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Watch it!

watchit
There it was…a silver Timex, displayed securely in a case at my Joslins Department Store. The moment was 1979 and I was nineteen years old, treating myself the day before starting my first full time job. Where did the time go?

I don’t know about you, but a sense of power was associated with a watch at my house. My father always had his, even in later years when he messed with a toothpick setting his newfangled LED version…his wrist was never bare. I too, always wore a watch, dating back to a childhood Christmas, when my niece and I received leather strapped Cinderella ones, complete with ceramic figure. Then later when I thought I was cool,  I needed a time peace in keeping with my hippie state of mind, and a three inch band with brass snaps held Snoopy in place, along with some great hand tooled leather.

In many ways, those watches also represented the time we lived, more than just the time of day. There was a responsibility back then to know the hour, where we needed to be and of course just the ability to help, should someone ask, do you have the time? The validity behind such a request, has long been set to song lyrics and movie scripts…time and time again, because we are always concerned with where we are, and where we may be going…even if we are nowhere near Chicago.

In my life I’ve watched time fade, and as my parents aged, their gift giving became predictably comical, when right on time, each birthday or Christmas, they inevitably gave one another a new watch. After they both had passed away, I looked into the boxes once kept on dressers and smiled, as several Timex, Bolivia, LED and Waltham’s looked back with tired faces, no longer held by aging hands. True to fact…time never lasts as long as we think it will.

From the vast array of watches I have worn, there appears to be a statement of not just the times that were a changing, but what I once valued and how careful I watched it. After that first day of work, there would be many other timepieces accessorizing my attire…rings and pins, pendants that opened, some that were straight forward and a few with small diamonds trying to sparkle in the darkness. Each one ticking me into a new day, closing out the one I had been living, and keeping me on track to care for my family…minute by minute they each reminded me what needed to come next.

The last watch I regularly wore, was a very expensive solid gold and jewel encrusted Victorian slide bracelet. Each gold charm had  emotional value,  a daughter’s birthstone, a diamond cross and an assortment of comical frogs, which came together against a small gold clock face. The watch had been a wedding gift from my now ex-husband, and gave me a sense of value and importance, which was ironic since it was also ticking down reality as I knew it.

Instead of seeing that special watch as a gatekeeper of the minutes and hours I had been given, it was an ego-owned, excessive piece of jewelry, which I wore in a less than impressive life, rarely looking at it for the time. It was only when it disappeared one day, several years into my disastrous marriage that time stopped. My general assumption has always been that it was thrown out during a migraine induced blackout, along with whatever else I had in my hand, because it never again showed up. However, the time that passed between receiving and loosing it did finally come to light for me, and sadly I saw  how much time had actually been thrown away.

Today most people look to their cell phone for the correct time, and unless a vain personal statement needs to be made…like my lost Victorian one, watches are only worn as an accessory, no longer a reminder of how much time is left until the day is done. I actually wonder if like cursive writing, children will someday no longer learn how to tell time…the quarter of an hour and the sixty seconds into a minute. After all, they will have a tablet or cell phone blinking black numerals to tell them when their time is up.

As I write this, I guess I miss Cinderella more than I thought, each fleeting moment until midnight approached, holding close moments that had been made and marked forever in time. However, if nothing else, I have learned no matter how valuable something is, if you see it for more than it is, you often don’t see what is moving around you until it is too late. Simple is usually is the best, along with knowing where you are, where you are going and what you have to get done, and the satisfaction of doing it before time runs out. Indeed, such knowledge although priceless, is also timeless.

Let sleeping dogs…or lie

lay

We’ve all been there at one point or another – we’ve heard or seen something that was wrong, something that goes against the grain, values and/or common sense of humanity or worse yet, might actually expose the worst in someone. The question is what happens next? Do we walk away as a bystander, as the victim, the secret conscience of the guilty party, or do we stand up and hopefully right a wrong?

