Hi My Name Is
This is me holding the 21lb Jackfish (Northern Pike)
I caught from a canoe and without a net!
How did I, Belinda Atwell ever receive the know how and confidence to build a popular web site like Annapolis Valley Vacation is becoming. I was always too shy and lacked confidence enough to ever do something like this.
I did know a little about computers. My brother, John had owned several through the years, and I had inherited his old ones a couple of times when he up-graded. I had learned how to play games or write a letter. Later I even got internet and learned about emails and how to do a search. I was into genealogy so I did start using the computer more when I learned about all the information on the web for genealogist. I even knew the basics on how to use a word processor, data base or spread sheet.
But I did not know a thing about making a web site. I thought that was only for the high-tech type of people. I knew nothing about HTML, domain names, keywords, search engines, RSS feeds or how to make a blog. That was all way to technical for me, or so I thought.
But sometimes life turns you in directions you would have never thought possible. Just when you think you know where your life is going, something will happen to completely change everything. This could be either a good or bad thing, but it defiantly opens new avenues for you.
That is exactly what happened to me, and it could happen for you also.
My Life Starts
On a cold snowy day in February, I, Belinda Atwell first began this journey we call life. I was born in Annapolis Royal, the youngest of four children. It has been quite the journey, over some rough roads, sharp turns, dips and dives but also over some well paved expressways to.
My first five years were spent in Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia. It was a good start; we had a comfortable home and lots of land to explore around the house. My two brothers and sister, who are quite a bit older, thought it was great then to have a baby sister to play with and teach me all they had already learned.
Then dad became the Fire Chief at HMCS Cornwallis and we moved there. This is where I started school and began making a few friends on my own. By then my siblings were getting tired of me hanging around all the time and wanted to hang out with their friends.
My oldest Brother Dave, my sister Judy,
Myself and my brother John
My parents Ronald & Phyllis Atwell.
They were always my inspiration
in everything I did.
After four years dad was allowed to move off the base and still keep his position as Fire Chief. So back to Annapolis Royal we went and right back into our original house. Around this time my siblings were leaving home for their own lives, so I felt like an only child.
I spent the rest of my school years in the Annapolis Royal schools. I did not graduate then, but did later obtain my G.E.D. grade twelve. Many years later I also took a course about Entrepreneurship & Small Business Management at the Community College in Middleton. I thought about starting my own business, but I could never decided on what type of business plus I never had the resources I needed for any.
I did not leave the Annapolis region again until my teens. First I went on a 4-H exchange to south-western Saskatchewan for a week. Then, when I was seventeen I moved to Flin Flon Manitoba for six months. But the call of the Annapolis Valley and Bay of Fundy called me back to this area.
I Get My Own Family
I was married in 1978 and we had a beautiful baby boy, Allister Curtis Veinot. Even though I had wanted to be home for at least his first few years, it wasn't to be. A new baby adds many more cost and I started work at the United Elastic Co. Ltd., in Centrelea; later known as Britex Ltd. I worked there for nine years, longer than my marriage lasted.
Curtis was only two when his father and I split up and I became a single mom. Any extra time I had from work was spent with Curtis trying to give him a taste of the good family life I had experienced.
After a couple of years I met the one to become my second love-of-my-life. He had also been married before and provided me with two wonderful step children, a girl - Rhonda Lynne Hardwick and a boy - Rollins LeRoy Hardwick. They did not live with us at first, but moved in when they were teenagers.
Carlene, Stacey, Curtis, Rhonda, Nickolas, Belinda
Front Row: Clayton and Keaton, Sept 2007
Curtis, Rhonda & Rollins
Taken in 1998
We spent thirteen years continuing living in the Annapolis Royal area. We started work at Halliday's fish plant just before the bottom fell out of the Atlantic Fishing industry. We were able to hang on for awhile, but at last there just was no fish to process. It was at this time that I went to the Community College and took my course. But things had gotten so hard that I just could not get anything off the ground.
Leaving Nova Scotia
Then in 1997 we had a break. A representative from Bourgault Industries in St. Brieux, SK was in the area looking for workers with families willing to move there. It was our chance, and even though we did not want to leave the valley, we had to provide for our family. So off we went, heading west like so many have done both before and after us. We just did not go quite as far as most.
St Brieux proved to be a lovely little town. It did not take me long to obtain employment myself at the Co Op grocery store there. Everything was going good; the kids finished their schooling and moved out on their own. Rollins ended up moving back to Nova Scotia, but both Rhonda & Curtis have settled down in Saskatchewan. The grandchildren started to come and even though I missed Nova Scotia, Saskatchewan became my home.
Keaton, Clayton, Carlene and Nick
On My Own Again
But all good things always seem to come to an end with me. Five years after moving to St. Brieux I found myself on my own again when my "love-of-my-life" decided he loved someone else better. I spent two more years in St. Brieux getting my life back together and deciding what I was going to do.
Then it hit me one day. I loved the wilderness, nature, beaches and especially fishing. Why not find a job that will allow me to do this. I applied to several and decided on one in Prince Albert National Park working for the Armstrongs at Armstrong Hillcrest Cabins & Motel.
