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Motivated by a lack of material.

Archive for the month “April, 2012”

“They’re Just People”

If I never remember anything else about the film And Justice for All I  will always remember the hurt in Al Pacino’s voice as he said that line, to his fellow attorney and friend who had under the guise of helping, had inadvertently and indirectly caused Al’s client to kill himself.

I listen to people randomly rant what they believe to be logic, applying absolutes to situations that absolutes clearly cannot be applied to. So much can be said for the adage”walk a mile in his shoes”. Until it hits you in your heart you may be able to trick yourself into believing, what you think now would be the same if a loved one was involved.

I had to reach for a painful spot in order to write this and the trouble is, I did not want to revisit that pain. However, I did want to get this out and I thought it would only as powerful as my ability to convey the hurt and seriousness of the subject. Once there, I was amazed at how the feelings were revived.

I remember my heart racing, my entire being filled with anxiety as I sat in the very place that I had not long ago shook my head in cold disapproval. I have difficulty writing about it even now. Watching television programs about our justice system only scratches the surface of a real problem that exists in our society, in our community.

I bet you know him, I bet he is related to you or has some close personal tie to you. Maybe you don’t talk about him, maybe you don’t think about him, but that does not make him any less real.

A dear friend of mine excitedly told me of her loved ones impending release from prison one day. I am a cynical sarcastic being, who attempts to be cordial and kind to people I love, like, and care about. I was less than enthused, but for her sake I responded positively. I recall very clearly thinking,'”I wonder why the hell she is so happy about that, undoubtedly he did something to land his behind in there…” I never said those words to her, but the terrible thoughts were embedded in my psyche. One day I would  remember those words from quite a different perspective.

The docudrama LOCKUP was on and my husband made a rather sarcastic remark, I looked at him oddly and left the room. I thought to myself, “Don’t you remember?” There are some very great people who have been imprisoned. They span the annuals of time from the Bible until now. Prison, though a generally bad place, is not always the worse thing that can happen to someone. I never thought I would feel this way, I never thought this could touch or affect me.  Then it did, and my entire world was set on end. That in itself  was/is a very grounding thought and experience.

Color Correct

We  may think of this”color correct” when referring to hair color. I even thought back to school, when we got test papers or essays back and the errors were highlighted with red marks. However, every time something major occurs it is highlighted that we, in America, see things so clearly along the boundaries of color lines. Conscious or unconscious, with intent or without intent this is very real for us all, and most of the time we are not even aware. It is virtually autonomic .

On paper it all looks the same and means the same, but what happened when that color pertains to people. How is it that human beings eyes take in things in such a different manner. Physiologically there really is no reason for this. Yet, it happens and it happens more often than not.

Think of the most recent headlines. As reporter after reporter interviews passersby the right and wrong are unanimously clear, but the determination of where exactly those lines are drawn are separated by a simple distinction.

Personally, I took a call from a telemarketer. I was not interested in what he had to say, I only wanted him off of my phone. I could tell  by his accent that his background was not mine, I  had little patience when the conversation began, now I had less. For the final time I told the gentleman I was not interested and abruptly hung up. I immediately thought to myself after the final action, ” overbearing _____ idiot”. A bit later this piece occurred to me and I said,” Why did he have to be an overbearing _____ idiot? Why wasn’t he just an overbearing idiot?” I found myself guilty of the same thing this piece is briefly examining, but with the added benefit(or handicap) of not even being able to see my person.

From my perspective our vantage points become very skewed when we are wrong, guilty, defensive, or even just tired. We are in a weakened state, we lash out and what better way to lash out than to strike first. Our quick minds and wit often fall victims to what is obvious, thus the personal attack is where we  most often/immediately go to. Then we have the ability to make blanket statements, no matter how idiotic, about someone without knowing them, and/or without knowing the facts. Plus, we have the added feature of being able to simultaneously convince ourselves we feel good about our assessment.

Once again in our rushing, never-enough-hours-in-the-day society we have produced and raised yet another “quick fix”. This one is to aid us in assigning blame. This is not an new practice it is just more pronounced and obvious now, just the way we like it.  I offer my “two-cents” with the addendum of “practice what you preach” to myself FIRST and FOREMOST; before you render opinions/ideas/statements bother to take the time to give a bit more though than what is there for all eyes to see. It will make talks a bit more civil, a bit more sensitive, and perhaps a bit less exciting and volatile. However, not to worry for we as human beings will ALWAYS find something else to argue and be angry about.

