“Keep Calm and Carry On”

Keep Calm and Carry OnFor some reason, many Americans admire all things British. For instance, we are often impressed by the accent of those hailing from across the ocean. When an individual from Great Britain says something, they sound a great deal more intelligent than those of us born in farmland USA. Even though we fought for freedom from our Mother country over two hundred years ago, we are still tied to her apron strings by our fascination with England’s royalty, culture, and celebrities. Can I get an “Amen” from a few Beatles or Downton Abbey fans?

That’s why it’s no surprise that an historic five word phrase originated by the Brits has caused an ongoing marketing stir stateside. “Keep Calm and Carry On,” can be found on coffee cups, T-shirts, infant attire, phone cases, decals, tote bags, aprons, wall plaques, and you name it. In 1939, it all began with a few World War II posters designed by the Ministry of Information, the public relations branch of the British government created to encourage the country’s citizens during the war. According to the www.keepcalmandcarryon.com website, “With a bold coloured background, the posters were required to be similar in style and feature the symbolic crown of King George VI along with a simple yet effective font. The first two posters, ‘Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will Bring Us Victory’ and ‘Freedom is in Peril’ were produced by His Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO).”Keep Calm and Carry On 2

Both of these positive propaganda posters were displayed all over England on buses, store windows, and in public places. While the third poster with the words, “Keep Calm and Carry On” was not to be issued until Britain experienced a crisis or invasion. Multiple sources estimate that approximately 2.5 million copies were printed, but never released. It is speculated that following World War II most of the posters were destroyed. Fast forward over 50 years when a “Keep Calm and Carry On” poster with a red background was discovered in Barter Books, a used bookstore in northeast England. In 2000, the bookseller’s owner found the copy among some old books he purchased from an auction. The poster was then framed and hung in the book shop. Copies were eventually made and sold, as customers embraced the motivational message.

The Story of Keep Calm and Carry On produced in a short video by Barter Books channel on Youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrHkKXFRbCI reports that, “Since that time, the poster has been reproduced, parodied, trivialized, and has become a truly iconic image of the 21st century.” A parody in www.dictionary.com is by definition “a humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing.” Parodies of the famous slogan include: “Keep Calm and Have a Cupcake,” “Keep Calm and Buy Shoes,” “Keep Calm and Read a Romance,” “Keep Calm and Tweet On,” “Now Panic and Freak Out,” and “Keep Calm…Oh Who Are We Kidding,” along with countless more. Like the last two parodies portray, it’s not easy to remain tranquil in a world filled with ongoing chaos. Still, the British are known for their stiff upper lip of  exercising great restraint in the midst of calamity. The poster’s popularity is also benefiting Americans seeking the virtue of self-control, because its timeless wisdom appears universal.

But how do we “Keep Calm?” Citing the stressful situations life produces, New York Times Best-selling author Joyce Meyer offers some advice in her article, “How to Calm Down and Cheer Up,” on her website, www.joycemeyer.org. “We need to have a change of attitude,” writes Meyer. “The right attitude and approach can completely turn a situation around. Instead of stressing out and tensing up, calm down, take a deep breathe and try to get some perspective on the situation.”Joyce Meyer

The evangelistic lady speaker admits, “You may not be able to control the situation, but you can control how you respond to it.” Meyer sounds like an NFL coach in the locker room before a challenging game when she advises, “Take an offensive approach and decide beforehand what your attitude will be.” To “Keep Calm and Carry On” appears to be a faith-filled choice that one can make in the midst of daunting circumstances. However, not only carrying on, but becoming hopeful about the future as well.

Personally, the verses from Matthew 6:25-27 NLT resonate with me, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27  Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?” I freely admit that I am a “One Day at a Time” person due to an ongoing struggle with anxiety. That’s why remembering that God’s always got my back, makes me rest a lot easier. How about you? What do you do to deal with the pressures of life? The bottom line is that with God at our side, we don’t ever have to worry about anything again.

