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Surrounded

Eyes_See_You_4_by_ScrapBeeI subscribe to a couple of hundred bloggers and email lists. I have filters set up so all incoming material goes automatically into files or folders or programs so I can read it or save it for later without having to sort through each of them every day. Since many of them only post or email a couple of times a month it’s not as overwhelming as it might sound.

One that comes every morning I look forward to. It’s thought provoking and encouraging. Most days I read it and just keep going. This morning was different. This morning it stopped me in my tracks and I had to take action.

It wasn’t on gratitude, although, I became more grateful by the moment.

It wasn’t on hope, although, hope flared up like a bonfire with kerosene.

It wasn’t on planning, although, my projects and plans came into focus with a ferocity.

It wasn’t on friendship, although, everywhere I looked I now saw the love and hearts of precious people.

It wasn’t on success or business or prosperity, although, it showed me how much I already have of all three.

It asked me to make a list. And I did.

I haven’t finished it yet, probably never will get it all written out, but I have a deeper awareness of where I want to go, who I want to be and how I want my life to unfold from here.

 

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Smarter Than You

connet 4When my son was very young I would tell him something and he would ask me how I knew that. I would reply “Because I’m smarter than you”. It was a quick way to end the questions and move on. One day a woman I respect asked me how I knew something and “Because I’m smarter than you” almost slipped out before I could catch it. “Because I’m….doing some reading on it lately.” My habit was broken immediately.

Do you have pat answers or phrases?
Is something you think cleaver actually abrupt or even rude?
Do you assume someone is looking for you when they enter a room?
Do you have the answers before the questions are asked?

Are you flippantly telling everyone you are smarter than they are?

If you are, I hope you catch yourself before you pop off to the wrong person.
Learn and grow.
Don’t shut people down or out.

Because, everyone, in one way or another is smarter than you. And, in some way you are smarter than me.

 

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Who?

WhoIs there a room in your home that needs a deep cleaning?
Is there a skill on your resume that needs sharpening?
Is there a relationships on your heart that needs healing?

Who do you think is going to do it if you don’t?

If not by working at it, how?
If not now, when?
If not you, who?

The only answer I have is to “Why?”.

Because you are worth it.

 

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Missing One Ingredient

IngredientsYou’ve been there before. Standing in front of the refrigerator or pantry shelves, trying to decide what to make for dinner or just looking for that something that will tide you over until your next meal. Running your eyes over the possibilities each time you come up one ingredient short.

You could have cereal but you’re out of milk.
You could make a cake but you’re out of eggs.
You could make a sandwich but you’re out of mayo.

Maybe it’s not your frig but your art. A missing supply, the right paper or pens, the right tool or paint.
Maybe it the vehicle in your drive way that you have torn apart only to discover you need that one more part from the auto supply store. 

Whatever is missing means the whole thing either doesn’t happen or has to wait until the trip to the store is made, the price for the missing ingredient is paid and the process picks up where it left off. Without the missing ingredient there is delay or, worse, there is nothing.

But maybe, just maybe, the missing ingredient is you.
Maybe the phone call or card in the mail,
Maybe the encouraging words or the time to listen attentively,
Maybe the power of doing what you said you were going to do,
Maybe the one thing missing is you.

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Hot Stuff

TEXAS WEATHERFor the past two years my favorite teenager has been part of the marching band at her high school. Last year near the end of the season I picked her up from a Saturday practice for the lunch break. She had just an hour before she had to be back on the field for the afternoon session. The gallon water thermos she, and most of the band members, carried filled with ice and water from home had been consumed during the morning practice. I realized that if my student was out of ice the rest of the marching band probably was too. It was easy enough to pick up 40 lbs of ice at the grocery store close to the school on our way back. It only took a few minutes to refill water jugs with ice and the chorus of “Thank you”s was enough to make all their parents proud.

Marching Band Camp is notorious for being the hottest days of the summer and this year has been no exception. My mini van recorded the temp on Wednesday as 98 in the shade! These young men and women are in the full sun on an astro turf surface from 9am-noon. When they leave the field for the lunch break I have been waiting: me and 2 rolling ice chests with 80 lbs of ice.

Today as a group of young men were walking away after filling up with ice, I overheard one ask the other “why didn’t we do this before?” The simple answer is because I didn’t think of it before. I knew they were working hard and that it was hot. I knew I was filling my daughter’s water jug with ice in the morning. But it took me a full season and almost half the second one to realize they all needed a chance to refill.

I wonder how many other little things, that could make a huge difference, are not done just because they haven’t been thought of yet.

I wonder what little things we are already doing that just need to be expanded in volume or scope.

I wonder how much the next generation could be encouraged when they are working hard in the heat of the day, pushing themselves to be better and stronger and part of something bigger than themselves.

I wonder what would happen if more people showed up with a bag of ice…or a cup of cold water…or an encouraging word. 

Who needs you to show up with a bag of ice?

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Tis A Puzzlement

PuzzleDid the pieces of your puzzle fit nicely today?
Did you try to force a piece or two thinking you could make them fit?
Are you still sorting through them looking for the corner and edge piece?
Have you even taken the pieces out of the box yet?

You won’t know what the picture truly looks like until every piece is in the proper place.

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Green Eggs and Ham

green eggsIf you are at all familiar with children’s literature, there is a good chance you know Sam I Am. Persistent and polite at the same time, he thought outside the box not once but dozens of times in an effort to share what he already knew was good. You also know his very stubborn friend refused each and every offer only to finally give in and discover for himself he too liked green eggs and ham.

