Friday, December 28, 2007

...The rest of the Story

Among the goodies I received for Christmas, oops Birthday, was Steve Martin's autobiography, Born Standing Up. I've been reading a little bit each day and am 1/2 way through. It is fascinating. I became familiar with him when he emerged in the mid 1970's as a WILD & CRAZY GUY. So far everything I've ready about Steve happened before he hit the big time.

Lessons learned:

1. There are very few overnight successes.

2. Get to know the rest of the story, it will offer insight and enrich your experience.

3. Take time to read more.

4. Own a pair of rabbit ears.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

One More Day?

Recently, I saw part of the movie "One More Day". Harvey Mackay shares his thoughts:

Take time for yourself to do ordinary things

Author Mitch Albom says he wrote his book "For One More Day" when he became fascinated by how people answer this question: If they could spend one more day with a loved one already departed, how would they spend it? What would they do?

In Parade magazine, Albom says that he repeatedly found that people wanted to spend an ordinary day doing ordinary things with the people they had loved. Notably, almost everyone wanted to tell a special person just one more time how much they loved him or her. Others mentioned that they wanted to do the things they always did with that person, such as head to the racetrack, eat in a favorite hamburger joint or talk about old times.

One son wished that he could share knowledge that would have eased his father's guilt over an incident where the father threw a snowball and accidentally blinded another son. Later, after the father's death, the family learned that the son had a condition that had predisposed him to such an injury. He wanted to help his father lift his burden.

One man longed for a moment with his son who died in a car accident. He wanted to relive a favorite getaway, a walk with him in the woods.

Asking people to describe their wishes helped Albom understand what we yearn for. Often it's not something exotic or faraway. The most common responses involved personal connections and realizing that a normal day is something we should all treasure.

Chances are, you've been blessed with success and tremendous opportunity. You can likely recall some colossal failures and deep disappointments. Would you choose any of those for one more day? No matter how much the big things have changed your life, it seems that it's the little things, so many of which we take for granted, that make our lives worth living.

How does this relate to careers and work issues? No matter how passionate you are about your work, it's only part of your life. As you've heard so many times, don't work so hard at making a living that you forget to make a life. When work stress spills over to disrupt the rest of your life, you need to plug the dam. Is this how you would spend your "one more day?"

When you feel like you are tottering on the edge and you just need a break—you should take one. In today's busy world, it is easy to fall into the trap of never taking any time for yourself. Just about every time you pick up a newspaper or magazine these days, you find a study declaring that Americans are more stressed, sleep deprived and time-crunched than they ever have been. That's no way to spend one more day.

While you can't turn the clock back, you could certainly benefit from some real time away from the things that drain you. Spend that time instead with the people who are special in your life. Here are some simple suggestions:

  • Disconnect. Promise yourself that you will not answer your cell phone, return a text message or check your email. Lest you think I'm crazy, let me remind you that people have survived for centuries without these things. It's highly likely that you'll not only survive, but also probably emerge refreshed from unplugging and turning off for a change. When was the last time you had an uninterrupted dinner?

  • Escape for an evening. Leave work on time and stash your briefcase in a closet. Spend the hours doing something you love—anything but work! You know the old saying about all work and no play. Would you really come back—just for one more day of work?

  • Take your vacation time. Hoarding earned days? Do you lose them if you don't use them? Maybe you are just building up a cache of time that you will use "when you need to." People seem to be almost unwilling to take breaks when they really need them. Keep in mind that the workplace and world will survive, probably quite well, if you go on vacation. If you think you are indispensable at work, stick your finger in a bowl of water and notice the hole it leaves when you pull it out. Now try to imagine the hole in your family's life without you. It suddenly becomes a clear choice!

Mackay's Moral: You can't count your days, but you can make your days count.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A Very Snowflake Christmas

It began a couple years ago, as a way to make Christmas fun and unique. Snowflakes, each one is unique and so the tradition was born. Last year we had a paper snowflake contest, and this year the competition was turned up a few notches. At Thanksgiving, word went out to create a unique snowflake and win a prize. Brandon, Rachael, Josh and Madeline each brought their own creations and the voting resulted in a tie, broken by a debate and the money was handed out.

