Posted in writing

Thoughts to think on this week

He is only half a watermelon.

I don’t really have a comment or question about this statement, I just love it. I smile every time I think on it. What’s yours?

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Posted in writing

A Pirate’s Life

A couple of months ago I watched the final (I assume) installment of Pirates of the Caribbean. Spoiler Alert if you haven’t watched it yet: It was a nice wrap up of the stories – the lover’s got back together, Jack got his ship back, and Barbosa got redemption. If you’ve watched the other films, you know that Barbosa was a pirate who was brought back to life and who, it seemed, had bested Jack Sparrow. However, in this film, Barbosa and Sparrow worked together; and at a pivotal point, Sparrow gave Barbosa the sword needed to save Barbosa’s daughter and to redeem Barbosa’s soul. As it was apparent that Barbosa gave his life, Jack Sparrow and all the other men gave tribute by saying – a pirate’s life.

Watching this segment of the movie made me think about so many of my friends who have already crossed over. Several of them died doing what they loved. One had a stroke while riding a motorcycle but managed to pull over safely. Another one had a brain aneurysm after spending the day with all her children and grandchildren. Another one worked until her 80s and then died a week later. Each of these people died their own ‘pirate’s life.’ Others were not so lucky. They were felled by illness and their deaths were passive – waiting for it.

What about you? Are you living your own pirate’s life so that when your moment comes, people can say the same of you? Do you want to? Or do you prefer a more passive lifestyle? What do you think are the pros and cons of each?

Posted in writing

Feedforwarding Coaching

I recently read a paper by Nick Petrie at the Center for Creative Leadership that used the metaphor that leadership is perpetual white water. This is my third blog post on the paper. For the first one, check out the August 6, 2017 post, and the second one check out the August 13, 2017 post. The paper discussed the new era of digital information leadership and talked about how to develop leaders in this new white water era.

A third suggestion from this paper is a time-efficient form of coaching, one that takes only two to three hours a month to complete. People who are looking to change behaviors often choose coaching. Author Petrie suggests raising the bar from Coaching to Feedforward Coaching, which puts the responsibility for development into the person’s hands by tailoring the process to work for them. Feedforward Coaching means the person chooses trusted colleagues to help them by focusing on three areas:

  • Focus on the future
  • Give only suggestions
  • That are positive that the person can do

Implementation:

  1. Person chooses one or two areas to improve.
  2. Person chooses five to eight internal, trusted people who become feedforward coaches.
  3. Person gathers monthly suggestions from the feedforward coaches and determines which to implement.
  4. At six and twelve month points, measure level of behavior change.

The six and twelve month check-ins could be something like:

  • Behavioral goal to change – I need to be more patient with other people (visible goal).
    • Wait until people stop talking
    • Talk slower
    • Walk around the office slower
    • Listen to people
  • Behaviors to work against the goal (doing/not doing)
    • I interrupt people instead of waiting for them to finish talking
    • I talk very fast and very loud
    • I make quick decisions
    • I walk around the office so fast I sometimes forget to say hello to some people
  • Hidden competing goals
    • Worries:
      • I’ll have to spend more time at work every day if I listen to everyone
      • My attention will be diverted to nonsense things and that will delay important things
    • I am committed to
      • Not wasting time on nonsense things
      • Not damaging my home life
      • Not having my career stalled because my performance drops
    • My big assumptions
      • I need to be fast and impatient at all times or I will not get results
      • If I am not fast and impatient all the time, my results will decrease and my image will be damaged.

Will you try this kind of coaching? Why? Why not? What expectations / concerns do you have?

Cite: Future Trends in Leadership Development by Nick Petrie

Posted in writing

 78 Days into the 100 Days Journey

You are about to pass the 80-day mark of the 100-day journey that I challenged you to on February 5th. How are you feeling? Do you need to keep doing what you are doing? Do you need to make some shifts or changes? Whatever it is, I encourage you to continue this journey through the end. There are 20 days left, you can do it. Let’s go.

Posted in writing

Cory’s Special Ornaments

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Here is my Chicken Soup for the Soul submission….what do you think?

He sat alone in his cage. Another day. Another meal. How had he ended up in a small cage surrounded by loud, strange cats and nice but strange people called volunteers?

