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Being Open to New Experiences: My First Airbnb Stay

I recently booked time at an Airbnb residence in the Ventura/Oxnard, California area, which is about 60 miles from my home. My plan was to drive to the beach early in the weekend and then stay overnight at this person’s home, leaving late in the day on Sunday. I must admit, booking time at an Airbnb was a bit perplexing: I was not sure it was “safe,” I was concerned about whether it would be awkward staying with someone I didn’t know, and I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I only knew that other people had done it before me and they had survived!

For those who have limited knowledge of Airbnb, it is a booking service for travelers seeking to rent a room, an apartment, a home or a shared space in a private residence. Airbnb is now worldwide – you can rent a private room in an English castle, a cozy cabin in the Netherlands, stay on a boat in Ventura harbor, or in a yurt or an RV, somewhere in the United States. There are many, many options available, ranging in price from cheap to luxurious. The main draw for people booking through Airbnb, in my opinion, is that it offers a host of options that weren’t previously available and at a lower cost than most motels.

Anyway, back to my story: My choice was to rent a room in a private home in Ventura near the beaches that I love to visit. The cost was a mere $66.00 for the night, which included the taxes and fees. I got to see photos of the place before I booked and I also got to read a number of reviews about the host, which were all exceptionally positive. With that tidbit of information, I set off to explore my first Airbnb experience.

I started my day by heading to one of my favorite beaches to cool off. While there, I received a text from the host, asking when I would be ‘checking in.’ I texted him back that I would be there between 4:30 and 5 p.m. That was my first point of communication with him. Later, I met “A.,” a young man in his 30’s with a ponytail, who showed me my room and the different amenities available. He was very thorough in his explanation of everything and had prepared a small pile of brochures on different attractions in the area. By my bed were two bottles of water and some candies. On the table was the house key, a remote control for the ceiling fan, the code for his Wi-Fi and some sightseeing books. After showing me where the towels were in the bathroom, he invited me to join him and his girlfriend for a glass of wine, then departed, leaving me to my privacy.

So far, so good, I thought. He’s respectable, very professional, and he obviously cares about his customers.

A little later on, after a shower and a change of clothes, I was introduced to his other house guest who were renting a room and a couch from him. I then left to join some friends for dinner and headed out for the evening. When I returned, a few hours later, he and his girlfriend, “L.,” greeted me and asked how my dinner was. We then had a nice conversation about his residence, neighbors, and the amenities offered at his complex. Being a news reporter by trade, I asked a lot of questions, which they didn’t seem to mind answering. One had to do with his mention of the facility’s salt water pool.

Now I’ve never been in a salt water pool and that sounded very cool. So I asked whether I might be able to try it the following day. A. told me that they normally don’t bring their guests over to the pool because it’s reserved for residents, but seeing that I was really interested, he said he’s make it happen.

That night, I enjoyed one of the best night’s sleep I’ve had in a long time. The air was cool, the complex was exceptionally quiet, and the bed was extraordinarily comfortable! When I awoke, there were pastries laid out on the kitchen table and coffee waiting to be made on the counter. It really felt like I was in my own home, for all intents and purposes.

Later that morning, I got to experience the salt water pool where you can float effortlessly, suspended in the salt water like a balloon. It was heaven!

I indulged myself in another shower at A.’s place before leaving. To my surprise, they greeted me with homemade lemonade and hors d’oevres before I left. I was not hurried out but treated like a member of their family. This was probably because they didn’t have a booking for that night, so there wasn’t a firm timeframe for check out.

I eventually left at around 2 p.m. that afternoon and when I did, A. told me that I would be welcomed back again, should I like to stay with them – and you know, I think I will. As someone who has traveled a bit, I definitely know what I like and what I don’t like.

I’ve stayed in very nice hotels where I’ve paid a lot more and still had to deal with noise issues from traffic and neighbors. I’ve also stayed in hotels in major cities where parking was expensive or non-existent. And let’s not forget the campground experiences where I’ve had people keep me up all night because they wanted to party till the cows come home.

Unfortunately, you can’t pick your neighbors – it’s always a roll of the dice – even in expensive hotels.

