A Month of Thanksgiving – Clueless in the Best Way

22 11 2017

Here we are, the day before Thanksgiving and it’s the fourth of my five Wednesdays of Thanks in 2017.

Damn, sometimes it’s hard to feel thankful when the news seems to be filled with story after story of people doing terrible things.  It’s especially hard when the people who are being accused are familiar to us as public personalities that we (thought we) liked, trusted, appreciated for their talent, or otherwise held in some degree of esteem.

Yep, hard to find something to be thankful for, but it is not impossible!

This week, I am thankful for “I can’t imagine . . .”

As many women (truthfully all the women) I know can tell you, every one of them has, to one degree or another, experienced unwanted attention from a man. Almost all of us have been insulted by some drunk in a nightclub after we’ve declined an advance, been talked over in a meeting, had to contend with an overzealous date, or worse.  That does not make us man-haters, victims, or crybabies. It makes us aware.

I am thankful that the men in my family and my male friends just don’t get it. I’m not saying that they doubt the reported instances of horrid behavior by men in power. What I mean is that it is just beyond their comprehension that any man would ever think that it would be a good idea to do such a thing!

W

T

F

Just as I can’t understand what would make someone hurt animals or other people – because that would require that my mind work like someone’s whose is clearly malfunctioning on an intensely dangerous level – it makes me happy to know that the man I married, the men who are my brothers-in-law, my nephews, and my friends do not have it in their brains to contemplate committing an act of sexual harassment. This kind of ignorance truly is bliss.

In the face of ugly evidence of uncivilized cruelty in our society, I am grateful for the everyday, unfailing, bright and constant evidence of kindness and respect within my family.  May we all know such good people. May we all be such good people.  Thank you for your goodness.

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A Month of Thanksgiving – Reveling in Wrinkles

15 11 2017

Welcome to the third installment in my Third Annual Thankful November. Two weeks ago, I mentioned my wrinkles. Today, I’m going to explain why I am thankful for every one of them.

I am thankful to be old.

Sure, I miss a lot about being young, mostly:

The way my body worked – without complaint.
The way my body looked – smooth and unblemished.
The way my body felt – strong – and not at risk from drooping out of my undergarments.

Aging means giving up all that, but I have learned that, by trading the sports car corpus for a more roomy ride, I am – even with a few aches and pains – ever so much more comfortable in my (saggy) skin.

Life is just simpler now. Decisions are reduced to a few easy criteria:

Does it sound like fun?

Will it hurt me?

Will it harm someone else?

(Yep, those last two are the guardians of “Just Be Nice!”)

It is beyond wonderful to have finally dropped that cumbersome weight called peer pressure . . . now, if only I could drop the actual weight I gained along with all this sagacity . . .

Be thankful for having choices.

Be thankful for working out what’s really important about the choices you make.

Be thankful that that you have important people and things to consider in your choices.

I’m thankful every time you visit me here.





A Month of Thanksgiving – Resolve to be Thankful

8 11 2017

Today, a friend lost her husband to the serial killer that is cancer. I want to tell her to be grateful for the numbness she is surely feeling at this moment – the continuation of that feeling of non-reality that sets in when you realize that your beloved will not leave the hospital with you.

I know that feeling. I remember, too well, those last merciless days before Hodgkin’s lymphoma took my daughter from me some seven years ago.

I also know what is to come.

My heart aches for my friend. I know the road forward for her – and there must be no mistake – she MUST proceed forward – is filled with pits and obstacles and things that bludgeon and bite.  I also know that, after she has stumbled, groped, crawled, and wallowed her way along the path for what will seem like forever, the way will become less perilous. Her footing will be surer. She will, to her surprise one day, realize that she is again seeing beauty around her. She (as do I) will still occasionally go sprawling on her face into the darkness of grief, but she will know that she can and must right herself and go on. It is the only way to respect and remember the precious ones lost; to quit would be to dishonor all they saw and loved in us.