She sat alone 600 miles away, looking at her computer. Time to move again. She didn’t know much about Buffalo, New York, but she knew there would be snow, lots of it. After 7 years in Washington, D.C. without a pet, she longed for one. She missed cuddling with her previous cats – Samantha and Sassafras. Samantha passed while she was in Kentucky, and Sassafras passed in California. The DC job had too much travel to be fair to a pet, but the new position wouldn’t have as much travel, so it was time. She looked on the Buffalo Animal Shelter’s website to see who needed her.

Knowing the stories about how black cats were mistreated, she stated that she would be happy with a black, adult cat. There was one available said the kind lady volunteer. However, the kind lady told her about another cat that had been with the shelter for 6 months. He was getting anxious, and the volunteer was afraid that he would soon become unadoptable. Would she consider a gray tabby cat instead? So, on her first Friday in Buffalo, she drove to pick up the gray tabby cat.

The gray tabby cat, named Cory by the volunteers, was 16 pounds and didn’t like all the cats and noise around him. When the lady looked in on him, he turned his back on her. She said, “Dude, it’s you and me. I’m all you got, so you better learn to like me.” He looked back over his shoulder and stared at her. And that is how Cory the Cat adopted me.

I paid for him, drove him to my new loft, and unloaded him and all the cat supplies. He walked out of the carrier, sniffed around for a bit, and then settled down on my best couch, the one with the beautiful Italian linen. I looked at the two cat beds that I just purchased and questioned if they would ever be used. They wouldn’t. At bedtime, I told Cory T. Cat, “It’s time for bed.” He looked at me, got down off the couch, and walked to the bedroom. He jumped on the bed, where he slept that night and many more on my right shoulder, purring pleasantly in my ear.

His first weekend in the new loft was exciting. As I unloaded moving boxes, he played hide and seek with the mounds of wrapping paper, and jumped in and out of the boxes. He enjoyed living in the loft. The 12-foot windows gave him great ‘cat television’ as he watched the birds flying around him. The long hallway was his soccer field where he ran jingle balls up and down it. The living area with the couches, footstools, and tables served as a great obstacle course when he played with flying toys. In no time at all, he was down to 12 pounds, a weight he has kept since.

At Christmas, I put up a small tree on the breakfast table. Cory T. Cat immediately assumed the tree was for him so I chose wooden ornaments. Twelve of the ornaments I placed on the tree were Olive Wood ones that I picked up in Bethlehem many years before. Cory became obsessed with two of these – one showing the Baby Jesus, and one showing the Holy Family in the familiar crèche/manger scene. No matter how many times I put them on the tree, he would pull them off, roll over them, love them with his face, and then lay on them. He never bothered any other ornaments or the garland or lights, but he would not leave those two ornaments on the tree. So, I left them loose under the tree. Each evening, he would roll on them and then lay on them and sleep.

Our companionship grew. We played together, watched television together, watched the snow and sites from the window together, and got to know each other. He ‘helped’ me read my books, and ‘helped’ me type on my laptop. When the Buffalo winters were at their worst and all the birds were gone for the season, I would play YouTube videos of birds on my laptop for him. He would enjoy them while I read books, as we waited for spring.

Two years later I received word that I was moving again, this time to Honolulu. I was worried about the move for Cory T. Cat. He hated loud noises and being crated up in his carrier to go for his regular nail clippings. How would he survive a long plane trip? Also, there was a 4-month quarantine before he could join me. How would he do in foster care after having been abandoned once before? Would he think I was abandoning him?

I moved to Honolulu in November. Cory T. Cat joined me in February. After twelve hours in a crate, he walked out as if he hadn’t just flown all the way across the country and halfway across the Pacific Ocean. He wandered around and found the bed. I joined him there, and he quickly settled down on my right shoulder and started purring as if no time had passed at all.

The Honolulu condo is very different from the New York loft. Along with bedroom windows, complete with a cat tree to watch the birds and the neighbors, and kitchen windows complete with a counter for soaking up the sun and watching the children play in the pool below, there is a screened-in lanai. It looks over palm trees where doves and other birds sit and daily ‘talk’ with Cory T. Cat, who ‘talks’ back to them. Cory T. Cat is kept busy socializing with the birds, the children, and all the neighbors.

This Christmas I took out my decorations and sat up a small tree on the kitchen counter for Cory T. Cat. As I rediscovered my Olive Wood ornaments again, I wondered, would Cory T Cat remember them? As a test, I put them on the back of the tree, and then pushed the back of the tree against the window.

