A Lifestylist's Resolutions for 2009

One of my favorite things about starting a New Year is being able to leave this year behind and look forward with optimism and a renewed set of goals. True, this shouldn’t be something that happens just once a year, but it’s a great time to really focus on what you want your new year to hold.

Below is a recap on what I think 2009 will hold - I’ll go into more detail as the year progresses, and change these as the world changes I’m sure in ways we could have never expected. Happy 2009 from your favorite Lifestylist® !

Your Life - Your Style
Make this the year that you break out of the stereotypes about how you should live and dress and do it your way. Paint your walls purple, embrace that favorite sweater - if it makes you happy and enables you to feel better about yourself, go for it!

Save a Life
One of the best things I ever did was start rescuing animals. We now have quite a menagerie, but they bring so much joy and happiness into my life, I can’t imagine what my life would be without them. When you have a really rotten day, nothing makes you feel better than having your furry friend curl up in your lap and make it all better.

Attitude is Everything
I predict that 2009 is going to be the year where people really start taking a hard look about how they spend their very hard-earned money and start supporting local businesses and rewarding places and individuals that offer superior customer service and make you feel like your patronage is appreciated.

Re-Purpose and Save the Planet

This year I’m going to be very careful about how I spend every dollar, and I’m already making decisions on how badly I really need something. So many times it’s just easier to go out and buy what you need instead of putting the thought into how you can use what you already have to serve that purpose. This year is going to be about less disposable things and more recycling. Not only will I save some money, I’l also help save the planet!

Playing Dress Up
We are turning into a very casual society in dress and in the way we live. In many ways this is a good thing, but every once in awhile it’s a great idea to put on that dress, host a tea party or bring out that good china. I found a great company - lia sophia - that sells jewelry that is unique and well priced. My daughter introduced me to them, and I loved what they offered so much I have begun selling their line myself! Working out of the house makes it too easy to dress down every day, and so now that I am involved with lia sophia I make a conscious decision to wear my jewelry every time I go out, whether it’s to the grocery store or to a client meeting. I get so many compliments on it my self-esteem has been boosted and the day is much brighter.

Hang Ups
I love art - especially art by someone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting or has been picked up on a trip. Living in The Idea Factory means that I have very solid cement block walls, and because of this I’ve put off hanging most of my artwork. Art is very personal for me, and today I’m going to start putting a few holes in my walls so I can be surrounded with the color and memories that make me very happy.

Organize Your Digital Life

Have you noticed that the external hard drive is becoming the new catch-all? I’m realizing that I have tens of thousands of images and articles, but when I’m looking for that one that I need it’s never anywhere to be found. The start of a new year is the perfect time to evaluate what you need and how you store it. Take the time to remove the clutter on your desktop and put the things that you need right where you can find them. For those lucky Mac owners, the Apple stores are a great resource for getting your live moving in the right direction. It’s more important than ever to work smart and manage your time wisely.

Shake Things Up a Little

Do you feel like you are in a rut? I know I have lately - with all of the gloom and doom in the news about the economy and the other craziness out there maybe it’s time to jump out of that comfort zone and try something different for a change. I’ve been spending way too much time reading and worrying and I decided it was time to plug in the Wii fit I bought 6 months ago. I love it! It’s making me get out of my desk chair and literally breathe. Doing a little bit of exercise every day has renewed my spirit and now I’m ready to take on some new challenges.

Giving Thanks

Saying thank-you or letting someone know about exceptional service doesn’t cost a dime but can have great rewards to the person who bestowed great service on you. The next time someone goes out of their way to be gracious or helpful be sure to let them know you appreciate their help and when possible let their superiors know of their good deeds as well.

Family First
With all of the insecurity in the World right now, make suer to take time for family and remember what’s really important. A great dinner and evening at home can be priceless.

Buying Local

The most important part of being a Lifestylist is listening. There is always a trend evolving just around the corner from us - we just have to be open to seeing, hearing, and embracing what's out there.

There is starting to be a lot of talk about "buying local" and this is one of the most promising trends I've seen and heard about in years. Finally people are understand that going "semi-homemade" by using over processed, expensive ingredients that might even be from a foreign country may not be the best thing for our health. Not only that but this concept in the long run tends to be more expensive and lacks the taste and nutrition that can be gained by eating locally grown or cooked produce, baked goods, cheeses.... any thing we put into our mouths.