I decided to give up my house in St. Brieux and travel back to Nova Scotia during the winters to spend time with mom & dad. This was working out great, I loved my job. Joyce & Brian Armstrong are just the best bosses. They provided me with a cabin to live in there and Brian taught me a lot about fishing in Saskatchewan.
That winter I flew back to Annapolis Royal, Nova Scotia and lived with mom & dad. I did their cleaning, cooking and ran any errands they needed done. While there I renewed several friendships that I had left behind when I had moved. It was good to be back, but I was missing Saskatchewan. So in the spring I went back to my job with the Armstrongs.
Armstrong Hillcrest Cabins & Motel
Prince Albert National Park, SK
Back To Nova Scotia
Then there was another major bump in my life's road. Dad was diagnosed with cancer and was given two years to live. When my job ended that season I told Joyce that I would not be back, I had to care for my parents. I was the only one in the family that was in a position to be able to do it. I am very grateful that I did.
I arrived back in Nova Scotia the middle of October and as soon as I got there Dad started really going down hill. I think he was only waiting for me to get there. He passed away that December. Mom was unable to stay in the house alone, and really did not want to go into a home so I stayed and lived with her.
Even though mom had a lot of medical problems, she was very easy to care for. I mainly just had to be there, cook her meals, keep the house clean and take her to her appointments.
Oh my sister and I took her shopping quite a bit; after we convinced her she could do it if she would allow us to push her in a wheelchair. Several days I took her for a drive with me, she really enjoyed that. But most of the time she just wanted to watch her shows on TV and I had lots of time on my hands.
Mom sitting in her wheelchair
Waiting for the Natal Day Parade
Something To Fill My Time
So to give me something to do and make a little money I started buying and selling on eBay. Both my brother, John and sister, Judy did and they helped get me started. And mom just loved to go to the auctions with me; she bought more than I did.
I did alright, but soon found eBay was a lot of work, for not that big a return. Too many times the items did not sell and I was taking up all the spare room in the house. I cut back to only comics and postcards, (they were smaller) but it was still a big gamble and not much return for the investments of time and money you put in.
I was looking for something else to spend my free time on, something I would really enjoy doing. John & I had talked several times about making a web site to help promote our eBay stores, but neither of us had a clue how to even start. We started doing some research online.
Then John stumbled across SBI ( Site Build it). He sent me the link and we both spent several hours just reading over all the information supplied on it. We had already looked at several other services offering to help you build a web site, but none of them impressed us the way Site Build it did.
I could both understand and agree with what they were saying, it made sense to me.
Neither of us really had much money, so we wanted to be sure of what we were getting into to. We spent another week finding out as much information as we could. The more we read and discussed with each other, the more excited we got. We could do this, and we could make money at it to.
Besides SBI offered a full money back guarantee if we found it wasn't what we were expecting. We knew it would be hard work; they never imply that it is easy, or that you can "get-rich-quick". They just let you know that if you want it bad enough, you can do it, and they will provide you with all the tools you needed. All their tools come with a proven track record of success.
A plan was forming in my mind. I started thinking about my dream I had since I was young.
I decided to join SBI and started off reading their tutorials. I was still undecided on which I wanted to do, a site to promote my eBay business, or a site on the Annapolis Valley. But their tutorials actually encourage you to think of at least three choices for your web site. Then they use Brainstormer to find an extensive list of keywords for all of them and Niche Choose It to help you decide which site is best to do.
Annapolis Valley did not really have the most promising and profitable keywords. However it is also suggested that you go with which ever one you are most passionate with, and for me the valley was it. It may take longer to see the big results, but your passion will pay off in the end. Besides I was not in a hurry, I just wanted something to keep me busy while I was caring for mom. That is how it started out.
Why Annapolis Valley
My Nephew Jason, Curtis and I
Exploring the Digby Neck Islands
I have always had a sense of pride in my home town. After all we were the birth place of Canada! Even as a young girl I visited the Fort Anne and Habitation every chance I had. I loved local history and started saving any brochures I could find from the area.
Then when I was about twelve my father and brother John bought a store in Upper Clements and turned it into the Nova Scotia Handcraft Center. I worked in the store during my summers. I met so many fantastic people while working there, and they were interested in what information I had on the local area. Many of them asked about me on return visits to the area.
Then when I was older I was involved with the local Legion branch, holding many positions including secretary, 1st & 2nd Vice President. I was also head of several committees including sports, entertainment, Poppy Campaign and Natal Day Rep. Being the Natal Day Rep got me involved with the town Natal Day Committee and soon I was co-chair of this committee and the Canada Day committee. I was becoming more and more involved with the town events.
When I took my course; Entrepreneurship & Small Business Management at the Community College in Middleton I had to do a project and a report. At that time the Annapolis Restoration Society was debating if they should open a genealogy section. I was into genealogy and I thought this was a good thing to do my report on. I had to research everything about genealogy in the area, would it be feasible, profitable, or a loss cause. This had me traveling all over the valley talking to many different organizations.