For the price of my Airbnb, I got a great location in a private home with really nice, caring hosts who did everything they possibly could to make my visit comfortable. So for my first Airbnb review, I’m going to give it 5 stars. If you are interested in experiencing Airbnb, it helps to go into it with an open mind. For the record, I got more than I paid for!

My Visit to the Sierras: Lake Isabella for July 4th

Lake Isabella is in the southern Sierras: I chose this location because of the beauty of the lake and the proximity to the Sierras with their majestic redwoods. Unfortunately, when I arrived on Sunday, July 2nd, 2017, my companion and I found the lake covered with a thick green slime – algae, which is caused by excessive heat conditions. This pretty much rendered the lake unswimmable, although the dogs didn’t mind wading chest deep into the green goop to cool off. Give that this was Day 1 of my 4 day vacation, things were looking grim.

Meanwhile, the KOA campground where I was staying, offered me a lovely little log cabin that perfectly met my needs. It had a double bed with a thick cushion mattress and a bunk bed with room for two more people. My roommate took the bunk bed and one of the dogs decided to share it with him (we have four between us). The bed was comfortable and with the air conditioner on its highest setting, we were prepared for a good night’s sleep.

Not so, as we quickly found out: We were situated in the middle of ten other cabins which were all rented out to a very large family from India. There must have been 75 adults and children all competing for attention. While the children and teens ran around playing a game of musical chairs out in front of the cabin next door, the adults began socializing with a beverage of their choice and it started to get loud!

I don’t fault anyone for enjoying themselves. Camping offers the opportunity for people, who may not have seen each other in a while, to get reacquainted in a laid back setting. But this party was non-stop and lasted well into the night. Because we were in the middle of their cabins, we were also in the middle of a busy traffic area and people did not seem to notice that the sound of their voices was being heard within our little private setting. Despite that snafu, we managed to get a few minutes of sleep and move into the next day.

Day 2, we awoke early and began setting up our breakfast table on the picnic table out front. I was pleased to learn that the proprietors had arranged for a free pancake and sausage breakfast for everyone as a holiday celebration! The food was great and because the camp store had ready-made coffee, I didn’t have to heat up any water to make my own. In a short time, we were in the car with the dogs and off to our next adventure: the Kern River.

The Kern River meets Lake Isabella and fills it with a steady stream of fresh water, which should keep it clean as the water is moving. But since the algae was already well formed, we chose to avoid the lake and go directly to the source. The Kern River was accessible from Riverside Park in Kernville where we found a large shade tree to set up our lawn chairs and hook up our dogs. The view of the river was magnificent and it was exciting to watch the rafters and kayakers navigating the rapids and white water! To our dogs delight, we even found a few coves off the river where it was safe to wade in and enjoy the refreshingly cool water.

This experience proved so delightful that on Day 3, we returned again and just relaxed all day in the shade of a tree by the river. Back at the campground, our friendly neighbors continued to party, so the second night was only slightly better for sleeping than the previous one. We still could hear them chatting into the wee hours – well past 2 a.m. – although my ear plugs did help a lot.

After the second day on the river, I returned to my cabin where I took in a long walk with my dogs on a lovely open dirt road that ran from the back of the KOA property to a Wildlife Reserve. The backdrop for this hike was a majestic view of the high Sierra Mountains which were surprisingly clear and well defined in their beauty. As dusk fell and the stars came out, the sky came alive with brilliance. The sky was especially vivid at 2 a.m. when all the lights from the nearby RVs were out. It was very clear that night and I relished the view of the heavens, having not seen so many stars in my neighborhood of Los Angeles in a long time.

On Day 4, I packed up, walked and fed the dogs, then ate a nice light breakfast at my picnic table before hitting the road home. About halfway back to L.A., I stopped for lunch in Mohave, CA where some close friends drove up to meet me. It was hot in Mohave – 106 degrees (although the inside reading on my car was 115 degrees). After a little rest for the dogs and I, under a large tree in a park, we started the second leg of the trip home.

Driving back to the city, I was thankful to be returning to the place and people I love, but was glad to have gotten away from the fireworks and explosives that people seem to enjoy setting off around the 4th of July. This trip introduced me to a place that I might like to return to again – albeit in the Fall, when the foliage changes color. Hopefully, there will be fewer people at the campground, although I would settle for quieter neighbors!