Christina aloneChristina Ryan Claypool is an award-winning freelance journalist and inspirational speaker.
Contact her through her website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com. She has been featured on CBN’s 700 Club and on Joyce Meyer Ministries Enjoying Everyday Life TV program.

 

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Tips for having a Great Garage Sale!

Garage Sale signHow many garage sale enthusiasts do we have out there? Spring, summer, and early fall, signs advertise them everywhere. Like a lot of folks, I enjoy finding a useful bargain among another individual’s discarded treasures. Take the morning when I snagged a really good deal on a Black & Decker hedge trimmer. No more 20-year-old manual clippers for me.

The friendly gray-haired gentlemen who sold me the bright orange trimmers even gave me a brief tutorial on how to not dismember my digits (cut my fingers off) before I handed him my $10 bill. Honestly though, I thought the electric cord came with them so I was a little dismayed when he unplugged the trimmers and detached the cord after my lesson. I mildly protested but no way was he throwing it in.

As for electrical items, as a buyer, it’s always the best policy to test them before you purchase. I know as a seller, you are probably being impeccably honest when you say you just used your toaster, blow dryer, or TV set lately, and that it works great. Yet sadly, there are unscrupulous people who deceive naïve shoppers everyday. Once this happens, you usually learn to ask to see the electrical item at work. After all, there are no return policies on second-hand bargains.

As for having a garage sale, you can host a successful sale which requires a bit of work, or you can just muddle through. For example, most of us yard sale fanatics really appreciate order and stated prices. When we enter a garage filled with stuff haphazardly heaped on tables or strewn all over the floor without price tags, often we leave without buying much.garage-sale-clip-art-ir5kuc9o

Tip #1  It’s too much work to dig through a pile of junk when one has no idea what’s in that pile or how much the stuff costs. Now, if you make everything one price and group clothing in somewhat of a semblance of size and gender that really helps. Although quality apparel needs to be hung with specific price tags, which will garner a higher price. Even though it takes a lot of time, pricing really is the ticket (pun intended) if you want to sell your discarded treasures. That is unless your prices are too high. No matter how much you paid for something, remember it’s used, and you no longer want it. Depreciation can be well over 90 percent or more, especially on clothing articles.

Tip #2 Some garage sale enthusiasts like to barter a bit. Don’t get angry with them for trying to get the best deal, that’s all part of the game. Other individuals might be too timid to ask if you are willing to take less. So, if you see someone who seems interested in something, you might want to casually say, “We are willing to take offers.” Of course, everyone at your sale at that moment will no longer want to pay full price either, so be prepared.

Tip #3 Then there is the importance of advertising. Since I am a freelance newspaper columnist, it might sound like a self-promoting plug to suggest spending a few bucks on a classified ad in your local newspaper. But without marketing your sale will have little chance of success. Those signs that you see posted on street corners are of paramount importance, too. Place as many out there as possible leading to your sale, especially if your address is difficult to find. Listing on Craigslist is a really good idea, but no substitute for a newspaper ad, since many newspapers advertise sales online and with geographic maps.

My subdivision had a community sale this past May, and I enjoyed being part of it even though the temperatures were unseasonably chilly. I didn’t have a lot of items, which is usually best for having a profitable event, but I did have some nice stuff that needed a new home. During those long hours in my garage, it was fun meeting new people who are yard sale fans like me.

GoodwillTip #4 After it was all over, there were still some great items left behind by the numerous pickers. These overlooked possessions can make worthwhile contributions to the community non-profit of your choice. There are local organizations like Goodwill, The Salvation Army, or local church clothing ministries, etc. who really appreciate donations. But a word of caution, if you think an item may be junk, it probably is, and needs to be pitched, not donated. At the end, I was a couple hundred dollars richer. Not a bad way, to clean out the closets.

