• No pain, no gain? Trying to keep balance skiing.

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    Yardsale at Mt. Snow

    A Yard Sale at Mt. Snow.

    I went to Mt. Snow, Vermont this weekend to ski, chill out (and considering the frigid temperatures, I believe that I succeded). I’ve been working non-stop on my new t-shirt business so a weekend away, in the fresh air and snow was just the right balance that I needed in my life. Saturday started out as a beautiful, sunny day. It was cold, but without any wind, it was a perfect ski day. Now I am a pretty good skier, although I haven’t skied since the beginning of December and haven’t worked out much in the past month due to a nasty cold. I started my day skiing with friends on intermediate trails on the front of the mountain, terrain I know so well I can almost ski it blindfolded. No sooner did I make my first few turns when I noticed something off about my skiing. I could barely control my skis. Turning on hard pack felt like ice and I could not get an edge at all. Was I so out of shape that my skiing could have gotten this bad? Every turn was an effort and I kept having to stop to rest. This couldn’t be me!

    Coming down Ridge Run, I felt my skis cross in front of me and I found my self heading head first down into the snow, hard! My friend Bill stoping behind me couldn’t believe how hard that I fell. Nothing but my ego bruised (so I thought) I got up and continued skiing. My next fall proved to be more of a yard sale. Again my skis tips crossed and I found myself separated from my skis, once again sitting in the snow. So unusual was this for me, that my friend Susan, felt the need to capture this with her camera.

    At the end of the day I decided to take my skis into the ski shop and see if it was really me or the ski. When the ski tech took a look at the bottom of the skis after I explained to him what had been happening all day, he told me that it was no wonder that I was falling. It seems that my skis were sharpened too many times and in doing so, the edges were higher than the base, so I was actually skiing on two boards with no edge at all. The skis had been throwing me off balance! Well that certainly made me feel better. I left them overnight for stone grinding, where they grind down the base to match up with the edges, and headed to the bar for a much needed glass of wine!

    Inspirational ski and snowboard t-shirt

    Life is Balance "Keep Your Edge" Ski and Snowboard t-shirt

    The following day, setting out on my newly tuned skis, I discovered that I wasn’t in as bad a shape as I had thought. It was like night and day. I was skiing just like I used to ski – effortlessly! Hallelujah!

    It was only when I got home and woke up the next morning, unable to move that I realized just why I don’t like to fall in the first place! Oh well, nothing is broken and the spasms in my back will eventually go away (soon I hope) and I am looking forward to the next time. What I learned from this experience is that while the activities like skiing may balance our lives, it takes well-maintained equipment to stay balanced!

  • Finding Balance through Yoga in Goa, India

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    Life is Balance yin-yang design yoga t-shirt in yoga class in Goa, India

    A yoga participant wear the Life is Balance "Set Your Intention" t-shirt during her practice in Goa, India

    According to Lonely Planet, “Swaying palms, white sands and sparkling waters: the three essential elements that attract 2 million visitors annually to Goa’s balmy shores are plentiful in this tiny, glorious slice of India hugging the country’s western coastline and bounded by the Arabian Sea.” Goa is located in south India, and used to be a Portuguese colony, it became a part of India in the 60’s. It is mainly catholic, but there is also a Jewish community stemming from those who came here in the 15th century to escape the inquisition.

    Life is Balance inspirational t-shirt in Goa, India

    Helen Noakes (front) with two students, one wearing a Life is Balance tee.

    Life is Balance has found it’s way to this beautiful slice of India by way of my friend Monique Nerman a fellow scuba diver and fabulous artist, who brought one of my Yoga t-shirt designs as a gift for her friend Helen Noakes, a Chavutti Thirumal (Indian Rope Massage) and  Scaravelli Inspired  Yoga instructor who is currently teaching in Goa, India. According to Monique, “I wanted to bring Life is Balance to Goa, because a lot of people who come to Goa, are looking for alternative ways to find balance and new ways to look at life… she teaches yoga in a fun and interesting way. She wants you to discover yourself through her yoga classes, her motto being: be juicy.”

