Category Archives: HUMANITY

BUSINESS, CONTRIBUTORS, HUMANITY, PERSONAL GROWTH, SALES

How Communicating Can Cost Seconds but Save an Hour, and Your Job

By Ashley Francis, Contributor and Owner, TURN Studio

In a world today where there are more ways to communicate than ever before, one of our biggest issues as a society is communication. I have spent a lot of time venting about this in my past career as a sales consultant, however, now that I have ventured out as an entrepreneur and started TURN, I realize that we lack communication in every type of relationship, on a much deeper and serious level. Let’s explore.

First off, it might be necessary that we define communication. Merriam-Webster defines it as “a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior. Personal rapport.” Over the last 9 months of developing my own company, I have learned that people must have simply forgot this ever so simple definition…that people have either become so lazy that they can’t exchange or perhaps people have too many options on how to communicate so they get overwhelmed and give up!

Let’s dumb it down: smart phones have text messaging, emailing, direct messaging, and messenger, to name a few. Throw in the laptop and you double the above choices! I’m a little hesitant to mention phone calls because today’s society fears actual conversation…don’t worry, you are not the only one silencing calls.

So where am I going with this? My hope is that you have already had a moment of shaking your head in agreeance. If not, then you must be an extreme introvert who owns your own company that needs no one else but yourself to operate and you must work from home. If you shook your head in agreeance, look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself how many excuses have you have made as to why you have lacked in communication? I will help here: I’m too busy. I forgot to reply. I have kids!! I was in a meeting and then I got busy. Let me insert a motivational line I recently read that hit me hard: “it is not that you are too busy, it is that it is not a priority.”

Let’s first discuss why communication is so important in a professional setting. Every single one of us relies on other people to function, every single day. I personally need so many different people operating at full potential to start TURN, my Indoor Cycling and Strength Studio. From a full detailed marketing plan, an architectural design plan, a budgeting plan, to a simple “yes or no” to a question. Communication is the most important role in starting a company. When I need an answer, regardless of it’s the one I want to hear, I want an answer. I’m sure you can relate to this; simply think about the time you asked an employee to cover a shift for you and crickets…oh the anxiety, right?!

Think about the time you sent an email to your boss, your employee, your coworker, or to your vendor and then from the time you pressed send to the time you finally got a reply you had stirred up so many (negative) thoughts because “you just need a simple response, what in the world is taking the recipient so dang long?!” When someone takes the time out of their busy schedule to write to you, no … you’re not the only busy person, simply reply! Even if it you write “I got your email, I will reply within 24 hours” or “I will get back to you after this conference”! The amount of time it takes to reply, maybe 11 seconds depending on how fat your fingers are, is worth it. You will rise above your colleagues, you will gain more trust from your boss, and you will earn more business from your customers. (read that sentence again but in your King Arthur voice)

Communication is so lost in our world today that the simple examples of showing that you can reply to an email, answer a text, reply to a DM on Instagram or to a message on Facebook, will make you shine like the little star that you are within your company! For the record, just in the last few minutes of me venting, I have replied to 3 emails and 4 text messages. Instant gratification! Not to mention, the most important part of it all, I make that person feel important which then leads to them feeling inclined to do business with me. Let me conclude this segment from a business owner’s perspective, the ones who cannot communicate in a timely matter or the ones that I am constantly having to resend emails to or ask, “did you get my last text?” (because you know, technology these days might lose a text) will be and should be replaced. If you are too busy and if you have reached your max on excuses, then I, the owner of a startup company, am too busy to employ you.

Go on, take a moment now to answer your emails and to reply to your texts. Hell, get crazy and call back the missed calls!

Now let’s entertain myself and discuss communication on a personal level. A quick roll of the eyes and shake of the head because this is the most challenging and intense issue between two people, yet it is SO simple! I’ll start by asking you this: at any given moment during your day, how far away is your phone from your hand? 99.9% of you answered, “in my hand, my pocket, or extremely close to my body at all times.” Even when you go to the restroom, your phone goes with you. Slightly gross but I get it, we all are glued to our phones. The point is, if we are so good at having our phones always on us, then why are we so bad at communicating with people? This is not to ignore the deeper, philosophical reasonings behind why people respond to some things over another, but its simply a time for you to stop and to think about all the times you were “too busy and forgot” to respect another human being enough to answer or to reply. I laugh a little just writing that because Apple clearly has the same pet peeve as me and prove it by making it as simple as double clicking on a text message and boom, you can thumbs up, thumbs down, love, laugh, hype, and even question a text. How simple is that?! Takes less than a second and then you will have proven me wrong, communication is alive!