Well not only did I make very high marks on the report, but the Restoration Society used it to present at the meeting for their decision. Their genealogy society is a very busy, profitable and growing part of their organization.
After doing the report for the Restoration Society I became a member and volunteer for the society. I spent many hours indexing their archival material, old newspapers and photographs. Of course I loved the chance to learn everything I could find out about the area.
I know all this was for the Annapolis Royal area, but what about the rest of the valley?
Well after my oldest brother, Dave moved away to Toronto, he would come home once a year to visit. He loved to bring friends with him, people who had never been to this area before. It was always a busy time as we would be on the go continuously showing these people around our valley. I was always looking for new things to show off, and my search expanded right throughout the Annapolis Valley and Bay of Fundy shore.
This area became even more of a passion for me, and I just wanted a chance to share it with everyone.
Even while I lived in Saskatchewan I was an ambassador for the Annapolis Valley. Every time I came back to the valley for a visit I was acting out as a tourist traveling all over taking pictures. Then I would take them back out west to show to anyone who would have a look.
So even though this was not the most promising subject to make a profitable website on, it was what I wanted to do it on.
A Fall Scene Along the Spurr Road
Another of Life's Bumps
I had joined SBI in December of 2006 and I spent the winter learning as much as I could and choosing which site I wanted to do. By spring I had decided on the Annapolis Valley and I had all my best keywords picked out in my Master Keyword List. I was ready to choose a name and register my domain. All of this was explained in their great tutorials.
I arranged for someone to come in with mom for one day a week and my sister and I started traveling over the valley. We visited all of the different historic sites, museums and parks so I could provide up-to-date information on them. Several days I took mom and just drove around looking for anything that I felt should be mentioned on my site. It was a good summer.
I was still running my eBay store, which kept me very busy, but I did find time to start writing up my pages. Oh, to start with I had no idea how to write a page for an interesting web site, but SBI helped me with that also. I tell you, they help you with everything you need to make a successful site, at no extra cost. They also provide the best support system around through their fantastic forums.
Back to my story, sorry I just get so excited when I talk about this. I started writing up my pages, (oh and I did not have to learn HMTL either, SBI does it all for you if you want), and added them to my site. As I added my pages their WorldSubmitter would inform the major search engines and keep track of all the technical stuff for me.
I did not have to do hardly a thing; just keep writing more pages and look at the results as my site grew. I admit it was slow at first, but as the major search engines started recognizing my site the visitors per day grew higher and higher. I was well on the way before the first year was up.
But then my world was turned upside down again. In early December, two weeks shy of two years after dad, mom passed away suddenly. After the shock wore off I was faced with the reality that I had to find work again. I phoned my previous boss and yes I was welcomed to go back to Armstrongs, but I had to survive until then to. My web site had to wait.
I found a job, which I hated, but it lasted until I got back out to Saskatchewan. Then when I got there I found out that I only had limited access to internet, and that was at a cafe. I had no way of working on my site during the whole summer, but I did check it every time I could.
I did not believe how successful it was becoming. I had managed to put up over sixty pages before I left and that was enough to interest people enough to visit my site. Many of my pages were showing up in the top ten with the search engines. Even without me doing a thing with the site, it was becoming a success!
Hey, would you like to keep track of my progress on this web site? As the site gets bigger it is very hard to see what is new or changed. You can now keep track of this very easily a couple of ways.
One way is to subscribe to my RSS feed, you will find the box for doing that on the left side of every page under the Nav/Bar. If you do not know about RSS feeds, no problem - click on the question mark and it will explain them to you.
The other way you can keep track of any new pages added to my site, or changes made, is by subscribing to my e-zine. I will be sending out an email approximately once a month to everyone who subscribes. In this email I will talk about what I have added or changed on my site complete with links right to these pages. These emails will also be a way for me to tell you about any new or special events happening in the valley.
To subscribe to my ezine "Annapolis Valley Updates" just fill in your email address and first name (optional) in the box below.
Curtis, Stacey, Carlene, Clayton and Me Having Some Fun with the Camera
The Future For Me
What is in store for me now, well I am still not completely sure. I am torn between Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan; I love both places and have family in both.
I did come back to Nova Scotia after the season at Armstrongs was finished. My brother plans to buy our parents house when he retires in a few years. Until then I am staying in it during the winters so it is not empty. I still have to find work to support myself, but would like to go back to Armstrongs again next year. After all, the park is like a working vacation.
One thing I do know is that I plan to again work on my web site and keep it going. I am still in the early stages but it has proven enough to me that it will be a success and hopefully I will not have to worry about working very soon.
I know to some it may seem like it is taking quite awhile, but in all honestly I only really worked on it for about six months. I knew from the start this was going to be a site that would take longer to build up, but it is the one I wanted to do. The important thing is that I can really see now that it can work.
Hey, would you be interested in finding out more about Site Build It for yourself? If you have ever thought of making your own sucessful web site, or have ever thought about working from home and setting your own work schedule then let me recommend Site Build It. You may check it out yourself by watching this short video that introduces it:
Have a Great Day & Thank You for Checking Out My Web Site!
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