Today, I am thankful for resolution. Don’t dare call it closure, because that is not at all what happens when you lose the most precious thing in your life. Resolution, to me, does not mean “getting over it” or “moving on” – it means having made an affirmative decision and commitment to continue to live, not in spite of loss, but because of love.

I wish you all more love. Peace.

 





A Month of Thanksgiving – Nostalgic November

1 11 2017

This marks my third annual series of thankful November posts, so this time, I thought I’d add a little wrinkle (who am I kidding – have you seen my wrinkles!) and express my gratitude for things that served important roles in my life, but are not physically present in it, now.  That means you may, when you see the word “thankful,” read the word “nostalgic.” You’ve been warned.

Starting boldly! I am thankful for the memory of pre-reality-show, three-network, sign-off-the-air-from midnight-until-morning, broadcast television.

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely LOVE my million-channel, always-on, superb quality modern television. It’s wonderful, but there are costs . . .

I am thankful that I grew up watching television people who were so obviously not real that they would never threaten my sense of self-worth; I knew nobody could expect to make a casserole by wiggling her nose or stop a nuclear meltdown with a paper clip, some gauze, and a used toothpick.

I am thankful for the downtime created by summers filled with reruns, so we would fill our free time with something other than burning pixel-shaped holes in our retinas.

I am thankful for Huntley and Brinkley and Cronkite, whom I soundly ignored in my youth, but who enabled me to ignore them because none of them were shouting into the abyss, frothing at the mouth, or acting anything short of 100% sane.

I am thankful for those shared-by-the-masses moments that were the Beatles on Ed Sullivan, the moon landing, and the funeral of JFK.  Even as we all sat in our own living rooms, separated into suburban households, with only family around us, we experienced these moments as a country, as Americans.

I am thankful that I grew up with that kind of TV experience. I am very thankful that I now can choose from an embarrassingly large array of content virtually on my command.  Yes, that means certain rich brats and extreme fishin’ dudes are now major celebrities, but it’s a fair trade for all the finely crafted, well-acted dramas; biting and smart satire; and sports to give me aerobic exercise (yelling at the screen is aerobic exercise, right?) that I so enjoy.

As ever, I am thankful for your time, Dear Reader.

Now, let’s all be thankful that we get to watch the seventh game of the World Series!





Heart-Headed

25 10 2017

Did you ever read some little something that made you nod in agreement, only to find yourself feeling a little bit ill-at-ease about it in the next moment?  Happened to me this morning.

This quote appeared in my morning reading:

Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go ~ Jamie Anderson

At first, I thought, “Yep, that’s it, exactly!”

Almost as quickly as I read and responded favorably in my head, my heart cried out, “What is WRONG with you???”

Well, let me tell you, I was taken aback.  I am one who usually relies on the voices in my head, not my heart, but she was insistent. She was also right.

This quote, attributed to Jamie Anderson (there are many folks with that name, so I was not able to verify), is only partly correct.

Grief is not love with no place to go; grief is love pining to be shared.

When I fall into the darkness of missing my beautiful daughter – when my heart aches and my throat constricts and I feel the despair about to splash down my cheeks – I remind myself that the love I can no longer give to her is perfectly useful to give to others, so I do.  Whether it’s extra treats for our diva guinea pig, paying someone a sincere compliment, or laughing with my sister, I release some of that love and I feel better.

Grief remains a part of life for anyone who has lost someone they love.  Love is like that, too – there’s no expiration date. It never gets too old to be given as the valuable gift it is.  I think that when we hold in our grief, it’s like holding our breath – it hurts, but we have the power to relieve it.

Every day, I take a deep breath, remember all the joys of my life, and open my heart to release that painful pressure of all that “unspent” love. It is not always easy, but it is always right.

Peace to every grieving heart. Open yours. You’ll feel better. I know I do.

 

 

 





Follow the Leader – or Be One

18 10 2017

My dad, who was born in 1918, was an eighth-grade dropout. He served in the Philippines in WWII and laughed until the day he died about being discharged still carrying the rank of private because he regularly and unequivocally refused promotions in the field . . .