What crawls under my skin the most is when someone has the audacity to make up some bs excuse as to the why I was not an important enough priority over however long the time was between my initial communication and their reply. Because when we finally are together or are effectively communicating, the person is on their damn phone! Literally, right in front of me, the person is texting, emailing, on social media, or whatever it is on their phone that is more important than the communication taking place with me! I’m guilty of it, you are guilty of it, and unfortunately, us as a society has come to accept it. And yet we wonder why divorce rates consistently rise and why self-worth is constantly being compromised!

Think about how many arguments, whether with your loved one or a friend, could have been avoided if we were better communicators. If instead of ignoring that text or okay, forgetting about that text, you would have replied. Perhaps you would have avoided the hour-long argument. Just one 30 second reply, to avoid an hour-long argument. Time is money, people! Perhaps a simple reply would not make the friend of yours feel insignificant in your life. Have you ever wondered why he didn’t return the communication or why she didn’t just tell you she had other plans and can’t hang out with you? Hurts a bit, right?

My next thought might come across as cold, but then maybe that means it is true for you. We will see. Think about someone you have lost. Whether it was expected or a sudden, traumatic death. Did you find yourself wishing you had more time with that person? We hear stories all the time of the regrets we have when someone passes away. Well then why the hell do we not live each day like it’s whoever it is in our lives’ last day and communicate better?!

Point of my rant is simple: if someone or something is important to you and of value to you, communicate. Be the boss that makes the time to answer your staff. Be the rep that your customer can always depend on for an answer. Be the coworker that your associates can rely on for guidance. Be the employee that your boss can always trust. Be the spouse that your loved one expects to be there. Be the friend that you simply wish your friend was to you. Everyone is busy, everyone is rushing to the next appointment or to carpool. Your excuses, my friend, should be left unread.

At the end of the day, if we learn to communicate, given all our means to do so today, our relationships will be healthier, our partnerships will be stronger, and our sales will be greater. More importantly, you will limit your regrets when someone is no longer here to communicate.

#staygold

###

BUSINESS, HR, HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP

Simon Sinek: Playing the infinite game

I had the distinct pleasure to listen to Simon Sinek’s keynote yesterday at WorkHuman18 by Globoforce.

I made these quick and dirty notes and publish them here for my learning, reference, and to solidify my long-term understanding. I thought you might enjoy the chance to compare your notes to mine.

If you attended this same keynote, let me know how your thoughts might differ from mine!

INFINITE VS. FINITE

Are you playing a short-term game? Or are you willing to take short-term losses to advance the cause for success in the long-term?

Think growth mindset verses fixed mindset.

WILL AND RESOURCES

The true key to success in any endeavor is to sustain the will to drive to success (and not lose steam along the way) and to maintain enough resources to get the job done.

Most lose the enthusiasm necessary to sustain the effort, and many run out of enough customers or money to get across the line in the end.

SACRIFICE FOR THE CAUSE (TO HAVE A JUST CAUSE)

Your organization must have a just cause to fight for and drive inspiration. It must be specific. It cannot be “growth,” it cannot be “to win” or to be “the best,” and it cannot be “to defeat the competition.”

Again, it must be specific.

And when you have that just cause, your people will make sacrifices to get there, and show up inspired to work.

INCENTIVIZE BEHAVIOR VS PERFORMANCE

We incentivize performance and results. Rather, we should also incentivize behavior.

We should reward devoted effort to unsuccessfully solve a problem, failure to successfully innovate, and to make honest mistakes.

Why? We want to encourage our people to try new things…to not be afraid to try, and to not hide from the potential ridicule of failure.

DISCRETION

You must free your people to use their discretion for when to make the right decision on behalf of the customer or to solve a problem.

