“When nothing else is certain….”

May 28, 2016

Ray and I are catching up with some programs backlogged on our DVR. Yesterday night, we watched Call the Midwife, the first episode from Season 5. The plot involved a baby girl born without arms or legs.

At the time, the doctor and midwives had no idea that the baby’s physical disabilities resulted from the thalidomide that the pregnant mother had received as a prescription. The show dramatized the first reactions of the midwives, the doctor, the new father and new mother as well as the siblings. All involved learned–sooner or later–not only to accept but to embrace the newborn girl as she is. But I was most impressed by the voiceover commentary at the end of the episode. I think it applies only all too well for any uncertain time in which we find ourselves. What do you think?

“Love grows when nothing else is certain, changing its shape to fill the space required.”



Not-So-Thankful Pup?

March 29, 2016

Okay…somehow, through the magic of mailing lists shared without my permission, I now receive a “Touch of Class” catalog. I get a kick out of thumbing through the glossy pictures while I’m eating lunch. Well, I almost lost my lunch when I saw an item called: “Thankful Pup Sculpture.”

I presume the artist and the catalog meant well…but, frankly, this sculpture looks like a dog that has little to be thankful for!

Here’s the link. What do YOU think?


“One step beyond”

March 20, 2016

I was browsing books on Amazon when I saw this comment by Brian Tracy, author of The Way to Wealth. I hope it inspires you as much as it has inspired me today:

“Most people will achieve their greatest success one step beyond what looked like their greatest failure.”


“Thank you for your business”

March 7, 2016

As a customer, I love hearing a clerk or store-owner tell me: “Thank you for your business.”

Unfortunately, I don’t hear that very often these days. Instead, I’m noticing an ironic twist between clerks and customers. Instead of clerks thanking customers for their business, the clerks often say nothing…then, more often than not, customers fill-in-the-blank and say “thank you” to the clerks!

I have to admit, I sometimes find myself doing the same thing. When that happens, I wonder why we customers so easily slip into this behavior. Why do we thank clerks for the privilege of shopping at that store?

Don’t get me wrong. I like politeness. It just seems that the situation is bass-ackwards. I think it’s easy to get sucked into that vacuum of silence at the cash register. It’s a moment when it seems that somebody should say something…and we feel that that “something” is a “thank you”…and if the clerk doesn’t say it, then WE will say it!

On days when I have more presence of mind, I sometimes respond to that silence by saying  “Okay” or “Have a nice day.” I feel it’s a polite way of responding to clerks who don’t thank me for my business.

I realize this whole topic may seem a bit trivial. I guess it is. But as I see it, most of our days are filled with trivial things. Ralph Waldo Emerson once remarked: “Manners are the happy way of doing things.” So why wouldn’t a store want a customer to be happy? Why shouldn’t a clerk thank a customer for patronizing a store–and not the other way around?

This morning, I shopped at two national retailers. Neither clerk thanked me for my business.


Please Light a Candle Today

December 4, 2015

CandleWe’ve all heard the saying: “It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness.”

In my opinion, there is no better time to practice that philosophy than TODAY. People of good will around the world are tired of hearing about today’s mass shooting or today’s act of terrorism, whether foreign or domestic.

Granted, we cannot stop all this carnage directly…but WE CAN HELP INDIRECTLY by contacting our decision-makers in Washington, D.C. Pressure works. Movements work. But we must be willing to do more than pray and be sad for the state of our country and our world.

Here is my proposal: Every time there is a another mass shooting, let’s contact our United States Representative and Senators. Call the U.S. Capitol Building and ask to leave a voice message for each of them. The number is (202) 224-3121 or (866) 220-0044.

Or send an e-mail. Here’s a link to find the e-mail of your U.S. Representative: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/ You can quickly find the link to e-mail your U.S. Senator by following this formula: www.(Last name of Senator without parentheses).senate.gov. So in Michigan, you can go to http://www.stabenow.senate.gov or http://www.peters.senate.gov.

There are some who may try to convince us that all this will do no good. They may say it won’t work to change laws and create sensible rules for responsible gun ownership. But I disagree. The proof is in the numbers. After all, why do well-heeled lobbying groups spend millions of dollars each year to convince our legislators not to pass sensible measures? Because sensible measures do make a difference! No one law will be the answer…but when we see that a sensible step should be taken, let’s pressure our legislators to take that step. That is what this post is all about.

