Friday, June 19, 2015

Our trip to South Dakota Day one and two

We are on our way to see our daughter in South Dakota, and witness the arrival of our third grandchild and first granddaughter.

This planning  started six months ago, but things kept coming up, where we couldn't save for the airline fair. So we calculated the cost, and it was far cheaper for us to drive.

My wife and I decided to rent a car, and that way we would not put wear and tear on our own vehicle, plus our 16 year old son - who didn't want to come - would have a way to get around when we were gone.

The trip was set, everything was paid and all was good.

Day one

We went to get our car from #Budgetrentacar, stood on a line at 7:30 am. Only one person was there to check everyone in, and so the going was slow.

We finally made it to the counter, and he demanded my wife's identification and card.

Now let me explain,  my wife and I don't have credit cards, because they were dangerous to us at the first part of our married lives. If we don't have the money for it, we don't buy it.

Budget does not care about our personal beliefs, and they don't except debit.

My wife was upset, my daughter in South Dakota was in tears and we still needed to be on the road.

We went to #EnterpiseRentals and they wanted $3500 to rent the car. I laughed, congratulated the manager on his comedy routine and left.

After much  debate, we decided to take our car. We made sure that the fluids were topped off, and then we set of for South Dakota. My 16 year old son was very upset, but the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few [he always quotes that].

We drove through Oregon, Washington, Idaho and into Montana. We stopped at 9:00 at the cutest little motel in Superior Montana, called Big Sky Motel,

Day 2

We left Superior Montana, and headed east, and across the Rocky Mountains, and into the northern planes of the United States. This was a very long trip. There is not much that went on on the second day, except looking out the window and taking pictures.

We made it into Pierre (locals pronounce it Peer) South Dakota at 11:15 local time. The car made it, and we were exhausted.

Since pictures are worth a thousand words, Here are some pictures for your enjoyment. I think I will take tomorrow off

Columbia River Gorge

Multanmoha Falls, Oregon

The Columbia River

More of the Columbia River

Wind Farm in Washington State

A Large Windmill - What would Don Quixote think? 

Hello Montana

The best little Hotel we have ever visited.

Montana from the passenger side of a moving car.

The Rockies!

Mountains and green prairies.

River in Eastern Montana
The Plains in Montana
The Rocky Mountains
Wheat Montana Bakery - No good if you are eating paleo!

More of the Rocky Mountains in Montana

A river runs through it in Montana

lots of green grass land in the Wyoming

Welcome to South Dakota

Sunset of Day 2

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Don’t let the sun go down on your anger

I am sitting here at my computer, confessing my sins. I got angry last night. Now I can get tussled about quite often, but generally I hold my peace; I can usually shake off what is bothering me and move on. Last night was not one of those times.

I have a 16 year old son, and he is a driver, but he does not have a car and we only have one car that we all share. Now usually on Saturday I take the car to work (I generally take my bike), so I can come home and have lunch with my wife (the crowd says “awe”). She will then take me back to work, and then she will do her shopping for the next week. That has been the routine since I have had this schedule.

Last night my son came home, and said he needed the car first thing in the morning. It is for a social event, and one which I support, but he came in and changed my plans.
I lost it. I did not start yelling, but my wife did say I was throwing a fit (didn’t someone say he was an adult earlier… humph).
I went to bed and I had a very restless night sleep, and I woke up this morning in a rather bad mood. I stomped around the kitchen, chanted as my mantra “I don’t want to go to work,” and grumbled about not being able to take the car (Adult: I say again humph).
I sat down at my computer, and started to settle down, and I realized I was acting as a child. I started making a list of apologies I needed to give, did a little work and my time to leave approached.
I went out to my mode of transportation, and my front tire was as flat as a pancake. Now I really felt bad, because my wife would have to take me to work and I would be disrupting her sleep.
So this is the lesson I have gleaned from that experience.
First, plans can change, and being rigid about your plans can make you break. So I must not be so set in what I am doing that I cannot make allowances for variation.
Second, resolve the problem – before going to sleep. Waking up the next morning feeling upset will only be overshadowed by feeling tired.
Lastly, be grateful for what you have, because you never know when you might have a “flat.”