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Happy 55th Birthday to Barbie

barbieBarbie will turn 55 on March 9th and this year she’s getting more press than ever. Maybe that’s because the iconic Mattel doll made the cover of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue recently.

Although I wasn’t happy about the magazine cover, I do have wonderful Barbie memories. As a young girl growing up in a large financially-struggling family, there wasn’t any money for Barbie outfits. That’s why I vividly recall the delight I experienced when my mother sewed an entire wardrobe for my blonde Barbie on her old Singer Sewing machine. A silver brocade gown was my favorite.

The timeless doll was originally created in 1959 by Ruth Handler, who along with her husband Elliot founded the Mattel Company in 1945 in their garage. According to www.mattel.com, Barbie quickly propelled Mattel to the “forefront of the toy industry” and by 1965 their sales were more than $100 million. In the meantime, Mattel also created the Ken doll in 1961 to serve as Barbie’s one true love.

The idea for Barbie was birthed through the paper cut-out dolls that Ruth’s daughter, who was named Barbara, enjoyed playing with. Just like Barbie, who was named for the Handler’s daughter, Ken was named for their son. Barbie’s friends, the Midge doll (1963) and Skipper (1965) were also added to the line. In 1968, Christie, Barbie’s African American friend was introduced. The company’s website reports that Christie was the “first of many ethnic friends of Barbie, which …include Theresa (1988) and Kira (1990) Barbie Latina and Asian friends.” Ethnic Barbies

Who would have guessed that fifty-five years after her introduction, Barbie would still be inspiring young girls and adult collectors everywhere? Barbie products have included everything from dolls and accessories to jewelry, eyeglass frames, pillows, backpacks, digital items, and even McDonald’s Happy Meal packaging.

For many of us, Barbie has been part of our own history as women. About five years ago, the Mattel doll became even more personal for me. This was due to an elegant woman named Reggie who I met on a cruise ship. This was my one and only cruise, since I spent the whole time being seasick. The sixty-something female accountant practically gushed when she told me that she once represented Mattel’s Barbie to Toronto stores. I was seated next to the blonde French Canadian every night for supper, a meal which I valiantly tried to keep down. We were from different countries, but Barbie had somehow worked her way into our collective hearts. We giggled like school girls as we discussed the doll’s early days and her unprecedented success in the toy market with both of our husbands looking on in quizzical dismay.

Feeling nostalgic, that Christmas I bought my then four-year-old niece a Barbie to start her own collection. However, when I arrived with the present, I found my little red-haired relative carelessly clutching an already naked Barbie who was having an obviously bad hair day from being drug around.

After all, it hasn’t been smooth sailing for Barbie. For example, some folks are deeply concerned about her unrealistic dimensions. The fashion doll’s measurements vary on Internet websites, but would be an approximate 39/36-18/16-33 if she were a real person. Talk about a catalyst for eating disorders and low self-esteem, since young girls and even older females have a difficult enough time accepting their flawed bodies without being faced with Barbie’s unattainable role model.

Photo - Stanford University online

Photo – Stanford University online

Adding the plastic doll to the other models being sexually objectified by Sports Illustrated hasn’t helped either. In explanation, “Swimsuits (and unrealistic body images) were never the same after the first doll rolled off the assembly line in 1959 and this is, after all, Sports Illustrated’s 50th anniversary swimsuit issue..,” according to Cindy Boren in a Feb. 18, 2014, Early Lead column in the Washington Post.

 

After fifty-five years, I do wonder if the female race is better for having known her. For more than five decades, our own body images have been sabotaged by a doll, with an unattainable perfect build that never wrinkles. But we can’t blame Barbie for all of this, or can we?

Apparently, last year’s sales statistics portrayed a decline in Barbie’s popularity, too. In a July 2013 AP article by Mae Anderson for the Associated Press the headline read, “Mattel’s Barbie Sales Plummeting While other Girls Brands Climb.” Maybe that’s why, desperate marketers put her on the cover of a men’s magazine last month.