Life and the circles of business and society that swirl around us every day are ripe with injustice and deplorable behavior, and it is up to us to remember our own spiritual version of the Golden Rule and hold our values tight. However, as with everything else in this world that isn’t the easiest thing to do…especially when the injustice has been thrust upon us. So what’s next?

Unfortunately, power comes with knowledge and that alone presents a powerful fact, because such power is often used against us, knowing we will be silent so as to keep our lives intact as much as possible. Indeed, we do often pray to forget and move on, hoping justice will eventually catch up to those with less than good intentions and morals…because face it…who really believes the little guy? Who believes the subordinate? Power may come with knowledge, but it is status and money that come with a voice.

Recent headlines again threaten to tarnish yet another once solid figure in our lives and history, claiming this person was a self-serving abuser, who used power and status to satisfy urges and desires past what was right or condonable. There was no he said she said here, there appears instead to be a he did she was, and when that happens, battle lines get drawn and everyone who has no knowledge in the matter has an opinion. I doubt there is a better definition of blood sport.

When the dust has settled and the stars look down upon us, the simple fact remaining is we all just want to just be happy and have something in life to hold onto. For some of us, that might mean walking away from an abuser who has used their power to threaten our security, chalking it up to a learning experience in life that we hope to never repeat. However, for others, the experience eventually becomes a disease that must be cured before life can continue, and they are the ones who blow the whistle and ask to be recognized…even if it won’t be pleasant.

Looking at all the dirt and trash we walk through as we mature, wanting to clean up our own part of the world makes sense. It is our way to offer a fresh start to our families and let them know what is right, and to stay the course as much as possible. However, as with any part of nature, if it isn’t constantly tended and watched, the dirt builds back up, trash and decay reappear and soon it is as if nothing had ever been tended.

As someone who has stood on the edge of the should I say or should I go professional mountain of wrong, I know my silence wasn’t right…however, at the time it was right for me…a choice I had to make as a young single mother. Many times over the years, other encounters less physical also crossed my path, again giving me the choice to speak up or walk away, and although I did try several times to right the wrong, I quickly learned one small voice in this uncaring selfish world of excess isn’t heard, and you must live with the aftermath nevertheless.

So for those today that are speaking up, I give them praise and applaud their strength. I also offer words of firsthand knowledge to those calling them liars and opportunists: Unless you have been there, felt violated, felt helpless and most of all, felt trapped please shut up! You weren’t there – you have no idea the situation or how the need for survival might have reacted in your soul.

Once something is broken, is forever broken and even though it may have been mended, it will never again be what it was or what it might have been. However, sometimes it does become stronger after having been reinforced, and that is exactly what we need to do for those who take the step to speak out. We need to reinforce humanity, compassion and honesty no different than clearing a livable path in our world of decay so others won’t have to face the pain.

mutter

Okay, let’s face it…at one time or another, sometimes more than we want to admit we go through our day with blinders on. Often, it is because we are preoccupied, stressed or worried and other times…well, selfishly we just care about ourselves…after all, we’re only human. However, notice or not, life in general has been moving along faster than those age old snail paces I grew up hearing about, and I’ve started to wonder why no one else is noticing.

Sometimes the hurry up and wait of youth is understandable, and before you know it, school is done, jobs and marriage are on many horizons, as well as babies…rushing into children that complete the circle of life. As we age, we look back at the time we have had and lost, seeing it as no more than a sign of aging, along with graying hair, wrinkles and spots of age where we want them the least. However, it is more than that if we are honest…it isn’t just cherubic faces of babies now having families of their own that are moving at warp speed, it is the very world we live in.

I remember far too often, the times I have driven past a familiar spot seeing the landscape dramatically changed, saying…that sure went up over night! Well, no it didn’t, but my attentiveness to the changes behind my blinders was in a similar darkness. Stuck in the rut of my existence, comfortable with the norm, avoiding confrontation and trying to survive, I allow things to happen around me without so much of the blink of an eye, until like an infamous gorilla in the room, I can avoid them no more. So on that note, let’s talk about a certain celebrity this week who bared her soul…and everything else, again butting into our lives, leaving us to Mutter her assets belonged in a Museum.