We may never know who was stopped from committing a mass shooting because of sensible measures. Usually, that doesn’t make the news. All we may see is that, the next time there’s a mass shooting, the weapons lobbyists will say: “See? Those gun measures didn’t work!” They will say that so that we feel any action we take would be useless. They want to paralyze us from acting as citizens and expressing our desire to slow down this carnage. But each day that a mass shooting doesn’t occur, we will know that sensible measures do make a difference. And if there is another mass shooting, let’s take more action.

So this is what I plan to do: Every time I start to see the sad posts on Facebook about the latest mass shooting, I will repost this link…with a reminder to get on our feet and take some action. Take two minutes to call your two Senators and your Representative. That’s six minutes of your time for useful action…six minutes to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness.

It is right to feel our grief and frustration and anger over this. It is NOT normal to have a mass shooting every day in this country. We should NOT grow inured to this violence. Instead, let us turn our outrage into constructive action.


Ask your doctor about DTC pharmaceutical ads!

November 23, 2015

Have you had the Detrol talk with your doctor? Have you asked your doctor if you’ve traveled to a location where certain fungal infections are common? Are you tired of seeing surreal fuzzy cats and glowing green butterflies and people made of pipes…or critters who look like a cross between your intestines and a bubble gum blob…or a child-like bladder that keeps dragging you to the bathroom? How you noticed the color-cues in pharmaceutical commercials…where every scene contains purple or blue?

Did you ever wonder what your doctor thinks of all these direct-to-consumer (DTC) pharmaceutical ads? Well wonder no longer. The American Medical Association has taken a stand. See the article here from Bloomberg News.


Shonda Rhimes: ‘Ditch the dream’

November 12, 2015

Clouds3So I was watching “The Late Show” with Stephen Colbert a couple days ago and heard that Shonda Rhimes would be a guest. For those not familiar with the name, Shonda Rhimes is the whirlwind creative force behind ABC’s Thursday night television line-up…from Grey’s Anatomy to Scandal to How to Get Away with Murder.

Rhimes was promoting her new book, “Year of Yes.” And in her discussion with Stephen Colbert, she offered this advice from her book: “Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer.” I was intrigued. After all, our culture encourages people to dream…and dream big. It was an idea, she said, that she first shared in her commencement address at Dartmouth in 2014. Speaking in public was one of the things she feared…so in her “Year of Yes” she decided to do the things she feared. In her commencement address, Rhimes offered the newly minted graduates some very unconventional advice.

I thought there must be a YouTube video of Rhimes speaking at Dartmouth in 2014. Sure enough. Just click on the link in the previous sentence if you’d like to see and hear her address for yourself. Rhimes admitted that her dream was to be Toni Morrison, the award-winning writer. But while she was dreaming that dream, she was living in the basement of her sister’s house–until she decided to stop dreaming and start doing. I was so intrigued by her counter-cultural remarks that I transcribed the section of her speech that talks about dreamers. Here it is:

“I think a lot of people dream, and while they are busy dreaming, the really happy people, the really successful people, the really interesting, engaged, powerful people, are busy doing. The dreamers, they stare at the sky and they make plans and they hope and they talk about it endlessly and they start a lot of sentences with: “I want to be” or “I wish.” “I want to be a writer.” “I wish I could travel around the world.” And they dream of it.

“The buttoned up ones meet for cocktails and they brag about their dreams. And the hippie ones have vision boards and they meditate about their dreams. And maybe you write in journals about your dreams or discuss it endlessly with your best friend or your girl friend or your mother and it feels really good. You’re talking about it and you’re planning it and you’re blue-skying your life. And that is what everyone says you should be doing.

“No. Dreams are lovely, but they are just dreams…fleeting, ephemeral, pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change. So Lesson One is: Ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer. Maybe you don’t know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what you passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know…you just have to keep moving forward. Just keep doing something, and seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new…even if it doesn’t fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life.

“Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just do. So you think, “I wish I could travel.” Great. Sell your crappy car, buy a ticket to Bangkok and go, right now. I’m serious. If you’re gonna be a writer, a writer is someone who writes every day. So start writing. If you don’t have a job, get one. Any job. Don’t sit at home waiting for a magical opportunity. Who are you, Prince William? No. Get a job! Go to work. Do something until you can do something else.”

What do YOU think of Rhimes’ advice?