I ask a lot of questions. And I have a lot of suggestions. I am good at thinking outside the box. I can give you a hundred things we could do with that box if you insist it be part of the solution but I’m just as happy to send the box out to the curb for recycling. What I am not good at is satisfying people who simply refuse to try or ask or look or think. Those people cannot be helped. Well, maybe they can but it probably won’t be by me.

If you are hungry, taste the green eggs and ham.
If you need help, ask.
If you don’t understand, say so.
If I can help, let me know.

But if you ask for help, accept it.
If you don’t understand, be willing to make the effort to learn.
If I can help, tell me what you want and I’ll see if I can help you out of your box.

But if you stand there with your nose in the air, there is nothing I can do. I’m having breakfast with Sam.

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I Don’t Know You

47c493569655e723d686268cfe02d530You are not the same person you were when we first met.

You are not the same person you were last time we were together. Neither am I.

You have had adventures and joys and sorrows and failures and successes that I was not part of or witness to. And you missed mine.

You have changed. And so have I.

You are older and wiser and smarter and deeper than ever. I am, too.

You are stronger in some ways and weaker in others. Hard to admit but so true for me as well.

There is something different in the way you walk, the way you choose your words, the way you let me close or don’t.

I am sorry for the times I rushed through our re-connection assuming I knew you and where you were in your journey.

I am sorry for the times I did not see how much you have grown.

I am sorry for the times I presumed to know what and how you think.

I only ask for more opportunities to get to know you again.

And to offer you the opportunity to get to know me.

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Monday Madness

I don’t like to be pushed. Unless you are a child in a swing, I can’t imagine anyone really likes someone bigger and stronger to put their effort into a good shove. I especially don’t like to be pushed for expressing my opinion or staying in my own lane.

opinion

One of the ever expanding opportunities to express opinion is writing reviews. The earliest reviews I am familiar with are the ones from old movies of actors waiting around in smoke filled restaurants waiting for the early morning papers to be delivered; the over dramatic actor who doesn’t want to know, but allows it to be read to him as he strikes a pose, bracing to hear the scathing words of the New York Times theater critic or the young understudy who’s whole future hangs in the balance while the Star crumples to the floor. The success or failure of the show depends on the one or two critics writing a favorable review. 

Today reviews are attached to everything. Movies and theater are a natural. Books and music come with both fan and professional evaluations. Amazon lets customers review every product they sell. Toilet paper? Yes. Bird seed? Yes. High price electronics? Yes. Now everyone with access to the internet is a reviewer. Content has been replace with Feedback as king. Free books are available if you will just read it and post a review. Fandango emails right after your movie is over to see how you liked the show!

With all these free flowing opinions two problems have emerged. The first is not all experiences are positive therefore not all reviews will be glowing endorsements. The second is that people are relying more on the experience and opinions of others instead of forming their own.

It is the first that has me writing this afternoon. Over the past month I have had extended contact with two major communication empires and one little family restaurant. All three have lost sight of customer service let alone customer satisfaction. When discussions have turned to other’s experience with the first two there is great sympathy and heads nodding in understanding at the frustration and seemingly endless process. The little restaurant, in entering the world of social media, did not have a clear understanding of how quickly they can escalate a non-issue into a very negative one.

Which leads into the second problem. Because a neutral review upset the owner of the little restaurant, a small place in an unremarkable strip mall is being discussed by people from a dozen states. My audience may not be vast but it is loyal and knowledgeable. Locals who may have never heard of it now know that the owner’s response was to tell me I was violating his intellectual property by posting a bland review on his page, that I was creating a negative vibe on the page and that I was bringing the whole thing down.

This was not a positive way to influence my opinion. It had exactly the opposite effect. A mild pass that I had forgotten about entirely was now front and center. My opinion was not only being challenged but my right to express it was being denied. I did not go out of my way to post a negative review. I had simply used the review tool on the page to leave my experience. The review stands. It has been edited to include the request of the owner.

I have declined to write reviews for books that have been provided to me free for marketing purposes. I couldn’t in good faith endorse or recommend anyone else spend time reading the material submitted. I do write rave reviews for books and anything else I enjoy and put my endorsement behind.

My opinion is just that. Mine and opinion. If someone wants my opinion to change badly enough, they will be much more successful if they understand what formed the opinion in the first place and change that first. The opinion will follow. 

The great news is you are just as free to form and have your own.

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Early Adopter

cell-phone-evolutionDid you have a cell phone that looked like a putty colored brick?
Did you have a projection tv?
Did your blog start on Blogger?
For a long time were you the only one you knew using a Mac?

If you were, you may be an Early Adopter. EAs are the ones who stand in line for the latest and greatest, plunk down a serious chuck of hard earned cash and wade through the challenges of technology that is still in the formative stages.  They are also the ones who pave the way for availability to go up and price to come down. They are the ones taking the risks and doing the heavy lifting for consumers to follow.

Because of my husband’s job in tech we are not only EAs but our home is often the site of field testing for pre-production items. While I loved the compact size of a laptop that fit in my purse in 2005 it’s proclivity to revert to Japanese while I was typing in English was more than a little frustrating.

Being ahead can be a lonely place. Finding someone to talk to about your experience is challenging. Waiting for other’s to catch up so you can connect is tiresome. But the alternative is moving with the herd. Plodding along at the same pace, doing what everyone else is doing because it’s what everyone else is doing. There is an illusion of safety in numbers. Class action law suits are more successful than individuals who go up against a major corporation or an industry giant.

What is it that draws us to the edge? The edge of technology or the edge of our experience or the edge of greatness? What makes us break out from the lock step of the crowd and do the cha cha? What makes us run ahead down the path with a machete swinging wildly yelling over our shoulder to those who will eventually find the trail?

I honestly don’t know. But my machete is sharp and I plan to keep whacking away.

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