Don’t trust your employees to follow your rules. Trust your employees to know which rules to break (and when).

HR SHOULD THINK PEOPLE FIRST, NOT EXECUTE EXECUTIVE DICTATES

HR departments spend more time executing the will of management (right or wrong), and not enough time exhibiting leadership to free and empower the people to do the important work to fight (and sacrifice for) the cause.

COMPETITION REVEALS OUR FLAWS

If you are solely focused on beating your competition, you will ultimately lose. And certainly not be inspirational.

No, the goal is to respect your competition, and learn from the things they are better at than you.

GOAL IS NOT TO BEAT THEM, BUT TO OUTLAST THEM

A nod back to having both the will and resources, again, your goal is not to directly beat your competition, but to have more will, more resources, and outlast them.

FIXED JUST CAUSE AND FLEXIBLE STRATEGY

Your just cause cannot change. It cannot be flexible. It is your purpose and destination.

But how you get there has to be flexible, adaptable to the roadblocks that will appear.

Too many organizations have a flexible just cause and will not budge on how they do things. This cannot work and leads to failure and frustration.

###

HR, HUMANITY

NEW Podcast: Due Respect

Due Respect – a new Intrepid podcast

Episode 1 introduces “Due Respect” [42 min]

“With all due respect” typically comes before someone is about to say someone disrespectful – we are out to change this.

A Black Man and White Woman: Difficult Conversations

Chris Fields, a black man in Memphis and Rayanne Thorn, a white woman in Laguna Beach, California dive into conversations about racism, bias, discrimination, inclusion, diversity and how we can overcome. Friends, who’ve never met in real life, explore taboo topics and hope to redefine not only how we think and feel, but also open each others eyes to what each of us have faced, survived, and how we hope to thrive today and the future.

In Episode One:

  • Introduction
  • Cultural Appropriation
  • What is White Privilege?
  • A look at Fatism
  • Same Racism / Same Sexism
  • The Platinum Rule

And this is just the tip of the iceberg we will expose. No more broad strokes – we are going to break it down. Join us for some Due Respect. 

You can follow Chris and Rayanne on Twitter and connect with them on LinkedIn, their names are linked above.

BUSINESS, CONTRIBUTORS, HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, PERSONAL GROWTH

10 alternatives to thinking outside the box

I am sick and tired of people saying that it is time to think outside the damn box. So, instead of fussing about it, I came up with ten alternatives. Here they are:

1. Step on the box. And move to a higher level. Use the box to get to where you really want to go…

2. Paint the box. Give it a new look. Sometimes the box just needs a fresh, new feel. Nothing has really changed internally, but doesn’t a freshly-painted house look brand new?

3. Poke the box. [h/t Seth] Just read the book. Right now.

4. Crush the box. Flatten the old, tired way. Start fresh. A flat box serves a purpose too. Plus, you can probably rebuild it if you wanted – or needed to.

5. Shred the box. Sometimes you’ve just got to begin again. And complete destruction is the only course. Damn the torpedos. (But don’t worry, if all else fails, someone will construct another box.

6. Hack the box. Sometimes boxes can be used for something other than storing stuff. Repurpose. Retool. Innovate. Open your mind to new possibilities. Come on, don’t be afraid. The people you are worried about aren’t really paying attention. Do it.

7. Rewire the box. Sometimes the box works quite well, and just needs to be rewired. This brings things (ideas) up to code, gives you a fresh start, and gives you confidence to move forward.

8. Deliver the box. Sometimes, you need different opinions, a different viewpoint, and fresh look. Give the box to someone else. Maybe they will do something that matters with it.

9. Bury the box. Sometimes, you just need to let it go. Put it away. Forget about it. Bury it. Move on. Because someday, someone will unbury it, and find wonder in the box.

10. Kick the box. When I was a kid, I loved taking boxes and simply destroying them. Kicking them, crushing them, clubbing them with sticks. I guess it was therapeutic to vent some energy. Sometimes, we just need to do this to begin again, to feel better, and feel alive. So go. Kick it, now. In the end, it is still a box. But you are different.

What are your other ideas? Please share!

