“Training- training is everything; training is all there is to a person. We speak of nature; it is folly; there is no such thing as nature; what we call by that misleading name is merely heredity and training. We have no thoughts of our own, no opinions of our own; they are transmitted to us, trained into us.”
― Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
When I was 19 I lived in Madison Wisconsin USA on the isthmus between 2 lakes. There were bike trails, the university, outdoor festivals and farmers markets on the capital square. My neighborhood was a mix of students and hippies. My next-door neighbors were a young family and much to my surprise one day I found the 5 and 6-year-old had written in sidewalk chalk – Subvert the dominant paradigm. I wasn’t sure what it meant so I looked it up and I liked it immediately.
My parenting style may be different than others – or I should say it absolutely is different from others. I want my children to function successfully in the school system and to be respectful. I do not however want them to lack in critical thinking and to just accept everything they are told at face value. I also don’t want the personality conditioned out of them so that they can be docile and easy to control. As you may intuit this has led to some challenges for me and some calls from the school over the years.
It has also led to parent teacher conferences where a teacher tells me how much my kids contribute to the discussions and how my son saw something in a story that has been in the curriculum for the last 15 years that she had never noticed and how insightful it was.
Children need boundaries but they also need to have space to develop their natural gifts. A bright child with logical arguments should be directed to the debate society instead of the principals office. Aggressiveness can be honed on the athletic field or basketball court. Creativity can be explored in art club, band, chorus or drama. Trying to force kids into a box only stifles them.
“Obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it.” – Michael Jordan
If we want our kids to become leaders instead of followers, we need to encourage then to test their boundaries. Don’t be afraid to let your kids fight for what they believe in and see what they can accomplish.
The rules are unclear.
Perceptions are varied.
Who is running this thing anyway?
That is what matters, isn’t it?
Who’s in charge?
Who has the power?
Who can make it happen?
I can, and I will.
Express Yourself – Suit up for Success
Not hitting the desired rung on the corporate ladder? Maybe it is time to up your clothing game and dress like the executives. Polish up your image and see if other people assume that you are what you project.
A few months ago we had an international group in for a team meeting. My wardrobe for important work meetings is tailored suits, usually with skirts and heels. That makes me feel confident, polished and ready for anything.
The meeting went well and most of the group left on Thursday; Friday was casual dress and with a $5 donation we could wear our favorite team jersey and jeans.
I turned up representing my team – NFL (American Football) Green Bay Packers – # 12 Aaron Rodgers. It was fun to have the relaxed atmosphere and camaraderie with coworkers – even the ones who like the Dallas Cowboys. I was getting all sorts of comments since it was the week that Rodgers broke his collarbone.
When I got dressed I didn’t realize that I would be having a meeting with the regional sales manager from Malaysia. We needed to sort out an issue that had been lingering and I was determined to get it resolved face to face. I don’t know if it was the energy in the whole business that day or my costume but it felt like we were in a huddle and I was the quarterback.
Not only did we get the issue addressed – I got a compliment on the jersey and he said he should get one for his meetings!
So the take away – your clothes not only transform how you feel and present yourself – they also shape how others see you. Have fun and take advantage of your super suit – whatever that may be.
Every day at noon I would walk around the corner from school and meet my mother and the crossing guard. I was a “home luncher” rather than a “carrier” or a “buyer” meaning I got to leave school and spend some time just me and my mom. I am the youngest of five children, the only girl. I loved lunchtime.
One day I was on my walk home for lunch and a van pulled up in front of me. A tall man with reddish brown hair and a mustache started walking toward me. He was saying something that I couldn’t understand, not because it wasn’t English but because I was terrified. I knew there was something wrong with a stranger getting out of a van walking toward an eight year old girl and trying to talk to her. I ran to the corner to where my mom and the crossing guard were waiting. As I did, the van peeled around the corner fast. I relayed the story to my mom with tears streaming. I was out of immediate danger but felt fear after that when I would walk home.