Well anyway, “Happy 55th Birthday, Barbie!  I still love your perfect little self and treasure my memories, but only time will tell, if you’re here to stay.

Christina Ryan Claypool is a freelance journalist and an inspirational speaker. Contact her through her website at www.christinaryanclaypool.com.   

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America’s Favorite Four-Letter Word

Free buttonWhat’s a four-letter word that is music to the ears of the hearer, and brings happiness to the heart of the reader? Clue: the number one definition on www.freedictionary.com is, “Not imprisoned or enslaved,” while the more appropriate number seven meaning is, “Costing nothing, [or] gratuitous.” A crossword buff probably guessed by now, it’s the word, “free.”

Our society loves this term that conjures up the thought of getting something for nothing. In confirmation, when one googles this famous four-letter word, instantly you are confronted with more than 3,290,000,000 references. That’s billions, not millions of related searches including: “free products, free games, totally free stuff, free samples, free translations….” etc. Marketers know what suckers we all are for advertising that professes to give something away.

couponI learned a lot about this type of marketing years ago, when I was employed as a corporate representative for a large manufacturer that supplied products to supermarkets. Occasionally, on a Friday afternoon when the grocery store was packed, I would stand in a product aisle offering shoppers a generous coupon to buy a comparable item to the one they normally purchased. It was amazing how often brand loyalty could be bought for a couple of bucks. In fairness, there were also those die-hard loyalists who refused to switch no matter how large the coupon.grocery

A column devoted solely to consumer coupon behavior would take on a life of its own, but let’s get back to marketing strategies touting free products. Because even better than a coupon savings of a few dollars, is getting an item absolutely free. Whether, it’s a free gift with purchase, a buy one get one free, a free trial, or free information; buyers often forget that the seller almost always has an ulterior motive.

Most of our parents warned us that there are no free lunches in life. Apparently, not everyone knows this, because an individual named Fidora emailed Yahoo! Answers at www.yahooanswers.com asking, “What is the meaning of this quote, ‘There is no free lunch?’” The consensus of the 10 answers offered was that somewhere down the line there is a cost for everything.

Therein lies the problem. If you don’t think you are paying for something you aren’t too concerned about whether it’s a good deal, or not. To implement the age-old philosophy of Caveat Emptor which is a Latin term for, “Let the buyer beware,” you have to possess a purchaser’s mentality. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language explains that Caveat Emptor is, “The axiom or principle in commerce that the buyer alone is responsible for assessing the quality of a purchase before buying.”

After all, like most astute consumers when spending your hard earned cash on an item you want the biggest bang for your buck. But if it’s free, you aren’t worried about a product’s quality. There are naïve buyers born every minute who are enticed by this type of “bait and switch” advertising. Take me, for example. I didn’t think I could lose when I eagerly requested the “free” designer scarf, which accompanied a magazine subscription that I didn’t really need. I could hardly believe my good fortune, until the scarf arrived in the mail about a week ago. It was paper thin and barely fit around my neck. My husband laughed out loud when I showed it to him.

This is just one account of my getting free stuff, which has robbed my budget in the long run. Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have purchased the magazine had there not been a free gift incentive. In my defense, I’m not alone in this behavior, or the word, “free” wouldn’t be everywhere. Yet there are free products that can be helpful. Like a buy one get one free dinner to a restaurant you’ve always wanted to try, or frequently visit. Even then, watch that you don’t spend more on a higher-priced meal, beverages, or desserts than you normally would, while celebrating your free meal.Free

In closing, I hope it’s ok to share the wisdom that I’ve learned along life’s path.  Remember the old saying, “If something seems too good to be true, then it probably is.” Most free offers are in the too good to be true category. Now, you can take that free advice all the way to the bank.

This blog post originally appeared in The Lima News, and in the Troy Daily News.

 

 

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