Thursday, May 14, 2015

I need some WD-40

I have been writing pretty steady since January, and I am very happy with the success of what I have done. This is better than any other attempt I have made with my writing. But the wheels are getting stuck.

I have sat down here to write and opened up a vain, but for some reason the words aren’t coming out like they were: I am not able to just take a word or an idea and run with it. 
I do admit, where I do the most of my writing is here at my “Brick and Mortar,” but the atmosphere is not quite conducive for original thought; with the primary colors on the walls to offset the beige cubicles, the ivory desks, the cold monitors and the grey phone, The carpets are even a bleck color (somewhere between brown and yuck).

There is a motivational poster that hangs near my cubical that says, “Are you the weakest link?” which is kind of anti-motivational.

I suppose what I am saying, is I am lacking motivation. I find it hard to have motivation here at my “Brick and Mortar,” and (as I yawn for the hundredth time today) I am finding it hard to have creative thought. 

I need to break out of this funk, I have felt out of sorts since I got sick with the flu, and now I am just sitting here, marking time. 

I tried to play music, but my boss told me to turn it off (I guess not everyone likes Bon Jovi). I am stuck in the doldrums, I just thought it would be warmer. 

So I know this post is a little on the whiny side, and for that I am sorry, but this is something I believe we all are faced with from one time or another. Getting those new ideas, creating words that inspire and crafting ideas that motivate. When those are fleeting from us, how do we get them back?

So I sit here in my beige cubical and ponder what I can do next. I know there are atrocities that need to be righted, and injustices in the world - which I can tackle.

I have written a bit of fiction, but it is not ready for public eyes yet, and perhaps it might never be. 

I have to remember - it is alright to fail, it is alright to fall on my face, because the failure will not define me. I suppose that is the biggest thing that stops me. I am facing a wall that is over a thousand feet tall, but it is only a meter wide. I just have to go around it. 

So here I go, failure or not, I am going to step around that wall. Please catch me if I fall. 

Monday, May 4, 2015

My way or the Highway

When I became a manager for a nationwide photography company, I was placed in the middle of a season with veteran photographers, and a whole passel of attitude. My stress response is to get blusterous, and in true fashion, I said, “If you don’t want to do your job, there’s the door.”

The room fell silent, and I stood in front of the whole staff, and I knew at that moment two things were a possibility: Either I would be trampled by a stampede of escaping photographers, or they would realize I was just saber rattling and never take me serious. I kind of wished they trampled me.

Once you make that statement the recipient has two responses, either cut tail and run or dig in their heels. Neither offers a satisfactory resolution. 

When you say, “My way or the Highway,” you are making yourself preeminent, and even though preeminence has its place, it does not have its place in love. We have a lot of people in this world trying to dominate, trying to be better than the Jones’ and trying to make their way the only way.

The only issue with this attitude is that we miss out on collaboration. When we think that there is no other person that can have a better idea of what needs to be done, we squash other’s ideas. What’s more, people stop listening. 

When I was first married to my wife, I was not very kind. We dated, and I had the typical dating face. I was kind, soft spoken, gentle, compassionate and nurturing. After we said “I do,” I turned into Mr. Hyde. 

Kelly do this, Kelly do that, you need to obey me. I chuckle now, because I realize what a “Jack Wagon” I was back then, and how patient Kelly was with me. 

She reminded me that Eve was not taken from Adam’s foot, so she would not be stepped on, and he was not taken from his head, so she would be over him; she was taken from his side - to be beside him. 

When you yield and give “right of way,” you are telling the other person. “I respect you, I want to listen to you and I hope you will listen to me.” You level the playing field, so that both of you can be equals. Because love does not insist on its own way; this is one way to show your love.

Let me break off into a tangent right now, I know I am throwing the “L” word around a lot. This can be very uncomfortable for people, because they feel that word is special. That word is special, and I am not trying to misuse it: However, if we are not showing love, and in black and white world, we show the opposite, which is hatred.