Daddy’s Baaaby…..

As I was driving one morning I saw I tall slender man walking. In his arms gripping him tightly about his neck was a small child. It was chilly this particular morning so the child was bundled up, hat and overcoat, I could not tell if this was a boy or a girl. However, what I can tell you is that child was surrounded by all it needed in the world, the obvious love and protection of this man. My heart filled with admiration, I smiled and thought of the two of them all day long. I knew I had to say something about DADDIES. I got all of this passing these two on a busy four lane street.

Love is a funny thing. We speak of it or don’t say a word about it. We oversimplify the impact of it and we take it for granted. Love does make the world go round and you see it in the eyes of children. In my times of turmoil, when my center was a bit off I could always find my way back, because my foundation was formed by the constant presence and influence of my father.

Now I watch my granddaughter as she interacts with my son, her DADDY. Her eyes light up when she sees him after spending the day with her “Abuela”,  “Grandpapa” and “Uncle Tio”. While we are alright and she loves us, no one takes the place of DADDY.  She laughs for him in a way that no one else can make her, and in her own little way she lets you know she does not appreciate anyone trying to hurt him, as when we are “play fighting”.

What is this mysterious element DADDY possesses? As I sit and think of it/remember it, it is as mundane and non-affecting as standing up to walk. Yet, in a functioning  fashion, you are completely aware that you cannot take the tiniest of steps without completing the first action.

God made “him” a mountain of strength, a fortress of security, who gives you a confidence that only an unselfish love can provide. Although many have made it through without his presence, many of those same individuals wish “he” would have been there for them. Next time you have an opportunity to see “him”, be it your very own or some random stranger like the one I saw; stand back, enjoy, and observe the love. It will warm your heart and put a smile on your face.

Prospective Perspectives

What a difference a day makes… I say that with a smile. We travel along our routes in life and never give a second thought to our state of being  unless it puts us into an noticeable frenzy. We are a flood of emotions, crashing up against one another like waves into the coastline, but this doesn’t even cause a conscious stir until those emotions are at tidal wave proportions.

A few years ago I was a powder keg and I wasn’t slightly aware of it until I departed from the situation. Something as simple as a job change, changed my entire being, my entire point of view, my perspective. Yet this is about the results of actions that I did not necessarily orchestrate. Day in and day out I did this job with little or no passion, slightly above the  level of expectation for the resolve of no conflict. I saw no future so I behaved as such.

What if I had channeled that mediocrity to another area, an area where I could have a different view, a place where my prospects were good or at the very least they existed? My perspective was marred by the negative and I let that same “negative” serve as my compass. That compass took me nowhere fast. Most of us aren’t fortune tellers, but we do have the ability to express what we would like to see or have. The vision is paramount and it should come first, then you must take an active role in making that vision something solid and tangible. Otherwise you end up back in the same or a similar place asking the same questions.

Perhaps you have a relationship that needs examining, personal or professional sometimes you just have to stop and take a step back to see the entire picture. The distortion you see may not be in the picture, it may be in you.The thing I did learn is one must continue to work at making these changes in one’s life. It is so easy to fall back into the same bad habits .  Therefore, I am being a positive forward thinker; in turn my prospects have taken on an entirely new light, and my perspective is good because of it.

By The Standards Of Others

Someone else’s wants, needs, and desires. Their schedule, their clock. Where do you fit in, well it is simple you are for their benefit, placed in a spot most appealing and useful to them. Not since my children were infants have I been willing to accept such a position. That does not mean I have not found or put  myself in that very position, though.

Jobs and society place these requirements upon us all the time. However, there are other areas that make an attempt to do this as well and often time it is not well received. Personal relationships are a challenging area, because these are self-inflicted choices.

Let me start with I hate the feeling of being controlled by tyranny, be it animal, vegetable, mineral, individually or collectively. In my most eloquent way of expressing myself, “It Sucks!” Bound by what YOU think I should do. Where does it end? Time space, or place is not immune either. However, we must all submit to this  standard on one level or another. Generally it is not constant and there is some underlying benefit to one submitting to such.