And so that everyone would be included that visited, Snowflake pajama's were given out to one and all. Thanks to everyone that came over, called, played, and sang!

Here's a group shot of the kiddo's:

Monday, December 24, 2007

Five Lessons About How To Treat People

-- Author Unknown

1. First Important Lesson - "Know The Cleaning Lady"

During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions, until I read the last one: "What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?"

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

"Absolutely," said the professor. "In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say "hello."

I've never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

2. Second Important Lesson - "Pickup In The Rain"

One night, at 11:30 p.m., an older African American woman was standing on the side of an Alabama highway trying to endure a lashing rainstorm. Her car had broken down and she desperately needed a ride. Soaking wet, she decided to flag down the next car.

A young white man stopped to help her, generally unheard of in those conflict-filled 1960s. The man took her to safety, helped her get assistance and put her into a taxicab.

She seemed to be in a big hurry, but wrote down his address and thanked him. Seven days went by and a knock came on the man's door. To his surprise, a giant console color TV was delivered to his home.

A special note was attached. It read: "Thank you so much for assisting me on the highway the other night. The rain drenched not only my clothes, but also my spirits. Then you came along. Because of you, I was able to make it to my dying husband's bedside just before he passed away. God bless you for helping me and unselfishly serving others."

Sincerely, Mrs. Nat King Cole.

3. Third Important Lesson - "Remember Those Who Serve"

In the days when an ice cream sundae cost much less, a 10 year-old boy entered a hotel coffee shop and sat at a table. A waitress put a glass of water in front of him. "How much is an ice cream sundae?" he asked. "50¢," replied the waitress.

The little boy pulled his hand out of his pocket and studied the coins in it.

"Well, how much is a plain dish of ice cream?" he inquired. By now more people were waiting for a table and the waitress was growing impatient. "35¢!" she brusquely replied.

The little boy again counted his coins. "I'll have the plain ice cream," he said. The waitress brought the ice cream, put the bill on the table and walked away. The boy finished the ice cream, paid the cashier and left.

When the waitress came back, she began to cry as she wiped down the table. There, placed neatly beside the empty dish, were two nickels and five pennies. You see, he couldn't have the sundae, because he had to have enough left to leave her a tip.

4. Fourth Important Lesson - "The Obstacles In Our Path"

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. After much pushing and straining, he finally succeeded. After the peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note from the King indicating that the gold was for the person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The peasant learned what many of us never understand - "Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve our condition."

5. Fifth Important Lesson - "Giving When It Counts"

Many years ago, when I worked as a volunteer at a hospital, I got to know a little girl named Liz who was suffering from a rare and serious disease. Her only chance of recovery appeared to be a blood transfusion from her 5-year-old brother, who had miraculously survived the same disease and had developed the antibodies needed to combat the illness. The doctor explained the situation to her little brother, and asked the little boy if he would be willing to give his blood to his sister. I saw him hesitate for only a moment before taking a deep breath and saying, "Yes, I'll do it if it will save her."

As the transfusion progressed, he lay in bed next to his sister and smiled, as we all did, seeing the color returning to her cheeks. Then his face grew pale and his smile faded. He looked up at the doctor and asked with a trembling voice, "Will I start to die right away?".

Being young, the little boy had misunderstood the doctor; he thought he was going to have to give his sister all of his blood in order to save her.

Something I won't be doing anymore

Not that I ever could do a flip.......

Extreme videos

And Something I never did....

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The truth behind Christmas

I was listening to N.P.R. this morning and they were talking about fulfilling little kids Christmas wishes with "Santa's helpers" etc. and I realized that Christmas can mean a lot of different things to different people:

  1. Family get-to-gethers.
  2. Snow.
  3. Christmas Presents.
  4. Thankfulness.
Yet there is one way to avoid disappointment over Christmas, and that is to focus on what we have already been given. It wasn't until around 2000 years ago we even had a Christmas to celebrate!

May you focus on the blessings that we have, and seek the truth behind Christmas...