So don’t insist on your own way, it might give you the feeling of power, and you might feel like you are in control, but you might find yourself walking alone on that very same highway.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Litany of the Duck

My Grammy used to say, “Don't dig up old bones.”
One way to make yourself or someone else completely miserable and even ruin a relationship is to dig up some old bones. I am not talking about Archeology; I am talking about keeping track of wrongdoing.

When we can't let something go, we cannot move on ourselves. We miss the things around us, by cluttering our view with malice and discord.

Forgiveness is very important, especially when we are trying to move on. As I have said in other posts, I am not a saint - in fact, I would argue I am 180 degrees from sainthood, and moving rapidly away from that direction. Besides there is already a Saint Thomas and I don't want to encroach on that territory. 

This being said I have not only made terrible mistakes,but I have kept a record of wrong. Making mistakes is part of growing, and learning - we all make mistakes, because we are all growing and learning. When you keep a record of wrong, and you can't move on - you stop the growing process.

When I moved my family up to the Pacific Northwest - to pursue a job that actually fell through - we ended up sleeping on the living room floor at my parent’s house. Now my oldest son at that time was eleven years old, and my second son was 9. 

One day my two boys were playing out in the backyard kicking a ball between them, when my father came out and started yelling at my oldest son, because he kicked over a duck.

This duck was a dirty, old, plastic, lawn ornament that sat in the back yard in some ivy. My son told my father that he did not kick over the duck, but my father insisted and told him that he needed to pick up the duck. My son picked up the duck and made it sit correctly in the ivy patch. 

Let me clarify, nothing happened to the duck, it was not in any way injured or broken, it was just laying on its side, and all it needed was to be stood up: No damage whatsoever. The damage came from my father’s perspective on how the ugly plastic duck was wronged.

My father and mother, however, could not reconcile the duck incident. Later that night started the “litany of the duck,” that would last for years. 

My parents would not let the bones of the “duck” be buried, and even after my father's passing - in our family - anytime someone belabors a subject - it is called “kicking over the duck.”

The point of the story was my son and my parents never had a good relationship after that, every time my son tried to get close, my parents would bring up the duck: After a while my son stopped trying. 

When my son and his wife had their first child, my father and mother didn’t even see their great grandchild for about six months; even then they didn't get a chance to hold him, and my son had no guilt over it, because he wasn't close to them. They could not move forward, and this caused him to not move forward either: broken relationship.

Remember time and relationships are lost because of scores we keep.

We all have ducks in our lives, we all have been accused of doing things we did not do and we all have bones that need to be buried. 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Don’t lose your cool man.

That phrase is a flashback to the ’70’s I know, but sometimes we do just that - we lose our cool. It is so easy to get impatient when we put ourselves first.

So three tomatoes were walking to the store: The father tomato looked back and saw the junior tomato just dawdling, so the father tomato walked back, stepped on the junior tomato and exclaimed, “Ketch up!” 

WE want to get something done, WE want to go somewhere and “that bothers ME”, GIVE ME… Focusing on ourselves can cause us to become increasingly impatient.

To change our focus, we need to look at what the other person is doing. We need to see what they want or need to get done, where they want or need to go.

Now, none of us are perfect: yesterday we discovered that our daughter lost her $850 Nikon camera, that we gave her for her birthday. She was being nonchalant about the whole thing, and my wife and I were all up in arms. We lost our cool big time. We lost our patience with her, because she maintained her cool. Was this a justification? No. She knew it would be found, and as it turns out, she left it on the bus. It was returned and so was the calmness  

So you might be saying, “OK Thom, how do I do this - when you can’t even do this?”

We have to look at patience like tending a garden. If you start the garden with seed, plant it, water it, weed the garden; after that first day is over, you still will not see harvest until the plant has finished growing.

Patience has to be planted, you have to tend to it, just like a garden, and then you have to wait. Getting patience does not happen immediately: ironically enough, it takes patience to get patience.

You cannot just assume you will have patience just because you want it, you have to work for it, you have to cultivate it, and when you “Lose your cool man,” that is just a weed, so take it out.

My wife use to say she prayed for patience, and so we had our first three children in our first five years of marriage: She kept praying and we kept having kids. Those kids did test our patience, but we grew and so did our patience. 