###

HUMANITY

#MusicStrong: A Tribute to Keith Boyer

#MusicStrong podcast [42 minutes]

I met Keith Boyer many years ago.

I was a shy pre-teen girl, not quite ready to flirt or even know what that meant. I was naive enough to ride a new but already beloved skateboard to school, which was promptly stolen. We barely know ourselves at 10- or 11-years old, how could we possibly know who would be a lifelong friend, worthy of our hearts? Keith was a shy and goofy pre-teen boy and we shared a playground, a few classes, some good times, and many, many friends. I cherish his signature in my yearbook…

It wasn’t until years later, over forty years later, that I grew to love Keith and his gentle and easy nature. He made you feel like you were his best friend and that he would do anything for you. That was his way.

In his adult life, Keith was a law enforcement officer and a really good man – I can say that he is easily one of the best people I have ever known in my life.

In his youth and throughout his adult life, Keith was a percussionist. He was a drummer who loved to drum. The moment I saw the Be a Mr. Jensen video, I thought of Keith.

He was the best for the world. 

On February 20, 2017 – Keith posted a Happy Birthday comment on Facebook to my daughter and then he went to work as a Police Officer and I went to work as a Marketing Executive. When I checked back in on FB after a meeting, I saw many sad messages from several friends – Keith had been shot and killed in the line of duty. A devastating loss to the community of Whittier, CA. A devastating loss to the 1981 Class of La Serna High School. A devastating loss to Keith’s family and all of his friends.

**Concert: La Mirada February 17th, 2018, 7:30pm
La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts
14900 La Mirada Blvd, La Mirada, California 90638
TICKETS

Nearly a year later, I still fight back the tears and struggle whenever I speak of him. Recently,  I was able to speak with Jeff McNeal from Mrs. Jones’ Revenge, the band Keith played with, and Jan Edwards, a La Serna High School Classmate and dear friend of Keith’s, about a concert on February 17th to benefit s scholarship fund created in Keith’s Memory.

In this day and age of strained law enforcement relations, it has been joyful to see a community recognize the goodness in this man and get behind his family and his memory.

  • To purchase or donate concert tickets, visit here.
  • To learn more about Mrs. Jones’ Revenge, visit here.
  • To read about the impact of Keith’s death, visit here <<< but, there is so much more than shared here.You are missed, Keith! Thank you for sure service and thank you for inspiring so many to give and continue to give. It was you who truly inspired me to launch MusicLaguna and subsequently this podcast. Live, local music is the best and I want to show appreciation for all the incredible musicians whose hearts beat in small, local venues. Rock on!

* This is the inaugural podcast for #MusicStrong – watch for more episodes featuring live, local bands and the people whose lives they touch. 

HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, LIFESTYLE, PERSONAL GROWTH, SIMPLE LIVING, WELLNESS

25 key things for you to do this year

1. Eat less.
2. Be more active.
3. Read more.
4. Listen intentionally.
5. Stretch more.
6. Slow down and breathe.
7. Criticize less.
8. Encourage more.
9. Buy less.
10. Donate more.
11. Stop multitasking.
12. Save more money.
13. Stop lying.
14. Communicate clearly what you believe in.
15. Trust more.
16. Write/journal more (even to yourself).
17. Make something.
18. Pay more attention to the world around you.
19. Stop judging.
20. Eliminate regret.
21. Take pride in everything.
22. Value what you have.
23. Prepare better.
24. Enjoy right now.
25. Smile more.

###

HUMANITY

A Merry Christmas that Almost Wasn’t

The Southwest

Growing up in a southwest town has its advantages and disadvantages. For one, we never got snow, on the other hand, we never got snow. Let me explain, TV shows and songs would always tell us about dreaming of a white Christmas, etc. – we never heard songs about a white Chanukah, but that is another rant I guess. It always seemed that living in the southern part of the state of Arizona, we were not ever going to be afforded a Christmas with snow so that we, upon due process, would never have a real Christmas feel. This little tale is taken not from my recruiting life, but from an actual personal account of giving back on a holiday that is, well, about giving and the reason I always say Merry Christmas…

Young Love

I was in high school, a sophomore,, and I was in love. You know the kind of love that you feel when you are sixteen, no experience in the ways of the world, yet you know – an everything type of innocence, ah puberty. Her name was Tracy, and she was my first actual love, I suppose.  Like I said, I was a teenager and not to diminish the feelings we had for one another, but that is what growing up is all about. She was kind and soft spoken and we adored each other. We smiled when thinking of each other and looking back, I am smiling as I write this. Tracy was raised by her mother, a single parent situation, which we had in common – in a way. Although my mother was married to my stepfather, he was not really in the picture. In an odd way, he caused more anguish in my life by being a foil to my wit but that is another story too, I suppose.