Ne’er-do-well.

1945

The man I knew  was kind, smart, and funny, and determined to provide for my mom and my sister and brother and me.  When the eighth-grade dropout retired, he was the executive vice president for manufacturing for a major company – not bad for a guy the US Army told had no ambition or leadership qualities.

1960s. Second from left – the handsome one!

At Dad’s retirement party, some of the folks from his division who were on the farthest rung down the corporate ladder from Mr. Krauss, shared a story about how he’d saved their jobs – saved their lives, they said. 

Their plant was underperforming and corporate was keen to cut their losses and shutter it. For two weeks, Dad got up at 3 a.m. every day, drove70 miles to that underperforming factory, and worked on the production line to figure out why those people were in such trouble. He did not sit at his comfortable desk in his nice office and dictate a letter to the plant superintendent.  He did not allow the board to rely on down-trending statistics, unexamined. He went there, rolled up his sleeves, and worked right beside those folks to find and fix what was ailing them and their workplace. He listened. He coached. He turned them around.  He saved the day!

Years later, I wondered aloud to my own boss about a problem with a division in our company. I told him the story of my dad and the factory and asked, “Why doesn’t VP Nincompoop (not his real name, but an accurate one) help his understaffed department clear their backlog until the market levels?  Without hesitation, my boss summed it up perfectly:

What your father did was Leadership; Nimcompoop’s in Management.

These days, I’ve been feeling a little worn out. It finally dawned on me that it’s because there seems to be plenty of management in the world, but precious little real leadership.  What can I do to try to fix that?  I can follow my dad’s example. Identify a problem and actively help make it better – even if it is just a little thing – every day.

Lead by example  .  .  .   and the first person who needs that example is looking at me from the mirror.

Lace up those wingtips and be somebody – somebody generous. 





Here Comes the Judge!

11 10 2017

NOTE: I live in the greater Harrisburg PA area, where there is currently an unnatural orange disturbance in the atmosphere. In an effort to avoid expressing my (extremely unfavorable) judgment of said disturbance, I’ve chosen to offer you this positive discussion of judging.

In two days, I will lead a team of six jurors who will review the work of a hundred-forty-or-so juried exhibiting artisans at the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen’s Fall Fine Craft Fair.

Judging others is often thought of as a negative activity. I’d like to tell you why this is different.

As the standards vice president for the Pennsylvania Guild of Craftsmen, it’s my responsibility to help our members grow in their craft, raise the level of appreciation for fine craft in our community, and reward excellence.  One way to accomplish those goals is to judge (review against established benchmarks) artisans’ works.

We all wonder about people who judge others; what makes them (think they’re) qualified to do such a thing? I don’t know the answer in other cases, but I can tell you about this one. The folks who have agreed to help me do this are all masters of their media, all believe in helping others, and all brave enough to be fair and honest in their appraisals. We take the job – but not ourselves – seriously.

After we have spent hours on Friday reviewing the beautiful exhibits that will fill Rittenhouse Square, the floor jury will discuss our observations and then, we’ll notify three exhibitors that they have won Benchmark Awards and present them with ribbons and checks – Floor Jury becomes Prize Patrol – as we did in July:  

Maureen Kamerick – Excellence in Craftsmanship at the Summer Fine Craft Fair 2017, with show manager Carol Heisler and Yours Truly.

Martin Moon – Unique Voice at Summer Fine Craft Fair 2017 with show manage Carol Heisler and that blog woman.

David Russell – Resolved Design, Summer Fine Craft Fair 2017 with show manager Carol Heisler and me.

Judging others can be a negative experience for both the one being judged and the one doing the judging, but it does not have to be.  It’s the goal that makes the difference. Our goal on Friday will be to recognize and celebrate the best of the best.  On other days, we’ll judge to achieve other good goals, including encouraging continued growth, helping course correct, and supporting new efforts.

Oyez!  Oyez! 

Oh, Yes!  Oh, Yes!