Thursday, January 24, 2013

Day Changer

     Today I was once again reminded that life is a lot like the weather in Michigan. If you don't like what is happening, stay calm as things could change for the better at any moment.
     I was having a less than great day. I had allowed myself to become frustrated with small details such as a project at work, a lack of progress with a writing project, and judging my abilities at interacting with others.
     I was to the point of being so frustrated that I was ornery the minute I walked in the door after I ran around town chasing through my errands after work. I am fortunate that my husband was readily available and able to talk me into a cheerier mood within moments. Then a friend of mine shared some great news with me about my storybook from last year. She alerted me to a newsletter that had went out from our publisher, MeeGenius. Among new users of their app my storybook "Green Goo" is currently trending #1.
     Due to my friend and fellow author, Jennifer Young, being so thoughtful and sharing this with me, my mood and outlook instantly improved. I am so grateful that she took a moment out of her hectic day to share these encouraging words with me.
     I want to actively express my gratitude to Jennifer by sharing her storybook with you. She has written a delightful book called "Poison Apple Pie." I encourage you all to buy and read it. It will be a fabulous addition to your virtual book shelf!

This is the link to her storybook:

I also want to share a link with you to the newsletter that our Publisher MeeGenius sent out that featured my good news:

I am so grateful and amazed at the support I have received in chasing my dreams of being a published author/story teller. Thank you all!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Change by Choice

     Over the years I have been exposed to a lot of on the job training that I am sure was meant to inspire me to be the best possible worker bee that I could be. It often left me feeling discouraged or disappointed. I was always uncomfortable with the catchy slogans that were used that were supposed to help re-frame our mindsets and aid us in thinking as our company wanted us to think about any given situation.
     One of the slogans that always got me down and was a real mainstay at one of my employers was the cheerful, mindless acclimatization that change is good. Well, no, in fact, it is not. Tell the person that just got the diagnosis for the grim disease that may take their life or their child's life that change is good. Tell that to the person that just received the message that their child will not be coming home from their deployment. Tell that to the 83 year old woman that was just widowed because her husband got hit by a truck and they were less then six months shy of their 60th anniversary.
     I always felt that it was such a cop out and trite to try to boil down a complex concept into such a compassion less statement. It always seemed like an insensitive declaration. I always felt I was being cheated when someone would parrot that phrase and I always felt like I was being asked to be less than human by attempting to embrace that three word slogan.
     I think that seizing the opportunity to change yourself, better your circumstances, or to pursue education is good. In fact, I think it is great. However, whenever people were teaching these inspiring change is good classes they were not usually trying to aid employees in any of those pursuits. Usually they were just using this slogan to convince you that it would be great that they had to cut your pay, cut staffing, and increase efficiency goals all at the same time. Change. Is. Good.
     Even if you are making a choice to change your diet and exercise more, that is good-if you are doing it as a preventative option. It is a choice and a good one. But if you are doing this because you suddenly find yourself in ill health, it is not a good thing that you are having to make that change. In this case, change is necessary. I suppose it is good that you are still able to do that, but I still think the use of the slogan would be misplaced.
     I think the new slogan that gets taught should be, "Change by Choice." This, to me, means you have put some thought into your circumstances, realzied you need a change of plan, and are actively acting on that.
     When I was younger I dreamed of being a filmmaker, of working with George Lucas and Steven Spielberg. But I was a shy kid and I didn't have enough money to even apply to USC Film School, so I shelved that dream for a while. I still worked on my writing and went to a university locally. I always figured I would make a great success as a screenwriter some day. But then, I didn't.
     I did have an opportunity to enter a storybook contest. I had written plenty of stories for my friends' children. I just never thought about submitting them anywhere. I was going to be a screenwriter, you know. But then I heard about a contest. I researched it, reviewed materials and ideas I had on hand, and i changed my mind. I made the choice to change my approach to what type of a writer I envisioned myself as. My little storybook managed to earn a digital publishing contract.
     I have a friend that is a writer. He usually writes fantasy or urban fiction. But for some reason he recently made the choice to write a shorty story that was more along the lines of a mythology. I consider it to be one of the best short stories I have read in quite a while. I love his latest story. Several days after reading it, it still lingers at the back of my mind. He made a choice to change his style. I am hoping it works out well for him. His story is in a contest. When you have a few moments, please read Brother Wolf by Matt Rohr. You can vote on the story once a week until the end of January. I am hoping that his story will be illustrated and published as part of his prize for winning. Please follow the link:

