Tag Archives: #life

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.

HR, LIFESTYLE, SIMPLE LIVING

This One’s About the Journey

On the Road Again

It seems as though I have flown almost every September 11th in the last ten years. This year, I was not flying, but rather driving; I am currently on a 3,660-mile road trip, and today finds me in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, not quite at the halfway point. Roadtripping has become a kind of therapy for me. In my past, most road trips have been just “a way to get there” on the cheap. They have been about the destination, not the journey. That changed significantly for me a couple years ago, when I found myself alone, really alone, not knowing too much about my own likes and dislikes. Strange place to be as a 50+ year old. Nevertheless, I have tackled that truth and in the takedown, I found parts of me I never knew existed or had forgotten about.

I am a strong woman with many weaknesses.

Not sure how that came to be, but it is certainly true and…, not one to shy away from the truth, I find myself digging in and trying to expose how I got to where I am. It is difficult to pinpoint the exact time and place, can one ever? For I feel we are consistently moving to a place where exposition is how we survive with our integrity in tact.

Exhausted by Life

It is easy to get tired – it would be easy to just go with the flow and not make waves. As many can attest, that would be strongly against my nature. So, I expose myself to situations where I will learn, where I can grow, where change is not only imminent but necessary.

The first three days of my adventure found me in St. George, Utah with about 20 women from my family – our annual Thorn Women’s Retreat (Estro-Fest) was another smashing success. Next year will mark 25 years of this particular gathering. I have not been able to attend every year, but when I have gone, I have been strengthened and empowered by the women I am lucky enough to call family.

The Other Destination

While there is a business destination involved in my travels, I have wrapped a dropped pin with self-discovery. 3600+ miles does not scare me, nor will it scar me. It will fulfill something in me that is needed. Time in my head – to clear the cobwebs woven by hurt and anger – as well as releasing the stress that work can sometimes bring – and I am one of those crazies that works on vacation. Certain emotions tend to be felt more deeply or have a stronger impact, I believe anger and hurt call into that category.

journey

The Destination

My company, Dovetail Software is attending/exhibiting an annual event for Healthcare Human Resources in Seattle this weekend – The ASHHRA Conference. I love this event – it’s one of my favorites and I have attended a number of times. I will walk the aisles, speak with other vendors that support Healthcare HR and learn as much as I can from the practitioners there for erudition. There will be plenty for my team to take in, as we want to benefit clients, as well as make sure we are presenting the full benefits of what Dovetail offers.

Many years ago, I worked for a healthcare-specific search firm as an executive recruiter – this is where I cut my teeth in recruiting, in human resources.  It is strange but going to this conference always feels like going home. And, with the many changes in recruiting and HR over the last fifteen years, it is always a strange homecoming – like when your parents get new furniture, though you’ve been gone from home for 20+ years.

Change is Good

Like so many others, I have felt the pain of change in life and career. Life goes on and thank God for that.  We are often faced with what ifs and could’ve beens – it is when we see clearly, when we know the choices that were initially painful to make, when we see them through the lenses of today, that we know the choices we made were the right ones.

And while not necessarily pain-free, they are right, correct, the best, the way it should be.  I am happy where I am now. Work is fulfilling and life / love continue to be a gamble. And who doesn’t love a spin at the roulette table?

And so it goes.  Change is inevitable and usually for the better.

“Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.” – George Bernard Shaw

HUMANITY

The Night of My Suicide…

When my time comes
Forget the wrong that I’ve done
Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed
And don’t resent me
And when you’re feeling empty
Keep me in your memory
Leave out all the rest – Linkin Park

…If you are reading this

suicide

The Words You Never Want to Hear or Read

That simple eloquent phrase can start the beginning of what would normally be news that you didn’t want to hear. I know, because I had the immense displeasure of reading these words once and have also had the phone ring only to hear a friend saying a person was gone; they had taken their own life. You take pause, you wince, you cry, you scream out loud, or in the deep recesses of your mind. The steps of grief begin.

