Posted in Politics, Relationships, Wellness

Six P’s to Ponder for 2015

Happy New Year 2015 thoughts to share across the globe.  Thanks to technology, this message can be shared to my social network which spans every continent and has the ability to touch every demographic.  I thank you for reading and hope you will pass this message to others.

Purpose

For everything we do, there should be a valid need and reason (joy, entertainment, education, aid & assistance, growth, advancement, etc.) …. that doesn’t undo other great and necessary efforts already decided as priorities by people with experience and talent at providing solutions to human need.

Politics

Red, blue, black or white, rich or poor, famous or unknown, sick or well, disabled or fortunate all of our governments have a responsibility to the people who are being served or governed.  In our policy making and choices for the many, let us remember that “the people” are made up of individuals and every one of us matters.

Peace

In the 21st Century, we have greater access to advanced technology, medicine, science, knowledge, and power … is it possible that we might learn to use our vast resources for the betterment of the most common requirements of all humanity in Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs that is true of all human kind regardless of country, status, power or position?   — guarantee equal rights to health and safety for all ethnicities and gender?  There is enough suffering life offers in our lifetimes, why should humanity foist deliberate suffering to any its members?

Patience

With age comes wisdom, or so it should … we should all remember, it is often our human created systems that fail us.  Author Jeff Sutherland tells us that “If we can blame someone else, we insulate ourselves from the possibility that we’d do the same thing. [make a mistake, do wrong, cause harm, be neglectful]”  There’s plenty of blame to go around, we should accept responsibility that is our own and try our best to remember life is a marathon, not a sprint … in our busy-ness lets look out for our neighbors and show concern, compassion, respect and kindness–be of help to others.

Practice

…what we preach … all of us are guilty, all of us are hypocrites to some extent (do as I say, not as I do).  Becoming a better person; changing a culture; replacing bad habits with new and better ones or strengthening our communities takes a conscious effort and much practice.  Concern, compassion, respect and kindness all require practice to improve…similar to the efforts of great athletes, musicians, inventors, painters and parents.  Let us find ways to encourage each other; to practice becoming better stewards.  We are all architects … of time, is what we are building going to last?

Pride

If something is worth doing, its worth doing it right…I know you’ve heard that before.  Let us not rush to failure.  Let us remember that daily we are building the reality we are subject to.  If we do not like what we see, hear, see, experience … there is opportunity for us to improve our product, our process, our speech, our results–the consequences.  In everything you do, take pride in your effort as though it is the last effort you will exert on this planet–how do you want your contributions to be remembered?

Thank you again for reading and I wish you much success in 2015!

Posted in Relationships, Wellness

Actions With Words = Meaning 

Good morning world!

I just felt like sharing a few thoughts of reflection as I enjoy my coffee on this 2014 Thanksgiving.

Within the past week all four of the family vehicles used at our house have had to go in the shop.  One of them was pronounced dead on arrival–that was the car the kids were using to drive back and forth to college.  That same day my wife had an accident in our family van–all the kids were on board.  Luckily there were no injuries.  So, the hand-me-down process is alive and well.  I’ll be getting a new car; my old one will go to the kids.

I’m finishing up the last few weeks until my Master’s program in Public Administration is completed at Bellevue University.  It’s been a long journey–I have learned so much!  The greatest revelation about this part of my academic journey is how much I enjoy research and thinking…and sharing this with others.  Perhaps when the kids have left home I’ll pursue a PhD (topic/field yet to be determined).  I have learned that I have an insatiable passion for social growth/change & unrest, education, sustainable practices, and understanding the intricacies of human relationships.  All of these topics are at the heart of everything that is wrong and everything that is right in this world.  Governments make choices and the people weather the consequences.  It is ironic to me that without people there is no government, and yet globally, “we” are often victims of our own choices (or lack of choice-making).

