Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Salary, Commission or Contribution

Every day when I come to work, I know almost down to the penny how I will be compensated for my services.  I know what taxes are being withheld and I know where my voluntary contributions are going.  Regardless of any type of decision I make throughout the day, my income remains unaffected (unless I go psycho mad and am "asked to leave").  Can you imagine what this world look like if we all relied on a salary only?

Specifically, I am thinking of those jobs (some with considerable power) where the emphasis is not placed on the base salary.  The options that readily come to mind are tips, commissions and contributions.

It is an interesting dichotomy.  Referencing tips, we have many food service workers who rely on a small base wage, with the majority of their income held at the mercy of an unforgiving (and sometimes cheap) public.  These workers are the "face" of the establishment being visited, and will be held accountable for slow seating, kitchen errors and missed opportunities of the refilled water glass.

Then we have marketers (sales).  Again, a smaller base wage with promises of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow if they can CLOSE THE DEAL.  A lot of work and much like the food service worker, no guarantee of a great payday, regardless of quality of work.

Every vote may count but $$ add up!
Finally, think of all the politicians who rely on campaign contributions from the constituents they serve.  And not 100% of the constituents.  Generally, just those who have deep pockets or a vested interest in the outcome of regulations, laws and policies.  I don't know why we have anything called "special interest" groups, since I would think anyone who makes a significant contribution in effect, becomes the next "special interest" group.

When it comes time to make hard choices on rules, regulations, much thought do you suppose is given to avoidance of offending a current contributor, at all costs?

I think we all know the answer to that.  Public service can quickly morph into "self-serving" when push comes to shove.  It is depressing.  And we haven't even discussed the "petty issue" factor that I have been told comes into play on a regular basis (and my sources are the same people who have worked for some of the highest offices).

Need I say more?
Let's do a scenario.  If  I was a doctor (set income currently), which patients do you suppose I would see first?   If I was a trash collector, which homes would I make sure I never missed?  If I delivered a newspaper.....wait, bad example.  At least here in Austin, even on a good day, they are hit or miss (or miss, or miss).   It's probably in their best interest to continue to collect up front.  But for the first two scenarios, the correct answer is big tippers and regular contributors!

In summary, when dining out, remember, if you can't afford to tip, you can't afford to eat out.  Don't begrudge a marketer their commission (they are few and far between) and finally remember your vote could go farther with a handsome contribution.

your pal,


Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Read'em and Weep

Throughout the years when my kids were growing up (and remember, that spanned a period of 38 years given the ages of my girls). we have read many books together.  One of my favorites that I remembered as a child was "Are You My Mother?"  I loved that book so it was no surprise when each of my girls received their own copy.  There was never a shortage of Dr. Seuss books and of course, any seasonal book (Valentines Day, Easter, Halloween, Christmas) were always included.

Does not come with tissues
There were some books (really good books) that I always dreaded reading.  These books always had a meaningful message as opposed to the rhyming books or animal stories.

The first one I remember with significance was "The Giving Tree" by Shel Silverstein.  This was a book that Megan loved and I could NEVER get through it without my throat closing around the words I was trying to read.  Megan would look at me and say "Are you crying?"  Truth was yes....answer was NO!  I believe she cries now when she reads it.

The next book that just about broke me was "Love You Forever".  Who writes this stuff??  This book was published on Marissa's second birthday and soon became a part of our repertoire.  It is about the evolving relationship between parent and child.  Every time it was handed to me to read (past tense since I just refuse now), I could not get through it without wavering (kind word for weeping).

Finally, have you read "The Next Place"?  Not without tissues on hand, I would wager.  The wonderfully written book is 36 pages of necessity for anyone who has endured a lose.  I love how it is written...I love the message....yet I cannot read it without bitterly weeping.  I used this book when I was doing grief counseling with kids, and quickly realized this was a book to GIVE versus trying to choke my way through.  Madison had (has) her own copy and liked to read it....and while I wept she subtly patted my arm.  No verbal acknowledgement necessary.  Just the comfort.

So, what books bring you to an emotional standstill?  I invite you to share them (mainly so I can avoid them).  I also have a number of movies I will NOT EVER WATCH again (at least in mixed company).  But that is for another blog, another day.

Okay - sneak preview "Terms of Endearment"  NEVER. AGAIN.

until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

I don't have to know who you are, to know who you are

Good, bad or indifferent-what do you represent
Have you ever noticed how we label people?  When making introductions, someone might say, "This is Mary.  She is a nurse.  End of introduction.  As if that is all there is to know about them.  Not that there is anything wrong with including vocation as a part of the introduction but is that all a person is?  Seriously, in conversation about others, someone might say "Do you know John?  He is an engineer".  And that is how we are supposed to determine (remember) if we know him.  Replace vocation with any one word label and you can see how ineffective it really is.

