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Archive for the month “July, 2011”

Love It Or Leave It

Let me go on record here, “I HATE POLITICS!” Perhaps it is because I do not understand them,the process has evolved so during my lifetime that I am basically playing “pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey” when it comes time to vote. I know who I like or who seems to be a decent enough individual, I know who appears to be intelligent, but I have no way of determining how much of a change will take place with these individuals once they get into office. Politics reminds me of the horror movies I enjoyed in my youth, there was invariably some ugly surprise and it would keep you on the edge of your seat until the movie ended.

I do love America. She is the only homeland I know. I have no real desire to venture outside her boarders. When one looks at things that go on around the world, I say “I’m good”. We have every desired climate, scenery, and terrain one could want. While other countries and continents have history and landmarks of the ancients, I am happy with video images of them. They are after all of those other places and I feel no connection, beyond this is interesting or that is beautiful. NEXT.  Additionally,  that does not say this is enough for everyone, but then you have the ability to go if you want. I am simply happy here in my small, little space.

However, because I am basically happy I do not want you to interrupt, interfere, invade my small space or way of life.   I feel that way about outsiders and insiders( i.e.politicians). I am not against government for, they like policing agencies, are necessary. My faith makes me want to hope for good individuals who will do the right thing, it also makes me aware that MAN is flawed and needs guidance. Therefore,  the checks and balances systems must be put into place and remain there.

Naturally, there is an expectation that everyone in our country has the basic best interest of the nation at heart. The more visible individuals the President, the Congress, the House of Representatives have a particular spotlight shone on them. They are the embodiment of the general population, US. I cannot remember the last time I really trusted those people though. I clearly remember my feeling of hope when this President was elected. I knew it would not be an easy road for him, this was no “turkey shoot”. Overall I believe he is a good decent man, unfortunately there is virtually no place in the political arena for that type of being. The more I am exposed and involved with politics the less I want to be. It has the feel of a dirty family secret.

If lawyers have a bad name, then politicians should face the guiotine upon the completion of their terms of service.  For the only service they appear to be providing these days is to SELF. They ALL need to understand and be held accountable for not doing what we put them in place to do and that is to serve THE PEOPLE of the United States.

Our country is a good country. It has ideals that are truly admirable. Although, now we now face a  system that is aging and that appears to be the only real change taking place. We have classically been trendsetters, rapid movers, a country that is truly ahead of it’s time. To be so young and successful, now we are dealing with our growing pains . What are we going to do? The critics of our government say it is too big, well going about the task of shrinking it with the “folks” who are calling for a smaller one may result in us getting just that. It may come on the form of a dictator.

Personally, I will take America as she is right now.  There of course are problems; we have to work through our problems, and that is simply what we need to do. We must be able to count on the officials we put into power to exercise and execute it in accordance with what we the PEOPLE elected them to do. To all the unhappy individuals(Tea Partiers here’s your personal invite) ” take off on the next thing smokin”.  Me, I am here to stay.

On And On

Have you ever had a conversation with someone who tries to out talk you? You know the type; constant interruptions or the loud overbearing volume and tone of their voice. It can be to  say the least annoying. Now let’s approach this from another angle. Have you ever found yourself going on about a subject that the other person you are speaking with “says” they understand?

I am reminded of the illustrious James Brown and a song he did called “Talkin Loud and Sayin Nothing”. The example I gave before truly fit the bill in one way or another. People will often ask for something that they truly do not want; OPINION. All people like this want is to have a captive audience, which will give the appearance of conversation.

I have been told on more occasion than one, that I have a tendency to be redundant, by someone close to me. Well I tell you was insulted, I was angry, and I felt rebellion and contempt toward this special person for saying that to me. However, as I thought back, I realized that there could be a bit of validity to what was said. Although, I still did not appreciate what was being said.  I felt that if I was actually being heard, there would not be a need for me to repeat myself or  go “on and on”.  This flawed method was unintentional on my part. Yet to the avail of my counterpart mission accomplished; I was silenced of sorts, if not that at least stifled.