I have often thought about that day and wondered, was the man talking to me at all? Was he really some kind of a creep? The school is very close to several highway on ramps and it would have been easy for him to jump on a highway and be long gone before anyone knew. Maybe he was there to meet his girlfriend and he was talking to himself in anger that she wasn’t there and didn’t have any bad intentions at all toward me. I will never know what may or may not have been the reason that this situation imprinted itself on me. Something about it made it different that the thousands of other contacts with people that quickly vanished from my memory. Perhaps it is just a healthy fear of strangers, especially those in windowless vans. Kids have been taken.
About four years after the van incident a girl who lived a few blocks from me went missing. I knew her but not well. We were on softball together one season and she was a year older. She had glasses and short straight blonde hair. She had a paper route which was a big deal. That was one of the few jobs a kid could get. All of my brothers had paper routes and I helped them and wanted to take on a route when I was 13. But that was never to be.
Writing this is emotional, I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. I didn’t have the language for it then but now I would say it was surreal, terrifying. Where was she and why didn’t she come home? There were 7 blocks between her house and her paper route. It felt like she would have to turn up, like it was all a mistake. Being a kid there is a naive sense of hope that kept me focused on her being okay, but also the sense that something was wrong. All the parents were visibly shaken and when the adults are worried the kids feel it. Deep down we all knew this wasn’t going to be okay.
They found her. She was dead. My friends mother explained a little bit of the news story because we didn’t understand what had happened. Looking back, I wish she hadn’t. I didn’t need to know how ugly the human mind can be and how a depraved man can steal a beautiful child from this world. I had nightmares for a long time after that and my seemingly safe little working-class neighborhood suddenly felt like a danger zone. In my dreams, when I saw her it was either as a scary ghostly floating vision or as one of the kids at school as if nothing had happened.
There was no paper route for me or any other girls in my neighborhood after that. In gym class we started a pretty aggressive chapter on self-defense. I remember being scared. We were learning how to put a man’s nose through his brain or groin kick him to do damage. I didn’t feel empowered to take out a bad man, I just felt like the bad men could be anywhere and they wanted to get little girls.
As I grew up and the initial fear of being taken began to fade, I started to read books about criminals. I had this idea that if I understood how they thought and worked then I could spot one and I would be safer for it. I had a conversation with a friend who was police officer for years and I got some serious wisdom from him. There is nothing different about these people. There is no key to it all that will illuminate why someone will wake up today and do something that most of us would never do. They just make these choices. That is so sensible and yet also difficult to accept.
The normal quiet man in the blue house with the nice lawn could be a killer, trust your instincts and suspicions.
Somewhere in Upstate NY – Author commits to spend at least one hour writing every day, but ends up thinking about what to write and dismissing her ideas.
“Oh, I could write about working” – A fresh perspective on staying focused and keeping the atmosphere positive – no this is shit, no one will want to read it.
“Of course – parenting, I can write a blog about the rewards and challenges of raising kids” pull out the good notebooks and pens to do an outline to then it type up. Set up the perfect writing area but spend time prepping not writing.
Current events, weather, the implications of genetically modifying food, top 10 books, anything? A short story? I poem? No – it is all shit.
Come on – you got this…. Write – do a writing prompt. And then it might be something like “there are 2 kinds of people in this world…” way too much pressure, I would have to write the most brilliant response to that and I am almost out of my procrastinating, I mean writing time.
But wait there’s more – I will write something starting with an A and then all the letters in the alphabet – here goes:
All day long
Because I have to
There – I wrote today
“One may know how to conquer without being able to do it”
–Sun Tzu, The Art of War
You can’t boil the ocean – having goals without direction or too many goals for the resources available is a sure way to fail.
Understanding what you want is key. It is impossible to plot a course without understanding where you want to go. The goal may be – I want to increase my net worth by $15,000 in liquid assets or I want to lose 20 lbs.
Understanding your limits is also important – I want to increase my net worth by $15,000 in liquid assets in a legal and ethical way. Getting money faster may be easier with blurred lines, but understanding that your goal is to do it legally and ethically keeps you on the path. I want to lose weight safely and keep it off. Crash dieting for a month isn’t going to cut it.
Now that there are goals – lets look at what to do to make our goals into reality.
Goal One – increasing net worth by $15,000 in liquid assets
How? Do a Reality Check – where are you now versus where you want to be?
The Current situation – I am saving money at a rate of $250 per month, current balance $1,000
The Ideal situation – I have a savings account with $15,000
By comparing the current and ideal a specific target of $14,000 in additional savings is defined as the goal.