Being a working mother and providing the sole income of the house, it was tough on them. They lived in a two-bedroom apartment and it was close enough to the high school that Tracy walked each to school.  They could barely afford the car they had, so the option of another one was way out of reach. They got by, as they say, and the time we spent together took her mind off of things, situations, and it was Christmas. Although this was always a weird time in my life, and still is really, I was born a Catholic, but my stepfather was Jewish – and so, I was raised in that faith. I have a shawl and yamaka still in my closet from my Bar Mitzvah. My family liked Thanksgiving, less tension, so when Christmas rolled around if I was not in Yuma, I was left to my own devices. This year, I had no interest in leaving my girlfriend for an awkward trip to Yuma to celebrate a holiday that made half of my family uncomfortable.

It was cold that winter in AZ, which was somewhat unusual. People were hanging outdoor Christmas lights, putting up ornaments, the usual stuff you see at that time of year; except Tracey was not doing any of that. The week before the actual holiday, there was nothing up in the apartment. I knew she had ornaments and other baubles she could and should be hanging, as I had helped pull the boxes down weeks before and she was so happy to see them. She was awkward with me, standoffish, and at times would be angry for no reason that I could think of. I was a doting boyfriend, still am when given the chance. I finally confronted her as to why her behavior was so strange.

“My Mother lost her job, she was laid off, so we don’t have money to spend on a tree or presents”, she said.

I felt my heart skip a beat of pain for her as I had never heard, especially before Christmas, of something like this happening.  I remember under her protest hugging her tightly. She finally gave way from the stoic face she was wearing and sobbed in my arms. It was that very moment I formulated a plan in my head and decided she was going to have the best Christmas ever!

The Best Christmas Ever

When I left her apartment that night to head home, I instead went to my friend’s house where I knew some others were hanging out. I wanted to discuss the matter and tell them my plan, you see – they were going to be part of it. Those guys loved Tracy and they also loved that she made me happy and were up for anything for her and her mom, so they eagerly agreed and we put the plan in motion. Matt, one of my friends, went shopping the next day with his girlfriend – we took a pool that night from all the guys and girlfriends in our group, and since it was going to be a Saturday they went to the mall to get some token gifts, nothing too expensive and have them wrapped. John, being single at the time, came with me to get a tree because you cannot have Christmas without a tree and trees needs presents.

My friend Luke was working at a local Christmas tree lot, so we drove the truck over to see him and see if I could get a deal on nice Douglas Fir. When I found him I told him what we were doing and he just stared at me, no emotion at all and went over to a Douglas Fir that was a good eight feet tall, called over another chap and the two of them carried it to my truck. When I asked Luke how much I owed him, he simply said, “Owe me for what?” He winked and said, “Merry Christmas,” then just walked away to help another customer.

Sometimes, the spirit moves you to do the right thing and be a better human.

I had made plans with Tracy for that night so I knew she would be home, and so would her mother as well; she was not working, so where else would she be? The time came and we caravanned from Matt’s house with the tree in the back of my pickup and presents in Matt’s, the whole crew came, as we were going to decorate the house with them and sing, it was a team effort through and through. When we got to the complex, I saw the car in the spot and I knew this was going to be epic because they were home. Everyone sort of hid so they could not be seen and I went to the door with the tree, Matt and John helping hold it up from behind and I knocked on the door. Tracy’s mom answered the door and seeing the tree behind me starred with a quizzical look on her face at me, then the tree, then at me again. Before she could say anything, I smiled and instead of the eloquent speech I had in my head to pontificate the greatness of what we had accomplished in such a short time I simply said, “Merry Christmas, Ma’am,” then I just looked down. Then it happened – she, not really ever having been a fan of mine, did something she had never done before, she hugged me and kissed my cheek.

