Way of Tea

Discovering the sacred in the ordinary, tea ceremony began more than two decades ago after giving up coffee cold turkey

Beyond the first two sips, I didn’t like the way coffee wired me, plugged my ears and left me with a mild jitter. Since I wasn’t privy to Swiss or German coffees (what I drink when traveling to those countries) on a regular basis, I no longer desired the beverage. Thus, tea ceremony filled its place.

Between the hours of 4 and 5 am a faint stir of anticipation awakens within. It lures me from any stage of sleep, a renewal of sorts in the subtlest of gestures, a purifying rite that promises an hour of precious solitude. Thus rises a new day blessed by tea ceremony, a personal custom of modern day tradition wherein the faculties of taste and touch are engaged.

Still and quiet

It begins with the tranquil sound of silence. Almost nothing pierces the air as I move about invisibly:  the rustling of bedding; barely audible commotion of clothing; crackle of waking joints after a night’s sleep and trickling of water are all kept to a minimum.

Scent and glow

Fire is nature’s way of illuminating a passageway into the new day. Thus, three organic candles are resurrected and placed around the kitchen to radiate their flickering aura and emit their cleansing aroma. The burning of aromatherapy oils welcomes serenity and resonates throughout; perhaps lavender, orange, peony or bergamont, depending upon my mood.

Ritual and ceremony

Straight from the tea fields of Kyoto, Japan, organic Matcha in all its purity is the only tea that agrees with my palate. The kettle is filled with purified water while the next three minutes are spent placing the porcelain tea bowl and bamboo chasen on a thin, white cloth. As the kettle quickly comes to a near-boil, a delicate scoop of Matcha sprinkles the bottom of the tea bowl like a fine powder. One hand slowly pours the steamy water into the bowl while the other vigorously whisks with precision held all in the wrist. Soon, the frothy goodness is ready for consumption as my mouth longs for the subtle taste of this powerful antioxidant. Modern times would have it that I enjoy my tea while checking email on my computer – a far cry from the more traditional Way of Tea in the Japanese culture. But it works for me, each and every ceremony more treasured than the last.

Harmony and ambience

Finally, the curtains are drawn to welcome the dawn and praise the sunrise. My blessed tea ceremony typifies a sacred passageway into a new day that imparts peace and balance.

5 Copywriting Tips for Startups

How many times have you read online copywriting about a product or service only to be left with a feeling of uncertainty that the business might not deliver?

 

You do one of two things: email the business with your question (because you harbor undying patience), or like most of us, continue surfing until you find a website that respects your time and answers all of your questions through their well-written content. Online copywriting for startups represents the backbone of any successful startup business. In today’s era of copywriting, every single page of your website carries as much weight as the home page. Since viewers will find various pages of your website via organic marketing and social media, every single page holds just as much purpose as the home page and should shine with precision content.

 

Bill Gates coined the phrase “Content is King”.

In his article of 1996, one year after billionaire Sumner Redstone said it first. Your website content is one of the most important investments next to the business itself. I’m talking about sexy content that intrigues the reader about your product or service, ultimately converting them into a client. Compelling copywriting will pique the interest of your almost-client or soon-to-be-customer to purchase your product or contact you for an appointment. But what if you’re not a professional writer or worse, can’t stand writing in the first place? A blank page staring you in the face can be a scary thing. As an entrepreneur starting a new business, there’s no doubt that you’ve worked extensively to get your new venture on the map. Following these tips will set you squarely on the path to writing excellent content that impacts your bottom line:

