Category Archives: Attitude

Struggles and Triumphs

A son was born. Freshly arriving in this new world of ours. Eyes bright and in wonder of everything he saw. His mother held him close to her chest, beaming with pride at the incredible miracle she held. Young parents, inexperienced in the ways of these kinds of miracles, were happily concerned with the welfare and safety of this frail little human.

A little more than a year later, a second child was born to this couple. Again, seem as a blessing and gift, but it was a challenge to keep up with these two small boys.  As both boys grew, it seemed that the second son was progressing more quickly than the first. This observation and later concern was borne to be true. The oldest son was diagnosed with a developmental delay, learning disability and a turned leg that mildly affected his walking. This was not good news. What did it all mean? How would they cope? What did it mean for their son? What would his future be like? And where would they turn for help.

The parents found help through a local organization called the Happiness House. The staff at the Happiness House assured the parents and helped them with the necessary paperwork to petition family court to provide the necessary services for their son.

Later their son was diagnosed with ADD, OCD and suffered tics under the tourette’s umbrella. Braces were fashioned for his leg to straighten out his walk. Again the questions peppered the minds of the parents. Physical and occupational therapists, speech pathologists and other professionals worked with their son.

When this young boy was old enough to enter the educational system, he received a new team of professionals. He had difficulty learning school basics. But with steadfast persistence by his team, patience by his parents and, at times begrudging cooperation by the young man, he did learn.

‘Leo the Late Bloomer’ by Robert Kraus was a favorite book used by his teachers. The book carried a powerful message of hope. This young man continued to struggle all through school. Eventually the most visible tics subsided. He had learned to read and write. He enjoyed video games, riding bikes and taking walks.

Unfortunately, before he graduated from high school, his mother decided that she needed a different life away from her family. This was an incredibly difficult adjustment for the boys and their father. But with patience and courage, they moved on.

His high school counselor helped his parents find continuing services after school. New York’s VESID (Vocational and Educational Services for Individuals with Disabilities) provided referrals to the ARC of Ontario County. Their services placed him in a work program where he earned some money, learned to socialize with co-workers, and helped to develop his self-esteem. He blossomed there.

Along with his experiences in working, he wished to extend his life adventure by learning how to drive. After several years with a learning permit, he finally received his license. He continues to explore his growing independence.

It had been incredible to watch this young man push against these difficulties. Even though these conditions still exist, he still pushes gently against them. I am very proud of him. I am not sure of all the potential within this young man. But I hope that he knows that I will be in his life as long as I can to witness his further victories. This young man is my son, Brandon.

Brandon, if you are reading this, do not be angry about the challenges you face. Be proud of yourself, like I am proud of you, for all that you have accomplished. You are an incredible young man.

It’s Always Been That Way

As humans, we usually look for patterns. Even if we go out and look for the exotic, we still find comfort in the routine. We feel comfortable in knowing that things will be as we expect them to be. Life is challenging and ever changing. Events and relationships have a way of upsetting our comfortable setting.

Many times at work, I question why we do things a certain way. The answer I usually receive is that it is just the way it’s always been done. I might even hear, it works, so don’t change it. I like to try to streamline reporting and tasks to make it easier for everyone involved. It usually works, but sometimes what is easier for me, isn’t necessarily easier for someone else. What I change might make someone else very uncomfortable. I am sure that you have had this happen to  you as well. What makes perfect sense to me might befuddle someone else and vice versa.

This can happen in relationships too. We rely on our experiences from our childhood. Our family worked in a particular way, whether we liked it or not, that is the way it was. Sometimes we don’t think it could be different because it’s always been that way.

In a family relationship, especially in a blended family, bringing all these expectations and traditions together can result in a confusing mix of priorities. What is very important to one person may not be important at all to another. It isn’t right or wrong, it is just different. We bring with us our own understanding of what is normal and natural and how it should be done.

What might be very important to one might make another downright uncomfortable. Usually out of love, we genuinely try to respect and honor the differences. But it is difficult to always be mindful of what is important to someone else when it might not hold such gravity with us. It is part of being selfless, but our minds and bodies will remind us of our own needs.

I think the difference between work and home is that we expect work to dictate our actions and activities even when they don’t necessarily make sense to us. We usually do not practice that same flexibility at home, which is both good and bad. It is good that I can be myself at home but sometimes being myself might irritate others, just as they might irritate me. Any time you bring two or more people together for any reason; there is a possibility of conflict. It takes concerted effort to agree to goals and actions and move forward. It’s always been that way.

