Monthly Archives: June 2010

Quote of the Week

It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.
               – Anne Sexton
                  American poet
                  1928-1974

Happy Father’s Day on June 20th!

Happy Father's Day

A Man With A Vision

I want to tell you about an extraordinary man’s vision and commitment.  In this case, “vision” is figurative, because he is, quite literally, blind.

Urban Miyares is a Vietnam veteran.  At the end of a particularly horrendous firefight, he was mistakenly put into a body bag for dead.  Two days later, when the bags were opened to do identifications, a medic assistant noticed that he was not dead.  His injuries were severe, and he is now blind, but he didn’t miss a beat to stay involved in life.  He has started and operated many businesses and has always used his talents.  He didn’t “quit” on life.

Urban is the founder and director of Challenged America (www.challengedamerica.org), whose mission is to introduce sailing as a therapeutic and rehabilitative-enhancing activity to individuals with disabilities. That sounds very nice, but what put me “over the top” was his firm commitment to working only with people who are committed to being involved in work and life.  If they aren’t working or in work training, he won’t take them into the program.  He told me that the folks who just get disability and sit around are directed toward regular sailing schools.  He works hard with people who are equally committed to working hard.

That sounds more than nice.  It is brilliant.  Never be more committed to helping someone than they are committed to helping themselves!  When Urban made those pronouncements, I was all aboard with ferocious enthusiasm, as I share that philosophy and that’s why I chide so many parents and other family members for trying harder than the one they’re helping.  Continual rescues only serve to let the person they’re “helping” continue on his or her destructive path, and to assuage any feelings of guilt on the part of the helper by keeping the other afloat when that person is not even trying  to tread water.

I participated in a wonderful dinner (where I was the keynote speaker), silent auction, and regatta in support of Challenged America.   I was very proud to be part of all those events to benefit such a worthy operation.  Check them out at www.challengedamerica.org.

When Did Parenting Become Slavery?

America seems to be having a love affair with avoiding child care by the actual parents:  “In a city of secret economies, few are as vital to the life of New York as the business of nannies; the legions of women who emancipate high-powered professionals and less glamorous working parents from the duties of child care.”

That was the beginning of a story about New York State instituting “nanny protection laws” which would require paid holidays, sick days, vacation days, overtime wages, and 14 days’ notice or termination pay when their services were no longer needed.

According to The New York Times, some of the resistance to this bill comes from lawmakers who say that this is merely an extension of workplace protection for illegal aliens, as once an employee is hired, state labor laws become enforceable, regardless of the employee’s immigration status.  The bill would increase the risks of getting caught for employers who pay nannies “off the books” (i.e., cheating the IRS and their fellow citizens).

But let’s go back to that opening paragraph and the statement that  “nannies…emancipate…parents from the duties of daily child care.”  [The emphasis is mine].  Whew!

Emancipation is a term used for the proclamation to outlaw slavery.  It’s interesting that’s it has been used for describing the supposed-to-be- loving interaction and bond between a child and a mother or father.   So, being a parent is tantamount to slavery??  Yes… that’s what feminism has proclaimed for decades.

I’m happy so many legislators are concerned about the financial well-being of illegal alien nannies (and, of course, the legal ones, too).  I am not happy that this legislation further cements the idea that having a parent raise their own child is of minimal importance, and the impact this has on the child.  It’s just sad.

When You’re Bored, You’re Boring

Quite a few recent calls to my radio program involve people who are dealing with the problem of being bored, and as many of you have heard me say many times – people who are bored are usually boring.  Either you can choose to be like a cork in the ocean, waiting for a wave or swell to elevate your mood or you can be pro-active and/or philosophical.

Pro-active means that you actually take control of your existence and do something which engages you, is generous, works up your sweat, adrenaline, and endorphins, or which challenges you to be inventive, creative and operating outside of the  box.

Philosophical means that you reframe your perspective.  For example, a nurse called to complain that she seems to get a higher percentage of the most difficult patients than others on the nursing staff.  She felt put upon.  I suggested that this was because she was the most competent to deal with such patients, but she countered with, “Well, I’m getting burned out.”  I then suggested that she make sure that she freshens up her brain and body with fun times, exercise, and friends.

A number of women who have exactly what they wanted in live (a husband, a home, children, and the freedom to be at home) have called to say they are overwhelmed and under motivated.  From a philosophical standpoint, motivation is more of a pop psych requirement of correct behavior than a true necessity.  For example, how do you motivate yourself to go into combat or a burning building in order to rescue people, or into surgery when you know there’s only a minimal chance of survival for the patient, but the procedure is their last, best hope?

