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Help Wanted

 

In my life I have had some great and some not so great role models. My first official mentor fired me. Her replacement taught me some very valuable lessons.

One of the ones that stuck with me the most took place while we were painting an office in the church’s new building. We had just finished rolling the first coat of paint when a guy popped in and said “You missed a spot!” Now, I think he was just trying to be funny but I will never forget what my mentor did. She handed him the roller and said, “Great! Take care of it.” Then she turned to me and said, “Ready for lunch?” We came back an hour later to find he had rolled the whole office with the second coat of paint. With a genuine smile she told him, “Thanks for seeing the spot and taking care of it. I really appreciate it.” And the thing is…she did.

As the next leg of my journey gets under way I am looking for the sage who will walk the road with me pointing out the spots I miss and maybe handing me a paint roller or taking me to lunch. Over the past 5 years I have met some incredible candidates and am excited about what mentoring will look like and bring about in the coming months.

Thanks, Sharon, for the painting lesson and so much more.

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Editor or Agent

I am amazed at the number of writers that have come into my circles over the past few years. Several are published book authors and many are honing their skills and finding their voices by putting out blogs on a semi-consistent basis.

Yesterday I spent some time working on a project of my own and wondering what I will eventually want to do with it. The most obvious path would be to try to get it published or maybe to go with my first publisher FastPencil and just get it out there. Then came the distracting decisions of format and distribution. Keep in mind I haven’t finished writing. Which brought me around to the next question.

As a writer, would I rather have a really honest editor or an aggressive agent? Or maybe an aggressive editor and an honest agent? Anyway…I only know one editor from a distance and no literary agents at all. I’m at the level where editors and agents are a faint distant vision who’s looming shadows are more of a distraction to actually writing than to getting anywhere with a finished book.

So my question to you is, where do you find yourself in your creative process? Are you ready to turn it over to someone for a serious shakedown? Are you ready to put it into the hands of someone who sees it as a product to market and you along with it? Are you still crafting away in stolen moments of creativity and inspiration snatched from the demands of everyday life?

If you were given the gift of a professional this Christmas, knowing this would impact next year in a major way, would you choose an Editor or an Agent? Would you want someone who helps you get better or get out there?

One way or another you are writing the story of your life. Make it a good one.

 

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Deviled Egg Dance

At 7:15 this morning I was informed that deviled eggs were expected at the Independent Study potluck today. I had exactly 2 eggs in the refrigerator and school started at 9.

A quick run to the store and dropping my favorite teen off with the promise I would be back at noon with said eggs freed me up to return to my quiet home and recharge my personal batteries.

I love homeschooling. I will miss it next year when she heads to high school and joins the main stream of her friends and public education. But right now, the two days a month she goes to class are my time to decompress. By nature I lean heavily toward the introvert end of the scale and time to myself is necessary for my heart and the well being of my family. And that brings us back around to the eggs.

As I was putting them in the water I notices a strange behavior taking place. When I put the first eggs in they were all laying on their side taking up the most space they possibly could. It didn’t change the amount of water they displaced but it did impact the surface area on the bottom of the pan. Being a round pan, the eggs quickly formed a natural circle following the outer limit of their new space but as more eggs were added they started standing up on end making room for more new comers until the outer circle was shell to shell. The inner circle followed the same pattern, shell to shell. And when those two circles were completely at capacity I noticed the egg in the very center had room to lay down.

Now when the  water started to move the eggs on the outer and inner rings were  held snuggly by each other’s close proximity but the egg in the middle began to dance a bit. It had some room to move with the water and, yes, even risk being cracked by bumping into the less mobile eggs.

So much to learn…yes, it’s good to make room for others in our lives but not at the cost of loosing our ability to move. I hope I am always willing to get up to make room for others but I also hope I always make sure there is room to move and breathe and dance and risk cracking my shell.

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Do You Hear What I Hear?

In an ever increasingly noisy world really listening is becoming a lost art.

I know you think you know what I said but

what you think you heard

may not actually be what I said.

When you add the complication of a technological advancement

to the transaction communication

can get even more garbled and impersonal.

Multitasking may seem like an efficient way to operate

but if your attention is divided

then the person trying to

give you information or extract information

from you is not getting your best.

This season of hustle and bustle and pressure and stress,

may I encourage you to really, really

listen.

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Office Party

 

There’s this crazy woman who works in my office. Every year about this time she starts talking about goals for next year and how fast this year flew by and how much stuff she still needs to get done before Christmas. 
 
It doesn’t help that she is highly creative and has so many good ideas. The truth is she drives everyone crazy right along with her, trying to do everything that comes to mind. Her voice wakes me up every morning already going on and on about what she wants “done by the end of the day”. Notice I did not say “by the end of business today”. With her there is no end of business today. 
 
I guess this would be the best time to admit I work in an office of one. It shares a wall with my bedroom and another wall with the bathroom. It’s conveniently located near the mailing room, the lunch room and the reception area. All of which demand attention throughout the day as the receiving department, accounting department, food services and hospitality are all run out of the same office. Transportation and scheduling trade time slots with education and mult-media. 
 
This year I have decided to throw an office party. Just have to see when it fits on the schedule. 
 
 
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Feed Back

Last night we took our daughter out for her birthday dinner. She chose Red Lobster because she loves the crab legs there. We had a great dinner and ended with a warm chocolate cookie sunday. 

 When our waitress presented the check she wanted to make sure we took the opportunity to go online and answer a brief survey about our dining experience. She said it helped her get shifts. She was a wonderful server and, other than bringing us iced tea by the gallons, our dinner was delightful.

