Appreciation is Contagious. Better Catch It. by Mary Jennings

Loving The Rain! I posted a status on my FB account this morning.  I had to.  I couldn’t help it.  I really wanted to share the amazing delight I was feeling at that very moment.  I just knew that others would enjoy what I was experiencing.  Finding the right words to express my moment were also part of the fun.

It got quite a few likes, but it also made me think about how fortunate I felt to be experiencing something so simple and so impossible for me to create by my own hand or skill.  I was wholly appreciative.  I have noticed some other grateful updates being posted by some of my other friends on some other social media sites.

A young photographer friend was prompting people to make sure to take time to stop and notice the beautiful sunrise and sunsets we are blessed with daily.  Such wise advice for such a young girl.  She might have been preaching to the choir, though.  I have seen an increase in stunning sky photos on FB and Instagram with people doing just that; looking up.  Vacation will have that effect on you.  I’ve enjoyed looking at and clicking like on every last post I’m fortunate enough to encounter.

Beauty Discovered

I also love that I have several artist friends who are able to see the beauty in some not so expectedly beautiful things and are generous enough to share their discoveries (and be thankful on top of that).  This was posted by a friend and former Moore College of Art classmate who made my day with her midnight snack.

So, all of this is to say, look up, stand still, soak in and share.  Appreciation is contagious; better catch it and share.  It might just also be the cure for all that ails.

Get Up Off Of Your Hash(tag) by Mary Jennings

Note: This post is to complement my informal discussion with my local business networking group, Wednesday, June 26, 2013.  It's a group of wonderful friends and business owners.  I am delighted to share what I know about the subject of hashtags. #

Let me start off saying that I am not a Digital Ninja or any sort of #Professional #Poundsign #Prophetess.  I am simply a artist/business woman who is interested in serving my customers and bringing them the best product I am able to deliver.  I do my best to keep up with the latest in hip hyperspace.  However, I will confess that just a few months ago I was anxiously visiting my mailbox everyday checking to see if the ebooks that I ordered had come in yet.  I found myself getting annoyed at their delay in arrival and the poor customer service of the provider. ..... You did hear me say that they were eBOOKs, right.  In a out-dated data daze I was checking the wrong mailbox.  They were sitting pretty in my electronic mailbox, waiting for me to download and dive into.

The reason I am presenting this description in hashtags in plain english is to help us all get out of our digital daze.  Certain things, hashtags being one, are part and parcel of the digital age.  You need to know how to use them.

We know all about tools in a toolbox, well hashtags (#) are a tool; like the kind you would find in a toolbox.  We can all agree that tools are very helpful.  Some know how to use every tool in the box.  Some only know how to use the key essential tools and some simply hire someone to use the tools for them.  It would be careless to avoid know what tools are out there and what they are capable of achieving even when you are not the one using them in the end.  It helps to be well-rounded.

I am here to brief you on the multi-purpose tool, the hashtag in this blog.  As a matter of fact, I will be making a presentation to my local business networking group on this topic.  As a business owner, it’s particularly challenging to keep track of all the latest and greatest ways to reach your customers.  I will do my best to make this short and simple.

Dear Business Owner: 

Do you want customers?

Do you want to grow in your field?

Do you want to check on you competition?

Do you want people to know how great you are?

Do you want to correct your message to people?

Do you want quick results?

Do you want to connect with your customers and colleagues?

Do you want to expand your territory?

Do you want support?

Do you want your event promoted?

Do you want to be hip at all to what is part and parcel of digital culture?

Then pay attention..

Hashtag Origin:

We really don’t need to know, but you can equate a hashtag (#) to a these terms:

group, topic or channel.  They look like this: #art #hashtag #DC #businessnetworking #bringbacklawandorder #nothashtagbutpoundsign.  You might also hear them paralleled with “trending topic” or “mini-meme”.

In the end, all of this is designed to bring people together and make information easier to find.  Hashtags now are compatible with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest to name a few.  It’s close to what a tag is in the blogging world.  Hashtags are a great tool, but all tools need to come with a tool safety manual.