When did gratuitous nudity, crime, violence and dysfunctional families for the sake of entertainment become a standard in the world where we live? Yes, I know it sounds like I am standing on a soap box, preaching to an opera that once couldn’t show a pregnant woman from the waist down! It isn’t that I am mourning the denigration of the young, or facing mortality with less than a gold star, I am simply stating the obvious and wondering why we keep on the blinders that let it continue? Frankly…it’s scaring the crap outta me!

It is inevitable with knowledge comes change, and on that horizon of change, comes a new way to learn, to understand and of course be amused. When movies and television grew up they brought thought provoking food for the soul, we went into court with Atticus Finch and felt humanity, we laughed with Ed Sullivan, learned from Mike Douglas and Phil Donahue, worried if Mike Wallace was in our office and walked carefree down a street of sesame, needing to figure out which one was not like the others, and it had nothing to do with racial or political equality. Then we evolved towards a ramped up exit…and yes, I mean a detour from the path of life, putting us onto the super highway of the Internet…and nothing has been the same since.

As a self taught computer geek, I love computers and the map of the Internet, so don’t get me wrong. Having the world at my fingers via laptop, tablet or phone can make anyone a Big Chief that gets it write every time. However, in always getting it right, there is no longer a need for trial and error, and our minds are allowed to hitchhike along the soft shoulder of this media hyped highway unwatched. If my dad was still alive he would shake his head at all that is within our grasp, especially since most of us have our thumbs stuck somewhere other than out for a ride.

The media events we now call the news, have nothing newsworthy to offer…I actually realized recently, that I had stopped watching our local newscasts almost five years ago…talk about a blinding moment! I hadn’t made a conscious decision, it just happened…everything I needed was on the Internet…in my face 24/7…whether I wanted it or not, bypassing the Ted Mack Amateur Hour of self praise reporters have all sunk to.

News now is shock valued entertainment. Television no longer relaxes or informs us, instead, it is a slick vehicle to show how stupid, uneducated, rich or overrated those around us may be, forcing us to acknowledge we don’t belong. We are schooled daily in how to commit crimes, have drugs mailed to our homes, steal from our neighbors and watch sexual exploits that should never even cross our minds…let alone walk into our home.

Networks that started as learning channels and stations valuing the arts and entertainment have become some of the worst. People that years ago would have been incarcerated for their actions, are now are getting overflowing bank accounts and status for such stupidity, immorality and overindulgence, and we keep up the ratings to insure there is more where that came from because we just don’t care.

Stores we once supported are gone because everything is bought on eBay or Amazon, coming through the mail anonymously. Relationships and education are selected through electronic catalogs of faces and courses (including sex should you want your mouse clicked), and if you are truly lucky, employment is also only a keystroke away from your pajamas and cup of coffee…no need to enter the real world at all!

We have truly taken a bucket seat back, lost our list of ambition and allowed the world to evolve into a spoiled child that has run amok without values or supervision. So I have to ask why…we certainly aren’t happier, and if anything, we are less educated and less driven to succeed. Humanity now suffers from envy and depression, which is woven through every bandwidth we allow, and satisfaction is only allocated to a buy it now on a website. For the sake of argument…why are we are content to live alone in our own little world of space?

I recently had a sweet young man stay with me who worked for the government. He is also running along that George Jetson fast track of tomorrow, wanting everything now, while having an inside track on what could make it happen. During recent violence in the Middle East, we watched CNN while a helicopter loaded refugee children under fire from a sniper. The reporter and cameraman inside were commenting on the situation between commercial breaks, as bullets rang out and the children screamed. I was horrified, but my friend rationalized it as just life.

