side, I kicked off the year with four "Building Blocks for a New Year" posts last week to help you focus on those areas everyone complains most about. Then I did something completely different, and Throwback Thursday was a video...it'll never win an Oscar, but it was fun to do and just might morph into something new in the year ahead. None of this is earth-shaking, but we're all in this together...and while this is a lousy time historically to be quoting Hilary Clinton, "It takes a village!"
And here's my point - as powerless as we've been over the events in the world, including the pandemic in our neighborhoods, all of us still control our own destiny. We don't have to do it alone, and we don't have to knock it out of the park each time we're at bat - just don't give up our time at-bat. It's called batting practice for a reason.
I'm not here to change the world, and neither are you - but we are to help each other and do our own little clean up in our own environments, starting with what's in our heads.
The sun gives us warmth, life and new days.
It makes us think of new beginnings, of happy horizons,
and bright shit that sends butterflies fluttering and precious little bunnies frolicking.
It gives some us great f**king tans and other red-hot kisses of scorched flesh.
(Hey, it can't all be good, can it?)
Think about the ways you can wake up, feel the sun shining
and shine your own rays all over the place to bring yourself and others a shit-ton of happiness.
Wishing everybody a day with, as hokey as it sounds, a little sunshine. Relax and appreciate the power you have to start tomorrow and make life a bit better. Don't worry about biz today, because it'll all be there in the morning. Most important of all, let those people most special in your life know you love them! Oh yeah...and that love starts with you guys - I'm here to help you rebuild your business if you need me.
by Skip Cohen
***WARNING*** It's the first Sunday morning of the new year, and as a creature of habit - I ALWAYS go off the topics of business and marketing in imaging.
As the year came to a sort of eerie close, I found myself looking back over 2020 - especially the last nine months. Sheila and I, being in one of the higher risk groups for Covid, have stayed isolated from contact with friends. We didn't cut ourselves off from the social side via phone, Skype, Zoom, email, and even talking with neighbors from a distance - but we love to entertain and haven't had anybody over; nor have we gone to anybody's home, or for that matter out to dinner.
While the holidays were a little strange, being just Sheila and me, they were extraordinary. Being together 24/7, we've talked more than ever. We've shared ideas, stories of the past, and our hopes for the future. The holidays became a celebration of our ability to adapt. At the same time, I've noticed something about me - my friends have become more important than ever before. I often end a phone call with "Love ya Buddy," words that previously would have only been reserved for family.
So what's my point this Sunday morning? The pandemic has changed everything in our lives, but here and there, it's made things better. I've grown to realize how vital so many different people are in my life. Keeping in touch has become an art form. While I hate how they do so many things, Facebook has become an essential part of staying in contact with both old and new friends.
And Zoom, Skype, Facetime, and the phone are necessities to staying in touch. While I miss contact and those eleven-second therapeutic hugs I used to write about - they're still there - just out in cyberspace. On a podcast a short time back, I was asked, "What do you miss the most?" My answer, "Bumping into people...literally."
Those days will come back if we just have faith and use common sense in fighting Covid. And when they do come back - the lessons we've learned in 2020 will become invaluable building blocks for life with, as hokey as it sounds, more substance.
Wishing everybody an amazing close to the New Year's weekend. Stay focused on the importance of keeping in touch with friends and family. While we've all spent a lot of quality time looking in the rearview mirror and learning to cherish the good old days, it's time to look forward, take what we've learned in 2020 and start building a new future.
Yeah, it sounds pretty lofty - but it really is about faith and a quote I've shared before:
Faith is being sure of what you hope for
and certain of what you do not see.
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday, and as I sit down to share my thoughts, I've already done the morning run to the market. I go at 7:00 am because it's the safest time to dodge the idiots who still won't put on a mask. Plus, the Publix market staff near our home is terrific, and I can run through the family shopping list in half the time.
This morning though, I had a specific item on my list I really wanted - firewood! Unlike the days up north when I'd order a cord or more of seasoned firewood in the summer for the following winter, this is Florida. You pay $5-6 for a bag of wood, and on a cold night, a bag is good for an evening of enhanced ambiance.
But with Christmas and temperatures down into the 30s at night, the bags of firewood at all the usual locations were sold out - gone. As the kid at the market exclaimed, "We had one guy buy 16 bags just before Christmas!" Shame on me for the lack of foresight!
As I bought a box-o-logs, Pine Mountain's "as good as" I felt like the old SNL routine with Dan Akroyd as the less than ethical toy manufacturer with "Bag-o-Glass" for kids. It's not a real fire, but these even crackle, so it's almost as good. Well, that took me to today's post - thinking about what an insane year it's been and especially this holiday season.
The pandemic has changed everything in our lives, but not our ability to still appreciate what we all have, a certain strange sense of peace, and the ability to simply laugh it off. I'm not suggesting it's been a completely joyous holiday season or negating the horrible pain so many families have been through. Still, there's a certain amount of resilience built into our DNA. We change paths, modify our expectations, and most often move on.