  1. Trust – honest copywriting written in a style that is fair and reliable will instill confidence in your reader. When talking about your product or service, avoid using words that are gimmicky or misleading. Rather, focus on phrases that are straightforward and directly applicable, leaving no question in the mind of the reader.
  2. Authority – for starters, have you analyzed how the competition does it? It is essential to familiarize yourself with product industry etiquette and practices. For example, the manner of style in which an organic skin care company writes their content is distinctly different than that of a real estate law firm. Let’s also remember that plagiarizing represents the kiss of death by the search engines and can even land a nasty lawsuit. Never copy someone else’s content! Your words should reverberate with expertise no matter how abbreviated your tenure. Confidence in words favorably influences client conversion.
  3. Intimacy – have you targeted your audience? It’s essential to learn the psychology of your client profile(s). If you’re not crystal clear, define them using pen and paper before you write any sort of content. Know to whom your products or services appeal. Then, speak to those types with sentences to which they can relate. Think of your reader as a friend and make them feel special. Write your words in a selfless manner, communicating that you care more about your client’s or customer’s satisfaction than simply putting their hard-earned money in your pocket. In short, place your client on a proverbial pedestal in the most genuine of ways. He or she will feel appreciated, realizing how much time and effort you put into generating your content.
  4. Interest – what is special about your business? What makes your small enterprise stand apart from the competition? Whether your venture is an art gallery, finance company or cosmetic line, every last word should resonate with the human element. Do not hesitate to use simplistic, colorful words that create a clear picture in the mind of the reader about your business.
  5. Clarity – sort of like preparing a red wine reduction sauce for an incredible rack of lamb (my daughter’s favorite dish), reduce, reduce, reduce! Today’s world operates on speed and has no tolerance for redundancy. Thus, hyperbole should be avoided. ‘Sit’ on your content for a few days before publishing. Then, edit with a sharply critical eye. Can your cat read and understand it? If your content is anything near cryptic, start over.

 

Copywriting for startups originates at the beginning.

Fire writer’s block because it has no place in your mind. Just. Write. Get it out. Purge, keeping in mind that later you can always click the delete button. Then, apply these five tips when reviewing and editing your words. Never, ever publish your content before running a spell check. If grammar is not your hotspot, ask a friend to review your content for structure and accuracy. And of course, if writing your own content threatens your sanity, you can always turn to a professional copywriter.

Hollywood Hills’ Best Kept Secret

A real estate property listing.

Mid century modern meets gorgeous city, ocean and canyon views in a secluded retreat centrally located to all. A private, gated entrance leads to an oasis of calm, lush greenery nestled in the hills below the Hollywood sign. Relax around the poolside and view spectacular sunsets perfect for romance, a soiree or meditation at sunrise on the wrap-around deck. An open floor plan invites family fun or a couple’s solitude around the fireplace. Glass pane double doors that open to the deck, hardwood floors and a spa tub enhance the charm of this calming sanctuary. Central air and heating is perfect during summer months while three bedrooms and two bathrooms can accommodate family, friends or relatives. The master suite boasts custom walk-in closets and views to die for. Partake in all that the city has to offer – Burbank Studios at one end, Hollywood at the other while Santa Monica beaches are but a short jaunt away. When it comes to location and ambiance, this home is a slice of heaven.

Everlasting Moment

From the moment they met, her presence stopped his universe. He looked into her eyes and saw a union dancing with possibilities. That first kiss sealed the rest of their lives together. Now, he wishes to capture those moments with a token of his affection adorned around her finger, a brilliant diamond ring to celebrate their eternal love.

Ayurvedic Shirodhara

The most divine of ancient Ayurvedic rituals, Shirodhara calms the mind and awakens the body’s intuitive knowledge.

It is profoundly relaxing and nourishing while improving mental clarity and comprehension. A continuous flow of warm, herbal oil is poured in a slow, steady stream onto the forehead awakening the third eye and crown chakras. Vata Dosha* is balanced. Shirodhara works on the cerebral system thereby relaxing the nervous system while balancing Praan Vaayu (life force energy) around the head. The entire face is rejuvenated as worry lines are softened. Shirodhara can reduce and relieve migraine headaches, wash away negative emotions and thought patterns, anxiety, restlessness, irritability and nervousness.

Be prepared to lie on your back and position your head beneath an oil ‘fountain’ which is actually a slow-flowing spout. You will be shrouded in warm towels as a mild massage begins, slowly replaced by the gentle flow of warm oil. You may gradually drift off into a deep sleep only to awaken as though you have rested an entire night. Time slows as your soul and scalp are nourished. The benefits of Shirodhara are enhanced with immediate following of traditional massage.

Realizing Passion as a Copywriter and Web Designer

PhoenixStagnation is the enemy of the Phoenix.