After that moment I reached into my past, and heard the recorded words of Herbert Morrison (Google it!) as he watched the Hindenburg burn. The impact and imagery always hit me hard when it was brought up in my history classes, and it returned to me then equally as valid. I wonder now what life might have been like with the technological advancements we now have, along with the lack of good taste, morals and humanity which go hand in hand with them.

It isn’t a leap to see a convertible stopped on a Dallas street, while a shocked young woman in a pink suit covered in blood looks at her husband gasping for life. Suddenly, a reporter comes out of nowhere and shoves a microphone in her face, while others via for a once in a lifetime Selfie…Mrs. Kennedy…how does it feel to be covered with blood and brains? What are you feeling right now…are you wearing Chanel? This trip will forever change you won’t it?

Indeed, we have allowed a relentless need for dirty laundry to wash any innocence from our eyes. Once we had profiles in courage…but now, we are just guilty of needing profiles on Facebook, and no Walter…that isn’t the way it was…and it won’t ever be that way again.

cookie byte
Electronics and technology have all but taken the juice out of traditional holidays, charging even further into the future, and sadly…the memories lost can’t ever be plugged into place again.

During hurricane Sandy a dear friend of mine lost a great deal from her home. She commented to me, that all her holiday decorating and years of raising her now adult children was gone. We lamented over all the years we had each made costumes, baked and creatively strung everything from pearls to popcorn, but still smiled through the memories. After we talked, I remember looking through old photos of my family…so many that are now gone, making them a gift in themselves. I also noticed gaps, where pictures stopped…along with traditions we once photographed, because they were either digital or emailed.

Evolution of intelligence is inevitable…or no one could read what I wouldn’t be able to write. It is also applauded, having made medical care, security and in many ways life in general better. However, if you are at least 30, you will know that there was a sacrifice in the process, and family life is not what you once knew.

I realize it isn’t just the computerization of our lives that has changed.  Family structure, divorce and single parenting have also played a hand in it all, along with the aging Baby Boomers like myself, who remember and alone, now hurtfully wish we could find it again.

Those like Martha Stewart, who continue to craft and bake, along with the help of television and magazine coverage still get the overall effect. However, the full impact is lost, just like a drop of water in the ocean, because there is no domino effect giving life to the celebration.

Looking at the Halloween decorations on my front window…which, as anyone who knows me will tell you, should be up all year. I noticed there are no pumpkins carved on my steps and the sewing machine sits idle along with sequins, feathers and glue. That aside, I did get a Jib-Jab to the ribs with a mini Halloween production, and daily, my Facebook page offers images and greetings to remind me of the holiday today, with pictures of Halloween costumes I won’t see in person, next to a bowl of candy, which unfortunately I will know up close and personal.

Celebrate!

As Christmas approaches, we are also reminded by the increased cost of postage, that an email, image or electronic card is the more sensible way to reach out, and thanks to Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart boxes of anything can be ordered and dropped on the doorstep with a Drone and not a groan. We’ve forgotten the bemoaning as we carried in holiday goodies from the car, selecting and dreaming through each one and the magic they made to those we loved.

Even most treasured Christmas pageants at church are gone, replaced by choir music and basic scripture, all of which can be downloaded…no need to wait for a midnight service or the impish faced angel that held a glittery box by a nativity. Somehow I see a pathetic Charlie Brown special in all of it, from the empty mailbox to Linus and his blanket, both knowing the truth.

I remember in business when we were able to first screen calls. Placing on hold those we wished would go away, taking instead the ones vital to the moment that were enabled. We knew we would be wasting less time and getting more done. Now, however, we see our calls through a screen, and Skype memories or watch short video clips from a phone, soon to be forgotten once they are no longer vital. The traditions we are making now are what need to be placed on hold, and stepping back in time, when we actual made time…that is what should be the business at hand.

acting hearts
I’ve always loved the imagery of the old motto put your money where your mouth is. Whenever I hear it, I see celebrities and cartoon characters with cash shoved into their mouths, and faces oddly distorted to prove the point. Indeed, don’t just run around saying you will do something unless you plan to back it up. I guess politics and the media never will fully catch on …if they ever intended to that is.