She said, “You are a beautiful young man and I am glad my daughter found you.”

The others sort of sheepishly came out into view just as Tracy came to the door to see what all the fuss was about, she cried, I cried, hell – we all did. We went inside the small apartment, John and I set up the tree while the rest of the crew decorated the apartment and then we placed the presents under the tree. The air was regaled by the voices of children just like the Peanuts cartoons that come on every year. A bunch of 16-year old kids, all from different walks of life, religions, and creeds, made a family down on their luck have a great Christmas that year.

I lost track of Tracy and her mom when they moved back to Tennessee and the young love we had was torn from us yet that is why I will always, no matter what, say “Merry Christmas!” at this time of year and always will.  I am not a practicing Christian but I understand what it means to those who are and what day means to them and, well, me.

#peace #truestory

HUMANITY, LIFESTYLE

Slices of Grief

It isn’t easy

I’ve spent much of my life trying to put grief and heartache behind me, sometimes outright ignoring it. This isn’t the best way to heal or the best example to those I care most about, like my children or a significant other. I am a strong woman – I’ve had to be. However, I am learning that there is great strength to be found in vulnerability. That may not make sense to you, but it is starting to make sense to me.

I have lost people close to me to the great and ultimate avenger: death. Many of my friends in the last two months have lost their fathers. These friends’ losses happened during an emotional time for me, as I braced for the annual reminder of my own father’s death, which occurred on the 25th anniversary of my brother Tommy’s death. November 10th presents a double-whammy for me. Each year, I think it will be easier, but each year presents its own difficulties, which allow me to miss my father more than I expect.

How I Faced It

My father died in 2001, exactly one month after my husband, the father of my four children, moved out. My husband’s leaving occurred one-month after 9/11, an event that devastated our country – and though my little family was on the West Coast, it changed our lives as we, the six of us, watched the 2nd plane hit live on television – and everything after that, on that day, blurred. My father’s death two months later was the culmination, as well as the beginning of what I perceived as the worst time in my life.

I was alone. That Christmas, both my father and my husband were gone, and I was alone. Yes, of course I had my children – and they saved me – oh, so many times, but the two most important men in my life were gone.

I don’t know how I faced it. I don’t think I did face it. I think I covered it with new-found joys, with the holidays, with Disneyland (annual passes!), with the love for my children and from my children, and with the busy-ness my life entailed. I was working 3 jobs, taking five classes at the local college, and now raising four children alone. So, no — I didn’t face the grief I felt, the grief that was brewing. I just lived.

The Long and the Short

No time in my life seemed to pass more slowly or more quickly. I am not sure how that is possible, but it is. I jumped out of bed every morning, most days trying not to think where my next dollar would come from and certainly trying not to dwell on what I could have done differently for my dad or for my marriage. My grief was real, but it was shoved to the back burner – tears only came in the shower or in the dark of early morning and they were quickly forgotten at the first flip of a pancake.

I learned to box grief up and only bring it out when no one was looking. There are those who assumed I was a heartless bitch and there are those who worried I might crack. I just had to keep getting out of bed in the morning and somehow put gas in my car.

My Comfort

When my brother passed away 41 years ago, I was just 13 years old. He was 20 and had been severely handicapped since birth. I had no idea how to grieve or what that even meant. I was raised in a very religious home and there was plenty of talk about my brother finally being free – finally out of his deformed body, finally in the presence of God, but none of that helped me comprehend the impact his death would have on me or my life, or my mother, or my family. It seemed like a bandage to cover the pain of his death, not a way to face his death or understand how it would change me, my siblings, or my parents forever.

A Tom Sawyer Trick: Whitewashing

It is a human tendency to whitewash pain, when really we should face it, head on – determined to let it clean us from the inside out: breaking our hearts, cleaning our minds, softening our memories, and planting a new place for that love. My pain found its way on to lined paper, in the form of a poem. And thus, it began – my lifelong quest to heal myself through words.

Many have asked, “Why do you write…, why do you write about your pain, your sins, your weaknesses?” and others have answered by saying, “Thank you for writing how I feel, I thought I was alone.”