Mental Illness is Taboo in this Country

The terms crazy, insane, delusional, etc. have been stamped out or are only whispered inside homes and hospitals. But we see mental illness everywhere and it is not the homeless I am talking about either, it’s the person sitting across the table from you, the family member that is lying to you when they say they are doing fine, or the pal that stopped taking your calls and you gave up calling.

THAT IS THE PROBLEM!

Sinnead O’conner recently posted a video as a cry for help telling the world that mentally ill people are different; they need help. She is correct and sadly, I sat there and thought, I wonder if anyone will actually reach out to her. Will she become another statistic, another Kurt, Chris, Robin, or Chester? I sure hope not.

Are You Curious?

It makes me curious you know, this is a disease and it kills people, either by their own hand or because the drugs they take slowly eat away at their organs or deliver other horrific side effects. Diseases like Cancer or MS seem to get the best press out there. They get colored wrist bands, banners, full-page ads, athlete spokespersons, and Hollywood stars lining up for endorsement deals to express their anguish. I am not saying that these are not noble causes, for they are, but it seems that the things we can actually see, hear, and feel all around us we walk away from. Why?

Mental health or homelessness is just not sexy enough for people? No money in i, I suppose or does it hit a little too close to home for some people? I am not an expert on this subject but I have been there, I have ached inside – I have wondered at my own existence. And I know I am not alone…

My Story

My fiancée and I had broken up, I had lost my job, and my Great Uncle, a man I owe my success to and dearly loved, had just killed himself – these events all happened within thirty days. There was no safety net to catch me. As they say, “It’s not the fall that kills you, it’s that sudden stop at the end.” Depression set in: I didn’t know what that was and I had no one to turn to. I was too afraid to tell anyone I was hurting; I was wounded, alone, and afraid. After a fifth of whiskey and sitting in a chair alone in the dark with only the glow of the idiot box for warmth, thinking there is no promise of a better tomorrow – I crawled into bed with my choice. A choice.

I put the bottle to my temple, drunk, out of my mind, silence in the air, total quiet, a finger on the trigger, so to speak – ready to pull. Comfortable to go, ready to die, ready for it to end, to get to where I was going.

I didn’t. You know this because, well, you are reading this.

And I am thankful.

When You Have an Awakening

I often, too often, have to remind myself of my temper and that I, sometimes, let it get the best of me. It’s mine and I need to own it. And here I am,  making that turn in life where I do not want to be an adult and really wish that could go back to bing a ten year old, running through the sprinklers on a hot Arizona day, laughing uncontrollably with friends that left me all too soon. I sought help, started writing again, and realized that it is and was going to be ok.

After I sent this to two dear and close friends I chose to open up to one of my oldest friends, a man I have known for over thirty years and told him my story. He is a great man, better than most, better than me, that’s for sure. He asked me, in a soft tone, like he often does, “Why did you not reach out or call me?” My answer, I didn’t want to burden you with my problems, man. There is the rub, as Sherlock Homes would say. Here is a man, my closest confidante and in a time of need – a time of burden – and I felt too scared to reach out. In my addled mind, I felt like it was easier to let go.

Think About the Mind, as well

We are so interested in health care that we think only of the body, not the mind. We understand what we can see, you cannot see mental health issues until you know someone in the thick of the battle and then, in that moment – during that time, too many of us just walk away. We don’t know what to do, we whisper about them, we point or laugh, we make inappropriate jokes, and it only twists the dagger. Am I guilty of this? Yes, yes I am.

I know few who are not.

Sheer Will?

Something saved me that night, God, an Angel, the sheer will to live, as a human instinct? I don’t know, don’t want to either. I just know I am here and have chosen to continue, I know I received that chance – it was a gift. There will be many people who read this and say WTF? That’s ok, I am ok, I learned things and have found my peace. Sure, I have melt downs, we all do – but I am doing them the right way, venting the frustrations to the right people, and realizing that in 100 years, I will be not only not be remembered, read, or listened too, or even considered anything other than an insignificant ant in this cog of life. Or maybe my words here will have impact and save someone who is yet to be a grandma or great grandma. Maybe.

