Summertime thoughts

Howdy! Just thinking that summer is just about over and finally, my family and I are going to take a few days to rest and be together. Due to circumstances beyond our control, this will NOT mean our usual trek to the ocean nor visit to the Maryland State Fair. We had to have many conversations this year due to my husband’s recent knee injury as to how we could be together for a little summertime fun.

In the end the decision still remains, cook on the back deck, play a few games, go to the movies and just ignore the 5,000 emails, 4,000 phone calls and all that is a part of owning your own business within the walls of your home and including your family as part of your team. Just a little ‘chill’ time!

We love what we do and our clients are amazing and inspiring people, but everyone needs rest.

Summer is always also a time to remember – my 19th wedding anniversary is on August 21st and so the remembering begins a few days before as my oldest son asks, “Are we going to watch the video this year?” My answer is probably not as the VCR Is broken… alas, customs in our house are difficult to break. Every year for 19 we have watched this video at this time with the kids reliving our beautiful day but change is a part of everything that is happening for us right now! It is Positive change bringing positive, good people and opportunities into our lives!

July tends to bring out the “oh no we are 1/2 way through the year” in me and I review everything. Now, August and September become take action times, but as I have learned, sometimes you have to re-energize, regroup and enjoy a little family, summertime first!!

What are you doing to enjoy the summer?

Have You Heard of Pinterest?

Pinterest, a new type of social media site, which uses words like pinning – boards – a visual pin board.  I have to say at first, even I, a programmer and social media gal, was skeptical of this new site.  Really, I asked my team as they were exploring Pinterest and giving me weekly reports – Really? People are using this graphic “bulletin board”?

Nine months after launch, the site counted 10,000 users, with few of them active on a daily basis BUT – Did you know? Pinterest reached 7.2 million visitors in the U.S. in December 2011. Wow, and now I am an active user! Just like my team and many others, I see the fun, social-ness, and value in Pinterest!

Here’s a definition straight from the site CEO, Ben Silbermann of what Pinterest is all about:

Pinterest – is a Virtual Pinboard.  Pinterest lets you organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web. People use pinboards to plan their weddings, decorate their homes, and organize their favorite recipes. Best of all, you can browse pinboards created by other people. Browsing pinboards is a fun way to discover new things and get inspiration from people who share your interests.

Ben worked at Google prior to launching Pinterest and now is talking to others about how to begin their business. Find more on Pinterest and their CEO in this article:  All Things D – Pinterest article

My definition: It is much like a bulletin board where you pin photos, mementos from events you’ve attended, and even much like, a Dream Board or a Vision Board, if you will.  For me, of course, my first embrace to the site was it is a way to display the beautiful dragonflies that I love!

Get started today at Pinterest by going to and asking for invitation. This will come via email and usually takes a few days now that they are such an active and busy social media site!

For pinning to your boards, you can upload a graphic or photo from your computer or find one anywhere on Pinterest – just type into the search bar at top left – or you can find something on the web to pin.

The choices are infinite! But, there are many beautiful beaches, homes, places, and even social media! Another great way to find inspiration for what my team and I do is to look at how others display and portray themselves. If you are a visual person, this is a very fun social media site.

For business, there are a few ways that can be engaging and social at Pinterest and still help you to market your business. One way is if you have a product, have photos taken of others holding the product and pin those. (I encourage you to get their permission before pinning. 🙂

My team and I will be giving some social media workshops in the next few months on this new, fast moving and active social media site – Pinterest. Hope to see you!

Is your content embracing others?

Recently, my team and I have been giving social media workshops. We often get asked some form of this question – What should we use for content? What should we post?

I have an infinite number of suggestions on this subject, but what I try to communicate to folks is to use content that is going to be what people who are following your content will want.  How do you know what they want?  Have you asked them lately?

Are you offering tidbits of info to help others from your area of expertise? Do you post inspiring, motivating, uplifting or helpful content? Are you giving articles which you are interested in reading? Are you asking questions? How about discussing community fundraisers, bringing awareness to non-profits in need or just sharing a funny video?