I hear a lot of people who say they want to make a difference, actually change some aspect of the world–leave a legacy.  Sometimes I wonder how committed we are to the words that escape our mouths.  It seems more accurate to assess that unless there is an immediate crisis or challenge facing us, we’re content to sit back and criticize other’s attempts to create meaningful change.  I don’t know about you, but seeing this dynamic saddens my heart.  However, I hang on optimistically to my growing belief in cycles and rhythms that seem to be more deliberate than any human intent.  A perspective I’ve gained (maybe it is because I’m getting older) is that life is a marathon, not a sprint!  This dynamic applies to EVERYTHING where any human is involved.  If you take that perspective to moderate your expectations, it is easier to exercise patience, tolerance, and participation.

The greatest challenge to our humanity in modern day life …. communication.  The quality of our listening, our non-verbals, how easily we’re distracted shows we’re a society that has a tragically short attention span….

  • If you don’t make (and keep) eye contact in conversations, if you don’t offer feedback in response to hearing someone speak that confirms to the speaker that you heard what they’re saying;
  • if you don’t stop what you’re doing long enough to visually acknowledge and PAY ATTENTION to the individual … what is the message?

Introspection is one of the best things you can do with some of your spare time.  Think about your own words and actions–do they align?  When someone talks to you, are you paying attention?  The greatest gift we can give each other is our time.  I’m thankful that soon, my plate won’t be quite as full and I can give more of my time back to my family.

I truly wish each of you a wonderful day (Thanksgiving for Americans) and weekend.  I appreciate your time taken to read this message.

Cheers

Posted in Relationships, Wellness

No More Ft Hoods!!!

Deep breath! Okay, today is one of those days. In spite of the enormity of homework on my plate, I just need to vent/share. As a motivated and persistent optimist, I generally lead the pack on number of smiles, positive compliments, and volunteered helpful ideas. I love having a great story to tell–one that makes people smile or laugh or marvel.

Sometimes however, I observe, learn, and connect dots I wish I weren’t able to. You know, life is very precious. We often zip right through it at high speed and don’t fully appreciate the opportunities were speeding past. People with great stories; people with sad stories–both need to be told, both need to be heard. Kids, spouses, co-workers, elderly people, and those who dedicate their livelihood to serving the needs of others who just need a listening ear or interested and engaged companionship.

In the realm of human experience, we all suffer, endure pain and loneliness. We also feel great elation, excitement, bask in moments of victory or success…and sometimes, feel humbled and honored. Before all other things, we are human first! Our humanity is the one thing we share regardless of age, gender, color, ethnicity, titles, beliefs, position, captive or free, employed or unemployed, sexual orientation, political leaning, etc. WE ARE ALL HUMAN!!!

It’s so easy to hide behind or use a label as an excuse to dismiss or discount another… as a reason not to feel, be curious, be patient, or be affected. But when the world takes a big dump on you, that’s when you begin to wonder where humanity has gone; why doesn’t anybody slow down and notice that you are in need? So it starts with you, with me…responsibility and leadership is everyone’s job! Too many sit around and wait for someone else to step up and take the lead. If you assume its “somebody else’s job” then its nobody’s job and you’re just as much a part of the problem you seek relief from.

So, if your organization has a health and wellness program, or makes counseling or support programs available to its personnel, be curious, be interested enough to become part of the culture these programs are trying to foster. Events like last week’s Fort Hood shooting, and the school stabbings this week happen IN THE WORKPLACE, IN SOCIAL SETTINGS.

A program that asks you to “go somewhere else” for treatment or counseling is insufficient and only plays lip-service to the spirit of the intent behind it’s purpose. We must all be part of the solution and accountable to each other as fellow humans to make real change, to touch the lives of people in need. It is not enough that you tell someone that there is a service, assistance, or that counseling is available. Sometimes the individual in need is too close to their condition (inward-looking induced by pain of some sort) to even see a need for help. Some are too embarrassed to admit to being someone who “needs” help (men especially are reticent to admit need).