We are not alone

Grief is a common denominator for many of us. We know that pain. We know the heartbreak. We know that feeling of catching breaths through sobs that collapse. We know the tender mercies bestowed by love and compassion from others.

Today, I remember my father’s hands on my cheeks lifting my face to his as he tried to comfort my 14-year old broken heart. Today, I remember his finger slowly dragging along the alto line of a hymn. Today, I remember his love of ice cream. Today, I remember his love for anyone he ever met. Today, I remember his love. Through slices of grief, I remember.

HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, LIFESTYLE

50 Cents and Responsibility: Lessons from an 8-Year Old

“But this will not do, God will certainly punish you for stealing and for being unfaithful.”
– Jupiter Hammon

I was a precocious child growing up and somewhat mischievous, as well. A number of older people forget their youth. I feel bad for them, I really do. That or they manipulate their past in their mind over and over again, in order to paint themselves in a better light; sort of finger painting of the mind. I stopped doing this a few years ago when I stopped punishing myself and allowed those memories to come to the forefront. I started my own, shall we say, therapy to explore more about why I am who I am, a riddle wrapped with perplexity and tied with an enigma bow.

It’s Nice to Want Things

I wanted things but being eight years old, there’s little choice getting baubles at toy stores because you just don’t have the money, I mean, look, you were eight. Oh, and as my buddy Pete Radloff likes to say, “It’s nice to want things.” What in the hell did you need money for, really? I suppose it is an odd rite of passage to begin earning money and become part of the general economy at some point, but a kid should have kid memories, the good, the bad, memories, good times.

I want to make a very important point here before I continue with this. I was raised with respect and was taught morals, however – at this tender age, there is only so much a person should expect from a boy to know, life you see. So, many times it is the mistakes we make, the falls that teach us; this was one of those times.

fifty centsWhenever I was in Yuma visiting my grandparents, we would eat out. Back in the day, restaurants, even the classier ones in town, had, shall we say, items for a gentleman? Cologne, condoms, and oddly, stupid toys that you could drop into a glass of water and they would form a bird, I shit you not, no pun intended.  The cost was only fifty cents and I wanted to see what the bird would look like. The small issue I had? I was eight and not making a paycheck, damn child labor laws.

My Uncle Mike was making a pay check though, and when he went out he had a change jar where he would deposit his loose change. Mostly pennies and nickels, but there were dimes and quarters, too. It sat on the dresser drawer’s cabinet that housed his work shirts and underwear, socks and such. It was just an old preserves jar that had a small crack in it and my Grams didn’t want to use for preserves. Hence, the change jar was born. As earlier stated, I was eight years old, keep up folks, and well I, being froggy, just put my hand in that mason jar and took out fifty cents. I just figured my Uncle wouldn’t miss it since it was only two coins in a sea of them, sitting in that old mason jar.

The Next Time

I got my toys the next time we went to the restaurant. The two coins were in separate pockets as to not let them jingle against each other, the sound alerting anyone of the booty in my pocket. I learned a lot from the detective magazines my Uncle Mike would leave around the house. I went to the bathroom and procured my reward for stealing from him without a care, then came back to the table with an enormous sense of satisfaction.

Um, yeah best-laid plans of mice and men; and eight-year olds, I suppose.

It may have been fortuitous, within a week I was afforded an allowance of one dollar a week to do chores. Raised the way I was, I heard a story from my Grandparents about stealing and that it was a bad thing, it hurt people when you took what was rightfully theirs. I, in my eight-year old mind, thought I had hurt my Uncle. So, instead of going to the market for a Slurpee and baseball cards, I got change; four quarters. I guess this is when I discovered I was going to be a writer, I wrote him a letter, put two-quarters in the envelope with the letter and left it on his bed. Easy, right? Nope, not even close.

My Uncle took the letter to my Mother and to my Grandparents, the reaction was at first one of anger that I would steal, but my Grandparents intervened the tongue lashing and the switch and instead, embraced the fact that I wanted to make amends. I had learned my lesson without them having to teach me. I learned from their example, their knowledge. That is how we learn, you know. My mother was so proud, she took the two toys and letter and framed it, my mother – the hidden artist.