Yeah I am having a Gilgamesh moment.

I accept that. What I am concerned about is that we are losing the poets, the bards, and the dreamers – those who were turning this ship around. We failed them, all of us; we took and took and took, until there was nothing left for them to give.

When they are gone, we wail and cry, we set up support groups for them, instead of reaching out before that person is gone to say I am here, I want to help and if I cannot, then let me point the way.

Once again, why?

If you think someone is hurting, they most likely are. Let’s not allow all this social media BS to run our lives – be human and have empathy, I know it’s hard. Life can be hard, yet it is us, as the collective good, that can reach out and work to help each other. It’s ok to reach out, to speak, to shine the light on this seemingly taboo subject we seem too afraid to speak of. All is not lost yet, and maybe this is the manifesto of my pain, not exhausted but fueled by the anguish I see and feel. I don’t want to lose anyone else, do you? We can start, right now, making a difference.

If you are reading this and you need to vent, just find me, or find someone. There is help and there are people who want to help.

I will leave you with this quote, because it was the one that I found that made me say, “Yeah, with people like this in the world I think it might be a good thing to try and stick around and say I survived and so will you.” That is the reason I am coming forward – this is the reason I write this now.

Suicide is a serious thing. And if you know anyone who is suicidal, you need to get them help. No one should be in pain. Everyone should love themselves.” Gerard Way

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call 1-800-273-8255

#peace #life

HR, HUMANITY

Better off Dead: My Two Dollars Story

Better Off Dead

My two dollarsOne of John Cusack’s first movies was an odd spinoff of the wildly successful John Hughes films of the 80’s and 90’s called Better off Dead. Throughout the film, there is a running theme of a newspaper boy, yes, for those younger than 40 – we did not exercise child labor laws that strictly back then, chasing after the main character, Cusack for two dollars. You see, on top of delivering the papers to your front door, you had to do collections door-to-door, weekly for the money from the person getting the newspapers. Daily papers were .25c, and the Sunday paper was .50c, equaling two dollars a week. A few weeks ago, this came to mind one evening in a convenience store near my home.

A Wild Week

After what had been a wild week with candidate negotiations, allergies, and lack of sleep based on said allergies, something good finally happened. Sometimes, you just have to look past yourself to realize there is someone out there a little worse off than you. I had to run down to the local 7/11 for milk, as the carton in my fridge had spoiled. I drove down to the corner store, cursing that my craving for mashed potatoes and the need of milk to make the deliciousness that that dish is, forced me out of my home and into my car to procure this magic liquid.

When I arrived at the market, it was unusually busy, people milling around – looking at products deciding what snacks they wanted, etc. Now you see, I am not really a big grocery store guy, I eat out a great deal, so I know convenience stores well and how they operate. You have to move fast, or a line will form and then you are caught standing there pissed off because you just want to go home and eat mashed potatoes, and yet you are standing here, waiting. First world problems, am I right?

Two Dollars

better off deadI hate being right sometimes, and like a perfect storm, a line had formed, yet, not a bad one, there was a single guy and father there with his two young daughters in front of me, so I thought, oh well just a few more minutes. It could be worse with the sea of bachelors that were in the store. The first guy went off without a hitch, paid and off he went. Then, the father walked up with a loaf of bread and cheese. He was rung up quickly, handed the clerk his card, and the transaction was done. Boom, I am on the home stretch now! The youngest child then pulled a candy out of her pocket that she had been holding. The Father looked at her and smiled and said, “Sure, baby girl.” I stood there deflated and angry. I was tired, hungry, and just wanted to get back home to make the potatoes and eat my dinner. The clerk rang up the candy, and it popped up as two dollars on the register, he handed the man the card, again. So yet another transaction I have to sit through, great how much longer do I have to wait!!
Then, it happened, the card was declined, for two dollars.

