PEOPLE YOU MIGHT LIKE TO KNOW
As a blogger, I’m part of a beautiful community of creatives. We may share our ideas through a virtual network, but often times we have the opportunity to connect in person, sit down and chat, and really get the creative juices flowing! Grab your coffee and meet my friends, appearing as guest bloggers in this near-to-my-heart section.
What a special week it has been! This year, Lynda and Michael went from one grandchild to THREE! You read that right – our family home was filled with three littles under three years of age – and goodness was it special!
We hope your holiday season brought laughter, joy, and renewed hope in the many blessings of this life. Do you have fun filled memories to share? Write to me in the comment section below, and share your favorite parts of Christmas with me.
Make sure to tune in Monday and read up on The One Word. I can’t wait to jump into 2018 with you!
Cheers to the New Year,
Last week, someone asked if I was “ready for Christmas.” I wasn’t sure how to answer. Was I aware it was rapidly approaching? Yes. Had I finished all my shopping? Almost (one more left!) Were things wrapped and ready to go? Absolutely not. I answered as honestly as I could – gifts were purchased, but I wasn’t mentally present to the reality of Christmas.
This entire year feels like a blur. In early Spring, we moved from our beloved home in Charleston, SC to Wilmington, NC. 6 weeks after moving into our home, we welcomed our first child. In the middle of those things, we continued working/seeing family/attending weddings/everything in between. Christmas feels like it just happened, and no – I don’t feel ready to celebrate it again. I stopped to consider why that may be, and I realized I had placed unnecessary pressure and frivolous meaning on the season.
Our fireplace is not perfectly decorated. Our Christmas cards will likely arrive just after the 25th. We haven’t captured that perfect photo of our daughter with Santa. And we never got around to hosting the “Ugly Christmas Sweater Party” we say we’ll do each year. I don’t feel ready, because I haven’t made it down the “perfect parent checklist,” and as a new mom – I wanted to.
A friend came by recently to snap a couple photos of Hatton for her 6 month birthday. This one image stopped me immediately – my daughter, staring at the sky in wonder, curiosity and amazement. Her gaze captures everything I love about raising a child – innocence, possibility and hope, all wrapped up in one tiny being. She is incredibly able to be in the moment…
This season, I am choosing to stay present and celebrate the True meaning of this amazing time by holding onto that childlike wonder. May each of us pause, take a breath, and reflect on the magic of a tiny babe who came to Earth, pure in love and abounding in hope, for such a time as this.
Happy Christmas season, friends!
Photo courtesy of Meagan Forbes Photography
Throughout my time at National, I’ve recounted quite a few “behind the scenes” moments with you. But today, I’m giving you a sneak peek into the most treasured tradition we share as a family: our annual National Christmas Party.
As long as I can remember, we’ve closed our doors for a few hours on a weekday afternoon to gather together as one massive family and celebrate the joys, challenges, and blessings of the year. It is a time to acknowledge the hard work of each team and remember the True Reason for the Christmas season.
At our Christmas celebration, we honor the community service of our employees and share what National has contributed to in Lexington and beyond. We also share the gifts we’ve received by creating a “mini Christmas” for the Salvation Army’s “Angel Tree.” In that special time together, we manage to eat (a lot of) really good food, enjoy photos of the celebrations we’ve had throughout the year, honor employees for their service, and of course – my grandmother’s favorite part – Bingo!
We are so grateful to you, our National customers, who serve as an extension of our family here in Lexington. Because of you, we have the honor of elevating our community and celebrating goodness together – as a family. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts!
Lynda honoring one of our fantastic employees, Karen, and her thirty years of creativity and inspiration as a part of our Advertising team
Lynda and National’s CFO, Carol, celebrating at the National Christmas Party.
We just love November! Our President, Lynda Swann, and her husband Michael share a birthday just four days apart. What a joy to celebrate these two. Happy Birthday to this dynamic duo – may this year be full of joy and memories….with three grandchildren by your side!
Please join us in wishing Michael and Lynda a happy birthday by commenting below! We will collect your kind thoughts and send them to the happy couple as they celebrate together this weekend.
I grew up in a family that went all out for Halloween. My Grandfather had extraordinary costumes every year. National welcomed each and every employee in full Halloween decor and – to this day – celebrates the holiday with cupcakes and fanfare in our front lobby. But, without question, the best part of that magical day: family themed costumes.
My grandfather, Eddie Smith, as Elvis
As a child, I eagerly anticipated our family themed costumes. For a few years, my father got his lifelong wish and lead our neighborhood hay rides as Zorro – (play) sword and all. One year, he dressed as Prince Eric and carried me – the Little Mermaid – door to door. Even though I was clearly old enough to walk, he refused to let us break character. But it was my first Halloween memory that remains my favorite family themed costume: The Wizard of Oz.