     If and when I ever get to lead a training session my new classroom training slogan will definitely be change by choice is good.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year: Your Next Chapter Begins

     As I have spent the last few days reflecting on the past, I have pondered about many of the gifts I am most grateful for and why. At the top of my list has been one of the gifts my parents gave me that was just a matter of course, of every day living, but was so very valuable to the foundation of my well being.
     My parents have always been communicators, storytellers, and have spared no details of the good, the bad, the hopeful, or hopeless situations of life. I can remember from a young age being told the story of how they met. For the record-it was at The Shamrock. The funny part about this-that was a local bar hang out in GR in the mid 1960s and if you know my mother-she is practically a teetotaler.
     I know by heart how my dad ended up in the Air Force, his misadventures in basic training, and what he did and where he was stationed. I also know how it was due to being in the service that he was not able to make it home for his father's funeral and just how real the sacrifice is by all those who work to serve and protect the citizens of this country.
     I also know and love the details of my parents' wedding. They were married the day after one of the saddest days in our nation's history-the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. My dad's brother, my beloved Uncle Bob, was my dad's best man. He was also a GR police officer. All officers were on call due to the potential for riots across the country, so my uncle's car was pulled right up by the open windows of the church so he could hear his radio during the ceremony, so I have been told.
     And the most important part of this sharing of the history of our lives as a family through storytelling was the fact that my parents also told me my own story; of how I was born very sickly and prematurely, of how my grandmothers came to visit me at the hospital, how they knew my cry above the cries of all the healthy babies as they could hear me gasping for air from down the hall as I tried to wail in my isolette, and of how I was released too soon to be cared for at home. And all the difficulty that caring for me was in the year that followed. There is a good reason that there is five years between me and my next sibling.
     The importance of this communication is that it taught me how my story intersected with that of my family and community. It instilled in me a sense of belonging and being a valuable part of the communities that intersected with our lives. This helped lay a healthy foundation for me when it became time for me to take responsibility for the telling of my own story and figuring out how my story fits and compliments the stories of all other people that I interact with.
     I am forever grateful that my parents helped me develop this sense of belonging and this desire to tell and learn my own story and learn of and from the stories of everyone I encounter. I am again excited for this turning of the page of the calender, for this calling of the new year and new opportunities to figure out what is next in my story, your story, and our story.
     It is sometimes in the small, every day moments that interesting things happen. I revel in the details of  the small stories. I am already fortunate to have one to add to my collection for the new year.
     As my brother and I were about to leave a party last night, I experienced an amazing moment. Some background: My car is 12 years old. I am hoping that we are in a very long term, committed relationship. As sometimes happens over time, things have been a bit bumpy for us lately. The car has required some up keep and has had some irregular moments as it ages.
      The key fob quit working years ago. A few weeks ago the driver's side lock on the door also quit working. It became necessary for me to first unlock the passenger door, then flip the interior lock, and then walk around and open my door and get in to the car to drive away. This was not a big deal when getting groceries as I generally dump the bags in the front seat, but at work it was awkward to me to have to engage in this routine.
     I managed to get the door lock repaired just before the holiday and was quite pleased with that. At least I was able to use the key on both doors now. I went to insert the key in driver side door lock last night when all of a sudden all the locks were sprung open. I looked to my brother who was grinning rather smugly. I was stunned as I wondered where he had learned this magic.
     It was then he showed me the key and fob. It had been laying by a scattering of books and papers at my parents house earlier in the day on the floor by my mother's chair. He picked it up, saw that it said Ford on it and wondered if it went to my car.
     It did. I had thought I gave a spare to my mother over a decade ago, but she had never been able to find it. And suddenly, yesterday, there it was. It is a small, strange thing. It will bring me a lot of ease and happiness this winter to have it back. Where it has been and how it ended up there on their floor at that moment is hard to say. I just know you never know what may be a key element in the telling of your story. Here is hoping for many interesting moments for storytelling for us all in 2013!