Now, in just a few short days I will be boarding a plane and heading to Los Angeles, California and then up the coast  to San Francisco. I first fell in love with the west coast six years ago when I and a friend went for spring break. We stayed a  quaint boutique hotel, the Andrew Hotel, which was right in downtown San Francisco. We spent the week going all over the city. From the Golden Gate bridge to Berkeley, China Town to the Wharf, Knob Hill to the Haight Ashbury.

The weather was gorgeous, the people amazing, the food ridiculously healthy fresh and delicious.In fact, it was so great, the next year I went back California, however this time I went to Los Angeles.  Here I enjoyed Hollywood, dinner on the beach in Malibu, late night eats at Roscoe's Chicken and Waffles, shopping in Santa Monica, and night clubs frequented by star athletes and other celebrities. Both cities were so great that I've been going back to both Los Angeles and San Francisco annually ever since. In fact, the west coast is where Phreedum was born. More specifically, San Francisco. The name, the concept, the vision, and the mission, all bought to life in the bay area.
Several sights I saw while in San Francisco influenced several initial  designs. I spent time with local artists and entrepreneurs. I soaked up the inherent “Why Not?” culture of San Francisco. I’ve yet to meet a San Fracisian  (yup I made that up) who doesn’t think that you can do whatever you want to do and will happily point you in the right direction to get started. I inhaled and inhaled and inhaled the air of “Anything is possible, process is part of progress, and progress births product” mentality.   My aunt with whom I visit when in San Francisco, a banker turned business consultant was very instrumental in exposing me.  She made it her mission to ensure that I took in as much as I could to stir my creative juices. She introduced me to dozens of entrepreneurs, gave me books and magazines to read, provided feedback on initial drafts of the vision and mission of Phreedum, and so much more.
Her taking the time to expose me did two things. One, it exposed me. It expanded my mind to endless business possibilities and options. Two it showed me just how much I didn’t know and could benefit from knowing. It unveiled my ignorance and that knowledge is actually bliss. Exposure shed light on my insecurities about my abilities to be a small business owner. It single handedly and mercilessly deconstructed every anxiety. Notice I didn't say it provided solutions. It simply disarmed the strength I had given my fears about being a small business owner out of ignorance. 
It’s just about the end of the year. This year, 2011, is wrapping up and 2012 will be here before we know it.  If you’re like most people, you will spend the remaining weeks celebrating, attending social events, and traveling. Amidst all of that you will spend time reflecting and resolving. You will reflect on all that you have experienced this year- the super highs, the low lows, and the memorable mediocre moments.  And then you will resolve to have higher highs, lesser lows, and figure out how to obliterate mediocrity.
You will start to think about 2012 and it will become more real to you that its arrival is eminent and that you will be granted 366 days (it's a leap year) to do something. Now what that something will be is up to you. But if I might be so bold as to make a suggestion, I would implore you to consider exposing yourself. Keep your shirt on, please and thank you. When I talk about exposure here, I'm talking about you trying something new. 
I want to encourage you as you anticipate the new year to not just anticipate life as usual. I want to encourage you to anticipate life as unusual. I want to encourage you to think about how you can expose yourself to new people, new ideas, and new places.  How can you expose yourself in a way that you didn’t in 2011?
And it’s not that hard.  Exposure can be anything from the independent coffee shop instead of Starbucks, the trolley instead of the train, shopping at Suburban Square instead of center city. It may mean skipping hump day happy hour to go to a free workshop on being tech savvy offered by the Empowerment Group, giving up going to Nordstrom for the third time this month to volunteer with the Cupcake Society, recording the game and attending Arts Beats and Eats, or when it’s your turn to plan the next ladies night foregoing that “new spot” and going to a Common Ground Management and Concretecakes  event.  Or, you could do like me, pack a bag and head west for a week. 
Whatever you decide just know that change is conceived in the womb of exposure.  Exposure provides choices. Choices require decisions. Decisions lead to action. Action gives birth to change.

By the way, if you are interested in exposing yourself by supporting any of the local small businesses or entrepreneurs mentioned above just look them up on facebook or follow them on twitter,@EGEntrepreneurs (Empowerment Group) @CHANGE_MAKERS and/or  @Curran_J (Arts Beats and Eats) @CupCakeSociety_ (The Cupcake Society), @ CGMPhilly (Common Ground Management), @ConcrerteCakes (ConcreteCakes)

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