This year, we started our first family themed Halloween as “A Barrel of Monkeys,” symbolizing a favorite game I played frequently as a child. As long as Hatton will let us, we plan on coordinating themes for many years to come!
What are some of your favorite Halloween traditions? Do you have themed costumes to share? Tell us more in the comment section below!
Photo Credit – GoodBelly.com
The irony of today’s blog…I decided I would cover this topic a few weeks ago upon seeing numerous reminders to “wash your hands” and “flu shots available.” And guess what? I’m coming to you today from behind a box of kleenex, a mug of honey and lemon, and a load of garlic. Cold season found me, so I want to help you either avoid cold season altogether or shorten the span of the symptoms! Below are some of my go-tos. Click on the links for a bit more information on each!
At the first sign of sniffles, ramp up your intake of Vitamin C and D. Get into the sun and sip on some orange juice for easy sources of the good stuff.
Put a drop or two of peppermint and eucalyptus in your shower and keep the temperature warm enough to generate a bit of steam. Spend an extra 5 minutes in the shower – it’s worth it!
At night, consider sleeping with a humidifier – especially in dryer climates or when you’ve started to run heat through your home.
Rely on the Neti Pot! While a bit uncomfortable, sinus rinsing is incredibly effective and supports faster healing times (in my experience!)
Add garlic to your diet. Garlic is a natural antibiotic and supports overall immune health. Coupled with ginger, lemon and honey tea – you’re sure to feel some relief from these powerful natural tools.
What are your remedies for solving colds? Share any and all with in the comment section below – because I’m sure this will not be my last one!
Note that all advice comes from personal experience and has not been evaluated by a medical professional. So – take with a grain of salt (and a glass of orange juice!)
After completing graduate school, I accepted a position as a project manager for a large retailer. While my previous experience in marketing certainly pulled from my creative side, it was project management that furthered my development in organization, time management, and leadership. I realized I needed more opportunities to grow my abilities in management, because – by nature – I am a big picture, creative thinker.
I received this article from Sixty and Me in my inbox recently, and every part of it resonated with me! I relish time in the kitchen – I have space to both exercise creativity and also follow clear instructions to get to a (hopefully) positive end result.
Do you consider yourself analytical and methodical or whimsical? How do you find room for both in your life? Share insights with me in the comment section below!
Perhaps you’ve seen photos of our newest National family member…Timmy, the Chief Puppy Officer! It’s hard to believe he’s been a part of our family for a year now. In celebration of his adoption, I chatted with Mom about her favorite Timmy tid bits. Read our interview below!
Do you have a family pet? What do you love most about your furry friend? Share with us in the comment section below.
- What encouraged you and Michael to adopt Timmy?
The encouragement to adopt Timmy came from Parker! When Parker, who works remotely part of the time, would come to Lexington, she would bring Jasper, her Golden Retriever to work. Everyone fell in love with him and decided we should have a “ company dog” for our 65th anniversary . So I asked my husband, the researcher in the family to find a dog that was Italian – in memory of my Dad (who loved everything Italian, but was NOT Italian) hypoallergenic, sweet-natured and smart…the all-around ideal office pup. After a few months he found that the AKC had recently accepted an Italian breed called Lagotto Romagnolo – and he checked all the boxes! So we went to Atlanta to Two by Two Lagottos, picked him up, and he rode home in Parker’s lap. (Even though he was trained to ride in a crate, one trip home with the Swanns and crates were no more!)
- What’s a day in his life like?
His day starts with a short walk, breakfast – mom’s coffee and another walk. He lays under my dressing table while I get ready for work…never moving because he is terrified of being left. As soon as he sees me dressed and ready, he runs to the back door. He waits eagerly in the garage for his car door to open and loads up in a flash – tail wagging. I think Timmy is more excited to go to work than most people! At work, he stays in my office and even has his own “couch” (a dog bed…but don’t tell him that) with his name on it. He lays there until we have meetings, all of which he attends! He is the only employee allowed to sleep through meetings, of course. Weather permitting, we usually go uptown for an outdoor lunch and walk around Main Street. We often eat in breakroom with our co-workers – where he gets the most attention. After his workday, he enjoys dinner at home and a long walk. Then, of course, it’s time for bed…and he’s ready!
- So he truly is a National dog! What do you think he loves most about coming to work with you?
His favorite job is working upstairs in our photography studio getting his picture made for the website or the catalog because Spencer, our photographer gives him treats! What he loves most about work is EASY- we have 160 co-workers that love him and freely offer rubs. Sometimes people will come in my office and say “I am having a hard day- could I just rub Timmy?” He is ALWAYS willing. He is truly a National dog – he belongs to everyone here – he just goes home with me.