As I was clearing receipts out of my wallet this morning I found the one for dinner and, thinking about helping her get more hours, I took the brief survey. In all honesty it’s taken me longer to upload the photo and write this far than it did to take the survey. But the term “feed back” stuck in my mind as I was answering the questions and so I wanted to take a minute to consider it. 

How often do we rely on the response of others to gauge our own performance or worth? How often do we give feed back that is really helpful or encouraging? 

At the end of each of my posts is a place for my readers to comment. In a very direct way it’s an opportunity for feed back. Does what I write make you think? or encourage you to take some action? or stop some action? Do you see, even for a moment, differently than you did before reading?

Some feed back is pretty immediate and painful. Ask any sound tech who’s had it happen on a Sunday morning at church and they will tell you feed back is not fun. Other feed back shows up on a ledger balance at the end of a month or quarter. You can tell if profits are up, if sales are growing, or if there need to be changes made. But other things…well, truth be told feed back is slow or just not coming at all. It’s easy to go online and tell a restaurant chain that Kathy at the Red Lobster on Almaden Expressway made our daughter’s 13th birthday dinner special but it takes real love and friendship to tell a friend the deeper things of heart and life. 

Hopefully this season of your life finds you with a good friend or two to celebrate growing together and maybe end it with a warm chocolate chip cookie.

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Reciprocity

I’m taking an online college Anthropology class and one of the main concepts being considered is the social structure of reciprocity. The text book describes three kinds, General, Balanced and Negative. All of the examples and information presented was about what might be considered primitive societies. But this morning I’m seeing just how much developed societies are dependent on these social constraints.

 

In other words…I’m working on my Christmas card list. I used to do my Christmas cards Labor Day weekend while watching the Jerry Lewis Telethon. For almost 30 years this was my personal tradition. I’d stay up late, watch the performers, learn about the advances in MDA research and address cards to those I wanted to reach out to in the coming months. I didn’t do my cards in September. Jerry Lewis was fired from the Telethon with no public explanation. I was set adrift with my box of cards and my address book.

The premise of General Reciprocity is that it will all even out in the end. Maybe the people I send cards to this year don’t send me one this year but people I didn’t send one to send me one unexpectedly. Kind of a general swirl of little envelopes moving around through interconnected circles spreading love and friendship via the US Postal service. 

Balanced Reciprocity would be a match up of those going out and those coming in. I’m on your list and you are on mine. This is fun. I know several people on my list who buy Christmas cards in bulk or just bought one box with my name on it and send me the same card every year!

Negative Reciprocity is just what it sounds like. The flow is pretty much one way. Some businesses have adopted this as a marketing strategy. So far I have received a dozen or so cards from companies I have done business with over the past year. No real relationship there just a point of sale. This gets denser when email cards are added to the mix. 

So, while I sit with my little box of simple cards with the preprinted names I examine my heart and wonder why I’m sending them. Is it so you will send one back and I will tape it to the inside of my front door and feel a sense of worth because of all the people who took the time to mail me a card? Is it because I feel like it is expected. After all I’ve done it all of my adult life. (Except last year when I misplaced the box of addressed cards on my desk and thought I had mailed them. Found them in the January cleaning.) Or is it because I want you to know, in a small tangible way that I am glad you are part of my life? 

We may not be Facebook friends and we may not follow each other on Twitter or any of the other social contact outlets. But if you read my blog and you have one too, I read what you post. It matters to me. And if you find a little white envelope in your mailbox over the next couple of weeks, it’s because you are on my list…my prayer list…my “because I care” list…my “come over for cake and coffee” list…my “I wish I saw you more often” list….

No R.S.V.P. necessary. My Christmas cards have nothing to do with reciprocity. They have everything to do with my heart.  And my heart’s desire for you is….

“May your gifts be those of

Peace and Happiness

Throughout the

Holidays and the New Year”

Now I’m going to refill my coffee cup and address some little white messengers of my heart.

P.S. If I don’t have your mailing address, expect a message from me.

 

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“Thank You for….”

 

That would be a really nice follow up from an event if I had actually attended or from a supplier if I had actually purchased anything. But when someone sends out a response and it doesn’t have an action to connect it to I’m left with the feeling that there really isn’t a connection there at all.

Next week there will be a lot of focus on saying “Thank you”. The generic emails have already begun to fill my inbox. And, while there is so much to be thankful for, the second part is really key. Who are you thanking? And for what?

At this time, I would like to tell you who and for what.

Thank you, Matt Vaughan, for supporting me in every way.

Thank you, Chuck Villard, for all the work you did to get this blog site up and running.

Thank you, John Bergquist,  for the encouragement and support.

Thank you, Lisa Tuttle, for the friendship and laughter.

Thank you, Jan Lewis, for your faithful insights and heart.

Thank you, Crystal Liles, for the incredible graphic art support on short notice.

Thank you, Jack Lynady, for the fresh insights.

When I sit down to write it’s because each of these people has encouraged me to share what’s on my heart and mind.

Who do you want to say “Thank you” to? Make it personal. Let those who matter know. Strengthen the connection.

“Whatever else anything is, it ought to begin by being personal.”

 

 

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What Did You Do Today?

 

This poem is from a scrapbook created during the 1940’s that I bought at an antique flea market when I was 13.

 

 

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Those Who Serve

My grandfather = Fay Vernon Liles, USA
My Father in Law = Truman Vaughan, USN
My Father = Lloyd Liles, USAF
My Uncle = Lawrence Swan, USAF
My Sister = Linda Humbert, USA
My Brother = Mike Liles, USMC
My Brother In Law = Tim Hicks, USA
My Brother In Law = Clay Vaughan, USA
My Son = Daniel Owens, USN

Freedom…Family…Future….

Veterans….

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