My dogs had a good time and for a change, I didn’t have to feel guilty about leaving them behind. It’s nice to been welcomed, dogs and all, when traveling somewhere new. 

Till then, I’ll sign off with this: Don’t be afraid to explore unknown places, because in doing so, you get to open your world to new sights, tastes, and experiences that make your life richer~

Animal Lovers Pull Together for an Abused Dog

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

For more info. please contact:

Pat Kramer, (818) 353-5699

Pat@writerpatkramer.com

 

Los Angeles (February 10, 2010) – “Toto,” a 7-year old Chihuahua/Schipperke mix, spent his life tied up in a locked garage before a neighbor alerted L.A. City Animal Control.  He then spent another five months sharing a kennel with three other dogs at the West Valley Animal Shelter before a concerned dog lover noticed him and initiated a massive media campaign to find this dog a home.

Writer For Hire Pat Kramer spotted the 14-pound Chihuahua mix with the ‘huge eyes’ last November while visiting the Shelter to adopt another dog.  At that time, “Toto” was on the shelter’s ‘Green List,’ one step away from being euthanized.  Due to being kept in the dark for so many years, his little eyes bulged from exposure to sunlight.  But according to the Shelter’s staff, he was one of the sweetest, most loved dogs there.

Pat recalls, “With the number of dogs needing a home, I was afraid he might get ‘put down’ before I could help him.”

When she returned to adopt him a few weeks later, Toto had kennel couch and was not expected to survive.  However, a few weeks later, he pulled through and on January 5th, Pat began fostering him at her home until a permanent home could be found.  “I was intent on seeing this through,” she says, “no matter how inconvenient it might be.”

To help her along, the local animal rescue foundation, New Leash on Life, pitched in donating a sleeping crate for Toto.  To help socialize him, Jami, a local animal trainer, began teaching him basic social skills.

Over the next few weeks, Toto’s photo and story were posted by on Facebook, Craigs List, and animal rescue sites: New Leash on Life, Second Acts Foundation and Pet Adoption Fund with  Animal Control Officer Gabi Hartel and Mae Ross of 321 Talent Showcase helping with the postings.  Through these efforts, thousands of people were acquainted with Toto’s plight and on January 26th, a local family adopted him.

Today, as a result of many people working together, Toto is now a ‘pet’ for the first time in his life.  No longer tied up or left alone, he has a family to love.

Says Pat, “In the process of helping this little guy, I became aware of the many wonderful people out there who give of their time to rescue unwanted pets.  These people are real ‘saints’ for what they do!”

She adds, “For those who can adopt, please do so now. It’s so critical that these animals get some help.  The love you get back will more than compensate for your costs — and as we know– no act of kindness goes unpaid, especially as it relates to animals.”

Addendum: In April 2017, Pat learned that Toto passed away recently from a heart condition. But during the six years that he lived with his “forever family,” Toto was one of the most loved pets, ever. He grew to love his “little sister,” a Chihuahua, and had a fenced yard to play in and a bed to sleep on inside his family’s San Fernando home.

–       ###-

Pat Kramer, a freelance writer living in Los Angeles, is the founder of Writer For Hire® and a proponent of animal rescue work and charities supporting humane treatment of animals.

Writer For Hire® Pat Kramer to Share Life Journey with Los Angeles’ Inner – City High Schoolers

Media Inquiries:  For more information, please contact: Pat Kramer

818 353-5699 pat@writerpatkramer.com

Los Angeles, CA (March 23, 2016) – Writer For Hire Pat Kramer, a veteran business copywriter and ghostwriter, today announced that she will share highlights of her 30 year career journey with inner city high school students at Oscar de la Hoya High School on Wednesday, April 20 and at Animo Inglewood High School on May 18th.  The two, one hour presentations are in partnership with the Youth Business Alliance (YBA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that focuses on bringing critical 21st century business skills and perspectives into the classroom. Pat will be presenting tips on how she went from a “wanna-be writer” in high school to a professional journalist and corporate copywriter in Los Angeles.