Whether you are a veteran, a friend of a veteran, a doctor, a lawyer, a neighbor, a banker, a teacher …. I encourage you to keep your eyes open to the human condition filled with stress, trauma, and depression around you. Ask yourself, is there someone in my sphere or daily life who may be in need. When you walk down hallways, say good morning or afternoon–make eye contact. Ask your neighbors or co-workers how they’re doing….I mean, “how are you really doing?” Sincerity is often all it takes to break through the walls of personal reservations for someone to begin sharing their need.

And another thing…Human behavior should be viewed on a spectrum… none of us stay in a single state, condition, or behavior all of the time. Behavior is just that–sometimes people may identify or describe our behavior as strange, normal, odd, different, optimistic, stressed, cheerful, buoyant, outgoing, reclusive… I have news for you–we all slip and slide across the spectrum throughout our lives; that’s what makes us “human.”

You may say, I have entirely too busy a life…if I begin opening up to one person, I stand the risk of becoming the office counselor or a whining post. I’d much rather give a person 15 minutes of undivided attention on a recurring basis and let another human being know that I recognize, relate to, and appreciate their human condition, than to walk into work and at some point be in lockdown because I didn’t.

Please feel free to comment and share this post!

Posted in Relationships, SocialMedia

Collaboration and Future Technology Adoption

Understanding of culture and trust are critical to successful collaboration! Collaboration is about relationships and people…yet

• Teenagers would rather text than make a phone call
• Tech savvy GenX folks would rather chat than email
• Gamers would rather gamify problems than attend another meeting
• YouTube is our teacher, Google & Twitter is our Oracle; Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, and About.me expand our ever-growing sense of community
• Will we accept digital spouses?
• Will we choose to allow those who pass to be kept alive (“life-like” in a hologram) digitally after death?

In a world where …

• Cars drive themselves; refrigerators report our shopping list to the local grocer delivery service; and electronic records automation free up more of our time in our future domestic lives

• Through business intelligence back ends…. Status and Readiness Dashboards will keep our leaders informed; menu option decision-making will save time; machines will take over many more of our manual labor processes; and technology will help us defend our skies and borders.

What will we do with more free time? …

Collaboration can help us as global citizens engage more in the exploration, discovery, governing, and opportunities to search for solutions to humanitarian and ethical challenges like our founding fathers envisioned….a civic-minded community. Collaboration combined with technological advancements will transform us from an information to a cognitive society.

However, we need to find collaboration and automation solutions that build security into our capabilities! Adoption is often slow because of a distrust in our technology to protect our personal privacy and our nation’s secrets.

This post is meant to make you think and ponder about where we are headed. What are the implications of the choices we’re making today? What do you think about how we are handling our advancements thus far?

Cheers

Posted in Children, Creativity, Relationships, Technology

Is media (cell phones, tablets, laptops, gaming) robbing you and your family of valuable time?

Surfing the Web
A Sketch I Drew of My Daughter.

If you’re a parent, perhaps you’ve struggled over the same issue.  Media and its domination over our attention during non-work time in our lives seems to grow daily.  You go out to a restaurant and find groups of twenty somethings all sitting around a table, physically present, but their minds are engaged in the firmware held in their hands, mentally distant!

Our son is fascinated with Minecraft, and our daughters enjoy keeping up with the latest music videos, Dr. Who, and other electronically facilitated entertainment.  I am enamored with social media (in all its forms), but my wife appreciates a living, breathing, conversant subject to interact with.  She, and many others complain about what our society (this generation) is coming to; worries about the quality of relationships, and ability to exercise human kindness and respect in this instant gratification “push button” world.

During my recent convalescence from ankle surgery, I had a lot of time to observe our family dynamics and watch the rhythms of our lives with some mental objectivity and decided to make a pie chart of the activities of each person in our household.  I came up with several categories of activities and set a value to each one to determine how big of a piece of the pie each one made up.