    Now back to the t-shirt! I was very excited to learn that a Life is Balance “Set Your Intention” tee was worn during a photo shoot for the next update Helen Noakes website. The shoot took place at Chikoo house, which is near one of the “hippie locations” from the 70’s, when both European and American hippies hit the road via Istanbul to Pakistan, Kathmandu (Nepal) and then down to Goa, to start the “Hippie Goa Tribe.” The “Full Moon Parties” in Goa became famous on the traveler route in Asia and soon there was a whole community of alternative people living in Goa. Nowadays Goa is a much more health oriented place. People come here to teach and learn Yoga and there is a vibrant alternative expat scene, and lots of parties on the beach. What a perfect setting for Life is Balance to make it’s introductory appearance!

    silhouette of a Goan cow overlooking the water at sunset

    Even the cows seem to find peace and balance here!

  • Confessions of a shopping cart-a-holic…or how I chose my eCommerce Shopping Cart.

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    Lifeisbalance.com inspirational t-shirt website in shopping cartAs some of you might know, I have been busy starting up a new online business selling a new line of inspirational t-shirts that I have designed. The easy part was designing the shirts. I did that a couple of years ago. I came up with a design and a name. I then trademarked that name (Life is Balance®) and copyrighted the designs. And then I tried to get them licensed. Simple, right? It didn’t turn out to be so easy. While at first it seemed that I was on my way to a great licensing deal, sure to put my designs on the map, it didn’t quite unfold the way I had originally anticipated. But, not wanting to give up what I still thought a good idea, I decided to go another route – produce the t-shirts myself and sell them online.

    In order to do that I needed an online store. For that I needed an eCommerce website with a shopping cart. I started to do some research into what the best hosted shopping cart were. Since I spent a lot of time doing the research I thought I’d share my findings in the hope that someone else can benefit from my legwork. I know that when I was in the trows of trying to make a decision, I would have loved to read what someone like me had decided to do, and why.

    I googled shopping cart and got to an independent review site: zippycart. They explain all the pros and cons of the top hosted shopping carts, compare pricing, ease of use, and various other factors in order to help you choose which cart to go with. They even let you pick different carts to see a side by side comparison. From their advice, as well as entering into various discussions on Linkedin, I picked two carts to try out. I learned that most reputable shopping carts will give you the opportunity to try them out for free for a few weeks, in order to see if they will work for you.

    I tried out two shopping carts for their free trial: Core Commerce and 3D Cart. I tried adjusting the templates to make my store look the way I wanted to. It was pretty simple with Core Commerce to make changes to a selected template since I didn’t need FTP access to change the CSS (although I have ftp access now) and play around with changing buttons, colors, images, etc. I didn’t find 3D Cart as easy (although to be fair I didn’t try that hard).

    I called customer service at Core Commerce several times and found them very helpful and didn’t have to wait long to speak with a live person. I have since found their customer service excellent. They are only open during business hours but since I do want a life (life is balance, after all), I don’t think that will be an issue. When I call customer service, I get a live person pretty quickly with very little hold times in most cases. They do have an online ticketing procedure so that I can send a question by filling out a ticket request after hours and I find that I often get pretty quick responses, even after hours.  When I tried calling customer service at 3D Cart I was on hold so long that I finally hung up.

    The other main reason that I chose Core Commerce was the pricing plans. I am currently in the lowest cost plan ($19.95/mo) which is the same as 3D Cart’s lowest cost plan but I get up to 100 products with that plan and then for $24.99 I would get 200 products. 3D Cart’s $19.95 plan gives you only 50 products and the next plan up is $35.99 for 100 products. So economically, Core Commerce gave me better options for growing my product line.

    My site was relatively easy to set it up. Anything I didn’t understand I called Customer Support and they walked me through it. Being a graphic designer, I do know some html and css so I was able tweak the template in order to make the design my own. If I had a question on coding, all I had to do was post my question in their forums, and someone, either a company representative, or another shop owner, replied with the answer that I was looking for. I only needed a web developer to help me with a few adjustments that I couldn’t do on my own. All in all I am happy with my choice and my ecommerce website is now live and open for business. Now all I need are some customers 🙂

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