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Missy Layfield - Editor
11/27/2013 at 2:08pm Delete

Shop Local

As the holiday season kicks into high gear, think of your community before you order online or head out of town for the big box stores. This is an excellent opportunity to support your local community by shopping with your local businesses. Shop Small Business Saturday.

Nestled between the monolithic shopping days of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday, celebrated on November 30th this year, gives local business some well-deserved attention.

Last year, 67% of shoppers were aware of Small Business Saturday and they spent $5.5 billion at small independently owned retailers, according to American Express, who launched Small Business Saturday in 2010.

Local business is the lifeblood of any community, including ours. They create jobs. They provide services and products that residents and visitors need. They keep our economy running.

Islanders know how important supporting their own community is. While we’d like to draw visitors and shoppers to our island from far and wide, the base of island business enterprise is local support.

We recognize this during the summer months when visitor numbers are down by patronizing our local shops, bars and restaurants. We should remember it during the holiday shopping season also.

Our own Beach community offers an abundance of shopping options. Right here in our community, you can give someone the experience of a sunset cruise or a day on the water in a kayak or a day at a spa. How about a jet-ski afternoon or an oil change or house cleaning?

If you’d like to wrap up a gift, take a look at any of our excellent gift stores. You’ll find unique and clever gifts that no matter how early you rise, you won’t find in those big box stores. The island holds clothing stores, jewelry stores, hardware stores and ship’s stores. Any of them would really appreciate your business this holiday season.

Don’t forget our fun and funky bars and restaurants. Most of them offer interesting and colorful t-shirts and other items. How about a bottle of hot sauce or hand cream or a beach towel? Or a Sand Paper subscription? We, along with all the other locally owned small business owners on the Island, would like to encourage residents and visitors to Shop Local this holiday season. Look for the December Entertainment Magazine, out December 1st -- it’s chock-full of local businesses and gift ideas!

11/21/2013 at 6:18pm Delete

Happy Thanksgiving!

The first event of the holiday season is upon us – Thanksgiving Day! A day to ponder those things and people who we are most grateful for. The big things – families & friends – and the small things – that opening in traffic so you can turn left & the warm sun on a cool day.

Gratitude is an attitude so much larger than one day at the end of November. Most of us can come up with a list of things we are grateful for on Thanksgiving. It’s another story entirely to live each day in gratitude. Sometimes seeing disaster strike someone else triggers our sense of gratitude.

Hearing the description of a man who climbed out of his basement after a tornado had totally blown his house away this week, leaving he and his wife with a single dollar bill between them. They didn’t even have wreckage to pick through; it was all gone. That kind of story makes you appreciate your own messy house and the familiar items that you live with every day that comprise "home.”

Sometimes a sudden tragedy reminds us of how lucky we are to have loved ones in our lives. The recent car crash that tragically involved four young people on our island makes you want to hug your own kids or the neighbor kids. Accidents happen every day. People, just like us, with parents, kids, cousins & siblings have their lives taken every day, or changed irrevocably in a moment. That moment is not on your calendar so you can prepare. Gratitude reminds us all that we don’t know what each day will bring – living with gratitude allows us the opportunity to appreciate those around us each day. Not just Thanksgiving Day.

Our gratitude can be used to grow closer to those we care for, to recognize and act to help those who have less, but only if we are willing to accept the challenge of living with gratitude – looking each day for something to be thankful for. It’s there, even on your worst day. All you have to do is look.

Fifty Years

While attending a conference this fall I found myself gazing out a Dallas hotel window at the Texas Book Depository. I also had a view of the Dealey Plaza where John F. Kennedy was shot. Fifty years ago, I sat in a 5th grade classroom as the adults in the school fell apart. In those days kids didn’t see adults cry. The shock was not just that a beloved President was suddenly gone, but that someone could and would kill the President of the United States. The concept was so far out in left field, it was nearly impossible to imagine in the early 60’s. But we’d learn.

