Category Archives: Family

Celebrating 20 years in Business

It’s been 20 years since I started this little business called BasketWorks, and I want to thank everyone who has been part of our success. This isn’t the Oscars, so I won’t name names; you know who you are.

But many of you might not know how BasketWorks got its start. I could see the dead-end sign at my bookstore job, and I needed something more flexible so I could take care of my then-toddler son and better manage my Crohn’s disease.

I had always wanted to own my own business, and I’d worked at a florist’s shop during college and graduate school, so I had some design experience. Since I’ve got a naturally artsy-crafty bent — and I’ve always wanted to own my own company — the gift-basket business grabbed my attention. I attended a conference, wrote out a business plan (and revised it several times) and went for it. BasketWorks was born in March 1997.

While I’ve received several awards for my basket designs through the years, I’m most proud of the work we’ve done to give back to the community, particularly the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation and the Northbrook Chamber of Commerce, where I received the volunteer of the year award in 2014.

To celebrate BasketWorks’ 20th anniversary, I crocheted 700 hearts for the Peyton Heart Project and sent them to clients and friends in our database. The Peyton Heart Project works to raise global awareness of bullying and suicide prevention, as well as to remove the stigma that envelops mental-health issues. These handmade hearts, which are left in public places, feature an attached note with a positive message to let people know that their lives matter.

This project is particularly important to me; I have long battled depression and people close to me have lost loved ones to suicide. If you didn’t receive a heart and would like one, please contact us with your snail mail address, and we will send it.

I love what I do for a living. I love helping my clients improve their business relationships, and I love making it easy for folks to recognize their friends’ and families’ important life events. Thank you for choosing BasketWorks for your corporate and personal gifts.
Sincerely,
Lise & the team at    72dpi logo

Changes, Gorillas, moving forward

I am flabbergasted at the response my gorilla post has received.  It was shared and reached by over 2900 people on Facebook alone, and I know that it was forwarded on other social media, printed it out, or emailed it to folks.  That is beyond my comprehension and beyond what I had hoped for.

I am gratified and so very glad that people have found it useful.  Someone suggested that my words might help save a life by giving others a way to communicate the indescribable – and I hope that it does.  I have left it up far longer than I intended to – primarily because I have been uncertain at how to follow up – and secondarily because I want to be sure folks can find it if they want to.  So I am going to push up my sleeves and see if I can figure out how to permalink it in here….

Moving forward, I do need to get back to real life and baskets.  We are in the fourth quarter and chaos should soon reign supreme around here – at least we hope so.    Keep your eyes here for updates on new designs and new promotions.  I will probably pop back over to the deeper topics too – seems like folks like to hear what I have to say.

In the meantime, thanks for all the shares and kind words – those are some serious gorilla tranquilizers.

Smiles,

Lise

Gorilla on your Back

depressedsm

I’ve talked about writing this article for several years, but the timing never seemed quite right. It’s rather heavy for a blog about gift baskets, and yet such an important topic that ignoring it seems the wrong thing to do. And then, as you will understand after reading, there is the fear of opening myself up to criticism and disapproval. All these factors have conspired against my doing this.  But the time has come.

I have both a chronic illness (Crohn’s disease) and clinical depression. In my universe, they are separate beasts that I struggle with on a daily basis to control. My friends and family are supportive and loving, but had trouble understanding what depression felt like until I came up with the Gorilla concept. to help my father, who also had clinical depression, convey his emotional state to his medical teams.

Depression is an ape on your back. Every day presents a different ape to deal with. The goal in living with depression is to have a spider monkey. Spider monkeys are tiny little fellows. They cling pretty tightly, and can certainly get in the way, but hey, you can manage a spider monkey. You can put a leash on it, you can walk around with it on your shoulder and it might require some attention, but you can breathe, you can think, and for a while, you might even forget it is there. A spider monkey isn’t perfect, but it’s absolutely reasonable.

Some days you have a monkey on your back. This guy is bigger than the spider monkey. He is probably still controllable, but he’s certainly more of a problem. He is going to steal your food, so you won’t eat much. He is going to distract you so you can’t focus on what’s in front of you, and he’s going to trip you up, but you can probably work around him with some extra effort.

