All of life is a journey; which paths we take, what we look back on, and what we look forward to is up to us. We determine our destination, what kind of road we will take to get there, and how happy we are when we get there.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Kids say the darnedest things!

How the mind functions is astounding. The power we have to comprehend and understand never ceases to amaze me. But the minds that are the most incredible usually belong to those of children. They see the world entirely differently than, not only adults, but other children as well. You give the average adult a difficult situation and we will ponder, deduce and construct all the possible solutions. But we are limited by social norms, expectations and are resistant to imagination. Whereas children will look for a simple solution. They are not constrained by feelings of hesitation, acceptance or fear of failure. This was never more evident than an experience I had in a group activity with a four year old cherub in Small Town X. We were discussing various situations and how to problem solve with a group of kids ranging from 4 to 11. The scenario they were given was this:
You walk to school every day and go past a house with a large dog. Every day the dog barks and chases you down the street. What can you do?
Many of the older children began answering with options such as tell your mom and dad. Walk a different way to school. Talk to the neighbor. Then this tiny little girl with large adorable eyes raised her hand to answer. Once called on her answer was simple and precise. She said, "Well the dog is probably chasing you to eat you, which means he is barking to tell you he is hungry. So you should probably take a piece of meat with you to feed him." There you have it. The solution to this dog conundrum, bring a piece of meat to feed the dog. Because clearly this is all stemming from hunger and would be rectified with meat. This answer was fantastic! The delivery, flawless. Why is it that adults cannot approach the world and its dilemmas the same way? Not only did she address the problem she was having with getting chased to school, but took consideration for the dog and his hunger. Perhaps in a world filled with frustration and confusion, we should heed the council of those wiser than ourselves, even if that means we bring juice boxes to the meetings. Problem solve away, and remember what Walt Disney once said, "Our greatest national resource is the minds of our children."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Second chances are like casts and splints

Why casts and splints you ask? Well I think of them like this. They are an important part of healing. They can mend broken things. And in order to be effective, they must be taken advantage of and treated properly. So why the comparison between something that mends a broken bone and opportunities for a new start? Well it began with a package, a note and a personal realization. All this began with a package I received from my best friend. She has been working in and out of the country for a while, and on her travels she brings back with her pieces of the places she has visited. This package came from Africa and was a beautiful hand made purse. It was created out of vibrant yellow fabric with a black elephant on either side. On the package came a simple instruction, "look inside the purse pocket". Once I finished admiring the beauty of the fabric, I opened the pocket to find two things: one being prayer beads and the second being a card. This personal realization stemmed from information included in the card. It explained that the purse was made from her favorite fabric and embodied the feeling and experience of this part of the world. But the most incredible part was that is was hand made by former sex workers who had been given a second chance in life by working for this company. They had left what they had known, and taken the opportunity to start new. This is what made this gift so special and got me thinking about second chances. My work is all about second chances, about creating a stepping stone to bigger and better things. Now some that participate in this experience may agree and others disagree, but it is none-the-less an opportunity for growth and transformation. I have seen individuals take the opportunity and run with it. They literally changed their lives and created a fresh and vibrant start. I have also seen those that disregarded the experience, even despised and resented it. It became little more than another road block, made miserable by arrogance and entitlement. So why do some of us, myself included, throw away second chances? Why not take it and run, create miracles out of chaos? Here is my best answer to this question. Fear.

With the risk of success comes the risk of failure. What if we put all we have into making a change and trying to be better and it isn't enough? Sometimes I think that choosing to not take advantage of a second chance is less scary than trying and failing. I think that, when I am confronted with trials and challenges. I think if I don't try, than I know that no one else can tell me I failed. It gives me the false sense of control and power. It is false because if that is the road I choose, I fail to grow, learn and become the best version of myself that I can be. For a human race that thrives for success, the fear of being unsuccessful is a powerful enemy. For in failure we learn to define our character. In adversity we mold our very core. I once heard that, "Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars". They are massive because they every day surmounted their fear. They took hold of second chances and opportunities and ran with them, appreciated them and did not allow them to pass by. I look at this purse and I do not see something to place a wallet in or hold a cell phone with. I see unspeakable courage, determination and a strength that I hope I can be reminded of in times of difficulty and strife. These woman act as an example to me that there is nothing that cannot be overcome, if I push aside fear and allow hope and love to conquer all obstacles. Nelson Mandela said it much more eloquently than I ever could.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are we not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone.
And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fears, our presence automatically liberates others.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