So we need to be mindful that everyone comes from their own series of experiences that colors their behavior and beliefs. In a work environment, it is to recognize the talents and strengths of those around us. We need to offer our own strengths and talents to lead to success.  In our family relationships we need to recognize that each of us have traditions ingrained in us by our childhood. It is up to us to decide which traditions to keep, which to discard, and which to meld into the tradition of others. In a sense, we need to make new traditions that not only work for us but for those around us.

Change is tough. Challenges are real. Opportunities to be better exist. It requires us to be mindful. It requires us to be present. But then again, it’s always been that way.

I am not worthy

Even though I am not worthy, God still loves me. These words continually bring me great comfort. I am not perfect and won’t be. It is not in my nature to be perfect. Now knowing this does not give me an excuse to be unloving to people. It is still my responsibility to always try to do what is good and loving.

For several years, I had a young man work for me that was often disappointed in himself because he wasn’t doing everything perfectly.  I appreciated his efforts and stressed to him over a long period of time that what I wanted was his best.  I believe that when he was extremely overwhelmed, he finally figured it out. He could not always be perfect at everything he did. I am not sure where he learned this insecurity because I never explored that with him.

We tend to beat ourselves up when things don’t go as well as planned. Maybe we made mistakes or didn’t try hard enough. But it is up to us to examine the events and learn from them. Then again, it could be that we just might not be capable or talented for that particular task. I will never be a Russian ballerina. I am not Russian nor am I female and I am not particularly graceful. So I don’t beat myself up for not being a Russian ballerina. I know that is extreme, but the point is, there are just some things that others are better at.

I am not worthy but I try my best. I know that God is patient. I look at the men and women that God used throughout the Bible. These were not the top of the class, spotlight of the world people. They were everyday people. They often balked at the mission God gave them, giving God reasons why they were not worthy of such an assignment.

It didn’t seem to matter to God. He basically communicated that He knew they were not worthy but He would give them the strength and tools to get it done. I am not worthy but God has shown over and over again that He works through people. People, just like you and me.

I am glad that I do not have to be perfect to be loved by God or anyone else. If we had to be perfect, none of us would be loved. So, it comforts me to know that even though I am not worthy, God still loves me. He expects me to be human, which is a good thing, because that is what and where I am.

So don’t expect perfection from yourself or others. Try to be the best you can be knowing that you can never be perfect. Know that even though you can never be perfect, that God’s grace and mercy are already waiting for you.

Do it for Love

We usually don’t stop to analyze why we do the things we do, especially for other people. Too often, we do things out of fear. We do things because we are afraid that someone might be upset or that they might be angry if we didn’t.

In our personal lives, we did things when we were young because we knew that if we didn’t our parents would be upset. So, if we did not want to get in trouble and be yelled at, we made sure it was done. Then there were times that we did something, like make a card, out of love. Remember how that felt? There was no anxiety, just joy and the hope that the person receiving the card would be filled with joy as well.

Even when we grow up, we continue to do things out of fear. We do things at work that we might not appreciate because if we didn’t, it might cost us a raise or even our job. We do things at home because we don’t want to hear our partner complain about it not being done. And we might behave a certain way because we are afraid that God will punish us.

It is so much better to do things out of love. The fear part comes out of expectations of how others might react, especially if they have demonstrated that behavior previously. We might have learned that connection. I very much prefer to do things out of love. I want to do things that make someone happy. That takes a mind change. I have to think to myself, “I am doing this because it makes her happy” instead of “If I don’t do it this way, she is going to be upset and I’ll have to hear about it.”  The former is much better for my soul, but sometimes the latter sneaks in there. Besides, are we really doing our best, if we work from a place of fear? Our hearts and minds are more invested when we work from a place of love. Doing things out of fear just makes everything more difficult.

Even at work, a mindset change is essential. Think ‘I need to do this for the customer. The customer deserves the best.’  Instead of ‘If I don’t do this, my boss is going to yell at me and I might lose my job.’

And most importantly, many people are raised to ‘fear’ God. They are afraid that God will punish them if they do not behave in a certain way. We were not meant to fear God in a way that makes us afraid, but in a way that we revere and find God to be awesome. Thus we should behave to please God just as we would want to please our parent by making them a card, not because we are afraid.

Fear is a big part of our human life. It is the dealing with our fears and overcoming our fears that lead to confidence, self-reliance, and ultimately peace within ourselves. May peace be with you always.

What color is your world?

When I was young, my Uncle Harry (after whom I am named) came to live with us because he had lost his greenhouse nursery business. He stayed with us quite a while and as a gift for our family’s kindness, he left behind a black and white television set. It was the first television we had.

Black and white television depended on shades of gray to create contrast. We fooled ourselves into believing that we could tell the colors that should have been there by the particular shade of gray. Whether or not we guessed the color correctly didn’t really matter, as we painted the grayscale picture in our mind.

