The World Still Needs Our Skills and Small Businesses

Pondering life in Washington, DC, in this throwback photo.

We’re in difficult times now. The news is sad, and this pandemic has changed our everyday lives and movements in ways we’ve never seen. As we’ve been encouraged to physically distance—leading to stay at-home-orders and business shutdowns—I’ve been thinking about what it means to own a business. And the role we can play in our economy, even as the economy contracts.

I settled on this: The world still needs our skills and small businesses. And we should continue to market them. Even now.

If you work as a consultant or freelancer, or own a small business, you might wonder if it’s still okay to sell your services. I wondered about this myself, especially since I’ve been developing more offerings for my success coaching program. And after doing some reading on this topic, I think it’s absolutely okay to market our services. And that we should.

⁣Small businesses contribute to the economy. And small business owners need our help right now. I just bought a face mask and earrings from Etsy sellers. I’m still assigning stories to writers as part of my consulting work.

For my part, I’m going to keep writing for media outlets and clients, working to grow my business, and supporting other business, too. If you’re able, I hope you will join me in giving that support.

With this in mind, I’m also keeping a few spots in my coaching calendar available for anyone who wants a free chat about how you can find success working for yourself (including as a writer or editor); find new clients; or just make extra money on the side, from home.

Our stories should be told. And companies still need help telling theirs.

Please feel free to email me or comment to learn more. Or if you just want a word of encouragement.

Your wellness matters. And your work does, too. ✨

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Snapshot: Even Hard Days Can Lead to Joy

Look deeper. Feel stronger. Go farther. Be you.

Just a reminder that even the hard days—when you look in the mirror, and feel confused and tired—even these days can lead to joy.

I am in a great place now as a writer and editor working with national media outlets and other national clients. I’m thankful for this. But I had to start somewhere and learn along the way.

I’ve been thinking a bit about the early part of my early career, and ruminating on Instagram. So I figured I’d make a note here, too.

I’ve had success over the years. But these days, I still make an effort to network. And continue to amplify my knowledge by reviewing information from reputable sources and experts.

In my goal to help others, I also provide coaching to help people get started with professional writing—and to help them find success and branch out. Always feel free to contact me if you have questions about what I do. I’m happy to help and want you to know success is possible.

For now, I’m recognizing you if you’re trying to motivate yourself to go after a goal. Or pushing through difficult times. Believe in your purpose. And I’ll believe with you.

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What We Can Learn from the Past—and These Spanish Towers

At the top of the Torres de Serranos, a landmark structure in Valencia, Spain.

When it comes to the past, I’ll say this: Don’t forget about it. Learn from it.

If you feel compelled to wallow or to beat yourself up about decisions you made in the past—or things that you endured—this advice holds true for you, too. We can be hard on ourselves. But the past is our teacher, and for that it’s valuable. The present is ours to treasure. And the future will come—ideally.

Looking at this photo, I can still remember how this day truly felt as I sat high on top of these landmark towers in Valencia, Spain. It was a peaceful yet brilliant series of moments.⁣ Sunny. Clear. Anything felt possible. I was in the present moment, and yet able to look back on what I’d learned.

It was a fitting place to reflect. These towers began to be constructed in 1392 and were used as both “a defensive feature of the city and also as a triumphal arch,” according to VisitValencia.com. Think about that. They’ve stayed strong for hundreds of years, through some difficult times. And somehow continued to be triumphant.

We can be the same way. ⁣Minus a few centuries. 😉

These days, I’m grateful for my growth. I can remember the high points—so wonderful when they come—and the lows. These things work together for our good. ⁣

A street view of those landmark towers.

I’ll share more from this time in Spain, and am looking forward to writing and teaching more on wellness and success in the coming weeks. Are you looking for growth or coaching support in these areas? Feel free to email me.

Wishing you well for now. And glad to have hope and faith.

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Do You Say What You Want?

If you want something, say it. Claim it.

This statement just came to me out of the blue, and I (of course) shared it on my Instagram page. It sounds simple, but how often do we really do it?

Sometimes I think we can be afraid to say what we really want. Maybe some of us don’t want to admit what we really desire. Maybe we think we can’t have it. Maybe we don’t even consciously know what we crave!

But one of the first ways we can manifest what we desire is to SAY what we want. That’s because having success and freedom can start in your mind.

So will you join me in saying what you want? Even just quietly to yourself? The point is to get comfortable with your goals—whether they relate to your career, relationships, investing, or whatever—and to believe they are possible.

Tell me what you think? Or feel free to comment on Instagram.

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Growth Is the Goal

As this month comes to a close, I’m reminded of what I’ve learned. The new things I’ve tried. The myriad opportunities that are here now and ahead.

I’ve accomplished a lot, and you probably have, too. So you also probably realize that success isn’t immediate. The best ideas can start with a seed that then grows and matures. And growth—through life’s storms and during the sunny days—is what matters.