Safety First (you don’t want to lose a finger with this tool): 

Using hashtags is fairly simple and risk-free for the user, but they do require some creative thought and risk analysis before putting out there is cyberspace.  There are some hashtag bullies out there.  They are capable of putting together a “bashtag”.  Comedians love the creative use of hashtags that allow them to give emphasis or punchline to their otherwise average message.

Example: The (former) Food Network star, Paula Dean's career has been destroyed by the trending topic #PaulaDeanBestDishes where food and racism were combined to make for a terrible, unmarketable image.  The people’s voices were heard.

Similarly, hashtags like #OccupyWallStreet and #LibyaFeb17 have been used for political purposes to organize groups for promotion and discussion.

Branded hashtags can gain enough interest if they are clever and are free from the potential of backfiring on the beneficiary.  You also need to keep in mind some of the mistakes people make when developing a presence online and avoid those.  One of the biggest mistakes is to leave your profile picture blank or as an egg (twitter).  People will never trust a blank photo.

Benefits of Using Hashtags:

You will experience better ways to search for conversations that matter to you.  Using hashtags on Twitter and now, Facebook will allow you to locate and participate in a real-time networking environment with a focus of others that are in your field.

You can organize your own chat by simply typing your topic with a hashtag like #art, #HVAC and/or #finance.  Doing research is now made easier with hashtags.  You are able to even locate your competition and see what their customers might be saying about them.  You also have an opportunity to contribute to that conversation when you find the right time and content.

One of the best feelings is the feeling of locating your “tribe” online.  It doesn’t have to be a tribe of people in the same region, social, ethic, or religious background.  It can be simply about the direction and the interest common to you that has been identified with a hashtag.

The fact that the potential for hashtags is great and the cost is nothing should be all of the benefit you need to know.

Life without hashtags (from the customer's point of view): 

Your customers might be saying or asking:

“I will lose a piece of paper, but I will never lose my internet service.”  Your marketing is available at anytime and at any hour.

“Let me Google this person and see what I find.”  The more you work on your online presence the easier you will be able to find when you are looked up by your customer.

“Does this person really know what they’re doing?”  The more you write and the more you contribute to conversations, the easier it will be for a customer to see your credibility.

“Are all these testimonials real?”  The testimonials on websites are very nice, but the good word that is not from a controlled source is amazing.

Typical criticisms by the business owner/hashtag creator:

I don’t have time for this.

It’s free, how good can it be?

I get consumed by it and get nothing else done.

All of my customers don’t even use internet, why would I bother.

Who cares?

To hashtag or not to hashtag, that is the question.  It’s completely up to you, but at least, now you know what the heck they’re all about. #enjoy


A Good Home. Will My Art Find One? by Mary Jennings

Screen Shot 2013-05-11 at 11.15.15 AM

Spring is a popular time for creative fundraising and I get several calls to donate my art, time and/or talent to the these events.  I am always more that happy to do so.  As a matter of fact, I was working on a painting early this morning and reflecting on how participating in these various events have helped me place my work in some wonderful homes. corolla bridge

A couple of weeks ago, during a Wine Tasting and Silent Auction, the winner of one of my plein air watercolors gave me a great big hug as she was genuinely thrilled to own this art.  I feel  settled in releasing these works when I am confident that they are settling into a good home with new happy owners.

These works are like my children.   I remember when each work came to life.  It's like I'm their mother and it's natural that I would care about whether or not they are loved and cared for by their owner.   It is so interesting to know that most people who don't actively build their art collection are mostly unsure where to put the art when they get it home.  I understand how that can be a delicate process and if you are unsure, there are ways you can get help.  As a matter of fact, I can help with this.

I am able to conduct in home art placement consultations.  I am able to help you place your existing art and make suggestions about other art that you might feel comfortable about purchasing to add to your collection.  Yes, you can be an art collector.  It's a wonder way of adding warmth and character to your home.

Screen Shot 2013-05-11 at 11.15.15 AMAnother wonderful opportunity to consider in the search of a comprehensive art collection as well as agreat ideas for the home and garden is the 13th Annual Tuckahoe Elementary Home and Garden Tour, Saturday, May 18, 12:00 noon to 5:00pm.  This event benefits Tuckahoe's Discovery Schoolyard.  You can purchase tickets here.  Or you can learn more about the amazing Discovery Schoolyard here.