These are quite a few questions and when I ask my clients these and more questions – sometimes they feel overwhelmed, but you must have a plan; a goal.

Your audience is craving your attention – what are you giving them? Is it content that will embrace them? Will it make them remember you? Are you truly portraying who you are?

Carefully proofread your words; sometimes it seems like the best idea in the world to share when you feel down or when your world has received something great but how are you wording it? Do you appear to be a Me Monster? Are you going to want to remove this from your Facebook Timeline in a month, a year or more? A good indicator that maybe, this is not the best content.

Remember – Embrace your audience – give them what you like to see in your News Feed! Spread the positive, give information, share educational data and generally, help others with your social media and you will embrace others!

Have You Heard? The Timeline is Coming to Facebook PAGES!

Oh my! Yes, it is true! Another set of changes have been confirmed by Facebook in New York on February 29th! The new Timeline will now be rolled out all at one time on March 30th, 2012 to every Page at Facebook.

This means if you own, run or operate a business, the way you connect and build relationships with your Facebook Page will change! The good news is – the changes are awesome! Your business will now have the ability to enjoy a large Cover Photo! The details are still be clarified by the folks at Facebook as to what your Facebook Page’s Cover Photo can and cannot include.

Here are a few details we do know about Cover Photos for Facebook Pages –

  • You may not use contact details or website links
  • You may use multiple photos to create one collage giving an image of your business
  • You may have Custom Apps such as Welcome Pages, Daily Deals or Testimonials

Here is an informative article with details of what is happening at Facebook from their help center! Be sure to watch the video as it gives a great visual of how a sandwich shoppe uses their Facebook page to get the word out about their yummy food!

Introducing NEW Facebook Pages

Do you wish to dedicate your time to growing your business? Would you like these changes implemented but just don’t have the time? Contact our team as we can help! Begin enjoying the Facebook Timeline experience today! Or tell someone you know who may be interested! Let us help your business fly to new heights using social media!


Listen! It is a word that parents use with their children quite often; maybe sometimes a bit too often. Since I was a very small child, it seems someone was telling me I needed to listen better; and of course, talk less.

As you grow and age, one thing you gain is the understanding of why it is important to listen. As a mother, child care provider and volunteer as a Girl Scout Leader, I find that listening to children really gives them a feeling of empowerment and confidence. As they have much to say and when you listen, you can discover many wonderful parts of their personalities.

But, for me, in the past few months Listening has been defined more as something I was attempting to do as a business owner. By listening to those around me who have expertise in areas that I do not, I knew that I could help my business to grow. Sometimes, this meant, believing in what they were telling me, even if it seemed impossible or out of reach for me. They have the expertise in their field and I knew in my heart and head that I needed to embrace what they were telling me is possible.

The first instance of this was a few months ago I moved homes. For the first time in years, I called upon help – my friend, the Realtor. On more than one occasion what she seemed to say to do would have “never” entered my mind, but when I followed her expertise and advice, and listened, my family and I found the best home we’ve had in many years!

Just recently my business coach met with me and what his proposal for me included for 2012 seemed out of this world – I actually looked at him as if he had 3 heads when he discussed this plan with me.  However, he is the expert in his field and so, I came home and began to embrace the new goals; both for personal development and for my business. By outlining the goals (on paper – there is just something about written form), then implementing the goals in small chunks daily; I was able to listen. By doing so, new doors and opportunities are beginning to open for my team and I in 2012!

Listen to those who have the expertise knowledge and experience in their fields; those whom you know and trust. Listen and embrace what they tell you!

You can have a Professional Email Signature!

People ask me this all the time – How do I get an Email signature that shows my social media icons and has some style to it? Maybe a splash of color, or a hyperlink, even a photo would be nice!

All of this and more is possible and for – Free! Just check out WiseStamp which gives you the ability to set up an Email signature with Gmail, AOL, Yahoo or Hotmail. They welcome these browsers: Mozilla Firefox, Safari and Google Chrome!

In just moments you can create a personal and business signature. You can add color, fonts, sizing and more! It is very user friendly for adding the social media buttons for places like Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and more. As it is simply a matter of adding the url into the box and Viola it creates the icon and inserts it into your signature for you!