My own personal soapbox

Why the blog today? Well here is the truth. I went to commencement and was mad. I wrote a letter to the editor for the local paper, and because I have no control over whether it gets published, I wanted to get on my own soapbox for a moment and at least have it out there. There is something therapuetic about at least putting it out and feeling heard. So because my actual letter may end up in the archives never to be heard from again, I am giving it a short lived life here in cyberspace. Take or leave it, now it at least exists somewhere.

Commencement is not a political soapbox.
I have to say congratulations to the most recent graduates from Snow College Small Town X campus. All of whom worked diligently at their crafts or specialties in order to receive certificates and degrees to advance them on to the next stage of their lives. This was my first time attending a commencement here, and I anticipated the event with excitement for those I cheered on. Upon completion of the ceremony I was speechless. Which was a far cry from the commencement speaker Senator Okerlund. I have been to my fair share of graduations, both where I participated and attended for others. The approach that speakers gave varied dramatically, however the messages were similar. They were messages of support, congratulations, and encouragement for this new chapter in their lives. As the Senator took the podium I was excited to hear his words of advice, guidance, and support. Instead I listened to his political agenda and the graduate’s share of the national debt. Some of the points discussed included land rights, the poor economy, run off concerns for the area, gas prices, the length of time officials should be allowed to serve in office and the rest of his current political agenda. What I did not hear was a commencement speaker addressing the graduates. After hearing their portion of the national debt and its crippling effects on an economy that will be difficult to get a job in, I watched the faces fall on the day every graduate should have been full of excitement on. I remained seated shocked at the inappropriateness of the subject matter. If this was a convention focused on local and national politics, then the speech would have been well delivered and potentially well received. Mentioning the graduates in the last few moments before the conclusion was insufficient for the role he accepted to take. I appreciate the Senator’s passion for his position and the dedication that he has for the people and businesses in his jurisdiction. At the same time, I feel that it was an opportunity lost for the well deserving graduates to be given congratulations, well wishes, and a similar passion for what each of their futures hold. It may not mean much coming from me, but congratulations graduates of the class of 2011. Times may be difficult, and there may be obstacles to overcome, but you are strong, capable and full of potential to change the course of history. Do not allow what you are told cannot be done from stopping you from doing what you know can be. You have limitless potential and will make a significant and meaningful contribution to society and the world. Good luck in all your future endeavors and know that there is nothing that is out of your grasp.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The new red light district

I recently got to visit Pompeii where I had the eye opening experience of the primary business for this destination. Prostitution. The cost for this activity, relatively the same as ordering two glasses of wine. As we toured the brothels and saw the carvings of a certain male body part in stone pointing in the direction of the nearest facility, I thought once I left, I had also left that piece of the world behind me. Apparently, Small Town X had another idea. I got back to work and had one more encounter with a she-wolf as it were. I was working in the office, when one of my associates came in asking for a safety pin. I looked around and finally located one. When I asked her what she needed it for, the answer caught me a little off guard. Incidentally, we had placed a doll that was donated, for sale on the collections case. I have included a picture of this doll for you to see. She is an old western style bar maid, that adorned some fish net stockings underneath a high slitted skirt. One of our more "mature" customers had come in to shop, seen the doll and was appalled that we would sell such a "brazen hussy". Yes ladies and gentlemen, apparently we are the new red light district for this small town. She insisted that we make her more modest and pin her skirt shut, as it is in the picture. Who knew that thousands of miles away and an ocean apart, the legacy of my time in Pompeii would reveal itself right in my own store, in the form of a porcelain doll now to be forever known as the brazen hussy of Small Town X.