Even when I landed my first job at the budding age of fifteen an overwhelming sense of dread lingered long after I clocked in. Yes, I was a writer, but never thought that one day I might actually call myself a copywriter. Already, a nagging sense of independence pushed my quest for answers as I pondered my calling. So, I found solace where it existed – payday. A few years later, a jaunt up the administrative ladder landed a decent position in a reputable firm answering to important executives in grey suits. Into my twenties, the salary remained mediocre, just enough to stay afloat. I lived for the weekends when I could fortify my passion with abundance.

 

Taking Flight From the Mundane

Monday mornings confined all creativity only to be released on Fridays at 5pm. Still,  weekends flourished with writing and literary exploration, continuing to shape my awakening entrepreneur. Precious hours of fulfillment inevitably faded into the grim start of a new week. There waited the false comfort zone of the corporate world, crushing my dreams as I returned to that quiet hell of a job. Finally, I quit and sold everything I owned, save a suitcase packed with wanderlust.

After returning from a year-long adventure throughout Western Europe, I made Boston my home where the writing continued. But I could not deny that familiar unease that began in my teens and continued to invade every morning. Los Angeles called and back to hometown I traveled where I fell upon my first legitimate career. Years later pursuit of a new business venture took me back to the East coast where I welcomed Miami Beach with a numbing question that haunted me until the day I left Florida: “This is it?”

 

Rebirth is part of life

That venture flopped and it was just as well because the housing market was booming in the Sunshine State. Naturally, I started my next business and did well. Hard work paid off, inspired by handsome paychecks and a luxurious sense of satisfaction. Driving my chic, convertible car and lunching at posh eateries provided compelling distractions from my honest ambitions. That is, until the housing bubble burst in the early 2000s and the market crashed, forcing a harsh return to reality. I faced a daunting question: shall I restructure my business or face the music? I had no idea what the music was but knew that I could not go on under the current guise.

 

I always wanted to be a copywriter

After fifteen years I realized that my calling had been standing right in front of me the whole time. How on earth did that happen? Truthfully, I had been writing poetry and short stories since I was a little girl. I wrote and designed all of my own marketing campaigns since the get go. I assisted friends and colleagues with their writing. My educational background and training lay squarely in grammar, literature and writing. Astonishing as it may seem, I was already practicing my passion to some degree. What I finally discovered was the obvious with the official birth of my copywriting, consulting and web design business.

 

Are you going through the motions because you feel that you have no other choice?

I’m not sure how many professionals are doing what they love for there is no tangible standard by which to measure such a statistic. If there was it would be skewed. I suspect that few individuals find the courage to admit discontent with their professions or lifestyles. What good would it serve when such a painful realization would threaten to withdraw them from the illusion of the comfort zone? The risk of relinquishing all that has been attained is certainly a real possibility. Giving up that shiny title in a reputable firm for the sake of a start up business on a leap of faith is simply not worth it to some — except for those who want it bad enough. Wanting something bad enough is called passion. Passion should not be denied less spiritual balance falls out of sync.

 

Realizing passion means recognizing truth

In a society where status is gauged by achievements, the neighborhood in which you live, the square footage of your home and the make and model of your vehicle, what you choose to do with your passion can be more disconcerting than acknowledging it in the first place. So just leave it alone because it’s better that way. Or is it?

 

Passion is subjective and means different things to different people

Viewing life through a cloudy window implies unhappiness. It’s time to recognize when change is knocking on your door; when things are seen but not felt; imagined but not touched; tasted without flavor. The best way to discover your passion is to meditate on the possibilities without pressuring yourself that you might not have any. In retrospect, the one constant in my life was definitely writing. Having always been an artist, I practiced several mediums before settling into communication, wordsmithing and design. It made perfect sense that I should become a copywriter. It just took me a while to see it. But my creativity did not stop there for my content writing is all about branding. It was only natural that website design should compliment the correlating copy – a symbiotic relationship that completes my practice.

 

Heeding the prominent characteristics of my personality

For me, there were two – writing accompanied by a strong sense of independence. The latter is the reason why I pursued different ventures during the last two decades. A thirst for knowledge, wisdom and professional experience has gifted me with an arsenal of skills, honing my craft a thousand times over.