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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

apple

Get Your Gadget Running…….

gps

All of us are constantly going somewhere. Every day, from the moment we open our eyes we move…until either the day or our bodies give up.  Forever moving towards something, away from something or determined to find something.

Growing up we had maps for travel, and Mom was our navigator… and although we did end up in some more colorful places along the way, she did give us direction, while Dad always got us there. Actually, that could be an analogy for life, as much as it was a trip to go fishing…funny, how life works out like that. Dad had control and drove, Mom offered what she could and gave direction getting us there safe, and I road in the back, confident they had my best interests in mind, and we’d get to a great place. Yup…in life and in travel,  direction is a necessity.

Recently, life has been resetting my compass, making True North next to impossible to find. I’ve been hit with emotional, financial and physical concerns, as well as some for  souls I care about, and in a word…I’ve felt lost. There is nothing more debilitating than being unable to deal with what affects you the most and the hardest. Loosing direction, either spiritually or physically, changes life forever, and the hope is that it won’t last and we will get onto a new course as soon as possible.

As I laid in bed before work during all of this turmoil in my life, I thought of Mom and her maps and smiled. As if I was talking to her, I spoke out loud, causing my dog to look  in my direction. “Mom, no one uses paper maps anymore, and unless you have a wireless signal you can’t get the directions you need…most people just program their GPS and don’t even look where they are going.” That was when the dog licked my face, and I thought about what I had said…after all, it was obvious the dog knew where I was going with it.

GPS? The few times my oldest daughter used hers, she got lost and we laughed…really…an unseen power figuring out our journey, showing the way and telling us to follow and trust. Then it hit me,  I left my driver’s seat and went over to the passenger’s seat, realizing that was where God needed me to be most of the time anyway. Indeed, he is after all, the unseen power already knowing my journey, and asking me to trust the plotted direction.

So, seeing not the electronic device or the spiritual being, I concentrated on the three simple letters G – P – S, and it became so obvious. Waking up each day, instead of facing the coming hours in worry and fear, I just need to set my GPS and trust, taking each step the best I can and believe in myself. Having a Good Heart, Pure intentions and a Spiritual soul will always put me on the right road, and only the reality check of not having turned it on, will be when I am truly lost, because after all, there is only one true direction if our intentions are as they should be, getting all of us where we are  suppose to be in the end.

A…Maze…Zing

dance


The hamster song! Unless you live on Mars…at one time or another, you have either had the twangy chirping song in your head, passed it onto a friend via an email, or paid the price (literally), for a Hallmark card with the insane sound chip,  annoying the living hell out of someone you care for. Although those little fur balls may be dancing, the majority of them, are known for the wheels that they love, the same ones John Lennon reminded us go round. That is life.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qN72LEQnaU DANCE!

Walking the halls recently at work,  it dawned on me that I too, was turning round-and-round in another such place…the living embodiment of Facebook. Daily, we like… we comment…we share…and for the most part, look at one another face-to-face as an image to save or delete. However, many of those faces, just like the computer application are not emotionally real…just an illusion, to  pacify us as we walk by…a pause in the maze of our day.

In middle school, my father helped me make such a science project. Armed with wood, hot glue and some sunflower seeds, we measured and cut, secured and held down, until there was a wonderful puzzle, just waiting for a few unsuspecting hamsters. What the two us did that day, aside from bonding and sharing a special moment, was to create a surreal reality for some little creatures that walked around, wanting nothing more than to find the reward they were promised and escape. Nothing more and nothing less.

A lot like a normal week at work for the majority of the population.

The hamsters moved quickly.  They tried to get over the walls, avoided dead ends, and always I am sure, looked for a window or point of reference so they wouldn’t have to retrace their steps more than once. Thinking of that today, I  saw windows, walls and doors, but they were on the faces of the people I encountered…along a very similar journey…even if at the end my journey, was a direct deposit of cash and not a planned deposit of seeds.

It would be ideal, if we asked ourselves as we go through our sometimes less than amazing day – am I a window? Do I reflect life to those I meet?  Do I offer them an escape from their own burdens as a breath of fresh air in a weary world of self-driven, unmotivated doldrums? If not, can you admit you might be a door? Someone that is open to help or to guide, a place where another can enter, knowing their fears and secrets will be locked up and kept, as they look for help?  Maybe you are also well-hinged… a port-in-the-storm, a refuge from what sometimes can be overwhelming. Sadly, if neither option is honestly you, that only leaves a wall…and walls, as we politically know, need to be torn down.

Emotionally, as we go through each day, we look for interaction and compassion through the windows of our life, making the maze not as insurmountable. The doors that open along the way, also help our self-esteem, peace of mind and keep us from questioning our self-worth, as we try to make a difference…and a living, sometimes while doing what we don’t enjoy. However, the walls…those that are self-absorbed, usually in it just for themselves, make everything difficult. Attitudes, that don’t see what is truly in their face, both literally and figuratively,  force getting to that end reward difficult, if not impossible and they are also hard to avoid…no matter how much dancing we do around them.