Like today, there was an annual showing of the Wizard of Oz. I did not know until years later that the dream sequence of the film was in color. That Zenith TV my uncle left us lasted a very long time.

There are some people who live in black and white only, others in grayscale and still others in technicolor. Of course, all of us have episodes of all three. Those that live in strictly black and white have a very hardened set of rules which establish right from wrong. Basically, anything that isn’t right must be wrong. That’s it – no argument. They write the script for the rest of the world to follow and become upset if they don’t, despite the fact that the rest of the world had no opportunity or desire to follow their script in the first place. So, they spend much of their time being consumed by the world’s inconsideration of their beliefs.

There are others that live in grayscale. They have a defined concept of right and wrong but know that there are motives, reasons and situations that create circumstances that dilute the rigidness of those concepts, hoping that grace will provide trails to the right path. The gray in their lives comes from wishing for better and playing the ‘if only’ game. I would be happy, if only I were married. I would be happy, if only I got a raise. I would be happy, if only I had another job. I would be happy, if only I had lots of money. Instead of looking at what they already have and the relationships around them, they always see what they are doing without or things they don’t or cannot have. They miss out on the joys of life.

Then there are those that live in technicolor. They know that the world is full of wonder and mystery. They want to see the colors of the orient. They want to hear the music of the African plains. They want to feel the tropical breezes. Creation is alive and vibrant, pulsing with color: to be experienced by all of our senses. They have defined concepts of right and wrong but understand that many cultures exist. That backgrounds and experiences shape the lives of each one of us – that grace belongs to all of us; that love and God are not limited; and beyond our full comprehension. They understand that two people can listen to the same music and be moved differently. They accept the diversity as the wonderful mystery of God and creation.

Now everyone has episodes of all three of these examples. Like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, her dream world was vibrant, beautiful, and at times a little scary. As exciting as it was, she was still tied to a place called home. Her relationships were important. She had tasted the Technicolor life, and it is my hope it remained an important part of her psyche.

I try very much to live a technicolor life, but I admit, I sometimes fall into the grayscale (probably more than I would like to admit). Each morning, when I wake up on the right side of the grass, I am thankful and blessed – anything beyond that is a gift. I wish to continue to see all these little gifts as blessings, trials as lessons that give me insight and strength, and relationships that promote love and understanding. My world is full of color and you shine brightly. You can be a gift to the world no matter how you see it through your own eyes. The reality might be gray, but that does not mean you can’t live a technicolor life.

Take care, be well, and be blessed.

You mean … me?

   About 7 or 8 weeks ago, I came down with the flu which, after 3 weeks, morphed into a long lasting case of bronchitis. I was taking a mixture of decongestants, mucus thinners, anti-inflammatory steroids and an inhaler. All this medicine kept my brain fuzzy. I am not telling you this seeking sympathy. I am setting up why my mind was fuzzy and I felt exhausted.

   Now the point of the story. My manager called me into his office. He expressed his concern that I was irritable and seemed short with people. He inquired if I was upset with someone or something within the company. He had forgotten that I had apologized to him early on that I needed to concentrate harder to get through the fog caused by the medicines.

   I apologized again for my behavior. I try to be very upbeat because I know that I influence others by my demeanor, as we all do. Just as other’s actions and reactions can affect us, our attitude and candor towards others affect them.

   Even though I do not feel well, my trying to fight through the illness left me vulnerable to agitation. Luckily, my bronchitis is finally clearing. It was a great wake up call from my boss. It was a great reminder that even when we are not feeling well, our actions still have an effect.

   I tried much harder today to be mindful of how I responded to others. It is too easy to be tired and allow our reactions to go unchecked. Sometimes, we need to be reminded that our actions do matter. Yes, even me. And that other guy, you know, the one in my mirror.

The Magic Isn’t Gone

I watched a movie last night called the Secret of the Wings. I wish I could have watched it with all the ones I love. Not because the movie was so wonderful, it was a good movie, but because it had magic. I am not talking about the kind of magic that witches have or the magicians want to trick us with, but the magic of the imagination.

Some would relegate this kind of movie to children. I believe that we should be reminded daily that the awe and wonder that we had as children is just as important and wonderful today as adults. We seem to be so busy and preoccupied that we miss out on the magic that happens all around us.

If we have young children or grandchildren or otherwise interact with small children, you will see that spark in their eyes as they explore the wonder around them. Think about the magic of the machine that dispenses frozen custard or the other machine that dispenses cash. As an adult you know that there is no magic but to a child, it is almost miraculous. And it is miraculous, these everyday occurrences started out as an idea in someone’s imagination. Through talent and perseverance, these things came into being. I think that is magic.