Now I was reluctant to voice my opinion and often said nothing at all. This gave “free-run” to my accuser. Sheer stubbornness would not allow me to say a word when inside I was screaming with opinion. Now all I have to offer on most occasions is, “I don’t know, what do you think?” Does this fix things, not really. However, I do not have to engage with someone who only wants to hear their own voice.

Conversation is a very delicate and complicated thing. Many people think of it as simply vocalizing and this is clearly visible in their conversations. There are steps that must be taken to have a successful meaningful conversation, the first being the willingness to listen. You will not often run into someone that lacks understanding, what you find more often than not is the unwillingness to allow another point of view to be expressed.

A big void exists in relationships when interested parties cannot communicate. It doesn’t matter in the long run if it is inability or simply bullheadedness,  the end result will be the same. In your communication ventures should you run across the “on and on” dilemma, take a moment and dissect the situation.  Find out who you are, the one who goes “on and on” or are you the one who is pointing the finger.

I cannot give you an answer, for my stubborn solution is not a successful one.  I do know there has to be a better way; to the perpetrator really try to listen, and to the finger-pointer maybe try visuals, flash cards, sign language. Perhaps somewhere in-between the participating parties will discover what they are really saying to one another, or at least make an honest effort in that direction.

Because It Makes Me Happy Too

By now we have had a few of the spoils of this life. We have bought the car we wanted , we purchased the house of our dreams, we have given our children a number of their heart’s desires. These things made us happy, they gave us a degree of joy and made us feel accomplished and fulfilled.

Times have changed so much though. I recall the classic occasions for giving, birthdays, anniversaries, and Christmas. The running around, going from store to store, searching for just the right gift. Then it had to be wrapped and you had to have a card to express just how you felt about this person on this/their special day. Enter gift cards and gift bags, there are even specialized cards that boast they express “just how you feel”. AMAZING! The transformation that has taken place during our lives.

I did something nice for someone a couple of weeks ago, I did it because I wanted to.  My kind gesture, my attempt to demonstrate I did not like something I perceived as incorrect was rejected, because the person did not see things the way I did.  To be honest, I was taken aback. I tried to explain myself, but I do not really believe that I did a sufficient job. Although the gift was accepted, the fact that there was an air of confusion and unrest took away from what was actually being said with this gesture. I have been told by more than one individual “you think about things no one else does”. I had a mixed reaction to that statement; for I understood what was being said to me, but I wondered/questioned if what I was saying/doing was truly being understood.

Giving whether it is a gift, your time, your effort should be an unselfish act. There should be no expectation of reward from the receiver, but does that include gratitude and/or acceptance?  Think about why you are giving and not just who you are giving to. The act may seem simple and one-sided, but it is not.  Those gift cards and gift bags made things simpler, but did they really make things better. The easy way out isn’t always the way to go.

As we journey into this next phase we have to keep our “feelers” out there open to be receptive of things we may have bypassed even a decade ago. While we may be encompassed with what we have acquired and where we are in life, we have to stop and realize there is something more for us and we better try to pursue the intangibles.

Remember your baby’s reaction when you came home after a hard day at work, your child’s face on Christmas morning even before the first package was opened, the way you felt when your son/daughter walked across the stage to receive their high school diploma, the return of a son from the military, a daughter walking down the aisle to meet her groom. Your heart does something, that during the course of a normal day, it will not.

However, believe me when I tell you that the same special warm feeling will present itself to you if you do give of yourself for no particular reason. The act itself is paled in comparison to what you will get back.  Finally, do not let a poor reception deter you from giving again, for ultimately your intentions are clear to the one who counts. “God loves a cheerful giver”.

A Test Free Testimony

“A Test Free Testimony”, sounds interesting doesn’t it? The truth is there is no such thing.  Read James 1:2-4. One has to look at the nature of man to understand this fully. Man is arrogant and the only way to deal with arrogance is to take it down. I think we all can use being taken down a notch or two, because our memories are short. We need to know who is conducting the tests.

