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A Sense of Place:

How Using Our Senses

in the Moment

Can Inspire for a Lifetime

A blog chronicling the up's and down's, trials and tribulations, fear and happiness of moving your life from the expected 9-to-5 job to a life of consulting. While it is a big and often scary decision, it is a time of discovery, rejuvenation and introspection that will help you remember who you are and who you were supposed to be. It's a wonderful journey.

Life Without Gravity

Be mindful.

Live in the moment.

Appreciate the minute you are experiencing.

Since I began to consult, I have read dozens of books, blogs and self-help posts that are helping me conquer one of my greatest faults- my impulsive need to be industrious. There is good reason I want to retire in the mountains and not the beach. You sit on a beach and enjoy the waves, the natural environment, the smells and the sights of people, maybe read a book. Snooze. I need to hike, to garden, to explore – I suffer from a need to be incessantly busy. There are hundreds of things to do in the mountains. On the beach, I would just … relax. Argh!

I took a hiatus from my blog for an experiment. I had a number of trips for work and some play planned. I wanted to put my newly acquired guidance to a better life to the test, and I wanted to focus on one of the most important, and I believe, overlooked aspects of marketing. My travels took me to Palm Springs, CA; Atlanta and St. Simon’s Island, GA; Corvallis, OR; and New York, NY. Yes, back and forth, east to west; west to east. Thousands of airline miles accumulated. But this round of trips, I worked diligently to do something different. I took every car ride, airport delay, time in the air or in the Uber, outside-of-meeting moments, to NOTICE.

While widgets often do not have this opportunity, universities, nonprofits, causes, governments – many entities have the ability to capitalize on their “sense of place.” On these recent trips, I noticed everything – how the people looked and acted; how things smelled or felt; how the food tasted. I kept a log of my thoughts so I could remember ,and also so I could grow my vocabulary in description writing. I will be a better marketer through seeing what is special and articulating those attributes in the words I use to describe my clients.

In Atlanta, most natives immediately found ways to work in the same talking points – as though the city held a meeting and gave everyone the same script. “Did you know we are the home to Coca Cola, to the Braves and Falcons, to the nation’s biggest and best aquarium, to the new College Football Hall of Fame?” There was a pride and a boastfulness to the people I met. But when I traveled four hours east to St. Simon’s Island to enjoy some time with my brother and his wife and the beach, the tone was very different. There were fewer accents and less bragging and more helpfulness. There was a strong message about quality of life – a library on the beach; concerts by the shoreline; high quality food mixed with tourist necessities so that residents mixed well with visitors. The smell was different – somehow less fishy than the west coast, although the ocean was murkier and full of things that made me flinch – baby sharks and rays. And the grounds throughout were impeccably groomed with all the romance that ancient oaks and Spanish moss brings to the South.

Oregon is my home away from home. It is where my heart resides. So a trip back conjured up memories I tried to mix in with seeing the state and Corvallis with fresh eyes. There may be no friendlier city than this one. The greenness and the pristine surrounding forests are inviting. The Willamette River that runs through the city is stunning – calm and inviting with rowers practicing their sport. The berries are bigger and tastier than anywhere in the nation – just try an Oregon blueberry or marionberry. And the coast is cold, windy and wonderful.

New York is New York. Bombarded in every direction with a scent, a sound, a sight – everything there is on steroids. The traffic is noisier; the smells are mixed into a cloud of good and bad as restaurants mix with sewers and perfumeries. Only Central Park gave me an escape and a look at the open sky not shielded by skyscrapers. The people are bigger than life, yet scurry in the streets with their eyes cast downward, always busy, always late. But it is New York. The sense of wonder you feel surrounded by the arts, the businesses, the food, the excitement. It bustles and even a mountain girl can get caught up in the action and pace.

I never equivocated “place” and mindfulness before this series of trips. But indeed, in living in the minute and noticing the world around you and with all of your senses, you discover more ways to authentically describe and remember. You work hard, without realizing it, to search out ways to recall the unique – was it musty or breezy fresh; was it hot or humid; was it slow or fast; was it kind or distant; was it calming or unsettling; was it musical or cacophonic; was it salty or sweet?

I may never pass the “mindfulness” test because of the way I am constructed – nervous, always moving. But I am blessed to discover that in taking the moment to heart and in noticing the details around me, I feel very content and have grown in my ability to describe what is unique and special about the places I visit.