To wrap this up, we all make mistakes, we are not perfect. However, when the imperfection comes we need to learn from it, take it with us. Funny thing is, I have a goblet I got from a bar years ago and although loose change is now non-existent with credit cards and digital chips, it’s still out there and when I have some change, I throw it in that cup.

Thanks, Uncle Mike, it was a great lesson, and I miss you. Rest in peace.

fifty cents

**This is a photo of the actual letter I wrote to my Uncle, funny thing? I needed an editor even then.

#truestory

HUMANITY, LEADERSHIP, PERSONAL GROWTH

One Day at a Time: Winning the Battle of Life

Winning is Important

Why?

We want recognition. We want to feel accomplished. We want to be successful.

I hated playing Monopoly when I was younger. My brother was insanely competitive – he still is – and he won almost every game. I was torn and it made me mad,  and not because he won but rather, because I lost. Some of us are better at losing than others. I’m not one of those individuals.

Somehow, I think it is deeper than just not wanting to lose. Like most people, I want to be relevant and, well – winners are relevant. Winners win. Winners get to the finish line first. They walk away with trophies and awards. Their home-baked cookies are the best. They hear applause and approval often. They are happy, aren’t they? Are winners happier than those of us who merely strive but fail?

Who Doesn’t Want to Be Relevant?

It may seem simple. Isn’t that what we all want? Aren’t we all just looking for a smile or a cheer, a pat on the back, a “good job” or “atta boy”, a raise in pay? Is that relevance? Or is that acceptance?

Where does your State of Mind leave you?

I didn’t purchase my first scratch-off lottery ticket until I was 26 years old. I had gone to the mall with a friend on my lunch hour. I was a young mother of two at the time – money was always tight, but I had an extra buck in my pocket and thought, “what the heck?” That very first scratcher was $100 winner. I was shocked, surprised, but most of all – happy. I could afford diapers and maybe a Cinnabon with my little girls that week, our favorite treat!

A year or two earlier, I found myself in a pickle while practicing with my league softball team on an early Saturday morning. I could throw like mad – but my arm was a little wild. I was honing my ability in lengthy practices and found myself in a very good place: playing shortstop with a #1 team with a .822 personal batting average. Until the pickle.

Some guys were waiting to use the field and decided to challenge us “girls” to a quick pick-up game. We, of course, accepted the challenge. I hit a double to deep right and found myself rounding 2nd. Mistakenly, I thought there had been an overthrow, but really – the throw had been to 3rd base, and square in front of me stood a waiting, gnarling 3rd baseman, holding said ball. I screamed and turned, only to find the ball now at 2nd base. Turning again, my cleat caught and my body went one way, while my foot and lower leg stayed planted. A loud pop could be heard. That pop was the ACL in my right leg snapping in half.

I continued to play for several more years, but I lost my position, my batting average dropped, and eventually left the sport, devastated, after six knee surgeries.

Win or Lose

I could have continued to buy lottery tickets, hoping for another winner. I could have curled up in ball and never struck out again. But I didn’t do either. My battle continued, on different fields.

“Defeat is a state of mind. No one is ever really defeated until defeat has been accepted as reality.” – Bruce Lee

Bruce Lee never stopped kicking, never stopped fighting.

Life can Kick You in the Ass

And it often does.

But what are you going to do? Let it? Or dodge those kicks and punches? Just turn the other cheek?

If only it were that easy. Many mornings, I wish it were easy. But I have learned, you just keep going, you just keep moving forward, Victory does not come to those who stand still or those without impetus or drive.

Life’s Battles

Ive had my share, they don’t seem to ease up, so I can’t really afford to. My parents hung a framed copy of my father’s favorite poem in their bathroom – it was titled You Can. I read that damn thing every time I ventured into their private space. Over and over again, committing it to memory over the years. On many a morning, the last verse has gotten me out of bed.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster wo/man.
But sooner or later the wo/man who wins,
Is the man who thinks he can.

You Can

Some weeks, it’s just one day at a time. Some days, it’s just one step at a time. And some steps, it’s just one moment at a time. When all you can do is find the next moment, that is enough.

And sometimes, that’s all it takes.