In the midst of doing the right thing, the test reared its head. The test seemingly knows your weakness and without further ado goes straight for the “Jugular”.  There is no hesitation except perhaps on your part. I cannot tell you that I have overcome my fear of the test, but my faith has given me additional strength. Strength that I did not know I had.

What do you do when the tests come calling? We must face these  challenges in order  to grow and I guess during these points the phrase “growing pains” takes on a very real meaning to us.

I have to get just a little personal here and tell you about one of my tests and the lesson I learned. I have a very good friend I worked with several years ago. I thought of myself as a good friend and I thought I cared about her. She told me of a family member that had gotten into trouble and while I gave off the impression I was listening intently, my mind was often millions of miles away, especially when it came to some adult getting into real trouble.  I had opinion and judgement for all to hear(although I kept it to myself). My attitude was like the penguins in Madgascar “just smile and wave boys, smile and wave”. The time came and she excitedly told me her loved one was coming to live with her after his stint with the justice system. I told her that was great and how lucky and blessed he was to have a person so wonderful in his life as she. Sounds good, but it possessed all the undertones of a judgmental jerk, ME. As I said those kind words I thought,” I don’t know why she is excited. What a burden and umph, umph, umph glad it’s not me”.

Little did I know that some time in the near future(approximately 3 years)  I would share those very feelings in regards to someone in my life. I would remember my friend and her excitement and joy. I would also remember my attitude. As noted in another piece I wrote, Crosses To Bare; One thing we can rely on is we do not get to determine what type of punishment or reward we receive. We have no say in when or where these rewards or punishments will take place.  I took note of those things in retrospect I believe this was my test on forgiveness. It was not an easy lesson, but it was effective.

I became involved in a ministry that helps people getting out of that bad experience to move forward. From finding a place to stay to just being a good listening ear, we try to help in any way we can. I am proud to say I am no longer that being who shook their head and pointed their finger in judgment. Now I am the one who looks at individuals and says, “They are just people and we all need a little something at some point in our lives”.

Would I be in this place had I not been tested? I do not think so, for I would have consciously avoided people and situations that I felt I had nothing in common with. Sadly, I would have missed an opportunity to perhaps make a difference in someones life and  in turn make a difference in my own. Here’s  hoping there will be someone for you when you are in need, and in turn you will be there to help meet someones needs.

Because It Is The Right Thing To Do

I just wanted to take time out to write you all in regards to the Free Day Of Dental Care. I have passed by your offices for several years now, for I have lived/worked in the Alpharetta Area for more than a decade. I have to tell you the first time I saw all the people lined up, I was surprised and a bit curious. I had heard about other health care providers and dental care providers doing similar things across the Metro Atlanta Area.  When I saw the signage and the lines the following year I was amazed that it was happening again, and remarked to my husband how nice and surprising to see this in Alpharetta no less. I said these must be some really decent caring people and/or they are getting some type of subsidy from the state or federal government, maybe a tax write off. This year I happily conceded and gave in, that no matter what the reason was, the act and you all deserve acknowledgement and praise.  I am a business owner and Free-Lance writer, now I have a “feel good” piece of material to write about. Thank you for taking the human factor into consideration. Blessing to you all. Sincerely, Eileen Russell

The preceding is a note that I was happily compelled to write to Jones Bridge Dental Care and its staff in Alpharetta, Georgia .

We have to go back a bit to give you some data that will help this make sense. First let’s talk about Alpharetta.  Alpharetta, Georgia is a medium to large sized suburb of Metro Atlanta approximately 58,000 residents. The population is characterized  by being financially stable, predominately white, well educated. Low crime rates, great shopping, nice restaurants.  A Shangri-La of sorts and if we are being honest, this is not a place where you would expect to find someone or some organization looking out for people in need. I do not want to take an undue poke at the city itself;  for in our society in general, when individuals arrive at certain places they tend to become insulated and insensitive. We are self-centered and self-absorbed. Thus, it is a pleasure to say something nice about a group of unlikely and extraordinary people.

