Just another site

Chainsaws and hammers, music to my ears

low fired hand-built pottery

low fired hand-built pottery

If you grew up on a farm, the sounds of a chainsaw and hammers are not dreaded sounds. The ripping buzz signals a huge something needs moved or cut down to manageable size. Hammers meant something was either being fixed or built, either way another sign of progress. Though both meant there was some physical labor in the future, never an issue though. What I did dread more was the absence of those sounds.

There is always a need to update or repair things. Life brings both the need for growth and the opposite, death. With growth came expansion bringing in new things to explore and try. When chainsaws and hammers came out to deal with the opposite, I always saw it as another moment of renewal. Taking down the tree struck by lightning or demolition of the old barn that was about to collapse, it never failed that something would find its way to start anew in those bare spaces shortly after.

Leaving an old structure or a fallen tree, there is no room for growth. The decay and rot that follows only invites problems. It is a constant reminder of what was, a source to mourn, never a good visual. In other words, it could be a space that no one cares about. Hope is lost. No one believes the space worthy to take the extra time to refresh to make it anew. No one wants to bother, they just walk away.

How many “dead trees or collapsed buildings” are there in your life? What have you walked away from leaving an eye sore behind? No matter how far you space yourself from them the visual or memory is still there. Just think of the potential that cannot move in as long as the mess and decay lurks.  Sometimes it is best to rid yourself of the decay and stagnant issues in life. Moving on also means you need to clear the path so progress towards a new life can begin. Clean up the mess to make room in your heart, soul, and mind for more positive growth to move in.

Leave a comment »

Workplace microwave, an indicatorof employee morale

Break Room Revolt

Break Room Revolt (Photo credit: catatronic)

If you want to know how your employees’ attitudes are when you are not out and about, check the break room microwave. My former job had me traveling to many locations. During this time I noticed a trend in the break room. Watching people warm coffee or their lunch I became aware of a situation that appeared to mark the attitude of those users, the microwave.

Have you ever used the workplace microwave? What was your first reaction when you opened it? Was it clean or was it ready for the condemned notice? Have you ever watched who was using it and how they left it? During your break, sit back and watch what happens when people use the microwave.

My observations:

  • If employees are happy and respect each other, the microwave is clean. The area around it is clean as well as supplies provided.
  • If there are hostile employees, they never clean the microwave for the next person. They even slam the door when the food isn’t warm to their liking.
  • The workplace filled with gossip will have a dirty microwave. People are in a rush to get back to the group. The inside has lots of beverage spills from grabbing mugs on the run.
  • The burnt microwave… if employees do not feel safe to be open and honest, there will be a burnt mess. No one there wants to own up to anything though the office smells the results. People will also sneak to use the microwave in fear of being blamed for the mess.
  • Food left in the microwave is a sign of stressed employees. They are so busy running around often they forget they put something in to warm. Employers need to check this situation because constant stressed employees make mistakes and burnout. Everyone needs a break during a push or rush time without feeling guilty.
  • Lots of people hanging around a dirty microwave is a sign of an unproductive office. People caught up in the workplace scandals will find ways to hang out at the microwave to catch up on who is backstabbing who. It is often a means of survival if the environment is hostile and harassing.
  • In a supportive work environment one might often find encouraging post-it notes on the microwave. This workplace knows that people visit the microwave often. It is a resource to inspire and encourage via nice sayings and personal praises all can see.
  • In a happy, friendly, and very productive workplace, the microwave area will have goodies. Identifying the likes and trends of fellow employees is noted by the  variety of creamers, special treats, and accessories such as extra plates and cups. This environment lets the observer know that no matter what these people have each others backs in a crisis as well as celebrating the uniqueness of each other in ways that keep even the worse of days filled with moments of smiles and warm thoughts.

I will offer a disclaimer on judging the workplace microwave. Some companies have policies about the break room and how it is kept. Some businesses have people who clean and maintain the areas in a set way. And sometimes, there is one employee who values  the microwave and will clean it daily. My observations are based upon areas employees keep up the break areas.

How is your workplace morale based upon the break room microwave? Do you think people would notice if the area changed? I urge you to take a moment to watch the dynamics of the employee/microwave connections to see if there is a correlation between the two. I would love to hear if my theory rings true in your workplace. Please send comments so we can compare.

1 Comment »

Do you hear what I hear?

Having worked in a deaf school for many years I came to appreciate the sound of silence as well as paying closer attention to sounds in my environment. First, let me make it clear, deaf schools are not silent. Very few deaf are stone deaf, there is some residual hearing though not functional in what we hearing would understand. You do become far more aware of sound vinrations while working in a deaf school because the deaf react to the slightest of vibrations in many cases that we hearing ignore because we focus on the sound.