When Cory T. Cat got up from his nap, he walked over to the tree and sniffed it out. Almost immediately, he started head butting the tree away from the window until he could get behind the tree. Once there, he found his two favorite ornaments – Baby Jesus, and the Holy Family crèche/manger scene. He pulled them off the tree and nudged them around until they were at the front of the tree. Then he rolled over them again and again. Soon, he had settled down for a nap on them. Cory T. Cat may now be a Hawaiian cat, one that loves watching kids in the pool and talking with birds on his lanai, but, he has never forgotten his special ornaments on his tree that signaled his Christmas season.

 

Posted in cats, writing

A Cat Moment with Emily Dickinson

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She Sights A Bird From Emily Dickinson

 

She sights a bird – she chuckles.

She flattens, then she crawls.

She runs without the look of feet.

Her eyes increase to balls.

 

Her jaws stir, twitching, hungry.

Her teeth can hardly stand.

She leaps, but Robin leaped the first

Ah pussy of the sand.

 

The hopes so juicy ripening

You almost bathed your tongue

When bliss disclosed a hundred toes

And fled with everyone.

 

Cite: The Sophisticated Cat by Joyce Carol Oates and Daniel Halpern

This week’s writing assignment for me will be writing an article about Cory T Cat to see if I can come up with anything for Chicken Soul.  Samantha Cat and Sassafras’ stories have been published, so I think I should try to publish a Cory T Cat story too. Any favorites that you have?

Posted in self-improvement, writing

Writing Euology Exercise Results

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Last Sunday’s writing exercise was to ‘write your eulogy exercise.’ The idea behind the exercise was to 1) write the eulogy, 2) review it, 3) find the gaps and think about what you wished it said, and 4) change your life to fit it. The idea behind the exercise is to decide how you want to ‘live your dash.’ Several years ago, the poem, “The Dash” was written. The idea was your tombstone will have at least 3 things on it: date of birth – date of death. Your life, and how you chose to spend it will be lived within the dash in the middle.

While I’m great at creating, implementing, and completing plans, strategies, GNATS, timelines, etc. for projects, programs, and problems in my professional life, my personal life is ruled by opportunities that present themselves seemingly serendipitously. I wouldn’t have it any other way. However, it makes it difficult to create personal plans more than a few months or a couple of years out.  Because of that, this project was an interesting one to complete. What do you think of my results?

 

Dr. Sheila Embry was born in 1959, a time when the country was in transition – out of the post-World War II rebuilding and family boon, into the cultural unrest of the 1960s, and the women’s movement of the 1970s. She was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and attended J. B. Atkinson Elementary School, Western Junior High School, and graduated with honors from Ahrens Vocational and Technical High School.

After high school, she began her own transition, moving to Southern California, attending Chaffey Community College in Rancho Cucamonga for a year, attending Riverside Scientology for a year where she graduated with State of Clear. Then she settled into getting business degrees (BA from McKendree, MA from Webster, DM from University of Phoenix), marrying, divorcing, losing a soulmate, caring for family, and enjoying decades of adventures along the way. Her professional life included working for Hilton Hotels in her early years, and the federal government in her middle and later years where she worked for U. S. House of Representatives, U. S. Department of Justice, and U. S. Department of Homeland Security. Along the way, she lived in Kentucky, California, Virginia, New York, and Hawaii, while also living temporarily in Texas, Florida, Colorado, Utah, and Jamaica. Additionally, she enjoyed her travels to Alaska, Israel, and too many Bahamas and Caribbean islands to list here. 

Sheila chose to live a long life, because, as she said once, “if I had to work for 40 years, I wanted to enjoy the same amount of healthy time in retirement.” She liked to boil things down as simply as possible, once describing her life as

  • in my 10s, I survived
  • in my 20s, I married
  • in my 30s, I loved
  • in my 40s, I developed
  • in my 50s, I wrote
  • in my 60s, I danced
  • in my 70s, 
  • in my 80s,
  • in my 90s,
  • in my 100s,

Her life ended on her birthday reuniting her with over 100 family and friends who had traveled before and served as her personal cloud of witnesses throughout her lifetime. When asked how she wished to be remembered, she stated, ‘if my life hasn’t already answered that question, there is nothing I can add now.” She was xxx years old.