Think about the last bad experience you had that involved customer service. Did you sit quietly by and let it go? Did you voice your complaint or write a letter? Better yet, do you remember the last time you had a good experience and bothered letting the person know it was positive and appreciated. A little encouragement goes a long way.

Dr. Leo Yelizarov resume boasts many achievements and awards, but that clearly isn’t all that there is to him. He is affectionately referred to as Dr. Leo by his patients, giving him the small town family doctor feel and appeal. This is not an advertisement for the good doctor and his practice, but it is an acknowledgement that individuals can and do make a difference.  People like Dr. Leo challenge us all to do  what we can, no matter what the scale, to help our fellow man.

So take off that protective covering, roll up your sleeves, and go do something nice for someone in need for no particular reason. Don’t do it for the recognition, but know in your heart it will NOT go unnoticed.

Crosses To Bare

I am certain that I am not the only one who has heard this metaphor time and time again. Yet, when do you really think about what is being said. Are you like most of us, and see things that others do but not ones own faults, or do you look at your particular situation and think” well now that does make sense”. Like it or not things happen and depending on your vantage point one may or may not be deserving of the end result. The power of “karma“.

One thing we can rely on is we do not get to determine what type of punishment or reward we receive. We have no say in when or where these rewards or punishments will take place. It is arrogant and presumptuous to think we would, but after all is that not our nature? As we “bellyache” how unfair life is, do we have time to step back and revisit a place where we may have been a little less than fair to another person.

This piece is my mental note to remind me that my foot does NOT belong in my mouth. I love words. I play word games on a regular bases. I think I have a bit of a command of them. Yet, more often than I like to admit, they come out of my mouth like some sour regurgitated substance. While I feel bad about this occurrence, I do not often apologize for or even attempt to right this wrong, as I should. I believe it, yet it continues to happen so often, and because of this I decided  to broach the subject. This is me baring mine. My confession.

One may say these are only words, but words are very powerful. They start and end wars. They are generally at the root of most every type of conflict. We recognize their power in the negative sense, but fail to take advantage of their healing power. Therefore, my challenge is to take care of some inadvertent messes I have made. I will remind myself of how quick I am to complain, but it seems to take a little longer to write that complementary note. My appeal for forgiveness and recognition of that need to be forgiving as well.

Whatever you battle with take care of it one step at a time, but do take a first step. I can guarantee you will make no progress in your effort if you don’t, but the possibilities are endless if you do.

What Happened To Our Common Ground

Today I married my best friend. How wonderful is this feeling, knowing that I’ve got this special person’s back and I am equally protected.  Come on back to Earth with me now folks, that was just an example of expressed, undying love. I mean it says best friend and ideally it would be great, but is it real? Are you and your spouse/mate truly friends or do you say it is so because it sounds good. If you were friends at one time what changed things? When did you first realize you were asking the question, “What happened to our common ground?”

When a marriage breaks up after twenty plus years, it is tragic to say the least. I ask, what took so long and why did they stay if this was so bad for so long. I must interject that a marriage break up is tragic no matter what amount of time has passed. Yes, I am makings some serious generalizations here, but maybe you know someone who is facing this  right now. Maybe that someone is you.

It takes a lifetime to get to know someone, but there are things that are visible about them the instant you meet them. One has to have strength, open mind, and be willing to act. These are not uncommon attributes, but for fear of being alone we let things go. Then you wake up and realize that you really did not let those things go at all, you simply buried them in a shallow unmarked grave. A grave that is on unstable ground and not dug very deep, and the results surprise you?

We like  knowing what will come next. In our youth surprises are welcomed and exciting. As we age they are viewed in a less favorable fashion and avoided. The illustrious “governator” gave his wife and family a surprise a few weeks ago. To say the least it was poorly planned and not well received.