Hard of hearing have a difficult time in a deaf school because it is so noisy. If the teacher is deaf then there is no one to calm the outside noise of scooting chairs or loud shuffling papers. Often a child would have attention problems which lead to behavior issues. I would go into the classroom to do environmental sound assessments. Again, if you are not aware of sound then you do not consciously adjust for it in regard to others. If you are hard of hearing you may not always realize it is the back ground noise is bothering you. I need to note here many deaf will turn their hearing aids off during class time because of the noise levels. Hearing aides do not filter noise like the brain does, it just ramps it up so it can be heard. Think about a busy subway with the crowd noises and the trains, amplify 25x, that is a certain headache if not a migraine moment in the making. This same effect can happen in the classroom. Can you imagine being a 7-year-old having to deal with such blasting in your head?

As hearing people we often do not consider the noise as a source of problem in the work environment. This is a false assumption. I was in the bank yesterday discussing with a consumer support  representative about my new business. A prime example time to make her aware of the need for environmental assessments to help improve productivity and employee/consumer comfort. There were fax machines, computer pings and dings, adding machines, papers shuffling, people talking, doors closing… the list was endless. Then I directed her attention to some of the employees. You could see the frustration due to the “bells and whistles” going off at sporadic times. The bank music was terrible! I mentioned a switch to a music with  more white noise tones would help solve the problem because it would drown out the other obnoxious sounds that irritate.  The look on her face was shock. She never thought about all the sounds and how they affect others. Now she was super sensitive to all noises and was picking up on the negative side effects.

Working with autistic and extreme ADHD people, this is a crippling issue. They cannot filter sounds so they get the full blunt of the chaos and bombardment of the noise plus a heighten awareness of the sound level. Another place were sound studies are conducted with great success in the outcome of those who are exposed is in the neonatal wards. Premature babies( preemies) are hooked up to all sorts of machines which whirl and beep, often chirp. A study found that this stressed the infants. Measures are taken  in many hospitals to either filter the noise with music or reduce the sound so it is not so startling to the babies. I cannot quote the source but I do remember reading a study that felt there was a link between the extreme noise in the neonatal units to learning problems and ADHD in later life for preemies.

The next time you find yourself getting tense and frustrated take a minute to do a personal sound study of what is happening in your environment. You might just need to step out to a quieter place to give your brain a rest. For every sound your brain is registering the source, the distance, if it is a potential threat, guessing how long it might continue…. all this for multiple sounds while you are trying to get your daily work completed. We are often not aware of how hard we are pushing ourselves because we are not aware of the multi-tasking going on within our minds.

Did you hear that?


The paper bleed red

There was a death. When one dies there is no resurrection only an emptiness of a spirit gone. The bloody mess lay before her. Her life came to a halt when the red began to run down the page as she lifted it up. It was murder.

It is one thing to point out errors, it is another to riddle a paper beyond recognition with red ink. This wasn’t a lazy student. The child had come day in and day out for help. The teacher never had the time to sit with this particular child because she was “special.” Why waste time on one who classified as hopeless? The teacher chose to kill the spirit instead of reaching out to help a struggling determined soul to rise about the dyslexia.

When questioned, the teacher would respond he was not going to pass a student just because there was an IEP. No one expected this from him. Teach, not destroy. Reach out, not ignore. Listen and understand, not shame or humiliate. A few extra minutes to check for understanding isn’t too much to expect of a professional. An extra worksheet to check MLA format or a quick glance to see if the basics were in line doesn’t take much time. It isn’t being unfair to the others. It isn’t showing favoritism. It isn’t above the call of duty. There is an IEP but the teacher had never even giving it a second thought other than the fact there was this problem sitting in the back of the room who was going to make life a challenge.

She never asked to be different. It would have been much easier if she was blind or had some physical problem people could easily identify. No, her disability was invisible. She looked just like the average kid. She talked and walked like them as well. There was no outward sign she was different until the paper was placed on her desk.  Her desk always bleed with red. That’s when they knew. Why was it the teacher ALWAYS let everyone know it was then she was different. She would live with the red and disappointing look of the teacher haunting her for days. The scars ran deep. The memories she would carry for a life time. She was marked as dumb, stupid, unworthy… an idiot. Those words might have never been said but that is what she heard within her mind traveling like a dagger to her heart.

The teacher never knew the girl who’s paper bleed red was a talented artist or a gifted singer. No one ever knew she was a shining star in so many other areas. But the light was dimming because in the “real world” a red  score determined her worth not her talents.

It is not about leaving them behind, it is about murdering a spirit. If you teach, read IEPS. I do not care how much you fuss, ADHD kids will not remember it all so give them a guide. They won’t be able to copy everything like the others so give them printed out notes so they can spend the extra time going over them while others copy from the board. All teachers have the notes any way, so there is no extra work involved. And about this fairness bit, it is fair they were born this way? No, not their fault.  But it is most definitely your fault for killing their spirit.