In spite of the fact that our family sits together to consume most meals, and we don’t have kids watching movies in moving vehicles, the “family” piece of pie still falls short when compared with academics, media, peers & play, life skills (chores), sleep/hygiene.  Family time means different things to different people.  Reading aloud, playing table games, taking a walk, camping, fishing, bike riding…these are all great family activities that don’t require a screen, keyboard or mouse!

So this week, in order to “set the example” I chose to do less time in social media and more time reading books that have been on my list.  I finished reading the following books:

* Crowdsourcing by Daren Brabham, where I learned his definition of crowdsourcing as “an online, distributed model that leverages the collective intelligence of online communities for specific purposes set forth by a crowdsourcing organization, corporation, government, or volunteer.”  Not to be confused with crowd funding and other crowd models of resource aggregation.  Its a quick read I highly recommend if you are interested in future methods of ways to handle global issues & problem solving.

* A Parchment of Leaves by Silas House, an author who does an incredible job of character development by painting a beautiful world with words.  I associate a talent of his literary skill with the movie motion picture effect of “slow motion.”  His introduction to specific moments make your mind play out the words on your mind’s screen just as if the video had been playing in slow motion!  I’m simply going to have to add the rest of his works to my reading list.

The observations I made about my own media/online habits helped me decide to start a reading journal.  This allows me to record the book title and author, as well as key takeaways, recommended books, and other ideas found in the pages of these authors.  It will also hold me accountable to choosing quality over quantity.  When I log onto my social media accounts, I find it easy to get sucked into a time warp where there’s lots of individual bursts of entertainment, insights, newsy bits…but, the book I really want to read won’t read itself.  The value of 100 tweets read doesn’t stack up to a work of studious effort of a passionate author about a particular topic or discovery.  So, while I still engage online, I also consider the value of my time and adjust appropriately to improve the quality of what I’m acquiring in my grey matter.

Last week I told my children (then tweeted), “We are all architects! #Architects of our wakeful time. How you use it determines what gets built! What art though building?”  So, I put this question to myself every day now.  It really helps me weigh the value of my options and make the best choice to achieve my goals.  Due to different choices I am making, I was also able to draw the picture illustration in this post!

Tomorrow, as a family, we will have a discussion about “family time” and how to ensure that appropriate time is invested in the face-to-face, non-electronically facilitated engagement & entertainment….a steady diet of learning about each other, supporting each other, preparing for our tomorrows by dreaming out loud today.

Thanks for reading and I do hope you contribute your comments and thoughts on this post.  Is media (cell phones, tablets, laptops, gaming) robbing you and your family of valuable time?

Posted in Relationships, SocialMedia, Technology, Wellness

Viewer Discretion is Advised

I received feedback from those on my Facebook page that the picture I’m including here should have come with a warning. So, if you’re eating something, you might want to wait to read this.

Back on January 10th, I slipped and fell on black ice in a parking lot at work. A couple hours later I was in the hospital getting x-rays due to the enormity of pain & swelling. Because initially, there was no indication of a break in the bones…I was released with pain meds, told to elevate & ice and I should recover in time.

A follow-up appointment in February yielded another x-ray due to continued pain & swelling. Finally, around April, due to no explanation for continued swelling I received a referral to a podiatrist! After examination, I was given an appointment to have an MRI. After a whole month, at last, I received authorization through the VA health care system for a surgical consult from downtown doctors.

This appointment with a foot/ankle specialist at Ortho West revealed that not only had my ligaments been ripped off my ankle back in January, but on that day I received a fracture to my Tibia, as well as a 3cm vertical tear in my right peroneal brevis tendon. Because the fracture was never diagnosed or treated (getting off of my foot long enough for the fracture to heal), scheduling myself for the tendon repair would give me the opportunity to kill two birds with one stone! So, finally, on 8 July I was scheduled for the procedure~a couple of hours and 16 staples later, I was on my way to begin recovery.   If you want to take a look at exactly what happened in my case…I’m pasting a url to a YouTube video of the procedure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DU7e669fZLA. If you have a weak stomach at all I don’t recommend you watch it.