There is so much more.  In fact, I would wager that we know much about people we don't really know.  And their name is optional.

My blog's title came from a book written by Dean Koontz and a man was saying this to a woman who identified herself with an alias.  All he knew about her was what she portrayed during their time together.  This is what I took from that particular reading and in life generally.

I don't have to know who you are, to know who you are when  -you hold the door, when you smile, when you are running to the grocery store for your neighbor, when you give blood, when you volunteer at the food bank, when you are respectful, when you read to your kids, when you check in with a call.

I don't have to know who you are, to know who you are when - you say unkind things, issue harsh judgments, declare all or nothing, black or white (no gray allowed),  whine, complain, lie, cheat, and/or steal.

I don't have to know who you are, to know who you are when -you pray for others, when you sew caps for cancer patients, knit scarves for Special Olympics, plan showers to honor your family/friends who are getting married, or having a baby.

I don't have to know who you are, to know who you are when - you send birthday greetings, say please and thank you, go vote, advocate for a clean environment, volunteer in orphanages in Haiti, drive Seniors to their appointments, apologize, hold a hand, laugh, weep.

We are all so many things.  Made up of many actions - some we only do once and others become a way of life.

I don't know about you but I want to focus on all things positive and all good intentions (not just for what I hope to accomplish) but on how I think about people.  We are all so much more than the worst thing (or even the best thing) we ever do.

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Behaviors to keep in check

Before you speak, is it kind, true, respectful..necessary
I was reading a blog the other day talking about the five behaviors we must teach our kids to conquer, and it dawned on me that adults tend to struggle with these behaviors as well.  We can argue whether or not it is because we were never taught - or maybe it's just a sign of our times.

The first one is lying.  Is it any wonder our children lie when they see adults do it every day on television?  Shameful.  For that matter, I would even go so far as to suggest that maybe witnessing the media (day in and day out) put their particular slant on the truth, tends to make lying easier for all of us.  And not only TV and the media, any brand of social media sports its own unique brand of "fake news" which is just a vanilla term for lying.  We have even come up with words to excuse a lie - how about "exaggerated" "storyteller" and "just kidding" if we get called out.

The next one to consider is disrespecting authority.  Again, prime time television shows are chalk full of disrespectful behavior to adults, (including parents) and authority figures.  I can promise you my mouth would have been full of soap had I even THOUGHT about saying some of the things we witness and take as acceptable behavior.  No one is exempt.  From parents, neighbors, strangers, teachers and coaches, all the way up to our elected officials (and wannabees).

And along with the disrespectful behavior are the twin evils "unkind words and aggressive behavior".   This is an added bonus to "disrespecting authority".  Whatever happened to "if you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing at all."  I would even add, "if you don't have anything nice to say, constructive to the perceived problem, or sharing of past experience with same it." Today's disagreements quickly escalate into name calling and (at times) threats.  That will really get me to change my opinion...NOT!

Last but not least - laziness.  Why?  In the past several years, the inclination to do nothing rather than something is almost epidemic.  Who will get the job done (whatever that job may be) if not you and me?  Keep in mind I am differentiating between "can't do" and "won't do".  One of the sayings I grew up with in the work world was "you can either push the wagon, or pull the wagon, but riders who shouldn't be riding, will be escorted off the wagon."  Granted, we all have our lazy days, but this is not a way of life.

If you still have children at home, there is time to address these issues.  Call them out on a lie (it may be cute at 3 but won't be at 13).  If your child is disrespectful to you (or anyone else), set the record straight on how we treat people.  Don't let them hear you disrespecting others either.  Kids are great mimics!  When unkind words or aggressive behavior is displayed, pull your child aside and voice your concern.  Sit them down for a few minutes (age appropriate) of pondering.  And finally, laziness has an easy solution.  Have your child set the table (clear it off), unload the dishwasher, make their bed, clean their room, write a letter to their Mimi (HINT).  Help them learn how to earn the participation medal in life.

Don't get me started on that today....a blog topic for another day.

Until next,

your pal,

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Rear view window...of life

When you look back,what do you see?  Or should I say, what do you focus on, when you sneak that peek of the past?  We all take a quick peak over our shoulder,  especially this time of year.  And the interesting thing is, no matter what we see in reflection - nothing can be changed.

In fact, any time we look in the rear view mirror (literally) it is just to see where we have been, or what might be coming up on us.  Today I was so busy checking my rear view mirror, I almost missed my exit.  Nothing looming behind me that could trigger a reaction, but I certainly wasn't focused on where I was going for that brief second.

Some of us have printed on our rear view mirror, "objects may be closer than the appear".  As the years go by, I can attest to many times when my reflective mirror brings the past to my front door.