Nevertheless, years since that phrase, it got a new spin in the infamous WWJD or What would Jesus Do…same concept, just a new way to point out the obvious, with a bible belt to the backside if you failed to measure up. It is, however, even sadder when that pledge falls to the wayside…so much promise…. and well…just that.

Commitment of any kind anymore seems to be nothing more than a visual account of the moment, and walking into a church is no different. Anyone can read the words or listen to a sermon, but if you don’t honestly hold the value and yes, WWJD in your daily life, then you are no different than the cartoon with a mouthful of coins, and frankly, I would prefer the obvious variety, since it is only deals with actions and not humanity. The pain that can be inflicted through such fake compassion to another person’s state of mind is reprehensible.

It is tragic to hear people describe someone they don’t really know, as big-hearted, committed to a church or a cause, when in fact, it is nothing more than a facade for themselves, those watching and a few unknowing friends along the way. To quote another well-known phrase, Charity begins at home, and it is also where these out of touch egos need to redirect their WWJD attitudes. Someone who does not value the heart and soul of their own family, their emotional or spiritual needs, has no business waving any type of banner…just to look good.

Ask yourself in complete honesty today, who are you really? Have you succeeded only because of your own efforts and determination? Was there once a village that helped to guide and applauded you, moving you to where you now stand? Now, be honest and see where you have put them in your life and how you honestly treat them….then, put your money where your mouth is.

paperEducation…years ago a commercial reminded us that the mind was a terrible thing to waste and not to be outdone, later showed us the over-easy fried version…if, we wanted to plug-in and drink a little Kool-aid on an acid trip. Whichever process your thoughts may have been drawn to, having knowledge in this day and age is unfortunately, unquantifiable…unless, however, it is worth the paper it is credited to – no matter how outdated that may be.

In order to be taken seriously, someone like me, over a certain age is still documented for irrelevant book smarts. Simply put, to get a job anymore, you must have graduated high school ( a given back then), and later, have received a college degree…from a time when woofers and tweeters were the end all to music, and the only apple in anyone’s eye, was the one my Dad said I was. If you can compute that level of necessary albeit stagnant knowledge, and slap it on a resume, then you’ll get dust and a bag of chips, none of which are of the nano variety. Why does inapplicable study still matter?

After I left school, like Annie and most girls of my era, I took hard knock life classes. I raised three children, balanced and unbalanced finances, budgets and relationships. I also watched the world change from a corner store to a corner office to a corner on the market, and maintained an ongoing bank of knowledge, that had more deposits than most IRA accounts. I stayed relevant, followed the news and the changes in business, went into media, public relations, professional sports and marketing, along with a few other odd experiences along the way from WordStar to XP, and taught my daughters to do the same. All in all, I educated myself every day of my life, and still do…never having a problem fitting in, holding a conversation or making a sound decision.

However…life doesn’t give you a diploma…it only gives you the boot, and very few of them are kinky enough to make it worth my while.

I am truly over the hypocrisy of a piece of outdated paper. I have stood by through birth to hospice, fought medical professionals and rules for healthcare, in situations most would find disgusting and unimaginable, and done it well, making sure my patients were loved…to the end in many cases. However, because they were family, there was no license or degree awarded to my efforts. In the real world it didn’t count…even though I would gladly and competently match my skills with any first year medical student or CNA!

I have also put marketing plans and programs into place, which saved and raised thousands of dollars for my employers, for no other reason, than I have a keen eye for business and common sense that most forget to use. However, no need to deposit any such sense because it’s not worth the paper it isn’t written on to get a job now.

Years ago, a friend was in line for a promotion in law enforcement, and even with years of service and excellent skills, he was overlooked and the job went to someone with a 20 year old degree in physical education. Seriously…someone who knew how to play kick ball 20 years ago was more relevant than someone fresh with top skills, dedication and hands on value? Something stinks…then and now and it isn’t gym socks.

