Thursday, August 3, 2017

SpiritChange—A New Blog

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." Muhatma Ghandi 

Sometimes life takes you away from your comfort zone, and you are faced with two choices: adapt and change or sulk and refuse to get out of bed. My life as a chic suburban Mom from Minnesota is now behind me; I choose to adapt and change.

A recent move from the Midwest to California has brought about many life changes and challenges than you might expect. However I'm finding clarity in transition. Leaving one life behind and stepping into another is both a thrill and terrifying. That's where clarity comes in. You cannot live in thrill and terror all the time. Clarity gives perspective and helps adjust to change.

The past week has brought a 1700 mile move, adjusting to real wildlife in the Sierra Nevada, storms knocking out electricity, no Internet, a very stressed out dog, and even a forest fire threatening our new neighborhood. All challenges to anyone's spirit. Yet there is peace and beauty in the mountains and new places to explore.

This new blog, SpiritChange, is a new way of looking at the world, finding excitement in the ordinary, realizing we are all more alike than different, and making the world a better place. Maybe looking at the good in all of us instead of focusing on the bad. My blog is so very new that I've not even had a chance to post on it, but I will. I cannot tell you what this blog will be like, but check back and take a look at SpiritChange to see where this new idea leads.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Accidental Bullet

CRACK! What sounded like a gunshot echoed directly outside of my open office window on Monday morning, startling my colleague and me. We looked at each other and one of us said, "that couldn't be what I think that was? Was it?" But it was.

A clear October morning interrupted by a single shot from a gun. A bullet from a gun that went off accidentally while the owner was cleaning his gun in an apartment directly behind my office. The bullet tore through his concrete wall and wooden window sill, continued over our patio, and drifted through the trees, dripping their autumn splendor. The accidental bullet entered our event center through the only open window in the entire room, whizzed past a table of people using the event center, slashed the carpet, and grazed an arm chair before embedding itself in the wall on the opposite side of the room.

No one was hurt because everyone was miraculously away from the open window that was cracked open a few inches. No glass was shattered. No one was hit as the bullet bounced up from the ripped carpet to finally rest in the wall.

The group who was renting the event center were obviously shaken and retreated to another, safer part of the building for lunch. This group dealt with people in crisis every day. Perhaps that prepared them somewhat and helped them cope with a random stray bullet interrupting their meeting.

Staff were visibly distressed. The police arrived to verify the 9-11 call that the incident was an accident. I watched them carry a very large rifle case out to the squad car.

I did not have to pull out the Crisis Communications plan that I wrote and did not put it into action. This story could have ended so differently as many horrible headlines ran through my mind during the aftermath. Someone could have been killed.

But that did not happen. Instead we revel in life. That accidental bullet stopped our world if only for a moment. It made us realize how truly fragile life is. Instead of managing a crisis, my colleagues and I along with the guests at the event center can rejoice! Amazingly, except for some holes in walls and carpet, all was well. Today and every day that we walk past that window, we will rejoice!

I must give credit to my colleague Julianne whose words inspired me to release this blog post.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

D. None of the above

Welcome back to the reality of the 2016 American Presidential election. Here is where we stand today:

A.  Hillary Clinton

B.  Donald Trump
C.  Random 3rd party candidate
D.  None of the above

We are now only 5 short weeks away from the end of this long, ugly race to the White House. Like most Americans I am looking forward to the end of a Presidential race that has brought us the political antics of Chris Christie, Bernie Sanders, and Ben Carson. However I am somewhat frightened about the actual outcome of this election. I do wonder how in a nation of 318.9 million people we ended up with Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on the top of the ticket. [Insert your random political conspiracy theory here.]

I will not tell you who to vote for or against—the candidates and media do an excellent job of that every day. I don't have a candidate in this race. My candidate won the state of Minnesota but dropped out like the rest of the field of candidates. This Presidential race seems ripe for a 3rd party candidate to come in and steal the Presidency away from the party favorites. Alas, not one 3rd party contender has emerged.

Here in Minnesota there are at least nine names on the Presidential side of the ballot, ranging from Trump and Hillary to Evan McMullin, Independence Party, to Dan R. Vacek, Legal Marijuana Now, to Jill Stein of the Green Party. None of these 3rd party candidates can gain any ground against the Democratic and Republican parties.