One of the homes on the tour will be filled (all rooms, every floor) with my art.  It's a brand new home and the builder asked if I would be interested in placing my art in this house.  I was thrilled.  This is a fundraiser that is near and dear to my heart.  My kids went to Tuckahoe when the Outdoor Discovery Schoolyard was being created and I was actively supporting fundraising efforts and know many of the parents who spent many hours dedicated to bringing this outstanding learning opportunity to life for our kids.  This program has grown and is now also part of the curriculum at several Arlington (and other) Elementary schools.

I have several pieces of work that are inspired by the beautiful Discovery Schoolyard itself.  Come see my art and watch me paint too.  I am setting up my easel and pallet to paint the day away while many visitors tour this beautiful house.  This is a huge house, yet from the outside it maintains the existing charm of the cul de sac lined with established Arlington homes.

Sidenote: I will be dedicating the whole day to a dear friend who passed away last week.  Penny Kiser was extremely active in the formation, fundraising, and support of the Discovery Schoolyard up to just a few weeks ago.  She gave her best and we are privileged to have benefited from her time and talent.  She will be very missed, but her love and hard work found a good home.



Experiencing Observation: Getting Caught by Mary Jennings

Observe I love that I have a gift of observation.  I use it to create art and comedy.  I use it to watch over the people and things in my care.  I hope to never loose the ability to see things, events, people, circumstances and outcomes.  There is so much to capture in life.

I am doing a series of blogs on observation.  This is my first and it will touch on the intense skill of observation used for seeking out potential danger.  In every case with observation, the use of an internal, emotional sense is used to heighten the experience.


I am a parent of two teenaged children.  They are venturing out on their own as they should.   I have worked hard to prepare them for every challenge they might encounter as they aim for their goals.  Letting go is hard, so I pray.  I pray that they get caught.  I pray that someone will observe them.  I want them caught.  It’s more common for a mom to want to protect their child and thats what I am hopefully doing.  I don’t want their walk in the wrong direction to be a wonderful journey without consequences. I will do my part to catch other kids I know.  It’s a act of love.  I would want my kids loved in that way.


I got caught just last week on the Virginia Tech campus.  I had to stand in my car for a brief moment and parked in a service vehicle spot.  I was there for maybe 5 minutes  and this guard came to my car and spent 10 minutes giving me a very stern talking to.  He really went into great detail about how I had no business being parked where I was and I shouldn’t even be on campus without a pass from the Visitor’s Center.  I felt bad, but in light of the shootings on the Tech campus and the horrific shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT the very next day, I appreciated being caught.  You just never know.  The guard must have seen me as suspicious.  I knew I should have worn make-up that day.


Crime report in paper.  Saturday, October 18, 2012

When I was a cranky teen, my father left me in the car while he went into the grocery store for a minute.  After a while passed as I waited quietly in the car, my dad JUMPED into the car, started it and burned rubber getting out of the parking lot.  I was going nuts yelling at him.  He was driving crazy and yelled at me to write down the license of the car in front of us.  I did.  He turned the car back around to head back to the grocery store.  When we arrived, the police were already there.  My dad observed a man run to a car, jump in and hide in the back seat while a woman driver pulled out and drove off.  He knew this was not right and followed through as best he could to be of help.  He gave the information to the police and they captured the guy after a high speed chase for many miles.  It turns out that this guy tried to get away after an armed robbery at the grocery store.  Without my father’s help, he would have gotten away with it.  I commend my dad for his courage to act and I am also happy this guy was caught before he could harm anyone in the future.

I hope we all hone this kind of observation and courageously exercise our ability.  The rewards are great.  We all need to see and be seen.  Keep looking up and caring.


Seek potential hazards.  Act through proactive prayer and strong support.  This will serve the creative experience well.  It will soften your heart, build courage and allow you to receive rewards for responding to your gut.  It’s a way of being deeply connected.