In addition there are settings for adding your signature automatically every time you compose a new email. I adore this feature as it makes it super easy to do and not have to worry about it! Visit WiseStamp today!!

If you are an Outlook user, please check out my friend Michelle Mangen’s data on how to add a Twitter (or other icon) to your email from Outlook.  Click here to read Michelle’s article!

And enjoy your day!!


Do You want the new Facebook Timeline? Let us Help!

Have you switched to Timeline yet on your Facebook Personal Profile? Or, are you like many others – waiting until the change is implemented automatically and you are forced to use it? Do you wish you could have this new technology in order to organize all your memories, photos, posts and life experiences, but just do not have the time to upload and get started?

Let our team help!

We will provide you these services to get you started:

  • Upload your new timeline for your personal Facebook profile
  • Create a custom cover image to showcase your business
  • Feed a hyperlink to your business Facebook Page
  • Give training to teach you how to highlight your favorite life events or parts of your new profile
  • Help you capture important business & life events on your Timeline
  • Create your memories to last forever in your Timeline

Fee: $25.00

We will customize your Facebook Timeline Cover Photo to show across the top of your personal profile with your business logo or a collage of friends and family photos! Whatever you can imagine – we can create!

Here’s an example of a few Facebook users we’ve helped –

Laura Strunk’s Timeline

Sally Stevens Timeline

and mine – Anita M Hicks’ Timeline

Begin enjoying the Facebook Timeline experience today! Or tell someone you know who may be interested!

Not sure what this new Facebook Timeline is all about? Check out this video straight from Facebook:

Contact us today via email at or 410-255-2609

Moving – A Lesson in Embracing Change

1010 Chestnut Haven Court - Our 'new' home

Moving – Just the sound of it instills an uneasy feeling in my stomach. As renters my husband and I know that this is always just 60 days away at any given time.  We sign leases knowing that with just a single sheet of paper, the person who owns our home can essentially give us 2 months to find another one.  We try not to think about this and have over the past 20 years built roots in our community. As the daughter of a Navy Mechanic and then Railroad engineer, as a child, moving was something we did often; sometimes twice in one year – ugh.  I am proud to say in the past 20 years we have only moved our children 4 times!

On July 22nd at about 4 pm our mail arrived, along with it the certified letter asking us to vacate the property by September 30th.  This is our home where we and our 3 children live, work and grow – not a property.  My first reaction was total fear and anger at our landlord – why is he doing this – we had a good relationship.  Instead of embracing this and thinking of where he might be – I began to fall apart almost immediately into what my husband calls “Eeyore mode”.

Two days of this worrying – My oldest son, Matt, is 23 and home from the Air Force for about a year now -not only with a physical injury he will carry with him for the rest of his life, but with a lack of direction in his life until recently – this move would be very hard on him as he lives with us.  My middle son, DJ, is a Senior in High School, has huge issues socializing and making friends is hard for him.  I worried more – my DJ will be devastated.  My baby girl, Hannah, 13 years old this year in 8th grade and to pull her from the roots she’s just beginning to make would hurt.  I worried about our recently purchase of a rescue kitten, after 6 years of saying “No Pets” to my kids – how would we find a rental with a cat? Now we all LOVE Shadow, a lovable black kitten. I cried, I fussed, I was upset.  Finally, the light bulb went off in my head — and my husband’s stern looks – whipped me into Action mode.  First Action:  Call in some help.

This was a tough one.  I am the first one to say yes to helping others. Giving back to my community is just a part of who I am.  I Teach the kids, if someone asks for help, then try to do all you can to help.  But, when it comes to me asking for help for me – a big knot forms in my stomach every time; no matter that these are folks who I adore and know care for me, it is difficult to ask.  But, I did.  (I admit, looking back, after I asked – I felt so much better.)