How can I say such? Because I was that child. My daughter was that child. And those I work with are those children. I have news for you, it only takes one believer to change a child’s life. When you see a paper that looks like a battle field, please think again about that battle within the child before you strike the last blow. They can learn if you just learn how to reach them.


Jack…I think the giants are back

Storms aftermath, Rockmart, GA 3/18/2013

Storm aftermath, Rockmart, GA 3/18/2013

The giants landed in the yard with lots of destruction. A total of 20 trees, 15 uprooted huge pines and 5 snipped or twisted at the second story level, definitely not from human hands. It happened in a matter of seconds. Usually I am the weather monitor, ready for things in advance but this one came with no warning. The storms ripped through northwest Georgia like a mass of angry giants.

The next day I headed out to the back mess of pines. I could not resist the urge to do a horizontal climb among the masses of fallen trees and massive limbs. I would have never been able to monkey my way up the sheer vertical heights even during my prime climbing days in childhood. While in this vertical position I could definitely make my way to the very top though most were over 8 feet off the grown. The disaster area appeared more of a playground. Why not take something so destructive and see it for the adventure it could be? My body  is covered in scratches and scrapes from my climb; I wear them proudly. My mind and body felt renewed though the next day I was feeling the conquest a bit more than I had anticipated.  Nevertheless, I would do it again given the chance.

In a few days the tangled mess will be nothing but craters from the massive roots, lines of cut wood, piles of sweet-smelling saw dust, and a mound of limbs waiting for a bon fire. The crew will clear the land. All will be but a memory until the next storm of giants passes through. A scary moment changed in a split second by seeing the potential instead of a disaster. I will smile knowing it was a moment my 48-year-old self felt 10 once again.

Leave a comment »

Without words

Puzzling words, Soul Collage

Puzzling words, Soul Collage

If a picture paints a thousand words, so why can’t I paint you? The words will never show the you I’ve come to know,  the opening lyrics from a popular song sung by Bread back in the 70’s. Though words can say many things the true meaning may not be expressed. Working with the deaf I found that signing can paint a 1,000 words. The emotions, body language and the flow say so much more than mere words. Learning to sign was often confusing because it is a language of the self. No two people sign the same. Guess that is true of the hearing if you have a New Yorker and a South Georgia Southern Belle in the same room together, those two do not sound the same. Hearing people sometimes do not speak in the way the message was intended. It can shew the meaning. With the deaf, you know exactly the emotion behind the message. I appreciated their free flow of emotion during conversations because I was never confused about their intent.

Did you know that there are over 48 different meanings to the word, “run?” You can run for office. Run your hose. Run to the store. I think you get the idea. In sign language there are 48 different signs unless you are using Signed Exact English. I could speak the sentence in the same tone every time and the context my shew the meaning of which “run” I was using if the listener wasn’t familiar with the situation. In sign the body language and expression make if very clear which one I was using. Just got to love ASL!

If you are not familiar with Soul Collage, please investigate. It is a wonderful process of allowing the mind to grab pictures to paint thoughts. My experience with Soul Collage has opened a new world of understanding of my inner thoughts. I cruise magazines and the internet with no real intention other than grabbing imagines of interest at that moment. They come together on a card in what ever fashion seems to work. Afterwards I look to see what story my collection has to tell. Often I am very surprised because I go at it with a blank slate. The one featured came about one day after my ASL assessment. I was having a very frustrating moment with my signing. The deaf could understand me fine but the ASL evaluators who were hearing had issues. Have decided that hearing folks should not evaluate other hearing during assessments of ASL. The deaf were surprised at my score. No doubt my inner most emotions were at play when this Soul Collage was created.

Explore sign language. Babies as young as 5 months can learn to sign. It will reduce a lot of frustrations. Also, explore Soul Collage. You will be surprised how the pictures will communicate your inner thoughts you could not put into words. This too will reduce frustrations.


1 Comment »

Bullfrogs and butterflies

Philaethria dido, Callaway Gardens, Georgia, USA

Philaethria dido, Callaway Gardens, Georgia, USA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bullfrogs and butterflies are amazing creatures. When I was in elementary school I learned the secret about metamorphosis. When it came tadpole season I captured a jar full and tended to them as they went from wiggly big-headed slimy things to full fledge frogs. A word to the wise, you never know when the last stages of transformation will occur so keep the jar covered so you do not awake to a few dozen small hoppers trying out their new legs. Lucky for me Callaway Gardens in Georgia had a butterfly house. Watching caterpillars from around the world break from their chrysalis or cocoon to their first flight was breath-taking.

We all go through stages where we make major changes. Sometimes those changes are drastic as with the butterfly and bullfrog. We can break free to show our true colors or develop a firmer stance on our beliefs.  Never fear a metamorphosis moment in your life. Thank goodness, unlike the frog and butterfly, we can have more than one metamorphosis in our life time. Embrace the ugly moments which are the growing and challenging ones before the new you is released.