Patience is also part of love. My wife is so patient with me, but that is because she loves me - and the feelings are reciprocated. We love our children, so we patiently wait for them to get where we need them to go.

Pet peeves kill patience

Now I know we all have those pesky pet peeves that make us lose all concept of patience. I use to hate it when people rubbed their nails, or used a nail file. It would literally set my teeth on edge, and I had to leave the room. I can remember several times where I would get irate at someone who was doing this. As my daughter use to tell me: I was feeding my pet.

Then I married a nail tech, and I had to get use to the noise. Now it is no longer my pet peeve.

My youngest son hates people chewing. My wife hates it when people hang up without saying goodbye. My oldest son hates limp handshakes. These are all things that can separate us from those around us if we let our pet peeves build walls, we will never get to know our neighbors, no matter where they are geographically.

Can you learn patience? Most certainly you can.  Is it difficult and sometimes painful? Most certainly it is. Is it achievable? Without question – anyone with a little patience – can become more patient.

Be more patient, enjoy people and stop feeding your pet (your pet peeve that is, please keep feeding your dog, cat, bird or fish).

Monday, April 27, 2015

Be Considerate

If we take the simple definition of this phrase as: Be careful to not cause inconvenience or hurt to others. How can we, as a community, make sure we are not inconveniencing or hurting others? 

We all could sit around this global campfire, and chat about how we have not been shown consideration, how we have been wronged and how we have in someway been injured by others. This is very easy to do, we like to shine a spotlight on ourselves and sometimes show our wounds.

I could fill several blog pages with my woes, and my injuries; I could talk about my family, my friends, my coworkers, my job or that little blue Kia that cut me off on the way home, but I won't, because I am no saint: I have caused inconvenience and pain to others. I believe it is human nature to try to elevate ourselves, and that means sometimes we walk on other people to get to the top.

When we are striving to get to that pinnacle, How do we do that without climbing over other people? 

In the post Excellence, I mentioned that getting to the top is great, but where do you go once you are there. The only way to go is down. There are some people that live on the pinnacle,  but to me not advancing or declining is stagnation, and that - I believe - is worse.

I believe the best way to be the best you can be, it by helping other people, and surrounding yourself with people that help people. I have such people in my Google Plus family - Adele Archer, Jeremy Crow, Nael Noaman, Matt Banner and Luna Darcy just to name a few. These people are very positive people and they always offer a kind word of encouragement and an uplifting message.

The opposite to causing hurt, is encouragement.

I was nominated for the Liebster award. This encouraged me: encouraged me to do better, to write more and let me know that my voice was being heard. This was consideration. That is what I am taking about.

What I see on Google Plus, is people encouraging people. Now that is not to say that I haven’t seen the opposite.

I was going through my feed, and there was a picture of a woman straddling two truck beds. She was wearing shorts and a t-shirt - nothing pornographic. Usually I don’t stop and stare, but a comment caught my attention. Someone commented on that picture, “You look stupid.” 

Why was this necessary to say?

When I was a child, there was a saying, “If you can't say something nice, don't say it at all.” 

I remember, there was a kid in my neighborhood, and we did not like each other at all. He was always saying things to me, and I was always saying things back. One day I saw a group of kids down at the end of the street, and they were encircling something or somebody. Being inquisitive by nature, I went to check it out. 

There was CJ, talking smack about me, and I entered the circle. He looked at me and said something about my mom, and I said something in return, and quite frankly I don't remember what I said, but I got punched in the face: I ended up on the street, and CJ walked away. Lesson: say something mean, get punched in the face.

I am not saying we should go around punching people in the face, just because they say something or do something we don’t like. CJ and I were both in the wrong. What I am saying, and what I took with me from this experience is: We need to be considerate with everyone, we need to consider everyone’s feelings without regard to our own, and that will reciprocate. 

Where am I going with all of this? We need to be nice to one another. Remember, when we take our eyes off of ourselves, and stop putting ourselves first, and we start building others up, and helping them along the way - we will be built up. When we give others hope and we encourage others, we will have hope and encouragement too.