The ability to see that “common ground” becomes harder and harder as our vision starts to deteriorate. How can we get there if one of our main vehicles breaks down? Now you cannot see this imaginary place, and you certainly cannot get there without knowing the direction you should be traveling in. Who knows it may not even be there any longer. What if it is simply unrecognizable, because you have not bothered to care for it.

“Common ground” should be treated as a garden. You have to tend to the garden, it requires care and attention. You have to visit, water, fertilize, and weed that garden if you want the good things in it to grow.

With Conditions

This is how we gauge ourselves and the things we do, isn’t it. We make purchases based on conditions. We involve ourselves in activities and with people as well. It seems to be the smart thing to do, because in effect we are “covering all the bases”.

In my youth I watched an interview with Maurice White of Earth, Wind and Fire. I remember ever so clearly how he remarked about the love of a baby. How it was free, unconditional, and how great it would be if we could fashion our adult relationships after them. I thought, wow that is so wonderful and amazing. Imagine someone taking you as you are, no requirements to be this way or that way. Of course that sounded amazing to a teenaged  girl, an individual whose entire social existence is defined by conditions.

For years to come unconsciously, I would search and strive to have that unconditional love relationship again. I say again, because at one point in my life I did have it even if it was in infancy. I smile at the thought of it, because no matter how much you love your parents that unconditional love, well couldn’t it possibly be borne out of dependency?

What I did not think about at the time was that the idea in itself of unconditional love, was a relationship with conditions all of its own. “Hollywood” still capitalizes off of our fantasy to find that perfect love, the love that allows us to be exactly who we are and have no need to explain or excuse ourselves. “And they lived happily ever after”, it looks and sounds so pretty. No conflicts or complaints, sounds like someone here is unrealistic, needy, dependent, or all of the above.

We want perfection, but are we perfect? Do you have the right to place such a requirement on someone, when you yourself cannot live up to those very same stipulations. It is only fair and it is also very difficult to live up to that type of standard. You will ultimately find yourself, unhappy or alone. I am not simply talking about love relationships here.

I submit this, there are no perfect people here on Earth, therefore it is impossible to find perfection in a person. One has to find what will actually work for oneself. Look for acceptable;  not tolerable, not bearable for the very names suggest less than desired,  for it is  in that acceptable you will find and receive acceptance.

Who’s in Charge?

In a totally rhetorical sense, the question is asked. People among us who consider themselves Christians, know the answer. Whether or not they believe or behave as such, remains to be seen at times. We take names at face value, but when it is time to deliver something or someone very different can appear.

I have to give you a couple of feel good thoughts to ponder. I watched a program on the National Geographic Channel, called “Unlikely Animal Friends”, and if ever there was a case for the title of this piece that program is it. Close to a time of night when no urge is stronger than sleep for a very weary body, I watched with an uncontrollable smile stories of cats befriending birds, lionesses nurturing baby wildebeests, tigers and bears living together as companions. The sarcastic part of my mind saying this is like you and a lobster(which by-the-way I no longer consume) going for a long swim. Not gonna happen for the most simplistic and basic reasons, I  cannot swim and if I were a swimmer I would much rather swim with someone that I feel is more compatible with me.

Given choices we more often than not select what we think is going to work best for us based on look, familiarity, and understanding. Not necessarily a bad thing, but a very limiting thing. We have the availability of the universe, but we select the small room. That doesn’t make sense does it? It does if you want to be in charge, and let’s face it we all want to be in charge.

Do you think you know your limitations? Are you afraid and the small space you occupy makes you feel strong and safe? Don’t be mistaken, you are not familiar with your limitations, you are making yourself limited.

I am not advocating that one should go out and do dare-devilish things, without care or concern for health and well being. I am advocating go out and try something new and different. Let go of that fear, because you realize who is actually in charge. If you have the right answer, you will be okay. This knowledge will give you freedom, freedom to take chances, freedom to depart from what you know. Freedom to let go without fear; like Ace Bourke and John Rendall did with the lion called ironically and fittingly, Christian.

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