Calls for help to a much respected friend to get advice on what to do – my wonderful friend says – CALL the landlord & ask why! In doing so, I find that he is going through a life changing event and needs his home for his daughter and self.  Will give us excellent reference! Next, call my friend who has much expertise in homes and she directs me to the paths needed to proceed. It was her knowledge and guidance that opened the path to our new home.  I reached out for help to my friends who would give me personal references.  These steps of action began to make moving seem less fearful.  Maybe we would be able to do this and quickly before school started.  A little hope was seeping into my soul, as I looked at things for a solution with a positive attitude.

I am pleased to say that by August 6th we had signed a new lease.  The home is much newer, cleaner, a larger kitchen and the children have more space.  My new office for Virtual Assistance by Anita is fabulous!  I have a window!  The neighborhood is fabulous and the kids are still in the same schools! Wow! Even more important to my husband and I is that we have more hope for the future than ever before!

'Our old home'

A note:  My family & I are exhausted.  It is hard work moving; emotionally and physically.  The hours required to actually move and clean the old house; prepare it to give back to landlord, were much more than expected.  My wonderful friend, who is a Realtor, told me recently “Moving is the third largest stress in your life.” – Wow – I would certainly agree, after had just done it.  Now, my business will need a little extra help to get back on track – once again – I have asked for help!  A new young, fresh face will be added to our team to help us back onto a solid track from missing hours to move and internet service, phone service.  This young lady is an intern – more later on that!

It is my great joy to report that my clients are some of the most understanding and caring folks!  Many reached out to me – asking how they could help me! – and here, I was just worried that I might not be able to supply our usual high level of service to them.

Many thanks to all of you who reached out to help me and give my family this new, beautiful home!  We so appreciate you!

The lesson:  Once I embraced the changed, enlisted a little help and found my positive attitude, the world was good!  In the end, this change has been one with many new and better opportunities for my business and my family.  The lesson is to: Be Positive!  🙂


Life is a Rollercoaster

Okay usually when I blog it is to share something of value for social media – a tip or trick to help you.  Or I blog to share with others something positive in my life; like the community who surrounded me last year and gave me a new ‘extreme smile makeover’ but today … this is an Eeyore day.

An Eeyore day defined by me is one where I just feel like my ‘house of sticks is falling down’ – The black rain cloud is only over my head – you get the picture!

I have to say that most of the time life is just like a rollercoaster – sometimes we are climbing, working along towards the top and then we are there and then we crash down straight to an unexpected place that we didn’t necessarily prepare for ahead of time!

This is where I am – at the rushing straight downward spiral, afraid, excited and a ton of other emotions all at one time.  Something very unexpected in my life happened yesterday; it was not a minor thing either; but now I know it will be the way that I embrace it that makes all the difference.  I cannot change it; it is what it is.  Which means – find the opportunity; deal with it and stop letting the emotions carry me along. straight downward…

Life is a rollercoaster and you just never know where you are going to be!  Or it is like a box of chocolates … You all know that one…   Be well – find the opportunity – Enjoy the Ride!!

Using “Facebook as Page” Can Be Helpful!

Recently Facebook added a new feature to Facebook Pages which can be very helpful if you are the Owner or Admin of a Page you are using for business!

The Facebook Pages now show down the right side a place where it says “Use Facebook as…” and the name of your Page.  When you click on this you essentially become the Page.  To go back to your personal name/profile, just click on Account (upper right) and click where it says “Use Facebook as” and your name.

When you become the Page, you can see the recent people who have “Liked” your page or as it used be called, have become fans.  This is useful as sometimes I see the numbers going up and am not sure who was last! 🙂 And you can see notifications of comments, likes etc for your Page.  This is nice.

But what really motivated me to write about this new added feature to Facebook Pages is – Now since you are the Page, if you go visit another Page, you can comment as your business Page.  So my Page, Virtual Assistance by Anita, can then go out to another page, let’s say Village Connector and comment as the page.  You can say thank you or give some positive input.  When you post, it will leave the link to your Page.  This could be very helpful for businesses trying to establish or build relationships!

Take Action! Try it out today and let me know what you think! I love comments!  Find me on Facebook at – Virtual Assistance by Anita!

Sending out wishes to all for a smooth flight in life and social media – from my dragonflies