11/14/2013 at 5:18pm Delete

Be Seen on FMB

With the American Sand Sculpting Championships opening next week, Thanksgiving less than two weeks away and the Privateer Lynx arrival on the horizon, season has begun.

The Sand Sculpting Championships brings the world’s best master sculptors to the beach for the 27th year. Think about that. Our beach has been hosting the American Sand Sculpting Championships for over a quarter of a century. This year, you’ll find some new twists and interesting events, including for the first time, a Make-A-Wish Day on opening day, Friday, November 22.

We are a Make-A-Wish family, so this organization is near and dear to us. When one of our sons was a teenager and had spent a couple years undergoing cancer treatment, he was offered a wish. He chose a trip to Disney World and planned a perfect 5 days, all arranged by Make-A-Wish. The break from our routine of shots, pills, medical tests and all that comes from being a sick kid was priceless. Other than an unfortunate minor boat collision between two brothers on Bay Lake, it was a perfect vacation. And one that yielded many happy memories in the midst of a lot of stress. Make-A-Wish does great work, offering families a respite with nothing to do but have a good time together. Drop by the American Sand Sculpting Championships on Friday, November 22nd and support Make-A-Wish.

Another sign of the season -- The Lynx will be arriving in December at the docks at Nervous Nellie’s, bringing their educational mission back to our shores. The Lynx Foundation’s effort as a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to teaching America’s struggle to maintain it’s independence is one appreciated by all ages. Watch the Sand Paper for more details.

All the good things that go along with season are making for smiles all around – more business, more sales, more people appreciating our wonderful island. The not so good things are not yet a problem but we can see them from here – traffic gridlock, waiting times at our favorite restaurants, pedestrian safety.

You may have noticed the new "BE SEEN ON FMB” signs overhead on Estero Blvd. They aren’t referring to being one of the cool kids, or maybe they are, since it is pretty cool to be seen on FMB. Their purpose is to remind everyone, drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians that we all need to watch out for each other. See one another. The key to safety is seeing. No one ever says, "Oh yeah, I saw him crossing the street and hit him on purpose.” It’s always, "I didn’t see him!”

11/07/2013 at 2:56pm Delete

Hats Off to Veterans

Veterans Day is celebrated Monday, November 11th. It is the day that we set aside to honor and remember all of those who have served our country through military service. Originally known as Armistice Day it was meant to honor World War I veterans and was dedicated to the cause of world peace. World peace – a concept so remote today that we laugh when beauty pageant contestants mention it, as if it’s an impossible dream. But in 1918, emerging from a bloody conflict, it was a heartfelt wish and seemed a real possibility.

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, quiet fell over the battlefields of Europe. A temporary ceasefire was declared, eventually turning into a total cessation of fighting and six months later, the Treaty of Versailles was signed officially ending "The Great War," so called because no one in 1918 could conceive of a larger or worse war. It was the first war with machine guns, tanks and chemical weapons. It was known as the "war to end all wars." 9 million lives lost. 21 million wounded.

On Veterans Day we honor all veterans, those who came home and those who did not. Veterans of our post 9/11 world are different in some fundamental ways from veterans of previous eras and face challenges that are not being met.

Homeless vets struggle to find housing and meaningful employment.

Closed head injuries and amputations create life-altering challenges.

We have soldiers who have ping-ponged back and forth between life on a battlefield and life in suburbia. Tour after tour after tour in a seemingly never-ending war. Coping with that is a mental and emotional challenge for many.

More active duty service members are losing their lives by suicide than by the enemy in Afghanistan. More than one per day. Veterans groups are stepping up to fill the gaps through which our young veterans are falling. But there is never enough funding and focus.

We wave our flags and talk about honoring veterans, but we really have to do better by them when they come home.

And some do not. It is so easy to forget that we have men and women fighting and dying in a far off country-for over 12 years now. I don’t know about anyone else, but I would have felt just a little less disgusted with the politicians in DC if they’d shut down the government arguing about when to get our military out of Afghanistan.