- What are some of your favorite quirks – truly Timmy characteristics?
Timmy has many “ unique” characteristics, but I think they are breed-specific perhaps and not just Timmy. If you read about Lagottos, it says they have a “sense of humor” – which we thought odd. How can a dog have that? But he does! When he wants attention, he will go get our favorite thing and drag it in front of our face and run back and forth until we do whatever it is he wants at the moment. Out of 160 co-workers, he has figured out the best cook. If he gets loose – out of 250,000 square feet – he runs straight to Belinda’s office and finds her lunch! He is very athletic and can out swim any dog – even my brother’s hunting dogs! He also “ talks,” our folks say. He has a specific bark to go out, another to warn of intruders, another to play and another when it is mealtime and I am working and lose track of time. I have never had a dog that talked to me.
- Let’s be honest. Has he ever been mischievous?
All Lagottos are mischievous! And they never outgrow it. Sometimes I can’t find something, like a top, and Timmy will have taken it and hidden it – totally unharmed – but he thinks it is cute. I usually do not, as I am trying to get ready for work. As a puppy, he ate seven Bibles from my husband’s study. We never figured out why he left all of the other books…I suppose it’s good Michael had several!
- A true Smith then! What do you think he loves the most as a part of the Smith and Swann families?
I think Timmy loves being part of everything our family does the most. When he isn’t with me, he goes to my husband’s law office where he is equally loved by his clients. On the weekends, we go to the North Carolina mountains where he loves to hike and swim. Lagottos were bred as truffle hunters, so they have great noses. He can smell a deer or bear very FAR away and is always on the lookout. He loves visiting our children and their dogs, my brother’s farm, and most of all – National! What dog would not love being rubbed by 160 people? Someone said to me recently, Timmy won the lottery when he was adopted into the National Family. Actually I think it was a win for all of us.
As the days get shorter and the temperature starts to drop, I am inspired by a cooler color palette of blue and gray. It’s a tried-and-true color combination that is perfect for layering now that the fall is here. Whether you wear silver with navy blue or heather gray with dusty blue, you can’t go wrong when you pair blue and gray together. Gray is a versatile neutral that goes with all shades of blue, from pale aqua, to French blue, to deep royal blue, to denim blue.
We have a great selection of cozy sweaters and cardigans that you can layer over all kinds of shirts and blouses when it starts to get chilly out. Here are a few of my favorite blue and gray looks just in time for sweater weather:
Today is my grandfather’s birthday. While our birthdays are a day apart, we always celebrated together. My mother has always joked that she tried very hard to have me on his birthday, but I was bound and determined – just like him – to have my own day. Even still, we were tied together in celebration as September babies – stubborn, loyal, driven and energetic.
On this day, my mother and I wanted to look back on our favorite “Georgie-wisdoms” – slogans, words and thoughts he held to and shared with us throughout our lives. Below, you’ll find just a snippet of his famous tag lines, and my mother’s memories surrounding each of them.
All work is honorable.
After graduating from the orphanage, Dad was brought to the nearest town, which was Lexington, with $5 in his pocket. The first job he was offered had a less than desirable reputation. He went to the superintendent of the orphanage, Mr. Bruton, and asked if he would be embarrassed for my dad to have such a job. Mr. Burton replied, “Eddie, all work is honorable. Do your best and do it to the glory of God.” My dad’s sincere appreciation for each and every job people do at National and elsewhere originated here. He took the job. He became the manager, and he started his own company – National – a few years later.
Isn’t life great? I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
Each morning, Dad came to my office and shared this one saying. He believed that every day was a celebration and a gift to be opened. He was so grateful for every single one. Simple as that.
Treat every customer as if she was our only customer.
This is the 65th anniversary of National – and this phrase has been our mission statement since inception. Dad believed that if we gave full attention to detail to every item we sold, and treated each person as if she was the only person we would ever have the opportunity to serve, then everything else in business would take care of itself.
Age is a number. It means nothing.
Dad was a health advocate long before it was in vogue. He ate “farm to table” before it was a trend and grew a lot of it from his farming knowledge gained at the orphanage. He got up every morning at 5:00 a.m., ran several miles, swam for an hour, enjoyed racing cars, and worked full time well into his 80s.
We’ve been blessed to be a blessing.
Dad always said one of his greatest blessings was being brought to the children’s home in Lexington at his parents’ death when he was nine years of age. He never understood why “important” business people took an interest in him, mentored him and invested such time in an orphaned boy.
When he enjoyed success in business, he believed he had been blessed to be a blessing. He made good on that by leaving a legacy of encouragement, inspiration and philanthropy that has impacted his community forever.
On this day, my grandfather’s birthday, I hope you find encouragement and inspiration in one or more of these phrases and carry on his joy and cheer through your own day today!