Today, and all those days yet to come, strive to be the adventurer who will conquer the twists and turns of each day – seek out the doors and windows of opportunity and if possible, plant your own seeds of creativity, hope and support to others along the way. In time, if we are lucky and through some truly amazing grace, maybe the walls will  eventually come down, and those who were once caught up on ever-turning wheels, will finally see them as no more than an exercise in futility… and dance!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qN72LEQnaU DANCE!

viciousYears ago, beverage manufacturers left the zip top, flip top, pull tab world behind and for awhile, returned to glass – a vision that didn’t turn out as crystal clear as they hoped. However, what it did bring were nasty little circles of teeth, which curiously remained attached, after the cap was screwed off. Once, while looking at those teeth during a business meeting, I burst out laughing, realizing I had finally located a true vicious circle! Okay, maybe it wasn’t the Holy Grail or a map to the Lost Dutchman, but in that boring meeting and every day since, I have found them to be hysterical.

Nevertheless, beverages still balance between can and bottle, and life will forever be trapped in the age-old chicken or the egg enlightenment or…the Vicious Circle. Yes, every day we mortals continue trying to get ahead, trying to better things, trying to make a difference and  inevitably, something comes up from behind before we finish, causing results we never saw coming. Some circles of life may have had pride with a bunch of lions that knew Walt Disney, but in reality…they are more the ring of butter that knew Little Black Sambo…politically correct or not!

Looking at a circle there is no beginning or end, which always made me ask: “Where does the vicious come from?” What we know of circles, is that once the churning starts it eventually sets in a rhythm and remains constant…so I wondered, could the answer really be that simple? If we remove the initial vicious tooth, would we actually reset the rhythm of life?

I think everyone at one time or another wants to hit their personal reset button – before, during and after things begin to circle the drain. When asked what they would like to remove, we hear hate, war, pain, depression rage and killing. It is ironic, however,  if you look at those words, because they are all based in just two ever circling thoughts: Selfishness and Ignorance…and if you’ve ever had those teeth buried into your soul, you already know the infection they cause!

How about when we wake each day with open eyes, we let the color from our heart and hopes circle around us, causing an unending cycle for the day. What if we put in place a continuous, recharging circle that gains speed within itself…it goes without saying, that there wouldn’t be a spot to insert negative energy, retaliation, fear or any other vicious thoughts. Return to that soda, and imagine a clear glass with small circular bubbles dancing through the beverage stream, each one making the moment more effervescent and enjoyable, each bubble a transparent circle in the moment, with no personal agenda, eventually finishing their purpose,  going flat and replaced by hundreds just like them.

Over the years I have always found the expression you are what you eat mildly disconcerting – especially while craving a pickled egg, double ice-cream sundae or a cheese sandwich. However, no more than being what we eat, we are what we say and do, and such actions inevitably circle back. My father liked to say very simply, ‘it’s a long road.’ I never needed it explained, the words said it all. So why not look at one of those vicious circles the next time you have a soda, and concentrate on how the teeth sharply turn inwards, and NOT outwards. A solid reminder that it is ourselves we actually destroy, when we choose to encircle ourselves with hate, anger, rage and indifference…not to mention those hurt in our process.

Circles are meant to be unbroken, and if they are done right, they come back around when we need them the most.

 

Timber……

timber

If you are Thoreau-ly confused by the title, or didn’t have Breakfast at Tiffany’s,  listen not to the silence, but the impact of life.…and if there is any doubt, remember Barbara Walters confirmed it during  her Kate Hepburn interview…and by the way, I think she was an Oak.

Trees and the human race that relaxes and seeks shelter under them, seem to be bound by more than open space – and if you think about it, you will see I am not barking up the wrong one. How many times I might ask, have you questioned your family tree…or maybe just the nuts and fruits falling from it. Have you ever pulled up your roots and branched out in an unfamiliar direction, or just stayed where you were, throwing loving shade to those in your life?

Once the seed of life is planted, along with glorious ideas of being parents, we wait to see that first limb emerge, watching as it grows in our garden, often disappointed isn’t the Eden we hoped it would be. No matter how hard we try in this life or how strong we become, there is also a constant fear that we will be cut down before accomplishing our dreams. Nevertheless, we can always turn over a new leaf, and continue our pursuit of happiness season after season.

As we pursue this elusive brand of hope called “happiness,” it is always good to collect a few squirrel friends along the way, reminding us that even if times are tough, there are no rings to testify to our age and mistakes, unless of course you have been married more than a few times. Indeed, sometimes having the right people parked around you is a tree-mendous gift.

All puns aside, the very core of our learning and imagination ( not counting that tree of knowledge snaking through a certain biblical tale) have come from putting  pen to paper, and just where did that paper come from? I don’t think it is a run of the mill coincidence that the roots of our knowledge, come from the very roots of the earth. What we share with the life around us is more than just space, and sometimes when you stop and listen, even if no one else is around, you hear it in your soul.

There might not always be a sound when a tree falls, but we have the chance to listen and hear those who fall around us, a difference that needs to be celebrated. Just as trees breathe life into our air; it is up to us to breathe it into one another. Reach out today, get to the root of a problem, plant some new ideas or hope and offer shelter or rest to someone in need. Life isn’t always a banquet – most times it is a picnic, which has been put together with what and who we find around us…so look! There is no coincidence in the master landscape of life, and as the lyrics sing in Woodstock….. “We got to get ourselves back to the garden…..”

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