Every snowflake that falls is magic; the flowers that burst from the ground in spring fill the air and our views with magical splendor. The birds exercise their magic of flight and the children chasing butterflies exercising the magic of creation and beauty.

My children are grown. I may have grandchildren one day and if I do, I will enthusiastically explore all the wonder and magic with them. So many people complain about how the media is so wicked that all TV and movies should be done away with. Yet, I feel that there is some  good there. There are stories of love, family, courage and determination in all different forms if we care to look for them.

I enjoy “children’s” movies and programming. It reminds me to be childlike in my wonder and awe of everything around me. It reminds me to look for beauty and miracle. Yes, life is hard, it can be miserable. But life can also be filled with beauty, wonder and magic. So don’t be afraid to watch a “children’s” movie, even if you don’t have children or youngsters around. Have the attitude of looking for the magic that you once had or may still have from your childhood.

A life without magic, wonder and awe can be very dark indeed. To block out magic is to stifle the spirit. It has been said through the ages and in many ways to stop and smell the flowers. There is much for our senses to observe. Look for the magic there because the magic isn’t gone, just not always believed or remembered.

Help Wanted

I have seeing more and more of these wonderful words posted in windows in stores, restaurants and shops. I am sure these are not six figure jobs, but they are jobs. They may even be part-time, but they represent opportunities for those wanting to work.

I believe that the unemployment picture for the US, as well as the world, is going to grow slow over the next year or years. We are a nation of entrepreneurs. We are also a nation of consumers. Even when we try to consume less, we still consume more than most. Even so, it is good to see signs of employment recovery.

My son is looking for work, as his seasonal position just ended. Although, his employment was temporary, it provided him with a good experience and some pocket money. I am very hopeful that he will find something very soon. I have been looking through the want ads with him. There are entry-level jobs and highly technical jobs but not much in between.

If you are looking for work, then I hope that you find something that ignites your passion, or at least pays the bills. Be on the lookout for those signs with those two little words: Help Wanted.

Another Round of Layoffs

Yesterday, I hugged some co-workers  as they were processed out. It was their last day. They were victims of the latest cost saving measures and right-sizing of my employer. A year ago my position was deemed no longer necessary, but fortunately, I was able to move from a management to a non-management position. Although I was not overjoyed at first, it actually has been a blessing. I now have more time to dedicate to projects and get overtime pay for over 40 hours.

I certainly hope that those let go yesterday will find something that they can be passionate about. The transition of our economy to whatever lies ahead is going to be tough. Our parents, grandparents and maybe even great grandparents went through a transition out of the Great Depression. Even though I do not think we will experience the Great Depression as our ancestors did, I still think it will be tough. We have been accustomed to much more than our ancestors had. This will probably lead us to be impacted more as we have to do with less.

These are uncertain times. Everyone knows that there will have to be cuts, now or eventually, but at the same time, no one wants to feel the pain. That is understandable, that is human nature.  I believe that industry and jobs will come back. Will they look like they did before?  I don’t think so. We are a resilient people. We have, and always will have, talented entrepreneurs whose passions will shine. It can be hard to keep positive in our current environment, but keeping alert for opportunities, even from the most unlikely sources, is vitally important. Necessity is the mother of invention, and we definitely need the creativity. My very best wishes go out to those who must start a new chapter.

Exploring Belief

During the last few weeks, I have been attending events at a Unitarian Universalist fellowship. I did not really know what to expect from a fellowship that embraces all beliefs but has no real core doctrine of its own. Although this movement had its beginnings in the Christian faith, this particular fellowship seems to have a humanist slant.

I had the pleasure to attend a speaker event that is held monthly featuring local organization leaders which highlights education of a social need, social justice issue, or exploration of a current event. I enjoyed having the opportunity to explore a current topic and having a meeting of the minds afterwards.

I did attend one of their regular services. The speaker, being sensitive to encompass the varied beliefs of the congregation, gave a diplomatically safe sermon with accompanying readings and singing. I was also very unsure what the symbolism and ritual represented.

As a pseudo-religious group, I believe it may act as a path in one’s wanderings of belief.  Most people who seek religious or faithful fellowship also seek direction. The Unitarian Universalist espouse that each person should find and then follow their own belief system. While there is nothing wrong with that, it does not provide the direction that most people seek.

I enjoyed the exploration of others beliefs and attitudes, which lead to better understanding. This exposure to other ideas is strengthening my own convictions and beliefs which are doctrinally Christian. The other attendants felt free to express and listen to ideas. I did find that refreshing.

I will probably return for the monthly speaker event and possibly their building bridges events. These give opportunities to explore and share cultural ideas.