Nothing replaces family and friends, but Zoom, Facetime, and Skype have all filled in the gap, as we substitute hugs with screen shares. There were fewer places set around the table at the holiday dinner, but that didn't slow us down from appreciating merely being human. And as stupid and basic as that sounds, we know we can survive just about anything because we've got each other.
Two of my favorite Zig Ziglar lines are: "Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude," and "If you can dream it, you can achieve it." Sappy, trite these days, maybe even hokey, but they're so true.
We've had plenty of down days being physically isolated for nine months, but as my good buddy, Bob Coates, keeps arguing, "It shouldn't be called social distancing, but physical distancing. Nothing is limiting our ability to still be social!"
So, don't give up on your dreams - we just got side-tracked. Don't look at what was missing this holiday season; look at what was there. And at the risk of sounding like the old-fart, I am - the trick is to look with your heart and not your eyes.
Right now, I've got a house full of music and a fire in the fireplace - throw in a spiced pumpkin candle burning on a cold day, and all those feelings of holiday time when I was a kid come flowing back. It takes work, a little practice, and a decent bloody mary, but it works!
Happy Holidays everybody - thanks for hanging out with me this morning.
Sometimes we focus so much on what we don't have that we fail to see,
appreciate and use what we do have.
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday, and I'm always off the topic of business and marketing, but this morning it was especially tough. In an effort to think through something to write about, I took a break, which lasted almost an hour. I grabbed my LUMIX G9 and went outside to photograph the Florida Powder Puff bush that's in bloom on the side of the house.
Well, two things happened. First, I was struck by the contrast around each flower. New buds yet to bloom waited their turn in line behind those in full bloom and those already long gone. Each cluster represented three generations. And as each flower died, the color changed to a muddy purple, then brown, and then waited to fall to the ground.
Second was my focus and composition. I love playing with depth of field, and while this isn't meant to be an infomercial for the G9, it's a kick to shoot with. When you're the client, the specs are whatever your heart desires. Plus, once I uploaded the images, the next challenge was composition and what I wanted to crop and share.
Stay with me because I have a point beyond being hokey and a little trite...
We've been hunkered down for over nine months in a state of sensory deprivation when it comes to contact with family and friends. By the time we finally get our turn in line for the vaccine and are comfortable getting back out, it's going to be a year. Our lives have changed, and our depth of field has become so narrow consisting of Sheila, me, and two pups. Yet, just outside our point of focus, friends, family, restaurants and life as we knew it are all there waiting. And everybody is in the same boat.
And there's my point - we all have the power to select our point of focus. As simplistic as it sounds, the whole exercise this morning got me thinking about the future and the pure joy of getting back to a level of normalcy. I've spent too much time thinking about the freedom we've lost and forgetting to appreciate and be grateful for everything we still have.
I've mentioned many times in the past how Sunday Morning Reflections is often written for my own benefit - well, welcome to my self-induced therapy session this morning. Everything we do and have needs to be kept in perspective, and to Jeff Dixon's quote above, it's sometimes hard to stay focused on what we all still have.
Wishing everybody a day of focus and time to appreciate everyone in your life rather than the frustration of what we've dealt with since March. It's all going to come back, and in the end, each of us will be stronger and more appreciative of so many little things we took for granted.
Happy Sunday...or Monday to my friends on the other side of the world.
by Skip Cohen
It's Sunday morning, and if you've followed me for even the shortest amount of time, you already know anything goes on Sundays. I'm entirely off-track today and miles away from anything to do with business and marketing.
Yesterday Sheila and I experienced an event that was a first for us - a Zoom funeral. Kevin A. Gilligan is one of my dearest friends, even though we've only caught up to each other "live" once in all the years we've known each other. Kevin's brother John, who we never met, lost his fight to Cancer in November, and we were determined to be at the funeral. Had it not been for the pandemic, we would have been on a plane.
Well, at 11:00 AM PST yesterday, we joined 170+ people online in Zoom for one of the most touching events I've ever experienced. As friends and family spoke about John Francis Gilligan, we got to know not only him but his family, friends, and even my buddy Kevin.
Searching the Internet, I wanted to find some other opinions to explain better what I'm feeling. I found these comments in an article by Jeremy Smith on Slate:
I went to my first Zoom funeral a couple of weeks ago. I had no idea what to expect. That phrase—"Zoom funeral"—sounds so tacky and degrading. Who would come? How would it work? What would people wear? Would we be gathering respectfully to mourn a loved one, or slouch on our respective couches, alone together, arguing with other family members at home about how to position the phone, tablet, or laptop screen, with the cat mewling to be fed?
"A Zoom funeral feels … like a travesty," Violet Kim wrote for Future Tense in May. Until I went to one, I would have agreed. By the end of the ceremony, I had the opposite conclusion: A Zoom funeral, in many ways, might be better than an in-person one. Certainly, it was no less "real."
The article closed with:
The Zoom funeral left me feeling much more connected to everyone involved—and to everyone else who has lost a loved one during this pandemic. And it made me appreciate the ways technology like Zoom can make clearer our shared experiences—how it can literally show us all the other lives—and deaths—happening one "square" over.