So as long as you’re moving, learning, being challenged, please keep going. It’s actually good when life isn’t simple. It’s good when we face challenges. The things we’ve beaten can prepare us for the next round of the fight.

These things can prepare us for big victories.

So, like the sunflowers of summer–and those that will sprout this fall (I can’t wait to see those!)–let yourself grow.

Look to the light. Start that new venture, pitch that story, write that book, have that key conversation. Do the things you’ve been wanting to do.

Experience it all. And let yourself live.

For more views of these gorgeous flowers and my latest musings on writing and life, please visit me on Instagram.

And if you need a hand with your writing projects or career goals, see this page or this one for details on how I can help.

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Snapshot: Learning from Life’s Storms

Storm clouds roll in above a DC city scene.

The clouds came in quickly. One minute the sky was bright and sunny. Then, suddenly, grayish black. With fat raindrops beginning to fall. ⁣

I didn’t have my umbrella. So I waited inside. And it passed. The storm, that is. It passed…like they always do. That’s the part to remember. ⁣

When we’re in the middle of difficult situations, it can be hard to see past the rain, and the distractions, and the stress. When it comes to writing, for instance, rejections are part of the game. Having to learn new skills and processes, and frustration with that learning curve, can be, too.

But we have to know that these things can’t last forever. That we’ll get better. And that we can withstand the hard times to get to the good ones. Nothing worth having comes without some struggle.

Adjusting our mindsets can help during turbulent times. And actually, speaking of mindset, we can notice beauty (like in this street shot I captured) even when the bleakest clouds come in.

Have you been surprised by a storm? Remember that it won’t last forever. Be calm in the moment. And realistically (all metaphors aside), carry an umbrella to be prepared. Mine is now securely back in my bag. ☺️

Please feel free to leave a comment here, or share with me on Instagram @lesliequander.

And if you want help with the storms that can accompany getting your writing or communications career going—whether it comes to pitching yourself or just having the confidence to start—please let me know. I have advice for that, too. ✨ ⁣

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Want Success? Freedom? Why It Starts in Your Mind

I’ve been feeling free. Light. Accomplished. And extra independent. Things I’ve been wanting and working toward are happening. It feels great to see things that I’ve imagined actually come to pass in real life.

And that is the key, in part. The thought. The willingness to believe that good things are coming and that I am—and we are—worthy of them.

Our thoughts matter and can affect our bodies, our lives, and our experiences. This concept shows up in science, in the law of attraction, and even in faith-based teachings.

So if you want to feel free—or more successful, content, or relaxed—a big way to shift is within your mind.

For example, taking time to think kind thoughts about yourself has psychological and physical benefits, suggests 2019 research from the University of Exeter. In the small study, participants who listened to an audio recording that encouraged them to be kind to themselves reported feeling more self-compassion and connection with others. These participants also had a physical response consistent with relaxation and safety, including a drop in heart rate and a lower sweat response. Meanwhile, those who heard an audio inducing “a critical inner voice” had a higher heart rate and higher sweat response, consistent with feelings of distress.

More mind-power info? As you may know, the benefits of meditation, the practice of training and focusing your mind, are myriad and can include helping with stress reduction, pain control, and even improving sleep.

So this July, and beyond, remember: If you have a dream in your heart, think of it positively in your mind. Believe in yourself, put in the work, and have faith. Think of the thing as already yours. ⁣You might be surprised to see the good things that can follow.

⁣So do you believe in yourself? Want some encouragement? Maybe I can help–especially if you have questions about moving up in your career (including full-time or freelance work in writing, communications, or editing) or how to shift your general mindset. Drop me a comment or email me!

⁣P.S. In this photo, I somehow managed to channel the tropics—from the city. Come hang with me on Instagram @lesliequander to see my other adventures. ☺️🦋

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Writing Tip: Where to Find Inspiration

I’ve been a professional writer and editor for more than a decade. (Where did the time go?!) And I wrote for fun for many years before that.

One question that comes up when it comes to writing and creativity is this: Where do you get ideas? Whether we’re writing on deadline or writing just for fun, our ideas have to come from somewhere. And, in my experience, ideas for stories can come from all around us.

For instance, I wrote about the benefits of training for surgery for The Washington Post after I discovered a related study—and dug in for more research. And I wrote about five tips to protect your hearing for Men’s Health after noticing loud sounds in my own environment.

Recently I went to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to see a ballet. There, I ran into this exhibit of worldwide photos of hope and resilience (see above). It was another example of how surprises can pop up anywhere and at any time–and how we should be open to them. But it also reminded me that inspiration for writing, other creative pursuits, and even life plans can come from all around us. In fact, I think it’s really cool that we can soak up creativity even in our hometowns—without trying hard or traveling far.⁣⁣

(Side note: If you haven’t been to the Kennedy Center, do check it out when in DC—for everything from opera to ballet. This free exhibit via the National Geographic Photo Camp features photos from at-risk and refugee youth and runs through June 20, 2019.)