Next consider time – Do you want to increase your net worth by December 2018? Or December 2020?
Time to take a look at the factors impacting this decision.
Do a SWOT analysis – What are your Strengths and Weaknesses? What external Opportunities and Threats impact your goal?
- Strengths – Debt to Income ratio leaves extra money for savings
- Weaknesses – High car payment, tendency to buy new things when not needed
- Opportunity – Get higher paying job, get less expensive car and save the difference
- Threats – Unexpected expenses, Increases in taxes or utility rates, Economic downturn
Understanding what is going to help achieve the goal as well as what will potentially undermine success is information needed to formulate a strategic plan.
In order to save $14,000 by December 2018 would require a monthly contribution of $1,167 per month starting this month. Is that feasible?
In order to save $14,000 by December 2020 would require a monthly contribution of $400 per month. Is this feasible or could you do it sooner?
Maybe you can comfortably save $650 per month which would put you at the $14,000 mark in 21 ½ months.
Another goal is weight loss. Let’s say I want to lose 20 pounds.
Reality Check – Do I have 20 lbs to lose?
Current Situation -My Body Mass shows Index I am 15 – 20 lbs heavier than ideal for my height
Ideal Situation – I am the ideal weight for my height
The goal is set – lose 20 pounds without crash dieting
When? – I want to lose 20 pounds by the middle of April 2018
How? – Is this do-able by my preferred time? Time to do a SWOT analysis
- Strengths – I like walking in nature and occasional hikes, I like to swim and, I like bike riding
- Weaknesses – I love chocolate, sweets, and chicken nuggets
- Opportunities – onsite workout center
- Threats – Krispy Kremes and Sonic
So if I set out to walk, hike, swim and bike ride more and eat fewer sweets and chicken nuggets – is that a strategy? Not quite, I need to add in a measurement – April 30, 2018 is 3 ½ months away so I will need to lose a set amount of weight each week. Or none this month and 7, 6, and 7 respectively in February, March and April. In order to know if I am on track to succeed I need a tracking signal.
Two goals are illustrated above. Once the facts are known determine how aggressive your strategy will be, do you want the slow steady approach or a quicker result. You can do either as long as you have the resources to meet the milestones. A milestone is a set target – balance in savings or total lbs lost at the 1 month mark – are you on schedule at this rate to meet your goal?
The measurements will allow me to adjust the strategy if it isn’t working. It is better to adjust the strategy and meet the goal than it is to give up – so if you aren’t on track adjust and see your goal through to completion.
Take a look at your own goals and try to create a strategy to achieve them.
Thank you for reading
A few months ago, as a result of one of my favorite podcasters – I signed up for an app to listen to books on my commute. I enjoy reading but don’t always have a lot of time. Listening to books gives me access to the stories I don’t have time to read and helps me avoid the inundation of negativity in the news. I am currently listening to Dale Carnegie – How to win friends and influence people. It was published in 1936 so some of the anecdotes are dated but still accessible.
I can use my iPhone and listen to the books via the Bluetooth in my car which is convenient. There is a glitch though, or, to my mind a glitch. When my 13-year-old runs out on a cold morning to fire up my car the book begins to play – so she turns it to the radio. That is fine and honesty I prefer to have the book stop so that I don’t miss something. The issue is that when I switch back to Bluetooth my Apple library kick on the free U2 album. I like U2 – but why are they the go to for my library? Try as I may to skip to Oasis all it would do was lag for 5 seconds and then BAM!
– U2 popped back up. I know this is old news since my google search of the U2 Apple hit how to delete it. But I wasn’t using my phone for music – so this revelation hit me in 2017.
So, I am driving along unable to switch on Audible because Suri wants my password and trapped in an album I don’t want to hear again.
AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No More
As I skip songs I finally get to a song that I bought years ago on my old iPod. Check it out on this link Everythings gonna be alright
The Babysitter Circus – Everythings gonna be alright
I found them when I was helping my son search for music from New Zealand 4 years ago. It makes me happy every time I hear it and the video is great too.
I was getting upset about something minor – and then the universe delivered a gift that not only made me feel better but made me happy.