His body language showed his humiliation that he could not afford two dollars, in front of his children, when he was told there no more funds available on his card which turned out to be an EBT card. Two dollars. For those who don’t live in Virginia, the EBT card is the equivalent of a debit card for food stamps funded by the Common Wealth of Virginia, and he had run out of funds. He scooped up the little one, who was crying that she wanted her candy, and took the other child’s hand, then walked out to his car leaving the candy on the counter in front of us. He said nothing but I caught his eye as he looked down and slowly left the store. The attendant took my milk as I watched the family with the sound of the words of two dollars ringing in my head, and I said, “The candy, I want the candy, too.”

Atonement Gained

The clerk’s expression was one of puzzlement that turned to a look of atonement for not doing what I should have done. I tried swiping my card but was having problems with the machine to complete the transaction quickly enough. Turning to look outside, I saw the Father getting into the passenger seat. Feeling my frustration, the clerk only said to me, “Go, Atonement gained, I suppose.” I nodded to the attendant and ran out of the store leaving both my credit card and wallet on the counter to catch the family before they left. When I got to the car door, his window was down so I handed him the candy and just quietly said, “Sir, you forgot something.” I turned to go back inside, and the father called out to me and mouthed, “Thank you, man.” Two Dollars.

A Very Good Man?

When I went back in, there was a line of people all staring at me, a long line. They were all men of different races, Black, White, Indian, and Asian. Not one person said anything, not one person was upset, in fact, they were all staring at me, some deep in thought, others smiling and nodding. As I reached for my carton of milk, the attendant held on to it for a moment looking me in the eye, smiled, and gave me a short bow and said, “You are a very good man.”

No, I really am not. I stood there in that line cursing the fact that I, a single man, who has enough money to eat out every night if I want, was angry that I had to wait in line. I felt anger toward a Father, caring for his progeny and, more than likely having cheese sandwiches for dinner, couldn’t afford candy, for two dollars. It is moments like this that remind me that we must look around and lift each other up, love each other a little more, and recognize that even though it can be bad at times, there is more than likely someone worse off than you.

Next time, I am going to be a great deal more patient with the world, I think we all should strive for that. I wish it would only cost two dollars to change the perception in the world, which would be amazing.

#truestory #life

HUMANITY

Guns and Mythos

Guns: What Are They Good For?

Why is it that, as a culture, we are more comfortable seeing two men holding guns than holding hands? – Ernest Gaines

I was twelve years old when I shot my first pistol. It was my Grandfather’s revolver, a Smith & Wesson .357 magnum six shooter. My Grandfather was good friends with the local gun shop owner, Mr. Sprague in Yuma, AZ. He had a personal firing range – underground, behind his shop – and only he or his friends were allowed to shoot there.

My Grandad took me there one afternoon to teach me, not only how to shoot a gun, but to understand its sheer power. He wanted me to learn to respect the weapon for what it could do. I remember not being nervous holding it, in fact quite the opposite. I was going to be the lone ranger, Shane – High Noon time is what I was thinking to myself. I was just a kid who  went to movies and watched TV shows. To me, this was the equivalent of becoming like my many heroes from those shows – shooting guns, killing the bad guys, and, well, getting the girl. I was just starting to like them at that age.

He showed me, with an unloaded weapon, how to aim at the target and how to breathe in while pulling back the trigger. The one thing he could not tell me, the one thing I had to learn on my own, was the power that this firearm had. I loaded the weapon, pulled back the hammer, and then squeezed the trigger just like I was trained to do. BANG! The shot rang out, and my arms took on a life of their own, going upward as by body hurdled backward from the shock of the kickback at the release of the bullet. I was terrified of the experience and the sheer power that this gun held and that I was the one who wielded it. The target we used was a watermelon, it became a pile of unusable fruit.

I asked my Grandfather why he had not prepared me for that shock. He only smiled and said, “How else are you going to learn?”