The Youth Business Alliance invited Ms. Kramer to share her experiences and achievements over the time she has built her career in an effort to provide high school students with a broader perspective of what it takes to be successful. The YBA was formed in 2012 with one disadvantaged school and has since grown to include 14 high schools serving roughly 350 disadvantaged students each year through its year-long after school course “Introduction to Business & Careers.”

Pat started her career as a radio news broadcaster and journalist working for radio stations in New England. To get her foot in the door of this incredibly limited and competitive industry, Pat had to work every shift around the clock, including all-night at one radio station in Newport, Rhode Island and then a split-shift at the next where she covered both “morning drive time” and “afternoon drive time.”

“I have never worked as hard in my life as I did at the start of my career,” says Pat, who notes that hard work and determination are the winning formula for anyone starting out in the job market. “Most people in their early ‘20s opt out when the going gets tough, but I stuck with it and advanced in my career to the point where I eventually got to call the shots.”

Looking back on her career of 30+ years as a news writer, ghostwriter, and marketing and public relations consultant, Pat believes the challenges she faced led to a tenacity that has helped her succeed in business when other writers have closed down their shops. “I believe all the challenges I have had to face ultimately gave me a wealth of experience in life and now, I’m giving back by helping the youth of today get started on their own career path.”

Speaking before the public is not new to Pat. Over the years, she has presented workshops and seminars for business leaders in a wide variety of industries on how to better communicate their branding messages by using news-oriented press releases, professionally-written articles for trade publications, and blogs on the social media. Pat is a recognized business leader and an active member of her business community in Sunland-Tujunga. She is also an advocate for humane treatment of animals and the ghostwriter of several books and memoirs.

For more information, please visit: www.writerpatkramer.com

About Writer For Hire 

Writer For Hire® Pat Kramer specializes in developing informational, editorial, promotional and ghostwritten content for companies and individuals all over the world. Her press releases have helped first-time authors reach “best seller” status on Amazon.com, while her media outreach campaigns have elevated formerly unknown business professionals to “thought leaders” in their industries. Known as Writer For Hire® since 1990, Pat has written more than 1,000 articles for local, national and well respected industry publications.

 

 

What Makes You Different or Better Than Your Competition?

This morning I attended an interesting presentation by Eloqui, which is a consultancy that helps business people improve their speaking presentations. As part of a group of 30 or so business people, I was asked to recall from my background anything that could have contributed to my success in my career as a writer for businesses.

I thought about it and recalled that, as early as 8 years old, I loved to read. Not only did I love to read, but I also loved to write. Reading expanded my vocabulary and writing helped me put into action the words I was learning from the many authors I read. Consequently, I learned to love stories about people, their lives, their experiences, and their difficulties and challenges. Mostly, I loved reading about how people had overcome their challenges and learned to use them in ways that were truly inspiring.

My interest in reading and writing led me to Emerson College where I graduated with a degree in Mass Communications. I then used my education to land a job as a radio news reporter – and later as a print news journalist – to tell people stories. That’s essentially what news journalists do: they tell stories about what they see, hear, or experience. Of course, there’s a formula that we have to use in distilling that information to the public, but broken down in its simplest terms, I learned how to tell stories about my subjects, both as a writer and a speaker.

Today, I use my love for story telling in writing about my clients: their accomplishments, their challenges, how they solve problems for their clients, and how they use their experience in unique ways to differentiate themselves (and their companies) from their competition.

Today’s exercise was a valuable one: it reminded me why, as Writer For Hire, I am unique and different from other writers in my field. I know that if you are reading this, you also can use your experience, challenges, and love for what you do in your business.

Writer For Hire Pat Kramer is a business writer, ghostwriter, and social media pro with 30 years’ experience in the news media and as a business writer and marketing/PR strategist. For more information, please visit: www.writerpatkramer.com.

Why We Celebrate Presidents’ Day

Presidents’ Day is a state and federal holiday celebrated this year on Monday, February 20th to honor the birthday of our nation’s founder, George Washington. The holiday goes all the way back to 1885 and is still referred to as “Washington’s Birthday.” Although his birthday was actually February 22nd, it is always celebrated on the 3rd Monday of February after the Uniform Monday Holiday Act was passed in 1971 to allow for 3-day weekends for the nation’s workers.