Picture of the finished work on 8 Jul

Right Peroneal Brevis Tendon Repair!

What it looked like at home until 11 July!

Bandaged

Freed from the bandage 12 Jul

Reclining

Today, 15 July is the first full week post op!  I’m thankful to be home in my own environment, but this procedure took a lot more out of me than I ever could have predicted.  I’m thankful for a great family who has catered to every need…and to everyone out there on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ & LinkedIn who’ve sent messages and posts of encouragement and support!

OrthoWest, the Orthopedic specialists, and the Nebraska Orthopedic Hospital staff were fabulous.  I haven’t ever encountered a hospital workflow system that put people first like these two health care establishments do.  Their business processes, Information Technology and automation solutions were designed with the patient’s needs in mind.  If you need orthopedic consultation, I highly recommend this team of professionals!

I have spent my recovery time using distraction techniques like reading, being deeply engaged in social media, listening to my wife read to the family during lunch times, watching a few videos with the kids, listening to Pandora and sleeping!  I am so thankful for my family and the network of friends across the globe who’ve taken the time to inquire about my status and post notes of encouragement.  Many of these friends I’ve known for a couple of years now but have never met in person (thinking of a lot of #UsGuys pals).  This is just one example of how social media can be extremely helpful to the emotional well being of individuals.

Apologies if this post was a little disturbing (pictures/video) but when you have many people asking what happened…how’s it going…a blog is the best way to speak once~inform many!  I thank you for reading!  Hope you all are well and in great health!

Cheers

Posted in Children, Relationships

Children ~ Future Heirs of Imperfection

A black and white illustration of a mother and...
A black and white illustration of a mother and son reading a book on a chair. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Good Afternoon All,

A quick recap on life before I delve into the subject of my post.  Since my last post much has changed–as is inevitable in life.  Circumstances beyond our control mix  and mingle with those that we can exercise control over.  As one of those American‘s beginning furlough yesterday, I chose to spend it on the operating table & recovery.  Yes, finally, I was able to have the operation to repair my tendon which suffered a vertical tear on my right ankle back in January when I slipped on black ice.  One of my challenges is to determine what to do with my furlough days (one day off per week for the next 11 weeks!)  besides recovering.

Journaling, blogging, gardening and quilting are on the menu for my enjoyment/entertainment, as well as, as the subject infers spending more time with the family.  I’m writing this post today because of a great article I read from an individual I follow on LinkedIn named Michael Lazerow.  His post was titled “Entrepreneur’s Choice:  Is Your Kid Worth $100 Million?”

I found his article well thought out and extremely thorough in navigating through the thought world of priorities one faces as a parent.  The challenges he addresses are especially important for the entrepreneurial sort of parent(s).  If you are married and one of you has or is planning to operate your own business–be “the boss” then there’s a lot at steak and many choices to weigh.  Here’s an excerpt from his post:  “For me, at least, the hardest part of being a working parent is not the long road trips or long hours or frustrated clients. It’s the internal struggle I fight between two equal and opposing forces – the time I invest creating shareholder value and the time I invest building family values.”

Considering now the thoughts you might have about the circumstance/situation, what are “WE” doing about the circumstances, the questions, and what choices are we making to bring these thoughts into social debate; and useful assistance to those faced with the challenges?  Michael ends his post with the following:  “Ultimately, the best present you can give your kids is your presence. Your full and undivided presence. And, just like earning $100 million, that’s not always easy.  What decisions would you make differently if you truly valued your children more than $100 million?”