So here’s the takeaway: Story ideas and life inspiration can come from anywhere. And they can come by surprise. If you’re looking for ideas for your next piece of writing, look around you. Explore your hometown. Travel. Read something you typically wouldn’t. Start a new conversation.

You can find plenty of inspiration if you pay attention.

For more writing tips and daily snapshots, subscribe to this blog or follow me on Instagram!

Or feel free to comment or email me your thoughts or questions about writing and creativity.

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Health Tip: Why Adults Should Go Out and Play




Why, yes, I will frolic in the snow. 😉

We’ve just had our first snow of 2019 in DC, so I had to go out and play around. It was incredibly nice to venture out into the fresh snow as it fell. I laughed a lot and was glad I didn’t stay inside.

So, when is the last time you acted like a kid and played in the snow, or sand, or grass? (Whatever is seasonal in your part of the world!) As grown-ups (ahem), sometimes we can get caught up in the monotonous, day-to-day tasks of life. But playing is actually good for us, even when we’re older.

For instance, if we regularly go out and get physical (think walking, or running, or jumping around in the snow like I did), it can improve our moods, help lower our blood pressure, and strengthen our muscles.

And if we really have a good time, and start laughing, the laughter itself can help reduce physical symptoms of stress and—over time—laughter can help relieve pain and even improve our immune systems.

Still going…definitely got to 30 minutes.

So adults of the world, go out. And play! A little free time may be just what you need.

Are you getting in enough happy time out and about? P.S. Come see more of my adventures on Instagram at @lesliequander. 


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3 Festive DC Destinations to Visit Year-Round




This month, I thought about booking a flight out of town. The travel bug almost bit me again. But then I thought about the fact that I live in the nation’s capital. And there are tons of things to do here—many of them free—and I can keep myself busy at home. Every. Single. Day. And save my money for another big trip abroad. (More on that later.)

The good thing about the destinations I visited this December? They’re also good bets year-round. Though, as you’d probably guess, the events and décor will vary.

CityCenterDC
For instance, in mid-December I dropped by an ice sculpture exhibit at CityCenterDC. This complex of 10 acres in downtown DC includes a plaza, luxe shopping, restaurants, pedestrian walkways, and a hotel, along with living spaces for those who want to make a home there.

Channeling Cruella de Vil at CityCenterDC’s visiting ice exhibit. (The coat, however, is faux!)

We had to wait in line to get into the event tent, but the reward was seeing sculptures that rose up to 12 feet tall and that were carved from 50,000 pounds of ice. The exhibit has since departed, but it’s an example of the cool events that sweep into this space. (Literally and figuratively cool, in this case.) Not seeking any event in particular? The shopping and dining options are worth a stop, too.

A pedestrian walkway by CityCenterDC shops. The archway look changes during the year.

The Warner Theatre
I also bought a ticket to The Nutcracker ballet at DC’s Warner Theatre, which first opened in 1924. The theater design is lovely and intricate, and the location is metro accessible. So convenient. If you want to visit at other times of year, check out the events calendar, which includes everything from comedy to concerts.

Look at this ceiling at the Warner Theatre. Gorgeous.

The stage before The Nutcracker started. No photos were allowed during the show, but I can tell you the scenes were whimsical.

The Willard InterContinental Hotel
As Christmas approached, I decided that I wanted to have a grand décor experience. So I ventured over to The Willard InterContinental hotel, which is just blocks from The White House and also accessible via metro. Since 1818, this hotel has welcomed U.S. presidents, foreign dignitaries, and celebrities. But my focus was on the decorations—including the super tall, decked out tree in the lobby.

At The Willard, pretending like this tree belongs to me. 😉

This year’s décor also included a gingerbread display that weighed almost 400 pounds and contained more than 100 LED lights, 306 pieces of gingerbread, and 30 pounds of fondant for the runway. The hotel’s pastry team is serious. 

Construction on this gingerbread display honoring Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) began in November 2018. It took more than 350 hours to complete.

Planning a stop outside of the holidays? You can go to Café du Parc, the hotel’s restaurant, and dine on traditional French food (including pastries by those hardworking chefs) at any time of year. Or have tea or a cocktail on the lobby level.

On the way to Café du Parc.

The Take-Away, Plus More on Instagram
These are truly entertaining times in DC. I haven’t even mentioned the museums I’ve visited and all of my dining and social activities. (I heard live music, too, and I definitely followed my own tips for hearing protection.)

Want to see more of my adventures, including scenes from my last big trip to Taiwan, Japan, and Hawaii? Come follow me on Instagram: I’m @lesliequander.

And, no matter where you are, I hope you’ve enjoyed the holiday season and that you can look ahead to happy moments in the new year.


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