While many people think of Presidents’ Day as a commercial holiday, deluged with commercial advertising to create more commerce, it’s important that we remember from where we came. George Washington was one of the most important figures in the founding of this country and President’s Day is a way to pay homage to his life and where we are today, because of the role he played.

Born in 1732, George Washington served as the Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, which lasted from 1775 to 1783. In that role, he was victorious in establishing the colonial forces as the victors over the well-trained British Army. Prior to that role, he served in the French and Indian War (1754 – 1763). In 1787, he was elected president of the convention that wrote the U.S. Constitution and two years later, became the first president of the United States, serving two terms: (1789 – 1797). He died at the age of 67 at his Virginia plantation, Mt. Vernon three years after ending his second term. His legacy included his attributes of strength, integrity and national purpose.

Some interesting facts about George Washington:

  • His only trip outside the borders of America was in 1751 when he accompanied his half-brother, Lawrence, to Barbados. Although his brother’s tuberculosis improved from the warm climate, George contracted small pox which permanently scarred his face. This is apparent in portraits of Washington that we see today.
  • One of Washington’s first roles in the military was taking on the role of Commander of the Virginia militia in 1752, even though he had no previous military experience. He rapidly gained experience by leading troops in the French and Indian War and eventually was put in charge of all of Virginia’s militia forces. In 1759, he was elected to Virginia’s House of Burgesses, serving until 1774.
  • Washington married Martha Dandridge Custis, who was a widow at the time with two children. The couple never had any children of their own.
  • The war against the British lasted for 8 years but there were few military wins for the Americans during that time.
  • Washington’s troops were poorly trained and had scant supplies – often lacking food, ammunition and it is said, shoes, during the winter.
  • Washington’s ability to motivate them led to the ultimate victory in the Revolutionary War when, with the aid of the French, the Continental Forces captured the British troops fighting under British General Cornwallis in Yorktown, Virginia, ending the war for independence and making General Washington a national hero.
  • George Washington was inaugurated as President at the age of 57 on April 30, 1789 in New York City and lived in both New York and Philadelphia during his presidency, as the White House was not yet built in Washington, D.C.
  • In his farewell address, Washington urged the new nation to maintain the highest standards, domestically, and to keep involvement with foreign powers to a minimum. That address is still read each February in the U.S. Senate to commemorate Washington’s birthday.
  • Today, his face is seen on the dollar bill and the quarter, more than 200 years after his death.
  • At the time of his death in 1799, George Washington owned 300 slaves. However, during his years in office, he became opposed to slavery and – long before President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, willed that his slaves been freed at the time of his wife’s passing.

Pat Kramer, aka “Writer For Hire,” is a business writer, ghostwriter and contributing writer to Crescenta Valley Weekly. Read more at: www.writerpatkramer.com.

 

BEING A FULL-TIME WRITER ISN’T FOR THE FAINT OF HEART

I’ve been a full-time writer for over 25 years, and from a business perspective, it has been a pleasure – most of the time. I love the ability to work from home where I get to enjoy a view of the majestic San Gabriel Mountains rising dramatically to the north and birds building nests in the yucca trees in my backyard.

Working from home allows me to write anytime I feel like it, such as when I have a large project that requires burning the midnight oil, or when I need to do some extra research on a topic in which I’m interested. These factors lend themselves to my creativity and inspire me to do the best work possible for my clients.

Now the down side: Just as politics affect the stock market, it also affects my clients’ interest in making a commitment to their marketing and public relations efforts. We all know that marketing is necessary to expand our business and that the efforts we put in usually pay off in the long run. Sometimes, our marketing efforts also give us “instant gratification,” but not always.

Regardless of what’s going on in the world – or in politics this week – as business owners, we need to maintain a presence ‘out there.’ If we don’t, there will be a measurable lag in our sales and marketing results, so we must always remain accountable to doing something to market our business.

When times are uncertain – as they are today – people might be hesitant to make decisions that require spending money. This isn’t good for their business – and they know that on a rational level, but we human beings are emotional creatures and sometimes we don’t think things through.