Orangutans are harder. They are big, heavy and have really long arms that reach around and cause trouble. They push away things that give you joy, make it hard for other people to get near you, weigh you down. They will literally cause you physical pain and block your ability to see the path to relief. If you live with depression, you develop the strength to carry around an orangutan, but you are aware of its presence 100 percent of the time. It impacts the way you eat, sleep, play, work, and interact with friends and family. Having an orangutan on your back is a huge, heavy weight to bear.

Then there is the gorilla. Imagine how hard it would be to get out of bed with a gorilla on your back. Think about how difficult it would be to get dressed, to brush your teeth, to go to work and do your job with the crushing weight of a gorilla on your back. Imagine the pain — both physical and emotional — that the gorilla is going to cause. Try to breathe or eat or think; the effort is exhausting.

Now, live with your primate of the day when no one else knows it is there. They can’t see the monkey, orangutan or gorilla, and you can’t make them believe it’s there. They want you to shake it off, ignore it, think about something else. They haven’t lived with a monkey on their backs, and they cannot begin to understand how overwhelming life is with a monkey.

Those of us suffering clinical depression are given tools to help control and tame our beasts  — medications, therapy, exercise  — but some days those are not enough. If we aren’t using all the available tools, finding the strength and energy to pick them up is sometimes more than we can do, because simply being is an exercise in emotional and physical endurance.

So, how do you help someone like me  live with a monkey on his or her back?

One: Don’t be judgmental. Trust me, no one wants to live like this. No one would choose to deal with this. It might look like we are not doing what we need to or that we are wallowing in the pain. But from where we sit, we don’t see any way out. We are too busy just trying to breathe.

Two: Respect it. While you may never be able to fully empathize, respect that this is a very real pain, in every sense of the word. We know that what we are feeling may not be logical, may not be reality, but that doesn’t change how it feels  — and it feels lousy.

Three: Offer the help you can. Be a friend, show the love. Don’t walk away or get angry  — that just feeds the monkey. Ask (gently) if we have taken our meds, help us make a doctor’s appointment, come by and just spend time, even if we can’t tell you we want you to. Listen to us, let us cry and encourage us to not check out from the world. And know that sometimes we are doing all the things we are supposed to be doing … and yet King Kong is moving in. It is just like that sometimes.

Finally, watch for cries for help. I am blessed; my family and friends know that when I have gorillas, I need support. And thanks to this analogy, I am able to tell them how I feel with just a few words, instead of trying to explain how the day is going. I have a monkey, I have an orangutan, I have a gorilla.

The gorillas are real.

Been awol….

DOMESTIC GODDESS 180So it was pointed out to me that I have been awol from this blog for almost a month.  Not the way this is supposed to work.   My apologies (not that I really believe that I have an audience of folks waiting with baited breath for these posts, but I can hope…). So what has been keeping me away?  What are you going to hear all about in the coming days and weeks (which is really what that question means)?  My calendar was stuffed in full in May – my birthday (we’ve already covered that), moving my servers, running surveys, Mother’s Day,  Sweets & Snacks show, a holiday party(delayed because the 4th quarter is so insane),  an anniversary party, a memorial service, working on an Eagle Scout project, prom, Senior awards, graduations, family parties celebrating said graduations….I’m exhausted just looking back at my calendar! But no excuses.  I simply dropped the ball.  OK.  Happens.  Picking myself up and moving right along…  First and foremost, new items in!  We found some fabulous new items at the Sweets and Snacks show that we are bringing in and I will be introducing in the the next few days.  Some retro (intro?) spective thoughts on the end of the school year, and moving forward. Glad to be back…. smiles! Lise

birthdaystar

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday….to me!    My birthday was last Friday, and I must say, it was absolutely lovely.  I started the day with a 7 am meeting, full of warm wishes and friendly faces.  I will admit that I could do without the early start (not so much a morning person) it did set a great tone for the day.  A friend stopped by to take a walk with me – and I actually made the time to go out and take the walk!

Sandi took me out for lunch and surprised me with a new Kindle (paperwhite…now I can read without a light!)  My sister stopped by with a chai latte and tulips for me.  Homemade ravioli for supper and a square dance to top it all off.  Really really nice.

But one thing had me grinning like an idiot all day.  Facebook notes.  All day I had these little blips showing up on my page as folks took 30 seconds to wish me a happy birthday.  And you know what?  It really made me smile.   Still making me smile.

So thanks to everyone who took time out of their day to help make my day so special.   I really appreciate it!