We do what we must do/should do, because we have accepted that responsibility.  If everyone in a position of responsibility waited to “feeeeel” motivated, nothing would ever get done! 

I tell these women that if they behaved as though they were motivated, they would simply enjoy their lives more.  Waiting around for a trigger is passive and useless. 

From a pro-active standpoint, that means getting friends, hobbies and creating physical challenges, as well as acting like the kind of woman they would want to come home to.  If they do that, their husbands would come screeching through the door with enthusiasm.

So, if you’re bored, you’re being boring.  Get philosophical.  Get pro-active.  Don’t wait for a feeling – create a better mini-universe without whining, complaining, or feeling sorry for yourself. 

Remember the days of washboards and manual television controls?  No? Too bad.  You would then have the other “P” word:  perspective.

Quote of the Week

We take the stars and blue union from heaven,
The red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing liberty.
               – George Washington
                  First President of the United States

Please remember to honor our American flag on Flag Day, Monday, June 14th.

United States of America Flag Flying

Sometimes Dark Clouds DO Have Silver Linings

Did you see the theatrical movie “The Butterfly Effect?”  Well, you should.  Without giving the whole movie away, it’s about changing past bad things.  The assumption is always made (optimistically) that if you could the past, only good will come out of it, starting with the exclusion of that “bad thing.”  Things, however, do not necessarily roll that way.

This past weekend, my husband and I went on a motorcycle ride with a friend of ours who had recently broken up with her “multi-year” boyfriend.  It was her birthday, and I brought her a “Happy Birthday” cupcake, sewed her a “Dia de los Muertos” purse that she had wanted, and we treated her to lunch.  We were having a great time, and it was my turn to make the iced tea birthday toast. 

We raised our glasses and I said:  “I’m sad for you that you’ve gone through such pain recently, but if you had not gone with him in the first place, we wouldn’t have met you, and you wouldn’t have purchased your own Harley, and we wouldn’t be sitting here today as such good friends.  So, no sad moment here. We love you, and happy birthday.”

If I could go back and change history and have them not meet at all, then all the good that came out of it would be gone:

1. Her getting emotionally stronger
2. Her getting her own motorcycle (which she loves and drives all the time).
3. Us becoming good friends.
4. Us taking a beautiful scenic ride and having a wonderful lunch.

 ….all of this WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN.

The moral of this story?  Don’t totally rue the “bad stuff.”  Perhaps it’s just fertilizer for what will grow next.

Say No to Family Blogs

Today’s blog is from a listener and is a follow-up to a call she made to me on my radio program, but it could apply to any family:

I spoke with you…about my discouragement with my family relationships that have resulted from me blogging on my private family blog.  I was extremely shocked by your passionate response that I should shut the blog down and cease to communicate with others in that manner.

While at first I battled my defensive justifications as to why I should still blog, I wanted to thank you for helping me to look at the matter in a completely new light.  As I have pondered the situation, I have discovered some important elements I had not thought of before, mainly ‘Why Blogs Are Not Great Ways to Maintain Relationships:’”

1.  We don’t usually communicate in that way with people when we speak face-to-face.  In regular conversations with our friends or family, there should be an equal give and take.  You share; they listen.  Blog posts are typically one-sided conversations, where sharing ideas and thoughts don’t happen.  Yes, you can comment, but comments are typically short, on topic, and do not typically result in a sincerely valuable conversation.
2.  It’s not personalized to the individual to whom we are speaking, and can therefore come across as insensitive.

When I talk to someone face-to-face, I filter and screen my topics and thoughts according to the closeness of the relationship, as well as what their life situation might be.  With a blog audience (even a private one), my relationship closeness still varies widely.  In real life conversations, I would be more aware of what I share and with whom I choose to share it.  In addition, if I’m talking to a friend of mine who has struggled with infertility, I probably wouldn’t go on and on about how much I love being a mother and raising a baby.  She’s been trying to have a baby for several years, and is quite discouraged about that.  It would be rude and inconsiderate of me to do that.

Even though the topics we blog about may be neutral and positive, because we are not considering the personalized audience, we can often unknowingly offend people and likely even damage existing relationships.  Because we may not be considering the closeness of our relationships, we may be sharing things that are better left enjoyed and shared only with those closest to us.

Thank you for helping me see a different side.  I’ve taken an early retirement from blogging, and already am excited at the freedom I feel, and the prospect of maintaining and strengthening my relationships through good old-fashioned one-on -one personalized communication.

Sincerely,

B.