So today, let me be your “voice of reason” and remind you that today is as good a day as any to be doing something positive for your business. Whether it’s writing a blog, a biography, a resume, updating your web content or generating ideas for your next press release, get the ball rolling now so that you can start reaping the rewards from your efforts — and today is as good a day as any to get started!

Sunland-Tujunga Branch Library to Celebrate 90th Anniversary

Libraries should serve as not only an educational resource, but also as a cultural resource for the community, says Ardem Ardashes Tajerian, manager of the Sunland-Tujunga Branch of the Los Angeles Public Library. And on Saturday, Decemtujunga-station-1ber 10th the S-T Library will host a celebration with music and art to celebrate its 90 year history. At 12:30 p.m., there will be a marionette show, and at 1:30, a ceremony attended by dignitaries to mark 90 years of library services. At 2:30, the 3-piece jazz band “Soul Purpose” will entertain the public and at 3 p.m., there will be a crafts event on weaving. Tajerian sums up the celebration by saying, “We are celebrating the past and looking forward to the future.”

Mr. Tajerian joined the S-T branch in June after a long history in the Van Nuys branch. His idea, in creating this event, was to embrace the history of the Sunland-Tujunga community. “The Los Angeles Public Library has been in the communities of Sunland and Tujunga for 90 years,” he says. “Originally, there were two little stations in both communities. The Sunland station was a storefront at 8412 Foothill Boulevard in Sunland while the Tujunga station was located at 7212 Valmont. In 1952, they were merged into the current location at 7771 Foothill Boulevard in Sunland. This building is the second one on the current site, built when the first needed to expand.”

For those who enjoy reading, a library card is a valuable investment. Not only can you borrow books, music, and movies but you can also access many of the L.A. Public Library’s data bases (there are 183 of them) to peruse newspapers and archives, science encyclopedias, art encyclopedias, biography encyclopedias, and databases for business and economics, careers, and even auto repair manuals. Access to the online resources is via the website: www.lapl.org.

The S-T Library now hosts a collection of 52,000 volumes of books. Over the past three years, about 104,000 visitors have enjoyed its resources each year. In addition to serving as a lending library with books, magazines and newspapers, DVDs and e-books, the branch has many online research data bases available for library patrons, including a free version of ancestry.com (accessible at the library, itself). Additionally, there are educational aids for all age groups from grade show to college, including online tutoring (available in English and Spanish for a variety of subjects), resume preparation services, computer classes, job search databases, and one to one adult literacy classes.

second-sunland-tujunga-branch“The libraries of today have changed,” notes Tajerian. “What I want to do with this celebration is let the community know that we have not only traditional library services but also many other new and exciting services.”

One of the ways the library supports itself is through book donations and purchases at its onsite book store, manned by volunteers of The Friends of S-T Branch Library. The bookstore is open most days starting at 10 a.m. and offers quality used books at bargain prices.

Tajerian hopes this outreach event helps lay the groundwork to bring in new library patrons – people who may not be aware of the resources available. “I’d really like to emphasize that this is a hub for education and culture for our community. I want people to know that the library is here for whatever educational or leisure needs they have.”

Pat Kramer, aka “Writer For Hire,” is an award-winning business, PR, marketing and ghostwriter who has had more than 1,000 articles, news stories, feature pieces and entertainment write-ups published in major business, news, medical, entertainment and trade journals. She currently focuses on writing persuasive and informational content for companies and business professionals to help them achieve specific goals.

I Found a Way to Give Back

Pat teachingOn April 20 and May 18, 2016, I will be sharing my 30-year career journey as a news journalist, corporate/business copywriter and publicist with high school students at two, underserved Los Angeles high schools: Oscar de la Hoya High School in South L.A. and Animo Inglewood High School. In doing so, I hope to impart to these idealistic young students that the next ten years (at least) of their lives are going to involve hard work and sacrifice. And while they will question the need for giving up their free time and putting in this level of effort, it will all pay off in the future because it will provide them with the dedication, determination and discipline they need to be successful at whatever they choose to do.