And the longer we live, the more crowded the sights in the rear view mirror become.  What was significant one year, pales in comparison as we move forward.  (Note:  never think it can't get worse)

Then we begin the "what if" stage of our passing glance.  What if I said this???  Or what if I did that??  Everything would have changed.  At least that is what we think.  When in reality, we don't know that with any just gives us the illusion of control.

Another major risk of looking too long in the rear view mirror, is that we may collide head-on, with what the future holds.  Or, maybe we will miss what was there all along.  Life certainly takes our full attention and trying to dabble in the past can upset the present apple cart. 

What will 2018 hold?  The New Year signifies new beginnings, efforts, opportunities for many.  Yet if we really want to have some illusion of "control" (or at least choice) in this life, our "New Year" can start any time we want to institute change.  When we look at life that way, every day is an opportunity...and more importantly, a blessing.

I don't know about you, but I am going to look at this New Year as a opportunity, ONE DAY AT A TIME.  There are many things I hope to accomplish and I am going to renew my efforts... daily!

Until next time,

your pal,

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

How to reduce your risk of death

Adding minutes one step at a time
This is interesting to me.  How many studies do we see that say "Just 15 minutes of exercise a day will lower the risk of death by 22 per cent", or "Lose weight and eliminate or lower your chance of diabetes (which can lead to death).

Now, don't get me wrong.  I love all the tidbits that help keep me healthy, however, for this to be meaningful, don't we need to know exactly how much time we are playing with?  

If someone tells me, "if you leave now, you will save 15 minutes off your total commute" I know that means I will get home in 30 minutes.  Because I know how long it normally takes.

It all goes back to knowing what you start with and figuring it out from there.   I have never read an obituary that read "John Doe died at the age of 70.  Lucky for him, he earned an additional 15 years (he would have died at 55 ) but thanks to his quitting smoking when he did, 10 years were added to his life.  And then he started walking every day which also created some bonus time of an additional 5 years.  I think you are picking up what I am putting down.

time is my choice

We are like a carton of milk.  We will go bad at some point (die) but we don't have an expiration date stamped on us anywhere (that I can find).

Makes me wonder.....Are we all so busy trying not to die that we forget to live?  Or at least place value on what is important at any given time?

It is very easy for us to focus on all the things that have (or could) go wrong!  Can you imagine what a day would look like if we focused only on our blessings?

At the end of the day, I want to do everything right (or at least within moderation) for my health.  But I guess I should want to do that anyway.  But using death as a consequence seems ineffective, since we are all going to die someday, no matter what.

Key points - death - still not optional.  Timing of death - still an unknown.  Life - whatever we choose to make of it.  Timing of life - Still all about how we choose to spend it.

Bottom line - Choices win!

Until next time,


your pal,


Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Check your blindspot

Lord, graciously keep me this night
I love the moon.  I may  have mentioned this before but the moon was something consistent that I could point out to Madison when we were apart.  I would call her before she went to bed and tell her to look out the window at the moon and know that I was looking at the very same the very same time.  The same percentage of the Moon will be illuminated no matter where on Earth you are.  This made us feel connected. 

There are so many different phases of the moon to be appreciated (eight to be exact).

In Western culture, we divide the lunar month into four primary and four intermediate Moon phases.  The Moon phases start with the invisible New Moon, while the first visible phase is the thin sliver of a Waxing Crescent Moon. Around a week later, half of the Moon’s surface is illuminated while the other half is in darkness at First Quarter Moon.

Fourteen-fifteen days into the cycle, we enjoy a Full Moon.  Before that, the illuminated part continues to grow into a Waxing Gibbous Moon, until we see the entire face of the Moon.

It then gradually shrinks into a Waning Gibbous Moon, and when it reaches Third Quarter, the opposite half from the First Quarter is illuminated. From there, it fades into the Waning Crescent Moon before it finally disappears from view again, only to reemerge and repeat this cycle over and over.  A literal circle of life.

I was driving home the other night when I enjoyed a glimpse of the Waning Crescent Moon.  The light from the moon seemed to indicate that what I was seeing was all there was.  And then I began to ponder....

How many times in life do we question (or worse yet believe) "this is all there is".  None of us were promised a life free from strife, challenges, loss.  In this way we are all equal.  No matter how educated, wealthy, smart, likable, etc.etc., no one gets a free pass.  And at times, the darkness can be overwhelming.

Just these past few days Terry and I enjoyed the almost full moon for two nights.  We talked about which night would reveal the moon in its full glory.  Anticipation.  And then, the big night arrived.  Cloud cover.  Completely.  We missed it.

Yet, we knew it was still there.  We didn't have to see it to appreciate and believe that somewhere, someone at that very moment, was enjoying the sight of the moon (super this time).

And it resonated with me, this is what faith is all about.  The type of faith that believes without seeing.  I am so grateful

Until next time,

your pal,

Salary, Commission or Contribution

Every day when I come to work, I know almost down to the penny how I will be compensated for my services.  I know what taxes are being withh...