Smiles.
Lise
(PS – if you haven’t taken our Facebook survey,  I’d appreciate it if you would swing by – it takes about a minute and a half!)

newsletter-knox

And the decision is…..

We had our second admitted student day last week at Knox college.  Beautiful campus – small to the eyes of this Big Ten girl, but full of trees, green areas, and old, history-infused buildings.   Stand out moments:

  1. We toured campus and saw the spot where one of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates took place, as well as a chair that Lincoln (and more recently Obama) sat in – available for prospective students to sit in as well.    Very cool piece of history in that.
  2. The library at Knox is my personal idea of heaven.  Large comfortable furniture, wooden paneling and built in bookcases and glass fronted cabinets.  Enough modern conveniences to be useful.  And a special collection of rare books including Carl Sandburg, Ernest Hemingway and F.Scott Fitzgerald.  I want to know if they need a professor of entrepreneurism.
  3. The students are quirky.  In a good way, but clearly, marching to the beat of your own drum is not only accepted but encouraged here.  Clothing styles from early American hippie to modern punk, buttoned-up preppie to relaxed casual – we saw it all, and not in clumps but rather mix and matched.

We were impressed with much of what we heard and saw.  So, we were down to decision time.  Drake or Knox?  Really….no bad choice here.  We felt comfortable with the quality of education and life at either school.

  • While there seems to be somewhat less of a focus on internships at Knox than at Drake, there is a very high focus on interaction between Professors and students.
  • Drake is larger, Knox is closer.
  • Drake is blue, Knox is purple.

Final choice – Knox.  Why?  Just felt right.

Good as any other reason when weighing two equal options.

Smiles.

Lise

 

Passover

Passover starts tonight, and in my house that means a full house, a full table, family and friends.  As holidays go, it isn’t my personal favorite – a little too structured for my taste.   But it is certainly a holiday that stands out, defines our household as Jewish, and that is good.  And it continues the traditions from both my and my husband’s families.

This year we are a little on the smaller side – we are seating 30 (it was 29 until a few hours ago when we added one…).   I say smaller because last year we had 45.  This is quite the feat when the entire house is under 1500sf.   Furniture goes to live in the garage, tables get arranged, chairs are borrowed.  But I wouldn’t cut back on our guest list for the world.   Both sides of the family – everyone in town.  Friends who ARE family.  And always, always, those  who for one reason or another have found themselves without a table.   There is always room for one more.  (Well, last year we managed the one more, but only because one left early…..)

While the dinner might not be what my great-grandparents’ served, and the service is decidedly more relaxed, one thing has not changed.  There is always room.  There is always enough food.  Guests are always welcome.   Seder or just Wednesday dinner, that is a perpetual truth at our house.

And for that, I am grateful.

For those of you who celebrate, may you have a holiday of family, friends and joy.   Smiles.

Lise

College Visits…..

 

Photo Courtesy of Drake University

Photo Courtesy of Drake University

This week my husband and I took our eldest to visit Drake University – I am typing this up on our way home.  They had a fully scheduled day, packed with tours, lectures, Q&A sessions – even during lunch!  I’m struck by several things –

  1. Drake is a small school – 7000 students including their law and graduate programs.  After attending the University of Illinois, this was a pretty dramatic change for me.  Seriously – classes five minutes from your dorm?  What is that all about?  I am sure I walked at least 3-4 miles a day in Champaign. That said, this was decidedly a college campus.  It never occurred to me to look at schools this small when I was in high school, but it is clearly a great size for many kids. (There is a nutritionist on staff who came out to talk to Joel and gave him her card!  That would NEVER happen at a Big 10!)
  2. There was a serious focus on internship opportunities, study abroad and knowing the administration.  I can absolutely believe all of those things enrich the college experience and better prepare students for success in our increasingly global economy.   I’m glad that schools are offering these opportunities to their students – I think it is good for all of us. 
  3. I don’t feel old enough to have a college student.  College was over 20 years ago, and yet in so many ways feels like yesterday.  I’ll be honest – being in touch with so many of my friends from high school and college goes a long way toward keeping that feeling alive.

There is something very special about the friends you make in your late teens and early twenties – we are all changing so dramatically as we morph from children into adults.  Those folks who take that journey with you can make a very profound difference in your life. I feel very lucky to have been able to maintain friendships with so many of you – including those folks I just get to connect with on Facebook.  Thanks for sticking with me.

Smiles!

Lise