My two presentations are in partnership with the Youth Business Alliance (YBA), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that focuses on bringing critical 21st century business skills and perspectives into the classroom. In an effort to provide high school students with a broader perspective of what it takes to be successful, The Youth Business Alliance invites business leaders to share their experience and achievements. The YBA was formed in 2012 with one disadvantaged school and has since grown to include 14 high schools serving roughly 350 disadvantaged students each year through its year-long after school course “Introduction to Business & Careers.” When I started my career as a news broadcaster and radio news reporter right out of college, I had stars in my eyes: That first month, I got to meet and interview Sweden’s King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia who were in Newport, R.I. for the America’s Cup Races. I also got to interview American icon Ginger Rogers who was humble, gracious and patient with me.

But that first year was also a time of sacrifice. I had the midnight to six a.m. shift at radio station WOTB and in addition to having to be there six nights a week (Monday – Saturday), I also had to cover City Council/Town Council meetings in three towns before I went to work. Then just 21 years old, I often felt lost, lonely, and displaced from everyone I knew and had a hard time making connections in that affluent seaside resort community, so I threw myself into my work and that became the focus of my life.

That same discipline followed me to the next radio station and the next. For most of the next ten years, I worked every shift around the clock: afternoon drive time (1 p.m. – 7 p.m.), morning drive time (5:00 a.m. – 1 p.m.), both morning and afternoon drive times (split-shifts), weekends, afternoons, evenings, and finally, as the News Director for a small radio station in Massachusetts.

Eventually I decided to get out of radio altogether. I moved to the West Coast in 1988 with the dream of writing for a number of entertainment publications. I managed to do that but found out that they didn’t pay enough to make a living, so I also began working as a writer for a number of public relations firm. In 1990, I started my own business as Writer For Hire® and also freelanced for the Los Angeles Business Journal, Variety, Boxoffice, Entertainment Weekly, Insurance Journal and a number of corporate outfits.

What I have found is that it is never easy to build your dreams – it always involves sacrifices and hard work, but overall, it pays off by giving us the opportunity to do the kind of work that we love. Today, I have clients who I value, who hire me because they need my expertise, they respect my work ethic and they pay me for my time.

Looking back, I’ve never worked so hard in my life as I did at the start of my career, but I believe all the challenges I have had gave me a wealth of experience in life and a tenacity to succeed, when other writers have had to close up shop or take other jobs. Now, I have the opportunity to help today’s youth get started on their own career path and it’s my time to give back.

Writer Pat Kramer specializes in developing informational, editorial, promotional and ghostwritten content for law firms, real estate and insurance companies, the travel and hospitality industry, and a wide variety of business professionals and potential authors. Her press releases have helped first-time authors reach “best seller” status on Amazon.com, and her media outreach campaigns have elevated formerly unknown business professionals to “thought leaders” in their industries. Known as Writer For Hire® since 1990, Pat has written more than 1,000 articles for local, national and well respected industry publications.

As a speaker, Pat Kramer has led workshops and seminars for business associations and organizations for the past 20 years, helping them to improve their branding messages by using news-oriented press releases, professionally-written articles, and informational blogs on social media. Pat is a recognized business leader and an active member of her business and civic community in Sunland-Tujunga. She is an advocate for the humane treatment of animals and the ghostwriter of several books and memoirs.

For more information on Writer For Hire®, please visit: www.writerpatkramer.com.

To learn more about Youth Business Alliance, go to: www.youthbizalliance.com.

 

VALENTINE’S DAY: IT’S NOT JUST FOR COUPLES

The History of Valentine’s Day and What It Has Come to Mean Today 

Valentine’s Day is a holiday that most people observe due to its popularity in our culture. But where did it begin and why do we set aside the date of February 14th each year for this observance?  That is the question I aimed to answer in researching this holiday tha170px-BigPinkHeartt is now widely observed worldwide.

Historical references of a Valentine’s Day- like holiday during February go back to Ancient Greece which celebrated the month of Gamelion from mid-January to mid-February in honoring the sacred marriage of Zeus and Hera. Meanwhile, in Ancient Rome, a celebration of fertility was taking place at the festival of Lupercalia, February 13–15.