This election has soured American politics. It is very sad when people who live and breathe politics are perplexed, dismayed, or even completely disengaged from this election. I've taken to watching Saturday Night Live skits about the debates instead of watching the actual debates. Anyone else doing this too? South Park as well. Perhaps injecting some humor into the Presidential election takes the edge off or makes me momentarily forget the reality of what is at stake. 

Only a few weeks remain for what is probably the largest voting bloc, undecideds, to make up their minds and turn out to vote. It would be a curious thing if the "undecideds" were the ones who decided the outcome of this election. Headline on November 9: Unprecedented! 'D. None Of the Above' Wins U.S. Presidential Election.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Five Ways to Find a Sense of Balance

Are you searching for that work and family balance in your life? Join the club. After taking a bit of a blog break to try to figure that all out, I'm back on my blog. I've not yet come up with "the" solution to balancing out the family life and work life pulls, but I did stumble upon a few simple ways to ease the strain and put life back into balance.
  1. It's OK to say no. For me this is the most difficult item on this list. I have a very hard time saying no to both work and family. However if you always say yes to everything, you can end up buried in endless things that perhaps you do enjoy, but end up resenting because there is just too much to do. Say YES carefully and thoughtfully.
  2. Find a hobby or activity and actually take time to enjoy. Once you start to say no, you will actually have time to pursue activities for you. Cleaning your house does not count as a hobby. Take up something that you have always wanted to try or return to a lifelong passion. Life is just too short not to try kick-boxing, mosaic making, or horseback riding. Do it for yourself!
  3. Detach from your screens. Another tough one given that smart phones bring the office and the family right along with you out in the garden or to the gym. Remember your family is watching you. If you want them to spend less time on their devices, you have to set the example. Set down your tablet and take the kids and dog outside to enjoy a lovely fall day.
  4. Build movement into your day. Believe it or not, moving around makes you more productive at work and gives you more energy for the end of the day when you are at home with your loved ones. Sitting at your desk in front of your computer for hours at a time is just not healthy. I'm known for taking laps around the halls of my office or walking down to Lake Phalen during my lunch break. Movement makes a huge different in my day.
  5. Family first. Do you suppose you will remember all of those extra times that you stayed late or worked for a good chunk of Saturday while everyone else went to the State Fair? I've learned that work will ALWAYS be there. Your kids will not always be there. Go to the choir concert, watch a youth football practice, or hang out in the lobby of an orchestra rehearsal. You won't be sorry.
Don't get me wrong . . .work and careers are incredibly important. Success at work and at home is more than just putting in the hours. Finding that healthy balance makes life more manageable. Maybe these few easy steps I've outlined will help you too!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Senseless: Innocent Lives Lost in Falcon Heights and Baghdad

Feeling numb and shocked by the senseless loss of innocent lives thousands of miles away and right in my own backyard. I cannot articulate what I want to say so I will let others speak for me tonight. I do not understand the evil that has made these incomprehensible events happen.

Philando Castile Shooting in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, Sparks Protests

Protests erupted in Minnesota overnight after a man was fatally shot by police during a traffic stop in front of his girlfriend and a child.  The aftermath of Philando Castile's shooting in Falcon Heights was apparently captured in graphic detail on Facebook video. Angry crowds gathered outside the governor's mansion as news spread about the death. Castile, 32, was a kitchen supervisor for the St. Paul school district.  Full story and videos (graphic).

KING: ISIS terrorists aren’t Muslims — they're just evil men hell-bent on carnage and destruction

Maybe you missed it since “pray for Baghdad” didn't trend on Twitter and Facebook didn’t give you the option of overlaying an Iraqi flag on your profile picture, but something truly horrific happened there Sunday morning. A suicide truck bomb tore through a busy shopping district in Baghdad. ISIS has already claimed the attack as their own.
The carnage it left behind was comparable to our Oklahoma City bombing, but worse. It tore through an entire block, ripped gaping holes in huge buildings, and killed at least 215 people — including dozens of women and young children. The death toll is expected to rise. It was the single deadliest attack in Iraq in nearly a decade. As you read this, people are still combing through the rubble hoping to find their loved ones alive. Read more  . . . 

Both acts are so very wrong. . . .what will it take to just make people stop?