Almost every town has a Farmers Market, and this is a great place to buy right from the farm. The freshness is amazing, the costs are usually more reasonable and you are helping to stimulate the local economy and your senses.If a farmers market isn't an option, check with your local supermarket and encourage them to not only buy from local farmers, but to identify which products are purchased and grown locally. Wegmans, my favorite grocery store based in Rochester, NY is a great example and I know if I purchase something there it is going to be the freshest available, and they do identify the various farms on many items.

Restaurants are also starting to key in on this trend. Three restaurants that I have gone into the last week or so including one takeout restaurant clearly identified which ingredients were produced locally. We are fortunate to have on of the best cheesemakers in the country here in Dallas and I'll always purchase any item with cheeses made with Paula Lambert's cheeses first - I know I'll be enjoying something worth every calorie.

People are what make or break a trend - the next time you are out hunting for something to eat, support your local economy first and make a difference.

Falling for your Homes

It's hard to believe that Fall is around the corner when the temperature is still in the 90's, but Fall is a great time to sell houses so it can't get here soon enough! School has started, and there are lots of holidays coming our way that focus on the home.

Now's the perfect time to walk-thru your homes and make sure that everything is in it's place, and if things are missing or damaged replace them. When people are looking for a new home they often times are moving because the home that they are in is showing it's age and may be looking a bit worn. A model home with dirty carpets, burned out light bulbs and overgrown or dead landscaping is not going to help convince them that your home is the house of their dreams.

Warm colors can really warm up how cozy your model home feels. This can be accomplished by just changing out pillows on your sofas, and it's amazing how a small change like this can change the way your home feels. Adding seasonal accessories to your homes can make them feel like a home and get the buyer into the mood of buying and being in their new home by the holidays.

Ask your merchandiser about working with you on a seasonal maintenance plan where they will come back in 2 or 4 times a year and help you keep your models opening day fresh.

Re-Defining Country Curtains

Sometimes it really pays off to keep an open mind. I had the manager of the Rochester Country Curtains call me about the Ronald McDonald Homearama House I’m doing with @Home Builders, and express an interest in being included in the home. The name scared me because the home is anything but country, but I told them to send me a catalog and I’d take a look.

What a pleasant surprise! The colors were right on trend, the styling was beautiful and the prices were great. They have been an absolute delight to deal with as well, and I’m looking forward to seeing everything installed.

Taking Advantage of the Competition

Let's face it - with all of the media coverage about the "housing slump" consumers are expecting more and willing to pay less for the home of their dreams. We are having to really evaluate the return on every dollar that we spend and what the return can be on that investment.

As someone that makes their living merchandising model homes nothing hurts me more than to visit a builders community and see homes that aren't living up to their potential. I was in Las Vegas for a speaking engagement last week and went out to look at what was new and exciting in the Vegas market and I had a huge surprise. The most exciting, innovative, and memorable communities were multi-family and the most disappointing were communities that were built by national builders and had at least 8 models (and some a lot more than that) in each area. I'm going to write at length about the multi-family communities at length later, but until then if you are anywhere near the Las Vegas area be sure to take a look at Manhattan West. I was not only impressed I was blown away by the presentation and professionalism of the experience and loved the fact that the theme that ran throughout the presentation was Lifestyle. As a Lifestylist® it's always exciting to know you are going down the right path.

But back to the beautiful planned development I visited. I was told that this was the latest and greatest and the developers welcome center and staff was very impressive. They gave just enough information to make me curious enough to visit the builders models and to understand the goals of the community. So I drove out to see the first builders collection of 11 models and when I walked up to the door there was a sign that stated their homes were closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and lucky me I was visiting on a Wednesday. The next builder had 18 models which ranged in price from $200,000 to $500,000. I walked some of the homes but I guess the builder decided to have the merchandiser stick with the standard wall color - beige - and wallpaper and after about 5 homes I couldn't tell you one thing about any of them except they all looked the same.

On to my last stop - Toll Brothers. Fortunately I saved the best for last! I was greeted by a smiling welcoming sales person who offered me cookies right out of the oven and a water even though he understood I wasn't going to be a qualified buyer. They had three homes but they were stunning! Each one had different colors, lifestyles, and personalities and I was finally excited enough by what I saw to want to walk through every room and every home.

I also walked through the Kimball Hill community that you had to drive by to get to the planned community. They did a great job on a much smaller budget then their competition across the street. They were wise enough to position themselves strategically near a competitor that would spend marketing dollars on billboards ads etc. and bring traffic right past Kimball Hill's homes on the way to theirs.

By knowing your competition and taking advantage of their strengths and weaknesses, you can not only survive in a tough market you can flourish.