As believers in a faith, we “attend” church to congregate with others who practice their faith in similar ways to us.  As writers; we join reading a writing groups; as collectors, we join stamp clubs, auto clubs, quilting guilds, and others who share similar interests…..but where oh where is the group for Parents in our day-to-day rhythms?  Online seems to be the only place where this topic gets the attention it deserves, but its too often a one-to-one relationship (the individual reading the article or post–and the author)  Child Care facilities are hardly the place to meet the need, however, a modification to the model would be ideal if psychologists and other family care professionals were to facilitate.

For those that do work for others, parenting issues are water cooler and lunch room discussions if at all.  Besides your co-parent, who do you talk to, ask questions of, and share these experiences/challenges?  It can only be that much more of a challenge to those who are single parents.

This topic is what I believe a LOT of men could really use.  Parenting isn’t traditionally attributed positively in association with men…. unfortunately our society places topics/activities into gender categories.   A movie with a great plot, relationship intense dialogue, and focused on an individual struggling with a major life issue is put into the category of chic flick.   Ask a group of married men their druthers whether to spend a Friday or Saturday evening watching a chic flick or watching/attending a sporting event or online gaming…most will NOT choose the chic flick–especially if asked in front of a group of guys.

For years I have hoped for/wanted a men’s group that meets to help each other be better men, fathers, and husbands.  I have felt in order to even get attendance, it would have to be a covert operation whereby I started a monthly night our for guys with our home schooling or back in the day when our daughters were younger, at the Twins Club.  I’m going to give it a try with our current home schooling group when I’m back on my feet–but, I just wonder if anyone else out there sees the same thing that I do?  There is power in numbers!  Parents (both men & women) should be able to join a group “FOR PARENTS” without having to pay a “family counselor”…to discuss and share things that work, things that didn’t work so well, and just be able to provide general support for each other.    Most groups that exist are for individual aspects of parenting (La Leche League–for breastfeeding; special needs, troubled youth, etc.)  Support groups need to exist for those without a chronic medical or mental issue, where parents can encourage each other to make better choices!

My wife has done an excellent job as a home schooling mother at creating some family traditions.  Reading aloud to the children during meals has helped to distract the kids from normal “Mom, he’s looking at me!” spats that normally arise from close proximity.  It has worked well and she’s continued the habit–the twins are now almost 18 and our son will turn 14.  It has helped them develop a voracious appetite for reading on their own.  Each Thursday, the kids go to the library and check out new books–they get through and read almost everyone they check out!  They all enjoy the reading time!  So, being able to share something as simple as that little coping mechanism a mom has during lunch times adds to the quality time spent together and teaches many important lessons.

These are the types of exchanges and ideas that can be helpful to new or struggling parents.  Fitting time into life’s schedules to create new/better habits and develop deeper relationships with our children beyond the logistical or parallel entertainment (TV watching) is what parents crave/need.  You don’t know it until you experience a pocket of it here and there…but when you have those moments, its like a “I could’ve had a V-8!” moment.  But we must consciously chose  to reprioritize HOW we spend our time and then develop consistent habits.

Children need and find structure comforting, even if they don’t seem to be appreciative, boundaries are what gives children a sense of stability and trust for their environment and caretakers.  If we don’t provide it for them, they will seek it out, even if it comes with great risk.  I’m interested in hearing your thoughts about choices you’re making to improve your quality time with children/grand children; or even with establishing a group for the purpose of becoming a better parent.

The practices we put in place (or don’t), the traditions we build (or don’t), the value we create (or don’t), the choices we make (or don’t) all end up being the legacy we leave behind.  Whatever you do (or don’t) are behaviors your children witness and observe (learn) internally as a way to do life–most proudly pass on to their children these behaviors and choices (both good and bad). What example are you setting?  Whether you like it or not, parenting is teaching, and what is taught, is learned and carried on to the next generation!

Cheers All!  Again thanks to Michael Lazerow’s post about parenting to help trigger this post!

 

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