As we keep our vantage point on our “mid century being”, this experience will take us back, way back to childhood. While many of us cherish and reminisce our youth, this aspect of this type of control is rarely endearing. I’ll take a does of energy and fun, over disciplined control every time. Yet what guides, drives, and keeps us in places where we expose ourselves to this phenomenon.  It is simple; needs, wants, and desires. Satisfaction of these are  necessary and reasonable. The problem come into play when there is not a fair equitable exchange, or when you can no longer see it as being such.

I will not give you case studies or examples here. Realistically, we all have to submit in some area(s). We all choose to submit or not in others.  What we have to do is know OUR cut off point, and be able to do just that, in each of those instances.

Don’t Cross Me

Once upon a time there existed a young individual who was volatile and reactive. There was never a situation that was allowed to go by without their wrath being felt, heard, seen. In another kingdom existed another young individual who possessed uncanny calm. Nothing seemed to cause a stir for theirs was an overall feeling that “things would invariably work out….”

Do you recognize or remember either one of these individuals? Here’s a hint pick up a mirror. I knew these individual very well, in my youth they were interchangeable at MY will. However as the sun creeps slowly in the direction of sunset I have come to know another being. Armed with some of the characteristics of those youthful individuals she also possesses patience, knowledge, and a relentless spirit.

Here we are the customer, client, patron. We enter into the establishment in order to obtain what we want or need. We expect to pay and we expect  results .  There you are standing in line as the clerk, hiding behind her CLOSED sign, clearly files her fingernails.  How about the car you just got out of the shop simply without warning stops operating, after you have paid that mechanic’s bill?When we do our part but the provider does not, what then? No longer are we the short-tempered, ill informed neophyte. What you have before you, is a seasoned veteran ready for battle. The question is are you ready to take this step, are you truly ready for battle, or will you sink back to the safety net?

In our current age , there are Better Business Bureaus, Consumer Advocates, Chambers of Commerce. Finally, there are the social medias a place where our faces can be seen and our voices can be heard.  While there truly should not be any higher litmus test than customer satisfaction, sometimes these providers of services and/or goods need a reminder why they are there. A little push towards their personal conscious can yield positive results.

Without a chip on your shoulder in preparation for a fight and for future references, exert your power quietly but effectively.

With A Gun To My Head

What would you do? We have all heard the horrific stories of work place shooting. We have been distant witnesses to schools invaded by disturbed individuals who commit murder. Everyday we all walk into situations that could potentially put our lives at the mercy/ or in danger of loosing them. The thing is most of the time we have no way of knowing until it is too late.

Mine is a story of  disbelief. I walked right into a powder keg one day. My small business dictates that I have to venture into the unknown, with an unknown variable. PEOPLE. There is a trust factor that both parties must be in agreeance . We walk into their homes, we are exposed to and entrusted with their things, parts of their lives. I have ALWAYS preferred that we be allowed to do our work without the presence of others. That is why we are licensed, bonded, and insured. These are the things we do to make our clients feel better about us being in their houses. They give us keys and alarm codes trusting we will come in do the work, lock up, and leave. Some are at home,  not a major problem or issue, simply not a preference. However, all we need is the ability to do our work without their interference (i.e. not in our direct line of work).

Recently, life dealt a client some pretty rough blows and his response was to escape rather than deal with it. He did not have a long distance to go for his refuge, it was in a bottle. We walked into his escape with what we thought was significant armor, we were wrong. Upon our arrival we found him in a state that made us, well lets just call it uncomfortable. As impersonal as I try to be and as I want to be, humanity always manages to come out. I would have simply left had I been alone, but that was not the case.  We proceeded as though everything was alright, but everything was more like all wrong.

I saw the weapon, it reminded me of a canon. I am not a gun enthusiast, so I know little about them. What I did know was that he had a big gun , it appeared to be a real gun, and this client was half dressed(shirtless and shoeless) and he was drunk. My husband/work partner saw it and he knew much more than I did about guns. There we were basically stuck and the only think I could think to do was proceed with caution as though all was well, but to move as fast as possible.