I never met John F. Gilligan, but I now know more about him. I know about his remarkable career as a prosecutor for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office, his family, friends, and his unshakable belief in justice, commitment, love for his family and friends. I even feel like I know his laugh, which as each speaker referenced, I could hear it in my head.
There's a great quote from "Ulysses" by Alfred Lord Tennyson that I've quoted many times, "I am a part of all that I have met." Knowing more about John, I now know my good pal Kevin and his family just a little bit better because John was a part of each of them.
The pandemic has changed so much in our lives, but it hasn't slowed down our ability to relate to each other, to grieve and love together. And yesterday, to recognize the accomplishment of a man, father, husband, brother, and friend who will be sorely missed.
Wishing everybody a day when nothing gets in your way of letting those most special people in your life know how much you care. The pandemic only puts limits on physical closeness - not heart to heart.
Happy Sunday, Everybody!
by Skip Cohen
Sunday mornings are always special - the house is quiet, and I enjoy writing about something other than the business and the marketing of photography. When I'm stuck for a topic, I start searching for quotes relevant to life these days, or better yet, like this morning, Melody Beattie came through.
Sheila got me started on Melody years ago, and I've found the majority of her daily meditations seem always to fit something I'm feeling. Well, this is a Melody Beattie morning. For tomorrow she wrote:
"There are times when we simply do not know what to do, or where to go, next. Sometimes these periods are brief, sometimes lingering...Accept uncertainty...We can cope by using our faith, other people, and our resources."
Sound familiar, especially these days? With the pandemic, we're all having days when we don't know what to do, where to go, and feel lost.
Melody wrote this book thirty years ago, with no thoughts about the challenges we're all dealing with now. But what she went on to write is so relevant:
It is okay to temporarily be without direction. Say "I don't know," and be comfortable with that. We do not have to try to force wisdom, knowledge, or clarity when there is none. While waiting for direction, we do not have to put our life on hold. Let go of anxiety and enjoy life. Relax. Do something fun. Enjoy the love and beauty in your life...Indecision, inactivity, and lack of direction will not last forever.
And there you have it - nothing earth-shaking in the idea, but comforting to remember we're all feeling many of the same things these days. Like you, we're frustrated with the never-ending saga of the pandemic, tired of hunkering down, even tired of using the word "hunkering." I'm choosing to follow Melody's advice and recognize it's okay not to have a direction and kick back and enjoy Sheila, friends, family, and the pups.
Wishing you a day of peace, love, and the ability to appreciate everything you've got in your life regardless of how restricted things feel. Enjoy something you've never had enough of, TIME. Use the time to look forward to life getting back to some level of normalcy, or look in the rear view mirror and go back to times that made you smile and laugh.
Happy Sunday, everybody!
“Life is primarily for laughing, loving, and living. It ain’t just for whining, worrying, and working!”
by Skip Cohen
It's a typical Sunday, but different than the ones I used to write about. These days it's my run to the market at 7:00 am. With Sheila's asthma, I've got less respiratory issues than she does, so I hit the market before the nut jobs who don't wear masks show up.
Checking out, I had a guy and his girlfriend in front of me without masks, and I always ask, "Just curious, what is it about wearing a mask that bothers you so much?" Well, I got a dirty look, and no response as the two of them left the store.
Driving home, I found myself just getting angry over meeting somebody who still doesn't get it. And it's not just about my health, but the team at my local Publix, who I'm forever grateful they're there and helping me keep our fridge stocked!
So, trying to figure out what to write about, I realized I needed to loosen up, and that got me thinking about that old line we used to hear about it takes more muscles to frown than smile, which I've learned isn't totally accurate. Searching Google, I found:
On average, a smile uses 12 and a frown 11. However, since humans tend to smile a lot, these muscles are stronger. A frown may be slightly more effort to produce. just because we aren't as used to using these muscles.
But then I found the answer I really needed, and it's so true:
...smiles work in both directions: Just as happiness can make you smile, studies have shown that thanks to a quirk of the autonomic nervous system, smiling can make you happy. Unfortunately, the same holds true for expressions of sadness and distress. Both phenomena relate to mirror neurons — brain cells that spark up both when we observe an action, such as a smile, and when we take part in it.
So, no matter what your frustrations with the world around you, we just need to smile more. For the rest of today, I'm determined to have this dumb, "What me worry?" look on my face. It's an Alfred E. Neuman kind of day, and nothing is going to dampen my spirits. Try it right now - just crank up the volume on the happiest dumbest smile you can push out!
See what I mean?
Wishing everybody a day of smiles, but not just on your face - let's get them going in your heart.
Happy Thanksgiving weekend, everybody!
*I've followed Ed Foreman for years, meeting him back in my Polaroid days. He's been an inspiration to me since the 70s. Although, over the years I modified his quote a little - Life is for laughing, loving and living NOT bitching, moaning and complaining. LOL
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