I have decided the everyday business world is now divided into two camps – one where people flock like a country club, needing to be seen and feel important, looking as if they are doing a great job, and the other, almost so task oriented it is frightening, with work being done by people who stop only to go home, so they can return and do it all again the next day. There is no vision, ethics or imagination in the workplace anymore…it is who you know and who you can get past to make more money.

Real value, experience, talent and dedication are meaningless because they are a threat to the machine. Why take a chance and listen to the squeaking wheel, since it just might make the cart move faster with or without a horse, and as a much younger supervisor, you might not look as good as that crisp diploma on your wall.

Paper and what is written upon it will probably outlive us, especially since it now has paperwhite value and electronic retention. However, the value of experience does have a shelf life  if it is not taken advantage of, so  after a while, the time and the machine will have nothing but Morlocks looking brainlessly at one another until the day is done. We learn not just from our mistakes, but the drawing boards that brought more than one new frontier into existence…so why not profit from someone who was there?

The true value in a person isn’t what someone wrote down or said they could be given credit for having. Eventually those like me with experience, ideas and ability will just stop trying and fade away, like so many of those diplomas that were once all that mattered, no different than tablets, which once needed a pen for ideas and meetings when you looked at each other in the same room. Artificial intelligence is more than a buzzword or robotic possibility…it is becoming the world we live in, and even more tragic is that after the truth is finally realized, it will be too late to recycle us.

appleOkay once more, the time has come to admit I am almost over the hill, the ants are marching on and Teddy Roosevelt is nowhere to be seen. However, I don’t plan to go without a fight – knowledge is a wonderful thing and the seeds have to be planted in order to keep growing!

Last week, Apple – the tech, not the fruit…although there could be some debate there…Offered up the newest phone in their line of gadgets and must have money maker$. Also making a huge Friday splash, albeit not a Bloody Sunday statement, was the Rock Band U2. The group has always been very vocal (yes, they sing I know) and visual, for human rights and huge generosity of the human spirit – so when they announced that their newest album…well, ah..song list? Would be available free of charge to all Apple ITunes subscribers it was also huge – well, to some of us.

This brings me to why I laughed this morning.  The lead story on CNN was on the outcry and outpouring of complaints, from young twigs that have not yet branched out into the tree of knowledge, which the almighty apple does not fall far from. They were wondering, what or who was a U2 and why were they in their playlist library…could not get the gravity of the situation you see.

I’m not sure which disturbed me more, the fact they had no clue who U2 was, or the almost backhanded gift of Orwellian proportions, allowing all subscribers to be given this freebie – which like some diseases, will keep on giving, since it can never be deleted, only disappearing into the cloud whereas we know, disaster reigns down – unless,of course you prefer to wear clothes when you use your password.

The Orwellian aspect aside, asking how can someone just farm out such generosity unsolicited is scary and makes me a little insecure…what’s next? But more upsetting, is that a footprint as large as Bono and U2 in humanitarian rights and support for the greater good of mankind, is not known to the generation building the world’s next foundation! Are there more cracks here than we want to admit? And no, I do not mean any torrents trying to pass off the music second hand.

It is hard enough to be in the mindset of a chick who still loves Dean Martin, and dreams of being on the car in a Whitesnake video, (and no…not Bowling for Soup thank you, although 1985 was a good year) while knowing I qualify for AARP. However, at least I know what I do, have lived and experienced what I have and still feel I have an importance. Still, what about the generation approaching me in the fast lane like an Eagle? Will they soar as high? Will they check into all the right hotels and live long and prosper with a peaceful easy feeling?

Guess you should never look a gift horse in the mouth, but even when the horse has a name, it is sad young people today have no clue who it is…especially in America.

Rock on!
Thank you U2 for not just the music, but a statement of life that should be remembered long after you are gone….and yes, I know you haven’t left the building.

Good-night Mr. Walters

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