Like a police negotiator my husband kept this guy engaged in conversation while attempting to work. He was wanting to talk, he needed an ear. I literally RAN the vacuum over two floor levels. The dusting was hit and miss, in my mind in his state he would never know the difference. The animal hair was gone, the visible surfaces in the baths and kitchen were clean, we were out of there in about 50 minutes.  For that 50 minutes we were held hostage, whether it was implied or real, it felt the same. No sudden movement, watch what you say, watch where he was, and keep an eye on that gun. All this while you try to do what you normally do. My biggest fear was that he was going to attempt suicide and we would be witnesses to it. However, upon our departure I thought of how much danger we were in personally. It took hours to clear our heads and get beyond where we had just left. We were physically and mentally exhausted.

I never thought about the danger one puts oneself into when they enter the home of another. You are at their mercy, in their territory. I am seriously looking into a different type of business venture. I anticipate it will be sooner than I originally planned.

Concerted Effort-Less

Here we are at a place where the things we used to do without thought or effortlessly has now become a chore. What used to come naturally has to be given considerable time and planning. These things are not major undertakings, although they oftentimes feel as such. They are the little detailed, everyday items we can easily overlook.

I attend a very non-traditional church in the south. The pastor felt his calling in the area of bringing people to God who had come from little or no Christian training. ALL are welcome but the people who may be a little more skeptical or challenged will feel comfortable enough to come back and often times stay with us. I say all of this because after years of traditional training it took a “minute” to get adjusted to jeans, tee shirts, and yes shorts. However, once there, it was a welcomed change.

Similar to the adjustment one makes in going from street clothes to a uniform, I believe it either works or it doesn’t there is no in-between spot. I worked for the Postal Service for 23 years, as you can imagine, it works.

This particular Sunday as I work in the direction of fixing one more of my many flaws, I thought of how we must make efforts to do the smallest of things or they will get lost. I am working on timeliness and have made some significant strides, but I cannot deem them completely successful for this particular morning. I was able to see that I am sacrificing something important for another . Yet they are both equally needy. I am fooling, deceiving myself into thinking the strides are real successes, because they are not cumulative and I know they should be.

I have to note that I have not been taking much care in the way I look. Since we are in this relaxed environment I have become too relaxed, maybe even lazy in this area. Being a GREETER is important, another area I felt I could make a difference in. Yet, knowing that presentation and first impressions mean so very much; I shout to the members and visitors,  behind a well meaning sincere smile, This is all there is. Now I realize I do not need to be in full theatrical make-up donning a designer gown in sequins, but I should  look like I did more than wash my face and brush my teeth. When I say, “Good Morning. Welcome to 12 Stone”. Folks should want to say and feel like, “It is a good morning and I am glad to be here… just like you.”

It seems there is always another battle, the endless challenges of self awareness and self-improvement. Look close at this title; I am going to have to resolve myself to taking things one step further, so that I can insure that I not only take a step in the right direction, but that I arrive at my destination point successful and safely.

Caryl’s First Rose

I see a little girl dressed the way I used to dress/be dressed at Easter in a mid-western city, but she was a thousand or so miles away. I see her picking flowers maybe wearing a bonnet, after all it is Easter-time. I see her holding the banister rail as she navigates downward to the yard filled with flowers or eating chocolate laughing with her brother.

Today the first rose bud bloomed on a bush given to that same little girl’s dad, commemorating her passing last October. It is a lone flower right now, but the promise is it will have more flowers than you can pick.

When we watch our children, we never think of the reality of the future. It is all fantasy and hope. We see them graduating from high school and/or college. We imagine them getting married or becoming parents themselves. We see them changing the world lying in their cribs sleeping.

If we allow the fleeting moment of reality, we quickly shoe-it away with a fear the thought might bring bad luck. I know Caryl’s dad did this. He lived/lives with regret of not doing this or not doing that… If he knew her life would be cut short by cancer, things would have been different.The truth is we have to give our loved ones our love, while they are here. We have to cherish the moments with the knowledge they are moments, not filled with fear but with freedom. The freedom of giving away all you have, because you have no worry of tomorrow. This is where our hope must meet faith. Simply put, our loved ones, they are blessings.

Caryl’s first rose bloom will last until it withers away; picking it or leaving it on the bush, does not change the fact it was here and it was first. So I will take a picture of it to preserve it’s beauty in a way that will allow revisiting, ever mindful it is representing a visit. This place, this Earth is a stopping over point.  Hold her hand a little tighter, enjoy her laughter a little longer and appreciate her beauty with a little more intensely.

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