Saying good-bye doesn’t mean forever

Was taught that you never quit once you make a committment. It didn’t matter if I was being used and abused, I was to stick it out to the bitter end. Quitting because you get your feelings hurt is wrong. Quitting because the situation is becoming harmful emotionally and physically is for the right reasons. Have tormented myself about the decision though I felt the weight of the world remove from my shoulders once the final words, “I resign” and “I quit” were out.

Living in a small town I realize the rumor mill will send out alerts making my sudden disappearance lunch time fodder.  If people knew the real reasons … I am not one to bring the world down, just letting them do that on their own. When ethics, best practice, and good moral codes are being tossed aside for gossip, head hunting, and tearing apart an organization then it is definitely time to move on. I am replaceable. Everyone is despite what they think. When egos, pride and greed take over then even the most talented will fail because the heart is not in the right place. History is pretty accurate on those 3 things causing more problems than good.

Once the attitudes change then there is a chance I will venture back that way. I said good-bye to the issues and grief but that doesn’t mean I said meant forever. I quit the attitudes and wrongful doing not my passion for what I do and love. I am team member person focused on the great good of others not for personal gain.

If you are struggling about quitting something you love but feel the commitment issue is the reason you are staying, I urge you to make a list of what is actually productive and non productive in your situation. Start the items that cause you great stress. Across from those items think about solutions. If those solutions are above what you can feasibly do then try those. If those fail then think about this, if this position is making you stressed in a way than is directly causing a decline in your health as well as bring grief to your other relationships then a change is necessary. I know in a tough economy such decisions weigh upon the financial but if your medical bills and relationships are strained the job or position might be costing you more in the long run. Doing what is right is often saying good-bye so you can move forward. You might end up a statistic of the result of extreme stress. In that case, good-bye might be forever.

1 Comment »

A great blog by Bell Jar

A very good philosophy to assume.

The Belle Jar

1. Assume that you are loved.

2. Assume that those who love you find some kind of value in you and the things you do.

3. Assume, however, that you don’t need to be valuable in order to be worthy of love.

4. Assume that there is no one out there keeping a tally of all of your failings, ready to throw it in your face when you’re either feeling too good or too awful about yourself.

5. Assume that if anyone actually is keeping a tally of all your failings, that act says more about them than it does about you.

6. Assume that you can’t make all of the people happy all of the time; maybe not even some of the people some of the time.

7. Assume that you will, over the course of your life, sometimes anger or disappoint the people you love.

8. Assume that…

View original post 173 more words

Leave a comment »

I’m a Yellow Cap!!!

English: Greensburg, KS June 4, 2007 - Members...

English: Greensburg, KS June 4, 2007 – Members of the Kansas/Nebraska Southern Baptist Convention Disaster Relief prepare the tent-kitchen for morning breakfast. The Baptists cook for disaster workers and the Salvation Army distributes the meals. From left-to-right are Everett Thayer, Richard Harvey, on Drummond, and Bill Streeter. Photo by Greg Henshall / FEMA (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I was commissioned as a “Yellow Cap!” So what is so important about a yellow cap? If you know me well you wouldn’t think too much about that because you would know I drive a metallic gold rush xB Scion. Yellow just appears in the wardrobe more often than not because I am a huge fan of the local high school football team, the Yellow Jackets. Love yellow roses and yellow peeps. Seeing me in a yellow cap really would not be unusual except this one isn’t just any yellow baseball cap.

If you follow my blog you know I am a person who focuses on helping others but I have a problem with trying to save the world at times. In searching for ways to be more productive without being overwhelmed I came across a solution. I can wear my invisible super cape as well as don a yellow cap. ( Well, I just noticed if you take the “e” from “cape” you have “cap.”  How fitting!) Today I was commissioned as a Southern BaptistsDisaster Relief Volunteer.  I am not new to crisis management and prevention but never stepped into the aftermath in such a way as I will.

I live in the new tornado alley way in Georgia. We have been hit hard over the past few months, actually years. If it continues as it has been, my serve area will basically be in my back yard. Though I have worked with foreign missions in the past, I prefer to spend my efforts closer to home helping those in my general area at this time. Why would I need to cross the ocean when there are people right here who need help? Honestly, I would prefer I never get a call. Would never want to have such terrible things happen to anyone but if it does, I am close enough to be there as soon as the call  goes out without making huge logistical plans.

If you are a person who works well under pressure, is extremely flexible, loves a challenge as well as helping others I urge you to look into becoming a first responder or a member of a relief team. Disasters happen daily, folks need help and a warm smile of reassurance that someone cares enough to be there for no other reason than to help clean up or offer a warm meal. It isn’t easy work but it will be one of the most heartfelt rewarding experiences you might ever have.

Leave a comment »