Valentine’s Day or “Saint Valentine’s Day” actually dates back to the early Christian era in Ancient Rome with a liturgical celebration of Saint Valentinus who was martyred for ministering to Christians and secretly providing marriages for Roman soldiers, who were prohibited to marry.  In Slovenia, Saint Valentine or “Zdravko” later became the patron saint of beekeepers and pilgrims in association with good health and the season of spring. Saint Valentine is also celebrated as the patron saint of Lebanon by a large portion of the population.

Chaucer is Commonly Associated with Valentine’s Day Being an Observance of Love

About 1,000 years later, English poet Geoffrey Chaucer wrote “Parlement of Foules” in 1382:

“For this was on seynt Volantynys day, Whan euery bryd comyth there to chese his make.”

[“For this was on St. Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate.”]

That poem is attributed to the creation of the holiday of Valentine’s Day as a testament to romantic love.

The Holiday Originates in England and Then Comes to America Through Worcester, MA Artist

The trend of exchanging hand-made valentines started growing in England in the 18th century then grew to include gifts of flowers and confectionaries. When Worcester, Massachusetts artist Esther Howland received an ornate valentine from a business associate of her father’s in 1847, she decided to begin producing her own with imported lace and paper from England.  Her business quickly grew as the trend expanded with her earning $100,000 a year from her small business. Esther, a graduate of Mt. Holyoke College, has since become known as the “Mother of the American Valentine” and my hometown of Worcester, MA is known as the “Heart of the Commonwealth,” with a heart as its official symbol.

During the 2nd half of the 20th century, gifts like roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolate also became popular for Valentine’s Day. In the 1980’s, the diamond industry joined the fray by promoting Valentine’s Day as a time for getting engaged and for special jewelry purchases.

Today, the Greeting Card Association estimates over one billion paper valentines are exchanged each year in the United States with teachers receiving the most highest percentage. Digital communications have further expanded Valentine’s Day as e-cards and love coupons have become available.

How Other Countries Celebrate Valentine’s Day

In many Latin American countries including: Mexico, Columbia, Costa Rica and Puerto Rico, Valentine’s Day is known as “El Día de los Enamorados” (Day of Lovers) or as “Día del Amor y la Amistad” (Day of Love and Friendship). In Guatemala, “Día del Cariño” (Affection Day) is celebrated on February 14th while in other countries, both Día del Amor y la Amistad and the Amigo Secreto (“Secret Friend”) are celebrated together.

Since 1992, India has partaken in the holiday. This trend has actually changed the very old customs regarding displays of public affection more than any other ritual since the Middle Ages. Russia, too, observes Valentine’s Day now and has since the fall of the USSR.

Of the Asian countries, Singapore is noted to have the highest expenditure for Valentine’s Day gift giving, followed by South Korea and China.  Japan, Taiwan, China and South Korea celebrate the holiday with women giving gifts of chocolate to men, who then reciprocate by giving chocolates and other gifts to women on “White Day,” celebrated March 14th.

In the Philippines, Valentine’s Day is called Araw ng mga Pusò (“Day of Hearts”) and is celebrated in much the same manner as in the West.  In Spain, Wales, Scandinavia, Romania, Portugal, France, Finland and Estonia, Valentine’s Day is often celebrated as a romantic holiday.

Where NOT to Celebrate Valentine’s Day

Traditional Hindu and Islamic countries oppose the practice of Valentine’s Day, believing it to be cultural contamination from the West. These countries include Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran and parts of India. In 2014, religious police in Saudi Arabia were reported to have arrested five men for celebrating St. Valentine’s Day in the company of six women. The Buraidah criminal court pronounced sentences totaling 32 years’ imprisonment and 4,500 lashes to the men.

Do You Have to Be “In Love” to Celebrate?

For a long time, singles were stigmatized by the Valentine’s Day holiday, feeling ‘left out’ of the celebration or sometimes seeing it as a failure in the romantic department.  As the holiday has taken on more of a commercial glare, it’s important to note its origins as a celebration of the spring, of birds finding their mates, or as a good time to plant crops. Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day with chocolates, roses, greeting cards — or not at all, the sentiment of love and appreciation is what this holiday is really all about.