Monday, October 20, 2014

Homecoming Feels Like Coming Home

Homecoming at Ole Miss this weekend felt like coming home, though my only official tie to the state is my son, Gar, who is a student.  What a remarkable student body and alumni group!  Ten acres of  side by side open air tents were most hospitable to friends, strangers and opposing team fans.

What a great tribute to the whole community, that Oxford demonstrated in so many ways, what true Southern Hospitality means.  I'm grateful to have experienced graciousness above competitiveness, enthusiastic friends by association, and thousands of genteel, fun-loving Southerners who made me feel at home.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Pen Pal

Many of my older friends, who are retired, retiring or contemplating this life change wonder what their less structured days may hold.  Though I am still happily, productively employed, and very actively engaged in community volunteering,  I've recently, accidentally discovered, a meaningful and flexible way to make a difference, as a pen pal.

My new pen pal is a former colleague's adult child, who I initially met as a Special Olympics athlete. There are so many folks, young and old, whose lives can be brightened by occasional letters from those outside their immediate circles.  And, as fate would have it, our lives are brightened equally or greater.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Amazing Timing

There's a time for everything and it always thrills me when I have the chance to be a part of amazing timing.  Some recent examples:

  • A friend I've not seen in over 3 years came to mind recently, and I sent her a note.  It arrived when she was in the hospital, brightening her day.
  • My trips to the post office are infrequent.  My attempt yesterday to assess postage for a package to Daddy was thwarted by an out of order self-service machine.  Thus, I ventured today to the post office nearest my office, at the end of the traditional lunch hour.  This post office had technology issues, and could only accept cash and predetermined package sizes.  And, the parking lot was full of folks trying to transact normal business.  Though I've never previously seen a work colleague at a post office, today I did. A long-time colleague, a few folks ahead of me, turned to leave and return with cash, when I offered cash to complete her task.
  • A friend and I were going to see a movie at our neighborhood theater this weekend.  Because of the rain, she was planning to pick me up.  However, the rain stopped, and I started walking meeting her near the theater, which saved critical minutes with her unplanned demands.  
Sometimes perfect planning reveals itself after our plans are altered.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Everything is Personal

One of the least astute cliches someone can use, when delivering bad news is "Don't take it personally".  This ineffective catch-phrase, is at best, a time-filler, in an uncomfortable conversation to let the hearer know that she/he was not selected for a job, promotion, continued employment or other important roles.  

The way that we perceive each moment, day, week, month, year, decade and lifetime is uniquely personal.  And, thankfully our perceptions are as unique as we are.  Since everything is personal, we have an opportunity to selectively share with appropriate audiences of, 1 to millions, our ideas to improve the world our way.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

7th Grade Again

On Friday, I had a chance to participate as an American Leadership Forum Senior Fellow and Comerica Bank volunteer for a unique program.  Members of the business community and other volunteers spent the morning with 80 seventh graders from 20 Houston area middle schools.  These bright young students had the chance to hear about various careers from 40 folks working in various industries.  Each student had the chance to hear 6 different business representatives talk about their jobs and industry for 8 minutes, then were given 7 minutes to ask questions.

The objective was to expose these students to various career paths prior to their 8th grade deadline to choose a high school curriculum.   Each school's 4 students rotated to different tables so each school was potentially exposed to 24 of the 40 business representatives participating.  And one of the expectations of attending was for students to share the information learned with their classmates who weren't a part of the group.

Anticipating being with the students made me think about things I wish I'd known as a seventh grader:

  • everyone you meet is a potential friend for life - learn not only about your friends, but your teachers
  • the wide array of career options available and what it would be like to work in various fields
  • continuous learning is part of constructing a successful life
  • how critical it is to work effectively in teams throughout life
  • to try more unfamiliar things rather than sticking with the comfortable known things at which I was capable 
  • that track could launch a life-long fitness journey
  • that listening is one of the most important communication skills
  • to take every reasonable opportunity to practice public speaking
  • how important it is to be able to write clearly and succinctly
  • that regardless of how busy life was, there would never be a time with fewer responsibilities
What do you wish you'd known as a 7th grader, high school or college graduate, or as you began a new relationship or career?

Friday, October 10, 2014

Goldilock Choices

This week I've been reminded of Goldilocks.  Trying to meet the expectations of even three people is sometimes difficult to do.  And crowd pleasing is far more challenging. Just like Goldilocks - there can be individual assessments of too much, too little or just right.

When we realize that we're never going to be able to satisfy all members of varied groups, every time, we can gather the best feedback available, and try to make things just right for the less rigid majority.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Games We Can Win

We all play games.  Some of us acknowledge that we enjoy structured card, board, word and puzzle games.  However, when we play life games, where the rules aren't defined, we are  subject to manipulation by those who don't play by the Golden or Platinum Rules.  Our chances of winning any of the games we encounter are enhanced when we know the game, players and rules.

We owe it to ourselves to play games we can win, or choose simply to have fun playing!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Paper Cuts in Life

We all experience injuries, and most would agree that on a scale of 1-10, paper cuts are generally 1s.  A dear friend made me rethink paper cuts this past weekend.  Paper cuts hurt and are annoying, but when we tend to them, they often cease to be an issue within a day or two.  And, in many cases, others don't even realize that we've been injured. But, left untended, in a high risk environment, a tiny, infected paper cut can become life-threatening.  

Many of life's issues are like paper cuts.  

Sunday, October 5, 2014


On the way to church this morning I saw the vanity license plate "Sothpaw" which made this left-hander smile.  And since I generally think of north, south, east and west just when driving or boating it made my wonder why the term isn't westpaw.  Speculation is that this term was coined for left-handed baseball pitchers who traditionally face west when pitching, thus their left hand would be to the south of their body.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Bite Marks on My Tongue

The bite marks on our tongue don't show.  Though I've said this for years, I shared it this week with two friends I've known for 15 years, who hadn't heard me say it.  Many scars from things done and undone show.  But, when we refrain from uttering unkind remarks, the bite marks on our tongue never show.  I'd not thought of the corollary before, but the resulting goodwill manifests in many visible ways.