As the years have gone by, I have shot multiple weapons and began to enjoy shooting rifles, more than pistols, as there was a sense of accomplishment hitting a target 100 yards away with accuracy. I did some hunting but never really liked it. Killing animals was not high on my list of things to do as a kid, and it lowers the older I get. I understand the idea of it and why: in the 1800’s, it was a good skill to have – I just did not see the point of it now.

Eventually, the rifles were sold to acquire other baubles like art and collectible comic books. I had friends who joined the military, went to war, and used the education that we got, as kids, to amplify their talents with guns with unbelievably destructive power. Two of them, upon their return, sold the guns they had. They had more than enough of them and enough of violence. War can do that to you.

gunsThe Cause?

“Should we have background checks, waiting periods? To drive a car you have to pass a test that shows you know how to drive your car safely, you should have to do the same thing with guns.” – Michael D. Barnes

My Great Uncle took his life with a gun.
In high school, a former girlfriend took her life with a gun.
Two friends of mine, after high school, were murdered in a parking lot, by a gun.

Every day, there is gun violence int he U.S., and no law other than the total restriction of guns is going to change that. So, yeah – I have a pretty good reasons to understand that weapons take lives. I have lost my share, more than my share.

What we need to do is teach the destructive power a gun has and its effects on people who lose someone to this kind of violence. Children should be taught, like I was, what guns can and will do in the hands of the careless, unemotional, and mentally ill. It should not be taught by video games, movies, and/or TV shows.

We won’t be, though.

Hell, we don’t teach our kids anything now, it seems. The entitlement festers like a sore, unattended in this country, and we blame anyone else, other than ourselves; it’s the norm. Kids want to play violent video games, they want to be Stormtroopers, or Jason Bourne. Too many movies to mention, too many video games to un-see. I feel this is where the problem begins. These children are not educated on the meaning of life, what it means to take a life, and the devastating consequences of careless actions anymore. If it truly takes a village, ours is burning to the ground, and we have no one to blame but ourselves.

gunsThe Solution?

So what do we do? How do we solve the endemic problem we are facing in this country without causing an all-out uncivil war? Have politicians hold sit-ins while bickering amongst their egos? Sometimes the solution to a problem is not to overthink it.

What I believe is you have the right to own a firearm, and I am all for you to have what my Grandmother called a “bang a bang”. However, there is nothing in the constitution that says you can have bullets. Nothing. I know, I looked it up. Collect all the high powered shit you want but you don’t get bullets for it.

See where I am going here?

Just like the prohibition days, this would cause a vacuum, so I get that. Let’s make a little money off this deal then require permits for bullets, which are renewed annually along with background checks annually, as well. Criminals are going to get their hands on guns; we already have too many already in this country, and no matter what you think, our borders are too porous. Hell, if they can get drugs or people across the border, think of how lucrative guns could be. However – when we control the actual gun powder, casings, and lead distribution, they will not be very useful, will they? Running bullets in the amounts that would be profit-worthy would be a costly venture for any cartel, since you cannot just grow rounds. They have to be made in a factory and then shipped; this can be accounted for.

Secondly, when you buy a weapon of this magnitude, you should be licensed. You need a license to drive, fish, hunt, own an animal in some states, but any ass-hat can buy a gun? We need to make it mandatory that they do get training, that they understand the depth of what a bullet can do. It’s not the guns, folks; it’s the bullets that do the damage. Proper firearm training is usually offered at any local gun shop, and it should be mandatory. I know many gun owners who agree with me on this point, and it is an easy sell if someone would just sell it. Knowledge is power, folks and having a well-educated group of people is never a bad thing.

The Gun Culture

We live in a gun culture and that, sadly, is not going to change tomorrow. The history in this country is just too vast, and frankly, the world is a scary place, and people want to be safe. Unravelling this is going to be tough but we have to start somewhere, or it is only going to get worse. And after the last few weeks, that scares me more than when I shot my first gun; I never thought that would happen in my lifetime.

#truestory #life.